Book Review: The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor

Title: The Chalk Man
Author: C.J. Tudor
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon

You can feel it in the woods, in the school and in the playground; you can feel it in the houses and at the fairground. You can feel it in most places in the small town of Anderbury . . . the fear that something or someone is watching you.

It began back in 1986, at the fair, on the day of the accident. That was when twelve-year-old Eddie met Mr Halloran – the Chalk Man.
He gave Eddie the idea for the drawings: a way to leave secret messages for his friends and it was fun, until the chalk men led them to a body.
Thirty years later, Ed believes the past is far behind him, until an envelope slips through the letterbox. It contains a stick of chalk, and a drawing of a figure.
Is history going to repeat itself?
Was it ever really over?
Will this game only end in the same way?

The Chalk Man has a rather morbid opening scene, then tones down the morbidity somewhat, to end in an extremely gruesome climax that nearly made me gag. Considering I don’t shy away from horror easily, and can usually watch horror movies without flinching, that’s saying something.

Part of the story takes place in 1986 and part of it takes place in the present day. In 1986, we meet a young Eddie (at age twelve or thirteen, in those whereabouts) and his gang of friends. They’re heading to the fair, not yet aware of the terrible events that would happen that day. Eddie fittingly nicknames this day as “the last normal day”. What happens next for all of them seems to transport them from one tragedy into the next.

One of Eddie’s friends gets chalk crayons for his birthday, and this inspires the kids to start communicating with each other in secret messages using the chalk. But when the chalk figures start appearing out of their own accord, either someone knows about their messages, or something more sinister is going on.

In the present day (well, 2016), Eddie is forty-two years old, yet he’s still haunted by the past, a past that refuses to stay buried. With an old friend coming back to town, and the secrets of the past threatening to come to light, Eddie has to decide if he’s strong enough to handle the truth.

The Chalk Man is C.J. Tudor’s debut novel, but it’s a strong, cleverly written debut. The story pulled me in from the start. The characters were unique and entertaining, particularly Eddie – although all of them had a certain bleakness, hopelessness to them as well, that somehow reminded me of the way Stephen King tends to portray the characters in his books.

One thing I did find dissapointing is how it all came together in the end – I saw that one coming from miles away, unfortunately. However, it was still a solid read and worth giving a short, especially on a dreary, rainy evening.

Book Review: The Lost Bible by L. Rosenman

Title: The Lost Bible
Author: L. Rosenman
Genre: Paranormal
Rating: 4,5 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

“Fate brought us here. Faith will get us out.”


Hannah, a green-eyed beauty, finds herself in mid-life with no husband, no work, and no clear direction. Following a promising ad, she joins an enthusiastic professor on a perilous search for a lost copy of the Gutenberg Bible, last seen in the 16th century. To succeed where others failed, they must decipher ancient encrypted texts, enter monasteries and torture cellars – and avoid dangerous criminals who will stop at nothing to lay their hands on this priceless antiquity. But then they are forced to face an even greater challenge…


This suspenseful romance reveals an ancient love that drowned in blood 500 years ago, yet has endured to this day.

The Lost Bible is an intriguing, suspenseful romance novel that combines religion, philosophy, mythology, history and mystery in an exciting, edge-of-your-seat rollercoaster of a book.

Hannah finds herself suddenly stuck in the middle of her life, her young years behind her, the future clouded in mystery. She has no job or husband, and she lacks a sense of direction of where to go next. Following a promising ad, she ends up on the adventure of a lifetime as she helps a professor search for the lost copy of the Gutenberg Bible, last seen in the sixteenth century.

From deciphering texts and entering ancient, crumbling monasteries, this book is like a mix of Indiana Jones and Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code – and then an even bigger challenge awaits our main characters…

 

Book Review: When Time is Cracked and the Trees Cry

Title: When Time is Cracked and the Trees Cry
Author: Nahum Megged
Genre: Action & Adventure, Mystery
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Be part of a fascinating flight into the Amazon jungles!

This is a book about love, memory, yearning, and shared human destiny. An Israeli anthropologist flees his country and the bitter memories that haunt him, finding refuge in the Amazon jungles. The protagonist’s death wish opens hidden paths before him, and these lead him into the heart of the forest.

Encounter the mysteries of the enchanted, magical forest along with our hero

Xnen, the tribal leader, and Yakura, the embodiment of the forest goddess, draw him into the life of the tribe as he gradually becomes trapped in their magical world. Behind each tree, beyond every pathway that disappears into the forest, inside each sacred cave, and at the end of each night, there are mysteries he must solve, traces of magnificent lost civilizations swallowed by the forest, riddles, and prophecies.

Will he be able to unravel the mysteries of the forest and of his own existence?

When he tries to escape from this maze of secrets, he discovers he has a crucial role to play in the war between the children of the forest and the hostile, seemingly rational civilization surrounding it. He knows that only by fully dedicating himself to the conflict will he be able to solve the mysteries of the forest as well as the mystery of his own life.

In When Time is Cracked and the Trees Cry, author Nahum Megged takes the readers on a strange, almost otherwordly tour through the Amazon jungle. Our main character is an anthropologist who has fled his own country and now tries to find refuge with a native tribe in the Amazon jungles.

Xnen is the leader of said tribe, and he introduces the protagonist to the mysteries of the forest, of life with the tribe, of the many mysteries that surround it. When trying to uncover these mysteries, and also, the mysteries of his own existence, our protagonist will learn a lot more about himself and his own life than he ever thought possible.

This is an engaging, mysterious story that eludes both the protagonist and reader, and forces one to keep turning the pages.

 

Book Review and Giveaway Power Struggle

Title: Power Struggle
Author: Carolyn Arnold
Genre: Mystery
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

One hit man who’s back for revenge.

One detective who’s not going down without a fight.

It’s been ten months since Detective Madison Knight almost died at the hands of Russian Mafia hit man Constantine Romanov. She hasn’t seen hide nor hair of him since he escaped police custody and fled to Russia soon after his arrest, except now her latest murder investigation gives her reason to believe he’s back in town. Seeing as the victim is the man who killed her grandfather, her perspective may be a little skewed, but with the MO smacking of Constantine and the victim’s connections to the mob, she finds it hard to be objective. Still, she’s doing her best to consider all the evidence.

When she receives a threatening letter from Constantine, however, her suspicions are confirmed. And he’s made it abundantly clear that not only does he plan to finish what he started but he has her family and loved ones in the crosshairs, too. Madison vows to do whatever it takes to save them, but as the hours race by, the body count rises. And the stakes only get higher when Madison’s sister, Chelsea, goes missing.

Now, Madison’s only play is to take Chelsea’s disappearance for what it really means: Constantine is calling Madison out for one final showdown. And they won’t both survive…

 

Power Struggle is the latest installment in the Detective Madison Knight series, already the eighth book in the series, although the books can be read as stand-alones. Carolyn Arnold is a prolific author who brings a new book every so often, and I’ve enjoyed all her books I’ve read so far, so of course I was eager to start reading Power Struggle.

Ten months ago, Detective Madison Knight nearly died at the hands of Russian Maffia hit man Constantine Romanov. Soon after his arrest, he escaped police custody and fled to Russia, and Madison hasn’t seen him since… Until her latest murder investigation makes her believe he’s back in town.

When she receives a threatening letter from Constantine, Madison realizes he doesn’t just intend to finish what he started, but he also intends to hurt her family and friends. As the stakes get increasingly higher, Constantine calls Madison out for a final showdown. Only one of them will survive… And Madison isn’t sure she’ll be the last one standing.

This book is a thrilling, suspenseful read that will put every reader on the edge of their seat. 460 pages but they fly by lightning-fast, and before you know it, you’ve reached the end. Fans of fast-paced, exciting thrillers should check this book out.

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Book Review: Framed by Wayne Kerr

Title: Framed – A Black Swann Investigation
Author: Wayne Kerr
Genre: Mystery / Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase:
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

Toronto’s newest homicide detective, Reggie Swann, seemed to have it all: great career, handsome husband and plans to start a family, until she was framed for murder…

A cop has very few friends in prison.  After surviving ten brutal years behind bars, Reggie’s conviction is finally overturned thanks to her tenacious mother, a new forensic test and a very clever lawyer. She quickly discovers that getting her old life back won’t be as easy as she hoped. To many, she was still as the media had dubbed her: ‘Black Swann – murderer and cop-gone-bad’. The Toronto Police Department still considers her to be a suspect, Reggie’s husband has remarried and the real killer is still on the loose.

Before Reggie can return to Toronto and solve the crime that ruined her life, she reluctantly agrees to investigate a murder in her home town of Penticton, only to discover the two cases which are separated by ten years and five provinces might somehow be connected. Will anyone believe the wild theories of the disgraced detective?

The real murderer does. He framed her once, this time Reggie Swann must die!

Framed is definitely a different kind of thriller. Reggie Swan is a homicide detective who spent the last decade behind bars after being framed for murder. Life in prison for a former cop is anytyhing but easy. Thankfully, after ten years, Reggie’s conviction is overturned, but getting back to her old life isn’t as easy as she hoped it would be.

To most people, she’s still the murderer the media claimed her to be, “Black Swann”. To the police department she once worked for, she’s still a suspect. Her husband has remarried and worst of all, the real murderer is still out there.

Determined to go back and solve the crime that put her behind bars, she’s reluctant to take on another murder investigation first. But when the two cases might somehow be connected, Reggie realizes the real murderer is still out to get her.

Suspenseful from the start, Framed kept me on the edge of my seat while I practically devoured the book. Gripping story and intriguing characters.

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Book Review and Giveaway Penchant for Vengeance by Robert Downs

Title: Penchant for Vengeance
Author: Robert Downs
Genre: Mystery
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

Charlottesville, Virginia, Police Detective Luke McGinty has a closet filled with demons, along with a few skeletons; a steady job, but no steady partner or girlfriend; and is still married to his wife Sallie, even though she’s been dead for three years. Then his detective work takes a turn for the worse when a body is discovered at the downtown mall. One dead body isn’t enough, though, and another one turns up. When ties to a cold murder case in another county present themselves, Luke realizes that, if he doesn’t tread carefully, he could end up short more than just a few answers…

Penchant for Vengeance reads like a Scandinavian police drama – the kind that works great on TV, with a slow draw-out of who the killer might be. Well, you get the same effect here, but in book format. Police Detective Luke McGinty has a closet filled with demons. He’s still haunted by the memory of his wife Sallie, although she’s been dead for three years. He lives for his work, even more so when his newest job involves a body that indicates it might be the first of many…

The body is found at the downtown mall, an unidentified male victim. Soon after, a second victim is found, and Luke connects the cases with a cold murder case abroad. As Luke becomes engrossed in the killer’s wicked play, he realizes he might be battling true evil.

The tension had a slow build up, but I like that – the action wasn’t immediate, but rather you get a suspenseful feeling that lingers under your skin for the duration of the book, and you realize you can only relax when you’ve finished reading. A slow-burning thriller that will appeal to fans of the mystery genre.

 

Giveaway

Giveaway for 2 paperbacks and 2 eBook copies of “Penchant for Vengeance” during the book tour.
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Book Review: Secrets in the Woods by J.E. Smythe

Title: Secrets in the Woods: An Emilia Long Mystery
Author: J.E. Smythe
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

Secrets in the Woods is a gripping tale about Emilia Long- an Investigative Reporter and her quest to find out the circumstances surrounding her mother’s death. Long’s quest begins after reading documents left for her by her adopted mother revealing that she was abandoned as an infant at a Brooklyn hospital. The revelation led Emilia on a suspenseful journey to find her birth mother.

But finding her is not so easy. Her investigations reveal that her birth mother disappeared months before her birth and that the disappearance was linked to a murder. With the key suspect in her mother’s disappearance locked away in jail on unrelated charges and the townspeople, including the Sheriff, unwilling to help her, Emilia finds herself at a dead end. In an unimaginable twist of fate, Emilia discovers more than she bargained for. Some Secrets are really better left untold.

In addition to her 9 to 5 attorney job, Smythe is also the co-founder of publishing company, Lady Esquire Group, LLC. The Attorney Author describes herself as a half analytic and half creative who was blessed to figure out how to join those halves together.   Her other books include: Through Grandma’s Eyes, Zora’s First Day and a Few Good Friends. When asked about the motivation for writing her latest work, she explained: “I’m a lover of the Cozy Mystery genre but I found that there were not a lot of those books written by African American Authors with African American characters. I just wanted to put a whole new face on such a fun and exciting genre.”

Smythe’s adept writing style in Secrets in the Woods is enticing and captivates readers from the first page. The novel feature a cast of believable characters and numerous twists and turns that will have readers begging for more.

In Secrets in the Woods, Emilia Long, an investigative reporter, is determined to find out more about her birth mother. Documents left to her by her adopted mother show she was abandoned at a Brooklyn hospital as an infant. Emilia wants to find out what happened to her birth mother, who apparently disappeared months before Emilia was born.
With everyone seemingly unwilling to help her, including the town’s sheriff, it’s up to Emilia to find out the truth on her own. Yet, some secrets can have dire consequences, and she might uncover a lot more than she bargained for…
I really liked Emilia. She was resourceful, clever, and she had no trouble making tough decisions. The mystery part of the book kept me hooked, and I kept turning the pages until the end. Fans of cozy mysteries will definitely enjoy this new series.
Bewaren

Book Review: When A Stranger Comes by Karen S. Bell

Title: When A Stranger Comes
Author: Karen S. Bell
Genre: Magical Realism, Supernatural, Paranormal, Mystery
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

Satisfying one’s greed can come at a devilishly high cost.

Achieving what you crave can also bring the terrifying fear of losing it. For Alexa Wainwright, this truth has become her nightmare. Born Gladys Lipschitz, the daughter of an unwed Soviet-era Jewish immigrant, she was beyond thrilled and amazed when her debut novel, A Foregone Conclusion, soared to number one on the bestseller’s list and became an international sensation. The accompanying fame and riches were beyond her expectations. Unfortunately, her subsequent work has yet to achieve the same reception by critics and readers. Yes, they have sold well based on her name recognition, but she dreads the possibility of becoming a mid-list author forgotten and ignored. She vows to do whatever it takes to attain the heady ego-stroking success of her debut. But is she really?
Witnessing an out-of-the-blue lightning bolt whose giant tendrils spread over the blue sky and city streets below her loft window, Alexa doesn’t realize just how this vow will be tested as she’s magically transported to an alternate reality. In this universe, the characters from her books are given the breath of life and she meets publisher, King Blakemore, who just might be the Devil himself. At first, she shrugs off her doubts about this peculiar publisher and very lucrative book deal offer because the temptation of riches and refound fame is too strong. But all too soon, Alexa realizes she’s trapped in an underworld of evil from which she desperately wants to escape. For starters, she finds herself in an iron-clad book contract that changes its wording whenever she thinks of a loophole. Desperate to get her life back, she devises schemes to untether herself from this hellish existence. She’s also aided by the forces for good who attempt to help her. However, King Blakemore is cleverer and more powerful than she can begin to understand. Playfully, he decides to give Alexa a second chance to save herself from eternity with him and to be free. He offers her the prospect of a rewrite, as most authors do as part of the writing process. Given this chance, will Alexa make the same choices and the same mistakes again?

In When A Stranger Comes, Alexa Wainwright’s debut novel, A Foregone Conclusion, reached number one on several bestseller lists, becoming an international sensation. Of course, Alexa never imagined such fame and fortune, and when it stays out for her subsequent books, she cows to do whatever it takes to attain the success her debut novel received.

One night, she suddenly sees a lightning bolt in the sky, and it magically transports her to an alternate reality. There, she meets King Blakemore, a publisher who might turn out to be much more than a regular publisher. Evil is everywhere in this alternate reality, and if Alexa wants to escape, she’ll have to use all her wits, intelligence and inspiration to get out of there.

This book had such an original plot, I was completely blown away by it. From the moment I started reading, I couldn’t put it down. The writing was strong too, and Alexa was an intriguing character, although a tad superficial at first with her constant need for fame and success, she changed and grew a lot throughout the book, learning to value other, more important things.

When A Stranger Comes was an entertaining, fun read that I would recommend to all fans of magical realism.

 

Book Review: A Trap in Paris by Uzi Eilam

Title: A Trap in Paris
Author: Uzi Eilam
Genre: Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Gideon Ben Ari wants to settle down, but Israel’s military won’t let him do it

Having achieved an impressive career in Israel’s armed service and years of successful civilian business activity, Dr. Gideon Ben Ari yearns to settle down to a tranquil life. But then he is recruited to rejoin the defense forces and once again direct his efforts to fighting international terror organizations.

Pitted against Iranian terrorists, can Gideon navigate an espionage battlefield in Paris?

Paris is his new battlefield, and blocking Iranian efforts to develop long range missiles and nuclear weapons is his mission. Gideon will have to make good use of his experience, his wisdom, and his friends to block an invisible and sinister enemy. He will discover that a person he once regarded as a friend has actually become a foe.

Read this stunning, realistic thriller at the edge of your seat!

A Trap in Paris is an authentic, breathtaking thriller that reads as if it were taken from media headlines. Its vital and vibrant plot is an espionage mystery all rolled together with a quick-paced intelligence narrative, replete with intrigue and traitors.

More books in this series: In The California Triangle, Gideon finds himself involved in an American espionage affair which includes the FBI, Mossad and groups interested in overturning the Iranian government. Singapore Under Attack finds Gideon trapped in the capital during a cyber attack, the magnitude of which the world has not yet experienced. He joins the struggle.

A Trap in Paris was a chilling, exciting thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat. Dr. Gideon Ben Ari, the main character, yearns to settle down. After having an impressive career in Israel’s armed service, he’s worn out, and he just wants to live a quiet life. Unfortunately, that’s not about to happen anytime soon as he’s recrutied to rejoin the defense forces, and fight against international terror organizations.
Pitted against Iranian terrorists in Paris, Gideon will have to use all his wits, experience, and his friends to stop their enemy. But what when it turns out the people he trusted might be involved too? Who can he trust when danger lurks everywhere?
Fans of thrillers and espionage will definitely enjoy this book. The plot is fast-paced, thrilling, and full of twists and turns, and has an authentic feel to it despite being fiction.

Book Review and Giveaway Saved by H.L. Anderson

Title: Saved
Author: H.L. Anderson
Genre: Romantic Thriller
Age Group: Adult
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

Theresa Kent is a wife, mom, and hardworking nurse living in rural Colorado. Life is good until her increasingly despondent, unemployed husband suddenly snaps—his vicious attack leaves Theresa fighting for her life as she tries to escape the insane version of the man she loves.

Ryan Tucker appears to have it all, except he’s been merely existing, not living, for the the last three years. His emotions get a much needed jump start when he rescues Theresa from the torment her life has become in just a matter of days. Ryan feels an instant and fierce desire to protect this stranger that fell into his life.

Hanging over their heads is the knowledge that Theresa’s husband is still out there, hunting for her.

Can two broken souls be repaired, or will the demons of the past and present come between the repressed love that grows between them?

In Saved, two strangers find each other in an unexpected, almost miraculou way. Theresa Kent is a wife, mother and hardworking nurse living in rural Colorado. Her life is pretty good, until her husband suddenly snaps and attacks her horribly. Theresa struggles to escape from the man she once loved who seemingly has turned into a monster.

Meanwhile, Ryan Tucker enters the picture as Theresa’s rescuer. He’s a man who at first glance seems to have it all… except real, genuine emotions. He hasn’t really felt anything for the last three years. That is, until he meets Theresa and decides that he has to protect this stranger, at all costs. With Theresa’s husband still out there, hunting for her, Theresa and Ryan aren’t out of the woods yet… And if a mad man hunting them isn’t bad enough, repressing the growing feelings between them is even worse.

I liked the premise of the story, about a second love, about two broken souls finding each other. More than carried by plot, this book is primarily carried by the characters. Both Theresa and Ryan are intriguing characters with engaging personalities. They have a past, they have quirks, things that make them unique and stand out. The chemistry between them is undeniable, and the author does a good job creating additional tension that way.

Fans of romantic suspense novels will no doubt love this book.

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