All posts by PuzzlePaws

I like puzzles, building bricks, and coloring. But I have Fibromyalgia, which keeps me confined to the bed or couch many days. I'm creating this blog to share my opinions on the things I like in the hopes that others in similar circumstances can be inspired their low-impact hobbies.

The Moscow Whisper (Sean Richardson #3) – A DampPebbles Blog Tour

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The Moscow Whisper

(Sean Richardson #3)

by Michael Jenkins

Thursday 23rd to Wednesday 29th

July 2020

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Book Blurb:

‘Sometimes you have to enter the death zone to save the innocent.’

A top-secret clique of former spies meet for dinner to hatch a plan to murder a competitor, not knowing that they are under surveillance from a covert arm of British Intelligence. Hours later, with bodies strewn across a terrace, a piece of secret intelligence reveals an international plot of colossal magnitude.

For disgraced agent Sean Richardson, this is the beginning of a deniable mission to infiltrate and disrupt a group of Russian mercenaries who are working clandestinely to take over a nation state.

Acting covertly as an illicit arms trafficker, Sean is dropped into a deadly cauldron of terrorism and high-tech weaponry that will take a nation down. As the bullets fly and the chaos rains in, can Sean take down the merchants of death…or has he finally met his match?

This is the third Sean Richardson novel, and it ties in well with its predecessors. While this series is not to my usual tastes,it has definitely  changed how I see spy thrillers. I can’t deny the dizzying twists that kept me asking “What’s next?”.

The Moscow Whisper contains all the elements of a great spy novel. There is Sean, a smart and capable team leader who has some humanizing flaws: Yelana, the talented singer whose father is a member of the Russian GRU, Natalie Merritt, the former lover of Sean’s and Russian spy who is now out for revenge against Sean and his handler Jack; not to mention the convoluted inner workings of French, American and British counter-intelligence.There are good guys, bad guys, politics, spycraft and greed.

Rating: 3/5

  • Title: The Moscow Whisper
  • Author: Michael Jenkins
  • Publisher: Failsafe Thrillers
  • Released:  June 7th, 2020
  • Language: English
  • Format: Ebook
  • Pages: 272 pages

 

About the Author:

michael jenkins

I started climbing at 13, survived being lost in Snowdonia at 14, nearly drowned at 15, and then joined the Army at 16. Risk and adventure was built into my DNA and I feel very fortunate to have served the majority of my working career as an intelligence officer within Defense Intelligence, and as an explosive ordnance disposal officer and military surveyor within the Corps of Royal Engineers.

I was privileged to serve for twenty-eight years in the British Army as a soldier and officer, rising through the ranks to complete my service as a major. I served across the globe on numerous military operations as well as extensive travel and adventure on many major mountaineering and exploration expeditions that I led or was involved in.

I was awarded the Geographic Medal by the Royal Geographical Society for mountain exploration in 2003 and served on the screening committee of the Mount Everest Foundation charity for many years. It was humbling after so many years of service when I was awarded the MBE for services to counter-terrorism in 2007.

Social Media:

Website /Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

Where to buy: 
The Moscow Whisper is available in both the UK and the USA via Amazon. Currently, here in the US, it is $5.24 USD for the ebook, and the paperback price is $12.63 USD. 
Amazon UK:Here
Amazon US:Here
Much thanks to Damppebbles Blog Tours, Michael Jenkins and Failsafe Thrillers for this opportunity.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary ebook from the publisher in exchange for review. The opinions are my own. All links are direct, I do not make money from them.

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page. To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!

Midtown Huckster (Alex Cohen #3) – A DampPebbles Blog Tour

Midtown Huckster (Alex Cohen #3)

by Leopold Borstinski

Saturday July 18th to Sunday July 25th

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I’d been waiting anxiously to read this book since East Side Hustler came out and am so excited to share it!

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Book Blurb:

Can you keep your gelt and freedom when the cops have enough evidence to take you down?

1930s Jewish gangster, Alex Cohen runs Murder Inc for Lucky Luciano. After the death of Prohibition he must find a new way to make money, just as the cops are baying at his heels. When Luciano goes down for racketeering, Alex loses his protection and is arrested for tax evasion–he must decide between saving his skin and ratting out his friends.

If he chooses prison time then his gang will fall apart and he will end up with nothing. If he squeals then he will have to flee the city he loves and the family he once adored. What would you do in a world where nobody can be trusted and you have everything to lose?

The third book in the Alex Cohen series is an historical noir novel, which plunges you deep into the early days of narcotics trafficking and the Jewish New York mob. Leopold Borstinski’s piercing crime fiction delivers a fix to every reader like heroin from a needle.

Midtown Huckster is the third installment in the Alex Cohen series, which focuses on the life Alex leads as a member of the Italian-Jewish National Crime Syndicate. After years of working his way up the ranks, Alex is now one of the bosses, running businesses and conferring with the members of the Syndicate. But after decades of hard work, Alex’s life is falling apart.

The repeal of the Volstead Act means the end of Prohibition, and with it the end of all those lovely profits. Sarah, Alex’s wife, has asked for a divorce after years of their having been separated. Louis Buchalter and Albert Anastasia, Alex’s cohorts in the Murder Corporation, an elite assassination squad are alternately pushing for higher pay or attempting to oust Alex from their group. And through it all, Thomas Dewey is working to bring Organized Crime down.

This book follows Alex through his darkest years yet. Seeing his friends go to prison and trying to avoid the same fate is hard enough; but watching the subtle betrayals from coworkers and the slow dawning of the death of his marriage is painful. I’ve said it before, Alex is not a nice character, but it is incredibly easy to empathize with him. This series is unlike most of the historical fiction I read, told entirely from the view of a gangster; there are no heroes here, only shades of villainry.

One thing really sticks with me, for all that Alex does his best to do well by his fellow gangsters, there really is no honor among thieves.Midtown Huckster spells the end of Alex Cohen’s adventures in New York, but I dearly hope to see him again!

Rating: 4/5

  • Title: Midtown Huckster (Alex Cohen #3)
  • Author: Leopold Borstinski
  • Publisher: Sobriety Press
  • Released: July 16th, 2020
  • Language: English
  • Format: Ebook
  • Pages: 218 pages
About the Author:
Borstinski

Leopold Borstinski is an independent author whose past careers have included financial journalism, business management of financial software companies, consulting and product sales and marketing, as well as teaching.

There is nothing he likes better so he does as much nothing as he possibly can. He has traveled extensively in Europe and the US and has visited Asia on several occasions. Leopold holds a Philosophy degree and tries not to drop it too often.

He lives near London and is married with one wife, one child and no pets.

 

Social Media:

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter/ Instagram

Where to buy: East Side Hustler is available in both the UK and the USA via Amazon. Currently, here in the US, it is $4.99 USD for the ebook, and the paperback price is $14.99 USD. 
Amazon UK: Here  or Amazon US: Here

Much thanks to Damppebbles Blog Tours, Leopold Borstinski and Sobriety Press for this opportunity.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary ebook from the publisher in exchange for review. The opinions are my own. All links are direct, I do not make money from them.

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page. To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!

Blog Tour: Deadly Vengeance by OMJ Ryan

Deadly Waters (DCI Jane Phillips #3) by OMJ Ryan

Thursday 16th to Wednesday 22nd July 2020

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I’m thrilled to review the next installment of OMJ Ryan’s DCI Jane Phillips series. I really enjoy these books, and Deadly Vengeance is an absolute thrill ride!

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Book Blurb:

Some people can never escape their past.

When the fifteen-year-old daughter of UK munitions dealer, Sir Richard Hawkins vanishes without a trace – the race is on to find her. But Sir Richard and his wife’s worst fears are realised when they receive a video of Hollie, tied to a chair, with a masked man holding a gun to her head.

The ransom demands are simple, pay four million pounds in cash – or they’ll never see their daughter again. DCI Jane Phillips is assigned to the case, and has no idea of who, or what she’s up against. But as the investigation unfolds, it becomes clear Hollie’s kidnapping was the work of a formidable gang – who operate in the shadows and will stop at nothing to get what they want.

As the pressure mounts, can Phillips and the team find Hollie before it’s too late? Or will this investigation signal not only the death of the Major Crimes Unit, but one of her beloved team, as well?

DCI Jane Philips knows that the Major Crimes Unit doesn’t get the easy cases, but this one is a doozy! The kidnappers pulled off a slick operation, leaving few clues other than a possible military involvement. Sir Richard Hawkins, the victim’s stepfather is an arms dealer more worried about his money than his child, and the negotiator from the Metropolitan Police is completely useless.  As usual, it’s up to  Philips and her team to track down every lead and try to bring Hollie home.

I really enjoyed the deeper look into the MCU’s team dynamics. Philips and Jones, Jones and Bovalino, Bovalino and Entwhistle, and Philips with the team together against Superintendent Fox. Reading these characters is like watching a favorite police drama; you know and love them, and there is always something new. When one of the team is hurt trying to find and save Hollie Hawkins, how do the others react and pull through?

OMJ Ryan as a great turn of phrase, and his novels are both fast-paced and thought provoking. This book explores the trials soldiers face once they come back to civilian life, and the effects of PTSD and addiction. There are also mentions of the betrayal felt by soldiers when attacked by weapons sold by a supposed ally. And then there is the anger of an unloved child, who sees far more than she should. Deadly Vengeance is such a great title for this book because for the longest time, you aren’t sure exactly whose vengeance is it?

As with Ryan’s other books, this is a non-stop ride. There is everything inside that makes a great police thriller, including an ending that leaves you satisfied, if craving another book.

Rating: 5/5

  • Title: Deadly Vengeance
  • Author: OMJ Ryan
  • Publisher: Inkubator Books
  • Released: July 19th, 2020
  • Language: English
  • Format: Ebook
  • Pages: 290 pages
About the Author:
OMJ Ryan

Hailing from Yorkshire, OMJ Ryan worked in radio and entertainment for over twenty years, collaborating with household names and accumulating a host of international writing and radio awards.

In 2018 he followed his passion to become a full-time novelist, writing stories for people who devour exciting, fast-paced thrillers by the pool, on their commute – or those rare moments of downtime before bed. Owen’s mission is to entertain from the first page to the last.

Deadly Vengeance is the third Detective Jane Phillips book in the series and OMJ’s fourth book with Inkubator Books.

Social Media:

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter/ Instagram

Where to buy: Deadly Vengeance is available in both the UK and the USA via Amazon. Currently, here in the US, it is free to free to read with Kindle Unlimited, or if you don’t have KU, $.99USD for the ebook, and the paperback price is $10.99 USD. 
Amazon UK: Here  or Amazon US: Here

 

Much thanks to Damppebbles Blog Tours, OMJ Ryan and Inkubator Books for this opportunity.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary ebook from the publisher in exchange for review. The opinions are my own. All links are direct, I do not make money from them.

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page. To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!

Arms of the Ocean Blog Tour & GiveAway

Arms of the Ocean
by Jamie Webster & M. Dalto

Monday July 6th to Friday July 17th

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I was incredibly lucky to have been chosen by Xpresso Book Tours to read and review a new book in one of my favorite genres! I’m one of many talented bloggers on this project and I invite to check out what everyone has to say about this book! Xpresso Tours!

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Book Blurb:

Nineteen-year-old Tristaine lived a life of bitterness. When her mother abandoned her family, and her father began drinking, Tris discovered the only thing that truly brought her happiness: the sea.

It called to her like a lover and flowed through her like a life force. When her only peace is threatened to be taken away, Tris realizes there is nothing she wouldn’t do to remain with the ocean.

Even if it means taking her own life to do so.

But the sea isn’t done with her -not yet- and Tris soon finds herself submerged in a world where love, betrayal, and honor stand stronger than any other force of nature.

This is such a good read! I adore fairytale retellings, mostly because you have a pretty good idea of where the story will go, so it’s like seeing an old friend in a new dress. Arms of the Ocean went one better. The authors, Jamie Webster and M. Dalto, undertook to retell and ADD to the selkie mythology.  I thought this book was going to be fairytale romance… Instead I got Fairytale/Romance/Politics/Found Family/Happiness!

Mind you, to get to that glimmer of happiness, Tris has to undergo some absolutely horrific things. This book ascribes to the Classic Grimms style of storytelling.  Here’s the trigger warning: there is alcohol abuse, physical abuse, rape, betrayal, descriptions of sexual situations and legal execution, as well as realistic portrayals of PTSD and the aftereffects of abuse.

The basic story is that Tris’s father, enraged by Tris’s love of the sea has signed her over in a marriage contract to the local Lord, Fiero. Fiero is controlling and cruel, and plans for Tris to live inland, which she cannot abide. She chooses to kill herself in the ocean, but meets Imri, a selkie prince and is taken to the fabled city of Inara. There Tris is confronted by the truth of her parents’ pasts and her attraction to the prince, who is promised to another. Then they are betrayed; and it will take a hidden friend, teamwork and trust for Tris to find her way home.

Tris is a fantastic character, with a feisty personality and quick-witted tongue that keep her from being a doormat, but just enough flaws to make her likeable. She is given a second chance at life, at happiness, if she chooses to embrace it. Imri is not a perfect prince, but a man who is torn between being promised to his dearest friend and loving a stranger, between risking himself and caring for his entire kingdom. There are other characters, whose stories are tied to Tris and Imri, and who I dearly hope to see in yet more books!

Rating: 4.5/5

  • Title: Arms of the Ocean
  • Authors: Jamie Webster & M. Dalto
  • Publisher: Parliament House
  • Released: : July 7th, 2020
  • Language: English
  • Format: Ebook
  • Pages: 370 pages
  • Genres: Fantasy, New Adult, Young Adult

GIVEAWAY!

A Rafflecopter giveaway of a $10 Amazon gift card is here!

About the Authors:

ArmsAuthors

Jamie Webster is an Adult Fantasy writer who recalls writing stories as early as ten. She first began writing fanfiction, though she typically created an original character to follow. In high school, she began to create her own fantasy worlds and roleplayed on Yahoo Groups and AIM. In her adult years, she has completed four books as well as written for several publications including a blog, Trials and Tribulations, for her local newspaper as well as articles on writing and book reviews for Fantasy-Faction.

Jamie received her B.A. in English with a focus in Creative Writing from UMaine and an MFA in Creative Writing from Full Sail University. She does most of her drafting during NaNoWriMo and fancies herself as the hybrid plantser. Her passion is reading, writing, crocheting and playing video games. She currently lives in Maine with her three children, Corgi, Mini Aussie, and a plethora of other animals that she’d rather not admit to.

M. Dalto is a bestselling New Adult author of adventurous romantic fantasy stories, having won a Watty award for excellence in digital storytelling for her debut novel, Two Thousand Years, in 2016. She spends her days as a full-time residential real estate paralegal, using her evenings to pursue her literary agenda, and when she’s not writing, she enjoys reading fantasy novels, playing video games, and drinking coffee. She currently lives in Massachusetts with her husband, their daughter, and their corgi named Loki.

Social Media:

Jamie Webster:

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter/ Instagram

M. Dalto

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Where to buy: Arms of the Ocean is available on July 7th.

Much thanks to Xpresso Book Tours, Parliament House and the authors,Jamie Webster & M. Dalto for this opportunity.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary ebook from the publisher in exchange for review. The opinions are my own. All links are direct, I do not make money from them.

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page. To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!

 

The Collector – A DampPebbles Blog Tour

The Collector by John Maher

Wednesday 1st July to Tuesday 7th July 2020

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I just read a fantastic book courtesy of DampPebbles Blog tours, and I can’t wait to tell you about it!

The Collector John Maher

 

Book Blurb:

They say human life is the most precious thing. The Collector doesn’t agree.

When world renowned archaeologist Philip Carlton suddenly and unexpectedly commits suicide, the police are called to investigate. Heading up the investigation is Detective Lucy O’Hara, a Forensic Linguist – and she immediately sees something is wrong with the suicide note. In her gut, she knows this was cold-blooded murder.

Battling skeptical superiors and the Irish establishment, Lucy digs for the truth and begins to uncover a shadowy trade in ancient artifacts led by a mysterious figure known only as ‘The Collector’.

As Lucy works to uncover his identity, she soon realizes she is up against a ruthless mastermind who is systematically eliminating anyone who might lead her to him. But Lucy won’t give up and soon The Collector turns his attention to her…

The Collector is a great read! The first of a new series starring Detective Lucy O’Hara, a smart, sassy, no BS doctor of Forensic Linguistics who is haunted by both the death of her father during her childhood and the Bateman case where she had to shoot a suspect to save a child.  She’s both daughter and mother, balancing home-life and an job that can be both dangerous and time-consuming.

This is less like reading a mystery novel(although it is), and more like watching an incredibly intricate game of chess played by a clever newcomer and a shadowy grand-master. Lucy is the knight, zigzagging her way to the heart of who The Collector is; while her mysterious opponent is ordering the deaths of all those who stand in his way, Lucy included! There are twists and turns, and the author doesn’t stint on showing the secondary effects of loss and the keeping of secrets. You are kept on your toes right up to the very end, and I for one, was very surprised with the reveal!

Rating: 4/5

  • Title: The Collector
  • Author: John Maher
  • Publisher: Inkubator Books
  • Released: July 5th, 2020
  • Language: English
  • Format: Ebook
  • Pages: 2358 pages

About the Author:

John Maher

John Maher has published five novels and a collection of short stories. He has won national awards for radio play and short story with RTE in Ireland. His novel, The Luck Penny, was shortlisted for debut novel on BBC Radio 5.

A former teacher and lecturer, he holds a Phd from the School of Oriental and African Studies (London).

He lives in a small Irish village, between the Atlantic and the Irish Sea, from which he steals away, from time to time, to visit the world outside the island.

THE COLLECTOR will be his first novel published with Inkubator Books.

Social Media:

Website: http://johnmaherwriter.com/

Where to buy: The Collector will be available in both the UK and the USA via Amazon on July 5th. Preorders are available. Currently, here in the US, it is $0.99 USD for the ebook, and the paperback price is $11.99 USD. 
Amazon UK:Here 
Amazon US: Here

Much thanks to Damppebbles Blog Tours, Inkubator Books and John Maher for this opportunity.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary ebook from the publisher in exchange for review. The opinions are my own. All links are direct, I do not make money from them.

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page. To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!

 

Cover Reveal! – Not The Deaths Imagined by Anne Pettigrew

It’s disgustingly early here in the States, but my UK friends are just starting their day. I have something exciting to share with you. Anne Pettigrew’s new book Not The Deaths Imagined will be hitting shelves on August 1st, and today we get to see the cover!

Here’s the blurb:

In a leafy Glasgow suburb, Dr Beth Semple is busy juggling motherhood and full-time GP work in the 90s NHS. But her life becomes even more problematic when she notices some odd deaths in her neighbourhood. Though Beth believes the stories don’t add up, the authorities remain stubbornly unconvinced.

Soon, Beth’s professional reputation is challenged. There follows a chilling campaign of harassment and she finds her professional reputation – and family – are put at risk.

Is a charming local GP actually a serial killer? Can Beth piece together the jigsaw of perplexing fatalities and perhaps save lives? And as events accelerate towards a dramatic conclusion, will the police intervene in time?

From the author of Not the Life Imagined, this slow-burning tartan noir novel from a Bloody Scotland Crime Spotlight author follows Beth on another quest for justice. Reflecting Pettigrew’s own medical expertise, Not The Deaths Imagined re-affirms the benefits of growing up in a loving family and the need for friends in hard times, while offering insight into the twisted development of a psychopathic mind.

Great plot, right? Now here’s the cover!

NTDI Cover

I love covers like this, straightforward, elegantly simple, and hinting at the story inside.

Where to buy: Oh! I can’t wait! I’ll be reviewing this later on, but if you’re as intrigued as I am, here’s the preorder links –

Ringwood Publishing: https://bit.ly/2B0I0C2

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/31eOqIC

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2B4gMuk

About the Author:

Anne Pettigrew Glasgow-born, 31 years a Greenock GP, graduate of University of Glasgow (Medicine 1974) and Oxford (MSc Medical Anthropology 2004). Worked also in psychiatry, women’s health, and  journalism (Herald, Pulse, Doctor, Channel 4). In retirement took Creative Writing tuition at Glasgow University aiming to pen novels about women doctors (rare in literature except as pathologists or in Mills & Boon). Runner-up in SAW Constable Award 2018, chosen as a 2019 Bloody Scotland Crime Spotlight Author – ‘one to watch.’ Member of several writers’ groups and a short story competition winner, she lives in Ayrshire and enjoys good books, good wine, and good company.

Social Media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/pettigrew_anne @pettigrew_anne

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/annepettigrewauthor/

Website: http://www.annepettigrew.co.uk

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/anne.pettigrew.author/

Blog: http://www.annepettigrew.co.uk

Disclosure: The opinions are my own. All links are direct, I do not make money from them.

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page. To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!

The Kompromat Kill – A DampPebbles Blog Tour

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The Kompromat Kill by Michael Jenkins

Monday 11th to Sunday 17th May 2020

The Kompromat Kill Cover

Book Blurb:

‘They were preparing for decades – now it’s time to take them down……’

A DIPLOMAT VANISHES
A BOMB DISPOSAL EXPERT GOES ROGUE

Hiding overseas with a price on his head, Sean Richardson is tasked to lead a deniable operation to hunt down and recruit an international model and spy. Moving across Asia Minor and Europe, Sean embarks on a dangerous journey tracking an Iranian spy ring who hold the keys to a set of consequences the British Intelligence Services would rather not entertain.

As Sean investigates deeper, he uncovers dark secrets from his past and a complex web of espionage spun from the hand of a global master spy. As he inches closer to the truth, the rules of the game change – and the nerve-wracking fate of many lives sits in his hands…….……..

 

  • Title: The Kompromat Kill
  • Author: Michael Jenkins
  • Publisher: Failsafe Thrillers
  • Released:  June 19th, 2019
  • Language: English
  • Format: Ebook
  • Pages: 407 pages

 

About the Author:

michael jenkins

I started climbing at 13, survived being lost in Snowdonia at 14, nearly drowned at 15, and then joined the Army at 16. Risk and adventure was built into my DNA and I feel very fortunate to have served the majority of my working career as an intelligence officer within Defense Intelligence, and as an explosive ordnance disposal officer and military surveyor within the Corps of Royal Engineers.

I was privileged to serve for twenty-eight years in the British Army as a soldier and officer, rising through the ranks to complete my service as a major. I served across the globe on numerous military operations as well as extensive travel and adventure on many major mountaineering and exploration expeditions that I led or was involved in.

I was awarded the Geographic Medal by the Royal Geographical Society for mountain exploration in 2003 and served on the screening committee of the Mount Everest Foundation charity for many years. It was humbling after so many years of service when I was awarded the MBE for services to counter-terrorism in 2007.

The Failsafe Query is my debut novel, with The Kompromat Kill, my second.

Social Media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/FailsafeQuery

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thefailsafethrillers/

Website: https://www.michaeljenkins.org/

Where to buy: 
The Kompromat Kill is available in both the UK and the USA via Amazon. Currently, here in the US, it is $3.85 USD for the ebook, and the paperback price is $12.78 USD. 
Amazon UK:Here
Amazon US:Here
Disclosure: I received a complimentary ebook from the publisher in exchange for review. The opinions are my own. All links are direct, I do not make money from them.

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page. To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!

Ground Rules – A DampPebbles Blog Tour

Ground Rules by Richard Whittle

Monday 11th to Sunday 17th May 2020

 

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I’m lucky to be participating in two Damppebbles Blog Tours this week!

Ground Rules

 

Book Blurb:

Called out one night in the hope that she can identify the body of a man found in a field, Edinburgh forensic geologist Jessica Spargo – Jez – inadvertently becomes involved in the investigation of a university lecturer’s murder. The investigating officer, Tom Curtis, hands her a small glass vial and asks her to analyze its contents. She agrees to do it. The results confound everyone.

Media attention around a seemingly unconnected incident on a construction site near Edinburgh means that all work has stopped. An object discovered beneath the site confounds everyone, including the police. Employed by the firm’s owner to attempt to solve the mystery, Jez falls foul of an uncooperative site manager. Unruffled, she perseveres. Meanwhile, the murder mystery deepens. Despite her reluctance to become further involved, she has her own theories about the origin of the vial’s contents, theories the police do not accept.

To Jez’s dismay there are more deaths. As she says to Curtis, ‘I don’t do bodies. I’m a geologist, I look at rocks. If I’d wanted to look at bits of body then I would have become a surgeon or a pathologist.’

I have to give the author mad kudos for this book. Once I picked it up, it was nearly impossible to put down! I wasn’t certain that a crime novel featuring a geologist would be interesting, but boy, was I wrong!

Dr. Jessica Spargo( Jez to her friends), is a character that is a delight to read about. She’s wonderfully real in her interactions, from dealing with the grouchy DCI that asks her to consult on cases, to dealing with mansplaining on the job, or dealing with the fact that bodies are not at all to her taste. Honestly, I think the reason I like Jez is that I kept expecting her to quote Bones McCoy when at a crime scene.

Ground Rules weaves a beautifully complicated narrative between two seemingly unrelated cases, and Jez trying desperately to solve them both. The search for clues leads to Jez making contacts all over Scotland and the final revelation of whodunit is a complete surprise!

This book was a treat to read and I very much hope the author will write more of Jez’s adventures!

Rating: 5/5

  • Title: Ground Rules
  • Author: Richard Whittle
  • Publisher: Amazon
  • Released: March 9, 2020
  • Language: English
  • Format: Ebook
  • Pages: 235 pages
About the Author:

Richard Whittle

Richard has been a policeman, diesel engine tester, university student and engineering geologist. Writing as Alan Frost he was shortlisted from several hundred international competitors for the CWA (Crime Writers Association) Debut Dagger Award.

 

 

 

 

Social Media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/richard1whittle

Website: https://playpitspark.wordpress.com/

Where to buy: Ground Rules is available in both the UK and the USA via Amazon. Currently, here in the US, it is $5.71 USD for the ebook, and the paperback price is $11.47 USD. 
Amazon UK:Here  or Amazon US: Here

Much thanks to Damppebbles Blog Tours, and Richard Whittle for this opportunity.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary ebook from the publisher in exchange for review. The opinions are my own. All links are direct, I do not make money from them.

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page. To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!

The Running Lie (Max Falkland #2) – A DampPebbles Blog Tour

The Running Lie by Jennifer Young

Wednesday 6th to Tuesday 12th May

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I’m lucky to be participating in two Damppebbles Blog Tours this week!

The Running Lie is the second of the Max Falkland trilogy by Jennifer Young. This is slightly new era for my historical thriller reading, but as I’d only gotten into 1950’s vintage pinup culture last year, I was eager to read it.

running lie cover

Book Blurb:

In Cold Crash, when Archaeologist Max Falkland, the Anglo-American daughter of a British peer, meets American John Knox in London in April 1952, her already troubled life takes on mystery. As the Cold War thriller progresses, Max finds herself in increasing danger, but three weeks after the events of Cold Crash, the point at which The Running Lie begins, Max has found an archaeological dig in London and John Knox has entered her life. But even now, can he be trusted? Max encounters both skulls and sexism on the dig site at the bombed out shell of St. Bride’s Church in London. A family request sends her to the Berlin International Film Festival, away from the dig and her growing relationship with John Knox. But after she sees John in Berlin with another woman, Max forces him to confess he is an American spy. When his current case collides with her family life, Max has to find a way to navigate layers of lies. As fireworks explode for the Fourth of July party, Max must make a dangerous choice if she wants to save both John and her family. The Running Lie is a page-turning Cold War spy thriller that reboots old school cloak and dagger Max Falkland is the James Bond of the 21st Century.

I truly loved this book, and cannot wait for the finale to be published in 2022. The Running Lie had all the things I like in a good thriller, likeable and hateable characters, twists and turns of plot, action that made my heart race,  and an ending that left me aching for more.

This is an interesting book. Unlike most historical thrillers, you experience the story from Max’s point of view; that of an educated and sophisticated woman who has to battle the patriarchy both in her field and at home. Max has a PHD in Archeology, which in 1952 is still overwhelmingly male, and as an heiress, she has the pressure to marry. She is smart, tenacious and tough, but Max is also very much a woman of her times and struggles to find her place.

Max’s relationship with John Knox is one of the most realistic I’ve seen in fiction. It’s confusing, in that Max is confused. There is romance, but it’s complicated in very real messy ways. She loves John, but can she marry a man whose life is full of lies and danger? How can they find common ground when their backgrounds are so disparate? Can she trust John when the nature of his work means he may have to leave for unknown periods of time or have relations with other women? When danger threatens her family, will their relationship survive the storm?

The author, Jennifer Young will be holding an online launch party at 6pm on 13th of May on Zoom. Here’s the link: The Running Lie Zoom Launch

Rating: 4/5

  • Title: The Running Lie (Max Falkland #2)
  • Author: Jennifer Young
  • Publisher: Cinnamon Press
  • Released: April 22, 2020
  • Language: English
  • Format: Ebook
  • Pages: 319 pages
About the Author:
Jennifer Young

Jennifer Young was born in a small textile town in North Carolina, USA, and moved to the UK in 2001. She has since completed a PhD, become the daughter-in-law of a Catholic priest, and gained British citizenship. Her degrees are from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Cardiff University and the University of Southampton. She is the Head of Writing and Journalism at the University of Falmouth. Jennifer lives in Cornwall with her daughter.

Her novel Cold Crash won the Cinnamon Press Debut Novel Prize.
Follow Jennifer at http://www.maxfalkland.com or on Twitter @maxfalkland.

Social Media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/maxfalkland

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ArchaeologyandEspionage/

Website: https://www.maxfalkland.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/maxfalkland/

Where to buy: The Running Lie is available in both the UK and the USA via Amazon. Currently, here in the US, it is $6.17 USD for the ebook, and the paperback price is $14.00 USD. 
Amazon UK:Here  or Amazon US: Here

Much thanks to Damppebbles Blog Tours, Jennifer Young and Cinnamon Press for this opportunity.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary ebook from the publisher in exchange for review. The opinions are my own. All links are direct, I do not make money from them.

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page. To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caffeine For Days! Part 2

Hi! SC Here. (What Again? Where’s PuzzlePaws? Is she OK?) PuzzlePaws is fine, but between the Stay-at-Home, the Coronavirus, and the Groundhog-Day-like effect this produces, nothing much has been going on.  Like everyone else, we’ve been living.

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This is our back yard. Egrets and blue herons live in the swamp.

Puzzlepaws has been adding to her library personally, has been signing up for “Blog Tours” to make her name as a book reviewer, but her puzzle suppliers have dried up.  As a puzzle reviewer, she’s basically unemployed.  (What do you mean “dried up”? Where did they go?)

Typically, puzzle makers send PuzzlePaws puzzles to review, but puzzle companies and manufacturing companies are “non essential”, so they’re home like everyone else.  We got quite a few companies who said they’d send us puzzles at Toy Fair 2020, then the country shut down.  We haven’t seen a shipment.  Normally we’re buried in puzzles by now, setting the schedule for the entire year.  This year? Nothing.  Since puzzles ARE PuzzlePaws’s income, she’s unemployed (and on unemployment).

Also, we’re not really buying puzzles. (What!?) Yup. There aren’t any. Walmart is out, Target is out, and the price-gouging online is outrageous. Puzzles that list for $20US are going for $80US New, $60US Used.  On Amazon.  Not worth it.

So I’m upgrading the Laptops (2012 Razer Blade Pro R2 for PuzzlePaws, 2008 Dell M6400 for myself), building new gaming towers, building a NAS for the house, and generally using our government income to improve our standard of living. I didn’t buy these laptops recently, both were gifted to us. I design and build tower computers on the side.

I’m also the caffeine addict in the house (and kitchen chemist, I do things with caffeine that make wiser heads cringe.)  I decided our caffeine stores were low, so I hit my favorite vendors.

First up was Redux Beverages.  This is (was?) a small company out of North Carolina. Rumor has it, one of the founders used to work for Red Bull back in the early days of Energy Drinks (this would be in the aughts, about ’04).  He wanted to make something stronger, but Red Bull didn’t like that idea so he struck out on his own.  He came up with a very controversial beverage that was the same size as a Red Bull, but contained 3.5 TIMES the caffeine. He called it COCAINE.

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Actual Disclaimer on every can of Cocaine, because people are that stupid.

They had a new flavor: Peach Mango. The other flavors are: Regular (Hot Cherry), Mild (Cherry), and Black (Cinnamon Kola).  When you buy it, you’re buying 12-12oz cans, and paying UPS shipping.  Total cost is about $40US in the lower 48. Each can contains 280mg of caffeine.

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Yes, a couple are missing, had to sample the goods. This flavor is best warm, after breathing for about 10 minutes.

There are seldom sample packs and very few retail stores carry this beverage (If you do find it retail, it is usually $5/can).  Some municipalities have banned this beverage altogether, and the FDA has attempted to do so on multiple occasions. (Thus why it is labeled as a “High Caffeine Energy Supplement” now.)

My next stop was FOB Kick The Can. (Forward Operating Base Kick The Can, WTF?!)

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Exactly what it said on the tin.

Quite a few years back I discovered “instant” energy drinks (4C makes a powdered variant, available at Walmart, we’re not discussing that one).  You took the packet, tore off the top, and added the contents to water, theoretically. And, poof! Instant, sugar-free energy drink.  160mg of caffeine in 16-20oz of (now flavored and “sweetened”) water.

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This is their Large Sample Pack.

Strike Force Energy was created by a modern US military veteran for reasons known only to him. (A different US military veteran also created Crayons, Ready-to-Eat so there you go.) I, being the caffeine addict I am, immediately added one to an energy drink (400mg of caffeine, no waiting).  That’s one way to start your day! (NOTE: Do not try this at home.  If you do, please have adult supervision other than yourself.)

I used to work Security for Anime conventions (back before COVID-19), but I got into the Con Staffing gig late.  (Most people do it between the ages of 18 and 24, I started at 26.)  So I had to keep up with the 18 year olds.  I believe in leading from the front, if I can’t do it, I can’t expect you to do it.  But 26 (and later 30) isn’t 18, so I needed energy, and energy drinks weren’t cutting it anymore.  So I created my own.

Wake the Dead is a proprietary blend of caffeine and other compounds that shall not be enumerated in a public forum. (Barring screaming from our legal advisors, we might put it on the Patreon, on one of the upper tiers.)  If misused, adverse side effects, up to and including death could result. (It is actually THAT dangerous!) The recipe is known to only 5 people in the world to my knowledge, myself included. I have never seen it online.

When completed, WTD was 50mg/oz caffeine concentration.  Most sodas are 4-6mg/oz, energy drinks are 6-14mg/oz.  But the mechanism of action wasn’t just in the caffeine concentration, one of the ingredients came from Harcos Labs.

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12 Bottles of Berry Flavored disappointment, read on.

At the time Mana contained a blend of digestive enzymes that enhanced your ability to digest ANYTHING (including cellulose, weird that.)  Which was good, since that level of caffeine would kill your appetite otherwise.  So WTD would make you HUNGRY.  So hungry that I was consuming 5,000 calories every 19-hour day.  (You read that right, I was eating FIVE THOUSAND calories a day!  If I ate less than 4,000, I lost weight.)

That was then.  Much to my disappointed shock, Mana is now just flavoring, sweetener, food coloring, caffeine, and a pretty bottle.  The website says that Mana still contains the enzyme blend, but these do not (neither does the Blood).  Hopefully I can get my money back.

Where to Buy:

Cocaine Energy: Click Here

Strike Force Energy: Click Here

Mana Potions: Click Here

The opinions are my own. All links are direct, I do not make money from them.

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page. To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!