Sunday, February 27, 2011

"30 Pieces of Silver" by Carolyn McCray (@craftycmc), guest entry by @YourNeedToRead

Today's guest blog comes to us from @YourNeedToRead.  If you haven't checked them out yet, you seriously need to.  They are all about feeding our addiction to books, and seriously, who out of you doesn't want to be a part of that action?

Hold onto your hats, my fellow readers.  You're about to be in for one heck of a storm.  I haven't been this engaged in a novel since I don't know when.  If you're not familiar with Carolyn McCray, she's been ghost writing for many years, and is now taking the indie publishing world by storm with both her gut-wrenchingly good novels and her innovative marketing tactics.  She's the co-founder of ZTS Promotions (, and the founder of the Indie Book Collective ( and Bestseller for a Day (  She will be a panelist at SXSW (South by Southwest) talking about online marketing and independent writing.  Basically, she's all around awesome.

And today (Monday, Feb. 28th) her novel, 30 Pieces of Silver, will be the Bestseller for a Day.  What does this mean to you, the reader?  Well, it means you'll get the e-novel for $.99 if you purchase it right now (whether or not you have a Kindle or a Nook, you can still read it).  It also means you can enter to win a Kindle by going here.  It ALSO means you're eligible for a full refund after purchasing Plain Jane, McCray's first thriller.  IT ALSO MEANS you get to be involved in trying to drive an indie author up the bestselling lists.  That enough also's for ya?  And I'm telling you, if there was ever an author that deserved it, it's Carolyn McCray.

But let's talk about the book itself.  First things first.  If you're Christian, which I am, this novel may be uncomfortable for you.  It was for me.  This novel makes The Da Vinci Code look like a trip to Bible Camp.  It is unabashedly and unashamedly controversial.

That said, I have never read another thriller that had a more engaging plot, with more detailed characters that I fully cared about.  I was swept up in the action immediately and never had a moment of feeling pulled out of it. 

I felt taken care of by the author, if that makes sense.  I didn't ever have the sense that the novel was going to let me down, which can sometimes be a concern with indie books.  McCray handles the different time periods with aplomb, switching back and forth from modern times and the Biblical period without fits or starts.

Truth be told, I liked this novel a lot more than I wanted to.  Considering the religious controversy, I was ambivalent to the point of not being sure I wanted to read it at all.  But from the first page, I kind of didn't have a choice as to whether or not I was going to see it through.  And it is definitely worth the read.

So, pick up an amazing novel for $.99 that people will be talking about (trust me on this one).  Enter to win amazing prizes.  Help indie authors everywhere.

You'll come back and thank me for it. :)  You can pick up 30 Pieces of Silver here.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

"Live to Tell" by @LisaGardnerBks

Ah, thriller readers!  Another set of kick-butt thriller writer's books to plunge into.  If you haven't experienced Lisa Gardner yet, it is way past time, my friends.  Way, way, WAY past time.  I'm reviewing a book here that's been out for a while (paperback came out in December), and is the fourth in the Detective D.D. Warren novels.  I figure it's a good time to introduce you to the series, since the fifth in the series, Love You More, is due out March 8th.  Isn't it so much fun to find a series that's already got lots of books out, so you don't have to wait anxiously for the writer to work through their troublesome block just so you can get your next fix?

This one is not for the weak-stomached.  Not so much for graphic descriptions of violence, but for the gut-wrenching situations involving disturbed kids.  That's always a difficult one for me.  But Gardner handles it with panache, not backing away from it at all, but finding the humanity that allows us to make it through.  There's twists, red herrings, thrills and chills along the way, enough to keep you churning through pages when what you really want to do IS GET A GOOD NIGHT'S SLEEP FOR ONCE!!  Fair warning, guys.  Plan on this book taking over your life for a bit.

For you couldn't-give-a-rat's-behind-about-thillers types, I submit Live to Tell as a good way to get involved.  D.D. Warren's a wonderful female protagonist who avoids going into too much detail about her personal life, mostly because she sort of doesn't have one.  She is the job, as they say.  The harrowing details of good parents dealing with psychologically disturbed children takes the storyline to another level as well.  There is plenty here to give some meat to the admitted andrenaline rushes that this novel dishes out.

Want to take the dive?  You can find Live to Tell here.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

"Foreign Influence" by @BradThor

If you like thrillers, you almost certainly know the name Brad Thor.  He's an icon.  He does what thriller writers all try to do, but he does it effortlessly, seamlessly, dare I say gracefully?  Yes.  I dare.  I do indeed dare.

If you somehow haven't discovered Brad Thor yet, congratulations!  You just hit the thriller jackpot.  Not only is this stuff the pinnacle of the genre, there's TONS of it.  Foreign Influence is the ninth in the Scot Harvarth series.  You can read this one without any difficulty, but you can then go back and enjoy EIGHT more of these suckers.  Eight.

And Foreign Influence will scare the pants off of you.  His depiction of terrorism and its aftermath is chilling.  I personally would say that this is the darkest of Thor's novels, but I don't mean that as a criticism.  At all.  This one will have you turning pages into the night, but will leave you pondering well after you've reluctantly closed the cover.

For those non-thriller types, here's the deal.  Yes, Brad Thor's thrillers are almost what you would call a stereotypical thriller, but hold on a second.  These are some of the best of what the genre has to offer.  Sure, you may have had bad experiences with some of the lesser imitators out there, but they were mimicking the masters.  And one of the greatest of the masters?  Yep, that would be Brad Thor.  So give him a chance.  Chances are, if you don't like him, you just won't ever really like thrillers.

Foreign Influence is available here.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

"Secrets to the Grave" by @TamiHoag

One of the things that we, as crime thriller readers, have gotten used to is technology.  The DNA evidence, the facial recognition programs, the surveillance videos where the reflective surfaces can be digitally enhance to come up with a composite of the killer's face, thus foiling the schemes of the clever, but not quite clever enough, villain.

Tami Hoag takes us back in time (all the way back to the mid-80's... ouch, am I really that old?) to take away all of those advantages.  Our heroes have to figure out the case using old fashioned detective work, taking advantage of the (then) new-ish idea of behavioral profiling to narrow down the list of suspects.  There are so many things that modern readers have gotten used to that we've practically forgotten what it's like to be unreachable because we aren't close to a stationary telephone.  Hoag gives us multiple powerful reminders without having to resort to deus ex machina to shut down the cell towers.  The few cell phones in existence at that point were as big as a city block and essentially inaccessible to the vast majority of the population, cops included.

Just this time twist alone makes this one a not-so-typical entry in the modern crime thriller pantheon, so those of you out there who are sick of CSI and Bones-type stuff (I can't imagine it, personally, but hey...) will find this refreshing.  The small-town vibe without the southern hick thing is a nice touch as well.  There's plenty to interest you thriller-phobes and newbies.

For the rest of you, hooked as you are on DNA evidence, I'm telling you, give this one a try.  Hoag starts us off with a bang (or a slash, if you prefer) and doesn't let us off the hook til the end.  There have been comments comparing Hoag's work to others', saying there's not lots new here.  Okay.  To be honest, there really is very little new under the sun, and Hoag does what she does very, very well.

And yes, this is a follow-up to a previous novel, so if you like it, you don't have to wait for another.  So?  Go check it out here!