Tag Archives: thriller novel

Ice Islands (Rake Ozenna Thriller Book 4) by Humphrey Hawksley Review

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

What begins as an attempt to infiltrate a large Japanese crime organization turns into an international nightmare as one man must protect his target and prevent a deadly plot from unfolding in author Humphrey Hawksley’s “Ice Islands”, the fourth book in the Rake Ozenna Thriller series. 

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The Synopsis

Major Rake Ozenna faces dangerous choices and deadly consequences in this rip-roaring political thriller that takes you from the ice islands of Finland to the bustling streets of Tokyo via Russia and the White House . . . Buckle up, this is a thrilling ride!

Major Rake Ozenna’s mission is simple: gain access to the Kato family – Japan’s most dangerous crime empire – and stop the threat to America. But when the secret son of the Russian leader is executed and Rake’s target, Sara Kato, is implicated in the murder, a political crisis between Russia, Japan and the US is set in motion.

It’s a race to protect Sara and earn her trust whilst escaping the inhospitable terrain of the icy Aland island. Meanwhile, Russia wants revenge for the murder, a catastrophic move when it is revealed Japan have been stockpiling nuclear weapons.

As Rake learns the true extent of their deadly plans, he must draw on every ounce of his training to succeed. Because if he fails, it won’t just be his life that will be lost . . . the consequences will be global! 

The Review

This was such a cinematic and captivating international thriller! The author ramps up the narrative of this series greatly by honing in on a mixture of global high-stakes action and intimate and more personal character-driven mysteries. The globe-trotting settings really made this feel like a modern-day Netflix action thriller movie, while the tension and balance of politics with organized crime in the narrative added such depth to the story itself.

Yet it was the rich character growth that the author utilized in this narrative that really made the action and setting pop on the page. The mystery surrounding this Russian President’s son’s murder and the daughter of a Japanese criminal all felt both engaging and yet realistic to the current political and criminal climates our world is facing. However, it was the protagonist’s story that really drew me in as a reader, showcasing his heroism and yet also showing his struggle with learning more about his family’s past and trying to separate himself from any feelings involving his target, making this such a rich and dynamic story to read.

The Verdict

Entertaining, thrilling, and brilliantly written, author Humphrey Hawksley’s “Ice Islands” is a must-read novel and a great addition to the Rake Ozenna series. The mystery and suspense the narrative picks up and the rich character development create a narrative that plays out greatly in the reader’s imagination through imagery and tone that captivates the audience immediately. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Humphrey is an award-winning author and foreign correspondent whose assignments with the BBC have taken him to crises all over the world. His Rake Ozenna series originated when reporting from the US-Russian border during heightened tension

He has been guest lecturer at universities and think tanks such as the RAND Corporation, The Center for Strategic and International Studies and MENSA Cambridge. He moderates the monthly Democracy Forum debates on international issues and is a host on the weekly Goldster Book Club where he discusses books and talks to authors.

The third in Humphrey’s political espionage Rake Ozenna series MAN ON FIRE came out in July 2021. The fourth, ICE ISLANDS, will be published in August 2022.

Rake Ozenna, a native Alaskan from Little Diomede on the Russian border, is fast making his mark as a hard-driving unusual character in thriller Fiction. Tthe great NELSON DE MILLE described Rake as ‘smart and tough, and we’re glad to have him on our side”

In MAN ON FIRE, a tense firefight on the Russian-American border heralds the start of a terrifying high-stakes mission for special forces agent Major Rake Ozenna in this gripping espionage thriller. Instructed to guide in a speed boat crossing from Russia in the Bering Strait, special forces Major Rake Ozenna watches in horror as the operation culminates in a fatal firefight – and the loss of vital intelligence of a deadly new weapon. A weapon of unimaginable power. A weapon that, if it were unleashed, would cripple civilization as we know it. But who sabotaged the mission? Who possesses the weapon – and what is their ultimate goal?

Rake’s search takes him to the remote outpost of Uelen on the Russian coast – and the discovery that he is up against a formidable enemy from his past. As world leaders gather in Bonn for the signing of the new European security treaty, Rake enters a desperate race against time to prevent a catastrophe beyond imagining. This fast-paced, impeccably researched, highly topical thriller is perfect for rreaders of CLIVE CUSSLER, LEE CHILD and ROBERT

LUDLUM.

Humphrey’s Rake Ozenna thrillers have been widely praised.

Library Journal on MAN ON EDGE — ‘A hard-as-nails hero, an out-of-the-ordinary location, and oodles of high-action encounters – everything readers want in a political thriller’

Booklist on MAN ON ICE — ‘Knuckle-whitening suspense, bloody violence, dirty tricks, and plenty of surprising twists make this a gripping, can’t-put-it-down read’ –

‘Authentic settings, non-stop action’, Steve Berry on Man on Ice

An up-to-the-minute, page-turning spy thriller with the atmosphere of a Cold War classic’ – Charles Cumming on Man on Edge

https://www.humphreyhawksley.com/

Traitor by Steve Malik Swayne Review

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

A man who lost years of his life in prison for a crime he didn’t commit seeks revenge against the one man he considered a friend, who rejected his pleas for help during his trial, in author Steve Malik Swayne’s “Traitor”.

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The Synopsis

Traitor is an intensely deranged mental excursion, full of poetically expressed vengeance and a mischievous plot for revenge.

The main character, Xavier Ruffin, has just been released from prison after serving a 12-year sentence for a murder he did not commit. He is hell-bent on getting back at his former friend, Tyson Carter – who is now employed by the state – for rejecting his impassioned plea for help during the preliminary stages of his case.

Taunted by an inner demon, Xavier vows to make Tyson pay for every moment of freedom that he feels was stripped away from him, considering Tyson a traitor.

The Review

This was definitely a gritty and hard-hitting story of vengeance. A much more modern take on classic revenge stories like The Count of Monte Cristo or True Grit, the reader is instantly brought into a heartbreaking yet brilliant narrative that highlights the injustice that exists within our modern justice system and the impact of the prison system can have on a person. The imagery and atmosphere the author brings to life in this novel elevates the narrative and brings a vivid image of these characters in an almost cinematic way. 

What really drove the narrative was the incredible character development that the author built. The resentment, determination, and heart that protagonist Xavier brought to the story and the shocking development that Tyson has early on made this story instantly click for readers. The tension that was built as the protagonist’s mission for vengeance built and grew over the course of the narrative kept me as a reader hanging off of the author’s every word.

The Verdict

Captivating, entertaining, and thought-provoking, author Steve Malik Swayne’s “Traitor” is a must-read modern-day revenge tale like no other. The heart and passion that the author writes with perfectly mirrors the gritty setting and engaging twists and turns that the story takes as this protagonist dives further and further into his need for revenge. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

What’s up everybody! I am Steve Malik Swayne. I was born in Ogden, Utah and raised in Salt Lake City / Las Vegas, NV. I became fascinated with words in elementary school where I began writing short stories and poems which eventually led to me writing music. After years of pursing a music career, I began running the streets, headed down the wrong path eventually leading to my incarceration. While incarcerated, (a father of three) I decided I wouldn’t become a statistic. I enrolled in college classes where I obtained two associate degrees, one in Liberal Arts and the other in General Business Administration. Still passionate about writing, I began writing fictional novels, calling home to my wife, where she would record my writings, then take the hours of recordings and type them into her laptop. From there, we pursued publication and now those publications are being introduced to the world.

Crazy Love by Rachael Tamayo Review

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

Find out how the mind of a disturbed and vastly rich stalker works as they pursue the person they believe loves them in author Rachael Tamayo’s “Crazy Love”.

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The Synopsis

I love Emily. I know she loves me too, she just needs me to show her. One day, we will be together forever, I’ll make sure of that. She’s only with this guy she’s been hanging around with to test me, see if I’ll stand true. Emily wants me to fight for her, to see if I can win her. Of course, I will. Once she sees how I’ve been caring for her, all the plans I’ve made, the lengths I’ve gone to in order to be with her, she will be so proud of me. If only she would stop pretending so I could stop hiding in her attic.

Reach deep into the mind of mentally ill millionaire, Noah Burell, as he turns Emily’s world upside down.

The Review

This was such a chilling and haunting read. The author perfectly captures the fear and horror that so many people have had to endure over the years. The combination of mental illness left untreated and unhealthy obsessions have led to some truly terrifying cases over the years, and the author’s story really drew the reader in with the theme of obsession. The haunting atmosphere and tone the author’s narrative captures is the perfect way to capture the suspense thriller genre. 

The characters really just jumped off the page. The way the author was able to capture the POV of each character’s journey made the story feel that much more alive. The striking contrast between Emily’s whirlwind relationship with the protective and loving Isaiah with the disturbing and haunting obsession that Noah takes with her makes this story the heart of the novel overall.

The Verdict

Chilling, harrowing, and entertaining, author Rachael Tamayo’s “Crazy Love” is a must-read novel. The brilliant way the author captures the fear these cases can bring while also highlighting the need for better mental health awareness and help was a breath of fresh air, and the way the author did this without sacrificing the heart-pounding thriller aspect of this suspense novel was amazing to read. If you haven’t yet be sure to grab your copy today!


Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Rachael Tamayo is the bestselling author of the award-winning Deadly Sins Series, and award-winning thriller, Crazy Love, among several other titles.  Before she started her writing career, she was a highly awarded 911 emergency services dispatcher with twelve years of experience and many commendations under her belt.   Upon exiting law enforcement, she’s focused her writing career on the dark, suspenseful, and psychological after beginning as a romance author.  Now Rachael uses her dark thriller as a sort of self-therapy after all those years answering 911 calls, and works all that she knows and was exposed to into the frighteningly realistic and layered characters her readers know and love her for.  Rachael lives on the Texas Gulf Coast in Houston, Texas with her husband of eighteen years this May,  their two children. 

https://rachaeltamayowrites.com/

Ignite: Heart of the Inferno Book II by Nicole Fanning Review

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

A woman struggling with her growing feelings for a powerful mafia don must traverse the bloody underworld of Chicago in author Nicole Fanning’s “Ignite”, the second book in the Heart of the Inferno series. 

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The Synopsis

She never expected to fall in love with a mafia don.

He never expected to fall in love at all.

But will their love be enough?

Four weeks ago, Jaxon Pace, the billionaire “Don Supreme” of Chicago’s underground mafia syndicates, took a bullet.

This bullet was meant for the only girl who stole his heart, the beautiful Natalie Tyler, a simple nurse from Miami.

Overwhelmed by the horrors she witnessed in Chicago, Natalie chose to return home, leaving the broken and brokenhearted Jaxon Pace to recover on his own.

A month after her visit, Natalie’s heart still belongs to Jaxon…And you better believe The Don Supreme is coming to collect HIS woman.

But when he arrives he learns that Natalie has a little surprise for him: She is pregnant.

However, his enemies will give the happy couple no reprieve.

Especially, Jaxon’s presumed-dead ex-girlfriend, Rachel, and her psychotic brother, Michael.

They are the leaders of Chicago’s newest twisted mafia clan, the Two-Headed Dragon.

The Two-Headed Dragon has one goal: the complete destruction of the Pace Family Mafia.

If successful, they will destroy the entire mafia hierarchy that has guided Chicago’s underworld for a century, sending the city into complete chaos.

Will Natalie & Jaxon’s love be enough to defeat the dangers of the present…and the demons of the past?

Filled with exhilarating highs, steamy romance, and heart-pounding suspense, “Ignite” picks up where “Catalyst” left off, and joins our favorite mafia couple as they fight for each other in a world filled with deceit, depravity, and unspeakable darkness.

The Review

This was a truly heated, passionate, and gritty romantic suspense thriller. The way the author was able to weave the tense and engaging romance and heated scenes between Jaxon and Natalie with the haunting action and suspense that the emergence of this Two-Headed dragon gang was so engaging. The fast pace of the narrative will have readers deeply invested in the character’s journey early on. 

What was truly the heart of this read was the amazing character growth and interaction between the main characters. The intimate scenes between the two protagonists were incredibly spicy and the author did a great job of bringing these moments to life on the page. The dual nature that is explored in this book within the characters’ lives is so unique, as readers see the intensity of Jaxon’s mob life clash with his love for Natalie, while Natalie’s caring nature must come to terms with the more violent aspects of Jaxon’s life. It creates some unique drama that pairs well with the suspense of the new gang, led by truly chilling brother and sister gangsters who hold a grudge against Jaxon’s mob family. 

The Verdict

Intense, action-packed, and passionately written, author Nicole Fanning’s “Ignite” is a brilliant must-read romantic thriller! The author’s superb writing style creates engaging and entertaining storylines that help bring this world to life and the city of Chicago feels so gritty and brilliantly realized through the author’s descriptive writing style. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today! 

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Nicole is a smitten wife and super proud dog mom to three rambunctious rescue dogs.

She’s an old-school romantic, with a proclivity for a little mischief, and an obsession with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Her first book, Catalyst-Heart of the Inferno, is an action romance about the terrifying and dangerous mafia lord Jaxon Pace, and Natalie Tyler, the girl who became his only exception.

Interview with Author John May

Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

Fame and fortune haha. In my spare time, I started writing stories and creating comic strips around the age of ten or eleven. When life wasn’t fun, creative writing was my escape as a child. It was a great outlet for my imagination and a way to express myself untethered from the restriction of my English teachers because not only did I come up with some wild stories, I was also a very creative speller which drove them crazy.

As a teen, I became an avid reader. Believe it or not, I read all of Charles Dickens’s works while riding on a bus to my after-school/weekend job in a restaurant kitchen. But I think it was Hemmingway’s books that really inspired me to write longer stories. I wanted to be that storyteller. It wasn’t however, until the author of the series of books that I was reading to my children died that I began writing. The kids were upset there would be no more books, so I took it upon myself to write something similar for them as a Christmas present. The only problem was that the short story turned into a novel and with my busy schedule as a doctor, it took two years to complete. By then, my older son was “too old” for it. I decided after my youngest grew up, that although I enjoyed writing my children, I really wanted to write for adults.

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What inspired you to write your book?

My family and I experienced the panic and chaos created by the enormous North East blackout of 2003. We were sitting by a campfire completely oblivious until a neighbor approached carrying a shotgun telling us that most of North America was dark. He said it was a Russian cyberattack. My twelve-year-old son couldn’t sleep that night as he was frightened that we were under attack and that enemy soldiers were breaking into the house. That feeling of being in the dark, not knowing the truth was truly terrifying. For the next five days, our part of the world was not functioning – no credit cards – no cash – no ATMs working – the gas pump wouldn’t pump – store shelves were empty – the experience still haunts me and played a large part in motivating me to write Lethal Keystrokes.

In addition, I have always had an interest in technology and computers. In fact, before medical school, I worked as a programmer for IBM. As a physician, I became concerned about the impact of technology on children i.e., too much screen time. But with the intrusion of social media and the ‘internet of everything,’ I feel there is too much connectiveness without true human contact. My biggest concern outside the medical/social sphere is our security – individually and collectively as a nation. There are too many electronic eyes and ears out there. Are they helping and protecting us or making us vulnerable to those who wish harm upon us?

What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I hope that this book causes people, companies, and governments to think about their digital security. We also need to be aware that the voids, created by Western nations in places like Somalia, where there was intervention and then complete withdrawal, are filled by groups that could become terrorist organizations.

What drew you into this particular genre?

To be honest, I was attempting to write a very emotionally charged true-life novel about some of my experiences in cancer and palliative care. It was tough. I needed to step back and ‘reset’. Previously, out of a more academic interest I had researched some of the key political and technological issues key to Lethal Keystrokes. I took that information and started writing something that was pure entertainment, so fast-paced and exciting that you can’t put it down and a total escape from the trials of day-to-day life. Writing it worked wonders for me and I hope that everyone that reads Lethal Keystrokes enjoys immersing themselves in the action. 

If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

That is an interesting question. I’m somewhat surprised by my answer. It is not the main antagonist but his sister that I found the most fascinating and challenging character to write, and from the reaction of a few earlier readers, they agree with this choice. She starts out with the same vitriol as her older brother but as she spends more time in Western society, she stops focusing on all its flaws and begins to appreciate the positives, including the opportunities for women. She has to battle through the conflicts between her traditional role that involves support for her brother and her own journey to personal freedom. How does she bridge the chiasm between Islamic culture and her growing acceptance of America’s ideals?

What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Marketing has changed so much. If you aren’t good with social media, you’re doomed so I embraced it despite my misgivings about technology. I do not profess to be an expert but Instagram has been quite useful as well as Twitter. Still, I really don’t like the feeling of anarchy – everyone has their own truth – that exists out there in the digital world. Bottom line:  technology is a tool, not a lifestyle.

What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Write a one-page, beginning-to-end, synopsis of your plot. Stream of consciousness writing is unlikely to be successful. Writing toward a known conclusion ends up moving you farther, faster and easier than just sitting down and pecking away, hoping that it will all fall into place. If you can’t come up with the ending you don’t have an idea worthy of your time and energy. And work it is. A novel is much harder than a short story. Keeping an audience engaged for 300 pages is no easy task. So have a complete idea and be disciplined by writing something every day when possible. 

What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I’m still writing the book about my medical experiences.  I have also started a second book featuring the heroes from ‘Lethal Keystrokes’ as they combat a threat to America of a different nature. Hint: It will use more of my medical knowledge.

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About the Author

John D. May was born in London, Ontario. He has balanced multiple passions over his life, including his work as a biologist, his career as a physician, his volunteer service at medical outreach clinics in Guatemala, singer-songwriting, and storytelling. He has written several songs for well-known Canadian artists and released two CDs, available on iTunes and Spotify under the name Johnny May. His time is divided between his rural farm property near Toronto and the south of France.

https://linktr.ee/JohnnyMay

Lethal Keystrokes by John D. May Review

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

A group of people who feel wronged by the world seeks their revenge, and one group of people must stop them before it’s too late in author John D. May’s “Lethal Keystrokes”. 

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The Synopsis

America’s vulnerability is its hidden fanatics, those individuals who harbor fury, grief and a driving desire for revenge. While blending in with their neighbors, co-workers and customers, they plot the demise of their country. They have a network. They have resources. And they have the courage to make it happen.

Lethal Keystrokes is the gripping story of a small group of revenge seekers and those who try to keep America safe.

The Review

This was a truly captivating thriller. The author did a great job of layering the narrative with characters that kept the novel’s story intense and entertaining, and yet also brought an emotional depth and human angle that allowed readers to either recognize or identify with. The tension and fast-paced atmosphere and the story itself left me as a reader hanging off of the author’s every word, enthralled by the twists and turns the story took.

Yet in this book, it was the theme and setting that really brought this thriller to the forefront of the reader’s mind. The exploration of modern technology and our dependence on it both as individuals and as a society was remarkably felt through this novel, as the threats and high stakes of the novel really put our dependence on technology for so many aspects of our lives into a whole new perspective. The modern era has presented a host of new challenges to face, and the genre the author explores allowed these characters to feel much more relevant and alive on the page.

The Verdict

Heart-pounding, thoughtful, and entertaining, author John D. May’s “Lethal Keystrokes” is a must-read techno-thriller novel! The action and suspense of the novel will thrust readers into the 21st century with a vengeance, and the emotional chords the backstories and characters bring to the narrative give the heart that this modern thriller needed to keep readers invested throughout this novel. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

John D. May was born in London, Ontario. He has balanced multiple passions over his life, including his work as a biologist, his career as a physician, his volunteer service at medical outreach clinics in Guatemala, singer-songwriting, and storytelling. He has written several songs for well-known Canadian artists and released two CDs, available on iTunes and Spotify under the name Johnny May. His time is divided between his rural farm property near Toronto and the south of France.

https://linktr.ee/JohnnyMay

Agapē (Heart’s Compass Book One) by Lisa Cordeau Review

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

A woman scarred by her past must place her trust in 3 detectives after witnessing a murder that could bring down a powerful mob boss in author Lisa Cordeau’s “Agapē”, the first book in the Heart’s Compass series. 

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The Synopsis

Fiercely independent, Cassie settled into an unpredictable, sometimes dangerous life under the park bridge with Janice and Pete. Her heart marred by past betrayals, she found trusting others difficult. But, after witnessing a murder, will she sacrifice her freedoms and place her trust in three unselfish men bent on keeping her, Pete, and Janice safe?

Detectives Alex, Raf, and Ryder Consopolat, brothers raised with a strong sense of family unity, strive to bring down the local mob boss, but their witnesses keep dying. Fate intervenes, providing them one final opportunity to end a tyrant’s reign. Can they keep their reluctant allies alive, or will they all be victims of The Boss?

The Review

This was such a brilliant and captivating read. The adrenaline-fueled thriller takes readers on a wild ride, showcasing a brutal landscape of gangsters and corruption that felt very reminiscent of a noir thriller in a more modern-day era. The world-building and atmosphere played heavily into the narrative, adding tension and sending chills down the reader’s spine as the gangsters of this tale crept ever closer to the cast of characters.

Yet it was the characters themselves that brought such heart to this story. The exploration of life on the streets as a homeless person was such an emotional and powerful change in direction for this type of thriller. The hardships and struggles Cassie, Pete, and Janice undergo on a daily basis and in their backstories only add to the dangers the gangsters bring to their feet, and the balance that the author stuck with the story of the brothers/detectives and how they came to interact with these witnesses over time added a depth to the emotional connection readers will have to this story. 

The Verdict

Heartfelt, entertaining, and delightfully written, author Lisa Cordeau’s “Agapē” is a must-read thriller of 2022. A fantastic balance of emotional storytelling and exhilarating action-packed detective work, the story shines as a stand-alone narrative while also leaving room to grow as a series that examines the personal lives of those involved while also adding deep-seated character studies to a thrill-ride of a suspense story. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Her mother’s love of books inspired Lisa to read and write from an early age. She filled her journals with story ideas and made up towns full of interesting characters. One of their favorite used book stores offered an exchange program, so they spent many weekends perusing the shelves of novels there. After returning the novels they read, they walked away with several bags filled with new stories to explore. Although life took her in other directions, writing has always been her first love. Returning to those pages, she became motivated to accomplish her dream of publishing her debut novel, Agapē. Now, her dream is a reality.

School Shooter by Thorsten Nesch Review

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

TRIGGER WARNING: This book was sent to me to be reviewed weeks prior to the rash of mass shootings that have affected the United States in the last couple of weeks, including the Buffalo Tops Friendly Market store shooting and the Uvalde School Shooting. As the title suggests, this book deals with the topic of school shootings. As such, reader discretion is highly advised, and we offer our deepest condolences to the families and communities affected by these tragedies.

A group of students who hide from a mass shooter discovers that one of them is in fact the shooter in author Thorsten Nesch’s “School Shooter”.

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The Synopsis

During a school shooting six highschool kids flee into the library of their school and barricade themselves, but it turns out one of them is the shooter …

The Review

For so many reasons, this was one of the more difficult novels I’ve read in recent months. The fear and anxiety that one can only imagine experiencing as a student stuck in such a life or death situation are captured here in the author’s work. The chilling nature of the atmosphere the author crafts really pulls readers into the narrative, while the character development was rich and well developed, with each character or “suspect” in the thriller adding depth and emotions into the narrative as readers try to figure out who is behind the heinous crime.

The theme and message of this narrative were no doubt the heart of the novel. The horrors of school shootings are something that has become more and more prevalent in recent years, and the emotional way the news hits so many of us as children become targets in places that should be a safe haven made this story feel monumentally more important now than ever before. The examination of how students interact with one another, the need for better mental health and social services to help students and end instances of bullying, and of course the terrible way gun laws enable people to access weapons that have no business accessing them, are all felt heavy as the narrative progresses.

The Verdict

Haunting, emotional, and thought-provoking, author Thorsten Nesch’s “School Shooter” is an important and memorable read for those who want a balance of thriller fiction with discussions around how students are cared for and how to best utilize gun control laws to end the frequency of these shootings. The author’s ability to bring readers into the narrative and feel the pressure and emergency of the situation the novel presents will have readers invested in this narrative heavily. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Thorsten Nesch is an award-winning author published in traditional publishing houses with more than 1,500 live readings in a dozen countries at schools, universities, book fairs and on cruise ships. He received literary arts grants and was invited for writer’s residencies in H.A.L.D. Denmark and LeseLenz, Hausach, Germany.

He was born in Solingen, Germany. 1998 to 2003 he lived in Canada. 2004 to 2013 in Leverkusen, Germany. Since 2014 in Lethbridge, Alberta. Permanent Resident in Canada.

“His style is a stroke of luck“, Jury of Hans-im-Glück-Award.

http://thorstennesch.com/

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Fan Club by Erin Mayer Review

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

A young millennial searching for meaning in her work finds herself drawn further and further into a psychological wormhole revolving around an obsession with a pop star and a group of hard-core fans that take their fandom to all new heights in author Erin Mayer’s “Fan Club”. 

The Synopsis

In this raucous psychological thriller, a disillusioned millennial joins a cliquey fan club, only to discover that the group is bound together by something darker than devotion.

Day after day our narrator searches for meaning beyond her vacuous job at a women’s lifestyle website – entering text into a computer system while she watches their beauty editor unwrap box after box of perfectly packaged bits of happiness. Then, one night at a dive bar, she hears a message in the newest single by international pop-star Adriana Argento, and she is struck. Soon she loses herself to the online fandom, a community whose members feverishly track Adriana’s every move.

When a colleague notices her obsession, she’s invited to join an enigmatic group of adult Adriana superfans who call themselves the Ivies and worship her music in witchy, candlelit listening parties. As the narrator becomes more entrenched in the group, she gets closer to uncovering the sinister secrets that bind them together – while simultaneously losing her grip on reality.

With caustic wit and hypnotic writing, this unsparingly critical thrill ride through millennial life examines all that is wrong in our celebrity-obsessed internet age and how easy it is to lose yourself in it.

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The Review

This was such an intense, emotional, and heartbreaking yet moving read. The author brilliantly captured the tone and psychological concept of many millennial today, both the popularized “selfie-obsessed” millennial that appear in shows and films in today’s pop culture, and the more heartfelt, directionless, and depressive millennial who have inherited so many problems from previous generations and have a harder time making their schooling and degrees match up with the jobs that are available in our current market. It added depth and really challenged the notion people have of the millennial generation. 

What was so fascinating about this narrative was twofold: the protagonists’ mystery identity and the comparison of intense fandoms to cults. The lack of personalized identity to the protagonist was so interesting to read, as it allowed the reader to feel like they could either step into the protagonist’s shoes or witness her actions with somewhat of familiarity after knowing someone who has lost themselves to an obsession with pop culture. The comparison between fandoms and cults was so deeply felt in this narrative, as the protagonist and the other members of this group found themselves losing themselves more and more to this idea of having a deeper connection to this individual than they actually had.

The Verdict

Intense, mind-bending, and shocking to watch unfold on the page, author Erin Mayer’s “Fan Club” is a must-read novel. The perfect read for fans of psychological thrillers that focus on more modern themes, the author brilliantly touches upon the more intimate nature of celebrities and the access their fans have to them thanks to social media. With an emotional finale, this is one book readers will not want to miss this fall. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Erin Mayer is a freelance writer and editor based in Maine. Her work has appeared in Business Insider, Man Repeller, Literary Hub, and others. She was previously an associate fashion and beauty editor at Bustle.com.

BUY LINKS:

Bookshop.org: https://bookshop.org/books/fan-club/9780778311591 

Indie Bound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780778311591 

Books-A-Million: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/9780778311591?AID=10747236&PID=7310909&cjevent=65e1269f327311ec8113ab580a82b832 

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/fan-club-erin-mayer/1138476507;jsessionid=447EED4856C3B3C9AFCBCB912D1233C6.prodny_store01-atgap13?ean=9780778311591&st=AFF&2sid=HarperCollins%20Publishers%20LLC_7310909_NA&sourceId=AFFHarperCollins%20Publishers%20LLC 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0778311597?tag=harpercollinsus-20

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/fan-club-4 

Apple Books:https://books.apple.com/us/book/fan-club/id1545139327 

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Fan_Club_A_Novel?id=pXAPEAAAQBAJ&hl=en_US&gl=US 

SOCIAL LINKS:

Author website: http://erinmayer.com/

Twitter: @mayer_erin

Instagram: @erinkmayer

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Here is an Excerpt from FAN CLUB

Chapter One

I’m outside for a cumulative ten minutes each day before work. Five to walk from my apartment building to the subway, another five to go from the subway to the anemic obelisk that houses my office. I try to breathe as deeply as I can in those minutes, because I never know how long it will be until I take fresh air into my lungs again. Not that the city air is all that fresh, tinged with the sharp stench of old garbage, pollution’s metallic swirl. But it beats the stale oxygen of the office, already filtered through distant respiratory systems. Sometimes, during slow moments at my desk, I inhale and try to imagine those other nostrils and lungs that have already processed this same air. I’m not sure how it works in reality, any knowledge I once had of the intricacies of breathing having been long ago discarded by more useful information, but the image comforts me. Usually, I picture a middle-aged man with greying temples, a fringe of visible nose hair, and a coffee stain on the collar of his baby blue button-down. He looks nothing and everything like my father. An every-father, if you will.

My office is populated by dyed-blonde or pierced brunette women in their mid-to-late twenties and early thirties. The occasional man, just a touch older than most of the women, but still young enough to give off the faint impression that he DJs at Meatpacking nightclubs for extra cash on the weekends.

We are the new corporate Americans, the offspring of the grey-templed men. We wear tastefully ripped jeans and cozy sweaters to the office instead of blazers and trousers. Display a tattoo here and there—our supervisors don’t mind; in fact, they have the most ink. We eat yogurt for breakfast, work through lunch, leave the office at six if we’re lucky, arriving home with just enough time to order dinner from an app and watch two or three hours of Netflix before collapsing into bed from exhaustion we haven’t earned. Exhaustion that lives in the brain, not the body, and cannot be relieved by a mere eight hours of sleep.

Nobody understands exactly what it is we do here, and neither do we. I push through revolving glass door, run my wallet over the card reader, which beeps as my ID scans through the stiff leather, and half-wave in the direction of the uniformed security guard behind the desk, whose face my eyes never quite reach so I can’t tell you what he looks like. He’s just one of the many set-pieces staging the scene of my days.

The elevator ride to the eleventh floor is long enough to skim one-third of a longform article on my phone. I barely register what it’s about, something loosely political, or who is standing next to me in the cramped elevator.

When the doors slide open on eleven, we both get off.

In the dim eleventh-floor lobby, a humming neon light shaping the company logo assaults my sleep-swollen eyes like the prick of a dozen tiny needles. Today, a small section has burned out, creating a skip in the letter w. Below the logo is a tufted cerulean velvet couch where guests wait to be welcomed. To the left there’s a mirrored wall reflecting the vestibule; people sometimes pause there to take photos on the way to and from the office, usually on the Friday afternoon before a long weekend. I see the photos later while scrolling through my various feeds at home in bed. They hit me one after another like shots of tequila: See ya Tuesday! *margarita emoji* Peace out for the long weekend! *palm tree emoji* Byeeeeee! *peace sign emoji.*

She steps in front of me, my elevator companion. Black Rag & Bone ankle boots gleaming, blade-tipped pixie cut grazing her ears. Her neck piercing taunts me, those winking silver balls on either side of her spine. She’s Lexi O’ Connell, the website’s senior editor. She walks ahead with her head angled down, thumb working her phone’s keyboard, and doesn’t look up as she shoves the interior door open, palm to the glass.

I trip over the back of one clunky winter boot with the other as I speed up, considering whether to call out for her attention. It’s what a good web producer, one who is eager to move on from the endless drudgery of copy-pasting and resizing and into the slightly more thrilling drudgery of writing and rewriting, would do.

By the time I regain my footing, I come face-to-face with the smear of her handprint as the door glides shut in front of me.

Monday.

I work at a website.

It’s like most other websites; we publish content, mostly articles: news stories, essays, interviews, glossed over with the polished opalescent sheen of commercialized feminism. The occasional quiz, video, or photoshoot rounds out our offerings. This is how websites work in the age of ad revenue: Each provides a slightly varied selection of mindless entertainment, news updates, and watered-down hot takes about everything from climate change to plus size fashion, hawking their wares on the digital marketplace, leaving The Reader to wander drunkenly through the bazaar, wielding her cursor like an Amex. You can find everything you’d want to read in one place online, dozens of times over. The algorithms have erased choice. Search engines and social media platforms, they know what you want before you do.

As a web producer, my job is to input article text into the website’s proprietary content management system, or CMS. I’m a digitized high school janitor; I clean up the small messes, the litter that misses the rim of the garbage can. I make sure the links are working and the images are high resolution. When anything bigger comes up, it goes to an editor or IT. I’m an expert in nothing, a master of the miniscule fixes.

There are five of us who produce for the entire website, each handling about 20 articles a day. We sit at a long grey table on display at the very center of the open office, surrounded on all sides by editors and writers.

The web producers’ bullpen, Lexi calls it.

The light fixture above the table buzzes loudly like a nest of bees is trapped inside the fluorescent tubing. I drop my bag on the floor and take a seat, shedding my coat like a layer of skin. My chair faces the beauty editor’s desk, the cruelest seat in the house. All day long, I watch Charlotte Miller receive package after package stuffed with pastel tissue paper. Inside those packages: lipstick, foundation, perfume, happiness. A thousand simulacrums of Christmas morning spread across the two-hundred and sixty-one workdays of the year. She has piled the trappings of Brooklyn hipsterdom on top of her blonde, big-toothed, prettiness. Wire-frame glasses, a tattoo of a constellation on her inner left forearm, a rose gold nose ring. She seems Texan, but she’s actually from some wholesome upper Midwestern state, I can never remember which one. Right now, she applies red lipstick from a warm golden tube in the flat gleam of the golden mirror next to her monitor. Everything about her is color-coordinated.

I open my laptop. The screen blinks twice and prompts me for my password. I type it in, and the CMS appears, open to where I left it when I signed off the previous evening. Our CMS is called LIZZIE. There’s a rumor that it was named after Lizzie Borden, christened during the pre-launch party when the tech team pounded too many shots after they finished coding. As in, “Lizzie Borden took an ax and gave her mother forty whacks.” Lizzie Borden rebranded in the 21st century as a symbol of righteous feminine anger. LIZZIE, my best friend, my closest confidant. She’s an equally comforting and infuriating presence, constant in her bland attention. She gazes at me, always emotionless, saying nothing as she watches me teeter on the edge, fighting tears or trying not to doze at my desk or simply staring, in search of answers she cannot provide.

My eyes droop in their sockets as I scan the articles that were submitted before I arrived this morning. The whites threaten to turn liquid and splash onto my keyboard, pool between the keys and jiggle like eggs minus the yolks. Thinking of this causes a tiny laugh to slip out from between my clenched lips. Charlotte slides the cap onto her lipstick, glares at me over the lip of the mirror.

“Morning.”

That’s Tom, the only male web producer, who sits across and slightly left of me, keeping my view of Charlotte’s towering wonderland of boxes and bags clear. He’s four years older than me, twenty-eight, but the plush chipmunk curve of his cheeks makes him appear much younger, like he’s about to graduate high school. He’s cute, though, in the way of a movie star who always gets cast as the geek in teen comedies. Definitely hot but dress him down in an argyle sweater and glasses and he could be a Hollywood nerd. I’ve always wanted to ask him why he works here, doing this. There isn’t really a web producer archetype. We’re all different, a true island of misfit toys.

But if there is a type, Tom doesn’t fit it. He seems smart and driven. He’s consistently the only person who attends company book club meetings having read that month’s selection from cover to cover. I’ve never asked him why he works here because we don’t talk much. No one in our office talks much. Not out loud, anyway. We communicate through a private Morse code, fingers dancing on keys, expressions scanned and evaluated from a distance.

Sometimes I think about flirting with Tom, for something to do, but he wears a wedding ring. Not that I care about his wife; it’s more the fear of rebuff and rejection, of hearing the low-voiced Sorry, I’m married, that stops me. He usually sails in a few minutes after I do, smelling like his bodega coffee and the egg sandwich he carefully unwraps and eats at his desk. He nods in my direction. Morning is the only word we’ve exchanged the entire time I’ve worked here, which is coming up on a year in January. It’s not even a greeting, merely a statement of fact. It is morning and we’re both here. Again.

Three hundred and sixty-five days lost to the hum and twitch and click. I can’t seem to remember how I got here. It all feels like a dream. The mundane kind, full of banal details, but something slightly off about it all. I don’t remember applying for the job, or interviewing. One day, an offer letter appeared in my inbox and I signed.

And here I am. Day after day, I wait for someone to need me. I open articles. I tweak the formatting, check the links, correct the occasional typo that catches my eye. It isn’t really my job to copy edit, or even to read closely, but sometimes I notice things, grammatical errors or awkward phrasing, and I then can’t not notice them; I have to put them right or else they nag like a papercut on the soft webbing connecting two fingers. The brain wants to be useful. It craves activity, even after almost three hundred and sixty-five days of operating at its lowest frequency.

I open emails. I download attachments. I insert numbers into spreadsheets. I email those spreadsheets to Lexi and my direct boss, Ashley, who manages the homepage.

None of it ever seems to add up to anything.

Excerpted from Fan Club by Erin Mayer, Copyright © 2021 by Erin Mayer. Published by MIRA Books.