Book Review: Suspects by #DanielleSteel

Theodora Morgan is a fashion icon, but has been mostly in seclusion since her billionaire husband, Matthieu, and their son Axel were kidnapped and murdered a year before. She is slowly beginning to attend events at some of her pop-up stores, but maintains a behind-the-scenes profile. Mike Andrews is a CIA operative investigating Pierre De Vaumont, a social networker with Russian contacts. When Mike and Theo meet, they have a connection, but she has no idea of the danger she is in or the real reason Mike came into her life.

This is a riveting story that is all at once sad, thrilling, and hopeful. The romance between Theo and Mike is well done, and the CIA thriller aspect of this novel is compelling. The main characters instantly draw the reader in and the book is filled with intrigue.

I noticed something when reading this book that made me smile. All of the writing manuals, classes, and guides always say “Show, don’t tell. Don’t just tell the story. Show it in dialogue. ” Well, I would say 75% of this story is telling, not showing, but it doesn’t matter. It’s captivating, compelling, and moving. The characters are believable and I connected with them immediately. It completely works. And it made me realize that most or all of the books that I’ve read by Ms. Steel have been written this way. That old adage that “rules are made to be broken” stands true here. This style works for Danielle Steel, as many millions of her readers will attest. It is a good lesson for writers to remember. If you want to write in a way that may break a few rules, and it works for you, go for it. Fans of romantic thrillers and of Danielle Steel will greatly enjoy this one.

I received a free copy of this book from Random House via Netgalley. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Danielle Steel has been hailed as one of the world’s most popular authors, with nearly a billion copies of her novels sold. Her recent many international bestsellers include Against All Odds, The Duchess and The Right Time. She is also the author of His Bright Light, the story of her son Nick Traina’s life and death; A Gift of Hope, a memoir of her work with the homeless; and the children’s books Pretty Minnie in Paris and Pretty Minnie in Hollywood. Danielle divides her time between Paris and her home in northern California.

BUY LINKS

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | Google | Kobo

Blog Tour and Book Review: The Girl From Jonestown #JimJones #Guyana

Book Description:

The woman looked at me, anguish brimming in her eyes. I picked up the note she’d left and read the scrawl: HELP!!! Then: Mom. Followed by a number.

A gripping and heartbreaking read, based on the true story of the Jonestown cult, one of the darkest chapters in American history.

When journalist Zoe Quint loses her husband and child in a tragic accident, she returns home to Guyana to heal. But when she hears cries and music floating through the trees, her curiosity compels her to learn more about the Americans who have set up camp in a run-down village nearby. Their leader, Jim Jones, dark eyed and charismatic, claims to be a peaceful man who has promised his followers paradise.

But everything changes when Zoe meets one of his followers, a young woman called Lucy, in a ramshackle grocery store. Lucy grabs Zoe’s arm, raw terror in her eyes, and passes her a note with a phone number, begging her to call her mother in America.

Zoe is determined to help Lucy, but locals warn her to stay away from the camp, and as sirens and gunshots echo through the jungle at nightfall, she knows they are right. But she can’t shake the frightened woman’s face from her mind, and when she discovers that there are young children kept in the camp, she has to act fast.

Zoe’s only route to the lost people is to get close to their leader, Jim Jones. But if she is accepted, will she be able to persuade the frightened followers to risk their lives and embark on a perilous escape under the cover of darkness? And when Jim Jones hears of her plans, could she pay the highest price of all?

A powerful novel inspired by the true story of Jonestown, about a woman’s brave attempt to save people who were promised paradise but found only lies. Fans of Where the Crawdads SingBefore We Were Yours and The Girls will be captivated by The Girl from Jonestown.

BOOK REVIEW

Zoe comes home to Guyana to finally try and heal after the loss of her husband and child, but her peace is interrupted by strange voices and chantings in the jungle. That is when she learns about the group of Americans living there. They are The People’s Temple, led by the charismatic Jim Jones, and seem to be there of their own accord. When Lucy, a terrified girl from this group, passes her a note, Zoe realizes everyone may not be present willingly. Determined to help, she decides to go inside “Jonestown” and try to help.

This powerful book takes a fresh look at Jonestown through the eyes of a Guyanese reporter, Zoe, and a Jonestown captive, Lucy. We look at the reality of Jonestown as not just a group of willing people who “drank Kool-aid,” but as prisoners, some of whom were killed before the mass suicide, and many who were poisoned against their will. We see desperate people trying to escape, and evil leaders determined to stop them. The jungle setting and its deadly beauty is brilliantly described by Sharon Maas, who is from Guyana and knows it inside and out. She does a masterful job of portraying the tactics of an evil and malicious cult and of putting faces on the victims and survivors through the character Lucy and others. The absolute crazy of Jim Jones flies off the page, but we learn that his was not the only malicious mind in the group, and we are shown more about those who helped him wield his iron fist. True crime meets Historical Thriller in this fictionalized story of the complete horror that was the People’s Temple.

I received a free copy of this book from Bookouture via Netgalley. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sharon Maas

Sharon Maas was born to politically active parents in Georgetown, Guyana, in 1951. She was educated in England, Guyana, and, later, Germany. After leaving school, she worked as a reporter with the Guyana Graphic in Georgetown and later wrote feature articles for the Sunday Chronicle as a staff journalist. Sharon has always had a great sense of adventure and curiosity about the world we live in, and Guyana could not hold her for long. In 1971 she set off on a year-long backpacking trip around South America, followed by an overland trek to South India, where she spent two years in an ashram. She lived in Germany for forty-three years and now lives in Ireland. She is the author of The Violin Maker’s Daughter, The Soldier’s Girl, Her Darkest Hour and many other novels.

Website

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Book Review: A Rip Through Time by Kelley Armstrong

In A Rip Through Time by Kelley Armstrong, Mallory Atkinson is a modern-day Canadian cop, a homicide detective, who is in Edinburg to visit her dying grandmother. She tries to stop a murder and ends up being attacked herself. She wakes up to find herself in the body of a woman, Catriona, who was attacked at the same time, 150 years before.

I’ll start this off by saying that time-travel fiction is my favorite genre, which means I’ve read a lot of it.  Consequently, I’m harder on this genre than any other in my reviews.  There are many types of time travel books. Some have a scientific, sci-fi bent.  Some are more historical.  Some are romances that only use time travel briefly.  I would classify this one as a historical mystery/thriller with a bit of time travel. 

Every time travel story has to have a means or method of time travel.  Some use a machine, some use an enchanted or scientific object, and some use a place.  This story uses a murder, which I find unique.

Each story also has to establish rules of time travel.  Because time travel doesn’t actually exist, the rules are wide open for every author to set.  For example, in Jodi Taylor’s Chronicles of St. Mary’s series, you cannot travel back to the same place where you’ve already been and you can’t change history without history slapping back.  In this one, I find little to no rules of time travel at all.  Time travel happens, and the only consequence seems to be that the main character, a cop, feels awkward as a maid in the Victorian era and sometimes uses language that is not appropriate for the time.  She doesn’t seem worried about paradoxes or anything similar.  She mentions she’s not concerned with a “butterfly effect.” She has little trouble–not enough trouble–as a Canadian blending into Victorian times in Edinburg. She’s not really concerned with changing history, other than catching a murderer.  As a fan of time travel fiction, I feel at this point that the time travel was used basically as “wow” factor to draw the reader into a book that is actually a historical thriller.

The murder mystery is very strong on its own, with intricate twists and turns. The employer/employee relationship between Mallory and Gray is well done, as we progress slowly from Gray learning that Mallory, who he knows as Catriona, can read and write, to Gray and his sister realizing there is much more going on. The book does move too slowly at times.

I feel the Victorian era is well researched.  The author’s note in the front outlines the liberties she took with history, as is her right in a fictional work. 

Overall, this is a compelling and intriguing historical mystery/thriller that will quickly draw the reader in.  The minimal use of time travel is off-putting for me, as is the fact that the book is written in present tense. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kelley Armstrong believes experience is the best teacher, though she’s been told this shouldn’t apply to writing her murder scenes. To craft her books, she has studied aikido, archery, and fencing. She sucks at all of them. She has also crawled through very shallow cave systems and climbed half a mountain before chickening out. She is however an expert coffee drinker and a true connoisseur of chocolate-chip cookies.

BUY LINKS

Amazon|Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble

Apple Books

Google

Kobo

Book Review: The Lives of Diamond Bessie

This is another review I did for the May edition of Historical Novels Review, the magazine of the Historical Novel Society. It’s true crime meets magical realism. A fascinating combination.

In 1860s New York, Annie Moore is sent to a convent for fallen women after getting pregnant out of wedlock. After the nuns take her baby, she tries to find the child but ends up going into prostitution just to survive. She becomes Bessie and is soon highly sought after by men. She earns her own money, is showered with jewels, and gets the opportunity to travel. However, she longs for a different life. When the man who she thought would return her to respectability betrays her, she begins to seek revenge. Based on a true story, this is a captivating book with a surprise.

The first half of this book stays very true to the real-life story, but then there is a supernatural element that begins midway through. It makes the novel even more interesting and unpredictable. As Annie, the main character is treated abominably by society and the church. As Bessie, she is used by men and madams but still finds a measure of success. After marriage, she eventually realizes that her husband has no intention of living a normal life with her. But by then it’s too late. We travel with Bessie to Chicago, New Orleans, Cincinnati, and Texas, and then into the world of the paranormal as Bessie seeks revenge. The magical realism aspect of this story really sets it apart. The plight of women in those times is evident, and the theme of revenge is explored. This is an intriguing combination of genres—true crime, women’s fiction, and the paranormal—all woven into a compelling historical novel. Highly recommended.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jody Hadlock’s love of history goes all the way back to junior high, when she was a member of the Junior Historians of Texas, so it’s no surprise her first novel is historical. She studied journalism at Texas A&M University and worked as a broadcast journalist and then in nonprofit public relations before turning her focus to fiction. She also writes screenplays and won the 2020 Dallas International Film Festival’s screenplay contest.

Jody’s Social Media: Instagram|Bookbub|Facebook|Website

BUY LINKS

AMAZON|AMAZON UK|B&N

Self-Published Spotlight: Before by J. Kilburn #ComingofAgeStory #SmallTownFiction

*Not a book review

In the novel BEFORE, writer J. Kilburn brings readers a light-hearted and whimsical coming of age story that follows the adventures and misadventures of Just Regular Kids as they grow up in a pastoral and peaceful New England college town. Buckle your seatbelts – all may not be as it seems. Events in a far-away criminal underworld lurk in the background as these teenagers take their first steps into adulthood. Adventurous readers will discover that two Sweet Sixteens have a lot more in common with hardened criminals than you – or they – might realize…. Surprises are in store for everyone!

BEFORE both celebrates and indicts the sweet and sordid in small-town, everyday life. This Crime Fiction and Coming-of-Age mashup by J. Kilburn will leave you howling…while the questions and answers posed by this novel will have you re-examining the sunny streets and wildflower-filled lanes of your own neighborhood.

BEFORE by J. Kilburn is a READERS FAVORITE 5-star selection:
“Kilburn breathes life into [the characters] with some hilariously awkward scenes…. The dialogue… is probably among the top 1% in its sarcasm and authenticity.” – Jamie Michele for RF (Jan. 2022)

Edgy, relevant Teen Noir with characters who are loveable yet occasionally frightening – Kilburn’s novel BEFORE is wry and insightful New Adult fiction with dark roiling edges.

BUY LINKS

AMAZON|AMAZON UK|B&N

Book Review: Surviving The Wilderness by Maggie K. Black #Inspirational #Thriller #Romance

Jeff Connor is a former Master Corporal who has retreated from life, living with his daughter in a remote cabin in the wilds of Canada. Quinn Dukes is a wilderness guide who is taking a group of people on a survival trip. Former coworkers who did not get along, neither of them realize that danger and an evil person will cause their worlds to collide once again.

This is a captivating inspirational romantic thriller that will keep you guessing. The plot is full of twists and turns and includes kidnapping, hostage-taking, murder, and intrigue. The storyline is very clever and well put together. I thought I had it all figured out, but I didn’t. This really impresses me, because I can usually figure out who the “bad guy” is way before the end of the book.. There is a Christian message of faith and relying on God in both good times and bad. The topic of PTSD is also part of the story. Fans of romantic thrillers and wilderness adventures will enjoy this novel.

I received a free copy of this book from Harlequin via Netgalley. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Maggie K. Black is an award-winning journalist, self-defense instructor and romantic suspense author. Her writing career has taken her around the globe, and into the lives of countless grass-roots heroes and heroines, who are changing lives  in their own communities. 

She’s  lived in the United States, the Middle East and the United Kingdom, before making her home in Canada.

She is thankful to her readers for allowing her to turn the adventures and people that have inspired her, into fresh stories that make her pulse race and her heart soar.

BUY LINKS

AMAZON|AMAZON UK|B&N|APPLE BOOKS

Blog Tour and Book Review: #TheAdoption #Bookouture #JennaKernan

Your little girl is all yours… isn’t she?

Dani and her husband Tate’s life together is almost perfect. But Dani is haunted by guilt for causing a terrible car accident that left her unable to have children. She can’t remember why she was driving so fast that day or where she was going. Her therapist says she should try to move on.

So when their application to adopt is accepted, Dani sobs with joy. As perfect little Willow nestles in her arms, Dani looks at Tate’s loving smile and knows he will always provide for his family, no matter what.

When Dani sees a woman staring as she pushes Willow’s stroller around the safe, gated Florida community where they live, she tells herself it’s simply an admiring passer-by. After all, Dani herself used to watch the local moms and wish she was in their shoes.

But when Dani wakes in the night to find Willow’s crib empty, their perfect life becomes a nightmare.

In her frantic distress for her daughter, Dani’s memories of the accident flash through her mind. And with a jolt she realises: everyone around her has been lying about that day.

Will Dani find out the truth before it’s too late for her baby girl?

Or will facing her own dark secrets tear them all apart?

A totally addictive and heart-stopping read with a truly mind-blowing twist. Fans of The Woman in the WindowGone Girl and The Wife Between Us won’t be able to put down this incredible thriller from bestselling author Jenna Kernan.

BOOK REVIEW

After a devastating car accident, Dani is affected with prosopagnosia, which is an inability to differentiate facial features. Dani is in counseling, dealing with the aftermath of the accident and the fact that she cannot recognize her own husband. She also has enormous guilt for the injuries caused to her twin sister in that accident. Then Dani and Tate adopt a little girl, and life is perfect for a while, But memories begin to surface, and Dani starts to realize things are not as they seem.

This is a novel filled with deception, betrayal, and suspense. The first half of the book builds the tension and the second half is diabolical, thrilling, and filled with surprises you won’t see coming. I had never heard of prosopagnosia, so this story also taught me something new. The plot is expertly crafted and the characters are well developed. This is a gasp-inducing, eye-widening, read-in-one-sitting thriller! Don’t miss it.

I received a free copy of this book from Bookouture via Netgalley. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bestselling author Jenna Kernan writes gripping domestic thrillers. Her 2021 release, A Killer’s Daughter, won the bronze medal from the Florida Book Awards in the popular fiction category and her next release, The Adoption, arrives in May 2022 and features a couple whose adoption goes from blissful to terrifying when a dark secret and menacing stranger threaten the baby. Visit Jenna at www.jennakernan.com.

Sign up to be the first to hear about new releases from Jenna Kernan here: https://www.bookouture.com/jenna-kernan/

Buy Links: Amazon|Amazon UK

Self-Published Spotlight: Forever Silenced by Richard Cohen

*Not a book review

Self-Published Spotlight is my effort to help indie/self-published authors with the huge task of marketing their books. Self-published authors have to do it all, and if I can help even a little, I’m happy to do so. Below is a spotlight of Forever Silenced, a psychological thriller by Richard Cohen.

BOOK DESCRIPTION

Willem Gerhardt is a renowned psychologist with the most prestigious recognitions.
He is also the adopted son of the widely known, Elizabeth Gerhardt—sole heiress of
a billionaire. Up until now, Dr. Gerhardt has lived a “rich life” in every way, or so
it seems.

When a young patient claims she was sexually assaulted, a local farmer is formally
charged. But days after his acquittal, he is found dead.

Dr. Gerhardt’s life has come full circle upon returning to the very same place he was born—
East Texas State Penitentiary. Charged with murder, he is forced to face the depths of
a complex past.

Is blood truly thicker than water? What significance do memories really hold? Is a flower
just “a flower”? Are psychics real? Can anyone be trusted?

A complex page-turner with numerous twists, FOREVER SILENCED takes readers
on a thought-provoking and forever memorable, heartwarming journey

BUY LINKS

Amazon|Amazon UK

Book Review: A Matter of Death and Life

I greatly enjoyed this second trip to the unusual and action-packed lives of “Gideon Sable,” Annie Anybody, and their gang. Having met these characters before, I was ready for more dangerous, quirky, and magical adventures. This one does not disappoint, as they are constantly thrown in a new pickle right after getting out of the last one.

Most of the old gang is back, including Gideon, who may not be the actual GIdeon Sable, Annie Anybody, who changes her identity at will, Lex (The Damned), who wears the halos of angels on his wrists, and Johnny Wilde, the Wild Card who has no limits. They are joined by Gideon’s ex, Switch it Sally, a master thief. As a group, they are a powerful force. Hired by Judi Rifkin to steal the Mask of Ra, they head to Vegas, with many adventures along the way.

I enjoyed the quirky first book, and this second installment is just as satisfying. The characters are fascinating and the schemes they come up with are clever and enjoyable. There were a couple of times when it seemed to go too far over the top, even for a book that is written to be over the top. The fight on the train comes to mind. But overall, this is a criminal heist adventure steeped in magical realism that will captivate the reader.

I received a free copy of this book from Severn House via Netgalley. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

My review of Book 1, The Best Thing You Can Steal is here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Simon R. Green is a British science fiction and fantasy author. Green was born in Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire. He holds a degree in Modern English and American Literature from the University of Leicester. He is the author of the best-selling Nightside series and many other works.

BUY LINKS

Amazon
Amazon UK
B&N

MY AMAZON REVIEW (HELPFUL VOTES APPRECIATED)

Blog Tour and Book Review: The Wives of Crimson Avenue

BOOK DESCRIPTION

Ladies. Are you a perfect wife wanting to live in suburban utopia?
Then Crimson Avenue is for you!
Come and join other like-minded women in our idyllic community.
We might even let you into our little secret…

When a striking young woman turns up to Adele Love’s antique shop acting suspiciously and gives her a cryptic message …

Tell Sam that they know…

On leaving the shop, to Adele’s horror, the woman is bundled into a white van and abducted.

Beginning a search for the missing woman, DI Vincent Sullivan and DS Josephine Jenkins conduct their house-to-house investigations, which lead them into a sinister world of diamond smuggling and drugs, all happening behind the perfect façade of Crimson Avenue.

As the pressure mounts with the severity of the crimes committed, the wives close ranks and deny all knowledge.

But just as cracks begin to appear and the women start to turn on each other, they realise there’s also the small problem of Adele’s secret, which could get them all killed…

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sadie Ryan is the author of three books. Her latest, Guilty, a psychological thriller, came out in April 2021. She loves animals and lives in leafy Cheshire in the North West of England with her daughter and rescue dog. When not writing she spends her time reading, gardening, walking her dog or watching old black and white movies.

When asked where she gets her ideas from, she says, ‘From observation, inspiration, and lots of wicked thoughts.’

Follow her  at: Facebook Website Twitter

BOOK REVIEW

This is the first book in the DI Vincent Sullivan series. DI Sullivan, freshly relocated to Applehurst in order to raise his young family, hopes he has chosen the perfect little town. But is there such a thing? He soon learns that beneath the surface, drugs, infidelity, diamonds, gangsters, and murder can be found. Add in the wives of Crimson Avenue, who are determined to keep their small town a Utopia. The more the wives try to keep the town’s secrets, the worse things get. This thriller is full of messy situations and a plot that will keep you guessing. I would have liked a little more development of the main character, but overall I think fans of thrillers should give this intriguing book a try.

I received a free copy of this book via Zooloo’s Book Tours. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

BUY LINKS

Amazon UK
Amazon US