Toni

The way I see it

"American Demon Hunters: Sacrifice", by J. Thorne

American Demon Hunters: Sacrifice - Zach Bohannon, J. Thorn, Lindsay Buroker, J.F. Penn

With the collaboration of Zach Bohannon, Lindsay Buroker and J.F. Penn

If you are a fan of horror, dark fantasy, mystery or paranormal suspense and love a plot that is fairly simple to grasp you will be pleased with this novella. It is quite an adventure taking us into a make believe world through 134 pages of chilling horror.

The authors meshed beautifully their part each taking the role of a character and blending their story into an eerie tale of demons, portals and gateways. Sonya (Thorn), Blake(Bohannon), Aiko( Buroker), Sebastian (Penn) board an Amtrak train from Chicago to New Orleans for 19 hours that will change their lives.

The train is the backdrop and where all the spooky action takes place. Demons escapes, body count rises and some will have to pay the ultimate sacrifice. The plot is definitely creative with no shortage of descriptive scenes: blood and guts, humans versus demons….ouf… this was one exhausting quick read.

I admit this is not my favourite kind of book although for a good part of the book I was deep into it till the action started to be too creepy for my taste. I lost a bit of interest yet I still stayed captivated till the end. I would say this is imagination at its best (or worse): so scary, so out of this world and definitely unbelievable ….. Thank goodness “Sacrifice” is a fantasy….

I received a review copy of this book from J.F. Penn

"Blood and Belonging", by Vicki Delany

Blood and Belonging: A Ray Robertson Mystery (Rapid Reads) - Vicki Delany

This is a Rapid Reads novel with the entire characteristic that makes it a fast, easy and enjoyable read.

RCMP sergeant Ray Robertson is on leave from his job in Haiti and is vacationing with his wife in the Turks and Caicos Islands when one morning jogging on the beach he discovers a body on the surf, the dead man he recognizes as a Haitian police recruit. Once a Cop, always a cop. He needs to finds out what happened……

Of course a novel that is barely over 100 pages sees a case that is easily solved or has a fast wrap up but as in the previous books getting there is what makes the mystery captivating. As Ray follows the leads he finds himself into the world of human trafficking: Haitian looking for a better live exploited by shady people. A very timely subject indeed. Of course the mystery unravels and becomes complicated…….

I like this series and appreciate Vicki Delany’s concise with no frills or long sentences style. She has a way to make a captivating plot within the limited pages she has to do it in. The story is simple yet not boring and all along she has stayed true to her character.

When one is limited with time, this book is a great escapism.

I received the ARC through the Early Reviewer Program

"The Thirst", by Jo Nesbo

The Thirst: A Harry Hole Novel - Jo Nesbo

Book # 11 in the Harry Hole series

Our unorthodox detective is back, facing another killer, one that will remind him of an old nemesis in his past. In this chilling and emotionally charged mystery Harry is drawn back to the Oslo police force and soon is on the tail of a serial killer working the streets and targeting people using the online dating service, Tinder.

This is a crime fiction at its best: gritty, atmospheric, violent and gripping. “The Thirst” is top notch writing and one of the bloodiest novels written by Mr. Nesbo. I was immediately drawn into a dark police investigation and as the layers slowly revealed themselves I was not only caught up in a cat-and- mouse chase but also in a twisted and breathless journey into the mind of a depraved killer. What a razor-sharp and masterfully plotted “The Thirst” is. Not to forget the vivid and wonderful although rather complex characters that populate the pages, what more can we wish for.

OK, this novel is brutally violent and the story is laced with melancholy but take it from me this is one gripping white-knuckle ride that deploys all the key ingredients of a cracking good thriller: Tension expertly ratcheted upwards, effortlessly shifting objectives and scenery and a tempo that will outpace our ability to guess the outcome. What an ending…..

I received this ARC for review from Penguin Random House Canada via NetGalleys

"The Agent", by Mark Dawson

The Agent (An Isabella Rose Thriller) - Mark Dawson
Book #3, in the Isabella Rose Thrillers series

Michael Pope and Isabella Rose are still caught up in a conspiracy and the exciting drama continues with act #3. As the pair travels across the globe trying to find out what is going on, we as readers are plunged into an amazing and suspenseful plot that has us turning pages at a rapid pace to see if they will eventually make it out of their predicaments in one piece. Again this latest is part of a series that in my views should be read in sequence although some may say “The Agent” also works well as a standalone novel.

Mark Dawson is an excellent story teller and has always offered an action packed and fast paced thriller. He knows how to hold our attention from the opening page and keep us interested till the very end with never ending action. But this time, beware, the story does not connect all the loose threads and ends quite abruptly, leaving us to believe a fourth book is in the making (I really do not mind, I simply can’t get enough of Pope and Isabella).

Pope and Isabella hunt is a race against time, a chase that will bring them from the slums of Mumbai to the wealth of Shanghai and to America. As the story moves on, Pope sees an opening to rescue his family and put an end once and for all at being the main target of hit men sent by the Manage Risk Team.

Again we find a great storyline, captivating to no end, populated with determined characters we can’t help but to root for. Maia, a new evil character, is a wonderful addition that gives a total different spin and one I am eager to see more of. Of course as in the other novels, all is said in a clear, vivid and appropriate language. This is a great installment that clearly deserves high marks from me.

This book follows “The Angel” book #1 and “The Asset” book #2.

I received this review copy from Thomas & Mercer via NetGalleys
 
 

 

"The Moscow Code" by Nick Wilkshire

The Moscow Code: A Foreign Affairs Mystery - Nick Wilkshire

Book # 2, in A Foreign Affairs Mystery

My favourite bureaucrat is back. Charlie Hillier (love this character) is eager to start his next posting. Moscow bound he comes….It doesn’t take long before he is working a fresh case….and follows the sparse clues that will bring him too close to dangerous powers that he and his client could have ever imagined ….Soon finding what happened becomes less important than getting out of the country……..

I enjoy reading Mr. Wilkshire storylines: they are a snappy quick and light read, have interesting premises and are well-written with to the point narration and clean dialogue. Most of all, the experience is very visual and cleverly entertaining.

Hillier, you have to love this guy, plays the role of a bureaucrat but is actually a likeable sleuth that is thrust into events beyond his control. Moscow is not Havana, his last gig, and the players are definitely not of the same calibre. They mostly play the game by their rules and Hillier soon finds himself at the wrong end of the stick…….

This story kept me interested from page one and I zipped through it in no time so captivated to see how Hillier would pull out of this predicament to save the day and his damsel in distress…awe… of course there has to be one…:)

I simply loved this story and can’t wait for Hillier's next assignment.

I received this ARC for review from Dundurn.com via Edelweiss

"Heart of Gold", by Warren Adler

Heart of Gold - Warren Adler
Mr. Adler has written a story that has kept me guessing, wanting more and flipping pages to see what this suspenseful and intriguing drama will lead to. He hasn’t disappointed me, as in the past this latest has provided all the unpredictability I enjoy. This is a genuine page turner with all the essential ingredients to make it a captivating thriller and a best-selling book.

Seems that search for Nazi gold is the topic of choice these days. “Heart of Gold” is the third book I have read lately on the subject of treasures taken from victims during WW11. Here we have Milton Gold a hustling lawyer hired by Karla to find her inheritance of one-hundred millions dollars in gold coins hidden by her father from the Nazi during the war.

When the hunt started, the thrills began and I couldn’t help but to keep holding my breath as Milton and Karla brushed close encounters and attacks from those who wanted to get their hands on the pot…..negotiating with foreign government was another challenge and getting the loot out wasn’t a piece a cake either….but a thrilling ride for the reader.

This is a dramatic and suspenseful action packed journey filled with climatic scenes and populated with a diverse cast of characters.

“Heart of Gold” is a provocative psychological story released at a time when threats and acts of hatred are made around the world, especially towards the Jewish community.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author
 
 

 

"New Boy", by Tracy Chevalier

New Boy (Hogarth Shakespeare) - Tracy Chevalier
This is the author’s contribution to the Hogarth Shakespeare series

Ms. Chevalier has given a contemporary spin to William Shakespeare’s “Othello” and has transported the tragedy to a 1970s suburban Washington schoolyard where a disastrous chain of events follows a black student’s arrival at a white elementary school.

Osei Kokote is the new kid in town, son of a Diplomat, he has moved a lot and became quite adept at dealing with being the only black kid in a white environment. To survive his first day he knows he needs an ally and he found one in Dee, the most popular girl in the school. But that alliance doesn’t please everyone. Ian vouches to put an end and crush their friendship…… By the end of the day pupils and teachers will be deeply affected……

The themes of racism, love, jealousy, revenge and repentance are revived in “New Boy” mix in racing hormones and place the drama in a schoolyard and you have a dynamic setting that is bound to be shocking and not end well. The author schoolyard depiction is right on: the clashes between kids, the hierarchies among them, their game, their emotions, etc. and how the adults react to bullying and racism. The book is easy to read, entertaining and a well-presented glimpse of schoolyard manipulation. It is a short novel that unfolds quickly and ends abruptly. Actually I had to reread the ending a few times to see if I hadn’t lost some pages….

“New Boy”, is unique way to live one day in the life of a group of sixth graders.


I received this ARC from Penguin Random House Canada via NetGalley
 
 

 

"War, Spies. and Bobby Sox", by Libby Fischer Hellmann

War, Spies & Bobby Sox - Libby Fischer Hellmann

Stories About World War Two at Home

This novel contains three fast-reading tales that depicts the tumultuous effect of war on the home front. Chicago is the backdrop and where the action takes place.

Contents:

The Incidental Spy (a novella) was originally published in 2015.
“The Day Miriam Hirsch Disappeared” was published in 2005.
P.O.W. (a novella) will be published for the first time in 2017.

Taken at large from real events, the author has used her wild imagination to give us a glimpse on what may have happened to people caught up during this tumultuous time. The stories are short and sweet, written with passion and very engaging. “The Incidental Spy” is clever story that brush on the Manhattan Project and the spies who wanted its secrets. “POW” is a love story involving a young farm girl and a Nazi prisoner of war. Finally, “The Day Mariam Hirsch Disappeared” recounts the disappearance of a beautiful Jewish actress and a possible espionage ring days before Pearl Harbor.

I loved these stories I was drawn in from the get-go and stayed immersed into their plots till the very end. Even being novellas the stories are complete with suspense and progresses at a good pace, have excellent plot lines and well-rounded characters. A bit of romance didn’t hurt as well making the lives of the people involved all too real.

I received this ARC from the author for an honest and unbiased review

"Nazi Gold", by Tom Bower

Nazi Gold - Tom Bower

This book was first published in 1997 and republished as an Ebook by Open Road Media in March 2017. I received an invitation by the publisher to read and review this book via NetGalleys.

Tom Bower, a British journalist, chronicles the 50 years of greed between the Third Reich and the government of Switzerland and the Swiss banking industry. Millions of dollars, gold pilfered from occupied country including gold teeth extracted from the mouth of those murdered were hidden away in Swiss bank accounts. The crimes didn’t end with the end of the war. The Swiss authorities hid the wealth from the rightful owners for the next half a century. Finally when a class action was launched by the Wold Jewish Congress against the Swiss banks a settlement was reached and millions of dollars were released in the late 90’s.”Nazi Gold” tells how it took a huge amount of time and patience to reach a fair conclusion.

Mr. Bower not doubt has put his heart into writing an account in great details. It seemed well-researched with first rate sources to back his statements. I was quite interested for part of the book but after a while the narration became too technical, highly colourful and particularly overwhelming. I found to presentation to be done in a journalistic manner: rather cold and in a sharp tone. Mid way, I thought things were going in circle and I lost interest, the writing was somewhat repetitious so I kept skipping parts to see the outcome in this grizzle chapter of history. Even if I was not totally captivated by this book it nevertheless gave me a better appreciation of the Swiss government involvement with Germany and the perfidies of the Swiss banking system.

"Black December", by Scott Hunter

Black December - Scott Hunter

Book #1, in the DCI Brendan Moran series

“Black December” is a crime thriller that brings DCI Brendan Moran to investigate a murder at Charnford Abbey where he will discover the abbot and monks to be most uncooperative…..

This mystery is written with a wild imagination and in a very particular narrative style. The slight difference in terminology is a bit of a challenge at first till you get used to it. The pacing is fast and furious while Brendan investigates what took place at the Abbey. As he did so the body count mounts and we are in one of those convoluted mystery….. What started with one crime soon developed into two investigations: one to solve the murders and the other to deal with the apparent theft of an ancient religious artifact. We have plenty of twists and turns to keep the suspense active till we reach the final point. This story is a real melting pot of police procedural crammed into a very complicated drama and acted out by multiple players and one cranky protagonist.

“Black December” leaves me with mixed feelings: at times I was deeply bored and other times totally captivated. What more can I say……

"Killer Femmes 2: Libby Fischer Hellmann

Killer Femmes 2: Small Bites - Christine Kling, Libby Fischer Hellmann, Julie Smith, Sujata Massey, Zoë Sharp

Also by Christine Kling, Sujata Massey, Zoë Sharp and Julie Smith

This book is a collection of short stories and a snippet into their upcoming book. I am not a big fan of this style of presentation I am usually left unsatisfied.

The short stories are good, some very captivating and other less but in whole worth reading. I hate and never read chapters leading to buying books and always skip them, I did so here. I read a sample of each author style in their short stories this is enough to know whether I wish to continue reading this author or not, no need to tease me and then tell me if I want to know the rest buy my book…..this is simply a turn off in my books…

A compilation of books has values: you get to see a variety of style, read different plot lines that are short and sweet and usually well written above all you are taken you out of your comfort zone by exploring what these authors have to offer.

If you have a short attention span or pressed for time you may consider this to be a good choice

"A Dubious Artifact", by Gerald J. Kubicki

A Dubious Artifact - Gerald J. Kubicki

Book # 6 in the Colton Banyon Mysteries

I preferred reading series in sequence although sometime it is not always possible “A Dubious Artifact” is one that I had missed through the years. I wish to thank Mr. Kubicki for sending me the book and providing as in the past hours of captivating suspense for my enjoyment.

As in all the books the story is a smorgasbord of ideas presented in a fantasy style: a bit of Indiana Jones, a tad of James Bond, a dash of paranormal all mixed together into an exciting saga. Again we have Colton and his team of sidekicks protecting artifact. This latest saga is personal for Colton, the artifact was willed to him by his father: a piece of solid gold, written on it is a formula that could put the world’s currency and financial stability into a spin. Once again the Effort group is in the picture and joining in is a team of Chinese killers, Homeland Security personal and Colton’s old nemesis Dr. Thorne on the hunt to obtain this treasure at any cost.

The tempo is fast-paced with some down moments for us to catch a breather. The plot is good and exciting but mostly entertaining. It is not literature and by far, the style has faults many readers will notice but overall is pretty good. My only beef is the depiction of the female characters they are sex-crazed bimbos with little between the ears. Maybe the presence of the Patel sisters and the jealous Loni is adding a bit of fun…..and humour to an intense story, I guess it does. I would prefer more depth with the female characters…..

After 21 books read in this series, going back in time into the protagonist story with book 6 wasn’t a bad thing after all. I now can say I prefer the earlier books and by far.

"Trophies of War", by Christopher Remy

Trophies of War - Christopher Remy

Although this book is a work of fiction it echoes beautifully the time, place and contexts. We go back and forth in time following David Lyon on his quest to find his mother precious Manet, an unknown painting by the famous impressionist lost during the Nazi occupation.

It starts with David reminiscing with his elderly mother about a gift from her father, a painting by Manet. David thinks it may be worth a fortune, only if he could recuperate it. And he goes on a hunt….

In alternating chapters, we go back to WW11 with Hitler and the Nazi pilfering art and precious objects for the Reich or for their personal satisfaction and hiding the treasure in safe places. While all this is going on, we follow David facing his many challenges criss-crossing the former war zone….A good part of the story also covers the aftermath with the hunt between the allied forces (Americans and Russians) for the share of the missing arts. Of course at one point David gets in the way of the Russian mafia…..

Based on trues events, this story is all about history, suspense and lot of good action. David’s adventure is interesting and I was pleasantly surprise to have stayed so captivated through the timeline. The plot is well paced with well-constructed shifting perspectives. The style is simple with short sentences making it easy to read. The characterization is the run of the mill and what one can expect with this kind of story. This didn’t bother me at all. This is a wonderful tale that has inspired me to look further into the subject…

I enjoyed this book immensely.

"The Survivors" by Angela White

The Survivors: Book One (Life After War) - Angela White
Book 1, in the Life After War series

In “The Survivors” we follow a group of individuals struggling with different trials and tribulations after a nuclear war. Many of its subplots are an adventure journey, with a supernatural affair. This story is magic and reality blended into a post-apocalyptic fantasy….well I think……

When I saw this book I obviously didn’t pay full attention to the summary. I admit to have loved the idea behind the story but in hind sight I should have simply overlooked it knowing from the get-go that I am not strong on apocalyptic novel especially one with a fantasy twist to it ….but unfortunately I didn’t and I downloaded it without second thought.

As I plugged along trying to piece what I was reading and the efforts it took trying to make sense of what was going on soon became an ordeal. To top it all after a few hours with it I couldn’t even remember much of what I had read. The end of the World full of apocalyptic horrors is definitely not for me. It was by far time to give up on it, I had wasted enough time on this confused and incoherent story I couldn’t make much sense of….. I dropped it mid-way the first portion, something I rarely do. I leave this collage of mismatched stories for others to enjoy.

This is one tedious book better left on the shelf.
 
 
 

 

"Everyone Brave is Forgiven", by Chris Cleave

Everyone Brave is Forgiven - Chris Cleave

“Everyone Brave Is Forgiven”, is a historical novel set in London and Malta during the Second World War. The story is inspired by the lives of the author’s grandparents: his grandfather served in Malta and his grandmother drove ambulances during the Blitz.

The novel follows four protagonists from the outbreak of the war to the summer of 1942.

Mary North, is a privileged daughter of an MP, after signing up for the war effort is assigned a teacher job. Through her job she meets, Tom Shaw, the head of the local education authority. A relationship blossoms between the two till Mary meets Alistair……

Alistair Heath, an art restorer and Tom’s best friend has enlisted for active duty and is deployed to Malta to defend the island. The siege of Malta is so sentimentality and skillfully described, it really pulls on our heartstrings…..it is hard not to be riveted all through this segment.

Finally we meet Hilda, Mary’s best friend. When she joins Mary’s on her second assignment as ambulance drivers attending to London’s victims we are in a sweeping epic of unforgettable players and emotionally charged scenes.

In alternate chapter each story is told as it progresses in time.

Of course the theme is, the War, and throughout the novel Mr. Cleave portrays the experience with skill and the catastrophic effects of the blitz. He takes the dull, drab realities of war, the continuous bombardment, the constant hunger, etc. and portraits the lives of the people on the siege vividly. We have scenes involving a bullying sergeant and the cruelties embittered by Maltese mob against a German soldier that are quite moving. On the other hand the characters dialogue lacks fluency and at time is insufferably slow. Their attempt at humour falls flat and seems to be off-key. Maybe the author wanted his characters to speak as they did in 1940 but today all this seems to be somewhat rigid….

“Everyone Brave Is Forgiven”, is terribly overwritten and a little melodramatic. But again these are my thoughts and should not affect readers that are contemplating to give this book a go, after all many have given it high marks. I am just a little sad I didn’t enjoy this book as much as my friends (others) did.

"The Only Child", by Andrew Pyper

The Only Girl - Andrew Pyper

I knew before asking for this book that Mr. Pyper had a gothic taste and could deliver a darkly atmospheric thriller layered with visual scenes. “The Only Child”, is a mesmerizing journey and a brilliantly crafted intrigue into the heart of a monster and the only woman who had a chance of discovering the truth.

This concocted tale fueled by relentless suspense and emotion is definitely a page turner from its first pages. Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Dracula all in one book is boldly original and a clever acknowledgment to the Gothic style. I was swept from its first pages and was captivated till the very last unforgettable end. This psychological/horror thriller is populated with a creepy supernatural being and a strong female protagonist. This story is spooky and weird surely not for everyone to enjoy.

The main players:

Dr. Lily Dominick, is a forensic psychiatrist at New York's leading institution.
Client 46874-A, a man with no name, is accused of the most twisted crime and is Lily’s study

The plot:

Lily needs to discover the truth—behind her client, her mother’s death, herself—and must embark on a journey t that will threaten her career, her sanity, and ultimately her life.

Conclusion:

Great story and an excellent read if you are into this.

Review copy received via Edelweiss

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