#Review “Children in Chains (DI Sterling Book 2)” by Lorraine Mace

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5/5 Stars!

In Retriever of Souls, book 1 of the DI Sterling Series, Paolo Sterling and his team were hunting for a serial killer targeting prostitutes. This led them to question the women working the street trade for information as they tried to identify the monster taking lives. It wasn’t lost on Paolo many of the females he encountered were barely into their teens.

Connections made during that investigation are front and center in Children in Chains as Paolo searches for the person responsible for trafficking females for sex. But, it’s even worse than any of them believed. Teenage girls are forced to work the streets only after they are abused, violated, and addicted to drugs at an even younger age.

The DI is overwhelmed at times by everything around him—the dead ends his case keeps hitting because people are too terrified of the consequences of talking to the police; the cracks his team is showing; his fortieth birthday and the state of his personal life, and the physical recovery of his sixteen-year-old daughter, Katy, from the near-fatal attack she suffered in book 1. But don’t count the gutsy teen out yet. While she may still have a lot to come to terms with mentally and emotionally, she’s not one sit around and veg out. Love her spirit and wouldn’t be at all surprised if she followed in her dad’s footsteps.

Of course, with Katy, comes Paolo’s ex-wife, Lydia, who’s still an insufferable cow, placing blame for all wrong in her life on his shoulders.

Despite all that, Sterling is no less focused on the case, his frustration and anger always rumbling just below the surface.

He perks up after interviewing an aging rocker he suspects is connected with the trafficking, but is thrown for a loop and blindsided by betrayal from a member of his team. But Paolo also soon discovers the ringleader he’s searching for could have been in front of him all along.

Children in Chains in not an easy read. Stephen King said, “Fiction is the truth inside the lie,” and this author has done an extraordinary job of weaving just enough of the truth through the story to not only create an engrossing, suspenseful read but also incite heartache and sympathy for the victimized children as well as rage for their tormentors.

And just when I thought dealings with Lydia—remember her?—were relegated to the back burner, she’s had an epiphany, God, help us, and I was right there, cringing with Paolo.

Can Children in Chains be read as a standalone? Yes, but I don’t recommend it. While all the elements needed for the story are in this story, this series centers on Paolo Sterling, and while his character is evolving, he’s not dramatically changing overnight. The changes are subtle and readers should know where he’s been to understand where he’s headed. Grab books 1 and 2!

Enjoy!

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The second chapter in a new dark and gritty crime series.

Detective Inspector Paolo Sterling is determined to shut down the syndicate flooding Bradchester’s streets with young prostitutes.

When a child is murdered, Paolo becomes aware of a sinister network of abusers spread across Europe, and spanning all levels of society. But Joey, the shadowy leader of the gang, always seems to be one step ahead in the chase.

Has Paolo come up against a criminal he cannot defeat?

Purchase Links

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Children In Chains is on offer at 99p/99c across all Amazon stores until June 15!

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#Review “Below the Fold (Clare Carlson Mystery)” by R.G. Belsky

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5/5 Stars!

What a head-slammer! Every time I thought I had figured out who the murderer was, I ran right into a wall!

A woman is found murdered in an ATM vestibule in New York City. But she was homeless and just another anonymous lost soul living on the streets. Her death barely registers a blip on anyone’s radar and will never be solved.

But this story calls out to TV news director Clare Carlson. No one is born homeless. The woman had a life and Clare wanted to tell that story. Her news team puts together well-received segments on the tragic life of Dora Gayle—a college-educated woman who loved life and poetry, but for whom a broken heart and giving up her infant daughter for adoption were probably the early beginnings of the downward spiral that led to Dora being brutally stabbed to death by a stranger.

But Dora’s story is soon forgotten because life goes on.

Another murder occurs that’s sure to be high profile. A young, female investment banker is beaten to death in her toney apartment. She was involved in a major embezzlement and bank fraud case and had recently agreed to testify against her co-conspirators.

The story has Clare’s attention, but she’s floored when she learns what was found near the body—a note with five names which includes a media mogul (and Clare’s boss), a politician, a ruthless attorney, a cop involved in scandal… and Dora Gayle.

No one knows how the people on the list are connected, including the people on the list. Clare’s boss gives her free rein to investigate and report in hopes of finding some answers or at least clearing his name.

Clare Carlson is damn good at her job. Despite being a Pulitzer Prize winner, she’s about the story, not the glory. She dives into the investigation interviewing anyone on the list… and anyone else who’ll talk to her.

Clare’s also glad for the distraction because it takes her mind off the daughter she gave up for adoption. I liked Clare. She’s not smug and arrogant or annoying. She’s committed to her job and a true professional. But she’s not without her flaws. She has three past marriages under her belt and having the hots for a married cop was not a good look for her. But, she got her hand smacked and her feelings hurt and just has to get over herself. One day.

Suspicion surrounds everyone on the list and a few others, but it’s revelations from the past that open… and close the door on the case.

When Clare and crew take a step back and recalculate—sort of like Siri—they realize they went for the easy, and wrong solution.

She relaunches her investigation being more methodical, but as she digs deeper, the suspect list grows, and the plot twists are fast and furious!

Well-paced and detailed, the author does a great job in this read of baiting and distracting and heightening the suspense, only to smack the reader with yet another plot twist—I think I’m bruised.

Below the Fold must be read to the last page to have all those pesky loose ends tied up, and it is so worth it. There was only one guy I felt didn’t get his comeuppance, but there’s always book 3, right? Crime fiction and mystery lovers will read this in one sitting and I highly recommend you do.

Enjoy!

This is book 2 in the Clare Carlson series, and I wanted to get Clare’s full backstory and decided to purchase book 1, Yesterday’s News. Imagine my surprise finding out I already own it! (Don’t judge me—I buy a lot of books!)

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Synopsis:

Every human life is supposed to be important. Everyone should matter. But that’s not the case in the cutthroat TV news-rating world where Clare Carlson works. Sex, money, and power sell. Only murder victims of the right social strata are considered worth covering. Not the murder of a “nobody.”

So, when the battered body of a homeless woman named Dora Gayle is found on the streets of New York City, her murder barely gets a mention in the media. But Clare―a TV news director who still has a reporter’s instincts―decides to dig deeper into the seemingly meaningless death. She uncovers mysterious links between Gayle and a number of wealthy and influential figures. There is a prominent female defense attorney; a scandal-ridden ex-congressman; a decorated NYPD detective; and―most shocking of all―a wealthy media mogul who owns the TV station where Clare works. Soon there are more murders, more victims, more questions. As the bodies pile up, Clare realizes that her job, her career, and maybe even her life are at stake as she chases after her biggest story ever.

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Book Details

Genre: Mystery

Published by: Oceanview Publishing

Publication Date: May 2019

Number of Pages: 357

ISBN: 978-1-60809-324-3

Series: Clare Carlson #2

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

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#Review “Pink Ice Creams” by Jo Woolaston

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4/5 Stars!

Kay Harris’ life is in shambles.

Brought on the endless bad decisions she makes.

Fueled by her overindulgence in alcohol.

Which she uses to quiet her demons, stop the nightmares and bury the guilt she feels over her six-year-old brother’s disappearance twenty years ago.

But people have had enough of Kay’s drunken outbursts and empty promises, and a temporary holiday becomes permanent. She finds herself alone in the seaside village of her childhood… and the place where her brother disappeared.

Kay decides to piece her life together and move on but before she can leave the village, she’s kidnapped because of another callous act she was part of and that was fueled by alcohol.

However, it’s while she’s a hostage that clarity arrives to Kay Harris.

Blurred mental photos from the past come into focus as Kay realizes the recent disappearance of a young boy could be connected to her brother’s, even though this boy was returned safely to his parents.

Is she right? Can she prove it? If she can stay sober and stop making brash decisions, Kay has a chance to help bring a killer to justice. But those are two huge IFS for her.

I understood Kay. It couldn’t have been easy carrying that much guilt around for so long and I applaud the author’s characterization because she made me feel empathy for Kay… without liking her not even a little bit. The first part of the book is spent on Kay’s remembrances and bad behavior and did nothing to endear her to me even though it made me understand the why of Kay’s life.

To be fair, with the exception of Nan and Fag Ash Lil, there are few people to like and support in this hodge-podge of perfectly flawed characters.

Several themes make up Pink Ice Creams, but I believe its family dysfunction will draw readers of contemporary fiction as well as Kay’s reckless determination to find the truth because only then can she forgive herself.

Enjoy!

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Intent on fixing her broken marriage and the alcohol-fueled catastrophe that is her life, Kay Harris arrives at her grim and grey holiday let, ready to lay to rest the tragedy that has governed her entire adulthood – the disappearance of her little brother, Adam.

But the road to recovery is pitted with the pot-holes of her own poor choices, and it isn’t long before Kay is forced to accept that maybe she doesn’t deserve the retribution she seeks. Will the intervention of strangers help her find the answers she needs to move on from her past, or will she always be stuck on the hard shoulder with no clear view ahead and a glove box full of empties?

Pink Ice Creams is a tale of loss, self-destruction, and clinging on to the scraps of the long-lost when everyone else has given up hope.

Purchase links

Amazon UK

Paperback

Kindle

Author Page

Amazon US

Paperback

Kindle

Author Page

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#Review “Cultivating a Fuji” by Miriam Drori

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4/5 Stars!

Cultivating a Fuji is a moving and sometimes heartbreaking tale of one man’s lifelong struggle with social anxiety.

Martin Carter is that kid in school who’s just a bit smaller, not quite in sync and an easy target for bullying and harassment. And, there is no shortage of fake friends, classmates, and even adults who have no problem tormenting Martin because he’s weird, strange, silent… different.

When it’s revealed a family tragedy was the catalyst for Martin’s social anxiety, I felt the behavior of everyone around him was even more reprehensible. Including his parents.

Despite his issues, Martin makes it through college and gets a job at a small computer software company.

His analytical mind makes him a star employee but social anxiety relegates him to the odd sort. However, when a coworker is sidelined by an accident, Martin is the only one who can take his place and pitch a campaign to a company… in Japan.

Japan will be a turning point for Martin. It’s not immediate or all-encompassing, but there will be change.

This is Martin’s story but there are multiple POVs to show not everyone thinks badly or only want to ridicule him. People want to help… they just don’t know how.

Cultivating a Fuji is a good read lovers of contemporary and literary fiction will enjoy, and the twisty conclusion will linger long after the story’s end.

Enjoy!

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Convinced that his imperfect, solitary existence is the best it will ever be, coverMartin unexpectedly finds himself being sent to represent his company in Japan. His colleagues think it’s a joke; his bosses are certain he will fail. What does Martin think? He simply does what he’s told. That’s how he’s survived up to now – by hiding his feelings.

Amazingly, in the land of strange rituals, sweet and juicy apples, and too much saké, Martin flourishes and achieves the impossible. But that’s only the beginning. Keeping up the momentum for change proves futile. So, too, is a return to what he had before. Is there a way forward, or should he put an end to the search now?

Gradually, as you’ll see when Martin looks back from near the end of his journey, life improves. There’s even a woman, Fiona, who brings her own baggage to the relationship, but brightens Martin’s days. And just when you think there can be no more surprises, another one pops up.

Throughout his life, people have laughed at ‘weirdo’ Martin; and you, as you read, will have plenty of opportunity to laugh, too. Go ahead, laugh away, but you’ll find that there’s also a serious side to all this…

Purchase Link 

mybook.to/cultivatingafuji

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#Review “Justice for Belle” by Didi Oviatt

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Justice for Belle cover

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4/5 Stars!

Quirky.

The one word that best describes everyone in Justice for Belle.

Although for Ahnia Airington, bonkers works too.

A literary sensation with a bestseller at 18, Ahnia is a one-hit-wonder now in her thirties who eats too much, drinks too much, and obsesses too much over the bad thing she did as a teenager… which inspired her bestseller.

She sits in public places now people-watching and characterizing strangers as murderers, complete with choice of weapon. But she still isn’t writing.

It’s easy to feel sorry for Ahnia. At first. She has the ultimate case of writer’s block and can’t even complete an outline for a new book.

However, any empathy I had for her dissipated quickly when it became obvious she’s one of those writers who allow writer’s block to define their lives, leaving them unable to move on and work, be responsible and accountable, or adult in any sense of the word. To be fair, her writing muse is definitely unusual.

Ahnia is also dealing with buckets of guilt, and not so much from the bad thing she did as a teenager—because, you know, that wasn’t her fault—but because she lost her mother as a result, which led to her widower father marrying the horrid Dorothy, and made her good-guy brother, Tim, an accessory.

Short of a life-altering thrill, Ahnia will never write again… enter Mac.

Though her defenses were up at first, Ahnia becomes too preoccupied with Mac too quickly. When she watched him propose to a woman who could have been her twin, Ahnia should have run away like she was on fire.

But nope. She falls under his sway… and he drags her down the rabbit hole.

Good pacing and build-up in this short read, and nice TWISTY climax.

Justice for Belle is too short in the sense it does not tie all the loose ends up for me, and I don’t need a pretty bow when a couple of tight knots will suffice.

Justice for Belle is good suspense with plenty of quirks, but the quirks keep you reading.

Enjoy!

 

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Blurb:

Ahnia, has a very dicey past, one that is scratching under the surface, just dying to get out. She’s hit rock bottom, broke and desperate to be on top again. When she finds herself partnering up with man she hardly knows, and who’s utterly untouchable, she’s forced out of her comfort zone and left to question her own sanity. Will Ahnia and Mac’s dangerous business move be a success? Or, will Ahnia find herself in the clutches of an unforgiving force, brought about by her childhood sin? In this nail biting thrill ride, no one is as they seem… and no one is truly safe with those they trust.

Amazon US    Amazon UK    Amazon CA    Amazon AU

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JFB 3D

#Review “Wyatt (The Son Series #2)” by Leanne Davis

Title: Wesley (The Son Series #2)
Author: Leanne Davis
Genre: Sports romance

Release Date: May 15, 2019
Hosted by: Buoni Amici Press, LLC.

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4/5 Stars!

I didn’t start to like Wyatt Kincaid until near the end of book one of Wesley’s story.

He fares much better with me in book two.

Learning the trauma he’s lives with since his sophomore year of college explains his uncharacteristic behavior.

Despite his birth mother being murdered when he was a toddler, Wyatt still grew up with a loving father and stepmother, extended family and friends in a comfortable, privileged life.

Jacey Walker has lived the true hard-knocks life complete with foster care and a drug-addicted, alcoholic mother who sees her as a tool to feed her addictions instead of a daughter to be loved and cared for.

Booted from foster care after becoming an adult, Jacey moves in with the only person to offer her shelter. When the situation becomes abusive, she searches out the only friend she has, Wesley Abbott, who’s already walked away from the chaotic and destructive foster care lifestyle.

Wesley’s staying with the Kincaids and this is when Jacey and Wyatt meet.

After successfully dealing with Wesley’s issues, for the time being, Wyatt and Jacey develop a friendship. He encourages her to want more and never settle; similar words to what she heard in counseling.

A relationship grows between the two as Wyatt continues to encourage Jacey to stretch her wings,  read good books, and enroll in college.

While they both must conquer past fears before they can move on, for me, it’s Jacey who helps herself and Wyatt. She may not have the academics, but she has more common sense and wisdom than a roomful of people. Once she realizes her own power, there’s no stopping her.

Wyatt is another strong offering from this author as book 2 in the Son Series, with well-developed characters willing to put the happiness of others first even if it means risking their hearts.

Enjoy!

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Something happened last year that changes how I approach my life. I told no one about it. It’s affected all of my relationships and ended the one with the girl I thought I’d be with forever. I’m a hero at college and one of the top quarterbacks at the university level, and I have the popularity to show for it. Still, none of it feels deserved after what I failed to do last year. I’m riddled by guilt and confusion over what happened, but worse is my reaction to it.

Jacey Walker has her own tales of horror that come to light after she finds refuge with my parents in Silver Springs. She’s caught my eye and interest. She has an awakening curiosity about a new and brighter future than she’s ever imagined, which has me reevaluating and appreciating my own until I realize who has caught her attention. Now I have to face my own history or risk Jacey paying the consequences.

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#Review “Swann’s Down (A Henry Swann Mystery Book 5)” by Charles Salzberg

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4/5 Stars!

It’s odd what people will pay good money for.

However, it’s a win for Henry Swann because he’s paid to find people and most of the time, it’s people who don’t want to be found. Do not call him a private investigator. That’s not what he does. He finds people then his job is done. Swann has no desire to see a case through to its conclusion. There’s no money in that.

His “partner”, Goldblatt, “hires” him to find the grifter who swindled his ex-wife for almost one hundred thousand dollars posing as a psychic.

An attorney hires him to find the young woman who’s skipped town, but can supposedly clear his client of murder charges. His client… the hitman.

Swann doesn’t have high hopes for either case, but dives in because his bank account is looking anemic… and he’ll do anything for money. Anything. Almost.

I found Swann’s Down to be more about the man himself than the mysteries.

He paints himself as a pragmatist, has a memory bank of literary quotes concerning life, and his belief system appears to be nonexistent. But, those things make him good at his job… and allow him to survive.

Coming into the series at book five, there are missed connections for me. The death of Swann’s wife, losing his son, how he became a skip tracer, and of course, Goldblatt. Whom I found annoying at best, but there has to be more backstory for Swann to even entertain Goldblatt’s foolishness.

From cons and scams to mafia gangsters and hitmen. Henry Swann’s cases smolder and he likes it that way. But they could explode at any moment.

And he’s okay with that too.

Though the language may be too graphic for cozy-readers, mystery fans will love putting the pieces of this puzzle together, and crime fiction fans will enjoy the seedier side of justice and elements of danger.  Good read!

Enjoy!

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Synopsis:

When Henry Swann is asked by his quirky partner, Goldblatt, to find a missing psychic who’s swindled his ex-wife out of a small fortune, he just can’t say no. Although he doesn’t actually expect to get paid, he figures it might give him a chance to finally learn more about his partner’s mysterious past. His search takes him into the controversial, arcane world of psychics, fortune tellers, and charlatans, while raising questions in his own mind about whether or not there is an after-life.

While working his partner’s case, he’s approached by a former employer, attorney Paul Rudder, to track down a missing witness who might be able to provide an alibi for his client, Nicky Diamond, a notorious mob hitman who’s scheduled to go on trial for murder he claims he didn’t commit in a week. Swann’s search for the missing witness, who happens to be the defendant’s girlfriend, takes him from Brooklyn to a small beach town across the Bay from Mobile, Ala. But what does she really know and will she even come back with him to testify for her boyfriend?

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Book Details:

Genre: Detective/Noir/Mystery

Published by: Down & Out Books

Publication Date: May 14, 2019

Number of Pages: 300

ISBN: 978-1-64396011-1

Series:Henry Swann

Purchase Links: Amazon | BN.com | Goodreads

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This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Charles Salzberg. There will be 6 giveaway winners. There will be 1 Grand Prize winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. There will be five (5) 2nd Prize winners of one (1) Print Edition of Swann’s Down (U.S. Mailing Addresses only). The giveaway begins on May 1, 2019 and runs through July 2, 2019. Void where prohibited.

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