suspense

Book Review: Recycled Love by George Henry

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Recycled LoveRecycled Love by George Henry
Recycled Love is the second book I’ve read by George Henry. While undeniably the same witty and strong writing style, there is a huge difference in the ultimate genre of the story and the complexity of all the relationships between the characters. Since I am a larger fan of mystery than I am action adventure, I must say, I found this one even better. That said, both are jam-packed full of thrills and suspense, so you’ll enjoy either no matter which you choose.

One of my (if not the most) favorite books is ‘And Then There Were None’ by Agatha Christie. When you have ~10 possible suspects in a murder(s), and you knock them off one by one, it’s kinda exhilarating to see how it all turns out. While Recycled Love doesn’t kill off victims one by one, it does throw out a cast of ~10 suspects for a previous string of murders. Through (mostly) the eyes of Dan, we get to know all his traveling companions, eager to discover which one (or couple) is lying about their identity. Where this reminded me a bit of the Christie tale (not in style but in format and POV approach) is that the author carefully drops enough clues that we as readers should’ve realized much sooner what was going on. Henry gives us ~10 suspects but he also gives us ~10 very different backstories, motives, and versions of chaos to unravel.

The characters are well drawn. A few were absolutely horrible people, but they served their purpose. One in particular (a certain ruthless mother) was the most unrealistic person I could’ve ever met…but her over-the-top dramatics were truly fantastic to witness and experience. From there, the traveling companions all grow exorbitantly decisive and intense. Henry throws us back and forth in deciding which couples should get together. Sometimes it’s a shocker, others it makes sense. What popped the most for me in this story was the severity of the international antics that occurred. It mostly takes place in India and Nepal, and Henry takes great care to show the kinder and the more miserable aspects of living in these countries, dependent upon your wealth and connections. I couldn’t possibly tell if this happens in the real world but from a book’s perspective, it made for excellent drama.

If you like action/adventure, a bit of romance, tons of suspense and thrilling chases, as well as an intense psychological ride of the mind, drugs, and alcohol, you’ll come away with a wonderful new author to add to your top lists. Be prepared, you will never be comfortable because Henry likes to jolt you when you least expect it.

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are four books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, and Mistaken Identity Crisis. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

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Book Review: The Keeper by Misty Mount

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The Keeper (The Underground Defenders Book 1)The Keeper by Misty Mount
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Keeper, published by Misty Mount in 2019, is the first book in her “Underground Defenders” series. I’ve read another book by Mount in the past, and I will be reading more in the future. I enjoy her slow-build, tension-filled climaxes and the depth of detail she goes into describing her characters and settings. With a focus more on the paranormal / other-worldly / ghostly genres, it’s not quite fantasy or science-fiction, but it’s definitely not total reality; I like that middle ground and would recommend this book for almost all reader types and ages, especially if you have a bit of an open mind.

At first, we get to know a young couple who have moved to the husband’s family’s home under interesting auspices. There are some financial and medical issues with the couple, but the husband’s grandmother has also taken ill. She raised her grandson (and his siblings) when their parents weren’t around. I say it that way purposely because all is not what it seems and I don’t want to spoil the book for you. That said, when the couple and their young daughter arrive, something is obviously amiss. Not only do we learn the wife has had a bit of a breakdown, we see her very ‘clingy’ focus on her daughter–fearful when others hold the infant, unable to leave the room without her, et al. Are there legitimate reasons, or has her breakdown not been fully uncovered and healed? Mount handles these questions well because I often couldn’t be sure where the exact problem stemmed from in the couple’s relationship. At times, it was his fault, yet at others, it was clearly hers. Excellent way to keep readers attuned to the story but excited to find out the conclusion.

As the tale unfolds, we meet the mystery guest that the grandmother says has been helping her recover before her grandson returned. Even the live-in staff and visiting nurse are aware of this supposed other person. Is she real or a ghost? Just when you get to know her, the main story completely pauses and switches to the past where we learn about a nearby neighbor who also seems to know the same house guest. We learn all the history leading up to the current time, including some connections with the young couple’s grandmother and extended family. Some shocking stuff regarding healing and medicinal treatments swing to the forefront, but very powerful relationships unfold at the same time. Mount is great at taking readers into a moment of eerie and confusing situations, letting us decide for ourselves what’s real and what’s imaginary. Great stuff!

For me, this is a non-typical read, but it’s very easy to digest and connect with, so I find myself quite intrigued to learn more about the hospital, the house guest, and the missing and yet-to-be-revealed parts of this larger plot. What I can say without any spoilers… the book ends with a resolution to the main story. We know what’s going on with the grandmother and young couple. We understand who the house guest is and what’s truly going on in her own world. But… we get a sort of open-ended cliffhanger about what will happen next. Just because you know the answer to your question doesn’t mean you know how it’ll turn out… that’s the way to end a story and make your reader wait for the next one. This reader is looking forward to book two… and I hope we get it before year-end.

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are four books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, and Mistaken Identity Crisis. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: By Chance by E. Denise Billups

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By ChanceBy Chance by E. Denise Billups
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

By Chance, written by E. Denise Billups, focuses on three women who have a shared, unknown connection in the beginning of this supernatural story. Although they start out as colleagues working on a TV home remodeling show that gives a house away each year to one lucky entrant, they become friends over time and support one another through multiple difficult, personal situations. They also have varying degrees of paranormal abilities, enabling them to predict what might happen and to recall memories from long ago. When they each receive a peculiar gift one holiday morning, they turn to each other to protect themselves from a harmful entity seeking vengeance.

Enter Tom and his family. He appears to be a man suffering from something awful that occurred in the past. He previously won the home giveaway contest, but after time, things went awry. We never quite know what happened, but he wants to punish the show for its lies and the unfairness it’s caused in his life. He makes a difficult decision to leave his family in order to travel around the country to get revenge against the show, stalking and hunting down the three women (and a few others) who were part of his downfall.

Told from different perspectives, we learn the history leading up to Tom’s anger through the eyes of different situations and characters. At the same time, we watch the women try to discover who is out to get them, as Tom’s notes and presents are purposefully confusing. The women are also unable to clearly see Tom’s identity, and nothing indicates he is past winner, at least in the beginning. As the events unfold, and Tom unravels, he makes mistakes which lead to someone figuring out his identity. But then, they can’t actually find him. They just foresee the final encounter, which doesn’t bode well for their futures. What can the trio do to stop him?

While the supernatural abilities are important to the story, they aren’t what made this such a great read for me. Billups created memorable characters with painful history and wonderful, outgoing personalities. I believed the kindred spirit and friendship among the three primary women, and they kept my attention throughout the tale. The concept of the story was intriguing–a home giveaway contest gone wrong. Or did it? There is a heightened psychological aspect to this story because at times, we are unsure who might be involved in the entire situation. It creates good suspense and makes for a very easy read.

This isn’t a whodunit tale, nor is it focused on what actually went wrong with the house that was given away. It’s more a story of perspective and overcoming challenges. The main plot takes place over about a year, and the subplots are plenty–we see all the new relationships and events in the women’s lives while the stalking continues to occur. Sometimes it’s the things you don’t know that will haunt you in the end.

Tom suffers through a lot, but we won’t find out all the details until much further in the book than you’d expect. I turned the pages quickly on a flight halfway across the country, and before long, it’d ended. Pacing and timing were strong, and I found myself invested in the outcome. The ending was a nice surprise, and I realized how much I enjoy Billups’ writing style. A definite recommend from me for fans of something that blends a few genres and turns out a solid story.

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are four books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, and Mistaken Identity Crisis. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Breakdown by Sara Paretsky

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Breakdown  (V.I. Warshawski, #15)Breakdown by Sara Paretsky
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The ‘V.I. Warshawski’ books by Sara Paretsky were one of the first mystery series that I began reading years ago. I’d stopped reading for a few years, then when I picked ’em up again, I’d somehow forgotten this one. I added it to my TBR and recently decided to get caught up this summer. After the first chapter, I thought… ‘oh no, this isn’t very good.’ But I persisted and forced myself to finish it while procrastinating about packing for a trip. By about 10% in, I was hooked again. I’m happy to share my feedback on this book, and if you’ve struggled with the first few chapters, push yourself to get past them. It’ll be worth it.

Warshawski is a tough-as-nails Chicago private eye, reminiscent of the Golden Age detectives from nearly a century ago… with one difference: V.I. is a woman! Tougher than Kinsey Millhone but with a feminine side and a tenderness for some of her family, Victoria Iphigenia is the person you’d want to find the killer. It doesn’t matter if she gets beaten up, shot, drugged, tortured, or stabbed, V.I. always pulls through in the end. In this novel, her cousin, Petra, is running a book group for preteens, and the latest craze is a YA vampire / paranormal series. When some of the girls act out a ritual in the nearby cemetery, they’re unfortunately in for a lot more than expected. Another private eye is stabbed with a stake by a murderer who reminds the girls of a vampire. Throw in a few parents with political ambitions, a wealthy international business mogul, some Nazi / Polish immigrant histories, and a few vengeful but loving mothers, and you’ve got quite a story.

At first, the vampire angle threw me off. I felt like it was gimmicky and silly, not the Warshawski I knew. But once it began settling out, and I ignored the way the preteen girls behaved (seriously, one was just a witch because she didn’t want to get in trouble–and with a murder ten feet from her, what kind of parenting led to that abomination of a child who thought it acceptable to act so spoiled and lie for such reasons!) Then the subplots began to take over, and I felt like the meat and substance were front and center. I enjoyed the twisty path, the historical connections to wars of the past, and the methodical approach to solving the crime.

I’m glad I picked up the series again and will order the next one when I return from vacation. There are 4 more before I’m current, so I can finish them this summer… then what will I read if all my tough female detective series are up to date!?!?! If you haven’t read these before, you don’t necessarily have to go in order, as V.I.’s life is fairly low-key. A few people that die in later books might be alive in earlier ones, so the order could be confusing, but never in regard to the main mystery. Onward I go…

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are four books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, and Mistaken Identity Crisis. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Sea Scope by Debbie

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Sea ScopeSea Scope by Debbie De Louise
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sea Scope is the first book I’ve read by Debbie De Louise. It’s a mystery / suspense / thriller novel with a bunch of light moments and several page-turning-gotta-find-the-killer moments. I enjoy books with a great balance, especially when the author also throws in fun facts about the history of lighthouses. I should also mention, a small portion of the book takes place on Long Island, not too far from where I grew up. Of course, I have to read it, right?

Let’s pique your interest a little… someone died in a lighthouse ~20 years ago. All but one member of the family left town. An aunt stayed behind and recently reopened the lighthouse as a bed and breakfast. Before inviting paying guests, she convinces her family and a few friends, who’d been around at the time the man previously died, to visit for a few days again. Although that long-ago death had been ruled a suicide, the facts never quite lined up. A drunk mother. A dead father. A peculiar maid. Her estranged daughter. A recent accident. A marriage falling apart. Rekindled sparks. Another death. We’re all too smart to believe in coincidences like those, so what really happened at Sea Scope ~20 years ago, and how is a dead guy leaving behind phone messages and cryptic notes with crayons, his calling card in his younger (and more alive) days?

At first, I was intrigued by the plot but it was a slow burn. We had hints of an unnatural death, but nothing concrete. We were being led to believe one thing about the victim only to learn many other peculiar things that didn’t fit together (until later on). I started to really engage in the story at about 40% and couldn’t put it down until the very end. I love when books creep at you for a bit before drop-kicking you into their clutches. From a character perspective, I found flaws and potential reasons why they’d all be responsible for the previous murder and the current shenanigans. No one was completely good in my eyes, even the primary character, Sarah, had some curious moments. I like when an author keeps the main players in a gray space.

From a plot perspective, De Louise took us places I hadn’t expected. I knew two characters were ‘involved’ somehow, but when the chips completely fell, the alliances and ties and relationships were far deeper than I imagined. What a family! What an imagination! Kudos to De Louise for pushing the envelope a bit without going into specific details. We get a clear picture of the truth, but we also have a nice layer between us and the impacts it’s left behind. It made for a great story with a ton of red herrings and a brilliant confrontation in the end. There were complex layers, which made some characters see one thing, and others see another thing. Who do you believe? Although we get an ending, it’s the type of novel where you walk away thinking… I’m not sure the story ended there. What sorta tricks does this author have up her sleeve for the future!?!? I’d be thrilled with a follow-up, so no complaints here.

I’m glad I took a chance on a new author… and I look forward to more things to come from her future!

View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are four books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, and Mistaken Identity Crisis. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye by David Lagercrantz

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The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye (Millennium, #5)The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye by David Lagercrantz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My reading style is eclectic, and I’d probably use the same term to describe this series and book. I first picked up the ‘Millennium’ series when I saw all the hype and read the description of the published novels. I particularly love genealogical mysteries, and when you toss in some thrills and suspense, it’s likely a good fit for my reading preferences. I absolutely adored and rated The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo in my top books of all time. I read the next two in the series and was saddened over the author’s death but excited to see another writer’s take on the characters and setting.

Lagercrantz is a worthy successor, and someday, I will read one of his prior books too. I’m troubled when reviewers complain about the choice of a new author to to continue writing a series because all they do is compare the two and start out with a pessimistic attitude. I prefer to have some sense of an open mind and look for the positive in a new take on an old favorite. I’m also an optimist and respect an author’s efforts and talent and find it difficult to give something a poor rating unless it was absolutely ridden with errors and issues. Hence… for Lagercrantz’s versions, I enjoy the style, writing quality, different views, and continuation of a fantastic concept. The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye is the second of his in this series that I’ve read, and while it was a good read, there were a few items that didn’t work in totality for me. I ended up at a 3.5 rating, comfortably rounding upward to account for all the effort that goes into a series and taking over another author’s work.

One of my favorite aspects was the revisit to Lisbeth’s childhood when abuse formulated her outlook on life. In an earlier book, when we learned the extent to which she’d been attacked and damaged, I felt horrific sorrow for her. Seeing what else happened, via this book, I’m even more devastated. Initially, I thought… wait, is this a history rewrite? I didn’t go back to compare the timelines and actions, as I’m sure the editors and author’s did their justice… but I did find myself wondering how this aligned with Zala’s influence on his daughter, Lisbeth. I’m kinda hoping to get a book dedicated to Agneta, Lisbeth’s mother, as there is a bigger story there – I’m certain! For me, these characters are so flawed, yet so lovable (not in a cozy way, but in an ‘I want to help you’ way). Learning what they went through and what forced them to become the people they are today… that is excellent character development. Possibly over-the-top in a few places (not unlike the whole series… just a bit more in this book), I put aside my ‘hmmm…’ attitude and focused on what bond must exist between Mikael and Lisbeth to support each other through these tragedies. These are two friends we should all have. I particularly enjoyed the Muslim-focused story-line, and I was irate over the way these men treated their sister (and in general how certain attitudes still prevail).

The translation (actually, was it translated? The originals were, but I’m honestly not sure about these ones. Did the author write originally in his own language? I checked and the Swedish and English versions came out on the same day.) was good and offered new vocabulary for me to learn. I found some of the individual scenes a bit repetitive, but they moved the story forward. The end was satisfying in terms of catching the bad guys (sort of), but I wanted it to be more of a showdown. The sixth book in the series comes out later this year, and I’m going to try to read it relatively quickly close to this one, as I suspect some of the ending components will continue into it. What did everyone else think of this book?

View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are four books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, and Mistaken Identity Crisis. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Cold Woods by Karen Katchur

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Cold Woods (Northampton County #2)Cold Woods by Karen Katchur
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cold Woods is the second book in the Northampton County series by Karen Katchur. I read the first book last year because it took place not too far away from where I’d gone to college years ago. When I stumbled upon the second book in the series on NetGalley last week, I immediately requested the book as I’d really enjoyed the first one. While the two book are part of a series, you can easily read them separately, but as I always recommend, read them in order to have the best possible experience.

The weather is often not a friend to crime. Sometimes it distorts the time of death or covers a body for decades, but at others, it can be helpful for preservation of clues. Katchur latches on to this theory and shares an explosive suspenseful thriller about a ~30-year-old murder. Everyone assumed the victim had just run off, but the truth was hidden in the deep snowy woods… along with two key clues and a myriad of problems. Three women each with a daughter. Their husbands or fathers left years ago for various reasons. The women helped each other, but their daughters weren’t sure what to do. One escaped. Two stayed. Of those two, one accepted her fate, and the other fought it. Fast-forward to the present when one of the mothers has passed away. Then the dead body is discovered in the woods. Who is he? Who killed him? What secrets are these six women hiding?

The connection between the books is Detective Parker. In the first book, he fell for a witness and compromised the case. Now, they’re together, but something isn’t working out properly. He’s afraid of screwing up again. His new partner doesn’t want to let it happen, but she’s got her own baggage. As they investigate the case and learn to trust one another, history might repeat itself somewhere along the way… and it’s usually not a good thing. Wow! What a roller coaster ride where I truly couldn’t decide which of the six women killed the victim. Even though one has recently died, the story is told in two different time frames, so we have a stronger picture of what happened ‘back then.’

All I can say is my gender is full of creeps! I know stuff like this happens in reality, and often it’s so fictionalized we don’t quite know truth from lie, but honestly… why are men often drunken idiots? I’m a happy drunk. Not that occurs frequently, but still! I felt for the women in this story. A single man had an effect on so many lives, any one of them could’ve been the culprit and I would believe it. Ultimately, the truth comes out, but not necessarily to the right people. I love those kinds of dramas — when someone confesses to protect someone else, and it may or may not be true. When we finally get the full story, it was highly satisfying… kudos to Katchur for delivering a palpable sequel that kept me guessing the entire time I read the book.

There better be a third installment. I’m not hugely fond of the detectives, but the author’s writing style, connections between characters, minute focus on details, witty yet troubling dialog, and innate understanding of why people do the things they do… all coagulate as a riveting story I couldn’t put down. I read it in three hours without taking any breaks longer than a few minutes to refill a water glass or nod when someone asked me a question in my house. “Leave me alone, I’m reading a good book,” I once countered. When that happens, you know it’s solid writing and story development. When’s the next one?

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are four books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, and Mistaken Identity Crisis. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.