Posted in reviews

Murdered for Nothing by Gary Westphalen Review

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

A gruesome series of murders in the late 80’s finds upstate New York in a frenzy in a fictionalized version of true events in author Gary Westphalen’s “Murdered for Nothing”.

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The Synopsis

On a cold and snowy night in Upstate New York, two men walked into a little neighborhood bar. When they walked out a few minutes later, the three people inside had their heads caved in, and the place was on fire. In less than 48 hours, two more people in Rochester would be savagely tortured and murdered, and their homes also set ablaze. The five died in robberies that netted less than a hundred dollars. And that real-life crime spree is just the beginning.Set in the late 1980’s, Murdered For Nothing follows the criminals, the cops looking for them, the lawyer aching to represent them, and the media covering it all through a gruesome and twisted drama that includes egos, lies, suspense, the occasional touch of humor, and even a courtroom brawl that occurred in front of a dual trial involving two juries. Best of all, it unravels right in front of my camera. You see, I was the first television news photographer allowed to record a trial in New York State.Set in the late 1980’s, Murdered For Nothing is a fictionalized version of those real-life events that I witnessed first-hand. They have been percolating in my head for decades, and have bubbled to the surface in this page-turner that you won’t be able to put down.

The Review

This was a truly engaging and chilling crime thriller. What set this story apart from others within this genre was the fact that the crimes themselves were not some glamorous, Hollywood-style event that saw some big shootout with police during a bank heist. Instead, the story focused on the brutal reality of most crimes, which is that murder is far too often not just heartbreaking and painful for those left behind, but pointless as well. The author perfectly captures the raw emotions and vicious nature of the small-town crime that often gets overshadowed by the media, while also balancing this out with fast-paced storytelling and haunting use of imagery within the writing itself to bring these crimes and the lives of those involved to life.

What really stands out of course is the amazing character development within this novel. The author not only hones in on the mindset and personalities of the criminals, the police, and those involved in the case but even brings to life the small-town of Rochester itself, showing the townspeople and how these brutal crimes affected them. Balancing out this story of brutality with crimes such as this was the media sensation that the case became, highlighting our own nature as a society to become invested in and fascinated with the criminal mind and their acts. 

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The Verdict

A brilliant, enthralling, and haunting read, author Gary Westphalen’s “Murder for Nothing” is a fantastic and must-read crime thriller for the summer. Not only does the story itself draw the reader in, but the fact it’s a fictionalized narrative based on true events makes the story much more engaging, and will have readers clamoring to learn more about this case. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Gary has spent a lifetime as a documentary film maker and journalist. His pursuit of telling the story of the human condition has taken him to dozens of countries all over the world. He has interviewed Presidents and Kings, the homeless and destitute, and everything in-between. His work has been seen on nearly every major television and cable network. It’s almost a guarantee that you have seen the results of his story-telling. He has now turned to a life filled with narrating audiobooks for other authors, and writing his own books as well. Learn much more at garywestphalen.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gary.westphalen

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gary-westphalen-a37384126/

Posted in reviews

The Unknown Man by Natalie Hanson 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 with a gift for sensing lies finds herself searching for two kidnapped twins and a suspect with little to no information in a race against time in author Natalie Hanson’s novel, “The Unknown Man”.

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The Synopsis

It took just a tiny bit more matter than antimatter for the big bang to produce the entire universe. Born with an abnormality that manifests through her body, imbalance is something Zalla Bennbett understands. Her ability to sense out lies gives her an advantage on FBI investigations, but sixteen years in, both her marriage and career are on the rocks.

Zalla is assigned to work the kidnapping of an FBI informant’s young twins. With no evidence or leads, her suspect is deemed ‘The Unknown Man’. She’ll have to fight against her instincts to find the girls before time runs out.

The Review

A chilling and gripping tale, author Natalie Hanson has delivered a masterpiece thriller like no other. The author does a fantastic job of delivering suspense and drama on every page through perfect pacing and shocking narrative developments. The complex web of deceit and the twists and turns the author showcases in the narrative help bring out the terror that helps define the horror/thriller genre. 

The novel is the perfect balance of character development and pacing, taking the time to introduce readers to this narrative’s characters and establish a bond between the reader and the characters. The revelations that are made throughout the novel and the identity of the villain who has brought a level of complexity and drama to the narrative make this story a real stand-out amongst the other new releases in this genre.

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The Verdict

A memorable, engaging, and chilling novel of twisted games and haunting memories, author Natalie Hanson’s “The Unknown Man” is the perfect first entry into a brand new series of thrillers following a complicated and unique new protagonist. The shocking revelations the narrative unveils really make this novel inviting and nail-biting, making for the perfect summer thriller. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Natalie Hanson is an author and screenplay writer born and raised in Seattle, WA.

‘The Unknown Man’ is the first of five novels chronicling the hunt for serial killers and criminals by FBI agent Zalla Bennbett. This dark series examines the worst criminals humanity has to offer through the eyes of a jaded agent, struggling to keep optimism alive and fight for the voiceless.

Book two in the series, ‘The Butcher’, is an upcoming release.

Her novel ‘Every Moment and Not a Second More’ was published on Amazon in 2018.

Currently she is collaborating on a horror genre comic series based on her screenplay “Dociles.” It tells the story of a teen runaway, kidnapped by a medical examiner who turns the dead into zombies. It’s a fight to not end up as one of the herd!

https://nataliehardy9.wixsite.com/author/books

Posted in reviews

Texas Dead by William Gensburger Review

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

A series of gruesome murders leads two detectives down the rabbit hole as clues lead them to powerful figures, and the race to stop not only more killings but a full-scale war takes center stage in author William Gensburger’s “Texas Dead”. 

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The Synopsis

A series of murders in Corpus Christi leaves residents uneasy. All the victims were shot in the back of the head. But when a prominent financial genius is also found murdered, and not in the same way, celebrity detective Mackenzie ‘Maxie’ Michaels and her partner Kobe Jameson, must race to find the person responsible before more murders occur. As they uncover clues, the mystery deepens, dragging in powerful people, and threatening to erupt in a full-on war.

The Review

A thrilling new novel just in time for summer! The author does an incredible job of immediately balancing the chilling suspense of the main narrative with the humor and charm of the main cast of characters. The pacing of the novel’s main mystery perfectly draws the reader in, slowly unraveling a tangled web of corruption and power as shocking suspects are revealed throughout the investigation.

However, it is the strong characters of this novel that really are the backbone and selling point of the whole narrative. A strong female lead detective like Maxie does a great job of taking readers through the investigation process and the shocking twists and turns that occur, while her relationship both with her partner Kobe and reporter Devin Parker make this story feel real and connected. However, it is the humor and wit of the protagonist and her back and forth with the other characters that make this feel like a serialized cop show waiting to happen. 

The Verdict

A funny, shocking, and engaging thriller and suspense novel, author William Gensburger’s “Texas Dead” is the perfect introduction to a powerful new thriller series and an equally powerful protagonist and lead detective fans can get behind. A novel that’s imagery really makes the narrative feel like a network show that is meant to be seen, the novel proves to be the perfect starting thriller of the 2021 Summer reading season. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today.

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

William Gensburger is the author of TEXAS DEAD, a murder mystery novel, DISTANT RUMORS, an anthology of 16 stories about life and death, and HOMO IDIOTUS, a collection of published newspaper editorials.

He is also the publisher of ‘Books’N Pieces Magazine (soon to be a video podcast), where he has worked with many different authors, as well as publishing The Concordian, a 24-page monthly community newspaper, until 2016.

http://www.misterwriter.com/

Posted in reviews

Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica Review

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

A young girl who disappeared over a decade earlier along with two older women returns and brings with her a shocking twist of domestic secrets that will shake a local community to the core in author Mary Kubica’s “Local Woman Missing”.

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The Synopsis

People don’t just disappear without a trace…

Shelby Tebow is the first to go missing. Not long after, Meredith Dickey and her six-year-old daughter, Delilah, vanish just blocks away from where Shelby was last seen, striking fear into their once-peaceful community. Are these incidents connected? After an elusive search that yields more questions than answers, the case eventually goes cold.

Now, eleven years later, Delilah shockingly returns. Everyone wants to know what happened to her, but no one is prepared for what they’ll find…

In this smart and chilling thriller, master of suspense and New York Times bestselling author Mary Kubica takes domestic secrets to a whole new level, showing that some people will stop at nothing to keep the truth buried.

The Review

This was such a compelling read. The author does an incredible job of weaving together a complex narrative that keeps the reader guessing the entire story. The characters feel alive and do a marvelous job of engaging the reader on an entirely different level, eliciting emotions like sadness and rage to disbelief and heartbreak. The alternating timelines and POV’s were an inspired choice, as they really help the story connect with the mystery and intrigue the author has established here. 

What will draw the reader in is the intensity of the narrative and how the author manages to weave each POV and timeline to keep the mystery alive. The story shifts and changes so many times that readers are constantly shocked to discover new secrets and new suspects in this growing case, as the true mystery doesn’t even begin until after Delilah returns home. 

The Verdict

A brilliant, thought-provoking, and heart-pounding thriller, author Mary Kubica’s “Local Woman Missing” is the perfect suspense novel for fans of the genre this summer. Written in a way that screams for a cinematic or miniseries adaption, the twists and turns will keep readers engaged throughout the entirety of the novel, and by the book’s end readers will be shocked as the final revelations are shown. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Mary Kubica is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of six novels, including THE GOOD GIRL, PRETTY BABY, DON’T YOU CRY, EVERY LAST LIE, WHEN THE LIGHTS GO OUT, and THE OTHER MRS. A former high school history teacher, Mary holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, in History and American Literature. She lives outside of Chicago with her husband and two children. Her last novel THE OTHER MRS. was an instant New York Times bestseller; is coming soon to Netflix; was a LibraryReads pick for February 2020; praised by the New York Times; and highly recommended by Entertainment Weekly, People, The Week, Marie Claire, Bustle, HelloGiggles,Goodreads, PopSugar, BookRiot, HuffingtonPost, First for Women, Woman’s World, and more.Mary’s novels have been translated into over thirty languages and have sold over two million copies worldwide. She’s been described as “a helluva storyteller,” (Kirkus Reviews) and “a writer of vice-like control,” (Chicago Tribune), and her novels have been praised as “hypnotic” (People) and “thrilling and illuminating” (Los Angeles Times).  LOCAL WOMAN MISSING is her seventh novel. 

Social Links:

Website: https://marykubica.com/ 

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MaryKubica 

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

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7392948.Mary_Kubica 

Buy Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Local-Woman-Missing-Mary-Kubica/dp/0778389448/ 

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/local-woman-missing-mary-kubica/1137387568  

Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/books/local-woman-missing/9780778389446 

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780778389446 

Libro.fm: https://libro.fm/audiobooks/9781488211690-local-woman-missing 

Books-A-Million: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/Local-Woman-Missing/Mary-Kubica/9780778389446?id=8051055467945# 

Target: https://www.target.com/p/local-woman-missing-by-mary-kubica-hardcover/-/A-81225904 

Walmart: https://www.walmart.com/ip/Local-Woman-Missing-Original-ed-Hardcover-9780778389446/700252600 

Indigo: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/local-woman-missing-a-novel/9780778389446-item.html 

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/local-woman-missing 

AppleBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/local-woman-missing/id1524947457 

Google Play: https://www.google.com/books/edition/Local_Woman_Missing/sKazzQEACAAJ?hl=en 

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An Excerpt From LOCAL WOMAN MISSING

MEREDITH

11 YEARS BEFORE

March

The text comes from a number I don’t know. It’s a 630 area code. Local. I’m in the bathroom with Leo as he soaks in the tub. He has his bath toys lined up on the edge of it and they’re taking turns swan diving into the now-lukewarm water. It used to be hot, too hot for Leo to get into. But he’s been in there for thirty minutes now playing with his octopus, his whale, his fish. He’s having a ball.

Meanwhile I’ve lost track of time. I have a client in the early stages of labor. We’re texting. Her husband wants to take her to the hospital. She thinks it’s too soon. Her contractions are six and a half minutes apart. She’s absolutely correct. It’s too soon. The hospital would just send her home, which is frustrating, not to mention a huge inconvenience for women in labor. And anyway, why labor at the hospital when you can labor in the comfort of your own home? First-time fathers always get skittish. It does their wives no good. By the time I get to them, more times than not, the woman in labor is the more calm of the two. I have to focus my attention on pacifying a nervous husband. It’s not what they’re paying me for. 

I tell Leo one more minute until I shampoo his hair, and then fire off a quick text, suggesting my client have a snack to keep her energy up, herself nourished. I recommend a nap, if her body will let her. The night ahead will be long for all of us. Childbirth, especially when it comes to first-time moms, is a marathon, not a sprint. 

Josh is home. He’s in the kitchen cleaning up from dinner while Delilah plays. Delilah’s due up next in the tub. By the time I leave, the bedtime ritual will be done or nearly done. I feel good about that, hating the times I leave Josh alone with so much to do. 

I draw up my text and then hit Send. The reply is immediate, that all too familiar ping that comes to me at all hours of the day or night. 

I glance down at the phone in my hand, expecting it’s my client with some conditioned reply. Thx. 

Instead: I know what you did. I hope you die. 

Beside the text is a picture of a grayish skull with large, black eye sockets and teeth. The symbol of death. 

My muscles tense. My heart quickens. I feel thrown off. The small bathroom feels suddenly, overwhelmingly, oppressive. It’s steamy, moist, hot. I drop down to the toilet and have a seat on the lid. My pulse is loud, audible in my own ears. I stare at the words before me, wondering if I’ve misread. Certainly I’ve misread. Leo is asking, “Is it a minute, Mommy?” I hear his little voice, muff led by the ringing in my ears. But I’m so thrown by the cutthroat text that I can’t speak. 

I glance at the phone again. I haven’t misread. 

The text is not from my client in labor. It’s not from any client of mine whose name and number is stored in my phone. As far as I can tell, it’s not from anyone I know.

A wrong number, then, I think. Someone sent this to me by accident. It has to be. My first thought is to delete it, to pretend this never happened. To make it disappear. Out of sight, out of mind. 

But then I think of whoever sent it just sending it again or sending something worse. I can’t imagine anything worse. 

I decide to reply. I’m careful to keep it to the point, to not sound too judgy or fault-finding because maybe the intended recipient really did do something awful—stole money from a children’s cancer charity—and the text isn’t as egregious as it looks at first glance. 

I text: You have the wrong number. 

The response is quick. 

I hope you rot in hell, Meredith. 

The phone slips from my hand. I yelp. The phone lands on the navy blue bath mat, which absorbs the sound of its fall. 

Meredith. 

Whoever is sending these texts knows my name. The texts are meant for me. 

A second later Josh knocks on the bathroom door. I spring from the toilet seat, and stretch down for the phone. The phone has fallen facedown. I turn it over. The text is still there on the screen, staring back at me. 

Josh doesn’t wait to be let in. He opens the door and steps right inside. I slide the phone into the back pocket of my jeans before Josh has a chance to see. 

“Hey,” he says, “how about you save some water for the fish.” 

Leo complains to Josh that he is cold. “Well, let’s get you out of the bath,” Josh says, stretching down to help him out of the water. 

“I need to wash him still,” I admit. Before me, Leo’s teeth chatter. There are goose bumps on his arm that I hadn’t noticed before. He is cold, and I feel suddenly guilty, though it’s mired in confusion and fear. I hadn’t been paying any attention to Leo. There is bathwater spilled all over the floor, but his hair is still bone-dry. 

“You haven’t washed him?” Josh asks, and I know what he’s thinking: that in the time it took him to clear the kitchen table, wash pots and pans and wipe down the sinks, I did nothing. He isn’t angry or accusatory about it. Josh isn’t the type to get angry. 

“I have a client in labor,” I say by means of explanation. “She keeps texting,” I say, telling Josh that I was just about to wash Leo. I drop to my knees beside the tub. I reach for the shampoo. In the back pocket of my jeans, the phone again pings. This time, I ignore it. I don’t want Josh to know what’s happening, not until I get a handle on it for myself. 

Josh asks, “Aren’t you going to get that?” I say that it can wait. I focus on Leo, on scrubbing the shampoo onto his hair, but I’m anxious. I move too fast so that the shampoo suds get in his eye. I see it happening, but all I can think to do is wipe it from his forehead with my own soapy hands. It doesn’t help. It makes it worse. 

Leo complains. Leo isn’t much of a complainer. He’s an easygoing kid. “Ow,” is all that he says, his tiny wet hands going to his eyes, though shampoo in the eye burns like hell. 

“Does that sting, baby?” I ask, feeling contrite. But I’m bursting with nervous energy. There’s only one thought racing through my mind. I hope you rot in hell, Meredith. 

Who would have sent that, and why? Whoever it is knows me. They know my name. They’re mad at me for something I’ve done. Mad enough to wish me dead. I don’t know anyone like that. I can’t think of anything I’ve done to upset someone enough that they’d want me dead.

I grab the wet washcloth draped over the edge of the tub. I try handing it to Leo, so that he can press it to his own eyes. But my hands shake as I do. I wind up dropping the washcloth into the bath. The tepid water rises up and splashes him in the eyes. This time he cries. 

“Oh, buddy,” I say, “I’m so sorry, it slipped.” 

But as I try again to grab it from the water and hand it to him, I drop the washcloth for a second time. I leave it where it is, letting Leo fish it out of the water and wipe his eyes for himself. Meanwhile Josh stands two feet behind, watching. 

My phone pings again. Josh says, “Someone is really dying to talk to you.” 

Dying. It’s all that I hear. 

My back is to Josh, thank God. He can’t see the look on my face when he says it. 

“What’s that?” I ask. 

“Your client,” Josh says. I turn to him. He motions to my phone jutting out of my back pocket. “She really needs you. You should take it, Mer,” he says softly, accommodatingly, and only then do I think about my client in labor and feel guilty. What if it is her? What if her contractions are coming more quickly now and she does need me? 

Josh says, “I can finish up with Leo while you get ready to go,” and I acquiesce, because I need to get out of here. I need to know if the texts coming to my phone are from my client or if they’re coming from someone else. 

I rise up from the floor. I scoot past Josh in the door, brushing against him. His hand closes around my upper arm as I do, and he draws me in for a hug. “Everything okay?” he asks, and I say yes, fine, sounding too chipper even to my own ears. Everything is not okay. 

“I’m just thinking about my client,” I say. “She’s had a stillbirth before, at thirty-two weeks. She never thought she’d get this far. Can you imagine that? Losing a baby at thirty-two weeks?”

Josh says no. His eyes move to Leo and he looks saddened by it. I feel guilty for the lie. It’s not this client but another who lost a baby at thirty-two weeks. When she told me about it, I was completely torn up. It took everything in me not to cry as she described for me the moment the doctor told her her baby didn’t have a heartbeat. Labor was later induced, and she had to push her dead baby out with only her mother by her side. Her husband was deployed at the time. After, she was snowed under by guilt. Was it her fault the baby died? A thousand times I held her hand and told her no. I’m not sure she ever believed me. 

My lie has the desired effect. Josh stands down, and asks if I need help with anything before I leave. I say no, that I’m just going to change my clothes and go. 

I step out of the bathroom. In the bedroom, I close the door. I grab my scrub bottoms and a long-sleeved T-shirt from my drawer. I lay them on the bed, but before I get dressed, I pull my phone out of my pocket. I take a deep breath and hold it in, summoning the courage to look. I wonder what waits there. More nasty threats? My heart hammers inside me. My knees shake. 

I take a look. There are two messages waiting for me. 

The first: Water broke. Contractions 5 min apart. 

And then: Heading to hospital.—M. 

I release my pent-up breath. The texts are from my client’s husband, sent from her phone. My legs nearly give in relief, and I drop down to the edge of the bed, forcing myself to breathe. I inhale long and deep. I hold it in until my lungs become uncomfortable. When I breathe out, I try and force away the tension. 

But I can’t sit long because my client is advancing quickly. I need to go.

Excerpted from Local Woman Missing @ 2021 by Mary Kyrychenko, used with permission by Park Row Books.

Posted in reviews

The Devil’s Shadow by BJ Edwards Review

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

After a powerful and deadly creature is unleashed, the group of government agents must team up together to stop the monster as lawlessness and beastial behavior runs rampant in the world in the action-packed and visceral novel “The Devil’s Shadow” by BJ Edwards.

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The Synopsis

In a vault beneath the Mediterranean Sea, a creature from myth and folklore sleeps. Government agents David Coswell and Hannah Martin join forces to find and study the creature with the hopes of harnessing its power for their country’s good. Accidentally, they release the creature and London is plunged into chaos. Lawlessness and hedonism spread as Lord of the Flies regains his strength and uses violence and fear to build his new kingdom.

David Coswell, along with his ‘handler’ Sentinel Nutbeam, retired soldier Nigel Carter, and Spanish matriarch Maria Perez help the Prime Minister confront the beast and take back control of a fractured country.

The Devil’s Shadow is a fast-paced supernatural thriller. Sometimes scary, sometimes sexy and always exciting, it is an absorbing tale of friendship, loyalty, faith and belief.

The Review

A shocking and engaging story, author BJ Edwards does an amazing job of drawing the reader in with a unique blend of secret spy work and sexual buildup with terrifying horror themes and haunting writing that conjures up powerful imagery in its delivery. The author does an excellent job of throwing twists and turns in the narrative that changes the direction of many of the story’s protagonists throughout the narrative. Readers will be shocked at the major character growths that occur, in particular for Hannah, as she and others find themselves forced to become something they never thought possible in the face of great evil.

This is definitely a very adult novel, with powerful imagery that explores chilling moments between the creature and his new acolytes, as well as action-packed scenes that keep the adrenaline pumping and readers on the edge of their seats as the final remnants of humanity’s heroes come together to face an unstoppable threat. Aside from a few spelling and grammatical errors here and there, the story flowed really well and did a great job of pacing the major plot points also. 

The Verdict

A memorable, twisted and haunting and well-written novel, “The Devil’s Shadow” by BJ Edwards is a must-read horror thriller like no other. An emotional rollercoaster for many of the characters of this narrative, the lengths humanity are willing to go to in order to do what’s right, as well as the depths humanity will plunge itself out of either fear of power, makes this a brilliantly devilish read that fans of the genre won’t soon forget. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 8/10

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About the Author

BJ Edwards was born in Wolverhampton in the winter of 1975, and grew up in Middlesex and Worcester. BJ has always been fascinated by anthropology, theology, archaeology and prehistory. His degree is in English literature and he taught English before taking up writing full time.

As well as writing historical novels, BJ also writes short stories, plays and poems. Allied to this, he writes articles and regularly “tweets.”

BJ is passionate about sport and exercise – he holds belts in Kung-Fu and Judo, he rows at his local rowing club, trains regularly and enjoys the outdoors, films, music and books.

http://bjedwards.co.uk/

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”. 

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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”.

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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

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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”.

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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

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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.