Category Archives: Book Reviews

The Freedom Broker by K. J. Howe

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The Freedom Broker by K. J. Howe The Freedom Broker by K.J. Howe
Series: Thea Paris #1
Published by Quercus on February 7, 2017
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Thriller
Pages: 400
Format: eBook
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Kidnap negotiator Thea Paris has spent her entire life with survivor's guilt, following an unspeakable childhood tragedy. At eight years old, she watched, frozen in fear, as her twelve-year-old brother, Nikos, was abducted from their home in Kanzi, Africa. Although he was recovered nine months later, he was never the same after that; worse, Thea discovers that she was supposed to have been the target.

This defining experience drives Thea to become one of the top operatives in the field of kidnap-and-ransom consultancy. Nicknamed "Liberata" because she once secured the release of a captive from the Sicilian mob without her client paying a cent, she travels the globe trying to bring hostages home--mostly through negotiation, but occasionally through more forceful means. She is very good at her job.

Twenty years after her brother's abduction, Thea's worst nightmare is revisited when her father, oil magnate Christos Paris, is taken on his sixtieth birthday. He disappears from his yacht while it is moored at Santorini, the ship's whole crew slaughtered mercilessly.


Thea immediately calls in her team at Quantum Security International, premier K&R specialists. Following protocol, they break down Christos' life, looking for leads, but the list of enemies and business competitors is endless. Not surprisingly, Christos Paris has imprinted his designer shoe on innumerable backs during his journey to the top of the oil business. And he was abducted only a few days before the biggest deal of his career.

From there, the case only gets stranger. Unlike most abductions, there are no ransom demands, no political appeals, no prisoner release requests. Instead, the kidnapper sends foreboding quotes in Latin by text from burner phones. What does the kidnapper want?

And most importantly for Thea, will she be able to prevent a second kidnapping from destroying her family for good?

I have to admit, I really enjoyed this action adventure/mystery novel. Thea’s job is get back people who have been kidnapped, whether through negotiation or rescue operations, and she’s good at it. So when her father is kidnapped she can’t trust anyone but her team to get him back. Of course, it’s not simple. We’ve got arms dealers and African politicians and oil magnates all vying for power, with her father smack dab in the middle of it. And we’ve got a love interest for Thea. It’s got a lot going on, but exciting and fast-paced.

Thea’s a great character, smart, tough, and skilled. She’s also a bit blinded by her feelings toward her family. This is one of those instances where the reader knows a lot more about what’s going on than the protagonist, but even at that there are a few surprising twists.

The author has clearly done her research into kidnappings and hostage situations. I also appreciated that Thea is a diabetic. It’s not often that we see women in fiction checking their blood sugar levels before jumping out of airplanes or worrying about whether her insulin will stay cool enough in the heat of the desert. Being diabetic doesn’t hamper Thea, it just means she has to be even more prepared.

Over all, a great start to a series. I’m looking forward to reading more, hopefully with a little less focus on crazy family drama.

About K.J. Howe

Kimberley Howe is the Executive Director of ThrillerFest. Thrillerfest is a conference of International Thriller Writers held every July in New York City. She is also a former medical, health, and fitness writer, as well as, a world traveler, cyclist, swimmer and tennis player.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

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A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
Narrator: Graham Halstead, Julia Whelan
Series: Charlotte Holmes #1
Published by Harper Collins on March 1, 2016
Source: Library
Genres: Mystery, Young Adult
Length: 8 hrs 41 mins
Format: Audiobook
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Jamie Watson has always been intrigued by Charlotte Holmes; after all, their great-great-great-grandfathers are one of the most infamous pairs in history. But the Holmes family has always been odd, and Charlotte is no exception. She’s inherited Sherlock’s volatility and some of his vices—and when Jamie and Charlotte end up at the same Connecticut boarding school, Charlotte makes it clear she’s not looking for friends.

But when a student they both have a history with dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other.

I have a soft spot for Sherlock Holmes, so when someone (I forget who) said they enjoyed this take on the characters, I had to put it on my to-read list. Jamie Watson and Charlotte Holmes are descendants of the famous duo and they “just happen” to meet at boarding school. In Connecticut. But don’t worry, the story will get to that. Coincidences are never really coincidences in a Holmes world.

Charlotte is pure Sherlock, complete with drug problems, brilliant deductions, and violin-playing, which comes off a little differently in a 16-year-old girl. She can be tough to like, but we’re seeing her through Watson’s eyes, and he’s either falling in love with her or is obsessed with her or both. When a student they both hates ends up dead, everything points at them, so of course they have to solve the mystery. What else could a Holmes and Watson do? The mystery was clever, with plenty of connections to the original Holmes stories.

I enjoyed the writing, the descriptions and metaphors were well-done. I especially enjoyed the Watsonian guide for the care and keeping of Holmeses that Jamie’s dad has put together.

I listened to the audio version and I think the narrator did a good job being Jamie, since the story comes from his point of view. The epilogue is told by Charlotte, who doesn’t really have much to add. I’m glad the same narrators are doing the next in the series.

This is a YA book and it does deal a lot with drugs. It also deals with a rape, which may be a reason some won’t want to read it. I’m not sure it was handled the best way either, it made sense to the plot and the characters, but is not a good example of how the crime should have been reported/prosecuted. The kids don’t really have much supervision, which makes it easier to investigate/sneak around campus, but also easier to end up over your head.

I do kind of wish Watson and Holmes could remain just friends, but I have the feeling one, if not both, is hoping for more.

This book trailer makes me almost wish it was a movie.

About Brittany Cavallaro

Brittany Cavallaro is a poet, fiction writer, and old school Sherlockian. She is the author of the Charlotte Holmes novels from HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books. She’s also the author of the poetry collection GIRL-KING (University of Akron) and is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship. She earned her BA in literature from Middlebury College and her MFA in poetry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Currently, she’s a PhD candidate in English literature at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She lives in the Bay area with her husband, cat, and collection of deerstalker caps.

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Dead Tide by Leighann Dobbs

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Dead Tide by Leighann Dobbs Dead Tide by Leighann Dobbs
Series: Blackmoore Sisters Mysteries #3
Published by the author on December 6, 2013
Source: instaFreebie
Genres: Mystery, Paranormal
Pages: 291
Format: eBook
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For three hundred years, the Blackmoore house has harbored a valuable secret ...

The Blackmoore sisters learn about this secret from the dying lips of the historian they hired to decipher their centuries old family journal. Too bad he never gets the chance to tell them exactly what he has uncovered...or where to find it.

But someone else knows where to find it, and they are prepared to take it from the Blackmoore’s no matter what the cost.

The sisters are forced to put their newly discovered paranormal powers to the test as they fight off treasure stealing pirates in between figuring out clues from ghosts, decoding an old journal, finding their way through an underground maze and dodging quicksand, bottomless pits and whirlpools.


Oh, and did I mention the dark and mysterious stranger that keeps showing up--is he friend or foe?

Of course, their trusty cat, Belladonna is around to give them a helping hand when they need it ... and she has a secret of her own.

Will the Blackmoore sisters be able to figure out where the treasure is and get to it before the dead tide turns and hides it for another three hundred years?

Mystery, magical power, romance – and pirates. It’s light and fun. This was one of my read-a-thon books and it was perfect. It’s a quick read, maybe a little unbelievable, but that’s okay since it’s so enjoyable.

The sisters are each discovering their own powers, like seeing ghosts or electric fighting powers – yeah, not sure about that one yet. I like how much they care for each other and how well they all work together. The plot is carried on from book #2; they’re hunting for the treasure and so are the bad guys. People end up dead, thankfully none of them. The mystery is not terribly strong here, but the girls and their men make up for it. It does veer strongly toward romance, so if you don’t like a love interest clogging up your mystery, avoid this series. I do enjoy it, when it works right, and it does for me with these stories.

I’m looking forward to reading the next. I think they’ll be heading out west for a book. We haven’t seen the sisters away from their home, I hope the formula works as well when they’re not in Maine.

About Leighann Dobbs

Leighann Dobbs is the pen name of a not so famous author who lives in New Hampshire with her husband, her trusty Chihuahua mix Mojo and her beautiful rescue cat, Kitty. She likes to write romance and cozy mystery short stories and novelettes perfect for the busy person on the go.

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