Reviews of what you should be reading next.

Tag: suspense (page 2 of 2)

Weave A Murderous Web By Anne Rothman-Hicks and Ken Hicks


No good deed goes unpunished. When Jane Larson—a hot-shot litigator for a large firm in New York City—helps out a friend, she is sucked into the unfamiliar world of divorce and child support.
Jane’s discovery of the deadbeat dad’s hidden assets soon unravels a web of lies, drugs, and murder that keeps getting more dangerous.
Soon, Jane is involved in a high stakes race to recover a missing suitcase of cash and catch the murderer before she becomes the next victim.



Many thanks to the authors for gifting me this book for review!

This is the second book in the Jane Larson series and it’s just as fast, furious, and fun as the first one. Jane is still as stubborn as ever. Her client Gail, who seems to be adept at dodging the truth, is seeking child support from her ex husband.  Jane’s friend Francine paints a sob story about Gail needing help, and as always, against her better judgement, Jane takes the case. It’s not a quick open and shut job, however. Jane struggles to find the truth, gets shot at, and meets a handsome stranger.

The authors have done well with Jane Larson: a smart, sarcastic female character who doesn’t let a little danger cramp her style. She argues with the police assigned to the murder, and gets tangled up in the web of a double talking reporter who always seems to be one step ahead of Jane.

This book’s strength lies in its character development. There are many, but they all have very distinct personalities and move in and out of the story, advancing the plot well. The identity of the killer is not easy to figure out, as the authors utilize many red herrings and lead the reader down many paths, only to have those paths double back and head in another direction.

My favorite character is Officer Steinberg; a roly poly man who excels at appearing dumber than he truly is. I could almost see him in the room next to me, picking crumbs off his wrinkled shirt.

MURDEROUS WEB is a classic whodunit with classic New York City characters. There is a great deal of action going on: bribery, arson, drugs and blackmail are just a few of all the evils that befall the aforementioned characters. This was a fairly quick read that started out a bit slow, but once I got past the first few chapters the plot took off and it was a wonderful ride.

I’m looking forward to see what happens next to Jane! Want your own copy? You can pick it up [easyazon_link identifier=”1680462520″ locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].




Game of Fear by Gledé Browne Kabongo

game of fear

A desperate act, an explosive secret, and a diabolical enemy—all part of a treacherous game, with no limits.

Overachieving good girl Abbie Cooper has her future all planned out. As senior year at her elite private school kicks off, she has one simple goal: get into the Ivy League. But at St. Matthews Academy, nothing is ever simple. The pressure is overwhelming, the secrets are dirty, and the games are wicked. Abbie has a dirty secret—one that could destroy her chances of getting admitted into Princeton, and the lives of those closest to her.
One morning, she discovers a note in her locker with the warning, “I know what you did”. Then a photo arrives in the mail. It captures her most shameful deed—the shocking blunder she can never erase, in glorious detail. Someone is out to ruin her, but who and why? The answer lies with the sender of the photo, a mysterious girl known only as The Avenger. For a price, she assures Abbie her secret will remain safe. There’s only one problem: The Avenger may not exist at all. If Abbie doesn’t uncover her true identity before acceptance decisions are made, it’s game over…


Thanks to the author for gifting me this book in exchange for a review. I reviewed her previous work SWAN DECEPTION and thought it was wonderful. In GAME OF FEAR we see Abbie Cooper (the daughter from SWAN) growing up and wishing secrets from her past would remain hidden.

Stress is a common theme among high school students; after all, the stakes are high when you are trying to get into the college of your dreams. When you are faced with the possibility that a stupid thing you did years ago may ruin your entire future, it’s time to enact some serious damage control.

Control is a good word to describe Abbie Cooper – she takes no crap from the Mean Girls of her school, and stays true to herself throughout the book. She is fiercely loyal to her friends and is known to shoot from the lip when it comes to expressing her opinion. Abbie is the girl I wish I was in my younger days: confident, brash, intelligent, yet she has her feet firmly on the ground, and doesn’t let her position in an elite high school go to her head.   Her emotions are so tightly under wraps that she doesn’t realize animosity is really attraction:  Christian, a well known Bad Boy has been flirting shamelessly with her since junior year and all Abbie can do is deliver cutting barbs and sneer.

The requisite mean girl clique is truly bitchy, ready to spread rumors and gossip at the slightest provocation. When Abbie starts receiving threatening notes in her locker she is sure that her arch enemy, Sidney, is at the bottom of it. Some of the dialogue and interactions between these two are the best part of the book. In this scene, Abbie and Christian are having a snack after school when the mean girls show up.

“Well, well, if it isn’t sad, pitiful Abbie. Enjoy it while it lasts. You know Christian is just slumming, right?”

Sidney just showed up with her minions stuck to her side like dried cement, wearing identical smirks. Why, oh why can’t she just disappear into a black hole, and never return?  “Welcome to slumming it, Christian,” I say, looking directly at him. “You’re in for an unforgettable ride.” 

Sidney’s jaw drops. Jessica and Brooke just stand there looking like the insipid creatures they are. I look Sidney up and down with contempt, wave my hand at her in a dismissive gesture, and return to eating my pizza. 

See what I mean about Abbie having control? She tries her best to stay cool even when the going gets tough; and it gets really tough when her secret looms large over her budding relationship with Christian. So many lies have been told already; what path will Abbie choose?

Glede Brown Kabongo’s writing is completely on point – she captures teenage angst, jealousy and the world of the privileged in rich, glorious detail. The suspense keeps on building and the tension escalates with each new demand from the Avenger. The character development makes it easy to become emotionally invested in Abbie’s life, and her internal monologue will resonate with the reader. The story is a winner because of the first person narration; it’s a seamless transition for the reader to go from looking in at  St Matthews Academy to becoming part of the student body. I felt as if I were walking the hallways with Abbie and Christian, experiencing the same confusion and worry as if it were my locker holding those notes.

I loved, loved, LOVED this book – the plot was taut and kept me up all night reading it. GAME OF FEAR is the type of read you shouldn’t plan on putting down before it’s finished, because you will spend your entire day thinking about the characters and counting the minutes until you can be with them again.

I’ll be reviewing the sequel in a future post – but in the meanwhile you can pick up your own copy of GAME OF FEAR [easyazon_link identifier=”B01A7HDIDQ” locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

The Widow by Fiona Barton


For fans of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, an electrifying thriller that will take you into the dark spaces that exist between a husband and a wife.

When the police started asking questions, Jean Taylor turned into a different woman. One who enabled her and her husband to carry on, when more bad things began to happen…
But that woman’s husband died last week. And Jean doesn’t have to be her anymore.

There’s a lot Jean hasn’t said over the years about the crime her husband was suspected of committing. She was too busy being the perfect wife, standing by her man while living with the accusing glares and the anonymous harassment.
Now there’s no reason to stay quiet. There are people who want to hear her story. They want to know what it was like living with that man. She can tell them that there were secrets. There always are in a marriage.
The truth—that’s all anyone wants. But the one lesson Jean has learned in the last few years is that she can make people believe anything…

Many thanks to NetGalley for offering this ARC to me!

One of the best things about THE WIDOW is that you don’t really know what is happening until the very end. The unreliable narrators seem sympathetic, then horrid, then sympathetic again, until your emotions are all twisted this way and that. It’s wonderful.

Both Jean and her husband Glen live a quiet life, despite Glen’s “nonsense” (Jean’s term for the Bad Thing that is the crux of the book). She is a quiet woman that can be manipulated; first Glen wraps her up in his little world, then the press cajoles her into giving a coveted interview. Jean’s inner monologue shows a strong but conflicted personality, with a critical weakness that holds sway over her emotions until the last page.

Barton’s writing style is smooth and her dialogue is easy to follow. There isn’t an overload of characters to remember; the ones that are there are well developed. We learn about Jean and Glen’s life together as each chapter goes by in the form of flashbacks, each one building upon the next until you are almost sure you know what is going to happen–then Barton leads you down a different path.

I completely, thoroughly, loved THE WIDOW.  Exploring the theme of “suburban life conceals dark secrets” (some a deeper hue than others) was glorious and satisfying.  We have all been that neighbor curious about the goings on next door, and perhaps some of us have been that friendly neighbor that slowly pulls away once misdeeds beget misgivings.

The sub plot of the manipulative reporter, worming her way into Jean’s life and maybe even her heart, along with the beleaguered detective who brings the case home every night (to the constant disappointment of his wife) round out the story perfectly, and give the reader a respite from the subtle creepiness of Glen’s “nonsense”.

This is a story that you can (and will) devour in one or two sittings.  Fiona Barton is an author to be celebrated, discussed, and most importantly, supported. I loved her freshman effort and look forward to her next work.

Want your own copy? You can pick it up [easyazon_link identifier=”1101990260″ locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].


Matronly Duties by Melissa Kendall PLUS GIVEAWAY!

matronly duties

Hundreds of years after an asteroid slammed into Earth and sent it into a new ice age, what remains of the human race lives on in underground sanctuaries. Now, as the bicentennial anniversary of the impact approaches, a new leader prepares to take her place at the head of the government. At least, that’s what she thinks.
Bethanie Greene’s life has been planned out for her since the age of thirteen. Beautiful and intelligent, she’s spent the last twelve years training to become the next Matron of the underground nation of Oceania. But when Bethanie is kidnapped by rogue extremists just six weeks shy of taking office, her world is turned upside down by the handsome stranger who rescues her.
Howard James’ life has been the polar opposite of Bethanie’s. Struggling to survive in a world where those in power wished he didn’t exist, he harbors a deep-seated resentment of the government and all its representatives. Together with his unconventional family, he shows Bethanie a life she never knew was possible, while at the same time, opening her eyes to the injustices of the government she is meant to lead. But can she trust a stranger? And can a few days change everything she believes and desires? Against all odds, Bethanie must decide if her heart and her duties can coexist.


The office of Matron is the highest a girl can aspire to—but Bethanie learns that she is just a puppet of the government. Darkly manipulative and suspenseful, MATRONLY DUTIES is a book about learning to trust and learning to love.

Parts of this book reminded me of BREEDER by KB Hoyle. However, the government in this book is more threatening and controlling, and the romance aspect is detailed thoroughly, with quite a bit of love scenes. At times these scenes slowed down the action, but I can understand why the author created the plot this way; to develop Bethanie’s growing feelings and to show the reader how she is growing as a person who thinks for herself.

There are close calls as the renegades are hunted by the government, and moments when we are unsure if Howard will come back alive. The world that Kendall creates is bleak and delightfully dystopian, with rules in place that control childbirth and love. Sex is viewed as “fornication” and taboo, and we see how Bethanie goes from prim and proper Matron, to a girl who falls in love, the old fashioned way. I found myself cheering for the family of Traditionalists who help Bethanie learn what life really means.  They were truly an oasis for the struggling girl, losing sight of everything she believed in for so many years.

I felt that there could have been a bit more character development when it came to Bethanie’s office mates–her bodyguard and secretary. She seemed to trust them without question, and I waited for them to double cross her as she shared all her thoughts and hopes with them. No spoilers here–read the book to see how it all ends!

A fairly solid outing from Melissa Kendall, MATRONLY DUTIES is a quick read, one that will make you think about figureheads and the sacrifices they may have made to be where they are.

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2 TWCS-Blog-Tour-Banner Thanks to The Writer’s Coffee Shop for offering this book to me!

Want your own copy? You can pick it up here.

You can also visit the author’s page here.
















Before Nightfall by Rachel Amphlett (plus a book GIVEAWAY!)

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Many thanks to author Rachel Amphlett for introducing me to this book!

It’s a fast paced action/romance about an executive who must undergo a hostage survival course before she can take a new job. The course leaves her a little scared, but confident that she will survive…..and who really wants to kidnap her, anyway? As the course draws to an end she finds herself developing feelings for one  of the instructors. Finn is the quintessential man: hunky, brooding, strong, confident; but seemingly not that interested in Kate. She is whisked off to Istanbul before they can say a proper goodbye, and that ends any opportunity for a romance.

However, her boss is involved in some shady weapons dealing, and that proves to be trouble. One day she is taken in broad daylight, as an accident is staged and blood is shed. She must struggle to remember her training and stay alive, for her captors only care about one thing: obtaining parts for a massive weapon that is intended to be used in a terrorist attack.

Kate blinked rapidly, a loud noise rousing her from unconsciousness.

She raised a hand to her head, a sticky warmth giving way to a steady trickle above her eyebrow. She looked at her fingers, at the blood, and then groaned.

She’d fallen into the recess between the front and back seats, her legs twisted awkwardly under her body. The car’s engine was silent except for a ticking sound. It took Kate a few seconds to realise that the noise came from the radiator as it cooled down, its contents dripping out through the engine block. She raised her head between the seats and gasped at the devastation to the car.

The front of the vehicle had crumpled under the force of the impact – she could see now that it had careened off the narrow street, stopping abruptly when it had slammed into the far wall of a building. A laundry line had fallen onto the windshield, coloured fabrics now strewn across the glass, shading the interior of the car and obliterating her view.

She frowned. The driver’s door was wedged open on its hinges, and there was no sign of Mick. Traces of blood covered the seat and windscreen.

She sensed movement behind her before the back door was wrenched open. Broken glass rained onto her shoulders. Rough hands grabbed her, pulling her upright, before they hauled her backwards.

Kate thrashed out with her hands and feet, knowing something was desperately wrong with the situation.

Voices, in the rough patois of the city, became urgent, their meaning apparent as another set of hands joined the first and wrenched her from the vehicle.

Kate cried out as her ankle caught and twisted against the door frame. Someone behind her cursed, and then leaned forward and jerked her foot until it was freed, before she was dragged from the vehicle.

She screamed as they passed the driver’s door of the vehicle. Mick had been dragged from the car, his body lying prone on the surface of the road, a bullet wound to his head. Blood and splinters of bone stained the pavement. Kate realised now what the sound had been that had woken her from unconsciousness.

‘Someone! Help me!’ she screamed. ‘Imdat! Imdat! Help!’

A hand clamped over her mouth, and a voice hissed in her ear. She only understood the inference – to stay quiet. The surface of the man’s hand scratched her skin while the scent of motor oil and salty water penetrated her senses.

She began to struggle, kicking out and wriggling in the man’s arms, twisting her head to check the windows and balconies that overlooked the courtyard. There had to be someone, anyone, at a window, wondering what all the commotion was about.

The courtyard remained silent, save for her muffled cries, the urgent conversation between her two captors and the sound of their feet scuffing the road.

Kate’s head snapped to the left at the sound of another vehicle travelling at speed. As it came closer, she bit down on her captor’s hand. He cried out, loosened his grip on her, and she broke free.

Moving as fast as she could with a twisted ankle, she limped towards the entrance of the courtyard and the sound of the oncoming vehicle. She ignored the shouts of protest from behind her and concentrated on putting as much distance as possible between herself and the two men.

The approaching vehicle changed down a gear, then appeared at the courtyard entrance – a silver people carrier with tinted windows. It slid to a halt, the rear of the vehicle filling the small lane and blocking Kate’s escape.

‘Oh no,’ she groaned, realising her mistake.

The side door began to slide open, the inside of the vehicle dark against the bright sunlight. Kate squinted, holding her hand over her eyes, then ran towards the back of the vehicle.

She began to squeeze her body through a small gap between the van and the wall of the building, using the vehicle’s fender to climb up. She turned her head at the sound of a shout, and her heart fell as two men climbed out the other side of the people carrier, rounded the back of the vehicle and smiled at her. She turned and checked over her shoulder, but it was too late – the other two men had caught up with her.

Hands encircled her waist, lifting her backwards.

Kate kicked out and screamed.

One of her captors cursed as her elbow connected with his cheek. He spun her around in his arms and slapped her across the face before pushing her through the side door of the van.

Kate blinked, shocked, and then screamed as a hood was lifted in front of her face before it was shoved over her head.

This can’t be happening.

She began to hyperventilate as rough hands gathered her wrists together, and she felt plastic loops push over her fingers, tightening around her skin.

She felt something soft over her mouth and nose and realised too late what was happening. She struggled one final time as the chemicals consumed her senses.

Her brain registered movement before she slipped into unconsciousness and the van accelerated away.

Finn is called to help rescue Kate, and while he is secretly hoping to see her again and be her hero, he is also haunted by the memory of a previous rescue situation: one where he lost the hostage.  He must put his feelings of self doubt aside and get the job done.  There are surprises and double crosses he didn’t count on, and all the while the clock is ticking on Kate’s life.

I don’t usually read books that have to do with terrorism/kidnapping/Middle East/weaponry; so I did some thinking before I accepted this for review. I’m really glad I did! The emphasis is more on the relationships and the intrigue than heavy political drama. The atmosphere is gritty and authentic, with detail so vivid I felt as if I were chained to the wall alongside Kate. The plot twists kept me riveted and I felt invested in the whole Finn/Kate romance. Each character had sufficient backstory, and the suspense was perfectly created–I was drawn in and could not wait to see what was happening on the next page.  Reading this was well worth my time.

Rachel Amphlett_web_4322


Amphlett has written other books in the thriller genre as well; be sure to visit her website and see if any will interest you.

Want your own copy? We are offering a GIVEAWAY just in time to mitigate those post holiday blues! The author is offering TWO copies, either in e-book form, or a signed hard copy. Click below to enter.

If you are not one of the two lucky winners, click [easyazon_link asin=”B00KOAMTRS” locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″ add_to_cart=”yes” cloaking=”default” localization=”yes” popups=”yes”]here[/easyazon_link] to purchase it.

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Antisense by R.P. Marshall (and book giveaway)

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Many thanks to the folks at Publishing Push for this book in exchange for an honest review.

It’s very hard to like any of the characters in this book. The narrator, Daniel Hayden, may be unreliable; his motives may be inscrutable. The story starts at the funeral of his father, and we can feel the awkwardness in the air as Daniel describes the scene:  I remained by the fireplace, holding onto the mantelpiece where for over an hour I had managed to avoid justifying my existence to a group of people with whom I shared little beyond a small portion of genetic material ( and for most, not even that).

Just a few moments before, a rock is thrown through the window of the room where the gathering is taking place, and the perpetrator runs away, unapprehended.  Daniel takes his leave, carrying a small box of his father’s effects,  and gets a ride to the train station from his Uncle George, his father’s brother. When he gets home his wife Jane is sitting by herself at home, with a glass of wine and an abundance of sarcasm.  We learn that their marriage is not a happy one, and their day to day conversation consists mostly of anger and condescension.  I did wonder why they were still together, as it seemed there was nothing really holding them together. The author paints a picture of a bleak childless marriage, in a holding pattern of quiet suspense,  and I believe Marshall kept the marriage intact to highlight Daniel’s sense of isolation.

Daniel is a neuroscientist, performing experiments on lab mice to see the activity of  different proteins and genes in the amygdala. He is a loner there at work also, and is frustrated by the failure of his current project,  which consists of studying aggression in rodents and seeing if certain brain secretions can make them either more or less aggressive. Results seem to be incorrect, and his bosses and grant providers are starting to suspect the worst.  A new employee named Erin catches Daniel’s eye, and he is confused by it:  The effect she was having on me was difficult to comprehend. The opportunity to learn something new about oneself tends to diminish with age, particularly as one grows accustomed to one’s shortcomings (if not oblivious to them), but she seemed to make so many things possible. 

Daniel takes a trip to Chicago to meet with some of the grant providers, and careens through the city in a kind of a fever dream–drinking , bringing a girl back to his hotel room one night, finding himself in a porno shop the next. Things go bad there and he ends up at the police station.  The way Marshall describes the scene afterwards is typical of the striking prose encountered throughout the book: A squad car returned me to the hotel sometime after one AM. The night porter ushered me into the glittering, vacant lobby where I stood shell shocked at the brightness and clarity of it all. Hotels have a nightmarish quality at that hour. their empty corridors and hushed elevators sumptuous but sterile like a last meal on death row.

Once Daniel returns back to England he remembers the box he was given at the funeral, and opens it to find a mysterious newspaper clipping. The rest of the book proceeds with him making an effort to discover the meaning of this clipping, which in turn brings him to an unwanted realization about his family, and his recent behavior in America.

I tagged this novel under suspense, but it’s not your typical suspense. It’s quiet, insidious, the kind that creeps up on you, surrounded by vapid images and bland, even dull activities: drinking, small talk, descriptions of the weather. Make no mistake: this book is written brilliantly. Even though you must read 50% of it to even GET to the crux of the matter, it hooks you and makes you wonder where all this is going. The author is a master of the uncommon sentence; his proficiency with language and his ability to turn a phrase makes Antisense one of the best books I’ve read this year.  The character of Daniel does not so much develop but is revealed, and he is an unusual protagonist; not evil enough to be hated, too vanilla to be liked. Even the ending is unobtrusive, even peaceful, though somehow mournful.

I look forward to more by RP Marshall.  Visit his website to see what his next project is! He was kind enough to provide a print copy for a book giveaway: click HERE to enter. Entries will be accepted from November 14th to November 30th –good luck!

If you are not the lucky winner, click [easyazon_link asin=”B00GCS3WUO” locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″ add_to_cart=”yes” cloaking=”default” localization=”yes” popups=”yes”]HERE[/easyazon_link] to purchase it.

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