Fatal Hunt by Michelle Godard-Richer

Fatal Hunt by Michelle Godard-Richer
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press, Inc
Genre: Contemporary, Action/Adventure, Paranormal, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Ginger

After being widowed and surviving the wrath of a serial killer, Jessica believes her misfortunes are over. She’s reunited with her first love, Jon, and together, with her son Bryce, and a baby on the way, they’re living their happily ever after on their ranch in Montana. That is until secrets, lies, and a formidable foe from Jon’s past emerge to shake the foundation of their relationship, forcing them to flee for their lives.

A decade earlier, Jon worked undercover for the FBI. He infiltrated Hugh Jones’ Kansas City Mob, and almost destroyed his empire. Unaware of the breach in his own defenses, Hugh, obsessed with revenge, unleashes every weapon in his arsenal, targeting those Jon loves the most.

All seems to finally be going well for Jessica and Jon Kent until the head of the Kansas City Mob is set on seeking revenge for Jon’s betrayal. Will the Kent family survive this fatal hunt?

Fatal Hunt has an interesting and suspenseful plot. The characters are tender and likable, yet ferocious. Jon Kent has retired from working as an FBI agent and is very familiar to violence but yet he is a loving father, husband and farm owner. Head of the Kansas City Mob, Hugh Jones holds his title very well as he has a violent reputation but soon finds a soft spot. I like that the author showed the men’s strength, but readers also get to see their gentle side. The author definitely planted an emotional hook that remains throughout the chase.

The story is told from multiple points of view which I think was a great idea. This gives the reader the full story and helps the reader understand all sides of what is happening. In addition to being hunted by the mob boss this story has a lot going on. Secrets are revealed, a mysterious woman has helped Jessica on more than one occasion, there are twists and surprises that kept me reading. I thought the story had too much going on for one book and it would be better to spread out the side stories. Jessica was stalked by a serial killer, her son Bryce was previously kidnapped, her deceased husband is now a paranormal supernatural guardian, Jessica’s friend was murdered by her husband, and Jon is also a widow and now the family is on the run for their lives. There was just too much misfortune for such nice people to have in one novel. Even though the family had a lot going on, the relationship between Jessica and Jon was very endearing to read. The plot has an edge that gives something in addition to the romance, following Jessica and Jon along the states and Canada as they run from the army of killers chasing them.

I enjoyed the author’s way of telling the story. I can actually see myself witnessing the story firsthand because of the author’s skill with words. My favorite scene would be when the men had an encounter with Jessica’s aunt. Those men did not stand a chance against Aunt Debbie. She showed them what an old lady can do.

I enjoyed the story; it is well written, and I am glad I was able to finish until the surprising end. It didn’t reach my highly recommended list, but I would definitely recommend it to readers that enjoy an intriguing suspense that revolves around the protection of family.

When You Look Like Us by Pamela N. Harris

When You Look Like Us by Pamela N. Harris
Publisher: Quill Tree Books
Genre: YA (ages 14+), Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Action/Adventure
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

When you look like us—brown skin, brown eyes, black braids or fades—everyone else thinks you’re trouble. No one even blinks twice over a missing Black girl from public housing because she must’ve brought whatever happened to her upon herself. I, Jay Murphy, can admit that, for a minute, I thought my sister Nicole just got caught up with her boyfriend—a drug dealer—and his friends. But she’s been gone too long. Nic, where are you?

If I hadn’t hung up on her that night, she would be at our house, spending time with Grandma.

If I was a better brother, she’d be finishing senior year instead of being another name on a missing persons list.

It’s time to step up, to do what the Newport News police department won’t.

Bring her home.

He’s determined to find his sister, and no one will stand in his way.

I’ve read a few books like this one, but this was a fresh take on the ‘find my sister’ trope. It felt real. It was like reading what a friend would be saying. I felt for Jay immediately and I liked how he was human about the whole thing–first he thought she was missing and on drugs, then he started to realize it might be worse than he expected. He’s a good younger brother and he’s determined.

This read very realistically, too, in that this isn’t an easy investigation. As the title insists, for people like Jay, it’s not easy to find your missing siblings. The cops dismiss him, even though they know his grandmother, and the people he has to talk to aren’t the greatest characters in the neighborhood. It’s tough and as I read, which I flew through, I rooted for him to find her, but I also knew stories like this don’t always end well.

I liked his interactions with Riley and Bowie. Like a regular teen, Jay dismisses them at times, but realizes he needs more than just himself to make this work. Riley was my favorite character because she was more than she seemed and so sweet, but determined as well, and not willing to give up on Jay or his sister.

The twist at the end was one I didn’t see coming and I liked it. The ending was satisfying, though life rarely is satisfying, and I’m glad it turned out how it did.

If you want a story that will make you think, make you feel and root for the characters, then this might be the one for you. Recommended.

The Gray Man by Mark Greaney

The Gray Man by Mark Greaney
Publisher: Sphere (Penguin House)
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Action/Adventure
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

To those who lurk in the shadows, he’s known as the Gray Man. He is a legend in the covert realm, moving silently from job to job, accomplishing the impossible and then fading away. And he always hits his target. Always.

But there are forces more lethal than Gentry in the world. Forces like money. And power. And there are men who hold these as the only currency worth fighting for. And in their eyes, Gentry has just outlived his usefulness.

But Court Gentry is going to prove that, for him, there’s no gray area between killing for a living and killing to stay alive….

Court Gentry lurks in the shadows – quietly killing the targets he’s given then fading back away. Only when a powerful man is determined to spare nothing to ensure Court’s head becomes his newest trophy does Court’s carefully crafted world come tumbling down. With even his closest allies forced against him, Court needs to dig deep and use everything he’s got to escape with his life.

I found this to be a really well paced and solidly plotted “secret assassin has the tables turned” sort of story. While superficially this is like a number of other stories out there, I found that I quickly got sucked into enjoying both Court’s character and eager to see how things would unfold next. While he isn’t an anti-hero like many assassin characters are nowadays – there are still small amounts of loyalty and patriotism inside Court’s makeup – Court is also extremely pragmatic and doesn’t yearn for things to be different or for a lifestyle that simply isn’t achievable for him anymore. I found this quite endearing, and it really helped sell me on his character and the book as a whole.

I absolutely admit I felt a fair bit of sympathy for Court’s handler – Donald Fitzroy. Without giving too much away I strongly feel he was put in a horrendous situation – a genuine “no win” sort of position – and while we all might be able to talk about various options or differences in how we would handle such a thing, I truly felt like Fitzroy did the best he could. Certainly, Gentry was given a raw deal having to fend for his life, but I definitely feel like Fitzroy had an equally bad time of the entire situation. It’s not often I feel deep empathy for a secondary character and not the main protagonist, so this surprised me and helped the book feel fresh and different to me.

Readers looking for an exciting, action orientated espionage style of story should feel this really fits the bill. There are a bunch of cannon-fodder character deaths and plenty of shoot ‘em up scenes without an extreme amount of gore or dwelling on the violence. The bad guys here are actually bad – so I did feel in places the story got a bit gritty – readers looking for something a little easier or gentle might not find this fits the bill for them.

A fast paced and interesting thriller, this is a great book. I’ll be looking for the next in the series.

Dawning of Darkness: The Fall of Gods and Kings by James G. Robertson

Dawning of Darkness: The Fall of Gods and Kings by James G. Robertson
Publisher: Self-Published / Next Life Publishing LLC
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action/Adventure
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Systems fall, planets die—darkness dawns on us all. When a god known simply as the Dark Creator enters our universe, the concord of the world inhabited by the spirits of men and their kings, the gods’ chosen few, fades. As this being and his overwhelming force of corrupted horrors and children eclipse Afterworld and its territories, the kingdoms of men must put aside their differences and band together.

After millennia of fighting, the final blockade separating man from those sinister entities has collapsed. With so much at stake, and with the Dark Creator approaching the Divine Mountains, will our protectors’ sacrifices ensure Afterworld’s survival? Or will this encroaching darkness consume it all?

Resistance is essential if good is to prevail.

Without giving away too many details, this was no ordinary war. Not only had it lasted for thousands of years, there were plenty of other magical things going on with it that made me smile. It was cool to see just how many fantasy tropes and mythical creatures the author was able to include in the storyline in ways that made sense. I wish I could gush about them all in more detail, but it’s best if other readers are pleasantly surprised just like I was.

I found the large cast of characters confusing. There wasn’t a lot of space in this novella to get to know the characters deeply, especially the ones who played supportive roles, so I didn’t have enough details about many of them to quickly recall who they were and how they were connected to everyone else.

The descriptions of the settings were well done. I appreciated the time the author took to explain the landscape, how it affected how people lived in that area, and how it may have changed since previous scenes. All of that attention to detail made it easy to imagine where the characters were and why they were so surprised by certain developments.

Dawning of Darkness: The Fall of Gods and Kings was an exciting ride.

The Don’ts of Zombie Hunting by Ashlynn Monroe

The Don’ts of Zombie Hunting by Ashlynn Monroe
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Erotic Romance, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action/Adventure, Contemporary
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Coralee Bradley is the only veterinarian in the small town of Davis, Wisconsin. Everything about Davis is tranquil, except for one thing — zombies. Coralee finds herself battling for her life against the same people she called neighbors seventy-two hours earlier.

Injured, Sergeant Jordan Parks seeks refuge with an angelic redhead. When she becomes a threat to their safety there’s only one thing he can do — make love to her. One night of end-of-the-world passion will never be enough — if they survive.

Emily Bradley saved her sister’s skinny ass from zombies. She survived when almost everyone she knows is dead. Now Jordan, her sister Coralee’s apocalyptic squeeze, has led them into a situation filled with chaos and death at Fort McCoy. It’s time for Plan B, and Yankee and Thad are just what the doctor ordered.

Emily and Cora have lost their home, watched friends die, and found love. Still, they are unprepared for the decision that will change everything. Inside of them burns the salvation of humanity, if they can stay alive long enough to realize the cure.

Everyone dies, but not everyone really lives.

The end of the world as we know it doesn’t have to mean physical contact and romance are off the table, too.

Because all three of the stories included here featured the same main characters, were set in consecutive order, and were so closely connected to each other that teasing them apart would be difficult, I’m going to review them as a group.

The zombies made me shudder. This was one of those universes where things quickly spiral out of control and the characters don’t have much information about why people are coming back from the dead or how this disease began. That kept the tension levels high, and I couldn’t stop reading until I knew how everything turned out.

It would have been helpful to have a better balance between the erotic and horror elements of the storyline. There were multiple occasions where characters shared intimate moments under incredibly dangerous circumstances. It was difficult for me as a reader to understand why they kept taking those risks over and over again when they were otherwise pretty levelheaded when it came to dealing with zombies and figuring out the best way to stay one step ahead of these monsters.

The ending made me smile. I was wondering how the tension between these two genres would be resolved since horror tales often don’t end on a happy note while erotic ones almost always do. Without giving away spoilers, I thought the author did a good job of balancing the audience’s expectations in the final scene and wrapping everything up satisfactorily.

The Don’ts of Zombie Hunting was a wild ride.

Catlumbus by Franny Plaia

Catlumbus by Franny Plaia
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Children’s (0 – 6 y.o.), Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Action/Adventure, Historical
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Meet Catlumbus, a cat who loves to sail on his ship and go on adventures. When Catlumbus discovers a treasure map, he sets sail on a journey to find buried treasure on a tropical island. What will Catlumbus find on this island? Who will he meet along the way? Join Catlumbus on his adventure!

Anything can happen out on the ocean.

This was an exciting and fast-paced adventure. Catlumbus was prepared for all sorts of possible trouble, and I smiled as he tackled every challenge that came his way. One of my favorite scenes happened later on when he had a problem, he didn’t know how to fix that involved his boat. After how prepared he was earlier, it was nice to see him finally meet a problem that was a little trickier for him to figure out. That scene only made everything I already loved about this story even better.

A lack of detail was what held me back from giving this a full five-star rating. I found myself wishing that the narrator had spent more time explaining what the characters looked like and how being in these settings would affect what the characters heard, saw, touched, and smelled. This is something I’m saying as a reader who enjoyed everything else about it.

The riddles were well written and interesting. I haven’t noticed many riddles in the many picture books I’ve read these past few years, so it was refreshing to find them here. It’s such a fun way to introduce the mystery genre to little ones.

Catlumbus was a thrilling adventure.

Beyond Odin’s Gate by Greig Beck

Beyond Odin’s Gate by Greig Beck
The Mysterious Island: Book 2
Publisher: Severed Press
Genre: Contemporary, Action/Adventure, Paranormal, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

The legend of Lemuria, the Mysterious Island, and all its wonders and dangers were all too real. And it has been found.

But the ancient stories of the great treasure and great horrors that existed through the ice rift and beyond Odin’s Gate, could never have prepared them what they discovered – monstrous creatures that lived in the sea, in the air, and on land. And now Troy Strom and Anne Walsh are trapped there amongst them.

But they have a plan, and if they can retrieve the Heart of Odin, the massive ruby, they can use it to escape. Until then they must learn to live on a primordial island amongst horrifying life forms that defy the normal rules of evolution. To survive they need to travel into the dragon’s lair, and there find the truth about the ancient dragon of myth and what it guards, and also discover the fate of the first Viking clan that set foot there and what they had become.

The legend of Lemuria – the Mysterious Island – has been discovered and the tales of adventure and monsters are all too real. Troy Strom and Anne Walsh are trapped down there, with the creatures and wonders. But if they can retrieve the Heart Of Odin – a massive ruby – it can be used by them to escape. Only their enemies – Elle and Tygo – are not far behind them, even more determined to once again have the Heart Of Odin in their hand, and this time they don’t plan to leave without it.

I found this to be an exciting action/adventure story, filled with paranormal and amazing creatures and monsters. I feel the story covers a number of genres, from Mystery to mild Horror, to Paranormal and Adventure. While it’s the second book in what I expect shall be a trilogy I do feel readers could pick it up and enjoy it without having read the previous installment. I strongly feel for maximum enjoyment the first book should have been read before this – but the plotline, characters and story arc is very well explained by the author so it isn’t strictly necessary. Equally, some new characters and plotlines are introduced here in this book so it adds a lot to the overall arc – that of Lemuria and the mysterious hidden island – and definitely nudges the reader towards interest and curiosity on what will happen in the final installment of the trilogy.

I really enjoyed the fact there were a number of new types of monsters (very hungry monsters) in this book and Beck really needs to be commended on his imagination. I found the monsters he created were realistic, scary and very easy to picture. The fact the monsters managed to eat a fair number of random characters was just a bonus for me. Readers who like monster/horror style of adventure novels should definitely feel Beck does justice to this genre in the book. I was found the book quite amusing/ironic that just as a number of parties were trying to find their way into Lemuria and find the Heart of Odin, equally there was Troy and Anne trying to find their way out. That situation tickled my funny bone.

Overall, I thought this was an exceptionally well written story – full of adventure, monsters, a few really solid plotlines and plenty of interesting characters. I definitely feel Beck is an excellent author and am eager for the final installment in this trilogy. The pace of the story was fast enough to keep me gripped to my seat but didn’t feel too rushed or like it skimmed over anything. There were a few plots interwoven together and as they’re all so clearly linked to the one larger story arc, I feel this helps give the whole book a good cohesion and feel as if we’re rollicking along on a crazy – and monster filled – adventure together. A great book and I’m very eager for the next one to come along.

Pebble by Jane McKay

Pebble by Jane McKay
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Young Adult (14 – 18 y.o.), Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action/Adventure, Contemporary
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

The small drone sped away from its dying star.

It did not look back at the doomed orb as it traveled through black space. It had a single mission – find a new viable planet and report. Many years of travel later it saw a possible candidate for its mission. The drone spied the blue-washed planet ahead. Would it find a world for its people or be doomed to a lonely existence on a faraway world?

Read the exciting story of Pebble as it helps to battle for its new family on its new home world, Earth. Can it help protect them from a menace from outer space?

Kindness is essential.

It’s always nice to meet characters who think logically and plan ahead. Some of the dangers they faced could be predicted far in advance, and they did a good job of predicting what might happen and figuring out the best ways to respond if their first few attempts to deflect the antagonists or escape didn’t work out so well. This kind of common sense is a breath of fresh air, especially in the young adult genre.

I had trouble keeping track of the large cast of characters in general. Not only were there a lot of them, their character descriptions and development weren’t always strong enough for me to read a familiar name and immediately know who the narrator was referring to. If only this had been easier to figure out.

With that being said, I enjoyed the many exciting plot twists in this book. There were multiple subplots that wove themselves together in all sorts of attention-grabbing and also surprisingly kind ways. This was especially true when it came to Pebble’s backstory and how its programming tipped the scales into surviving dangerous circumstances over and over again.

Pebble was an adventurous read.

Wild Cowboy by Gemma Snow

Wild Cowboy by Gemma Snow
The Sinclair Seven
Publisher: Totally Bound
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic Romance, Action/Adventure, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Submitting to this wild cowboy is one hell of an adventure…

Environmental journalist Reece Prescott never expected to see the mysterious woman from the Turkish marketplace again, so to meet Morgan Tempest in the middle of a summer storm at the top of the Blackleaf Mountains knocks him sideways.

Their instant connection blows him away… and makes him want to return to The Ranch, the secret club he owns with six of his friends. It’ s the closest thing he has to home and the place he always finds himself avoiding when the anniversary of the worst day of his life rolls around. For Morgan Tempest, though, he might just be able to handle it.

Morgan has spent the last year reclaiming her independence and rebuilding her business. She’s in control and saying yes to life now. That includes the wild cowboy she meets in the mountains… and The Ranch, a place where everything she thought she knew about her boundaries—and desires—is challenged.

But before Reece and Morgan can explore everything the other has to offer, the real world comes crashing in, bringing with it climate disasters, armed mercenaries, corrupt politicians and their own troublesome pasts.

If they can survive all that, then maybe, just maybe, they’ll be ready for that next great adventure— falling in love.

Hot and satisfying.

I love a good Gemma Snow book and this one delivered. The writing flowed well and had me on the edge of my seat for the duration. I couldn’t get enough and will certainly look for more in this series. I felt like I was right there at the ranch with these characters. Holy smokes and the chemistry was off the charts.

Morgan and Reece are great together. I loved the instant chemistry and the willingness between them to explore what they needed. I love that this story is set in somewhere not a city club and wholly there for exploration. The real world aspects of the story are plausible and I needed to know what would happen next. I’m glad I did. This story scorched the page and I loved it.

If you’re looking for a solid story, hot characters and plenty of sizzle, then this is the one for you.

Touch the Wind by Janet Dailey

Touch the Wind by Janet Dailey
Publisher: Pocket Books
Genre: Recent Historical, Romance, Action/Adventure
Rating: 2 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

All her life, beautiful Sheila got what she wanted. Now she yearned for the raw passion of a man beyond her reach, a violent, mysterious outlaw whose followers adored him. A lion of a man who held her for ransom—a man who would trade her for a fortune in gold. But Sheila wanted only him—with all the reckless longing of her body and soul.

Janet Dailey is a word weaver and master storyteller.

This isn’t the first book I’ve read by Janet Dailey and won’t be the last. I’ve loved many of her books. This one is a fantastic story, with sweeping narratives and moves along at a great pace. The writing is good, and I didn’t want to put it down.

That’s not to say it was my favorite book. There are certainly triggers in this book. I must say I liked Sheila and seeing her humanized. At the beginning of the book, she’s a bit of an ice princess, but also yearning so much for something she’ll take anything to get it. She was a bit one-dimensional, and I liked seeing her grow. That also said, I didn’t care for the hero or the way she was treated. There are scenes of abuse, scenes of violence and I never quite got the connection between the hero and heroine. She was better off with him in some ways than her husband, but in other ways…I wasn’t so sure. I wasn’t a fan of the hero, that’s all.

I have to also add this is a book from 1979. It reads like a book of that era–it’s a bodice ripper and there is certainly an air of almost toxic masculinity. Keep that in mind while reading. It’s meant to be over the top, hyper masculine and raw. To some, this might be a bad thing, but others this might be the fantasy type of hero they want to read about.

If you’re looking for something of that era, something hot and with a touch of romance, then this might be the one for you.