Posted in reviews

A Caller’s Game by J.D. Barker Review

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

A controversial radio host finds herself forced to face the past as a caller plays a deadly game live on the air in author J.D. Barker’s “A Caller’s Game”. 

Advertisements

The Synopsis

DIE HARD meets TALK RADIO in this heart-pounding, relentlessly fast-paced thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of The Fourth Monkey—master of suspense, J.D. Barker.

“I’m going to offer you a choice.”

Controversial satellite radio talk show host, Jordan Briggs, has clawed her way to the top of the broadcast world. She doesn’t hold back, doesn’t spare feelings, and has no trouble sharing what’s on her mind. Her rigorous pursuit of success has come at a price, though. Her marriage is in ruins, she hasn’t spoken to her mother in years, and she’s distanced herself from all those close to her. If not for her young daughter, Charlotte, her personal life would be in complete shambles.

When a subdued man calls into the show and asks to play a game, she sees it as nothing more than a way to kick-start the morning, breathe life into the beginnings of drive-time for her listeners. Against her producer’s advice, she agrees, and unwittingly opens a door to the past.

Live on the air with an audience of millions, what starts out as a game quickly turns deadly—events long thought buried resurface and Jordan Briggs is forced to reconcile with one simple fact—All decisions have consequences.

The Review

What a heart-pounding thriller. The author immediately jumps into the action as readers are introduced to the protagonists, Officer Cole and Jordan Briggs. The threat of this anonymous caller is evident to the entire city as he unleashes the first of many attacks and lays the blame at Jordan’s feet. Yet from the beginning it is clear not everything is as it seems.

The author expertly balances character development and action/thriller vibes in this narrative. Themes of facing the past and roads to redemption make this a memorable read, as we see the character’s overcome some dangerous situations while facing some difficult memories that could tear apart the best of us.

The twisted game that the antagonist, “Bernie”, plays with Jordan and Cole really does capture the action and suspense of films like Die Hard and Phone Booth, with the threats increasing and the reader’s hearts pounding faster and faster as the mystery behind this relentless killer takes unexpected and emotional twists and turns, drawing the reader in deeper and deeper.

The Verdict

This is J.D. Barker at his best. “A Caller’s Game” is another fantastic thriller from one of the best authors I’ve read in recent years, and readers will love delving into this mystery. The evolution Jordan Briggs takes as her ruthless talk radio personality starts to face the consequences of her actions over the years, and Cole emerges as a fantastic new hero facing down this powerful threat. If you haven’t yet, be sure to preorder or grab your copy of this amazing novel today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Author

J.D. Barker is the New York Times and international best-selling author of numerous novels, including DRACUL and THE FOURTH MONKEY. His latest, SHE HAS A BROKEN THING WHERE HER HEART SHOULD BE, released March 31. He is currently collaborating with James Patterson. His books have been translated into two dozen languages, sold in more than 150 countries, and optioned for both film and television. Barker resides in coastal New Hampshire with his wife, Dayna, and their daughter, Ember.

Posted in reviews

13 Days of Terror (Brad Coulter #4) by Dwayne Clayden Review

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

A deadly sniper taunts detective Brad Coulter and the city of Calgary as the killer leaves no clues, and stalks the streets of the Canadian city like a predator in author Dwayne Clayden’s “13 Days of Terror”, the fourth book in the Brad Coulter series.

Advertisements

The Synopsis

Monday morning. A man drops dead in the parking lot of a car dealership in downtown Calgary. No one knows where the shot came from. No one knows why the victim was targeted. The shooter? Invisible.

An hour later, another body hits the ground. Random victim, random location.

A sniper is terrorizing Calgary.

Detective Brad Coulter has just returned to work after a long leave of absence. He is thrown directly into the fire and tasked with stopping what is rapidly becoming one of the city’s deadliest killers. The shooter leaves no evidence behind but taunts Brad with notes addressed directly to him. As the death count rises, city-wide panic ensues.

It is a race against time. But how can Brad hunt a ghost?

The Review

This was a fantastic and heart-pounding thriller. The author had a great way of bringing everything in this story to life, from the setting of Calgary to the bitterness and anger of the killer and the frustration and heartbreak of the protagonist. While I am a newcomer to the series, I found the characters engaging and the narrative easy to delve into as a newcomer, making this book accessible and entertaining for both newcomers and longtime fans alike.

This is the perfect read for fans of classic suspense thrillers, as the author does a great job of incorporating their own personal experiences in law enforcement into the narrative to make the plot a lot more realistic than the typical thriller. Yet the author adds just enough drama and creativity to elevate the action and character growth of these characters, making for a well-rounded and enjoyable read.

The Verdict

A memorable, action-driven and suspenseful read, author Dwayne Clayden’s “13 Days of Terror” is the perfect next chapter in the Brad Coulter series. The author masterfully weaves amazing character development for the protagonist and supporting cast with a plot that twists and turns with shocking developments, and by the book’s end leaves room for another exciting chapter in this growing series. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab the perfect winter thriller read today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Author

Author portraits for use on books and book proposals, as well as on LinkedIn, portfolio websites, and other online marketing tools. ©2015, Sean Phillips http://www.RiverwoodPhotography.com

DWAYNE combines his knowledge and experience as a police officer and paramedic to write realistic crime thrillers.

CRISIS POINT, Dwayne’s first novel, was a finalist for the 2015 Crime Writers of Canada, Arthur Ellis Awards.

OUTLAWMC is the second in the Brad Coulter Series.

WOLFMAN IS BACK, is the third in the Brad Coulter Series.

In his 40 year career, Dwayne has served as a police officer, paramedic, tactical paramedic, firefighter, emergency medical services (EMS) chief, educator, and academic chair.

Dwayne is a popular speaker at conferences and to writing groups presenting on realistic police, medical, and paramedic procedures.

The co-author of four paramedic textbooks, he has spoken internationally at EMS conferences for the past three decades.

DwayneClayden.com

Posted in reviews

The Coast-to-Coast Murders by James Patterson and J.D. Barker Review

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

An FBI agent and a local detective must work together when evidence of a long-hidden serial killer emerges, even when the suspect has no memory of his accused crimes, in authors James Patterson and J.D. Barker’s “The Coast-to-Coast Murders”.

Advertisements

The Synopsis

A detective and FBI agent join forces on what seems like an open-and-shut case — but a new rash of killings sends them on a pulse-pounding race against time in this intense thriller.

Michael and Megan Fitzgerald are siblings who share a terrifying past. Both adopted, and now grown — Michael is a long-haul truck driver, Megan a college student majoring in psychology — they trust each other before anyone else. They’ve had to. Their parents are public intellectuals, an Ivy League clinical psychologist and a renowned psychiatrist, and they brought up their adopted children in a rarefied, experimental environment. It sheltered them from the world’s harsh realities, but it also forced secrets upon them, secrets they keep at all costs.

In Los Angeles, Detective Garrett Dobbs and FBI Agent Jessica Gimble have joined forces to work a murder that seems like a dead cinch. Their chief suspect is quickly identified and apprehended –but then there’s another killing just like the one they’ve been investigating. And another. And not just in Los Angeles — the spree spreads across the country. The Fitzgerald family comes to the investigators’ attention, but Dobbs and Gimble are at a loss — if one of the four is involved, which Fitzgerald might it be?

From coastal California to upstate New York, Dobbs and Gimble race against time and across state lines to stop an ingenious and deeply deranged killer — one whose dark and twisted appetites put them outside the range of logic or experience.

The Review

The action begins immediately as readers are thrust into a shocking turn of events. Michael is introduced and is immediately thrust into a position of a suspect as a dead woman is found in his home, only he doesn’t know her. However, evidence begins piling up that he had some sort of life with this mystery woman, and soon he finds himself hunted by the law. The twists and turns that take the reader into the heart of this mystery are truly entertaining, as are the multiple POVs that the authors introduce. Michael’s sister Megan is one of the most peculiar and fascinating characters, as her narrative to the police via a written document portrays the damaging and harsh environment these two siblings were raised in. 

The suspense as readers are constantly torn between who the killer truly makes this book stand out. The shift from a complex homicide investigation into a manhunt for a notorious serial killer as the mystery of Michael’s identity and memories comes into play keeps readers invested, and while this is a lengthy read, the twists and turns make this story feel fresh and unique throughout the entirety of the novel. 

The Verdict

A must-read novel, authors J.D. Barker and James Patterson have created a masterpiece thriller with “The Coast-to-Coast Murders”. The characters are memorable and the action intense, and by the book’s end readers will be both pleased and shocked at the final reveal of it all. If you haven’t yet, grab your copy of this book today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Authors

Official US Site

Official UK Site

JIMMY Patterson Books

ReadKiddoRead

James Patterson is the world’s bestselling author and most trusted storyteller. He has created more enduring fictional characters than any other novelist writing today, with his Alex Cross, Michael Bennett, Women’s Murder Club, Private, NYPD Red, Daniel X, Maximum Ride, and Middle School series. He has sold over 380 million books worldwide and currently holds the Guinness World Record for the most #1 New York Times bestsellers. In addition to writing the thriller novels for which he is best known, among them The President Is Missing with President Bill Clinton, Patterson also writes fiction for young readers of all ages, including the Max Einstein series, produced in partnership with the Albert Einstein Estate. He is also the first author to have #1 new titles simultaneously on the New York Times adult and children’s bestseller lists.

The son of an insurance salesman and a schoolteacher, Patterson grew up in Newburgh, New York, and began casually writing at the age of nineteen. In 1969, he graduated from Manhattan College. He was given a full-ride scholarship to Vanderbilt University’s graduate program in English. He left Vanderbilt before getting his PhD due to complications involving the Vietnam War.

Instead, he moved to New York to become a junior copywriter for the advertising agency J. Walter Thompson, eventually becoming CEO of its North American company.

In 1976, while still working for J. Walter Thompson, Patterson published his first novel, The Thomas Berryman Number, with Little, Brown and Company. After being turned down by thirty-one publishers, it won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel. Patterson’s 1993 novel, Along Came a Spider, his first book to feature Alex Cross, was also his first New York Times bestseller in fiction.

In 2001, Morgan Freeman starred as Alex Cross in a film adaptation of Along Came a Spider, and Tyler Perry also played the character in the 2012 film Alex Cross. A film adaptation of Patterson’s middle-grade novel Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life was released in theaters in October 2016.

James Patterson has donated more than one million books to students, focusing on some of the most under-resourced schools and youth programs in the country. To date, he has donated $7.25 million to school and classroom libraries throughout the United States, and $2.1 million to independent bookstores and employees.

Patterson has recently donated over $35 million to his and his wife’s alma maters—the University of Wisconsin, Vanderbilt University, and Manhattan College—and he has established over four hundred Teacher and Writer Education Scholarships at twenty-one colleges and universities throughout the country. Patterson has also donated more than one million books to U.S. soldiers at home and overseas.

In May 2015, Patterson launched a children’s book imprint at Little, Brown—JIMMY Patterson—that is unwaveringly focused on one goal: turning kids into lifelong readers. This imprint also provides resources, strategies, and programs to serve teachers, parents, librarians, and booksellers. Patterson invests proceeds from the sales of JIMMY Patterson Books in pro-reading initiatives.

Patterson also founded ReadKiddoRead.com, a website designed to help parents, teachers, and librarians ignite a new generation’s excitement for reading. Awarded the National Book Foundation’s Innovations in Reading Prize and the American Library Association’s Great Websites for Kids, the site features thoughtful book reviews from a variety of genres and age ranges, a large and lively Facebook community, and contributions from other authors.

J.D. Barker is the New York Times and international best-selling author of numerous novels, including DRACUL and THE FOURTH MONKEY. His latest, SHE HAS A BROKEN THING WHERE HER HEART SHOULD BE, released March 31. He is currently collaborating with James Patterson. His books have been translated into two dozen languages, sold in more than 150 countries, and optioned for both film and television. Barker resides in coastal New Hampshire with his wife, Dayna, and their daughter, Ember.

A note from J.D.

As a child I was always told the dark could not hurt me, that the shadows creeping in the corners of my room were nothing more than just that, shadows. The sounds nothing more than the settling of our old home, creaking as it found comfort in the earth only to move again when it became restless, if ever so slightly. I would never sleep without closing the closet door, oh no; the door had to be shut tight. The darkness lurking inside needed to be held at bay, the whispers silenced. Rest would only come after I checked under the bed at least twice and quickly wrapped myself in the safety of the sheets (which no monster could penetrate), pulling them tight over my head.

I would never go down to the basement.

Never.

I had seen enough movies to know better, I had read enough stories to know what happens to little boys who wandered off into dark, dismal places alone. And there were stories, so many stories.

Reading was my sanctuary, a place where I could disappear for hours at a time, lost in the pages of a good book. It didn’t take long before I felt the urge to create my own.

I first began to write as a child, spinning tales of ghosts and gremlins, mystical places and people. For most of us, that’s where it begins—as children we have such wonderful imaginations, some of us have simply found it hard to grow up. I’ve spent countless hours trying to explain to friends and family why I enjoy it, why I would rather lock myself in a quiet little room and put pen to paper for hours at a time than throw around a baseball or simply watch television. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I want to do just that, sometimes I wish for it, but even then the need to write is always there in the back of my mind, the characters are impatiently tapping their feet, waiting their turn, wanting to be heard. I wake in the middle of the night and reach for the pad beside my bed, sometimes scrawling page after page of their words, their lives. Then they’re quiet, if only for a little while. To stop would mean madness, or even worse—the calm, numbing sanity I see in others as they slip through the day without purpose. They don’t know what it’s like, they don’t understand. Something as simple as a pencil can open the door to a new world, can create life or experience death. Writing can take you to places you’ve never been, introduce you to people you’ve never met, take you back to when you first saw those shadows in your room, when you first heard the sounds mumbling ever so softly from your closet, and it can show you what uttered them. It can scare the hell out of you, and that’s when you know it’s good.

jd

Posted in reviews

The First To Lie by Hank Phillippi Ryan Review

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

The line between revenge and justice blurs as several people get intertwined with a plot involving Big Pharma and the lack of ethics involved in the industry in author Hank Phillippi Ryan’s “The First To Lie”.

Advertisements

The Synopsis

What happens when an undercover reporter gets in too deep? And when a practiced liar has to face off with her own truth—how does she choose her true reality?

Who will be the first to lie?

Bestselling and award-winning author and investigative reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan delivers another twisty, thrilling suspense novel that will leave you breathless.

The Review

What a truly thought-provoking and engaging thriller! The cat and mouse storyline from these multiple points of view really keep the reader guessing as to who is the cat and who is the mouse in this web of lies and deceit. The multiple viewpoints each help to unravel the larger conspiracy and mystery surrounding this major Pharma company and how their actions led to a domino effect like no other. 

The many paths the plot takes readers on are gripping in their own right, but the moment these paths finally start to converge readers will be shocked and amazed when identities are revealed and truths are laid bare. The author does a great job of developing an intricate plot that challenges the reader to think and uncover little clues as the story progresses to see who the true “villain” of this tale is, and whether or not true justice exists in this world.

The Verdict

A brilliant thriller that fans of the genre will not be able to put down, author Hank Phillippi Ryan’s “The First to Lie” is a masterful deep-dive into the suspenseful world of lies and conspiracies. An evenly paced narrative and characters that readers will both love and love to hate, the complex morality of each character and the twist and turns of the story will keep readers invested entirely. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Author

Hank Phillippi Ryan is the USA Today bestselling author of eleven award winning novels of suspense. National reviews have called her a “master at crafting suspenseful mysteries” and “a superb and gifted storyteller.” Her newest thriller, THE FIRST TO LIE, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, calling it “Stellar.”

Her earlier psychological thriller, THE MURDER LIST, received a *starred review from Library Journal–which called it: Masterly plotted, riveting and a must read. It’s now an Agatha, Anthony, Macavity and Mary Higgins Clark Award nominee, a number one legal thriller on Amazon, and a USA Today Bestseller.

Her first psychological standalone, TRUST ME (now in paperback) , is an Agatha Award nominee, and was named BEST of 2018 by the New York Post, Real Simple Magazine, BookBub, Crime Reads, and PopSugar. Mary Kubica says: “Dazzling!” and Lisa Gardner says “Mesmerizing!”

The Booklist *starred review says “…it’s a knockout. First-rate psychological suspense.”

Her thriller SAY NO MORE, is a Library Journal BEST OF 2016. And this just in: it’s a nominee for the AGATHA AWARD and the MARY HIGGINS CLARK AWARD! And now, breaking news, it is also a DAPHNE AWARD nominee! Associated Press calls it “stellar” and Publishers Weekly calls it “thrilling” “unflinching” and “gratifying.”

Her 2015 book, WHAT YOU SEE, is a Library Journal BEST of 2015, an ANTHONY and AGATHA Award nominee, and a Top Pick!, dubbed “exceptional suspense.” It received a starred review from Library Journal which says: “Readers will find themselves racing to the finish!”

Her 2014 book, TRUTH BE TOLD, won the AGATHA Award for best mystery, and is a Library Journal Best of 2014. It received starred reviews from Booklist and Library Journal, which says, “Drop everything and binge read!”

THE WRONG GIRL won the Agatha Award and the Daphne Award, and is a seven-week Boston Globe bestseller and Anthony Award nominee.

THE OTHER WOMAN won the coveted Mary Higgins Clark Award, and was listed as a Best Book of 2012 by the Kansas City Star, the Sacramento Bee, Suspense Magazine, and The Boston Globe, won the prestigious Mary Higgins Clark Award, and was the only novel nominated for the Agatha, Anthony, Macavity, Shamus and Daphne awards for Best Novel of 2012.

Her first four mysteries, beginning with the Agatha Award-winning PRIME TIME, feature Charlotte McNally, a Boston television reporter. FACE TIME was a BookSense Notable Book, and AIR TIME and DRIVE TIME were both Anthony and Agatha Award nominees for best novel of 2009 and 2010. They are now available in all new editions.

Hank is also an award-winning investigative reporter at Boston’s WHDH-TV. In addition to 37 EMMYs and 14 Edward R. Murrow awards, Hank’s won dozens of other honors for her ground-breaking journalism.

Her work has resulted in new laws, people sent to prison, homes removed from foreclosure, and millions of dollars in refunds and restitution for victims and consumers. She’s been a radio reporter, a legislative aide in the United States Senate and an editorial assistant at Rolling Stone Magazine, working with Hunter S. Thompson, Richard Avedon and Richard Goodwin.

Hank is a founding teacher at Mystery Writers of America University and served as president of national Sisters in Crime. She blogs at Jungle Red Writers and Career Authors.

Learn more about Hank at www.HankPhillippiRyan.com, on Twitter @HankPRyan, on Instagram @hankpryan and on Facebook at HankPhillippiRyanAuthor.

Posted in reviews

Hinterland by L.M. Brown Review

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

Trigger Warning: Themes revolving around mental illness are present in this novel. If you or someone you know suffers from illnesses such as schizophrenia and are easily triggered by these storylines, reader discretion is advised.

A husband and father trying to take care of his wife and child finds himself struggling as a childhood friend returns home, bringing complex feelings back to the surface and a dark secret threatens to tear apart his family in author LM. Brown’s “Hinterland”. 

The Synopsis

Nicholas Giovanni’s life revolves around his five-year old daughter Kate. When he isn’t driving his taxi, he is taking care of her and her mother Kathleen, whose last involuntary admission to hospital was before Kate was born. When his childhood best friend, Ina, returns next door, tensions rise in the house. Already unstable, Kathleen suspicions of Ina and Nicholas grow until a day of violence ensues and Kathleen disappears.

Kate’s life is shattered by her mother’s disappearance. No-one will tell her where Kathleen is. Although Ina helps to take care of Kate, Nicholas keeps her at arm’s length. He cannot bring himself to tell the truth about Kathleen’s last day, until Kate runs away, and he realizes his silence has torn everyone apart. To find Kate and to keep Ina in his life, there are truths he must face, if it’s not too late.

The Review

This was a well written, slow-burn style mix of family drama and thriller. The author explores two important themes in this narrative: the lengths a parent would go to in order to protect their child, and the hardships of trying to care for someone suffering from a severe mental illness. 

The protagonist Nicholas is a complex man, with both many faults and a desire to protect his daughter Kate from heartbreaking truths. From the return of his childhood friend Ina to the struggle he has with his wife Kathleen and her struggle with a serious mental illness, the author beautifully focuses on character development to highlight the story within this book. 

The Verdict

An emotionally charged, dramatic, and evenly paced read, author L.M. Brown’s “Hinterland” is a must-read thriller drama. The heartbreaking circumstances that push Nicholas and his family to the edge are truly engaging and keep the reader on the edge of their seat, and definitely felt like the delivery of the narrative was very reminiscent of a classic Hitchcock thriller. If you haven’t yet be sure to preorder your copy today or grab it on October 13th, 2020!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Author

L.M Brown is the author of novels Debris and Hinterland, and the linked short story collections Treading The Uneven Road and Were We Awake. Her award winning stories have been published in over a dozen magazines. She grew up in Ireland but lives in Massachusetts with her husband and three daughters.

https://www.facebook.com/LornaBrownAuthor

https://www.instagram.com/l.m_brown/

Posted in Blog Tours, Book Events, reviews

The Last Wife by Karen Hamilton Review

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

A tragic loss and desire for a better life leads a woman down a dark and dangerous path into the past and future in author Karen Hamilton’s psychological thriller, “The Last Wife”. 

Advertisements

The Synopsis

In Karen Hamilton’s shocking thriller, THE LAST WIFE (Graydon House, July 7, $17.99) Marie Langham is distraught when her childhood friend, Nina, is diagnosed with a terminal illness. Before Nina passes away, she asks Marie to look out for her familyher son, daughter, and husband, Stuart. Marie would do anything for Nina, so of course, she agrees. 

Following Nina’s death, Marie gradually finds herself drawn into her friend’s lifeher family, her large house in the countryside. But when Camilla, a mutual friend from their old art-college days, suddenly reappears, Marie begins to suspect that she has a hidden agenda. Then, Marie discovers that Nina had long suppressed secrets about a holiday in Ibiza the women took ten years previously when Marie’s then-boyfriend went missing after a tragic accident and was later found dead. 

Marie used to envy Nina’s beautiful life, but now the cards are up in the air and she begins to realize that nothing is what it seemed. As long-buried secrets start surfacing, Marie must figure out what’s true and who she can trust before the consequences of Nina’s dark secrets destroy her.

The Review

The author does an excellent job of ramping up the suspense early on in the story. At first glance, the mystery of the promises Marie made to Nina seems harmless, but they are anything but. The edgy nature of the thriller lends itself well to the cast of characters and their hidden natures.

The author’s focus on character development really shines through in this thriller. The mark of a good mystery shows in this narrative, as the characters all show evidence of both good and nefarious intentions, marking them as well-rounded and complex characters that are both relatable and engaging to readers. 

The Verdict

An edge-of-your-seat thriller, author Karen Hamilton’s “The Last Wife” is a must-read summer mystery that is reminiscent of the shocking and electrifying mystery surrounding Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl”. The characters steal the show as by book’s end those you thought you could trust suddenly are not, and readers are left shocked as the book comes to a close. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

Buy Links: 

Harlequin 

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

Books-A-Million

Powell’s

Social Links:

Author Website

Twitter: @KJHAuthor

Instagram: @karenhamiltonauthor

Facebook: @KarenHamiltonWriter

Goodreads

Advertisements

Author Bio: 

Karen Hamilton spent her childhood in Angola, Zimbabwe, Belgium and Italy and worked as a flight attendant for many years. Karen is a recent graduate of the Faber Academy and, having now put down roots in Hampshire to raise her young family with her husband, she satisfies her wanderlust by exploring the world through her writing. She is also the author of the international bestseller The Perfect Girlfriend.

Advertisements

Now Here is an Excerpt From “The Last Wife” by Karen Hamilton


PROLOGUE

Clients trust me because I blend in. It’s a natural skill—my gift, if you like. I focus my lens and capture stories, like the ones unfolding tonight: natural and guarded expressions, self-conscious poses, joyous smiles, reluctant ones from a teenage bridesmaid, swathed in silver and bloodred. The groom is an old friend, yet I’ve only met his now-wife twice. She seems reserved, hard to get to know, but in their wedding album she’ll glow. The camera does lie. My role is to take these lies and spin them into the perfect story.

I take a glass of champagne from a passing server. I needn’t be totally on the ball during the latter half of the evening because by then, people naturally loosen up. I find that the purest details are revealed in the discreet pictures I snatch during the final hours, however innocuously an event starts. And besides, it seems this event is winding down.

The one downside of my job is the mixed bag of emotions evoked. I rarely take family photos anymore, so normally, I’m fine, but today, watching the wedding festivities, the longing for what I don’t have has crept up on me. People think that envy is a bad thing, but in my opinion, envy is a positive emotion. It has always been the best indicator for me to realize what’s wrong with my life. People say, “Follow your dreams,” yet I’d say, “Follow what makes you sick with envy.”

It’s how I knew that I must stop deceiving myself and face up to how desperately I wanted to have a child. Delayed gratification is overrated.

I place my camera on a table as the tempo eases and sit down on a satin-draped chair. As I watch the bride sweep across the dance floor with her new husband, I think of Nina, and an overwhelming tide of grief floods through me. I picture her haunted expression when she elicited three final promises from me: two are easy to keep, one is not. Nonetheless, a vow is a vow. I will be creative and fulfill it. I have a bad—yet tempting—idea which occasionally beckons me toward a slippery slope.

I must do my best to avoid it because when Nina passed the baton to me, she thought I was someone she could trust. However, as my yearning grows, the crushing disappointment increases every month and the future I crave remains elusive. And she didn’t know that I’d do anything to get what I want. Anything.

ONE

Ben isn’t at home. I used to panic when that happened, assume that he was unconscious in a burning building, his oxygen tank depleted, his colleagues unable to reach him. All this, despite his assurance that they have safety checks in place to keep an eye out for each other. He’s been stressed lately, blames it on work. He loves his job as a firefighter, but nearly lost one of his closest colleagues in a fire on the fourth floor of a block of flats recently when a load of wiring fell down and threatened to ensnare him.

No, the reality is that he is punishing me. He doesn’t have a shift today. I understand his hurt, but it’s hard to explain why I did what I did. For a start, I didn’t think that people actually sent out printed wedding invitations anymore. If I’d known that the innocuous piece of silver card smothered in horseshoes and church bells would be the ignition for the worst argument we’d ever had, I wouldn’t have opened it in his presence.

Marie Langham plus guest…

I don’t know what annoyed Ben more, the fact that he wasn’t deemed important enough to be named or that I said I was going alone.

“I’m working,” I tried to explain. “The invitation is obviously a kind formality, a politeness.”

“All this is easily rectifiable,” he said. “If you wanted me there, you wouldn’t have kept me in the dark. The date was blocked off as work months ago in our calendar.”

True. But I couldn’t admit it. He wouldn’t appreciate being called a distraction.

Now, I have to make it up to him because it’s the right time of the month. He hates what he refers to as enforced sex (too much pressure), and any obvious scene-setting like oyster-and-champagne dinners, new lingerie, an invitation to join me in the shower or even a simple suggestion that we just shag, all the standard methods annoy him. It’s hard to believe that other couples have this problem, it makes me feel inadequate.

One of our cats bursts through the flap and aims for her bowl. I observe her munching, oblivious to my return home until this month’s strategy presents itself to me: nonchalance. A part of Ben’s stress is that he thinks I’m obsessed with having a baby. I told him to look up the true meaning of the word: an unhealthy interest in something. It’s not an obsession to desire something perfectly normal.

I unpack, then luxuriate in a steaming bath filled with bubbles. I’m a real sucker for the sales promises: relax and unwind and revitalize. I hear the muffled sound of a key in the lock. It’s Ben—who else would it be—yet I jump out and wrap a towel around me. He’s not alone. I hear the voices of our neighbors, Rob and Mike. He’s brought in reinforcements to maintain the barrier between us. There are two ways for me to play this and if you can’t beat them…

I dress in jeans and a T-shirt, twist my hair up and grip it with a hair clip, wipe mascara smudges from beneath my eyes and head downstairs.

“You’re back,” says Ben by way of a greeting. “The guys have come over for a curry.”

“Sounds perfect,” I say, kissing him before hugging our friends hello.

I feel smug at the wrong-footed expression on Ben’s face. He thought I’d be unable to hide my annoyance, that I’d pull him to one side and whisper, “It’s orange,” (the color my fertility app suggests is the perfect time) or suggest that I cook instead so I can ensure he eats as organically as possible.

“Who’s up for margaritas?” I say with an I’m game for a big night smile.

Ben’s demeanor visibly softens. Result. I’m forgiven.

The whole evening is an effortless success.

Indifference and good, old-fashioned getting pissed works.

Excerpted from The Last Wife by Karen Hamilton, Copyright © 2020 by Karen Hamilton 

Published by Graydon House Books

Posted in reviews

Murder of the Obeah Man by Anthony Avina

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

A local herbalist and healer finds herself imbedded into a local murder investigation in author Judy Fishel’s “Murder of the Obeah Man”.

The Synopsis

When the owl hooted just outside her window, Jeenya cringed. She knew what it meant. When she was a girl her Granny, up in the Blue Mountains in Jamaica, taught her the omens. This was a sign that someone was dying. It was probably MURDER.

They found his body in the morning. Josiah Overman had been the richest, the most important, the most respected and loved man in Jamaica Lakes. He had built Jamaica Lakes. He was also their Obeah Man. No Jamaican would dare kill the Obeah Man. They all knew that his duppy (a vengeful ghost) would come after them, torture them, and perhaps kill them. It had to be a stranger.

Jeenya Birdsong, herbalist, healer, and spiritual advisor knew her old friend wasn’t perfect but, even with her knowledge of the people in this Jamaican community, even with her ability to look people in the eye and know what they were thinking, she still could not imagine why anyone would do this.

Jeenya knew she would need to help the detectives find the killer. She remembered dreaming of being a detective but now she wasn’t sure. Would she really be able to help? Her husband would worry, thinking it was too dangerous. She worried about getting in the way or even making a total fool of herself.

The Review

A fantastic read! The author has crafter a wonderful story that really delves into the murder mystery genre. The atmosphere and tone of the tale immediately grab the readers attention, setting up that classic sleuth story fans of the genre love.

What really stood out to me was the author’s use of setting to bring more depth to the characters and story. The setting of Jamaica Lakes was a character all its own, breathing life into the cast of characters, including the protagonist Jeenya.

The Verdict

A breath of fresh air in the murder mystery genre, author Judy Fishel’s “Murder of the Obeah Man” is a must read novel of the summer! Engaging, thoughtful and full of rich characters, this novel will not only keep readers on the edge of their seat, but will educate readers on history and lore from the Jamaican culture and people. It’s a fun read that will not disappoint you, so be sure to grab your own copy today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Judy Fishel grew up in Florida, just across the river from Palm City. She and her grandfather often looked for wildflowers along the citrus groves. She also remembers the terrible freezes that killed the citrus trees. It made sense to set her story there. She started work on this book fifteen years ago but it just wasn’t working. She then wrote Straight A’s Are NOT Enough – study skills for college students. Finally, last summer she returned working on Murder of the Obeah Man. When one of her characters, Jeenya Birdsong, began appearing in her dreams, all the pieces began fitting together. Now, Judy likes to say that Jeenya is her spiritual advisor.

http://www.judyfishel.com/

Posted in reviews

Judenrein by Harold Benjamin Review

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

A troubled man with a checkered past finds himself forced into the role of a hero when a white supremacist led America faces a terror attack that is set to pin the blame on the already disparaged Jewish community, and plunge the nation into chaos in author Harold Benjamin’s novel “Judenrein”. 

Advertisements

The Synopsis 

Zack Gurevitz has had a checkered past. A Yeshiva boy, turned Green Beret, turned junkie, excommunicated by his one-time faith and now the potential savior of people he doesn’t even like.

As a white supremacist movement stealthily takes the reins of power in America, it is again the Jews who are made out as scapegoats. Stripped of wealth and citizenship, they are made to live in 21st century ghettos that hark back to a sinister and murky past that many had thought would never return.

But things are about to get much worse. With the revealing of a planned terror attack that will place the blame firmly at Jewish feet and condemn millions to death, Zack is contacted by Jewish leaders in Detroit, begging for his help.

Reluctantly he agrees and before long he is mired in a conspiracy that will have far reaching consequences for his country, the Jewish population and even his own sanity.

As the clock ticks down, can Zack find a way to avert a looming disaster? Who is behind the conspiracy? And can he really trust anyone?

The Review

There has never been a more relevant time for a thriller novel such as this. The author conveys a powerful story that relates a long history of violence, hatred and prejudice through a dystopian thriller lens. 

The author does an amazing job of creating a vast cast of characters, but most importantly a complex, multi-layered protagonist. Getting to see Zack struggle with his addiction and the complex relationship he has with his people and the circumstances they find themselves in really made the narrative shine through much brighter. It brought the harrowing experiences occurring in the dystopian future into the light and showcased how scary the events of our own world are sadly not far off from this reality, making it a plot that readers greatly pay attention to. 

The Verdict

A true page turner, author Harold Benjamin’s “Judenrein” is a heart-pounding thriller. This sad and dystopian future  is a stark reminder of how important it is to resist the hatred that threatens to overtake the world, and the flawed nature of protagonist Zack keeps the reader fully invested in the character’s journey through this dystopian world. It is a must-read thriller that won’t disappoint fans, so be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Author

Harold Benjamin is the pen name of a 50-something Jewish writer who lives in the American midwest. He grew up in New York. Three out of his four grandparents were born in the 19th century.

Judenrein is available as an ebook and paperback.

For more information, visit www.judenreinbook.com.

Website: http://judenreinbook.com/

Video URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4j26RJJMCQ

Posted in reviews

The Tech by Mark Ravine Review

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

A young FBI agent takes charge of a new team, and discovers that a series of new cases are mysteriously tied to a shadowy organization in author Mark Ravine’s novel, “The Tech”. 

Advertisements

The Synopsis

Alexandra has just taken charge of her new team, a motley crew of screw-ups at the Arizona Field Office, the latest in a series of forgettable assignments. With a history of rebelling against authority and blunt speaking, she vows to change her ways and make this assignment work.

Within minutes of her taking charge, she is drawn into a bank robbery case. She leads her new team to catch the robbers but discovers that there is much more to the case than meets the eye. The very next day three girls go missing. Before they could be trafficked out of the country, she races against time to rescue them. Soon, she begins to realize that all the cases coming her way are mysteriously connected. As she unravels the threads of a massive conspiracy, she discovers that a secret organization with immense power and authority is behind these horrific crimes. Forces within the FBI thwart her every move to discover the truth. Helping her navigate this maze is the shadowy Michael Patterson. But can she trust him? Can she trust anyone? Soon, witnesses disappear, suspects are killed, with her life and the lives of her team in lethal danger. Will she come out of this alive? Will she uncover and expose this cabal? As time starts running out, Alexandra Cassidy has to evade indictment and defy death in a deadly game of cat and mouse. 

The Review

The author has excelled in his debut novel. The characters are fully developed and do an amazing job of pulling the reader into the narrative as a whole. The complexity of the plot really keeps the intrigue and suspense of this FBI thriller alive, weaving together various cases and plots involving human trafficking, bank robberies and murder. 

The author does an amazing job of crafting a narrative that focuses on a tech-based approach to investigative work and yet makes it accessible and easy for the average reader to delve into, even venturing into sci-fi territory with the sophistication of the tech used in the investigations. Yet it is the character development that really shines the brightest in this novel, crafting a unique blend of suspense and bonding between the protagonist and the team of characters she finds herself surrounded by. 

Advertisements

The Verdict

A must-read action-fueled thriller, author Mark Ravine’s “The Tech” is a smash hit debut novel. The author has put together a memorable cast of characters and an amazingly interwoven plot that ticks every box in the classic FBI thriller and takes it up several notches. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10