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Category: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

Blog Tour & Giveaway: The Dirty Book Murder by Thomas Shawver

[ 4 ] May 1, 2014

The-Dirty-Book-Murder-225x300Please welcome Thomas Shawver, author of The Dirty Book Murder, as he tours the blogosphere with TLC Book Tours!

Enter to win a $30 egiftcard to the ebook retailer of your choice, and a First Prize Mystery Prize Pack of three mystery mass market paperbacks!

Reviewed by Lindsay Yocum

Micheal Bevan lived a good life until a tragic accident made him a widower, and he was left grasping for air from being consumed with grief. He was so consumed that he sent his then 6-year-old daughter to live with her grandparents, and while he drowned himself in anything that made him feel better for the time being, he was disbarred from practicing law.

He seemed to get his life together and was running a book store, and was even successful at it. Everything seemed like it was falling into place, even his now 20-year-old daughter was back in town for a visit, (with her famous Hollywood director boyfriend, Bob Langston) and he had high hopes of a reconciliation happening.

After scouring ads in the paper, Mike comes across an ad for a local book auction, in which a very rare Japanese erotica book collection is included. Mike does not want to be outbid by his rival, Gareth Hughes, so they come to an agreement–neither will bid against the other and they will divide the books between them for profit. They are, in fact, very high dollar books and the two men stand to make a pretty penny out of this deal.

Alas, they are outbid by a stranger and instead of letting this stranger take his prize, Gareth pockets two books from the collection without Mike’s knowledge. Annoyed with the loss, and after having a complete throw down of words in a fight with his daughter over her much older boyfriend, Mike heads out to a local pub to nurse his wounds. Little does he know that these wounds are just the tip of the iceberg for him.

Gareth turns up dead the next day, having been beaten to death, and while Mike ponders about what could have possibly happened, his world falls apart when he notices the weapon used to murder Gareth.

Mike is up against Lt. Buford Higgins, a nemesis from his past work as a lawyer, who Mike knows will do anything to nail him for this crime. But can Mike really uncover the truth of what is going on to prove his innocence? Even as more murders arise?

I’ll admit, this book was hard for me to read, although it was extremely well written. I felt it moved incredibly slow in the beginning, and when it started to pick up the pace, I found myself trying to wrap my head around the very dark place this book was taking me into. Some parts were shocking, and others were expected (as most mysteries are). Even though I had a hard time with this book, I would recommend it to anyone who loves a good mystery. The wild ride it took me on was endless. I look forward to reading more from Thomas Shawver.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Lindsay Yocum resides in California with her 5 year old firecracker daughter, Bear, and her hilarious husband. She spends her free time traveling, baking, ruining DIY crafts she finds on Pinterest, and running, when she isn’t nose deep in a book.

Review and giveaway copies were provided free of any obligation by Alibi. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: To Live Forever by Andra Watkins

[ 10 ] April 29, 2014

to-live-foreverPlease welcome Andra Watkins, author of To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis, as she tours the blogosphere with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours!

Enter to win a copy of the book below – open to US residents for a paper copy, and internationally for an eBook.

Reviewed by Nina Longfield

To Live Forever by Andra Watkins is a unique and sometimes surprising story. The novel begins with the historical notice of Meriwether Lewis’ death at age thirty-five in 1809. The story jumps forward to 1977 and a New Orleans courthouse with the child custody proceedings of Nadine Cagney versus her ex-husband Lee Cagney. Emmaline Cagney, age nine, is the main narrator. She is at the center of her parents custody battle. Her fate is left up to the court and judge, yet she has definite ideas as to what she wants for her life. No one asks her. When sole custody is awarded to her mother, Emmaline swears she will find and be with her father again despite what the judge had decreed.

Meriwether (Merry) Lewis is a Nowhere Man. He died in 1809 under mysterious circumstances, yet continues his life in 1977 New Orleans. Merry is seeking redemption from some unknown past fault. He’s on his thirteenth and last chance when he runs into Emmaline. She is his chance for salvation. He promises to take her to her father. There is another Nowhere Man determined to not only stop Merry but to obliterate him as well. The other Nowhere Man is simply the “bad man” to Emmaline.

Throughout her novel, To Live Forever, Watkins weaves back and forth from Emmaline’s to Merry’s points of view. Every few chapters, the other Nowhere Man’s point-of-view is also revealed. The switch in perspective leads the reader deeper into the story. Emmaline is a child narrator with a no nonsense view of the world around her. Merry presents a more puzzling view of events around them. And then there are the scary narrations of the “bad man”, Emmaline’s stalker, which are creepy. All three voices work to create a more profound story than one voice could provide. The reader knows why each character is doing what he or she doing, but the other characters may not know the purpose behind the other characters’ actions. This allows the reader into a kind of secret with each character.

With the shifts in narration, tension is added as the reader worries over Emmaline’s journey, whether Merry can protect and guide her, and a fear for what Emmaline’s stalker means to her safety. Andra Watkins’ novel, To Live Forever, is an intriguing read with lots of substance to devour.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Nina Longfield is a writer living in Oregon’s fertile wine country. When she is not reading or writing in her spare time, Nina enjoys hiking in the hills surrounding her cabin.

Review and giveaway copies were provided free of any obligation by Word Hermit Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: The Perfect Game by Stephen Paul

[ 0 ] April 21, 2014

The Perfect Game Final (Small)Reviewed by Lauren Cannavino

Kyle Vine is a psychologist and college professor who is, as his friend Eddie calls him, a “goody two shoes”, whose life takes a strange turn when he goes against his normal behavioral patterns. Kyle has been texting one of his much younger students and when they finally agree to met out for a drink, the night takes a salacious turn and not in any fashion that Kyle could have planned for or imagined. When his student, Allie, is rendered unconscious almost invisibly in an alley, all Kyle can do is panic and watch as a man runs away from the scene. After calling 911, Kyle has no way to realize that at stake is more than just his reputation.

Kyle is soon contacted by Allie’s eccentric Uncle Liam who owns a comic book shop and Liam insists that two meet in order to discuss Allie’s condition and how she may have ended up in a coma after all. Kyle thinks the girl’s uncle is aware of the nature of their relationship and panics but agrees. Ultimately, that would have ended up being a better outcome for the two men. Liam wants to discuss theories on energy transfers between humans, a theory Kyle knows a little about, but Liam is interested in the darker side of the exchanges; essentially when someone is responsible for stripping someone else’s energy by killing them in order to harvest their energy. Liam tells Kyle that Allie is lucky to be alive, but others in New York City have not been so lucky lately. The men meet and Liam shares his findings and opens up an entire world of information and mystery to Kyle. There are discussions of secret government contractors, murders across the city that all involve young people dying of strokes, little police help and more. Liam becomes an unlikely friend and ally to the polished Kyle, and when his theories on a popular Yankees pitcher being connected begin to appear true, a new series of secrets and information is pushed to the surface.

Kyle and Liam join up with Kyle’s friend Eddie to get to the bottom of the mystery and the dynamic between the three is entertaining. The twists that they endure are far from expected and everything from kidnappings, to night watches and mystery underground networks seems completely possible. Stephen Paul’s thriller has mysterious and almost supernatural undertones yet he presents his story in an exciting, well-paced way that makes all of the actions seem believable and plausible. Kyle and Liam grow as individuals and friends and while Kyle is the main character, Liam is an excellent foil to his character and their relationship makes the action and the drama of the book even more enjoyable. The ending of the book wrapped up the story nicely and completely, but all of the secret happenings in the story are not given away, leaving The Perfect Game on the brain long after completion.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Lauren Cannavino is a graduate student, freelance writer, wine lover, and avid reader. Random musings can be found over at

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Stephen Paul. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: Lady of the Bog by Peter Hayes

[ 1 ] April 17, 2014

18619311Reviewed by Amanda Farmer

My Lady of the Bog was the first book I have read by Peter Hayes. After reading it, I have mixed feelings. The story opens to Xander Donne, an American anthropologist finding a mysterious lady buried in an English bog with her body staked, treasures buried with her, and a book that he is unable to translate without help. He becomes obsessed with finding out her identity and why she was buried in the bog seven hundred years ago. What he doesn’t realize is that his Lady of the Bog is not just any ordinary sacrifice. She may well have been a witch or something greater, possibly a Deshi princess–no one really knows. He is determined to uncover her identity at all costs.

As Xander strives to uncover his Lady, he soon finds himself transported to medieval India, with his complicated love, Vidya. Vidya has her own complicated past and quite a lot of baggage. Xander believes that no matter what, the two of them will find out his Lady’s identity and have a life together. The book he found with his Lady seems to be enchanted and has the ability to really pull the reader into its pages, literally. As he deciphers the book, he realizes there is more at stake than just his need to find out who his Lady is–his life and career are at stake.

I found the book’s summary to be interesting in that it had mystery, love, sacrifice, intrigue and history all in one. Unfortunately I found the book itself to be too long winded and confusing at times. I felt like there were too many plot holes to the story and that everyone just took whatever they saw as fact without questioning anything. All the pieces seemed to fall too neatly into place as the story progressed and became to unbelievable for me. I didn’t feel a connection to any of the characters and I wanted to. I wanted to like this story but had a hard time finishing it because of the inconsistencies. Towards the end, I found myself losing interest in who the Lady of the Bog was and why she was buried in the English bog all those years ago.

Rating: ★★½☆☆ 

Amanda loves spending time at home with her husband and their dog, Oreo. She loves reading, playing puzzle games, beading and watching movies. When she’s not reading, she’s working on her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by The Permanent Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld

[ 2 ] April 12, 2014

The-Enchanted-Rene-Denfeld-e1395460252481Reviewed by Cal Cleary

An unnamed man has been on death row for… he’s not sure how long, really. He’s plagued by visions of golden horses racing beneath the ground, of tiny men living in the walls, of vines that kill. He’s crazy, but he’s been crazy for years – and it’s hard to tell anyway, because death row isn’t a place where sane men end up. It’s a delicate ecosystem, a world populated by the fallen, the falling, and those struggling desperately to rise into something better than what they have become. The unnamed man will never rise, and he knows that, but he still has hopes and needs, still has people who remember him, and most importantly, still has important insights about his world and its broken inhabitants.

The Enchanted could very easily be a grim, dire slog. Given the content, I don’t think anyone would be particularly shocked if it were. Instead, Rene Denfeld approaches her world – an awful one by any stretch – with vivid imagination that gives odd, implacable life to her setting and characters. Once you settle into the book’s jagged rhythms, the penitentiary will begin to fill out, the cast will begin to sprawl, and the book you thought you were reading will fall by the wayside.

Rene Denfeld, who has a history as an investigator for death row cases, peppers the book liberally with insights about every aspect of the business. It isn’t just the unnamed ‘lady’ investigating one of the men for his appeal, though her insights on the world these men have come from are particularly fascinating. Denfeld digs into prison corruption, food, mental illness, how favors are traded – some of her topics are common to the genre, but all are approached with unique insight and careful examination that could only come from experience.

The Enchanted is… something special. Rene Denfeld’s unique voice and stilted prose may take some time to begin to appreciate, but the rewards for the readers willing to dive into the deep end with her will be ample. This is a wonderfully inventive novel, filled with surprises and memorable moments, but even more than that, it’s a warm, smart book that acknowledges the hope and wonder that can be found in even the darkest places on Earth.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Cal Cleary is a librarian and critic in rural Ohio. He’s been writing online for over 5 years now, and you can currently find more of his work at read/RANT and Comics Crux.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Harper. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: Regency Detective by David Lassman & Terence James

[ 1 ] April 8, 2014

the-regency-detective-2013-x-200Reviewed by Caleb Shadis

The Regency Detective was written by two authors, David Lassman and Terence James, and I’m fairly certain that I could point out who wrote which parts. There was the story that was the driving force of the book, and there was the history which gave background and ambiance. There was lots of cool history but there was also the ‘ya, ya, let’s get on with the story’ history. At times, it really felt like the mystery was just a way for them to convey their knowledge of the location where the story was taking place. That got irritating.

As far as I can tell this is the first book in the series but it feels like the second or third. This is supposed to be a mystery series and we get three separate mysteries in this book alone. Who killed Jack Swann’s father, who does Lockhart work for (the man courting Jack’s sister) and who committed the murders. The first is an obvious several book arc and I didn’t really expect it to end in this one. The second has some kind of overlap with the first. The third is where I dropped the stars down to 3.5. The third mystery – the one that gets solved – doesn’t even begin until almost two thirds of the way through the book. It felt like “Oh ya! We need to give them a mystery that is actually solved in THIS book!” In many ways this book felt like an episode instead of a full book.

Jack Swann is a man on a mission. When he was 12 he witnessed the murder of his father, and he has been trying to find the murderer ever since. He was adopted by the family his father worked for and grew up with his “sister”, Mary. When Jack was old enough, he set himself up as a detective (along the lines of Sherlock Holmes, without the chemical dependencies). He has made a name for himself and is doing quite well with the business. He can pick and choose his cases, but he never passes up a case that might relate to the murder of his father. This is how he ends up going to Bath.

Wherever Jack goes, trouble seems to be able to find him. He also has been practicing the art of observation and thus has a very good memory. He also has the remarkable ability to put together odd clues–even ones that are not apparently related. I like Jack and I am certainly willing to try the next book in the series. I hope by then the writing has evened out a bit and the story flows smoothly.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Caleb is a software engineer and amateur woodworker living in southern Minnesota. He has more hobbies than he has time or money for, and enjoys his quiet time reading.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by The History Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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