Fields of Fire

Author: Ryan Steck

Publisher: Tyndale

Release Date: August 2, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

If you are a fan of military type thrillers, Fields of Fire will blow you away with the action, suspense and over the top drama in this fantastic debut by Ryan Steck!

Marine Raider Matthew Redd is heading to be deployed on a top-secret mission when he stops to help a stranded motorist on the side of the road only to wake up hours later missing the mission that his team is all been killed on. Now he is having to take a deal to leave the Corps to avoid being arrested for treason. It is the only life he has known and loved and now he must return to his home town in Montana when he receives a message from his adoptive father saying he might be in trouble. When he gets home, he is too late, his dad is dead and he is left with more questions than answers. The more he digs into it all, the harder it is to know who to trust and what has really been going on while he was away serving his country.

When I started reading Fields of Fire, I didn’t realize this was the first novel by Ryan Steck. For a debut novel, Steck did an outstanding job of creating characters and putting them in situations that kept me on the edge of my seat. Matthew Redd is a great main character with a lot of heart, hurt and determination to try and do what is right no matter what it costs him. For the longest time while reading this, I wasn’t sure where the story would end up, and by the time it all came together, I was able to connect the dots back to the beginning and it all fit together nicely. Each character had a purpose and was set in place at just the right time to move the story along at the right speed. As the story progressed, so did the tension; by about the halfway point I found myself unable to put the book down until I found out what was going to happen. This is set as the first in a series and I can’t wait to see what comes next for these characters. I recommend this book to anyone that loves a great suspense thriller with fun characters and the start of a new series.

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


Author: Blake Crouch

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Length: 352 Pages

Release Date: July 12, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Blake Crouch never disappoints with his mind-bending thrillers!

Logan Ramsay works for the gene protection agency (GPA) to thwart the plans of scientists who intend to modify genes for personal gain.  Logan’s mother was the matriarch of gene research and modification before her life’s work to end world hunger turned into the “Great Starvation” causing a sizeable part of the world’s population to die off.  One night at a raid in Denver, he triggers an IED in a house’s basement that was packed with a gene modifier.  At first everything comes back clean, but before long, Logan starts to notice that his intelligence is enhancing as is his body structure.  Logan knows that if the GPA finds out that his genome has been modified, he will be isolated and studied until they are confident they can contain what he will become.  But Logan also learns that what happened to him is just the first step in someone’s attempt to upgrade the human race so that they don’t face extinction in the future. 

If you pick up a Blake Crouch book, you know that you are going to be in for a wild ride that will likely result in sleepless nights while reading the book and after reading the book because you keep thinking about it for months.  Upgrade was no exception to his formula.  However, he changed tactics a bit and strayed from his usual focus on quantum entanglement to human gene modification.  He has also moved from being more current day to a time of a dystopian world after disasters. 

If you’ve researched much into genetics, you will find quite a bit of the same acronyms show up in his book.  Even if you haven’t, Crouch does a great job of giving readers just enough information to follow the technical jargon without having to have a biomedical degree just to keep up.  He never gets into the weeds, but makes it feel like you are reading a medical thriller.  The suspense is always top notch and its easy to connect with the main protagonist from the beginning.  I always look forward to his books.

There is quite a bit of foul language (understandable from the characters) but doesn’t take away from the storyline at all.  If you love suspense thrillers that will leave you thinking for weeks to months afterwards, Upgrade should be on your shelf!

Bullet Train

Author: Kotaro Isaka

Series: Hitman #2

Publisher: Harry N. Abrams

Release Date: August 3, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

In a read before you watch debate, this will be better than the movie!

Aboard the Shinkansen from Tokyo to Morioka, multiple assassins are traveling with different, seemingly unrelated agendas.  Tangerine and Lemon have “rescued” a wealthy man’s son from a kidnapping and are making their way to deliver the boy and the ransom money that is housed in a suitcase.  Nanao, referred to as ladybug for his unlucky, yet successful adventures, is working with his partner Maria on an assignment to grab a specific suitcase off the train, which just happens to be the same suitcase that Tangerine and Lemon are guarding.  Kimura has boarded the train to avenge his young son’s accident by a teenager known as “the Prince.”  But the Prince is more calculated and sadistic than anyone knows who is out to determine the boundaries that he can push.  Could there be more assassins aboard that have even more agendas?  What will happen when they finally realize that things might not be quite as unrelated as they seem?

I picked up a copy of this book when I saw that it was going to be a movie and I love to read it before I see it.  Needless to say, this is an action-packed thriller from start to finish.  There are so many twists and turns throughout the book that it made my head spin.  There were many aspects of this book that I enjoyed: the banter between Lemon and Tangerine, the frustrations of Nanao, and Kimura’s parents were just the icing on the cake.  It was easy to connect with certain characters and disdain for others, just as the reader intended.  The fight scenes on the train were done very well and was completely believable.

There is quite a bit of strong language throughout the book, a lot of violence, and some disturbing thoughts and concepts by one of the characters, but still a great book.  I recommend that those who love to compare books to movies check this out.

The Record Keeper

Author: Charles Martin

Series: Murphy Shepherd #3

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: July 5, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

An exciting conclusion to the Murphy Shepherd series that will have readers wanting to read the whole series again and again!

Murphy Shepherd has been in the shadows his whole career.  He stays off the radar and rescues those who have been taken for human trafficking.  To cope with all the things he has seen, he began writing stories about his adventures using the pen name David Bishop that have become some of the most sought-after books in the world.  But he owes everything to his mentor, Bones.  After his last mission to rescue his wife and children, he very nearly died at the hand of someone who looked eerily similar to his mentor.  When Murphy learns the truth about the mystery man, he and Bones vow to stop at nothing to finally dismantle the trafficking empire and keep those who have been rescued safe.  But when Bones is taken and used as ransom, Murphy has just discovered this will be the most difficult mission that he has been preparing for throughout his whole life without even knowing it!

The Record Keeper is the third and final book in the Murphy Shepherd series.  This has been one of the most intense series that I’ve read over the last decade.  Readers are pulled in quickly during the first book and it doesn’t let up until the end of the third.  Whereas the first book is just setting the stage with a little bit of Murphy’s history, the second book really dives into his past and what made him into the man he is.  The Record Keeper is more about the story of his mentor, Bones, and how the organization that he and Murphy work for came to be.  Word of caution, this series and this book are not for the squeamish.  This dives heavily into human trafficking and sexual abuse, particularly at those who seem to live just and righteous lives.  However, there is also a humbling truth of forgiveness and leaving the ninety-nine to find the one, regardless of who that one might be. 

I would love this to become a movie or miniseries, but who knows if it will.  The writing is real, raw, and very emotional at times.  The characters are easy to connect with and quickly make readers love or hate them.  To get the most out of this book, I recommend that the full series be read in order as it follows a timeline and storyline that need to read to fully understand what is going on.  Hands down one of my favorite books of the year!

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

Elysium Tide

Author: James R. Hannibal

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: June 7, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A bit of a slow start, but when the story picks up speed, readers better be buckled up because it goes into overdrive! 

Dr. Peter Chesterfield needs a break. He doesn’t want to take a break, but he is ordered by his boss to attend a medical symposium in Hawaii at the Elysium Grand hotel. Even while he is supposed to be on vacation, he ends up working when he pulls a woman from the water with a head injury. She ends up dying in his arms but whispers the word “hono” before dying. After her death, Peter teams up with local detective, Lisa Kealoha, to uncover the missing pieces to the case. Things take a turn for the unexpected the further into the case they go, and it isn’t long before they wind up in the crosshairs of some very dangerous men. Together they must try and solve the case before anyone else gets hurt, or worse.

Let me start with a confession, it took me over two weeks to read this book. Not because it wasn’t good, I just started it at a very busy time with lots going on and didn’t have much time to read. When I did read, I didn’t want to stop to do the other things I had to do. The story started a little slow but once it got going in really picked up the pace and held my interest the rest of the time. Peter and Lisa were great main characters, a little rough around the edges at times but had some great character growth and their dynamic when with each other was very well done. This was the second book in a row set in Hawaii I read by coincidence and this was by far the better of the two. I loved the beautiful setting, fast paced storyline, and fun characters. Even though it could have gone deeper into the Elysium aspect, I feel Hannibal did a great job with not going too far and losing the reader. My advice would be to pick this book up when you have plenty of time to devote to the story without interruptions. I recommend this book to readers that enjoy suspense, action and an overall great read.

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

No Small Target

Author: James Tyler Brooks

Publisher: Tyndale House

Release Date: May 17, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A fast paced thriller that blew me away by a debut author. No Small Target is one to add to the To Be Read pile for thriller fans!

Jack Case thought he had left Hawaii behind until he gets a call from Kamakoa, his closest friend asking for his help on a case. When he arrives, Kamakoa is missing and Jack is now in charge of finding him and stopping a traitor from selling defense secrets to North Korea. Being back in Hawaii is hard, but nothing could keep him from being there for the only family he has left. As the search continues for Kamakoe, Jack must figure out who he can trust and with every turn the stakes are higher as the threats to those around him continue to grow.

For No Small Target being a debut novel, I am pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this one. Just knowing what the story was going to be about intrigued me and made me want to read it; suspense novels are my go-to and this one did not disappoint! Jack Case was a great protagonist that had me hooked from page one.  He had a rough past that was unveiled little by little making it more interesting for me as the reader. Not only were the characters well written, but the story itself and the setting really transported me and kept me engaged the whole time. I was a little worried at first with it being set in Hawaii because a few books I have read recently have had characters from there and they have been over the top annoying, so I was hoping that wouldn’t be the case here and it wasn’t. This is the first in a new series and I can’t wait to see what else comes from James Tyler Brooks.

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

Strangers We Know

Author: Elle Marr

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Release Date: May 1, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

An incredibly intense plot that had me guessing how it would all work out until the very end.

After Ivy Hon is stricken with a mysterious illness, she does online genetic testing to see if she can find her family since she was adopted days after she was born. Ivy is contacted by the FBI after her DNA links her with a serial killer located in the Pacific Northwest. She connects with her cousin in Washington state and the more family she meets the more questions she has about her past, the notorious serial killer, and how it all ties back to her. With each new question, she puts herself closer to the killer and further in danger of being the next victim.

Starting off, Strangers We Know was a very interesting and intense plotline. I was pulled in and wanted to find out what was going to happen. As the story continued, Ivy kept me intrigued and into the story. There were a few moments throughout the story that dragged a little and lost my interest but not for long. The nice thing was this was a quick read that left many possibilities of how it might all end up for the characters. There are many secondary characters throughout and it can be hard to follow at times if you aren’t paying attention. Once readers get a little over halfway, the pace picks up and you will fly through the last half. Overall, this was an average read for the year but I found that I enjoyed it.  A good solid effort by Elle Marr. I would recommend this book to readers that enjoy thrillers that are fast, and full of surprises.

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

Girl In Ice

Author: Erica Ferencik

Publisher: Scout Press

Release Date: March 1, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A chilling, thrilling and original story that wasn’t what I expected it to be but also a satisfying read!

Valerie Chesterfield has been studying as a linguist for years and is skilled in many languages, including several “dead” ones. She doesn’t get out much, especially after her twin brother died while stationed on a remote island off Greenland. When she gets a call from Wyatt, a researcher who worked with her brother asking for her help, she packs up and goes to try and help with a scientific impossibility. Wyatt has found a young girl frozen in the ice who thaws out alive, but he can’t understand her language and calls Val to try and help him understand this girl and what he has discovered. The girl doesn’t speak any language Val knows but is also sick and getting worse by the day. Their time to figure out what is wrong is running out and on top of that Val is looking for more answers about her brother’s death. With the artic temps and freezing wind, their time to save the girl and possibly themselves is running out.

To say this book was unlike any book I have ever read would be an understatement. This book was full of all kinds of twists and turns with cunning characters and an imaginative and innovative plot. At times I did find myself scratching my head wondering if what was happening could really occur, it was out in left field from what I normally read but kept my attention. With the setting being what it was and the story matter being so deep, it did get dark at times. One of the things the author did particularly well was description, not only of the desolate setting but also the sights, smells and other senses to make the readers feel as if they were in in the freezing cold with Val and the other characters. While the story flowed well and was interesting, I would have liked more information on the girl found in the ice, readers learn a little bit, but I would have enjoyed more. Several of the scenes were more for mature audiences along with language throughout the book. With that said, I believe this is a good book that readers looking for a unique mystery that is a quick read.

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

The Silent Sisters

Author: Robert Dugoni

Series: Charles Jenkins #3

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Release Date: February 22, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Another fantastic addition to the Charles Jenkins series full of all the fun, espionage action we have come to love from Dugoni!

After his last mission where he barely escaped Russia alive, Charles Jenkins thinks he can finally settle down with his family and put the spy game behind him. When the final two of the seven sisters, assets who have been deep undercover, have cut off communication and Charles is tasked with finding out if they have been turned, or in hiding. A job that becomes harder as he has been placed on the Russian kill list. Immediately after he arrives, his plans fall apart when he gets involved in the death of the son of one of Russia’s most powerful crime leaders. Now, he must watch every move he makes even more carefully and try to accomplish his assignment without getting caught and killed. All he wants is to make it back home to his family in one piece before his luck runs out.

Every time I pick up a new Robert Dugoni book, I know I am going to be in for a fantastic read. The Charles Jenkins books would normally not be ones I pick up being set in Russia, not what pulls me in usually, but when Robert Dugoni writes it all bets are off and I’m in for the duration of the story. Charles is a character that is full of strength, determination, and will to live and return to his family. He is written in a way that readers will be able to relate to him and want to cheer him on to achieve his mission and return to his family. Each character in this book has a place and purpose; even with several different storylines and many characters it was easy to follow with Dugoni’s smooth writing.

The world of espionage is fun to read about with different settings and people the characters encounter, but it can also be confusing depending on how well it is written. If you pick up a Robert Dugoni novel, doesn’t matter if it is one of the Charles Jenkins novels or one of his Tracy Crosswhite novels, you know you are going to be in for a story that is well written with characters that will pull you in and keep you intrigued by what they are going through and sucked into a really great story. There are some mature themes throughout this book, but it is written so well it never bothered me or took away from the story. I recommend this to those that enjoy thrillers and mysteries, but you will need to have read the first two in the series to get the most out of this one.

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

2021 Top Suspense Thriller

Merry Christmas Eve! And as one of most suspenseful days of the year, why not celebrate by releasing our top picks for Suspense Thrillers!

Dark Intercept by Brian Andrews & Jeffrey Wilson

An absolute hit and fantastic start to a new series by a powerhouse author team. This is a great, fast-paced military thriller with a spiritual aspect that gets dark but keeps the light. Once you read it, you’ll see why it was our top pick for the year!

Read the full review!

In Her Tracks by Robert Dugoni

It’s hard to beat a Tracy Crosswhite novel! This newest addition in this fantastic series comes close to the first installment in terms of being our favorite! Fans of the series, and thrillers in general, will not want to miss this one!

Read the full review!

Play Dead by Ted Dekker

It has been a long time since we have had a true Dekker suspense novel and this one is classic Dekker. What that means is you are getting a top-notch thriller with a deep message about Virtual Reality, what awaits us in this life and the afterlife, and maybe even a little more.

Read the full review!

The Paris Betrayal by James Hannibal

A fast action, spy thriller that had us hooked and our hearts racing until the final chapter! Hannibal stepped up his game in 2021 and let us thirsty for more!

Read the full review!

Network of Deceit by Tom Threadgill

The second installment in the Amara Alvarez series starts with a bang and doesn’t let up. This is our kind of suspense novel, a top-notch strong female protagonist that will stop at nothing to do her job and prove others wrong.

Read the full review!