RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars
SMOKESCREEN by Khaled Talib is a fast-paced political espionage thriller set on the beautiful island of Singapore that has you second guessing every characters’ motives and actions as you race to the climax and conclusion. Smokescreen is also an apt title for this debut novel.
Jethro Westrope, also known as Jet West, is a feature writer for Singapore’s leading lifestyle magazine, Society. He leads a very public and pampered life which makes him an easy scapegoat in a high stakes political assassination plot. The Israelis and Palestinians are brokering for a permanent peace in Singapore and Jet is to be used as a pawn and framed as the assassin of the Israeli Prime Minister. The plot has major worldwide political ramifications that not only effect the two major players, but also the U.S. and Singapore.
Jet is pulled into the twisted plot when he is framed for the murder of a beautiful woman who tried to warn him of what was planned. As he tries to clear his name and find out who is responsible, Jet seeks the help of Nicole Wong, a senior prosecutor on the island and also a friend of the murdered girl. Neither knows who they can believe or completely trust as they weave through a twisted web of spies, double agents, and patriots to get to the truth and clear Jet’s name.
This thriller was tightly plotted with action, several dead bodies, revelations of deceit and twists that I can’t reveal due to spoilers throughout. You have to keep close tabs on all the players and their motives. The politics are thought provoking and the author handles the information sparingly with no preaching or information dump. Jet is an interesting and sympathetic lead character. The other characters are all well fleshed out and intriguing as you try to figure out if they are ‘good’ or ‘bad’.
This is a debut thriller that delivers and will have you coming back for more from this author!
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
A psychological suspense with not one, but two big plot twists which had me unable to put this book down until the very last page. DON’T SAY A WORD by A.L. Bird was an intense read.
(To avoid spoilers, this is a limited review.)
Jen Sutton is a lawyer who lives and breathes for her son, Josh. Over-protective to the extreme, but what is a mother to do when their lives are built on a lie? Jen’s past life is slowly revealed through internal dialogues and rants. Her reasons for her secretive life become increasingly clear as the psychological tension ramps up to a plot twist that took me completely by surprise.
Clear time for this one!
The true character of each character was revealed at the same pace as the plot, slowly working up to a break-neck pace. Every character had secrets and/or ulterior motives. The character development kept me reading even while some plotline developments in the story were a little unbelievable at times. For me, at times the writing feels somewhat choppy, but it also mirrors Jen’s internal panic and disintegration to a degree. The ending was a well written tie up of all the plot points and characters.
Thanks so much to Harper Collins UK HQ Digital and Net Galley for allowing me to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review.
RATING: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
EXODUS ’95 by Kfir Luzzatto is a fast paced adventure thriller with a unique character twist and intriguing treasure hunt for Moses’ staff.
Claire Williams is a graphic designer that has always had to work hard to survive. When she befriends a dying, elderly man named Jack, she learns he is an ex-KGB agent who claims to have hidden the staff belonging to Moses’ from the Bible. He wants to give her the information on where and how to locate it with the hope that she can sell it to get money for a better life, but Jack has his own ulterior motives for giving Claire this information.
Dan Ze’evi is an Israeli engineer who is paired with Claire due to information he has on the location of the staff that he doesn’t realize he has in his memory. The two are bribed and blackmailed on their journey by a Russian oligarch who wants the power of the staff. They are also being chased by an Egyptian oligarch, who wants the staff destroyed, not recovered. Dan and Claire are running all over the world as it seems everyone wants the staff for their own reasons. Twist and turns I was not expecting kept popping up and made it a fun adventure that had me continually turning the pages.
The book is an easy read and I am sure you will enjoy the world-wide adventure if you can suspend realistic belief at times, which I don’t mind doing. I gave it the 3.5 star rating and would have liked to have given it more, but I felt the characters, except for Dan Ze’evi were two dimensional and stereotypical. The unique character twist belongs to Claire, but I can’t say more without it being a spoiler. Even with this twist, I just could never warm to her character. I also felt the romance was forced and unbelievable. The plot is full of potential, unique and is a fun adventure read.
Thank you to PINE TEN and Net Galley for allowing me to read this eARC in exchange for and honest review.
RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars
FOR LOVE & BOURBON by Katie Jennings is an overall enjoyable romantic suspense read.
Lucky Fox Whiskey was started when Grandpa Joe came from Ireland after a family feud to strike out on his own with his own ideas on how Irish whiskey and bourbon should be made. The family legacy has passed from Joe to his son, Ty Brannon and his twins Ava and Adam Brannon.
Ava Brannon is proud of her grandfather’s accomplishments and works to uphold all the family traditions in the distillery. World renowned, Ava has learned the fine art of mixing, aging and tasting at her grandfather’s side. Lucky Fox supports the entire small community built around it on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, but being a small community Ava has not had an interest in any personal attachment.
On her last tour of the day, a handsome stranger stands out from the rest and Ava is caught off guard by her interest. Special Agent Cooper Lawson is with the FBI and about to turn Ava and her family’s world upside down.
As you read this book, you are completely taken by the author’s description of the making and tasting of bourbons and whiskeys. It is so intense, you can practically taste it on your tongue. The twists and turns of the suspense in this story keep you turning the pages and involved in the investigation. The family secrets and ties to their Irish born kin was a big surprise twist.
The main romance in this story between Ava and Cooper was well paced, but just a little off. I was reading it and hoping that everything came out right for them, but I was not completely sold on the two of them ending up with a HEA. The secondary romance between Ava’s brother Adam and his crush didn’t work for me at all. These characters all have interesting backstories though and are interesting in the story.
This standalone romantic suspense is well worth the read.
Written for and posted first on The Romance Reviews.com.
RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars
I have seriously been blown away by this book. I enjoyed Summit Lake by this author, but this story was even better.
THE GIRL WHO WAS TAKEN by Charlie Donlea had me tangled up in plot twists and turns that left me completely surprised at the climax of the plot. I knew the answer, no I didn’t. I knew the answer, no I didn’t. I could NOT put this book down!
The majority of the story is told in the present with Livia Cutty, a fellow in forensic pathology wondering if her missing sister will ever appear on her autopsy table and Megan McDonald, the girl who got away, when both Megan and Nicole Cutty disappeared one summer night. Both are searching for the truth of the girls’ disappearance for differing reasons. Their search is intertwined with flashbacks to the months and days before the abduction and the story of Megan and Nicole’s summer after their senior year in high school.
These characters where all realistic and unforgettable. Livia is an intelligent and driven character. Her career is as important to her as her drive to find out what happened to her sister. She does not throw it away, but uses it in her search. I loved her use of kickboxing for stress relief. Megan was not the same girl she was before her abduction and she still doesn’t remember everything from the two weeks she was gone. Mr. Donlea did a great job of showing her before and after and the psychological changes. Nicole was a teen in rebellion and it took so little to tip her over into even darker things. Someone who she thought understood her, changed her whole world in one night.
This was a well written suspense with a plot that keeps you on your toes. This book will definitely be a recommendation read to all my suspense loving friends.
Thanks so much to Kensington Books and Net Galley for allowing me to read this eARC in exchange for and honest review. I loved it!
RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars
(I reviewed this book last year. I am adding this previously posted review since I am currently reading Mr. Donlea’s second mystery novel The Girl Who Was Taken. I wanted both reviews on my website.)
SUMMIT LAKE by Charlie Donlea is a debut mystery that keeps you turning the pages.
The setting is a small town in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. The story is told by two narrators; Kelsey Castle, a true crime journalist, in the present investigating the savage murder and rape of Becca Eckersley and with Becca, a first year law student, telling her own story before her death threaded in between. Both women have secrets that become revealed in bits and pieces throughout the story in tantalizing increments and there are plenty of twists and turns that surprise.
I found all of the characters to be interesting and well fleshed out. The pace of the story is fast and has several twists and surprises. I did have a small problem with the lack of law enforcement involvement and the way Kelsey obtained some of her information just would not realistically happen. The reveal of the killer was truly unexpected and made for a big surprise. Well worth the read and I will be looking for more from this author.