Archive for the ‘5 Star Books’ Category

Walk Away


Walk Away (Camaro Espinoza – 2) by Sam Hawken

Former combat medic Camaro Espinoza is trying to put her past behind her. She knows she’s done bad things – but they were always for good reasons.

Then her calm, anonymous life is interrupted by a distress call from her sister Annabel. She’s become trapped in an abusive relationship with petty criminal Jake Collier, and she needs Camaro’s help.

Camaro has always protected Annabel, and she won’t stop now. But the situation is more dangerous than she realises. Jake has a sibling of his own, an ex-Marine named Lukas who is as unhinged as Camaro is uncompromising. And he and Jake are planning a much bigger crime.

As the federal marshals pick up Lukas’s trail, and a bounty hunter with a debt to settle closes in, Camaro’s smart enough to know that standing her ground is the last thing she should do. But even with a freight train like Lukas barrelling towards her, if there’s one thing she can’t do, it’s walk away.

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 Sam Hawken

Author’s Bio

Sam Hawken is the best-selling and Crime Writers Association Dagger-nominated author of the Camaro Espinoza thriller series, as well as the critically acclaimed Borderland Trilogy.

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My Review

5 stars

Camaro Espinoza is trying to adjust to civilian life when she gets a coded message from her estranged sister Annabel. It seems that Annabel’s boyfriend Jake knows that she has some money and has plans for that money. Camaro goes to help out her sister but learns that Jake has a brother that is an ex-marine, Lukas on his side. But that is not all, there are others that are out to get Jake and Annabell. Camaro definitely has her hands full trying to protect her sister and neice.

Camaro is a kick ass woman that is a former marine nurse. She has training to heal and to kill and a soft spot in her heart for her sister, even if they are estranged. Of course she is going to go help Annabel. But there is so much more going on that is going to keep Camaro on her toes if she plans on keeping everyone safe.

I love a great female lead that doesn’t deal with nonsense. She knows what needs to be done and does it. This is a great thriller as you follow along as Camaro tries to stop Jake and Lukas. I have not read the first book or the novella about Camaro but after reading Walk Away I will be definitely be checking them out.

I received Walk Away from the publisher for free. This has in no way influenced my opinion of this book.

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The Healing of Howard Brown



The Healing of Howard Brown by Jeb Stewart Harrison

“This is your last chance to do something right, son. Don’t screw it up.” With these words ringing in his 60-year old ears, Howard Brown, Jr., sets out from Kentfield, California to find his wayward and possibly psychotic sister and return her to their dying father’s bedside. The search leads him to the Brown family’s ancestral home near St. Francisville, Louisiana, where his Southern cousins have apparently conspired with his sister to bilk him out his inherited, potentially oil-rich property. At the same time, he discovers that a long dormant birthmark in his sternum is a portal to the land of the dead. His consciousness is suddenly inundated with terrifying visions of murderous rebels, bloodthirsty zombies, and visitations from a rogue’s gallery of twisted ancestors, until he fears that he is just as crazy as his sister and everybody else in their labyrinthine family. Wounded to his core, doped up and strung out, Howard discovers that his salvation is beating loud and clear within his own weary heart, and that all he has to do is listen.

The Healing of Howard Brown is a capacious and energetic family saga of self-discovery, delivered with an authentic voice that is supple, smart, somber, witty, ironic, self-revealing, self-doubting, and wonderfully lyrical. Themes of family, trust and responsibility to others, the national as well as personal past, and the life of the spirit resound throughout, with a cultural resonance involving class and race, the North and the South, the definition of masculine identity, and, centrally, the nature of mature love in a multitude of relationships–husband-wife, brother-sister, father-son– in the face of a debilitating mental illness that runs like a poison vein through the family tree.

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 Jeb Stewart Harrison

Author’s Bio

I’ve been involved in a wide range of creative endeavors throughout my career. As a professional writer, I’ve written novels, short fiction, ad copy, brochures, radio and television spots, video scripts, film treatments, interactive scripts, articles and all things social media. In addition to writing prose, I’ve written dozens of pop songs that have received airplay on college and alternative radio stations around the world, (and now iTunes and Pandora Internet Radio), and have performed in sleazy bars and concert halls alike. I also paint landscapes in oil of my beautiful home in Marin County, California and and have sold over 30 original pieces over the past several years.


“But what does he do for money?” That and more questions are answered here, along with bounteous information about HACK and it’s evil creator.

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My Review

5 stars

Howard Brown is a sixty year old retired high school English teacher. He has just lived with his father in his final moments of cancer. With his passing, it is up to Howard to return to the family plantation to find his sister, Sisi that disappeared years earlier. But as Howard makes his way to St. Francisville, Louisiana and revisits his home, family, and those that still live there, Howard starts making discoveries of his own.

Howard comes from a family with lots of trouble from alcohol, drug use, mental illness, abuse, and so much more. Howard has been living his life but with the passing of his father he has to reach out and deal with all that he has been ignoring. Just that makes this a wonderful story of healing. But then there is Sisi and his cousins. Is Sisi as crazy as she appears or does she have her own plan? And what is it about the possibility of oil on the family plantation?

The Healing of Howard Brown is not one of my usual reads but I when I was asked to take part in the tour I was interested. I’m so happy that I read this book. It is beautifully written, wonderful imagery, and has such a heartwarming story as you follow along with Howard healing from the past. This is a wonderful story and one that I strongly recommend.


I received The Healing of Howard Brown from Teddy at Virtual Author Book Tours for free. This has in no way influenced my opinion of this book.



3 Odes to Mr. Booper

My name is Howard Brown and that is what I am called. Not Howie, not Hal (that’s my father, not me), not Harry, especially not Harry. Not Ward. Not Brownie or HB. Not even Junior, or at least not anymore, except by my sister who used it just because nobody else did. For thirty years I answered to “Coach,” and still do when one of my ex-hoopsters or students spy me buying smokes at the Seven Eleven.  I don’t mind still being “Coach;” it conjures a vision of youthful vitality that, like clean living, has all but faded from my view. In truth, I remember getting out of the shower, just a few days after my father’s miraculous change of plan, and almost fainting at the sight of my supersized old man-boobs in the mirror. Had there been a scalpel handy, I might have performed a spontaneous double self-mastectomy. It was a moment of truth that I’ll never forget: standing before myself in the mirror, praying for the miracle of booblessness and wondering how the fuck did you get so old?

Outside observers might have accused my Mom, Marjorie Brown nee Evans, of negligence in the matter of my potential existence long before I was born. The seeds of her negligence were not just seeds; they were chocolate covered peanuts, specifically. And candy bars, cookies, glazed jelly donuts, pistachio ice cream, pineapple upside down cake, potato chips, corn dogs, cheeseburgers, and every sort of crap a girl could stuff into her pudgy cheeks on a Lake Michigan beach in Evanston, Illinois, 1934. My mother, Marjorie Brown, told me with pride that she was once referred to as “Large Marge,” “Marge the Barge,” “Heavy Evans” and just plain “fatso” in the schoolyard, the Indian Hills swimming pool and the Johnson Street Beach.

But when her hormones, kicked in and she began take an interest in boys the eating abruptly stopped. All manner of eating. Two years later, at sixteen, she became a model for the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency and started to show up on local billboard and magazine ads, always bearing plenty of leg and a tight sweater. “Large Marge” was now “Take Charge Marge:” the miracle weight loss model of Chicago.

Unfortunately, when it came time to make babies my mother’s famous figure was not be tampered with. Fueled by a steady diet of scotch, cigarettes and Librium, she gained just 11 pounds, five of which were me, a grossly underdeveloped wet rat with a disturbing hole the size of a dime in my sternum. Much later I was told that this mysterious hole brought about an endless battery of medical tests for the first year of my life and that my parents fretted over it to distraction. Later, when I started to get a handle on language, I learned that my mother referred to my hole as my “chown hoon dong,” though it would be many years before I knew what that meant. Had I known how that little hole would wreak havoc upon my life, I might have asked for it to be plugged up with something. Chewing gum. Concrete. A dog turd. Anything!

Then I started to grow, and grow, and grow some more at an unusually rapid clip. At 10 years old I was five feet, nine inches. At 12 I was six-two. At 15 I was six-six, 160 pounds; one of those skinny guys that disappears when they turn sideways. And I was so hopelessly uncoordinated I couldn’t even walk down the street without falling all over myself. Now, I see it as the beginning of what was to be a long, acrimonious, dysfunctional relationship with my body; a body that seemed to have a mind of it’s own, completely independent of the supposed control panel in my cranium.

It started with the hole in my sternum. Then, when I was around 11, an orthopedic surgeon noticed my unusually upright stance on the putting green and announced to my father that I had a serious back problem. Later, tests revealed that a crucial factory part – the “Scotty’s Collar” – had failed to fully develop in my lumbar vertebrae. Or it became deformed as a result of playing too much golf during my remarkable growth spurt.   Regardless of the cause, the doctor ruled out contact sports (much to the chagrin of the football coach, who figured all I had to do was stand in front of the opposing quarterback with my arms raised) lest my spine crack and confine me to a wheelchair for the rest of my life. Basketball was okay – hoops being a different game in those days – even though I had a hard time running from one end of the court to the other without falling on my face. Golf was never in question, regardless of my broken back. It was what Howard Browns did, period. I imagine that even if I had been born with my head screwed on backwards, golf would still have been okay.

Golf exacerbated my back problems, of course. So did everything else. By the time I retired from teaching at 55 everything I did, from taking out the trash to sweeping the patio, caused excruciating pain, accompanied by lightning bolts shooting down my thighs. I felt supremely gypped. I had been looking forward to retirement, albeit in a rather vague and hazy way: I would get back to my landscape paintings, practice my guitar, walk Mr. Booper in the watershed, hone my cooking skills, tinker in the tool shed, putter in the garden, and join a men’s group. Instead, I was afraid to move.

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A Ghostly Reunion


A Ghostly Reunion (Ghostly Southern Mysteries – 5) by Tonya Kappes

Emma Lee Raines sees dead people

Proprietor of the Eternal Slumber Funeral Home, Emma Lee can see, hear, and talk to ghosts of murdered folks. And when her high school nemesis is found dead, Jade Lee Peel is the same old mean girl—trying to come between Emma Lee and her hot boyfriend, Sheriff Jack Henry Ross, all over again.

There’s only one way for Emma Lee to be free of the trash-talking ghost—solve the murder so the former prom queen can cross over.

But the last thing Jade Lee wants is to leave the town where she had her glory days. And the more Emma Lee investigates on her own, the more complicated Miss Popularity turns out to be. Now Emma Lee will have to work extra closely with her hunky lawman to get to the twisty truth.

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 Tonya Kappes

Author’s Bio

Tonya Kappes has written more than fifteen novels and four novellas, all of which have graced numerous bestseller lists including USA Today. Best known for stories charged with emotion and humor and filled with flawed characters, her novels have garnered reader praise and glowing critical reviews. She lives with her husband, two very spoiled schnauzers, and one ex-stray cat in northern Kentucky. Now that her boys are teenagers, Tonya writes full-time but can be found at all of her guys’ high school games with a pencil and paper in hand.

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My Review

5 stars

Emma Lee Raines, owner of Eternal Slumber Funeral Home, sees the murdered dead after a conk to the head and they need her help to cross over. This time Emma is getting ready to attend a high school reunion when she discovers her nemesis from high school is going to be there. Jade Lee Peel is a prom queen turned reality star and not going to let anyone forget. Then she turns up dead and starts bothering Emma to find her killer. But something is going on, Emma doesn’t share any information and even try to be helpful.

This is a great little cozy mystery. Emma is a sweet lady that would rather someone think her looney than admit she talks to ghosts. The only way to get Jade out of her hair pronto is to get her to the other side, willingly or not.

This is a great story that had me guessing throughout the book. But I love the location of Sleepy Hollow, Kentucky and all the colorful people that live in this little town. I was laughing so hard at Emma talking to Jade and trying to not let those around her know what was going on.

This is the first book I have read from Tonya Kappes but it will NOT be my last one.

I received A Ghostly Reunion from Partners in Crime for free. This has in no way influenced my opinion of this book.

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Vampire Vic 3: Sacrific


Vampire Vic 3: Sacrifice by Harris Gray


Romania in the year 1586. “Improved” vampires are ascendant and young slayer Trubadur Maistru hunts the Morbius carrier before he can choose the next vampire queen. Too late-Trubadur finds his true love Nadia seduced and bitten.

But this incarnation of Morbius wields an unexpected power, and Nadia and Trubadur slay their way from Transylvania to Bucharest, where their fateful climax sows the seed for a rebirth of the curse.

Modern day Atlantic City. Rumors of a new Morbius greet the world’s most powerful vampires as they convene to execute their takeover. The “V-8” (there are actually 11) brand their would-be slayers as terrorists and launch a lethal “anti-terrorism” campaign.

Now a war-weary world hears a young and beautiful, fanged voice promising peace….

Humans embrace vampires and ancient curses couple with the world’s finest technologies-drones, virtual reality, multi-level marketing organizations. Yet everything hinges on the fated lovers, Eugene and Amberly. In Vampire Vic’s final chapter, true love cannot save everyone; it only promises there will be sacrifice.

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 Harris Gray

Author’s Bio

Allan Harris and Jason Gray are the writing duo Harris Gray, authors of multiple novels and screenplays, a Christmas play, and a collection of stories from Jason’s younger days. An early version of JAVA MAN was a finalist in the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers contest. Allan is a former guest columnist for The Denver Post. Jason owns Crowfoot Valley Coffee and the Crowbar, land of rumor and embellishment.

The Harris Gray collaboration began in Jason’s coffee shop. Allan wrote, and eavesdropped as Jason entertained his customers. One day Allan found a little yellow notepad waiting for him, crammed to the margins with Jason’s exploits. Allan typed them, touched them up, and called it good, but Jason had other ideas. As their tales converged and became inseparable, Harris Gray took shape…the writer and the storyteller.

Allan and Jason are both married with a couple kids apiece, but many people still consider them a couple. Vampire Vic launched the VV Trilogy in March 2013; Book Three is due October 2016.

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My Review

5 stars

We start the story in Bucharest in 1586. Trubadur Maistru is a vampire slayer returning to do his job and find his former love Nadia Rakoczis. But Tru learns that the current Morbius vampire has passed on his carrier to a new vampire, Nadia. But Nadia is also blessed/cursed with the ability to see vampire’s weaknesses. Together Tru and Nadia work together to kill vampires since being together seems to keep the Morbius and curse at bay for Nadia.

In the present day, vampires are trying to rule despite the slayers. They decide to turn Amberly, Vic’s daughter, into a vampire to draw him out of hiding. Then they plan on using him to their advantage. But Vic and Eugene are doing whatever they can to stop the vampires along with several other adventures along the way.

This is a hilarious series that I have enjoyed following along with. It’s more of a comedy of errors following Vic and Eugene on the search for the Morbius diary. They truly are an Odd Couple. They clearly would rather be anywhere than working together, yet they have to make the best of it.

Then you have Tru and Nadia. Watching them interact was interesting. Tru clearly loves her and is rather upset that she was bitten by a vampire and slept with him. Nadia balances on the fine line of dark and evil and willing to help Tru. How they break the curse comes back to Vic and Eugene and had me laughing hysterically.

This is a great series, a wonderful story with lots of action, blood, and hilarity around every corner. This is one series that I recommend everyone read.

I received Vampire Vic 3 from the authors for free. This has in no way influenced my opinion of this book.

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There Was a Little Girl


There Was a Little Girl by Cynthia Luhrs

THERE WAS A LITTLE GIRL is a psychological thriller that will have you taking a closer look at the people you thought you knew.

No one is what they seem…
Katherine Hope Jones is a seemingly normal woman with a well-paying job. The horror of her childhood carefully hidden away. But after she witnesses an act of animal cruelty, her tightly constructed world comes crashing down as past and present collide.

You never know who’s watching…
As the lies pile up and she desperately tries to maintain two identities, a smart animal control officer has discovered something disturbing. Someone is killing animal abusers. Hope slowly unravels from an upstanding citizen into something else. Vigilante. Champion. Killer. Hero…

As Hope takes incredible risks to punish the guilty, she’s blind to the danger closing in around her. For someone powerful and dangerous has taken notice of what she’s been up to…

Everyone has a line they won’t cross…until they do.

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Author’s Bio

Cynthia Luhrs writes time travel because she hasn’t found a way (yet) to transport herself to medieval England where she’s certain a knight in slightly tarnished armor is waiting for her arrival. She traveled a great deal and now resides in the colonies with three tiger cats who like to disrupt her writing by sitting on the keyboard. She is overly fond of shoes, sloths, and tea.

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My Review

5 stars

When Katherine Hope Jones was seven, she watched her father beat her mother and dog Max to death. Her grandparents take her and give her a good life. Now, years later, she goes by Hope and seems to have the perfect life, handsome and perfect boyfriend, and executive life. But the horrors she lived through always haunt her. When she learns about someone that abuses an animal and received lenient punishment Hope snaps. She starts making a list and plans on taking care of those that abuse animals herself.

Not being caught after the first murder, Hope is empowered and starts planning future kills. But she is not as careful as she thinks and her multiple lies for her behaviors are starting to catch up to her. Will the police catch on to who the killer is? Will she be behind bars soon?

Hope has grown from the ashes of her past but the memories are a lot closer to the surface than a quick glance would show. But Hope gets sucked into her vigilante world and the pieces of her life start slipping through her fingers. Jackson is not so perfect and his true nature starts to show. Then there is Greyson, the one fighting to be the voice for those abused without one. And no matter how well she thinks she is covering, the police are hunting down this killer of animal abusers.

So I love animals and try to help out as much as I can. I follow a lot of rescues and such on Facebook and I completely understand what Hope is feeling. You can donate and volunteer but in the end there is always someone suffering. I admit I get to the point that I had reading or watching another video of how horribly an animal was treated and I wish the abusers got their just desserts.

This is a great thriller that kept me guessing. I admit that I had a different ending in mind but this one works too. Because this story revolves around animal abuse there are several scenes that I had a hard time with. But I loved following along as Hope fell deeper down the rabbit hole in her search for justice.

This is a great story and one I recommend everyone check out. Well, except those that have a hard time with animal abuse.

I received There Was a Little Girl from Ari at Candid Book Reviews for free. This has in no way influenced my opinion of this book.

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Hansel and Gretel


Hansel and Gretel by Mike Klaassen

A famine decimates a magical realm, and the family of ten-year-old Hansel and his little sister face starvation. Their parents decide that the best hope for all of them against almost certain death is to abandon the children deep in the forest, but Hansel leads Gretel home by following a trail of pebbles that glow in the moonlight. Still desperate, their parents prevent Hansel from finding more pebbles, and then they abandon the children even deeper into the forest, where they become thoroughly lost. Hansel and Gretel follow a white bird to a shack in the woods and fall captive to Petra, an evil witch, who fattens Hansel for slaughter. Hansel tricks Petra into thinking he isn’t fattening, then pushes her into the oven—only to discover that they may not yet be out of danger.

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 Mike Klaassen

Author’s Bio

“Mike Klaassen is the author of the series “Klaassen’s Classic Folktales,” which so far includes two of the Brothers Grimm tales retold a novellas: “The Frog Prince” and “Hansel and Gretel.” Mike has also written “Backlash: A War of 1812 Novel,” and two young-adult novels: “Cracks” and “The Brute.” He has published two nonfiction books: “Fiction-Writing Modes: Eleven Essential Tools for Bringing Your Story to Life” and “Scenes and Sequels: How to Write Page-Turning Fiction.” Mike publishes “For Fiction Writers,” a free, monthly, online newsletter about the craft of writing fiction.



My Review

5 stars

We all know the story of Hansel and Gretel. A famine causes two kids to but left in the woods but Hansel is smart and finds a way to get home. They are then taken further into the woods and left. The kids find a white bird then follow it to a house made of sweets. Inside is a witch that plans on fattening up the kids to eat. They trick her, cook her, and make their escape.

Mike Klaassen has re-written the story and updates it to give it a more modern feel. In his novella, the father reluctantly talks about leaving the kids in the woods. There is also a richer description to the story. It smooths the flow of the story compared to original. There is also a change as Hansel is the one that pushes the witch into the stove as opposed to Gretel.

Over all I like how Klaassen has re-written the story. It definitely adds to the well know tale. But what I liked the best was the original story was included at the end of the novella so you could compare the re-worked version.

If you like fairytales that stay true to their original version, you will love this novella. I see that Klaassen has re-written The Frog Prince and I’m very curious to see how that compares. I will definitely be adding Mike Klaassen to my future reading lists.


I received Hansel and Gretel from Book Unleashed for free. This has in no way influenced my opinion of this book.

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Stalked (The Profiler – 4) by Elizabeth Heiter

If you’re reading this, I’m already dead…

That’s the note seventeen-year-old Haley Cooke leaves behind when she disappears from inside her high school. FBI profiler Evelyn Baine is called in to figure out who had reason to hurt her. On the surface, the popular cheerleader has no enemies, but as Evelyn digs deeper, she discovers that everyone close to Haley has something to hide. Everyone from estranged parents, to an older boyfriend with questionable connections, to a best friend who envies Haley’s life.

Secrets can be deadly…

One of those secrets may have gotten Haley killed. If she’s still alive, Evelyn knows that the more the investigation ramps up, the more pressure they could be putting on Haley’s kidnapper to make her disappear for good. It’s also possible the teenager isn’t in danger at all, but has skillfully manipulated everyone and staged her own disappearance. Only one thing is certain: uncovering Haley’s fate could be dangerous—even deadly—to Evelyn herself.

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 Elizabeth Heiter

Author’s Bio

ELIZABETH HEITER likes her suspense to feature strong heroines, chilling villains, psychological twists, and a little bit (or a lot!) of romance. Her research has taken her into the minds of serial killers, through murder investigations, and onto the FBI Academy’s shooting range. Her novels have been published in more than a dozen countries and eight languages; they’ve also been shortlisted for the National Readers’ Choice, Daphne Du Maurier and Booksellers’ Best awards and won the RT Reviewers’ Choice award.

Elizabeth graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in English Literature. She’s a member of International Thriller Writers and Romance Writers of America.

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My Review

5 stars

Haley Cook is the perfect high school girl. Pretty, straight A’s, cheerleader, etc. But the last time anyone saw her was one month prior when her boyfriend Jordan dropped her off for cheerleading practice. But then her mother finds a notebook that the police missed. The first line reads, “If you are reading this, I’m already dead.” But who would want to hurt Haley?

Evelyn Baine, a FBI Profiler, is called in to investigate. It seems that there is more to Hailey’s life than you first see. It seems that everyone has some secret that they are trying to keep hidden. Then Evelyn’s partner, Kyle McKenzie, is working on the attack of a college student that will only talk to the FBI. It seems this is a human trafficking case that may be related to Hailey’s disappearance.

This is an action packed thriller that will keep you guessing until the end. Although everything seems perfect for Hailey, her life is far from it. How does her biological father fit in with her step father, how jealous is her best friend, does her college aged boyfriend have anything to do with this, how does a human trafficking case link in, and how is this going to affect Evelyn as she starts remembering her childhood friend disappearing?

There are so many twists and turns that you will be reading into the early hours of the night just to see what happens next. This is a great thriller and although it is the fourth book in the series you can read it as a stand-alone book.

I loved this story and I will definitely be purchasing the other three in the series. I can’t wait to see what I missed and for future books.

I received Stalked from the publisher for free. This has in no way influenced my opinion of this book.

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