suspense

Book Review: Coco’s Nuts by Tyler Colins

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Coco's Nuts (Triple Threat Mysteries Book 3)Coco’s Nuts by Tyler Colins
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Coco’s Nuts is the third book in the ‘Triple Threat Mysteries’ series written by Tyler Colins. I previously read the first two books in the series and noticed the author has signed on with a new publisher, updated the covers, and launched two more books in the series. It’s time to catch up before I fall behind, as these are full of witty characters, memorable stories, and tons of wonderful descriptions. Let’s chat about Coco’s Nuts and the random body parts we find with tattoos on them…

First off, the title and the cover. Can you get any more eye-catching? Are they bombs? Is the author playing with the word coconut? Is it about eating fruits and nuts, being crazy nuts, or leaning toward that all-too-familiar and funny euphemism? Before reading the book, I didn’t know… after reading it, I can say with hilarity, it’s all three! I love when an author can be both serious and amusing in his/her books. Tyler Colins has a great balance of delivering snappy dialog and natural conversation. At times, there are breaks in conversation and questions being ignored (to be later responded to), matching how people really engage with one another. I like the reality of this world.

It takes place in Hawaii, and let me tell you… Colins knows how to visually create a scene. Between the descriptions in the narrative and the add-ons when someone is speaking or physically doing something in a scene, you kinda feel transported to this fictional place. I like that immersive feeling, and it’s not always included in these genres of books. Often a mystery is entirely about the mystery, but Colins ensures there is just as much ambiance and background to make you feel part of the story.

Of the three private eyes, we tend to follow JJ the most. In this caper, she’s much stronger and more pushy than the last two. The girl knows how to solve a crime, even if the client only hired the agency to prove she wasn’t guilty of murder. The ladies know that in order to do that, they need to find the guilty party. And it isn’t easy! There are a few victims and a couple of different killers / lawbreakers in this edition. Buddy, the beautiful female truck driver who’s accused of murder, isn’t all we think she is, which makes the plot even murkier and layered. I like those types of stories, as you never know what you’re getting yourself into. In this one, each chapter unfolds like a clue… we think we have a lead only to find out it opens up another murder or subplot. Then, they all come back together. You have to really keep yourself focused to know who stole Coco’s Nuts!

Kudos to Colins for another splendid entry in the Triple Threat investigations. I look forward to getting to know our main characters even more, as Colins continues to drop details left and right, but we always wonder what they’re doing when they’re not present in the chapter. I suspect there is something big coming in the next book, which I’ll be reading next month. Thanks for the opportunity to get lost in another good book, Ms. Colins… 4.5 stars for this caper.

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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 five books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, Mistaken Identity Crisis, and Haunted House Ghost. 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: Tempted by Mr. Wrong by Jacquie Biggar

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Tempted by Mr. WrongTempted by Mr. Wrong by Jacquie Biggar
Tempted by Mr. Wrong, a novel published in 2017 by Jacquie Biggar, is the first romantic suspense book I’ve read in a very long time. I previously read another novel in a different genre by this author but wanted to sample something at opposite end of the spectrum [of a normal read for me] this week. I love suspense but the romance stuff is fairly new to me. In the end, it was quite a winner. Let’s dive into the review…

Tammy-Jo, better known as TJ, has a bad track record with men. She had a bit of an illicit affair with a stepbrother, Jason, in her late teens (parents had only just married) but her father chased him away, causing a family drama that wouldn’t end for years. TJ married another guy to help out her father, as they went into business together… but what type of business was it exactly? We don’t know in the beginning, yet something seems foul as the husband ends up dead. We know it’s bad when TJ looks guilty and someone attacks her to collect missing evidence. As Jason helps protect his stepsister, almost ruin his own career, and stops her father from interfering again, he realizes he still loves her. But how does she feel about the man who hurt her all those years ago?

From the get go, readers know this isn’t just a sappy love story; no offense intended to readers who want that… I only mean… this has a whole lot more going on. Murder. Stalking. Revenge. Power struggles. All the typical suspense and mystery elements which kept me highly intrigued. TJ is a complex woman. At first, she seemed spoiled, but as you got to know her, she was heartbroken. Her father is controlling. Her stepmother is developing dementia or Alzheimer’s. Her husband was a jerk. Jason is all she has left, and it’s been a decade since she saw him. Right there… the hook to want her to win. I fell, and I think most readers will too. She’s multifaceted and grows on you quickly.

Biggar developed the suspense quite well. I was all set to cast the villain, and in the end, it’s more open-ended until a final decision is made. Who exactly started all the trouble years ago? It may not be what you think it is… and that’s why I really enjoyed this book. It had so much of what I usually love to see in my reads, plus some extra. There’s one lengthy and detailed romance scene between two characters, which of course is super sexy and physical and all that fun stuff. Sometimes I closed one eye and skimmed (to kinda get the picture) and others I invested in the details. I think I feel like a voyeur when I read those scenes, so I revert back to a 15-year-old boy and giggle. But that’s just me, as I can definitely say they are written very well. There was heat, lust, attraction, and intimacy — all in a good way!

The dramatic opening scene really sets the tone, and from there, it keeps you glued to the pages. I think I devoured it in about 2 hours one afternoon. Having finished two novels by this author, I can safely say she crafts a superb story, writes with easy yet intelligent fluidity, and knows how to capture her audience. I’ll definitely be reading more from her, and perhaps I’ll learn to love the love scenes one day too! 🙂

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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 five books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, Mistaken Identity Crisis, and Haunted House Ghost. 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: Third Time, Not a Charm by H. Berkeley Rourke

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Third Time, Not a Charm (Josie DuPuy Book 1)Third Time, Not a Charm by H. Berkeley Rourke
‘Third Time, Not a Charm’ is the second book I’ve read by H. Berkeley Rourke. It is the first mystery in the ‘Josie DuPuy’ series and was published in 2012. Since I try to always read books in order (when part of a series), I went back a few years to catch up on this one. Let’s dive into the review.

In Arizona, a group of cops from different precincts have banded together to rid the area of drug pushers and other nasty criminals. This vigilante group, while containing an understandable motive, have taken it to the umpteenth degree by not only killing people but torturing them before death. It gives new meaning to the phrase… ‘if you do the crime, you do the time’ … except what happens when those responsible for capturing the criminals are the secret criminals?

Jaime, Jim, and Josie are stuck in that position. Jaime and Jim are the bosses. Josie respects them, but she’s probably the strongest of them all — both mentally and physically. In quite a number of scenes, the super cop tosses her colleagues to the floor so quickly, it ain’t even funny! I do love a strong female lead, and while she shares the spotlight in this book, it’s clear that she’ll be the main one we want to follow. Kudos to Rourke for developing a solid protagonist with great appeal and lots of potential.

I haven’t read a ton of police procedural novels, but this definitely seems to hit the mark in that regard. The author clearly knows a tremendous amount about criminal law and police processes, which easily lends an authority and intrigue to the story and its web of subplots. At times, I found myself lock step in line with the detectives, thinking and reacting like them. At others, I would never have thought about those consequences – nice job! While I wouldn’t quite thrust this in the thriller category, although it arguably could be there, it has tons of suspense and mystery that draw readers in. The crimes are viscerally described. The relationships are complex. And the fallout is tremendous.

When cops are sitting around idly, discussing who to kill next, and then turn on one another… it’s a great story that makes you want to keep turning the pages. Rourke creates fantastic characters and gives them a meaty tale to attack. I enjoyed it a lot and plan to read more in the series later this year.

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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 five books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, Mistaken Identity Crisis, and Haunted House Ghost. 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: 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.

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 five books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, Mistaken Identity Crisis, and Haunted House Ghost. 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 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 five books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, Mistaken Identity Crisis, and Haunted House Ghost. 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 five books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, Mistaken Identity Crisis, and Haunted House Ghost. 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 five books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, Mistaken Identity Crisis, and Haunted House Ghost. 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.