Book Review | The Extinction Agenda (Book One) by Michael Laurence

Book Description:

An FBI agent fights to stop a conspiracy to unleash a deadly virus on the world in this propulsive, exhilarating new thriller

The discovery of a deadly virus being smuggled across the border pits FBI Special Agent James Mason and his strike force against an unknown adversary hell-bent on humanity’s destruction. In a desperate effort to contain the pathogen, they launch a predawn raid, only to find that their enemy knows they’re coming…and it’s not about to be taken alive. An explosion rips through the building, killing the majority of Mason’s team, including his partner and mentor.

Tormented by guilt, Mason returns to his home division, but he can’t seem to let go of the tragedy. He remembers seeing something inside the building before it went up in flames, something that convinces him that not only is the virus still out there, it’s merely the first stage of an even more nefarious plan. Obsessed with unraveling the plot, he launches his own investigation and uncovers a shadow organization on the brink of enacting its genocidal agenda, one carried out by a sinister mass murderer who’s been photographed at the epicenter of seemingly every historical pandemic…without appearing to age. An evil man who attempts to derail Mason’s investigation by murdering his wife.

With the help of his longtime friends—Gunnar Backstrom, a corporate espionage gun-for-hire, and Ramses Donovan, a sin merchant of questionable morality—Mason’s hunt for his wife’s killer leads him from a dark union at the dawn of the twentieth century to a network of Nazi collaborators and a conspiracy against mankind more than a hundred years in the making. Fueled by anger and driven by the promise of vengeance, he must overcome a monster preparing to unleash his virulent wrath upon an unsuspecting world if he’s to have any hope of exposing a deep-state entity that’s rooted in every facet of our society, an entity known only as…The Thirteen.

This is book one in the series of “The Thirteen”. And it’s a great start to what I can tell you is a wild ride! The book starts out with Agent James Mason on a mission. He located what appeared to be a location that is housing dead or dying bodies of humans which have been used to test a virus. He encounters the person responsible for killing those immigrants and as this man with the “blue eyes” detonates a bomb, Mason loses his partner. It has lasting effects on him and a year later, he goes rogue, to determine what is really going on with that situation.

Further into the book, it appears his wife may be having an affair, and though she’s been insistent on meeting with him to talk about some things important to his case, she ends up being killed before being able to share her intel with him. This only angers Mason further, and pushes him to keep using the limited resources he has, to track and interrogate this man with the “blue eyes.”

Through a few extra characters that have access to satellites and intel, and a woman who has had first-person contact with this target, Mason is able to make some progress and learn some crucial points to this global threat, and it hits a little closer to home that he previously realized. And even with the biggest threat taken out, he begins to realize just how much more is at stake.

The suspense and writing is very easy to follow. And I cannot stress the significance of Laurence’s quotes throughout the book.

We are living currently through a pandemic of COVID-19 which according to conspiracy theorists has many proofs rooted in time and through leadership of certain countries. They insist this pandemic was planned and has much to do with those in power who have the money and resources to accomplish global shutdowns and governmental control. This book truly hits home for some of us as well!

Here is one quote that is written at the beginning of chapter 70, when the story really starts to unravel and the gloves comes of:

“Exactly. Fear. If they’re [people are] suitably afraid, people will line up for you to inject anything you want into their bloodstreams. They’ll relinquish any freedoms.”

Very scary to read, as America has raced to get the COVID-19 vaccines into the arms of its residents, as well as other countries. Much fear has had so many rushing to “get better” and “think of others”, but do we even know what are in these vaccines and what their outcomes will be?

I’ll leave you with a chilling quote from someone who always comes through speculation during times like these:

“Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as ‘internationalists’ and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure – one world, if you will. If that is the charge, I stand guilty and am proud of it.” – David Rockefeller, Memoirs 2002.

This is a fiction book, but seems to be prophetic or at least speculating in the right direction…

I’ve chosen to postpone my other book reviews at this time to continue with Book Two: The Annihilation Protocol, so stay tuned for that. And then immediately following, I will continue with Book Three: The Elimination Threat, which will be available August 2021!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and I appreciate the opportunity to receive an advanced reader copy to do so. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review | The Man of the Year by Caroline Louise Walker

Book Description:

Dr. Robert Hart, Sag Harbor’s just-named Man of the Year, is the envy of his friends and neighbors. His medical practice is thriving. He has a beautiful old house and a beautiful new wife and a beautiful boat docked in the village marina. Even his wayward son, Jonah, is back on track, doing well at school, finally worthy of his father’s attentions. So when Jonah’s troubled college roommate, Nick, needs a place to stay for the summer, Hart and his wife generously offer him their guest house. A win-win: Jonah will have someone to hang with, and his father can bask in the warm glow of his own generosity.

But when he begins to notice his new houseguest getting a little too close to his wife, the good doctor’s veneer begins to crack. All the little lies Robert tells—harmless falsehoods meant to protect everything he holds dear—begin to mount. Before long, he’s embroiled in a desperate downward spiral, destroying the lives that stand in his way. It’s only the women in his life—his devoted office manager, his friends, his wife—who can clearly see the truth.

Biting and timely, Man of the Year races along at an electric pace, with a wicked twist that you won’t see coming.

I cannot explain the spiraling this book does. It starts out with a very proud man, seemingly humbled by an award for his accomplishments and contributions in Sag Harbor, which would give us all the impression he is loved and a friend to all. But is that really who Robert is?

Within the pages of this book, readers get a glimpse of the real Robert: he is somewhat paranoid and judgmental of those around him. He also comes across very insecure and accusatory. His relationship with his wife is very complicated and her behavior doesn’t help us to narrow down her faithfulness. There are a few scenarios that definitely lead us to believe that his wife may in fact be having an affair, however the accusation includes Nick who is currently living with them.

The bizarre events that happen about 25% into the book really reveal the depth of these characters: Robert, his wife Elizabeth, son Jonah, roommate Nick, and even Robert’s office assistant. Who do you trust? Who should you trust? Is anyone even trustworthy? Your mind spins with each new development and it appears the web gets more and more tangled the more we read.

This book was delicious to read, very fast-paced, kept me speculating and intrigued, and definitely did not see the major conflict coming, nor the outcomes! If you like suspense and bizarre twists, this book is definitely for you. I also commend Caroline’s writing. She is very easy to read, but her characters have moral depth (or lack of) that draw you in and make you wish the story went longer.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through Gallery Books and NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and I appreciate the opportunity to receive an advanced reader copy to do so. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review | Convergence by Ginny L. Yttrup

Book Description:

A psychologist paralyzed by fear.
 
A mother propelled by love.
 
A stalker bent on destruction.


Psychology professor Dr. Denilyn Rossi contends that the past is either a shadow that haunts us or a force that propels us. The choice is ours, she tells her students. What she doesn’t tell them is that her own past is a shadow she can’t seem to shake. Fear has immobilized her and is taking a costly toll.

Adelia Sanchez, however, has embraced Dr. Rossi’s teaching. She is ready to confront fear and render it powerless—using the trauma of her past to propel her to entrap the man who stalked and brutally attacked her.

As Denilyn’s past and Adelia’s present converge at the Kaweah River, a dangerous man bent on destruction threatens them both. Will he uncover the secret Deni and Adelia have fought so hard to protect?

This book started with a tandem jump from an airplane. And a sinister man watching as she jumped from the plane. As she began the freefall with her partner, one chute opened. But the next one didn’t…

And so begins a journey into the story of two women. One who has a lot of fear which has justified roots. And the other who wants to change the past.

This story is told in two perspectives and the title is fitting as you move into the twists and turns of the storyline. I really can’t say more than that, because each character’s journey will make sense once you reach the midway point. Wanting to know more, I couldn’t put the book down and the ending was better than expected! I highly recommend for those readers who love character buildup and loose ends up tied up nicely.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Barbour Publishing and NetGalley.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions expressed are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 (http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html): “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review | The Promise by Teresa Driscoll

Book Description:

It was their darkest secret. Three schoolgirls made a promise – to take the horrible truth of what they did to the grave.

Thirty years later, Beth and Sally have tried to put the trauma behind them. Though Carol has distanced herself from her former friends, the three are adamant that the truth must never come to light, even if the memory still haunts them.

But when some shocking news threatens to unearth their dark secret, Beth enlists the help of private investigator Matthew Hill to help her and Sally reconnect with estranged Carol ­– before the terrible act they committed as teenagers is revealed.

Beth wishes she could take back the vow they made. But somebody is watching and will stop at nothing to ensure the secret stays buried. Now, with her beloved family in peril, can Beth still keep the promise?

This book was very well-written and left me feeling many emotions at the end. With much suspense and time travelling with the character perspective shifts, we learn about three young ladies who were in boarding school together. A notice that the school will be demolished and an urgent need to contact Carol, their estranged friend, Beth and Sally seek out to find her and get closure after some traumatic events they shared as teenagers.

Matthew Hill is a private detective with his own history and begins to date Sally while they search for Carol. The story begins with Beth and introduces us to her family and boring little life. But as the story unfolds, we travel back to 30 years earlier and see what life was like for young Beth, Sally and Carol. Many painful memories surface as they consider returning to the school before it is torn down, and their deadly sin begs to be found out. The guilt and the pain of that time affects each of them differently. One retreats from all of them, one seems to be in denial and one seems to be depressed and want to make things right so they can all move on.

I felt the story flowed rather well, I had questions throughout the read that were eventually answered in the last part of the book, and the big reveal of what the promise really is, is revealed within the first half of the book, so it’s not an entirely long time to find out what happened. How they respond becomes the focus of the book and also how they navigate some harassment issues when it appears someone knows what they’ve done and wants to bring it to light.

At the very end of the book, I became emotional, for the reveal of why Carol had pulled away and the truth of so many things that tend to end friendships, it was sad to read and also made complete sense to me. I felt all of it was believable and the characters well established. I appreciate Teresa’s writing and would read something else by her anytime.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas & Mercer and NetGalley.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions expressed are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review | The White City by Grace Hitchcock

Book Description:

Mysterious Disappearances Taint the Chicago World’s Fair
Step into True Colors — a new series of Historical Stories of Romance and American Crime

While attending the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, Winnifred Wylde believes she witnessed a woman being kidnapped. She tries to convince her father, an inspector with the Chicago police, to look into reports of mysterious disappearances around the White City. Inspector Wylde tries to dismiss her claims as exaggeration of an overactive imagination, but he eventually concedes to letting her go undercover as secretary to the man in question—if she takes her pistol for protection and Jude Thorpe, a policeman, for bodyguard.

Will she be able to expose H. H. Holmes’s illicit activity, or will Winnifred become his next victim? 

This was my first historical fiction based on real life novel and I LOVED IT!

Henry Howard Holmes (among other aliases) was an actual serial killer believed to be running around the Chicago’s World Fair, establishing relationships with women and then murdering them in his “Murder Castle”. I ended up doing a little bit of research online before jumping into the book, which made it that much more interesting.

This book starts out with 19-year old Winnie Wylde witnessing a tall man holding a revolver to a woman’s side and rushing her through the crowd at the fair. Because she is the daughter of an investigator, she is intrigued and begins to follow this man to a building nearby. Against her father’s wishes, she gets his permission to investigate, but only as long as she will take an escort for protection. She is assigned a new detective, Jude Thorpe, who recently moved to Chicago to secretly investigate the death of his brother-in-law.

Winnie’s being raised in a well-off home, by her aunt, as her mother passed away when she was younger. Her aunt is intending to help her become a bride, so she is setting up men to “call” on Winnie. She is briefly courted by Percival who happens to be the author of the romance novels she loves to “escape in” and though he is handsome and charming, she also begins to have feelings for Jude.

Winnie also establishes a relationship with H. H. Holmes and obtains an interview, as well as a job at his building, where she does odd jobs and only goes through files he allows her access. When in the building, she explores and finds certain items that lead her to believe that there is indeed some nefarious happenings in the “castle”.

The element of faith in this novel was endearing. Jude is forbidden to have a relationship with Winnie, primarily because he is her escort and protection, but also because Winnie’s dad knows the pain he caused Winnie’s mother by being gone long hours as an investigator, and doesn’t want his daughter to endure the same loneliness and heartache. Jude demonstrates his faith, as does Winnie, by offering prayers up throughout the story. Their inner desire for each other, among the focus of the investigation and the danger they ultimately enter, tries their faith and boundaries of love.

I thoroughly enjoyed this light romance novel, with faith and plot twists. It was easy to read, a great pace, humor was peppered in, and also suspense and terror. I would definitely read another book by Grace Hitchcock and enjoyed this genre debut! I’ve got a few more TRUE COLORS novels on my TBR list with reviews coming soon, so stay tuned!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Barbour Publishing and NetGalley.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions expressed are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 (http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html): “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review | Stratagem by Robin Caroll

Book Description:

A High-Stakes Simulation Adventure Leaves Grayson Thibodeaux the Prime Suspect. . .for Murder
 
Deep in the gritty underbelly of New Orleans, psychologist Grayson Thibodeaux loses everything when his wife leaves him to climb her company’s corporate ladder. He buries himself in his job of creating mind-bending adventure games for businesses as team-building explorations. When his ex-wife’s company hires Grayson’s to create an elaborate game, he doesn’t see how things can get worse. Until she dies during the course of the game he created…making him the prime suspect for murder.

Grayson Thibodeaux is a psychologist who created a business with his best friend, Colton York, a sociologist. They create virtual games for businesses that build trust and team build. He recently went through a divorce, and his wife Anna-Belle had unfortunately cheated on him with her boss. He tried to salvage the marriage, but she wanted out. At the onset of the book, they have a public argument in his office, and his staff witnesses her slap him when terms of their divorce agreement are discussed.

He and Colton create a game for her company, per the direction of her boss. Members of her office attend a team-building game to determine who will get a promotion. All office workers have to go to a certain location and follow certain rules. Only the CEU and board members know it’s a game. While attending meetings and accomplishing tasks, Anna-Belle falls ill because she has an allergy to cherries and passes away! Grayson immediately becomes the primary suspect, being the recently divorced husband.

Two investigators get assigned to his case, who know him pretty well, and have to overcome their bias to prove his innocence. Anna-Belle’s boss, his wife, other employees and Grayson all become suspects and one-by-one they get ruled out.

The pace of the book was fantastic. It was well-written with little things happening during the investigation that made me question a few people. I also loved the faith-based aspect attributed to Grayson as he tries to prove his innocence. It makes a strong character and was a great read! The outcome wasn’t predictable until the moment it was revealed, so it ended very well. I would recommend this book for anyone looking for a fast-paced, faith-based, suspenseful novel.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Barbour Publishing and NetGalley.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions expressed are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 (http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html): “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review | Bloody Sunday by Ben Coes

Book 8 in the Dewey Andreas series…

Ben Coes Bloody Sunday cover

Book Description:

North Korea, increasingly isolated from most of the rest of the world, is led by an absolute dictator and a madman with a major goal―he’s determined to launch a nuclear attack on the United States. While they have built, and continue to successfully test nuclear bombs, North Korea has yet to develop a ballistic missile with the range necessary to attack America. But their missiles are improving, reaching a point where the U.S. absolutely must respond.

What the U.S. doesn’t know is that North Korea has made a deal with Iran. In exchange for effective missiles from Iran, they will trade nuclear triggers and fissionable material. An exchange, if it goes through, that will create two new nuclear powers, both with dangerous plans.

Dewey Andreas, still reeling from recent revelations about his own past, is ready to retire from the CIA. But he’s the only available agent with the skills to carry out the CIA’s plan to stop North Korea. The plan is to inject a singular designer poison into the head of the North Korean military and in exchange for the nuclear plans, provide him with the one existing dose of the antidote. But it goes awry when Dewey manages to inject a small amount of the poison into himself. Now, to survive, Dewey must get into North Korea and access the antidote and, while there, thwart the nuclear ambitions of both North Korea and Iran. And he has less than 24 hours to do so―in the latest thriller from Ben Coes.

First of all, wow! I love political thrillers, especially from previous government employees who have intel we would never have! This author is very engaging, keeps the pace moving from the first page and never let me down.  Quite a feat! 5/5 for this book!

Ben Coes, the author, is a former member of the U.S. Special Forces Delta Force. Working for the Veterans Administration, I can concur that there are abbreviations and acronyms for everything we do, and reading this book, gave me a lesson in even more of them.  For instance, SOQ is statement of qualifications, THAAD stands for Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, and DARPA is Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Felt like I was reading an email from a colleague with a va.gov address, but I digress…

The book has so much action, characters who are easy to follow who aren’t predictable or annoying, and a plot that could easily fit into today’s headlines. With Kim Jong Il found to be dying of pancreatic cancer that has spread, he’s determined to annihilate the western part of the US with nuclear warfare because he wants to go out strong. But what he doesn’t realize is that Dewey Andreas, though bordering on retirement, gets pulled back in to stop him.  And when the plan that’s in place goes off-course when one of Jong Il’s agents overpowers Dewey, the clock begins ticking and it’s a race to get him back to safety and to baseline.

If you like political thrillers packed with action starring a man who looks like Jason Statham (in my mind), these books are for you.  This book was a fast-paced read and since it was built on the previous seven in the series, it would most likely be wise to go back and read them in sequence just for fun.

Book One: Power Down, 2010

Book Two: Coup d’etat, 2011

Book Three: The Last Refuge, 2012

Book Four: Eye for an Eye, 2013

Book Five: Independence Day, 2015

Book Six: First Strike, 2016

Book Seven: Trap the Devil, 2017

Book Eight: Bloody Sunday, 2018

Thanks for reading! 😉

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions expressed are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 (http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html): “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review | The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

dream daughter

Book Description

Book Review | Bring Me Back by B. A. Paris

bring me back

Book Description

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through St. Martin’s Press and Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and I appreciate the opportunity to receive an advanced reader copy to do so. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review | Behind a Closed Door by Adele O’Neill

behind a closed door

Book Description:

What if everything in your life was a lie?

An emotionally tense story of love, loyalty, betrayal and revenge. Perfect for the fans of Louise Jenson.

DUBLIN – For the past two years Jill Ryan has tried to keep her darkest secrets deeply buried and remain relatively anonymous. Haunted by her tragic past and struggling to keep her life together, Jill soon realizes that the last person she can trust is herself.

KILKENNY – Only Heather Martin knows the lengths her husband will go to teach her a lesson and Heather has had enough. Faced with the impossible choice of saving herself or staying to care for her ailing father, Heather has a choice to make. But does she have what it takes to survive? When Detectives Louise Kennedy in Dublin and Tony Kelly in Kilkenny begin to investigate, their dark discoveries collide unravelling a complex web of secrets that stretch far and wide.

The title itself was what drew me in.  Who of us doesn’t like to know what really goes on behind a closed door?  We may think we know things about certain people, but this book revealed that is not always the case.

This book was crazy!  And I mean that in a good, couldn’t-put-down, suspenseful way!  This is the first book I have read by Adele O’Neill. It really grabbed me within the first chapter, and within a few minutes, I was almost in tears (this book has graphic, descriptive scenes of physical and emotional abuse), but knew there was a heroine that I wanted to see to the end!

There are two locations, and two time periods, so the book does jump back and forth between them.  However, the writing is done very well to keep you on track as you’re following along.  The characters were extremely believable, and realistic.  Heather’s husband, Mike, is consistently the resident jerk, wearing the proverbial mask and acting like all is well, meanwhile, the battered wife, Heather’s  behavior fits the mold for what you’d expect from someone in that type of environment.

I enjoyed the plot, the way that things lined up, the dramatic moments of fury and failure, but also the successes along the way, and the slow reveals.  I didn’t feel that the ending was super climactic, I just felt like it tied up all of the loose ends nicely, and as a reader of this type of genre, I could see the link ahead of time, but that doesn’t mean the ride wasn’t worth it.  I would read another book by this author, and have already downloaded Brothers and Sisters.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Aria Fiction.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions expressed are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 (http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html): “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”