thriller

Book Review: Black Sparrow by A.J. Griffiths-Jones

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Black SparrowBlack Sparrow by A.J. Griffiths-Jones
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Black Sparrow is a thrilling adventure that completely surpassed my expectations… and that’s only because the plot was so tightly woven and the characters were so incredibly complex, it just floored me in a super positive way. This was the second book I’ve read by A.J. Griffiths-Jones, and while I really enjoyed the first one, this was truly a fantastic and memorable read of a different level. I definitely recommend this to those who like international connections, religious beliefs buried in character’s logic, and tons of surprises in the story.

There are several main characters that connect to two primary travelers on a flight to Paris. One is a young Muslim girl who longs to be with her French boyfriend and to escape the clutches of her very religious and overprotective parents. Another is a man nearing retirement who must finish one last contract before he can decide where to spend the remaining years of his life. They notice one another at the airport and again on the plane, but what they don’t know at the time is how connected their lives will be for the subsequent week. Throw in a hotel owner, the young French boyfriend, the extended Muslim family, and a couple of other people who fill out the story, and you will truly not know what to expect. This is an adventure I will not forget anytime soon!

This wouldn’t be a proper review if I didn’t tell you how much the Muslim girl’s family thoroughly annoyed me beyond any reasonable expectation. I understand different religions have different beliefs, and I respect it. I recognize that there are extremists who fail to understand the delicate balance to a successful life. I get that there are still men in this world today who think they can control women. But all of it can still develop an intense hatred for the way some of these people behave — and thanks to the phenomenal style of delivering these character’s emotions and motives, Griffiths-Jones successfully pulled that utter frustration and anger from me. She created such tension and drama, I wanted to leap into the book to hurt these people.

As if that wasn’t enough, the torture of some characters was simply brilliant. After several chapters of thinking someone will suffer a certain type of pain — BAM — you’re thrown for a loop and down a different awful pathway. I hated it and loved it at the same time. Hated it because of the end result, loved it because I didn’t want to put the book down. All-in-all, this story will take you up and down several peaks only to slap you with the truth in the end. It’s often difficult to keep things under wraps for voracious readers, but this time I didn’t see the end coming.

Part of me believes that I was so engrossed in the story and the wonderful writing tone that I didn’t want to think about what would happen… I just wanted to experience it as the words hit each page. That’s the kind of story and book that makes you thrilled by an author’s talent. A strong recommendation for me on this novel. Be prepared, there are some extremes, and while the author is merely choosing characters and beliefs that aren’t always the reality, it definitely happens and represents the truth of what some people experience even in today’s modern society. Sit back and enjoy it… and let your passion develop for a multitude of reasons. It’ll be the kind of read that prompts you to shake the book or tablet like a madman at times!

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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 Crimson Deathbringer by Sean Robins (.99 from 6/12 – 6/16)

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Today, I’m sharing a book review and an alert: Sean Robin’s sci-fi thriller, The Crimson Deathbringer is only .99 as a Kindle download from 6/12 thru 6/16. Check it out @ Amazon where it was HOT NEW RELEASE earlier this month. I read the book last week and have posted my review below. Scroll down to see it… and you can check out the author’s website for more information on his books and news.

The Crimson DeathbringerThe Crimson Deathbringer by Sean Robins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Alien Invasion! Future Coming Faster Than We Think! Hold On To Your Senses! My experience in this realm consists of Star Trek and Star Wars, plus a handful of other books I’ve read in the sci-fi genre in the past year. It seems I might like this genre more than I thought… after a few excellent authors I’ve added to my list this year, I’m adding another one with Sean Robins, writer of The Crimson Deathbringer, published in 2019.

When I first read the title, a bloody crash came to mind. After starting the book, I thought… this doesn’t seem all that sci-fi. It’s more post-apocalyptic world settling, but then… all hell breaks loose. What I commend the author for most… is starting with great characters and a solid story. I was immediately pulled in by the first couple of characters we’re introduced to. And then, when the aliens invade, I felt even more connected with the story. There are two different alien races, and I had to choose which one I liked. Rather than provide more details on the actual plot, here’s what you need to know: Young love. Strong female fighters. Bonds of friendship. Trust in a species you haven’t ever encountered before. Cool technology with mind altering systems. Betrayal. Humor. Just the beginning of this series.

Interested? Sounds kinda intense, and it is… but don’t think there aren’t laugh out loud moments and some good old-fashioned romance. Robins includes tons of references that even a clueless guy like me picked up on. I knew several from Star Wars, Star Trek, and Game of Thrones. There were others I vaguely knew of, but it all made for a witty and clever approach to telling the story. Love blossomed between unlikely characters and world domination was a clear theme. Has it hit too close to home? Possibly, but only in the good ways.

I like Robins writing style. It’s easy to digest without the clunk of super-sci-fi stories that sometimes go over our heads. There is A LOT of all that futuristic stuff, but it’s described in a very understandable manner and it makes you kinda interested in exploring it more. Until, of course, death happens. No alien invasion can be successfully thwarted or pulled off without pain and loss. I’m happy to say that 1 of my 2 fave characters survives this international / foreign / outer galaxy war, but I did have to hold back a tear or two when some bad things happened. As an author, I know what it’s like to do that to someone you’ve created whom you love… which tells me I know Robins painfully made this decision, and probably because it was the right one.

We’re left with a bit of a “what could happen next” moment at the end, but I’m along for the ride. Looking forward to the sequel!

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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: 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 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?

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.