Featured Author - Phyllis Entis · Mystery Authors International · series · The Damien Dickens Mysteries · thriller

Guest Post: Phyllis Entis

I’m often blogging and writing reviews about books and authors I’ve never connected with in real life, but not today. Phyllis is a good friend and fellow mystery author, and I’m thrilled to say she’s just released the sixth book in The Damien Dickens Mystery series … and it’s a corker, heading more into the thriller category than her past books.

So, let’s hear it for

THE SILVER STAR CAPER

Genres: Mystery/Husband-and-wife private investigators/Woman Sleuth/Thriller

Check out the blurb and tell me you’re not hooked!

Damien and Millie take on their most dangerous assignment yet.

After a string of arson fires drives migrant farm workers from their homes and threatens Millie’s daughter-in-law, Damien agrees to go undercover to infiltrate the white-supremacist, neo-Nazi militia responsible for the fires and unmask the identity of their leader.

Millie covers his absence by spreading the news that they have separated, while he travels back to Atlantic City. When Damien reappears in California, it’s in the guise of a former cop with neo-Nazi sympathies.

Left alone to run their detective agency while maintaining a brave front, Millie dives into an investigation of a friend of the new mayor of Carmel-by-the Sea, a local resident she suspects of being a Nazi war criminal in hiding.

The action is non-stop as Damien and Millie risk their lives to eradicate the spectre of violence and racism from their community.

You need more?

Then the prologue will have you one-clicking for sure.

Thursday, March 20, 1986

We were seated on the patio of the Hog’s Breath Inn, the downtown Carmel restaurant owned by Clint Eastwood. The place was packed with a lunchtime mix of tourists and locals, most of them talking about the upcoming municipal elections and the likelihood that Clint would be the town’s next mayor. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a couple of friendly waves, but I ignored them, focusing my attention instead on Millie, who was slowly crumbling a sourdough roll into pieces small enough to feed to the birds.

The last few weeks had been hard on her as we engaged in an ever-rising tide of public displays of discord. Our friends had started asking what was wrong. Had wondered out loud whether our marriage was on the rocks. Today, they would have their answer.

This morning, it was Millie’s turn to pick the fight. She did so in my office, her accusations about my excessive drinking loud enough to carry through the walls to the dental offices next door. I followed through by giving my wastebasket a noisy kick, sending its contents flying, and punctuated my angry retorts by slamming my fist into the wall so hard that the plaster cracked. Millie retreated into her own office, slamming the door with such force that Hershey, our 60-pound labradoodle, took shelter under the reception counter.

A few seconds later, she emerged from her office, a grim smile on her face. “That should about do it, especially since Malvina was scheduled for a dental check-up this morning. Let’s go to lunch and get this over with.”

Now, you want the buy links, don’t you? 😉

Amazon Buy link: mybook.to/TSSC

Amazon Buy link for Damien Dickens Mystery series: mybook.to/DDMSERIES

Author Bio:

Phyllis Entis is the author of the Damien Dickens Mysteries series, which includes The Green Pearl Caper, The White Russian Caper, The Chocolate Labradoodle Caper, The Gold Dragon Caper, The Blue Moon Caper, and The Silver Star Caper. She was the recipient of the 2019 Top Female Author award (Mystery/Suspense/Thriller).

Phyllis is a free-lance writer and retired food safety microbiologist with degrees from McGill University and the University of Toronto. In December 2020, she released TAINTED. From Farm Gate to Dinner Plate, Fifty Years of Food Safety Failures, an exposé of the shortcomings of the food manufacturing and foodservice industry sectors on which we all rely to supply us with safe food.

Phyllis lives in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada with her husband and their Australian Cobberdog, Shalom. When she’s not writing, Phyllis usually can be found walking around town, baking bagels and pastries, or enjoying her garden.

A message from the author:

Writing fiction is a very intense experience, at least for me. Once a story starts to develop inside my brain, I feel as though I am simply a reporter, taking dictation from the main characters.

In December 2019, I bade a temporary farewell to Damien and Millie Dickens and shooed them out of my head while undertaking a non-fiction project.

The dynamic detective duo started clamoring to return late last fall, and have been with me ever since.

The first draft of this novel wrote itself in only four months—an extremely fast pace for me. There were nights when Damien and Millie entered my dreams, and days when the emotional content of the plot was so overwhelming that I had to stop and open a fresh box of Kleenex tissues. At times, I was afraid of shorting out my keyboard!

Although set in the mid-1980s, The Silver Star Caper embraces themes that are relevant today: racism, domestic terrorists, white supremacy militias, and neo-Nazi movements. Although fiction, the story is grounded in history.

I’ll be sharing pieces of that history from time to time on my blog. I hope you’ll drop by and read the stories behind the story.

Website and blog: phyllisentis.wordpress.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/PromptProse

Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/DamienDickensMysteries/

Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/PhyllisEntis

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/phyllis-entis-1697a849/

Amazon: www.amazon.com/Phyllis-Entis/e/B001JRZM1K/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/1750852.Phyllis_Entis

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/phyllis-entis


As always,

blog tour · book review · drama · familial abduction · thriller

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Stolen

Stolen

You thought she was safe. You were wrong…

Alex knows her daughter would never wander off in a strange place. So when her three-year-old vanishes from an idyllic beach wedding, Alex immediately believes the worst.

The hunt for Lottie quickly becomes a world-wide search, but it’s not long before suspicion falls on her mother. Why wasn’t she watching Lottie? 

Alex knows she’s not perfect, but she loves her child. And with all eyes on her, Alex fears they’ll never uncover the truth unless she takes matters into her own hands.

Who took Lottie Martini? And will she ever come home?

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Stolen-Tess-Stimson-ebook/dp/B08S78F7W2

US – https://www.amazon.com/Stolen-Tess-Stimson-ebook/dp/B08S78F7W2

Author Bio

Tess Stimson is the British author of ten novels, including top-ten bestseller The Adultery Club, and two non-fiction books, which between them have been translated into dozens of languages.

Her first “proper” job after graduating from St Hilda’s College, Oxford (where she read English) was as a news trainee with ITN (Independent Television News). She reported and produced regional and world stories, travelling to hotspots and war-zones all over the globe.

In 2002, she was appointed Professor of Creative Writing at the University of South Florida and moved to the US. She now lives and works in Vermont with her husband, Erik, their three children, and (at the last count) two cats, three fish, one gerbil and a large number of bats in the attic.

Social Media Links

Twitter: @tessjstimson

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Tess-Stimson-106964301384

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tessstimson/

My Review

Alex Martini will admit she wasn’t sure about having children but after Lottie’s birth, she knows she could never be without her, even if Lottie is one stubborn little minx from the get go. Honestly, I love their relationship, it’s refreshingly accurate (and watching safely from the sidelines, the toing and froing of the their exchanges made me laugh and cry at the genuine nature of their bond.) And so, when the worst thing that could possibly happen to a parent happens, I was rooting for Alex that her daughter be found quickly and safely.

All around are quick to judge Alex’s parenting skills: Why wasn’t she more attentive? How could she mistake another blonde-haired child in a crowded room for her child? What kind of mother leaves a three-year-old on her own and retreats someone secluded with a male guest, a stranger nonetheless? Ouch! The attacks on her character are brutal. But what is more brutal is that Lottie isn’t found quickly and Alex must return to her old life and try to move on.

But of course she can’t. She keeps “seeing” Lottie everywhere … until one day, on the Tube, she is adamant that her daughter is in a passing train. Getting people to believe her, however, is no easy matter. Poor Alex has no choice but to follow her heart alone … and investigate for herself. There are a multitude of twists and turns that lead her to her destination, some of which seem soooo unlikely that you just have to trust the author and run with it. Believe me, it’s worth suspending belief for a while as the ending is dramatic, edge-of-the-seat stuff that you won’t regret waiting for.

Highly recommended if you enjoy a quick, pacy, breathless ride of a story with all the feels.

As always,

Reviewed by Meandthemutts on Amazon UK
book review · crime · series · thriller

Book Review – Little Girl Taken

Little Girl Taken – Wendy Dranfield

Rain rattles through the trees as she leans into the car, careful not to touch anything. Two pretty blue eyes stare back through the dark, wide with relief, or maybe fear. A baby girl, wrapped up in a pink snowsuit, reaches out a tiny hand. Her mother is nowhere to be found…

An abandoned baby is the last thing Detective Madison Harper expects to find as she drives to her first day back at work since the case that ripped her life apart. But as she cradles the shivering child close, all her instincts tell her there’s something more sinister at play. Then she finds a lone sneaker down a muddy trail nearby, the laces spattered with blood…

In a town as small as Lost Creek, Colorado, the baby and the shoe are quickly identified as belonging to Kacie Larson, a waitress at the local diner who quietly stashed away her tips to make a better life for her daughter. A mother herself, Madison can’t believe that Kacie would just abandon her child, but she also can’t convince her new team. Not for the first time, Madison feels she must go it alone to get the job done.

But when a body is pulled from a nearby lake, and it’s not Kacie, the case takes an agonizing turn. Is this missing mother really who she says she is? Is there a chance she’s still alive? Madison barely has time to think before the sweet little girl she rescued is snatched on a crowded street. Gone, in the blink of an eye.

To break this case and earn her place back on the force, Madison must learn to trust her team, and herself again—and fast. If she doesn’t find this twisted individual in time, a little girl could die…

A pulse-pounding, absolutely gripping and totally addictive page-turner that will have you racing through the pages and reeling at the twists. Perfect for fans of Melinda Leigh, Lisa Regan and Kendra Elliot, you’ll be sleeping with the lights on!

Add to Goodreads

My Review

From the first book in the Detective Madison Harper series, I was hooked on both the original backstory of the main characters and the obstacles they faced in getting some degree of normality back into their lives. Last we met, Madison had found out who was behind her wrongful incarceration which saw her spend six years in prison, six years away from the job she loved and six long years away from her beloved son, Owen. In Little Girl Taken, Madison is about to start her first day back at Lost Creek Police Department as a detective. She’s nervous and excited, knowing it won’t be easy for her to trust her fellow officers immediately and expecting some backlash from the community. Luckily for her (if I can call it lucky) she doesn’t have time to let those thoughts fester as she finds a car in a ditch, inside which a baby girl lies, alone and crying.

So begins the case to find out who the child is and where the driver of the vehicle is, assuming said driver is the child’s mother. Reports of a missing waitress lead her to believe the missing woman is a waitress at a local diner.

Meanwhile, Nate, the other main character, returns from visiting his good friend, Rex, not really knowing why he has gone back to Lost Creek now that Madison has her life sorted, her son is back with her and she has her job to keep her busy. Nate, however, knows he cannot settle until Father Connor has been caught, and disturbing messages from the priest who set him up for the murder of his fiancée, torment him regularly. Progress has been made in that he’s stopped his drug use since visiting Rex, but the temptation is still there to drag him down into that dark spiral of depression.

Madison has her hands full: she and Owen are struggling to communicate well, he’s not the young boy she was forced to leave behind anymore; also, at the police department, she has been partnered with the very officer who put her away. Now that he is struggling himself, she finds herself bearing the brunt of their work and the two of them still have both different approaches to the job and very different views on getting the job done. She’s also worried about Nate. She wants to help him, but is so busy, and she’s concerned he might leave Lost Creek and hunt for Father Connor by himself.

Little Girl Taken sees Madison take on her first major case with gusto and empathy, digging deep in the the missing mother’s life to reveal a tragic and heartbreaking tale of untreated trauma. The path Madison takes to learn these facts is deliciously convoluted as the author drops clues like confetti. The way the story twists and turns makes it an absolute page-turner. Added to Madison’s complicated life, poor Nate isn’t having a great time either when yet more tragedy befalls him, putting him back on the police’s radar for another murder. He knows Father Connor is behind matters, and can delay no longer in hunting him down. It’s dramatic, tense and excrutiatingly difficult to watch Nate break down. He will need to rely on Madison to get him through this latest episode.

This is a very clever crime thriller that had me second guessing everyone in Lost Creek at some point. Brody, the K9-trained dog is a star, as always, his training as a cadaver dog being used widely throughout the investigation. A new character – Vince Rader – is established as one to watch. He’s runs a crime podcast and is keen to interview Madison and Nate, but he also employed the missing woman. On top of that, he is grieving the loss of his wife and grandson and trying to ignore the aspersions cast his way that he was responsible in some way. He manages to appear to be both a bad guy and a good guy at times before his true self is laid bare, and he really is as genuine as he makes out. Hopefully, he’ll be part of Nate’s decision as to whether his future is in Lost Creek or not. I’m pretty convinced Madison and Owen want him to stick around.

I’ll be keeping an eye for the next instalment; Wendy Dranfield has becomes one of of must-read authors. Thanks go to Netgalley, Wendy and the publishers for my copy of this book which I’ve reviewed voluntarily and with the greatest of pleasure. My only query is regarding the book cover which didn’t seem to relate to the story at all, although it does match the style of others in the series and also the market for crime thrillers. Does it matter that it doesn’t go with the story, IMHO? Probably not, but if we’re led to believe that covers sell books, then this wouldn’t have done so for me. Luckily, the author’s name alone is enough for me to choose this one.

As always,

blog tour · book excerpt · book review · Giveaways · suspense · thriller

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Safekeeping (with an amazing giveaway)

SafeKeeping

Welcome to the tour for highly anticipated release, Safekeeping by Eva Mackenzie! Read on for more details and a chance to win a brand-new Kindle Paperwhite 32GB (Value 249.99)!

Mackenzie_Safekeeping_Ebook

Safekeeping

Publication Date: July 20th, 2021

Genre: Thriller/ Suspense Thriller

No one ever thinks they’ll get caught…

Moments before police arrive on the scene of a car accident in rural Montana, Sonia has time to make one phone call. With one word whispered, she sets off an unstoppable chain of events. Once police arrive, she confesses to the brutal murder of her stepsister, Emma.

After, she’s sentenced to life in prison where she learns her stepfather’s ruthless reach. It’s a game of cat and mouse– a game she has already lost. She only needs to hold on long enough to be sure her secret is kept safe.

Until one day, news of an unidentified man’s death confirms her worst fear, and Sonia must get out of prison, at all cost. What did the dead man say, and who heard him say it?

Because everyone is guilty of something…

Add to Goodreads

Excerpt

She winced and sucked air through her mouth as she pressed on the bridge of her nose. Murmuring could be heard outside her cell from women nearby. A whisper began, low at first, but climbing to reach her ears: “Green light go, on 216. Green light go, on 216.”

It was soft and almost childlike, and its echo sent a shiver through her. Green light was code for a hit, and 216 was her cell number. It was like note-passing among the inmates, only she was meant to hear it. Someone had decided it was time for her to die.

The morning light caught the edge of one of her paintings and she stared back at a likeness only she could see.

“I miss you,” she whispered. “I’m not done yet.

Available on Amazon

About the Author

eva-fav-alley.jpg

Eva Mackenzie is an author who enjoys twisty, emotionally engrossing tales. Her debut novel has been a work in progress for over a decade. Under the urging of a loved one, it’s finally finished.

She is a wife and mother living on the east coast. When she isn’t writing, she is spending time with her family, training for her next marathon or reading stacks of suspense novels. Some of her favorite authors are Minka Kent, Dean Koontz, Tami Hoag, and Lisa Jackson.

Eva Mackenzie | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads| Newsletter

Who wants to win a brand new Kindle??? This giveaway is open to everyone and will run all week (ending July 24th)!

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My Review

This story starts off with a bang or rather a car crash as the protagonist, Sonia Rossi, is hurled into a ditch by an oncoming vehicle. Before the emergency services arrive, and too injured to run, she makes a phone call in which the word “safekeeping” triggers a series of events for the recipient. When the police arrive, she tells them her name … and that she is wanted for murder.

From here on, the story moves to Flint Hill Corrections Centre where Sonia has been incarcerated. We soon learn that her life in there is fraught with danger, and that she is constantly in danger. Assaulted time and again, Sonia tries to keep a low profile but it’s clear there are forces working against her. That force, primarily, being her step-father Saul D’Luca who is out for revenge after she “confessed” to killing his daughter, Emma, her step-sister.

However, when her ex is killed, Sonia knows she has to get out of prison and begins the appeal process with the help of Ali, a high-powered criminal defence attorney. It’s not longer before the warden at Flint Hill shows his true colours in refusing to give Sonia protection, and later in limiting her visitors. But when Sonia’s mum visits and then goes missing, as well as Ali the lawyer, it’s clear someone (Saul) does not want Sonia to be freed or even retried.

As Sonia battles for justice, the story also includes the actions of the person who received her phone call before she was locked up. Making the connections between Sonia, Saul and this third person, Jenna helps to unlock the reason Saul wants to keep Sonia quiet – preferably dead.

The suspense element is strong and there are several secrets to uncover before the story concludes which kept my attention, and despite there being multiple POV characters with their own chapters, the links between them all tie up by the end. For me, there are still a couple of loose ends that I’d like to see resolved – maybe there’ll be another book to do that.

A good and well-paced story with plenty of upsets along the ways that mean you just have to read one more chapter.


SafeKeeping

Book Tour Schedule

July 19th

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com

Books Rambling & Tea (Spotlight) https://booksramblingsandtea.com/

@books_n_yogapants (Review) https://www.instagram.com/books_n_yogapants/

@addictedtobooks86 (Review) https://www.instagram.com/addictedtobooks86/

Nessie’s Place (Spotlight) https://nesiesplace.wordpress.com

Rambling Mads (Review) http://ramblingmads.com

July 20th

Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.com/

Kam’s Place (Review) https://www.superkambrook.com/

Just 4 My Books (Review) http://www.just4mybooks.wordpress.com

The Faerie Review (Review) http://www.thefaeriereview.com

July 21st

@gin_books_crochethooks (Review) https://www.instagram.com/gin_books_crochethooks/

@esmeralda_lagiggles18 (Review) https://www.instagram.com/esmeralda_lagiggles18/

@jypsylynn (Review) https://www.instagram.com/jypsylynn

Cocktails & Fairy Tales (Review) https://www.facebook.com/CocktailsFairytales

Phantom of the Library (Review) https://phantomofthelibrary.com/

July 22nd

@amysbooknook8 (Review) https://www.instagram.com/amysbooknook8/

@geauxgetlit (Review) https://www.instagram.com/geauxgetlit/

@isbn_reading (Review) https://www.instagram.com/isbn_reading/

@booklymatters (Review) https://www.instagram.com/booklymatters/

July 23rd

@greeneyedgirl0704 (Review) https://www.instagram.com/greeneyedgirl0704/

Misty’s Book Space (Review) http://mistysbookspace.wordpress.com

@theliterateleprechaun (Review) https://www.instagram.com/theliterateleprechaun/

Stine Writing (Review) https://christinebialczak.com/

@dreaminginpages (Review) https://www.instagram.com/dreaminginpages/

Book Tour Organized By:

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blog tour · book review · literary fiction · thriller · women's fiction

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Games We Played

GameswePlayed

Welcome to the tour for Games We Played, a gripping novel by Shawne Steiger! Read on for details and don’t forget to enter the giveaway!Games-We-Played-500x800-Cover-Reveal-and-Promotional

Games We Played

Publication Date: October 17th, 2020

Genre: Literary Fiction/ Women’s Fiction/ Thriller

When actress Rachel Goldberg shares her personal views on a local radio show, she becomes a target for online harassment. Things go too far when someone paints a swastika on her front door, not only terrifying her but also dredging up some painful childhood memories. Rachel escapes to her hometown of Carlsbad. To avoid upsetting her parents, she tells them she’s there to visit her Orthodox Jewish grandmother, even though that’s the last thing she wants to do. But trouble may have followed her. Stephen Drescher is home from Iraq, but his dishonorable discharge contaminates his transition back to civilian life. His old skinhead friends, the ones who urged him to enlist so he could learn to make better bombs, have disappeared, and he can’t even afford to adopt a dog. Thinking to reconnect with his childhood friend, he googles Rachel’s name and is stunned to see the comments on her Facebook page. He summons the courage to contact her, Rachel and Stephen, who have vastly different feelings about the games they played and what might come of their reunion, must come to terms with their pasts before they can work toward their futures.

Note: Possible Triggers

Add to Goodreads

Excerpt

Stevie and his mother were evicted from their apartment after his mother’s big fight with the landlord at two in the morning. They left with only his mother’s purse and went to his grandpa’s house to sleep. Stevie had seen his grandpa just once before, and he barely remembered the visit. For the whole taxi ride, his mother kept saying, “Just until I get a job. We won’t stay long. Don’t worry, Stevie.”

He dozed, lulled by a spicy cigar smell and the erratic crackle of the radio from the front of the car. The driver let them out at a two-story stucco house that loomed like a yellow castle in the shadows of streetlight and moon. Stephen followed his mother through a wrought-iron gate that opened to a sidewalk made of pink stone

slabs. He lurked behind her when she knocked, looking around at the rock garden, a few lemon trees, and a big white wall that surrounded the front yard, blocking any view except for bits of road.

Nobody answered, so his mother dropped her purse and slammed the heel of her hand into the doorbell over and over. Then she turned away from the door, picked up her purse, grabbed Stephen’s arm, and dragged him toward the gate and the street, and the door finally opened. His grandpa stood on the threshold, silhouetted by a glow from the living room. Stephen would always remember that glimpse of his grandpa, the faded gray robe held closed at the chest, the gnarled toenails and bushy white hair, how big he was. He wasn’t fat, just big and as shaggy as the mountains he could see from Carlsbad, even though it took eight hours to reach them.

His grandpa stared at Stephen’s mother with bloodshot eyes. Then he looked down at Stephen and twisted his mouth into a closed-lipped grimace. Later, Stephen learned that his grandpa didn’t like to show his mouth when he wasn’t wearing his dentures, but at the time, the vampire smile frightened Stevie.

“Well, you might as well come in, then.”

His grandpa’s voice was harsh and phlegmy. After he finished talking, he coughed until his face turned red, and he lit up a cigarette. Stevie’s mother propelled him through the front door and into the house, where they stayed much longer than she had promised.

Two weeks later, they were still there. Stevie’s mother stayed in her room nearly all the time, leaving Stevie to eat Hungry-Man frozen dinners and watch The Price is Right with his grandpa. When she did come downstairs, she pulled a kitchen chair into the living room and sat on that, far away from Stevie and Grandpa on the sofa.

When Stevie had his sixth birthday, his mother didn’t come down to sing “Happy Birthday,” buy him a cake at the grocery store, or tell him she was sorry she couldn’t afford a present but that she loved him. But his grandpa made sure he had a special day.

He took Stevie up to the attic and showed him the guns gleaming on their racks inside a tall wooden case with a glass front. His grandpa opened a cardboard box next to the gun case and dug beneath a bunch of magazines until he produced a silver key. He inserted the key into the lock very precisely, as if opening that case was a more delicate task than shaving the whiskers around his throat. Then he removed the guns one by one and showed them to Stevie.

He had six guns in six different shapes and sizes—three thick-handled guns with narrow noses that his grandpa said were Lugers, a smaller-nosed pistol called a Walther, a rifle called a Mauser, and one MG 34 machine gun. Stevie liked the rifle best because its long brown nose seemed sleek and dangerous.

His grandpa cradled it. “With this Mauser, I killed a Jew resistance fighter who thought he could get away.

Amazon | B&N | Google | Kobo | iTunes

About the Author

head shot

Shawne Steiger wrote her first story when she was seven. Over the years, she has been a pizza maker, dressage teacher, house cleaner, and therapist. The one constant in her life has been her writing, which is why, after years working as a trauma therapist, she applied to Vermont College of Fine Arts and completed an MFA in Fiction writing. After learning that she’s happiest when writing, Shawne published short stories and essays in several literary journals. Supporting her writing habit with her social work degree, Shawne frequently incorporates her understanding of how trauma affects people into her fiction. When not writing or working, she enjoys going to the theater, reading and travel. Luckily her love of travel stops her from fully realizing her aspirations to enter the realm of mad cat woman, since she’s yet to find the perfect suitcase that will fit both her cats and still be light enough to carry.

Shawne Steiger | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | BookBub

My Review

I had great expectations for this story given that it touches on so many themes current to modern times: white supremacy, abortion, and being gay are topics charged with controversy when emotion takes the place of facts.

The stories hops about from different time periods usually from the main viewpoints of Rachel and Stephen who grew up together, and whose “war games” are those referred to in the book’s title. Innocent though those games seemed then, it set the scene for the type of adults they became.

Rachel’s life changes when her grandmother, Gladys, comes to live with her and her parents, a move not welcomed by Rachel’s mother at all, since Gladys is a devout Jewish women and insists on them living a kosher lifestyle from thereon. For Rachel, it means an end to her magic tricks and generally any freedoms she had before Gladys arrived. It’s no surprise she shuns that life at the earliest opportunity.

Now an actress, she has a difficult relationship with her girlfriend, since Liz is still living a “married” life with her husband, supposedly for the sake of the kids. When Liz lets her down once again, on her birthday, Rachel is forced to consider their future as a couple. Hooking up with Jo, a policewoman, that night only heightens her confusion.

Yet, her love life is not her only concern. Not when a group of white supremacists take offense to a comment she makes about the character she is currently playing in the theatre. When they track her down on social media, it’s scary to see the lengths they will go to in order to put the “Jew Girl” right.

Stephen’s life is pretty much a mess since he left the army, dishonourably discharged, and he reinvents himself as someone who is more impressive than he really is, at least to those he chooses to consort with (the white supremacists). Yet when his old friend comes under attack from that very group he is torn between how he feels towards Rachel and how much he wants to belong to that group.

Rachel visits her parents in California, planning to say goodbye to Gladys who is in hospital with dementia. Leaving her home will give her time to think about her relationship, and also put some space between her and her hunters.

Except they are persistent in their desire to find her. Going so far as to find her grandmother’s hospital as a place to wait for Rachel to arrive.

The tension ratchets up as the group get closer to Rachel, and her life and that of her family seems in danger all because of that one comment. Scary stuff!

I’m not going to spoil the ending here. The pace in the latter stages of the story was much faster than in early chapters, where if I hadn’t read the blurb, I would have been wondering where the story was heading. I must admit to not really liking any of the characters, even Rachel, but particularly not Stephen whose neediness and desire to impress left him looking weak and insignificant in my eyes.

Did I enjoy the book? “Enjoy” wouldn’t be the word to describe my feelings here; it’s not the sort of story that you read for enjoyment. It was, however, fascinating and intriguing. A warts and all look at the issues it addressed, of which there are many. I did feel for Rachel. From the moment Gladys arrived permanently in her home, her world was turned upside down, and I could understand how she felt towards the old lady in later life. It did become evident though, that there was another side to Gladys that Rachel didn’t see, and that struck me as sad. For me, the overriding sentiment was a realisation of the damage that racism, hostility and partisanship can create. Add to that other family traumas, and the combination is explosive and surprising.

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Book Tour Organized By:

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blog blitz · crime · police procedural · thriller

Mini Blog Blitz ‘n’ Guest Post – Coldharbour

Coldharbour

The Met Police’s Major Investigation Team East has its hands full: a rash of tit for tat gang related stabbings, a strangled housewife, the decomposed remains of a woman found in a ditch and more to come. Adding to their woes is their boss, Chief Inspector Matthew Merry, being distracted by his problems at home.

For Matthew’s wife, Kathy, her only concern is dealing with the aftermath of being drugged and raped by a co-worker. Will the trial of the man responsible be enough to give her the justice she demands. Or, as her therapist states, is it revenge she really desires. She doesn’t know. As her emotions see-saw from elation to depression, her only certainty is that her husband seems more concerned about his work than her.

And Matthew is only too aware of his failings both at home and work. But the police machine grinds on, seeking information and sifting evidence — justice is not their concern.

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Coldharbour-John-Mead-ebook/dp/B08NF7VK8N

US – https://www.amazon.com/Coldharbour-John-Mead-ebook/dp/B08NF7VK8N

Author bio

John Mead

John was born in the mid-fifties in Dagenham, London, on part of the largest council estate ever built, and was the first pupil from his local secondary modern school to attend university. He has now taken early retirement to write, having spent the first part of his life working in education and the public sector. He was the director of a college, a senior school inspector for a local authority, and was head of a unit for young people with physical and mental health needs. When he is not travelling, going to the theatre or the pub, he writes.

John is currently working on a seies of novels set in modern day London. These police procedurals examine the darker side of modern life in the East End of the city

Amazon author profile: https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B07B8SQ2ZH

Goodreads profile: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17891273.John_Mead

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JohnMeadAuthor

Guest Post

Why do I write?

I can honestly say it isn’t for the money, nor the accolades, not even the celebrity lifestyle. If it were I’d be greatly unhappy because I have achieved none of the above. So, is it about the creative process? Weeelll… perhaps, if you consider the creative process to be about the technicalities of writing. In the same way you would expect a painter to be interested in brushes, paint and canvases, so I have an interest in things like grammar and punctuation. No, I couldn’t care less where you stick a comma but I do care about where I place it, usually after considerable thought.

The simple fact is I write because I enjoy it, I always have. As I learned to read as a child, so I learned to write, the two things seemed linked and I naturally fell into the habit of writing out the stories that formed in my head. Things were easy, at first, but as I became older I began to realise that I had a problem. Whatever I wrote, whether it was an essay or a short story, those who read it seemed to have problems understanding it. Perhaps it was a lack of understanding about the process, the technical side of writing – grammar, punctuation and spelling – or could it be dyslexia? I don’t honestly know because dyslexia did not exist when I was young, you were just “thick”.

I could memorise long lists of spellings and, therefore, do well in tests. I would quickly pick up on how each teacher used grammar and punctuation, and given that no two teachers seemed to follow the same rules, I could happily get an “A” without any real understanding about how those rules worked. In fact I spent the first half of my life being thought of as a “good writer” by keeping things simple and applying a few cheats that I had learned to cover up any deficiency. Which was fine for professional reports, and as I had a busy career I didn’t have time to write stories, so that aspect went by the wayside.

Of course there was the odd mishap, such as the embarrassing occasion when I had put something out using the word “roll” instead of “role”. People, jokingly pointed out the typo, I laughed and went along with it, and eventually got “roll” changed to “role”. The problem was I couldn’t, at the time, actually see the difference. I knew the different meanings and how to use them, I just couldn’t see the actual difference between R O L L and R O L E. Try telling someone who is colour blind that the light is red, not green. And, just don’t start me on words like affect and effect. Have you seen the definitions in some dictionaries?

Deciding that avoidance was not an answer to the problem is what got me back to writing stories again. I wanted to be able to write what I saw in my mind, to paint a written picture that others could also see and, hopefully, enjoy. As spellcheckers developed that helped, though auto-correct is a pain, but learning to proofread has made the most difference. Reading and re-reading is a must. Reading a book in reverse, from the end to the start, or reading chapters in a random order, tends to take the focus off of characters and plot lines and puts it onto meanings and the language used. And, of course, an absolute must for all authors is to have a good copy editor — they are your second pair of eyes and best friend rolled into one.

John Mead

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book review · family · psychological suspense · thriller

Book Review – Baby Dear

Caro and Jeff Horne seem to have it all until they learn that Jeff is infertile. Caro married Jeff because her biggest wish was to be a mother, and he had the means to give their children a better life than she’d had. Jeff, who is besotted with Caro, is terrified he will lose her now they can’t have a baby.

Across town, Sharon is eight months pregnant and unsure if she really wants to be a mother. Soon her world will collide with Jeff’s. He wants to keep Caro happy and decides that getting a baby is the only way.   

Then Caro is accidently drawn into an underworld of drugs…

Meanwhile, Jeff is increasingly desperate to find a baby – but what lengths is he prepared to go to?

Is Sharon in danger, and will Caro ever have the family she’s always dreamed of?

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My Review

Baby Dear is a story that takes a few chapters to grab your attention, by virtue of getting to know all the characters, but then it draws you into a fast-paced roller-coaster of emotions and uncertainty.

The story starts with Caro and Jeff attending an appointment at the hospital in the hope of understanding what it’ll take for them to conceive a child. The news isn’t good: Jeff is infertile. Of course, there are options, IVF for one, but the consultant doubts that will be successful. Caro rules out adoption as she wants to be pregnant and give birth to her own child; Jeff rules out a sperm donor. The two of them are at odds, and this even brings into question the state of their marriage.

Caro questions her future with Jeff now he can’t fulfil her dream of being a mother. Jeff questions his future with Caro if he can’t give her a baby.

The lines are drawn, and since neither of them actually seem capable of conversation, they both retreat into their own worlds, assessing how they can resolve the gaping hole in their lives.

Unlike Caro and Jeff, Sharon and Craig Morrison are nowhere near ready for the new baby that is about to change their lives forever. It’s not that they never discussed having kids, just not now. As the due date falls ever closer, Sharon tries to consider a life with a baby and manages to convince herself that maybe she can still have it all. Craig, however, is not even willing to talk about it and buries his head in the sand.

Single mother of two, Julie Mayhew adores her kids, they’re the light of her life and she can’t imagine being without them. After work at the library, she finds Sharon out of breath outside, and sits with her awhile to check the mother-to-be is OK. The two women strike up a friendship. Sharon’s friends aren’t parents, so she latches on to Julie, encouraged that this other woman manages two children and a job on her own.

These three families find themselves connected when Jeff takes matters into his own hands. That he is able to take things as far as he does is frightening and tragic. His wife is unaware of his behaviour until it’s too late. (To be honest, Caro dismissed him easily once she learnt he’d not be able to father a child, and her own obsession is what triggers Jeff into doing the unthinkable).

The story develops in those three viewpoints.

Sharon warms to the idea of being a mother and, once the child is born all her concerns fade away … until a creepy man brings her flowers.

Julie helps Sharon out when Craig is nowhere to be found, and their friendship blossoms. Julie’s own life seems to be taking a turn for the better with the promise of romance in the air, and her little boy, Sam, is just a delight.

And Caro, well she just seems to think of herself until a young teen is found dead in Julie’s library, overdosed on ecstasy and then she worries if she might have been responsible somehow. It might seem like an odd divergence from the main plot, but it allows her to reunite with her nephew, who has a pivotal part in the story as things escalate.

Their lives change forever as the reality of what Jeff does hits home. His dramatic breakdown stems from the moment he learnt of his infertility, and his wife’s indifference to him sends him into an abyss of dark thoughts and ultimately even darker actions as he tries to “fix” everything.

Emotions run high here, as tragedy strikes. But who will get their happy ending?

Enjoy!

As always,

Amazon Reviewer Name

book review · emotions · thriller

Book Review – The Nurse

When you hear her story, will you believe her?

Rose Marlowe is a hard-working nurse, a loving wife, and a merciless killer. Or so she says. Despite her confession, it is hard to believe that this beautiful, kind woman could have killed her vulnerable patient in cold blood.

Down-on-his luck author and ex-journalist, Theo Hazel, is convinced that there’s more to what happened than Rose is telling, and so decides to visit her behind bars to write her story. His first surprise comes when Rose reveals that the victim was not a stranger to her.

As time goes on, it seems that Rose is letting Theo see behind her perfect mask. With each new visit, he learns terrible new things about her heart-breaking past. With each new visit, he becomes more and more convinced that she can’t be a killer. But is he trying to free an innocent victim, or falling prey to a calculating murderer?

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My Review

I love the opening line to the blurb: When you hear her story will you believe her? From the outset, I was on my guard, not knowing who to trust. Should I be rooting for a woman – a nurse, no less – who has purposely killed someone in her care? But then, as Rose tells her story to Theo, those dramatic headlines fade into the background as she tells her story in her own words. Suddenly, it becomes very easy to see her as a victim too. But of whom? And, throughout I still felt I was being led down one blind alley after another … until the ending pulled the rug out from underneath me. Wow!

So, what’s it all about?

Rose is in prison, convicted of murder, a charge she neither denies nor defends.

Theo is a writer who desperately needs a good hook to convince his publisher he has another book in him. Rose’s story, he hopes, will be enough to secure him a new deal.

Told from dual viewpoints and timelines, it pays to take note of the date as you start a new chapter.

To be honest, it did seem a bit far-fetched that Rose would tell him her story, especially when she had so little to say in court. It made me think whether she’d be telling him the truth or just a version thereof. Even Theo had to admit she was holding something back, but nonetheless her story was fascinating. How she went from having a real desire to do well in med school and become a paediatrician, to pulling out of her course to instead have a child with Daniel, with whom she had fallen in love. Well, OK, life happens and plans change … but things changed again – significantly, drastically, unimaginably – when she went into labour.

Rose’s story was a rollercoaster of highs and lows as twists and turns came from every angle; my impressions of her and other key characters spun on a sixpence many a time (apart from Ed, I never liked him at all!) leaving me unsure as to whom I could believe. My one reliable source was Theo; as he got to know Rose better he grew ever more certain that she hadn’t killed anyone. Although, he was clearly smitten with her too which begged the question whether Rose was playing him too.

Rose’s character was complex yet endearing. All along it felt as though she had a true vocation for the medical profession, and that even from a prison cell she was protective of others. She allowed Theo permission to speak to her mother and closest friends rather than have it appear that she was hiding anything. And to maintain a sense of balance he spoke to the victim’s family too. Eventually, pieces of the puzzle came together to allow the reader to better understand why Rose did what she did … or to at least think you understand her 😉

Whilst I felt the final twist was well delivered, my overall impression was that this was more a slow-burning thriller with many layers. Some layers you add, others you remove. A most intriguing read and, at times, heart-breakingly sad.

Thanks to the author, Canelo & Netgalley for my copy which I’ve reviewed of my own free will.

As always,

Amazon Reviewer Name
book review · drama · family · thriller

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – The Legacy

The Legacy

An unexpected inheritance. A web of deceit. A desperate escape. 

London, 1969.

James has his dreams of an easy life shattered when his aunt disinherits him, leaving her fortune to her god-daughter, Charlotte. He turns to his friend, Percy, to help him reclaim his inheritance – and to pay off his creditors. But when their plans backfire, James becomes the pawn of Percy and his criminal associates.

Charlotte is stunned when she is told of her windfall. After an attempt at cheating her out of her inheritance fails, James tries to intimidate her. But she is stronger than he thinks, having secrets of her own to guard, and sends him away with a bloody nose and no choice but to retreat for now.

Resigned, James and his spoilt, pampered girlfriend, Fliss, Percy’s sister, travel across France on a mission that promises to free James from the criminals for good. But James isn’t convinced he can trust Fliss, so he makes his own plans to start a new life.

Will James be able to get away, or will his past catch up with him? Will Charlotte’s secrets turn the legacy into a curse?

Purchase Link – mybook.to/legacy

Author Bio

Alison has been a legal executive, a registered childminder, a professional fund-raiser and a teacher. She has travelled the world – from spending a year as an exchange student in the US in the 1970s and trekking the Great Wall of China to celebrate her fortieth year and lots of other interesting places in between.

In her mid-forties Alison went to university part-time and gained a first-class degree in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University and an MA in the same subject from Oxford Brookes University, both while still working full-time. Her first book was published a year after she completed her master’s degree.

The Legacy is a drama set in 1960s London. Like her previous book, Mine, it explores themes of class, ambition and sexual politics, showing how ordinary people can make choices that lead them into extraordinary situations.

Alison teaches creative and life-writing, runs workshops and retreats with Imagine Creative Writing Workshops(www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk) as well as working as a freelance editor. She is a member of the Society of Authors and the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

She lives in Somerset, within sight of Glastonbury Tor.

Social Media Links

www.facebook.com/alison.knight.942

https://twitter.com/Alison_Knight59

www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk

www.darkstroke.com/dark-stroke/alison-knight/

My Review

Having read and enjoyed Alison Knight’s previous novel Mine, I had to pick this one up. I wasn’t disappointed.

Jane doesn’t have long to live, but she knows that she doesn’t want her nephew James to inherit her estate, especially as he has rarely visited her over the years, preferring to spend his time and rack up debts in gambling dens. Instead she changes her will to leave the bulk of her estate to her god-daughter, Charlotte, who has been a regular visitor and confidant to the old lady.

Even so, Charlotte is not expecting the windfall any more than James is prepared to be excluded. While Charlotte takes her time to grieve for her godmother, and to let the news settle in, James is already planning to contest the will.

James is in so much debt to all the wrong people and has been counting on his aunt’s money to dig him out of a hole; her change of mind devastates him. He is more upset about losing the money than about his aunt’s passing.

Charlotte, on the other hand, has always lived within her means and cannot imagine how she might spend the money or make use of Jane’s flat in an upmarket part of London.

For James, desperate times call for desperate measures, and “aided” by his friend and lawyer, Percy, he considers his options, not ruling out any nefarious means if the end result sees him getting his “much-deserved” inheritance back.

The Legacy is a short read, a novella in length, but is made even shorter by its fast pace and addictive qualities that had me racing through it to see how it all ended. Both main characters were beautifully depicted: James as the evil, greedy, unscrupulous villain versus Charlotte, the honest, loyal and innocent heroine who was even prepared to help James before he turned nasty.

But both of them were in for a huge shock! Trust me, the twist is excellent.

Highly recommended. Can be read as a standalone, but I felt having read Mine first gave the story extra “juice”.

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Reviewed on Amazon UK as Meandthemutts

book blitz · Publication Day · thriller

Book Release Blitz – Secrets Mothers Keep

Release Date: May 6, 2021

On Friday night in the clay fields of Bethel Creek, seventeen-year-old Daniel Reyes is found brutally attacked and left for dead. On Saturday morning, Cora Maxwell finds her teenage son’s clothes covered in blood. A small town torn apart by a horrific hate crime. An investigative reporter hell bent on finding the truth. A mother’s worst nightmare.

A small town torn apart by a horrific hate crime.

An investigative reporter hell bent on finding the truth.

A mother’s worst nightmare.

What really happened to the Reyes boy?

In the heart-stopping and timely suspense novel, Secrets Mothers Keep, widow and mother Cora Maxwell faces the hardest decision of her life. In a world where there are few second chances, do you grant one to your child? And if so… what is the cost?


Anya Mora lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family. Her novels, while leaning toward the dark, ultimately reflect light, courage, and her innate belief that love rewards the brave.
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