#BookReview : Mightier Than the Sword (The Clifton Chronicles #5) by Jeffrey Archer #MightierThantheSword #CliftonChronicles #HistoricalFiction

Mightier Than the Sword (The Clifton Chronicles #5) by Jeffrey Archer
Publication date : February 24th 2015
Publisher : St. Martin’s Press
Genre : Historical Fiction
Pages : 400
Stars : ★★★★☆

A bomb goes off, but how many passengers on the MV Buckingham have lost their lives? You will find out only if you read the opening chapter of Mightier than the Sword.



When Harry arrives in New York, his publisher Harold Guinzberg tells him he has been elected as the next president of English PEN, which will give him the opportunity to launch a campaign for the release of a fellow author, Anatoly Babakov, who is languishing in a Russian Gulag in Siberia. His crime, writing a book Uncle Joe, which gives an insight into what it was like to work for Josef Stalin. So determined is he to see Babakov released, Harry puts his own life in danger.



Emma Clifton, now Chairman of Barrington Shipping, is having to face the repercussions of the IRA bombing her ship.
Some board members feel she should resign while others, including Sebastian Clifton, newly elected to the board, are determined to see she remains as Chairman.



Giles Barrington is now a Minister of the Crown, and looks set for high office, but a trip to East Germany does not end as a diplomatic success, and once again Giles’ political career is thrown off balance by none other than Major Alex Fisher. Fisher decides to stand against Giles at the forthcoming general election. But this time who wins?



Sebastian Clifton asks his girlfriend Samantha to marry him. She happily accepts, but then later changes her mind after she discovers what Seb has been up to behind her back.



The book ends with two court trials: one at the high court in London, a libel case pitting Emma Clifton against Lady Virginia Fenwick; while another, a show trial, takes place in Russia after Harry has been arrested as a spy. Thus continues book five of the Clifton Chronicles, Jeffrey Archer’s most accomplished work to date, with all the trademark twists and turns that have made him one of the most successful authors in the world.

Previous books I read in series:

Book 1 Only Time Will Tell
Book 2 The Sins of the Father
Book 3 Best Kept Secret 
Book 4 Be Careful What You Wish For

Mightier Than the Sword was perfect title for this book. Another stellar book in this compelling series that revolved around two family and their never ending problems. It was about, good vs bad, don’t get greedy, sticking to morals and principles will always be rewarding, fight for yourself at right time, fate, family, love and passion.

Writing was as usual gripping, engaging and fast paced that demanded attention in all chapters. Mightier Than the Sword, told from multiple perspective from Harry and Emma, Giles, Sebastian and Lady Virginia’s POV, was set in Bristol and London, occasional visits in U.S. but this time Harry travels to Russia and Giles to Berlin that changed their life.

Mightier Than the Sword started in 1964 picking up from the end of last book, Be Careful What You Wish For, and ended in 1970. It’s clear from the synopsis, no main character died in the blast on Buckingham’s maiden voyage but I will not tell more or what damage it caused. I was thinking how I should write the review as I don’t want say much but at the same time I don’t want end up saying little. Moreover, lot was going on in this book, turn after turn and many surprises. Each main character was facing enemy in this book and each were given equal attention so I will divide my review in what they were facing, what was good and bad with their situation.

As soon as Emma returned from states she was facing Libel trial filed by Virginia moreover some member of board were plotting against her and that included a new enemy Desmond Muller. It felt like she was running out of luck this time. Desmond was unscrupulous, clever and sharp enemy who gave Emma and company hard time and his timing of final strike was fabulous. For first time I feared for Emma. Court room session didn’t help in reducing that fear as Virginia’s lawyer was brilliant. I was curious to see how she was going to fight both of them at the same time and this time if she lose, she was going to lose big- her position, reputation and company.

Emma evolved a lot over four previous books of this series. Her impression as first woman chairman of public company was formidable. She was admiring, ethical, honest person with high morals and principles. She wouldn’t do wrong with anybody but at the same time wouldn’t let anyone harm her and her family.

Sebastian was fighting Adrian Sloane, his boss who planned to take over Farthings bank. This initial part was tense. Sloane was smart and most dishonest and greedy man. His plan was great, with time in his favor and took over the bank real fast that made Seb resign from his job but he was determined to get back to him. I was curious to see how he was going to fight him with no job and less money.

Seb was exceptionally brilliant but in getting revenge and money fast, living accomplished life, he messed up his personal life. Over the course of this book, he learned and developed a lot. He took one step at a time and climbed financial ladder, took all the opportunity at right time. It was looking like all Cedric taught to him finally came to its fruition when he saw name of Hakim Bishra. I liked that man and I loved how game of fighting Sloane turned from this point.

Giles was not happy family man in this. His son died at age 3 and that broke him and Gwyneth apart. He respected Gwyneth but love was drifting and when he went to Berlin to attend conference as a minister of Crown, he made a mistake that made him resign and once again fight election. Time was also not in his favor as again he had to fight against Fisher. I was curious to see what was the result of election and how would he face consequences of his mistakes. He was best example of sportsmanship and I loved him for being resilient and following his heart. I enjoyed every word and pages when he fought election and later when he supported Emma, but Gwyneth was best and I hope he don’t regret letting her go.

Harry was facing most dangerous situation of all. To begin with he was now president of English PEN and started a campaign for release of Anatoly Babakov, Russian novelist who was imprisoned for 20 years for writing a book on Stalin, titled Uncle Joe. He was curious to find out what was in the book and why Russian government destroyed every copy on publication day of Uncle Joe. He passionately felt for Babakov. But fight for his release meant fight against whole Russian government. First he went to Russia as a guest speaker of PEN- he delivered mind blowing speech (it was as good as Gile’s election speeches) and some work from cabinet secretary (which turned out real interesting). I didn’t know he had photographic memory until this book! Why it wasn’t mentioned before! He discovered location one last copy of Uncle Joe and had to visit Russia again but without protection secretary. Isn’t it just getting just better and better? I was curious to find out how he would locate it and how he would get away with or maybe not? What will happen if Russian caught him? This part was best on whole book.

I enjoyed every tricky situations every characters faced, how they fought their enemies- who won one or two small battle as well that made me worry for characters- and how they came out of it. I loved each of them for not losing hope, sought each other’s help and advice, fought keeping their morals and principles intact that ultimately rewarded them with best result.

I loved reading scenes that were based on historical events like Berlin wall and The Stasi of the East German communist government, imprisonment of Russian writer, and Stalin’s biography through Uncle Joe which was most intriguing.

Climax made me anxious, laugh, curious and awed all at the same time. Harry’s escape, Emma’s trial, and enemies’ plan all was pumping the adrenaline at best. I was holding my breath when finally end neared and then I cursed, ‘Damn Cliffhangers!’ At 3:00 a.m. I got up from bed pulled out sixth book and read few chapters to see the real end. And I tell you it was amazing.

Why 4 stars-

Honestly, I’m tired seeing Virginia and Fisher again. Cliftons and Barringtons are so nice and always do right thing so why they are having lot of enemies? It’s like wherever they go they made enemy. From 1919 to 1970 there wasn’t a year they didn’t face problem! It’s really far fetching.  

Overall, Mightier Than the Sword was gripping, fast paced historical fiction and family saga, full of twist and turn and drama. I definitely recommend this to fans of Jeffrey Archer.

Book Links:

Goodreads

Affiliate Links: Amazon (IN) | Amazon (US) | Amaon (UK) | Book Depository

What do you think about the book? Have you read this already or any book in this series or same author? Have you read a book in which character has photographic memory?

Happy Reading!

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#BookBlitz : Roadside by Angie Dokos @AngieDokos @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #Romance #Books #Reading

Looking for a romance with a little more grit, check out Roadside by Angie Dokos! Read on for more details and a chance to win a copy signed by the author!

Roadside by Angie Dokos

Publication Date: May 2017

Genre: New Adult Romance

Zayne finds Serena’s lifeless body off the side of the road one morning. She has been beaten and left for dead. As she recovers, they become the best of friends. It doesn’t take long for Zayne’s feelings to grow stronger. Will the fear of ruining their friendship keep them from taking a chance on love?

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35094416-roadside

Excerpt

Levi didn’t look at the caller ID on the screen before answering. “Detective Morgan.”

“Dad. She’s awake.” Zayne spat out.

Confused, Levi questioned, “What? Who?”

“The girl we found. She woke up.”

“How do you know? The nurses were to call me when she woke up.”

“They are working with her now. Trying to calm her down.”

“You’re there? At the hospital?”

“Yes. I came back to check on her. She woke up while I was talking to Sadie.”

“Son, why did you go back? You knew they’d call me if there were any changes.”

“I don’t know, Dad. I just felt like it.” Zayne snapped. “Please get back down here and ask your questions so you can help her.”

Levi exhaled loudly. “I’m on my way.”

Zayne stood outside the door listening to Sadie and another nurse talk to the girl. Sadie was telling her she had been beaten and was found lying near the side of the road. The other nurse told her, “You’re safe now. The young man that was here when you woke up was one of the people that found you and brought you here.”

Sadie asked, “Can you tell us what your name is sweetie?” Zayne listened for a response. He heard Sadie say, “It’s okay honey. You’re going to be okay.”

The other nurse asked, “Do you want some water to drink?” He didn’t hear a reply from the girl, but he could hear the nurse moving around. He was afraid to go back into the room. When she first woke up and saw him, she panicked. She didn’t scream, but it looked like she was about to. She was whimpering. Tears rolled down her bruised and swollen face. She

tried to push herself away. She was shaking, and the heart rate monitor’s beep sped up. Sadie asked him to go find a nurse named Piper. She was trying to calm the girl down. He found Piper at the nurses’ station. She rushed into the room to help Sadie.

Zayne was still standing at the door listening when his dad arrived. Levi asked, “Son, are you okay? You look exhausted.”

Zayne replied, “I’m fine. Go find out who she is and help her.”

Levi shook his head. “We need to talk about this later.” He lightly tapped on the partially open door. The nurses and the girl turned and looked at him. The traumatized girl started whimpering again, and she was trying to scramble backward. Levi said, “It’s okay, ma’am. I’m not going to hurt you. I’m here to help.”

Sadie exclaimed, “She’s not ready to talk.”

Levi asked, “Do you know her name? We need to contact her family.”

“Piper, stay with her,” Sadie spat. She planted her hand on Levi’s shoulder and pushed him out the door. “She has obviously been attacked by a male, the last thing she needs is strange men in her room.”

“I apologize. But we need to know who she is. We found no identification, no phone or anything. We haven’t even found her clothing. We need to at least know her name. She needs her family and I’m sure someone is worried sick about her. The sooner we know what happened, the better chance we have of catching whomever did this to her.”

Sadie sighed. “Give us a few minutes. She hasn’t spoken yet.”

Levi asked, “Can I talk to the doctor while you talk to her? He can possibly tell me some useful information for the investigation.”

“Yes. Go to the nurses’ station down the hall and ask them to get Dr. Archer for you. I do know she fought like hell, and she wasn’t raped. But he can tell you more.”

Levi was shocked. “She wasn’t raped?”

Purchase Link:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/ROADSIDE-Angie-Dokos/dp/1542570581

About the Author

Throughout my childhood, I loved to write.  I would make up stories all the time.  As an adult, I had a million ideas for stories, but they weren’t leaving my notebooks or computer. My daughter got a bright idea for her senior project, she would publish a book.  We discussed it and decided she and I would write, edit, publish, and promote a book.  Well, life happened and she didn’t stick with it.  I was too attached by that time and had to figure out what was going to happen with our characters, so I kept writing. A couple years later, Mackenzie’s Distraction was published. After that, I started writing another one. The following year, Roadside was published. Click on over to Amazon and check them out.

Author Links: Blog | Instagram | Facebook | Pinterest | Goodreads | Amazon

Giveaway:  a signed paperback

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Didi Oviatt – https://didioviatt.wordpress.com

Jessica Belmont – https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/

Viviana MacKade – https://viviana-mackade.blog/

The Cozy Pages – http://thecozypages.wordpress.com/

The Faerie Review – http://www.thefaeriereview.com

Tsarina Press – https://www.tsarinapress.com

B is for Book Review – https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com

This is My Truth Now – https://thisismytruthnow.com/

Shalini’s Books & Reviews – https://bookreviewsbyshalini.com/

Breakeven Books – https://breakevenbooks.com

Kristin’s Novel Café – https://knovelcafe.wordpress.com/

Dark Whimsical Art – https://www.darkwhimsicalart.com/blogs/news

Books Teacup & Reviews – https://booksteacupnreviews.wordpress.com/

Book Dragons Not Worms – https://bookdragonsnotworms.blogspot.com/?m=1

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What do you think about the post? Have you read this book or any book by these authors? Are you going to add it to TBR?

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Frozen Stiff Drink, available for .99 on Kindle #FrozenStiffDrink #kindle99deal #download #saleblitz

Frozen Stiff Drink: Death at Danby Landing, the 6th book in the Braxton Campus Mysteries, will be available as a .99 Kindle download. Below you’ll find several highlights, and if you are interested in reading the book, you can purchase it as a physical book or a Kindle version via Amazon.

About Frozen Stiff Drink

Frozen Stiff Drink: A Kellan Ayrwick Cozy Mystery (Braxton Campus Mysteries)
Cozy Mystery
6th in Series
Publisher: Gumshoe – A Next Chapter Imprint (March 18, 2020)
Digital Edition – ~270 Pages
ASIN: B0849MJH6H

A winter blizzard barrels toward Wharton County with a vengeance. Madam Zenya predicted the raging storm would change the course of Kellan’s life, but the famed seer never could’ve prepared him for all the collateral damage.

Nana D disappears after visiting a patient at Willow Trees, leaving behind a trail of confusion. When the patient turns up dead and a second body is discovered beneath the snowbanks, Kellan must face his worst fears. What tragedy has befallen his beloved grandmother?

Kellan’s brother Hampton learns essential life lessons the hard way after his father-in-law accuses him of embezzlement. While trying to prove his innocence, Hampton digs himself a deeper hole that might lead to prison. Sheriff Montague wants to save him, but she receives the shock of her life as the past hurtles forward and complicates her future.

Between locating Nana D and solving the scandalous murder of another prominent Braxton citizen, Kellan and April’s worlds explode with more turmoil than they can handle. Too bad neither one of them knows what to do about the psychic’s latest premonition. The suspicious deaths happening around town aren’t ending anytime soon.

5 out of 5 stars
This was a really great book! The suspense was just right and I had only a small inkling of who the villain MIGHT be.
~Valerie’s Musings

The story is well-written and James Cudney does a great job pulling all the storylines together to give us a wonderful conclusion.
~Carla Loves to Read

Frozen Stiff Drink by James J. Cudney is a complex plot with multiple crimes and intriguing characters.
~Baroness’ Book Trove

Mr. Cudney has written an intricate story that is multifaceted with subplots twisted together and Kellan in the middle of them all . . . Full of twists and misdirections, the pace is at a constant high. The ending was exciting and full of surprises.
~Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book

This was good clean cosy mystery that will keep you guessing, once again I thought I had the culprit down but a few red herrings made me rethink and once again I was off the mark! Now that makes a good mystery in my eyes,
~eBook addicts

Where to Buy It

Kindle: http://mybook.to/fsd

Paperback: http://mybook.to/frozenstiffpb

Large Print: http://mybook.to/frozenstifflp

Book Excerpt

“Grrr! Argh! Blech!” Circling the shopping district’s downtown lot for the third time, I begged the parking gods to graciously relinquish an open spot. Everyone and their mother roamed the streets in frenzied pursuit of supplies and their cowering sanity. A vicious blizzard barreled toward Wharton County, and all four towns had flipped their lids in fear of Doomsday’s imminent arrival. I insisted Madam Zenya’s premonition of the disaster was a hallucination despite worrying she often hit the proverbial bullseye.

“Was that gibberish? Are you speaking English, Kellan?” Lara, a late-forties former supermodel turned news reporter, bellowed through the staticky phone. We’d met the previous year when she moderated Nana D’s mayoral debates. After the charming Ms. Bouvier had co-investigated a suspicious death that summer, we’d become good friends and colleagues on our television show, Dark Reality.

I hurled the headset onto the passenger seat, switched my cell to speakerphone, and gripped the steering wheel with such ferocity it permanently imprinted my palms. “Sorry, the hands-free device cut out. It’s good you didn’t hear my mumbling. They weren’t the most flattering words.”

“For heaven’s sake, park in the loading zone outside Nutberry Pharmacy. Your grandmother is the mayor. You’re dating the sheriff. I doubt you’ll get a ticket.” Lara chortled with amusement regarding my current predicament. “Unless they’re conspiring to exact revenge on you… ummm… on second thought, you’re right. Drive around one more time. I suspect you’ll get lucky soon.”

“Yep, Nana D and April rarely get along, but torturing me is the one pastime they share in common.” Upon noticing an empty spot in the far corner, I swiftly cut the steering wheel and expediently navigated toward it. “You were right! I found one.”

It was my second trip in the last hour to the drugstore. My visits hadn’t exactly delighted the Nutberry family ever since I’d discovered the crimes one of them committed the previous spring. Murder wasn’t known to unite people in blissful harmony. Neither was the threat of inclement weather.

Fresh off a full day of teaching students who prayed for the cancellation of next week’s classes, due to the monster-sized winter storm whizzing our way, a dozen last-minute errands still plagued my to-do notes. After I’d ticked them off the list, my fifteen-year-old cousin informed me he’d run out of deodorant. Ulan had become my ward after Uncle Zach extended his African expedition to protect a rare elephant species. Under normal circumstances, notwithstanding the teenage hormones and noxious fumes emanating from his bedroom, I’d wait until tomorrow to buy it. Procrastination wasn’t possible this time. Ulan and my seven-year-old daughter, Emma, were leaving for Disney World in the morning.

“Excellent. We need to discuss Hiram’s Dark Reality segment. Although he’s improved since emerging from the coma last month, his recovery will take months. He’s agreed to step down and recommend a temporary replacement judge before the next election,” Lara exclaimed after her impromptu visit to Willow Trees Rehabilitation Center. Judge Grey, her former father-in-law, was recuperating from a haunted hayride accident that’d threatened his life four months ago.

“And Wharton County collectively breathes a sigh of relief. Nana D will dance an Irish jig when the crusty magistrate vacates the bench. Sayonara to the ancient red tape she’s trying to eliminate.” Truthfully, the man had no chance of re-election. When news leaked about his conspiracy with a psychiatrist to murder a healthy and sane patient years ago, citizens would revolt. The only reasons for a delayed uproar were his submersion into a coma and inability to perform judicial duties.

Lara raved about Nana D’s plans for ridding our county of corruption. “When I got there, some young girl with a pastel green streak in her hair yelled at him about destroying families. Good for her!”

“Judge Grey is a blight on Wharton County. Did he reveal his replacement nominee?”

“Nope, he refused. It honestly looked like the Grim Reaper was knocking at his door. My heart swells for Imogene. My daughter loves her grandfather in spite of all the shameless things he’s done.” Lara shared an update on Hiram’s condition: alive, more arrogant than usual, and begging for someone to sneak in a bottle of expensive bourbon. “Can you believe that man stashes a special crystal tumbler at the rehab center for his hourly cocktails? Even that persnickety red-haired nurse threatened to clobber him if he barked one more order at her.”

“Given my frustrations at this unbearable moment, Hiram’s demands don’t sound half bad.”

“You need to relax. Finish your errands, meander home, and drink something potent to squelch your attitude.” Lara suggested we meet for breakfast the following morning at the Pick-Me-Up Diner, my sister’s famed cozy eatery, to plot the episode we were filming on the Garibaldi and Grey families.

“Duly noted.” I slammed on the brakes, causing my neck to crash into the seat’s headrest and seesaw until I practically collided with the dashboard too. “I don’t believe it! Who does he think… of all the moronic things… what the—”

Lara interrupted before I could mutter another stream of obscenities that would prompt Nana D to wash out my mouth with soap. “What’s going on? You’re back to gibberish again, darling. For a literature and film professor at Braxton, words don’t come naturally to you, do they?”

“Some idiot stole my parking spot. He gunned ahead of me.” I rolled down my window, shivered at the frosty gusts pricking my cheeks, and waited for the sneaky louse to exit his tiny red sports car.

A tall, well-built man in his early thirties, the same age as me, stepped out of the convertible and strolled by without a care in the world. I swear he bobbed his head and hummed Michael Jackson’s “Bad.” I grunted and stink-eyed the jerk strutting around in dark jeans, a black V-neck tee, and a Nordic ski hat that covered most of his unshaven, structured face. The guy had zero body fat to speak of—how did he walk the streets dressed like we weren’t approaching an ice age again? It was the middle of February and colder than the Arctic. No matter how hard I tried—regardless of growing up in this snow globe—I couldn’t acclimate to the harsh Pennsylvania winters after living in LA for the last decade.

“Hey, sorry, man. Didn’t realize you wanted that spot,” he carelessly called out, shrugging as he sauntered away with a poorly concealed and immature chuckle. “Better luck next time.”

As he turned, a tattoo of a snake—with the longest tongue I’d ever seen—roamed the entire length of his beefy arm, both surprising and confusing me. Although I didn’t know everyone in our small town, I was certain he hailed from other parts. “Seriously? You’re gonna walk away like that?” While idling in the middle of the lot, I snarled and shifted the car into park, remembering Lara lingered on the phone. “Hold on. That was the last spot, and I’m in a rush.”

“Life’s short, dude. You gotta take what you want and never look back.” The obnoxious spot-stealer winked, sped into a jog, and waved at a shorter, dark-skinned man near the corner of Nutberry Pharmacy. He proffered the other man a small package, and in return, the spot-stealer collected a bank envelope he discreetly stuffed inside his back pocket. Had I witnessed a drug deal in progress?

Lara hollered my name. “Let it go. Find another space. See you tomorrow morning if we both survive the impending apocalypse. Ciao, babe.”

“Thanks for the advice!” I swallowed my rising anger and considered my options. It would take five minutes to run into the store, select a stick of deodorant that’d protect us from Ulan’s death sweat, and dash back to the car. With the decision unanimously agreed, I parked behind the red sports car, ensuring its delinquent driver couldn’t back out, and executed my errand. It was rare I fought fire with fire, but he deserved my wrath, and I would return before him—most likely.

As I approached the counter in our local family-run pharmacy, frowning at the five people in front of me, I held up the deodorant to Tiffany Nutberry. I gestured something that volunteered I was in a hurry or had gotten my tongue stuck to an icy pole, then begged her to add it to my tab. My brother’s former college gal pal nodded and focused on her next customer. Sometimes living in a small town where everyone knew your name was a beneficial curse.

I retreated to the front door, scanning the area for the creep who’d stolen the spot, but found no sign of my newest mortal enemy or the stranger he’d surreptitiously met. While I catapulted across the lot, a note on the windshield and an empty parking space garnered my attention. The spot-stealer had driven over the low curb rather than wait for me to return. I anxiously read the message:

Your plan backfired. Mine won’t. I know how to get even. I also don’t give up easily.

A petulant man would’ve kicked the tires in frustration. An intelligent guy would’ve shaken it off and escaped without a colossal tantrum. Judging by the throbbing in my foot when I pressed the gas pedal to dart away from the vacant space, my level of maturity sputtered in a non-ideal direction.

It had been a day. If I could’ve returned it for a refund or shoplifted a new one from a discount rack, I’d have been better off. While driving to Danby Landing, Nana D’s organic orchard and farm, I conjured ways to avenge the spot-stealer and heeded the tail end of a regional weather report—or desperate warning that we’d soon march to a painful death. I couldn’t decipher his bleak tone.

To recap for those who missed my detailed forecast, temperatures will drop like atom bombs overnight into the teens. By afternoon, snow flurries will descend on us poor, unfortunate souls. Although the weekend will sprinkle only a trifle of snow, be cognizant of fierce and major precipitation by Sunday evening when you will become unavoidably trapped—housebound for days like suffering prisoners. Some are nicknaming it the blizzard of the century, and one thing’s for sure, folks… don’t leave your pets and shoes outside this weekend. By Monday, we will greet three feet of snow with another six inches dropped on us by dinnertime. No one wants to lose a pinky toe to frostbite or visit the local taxidermist.”

I switched the channel and snorted at the static blasting through the speakers. “It’s a good thing my parents and the kids are leaving on vacation.” Though I spoke to myself, it was better than listening to the weather forecast. I’d wanted to escape with them on the trip, but Braxton’s Spring Break wasn’t until the following week. I couldn’t abandon my job. My parents were doing me a favor by watching the kids, which allowed me extra time to address the premier episode of Dark Reality with Lara. We needed to focus all our spare energy on preparing for the thrilling series revitalization.

I’d also spend quality time with April. Our lack of intimacy had descended into sore subject territory. Although we’d shared a romantic Valentine’s Day earlier that week, a burst pipe in the sheriff’s office had slashed our time shorter than a matchstick. The kids were always a priority. And ever since she’d revealed that a divorce from her husband had not formally taken place years ago, we’d been tracing the mysterious man’s whereabouts to resolve the itty-bitty complication.

During April’s and my first official date on my birthday last Halloween, Madam Zenya interrupted to warn us she foresaw danger imminently hurtling in our direction. Months had passed without Beelzebub’s fireballs singing us, but she’d also suggested it would prevail during a winter blizzard. Could the approaching storm be what she’d hinted about?

That night, April had also given me a birthday present—a fake certificate awarding me an honorary degree in meddling and nuisance studies. The gift came with a plastic badge she brazenly directed to affix to my lips whenever I yearned to solve murders. Irony prompted half the town to refer to me as The Unlikely Death Locator. I’d somehow innocently involved myself in five of her murder investigations in the last year, and despite the frequent trouble it caused, we’d still developed a fiery attraction to one another. Unfortunately, my separation from a not-so-dead mobster wife, Francesca Castigliano, had just begun, and April’s split from her globetrotting not-so-divorced husband, Fox Terrell, was an unexpected new obstacle. Quite a pair of hot messes, weren’t we?

As I drove past the Danby Landing cottage, my brother and his boyfriend zoomed down the path on his motorcycle. Of all the idiotic things to do given the threat of a snowstorm, Gabriel would be the one knucklehead to risk his and Sam’s lives on a bike. I hastily waved through the window, knowing we’d scheduled dinner for Sunday, unless the looming winter disaster rendered that impossible. I’d decided to introduce my girlfriend to my family in a non-official capacity by testing the waters with Gabriel. His sarcasm and humor were on par with mine. It would be easy to relax in a group setting while Sam was on a break from graduate school. They’d been dating for six months even though the long-distance had occasionally caused a few issues cum calamities. Gabriel could be quite an obnoxious handful.

About The Author:

Background

James is my given name, but most folks call me Jay. I live in New York City, grew up on Long Island, and graduated from Moravian College, an historic but small liberal arts school in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with a degree in English literature and minors in Education, Business and Spanish. After college, I accepted a technical writing position for a telecommunications company during Y2K and spent the last ~20 years building a career in technology & business operations in the retail, sports, media and entertainment industries. Throughout those years, I wrote some short stories, poems and various beginnings to the “Great American Novel,” but I was so focused on my career in technology and business that writing became a hobby. In 2016, I refocused some of my energies toward reinvigorating a second career in reading, writing and publishing.

Author

Writing has been a part of my life as much as my heart, my mind and my body. At some points, it was just a few poems or short stories; at others, it was full length novels and stories. My current focus is family drama fiction, cozy mystery novels and suspense thrillers. I think of characters and plots that I feel must be unwound. I think of situations people find themselves in and feel compelled to tell the story. It’s usually a convoluted plot with many surprise twists and turns. I feel it necessary to take that ride all over the course. My character is easily pictured in my head. I know what he is going to encounter or what she will feel. But I need to use the right words to make it clear.

Reader & Reviewer

Reading has also never left my side. Whether it was children’s books, young adult novels, college textbooks, biographies or my ultimate love, fiction, it’s ever present in my day. I read 2 books per week and I’m on a quest to update every book I’ve ever read on Goodreads, write up a review and post it on all my sites and platforms. 

Blogger & Thinker

I have combined my passions into a single platform where I share reviews, write a blog and publish tons of content: TRUTH. I started my 365 Daily Challenge, where I post about a word that has some meaning to me and converse with everyone about life. There is humor, tears, love, friendship, advice and bloopers. Lots of bloopers where I poke fun at myself all the time. Even my dogs have had weekly segments called “Ryder’s Rants” or “Baxter’s Barks” where they complain about me. All these things make up who I am; none of them are very fancy or magnanimous, but they are real. And that’s why they are me.

Genealogist & Researcher

I love history and research, finding myself often reaching back into the past to understand why someone made the choice he or she did and what were the subsequent consequences. I enjoy studying the activities and culture from hundreds of years ago to trace the roots and find the puzzle of my own history. I wish I could watch my ancestors from a secret place to learn how they interacted with others; and maybe I’ll comprehend why I do things the way I do.

Website & Blog:

Website Blog Amazon Next Chapter Pub | BookBub

Social Media:

Twitter Facebook Facebook Facebook Pinterest Instagram Goodreads LinkedIn

Genres, Formats & Languages

I write in the family drama and mystery genres. My first two books are Watching Glass Shatter (2017) and Father Figure (2018). Both are contemporary fiction and focus on the dynamics between parents and children and between siblings. I’m currently writing the sequel to Watching Glass Shatter. I also have a light mystery series called the Braxton Campus Mysteries with six books available.

All my books come in multiple formats (Kindle, physical print, large print paperback, and audiobook) and some are also translated into foreign languages such as Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and German. 

Goodreads Book Links

Watching Glass Shatter (October 2017)

Father Figure (April 2018)

Braxton Campus Mysteries

What do you think about the book? Have you read this book or any previous books in series? Are you going to add it to TBR?

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New Waves by Kevin Nguyen #NewWaves #GeneralFiction @PRHGlobal #BooksTeacupnReviews

Publication Date : March 10th 2020
Publisher : Spiegel & Grau
Genre : General Fiction
Pages : 320
Stars : ★★★☆☆

Set in the New York City tech world, a wry and edgy debut novel about a heist gone wrong, a secret online life exposed, and a young man’s search for true connection….

Lucas and Margo are fed up. Margo is a brilliant programmer tired of being talked over as the company’s sole black employee, and while Lucas is one of many Asians at the firm, he’s nearly invisible as a low-paid customer service rep. Together, they decide to steal their tech start-up’s user database in an attempt at revenge. The heist takes a sudden turn when Margo dies in a car accident, and Lucas is left reeling, wondering what to do with their secret–and wondering whether her death really was an accident. When Lucas hacks into Margo’s computer looking for answers, he is drawn into her secret online life and realizes just how little he knew about his best friend.

With a fresh voice, biting humor, and piercing observations about human nature, Kevin Nguyen brings an insider’s knowledge of the tech industry to this imaginative novel. A pitch-perfect exploration of race and start-up culture, secrecy and surveillance, social media and friendship, New Waves asks: How well do we really know each other? And how do we form true intimacy and connection in a tech-obsessed world?

*** Note: I received e-copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to PRHGlobal for free copy. ***

New Waves was general fiction that revolved around two friends Margo and Lucas, Lucas discovering more about Margo after her death, and coping with grief and loss. It was about technology and start up tech companies in 2000s, music, work and living in New York, and mainly friendship, loss and grief, racism at workplace and in society.

Writing was crisp and intriguing, both serious and witty at some point while trivial on another. It felt like I was reading documentary. Now from synopsis I guessed this might be a mystery, a techno thriller, (who tagged it mystery on Goodreads!) I thought Margo died because of data they stole or to keep Lucas safe or something. But that’s misleading. There is no mystery in this book, not anything like thriller. So don’t just get the book thinking you will have a mystery to solve. It is a pretty simple fiction about loss and grief and companionship.

New Waves was narrated from Lucas and Jill’s perspective. Both characters connected through Margo after her death. Lucas’ perspective told about how he met Margo, how they started working together, how he was coping after her death, how he met Jill and what they found in Margo’s laptop. Jill’s perspective showed her emotions, her writer’s block, her life before she met Margo and Lucas, what she talked to Margo, how she felt after Margo died, and what she thought about her and Lucas, how she found inspiration once again.

Characters were interesting and realistic but not exactly likable and were hard to connect. The plot and scenario actually made them interesting. The only interesting character died in first chapter.

Lucas didn’t have degree and still found job but didn’t appreciate it. He was aimless and passionless. Only thing he liked to do was chat with Margo, later sex with Jill, drink excessively, and wallow in loneliness and grief. I didn’t like his attitude and his mindset. I felt sorry for him that he had to face and experience racism at every level of his life. I know how it feels to be different from majority, not just in looks but in all other things but that doesn’t mean you hurt even those who cared for you or gave you opportunity. He messed in everything and with people who tried to help him and then turned all the failure in anger towards them. Most of the time he was boring character but some dry-wit scenario made him entertaining enough to keep reading.

Jill was full time author and was experiencing writer’s block. I liked her a little, she was at least better than Lucas. She had aim and goals, all she needed was inspiration and motivation that she received from Margo and after her death through her audio files. One thing I don’t understand about her is how she has money to waste on drinks if she claims to be broke?!

Her and Lucas’ relationship was okay. They lacked seriousness and love. They liked each other but it was not enough. At some point I thought, they might be together and help each other grow but they messed it too.

Margo was most interesting character. We know her from Lucas’ memories of her, from her chat with Jill and her audio files and all these three medium showed different side of Margo they weren’t aware of.

Lucas and Margo’s relationship showed what real friendship is and it takes whole life to know them and still there will be things about person that surprise you. You only know a person from what they share with you.

Grief isn’t just the act of coping with a loss. It’s reckoning with the realization that you’ll never discover something new about a person ever again.

I didn’t know the meaning of title until I read it in book and googled it – popular pop music in 1970s and 1980s. There was a lot about music, piracy and TV shows and characters’ thought on it was interesting.

There were many layers in this booktechnology and startup tech companies, misuse of internet and social media (This part was both serious and entertaining); Asian-American culture and discrimination they faced, gender inequality and companionship.

I loved some facts included in the book about face recognition technology and later its military funding (but here the year founded and its takeover was different. What I liked was Jill’s thoughts behind it. I don’t agree with her that the technology was racist in this but I agree the way government wanted to use it was racist), internet messaging that started in 2009, The longest record for running a marathon with the time of 54 years 246 days 5 hours 32 minutes 20.3 seconds (Lucas told whole story behind this longest record which was fascinating and real. What he was trying to say through it made me chuckle), and great Kanto earthquake (142,800 died in this earthquake, more than people died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, combined! I didn’t know that and I liked what characters said about it).

Climax was unexpected. I didn’t expect Lucas mess things this bad. I couldn’t understand what he wanted in life. Jill’s development was good and I liked how she finally moved on in life and with her dead project. I liked reading what happened to Lucas after he messed things and what he did at the end. That last chapter, last story and insight of it was great.

Why 3 stars-

Plot and pace was bumpy. I lost interest in the middle of the book. I didn’t care about characters until climax. Characters were not impressive and I didn’t like them.

Though I liked those audio files they felt disjointed with the main story. There was no character development until climax. Lucas’ development was not full even after climax. He grew but not totally. I still don’t like him.

I don’t know why Jill was given whole chapter (and I tell you chapters are long, there are total 8 chapters in this book) in the middle of the book telling about her ex and her life with him. I would have preferred her story short and in conversation with Lucas, there was no need to switch narration. Again second last chapters with 6 detailed weeks of Jill’s life was too much.

Overall, New Waves was different read than usual. Some things I like, some I didn’t but definitely very observant fiction. This can be hit or miss so read excerpt first.

Book Links:

Goodreads

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What do you think about the book? Have you read it already or any book by the same author? Have you read a book(s) featuring Tech companies?

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#BookReview : Pretty Things by Janelle Brown #PrettyThings #Mystery #Thriller @PRHGlobal #BooksTeacupnReviews

Pretty Things by Janelle Brown
Publication Date : April 21st 2020
Publisher : Random House
Genre : Mystery Thriller
Pages : 496
Stars : ★★★★☆ (4.25)

Two wildly different women – one a grifter, the other an heiress – are brought together by the scam of a lifetime in a page-turner from the New York Times bestselling author of Watch Me Disappear.

Nina once bought into the idea that her fancy liberal arts degree would lead to a fulfilling career. When that dream crashed, she turned to stealing from rich kids in L.A. alongside her wily Irish boyfriend, Lachlan. Nina learned from the best: Her mother was the original con artist, hustling to give her daughter a decent childhood despite their wayward life. But when her mom gets sick, Nina puts everything on the line to help her, even if it means running her most audacious, dangerous scam yet.

Vanessa is a privileged young heiress who wanted to make her mark in the world. Instead she becomes an Instagram influencer—traveling the globe, receiving free clothes and products, and posing for pictures in exotic locales. But behind the covetable façade is a life marked by tragedy. After a broken engagement, Vanessa retreats to her family’s sprawling mountain estate, Stonehaven: a mansion of dark secrets not just from Vanessa’s past, but from that of a lost and troubled girl named Nina.

Nina’s, Vanessa’s, and Lachlan’s paths collide here, on the cold shores of Lake Tahoe, where their intertwined lives give way to a winter of aspiration and desire, duplicity and revenge.

This dazzling, twisty, mesmerizing novel showcases acclaimed author Janelle Brown at her best, as two brilliant, damaged women try to survive the greatest game of deceit and destruction they will ever play. 

*** Note: I received e-copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to PRHGlobal for free copy. ***

Pretty Things was slow-burn mystery thriller that revolved around two women from different background, one a con with plan of heist and other rich heiress spending her time in loneliness. It was about grift, con, gap between rich and poor and their mindset about it, social media and its illusion, pretty things and its not-so-pretty reality, dysfunctional family, friendship, love, deceit and betrayal.

Writing was beautiful, descriptive and often lyrical. I love it when there’s more than just story and characters. Deep, thought provoking and meaningful messages and quote worthy line are something I always appreciate it most in book and this had it in abundance.

Plot was interesting. Story was first person narrative from Nina and Vanessa’s perspective. They were given few chapters each sharing their view points on their present situation, telling their life story, how their path collided and what happened after that.

Pretty Things had intriguing beginning with Nina swindling a young rich Russian along with her Irish boyfriend, Lachlan. Nina conned rich people to pay her mother’s medical bill, but had set of rules- “Don’t take too much and only con those who deserve it and can afford to replace things they stole”. But when police came knocking at her door and sending her on run, they had to break the rules for one last big grift with more than enough cash that can help her mother’s treatment and give her new start. So, they decided to con Vanessa Liebling, young privileged heiress of Liebling estate, Stonehaven at Lake Tahoe. Now Nina has history with this place and she hated Lieblings. I was curious to find out what was the history, why she hated the rich and specially Lieblings so much, what they did to Nina?

This was character driven story. Most part of the book was character building and development. First 50% of the book told about present life of characters, their childhood, past, what happened in their lives that shaped their present and their mindset. This was slowest part and long chapters didn’t help in speeding the story.

All characters were flawed, complex and complicated. It was interesting to read their life stories, their mindset, insecurities and strength. The story was written in such way that my likeness scale kept tipping from left to right.

At first I didn’t like Nina. She was presumptuous, judgmental and selfish. She saw the world in only two shades, poor and rich and defined life based on that. Her judgement was fractured once she got involved with Vanessa in real life, living with her at Stonehaven with her.

The cold judgement she formed based on Vanessa’s Instagram v-life warmed eventually and she saw the reality of Vanessa’s life, her pain and emotions. I liked her development from this point onward. After major turning point she discovered many secrets that shattered the definition of world she created. I loved her for trying to do right thing at the end, taking decision that was hard for her. It steered her away from what she did whole life. At the end I loved her.

It’s easiest to judge from distance. That’s why the Internet has turned us all into armchair critics, experts at the cold dissection of gesture and syllable, sneering self-righteously from the safety of our screens. There, we can feel good about ourselves, validated that our flaws weren’t as bad as theirs, unchallenged in our superiority. Moral high ground is a pleasant place to preach, even if the view turns out to be rather limited in scope.

Vanessa was vulnerable, lonely woman desperate for love and appreciation. She was privileged and she knew she could get everything with money and looks. She used it to hide her flaws, her insecurities and lack of any talent. Circumstances lead her towards Instagram influencer life that gave her fame and illusion of world where people loved her and appreciated what she did, until it was shattered by one tragedy after other. She believed what her parents said and taught and one of those thing was Nina Ross ruined her brother- Benny’s life.

It was easy to like her and empathize with her. Her only flaw was she had low self-esteem and lot of self-doubt. She was naïve and stupid. Maybe not totally but I didn’t like how she turned blind eye to all the signs. But then again I liked her once the fog of naivety was cleared and she started using her brain.

Benny was diagnosed schizophrenic but he was most smart and sane person in the book. I felt for him. I wish he stood up against his dad all those years ago but at the same time I could see he was just boy whose parents didn’t understand him.  

I blame adults for everything wrong happened to Vanessa, Benny and Nina. Liebling family was typical rich dysfunctional family and had major impact on Benny’s mental condition and Vanessa’s self-esteem, while Nina’s mother was no better.

Perspective is, by nature, subjective. It’s impossible to climb inside someone else’s head, despite your best-or worst-intentions.

What I liked most was characters’ background and development and description of Lake Tahoe. It was both beautiful and atmospheric setting. Along with the luminous water of the lake, beautiful peaks of mountains, there lurked the darkness and coldness of Stonehaven. I liked the descriptions of Stonehaven and all the antiques there.

Another thing I loved was deep insights on social media and rich life, how people view it from outside and how the reality of pretty things are so different when you get close to it, and how actions of parents causes horrible consequences for their children.

Second half was brilliant, fast paced with surprises and twists that made me appreciate that slow first half. I liked character development and redemption arc in this part. The way Vanessa and Nina realized their mistakes and cleared misunderstanding was amazing. Turning points, surprises and twists were well written without giving away true intentions of characters and what they were going to plan next, and how they will come out of the mess they created.

Nothing is ever as pure as it seems at first glance; there is always something more complicated to be found when you peel back the unmarred surface of pretty things.

Climax was tense, surprising and brilliant. At this point I knew what they were going to do and what will be the end. End was good. I like it when characters get what they deserved. Epilogue was best, I liked how characters pulled their life together and tried to form a bridge over their differences.

Why 4.25 star-

First half was too slow. It took me more than 1 hour to read 10% of the book. I thought I would rate this book 3 or 3.5 at 50% of the book but then I loved second half and I could see how important the first half was, it helped in understanding characters and what was going on in their mind. I appreciated all those back stories. But then there was a little repetitiveness in first half which was, I think, because of narration style.

Overall, Pretty Things was impressive, deceitful, and twisted tale of two women with lots of secrets. I recommend this to fans of this genre, specifically those who don’t mind slow pace and descriptive, philosophical writing.

Books Links:

Goodreads

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What do you think about the book? Have you read it already or any book by the same author? Have you read a book(s) featuring social class differences and if so which is your favorite?

Happy Reading!

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