The Cairo Affair by Olen Steinhauer

This a fast-moving thriller with an intricate plot about espionage, the FBI and political games as played out in the 90’s among foreign diplomats for the governments of Libya, Egypt, and the USA. The story is centered around Sophia Kohl the wife of Emmett Kohl, a mid-level diplomat at the American embassy in Hungary. Her husband is shot dead by an unknown gunman right after she confesses to him about having an affair. The story then follows as Sophia goes awol with a determination to find out who killed her husband and why. Her unauthorized and secretive quest set in motion an inquisition that threatens to expose years of deceit, lies, murders and cover ups.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Cairo Affair. This book starts off at a breakneck speed, and builds up intensity as the story progresses. It is a complicated and layered plot which makes it even more exciting!

This is one of those books you can’t put down because of the eye-opening discoveries that you make as you get deeper into the story. There are themes of evil schemes, betrayals, rivalries, backstabbing and deceptions all interwoven in this intricate plot.

Set in North Africa, from Hungary to Libya, Yugoslavia to Egypt, this story offers great insights into new places, people and cultures. I especially love stories that take you through foreign lands where you can learn a thing or two – this book does just that.
Pick up this book – It’s well worth your time!
Similar books – The Hidden Man by Charles Cumming, A Cold War by Amelia Levene, and The English Girl by Daniel Silva –

About The Author

Olen Steinhauer grew up in Virginia, and has since lived in Georgia, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Texas, California, Massachusetts, and New York. Outside the US, he’s lived in Croatia (when it was called Yugoslavia), the Czech Republic and Italy…Read more from Amazon

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He’s Come Undone by Theresa Weir


Set on a a college campus in Minneapolis, three female college students decide to take out revenge on a guy who had broken their hearts at various points. Eileen is chosen as the tool for this revenge but the plan might not necessarily play out as planned. When things start to get out of hand, Eileen is no longer convinced she wants to continue with the arrangement but she had signed a contract with the girls or – is she still able to get out of it?
He’s Come Undone is a sweet romance with a modern twist. A very short light-hearted plot about ‘boy meets girl’, but in this case the reader already knows it is a set up mixed with deceit and vengeance. The story is written from the perspectives of the three main characters Eileen, Julian and Valerie. Each chapter is dedicated to a character as they tell their side of story. As the story unfolds, bold and unexpected events develop adding interest to the plot.

I find the premise of the story very interesting and something to look forward to. It is warm and fuzzy for a good romance novel. But this book could be richer and mind-blowing with some more detail and a deeper exploration of the characters. Eileen started out as a sympathetic character but I couldn’t fully appreciate her for lack of enough information on her. I also didn’t find a solid conflict and enough suspense in the plot to intrigue me.

However, this is a quick and easy read for a nice day (215 pages). I liked it but didn’t particularly fall in love with the story. I’ll describe it as heartfelt, romantic and cozy. I will definitely suggest this title to readers who enjoy sweet romance – and this one is really short too!

I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley for an honest review.

Author – Theresa Weir
Publication Date – February 25, 2014
Pages – 215
Setting – Minneapolis

About The Author:

Theresa Weir (a.k.a. Anne Frasier) is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of twenty-six books and numerous short stories that have spanned the genres of suspense, mystery, thriller, romantic suspense, paranormal, fantasy, and memoir.
Read more ~Blurb and img from Amazon

Fox Hunt by S. M. Stelmack

Brian Chanse a high adrenaline stunt guy picks up a hitchhiker on the highway who looks almost dead. Out of compassion, he revives her and is curious about her story. Delta (alias Fox) is running for her life from underground gangsters. Not having any cash on her, she’s hitchhiking her way back to L.A. to investigate who wants her dead. Meanwhile, Brian is much fascinated by the girl and offers to help her which she refuses. Much later in the story, their paths cross again, with a hired assassin on their trail…

Fox Hunt is a fine blend of romance, mystery and suspense. The beginning chapters are gripping and fast paced urging the reader to look for more. A well thought out plot and heavily developed characters. However, on getting to about 3/4 of the pages, I found the story losing some steam and a couple irrelevant details added towards the end. The fireworks between Brian and Delta got unnecessarily long. I found the car chase a little muddled and the art of weaving in flashbacks became somewhat clumsy. At a point, it started to seem as though the author was looking for ways to stretch out the story as much as possible. I am not one to give up on a story, so I prodded on to the end.

This book has a fascinating story line but would do better with more compelling elements throughout the book to sustain readers’ interest.
I give it 3 Stars.
I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley for an honest review.

Author – S. M. Stelmack
Publisher – S. M. Stelmack; Second edition (November 13, 2013)
Pages – 306 pages
Location – L.A.

About The Author:
S. M. Stelmack is our pen name, short for Serge & Moira Stelmack. We aim to give what we like in a story— gutsy men and women, high stakes and LOL lines. Serge is the storymaster who blasts out the beginning, middle and end. Moira comes behind, clucking and hemming, as the story undergoes countless rewrites till it meets our vision…More @ smstelmackauthor.com

Jenny: Virtuous No More by Nora Blackstock

Jenny was a good, devoted wife. When her marriage to husband Mark grew distant, she took matters into her own hands to find out if he still loved her. He did, but his confession, and the things he wanted her to do, were shocking. To save her marriage, Jenny embarked on a sexual journey from which there was no turning back. She would no longer be the “good girl” that everyone knew and loved…” ~ Blurb from Amazon

My Take:
This publication previously came out in five parts. I’m glad that I received the complete set of the e-book and read the entire 171 pages in just a couple of hours. And – here’s what I think…

After seven years of marriage with both Mark and Jenny working full-time, pressures of work start to put stress on their seven-year marriage. As Jenny and Mark would begin to worry that the intimacy between them is shriveling down to almost nothing, they individually started to nurse the fear about how this might further affect their marriage. Until one day to her utmost surprise, Jenny  discovers a secret on Mark’s computer, and confronts him.  This causes Mark to make a shocking proposal to his wife. Jenny his conservative suburban wife – not so much into much experimentation now has a dilemma. However, she is determined to work on her marriage – but at what cost? This incident – is to set in motion a series of events that would deeply affect their marriage.  
 
Jenny: Virtuous No More is a compelling story which draws the reader in quickly right from the first page! This is no ordinary romance but a fast paced racy adventure with a surprise twist. Done in simple and straight forward tone, this engaging narrative will keep the reader wanting for more…  The author did a beautiful job in character development as it relates to Mark and Jenny. Incorporating occasional flash backs is skillfully used to round their characters and keep up the pace.   I thought it was smart of Ms. Blackstock to weave in the final plot thread – which added an interesting dimension to the plot.

This is a beautifully written work, with explicit detailed intimate scenes that leap right off the pages.  A well constructed emotional and passionate book which I believe erotic romance readers would eat up! This book would also be a good introduction to those wanting to explore this genre.

I received an electronic copy from NetGalley for an honest review.

61 HOURS -Jack Reacher by Lee, Child

Given how much I love mystery thrillers I can’t believe I never read any Lee Child’s books especially his popular Jack Reacher series. I have to tell you, all the accolades given to these series are well deserved. I borrowed an ebook copy from my local library which I read over the weekend.

Already, there are a lot of reviews about this book so I will go ahead and list some important take aways – From the title – 61 Hours you can already tell this is a count down to a major event. Jack Reacher the protagonist, an ex military man turned private investigator is a drifter. This time he hitches a ride and finds himself in a rural small town that has very limited police capabilities. As things begin to happen, a sense of an impending doom is imminent. The count down is already on which keeps you at the edge of the seat.

The author writes in simple and straight forward language – only facts that are relevant to the story – no fluff, all read meat. The book starts at a break neck speed and continues that way. The writing is third person POV, so the reader sees every angle which increases suspense.

The plot is complex where you peel away the narrative like an onion. The author creates various plot threads with each chapter ending in a cliff hanger. I love that the author takes time to build relatable characters. The reader gets to know the characters well enough where you establish some connection. As a result, I really found it hard letting some of the characters go at the end of the book.

This is a book to read when you have enough time to devote to it because you can’t put it down. Your heart’s racing and you feel you’re on roller coaster ride!

I’m not usually a huge fan of series, but I like that Jack Reacher series do not have to be read in order. Even though this is #14 in the Jack Reacher series, you can start from any book without feeling as though you’re missing anything.

If you’re a mystery thriller fan and haven’t read this book, please do yourself a great favor by grabbing one!

I really would like to read a similar book from a new author, please feel free to suggest anyone, I would really appreciate it!!

Author – Child, Lee
Publication – 2010
Pages – 528
Location – South Dakota

About the Author:

“Lee Child is the #1 internationally bestselling author of the Jack Reacher thrillers. His debut, Killing Floor, won both the Anthony and the Barry awards for Best First Mystery, and The Enemy won both the Barry and the Nero awards for Best Novel. “Jack Reacher”, the film based on the 9th novel, One Shot, stars Tom Cruise, Robert Duvall, Rosamund Pike, Jai Courtney, and David Oyelowo and debuted in December 2012. Child, a native of England and a former television director, lives in New York City and the south of France with his wife and daughter”~ Amazon

Behind The Facade

“Katherine Pearson is happy with her life. She has a successful, doting father, a rewarding job and is soon to be married to a man who adores her. When she is kidnapped by an Irish terrorist, her world is destroyed. Years later, she still suffers from disturbing flashbacks and an inability to form new relationships. When she meets the enigmatic American, Michael Hunter, she believes she may have finally found love again. However, can you ever really know what is beneath the surface? Her new-found peace of mind is shattered as the reasons for her kidnap are revealed and dangerous secrets come to light, linking her father to murder and sexual exploitation.” ~ Blurb from Amazon

My Take:
I really enjoyed reading this book! This debut novel written by two sisters is loaded with intrigues and suspense. The first couple pages are captivating and has a lot of action, but the middle part seemed a little like the story ran out of steam. But that didn’t stop my excitement for what I thought was great story.

Katherine’s character is presented as a sad and edgy young woman who is nursing some inner issues. As the story goes on, the authors release bits and pieces of information to keep you interested as you keep reading but not enough to explain entirely what’s going on. The plot is layered and the story goes back and forth between the present and the past. This made me stop a couple of times to reread some parts in order to make sure which time period is being discussed. Apart from that, it is overall an enjoyable book to read. As you read on you discover other interesting plot threads that would keep pulling you in, this strategy created so much anticipation in mind that I couldn’t wait to get to the end.

While Katherine is a troubled young lady, I find her character endearing. In the story, she enters into a complicated relationship, while still distressed from a past event. This decision kept me wondering “what” could have happened to Katherine in the past. This smart strategy forces the reader to feel for Katherine and at the same time hope for the best for her.

Even though the ending was a nice surprise, there was quite some rigmarole and unnecessary details leading to the wrap up. That not withstanding, Behind The Facade is a fascinating piece of work that I would hate to spoil it by going deep into the plot. I love the human trafficking angle and how it shines light on what goes on behind the scene. If you love mysteries with complicated plots and surprise ending, then you’d have fun with this plot which flows similar to opening a can of worms with a lot of twists and turns!

I purchased a Kindle copy of this book during a recent give-away for – I think $1.99 – not a bad deal…

Author – Rebecca and Victoria Heap
Genre – Mystery
Publication Date – Jul 28, 2013
Pages – 304

About The Authors:

Our names are Victoria Bracegirdle and Rebecca Bentley. We are twin sisters and we live in Bolton, a multi-faceted and friendly town in Lancashire, UK. Our maiden name is Heap so this is what we have used as our pen name. We can’t say if we are identical or fraternal twins as no-one, least of all our parents, seems able to agree on this. It doesn’t matter to us. What matters is our mutual love of reading and literature and our symbiotic relationship, which has facilitated the inception and creation of our first novel… Heap Twins.com

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Still Alice is a compelling début novel about a 50-year-old woman’s sudden descent into early onset Alzheimer’s disease, written by first-time author Lisa Genova, who holds a Ph. D in neuroscience from Harvard University.
Alice Howland, happily married with three grown children and a house on the Cape, is a celebrated Harvard professor at the height of her career when she notices a forgetfulness creeping into her life. As confusion starts to cloud her thinking and her memory begins to fail her, she receives a devastating diagnosis: early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Fiercely independent, Alice struggles to maintain her lifestyle and live in the moment, even as her sense of self is being stripped away… Still Alice captures in remarkable detail what’s it’s like to literally lose your mind…
” ~ Blurb from Amazon

My Take

This is a – must read! What a compelling story about a remarkable woman whose life is slowly torn apart by this dreadful disease – Alzheimer’s. The reader journeys with Alice the main character through the stunning diagnosis of her Alzheimer’s, her painful disbelief and her eventual decision to come to terms with this illness. If you like a nice book that pulls you in from the start, this is it. From the detailed account of how the symptoms started to manifest, diagnosis and treatment procedure, it is clear that Still Alice is a well researched book by first time author – Lisa Genova.

I have to note one thing though, there are quite some scientific terms in this book which some people complain is off-putting. However, I am not science inclined but I thoroughly enjoyed reading through and learning all those new terms- you might too…

Lisa Genova created an endearing and sympathetic character in Alice. With her portrayal as a high-profile personality – a Harvard professor with a busy life, it comes as such a shock to everyone as they watch this disease slowly rip her life apart. It is like watching a train wreck knowing you have no power to stop it. I find the secondary characters also interesting – Alice’s husband and three children. Each one of them have their own specific personality and – justifiably, distinct reaction to this illness. Like regular families, there are disagreements, arguments, and tension arising from the stress of the dealing with this illness – but they ultimately find ways to find resolutions. This dimension helps to add credibility to the story. Those are the sort of elements I look for in works of fiction where the characters are so well-rounded and developed that it tends to blur the line between fiction and non fiction.

This book is so well written that it does not fail to strike a chord with you. Even though no one around me is suffering from Alzheimer’s, I was heavily devastated by the pain and suffering Alice goes through. And that’s one of the things I appreciate about this book – the storyline is believable. This is indeed an intense and informative story. I urge you please read it.

Apart from the fact that this story is a great eye-opening to what people afflicted with this disease actually go through, it is also a useful resource for those whose loved one is dealing with this unfortunate situation.

Still Alice grips you from the onset. It is also moving, and heartbreaking. I tell you- I was bawling through the last couple chapters of the book – it is that touching!

Author – Lisa Genova
Publication Date – January 6, 2009
Number of Pages – 292 pages
Genre – Fiction (Women’s lives and relationships)
Geographical Setting – Cambridge, MA
About the Author:

Lisa Genova graduated valedictorian, summa cum laude from Bates College with a degree in Biopsychology and has a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Harvard University. She is the author of the New York Times Bestselling novels STILL ALICE, LEFT NEGLECTED, and LOVE ANTHONY. ~ Amazon