Monday, July 18, 2022

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Assassin's Lullaby, by Mark Rubenstein {ends 7/25}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

Eli knows that if the feds get their hands on that flash drive, Gorlov could be charged with a shitload of crimes, mainly financial, but there could be details on the device implicating him in other felonies as well. Crimes that go beyond white-collar stuff:  extortion, kidnapping, human trafficking, or murder.

No matter what Gorlov says, Irina Sakharov will be nothing more than collateral damage for Gorlov and Viktor.

This woman is innocent, has nothing to do with Russian organized crime.

Yet she’s going down. As for her brother, when Gorlov suspected he’d been disloyal, he ended up leaving this world.

This is how the Bratva operates.

Eli has only been an assassin. But as he gets a bit older, maybe it’s time for him to take the money he’s hidden away, create yet another identity, and start a new life for himself.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Assassin's Lullaby, by Mark Rubenstein {ends 7/25}
In every life, there lurks catastrophe.

So believes Eli Dagan, a thirty-nine-year-old man whose traumatic past led to his service as an assassin for the Mossad. He now lives in New York City, where under various assumed names he’s a contract killer.

Anton Gorlov, the head of the Brooklyn-based Odessa mafia, has a new and challenging assignment for Eli. Gorlov wants to leave the country permanently, so all loose ends must be eliminated. He’s willing to pay $1 million for a task divided into two parts. The job involves extreme measures along with unprecedented danger for Eli, who has lived a ghostly existence over the last ten years.

Is accepting Gorlov’s offer a subliminal death wish? Or is it a way to reclaim part of his damaged soul?

For the first time since his pregnant wife and parents were killed by a suicide bomber years earlier, Eli Dagan faces challenges that will reconnect him with his blighted past and may yet offer hope for a new and better life.

There’s apparently no alone like assassin alone. Eli takes readers on a journey of always looking over one’s shoulder, and having no contacts for an employer or enemy to use against him. He assesses every building or room he enters, and always has an emergency escape plan. He realizes he’s getting older, and maybe it’s time to take the substantial money he’s earned and start a new life, with no links to his assassin history.

But his newest job is oddly pulling at his heartstrings. The employer has simply told him to get a flash drive from a woman, but he knows just getting the flash drive won’t end up being enough, and the woman has done nothing to deserve the end he’s sure she’ll meet. 

The action was frequently the imaginings of Eli, getting paranoid after all of his real life risks. The story was well told, and never quite clear where it would go next. I gave this book 3 out of 5 stars and would certainly recommend it to those who enjoy an edge-of-your-seat action/adventure story.

{click here to purchase - currently free for Kindle Unlimited!}

Becki Bayley is a Gemini who enjoys reading a wide variety of books. Check out her interesting  reads and cozy reading nooks on Instagram, where she posts as PoshBecki.

GIVEAWAY:

One of my lucky readers will win a copy of Assassin's Lullaby!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Monday, July 25th, at 11:59pm EST, and winner will be notified the next day via email, and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen.

U.S. residents only, please.

Good luck!

Assassin's Lullaby, by Mark Rubenstein

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: One Day in June, by Sam Martin {ends 7/24}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

With his mobile phone on the seat next to him as a Satellite Navigator, Adrian headed west out of the city and out into the suburbs, passing through St. Pauli and Altona on the river road. He had no idea what he would find when he got to Teufelsbrück (has a place ever been more perfectly named: the ‘Devil’s Bridge’?), but as he got nearer he sensed that he was leaving something of his old life behind him and that in seeking answers to the questions which he now felt compelled to ask, a new chapter of his life might just be about to begin. But he was unsure whether to embrace it or to fear it.

Without doubt he’d been scarred and badly hurt so much by his ‘old’ life and he had spent the past eleven years sinking deep into himself in an effort to exorcise the demons which had been eating away at him, so in that way a new start was something he could welcome. But this wasn’t the same as a snake shedding its old skin. 

When Adrian Kramer’s mother dies somewhat unexpectedly, a few years after his father had died, packing up her house leads him to discover that he may not know his own parents like he thought he did.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: One Day in June, by Sam Martin {ends 7/24}
All his adult life Adrian Kramer had carried around with him a secret. But was it as big a secret, or one as explosive or life-threatening as the secret he stumbled into? Based on a true story and series of historical events,
One Day In June is one man’s journey of self discovery into the dark and bleeding heart of Europe.

Adrian doesn’t have a lot of people he considers close friends, so when he finds something unusual while packing up his parents’ house, he isn’t sure where to turn to unravel the mystery of what he’s found, and what it may mean about the man who was his father. Unfortunately, there are some very bad people who are ecstatic at Adrian’s discovery and will stop at nothing to have it for their own.

What starts as a slow self-discovery and time of contemplation for Adrian gets fast-tracked to a dangerous search that risks the lives of Adrian and those close to him. Before he’s had time to decide what it all means for him and the family he’s already known, he’s in a race against the clock without knowing who to trust.

This was an intriguing story and a unique perspective. What Adrian felt was his biggest secret suddenly felt miniscule against what he was learning about his own family ties. I gave this book 3 out of 5 stars and would recommend it for those who enjoy historical mysteries and interesting stories with ties to WW2 and German ancestors.

{click here to purchase}

Becki Bayley enjoys reading, listening to music, and snuggling with her cats. See more of what she’s been up to on Instagram, where she posts as PoshBecki.

GIVEAWAY:

One of my lucky readers will win a Kindle (digital) copy of One Day in June!

Must have Amazon account to claim. Kindle copy will be sent by the author.

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Sunday, July 24th, at 11:59pm ET, and winner will be emailed the next day and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen.

Open to U.S., Canadian, and international residents!

Good luck!

One Day in June, by Sam Martin

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Book Review: We Lie Here, by Rachel Howzell Hall

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

Overnight, rain had fallen, and now the world smells new and crisp. Some of the dust has washed off my car, and the black paint looks fashionably matte instead of flat-our filthy. Dominique slides into the front passenger seat of Mom’s Cherokee, and I pop into the back seat with my purse and foil-wrapped bacon-and-egg breakfast sandwich. Like the Camaro, the SUV’s interior smells of cigarettes smoked yesterday and one hundred years before, and instead of Clinque’s Happy, there’s a hint of rose and jasmine from Mom’s current perfume as well as heavier notes of running shoes, discarded athletic tape, and sweat.

Dominique drops her traveling mug into a cup holder, then pops down the visor mirror to add more shine to her bright-red lips and tighten her two French braids. Mom looks like our older sister in her black Vans and Thrasher tank top. I wish I could’ve kept on my pajama bottoms and hoodie and stayed in bed.

My eyes skip around our neighborhood. Who could’ve sent that postcard? Where is the man in the green Mazda? Has this Nissan Pathfinder parked here before? Who’s hiding behind that hedge?

When nothing is as it seems, wouldn’t it be nice to at least trust your own recollections? Yara knew she didn’t want to visit her hometown, but the longer she’s there, the more reasons she has to leave ASAP.

Official synopsis:
We Lie Here book review, Rachel Howzell Hall
TV writer Yara Gibson’s hometown of Palmdale, California, isn’t her first choice for a vacation. But she’s back to host her parents’ twentieth-anniversary party and find the perfect family mementos for the celebration. Everything is going to plan until Yara receives a disturbing text: I have information that will change your life.

The message is from Felicia Campbell, who claims to be a childhood friend of Yara’s mother. But they’ve been estranged for years—drama best ignored and forgotten. But Yara can’t forget Felicia, who keeps texting, insisting that Yara talk to her “before it’s too late.”

But the next day is already too late for Felicia, whose body is found floating in Lake Palmdale. Before she died, Felicia left Yara a key to a remote lakeside cabin. In the basement are files related to a mysterious tragedy, unsolved since 1998. What secrets was Felicia hiding? How much of what Yara 
knows about her family has been true?

The deeper Yara digs for answers, the more she fears that Felicia was right. Uncovering the truth about what happened at the cabin all those years ago will change Yara’s life—or end it.
 
When Yara goes back to her hometown to oversee the last week of planning and putting on the biggest party the community has ever seen for her popular parents’ anniversary, she thinks that dealing with her mother will be the most stressful aspect. Within the first day, she finds so much more to worry about. 
 
An old friend of her mother insists she has secrets about her family that Yara needs to know, but she acts pretty sketchy the whole time she tries to convince Yara to meet her to learn more. Yara doesn’t have to worry whether or not to trust the friend when the friend turns up dead soon after talking to Yara. 
 
Yara should just be dealing with the party, but instead she has her severe asthma, threats with absolutely no clue where they’re coming from, and an apparent murderer on the loose. While some of it was guessable part way through, how it all fit together wasn’t revealed until the end of the book. Overall, I’d give this book 3 out of 5 stars. The book was an interesting combination of an unreliable narrator, with an unexpected mystery.
 
{click here to purchase - currently FREE for Kindle Unlimited}
 
Becki Bayley is a wife, mom, and investigator who loves to find out how things really work. Check out her cozy reading spot and other fun snapshots on Instagram, where she posts as PoshBecki

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Quick Pick Book Review: Happy-Go-Lucky, by David Sedaris

  • Opening lines: It was spring and my sister Lisa and I were in her toy-sized car, riding from the airport in Greensboro, North Carolina, to her house in Winston-Salem. I'd gotten up early to catch my flight from Raleigh, but still she had me beat by an hour. "I like to be at Starbucks right when they open, at five a.m.," she said. "Speaking of which, I was there a few months ago and saw a lady with a monkey. I don't know what kind, but it was small—not much bigger than a doll—and was in a pink frilly dress. And it was just so ... upsetting to me. I wanted to go up to this woman and ask, 'What do you plan on doing with that thing once you lose interest in it?'"
  • Reason I picked up the book: I'm a huge fan of David Sedaris's books, and I've actually seen him at readings a few times, as well.
  • And what's this book about?
    David Sedaris, the “champion storyteller,” (Los Angeles Times) returns with his first new collection of personal essays since the bestselling Calypso.

    Back when restaurant menus were still printed on paper, and wearing a mask—or not—was a decision made mostly on Halloween, David Sedaris spent his time doing normal things. As
    Happy-Go-Lucky opens, he is learning to shoot guns with his sister, visiting muddy flea markets in Serbia, buying gummy worms to feed to ants, and telling his nonagenarian father wheelchair jokes.

    But then the pandemic hits, and like so many others, he’s stuck in lockdown, unable to tour and read for audiences, the part of his work he loves most. To cope, he walks for miles through a nearly deserted city, smelling only his own breath. He vacuums his apartment twice a day, fails to hoard anything, and contemplates how sex workers and acupuncturists might be getting by during quarantine.

    As the world gradually settles into a new reality, Sedaris too finds himself changed. His offer to fix a stranger’s teeth rebuffed, he straightens his own, and ventures into the world with new confidence. Newly orphaned, he considers what it means, in his seventh decade, no longer to be someone’s son. And back on the road, he discovers a battle-scarred America: people weary, storefronts empty or festooned with Help Wanted signs, walls painted with graffiti reflecting the contradictory messages of our time: Eat the Rich. Trump 2024. Black Lives Matter.

    In
    Happy-Go-Lucky, David Sedaris once again captures what is most unexpected, hilarious, and poignant about these recent upheavals, personal and public, and expresses in precise language both the misanthropy and desire for connection that drive us all. If we must live in interesting times, there is no one better to chronicle them than the incomparable David Sedaris.
  • Recommended for: Anyone who enjoys non-fiction, memoirs, or other Sedaris books.
  • Favorite paragraph: I decided from the start of the pandemic not to get Zoom. "What do you mean, 'get' it?" Hugh asked. "It's nothing you have to buy or attach to your computer. You press a button and, wham, it's there.

    "Well, can you mark which button?" I asked. "I want to make sure I never push it."
  • Something to know: David Sedaris is the only nonfiction storyteller who can consistently make me laugh with his books. I recommend this novel if you enjoy humorous slice-of-life stories.
  • What I would have changed: I found the first few stories to be a little slow-paced, but I enjoyed the second half of the book more.
  • Overall rating: 4 stars out of 5.
  • Where can I find this book? Click here to order on Amazon—today (Prime Day, 7/13/22) the Kindle version is on sale for 48% off, and the hardcover version is on sale for 39% off.

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