REVIEW: BURNTOWN By Jennifer McMahon

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Published April 25, 2017 by Doubleday Books

This fantastic cover accurately portrays many elements of this unputdownable novel! You might notice that there’s no blurb for this book and there’s a reason for that. I was truly shocked when I went to Goodreads to get the blurb for this review and read what was written for this book…it’s like a mini story FULL of spoilers so I beg you not to read it if you would at all like to read and enjoy this book! I’m so glad I didn’t read it before diving into this…to say my reading fun would’ve been spoiled is an understatement. I opened this one not even remembering what it was about because I received it so many months ago and I have to say it made for such an exciting, suspenseful read for me.

You may find my review a bit vague but once you read this I think you’ll appreciate that you went into it not really knowing all that much. When the story begins we first hear from young Miles, a ten year old quirky little boy, whose all decked out in his Robin Hood outfit and on a mission to frighten his mom into quitting smoking by replacing the tobacco in her cigarettes with gunpowder…just a small amount mind you. As Miles hides in the nearby brush to watch his mother’s reaction when she lights up, what he ends up seeing is a murder that will shake him to his core and turn his life completely upside down. This is one of the most surprising and creepiest opening scenes I’ve read in a long time…I was immediately hooked on this story!

Time doesn’t move slow in this novel and we are soon immersed in Miles’ life as a teenager then adult and we learn that he has possession of some very special papers his father left to him, specifically blueprints of a special phone that Thomas Edison was working on that enabled you to talk to the dead. Mile’s makes it his mission to build the machine so he can get an answer to a question that’s haunted him for many years.

Fast forward several years and Miles has his own family, a wife and two kids, and life is pretty good…that is, until the night of the Great Flood when the past rears its ugly head and murder once again turns Miles’ life inside out.

What follows the night of the Great Flood is a story filled with suspense, intrigue, and some of the quirkiest types of misfit characters I’ve had the pleasure of reading in such a long time. In fact, the narration alternates between characters…there’s Necco, on the run from a past she slowly realizes was based on lies; Theo, a teenage girl who’s decisions in the name of love lead her down dangerous roads; Pru (my favorite character), an older school cafeteria worker who’s loneliness and obsession with the circus made for utterly fascinating reading; Fred, a wanna be private investigator, and the “fire eaters,” a group of homeless women with some pretty powerful visions. Throw in settings of old abandoned buildings, junkyards, and fireside campsites under the city bridge, add some paranormal elements and what you’ve got is a genre busting exceptional book that kept me up super late reading! Something to keep in mind…suspension of disbelief is needed in certain parts but I had absolutely no problem doing this, it actually increased my enjoyment. If you like mysteries and thrillers loaded with originality and memorable characters, I highly recommend Burntown.

Many thanks to Doubleday Books via Netgalley for my copy of Burntown. I’m happy to provide an honest review.

 

 

 

THROWBACK THURSDAY PICK OF THE WEEK

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I began this Throwback Thursday meme as a way to share some of my old favorites as well as sharing books that I want to read that were published over a year ago. You know, the ones waiting patiently on my TBR list while I continue to pile more titles on top of them:)! I like that these older books are usually much easier than new releases to get a hold of at libraries and elsewhere. If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, you’re welcome to use my pic as well. If you’d just link back to me I’d so appreciate it

My PICK this week is:

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Published June 2012 By Harper

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

Catherine has been enjoying the single life for long enough to know a good catch when she sees one. Gorgeous, charismatic, spontaneous – Lee seems almost too perfect to be true. And her friends clearly agree, as each in turn falls under his spell. But there is a darker side to Lee.

His erratic, controlling and sometimes frightening behaviour means that Catherine is increasingly isolated. Driven into the darkest corner of her world, and trusting no one, she plans a meticulous escape. Four years later, struggling to overcome her demons, Catherine dares to believe she might be safe from harm. Until one phone call changes everything.

This is an edgy and powerful first novel, utterly convincing in its portrayal of obsession, and a tour de force of suspense.

******

This isn’t your typical obsessive love/stalker book…this book is downright terrifying in places! I remember how well the author created tension, suspense and fear. I liked Catherine which made it all the more worrisome because she ends up in constant danger. And Lee…he’s one scary guy! If you’re in the mood for an edge-of-yourseat, bite your fingernails kind of read give this debut novel a try, I think you’ll be in for a one-sit read:)

🌸Happy Reading🌸

More Throwback Thursday Recommendations around the Blogosphere:

Deanna at DeesRadReadsandReviews

Rebecca at Boofsbooks

Claire at I’m A Coffeholic Bookworm

Ashley at The Bookish Mommy

Abby at Crime By the Book

Ann Marie at LitWitWineandDine

Jill at Jill’s Book Cafe

Nicola at Short Book and Scribes

Cathy at Between the Lines

Susan at Susan Loves Books

 

 

REVIEW: I FOUND YOU by Lisa Jewell

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GOODREADS BLURB

Published April 25, 2017 By Atria Books

‘How long have you been sitting out here?

‘I got here yesterday.’

‘Where did you come from?’

‘I have no idea.’

East Yorkshire: Single mum Alice Lake finds a man on the beach outside her house. He has no name, no jacket, no idea what he is doing there. Against her better judgement she invites him in to her home.

Surrey: Twenty-one-year-old Lily Monrose has only been married for three weeks. When her new husband fails to come home from work one night she is left stranded in a new country where she knows no one. Then the police tell her that her husband never existed.

Two women, twenty years of secrets and a man who can’t remember lie at the heart of Lisa Jewell’s brilliant new novel.

*****

This book releases TODAY and I’m telling you it’s FANTASTIC and UNPUTDOWNABLE!   Am I over-doing the adjectives?  Oh well, I can’t help it because I LOVED this book. As many of you may remember, I did a mini-review of this one back in November so for everyone who missed that I wanted to provide a full review now.

The story takes place in a quaint coastal seaside town (a favorite setting of mine) which I imagine looks very much like the awesome cover of the book! It’s the story of Alice, Lily and a man with no memory of who he is or how he ended up on a beach in this British seaside town of Ridinghouse Bay. The narrative starts crisp and engaging with Alice, who I immediately connected with and liked. I mean within the first few pages of meeting Alice, hearing her speak, being privy to her thoughts, I was rooting for her. Could be that I totally sympathized  with having to try to reason with dogs who weren’t listening and following directions! Whatever the reason, Lisa Jewell pulled me in in those first few pages and I knew I wasn’t leaving my couch anytime soon.

The plot was intriguing in that it alternates between Alice’s situation, Lily’s predicament of her missing husband, and the goings on of the Ross family on their vacation in 1993. You will get to know all of these characters while at the same time trying to figure out the heart of this mystery. Or should I say mysteries because there really is more than one! Let me tell you, I had my theories throughout this page turner but just when I thought I for sure had it figured out Lisa Jewell added a new detail or revealed a different layer and I was second guessing what I thought I knew. I love it when that happens! I really don’t want to say anymore about the plot because ( for me ) I really enjoyed not knowing anything about his book other than the Goodreads blurb.

Here’s what’s important to know…the chapters are short, the dialogue is spot on and the mystery is puzzling. Add to that the allure of the setting and you’ve got a one-sit read because I’d be really surprised if you can put this down after starting it…I couldn’t.

Many thanks to Bookreporter.com’s Sneak Peak contest and Atria Books for my copy of this book. I’m happy to provide an honest review

 

REVIEW: ‘ROUND MIDNIGHT By Laura McBride

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From Goodreads

To Be Published May 2, 2017 by Touchstone

From the author of We Are Called to Rise comes a novel about the interconnected lives of four women in Las Vegas, each of whom experiences a life-changing moment at a classic casino nightclub.

Spanning the six decades when Las Vegas grew from a dusty gambling town into the melting pot metropolis it is today, ‘Round Midnight is the story of four women—one who falls in love, one who gets lucky, one whose heart is broken, and one who chooses happiness—whose lives change at the Midnight Room.

******

I’m calling this now…FAVORITE COVER OF THE YEAR!! It’s just gorgeous and I knew as soon as I saw it I had to read this. Well, that and the fact that it’s wrote by Laura McBride whose first book, We Are Called to Rise, made my top 10 reads of 2016 list last year. This novel is similar in structure to her first and totally works just as effectively as it as well.

When the novel begins, we meet June, who seemed to me very much a free spirit, but also somewhat lost in terms of what she wanted in life. The year is 1960 and June ends up in Las Vegas where she and her husband, Odell Dibb, run the El Capitan hotel where the showroom The Midnight Room hosts the most popular singer in Vegas…one Eddie Knox. Let’s just say June manages to stir up quite a bit of drama at the hotel and in her personal life and I loved reading about it. The author writes in such a way that I was completely drawn into June’s life. Her writing style flows and is so engaging that I felt that I was a fly on the wall…privy to everything going on in and out of the casino.

I have to say the settingLas Vegas in the 1960’s to present day… was a character unto itself and I absolutely loved reading every detail about the casinos and life on and around The Strip.  I remember visiting Vegas as a kid when there were still coins clinking non-stop out of the slot machines just like in the book. I’ve since visited Vegas every summer for the past 15 years and while the sounds in the casino have changed (paper has replaced coins), the vibe, lights and action of the casinos and The Strip sure haven’t. Laura McBride captured all of this brilliantly.

Following June’s section, the timeline jumps to 1992 and we meet Honorata, a Filipino girl who reluctantly (and somewhat bitterly) ends up in Vegas but whose luck may be changing. Then, there’s Coral, a Vegas native and music teacher who longs to find her own kind of happiness. Finally, in the last section, beginning in 2010-present we meet Engracia, an immigrant woman from Mexico with a tremendous broken heart. The beauty of how these very different women’s lives connect lies in the author’s tremendous storytelling ability. There wasn’t a time that I wasn’t completely engaged with the story and intrigued about how the ladies’ lives would intersect. That being said, I was definitely more invested in June’s story and to a lesser extent Coral’s. I really wished there wasn’t such a huge time gap between when we first read about June and when she makes another appearance. She was the character that I was most connected to and compelled to understand and there just wasn’t enough of her, in my opinion. I never really connected with Honorata and Engracia wasn’t in the story nearly as much as the others so I didn’t feel like I knew her as well. In the end, while I hoped for a little more ‘wow’ with the final scenes, I was very happy with how the author chose to end it. If you like vivid settings and charismatic characters, I encourage you to pick up this book.  This is truly top notch writing and storytelling and all I can do now is impatiently wait for Laura McBride’s next novel!

Many thanks to Touchstone Books via Netgalley and Laura McBride for my copy of Round Midnight, I’m happy to provide an honest review.

THROWBACK THURSDAY PICK OF THE WEEK

throwbackthursday

I began this Throwback Thursday meme as a way to share some of my old favorites as well as sharing books that I want to read that were published over a year ago. You know, the ones waiting patiently on my TBR list while I continue to pile more titles on top of them:)! I like that these older books are usually much easier than new releases to get a hold of at libraries and elsewhere. If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, you’re welcome to use my pic as well. If you’d just link back to me I’d so appreciate it

 

My PICK this week is:

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Published Sept. 2015 By Scout Press

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

On the eve of her daughter’s wedding, June Reid’s life is completely devastated when a shocking disaster takes the lives of her daughter, her daughter’s fiancé, her ex-husband, and her boyfriend, Luke—her entire family, all gone in a moment. And June is the only survivor.

Alone and directionless, June drives across the country, away from her small Connecticut town. In her wake, a community emerges, weaving a beautiful and surprising web of connections through shared heartbreak.

From the couple running a motel on the Pacific Ocean where June eventually settles into a quiet half-life, to the wedding’s caterer whose bill has been forgotten, to Luke’s mother, the shattered outcast of the town—everyone touched by the tragedy is changed as truths about their near and far histories finally come to light

******

I have to say I passed over this book MANY times because the cover looks so boring and average! When I finally picked this up last year I read it in one sitting, it just captured my attention so much. In fact, this made my top 10 reads of 2016 list! The writing drew me in and June’s character kept me turning the pages…would she survive the tragedy of losing everyone who mattered? If she does persevere, what will life be like for her? So many questions surrounded June’s story and here’s another one…why was June the only one NOT in that house?? I know I couldn’t stop reading until I found out these answers. This is a fantastic character driven story with mystery and drama….tissues may be needed.

Happy Reading!

Throwback Recommendations around the blogosphere

Claire at I’m a Coffeeholic Bookworm

Deanna at Deesradreadsandreviews

Susan at Susan Loves Books

Patty at Moohnshinescorner

Ashley at The Bookish Mommy

Julie at Novel Thrills and Chills Review

WAITING ON WEDNESDAY

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Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine where each Wednesday you get to highlight a book that you’re really looking forward to. This week I’ve chosen an upcoming new release by an author whose books scream SUMMERTIME READING☀️⛱ Every summer I look forward to finding out what new dramas, secrets, love, or friendship story she’s got in store for us…I can’t WAIT until June to find out!

 

My Waiting on Wednesday Pick is:

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To Be Published June 13th, 2017 By Little, Brown and Company

From New York Times bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand, a summertime story about identical twins who couldn’t be any less alike.

Nantucket is only two and a half hours away from Martha’s Vineyard by ferry. But the two islands might as well be worlds apart for a set of identical twin sisters who have been at odds for years. When a family crisis forces them to band together–or at least appear to–the twins slowly come to realize that the special bond that they share is more important than the sibling rivalry that’s driven them apart for the better part of their lives. A touching depiction of all the pleasures and annoyances of the sibling relationship, Elin Hilderbrand’s next New York Times bestseller, THE IDENTICALS proves once and for all that just because twins look exactly the same doesn’t mean they’re anything alike.

Looks good doesn’t it!!

BLOG TOUR & REVIEW: FAITHLESS By Kjell Ola Dahl

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Faithless by Kjell Ola Dahl, available now and  published by the wonderful Orenda Books

Faithless cover

From Goodreads
Oslo detectives Gunnarstranda and Frølich are back and this time, it’s personal… When the body of a woman turns up in a dumpster, scalded and wrapped in plastic, Inspector Frank Frølich is shocked to discover that he knows her and their recent meetings may hold the clue to her murder. As he ponders the tragic events surrounding her death, Frølich’s colleague Gunnarstranda investigates a disturbingly similar cold case involving the murder of a young girl in northern Norway and Frølich is forced to look into his own past to find the answers – and the killer – before he strikes again. 
 

Review
 
Faithless is the fifth book in the Oslo detectives series and yes, I’ve once again jumped into a series mid-way. If I didn’t know it was a series though I’m not sure I would’ve realized it because it very much reads as a standalone. I’m sure there are character threads woven throughout but I can’t say I noticed that I was missing anything.

The story begins with a stakeout and right away we meet Frank Frolich who’s staking out the house of a suspected robber. When a lady (Veronika Undset) leaves the house and he’s sent to follow and subsequently question her, several plot pieces are set in motion. It’s not long before Frank realizes his past seems to have firmly planted itself in his present, making him somewhat uncomfortable and on guard. Then a murder is committed leaving Frank stunned and searching for answers.

Frank’s comrade and fellow Oslo detective, Gunnarstranda, is investigating the disappearance of a University student so we are privy to 2 separate investigations which may or may not have connections. I found Gunnarstranda to be an interesting character as he sought to solve his case using old-fashioned detective work. His disdain for all the modern technology like CCTV’s was apparent and amusing. Then there’s Lena, a female colleague, who I have to say I never quite decided if I liked or not and then later in the story when she goes rogue and puts herself in a very precarious situation, I really thought that perhaps she wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed.

Faithless is classic Nordic Noir in that the pace is slow, the clues are layed out gradually, and the detectives work fairly methodically. The sentence structure was often short and choppy which did take some getting used to on my part. One thing I really appreciated, however, was the linear timeline. The story progresses in a straightforward manner…no flashbacks!   Something that was missing for me in this book though was a sense of place. I never felt like I could picture the surroundings and the atmospheric details I’ve come to enjoy in other Nordic Noir novels weren’t there for me in this one. I did find the characterization to be strong and while the resolution of one of the mysteries seemed to be pretty lackluster, the other one was a surprise. I always love to be fooled and the author managed to pull one over on me in terms of the murder.

Many thanks to Karen Sullivan for my copy of Faithless and Anne Cater for inviting me to be on the blog tour. I’m happy to provide an honest review.

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About the author

One of the fathers of the Nordic Noir genre, Kjell Ola Dahl was born in 1958 in Gjøvik. He made his debut in 1993, and has since published eleven novels, the most prominent of which is a series of police procedurals cum psychological thrillers featuring investigators Gunnarstranda and Frølich. In 2000 he won the Riverton Prize for The Last Fix and he won both the prestigious Brage and Riverton Prizes for The Courier in 2015. His work has been published in 14 countries, and he lives in Oslo.

Be sure to stop by the other fantastic blogs on the tour 
 
 faithless-blog-tour
Faithless is available now for ebook and paperback in the UK. Publication for print in the US is Sept 1 or you can order now through Book Depository

REVIEW: WHERE ROSES NEVER DIE By Gunnar Staalesen

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From Goodreads

Published August, 2016 by Orenda Books

September 1977. Mette Misvær, a three-year-old girl, disappears without trace from the sandpit outside her home. Her tiny, close middle-class community in the tranquil suburb of Nordas is devastated, but their enquiries and the police produce nothing. Curtains twitch, suspicions are raised, but Mette is never found. Almost 25 years later, as the expiration date for the statute of limitations draws near, Mette’s mother approaches PI Varg Veum, in a last, desperate attempt to find out what happened to her daughter. As Veum starts to dig, he uncovers an intricate web of secrets, lies and shocking events that have been methodically concealed. When another brutal incident takes place, a pattern begins to emerge. Chilling, shocking and full of extraordinary twists and turns, Where Roses Never Die reaffirms Gunnar Staalesen as one of the world’s foremost crime thriller writers.

******

While the missing child storyline is nothing new, this one drew my attention for several reasons. One, it’s an Orenda book and I have yet to read a book that Karen Sullivan has published that I haven’t really enjoyed; two, the fact that this missing child case has been unsolved for 25 years and the statute of limitations is almost up made it feel more intense, like the clock really is ticking to find out and bring someone to justice; three, I’ve recently discovered I love Scandinavian crime novels for the dark, somewhat gloomy settings as well as the often dark, gloomy characters involved.

Put all that together with the beginning pages of the story and I was hooked. The book begins with the armed robbery of a jewelry store gone wrong when a passerby literally runs into the robbers and gets shot and killed. When said robbers basically vanish into thin air it’s intriguing to say the least. The question will soon become, how, if at all does this seemingly random robbery tie in with a 25 year old missing child case?

From here we meet PI Varg Veum who’s losing the battle with himself over continually draining his liquor (Aquavit) bottle while on the job. There’s something tragic about Varg that made me really like him right off the bat. When the mother of Mette Misvoer, the little 3 year old girl who vanished from her front yard 25 years ago while playing in her sandbox pays Varg a visit you could feel his compassion coming through the pages and I immediately realized I was rooting for Varg to not only find the little girl but to save himself from the brink of what seemed like his own personal despair.

What follows is a story told in the style of traditional crime novels. By that I mean there’s no fancy detective tricks, no unreliable narrator, no high speed car chases or shoot’em up filler scenes…this is a guy battling his own personal demons who employs old fashioned detective work to find the missing Mette. With his amusing verbal sparring with suspects, I really found Varg to be a realistic and plausible character. As for the pace of the novel, it’s slow and steady (not in a bad way just in a methodical one)  until about the last quarter when the puzzle pieces begin to fall and click into place and I was racing to the end to find out every last detail. Can I just say…I didn’t see that ending coming! I had my theories but they always remained kind of fuzzy, I just couldn’t figure it all out which is exactly how I like to feel when reading a mystery.

I do have to say that many of you may look this up on Goodreads or Amazon and see that this is Book 18 in the series. FEAR NOT friends because this can be read as a standalone and really the only thing I wanted more answers to involved what happened to Varg’s love Karen which is what has led him to drown himself in Aquavit. So, with that said, I’ll be going back and reading Book 17, We Shall Inherit The Wind. I’ll also be eagerly awaiting Book 19, Wolves in the Dark,  which will be published by Orenda this June!

Many thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for my copy. I’m happy to provide an honest review

THROWBACK THURSDAY PICK OF THE WEEK

throwbackthursday

I began this Throwback Thursday meme as a way to share some of my old favorites as well as sharing books that I want to read that were published over a year ago. You know, the ones waiting patiently on my TBR list while I continue to pile more titles on top of them:)! I like that these older books are usually much easier than new releases to get a hold of at libraries and elsewhere. If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, you’re welcome to use my pic as well. If you’d just link back to me I’d so appreciate it

 

My Pick this week is:

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Published April 2002 By Washington Square Press

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

From Goodreads

For twenty-eight years, things have been tripping along nicely for Cannie Shapiro. Sure, her mother has come charging out of the closet, and her father has long since dropped out of her world. But she loves her friends, her rat terrier, Nifkin, and her job as pop culture reporter for The Philadelphia Examiner. She’s even made a tenuous peace with her plus-size body.

But the day she opens up a national women’s magazine and sees the words “Loving a Larger Woman” above her ex-boyfriend’s byline, Cannie is plunged into misery…and the most amazing year of her life. From Philadelphia to Hollywood and back home again, she charts a new course for herself: mourning her losses, facing her past, and figuring out who she is and who she can become.

******

Can you say cover & title LOVE? Both of those just scream for you to pick up this fun read by Jennifer Weiner. I read this book shortly after it was published…that’s 15 years ago this month! Wow, it doesn’t seem like it’s been that long. This would make a fantastic beach read or fun summer book to read by the pool. I remember really liking Cannie and rooting for her after her ex humiliated her, which if it was in today’s social media age that article he wrote would’ve found its way to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram…and on. Even worse for Cannie! I wouldn’t call this fluffy chick-lit either. If you’ve read anything by Jennifer Weiner you know she writes with depth and really great characterization.

Happy Reading! 

Throwback Thursday recommendations around the blogosphere….

Rebecca at Boofsbooks.com

Claire at I’m a Coffeeholic Bookworm

Susan at Susan Loves Books

Ann Marie at LitWitWineandDine

Deanna at DeesRadReadsandReviews

 

 

**COVER REVEAL** WATCHING THE BODIES BY GRAHAM SMITH

Welcome to the the cover reveal of the upcoming new crime thriller Watching the Bodies by Graham Smith, releasing April 25th by Bloodhound Books……

 

Watching the Bodies

 

Book Description:

When Jake Boulder is asked by his PI friend to help investigate the vicious murder of Kira Niemeyer, he soon finds himself tracking a serial killer who selects his next victim in a most unusual manner.

As the body count rises, Boulder has to work with the police to identify the heinous killer before more lives are taken. What ensues is a twisted game of cat and mouse, that only Boulder or the Watcher can survive.

Author Bio:

Graham Smith is married with a young son. A time served joiner he has built bridges, houses, dug drains and slated roofs to make ends meet. Since Christmas 2000 he has been manager of a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green, Scotland.

An avid fan of crime fiction since being given one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books at the age of eight, he has also been a regular reviewer and interviewer for the well-respected website Crimesquad.com since 2009

He is the author of four books featuring DI Harry Evans and the Cumbrian Major Crimes Team and one book, in a new series featuring Utah doorman, Jake Boulder.

“Watching the Bodies is a storming addition to the action thriller genre, and Jake Boulder a new tough guy to root for. Be under no illusion, Boulder is no Jack Reacher or Joe Hunter c

Links:

Facebook

Author Website

Twitter

Amazon