Wolf Point

Author: Ian K. Smith

Series: Ashe Cayne #2

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Release Date: October 5, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A fantastic thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat and reading far past my bedtime!

When the body of Walter Griffin, a prominent Black Chicagoan, is found at a watery grave in Wolf Point and ruled a suicide, the case ends up in the hands of Ashe Cayne, who knows there is more to the story. Griffin’s children come to the detective and ask him to look deeper into the case than the rest of law enforcement to find what might have been missed. They know their dad never would have done such a thing, even if it means uncovering dark secrets, they want to know the truth. Everyone is a suspect and Ashe must watch his own back in order to not end up like Griffin.

When I read this, I didn’t realize it was the second in a series and am now itching to get my hands on the first Ashe Cayne novel. The writing was smooth and the story entertaining. Even though this was the second in a series, I didn’t feel that I was missing out on a lot; readers can easily pick this up as a stand-alone and enjoy without feeling lost. Smith did a great job of crafting a mystery while keeping readers turning the pages. A few points in the story went a little slow for me but not enough to slow the entire story. It was a fun and in-depth look into Chicago that really made me feel like I was in the city and following right along with Cayne as he went about solving the crime. Lots of great secondary characters that filled the pages with little bits of humor and enough tension that kept a great pace throughout the entire story. There is a bit of language, so it is not appropriate for a younger audience but great for the intended audience. I recommend this book for readers that love a great thriller with a protagonist they will want to read more and more about.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Blood from a Stone

Author: David James Warren

Series: True Lies of Rembrandt Stone #5

Publisher: TriStone Media

Release Date: October 5, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The next installment in the Rembrandt Stone series will leave readers on the edge of their seats and pulling their hair out waiting for the next in the series!

Detective Rembrandt Stone finds himself in trouble once again when everything he loves is in danger of being taken away. He has been across four different timelines trying to stop a killer. Rembrandt still has thirty-eight lives hanging in the balance and if he doesn’t play the hand he is dealt just right, he will lose the little he has left. All he wants is to get back to his time to find his wife and daughter safe and alive to grow old with him.

The True Lies of Rembrandt Stone is the kind of series you want to read one book right after another. The cliffhanger endings kill me!! I am so glad this is written and released in a way we don’t have to wait long for the next installment. Each time I think the tag team of David James Warren can’t get any better, I am proven wrong. The story is fast paced and tight, no fluff, just a good story. It is complex enough that requires readers to pay close attention to follow Stone as he goes back and forth between the timelines.

Rembrandt, Evie, and all the rest of the characters from this series make it one of the best I have read in a long time. With each time jump, Rem finds himself in a more complicated situation to unravel the threads that hold together his life making it easy to root for him to succeed. My heart breaks for him each time he gets bad news that shows his attempt to fix his future hasn’t worked out as well as he was hoping it would. With only one more book in the series, there is a lot to wrap up and I am dying to see how David James Warren will do it. I have no doubt it will all come together; this powerhouse team of writers is up to the challenge.

I recommend this book to readers that love a great time travel mystery with an intricate plot and characters you are going to fall in love with.  It is a series that needs to be read in order and not just pick one to pick up at random.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Stalker Stalked

Author: Lee Mathew Goldberg

Publisher: All Due Respect Publishing

Release Date: September 16, 2021

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Dark and twisted with a definite creepy vibe throughout.

Reality TV has become all that Lexi Mazur wants to do along with drinking and popping pills. Her boyfriend dumped her and now she spends her time fantasizing about becoming part of that inner circle of Reality TV stars. Her newest obsession is a show called Socialites and the star, Magnolia Artois, who she starts following on social media and showing up at the same places as the star. This isn’t the first time Lexi has ventured into stalking; both of her ex’s didn’t know she stalked them and manipulated them before dating. She works as a pharmaceutical rep and sneaking pills for her own use has become a daily habit. Lately though, Lexi fells as if she is being watched and wonders if the tables have turned and she is now the one being stalked. She must use what she has learned over the years stalking others to beat her own stalker.

I wanted to like Stalker Stalked, I really did, unfortunately I didn’t like any of the characters and the use of foul language was absolutely ridiculous. I know this is a mainstream book and as such isn’t expected to be clean but the over-the-top use of such crass language really bothered me. It doesn’t matter if you are writing for a Christian market or mainstream, you can write a fabulous book without that kind of language. To me it feels as if the author just didn’t want to put forth the effort to write without including that. I have also read many books with language that doesn’t bother me because it is written so well, I am engrossed in the story and the characters have connected with me. The only character I even remotely connected with was Pria, she was abused by her friend and kept trying to help anyway. All the other characters were over the top annoying and irritating. I did read this book in a single day but mainly to be done with it, so I don’t have to be annoyed or wasting time just by reading the words on the page. This is a very harsh review for me, but I was expecting something better and different and was disappointed the whole way through. If you are into Reality TV and following those on social media this might be a great one for you, if not skip it.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Truly Devious

Author: Maureen Johnson

Series: Truly Devious #1

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Release Date: January 16, 2018

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A fun and exciting tale of mystery, murder, cold cases, and an exclusive academy for gifted students to come and learn makes for an engaging read that was just plain fun.

Albert Ellingham always wanted to give back to others and show that learning is best when viewed as a game. He established Ellingham Academy in the foothills of Vermont for the best and brightest. It wasn’t long after the school was opened before disaster struck, Albert’s wife and daughter were kidnapped and sent clues as riddles by someone calling himself Truly Devious. Years later, Stevie Bell, a true crime obsessed teen makes her way to Ellingham Academy; she wants to finish out her school years there but also solve the mystery of what happened all those years ago. Just as Stevie is starting to figure out the mystery, Truly Devious returns bringing death back to Ellingham Academy. Murders from both past and present collide in this fantastic start to a wonderful series.

I have to say that I started this series out of order, I read the fourth book not realizing there were three previous novels in the series. I loved the fourth so much I had to start at the beginning. Truly Devious is the start of a magnificent series; Stevie Bell is a fun and engaging protagonist as a modern-day Sherlock to seek out the answers no one else has been able to find. Stevie along with her new housemates turn the story into a game of Clue, who did it, how and why. So many questions to answer, only some are answered in this edition of the series, my guess is all will be answered by the end of the series. The mystery of what happened in the past and how it ties into the present time is what kept me glued to the page. Stevie has a tenacity about her and the way she won’t give up until the case is solved makes her a precocious yet engaging character. Her relationship with the others in the house is a high point that made me relate to her even more; going to a new school is hard, what makes it even harder is going to the school to solve a murder no one else has been able to solve for decades. Even though not all the answers were wrapped up at the end, I was satisfied with the conclusion but left thirsty for more. I can’t wait to see what the next in the series has in store. I recommend this for those that love Young Adult mysteries with lots of twists and turns. My only negative would be the little adult language used throughout, not a lot but enough to make me hesitant to recommend to younger readers.

Escape from the Everglades

Author: Tim Shoemaker

Series: High Water #1

Publisher: Focus on the Family

Release Date: July 6, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A fantastic thriller for young adults that is fierce, gripping, and full of more suspense and less fluff, making for a wonderful read!

Parker Buckman is the son of a park ranger stationed in the Everglades, a place full of danger both in the water and out of it. When Parker ends up mauled by an alligator and almost dies, he can’t help but see it as a place full of death. The only thing he wants is to get out while he still has a chance. His dad puts in for a transfer, but before they can leave, a friend goes missing.  Parker knows can’t leave until he helps find her. Together with his friends, they search high and low throughout the Everglades and discover alligators aren’t the only monsters they are facing.

The first thing I have to say about this book is WOW!! There was so much suspense and action I felt like I was getting a workout as my heart rate got high at times. I loved the action and suspense, especially for a young adult. The next thing that made it such a great read for me was the fact that it was clean, there was no language, it never got too graphic and I will feel completely comfortable letting my eleven-year-old son read this one. So many young adult novels out there are filled with content that I just don’t feel comfortable exposing my kids to. I am grateful for authors that have figured out how to write a great thriller for young adults without filling it with language or content I wouldn’t approve of them reading. This was definitely an adventurous read with the alligator attacks and drama on land. Both boys and girls will love this one I believe, something there for everyone to enjoy. I recommend this to readers that enjoy a high suspense read with very little fluff to fill the pages, great characters and a storyline that is riveting.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Box in the Woods

Author: Maureen Johnson

Series: Truly Devious Mystery #4

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Release Date: June 15, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A fantastic YA thriller that kept me enthralled in the story and unable to put it down!

Stevie Bell needs a good mystery. She helped catch a killer at her high school and now she feels lost with nothing to do having to live a normal, boring life. Then, she gets a message from the new owner of Sunny Pines, formally called Camp Wonder Falls, where there is an unsolved case from decades ago. The Box in the Woods Murders, four camp counselors were killed in the woods and their bodies left on display outside Barlow Corners. The new owner of the camp wants the mystery solved and brings in Stevie to help. Stevie is curious about the case and agrees to come if she can bring some of her friends. As they arrive at the camp and start investigating, it quickly becomes clear that someone doesn’t want them there. The more they investigate things, the more danger they are in and this just might be the case Stevie doesn’t make it out alive from.

First off, I did not realize this was the fourth in a series when I started this book, I didn’t even realize it until I finished. That being said, I was fully able to enjoy this story without having read the first three in the series. The characters were fun, witty, interesting, and full of vigor that kept me glued to the page. They were like a modern-day Scooby gang solving mysteries together. Even though Stevie is young, it wasn’t hard for me to believe her and the way she went about solving the crimes. She found clues that no one else was able to find and put them all together just like the pieces of a puzzle. After reading it, I am dying to go back and read the first in the series and see where it all started and how these characters came together. The story had a great flow to it and tension at all the right spots. The back and forth timelines can sometimes throw things off and take readers out of the story, but here it brought the story to a whole new level. This was my first time reading a book by Maureen Johnson, but it definitely won’t be my last. I recommend this to readers that love a good mystery and having it solved in just the right way.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The North Face of the Heart

Author: Dolores Redondo

Publisher: Amazon Crossing Publishing

Release Date: June 1, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5.

An intense and well-fashioned thriller with lots of twists and turns until the very end.

Amaaia Salazar has been working as a detective in northern Spain using her unique skill set to solve crimes. Now, she finds herself with a group of trainees at the FBI Academy in Virginia. Amaia is assigned to work with FBI agent Aloisius Dupree, who is very familiar with her skills and way of understanding evil using her intuition. They are searching for a serial killer known as “the Composer,” and Dupree is looking to solve another case that has evaded him for years. The Composer sends them on a search from New Jersey to Oklahoma to Texas over years that coincides with natural disasters. The latest natural disaster, Hurricane Katrina, sends them to New Orleans where the destruction is worse than ever and the body count climbs higher and higher. As Amaia works to figure out little clues to bring the Composer to justice, ghosts from her childhood reemerge making the case hit closer to home and causing her to question everything she’s ever known.

The North Face of the Heart is a great suspense thriller with a lot of depth to it. The story is not one you can rush through, lots of depth to the characters and mysteries they are trying to solve. All of that made for a great story; for me though, the hardest part to get past was the head hopping. It’s common to have different characters points of views throughout a book but it is supposed to be one point of view at time. Here there were several instances readers would be in one character’s head and what they were feeling and thinking and the very next paragraph would be a different character’s point of view. At first it was very confusing and hard to tell who’s head I was in and then it would switch. For me this is a problem because it took me out of the story, I would be reading along and then have to stop to figure this out, I couldn’t just keep reading, I had to go back and reread to figure out what was happening. If there was a break in paragraphs to show it was changing, that would have helped but that wasn’t the case. Overall, it was a great story if the writing had been cleaner. Now, this book was written and then translated so some of it could have been lost in translation. I would recommend this book to readers that enjoy a good mystery that is detailed and full of twists that will keep them guessing.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Letter Keeper

Author: Charles Martin

Series: Murphy Shepherd #2

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: June 8, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

If the first book in the series didn’t draw you in, this one is a sure bet!

Murphy Shepherd always leaves the ninety-nine behind to search for the one.  The one that no one else could find that’s being trafficked.  And he’s made a lot of enemies along the way that would love nothing more than to silence the man who has destroyed their profits once and for all.  Unfortunately, someone has found the ability to do just that and not only have they destroyed his beloved island, they have captured his new wife and teenage daughters.  Murphy must race against time with the tables turned on him to find his family before they meet a fate worse than death.

So, if you loved the rough, tough persona of Murphy Shepherd created during in The Water Keeper then you are in for a treat in this new book.  There is not as much action as the first book, but readers get to see the man behind the persona and really begin to understand who he is.  From childhood to university to how he become involved in this line of work.  In addition to all of this, readers get to know some of the supporting characters better including Bones and his daughter Ellie.  One of the most surprising elements of the book was developing the story of Casey, who was found at the end of the first book.  She develops into such a beautiful, yet fierce, character with some unexpected twist and turns along the way.

If you thought the first book mirror the move Taken, this was makes you think it will be like Taken 2, but it is much more than that.  Grab a copy as soon as you can!

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Sticks and Stone

Author: David James Warren

Series: The True Lies of Rembrandt Stone #3

Publisher: Tristone Media

Release Date: June 1, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The third installment of The True Lies of Rembrandt Stone is just as good, if not better, than the first two. The worst thing about this series is finishing one book and having to wait for the next! Such a fantastic fun series that I can’t get enough of! Don’t miss this epic adventure!

If there is one thing Rembrant Stone has learned, it’s this: messing with time is not easy and has a ripple effect no one could see coming. This is the third time he has used the watch given to him by his mentor to go back in time and try and change the past to correct the future, his future. Now, his closest friendship is no more, Andrew Burke is not the man he once knew, and he goes back to try and save him without messing anything else up. As he arrives in the past, he is not only trying to save his best friend, he is also trying to stop a serial killer and save two children that have gone missing in the middle of a Minneapolis blizzard. With lives at stake and a future he can live with and be happy in, Stone races time to do the impossible once more.

With the third installment of the Rembrandt Stone series at my fingertips I have found myself more and more enthralled with these characters and their stories. A perfect length, I finished in a day and found myself craving more, just as I have with the finish of each in the series. The combination of Susan May Warren, James Rubart and David Warren is, without a doubt, one of the best groupings I have ever read. They have a way of crafting a story that is unputdownable, engaging, intense, exciting, and so much more. All the characters have me invested in their lives and if they are going to end up with their happily ever after. Everything I have ever read by Warren and Rubart has left me so satisfied and in that happy book hangover. Such great writing brought together to make a fantastic story and series.

Each book has a cliffhanger ending that leaves you thirsting for more and Sticks and Stones is no different. I loved the softer side of Rembrandt in this one along with the deeper look into some of the secondary characters. I have no clue what is going to happen with the rest of the series, but I know for certain I will be along for the ride.  I recommend this book to readers that enjoy time travel and suspense thrillers and don’t mind staying up way too late to read.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Perfect Couple

Author: Jackie Kabler

Publisher: One More Chapter

Release Date: May 4, 2021

Rating: 3 out of 5.

A domestic thriller with so many twists and thrills it will be hard to turn the lights out and go to sleep at night.

It’s been a year since Gemma met and married the love of her life, Danny and she feels like they have the perfect life. One night as she returns from a business trip and expects to find her husband waiting for her, she comes home to an empty house. Gemma goes to the police and discovers there is a serial killer on the lose and Danny might be the latest victim. All the victims look like Danny and even though Gemma and Danny moved to their new house weeks ago, no one remembers seeing him, only her. It doesn’t take long for the police to look at Gemma as the prime suspect in the disappearance of her husband, which also connects her to the other murders. With each new clue, the police and Gemma race to figure out the truth before anyone else dies.

An excellent premise with lots of twists and turns that just fell a little shorter than I would have liked. For me, it was a bit long winded and could have been cut down by at least a third if so many of the details were not repeated multiple times. Being set in the UK it can be hard to follow at times, which can slow the story down. I thought I had it figured out at several moments and then would be a little surprised by a twist, but that would be too little too late to keep me enthralled in the story. The start was interesting with just enough twists throughout to keep me turning the pages, but the excitement died shortly into the book. Several of the secondary characters could have been cut completely and not hurt the story at all. The main point of view is Gemma but readers do go back and forth with some of the detectives that gave a little bit better view of the story. I think this book will really appeal to fans of suspense that are set in the UK with lots of detail throughout.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.