Tag Archives: suspense

The Dent in the Universe by E.W. Doc Parris Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

An infamous Tech CEO accidentally discovers a means of sending back information into the past, but soon discovers the tech and financial gains pale in comparison to a far darker threat in author E.W. Doc Parris’s “The Dent in the Universe”.


The Synopsis

It turns out “Move fast and break things” is terrible advice when developing a time machine.

To resuscitate his fading celebrity, tech CEO Stephen Lucas would sell his soul for one more hit. When the subspace network for his holographic gaming empire crashes, his hardware guru makes a discovery proving that Einstein was right once again— information can be sent backward in time.

Lucas sees a dream product for procrastinators. Want a pizza now? Send your order back in time 30 minutes. Forgot to make reservations at that chichi french restaurant two weeks ago? No worries. Buy that PowerBall ticket. Invest in that stock. Make a FaceTime call to a loved one that passed away a month ago.

It’s the time machine for the rest of us.

In a culture built on instant gratification, Lucas knows he has a hit that will seem like a dream come true on Wall Street. But when he rushes into beta testing before fully understanding the power he’s unleashing, he learns that the stuff dreams are made of can quickly become the stuff of nightmares.

The road to Hell is paved with cool inventions.

The Review

The author does a fantastic job of crafting a unique and powerful world that brings a rich blend of sci-fi and mystery storytelling. The detail the author puts into the more tech and scientific nature of the “time travel” element was great to see, and the inclusion of more business, mainstream-style approaches to the technology itself feels very real to the story being told and our own world as a whole.

This was the perfect emphasis on world-building and mythos that any hard-core sci-fi thriller has ever taken. The depths of character development and the realities of how our own modern-day “tech-bros” are seen by the broader public were greatly felt in this fictional world. The unique twist on the time travel element and the shift in tone as the sci-fi element soon takes a back seat to some more mystery, thriller, and even horror elements as the dark realities of any and all tech, but in particular this one, make themselves known and take the reader to a depth of internet hell that few could have seen coming. 

The Verdict

Twisted, captivating, and thrilling, author E.W. Doc Parris’s “The Dent in the Universe” is a must-read sci-fi thriller you won’t be able to put down. The twists and turns in the narrative and the climactic finale will keep readers on the edge of their seats, and the atmospheric nature of the narrative will have readers invested in the author’s unique take on the sci-fi tech genre. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

The Dent in the Universe - E.W. Doc Parris

E.W. Doc Parris has a new sci-fi/horror book out: The Dent in the Universe. And there’s a giveaway – a $50 Amazon gift card.

To resuscitate his fading celebrity, tech CEO Stephen Lucas would sell his soul for one more hit. When the subspace network for his holographic gaming empire crashes, his hardware guru makes a discovery proving that, though the mechanics may differ a bit, Einstein was right once again— information can be sent backward in time.

Lucas sees a dream product for procrastinators. Want a pizza now? Send your order back in time 30 minutes. Forgot to make reservations at that chichi french restaurant two weeks ago? No worries. Buy that PowerBall ticket. Invest in that stock. Make a FaceTime call to a loved one that passed away a month ago.

In a culture built on instant gratification, Lucas knows he has a hit that will make Wall Street sit up and beg. But when he rushes into beta testing, he learns that the stuff dreams are made of can quickly become the stuff of nightmares.

Warnings: violence, torture, body horror, branding, implied cannibalism.

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Doc is giving away a $50 Amazon gift card:

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Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d47282/?


The Dent in the Universe meme

Stephen picked up the keyboard and typed, Watson, come here. I want to see you.

Before he hit enter, the display on his right blinked and displayed a log entry. The display directly in front of him showed the log of the interaction, a white line of text that showed what he’d typed, Watson, come here. I want to see you, and the time sent, 630231 milliseconds. The display on the right, the one that flashed before he hit enter, showed the same.

Walrus said, “Look at the timestamps. The sending input occurred at 630231 milliseconds. The receiving event happened at 629931 milliseconds.”

Stephen looked puzzled. “The clocks are off? That’s a 300…?” he checked his math, “300-millisecond difference.”

Walrus grinned. “Negative 300 milliseconds. The clocks aren’t off.”

“The time server is off?” Stephen knew that was the culprit in the outage.

Walrus shook his head. “Nope. These two chips are in perfect sync to FTL time.”

Stephen stopped and thought. The message appeared to be arriving 300 milliseconds before it was sent. “I’m not getting it,” he said.

Walrus laughed and did his little dance again. “Yes! You are! Tell me what you see.”

Stephen said slowly, “The message looks like it’s being received before it was sent, 300 milliseconds before.” Walrus grinned, and Stephen continued, “But that’s not possible. What’s causing the discrepancy? If the clocks aren’t wrong and the time server was working properly…?” He shook his head.

Walrus’s grin widened. “It’s a time machine.”

Stephen leaned back a bit from the desk. “Right.” Walrus let it sink in. “What do you mean?” He thought Walrus was speaking metaphorically.

Walrus laughed and said, “I mean, this is a time machine.”

Stephen looked at the set-up in front of him. It was a hacked sChip on a breadboard and a couple of displays strung together with cables and alligator clips. This wasn’t a time machine.

Walrus relented. “I’ve tweaked the power supply to dial in a tiny phase variance in the I/O to this sChip, like our customer did by accident. The tensor array interpreted this as an attribute, sending the signal to a point in time before it was sent. 300 milliseconds before. About a third of a second.”

Stephen recalled the chain of events. The right display refreshed a fraction of a second before he hit enter. Examining the log, what he had typed was there. Watson, come here. I want to see you.

He frowned and thought for a few seconds. “A third of a second? It’s the least impressive time machine imaginable,” he said. “This crashed the time servers?”

Walrus nodded, finished his cola, tossed its crushed container in the recycling bin, and peeled open another. “Essentially. I’ve cleaned up the effect, and I’m not messaging the time server. The timeserver would have ignored an invalid time sync transaction. It’s programmed to dump garbage bits. This wasn’t garbage, it was a perfectly normal sync transaction, but the handshake was out of order. The time server software questioned its own reality. It wobbled, tried to regain its equilibrium, and tipped into cascade failure.”

“It’s fascinating, but…” Hard-wired by the last six years to search for a new product, Stephen’s mind was searching for a use for what he was seeing. “I mean, it is cool, but it’s useless—a weird trick of physics. What can we do with it?” He thought for a little more. “This is IP data?”

Walrus shrugged, “It’s a packet like any other packet.”

“So, if it’s packets, then it’s IP, then it’s anything. Form data, text, jpegs, audio, video, holo.”

Walrus nodded and grinned, “Sure. You could surf the web of 300 milliseconds ago…”

Stephen interrupted him, “Can we extend that? Could we rig these in series? Go back further?”

“We could do it more elegantly than that—How much further?”

“You tell me, what’s the theoretical limit?”

“Well, you’d need a receiver. So whatever we end up making would only go back to the first chips that go online. We make a chip today, turn it on, in a week, we could go back to that moment but not before, right? The longer we’re online, the further back we can send things.”

Stephen shook his head. “We couldn’t go back further than tonight?”

Walrus nodded. “There would be nothing to send it to. As soon as we flip the switch on our time machine, we’d be establishing a time horizon. But say we turned on a receiving device tonight. In a year, you could send a message back to tonight. That would be a year in your past. In two years, you could send a message back two years, on and on, until the end of the world.” He laughed and said, “You know that old site, The Way Back Machine? The internet archive? This would be like that but live. You could actually surf the web of the past. Leaving comments on a video from a year earlier.”

Stephen frowned dismissively and said, “What good would that do? I can leave a comment on that same video today. The entire internet is available back to the 90s.”

Walrus smiled, “But it’d be radical!” Radical was not the goal. Stephen needed a killer application, a product everyone would want. Walrus’s stomach growled loudly. “Man,” he said, “I’m starving. Wanna order a pizza? Hey man, that’s what we could do!” he said jokingly, “We could use it to order pizza a half hour ago, so it arrives…” and he snapped his fingers.

Stephen froze. His pupils widened. Instant Pizza. Instant delivery. Instant gratification.

The entire computer industry of the last forty years was built around delivering everything as quickly as possible. Meeting the desires of the customer. Right. Fucking. Now. If no one ever went broke underestimating the American people’s intelligence, as Mencken might have said, it would follow: no one ever went broke catering to their impatience.

Author Bio

E.W. Doc Parris

E.W. Doc Parris is an American writer known for matter-of-fact, hard science fiction grounded in the current scientific weltanschauung, leavened with wit, and kindled by the warmth of human relationships.

Born within the nation’s capital Beltway, Doc makes his home in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge. A self-taught software developer and solutions architect, he’s made a decent living over the years as a set designer, graphic designer, animator, 3D modeler, iOS developer, puppeteer, and educator.

In addition to his centuries-spanning WalrusTech Reality series, Doc is currently working on his next novel, Land of Nod, an exploration of A.I., nanotech, and the human brain’s neural network.

Author Website: https://www.ewdocparris.com

Author Mastadon: @ewdocparris@writing.exchange

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ewdocparris/

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/ewdocparris

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The Forgotten Sons of Wyoming (All Our Forgotten Futures Book 2) by Brady Koch Review

I received a free copy of this book in e exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A group of men at a ranch discover they have no memory of how they arrived at the location nor how their secrets connect to one another in author Brady Koch’s “The Forgotten Sons of Wyoming”, the second book in the All Our Forgotten Futures series. 


The Synopsis

The men at Trinity Ranch all have something in common: none of them can remember how they arrived there or the terrible secret they all share.

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The Review

Author Brady Koch has done it again. The thrilling and captivating world that the author has built shows the depth of character development blending with the mind-boggling world-building that builds upon some of the mythos established in the author’s first book in this series. The imagery and atmosphere become quite prevalent early on in the narrative, allowing the reader to feel the contrast of the serenity the men in this facility feel clashing with the violence and shock that comes with working in a slaughterhouse.

The heart of this story came in the rich mythos of the greater story blending with the mystery and suspense that this particular novel brought to life. The compassion and intrigue that the protagonist and his fellow workers conjure up take several drastic turns as the secrets of their past come to life, even to them. The shock and awe that the narrative takes as the layers of the mystery peel away one by one will keep readers on the edge of their seats. 

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The Verdict

Memorable, adrenaline-fueled, and entertaining, author Brady Koch’s “The Forgotten Sons of Wyoming” is a must-read thriller! The tension and pacing of the author’s work really do an incredible job of drawing the reader in and the dynamic character development allows the reader to feel the shocking twists and turns that take the narrative into all new directions. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Feel free to read over Brady’s shoulder if you see him working on a new novel or short story at the coffee shop or library. Despite his penchant for crime, horror, and the unusual in his writing, he’s actually a nice guy and welcomes your feedback. Brady Koch’s first collection of short works, Guns, Gods & Robots, is now available. His debut novel, All our Forgotten Futures, will be available in Winter 2023.

Website: www.BradyKoch.com

The Confessions of Gabriel Ash by Lee Polevoi Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

An ambassador imprisoned in a castle prison somewhere in the Eastern Bloc tells his life story and keeps readers constantly changing whether his story can be trusted in author Lee Polevoi’s international political mystery, “The Confessions of Gabriel Ash”.


The Synopsis

The Confessions of Gabriel Ash, a literary Cold War thriller with echoes of John Le Carre and A Gentleman in Moscow, alternates between the glittery backdrop of 1980s New York and the sinister grottoes of Eastern Europe. The story UN Ambassador Gabriel Ash has to tell—in a voice that’s sardonic, self-delusional, and uniquely his own—will result either in his release from captivity or the loss of his life.

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The Review

This was a captivating and gripping thriller. The harsh Eastern European settings and the vibrant yet misleading glamor of New York not only elevated the narrative but showcased the fact that so much of our understanding of the world is based so much on perspective. The conflict between protagonist Gabriel Ash and his ties to his homeland with the life he’s built in America and the consequences that follow are rife with intrigue and tension that plays well into the Cold War Era setting. 

For me, the heart of this narrative came with the fusion of genres with the powerful themes the author explores. The almost comic approach to the protagonist’s mindset and interactions with characters blended well with the dark and haunting realities of spy work and corruption within world governments, and the atmosphere of the novel provided enough room for romance, action, and suspense to reign supreme in a natural way. The themes of Communism versus Capitalism, perspective, and individuality all played major roles in the story and allowed the setting and tension to play out greatly as the story progressed.

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The Verdict

Powerful, heart-pounding, and engaging, author Lee Polevoi’s “The Confessions of Gabriel Ash” is a must-read Cold War spy and political thriller you won’t be able to put down. The unique method of storytelling as a narrative device told from the character’s point of view worked so well in several of the scenes in this book and allowed the reader to analyze and work out the mystery behind the protagonist’s life and his struggles for themselves. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Lee Polevoi is the author of a new novel, The Confessions of Gabriel Ash, and The Moon in Deep Winter. He has received a Bread Loaf Writers Conference scholarship and a Chesterfield Film Project screenwriting fellowship, sponsored by Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment. A short film based on The Moon in Deep Winter screened at Cannes and New York’s Chelsea Film Festival. Lee is a graduate of Amherst College and the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers.

Lee reviews fiction and nonfiction as Chief Book Critic for the online publication Highbrow Magazine (http://highbrowmagazine.com/books-fiction).


Windekind: A Novel by Mark Lavine Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A grieving husband hoping to give himself and his young son a fresh start after their loss finds himself caught between two warring criminal organizations in the wooded community he moves to in Vermont in author Mark Lavine’s “Windekind: A Novel”.


The Synopsis

After the tragic death of his young wife, Sam Thibeau and his eight-year-old son Harry move from California to a co-housing community deep in the Vermont woods, where they hope to leave behind their painful memories and start over in an unfamiliar land of snow and maple syrup.

Just as they’re settling in, Sam comes across a series of strange clues and messages which appear to be meant just for him. The clues lead to what at first appears to be a financial windfall, but before long he finds himself caught between a Mexican cartel and a drug-running syndicate based in nearby Montreal.

Left with no other choice, he enlists the aid of Cindy Yates, a local police detective, who not only helps him begin the healing of old wounds, but also has an idea for a way out of his predicament. Together, they attempt a daring scheme to turn the tables on the cartel and free Sam and his son from its deadly reach.

Looking for peace and quiet in the Vermont countryside? You won’t find it here in this fast-paced thriller that’ll have you up late turning the pages.

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The Review

This was a captivating and engaging crime thriller. The harrowing experiences the protagonist endures and the dynamic setting were brilliant marks in which the reader could get invested immediately. The layering of the criminal activities and the mystery surrounding this commune the protagonist finds himself living in, as well as the mystery surrounding its inhabitants, made this story really come to life on the page. 

To me, the author found a really special balance of captivating character development, a rich setting, and dynamic imagery within the author’s writing that tied all of this together. The chemistry the protagonist found with Cindy and the complicated relationship he develops with her as he continues to mourn his wife’s loss yet still feels himself being pulled closer and closer to her makes for some stellar character arcs, and an emotional undercoat beneath the adrenaline-fueled crime story. The woods of Vermont have never felt more alive than in this thriller and kept drawing the reader in more and more.

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The Verdict

Driven, captivating, and engaging, author Mark Lavine’s “Windekind” is a must-read crime thriller. The narrative, character growth and interactions, and stellar setting all reminded me of the rich stories found in the Fargo film and subsequent series. The blend of small-town life and ordinary people caught in chilling crime settings and set in a small, northern town made this compelling narrative that readers will be hard-pressed to put down. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Mark Lavine is the author of four novels: Dr Prozac, ForeverChild, Victimless Crimes, and Windekind. He lives in the mountains of Vermont with his wife, daughter, and King Charles Spaniel (Luna). Luna follows him tirelessly on his many hikes and cross-country skis through the woods near his home. Luna sleeps tirelessly while Mark spends a few hours of every day working on his next book. He also loves to play classical piano, and Beethoven in particular. To get acquainted with his work, Mark recommends ForeverChild for scifi fans, and Windekind for thriller fans.


Just the Nicest Couple by Mary Kubica Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A wife desperate to find her missing husband searches for clues to his location, unaware her neighbors may have been the last to see or hear from him in author Mary Kubica’s “Just the Nicest Couple”.


The Synopsis

A husband’s disappearance links two couples in this twisty thriller from New York Times bestselling author Mary Kubica

Jake Hayes is missing. This much is certain. At first, his wife, Nina, thinks he is blowing off steam at a friend’s house after their heated fight the night before. But then a day goes by. Two days. Five. And Jake is still nowhere to be found.

Lily Scott, Nina’s friend and coworker, thinks she may have been the last to see Jake before he went missing. After Lily confesses everything to her husband, Christian, the two decide that nobody can find out what happened leading up to Jake’s disappearance, especially not Nina. But Nina is out there looking for her husband, and she won’t stop until the truth is discovered.

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The Review

This was a gripping and captivating domestic thriller. The author does an incredible job of layering this story with intrigue from the beginning, from Lily’s shocked demeanor and her husband’s desperation to protect her to Nina’s fear and determination to find answers to all her questions. The pacing of the novel was incredible as it allowed the mystery to unravel slowly and keep the reader engaged with the narrative as the motivations and suspects in this case grow larger and larger. 

Character development was the heart of this narrative, as each of the four main characters in this narrative held a depth to them that captivated readers from the start. The use of both Christian and Nina’s perspectives for the majority of the story allowed both of their unique viewpoints and shocking revelations to hold their own weight in the story, and the mystery surrounding those they love and what they are capable of to grow until the explosive final chapters.

The Verdict

Memorable, shocking, and entertaining, author Mary Kubica’s “Just the Nicest Couple” is a must-read domestic thriller of 2023. The twists and turns in the narrative and the shocking revelations that come to light in the disappearance of Jake Hayes will keep fans of the genre hanging onto the author’s every word. The adrenaline-fueled suspense read will stay with readers and connect both psychologically and emotionally. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Mary Kubica is a New York Times bestselling author of thrillers including The Good Girl, The Other Mrs.,  and Local Woman Missing. Her books have been translated into over thirty languages and have sold over two million copies worldwide. She’s been described as “a helluva storyteller” (Kirkus) and “a writer of vice-like control” (Chicago Tribune), and her novels have been praised as “hypnotic” (People) and “illuminating” (L.A. Times). She lives outside of Chicago with her husband and children.

Social Links:

Author website: https://marykubica.com/ 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MaryKubicaAuthor 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/marykubica 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marykubica 

Buy Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Just-Nicest-Couple-Mary-Kubica/dp/0778333116/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1659696934&sr=8-1 

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/just-the-nicest-couple-mary-kubica/1141697244?ean=9780778333111 

Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/books/just-the-nicest-couple/9780778333111 

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780778333111 

Books-A-Million: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/Just-Nicest-Couple/Mary-Kubica/9780778333111?id=8596975801254 

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/just-the-nicest-couple   

AppleBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/just-the-nicest-couple/id1614424262 

Google Play: https://books.google.com/books?id=j9VxEAAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=editions:ISBN0008916691 

Libro.FM: https://libro.fm/audiobooks/9781488218293-just-the-nicest-couple

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Excerpt from “Just the Nicest Couple”


I gasp and stagger backward. My hand goes to my mouth, bear- ing down.

My brain screams at me to run. Run.

I can’t at first. Shock and fear hold me captive. They keep me from moving, like a ship that’s dropped anchor. I’m moored to this spot, my eyes gaping in disbelief. My breath quickens and I feel the flailing of my heartbeat in my neck, my throat and in my ears.

Run, my brain screams at me. Go. Fucking run.

There is movement on the ground before me. The sound that comes with it is something heathen and raging, and some part of me knows that if I don’t go now, I may never leave this place alive.

I turn away. It’s instantaneous. One minute I’m unmoving and the next I’m moving so fast that the world comes at me in vague shapes and colors, streaks of brown and blue and green. I barely feel the movement of my legs and my feet as I run. I don’t feel the impact of my shoes colliding with the earth, moving quickly across it. I don’t look back, though I want more than anything to steal a look to know that I’m alone. That I’m not being followed. But I don’t look. It’s too risky. Looking back would cost precious seconds that I don’t know that I have. If I do, those seconds could be my last.

Sounds come, but I’m so disoriented that I don’t know where they come from. Is it only my pulse, the rush of blood in my ears?

Or is someone there?

I feel something tangible against my hair and then my spine. My back arches. I jerk away, pitching forward, landing hard on my hands and knees.

The world stops moving.

I have only two thoughts in that moment: staying alive, and that this isn’t the way it was supposed to happen.


Lily is sitting on the leather chair in the family room when I come in. Her back is to me. I see her from behind, just her long brown hair spilling down the back of the chair. She stares toward the TV on the opposite wall, but the TV is off. It’s just a black box, and in it, I see a murky reflection of Lily on the screen, though I can’t tell if her eyes are open or shut.

“Hey,” I say, coming in through the garage door, closing it quietly and stepping out of my shoes. I set my phone and keys on the counter, and then ask, “How was your day?”

It’s getting dark in the house. Out the window, the sun is about to set. Lily hasn’t bothered with the lights, and so the in- side of the house is colorless and gray. We face east. Any pretty sunset is the other way. You can’t see it from here, if there even is one to see.

Lily says nothing back. She must have fallen asleep, sitting upright in the chair. It wouldn’t be the first time. She’s been extremely tired lately. The pregnancy is getting the best of her, not to mention that she’s on her feet teaching all day. These two things in combination exhaust her. It used to be that Lily would be in the kitchen, cooking dinner when I got home, but these last few weeks, she comes home from work ready to drop. I don’t mind that she’s not cooking. I’ve never been the kind of person to need a home-cooked meal after work, but that’s the way Lily was raised. Her mother did it for her father, and so she thinks she should do it for me. She’s been apologetic that she hasn’t had it in her to cook dinner, but she’s been queasy, too, and the last thing she needs to be doing is cooking for me. I called from the car and ordered takeout already; it will be here any minute.

I step quietly into the family room. I come around to the other side of Lily to face her. Lily isn’t asleep like I thought. Her eyes are open but her expression is blank. Her skin looks gray, washed-out like the room, and I blame the poor lighting.

Lily’s head turns. She looks up at me as if in slow motion.

“Hey,” I say again, gently, smiling. “You okay? Did I wake you?”

I flip on a side table light, and she winces from the bright- ness of it, her eyes taking time to adjust. I apologize for it, realizing that her pale face had nothing to do with the lack of light.

In the warmth of the lamp’s glow, I see that Lily’s hair is wet. She wears maroon-colored joggers and a sweatshirt. She’s showered and changed since coming home, which is more than she usually does. Usually she falls flat on the couch and doesn’t leave until it’s time to go to bed.

I drop to my knees in front of her. I reach forward and run a hand the length of her hair. “You look exhausted, babe. Do you want to just go to bed? I can help you up. Takeout should be here soon. I’ll bring it up to the room for you when it gets here.”

Lily blinks three times, as if to clear the fog. She finds her voice. It’s husky at first, dry, like after a day of shouting at a football game, which is not that different than a day of teach- ing rowdy high school kids math. “No,” she says, shaking her head, “I’m fine. Just tired. It was a long day.”

“You sure? I wouldn’t mind dinner in bed myself.” I had a long day too, but it doesn’t seem right to compare them when only one of us has another human growing inside of them.

“That sounds messy,” she says.

“I promise I’ll be neat.”

Lily smiles and my heart melts. I love it when she smiles at me. “When are you ever neat?”

“Never,” I say, feeling better if she can still poke fun at me.

I’ve done my research on pregnancy and childbirth. I’ve read that the fatigue women feel during the first trimester is maybe the most tired they’ll feel in their whole lives. Growing a human is exhausting. Caring for one is too, but we’re not there yet.

“You need anything?” I ask, and she shakes her head.

Takeout comes. I convince Lily to come sit on the couch with me, where we both fit. We watch TV and, as we do, I ask her about her day and she asks me about mine. She’s quieter than usual tonight. I do most of the talking. I’m a market research analyst, while Lily teaches high school algebra. We met in college over of our shared love of math. When we tell people that, it makes them laugh. We’re math nerds.

When it’s time for bed, Lily goes up to the room before me. From downstairs, I hear the sink run as she washes up. I clean up from dinner. I throw the takeout containers in the trash. There is a package waiting on the front porch. I step outside to get it, where the night is dark, though the sky is clear. It must be a new moon.

Lily is standing at the top of the stairs when I come back in. She’s there in the upstairs hall, standing in the dark, backlit by the bedroom light. Gone are the maroon sweats she wore ear- lier. She has on my flannel shirt now. Her legs are bare, one foot balanced on the other. Her hair is pulled back, her face still wet from washing it.

“Don’t forget to lock the door,” she says down over the rail- ing, patting her face dry with a towel.

I wouldn’t have forgotten to lock the door. I never do. It’s not like Lily to remind me. I turn away from her, making sure the storm door is shut and locked, and then I push the front door closed and lock the dead bolt too.

Our house sits on a large lot. It’s old on the outside, but has a completely revamped, modern interior. It boasts things like a wraparound porch, beamed ceilings, a brick fireplace—which Lily fell in love with the first time she laid eyes on the house, and so I knew I couldn’t say no despite the price—as well as the more modern amenities of a subzero fridge, stainless steel appliances, heated floors and a large soaker tub that I was more enthusiastic about. The house is aesthetically pleasing to say the least, with an enormous amount of curb appeal. It practically broke the bank to buy, but felt worth it at the time, even if it meant being poor for a while.

In the backyard, the river runs along the far edge of the prop- erty, bound by a public hiking and biking trail. We were worried about a lack of privacy when we first moved in, because of the trail. The trail brought pedestrians to us. Strangers. People just passing by. For most of the year, it’s not a problem. The leaves on the trees provide plenty of privacy. It’s only when they fall that we’re more exposed, but the views of the river are worth it for that small sacrifice.

“Done,” I tell her about the locks, and she asks then if I set the alarm. We’ve lived here years and hardly ever set the alarm. I’m taken aback that she would ask.

“Is everything okay?” I ask.

Lily says, “Yes, fine.” She says that we have an alarm. We pay for it. We might as well use it. She isn’t wrong—it’s just that she’s never wanted to before.

I set the alarm. I make my way around the first floor, turning off lights. It takes a minute. When I’m done, I climb the stairs for the bedroom. Lily has the lights off in the room now. She stands at the window in the dark, with her back to the door.

She’s splitting the blinds apart with her fingers and is looking out into the dark night.

I come quietly into the room. I sidle up behind Lily, setting my hand on the small of her back and asking, “What are you looking at?” as I lean forward to set my chin on her shoulder, to see what she sees.

Suddenly Lily reels back, away from the window. She drops the blinds. They clamor shut. I’ve scared her. Instinctively, her hands rise up in self-defense, as if to strike me.

I pull back, ducking before I get hit. “Whoa there, Rocky,” I say, reaching for her arms.

Lily’s hands and arms remain motionless, suspended in air.

“Shit, sorry,” she says, knowing how close she came to im- pact. The realization startles us both.

“What was that?” I ask as I gently lower Lily’s arms. Lily isn’t usually so jumpy. I’ve never seen that kind of reaction from her.

She says, “I didn’t know it was you.”

“Who did you think it was?” I ask, as a joke. She and I are the only ones here.

Lily doesn’t answer directly. Instead she says, “I didn’t hear you come up the stairs. I thought you were still downstairs.”

That doesn’t explain it.

“What are you looking at?” I ask again, gazing past her for the window.

“I thought I heard something outside,” she says.

“Like what?”

She says that she doesn’t know. Just something. We stand, quiet, listening. It’s silent at first, but then I hear the voices of kids rising up from somewhere outside. They’re laughing, and I know there are teenagers clowning around on the trail again. It wouldn’t be the first time. They never do anything too bad, though we’ve found cigarette butts and empty bottles of booze. I don’t get mad about it. I was a stupid teenager once. I did worse.

I go to the bed. I pull the blankets back. “It’s just dumb kids,

Lily. There’s nothing to be afraid of. Come to bed,” I say, but, even as she turns away from the window and slips under the sheets with me, I sense Lily’s hesitation. She’s not so sure.

Excerpted from Just the Nicest Couple @ 2023 by Mary Kyrychenko, used with permission by Park Row Books.

The Tattoo Murder by Bob Brill Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A former US Army combat veteran takes on the injustices of his own hometown after witnessing too much injustice in the world in author Bob Brill’s “The Tattoo Murder”. 


The Synopsis 

“The Tattoo Murder” is the story of a U-S Army combat veteran who became a police officer back in his home town after he’d seen enough injustice in the world.

A different kind of cop, Det. John Potenza travels to the tune of his own drum, the waves which he loves to surf, the women who occupy his life and the music which drives him. All this is secondary to getting it right when it comes to justice. An Italian-American who knows his way around the kitchen, the fit and trim with comic book hero good looks catches the eye of almost every woman he meets. If he were British he’d probably be in “her Majesty’s Secret Service” with a Double-O in his name.

Many of the characters in the book are derived from Bob Brill’s own past and acquaintances and friends and while the book is a work of fiction, the people are real – well sort of.

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The Review

This was a very cinematic, captivating crime thriller. The author does a great job of finding that perfect balance in character development with the buildup of the narrative overall. The gritty nature of the criminal underworld serves as a perfect juxtaposition to the almost dreamy vibes of the setting, and the tension that builds as the investigation goes deeper and deeper into elements of corruption and brutality will keep the adrenaline pumping as the narrative takes off. 

The core of this narrative has to be in the dynamic character growth in the story, especially with the protagonist. In many ways, John hits like a classic police procedural hero, in the same vein as characters from Lethal Weapon or Dragnet, with his proclivity for being a lady’s man and being much like a rock star on the force. Yet his dedication to the truth and fighting for justice speaks to his moral code and gives readers a new literary crime hero to root for in his quest to bring light into the shadows that criminals create for themselves.

The Verdict

Memorable, action-packed, and entertaining, author Bob Brill’s “The Tattoo Murder” is a must-read crime thriller. The nuanced way the author highlights the character’s journey and the almost noir elements of the narrative helped add depth to the twists and turns that will have readers eager for more of this modern-day gumshoe. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

A native of Pittsburgh, PA and a hardcore Pirates and Steelers fan, Bob began in radio career in 1972 and worked all over the western US, several times in the L-A market. He’s currently a news anchor at CBS Radio LA; KNX 1070 News Radio.

Bob has won multiple broadcast awards including an Edward R. Murrow Award (among others) for anchoring KNX’s storm coverage in 2011.

A baseball historian, Bob writes the very popular weekly column found at http://www.baseballinthe1960s.com. He also is a podcaster who has teamed with former NFL Quarterback Erik Kramer for a weekly Fantasy Football Podcast called Kramer and Brill, which can be found where ever you get your podcasts or at their website http://www.kramerandbrill.com. Both are always posted on Facebook as well as Twitter.

Bob made his mark with the UPI Radio Network when a gunman went crazy in a San Diego fast food restaurant and Bob covered the story. It was his first big break. He later became a UPI National Correspondent and Bureau Chief. He has interviewed presidents, covered Super Bowl games and Hollywood as well as major news stories.

He lives in L-A. He has survived earthquakes and a beating during the 1992 L-A riots while covering the story, which was recorded on audio tape.

Bob is considered to have an excellent voice and has not only done many voice overs and radio spots, he’s starred in television commercials. Bob authored “Fan Letters to a Stripper: A Patti Waggin Tale” from Schiffer Publishing and “NO BARRIER: How the Internet Destroyed the World Economy.” His third book “Al Kabul; Home Grown Terrorist” is sure to be a controversial novel as well as a great read. “Lancer; Hero of the West – The Prescott Affair” is the first in a series of western novels set in the 1880’s, centering on the central figure; Lancer. Lancer is a gun for hire, good guy, who works the West out of Tombstone.


Outfoxed: An Inspector William Fox Adventure by Peter Thomas Pontsa Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Bookbaby.com helping independents – whether authors, publishers, musicians, filmmakers, or small businesses – bring their creative efforts to the marketplace.

Inspector William Fox must team up with an FBI agent to track down someone from his past who has stumbled into a massive treasure trove from 15th-century China and gets kidnapped by the Triads in author Peter Thomas Pontsa’s “Outfoxed: An Inspector William Fox Adventure”.


The Synopsis

Sometimes Inspector William Fox likes to go off script, like when chasing gangsters in his cigarette boat on the St. Lawrence River. For one case, the RCMP officer with a penchant for luxury fashion finds himself teamed up with FBI Special Agent Patrick Reilly, an Irish lad who prefers absinthe to Guinness. The pair travel overseas to track down members of a gang who have kidnapped Tracy Jordan, an American academic and archeologist with teenage ties to William. In China, Tracy has been stealthily searching for evidence of Admiral Zheng He’s 15th-century connections to the area that would later be known as Nova Scotia. It’s here that Tracy and her team discover what might be Ming dynasty artifacts transported by Zheng He’s “massive treasure ships” left behind on Mi’kmaq peoples’ ancestral land.

Outfoxed — a William Fox Adventure is a slick, globe-trotting adventure that involves the RCMP and FBI chasing the Foo Dog Triad operating in Hong Kong, mainland China, and New York City. Like Tracy and Kevin Steptoe, a Mi’kmaq lawyer, the gangsters are after the ancient Chinese treasures. Outfoxed is also a political thriller, diving deeply into the power struggles of the Communist Party of China and its shadowy operatives. It wades into the Fox family’s political past in South Korea, where a tragedy took place that still haunts William years later.

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The Review

This was such an incredible action thriller. The shifting perspectives between this cast of characters helped highlight the international intrigue that the narrative brought to life, and the fast-paced atmosphere kept the feeling of adrenaline pumping through the reader’s veins as the plot began to reveal itself. The tension was felt heavily early on, as with the protagonist’s encounter on his boat or when Tracy finds herself having to evade locals looking to imprison American travelers, especially those who begin to seek out information regarding ancient treasures.

However, for me, the heart of this thriller came from the balance of high-octane action with nuanced personal character development, especially when William Fox’s past and present began to collide. The way William’s previous life growing up begins to seep into his present and the conflict this brings into his life, as well as the intrigue, and the way the larger plot uses this personal development to add to the stakes at play made this so enjoyable to read as a fan of the genre. The imagery and emotional depth of these characters’ backstories and chemistry together allowed the reader to truly connect to the character and the journey as a whole. 

The Verdict

Thrilling, heart-pumping, and entertaining, author Peter Thomas Pontsa’s “Outfoxed: An Inspector William Fox Adventure” is a must-read international mystery and suspense thriller filled with action, adventure, and romance. The twists and turns will keep the reader hanging onto the author’s every word, and the author does a wonderful job of leaving just enough breadcrumbs or loose ends to allow room for more adventures for fans of the next great international action hero in the literary world. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Now retired from his dental supply business, Peter Pontsa enjoyed sharing his knowledge through writing techno-clinical articles. He was also president of the College of Dental Technologists of Ontario, where he helped develop the quality assurance program. Now he combines his passions-British cars and writing. During his tenure as president of the Headwaters British Car Club, Pontsa wrote numerous stories about cars in its newsletter, “British Driven.” He’s currently a member of the Wordsmiths, a writing group based in Alliston, Ontario, and is also a member of the Crime Writers of Canada.

Peter Pontsa lives in Loretto, Ontario, with his wife, Angela, and their orange tabby, Mr. Tee.

The Negotiated Death of Sara Glen (All Our Forgotten Futures Book 1) by Brady Koch Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Bookbaby.com helps independent authors bring their creative vision to the marketplace. Sell eBooks online in the biggest retail stores.

A young woman’s DNA may hold the key to saving the world from an emerging threat in author Brady Koch’s “The Negotiated Death of Sara Glen”, the first book in the All Our Forgotten Futures series.


The Synopsis

The results of an at-home DNA testing kit reveal the key to eradicating an emerging threat. Getting that key may cost Sara her life.

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The Review

This was a thought-provoking and engaging ethical sci-fi meets suspense thriller. The emotional weight of the narrative and the illness that the protagonist is set to help fight against definitely speaks to the emotional weight of the pandemic over the course of the last few years. The rich character development that this narrative had really kept the pace of the story flowing quickly, and yet added a depth of engagement for readers to really feel connected to the moral and emotional plight of the protagonist. 

For me, the true heart of the story rested in the author’s ability to cement suspense into the narrative. The shocking back-and-forth struggles the protagonist’s faces are only added to when the realities of both sides of the discussion come into play. On one hand, the moral quandary of her sacrifice in helping to stop a pandemic before it occurs and helping save children’s lives seems like a straightforward answer, and yet when those seeking her aid prove to have shady and somewhat chilling means of gaining her help, the story becomes a question of at what cost does a person’s sacrifice need to come to?

The Verdict

Thoughtful, engaging, and heart-pounding, author Brady Koch’s “The Negotiated Death of Sara Glen” is a must-read ethical sci-fi meets suspense thriller novel and a great start to a mind-bending series of stories in the All Our Forgotten Futures series. The twists and turns will definitely keep readers invested, but it was the heart and emotion that the author infused into this suspenseful tale that will resonate with readers, as the question of how we as people value life really drives a moral and philosophical discussion into this exhilarating read. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Feel free to read over Brady’s shoulder if you see him working on a new novel or short story at the coffee shop or library. Despite his penchant for crime, horror, and the unusual in his writing, he’s actually a nice guy and welcomes your feedback. Brady Koch’s first collection of short works, Guns, Gods & Robots, is now available. His debut novel, All our Forgotten Futures, will be available in Winter 2023.

Website: www.BradyKoch.com

Email: BradyKochBooks@gmail.com

The Street Between the Pines by J.J. Alo Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Bookbaby.com helps independent authors bring their creative vision to the marketplace. Sell eBooks online in the biggest retail stores.

A Gulf War Veteran suffering from a string of bad luck and PTSD must investigate the mysterious creature that has begun stalking his neighborhood in author J.J. Alo’s “The Street Between the Pines”. 


The Synopsis

A strange creature lurks between the pines of Forest Street.

Since the deadly DUI that ruined his life, Curtis Reynolds has long since struggled with sleep deprivation, debt, a failing marriage, and, frankly, justifying his own existence. But when his elderly neighbor is murdered, the Gulf War Veteran returns home to Forest Street, where a dangerous encounter sends him spiraling.

Battling insomnia and PTSD induced visions, Curtis begins an investigation of a mysterious monster, falling down a rabbit hole of folk mythology, government conspiracy, and ghosts from his past that threaten to destroy his fragile psyche and, possibly, all he holds dear.

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The Review

This was a truly rich and captivating horror thriller. The author found the perfect voice for this book’s overall atmosphere and tone, the writing really drawing the reader into the narrative as the small Connecticut town came to life on the page. The visceral nature of the creature’s attacks and the shocking realities of its origins are but two of the big mysteries the author is able to draw open in this book, and the imagery the author’s writing conjured for the reader left plenty of room for the reader’s imaginations to run wild while still providing an almost cinematic approach to the story.

For me, the core of this novel rested on the relatable character development and the chilling nature of the creature’s origins. The creature and the protagonist seemed to become the perfect mirror image of one another, showcasing the pitfalls of those who become ensured in the workings of the government machine, one a soldier left to pick up the pieces of his life, and the other a creature at war with the natural world for the failings of its creators. The web of conspiracies and haunting imagery combined to make the reader feel like they were delightfully lost in a classic X-Files-style creature feature. 

The Verdict

Thrilling, entertaining, and mesmerizing, author J.J. Alo’s “The Street Between the Pines” is a must-read horror thriller of 2023, and a contender for top horror read of the year thus far. The way the author drew out each character’s arc in a natural way felt very Stephen King to me in style, while the government mixed with horror nature of the narrative felt like an ode to iconic Dean Koontz novels, and yet the author’s unique voice and tone shone through on every page. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

J.J. Alo is a commercial actor, writer, and author of the new novel THE STREET BETWEEN THE PINES. 

As a lover of the macabre, J.J. has spent several years writing award-winning horror screenplays and novels creating his interconnected “New England Supernatural Universe” filled with inherently flawed, complex characters and antiheroes. His latest novel, MISERY PLAZA, will be released in the fall of 2023, six months after his debut THE STREET BETWEEN THE PINES in April 2023.

THE STREET BETWEEN THE PINES has placed in two novel competitions: Killer Nashville Claymore Award Competition Finalist and ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Competition Quarterfinalist. His screenplay has won numerous accolades in the Best Horror/Thriller categories in several screenwriting competitions, some of which include the Los Angeles Film and Script Festival, Fright Night Film Fest, and Zed Fest Film Festival & Screenplay Competition to name a few.

J.J. lives and works out of his Connecticut Shoreline home with six insane cats and spends his time visiting coffee shops, movie theaters, and concert venues. He is a lifelong pop culture nerd, ComicCon & cosplay fanatic, avid gym enthusiast, and subpar snowboarder. (he tries!) And he’ll never say no to a perfectly shaken dirty martini. Never.