Book Review: Smokescreen by Khaled Talib

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!

Book Review: Don’t Say A Word by A.L. Bird

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.

Book Review: Only the Lucky by Linda Castillo

RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars

ONLY THE LUCKY (Kate Burkholder, #8.5) by Linda Castillo is a novella that lets you return to Painters Mill for a short period of time between full length novels and reconnect with the characters you love in this series.

It is Friday the 13th in Painters Mill and even though Chief of Police Kate Burkholder does not believe in superstitions the problems just keep on coming. Kate learns of a huge outdoor ‘rager’ on an abandoned farm, the town is having a complete power outage until morning and the department receives a 911 call about an unresponsive Amish teen found by her boyfriend in the barn at the party.

This novella is only 56 pages long. It is an entertaining story that assumes you are already familiar with the main series characters. The crime was easily solved, but still a good read. I will always pick up a novella or book by this author in this series to check out how my favorite characters are doing.

Book Review: Say You’re Sorry by Melinda Leigh

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

I am so excited that Melinda Leigh is writing a spin-off of her wonderful Scarlet Falls trilogy. SAY YOU”RE SORRY (Morgan Dane #1) takes me back to one of my favorite fictional cities.

Morgan Dane returns home to Scarlet Falls with her three young daughters after the death of her military husband in the Middle East. Living with her grandfather and a teenager rescued in a previous Scarlet Falls book, two years has passed and Morgan decides to return to work as an ADA. She wants to start moving forward at least professionally with her life.

Lance Kruger was an SFPD officer, but is currently training to be a private investigator while recovering from a gunshot wound. His mentor, Lincoln Sharp started his own P.I. agency after retiring from the SFPD. Lincoln is more than just the ex-detective who worked Lance’s missing father’s case, he has been a father figure and an enormous help with Lance’s mother.

When Morgan’s sometimes babysitter, Tessa is found raped and violently murdered, the blame falls on her boyfriend, Nick. Nick is Morgan’s young neighbor who plays chess with her grandfather and reads to her girls. Even though the evidence is strong, Morgan just cannot believe Nick is guilty. Morgan turns down her ADA job and decides to not only defend Nick against false charges, but to find the real killer with the help of Lance and Lincoln.

This book takes off and keeps a fast pace throughout. With multiple suspects there are many unexpected twists and turns in the plot. As you turn the pages to find justice for Tessa, many other small town secrets become unearthed. You also follow the story through both Morgan’s and Lance’s points-of-views, with some internal insights from the killer and Nick’s time in lock-up. I loved the multiple views because they pull you into the head and intense emotions of each character in every situation.

I was happy to learn from the author that there are at least four more proposed books for this series and Morgan will continue being the main character. This book has the beginnings of a new romance for Morgan with Lance and I am looking forward to its progression. I love a series that not only gives me great thrills and/or mysteries, but I get to follow a couple that I want to succeed in love.

I am looking forward to the next book and a return to all of these great characters!

Thank you very much to Montlake Romance, Melinda Leigh and Net Galley for allowing me to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Dead Souls by Angela Marsons

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

Most times you read a series because you love the characters and the author gives you interesting, intriguing and/or entertaining plots that keep the characters fresh and growing. Sometimes there may be a book that doesn’t move you as much as the others, but you continue to read the series because the characters are like family.

Occasionally you get a book in a series that is a so well done that you know it will live on in your memory because it makes you question basic humanity. No matter the first or the tenth book in the series, you will recommend it to everyone, whether they have read the whole series or not. DEAD SOULS (Detective Kim Stone #6) by Angela Marsons is that book!

During a routine archaeological dig, human bones are unearthed. As Dr. A evaluates the grave site, both Kim and Tom Travis show up to the scene and once again battle over control of the investigation. Ms. Marsons shakes up this book in the series by separating Kim from her regular team. She has been ordered to work alongside Tom, who she has had a troubled past with.

Bryant, Dawson and Stacy are left to work on a series of brutal attacks and work out their own interpersonal relationships without Kim as a boss and referee. The investigations all start to tie together into one connected hate crime conspiracy. When one of the team does some investigating on their own, it leads to dire consequences that start the clock ticking on solving both cases and saving one of their own.

This addition to the series is definitely my favorite to date even with the uncomfortable look into prejudice and hate crimes. Ms. Marsons handled the subject perfectly.  It is especially poignant considering the current climate in society today. In addition to the author bringing together two mysteries separated by over twenty years, this story is rich on character development and backstory. It also could not have had a better title that covers people both literally and figuratively. I give this author and series, especially this book, my highest recommendation!

Thank you very much to Bookouture and Net Galley for allowing me to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review. It was definitely my pleasure!

Book Review: The Girl Who Was Taken by Charlie Donlea


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!