Toni

The way I see it

"Identity Thief", by J.P. Bloch

Identity Thief - Spencer J. Bloch

Once you have started this psychological thriller you will not put it down. This quick read with lots of twists has kept me captivated from page one and held my attention through every chapters till I reached the unexpected ending. I simply loved it.

The story is structured in alternating chapters between the view point of the identity thief and the victim, Dr. Jesse Falcon. The plot has layers upon layers of deceit; no one is who they seem. Nothing is simple in this fast-paced, sometime darkly comic thriller. The pieces of the puzzle are continually shifting and at every corner there is constant barrage of shocks, so forget trying to guess the outcome.

This is a cleverly and brilliantly roller-coaster ride filled with emotional and scarring issues. A story of a thief and victim both trying to stay two steps ahead of the other is no less attention grabbing, this one tops all. What set this story from others is you are soon thrust into a world of action with Dr. Jesse Falcon whose identity is stolen going through endless hoops to find the person causing him so much turmoil. You learn and understand the main characters from flashbacks and from their actions and what they are thinking. The supporting cast also have their own plans lurking in the shadows. The narration moves along smoothly making this story easy to read. Well-done. 

"Dancing With Shadows", by Adrian Churchward

Dancing With Shadows (The Puppet Meisters Trilogy) - Adrian Churchward
Book #2, in The Puppet Meisters trilogy

“Dancing With Shadows” is the second book dealing with state abuse of power featuring Scott Mitchell, a human rights lawyer. This sequel to “Moscow Bound” is a gripping and exciting read from start to finish. This time we have Scott on suspicion of laundering $250 million for the Chechen mafia and we follow him through a sea of untrustworthy characters from London, to different Russian cities, to Budapest and Malta in a cat and mouse game while he tries to prove his innocence.

Scott is the lead in this story but many characters we came to know in the first book are re-introduced and play important roles: Ekaterina, Gravchenko and Pravda. Ms. Churchward doesn’t shy away from introducing multiple new characters also. The plot has multiple threads to follow that need our attention and can be overwhelming but the author set the stage expertly by including a group of well-developed players, beautiful surroundings and a touch of gastronomy delights. No doubt, this gripping tale filled with unexpected twists and turns is well worth reading. If you enjoy a thriller rifles with conspiracy and danger and have a soft spot for some Anglo-Russian shenanigans, give this one a try. 

My thanks to NetGalley and to Silverwood Books for the opportunity to read this book
 
 

 

"The Texan", by Ty Patterson

The Texan (Warriors Series Shorts Book 5) - Ty Patterson
Book #5 in the Warriors Short

In this short story Ms. Patterson highlights Roger, one of Zeb Carter’s elite operative. To Texas he goes, he has inherited his foster parents home and farm. He wants to put it up for sale but getting rid of it has many challenges…..

Of course this is a very fast read, not because it is short (80 pages) but because the plot is very well-done and is filled with exciting and intriguing action sequences. This page-turner gives us the opportunity to know more about Roger and what makes him tick. This side story is an asset and complements beautifully the main series, “The Warriors”. 

Excellent story and very addictive mini series
 
 

 

"Doctor Sleep", by Stephen King

Doctor Sleep - Stephen King

The Shining #2

In this sequel to the “Shining” we see booze hound and drifter Dan Torrance finally settling down in a small town in New Hampshire, going to AA meetings and working as a night porter in the local hospice. Being sober, his supernatural talents enable him to help people die peacefully while receiving telepathic messages from a young girl.

This meaty book leisurely describes in gratuitous details scenes of mundane action. It goes on and on and the longer it went on I was hoping that something weird or horrible will happen soon or that some kind of abnormal happening would eventually irrupt to keep me from falling asleep. What a boring story….yes we do have some eerie moments but this book does not deliver a good scare and definitely lacks in brute fright. Having said this, some of the melancholic scenes are very touching especially when Dan accompanies elderly residents during their final moments. Although I may not have cared much for this book it is by far better than its prequel: the sentences are crisper and the imagery far more surprising. As for the characterization: the main player, Dan, lacks brightness and is uninteresting, Abra, the young girl is too perfect, too powerful and too amazing and the True Knot members are a loathsome bunch that were not as frightening beings as those in the “Shinning”. One of the most loveable characters is the therapy cat, what is not to love when a cat can predict the deaths of terminally ill patient and be at their side till their last breath….I said enough; definitely this story was not for me.

Whether you like this book or not “Doctor Sleep” is a far-fetched read that delves into the darkest depths of human frailness….. 

"Last Call", by Phyllis Smallman

Last Call (A Sherri Travis Mystery) (Volume 7) - Phyllis Smallman

Book #7, in the Sherri Travis Mystery

It has been too long between installments, 3 years in fact since Ms. Smallman picked up this series. I missed Sherri and her no nonsense personality. Although the author has not been idle since then, her fertile imagination was set on “Singer Brown Mystery” her latest series. I am mostly happy she came back to her roots and once more with a wonderful touch and oodles of ideas she has plunged one of my favourite protagonists into an entertaining saga. This time Sherri is in Key West with her best friend Marley for a little fun in the sun. Or so they thought. After leaving Rawhide Saloon, Marley vanishes…..

If you are a lover of soft mysteries or an aficionado of female sleuth protagonists you will love this one. What is Florida without a hurricane today we have Alma turning toward Keys West leaving Sherri to look for Marley amidst the chaos of the evacuation. 

This tingling adventure is a fast and fun read very hard to put down. The storyline has a lot of momentum and keeps the tempo all through. Sherri is a colourful and down to earth character who plays well her part and is amazingly well described. The style is simple and a bit wry with a narration that is somewhat rough but this has not distracted me from flipping the pages and enjoying this entertaining story to the max.

Reading Ms. Smallman “The Last Call” is a pleasant change, the story is not taxing at all, you can zip through it in no time and be captivated by Sherri who is thrown into the middle of a mysterious saga searching for Marley accompanied by Lexi Divine, a six-foot drag queen…..what is not to like.

Thank you Ms. Smallman for this ARC

"Macbeth", by Jo Nesbo

Macbeth - Jo Nesbø

A Hogarth Shakespeare tragedy

Ms. Nesbo is the latest bestselling author to have been commissioned to retell a tragedy originally written by Shakespeare and to spin the tale in a modern way for the a 21st century audience, he chose Macbeth. 

“Macbeth “is a thriller about the struggle for power. In Mr. Nesbo’s version the main character “Macbeth”, is the leader of a Swat team in a coastal city where crime is rampant. After a drug bust that went terribly wrong Macbeth and his team must clean up. Power and money becomes the main character’s ambition. He is soon plagued by hallucinations and starts to unravel. In order to get what he thinks is rightfully his, Macbeth does the imaginable…. 

Nesbo’s revamp is an intricate and dark plot weaved in intrigue, passion and the fallibility of the human mind. It is also a gripping drama that enfolds out of guilt, ambitions and moral conflicts. The story is well-written as a police drama the author is known for. It is a hard book to get into with its multiple characters to get to know and a story that is filled with conspiracies and murders to track of; it is not an easy read. It took quite some time before I managed to piece everything together but mid-way without even realizing it I was totally hooked and I could not put this book down so intrigued to see what would come next I kept pushing forward and I could honestly say that by the end I enjoyed this tragedy. 

This dark and gritty crime noir fiction is an excellent addition to join the list of books retelling Shakespeare’s plays by well-known authors. 

I received this ARC from Crown Publishing via NetGalleys

"The Man From Congo", by Ty Patterson

The Man From Congo (Warriors Series Shorts Book 4) - Ty Patterson

Book# 4, in the Warrior Shorts

Another short read I squeezed in between appointments 63 pages is definitely not taxing. Each book has snippets into one of Zeb’s team member. This time in a jam packed action adventure is Bwana.

Young girls are disappearing and most are never found again. After rescuing two girls in Paris from a gang, Gwana sets to find those behind the trafficking ring. His quest will bring him to Russia and his tracking will lead him to a familiar place in the Congo. 

Great storyline, filled with action and suspense. The plot although too short is strong with vivid scenes. We know a little more about Gwana, this huge and very capable ex-special forces agent.

I am not a fan of short stories but I definitely make exemption regarding Mr. Patterson.

"Deadly Partnership", by Richard Gardner

Deadly Partnership: Murder, Blackmail and Voices from the Spirit World - Richard A. Gardner

Murder, Blackmail and Voices from the Spirit World

At first I was leery reading this book after all voices from the other world is not my kind of excitement and by far not my cup of tea. Was I ever wrong thinking this and so glad I said yes to Mr. Garner’s request to review his book. This was a very captivating read.

Right from the opening page I was hooked by this dark and clever storyline. The author feeds his story and builds suspense in calculating steps, drop by drop. It begins with an introduction to the main character with Paul Jenkins decisions to live with his sister Julie in their child-hood home after retirement….this may not have been a wise decision. Our first meeting with the spiritual world comes when Julie attends a séance. 

After moving in Paul’s idyllic life turns into turmoil when he comes face to face with a burglar, his reaction to this intrusion had tragic consequences. It is not the first time Paul has taken matters in his own hands and it seems that those who have disappeared in the past are not completely gone….from then on we have strange occurrences, medium visits and more murders.

I enjoyed this book. It has a cracking great story with characters easy to connect with. The story provides surprises after surprises and the medium aspects are at its bare minimum. What kept me glued was wondering the outcome, what will Paul do next, who will squeal on him, will he get caught, what about his son, his sister, old friends and the riffraff Paul associates himself with, what’s next…..This story is very well-written with enough suspense to have us flipping the page at a rapid rage…that good.

"Finding Grace:Captured by a Cult", by Warren Adler

Finding Grace: Captured by a Cult - Warren Adler

What would you do if your loveable child is in the clutches of a notorious cult? Would you question yourself: where did we go wrong, was our child unhappy, did our chattered life had a terrible effect on her…etc. a million questions and very few answers….The novel gets to the heart of brainwashing and its power to control. It also highlights how far parents will go to get their child back, even if that child is an adult.

Mr. Adler is a master in creating drama with visual scenes and building upon relationships. At first blush, the book seemed to be of Grace and the parental attempts to find her but it soon morphed into an overwhelming sexual obsession between two self-centered characters: Harry and Paulie, Grace divorced parents. The story jumps back and forth from the present and go back in time as the characters often reminisce about their life together. At one point, their romance is rekindled and this completely takes over the plot. These two characters did not fully won my heart… but their quest and the drastic measures taken to turn Grace around and bring her home is where this story excels in delivering its message.

This easy and fast read set some decades ago moderately dabbles into the cult mindset and their persuasion techniques. Although the premise is more about the efforts and courage needed to find and bring Grace back home we nevertheless have a look at this young woman who has been sucked into a cult and is now under their firm grasp. 

As with all of Mr. Adler’s work, the narration flows smoothly and his powerful prose leaves a whirlwind of emotions. After-all having your child under the spell of mind control who shuns your love can only be but devastating. 

An emotional read 

"Casino Havana", by Graham Tempest

Casino Havana: An Oliver Steele Thriller - Graham Tempest

Book # 5, an Oliver Steele Thriller

In this latest our intrepid forensic accountant is tasked with another mission this time to Cuba he goes to find a friend, who was kidnapped and put in prison. 

This is another suspenseful story in the Casino series hard to put down. Mr. Tempest creates interesting intrigues that pulls you in and manages to keep you captivated till his protagonist wraps up his mission. This one reads more like an espionage thriller than a mystery. The Castro era is winding down, Cuba is in a process of a big political change and officials are jockeying for position but some are very corrupted, Oliver must tread the line very carefully.

The story keeps a steady pace, is exciting and full of red herrings especially when Oliver mounts an attack on an island prison trying to reach his friend .Throughout this nail biting journey, one crisis after another happens to our loveable adventurer. Along the way we have details of old style Cuba, its 1920’s music and how things were then and how things are since the Castro era. Recurring characters from previous adventures are weaved in to show us that Oliver still has to deal with bribery and intimidation at every turn. No dull moment with Oliver. 

“Casino Havana”, has an interesting and well-written plot with good characterization and is an enjoyable entertainment from cover to cover.

"Gaslight", by Mark Dawson

Gaslight - Mark  Dawson

Book #0.5 in the Soho Noir series

A 65 pages novella, a prequel to the earlier published works “The Imposter and The Black Mile.

The story is moody and vivid but it is too short and too thin but the biggest disappointment is that it leaves you hanging and wanting more. Like most short stories “Gaslight” has its flaws but it is worth the time reading it.

What pushed me to download this book: simple I am a huge fan. Mr. Dawson usually writes exciting stories that lures you in and keeps you interested till you reach the end and why not at the time the book was offered free of charges.

Here he set the stage to post war London 1920, his main characters are two brothers, Harry and Frank Costello who burgle house to supplement their incomes. Mr. Dawson even in his short story never misses the mark in creating the right atmosphere. His vivid prose paints a picture of the seedier side of London’s life, its crime elements and the poorer quarters with ease. But it ends too abruptly for me. This story is more of a teaser…..

"The Westhampton Scare", by Gerald J. Kubicki and Kristopher Kubicki

The Westhampton Scare: Colton Banyon Mystery #28 - Kristopher Kubicki, Gerald J. Kubicki

Book#28, in the Colton Banyon Mystery

Although this may be the 28th book it is just the 2nd bringing us back in time when Colton was a young man. The year is 1968 and Colton just finished his sophomore year at college and was home for the summer working at a restaurant along with some of his friends.

Using the same pattern he always does, Mr. Kubicki starts with an interesting prologue and a bit of history then he swiftly moves to the core of his mystery. I really love this new approach, a good storyline that moves along a good pace with plenty of suspense. The book is fun to read and not taxing at all, we can easily read it in no time. Making Colt and his friend trespass on some secret government land where a nuclear missile went missing gives us just enough intrigue to keep turning the pages, to boot a Russian sleeper cell lurks around the corner….a recovery search spearheaded by a sexy Major is teasing our teens and the wild ride through Westhampton can only make “The Westhampton Scare” a very captivating read. 

After reading all but one book written by the Kubicki I noticed a great change in style that I appreciate: out with the ridiculous fantasies, out with the over-sexed dim-wits and more concentration on a solid and good storyline. Well-done.

"Crypt of Bones", by J.F. Penn

Crypt of Bone: An ARKANE Thriller Book 2J (Volume 2) - J.F. Penn

Also published under the title “Prophecy”

Book#2, in the Arkane series

In her books Miss Penn uses her vast knowledge in theology to create great stories with a healthy dose of action and intrigue. This second episode picks up sometime after the conclusion of “Stone of Fire” (Pentecost) with Dr. Morgan Sierra investigating supernatural phenomenon in a religious context. 

Where to begin when the rich narrative keeps you so stitched to the story you even forget where you are. Well I am guilty of doing this; I was so immersed in this intriguing subject that for moments I thought I was part of it. This is not a boring book, too much adrenaline flows while you heart pounds turning the pages.

The story in a blurb

“Dr. Morgan Sierra travels to Israel to investigate the deaths of victims of the Jerusalem Syndrome and becomes embroiled in an international conspiracy that will use cutting-edge technology to carry an ancient curse to mankind, and threaten those she loves. Morgan joins agent Jake Timber to investigate the supernatural”.

Each book has a different setting actually it is a kind of travelogue in exotic locations. As the action moves swiftly into a wonderful blend of the real world with one of fiction we follow the protagonists to Israel, France, Italy and the Czech Republic .There are no dull moments in this race against a shadowy organization. At time I wondered if Morgan will survive or come out in one piece but again she is the main character and after all needed in subsequent novels. Evil characters Ms. Penn excel in developing them, not mentioning that her main players are memorable and brilliantly conceived. 

This is not my first experience reading this author and her style has grown on me through the times. Although I haven’t read the book in sequence I did read a few already and each have stood well on their own. I must catch up and fill the void….you always learn something reading Ms. Penn’s books.

This is a tantalizing thriller that will pull you in right from the start.

"Defending Cain", by Ty Patterson

Defending Cain (Gemini Series Book 2) - Ty Patterson

Book #2, in the Gemini series

This series is a spin off to the main series “The Warriors”. 

“Defending Cain” is the second role played by twin sisters Beth and Meghan Peterson as main characters. The twins in this episode will get involved in a search for Calliope Minter, missing and presumed killed by Cain, a vicious serial killer who is terrorizing New York.

Of course those who are fan of Mr. Patterson will know that the story will feature kick ass players, ones who will provide never ending action to entertain us till the very last words. To keep us captive and turning pages, the author never forgets to weave some kind of conspiracy into his unique and complex scenarios. The story is never a single story, multiple threads will eventually connect but meanwhile we are kept on our toes. This latest is a thrilling ride from the beginning to the end. I agree this is another brain teaser that brings layers of clues, many red-herrings and many dead ends…..

Again no fancy style here, words are rather plain and down to earth, the characters are good but not out of the ordinary, the story line may be over the top for some but I found it quite entertaining. Looking forward to see what comes up next.

"At Large", by John W. Mefford

AT Large (An Alex Troutt Thriller, Book 2) - John W. Mefford

Book #2, in the Alex Troutt Thriller series 

This book can definitely be a stand-alone but I would suggest reading “At Bay” book 1 first so you can better place the characters and where they come from. 

Mr. Mefford writes novels full of intrigue, suspense and thrills and undeniably his style will evoke an emotional connection to his characters. In “At large” Alex is thrust into a bizarre string of murders. She partners with a CIA counterpart and together they chase a killer up and down the east coast. Victims are both male and female but how are they connected and what is the killer’s end game….. 

Alex Trout is an intrepid character, while fighting her internal demons this FBI Agent entertains us with non-stop action while the investigation goes on and more mutilated bodies pile up. Yes, the story goes on at a rapid pace, is rather graphic, has a decent language and a pretty good plotline to entertain us. What it does best is keeping us on our toes: guessing who may be next, wondering if Alex is up to the task and will she get her man…..or will he get the better of her….The story is well-crafted but isn’t memorable, soon read soon forgotten…but so much fun to read.

Entertaining 

"Emilia", by Ellie Midwood

Emilia - Ellie Midwood
The darkest days in the history of Nazi Germany through a woman’s eyes

Reading about the atrocities during WW11 is never an easy read. Of course Emilia story is severe and at times even horrific nevertheless it is compelling account of a life under the Nazi regime. This is a fiction where the author has poetic license and uses it quite well, focusing only on the Nazi atrocities.

This powerful story takes us on a journey of lost innocence, hardening hearts and finding love as we follow a young girl wishing for a normal life, only to be sent to a concentration camp, finally liberated at the end of the war and a few years later finding peace. Emilia tells the darkest tale honestly drawing us into her harrowing life, a life that countless victims were subject to. What a nightmare she tells, page after page of horror: rape, abuse, sadistic handlers at every corner. All the while this young woman was desperately trying to survive. The description of what was done on the population in the camps is very graphic and will undeniably touch the reader’s emotions. Of course this book is sad and hard but the story is so well-written without any fluff and long prose and is said with such frankness and raw emotions that I found it very hard to pause and stay away from this wonderful story of survival for too long. Excellent. 

I received this ARC for review from the Publisher Ellie Midwood via Netgalleys