Roses & Thorns

Roses & Thorns

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Church of Spilled Blood by Jesse Miles #Thriller #Suspense #RussianBallet

The Plot:

Jack Salvo teaches philosophy one night a week at a local community college, but he pays his bills by working as a Los Angeles private detective.

When a group of world-class Russian ballet dancers visits L.A., he signs on as a bodyguard. It’s a piece of cake. All he has to do is hang out with beautiful women. Then one of his charges is kidnapped from under his nose. In pursuing the kidnappers, he evades the FBI, finds bullet-riddled bodies near the Hollywood Sign, and dodges bullets.

Drawn into a web of deceit and maniacal revenge, he finds himself in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Now he’s a fish-out-of-water—an L.A. private eye in a strange land. The most popular historical site in town is called The Church of Our Savior Built on Spilled Blood. When Salvo tries to save the life of a ballerina with whom he has developed a close personal relationship, the church lives up to its name.

About the Author:

Jesse Miles grew up in central California, where his ancestors had arrived from Arkansas and Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl migration. When he was eleven years old, his father took him on a business trip to Los Angeles, and little Jesse immediately decided he wanted to live in L.A.

During his college years in Orange County and Los Angeles, his part-time and summer jobs included work as an insurance investigator in the Hollywood area. That particular work experience provided some thought-provoking insights into the human condition and laid part of the foundation for his writing detective novels.

He earned an MBA at UCLA and put in three decades with a large corporation, working mostly in computer security and other phases of security. Over the years, he worked with a wide range of law enforcement and military intelligence veterans, learning many lessons of criminality, investigation, and survival.

Jesse currently lives in the Brentwood district of Los Angeles. His interests include classic films, pro football, pro bicycle racing, Russian ballet, and Formula 1. In his spare time, he goes to the gym and hikes in the Santa Monica Mountains.

For more detail see his website at


Jack Salvo is an unusual kind of private investigator. He teaches philosophy, and is a romantic. He lives in a nice area of Los Angeles, but his office is in a run-down neighborhood. When he’s offered the opportunity to act as bodyguard to a group of visiting Russian ballerinas who already have their own security detail, he takes it, figuring it’ll be a nice vacation watching pretty girls dance—until one of the girls is kidnapped on his watch. Despite the fact that the LAPD, FBI, and Russian police are on the case, Jack can’t let it go. The girl was his responsibility.

I like Jack. He’s a refreshing kind of hero—an alpha male who isn’t overly macho. He doesn’t have bulging biceps, and everyone knows ballet dancers are usually built like stick-figures, so the heroine doesn’t have “lush curves.” Maybe I’ve been reading too many bodice-rippers. Maybe it’s because he’s written by a man.

Are writers getting better or am I starting to get senile? Mr. Miles not only held my attention from the first page; he kept me guessing until the end. And someone in his circle actually knows grammar. The Church of Spilled Blood was a pleasure to read!

Author Website:
Warnings:  Violence
Length:  218 Pages
Digital Price:  $2.99

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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Where the Dead go to Die @AaronDries & @MarkAGunnells #Horror #Suspense #Zombies

The Plot:

There are monsters in this world. And they used to be us. Now it’s time to euthanize to survive in a hospice where Emily, a woman haunted by her past, only wants to do her job and be the best mother possible.

Euthanize to survive

Post-infection Chicago. Christmas.

Inside The Hospice, Emily and her fellow nurses do their rounds. Here, men and women live out their final days in comfort, segregated from society, and are then humanely terminated before fate turns them into marrow-craving monsters known as ‘Smilers.’ Outside these imposing walls, rabid protesters swarm with signs, caught up in the heat of their hatred.

Emily, a woman haunted by her past, only wants to do her job and be the best mother possible. But in a world where mortality means nothing, where guns are drawn in fear and nobody seems safe anymore—at what cost will this pursuit come? And through it all, the soon-to be-dead remain silent, ever smiling. Such is their curse.

This emotional, political novel comes from two of horror’s freshest voices, and puts a new spin on an eternal topic: the undead. In the spirit of George A Romero meets Jack Ketchum, Where the Dead Go to Die it is an unforgettable epilogue to the zombie genre, one that will leave you shaken and questioning right from wrong…even when it’s the only right left.

It won’t be long before that snow-speckled ground will be salted by blood.

Aaron Dries

Raised in a small New South Wales town in Australia, the former video store clerk, pizza delivery boy, retail specialist, aged-care nurse, document scanner, video editor, commissioned artist, and amateur filmmaker always had a strong interest in creating stories. Were it hand-drawn X-Files comic books or home-made movies starring himself and his family (the best of which had Aaron running over a friend with a lawnmower, followed closely by a remake of Scream starring his brother as Drew Barrymore), there was always something in the works.

Aaron graduated from the University of Newcastle with a Bachelor of Communications under his wing, majoring in creative writing and video production. As a filmmaker, he won a number of awards for his short films at home and abroad, including Best Film at the Newcastle Film Festival for Placebo, coinciding with the publication of his earliest stories in literary magazines.
His first novel, House Of Sighs, was originally written under the title Disunity for the Leisure Books/Rue Morgue/Chizine Publications Fresh Blood Contest. The premise of the novel stemmed back to a local murder that took place in Aaron’s adolescence. A mother on his pizza delivery route shot and murdered her husband and children before turning the gun upon herself. As was the case with everyone who read about the incident, Aaron’s mind churned with questions of morality. Why do bad things happen to good people? What is the origin of evil? What makes apparently sane people do insane acts? These questions would become the genesis for House Of Sighs some years later.

When he is not writing, Aaron Dries is thinking about writing, or upcoming film projects. He is also an avid traveler. The first draft of his debut was written over a three month period on a borrowed semi-functional laptop whilst living in overseas hostels.

Mark Allan Gunnells:

Mark Allan Gunnells has been writing since he was ten years old. His first book, A Laymon Kind of Night, was published by Sideshow Press in 2009. Since then he has put out three more books with Sideshow: the two-novella Whisonant/Creatures of the Light combo, a short story collection entitled Tales from the Midnight Shift Vol. I, and the Halloween themed Dark Treats. He also has put out the novella Asylum with The Zombie Feed, and a digital collection entitled Ghosts in the Attic with Bad Moon Books. He recently released his first published novel, The Quarry, with Evil Jester Press. He still lives in his hometown of Gaffney, SC.


Horror is not my cup of tea, so I probably should have turned down Where the Dead Go to Die when the authors’ publisher asked me to review it. I accepted it for two reasons: the zombies were infected by a disease, and I somehow convinced myself someone would find a cure. Which part of horror did you not get, Weber? And it took place in my hometown, Chicago.

So, okay. It’s horror. Spoiler alert. There isn’t going to be a cure. It’s not going to have a feel-good ending. That’s not why I’m giving it a three-rose rating. Chicago is.

It is possible to write about a place you’ve never been to, but it helps to at least study maps of the place so you can build a believable world there. Apparently neither author ever spent much time here, nor did they really study the Chicagoland Area. Where the Dead Go to Die had no real local references. Where was The Hospice? In Streeterville near the Northwest Memorial complex? On the South Side near the University of Chicago? The West Side near the University of Illinois Medical Center, Rush Medical, somewhere up on the Northwest Side? Old Irving Park? Logan Square? What are the cross-streets? State and Chicago? Irving and Cicero? Why does everyone have a Russian accent? I have a few neighbors from Eastern Europe and Chicago has a large Polish population, but most Polish families immigrated here decades ago and everyone speaks English except a few very elderly grandparents.

If you’re world-building in a place that already exists, you need to do your research, or explain why it doesn’t resemble itself at all. Otherwise, you’ll lose the respect of natives/residents like me. I did cry at the end. That's why I gave it three roses, but I would only recommend this book if you’ve never been to Chicago and you don’t know any better. Oh, and if you like horror.

Author Websites: 
Aaron Dries:
Warnings:  Violence, Gore
Length:  197 Pages
Digital Price:  $4.99

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Exit Five from Charing Cross by @ValerieKeogh1 #Thriller


The Plot:

Rich, successful Jake Mitchell is in love with Jane, the wife of his best friend, Adam. Unable to fall in love with anyone else, he settles for a beautiful trophy wife and marries Adam’s sister, Ann. Life becomes more complicated when he and Ann have two children—children Adam and Jane long for, but can’t have.

As Jake and Ann’s marriage disintegrates, so does the world around them and Jake is haunted by choices he has made.

Jake meets another woman, Joyce, and thinks, maybe he can start again. But what about his children? He can’t leave them with Ann; he can’t take them with him.

Finally, he makes a decision that will change all their lives forever.

About the Author:

Valerie Keogh is a qualified nurse with a BA in English and an MA in American Literature. She continues to work as a nurse and writes when she can, some days pages, some days just a few words.

The initial idea for Nicola Connolly came at work one day while she was throwing away unused medication. She wondered what someone could do with it, and came up with the idea for the novel, Deadly Sleep.

Nicola, one of her colleagues, encouraged her, and as a reward, she stole her name!

Connolly, is from John Connolly, one of her favourite authors.

The idea for That One May Smile, came from the churchyard near her home—a photograph of which was used for the cover shot.

The skull, on the cover on the Nicola Connolly novels, came from an antique shop in Falmouth which was why she decided to make that the location for The Devil has Power.


Exit Five from Charing Cross was simply unreadable. Jake Mitchell is on his way to meet his best friend for lunch, having just lost his last lucrative client at the trading company where he’s a stock broker. As he exits the tube at Charing Cross, he notices a woman sitting at an al-fresco table near the station and decides to hit on her, mentally comparing her to his wife. I don’t like men who cheat on their wives, so my regard for the protagonist pretty much went out the window right there.

There’s very little action in the book. Most of it is told in massive info dumps, as Jake reminisces about his life leading up to that moment. The author needed to get out of Jake’s head and into the action. Instead of saying he went to stay with his in-laws and droning on with his memories of the visit, take us there with action and dialog.

I put the book down twice and tried to go back and finish it, but I just could not. I hoped it would get better as it went on, but I never learned anything about Jake that made me like him any better, but nothing did. I do not recommend this book.

Warnings:  Incredibly Boring, Unlikeable Protagonist
Length:  285 Pages
Digital Price:  $2.99

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Sunday, March 12, 2017

Endless as the Rain by M. S. Kaye


For Adriane Graham, the real question comes down to this: “Am I Alec Kaden’s guest? Or his prisoner?”

If she’s a guest in the Kaden mansion, then it means Alec has freed himself from his family ties to organized crime. It means he’s telling the truth when he says he’s protecting Adriane from dangerous men and they can shake off the shackles of haunted pasts.


If Adriane Graham is Alec Kaden’s prisoner, it means his tenderness is simply a ruse to keep her under control; his kindness is just poisoned hypocrisy. It means Alec is a cruel liar, and that somehow, by some desperate way, she’s got to get out of this charming man’s well-guarded house before it’s too late.

Is she Alec’s treasured guest? Or merely a pretty bird, trapped in his gilded cage? The troubling questions pour like fountains…flowing…

Endless as the Rain.

About the Author:

M.S. Kaye has multiple published books and awards under her Black Belt. A transplant from Ohio, she resides with her husband Corey in Jacksonville, FL, where she does her best not to melt in the sun. Find suspense and the unusual at


A writer like M. S. Kaye comes along once in a lifetime. Ms. Kaye digs deep into the emotions of her characters, and there is always more happening than what appears on the surface.

While walking home from work one evening, Adriane Graham is abducted by Alec Graham. He tells her she needs to remain a guest in his mansion because her life is at stake, but everyone knows the Graham name. Alec’s father was the Godfather of Godfather’s in their area. He remains aloof, and she is treated as a guest in every way but one. Adriane is not allowed to leave the premises.

Ms. Kaye’s prose borders on the poetic, without being flowery or cumbersome. It’s difficult to describe. She simply writes beautifully. And you don’t just read her books, you feel them. Keep the tissues close.

Author Website:
Heat Rating:  PG-13
Length:  265 Pages
Digital Price:  $3.99

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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Cutaway by Christina Kovac @christina_kovac #Suspense #Thriller #TVNews

The Plot:

The Cutaway draws you into the tangled world of corruption and cover-up as a young television producer investigates the disappearance of a beautiful Georgetown lawyer in this stunning psychological thriller, perfect for fans of Paula Hawkins and Gillian Flynn.

When brilliant TV news producer Virginia Knightly receives a disturbing “MISSING” notice on her desk related to the disappearance of a beautiful young attorney, she can’t seem to shake the image from her head. Despite skepticism from her colleagues, Knightly suspects this ambitious young lawyer may be at the heart of something far more sinister, especially since she was last seen leaving an upscale restaurant after a domestic dispute. Yet, as the only woman of power at her station, Knightly quickly finds herself investigating on her own.

Risking her career, her life, and perhaps even her own sanity, Knightly dives deep into the dark underbelly of Washington, DC business and politics in an investigation that will drag her mercilessly through the inextricable webs of corruption that bind the press, the police, and politics in our nation’s capital.

About the Author:

Christina Kovac managed newsrooms and produced crime and political stories in the District. Her career as a television journalist began with Fox 5’s Ten O’Clock News, followed by the ABC affiliate in Washington, D.C. For the last nine years, she worked at the Washington Bureau of NBC News. She lives with her family outside of Washington, D.C.


I started out working at the National Public Radio affiliate in Charleston, S.C. One of our producers recognized my writing talent and mentored me. But one thing I learned while working with her was that I don’t have the attitude for hard news. If the Secret Service tells me to stand behind a certain line, I’ll do so. Mine won’t be the hand with the microphone snaking out of the crowd to get Prince Charles to answer at least one question before being dragged back behind the line—as my mentor was.

Virginia Knightly is who I’d like to be if I ever grow up. She’ll get behind that line and talk the Secret Service into letting her stay. In fact, she’ll convince Prince Charles he needs to talk to her. And if he’s done anything wrong, she’ll prove it, even if she has to risk her life to do so. As she does when Evelyn Carney goes missing.

Ms. Kovac created a cast of compelling, intriguing characters. Then she put them into a fast-paced book I couldn’t put down. In fact, when my granddaughter texted and said she was on her way to pick me up for my great-granddaughter’s birthday party, I texted “Okay,” and continued reading when I should have been grabbing my coat and running out the door. I was annoyed when she texted “Here.” That’s really bad.

Furthermore, I couldn’t figure out who did it. First I thought it was one person, and then another, and then someone else, and back again. It was difficult to tell who was telling the whole truth, part of the truth, or just flat-out lying. Plus, it was all mixed in with an upheaval back at the station. And did I mention she actually uses good grammar? Heaven!

Any book that almost makes me miss my great-granddaughter’s fifth birthday party is an absolute MUST READ!

Warnings:  None
Length:  320 Pages
Print:  $26.00
Digital:  $13.99

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