Author: Rachael Huszar
Narrator: Jenn Lee
Length: 5 hours and 31 minutes
Producer: Audiobook Empire
Publisher: Rachael Huszar
Released: January 20, 2022
Genre: Historical Thriller
A Victoria Emerson Thriller Book 2
by John Gilstrap
Genre: Thriller, Suspense
From the publisher—
John Gilstrap, the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Jonathan Grave novels, continues his acclaimed Victoria Emerson thriller series with Blue Fire. In the wake of a global conflict that has devastated America, one woman must lead—and protect—a community of survivors determined to rebuild all they have lost . . .
They call it Hell Day—a world war that lasted less than twenty-four hours. Nations unleashed weapons that destroyed more than a century’s worth of technology. Electrical grids cannot generate power. Communications and computers cannot run. And the remnants of the U. S. government cannot be depended upon. Those who survived must live as their ancestors did, off a land ruled by the whims of nature.
One-time congressional representative Victoria Emerson has become the new leader of the small town of Ortho, West Virginia. She has been struggling to provide food and shelter for the town’s inhabitants, while coping with desperate refugees. An autumn morning’s calm is shattered when her teenage son sounds the alarm with the cry “Blue Fire”—the code phrase for imminent danger.
A band of National Guardsmen intends to take Ortho and its resources for themselves. They have enough soldiers and firepower to eliminate anyone who dares to stop them. But Victoria swore an oath to defend and protect her people, and she isn’t about to surrender. It’s time to tap into the traditional American values of courage, ingenuity, and determination – and fight fire with fire.
Brad Taylor meets The Stand in a riveting novel of suspense kicking off a brand new series perfect for fans of the page-turning novels of A.G. Riddle, Mark Greaney, and Matthew Mather.
“One of the most singular and compelling heroines to come along in years.”—Jeffery Deaver, New York Times bestselling author
“Snaps with action from the very first page.”—Marc Cameron, New York Times bestselling author of Stone Cross and of Tom Clancy’s Code of Honor
From John Gilstrap, the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Jonathan Grave novels, comes Crimson Phoenix—first in the new Victoria Emerson Thriller series. With America brought to the brink of destruction, one woman becomes the last hope of a nation and its people . . .
Victoria Emerson is a congressional member of the U. S. House of Representatives for the state of West Virginia. Her aspirations have always been to help her community and to avoid the ambitious power plays of her peers in Washington D. C. Then Major Joseph McCrea appears on her doorstep and uses the code phrase Crimson Phoenix, meaning this is not a drill. The United States is on the verge of nuclear war. Victoria must accompany McCrea to a secure bunker. She cannot bring her family.
A single mother, Victoria refuses to abandon her three teenage sons. Denied entry to the bunker, they nonetheless survive the nuclear onslaught that devastates the country. The land is nearly uninhabitable. Electronics have been rendered useless. Food is scarce. Millions of scared and ailing people await aid from a government that is unable to regroup, much less organize a rescue from the chaos.
Victoria devotes herself to reestablishing order—only to encounter the harsh realities required of a leader dealing with desperate people . . .
“Just the thing for readers who feel oppressed by the pandemic lockdown.”
“A gripping page-turner.”
—Taylor Stevens, New York Times bestselling author
“An explosive story that keeps your mind churning and pulse racing . . .
Don’t miss this powerful new series from a master thriller writer.”
—Jamie Freveletti, international bestselling and award-winning author
John Gilstrap is the New York Times bestselling author of award-winning action novels including the Jonathan Grave Thrillers and the Victoria Emerson Thrillers. A master of action-driven suspense, his books have been translated into more than 20 languages. He is the recipient of an International Thriller Writers’ Award for Against All Enemies, the ALA Alex Award for Nathan’s Run, and a two-time ITW Award finalist. A nationally recognized weaponry and explosives safety expert as well as a National Shooting Sports Foundation member, John Gilstrap frequently speaks at conferences, events, clubs, youth programs, and military bases. He is a former firefighter and EMT with a master’s degree in safety from the University of Southern California and a bachelor’s degree in history from the College of William and Mary in Virginia. John lives in Fairfax, Virginia.
Let Justice Descend
A Gardiner and Renner Thriller #5
Kensington Books, October 2019
Make no mistake, this is a political murder mystery, set in the present time with an important election looming. There will be those readers who will find slant or bias to one side or other. I found no such leanings. The author, being a talented, experienced writer, was careful to blacken and trip up political operatives of almost every stripe and level.
The story is set in Cleveland, Ohio, and concerns maneuvering and planning to build on a riverbank in the city already heavily contaminated by previous owners. A U.S. Senator, up for re-election in a short time is found dead in her yard. Police detectives Jack Renner and Tom Riley, joined by forensics specialist, Maggie Gardiner, start the case with the electrocuted body of Senator Diane Cragin.
We follow the investigators step by step, perhaps too detailed for some readers, but the detail nicely reveals the relationships between the police and other characters. The pace is relentless and soon other characters appear, some to die in more mysterious circumstances. Are they related to the Senator’s murder? Read the novel to find out.
Cleveland and its environs and even the weather are nicely woven into the narrative, a narrative that rises in tension and pace throughout the story, as the election nears. Anyone who has ever participated in a close election will appreciate the scenes of work and tension, played well against the crime investigation.
If a few sections of the narrative seem to descend too far into the minutiae of elections and crime solving, the detail is accurate, consistent and very well done. The final solutions to what have become multiple mysteries are clean, logical and satisfying in an excellent murderous slam at our political climate.
A Peter Ash Novel #7
G.P. Putnam’s Sons, January 2022
In this the seventh book in Nick Petrie’s Peter Ash series, the hero finds himself in a heap of trouble, all because he’s a nice guy. When Peter spots a pregnant young woman whose car has broken down on a quiet gravel road in the wilds of Nebraska, he stops to offer assistance, having no idea the size of the bear he’s unknowingly about to poke.
When the story first opens we meet Helene, who lives in a small rural community of Coldwater, Montana a place she hates, and where she is struggling to cope with the recent death of her mother in a car accident. She’s 18, alone in the world now, working at a dead end job in a gas station/store. She longs for something different but what? Then two guys travelling through pull in for gas, and she makes a choice that changes her life.
The story moves seamlessly between the past and the events that bring Helene to the present. And in a matter of minutes Peter and Helene are suddenly fleeing for their lives as another vehicle races towards them. Helene isn’t sure if she can trust Peter but she announces that the guys in the truck are friends of her ex-cop husband, who is possessive and controlling, and will do anything to stop her from leaving him.
As they race away Peter tries to find out more from Helene but she’s reluctant to confide in him. However, they don’t get far. Ahead are reinforcements, as another truck is parked across the road. They’ve driven straight into a trap. Peter quickly reassess the situation and with bullets flying he has to make a quick decision.
To say more would spoil this very dramatic and highly exciting tale which I read in one sitting. Peter’s ultimate goal is to save this young woman and her unborn child, but the odds are decidedly stacked against him. But our hero is both resourceful and highly motivated, especially when it comes to helping people. Walking away or giving up is simply not an option. And in truth he loves the challenge.
The action is non-stop and escalates into an all out war with Peter being outnumbered as Helene’s ex-cop husband and his murderous side-kicks up the ante.
If, like me, you’ve read this author’s previous novels, you’ll know Peter Ash never gives up; that he’ll never stop in his quest to save Helene. Trouble seems to find him but he wouldn’t have it that way. I read somewhere that the author was having trouble coming up with a new plot for his character…so he went for a long drive. The Runaway is the result.
Check it out…I guarantee you won’t be disappointed!!!
Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, February 2022.
Join Us for This Tour: February 7 to February 25, 2022
From the author—
Welcome or unwelcome. Fate has arrived.
A suspenseful incident in a forbidden preserve heightens the senses of five friends. Sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell become super-gifts that forever change the world. But furious battles confront the boys as they try to understand their sensory super powers in a race to save mankind. With light beings and mysterious strangers complicating their plight, will the boys be able to defeat the evil Druth before it’s too late?
Get prepared for the twisting and grinding of this award-winning, action-adventure story — an edge-of-your-seat narrative for young and mature readers alike.
Have you ever noticed that most young adult fantasy is chockablock full of girls? There are notable exceptions of course—male romantic interests as well as heroic boys doing all sorts of heroic things—but the girls seem to be the focus more often than not.
That is not a bad thing, mind you. Still, I was chuffed to see that this particular series is centered on boys, a whole passel of them, in fact, and that was enough reason for me to snatch this right up. Was that a good idea? Well, mostly, with a few missteps.
The author has a good premise here and appealing protagonists but I thought the actual plot was more than a bit muddled and the pacing was erratic. What it boils down to, I think, is a tale well worth following but in need of a little tweaking here, some prose tightening there and maybe more in-depth worldbuilding. When you get right down to it, you can’t really go wrong with a bunch of young superheroes who each have one special ability and I’m looking forward to the next installment in their adventures.
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, February 2022.
“Brilliantly crafted and written!” – Megan King, Indie Book Reviewers“An energetic adventure debut with stellar action sequences. Smith’s writing is intelligent and often lyrical. Her exuberant prose never fails to dazzle.” – Kirkus Media
As one would imagine, a mysterious forest might offer deep, eerie chills, especially at night. Instead, the forest cast a rich glow, and the environment was beautiful and serene.
Walking slowly with their eyes absolutely feasting on the horticultural delights, the boys were approached by something they weren’t sure was real. It floated effortlessly, lighting up in a sporadic pattern, but had neither sound nor discernible shape, other than being somewhat clear and round.
Its fluttering wings suspended it in the center of their disbelieving huddle. All eyes were on it, but what it was provoked more mystery than the forest itself. It bounced in a cheery, beckoning fashion, flashing its stunning wings, drawing the boys into a never-ending waltz. They were transfixed, unable to glance at each other, prevented by the daze each silently battled.
The little glowing being carried about, moving closer to their faces. It moved in and out of trees, spewing, sparkle and splendor, then floated away from the boys, yet stayed close enough to continue the enticement.
Contributing to the amazing glow ricocheting from sprawling fronds to soaring trees and fallen leaves, the being’s creativity advanced in a display of twirls and spins, astonishing the boys. And they followed their little friend further and further into the forest.
Deeper ahead, the visual spectacle beautifully intertwined with the clicking noise, which grew louder and more defined, moving up the scale into high notes. The repetition of the noise mesmerized the boys, equating to an invisible lasso.
The friends grouped together, looking ahead and behind. Their stomachs tightened as the tension grew.
What they saw next would pale in comparison to their little, wondrous friend, who steadily bounced around several curvy pathways.
The small creature led them into an area deep within the preserve housing two large, floating, clicking balls of light. The boys instinctively covered their eyes, yet still tried to peep through their fingers.
The light balls began spinning wildly and grew louder, with their tops spitting out free-falling shavings of light like fireworks.
The sputtering light bounced off the dirt only to end up against a tree or one of the boys, then back down and up again.
Slowing down, the beings moved in between the boys. Too scared to move and struggling with reality, the boys’ eyes locked onto the radiant balls.
And with a striking force, the five friends were encased by a bright, piercing light as the balls exploded, emitting their energy onto the boys.
Mixing and mashing north, south, east, and west, bright waves covered the soil, spreading across trees, rock, and all plant life. The forest fell silent, frozen like an inhale without an exhale. It was dark and quiet, except for the liquid energy dripping from the huge, wavy leaves.
Being subjected to drifts both in and out of reality, the boys succumbed to the lure of a vacant black space within the deepest parts of their minds. They fell to the ground unconscious, laying in this forbidden domain in the center of a place they had been warned not to approach.
And from some distance toward the other side of the preserve, a draped shadow had been looking inward and saw this mysterious incident.
The curve of his black hood was loose enough for him to witness the unthinkable. But it also shrouded his expression, which was impassive.
This figure, a dark stranger, had been watching the boys for a period of time and saw the explosion of light. He knew it had exposed them to a grave risk in this place of both awe and fear. He realized time would now take the reins as a master guide for these stricken young men, all of whom would need hope as a rod and stamina as a spear on the long journey ahead.
Knowing the veil of normalcy would need to be maintained in order for this inconceivable episode to be minimized, the Dark Stranger drew upon his strength to physically move each of the boys to Rhee’s house.
He knew familiar surroundings would ease them as they roused, barely able to comprehend their predicament.
For he knew much, and every step, every footprint left an indelible impression on the path leading to the studio in Rhee’s backyard. Indeed, footprints providing a window to the past meshed with hope for the future.
And like a laser, the Dark Stranger steadied his gait, hurling each one up and over his powerful shoulders.
As he absorbed the totality of the scene, he breathed deeply. His head hung in a manner to which only trauma could relate. But in a sign of resilience, it swiftly sprung back.
Under the circumstances, he knew time would not be patient nor friendly.
Welcome or unwelcome. Fate had arrived.
K.N. Smith, winner of the “Best of” in the category of “Outstanding Young Adult Novel” at the Jessie Redmon Fauset Book Awards, is an author, screenwriter, and passionate advocate of literacy and arts programs throughout the world. She inspires people of all ages to reach their highest potential in their creative, educational, and life pursuits. She lives in California with her family.
Feb 7 – Cover Lover Book Review – book spotlight / giveaway
Feb 7 – Rockin’ Book Reviews – book review / giveaway
Feb 8 – Bookworm for Kids – book spotlight / giveaway
Feb 8 – Olio by Marilyn – book review / giveaway
Feb 9 – Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting – book review / giveaway
Feb 10 – Splashes of Joy – book review / giveaway
Feb 11 – Pick a Good Book – book spotlight / giveaway
Feb 11 – Stephanie Jane – book review / giveaway
Feb 14 – Book Corner News and Reviews – book review / giveaway
Feb 14 – Sefina Hawke’s Books – book spotlight
Feb 15 – Buried Under Books – book review / giveaway
Feb 16 – Locks, Hooks and Books – book review / giveaway
Feb 17 – Lamon Reviews – book spotlight / giveaway
Feb 17 – Westveil Publishing – book spotlight / giveaway
Feb 18 – fundinmental – book spotlight / giveaway
Feb 18 – Literary Flits – book review / giveaway
Feb 22 – Books are a Blessing – book review / giveaway
Feb 22 – Books for Books – book spotlight
Feb 23 – Kam’s Place – book review
Feb 24 – @twilight_reader – book review
Feb 25 – Jazzy Book Reviews – book spotlight / giveaway
Feb 25 – Leels Loves Books – book review / giveaway
Scribner, August 2021
I’ve been a Stephen King fan for a long time but over the past few years I’ve drifted away from reading his work. I’m not too sure if it was simply because I wasn’t altogether fond of his darker novels. I used to say I’d rather read the scary stuff than watch it in a movie or television series, but I’ve found I’m not enjoying reading anything too dark with too much graphic scenes of murder and mayhem.
With a title like Billy Summers (everyone knows a guy named Billy who can generally be a friendly helpful individual and of course Summers gives the impression of a warm, lazy, easy-going guy who is well-liked). And after reading a few positive reviews and comments regarding King’s latest offering, I became intrigued and decided to check it out. I’m so glad I did.
Billy Summers is an intriguing character. He’s a hired killer and has been for a number of years. He’s also a decorated Iraq war vet and one of the best snipers in the world. So says the inside flap on the hardcover. He has one rule, however, when it comes to a proposed victim, he must be a truly bad guy. Billy has been paid well for his skill and for the fact that he manages to successfully slip away unnoticed from these ‘jobs’.
Getting on in years Billy has plans to retire, but after much thought he accepts this latest and, as far as he’s concerned, last job. There is much planning and possibly weeks of waiting. Billy moves to an apartment while he waits for final instructions re the ‘job’ and spends his time reading, a favourite pastime. Told to keep a low profile he soon gets bored, and decides to pass the time writing his own life story, but changing his name.
So there are two stories now running parallel. Slowly but surely you grow to like and even admire this man, learning how his early life played out and influenced the choices he made, adding a depth of understanding to just how he became a hired killer.
But Billy is also a careful, thoughtful, and smart guy who begins to doubt the motives and plans of the men who have hired him. Billy has tended over the years to cultivate the impression he is a quiet guy and one who is a little simple-minded. And as an added precaution, decides to make plans of his own, a backup, for when the job is done.
And there’s more! Much more! And if you want to find out how Billy fares, my advice is to grab a copy and read Billy Summers, one of King‘s best novels to date….
Trust me you won’t regret it…
Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, January 2022.
Last Seen Alone
Berkley, September 2021
Mass Market Paperback
In Last Seen Alone, we meet Leigh Larson, a hard-driving ambitious lawyer with a law practice specializing in helping women dealing with stalkers, harassers, and revenge porn, and Brandon Reynolds, an Austin, Texas homicide detective. But the book begins with Vanessa Adams, a young woman meeting her contact in a wooded area to buy a gun from him. After concluding the transaction, Vanessa drives off but then pulls over to examine her new gun. As she does, she realizes there is a truck behind her slowing down and fearful she is being followed Vanessa takes off running into the woods and disappears.
When Brandon’s partner Antonio is called to the scene of the parked car, he finds a smear of blood on the open door. He and Brandon then decide to investigate but find no clues to Vanessa’s apparent disappearance. Nonetheless they ask their boss to classify the case as a homicide and let them continue investigating. Meanwhile they have met Leigh Larson who, citing attorney-client confidentiality, refuses to answer any questions about Vanessa or whether she is Leigh’s client. In fact, Vanessa approached Leigh some weeks earlier with what Vanessa described as a problem with her landlord. Leigh gave her some advice and when she heard nothing further assumed the matter was taken care of. However, upon return to her office after being questioned by Brandon, Leigh finds a signed retainer agreement and a check from Vanessa, but Vanessa doesn’t respond to Leigh’s phone calls.
The rest of this story is about both Leigh and the detective trying to find out what happened to Vanessa, a break-in at Leigh’s office, and various people who know Vanessa giving them little information. Along the way they discover a mutual passion for each other, although Reynolds is aware that Leigh is holding back but he doesn’t know why.
I have mixed feelings about this book. I like the premise but found Leigh annoying in her constant attempts to investigate on her own, putting herself in danger, and generally bumbling around with no clear plan or path. I also found the relationship between Leigh and Brandon annoying along with being somewhat hard to believe. A blurb on the book cover by author Jayne Ann Krentz, herself a romance writer, referred to liking “smart, sophisticated, fast-moving romantic thrillers….” I too like thrillers and find this book to have too much of the romance.
Reviewed by Melinda Drew, January 2022.