Tag Archives: action

The Scalp Collector by Suzanne Smith (Book Review)

Detective Sammy Stone stared at the blood soaked corpse tied to the La-Z-Boy recliner. The body was that of twenty one year old Marci Levelle. Like Barbara Tony in Lake County last month and Abigail May in DuPage County the month before, Marci has been scalped and gutted. Sammy’s sixth sense tells him that this sadistic killer, aptly named the Scalp Collector by the press, hasn’t finished his murderous rampage yet. It’s just a matter of time before he takes the life of another innocent girl. Determined to put an end to the senseless slaughter as quickly as possible, Sammy relentlessly follows the bizarre pattern of clues that begin to emerge in the aftermath of the crime. It isn’t long before he realizes that the prime suspect in his murder investigation is an intimate acquaintance of his. Will Sammy act on his suspicions in time to save the next victim, and himself?

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I received a complimentary copy of this book from Reedsy Discovery. I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.

 

Do you love watching crime shows? Do you scrutinize every piece of evidence, attempting to solve the case before the fictional cops do? Have you ever doubted your sleuthing instincts? Have you ever flip-flopped whether a character is guilty because the evidence was so overwhelming, which made them the obvious choice? If you answered yes to even one of these questions, you must read The Scalp Collector by Suzanne Smith.

The short story begins with a crime scene that would turn anyone’s stomach. Marci Levelle, twenty-one, was discovered tied to her La-Z-Boy: gagged, gutted, and scalped. I can’t imagine being a police officer or coroner working on this case; worse, she’s not the first victim. Three women dead. Three different jurisdictions. Will Detective Sammy Stone stop the serial killer before he or she targets victim number 4?

The evidence was overwhelming, pointing at one character. Sammy didn’t want to believe someone close to him was a murderer; however, he had an obligation to follow the evidence. Sammy didn’t follow police procedures, which came back to haunt him. He should’ve contacted his partner (Will) and the other precinct detectives about his suspicions or the frantic help me phone call.

His investigation did reveal painful memories and brought to light scars that someone would’ve preferred to stay hidden. (I’m staying vague to avoid spoilers.)

When the investigation leads to one suspect, you must ask yourself, Is it too obvious? Are they the killer, or are they being setup quite beautifully? That was the case with this case. (No pun intended) I had the nagging feeling it was all too easy, but then again, I wondered if the author played it that way. 

When Sammy and the serial killer come face-to-face, he realizes they do not fit the profile. Their reasoning for these horrific acts proved the villain required psychiatric care for many years. 

Did Sammy catch the killer before their blade took scalp number 4?

Did the scalp collector escape? 

Read the book and find out! 

 

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score:

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Meet the Author

I grew up in Bucktown, a bustling community on the northwest side of Chicago. From an early age, I was attracted to the dark side of human nature, truly fascinated by what motivated good people to behave in bad ways. My books touch on both the grace and brutality of life.

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Cruel Lessons (Lessons in Peril Book 1) by Randy Overbeck (Book Review)

On a school camping trip, fifth graders experiment with a dangerous new hallucinogen and die in a horrific accident, their deaths shattering the quiet town. Assistant Superintendent Ken Parks, hoping to redeem a fatal mistake from his past, grasps the opportunity to conduct the district investigation of how students are getting the drugs. Almost before he begins, the cops make a stunning arrest. But Parks battles on, convinced the real pusher is still out there, poisoning more kids until he receives an anonymous threat: if he continues, those close to him will pay. Is Parks willing to risk those he loves for a chance at redemption?

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 

 

Cruel Lessons was a 457-page novel (print edition) that touched on a sensitive real-life issue: drugs in school. It’s common for young adults to experiment with pot, cigarettes, or alcohol. The age bracket partaking in illegal drugs exists well before high school. Cruel Lessons features the effects of drug use among 11 to 13-year-olds. Drugs are entering Foster Middle School, mainly a hallucinogen-inducing wolf tattoo. Once the young buyer presses the drug to their skin, their time is almost up. 

Cops witness numerous horrific crime scenes through their time on the force; the death of 4 young boys close to the science camp will haunt their dreams for a long time, maybe forever. 

The school board asked Ken to take point and find out how the kids got a hold of the drugs and discover if the school was liable for their deaths. The board seemed more interested if they would get sued or not. I wasn’t surprised people valued the bottom line over the loss of 4 lives. 

Ken, not a trained investigator, began to work the case. He interviewed staff members and students and enlisted the help of Bart (resource officer). His “meddling” was not appreciated by the dealer, “the doctor.” Lives were lost in the pursuit of justice. A popular teacher was fighting to prove her innocence. Through all the school drama, readers also watched love triangles unfold in the background. Wow, the cheating spouses drama could be its own soap opera. While I understand each purpose in the story, I wanted their faithful spouses to discover their misdeeds. I wanted more drama! 

The list of suspects was long. Who brought the tattoos into the school and how they did it might stun you. As you work the case with Ken and Bart, do not write off a suspect so quickly. At the end of the story, I had 75% of the resolution figured out. I was wrong about one prime suspect, which falls in the 25% category. 

Cruel Lessons will keep you guessing. When you think you figured it out, the author throws you a curveball. The uncertainty, the twists, kept me going back for more. Even though I loved the book, it left me with many unanswered questions. To avoid giving out spoilers, I will refrain from elaborating on what puzzled me. 

If you like crime stories that take time to solve, this book is for you! 

 

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score:  

Releases 10/11/23: Preorder (Amazon) Link

 

 

Meet the Author

Dr. Randy Overbeck is an award-winning educator, author and speaker. As an educator, he served children for more than three decades in a range of roles captured in his novels, from teacher and coach to principal and superintendent. His thriller, LEAVE NO CHILD BEHIND (2012) and his recent mysteries, the Amazon No. 1 Best Seller, BLOOD ON THE CHESAPEAKE (2019), CRIMSON AT CAPE MAY (2020) and SCARLET AT CRYSTAL RIVER (2021) have earned five star reviews and garnered national awards including “Thriller of the Year”—ReadersFavorite.com, “Gold Award”—Literary Titan, “Mystery of the Year”—ReadersView.com and “Crowned Heart of Excellence”—InD’Tale Magazine.

As a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Dr. Overbeck is an active member of the literary community, contributing to a writers’ critique group, serving as a mentor to emerging writers and participating in writing conferences such as Sleuthfest, Killer Nashville and the Midwest Writers Workshop. When he’s not writing or researching his next exciting novel or sharing his presentation “Things Still Go Bump in the Night,” he’s spending time with his incredible family of wife, three children (and their spouses) and seven wonderful grandchildren.

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Gamble of Hearts by Virginia Barlow (Book Review)

If you liked Bridgerton, you’ll love Gamble of Hearts! A regency romance laced with adventure, an arranged marriage, a love triangle, and more!

When a powerful duke arrives to collect his winnings from her brother, Lady Amora Hargrove discovers she is one of them. Following her brother’s arrest, she becomes the duke’s ward and falls for him hard and fast. Problem is, the duke has a violent hatred for gamblers, and she possesses a natural ability. Something he can never discover, or she will lose him forever.
The Duke of Ravencroft exacts revenge for his nephew’s death and gains a ward. Irresistibly drawn to the villain’s sister, he must play and gamble with their hearts or lose everything.

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 

 

I don’t typically reach for historical romances, but I’m glad I read Gamble of Hearts by Virginia Barlow. 

Action.

Adventure.

Suspense.

Multiple kidnappings.

Arson.

Secrets. 

Secret identity.

Surprise developments.

Strong heroine. 

Loving hero. 

Multiple villains.

Blackmail. 

All these elements made this a book I could not put down! 

 

Alexander and Amora did not have a meet-cute moment. She was given to Alexander by her brother, Nathan. As the story unfolds, readers will be shocked to discover her despicable brother used her as collateral multiple times. Nathan deserved everything that came to him. His sister, Amora, did not deserve all the evils she encountered at her brother’s hand or the hand of other men. However, she did deserve all the love and loyalty of her true love, the Duke of Ravencroft. 

Amora and Alexander did not meet under ideal situations, but their love, their passion for one another, is something people yearn for. Their relationship as a whole is one that people dream about. Who doesn’t want to find a life partner that is loving, supportive, makes you laugh, and brings you endless joy?

I recommend reading Gamble of Hearts. It has numerous surprising moments that will keep you turning the pages. Sex scenes that will have you fanning yourself or reaching for a cool drink. Sweet and tender moments. And scenes filled with pain that will have you wishing for Amora to finally get her happily ever after. BTW – she does. That’s not really a spoiler; I’m sure you already assumed she would. 

Read the book; I’m sure you’ll love it as much as I did!

 

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: ❤❤

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Meet the Author

I love being an author. It’s all about where your characters lead you. I start with a general idea. As the story unfolds I type as fast as I can in hopes I keep up with my characters.They have had me jotting on napkins, making notes while I’m waiting in a line, and waking me up in the middle of the night. The hard part is always the ending. My characters live with me and when I reach the end of the story, it is hard to say goodbye.Sometimes I let the story sit for a few days to make sure I’m okay with them leaving home to get published. Kind of like when you kids move out. LOL

I enjoy my grandchildren, and the time I share with them. They make me smile with their antics. I like to quilt, crochet, knit and sew. Cooking and baking are occasional itches I scratch. The rest of the time, they are necessary evils. LOL.

My greatest support comes from my husband. He has been my sounding board for all my stories. My daughters are also a great support to me. I couldn’t do it without my family.

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Racee Acee and the Toboggan Race by Debbie Hepner (Book Review)

Racee Acee is at it again with another fantastic race. This time she is teaming up with friends for a thrilling toboggan race. Some hilarious ideas come about as the team works together on a solution to make their sled go faster in the upcoming race. Curious and hungry puppies and dogs join the fun as the sled speeds down the snow-covered hill. Problem-solving, thinking outside the box, friendly cooperation, and TEAMWORK come together to get them to the finish line…But do they win?

Bub the cat is back for another fantastic race of his cute little life!

The Second book in the Racee Acee Series will delight readers of all ages.

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I received a complimentary copy of this book from Reedsy Discovery.  I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.

 

It was an exciting time for Acee, Mia, Riley, and Tobias; the toboggan race was only three short days away. They were in strategy mode, brainstorming ways to make their sled go faster. The crew shared a couple of suggestions to give them the boost they needed to win. Then, all four mental lightbulbs went off, and they shouted the same answer simultaneously (no spoilers). I was sitting on the edge, waiting to see the outcome. 

The team initialized their master plan and quickly realized they needed to tweak their tactic. Back to square one! Racee Acee and the Toboggan Race by Debbie Hepner teaches children to think on their feet, adjust experiments accordingly, and rely on their team (friends) to help solve a problem. It enforces the importance of listening to one another and being open to new theories. Remember, no voice is more important than another. 

Racee Acee and the Toboggan showcases four young children’s determination to find the optimal material that lets them zoom down the hill at top speed. It was a trial and error process that required patience and calm heads. 

Do they win, or do they lose? The answer will have fans of the Racee Acee Series cheering with the crowd. Even though the book ended with a happy ever after, that’s not the point of the short read. The story’s point is not who won the race but how the events led them to cross the finish line. 

Racee Acee and the Toboggan Race by Debbie Hepner encourages creativity, thinking outside the box, teamwork, and perseverance. Hayley Moore created incredible illustrations that will capture and delight young viewers. I recommend the book for children 3-8 years. 

Be sure and check out Debbie Hepner’s other works. They are filled with action, adventure and are perfect for young readers. 

 

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: ❤❤

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Meet the Author

After retiring from teaching, I decided to write children’s books. I have published five books and won four awards, including one Global Book Award, two Independent Press Awards, and a Mom’s Choice Award. Adding to my collection of picture books, I’m also writing young adult chapter books.

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Zoe the Pull-Leash Dog by J. E. Brewer (Book Review)

Zoe is a little white dog with a whole lotta pull! Every time Edna takes her pup Zoe for a walk, Zoe takes Edna on a wild ride through town. In this laugh-out-loud picture book for little kids, Zoe and Edna wreak helpful havoc on townsfolk, but always with a positive result. As Zoe pulls the leash, the duo rushes past delivery men, grocery clerks, laundry ladies, jump-roping kids, and many others who can benefit from Zoe’s unique panache. It’s a hilarious story about helping people in unexpected ways. Vivid illustrations include “hidden Zoes” for youngsters to spot before each big event. As she races through town, dragging her long-suffering owner behind her, Zoe gathers a thank-you from everyone she meets. Zoe the Pull-Leash Dog is an imaginative book about an adorable, can-do canine.

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I received a complimentary copy of this book from Reedsy Discovery.  I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.

 

Most people have watched videos online or on tv featuring energetic dogs who are a handful once the leash snaps onto their collar. They drag their humans off porches, across lawns, and down streets, sending them flying in all directions. Zoe the Pull-Leash Dog by John Brewer features a white pooch who takes its owner on a wild ride around town. 

Zoe might be small, but don’t let their looks fool you; this doggie is no calm walker. The second Edna slipped on her glasses, Zoe was off to the races. The duo rushes past delivery men, grocery clerks, laundry ladies, jump-roping kids, and many others. Edna flew here, there, and everywhere, and the illustrations for the crazy journey were very humorous. 

Despite Edna’s run-in with power lines, clotheslines, and billboards, she emerged unscathed from the sticky predicaments. Each altercation led to a positive outcome, earning a well-deserved thank you. For example, at the grocery store, her speed helped wrangle multiple shopping carts. Edna also assisted a mailman by delivering a package. Her most impressive act was her topiary skills. She made trimming two bushes to look like a duck and goose seem easy!

Zoe the Pull-Leash Dog is an imaginative book about an adorable canine and their human who assist their community in unexpected ways. The non-stop action and pictures will make your child giggle. Amazon’s recommended reading age is 3-7, but I can see an even wider viewing audience enjoying the antics of the owner and pet. 

While the illustrations were phenomenal and full of hilarity, I wanted a final image of a sleeping Zoe next to her frazzled-looking owner. I think that image would’ve been a perfect non-verbal response to the question posed at the end of the story. Besides a small illustration request, this story was a home-run hit! 

Zoe the Pull-Leash Dog is a laugh-out-loud picture book full of action, adventure, and death-defying illustrations. 

 

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: 

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Meet the Author

I grew up in a hardworking lobstering town on the coast of southern Maine. As a Physics major at the University of Maine, I won the state creative fiction competition. Today I live on Boston’s north shore with my wife, a pre-school teacher. We have two sons and a little white dog.

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