Book Review: VANISHING GAMES by Roger Hobbs

Vanishing Games

The gritty, riveting, highly anticipated sequel to the national (and international) best seller Ghostman, by the critically acclaimed and award-winning Roger Hobbs

It’s just before dawn on the South China Sea when three experienced pirates open fire on a small smuggling yacht. Their target: a bag of uncut sapphires worth millions. But when one of them stumbles across an enormous treasure that wasn’t on the manifest, everything goes sideways. Within minutes two of them are dead, leaving the third, a coldblooded psychopath, to claim both the sapphires and the mysterious windfall for himself. If he disappears, he won’t just be wealthy. He’ll have the power to change the course of history.

His boss, Angela, isn’t about to let that happen. She calls in a favor from her onetime protégé: a fixer sometimes known as Jack, or more often as simply the Ghostman. Within hours he’s flying halfway around the world to find her in the glimmering neon slums of Macau. Jack has no real name, no address and no fingerprints—but given the right motivation, he can make serious problems vanish. Though the two haven’t talked since they botched a job six years ago, as soon as Jack’s off the plane they’re back together again, facing down a crime boss, a hit man and a conspiracy bigger than anything they’ve ever encountered and more dangerous than they could’ve imagined.

Their partnership—between people with no lasting relationships whatsoever—is at the very heart of a novel that will cement Roger Hobbs’s status as one of our most talented crime writers.

Published: July 2015

Amazon / Amazon UK

 

My Review:

I loved Hobbs’ first book, Ghostman. I’ve been waiting for this sequel, and was thrilled when I was able to receive an ARC. That is where the thrill ended for me.

Loneliness is tiring.

This second book is something of a mishmash. The first chapter, which is for some reason labeled as a Prologue (it’s not), is fast-paced action. Sucked me right in. Had me wanting more. And then…

Running away wouldn’t fix anything.

The pace slows. Dramatically. We’re told a lot of things that are too much like research and explanations. These passages are interesting, sure, but they feel a little like the snotty kid who has to show off all his knowledge. These passages don’t flow with the book. They take us aside and say, “Hey, want to know how this works? Want to know why this is done?”

Piano wire isn’t actually from a piano, of course. It’s a similar material made of a razor-thin carbon steel alloy that won’t break for anything. The thing is wrapped around the victim’s neck posthumously and tightened like a garrote. It first cuts through the jugular vein, then the carotid artery, then the rest of the meat and the spine. In the end, the head just pops off. Human strength isn’t enough to do this, usually, but there are plenty of tools that make it possible. An industrial wire loop gauge usually does the trick. The most dangerous ones are electric. High-end cartel hit men call them auto-garrotes. They’re about the size of a large cell phone and can be bought at any number of industrial supply stores.

Then we have the reminiscing. Much of the content, particularly up through the middle of the book, is Jack and/or Angela looking back at their lives, their crimes, how awesome they were, and what they’ve gotten away with. Some of this is to help orient readers who haven’t read Ghostman, but most of it is filler. The plot doesn’t have enough going on, so let’s bring in bits and pieces of past excitement and show off. I’m not saying that was the author’s intent. That’s just what it felt like for me. In fact, I think plot development suffered severely because of this.

I can be anybody I want in thirty seconds flat. I don’t have a name, an address, or a face you might recognize.

About midway through the book, the pace picks up again. We have far less reminiscing and the focus is once again on the plot at hand. Parts were riveting. Parts had me rolling my eyes. The plot itself was fascinating. The way the pieces came together held my interest. But then we add the telling again. This is how a pro escapes. This is how a con artist works. This is how you find an off books doctor, and this is why he/she is willing to work on you. It’s a how-to instruction manual. It’s a criminal handbook. Yes, it’s interesting, as an aside. In a Google search. In nonfiction. Not so much within a thriller novel. Ghostman handled these aspects better, weaving them into the story. This felt more like show and tell.

How is that possible, you ask? Well, it has to do with fine line engraving. Real hundred-dollar bills get pumped out by giant intaglio presses in batches of hundred thousand or more. There are factories in Washington and Fort Worth that are guarded like missile silos. Mass production means there are bound to be small imperfections, and those imperfect bills occasionally make it through the government’s strict quality control system and into circulation. Real money has natural flaws. It just happens. Some bills have strange edges, or improperly inked micro-printing, or evidence of wear and tear on the master die. There can be microscopic blurs in the portraiture. Mismatched serial numbers. Misaligned errors. Insufficient inking. Gutter folds. Little mistakes.

The characters aren’t developed well. Most of what I know about them comes from having read Ghostman, and then from the reminiscing here in Vanishing Games. It was hard to really care about what was happening. I would have loved more time with the characters, in the present, and less time with crime lessons and reminiscing.

Everywhere the object went, a wave of corpses followed.

Roger Hobbs absolutely is a great writer, which I think is part of what irritated me so much. He is a far better writer than this book shows him to be.

 

Thanks for reading. :)

#FridayReads: Young Men and Fast Cars – Sylvia Massara’s MIA FERRARI Series

Friday Reads

 

Today I’m turning my blog over to author Sylvia Massara and her bad girl heroine, Mia Ferrari.


 

This is Mia Ferrari:

  • She’s an acquired taste
  • She’s got an attitude
  • She likes coffee, younger men and Ferrari cars.

For the rest, you make up your own mind through these three excerpts taken from each of her adventures so far.

If you wish to find out more about Mia Ferrari please visit: www.sylviamassara.com

Novel 1 – Playing With The Bad Boys

Playing with the Bad Boys paperback cover I took a deep breath to calm myself on the way down to the lobby, and when the doors opened upon arrival, I stepped out looking cool, confident, and official. Let’s face it; I felt like I was going to puke at any moment, but to all outward appearances, I looked in control as I made my way to the bar. My black pantsuit, sleek and elegant, made a stark contrast to my almost white-blonde and scruffy, short hair. All that was missing was a badge and a gun. Damn it! I should’ve joined the cops when I’d had the chance. Now it was too late.

Thankfully, I had no time to ponder on this as I neared the bar and its hive of activity. The police had already arrived and cordoned off the area with crime tape to keep onlookers away from the scene, and from what I could see over the top of people’s heads, it wasn’t pretty.

I started to push my way through the throng as I called out, “Excuse me, duty manager. Please make way.”

It took me a few minutes to reach the perimeter of the tape, and as I went to duck under it, a uniformed police officer placed a restraining hand on my arm. “I’m sorry, madam, but this is a crime scene. You can’t come in here.”

I snatched my arm from his grip and threw him a look of disdain. He seemed to be in his early twenties and, though cute, a bit dumb. He obviously hadn’t had time to take in my name badge.

“First of all, boyo,” I addressed him firmly, “I am not a madam. Madam is for whorehouses or for Driving Miss Daisy. Second of all, if you take the trouble to read my name badge, you’ll see that I am in charge of this hotel. So move it.” The officer looked stunned, and I took full advantage of the situation. “Mia Ferrari,” I introduced myself, “duty manager of the hotel.”

Before the officer had a chance to respond, Guy Dobbs, the hotel’s security manager, appeared next to me. “Mia,” he said uneasily with a strong American accent. “Let Constable Johnson get on with his job. I’m handling this with Smythe.”

I wrinkled my nose at the name. Detective Sergeant Phil Smythe couldn’t stand my guts, and I hated his.

 

Novel 2 – The Gay Mardi Gras Murders

Gay Mardi Gras paperback cover I took a sip of my now cooling coffee and glanced briefly at my watch. “Time to get back to work,” I informed him. “Not much to tell about the female impersonators,” I added as we made our way out of the staff restaurant and headed down the corridor toward the lobby area. “All I know is that there are four of them plus their manager, and the show is called The Tit Elating Follies,” I raised my eyebrows at the name while Dobbs simply grinned. “They’re checking in on the same day Mandy arrives and unfortunately, I have to be on duty.”

“I can watch the pager for you,” Dobbs offered.

I gave him a grateful smile. “As tempting as that sounds, I have to be here to greet them personally. They’re on the VIP list. But once I get them settled, I could take you up on your offer so I can rush to the airport and pick up my friend.”

We reached the lobby, which was rather quiet after the morning’s checkouts. “Done deal,” said Dobbs. “Well, I’m off to my operations meeting.”

“Okay,” I replied. “I’ll probably catch you at lunch.”

In the days that followed, we were so busy that I often worked double shifts to help out with the volume of work generated by the continuous full occupancy leading up to the gay mardi gras. Each day blended into the other, and before I knew it, the day arrived when the female impersonators were due to check in.

I greeted them at Reception and was surprised to see three young males, all of them slim and with an effeminate look about them. They were accompanied by a short and stocky middle-aged man who I assumed was the group’s manager, and a breathtakingly beautiful, young woman who looked around thirty. I had no idea who she was, but she was a real head-turner. She stood at approximately five feet ten with long, auburn hair, large hazel eyes and supermodel looks. She was truly stunning, and I felt dwarfed when I stood close to her, being five feet nothing.

I introduced myself. “Welcome to Rourke International. I’m the senior duty manager, Mia Ferrari.”

The woman extended a hand to shake mine and I couldn’t help but notice the elegant, slim fingers with long, pink fingernails. Her grip was firm as we shook hands. “My name’s Ophelia,” she said in a husky voice, “but on stage, I’m known as Clee Torres.”

My stunned face must have caused amusement among the group because I saw the merriment in their eyes as they regarded me. “Don’t take any notice of my darling Clee,” the stocky, middle-aged man stated as he stepped forward and shook my hand. “I’m Jim Casey, the manager. Clee likes to shock people,” he explained, and seeing the puzzled look on my face, he added, “Darling, Clee is the real McCoy.” He eyed me knowingly.

Understanding dawned upon me. “Oh, you mean…”

“Yes,” one of the young men jumped in and shook my hand. “Clee’s got herself a real clit.”

It took every effort for me to keep a straight face. “That’s nice to know, and you are?”

“I’m Ayna Liscious,” he said with a naughty smile.

I wasn’t amused and could only pray the bikies didn’t get to these primping, young men who were dressed in skin-tight jeans revealing—unlike the gorgeous, young Clee—that they had not had “the snip” and, therefore, were not the real McCoy.

The other two impersonators introduced themselves by the stage names of Felle Ashio and Zsa Zsa Lahore.

 

 

Novel 3 – The South Pacific Murders

south pacific murders I tried very hard to control my temper as I fixed my work colleague and friend, Guy Dobbs, with a look that could vapourise a planet in a millisecond.

“Who the hell invited Smythe along?”

Dobbs winced at my enraged tone and did his best to give me a placating smile. “Now, Mia, you know you agreed to be good where Smythe’s concerned. Don’t forget he saved your life.”

I banged down my cup and the items on his desk rattled. We were having coffee in the security office of Rourke International Hotel Sydney, where Dobbs was the security manager.

“Honestly, I can’t believe you’re standing up for the guy. It was his friggin’ job to save my life,” I exclaimed indignantly. “Besides, I was the one who once again had to solve the case for the cops because they were too stupid to listen to me in the first place!”

Dobbs did not respond immediately but regarded me for a while until I had time to settle down. He knew me too well to try to push a point when it concerned my archenemy, Detective Sergeant Phil Smythe of the Kings Cross police.

I took a deep breath in order to calm myself. There was no point in losing my temper with Dobbs since the whole thing was now a fait accompli. I therefore remarked after a few moments of silence, “I just don’t understand it, Dobbs. What made you invite him on the cruise?”

Dobbs’s large, dark eyes gazed back at me from a chocolate brown, crinkled face topped by grey, frizzy hair. He spoke carefully lest he should provoke another outburst from me. “Mr Rourke told me I should invite someone in his place seeing as he couldn’t make it,” he explained in his deep voice with a marked American accent. “The reason I thought of Smythe was because he managed to keep the press off our backs after the drag queen murders. When I suggested this to Mr Rourke, he agreed it was a good idea, especially to maintain a cordial relationship with the police.”

I sniffed and felt myself relent, albeit reluctantly, but I wasn’t about to admit it to Dobbs. He should suffer a little longer for what he’d done, even though it was a good move on his part to invite that prick, Smythe. I had to take another calming breath to remind myself Smythe had cut me a lot of slack during the gay mardi gras murder investigation.

Taking another sip of coffee, I put down my cup gently this time to rest on its saucer. “Very well,” I answered grudgingly. “I guess we all have to sacrifice in the name of professionalism.” I felt more than saw Dobbs’s sigh of relief at my comment.

Dobbs ventured an encouraging smile. “I’m glad you see sense, Ferrari. The boss will be happy to hear it.”

*

Find Mia on Amazon / Amazon UK

Thanks for reading. :)

Magical Feys, A Mystical Sword, and Prophesy – SERENA’S FALL b M.K. Smith

Serenas-Fall-Banner

 

Title: Serena’s Fall
Author: MK Smith
Published: August 4th, 2015
Publisher: Champagne Books
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Content Warning: Minor language
Recommended Age: 14+

 

Serenas-Fall Betrayed by her once-upon-a-naive-time friends, Serena, the last Water Fey, can’t touch any man she would ever want without dooming him to a hero’s brutal death. So she lives outcast among her own kind, caring for orphaned Fey children, casualties of an ancient war that broke magic and doomed the Fey to possible extinction.

Now her friends are back, desperate to use her powers to stop the return of the greatest evil the Fey have ever faced. Prophesy says if she doesn’t magic-up a hero and bond him to a mysterious, mystical sword, the human world will be the next to fall.

Two potential heroes surface—Lance, the free spirited surfer, and the doomed warrior Gramm. Both men want her, both need her, and both have a claim to her heart.

But Serena’s tired of human heroes dying because some Water Fey said so. With her combat boots strung tight and her corset even tighter, maybe it’s time to weave some new lines of destiny. Goth style.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

 

Excerpt from Serena’s Fall by MK Smith:

I couldn’t stand still. I paced alongside the boxes and ran my nails down the cardboard. If I were a cat, my hair would have stood on end, and my tail would have twitched.

Chloe said nothing. Her eyes darted between Rachel’s and mine but couldn’t find a place to land.

I waited for her to say something brilliant, but I didn’t expect anything would make me want to be part of her Alice in Wonderland insanity. This was Morían. Morían Le Fey. The walking genocide who painted the White Isle in blood, broke the flow of magic, and decimated every Fey clan this side of the veil in a single night—oh, and started a war that killed millions of humans.
Sure, we’ll handle her.

Heat radiated out from my core, and my skin tingled as if I were breaking out in a cold sweat. But Water Fey didn’t sweat. I tugged at my corset and wished I had laced tighter. We didn’t stand a single chance in all the nine hells at fighting one of the most powerful Fey in history.

“Well, I’m listening. But this is beyond crazy. We’re eighteen years old, not one hundred eighty. We’re barely old enough to even have powers by Fey standards. And the Incarnates, the most powerful Fey from each clan, who stopped her last time were thousands of years old.” I hoped I wasn’t sneering too loud.

Rachel ignored me and threw her best you’re wasting my time look at Chloe. “So, where is she staging her comeback?” Her tone said she wasn’t expecting much of an answer.

“The vision’s…complicated.” Chloe focused on Rachel, with less naked hostility, but her voice rose sharply. She chewed her bottom lip. Complicated my ass. She was hiding something.

“So you don’t know.” Rachel went right for the kill. “Was it even your vision?”

Chloe stomped her right foot. “Yes. It was.”

The proximity alarm sounded in my head. Crash imminent, I decided to speed it up so I could go home. Chloe’s moment to take the lead had passed. If she had straight answers she would have spoken up by now. She had to be hoping we could roll back to the days when—details irrelevant—we’d have done anything for each other.

Those days were gone.

 

About the Book Interview with MK:

What was the inspiration behind this story?

One day I was working on a writing problem in a YA fantasy novel about a young girl called out of our world to a steam punk style realm. The more I tried to force the answers, the worse off I was as a writer.

But when I emptied my mind to refocus on the problem, I leaned back and, as clearly as I see my hands typing now, I saw a pale Gothic Lolita walking in the mall with quiet grace next to a fashionista, a red head whose presence demanded attention. They would have called themselves a Moon and Sun. By their body language I could tell they were frenemies. And as I asked myself who they were and why they were there together and who they were going to meet, the first draft of their story hit the page at 5000-7000 words a day. I wrote clean through two books worth of material without stopping. But that was the easy part. Editing…

That story surprised me, but the relationships were born out of years of having the ‘it’ house, where my daughters and their horde of friends, a bohemian mix of all kinds of people, gathered to talk about life and boys and each other.

Which is your favorite minor character and why?

Without question my favorite minor character is Amanda, the gothic Fey who runs the orphanage where Serena lived from the time she was thirteen. I adore her because she is severe and mysterious, a powerful being living in obscurity for secret reasons. Even her rooms are hidden in the maze like house, and no orphan has ever seen them. She always knows more than she should, and it is clear that she is more than just a victim of Morían’s war. She is somehow a manipulator of events, but to what end?

Please share a few favorite lines or one paragraph.

One of my favorite early passages summarizes how Serena views her former sisters and their relationship:

I loved Chloe, and once-upon-a-naive time, I trusted her.
Trusted her with my secrets. Trusted her with my fears. But once
upon a time was gone. Now when I thought of Chloe, I thought of
the yes girl, the shadow. Chloe who I needed. Chloe who chose
Rachel over me.

When I thought of Rachel, I thought blue skies, silvery frost, white
snow, and winter. Pretty damn poetic way to describe a blue
flame, Fire Fey bitch with a heart of ice. But she defined amazing,
radiated BFF love, and never, never, never took responsibility for her
sins.

How long did it take you to write this book?

I wrote the first draft of Serena’s Fall and its’ as-yet-to-be-named sequel in around seven months. The manuscript then sat in a drawer for a couple of years before I got it out and spent nearly a year polishing. But the process did not end there, once it was accepted for publication I had the privilege of working with an excellent editor to bring the book into its final shape.

How did you come up with the title?

Amanda’s Fey orphanage is a nest, an island, in a dark world. And Serena’s call to adventure is also partly a call to grow up, leave home, and face more adult responsibilities and consequences. So like a baby bird who needs to stretch its wings and fly, Serena has to fall before she can soar.

 

About the Author:

MK-Smith MK Smith writes urban fantasy with attitude, telling stories filled with quirky imperfect characters trying to survive life, friendship, and each other. Part Choctaw, all storyteller, a neighbor taught him to love fantasy when she gave him his first book. Since then he has flown on dragons, carried baleful magic in faraway lands, fought supernatural powers, and lived the melancholy of the eternal elves. But the Fey are closest to his heart. And he loves telling their stories round the fire or at his keyboard late into the night. And he’ll keep telling those stories until he becomes a story himself.

Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Website

 

Giveaway Details:

There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:

• A $50 Amazon gift card

Giveaway is International.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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#DTFDTour: Find Your Perfect Partner! DATING TIPS FROM DAD by Amity Jones

Dating Banner Large

Title: Dating Tips From Dad: How to Win the Dating Game
Author: Amity Jones
Publication Date: June 29, 2015
Genre: Non-Fiction

Dating 3D Growing up with my father had helped me to learn valuable ways of what to do and not to do regarding dating. I am so grateful he took the time with me to make sure I would have the best type of person in my life. This book is designed to help parents talk to their kids about dating. In addition, singles that have struggled and for those back into the dating world after being out of it for a long time. In this book you will find fast ways of how to meet that guy or girl; beginning of dating; who makes the first move; great conversation starters; and when to move on. As a bonus I have some tips I have learned along the way and have found helpful for me as well as my friends I have shared them with.

Goodreads / Amazon

 

Interview with Amity Jones:

What was the inspiration behind this book?

About 10 years ago, I started writing down some notes and thoughts of what I would like to put in my dating book. I have heard from my friends and family that I should write a book on dating secrets of how I dated such amazing men. As I started asking them if they were taught how to date, I was surprised at what I found out. Hardly anyone had the knowledge (and wisdom) my father had taught me. I couldn’t wait to write it to share it with others and help them the way it had helped me. I designed for it to be a quick, simple, and to the point type of book for all ages, males, females, married, single, and even dating. Why dating? I am sure there is room for a little improvement with my conversation starters. That has been quite a hit with everyone from all stages of their relationships whatever their single or dating status is, especially the married ones love it!

Please share a few favorite lines or one paragraph?

This is a tough one since I have a few of my favorite personal lines. My favorite lines are:  “don’t walk away mad, just walk away” and “sex is just sex”

How long did it take you to write this book?

2 months

How did you come up with the title?

At first the title was ”Secrets My Father Taught Me About Dating” but I thought it was too long. My cousin helped me with some ideas and I changed a few things around to be appealing to men and young readers.

Of all the books out there, why should readers choose this one?

My book is short, easy to read, and to the point. It is like having a conversation with me over coffee rather than a How-To or Do-This type of a book. Over the last 25 years I have read so many types of dating and relationship books and I found that this is a condensed version. People are busy and want something quick and simple. With all the guidance from my father and from my personal experience, I wanted to share it with others. I want to be able to help dating or the thought of dating to be a wonderful experience. As I was writing down my notes and asking a lot of questions over the years, I have found the experience of dating is very terrifying for most. Especially for anyone that is shy. The feedback I am getting regarding my book is the parents are really excited to share this with their kids no matter what their kids’ ages are. For them using my book as a 3rd party tool of how-to-date when the advice isn’t coming from them but from a published author.

 

Dating Meet Button

 

Amity Amity Jones grew up with her father from age 8 and on. Learning the simple steps of dating, among other things, were very helpful in finding the most amazing men in her life. After she did a personal survey of her friends the last 10 years and found that they didn’t really learn “how-to-date” other than from trial and error, from their dysfunctional parents, and/or their peers that didn’t know what they were doing. It led her to write this book to help others learn her dating tips from dad.

Amazon / Twitter

 

Thanks for reading. :)

#MondayBlogs: Sending Book Bubbles Into The World With Bublish!

I’m now on Bublish! This is a fun site for readers to explore all sorts of books. We writers share short excerpts, along with a little bit of insight into that particular scene. These are called book bubbles, and they look like this:

 

This site isn’t just promotional hype. It’s a great way to sample books, to learn about authors, and to connect with all sorts of readers and writers. And it’s fun!

 

When you find a sample you like, you can visit that author’s profile. If you like what you see there, you can follow the author. Then you’ll be notified by Bublish when that author posts a new book bubble. My profile is here: www.bublish.com/author/view/6014

Pop over and join me in the Bublish community. I’m just getting started there, but I have a feeling it’ll be a new addiction.

 

Happy book bubbling!

Thanks for reading. :)

#FridayReads: CREATUS – Prepare to Believe with Carmen DeSousa

Friday Reads

Today I have an About the Book interview with the fabulous author Carmen DeSousa. We’re discussing her CREATUS series. I love these books! The box set is discounted (cheap!) this week, so grab it and enjoy. :)

 

Creatus_Series_Boxed_Set-2015

What was the inspiration behind this story?

As a reader, one of my favorite genres is magical realism. I love when an author can take normal characters who live and work among us, but then give me insight on what makes their character special and why they have a story to tell in the first place. Whether it’s about psychic abilities, soul changing, or even paranormal activity, the key is that it’s believable.

Since the beginning of the written word, myths have been spread about supernatural beings, and over the years, these supernatural beings have morphed into tales of vampires, werewolves, and superheroes that are so outlandish I find it hard to pay attention, let alone believe. Don’t get me wrong… I still enjoy a well-written story about vampires and mythical creatures, but I want a reason to believe. I want some basis for the story.

The idea of a human body shifting into an animal form that’s ten times as large, or a person being able to fly without the required body mechanics, makes little sense to me. But, I can’t discount that since biblical days, stories have amassed about sentient beings with superhuman strength.

So…I thought to myself, why do we believe something supernatural exists? Where did all those stories originate?

My answer: Creatus, from the Latin word meaning ‘created,’ are the reason we believe in fairy tales—and monsters. Superheroes didn’t come about by being bitten by a vampire, a werewolf, or a spider. Maybe the same superior being who created us created them.

Please share a few favorite lines or one paragraph.

“Explanation number two,” Derrick said in a low voice so only she could hear, one of the reasons he wanted to eat outside. “I can’t eat cooked foods.”

She absorbed that, filing it away, it seemed, and then she whispered across the table, “At least you don’t drink blood.”

“Not quite,” he rejoined, watching as her eyes bulged as he met her playful comment head on. “People only thought we were.”

If your book was made into a movie, who would you like to play the lead characters?

Sadly, I don’t watch many movies or TV, but when I went looking for actors for another blog, I came up with the man who recently starred in the last Superman movie. I didn’t even know who he was. LOL!
I’d love it if my avid-reading friends could tell me. I’d love to see readers’ suggestions. Here’s another short excerpt to give you an idea…

If Derrick had been her doctor, she never would have fussed about going. In fact, she probably would have made up excuses for regular examinations. His brooding eyes, dark features, and onyx-colored hair over light olive skin gave him a Mediterranean look. But then again, she’d dated several Portuguese and Lebanese men over the years with similar skin tone, but neither of them had Derrick’s high prominent cheekbones, slender nose, and square jawline. And of course, his striking almond shaped eyes with their immense depth. Somehow, he looked to have a touch of American Indian, Mediterranean, and Asian appearance all at once. He resembled no man she’d ever seen in person or a celebrity.

Of all the books out there, why should readers choose this one?

Hmmm… Well, I wrote what I wanted to read. I wanted a reason to believe. I also wanted a book that incorporated romance, mystery, suspense, and paranormal elements without being overly mushy or graphic. I wanted a book that all adults—sixteen and up—could enjoy.

If you’re interested, the first book in the Creatus series, which is actually the prequel, is FREE through the end of summer. Also, the four-book series is on sale until the end of the month.

 

Creatus (They Exist) is FREE through 9/21/15
Four-Book Boxed Set is only $2.99 through 08/31/2015

Amazon

 

Creatus - They Exist - FRONT In every myth, there’s a modicum of truth.

For four thousand years, creatus have concealed themselves from the humans who hunted them almost to extinction. Unwittingly, one creatus will endanger them all…

As with most of his family, Derrick Ashton knows his future and what position he’s destined to fill within his unique society. Everything changes, however, when he breaks one of his family’s strictest laws and falls in love–with a human.

In his quest to protect the woman he can never have, a twist of faith propels him into a new role that will cause dissension among his family and endanger the anonymity that they’ve strived for thousands of years to protect.

Now, he will risk everything to save the girl from humans and his own kind. The one thing he can’t save her from, however…is herself.

The Creatus Series is not your normal paranormal story…it’s a realistic romantic mystery based on the myths you’ve heard your entire life. Prepare to believe.

This story starts fourteen years before the events in Creatus. I highly recommend you read this prequel first so you can get a look into the characters’ lives leading up to the full story. Prepare yourself for a cliffhanger ending, though.

 

Thanks for reading. :)

Book Review – THE GOOD NEIGHBOR by A.J. Banner – Psychological Suspense

The Good Neighbor

Shadow Cove, Washington, is the kind of town everyone dreams about—quaint streets, lush forests, good neighbors. That’s what Sarah thinks as she settles into life with her new husband, Dr. Johnny McDonald. But all too soon she discovers an undercurrent of deception. And one October evening when Johnny is away, sudden tragedy destroys Sarah’s happiness.

Dazed and stricken with grief, she and Johnny begin to rebuild their shattered lives. As she picks up the pieces of her broken home, Sarah discovers a shocking secret that forces her to doubt everything she thought was true—about her neighbors, her friends, and even her marriage. With each stunning revelation, Sarah must ask herself, Can we ever really know the ones we love?

Published: September 1, 2015

Amazon / Amazon UK

My Review:

How well do you know your neighbors, or even your friends and family? After reading this book, you might look at them all a little differently. You might wonder about their secrets.

This book was marketed as a psychological thriller. To me, it felt more like a mix of psychological and romantic suspense. The pace is steady, but not that edge-of-your-seat kind of thing you expect with a thriller. This wasn’t a big disappointment for me; just something worth noting.

People kept layers of secrets, I realized – the ones held close to the surface, wanting to be revealed, and deeper ones, hidden too far down to be retrieved or sometimes even acknowledged.

I enjoyed the writer’s style and the story concept. The mystery surrounding the fire is well done. Several twists along the way kept me guessing until the end.

What was the measure of a marriage? These moments of caring and bliss? Or the secrets withheld?

But I had some problems that kept me from loving this one.

The characters felt kind of shallow and predictable. I think that the author’s desire to surround them in mystique kept us at too much of a distance.

Still, I was right there with the author, until…

The end really killed this one for me. Actually, it’s more of a non-ending. The major plot is tied up, the crime solved. But there are two major threads left dangling. Consequently, I felt like I was left dangling as well.

Now we would have to hold on to the memories – they were all we had to keep us going.

Then there is the revelation at the end, that comes with solving the crime. This person suddenly unravels in the strangest way. I realize there are crazy people in the world who appear to hold it together in public, but I wanted more of an explanation. I wanted to understand the fixation. It felt too staged, which in part reflects back to the lack of character development.

And then, just like that, the book ends. I was left wondering why, and what next?

If you don’t mind being left with unanswered questions, then this book is certainly worth reading. If loose threads drive you nuts (like they do me), then you might want to wait to see if there is a sequel.

 

Thanks for reading. :)

Book Review: DEVIL’S MOON by Matthew Marine

Devil's Moon

Secrets shrouded in a tourist town An FBI agent tortured by his past A murder the local police don’t want solved Sedona, Arizona: A young woman is found mutilated in a police officer’s basement, his confession scrawled on the wall above his lifeless body. The local police rule the case a murder-suicide, but the dead officer’s sister isn’t convinced. She persuades rundown FBI Agent Stuart Ransom to conduct an off-the-books investigation. With her help, Ransom realizes that the police appear to be hiding the truth behind the gruesome murder. Now he must question everything-from the case to his own beliefs-before his past becomes the killer’s next target.

Amazon / Amazon UK

 

My Review:

This book is an entertaining mix of crime fiction, romantic suspense, and paranormal. A big underlying aspect of the story is psychic powers, premonitions, angels, and mystical experiences. If this sort of thing puts you off, then this book probably isn’t for you.

“Think of earth as a big classroom. Our angels are here to help guide us, but not give us answers. By telling you the name of the murderer, it would be like they were helping you cheat on an exam. We all have something to learn during our time here. Some of these are hard lessons, lessons we don’t want to learn.”

The author has an engaging writing style. He steps out the way, letting the characters do the work. I found it easy to immerse myself in their world and forget I was reading.

The house wasn’t what he expected. The ones that harbored monsters never were.

The plot moves at a good pace. My one problem is that the killer’s identity is far too obvious. The author’s clues are anything but subtle. By halfway through the book, I had no doubt who the bad guy was. Because of this, the grand unveiling toward the end felt anticlimactic. Despite this, there were enough subtleties and subplots within to keep me happily reading.

 

Thanks for reading. :)

#KindleCountdown – MIAMI SNOW – Love. Lust. Murder.

Kindle Countdown deal! Just 99 cents through Thursday, August 20th!

MiamiSnowCover One day Nick Donovan has it all; a beautiful, pregnant wife, a nice house, a great job. The next day he is on his own, starting from scratch with nothing but a few suitcases and his old truck.

Nick flees to the opposite coast of Florida, trying to leave his ex-wife and the memories behind. But that couldn’t happen. Soon Nick finds that he is tied to Shelley in a way that he hadn’t expected. And, in her bitterness, she does everything she can to ensure his misery.

Brandy is Shelley’s opposite; wild, sensual, free-spirited. With Brandy, Nick is able to rebel against all that Shelley stands for. Brandy quickly leads Nick into a world of sex, drugs, and cash. And now Nick finds himself caught between the two worlds, desperate to stay afloat.

Amazon / Amazon UK

 

Excerpt:

Rain tapped softly against the window. Nick wasn’t exactly listening, but the sound was calming somewhere deep in his subconscious. The room was dark, his body was warm, and he drifted slowly to the elusive land of slumber.

“I’ve been thinking,” Brandy said.

Her voice floated to him as if traveling from a distant cloud. “That’s good,” he muttered.

She wriggled in his arms. “I’m serious, Nick.”

Her movement brought him back from his in-between state and the cloud he’d been traveling on disappeared. He didn’t open his eyes. “About what?” he asked.

“We’re both in a financial mess,” Brandy said. “Our only real problems stem from lack of money.”

The rain tapped harder, almost insistently, against the window. “Yeah…” Nick muttered. Maybe she was going to suggest robbing a bank. Sometimes he thought it was a viable alternative to sorting his clothes into separate cardboard boxes. Reality would return and he’d remind himself that cardboard box dressers were better than prison.

“So I’ve been thinking,” Brandy said. “Aaron hasn’t worked in over a year and the guy has all his bills paid and plenty of extra cash. Why can’t we do that, too?”

Nick opened his eyes, now fully awake. “I’m not selling drugs.”

“What’s the big deal?”

“The big deal is a six-by-nine jail cell.”

“We won’t get caught. Look at Aaron.”

“That’s Aaron.” Nick slid his arm out from beneath Brandy and pushed up on his elbows. “I’m not that lucky.”

Brandy turned to face Nick. She said, “We’d only sell to people we know.”

“I don’t know anyone but you.”

“I know plenty of people. We could do it for six months and be totally out of debt.”

“You’d be out of debt. I’d be in jail.”

“Stop being such a pessimist. It’s easy money. Don’t you want some rights with your daughter? You need a lawyer.”

Nick groaned. “Thanks for reminding me.”

“I’m not trying to be a bitch,” Brandy said. “I’m trying to help.”

“I know. The drug scene is just not for me.”

Brandy blew out a long sigh. “Okay,” she muttered.

“Look, you do what you want,” Nick said. “I don’t want to risk sharing my space with guys who think my back end is a playground.”

Brandy laughed. “Where’s your sense of adventure?”

“I guess I’m getting old.” Nick pulled Brandy close. “Sorry to disappoint you.”

“You didn’t. It’s just that I’m tired of bill collectors. An ex-boyfriend blew my credit cards out of the water before he took a hike. And I know this thing with your ex is tearing you apart.”

“Money isn’t going to fix that.”

“Sure would help,” Brandy said. “A good lawyer can do a lot.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“Think about it, at least,” Brandy said.

“Mmm…” was all Nick managed as a reply. Words were becoming too difficult. He was tired. Exhausted, really. And consumed with thoughts of an ex-wife who had betrayed him.

A flash of lightning illuminated the room, followed by a crash of thunder that rattled the windows. Brandy jerked at the sudden eruption. Nick tightened his hold on her but otherwise didn’t flinch. He barely even heard the noise. He was thinking about good lawyers, about exposing his ex-wife for the cheating whore she really was, about taking custody of his daughter.

Rain pelted the windows and thunder continued to rumble. Nick drifted off to sleep, holding on to the image of his daughter in his arms.

 

Thanks for reading. :)

Book Review – SHOTS ON THE BRIDGE: Police Violence and Cover-Up in the Wake of Katrina

Shots On the Bridge

A harrowing story of blue on black violence, of black lives that seemingly did not matter.

On September 4, 2005, six days after Hurricane Katrina’s landfall in New Orleans, two groups of people intersected on the Danziger Bridge, a low-rising expanse over the Industrial Canal. One was the police who had stayed behind as Katrina roared near, desperate to maintain control as their city spun into chaos. The other was the residents forced to stay behind with them during the storm and, on that fateful Sunday, searching for the basics of survival: food, medicine, security. They collided that morning in a frenzy of gunfire.

When the shooting stopped, a gentle forty-year-old man with the mind of a child lay slumped on the ground, seven bullet wounds in his back, his white shirt turned red. A seventeen-year-old was riddled with gunfire from his heel to his head. A mother’s arm was blown off; her daughter’s stomach gouged by a bullet. Her husband’s head was pierced by shrapnel. Her nephew was shot in the neck, jaw, stomach, and hand. Like all the other victims, he was black—and unarmed.

Before the blood had dried on the pavement, the shooters, each a member of the New Orleans Police Department, and their supervisors hatched a cover-up. They planted a gun, invented witnesses, and charged two of their victims with attempted murder. At the NOPD, they were hailed as heroes.

Shots on the Bridge explores one of the most dramatic cases of police violence seen in our country in the last decade—the massacre of innocent people, carried out by members of the NOPD, in the brutal, disorderly days following Hurricane Katrina. It reveals the fear that gripped the police of a city slid into anarchy, the circumstances that drove desperate survivors to the bridge, and the horror that erupted when the police opened fire. It carefully unearths the cover-up that nearly buried the truth. And finally, it traces the legal maze that, a decade later, leaves the victims and their loved ones still searching for justice.

This is the story of how the people meant to protect and serve citizens can do violence, hide their tracks, and work the legal system as the nation awaits justice.

Published: August 18, 2015

Amazon / Amazon UK

 

My Review:

I know politicians are not honest. I know power corrupts. And I know many cops are bullies with a badge.

And yet…

I am still left shaken by all this book exposed.

Instantly, the images the officer took in didn’t add up. When he stepped into the street, Magee was careful to check for bullet holes in the truck, but found none. Walking atop the bridge, he saw dozens of shell casings, but recognized all as coming from police weapons. He saw no guns near Holmes, none near JJ, none near the Bartholomews, and none near Ronald Madison. It didn’t make sense.

Ronnie Greene’s writing style is engaging. Despite the disturbing content, the book itself is easy to read, though at times I had to put it down just to distance myself from the emotional turmoil. Greene doesn’t simply give us the facts. He introduces us to the people whose lives were forever changed. He puts us right on that bridge, and I swear I could hear the shots and the screams. Then he takes us through the aftermath, as the victims were portrayed as killers and the murderous cops as heroes.

“Some officers who should have been decommissioned and sent for counseling were given rifles instead and allowed to continue working while choosing their own assignments.”

This is a heart-wrenching story that needs to be read. It needs to be talked about. It needs to be absorbed and understood. We need to acknowledge the deep flaws in our “justice” system, beginning with the lack of adequate training and support our police receive. Until that time, we are doomed to hear more shots on a bridge. And the next time, you or someone you love could be standing there.

“When a department is covering up corruption they are operating like a criminal enterprise. Because that’s how the Mafia operates.”

Thanks for reading. :)