The Minotaur’s Son & Other Wild Tales @kevinansbro #2qtlimited #magicalrealism #shortstories #humor #fantasy @absltmom

If you are looking for something that will take you away, something that will make you giggle, and something that will leave a number of ah-ha moments, then you must take a walk a bit on the wild tale side with Kevin Ansbro’s short story collection. I had such fun with this group of short stories and since fun seems to be in short supply these days, I so appreciated the ability to be sucked in, mesmerized and even had times of laugh out loud loveliness.

The Minotaur's Son & Other Wild Tales

“A woman is like an ocean, sir, beautiful to look at but dangerous to cross.” Already Kevin knows 50% of his audience well!

“A gentleman goes in search of flattery as keenly as a bee hunts for pollen.” and here we see the other 50%!

I am not really a short story reader as I have found that I no sooner seem to get to know the characters and events then they are gone and for me that relationship I look to have disappears. So truthfully, I was not the best audience for this book. However, I have to confess that each and every tale, left me feeling something. It’s hard to decide on a favorite though I am partial to the tale of the father-son relationship. DOTH THOU THINK ME A FOOL? really got to me and I had some teary eyed moments with that one.

There is a whole plethora of mystical, magical creatures and one of the human kind, who in all honestly act like we would figure them to. Some are greedy, some are so caught up in themselves that you want to kick them into the twilight zone, some are lovable, (the leprechaun in THE POT OF GOLD), and some are the opposite of that. (that would be you, Brian, with Matt coming in a very close second)

Kevin tickled my die hard devotion to Star Trek (yes I am and always will be a Trekkie!) with his CHUCK MONTANA IN THE TWENTY-SECOND CENTURY story. It was one of the lol stories I mentioned earlier. …….and if you are looking for more lol moments than Kevin’s THE CONCUBINE AND THE POSTMAN, will have you rolling as as trio of numbskulls, Om, Kabir and Sanjay, kidnap the maharaja’s favorite concubine. ……and I bet you wonder where the Postman comes in?

BRIAN THE BIGOT will set your teeth on edge but you will be cheering as Brian gets his just desserts in a most wonderfully devious way. In a close second place to taking the trophy home for being the most obnoxious person in the room (or maybe in the country, planet, galaxy) was Matt, a person we all have met, in THE SHOW-OFF. He proves to all that there are many who believe themselves just too cool for school!

Kevin has been able to masterfully engender all the emotions in this collection. He takes us to faraway places with kindness, an eye on the right, the just, and also an eye, that in the end, many of us get exactly what we deserve. Wickedly funny, showing a keen understanding of the human spirit or lack thereof, Kevin weaves his tales so well that this becomes a book that is hard to put aside.

Do I recommend this collection? Oh yes, indeed! It was a ray of definite sunshine with a bit of a rainbow attached and to me it was the perfect way to spend a day or two with many delightful and nefarious characters.

and here’s the author

Kevin Ansbro

The Unwilling @JohnHartAuthor @StMartinsPress #vietnam #war #family #gritty #hardship #loss #pain @absltmom

The Unwilling

He’d fought the war as few men could. The real terror waited at home.

This is the third book I have read by this author and I have to think, he just keeps on getting better and better. This is another one of those stories that when I completed the last page, I thought I am ever so happy I had the opportunity to read this tale. The winds of war blew heavily through this family, taking away harshly much of what they held dear, and left them swept with anguish, loss and the desire to return to normalcy knowing that they never could.

It’s always hard to read about war, but sometimes reading about its aftermath is even harder. The people left behind, the families devastated, and the lives that have been damaged and changed can never be forgotten or even understood by those not touched by the conflict. War’s aftermath produces hardship, loss, and pain in all touched by its malevolent hand. It’s a walk through hell for many and in this new book of John Hart’s, The Unwilling, we learn of the tragedy experienced by the French family.

A son, Robert, has been killed in Vietnam. Another son, Jason, a three time tour of duty soldier, has been ravaged by the war. He returns a drug addict, a man haunted by many ghosts, a son given up on by his mother, a brother who is beloved by his young brother Gibby.

There is a father, devastated by the loss of his eldest son, compelled to alienate his next son because of his job in law enforcement, and endeavoring to keep his youngest son away from his brother.

Then there is Gibby, the youngest son, so desirous of a connection to his brother, willing to do whatever to establish a link, to find a brother that he doesn’t want to be lost to him.

Then one stupid event changes everything and starts in motion a dangerous and deadly journey that will end tragically for some, reveal secrets from others, and take the reader on a exploration of family, of ties that bind, of courage and the will to survive.

This gritty pragmatic book will sink its tentacles into you as you descend deeper into the harsh reality that faced this family and so many others who returned from war, broken, in need, and facing a world that seemed to banish them. Mr Hart has probed deeply into family, its role, its place in the life of children who are left unknowing and bereft in the face of loss. Perhaps this book is a difficult one to read, to assimilate in times such as this, but it is a testament to the ties that bind, the roles we play and the relationships we build with parents and our siblings. Truly this is a book worth reading.

Thank you to John Hart for such a powerful message, St Martin’s Press, and Edelweiss for an advanced copy of this book due out June 23, 2020.

and here’s the author


Can You See Her? @SELynesAuthor @bookouture #aging #empathy #hormonalchanges #psycologicalthriller @absltmom

Aging…..something none of us can escape from. As one moves from their youth to middle and then to old age, it becomes a sometimes scary prospect. Scary as in when you look in that mirror you see someone who you might not recognize and wonder where did my youth go?

Can You See Her?
This book had so many things going for it. The topics were ever so relevant and the descriptions that were given made the reader realize many things, first and foremost being that you are not alone in your feelings.

How many of us have at one time or another felt invisible? Perhaps you were ignored by a sales clerk, or wait staff, or a husband/wife, or your children? You know the feeling, as if you are not there and the resentment and awareness of being less than a human being builds. Perhaps you think it’s an age thing.? Am I not young enough, skinny enough, pretty enough, desirable enough to be noticed? Is life passing me by at breakneck speed and I just can’t seem to cope? Have I lost that something I thought I never would?

Rachel Edwards, our invisible women, has been married to her husband Mark for many years. She has two older children, and she feels that no one in her circle of life sees her anymore. Has she outlasted her usefulness?

As Rachel descends further and further into a world where awful things have happened, she finds she needs to come to terms with what life is. Rachel is in the throes of shifts in her hormonal level due to menopause, and her heightened awareness of the extremely troubling rise in knife attacks in Britain have raised her sense of the awful and the horrible to new heights. Rachel is perceptive, empathetic and it seems she takes on the ills of her village as her very own.

However, as her empathy grows, she embroils herself in the deaths of the area, becoming more and more cognizant of the role of hatred and anger and its detrimental effect on our world. As Rachel immerses herself into tragedy, she takes on the role of being the cause of it, and buries herself in a world of nightmare and tragedy of which she might not be a part of.

The topics that are covered so well in this book by this author are known to us all. She creates a most touching, far reaching story that hits its mark on so many levels. I definitely recommend this story for its mindful and perceptive look at how this world can and does manipulate us and force many of us to withdraw into a world of further nightmares and deceit.

Thank you to S.E. Lynes, Bookouture, and NetGalley for a copy of this story due out April 22,2020

and here’s the author

S.E. Lynes

S E Lynes is the Amazon best selling author of psychological thrillers, VALENTINA, MOTHER, THE PACT and THE PROPOSAL.
After graduating from Leeds University, Susie lived in London before moving to Aberdeen where she worked as a producer at the BBC before moving with her husband, Paul, and two young children to Rome.
In Rome, she began to write, snatching time where she could. After the birth of her third child and upon her return to the UK, she gained an MA in Creative Writing from Kingston University.
She now combines writing, mentoring and lecturing. She has also published two children’s books in Italy.
Her fifth novel, THE WOMEN is out May 22nd 2019.

The Last Agent (Charles Jenkins #2) @robertdugoni #thomas&mercer #charlesjenkins #spy #russia #suspense #thriller @absltmom

We all search for a friend like Charles Jenkins. He is the type of friend that quite literally will lay his life on the line for someone he cares about. In this second installment of the Charles Jenkins series, we find out how much friendship means to this man.

The Last Agent (Charles Jenkins, #2)

Would you ever want to go back to a place where you knew your life was in constant peril, where the fate that awaited you at best was prison and at worst prison accompanied by torture, suffering, and misery? Would you ever want to work once again for a place that prosecuted you falsely for espionage and treason? Most of us would definitely decline this “opportunity”, but not Charles.

What would entice Charles back into the deadly business of spying, leaving his loving wife and two children, leaving a life of retirement, leaving a life where he was exonerated of his supposed crimes?

For Charles, there was no question to do so when he learned of the possibility that his friend and the women who previously saved him might be alive. Paulina Ponomayova, had years ago provided the way for Charles to escape Russia, literally sacrificing herself, and if she is still alive, Charles owes her a debt he feels he needs to repay. If alive, Paulina would be held in the heinous prison called Lefortovo, a virtual hell hole on earth.

Returning to Russia, Charles meets up with his former nemesis, Viktor Federov. Viktor, maltreated by the Russian government, is enlisted, and in a twist of fate, joins in helping Charles free Paulina, a task that has insurmountable odds of not succeeding. In essence two former enemies become united in what once had seemed an impossibility.

The game is on to free Paulina and the stakes are ever so high as one vindictive ruthless Russian agent pursues Charles and seems to be always anticipating Charles’s next move. Who will win this cat and mouse game where death seems to be the only option?

If you enjoy stories that never let up on the thrills and suspense factors, pick this one up. It keeps getting better as every page is turned and your breathe is held as Charles races to save not only Paulina, but also his own life that hangs in the balance at every turn in the road.

Thank you to Robert Dugoni, Thomas & Mercer, and NetGalley for an advanced copy of this electrifying book due out September 22, 2020.

and here’s the author


Don’t Look for Me @wendy_walker @StMartinsPress #stmartinspress #psycologicalsuspense #mystery #loss #fictionfriends #duoreviews @JanBelisle #absltmom

There are so many ways in which a person can deal with loss. Some scream and yell, some retreat, and some decide to lose themselves in the guilt and feeling that this could have been prevented, stopped somehow, and fate could be decided by a person just by wanting it so. Jan and I were anxious to read this book so when the publisher offered us the opportunity, we jumped at the chance.

Don't Look for Me

They called it a “walk away.” It happens all the time.

Jan’s review

Nic (Nicole) arrives in the small town of Hastings to investigate her mother Molly’s disappearance after her car was found abandoned by the side of the road. The authorities are calling it a walk-away, a mom who left her family as the result of grief and guilt after a family tragedy. Nic doesn’t believe it and perseveres in her search for her mom.

The reader knows what has happened to Molly and we follow her ordeal and Nic’s investigation and search in alternating chapters. I was captivated from the first page with heart-pounding, edge-of-your-seat tension. I simply couldn’t put it down and read it in two sittings. 

One of the things I enjoy most about a Wendy Walker novel is the way she delves into the psychology of her characters. People are complex and life is full of shades of gray. The way Molly and Nic suffer and cope after their tragedy is done with skill and empathy. 

The small town has a dark underbelly with secrets and untrustworthy characters. I did guess one twist but the tension as to how it would be resolved remained, so it didn’t ruin the story for me. I found the ending somewhat convoluted and a let-down, or this would have been an easy 5 stars. 

Still, this is a terrific psychological thriller that I highly recommend! 

  • To be published on Sept 20, 2020.
  • I received a free copy of the book from St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.

Marialyce’s review

I just can’t imagine, nor even want to know, how a parent deals with the loss of a child. It breaks more than one’s heart. It can break a family apart, make life seem like it’s not worth living, and throw a once stable loving family into turmoil from which it seems they will never recover.

Such was the life that Molly Harper is living. Her youngest daughter is dead, her marriage is falling apart, and her remaining children seem to want no part of her. How easy would it be for Molly to run away from all of this, to hide, to try and forget. So, on a rainy night after visiting her son’s football game, Molly runs out of gas. Her car is found abandoned, and the investigation into her whereabouts seem to point to Molly’s running away from grief. But, has she?

Her daughter, Nic, doesn’t think so, her husband doesn’t seem to care, and her son, away at school has ambivalent feelings about the turn of events. But what if Molly isn’t a runaway, what if she has become embroiled in a scenario that is both devious and evil? What if Molly is in danger?

Told with tight suspense filling every page, this tale digs not only into a mystery, but also tells of the loss and guilt one feels after the death of a child. Wendy Walker is able not only to elicit a feeling of inherent danger, but also one of empathy for what Molly and her family have gone through. This quickly read thriller provides hours of “unputdownable” pleasure and reading late into the night. I definitely recommend it to those who enjoy a taut, solid thriller that keeps one totally engaged in Molly’s struggles.

Thank you to Wendy Walker and St Martin’s Press for a free copy of this fascinating thriller that is due to be published on September 20, 2020.

and here’s the author

Wendy Walker

Wendy Walker is a former family law attorney in Fairfield County, Connecticut who began writing while at home raising her three sons. She published two novels with St. Martin’s Press and edited multiple compilations for the Chicken Soup for the Soul series before writing her debut psychological thriller, All is Not Forgotten in 2016. Her second thriller, Emma In The Night, was released the following year. Her latest novel, The Night Before, was published in May 2019.

Wendy earned her J. D., magna cum laude, at the Georgetown University Law Center where she was awarded the American Jurisprudence award for her performance in Contracts and Advanced Criminal Procedure. She received her undergraduate degree, magna cum laude, from Brown University and attended The London School of Economics and Political Science as part of her undergraduate studies.

The Lost Diary of M #paulwolfe @HarperCollins #marypinchotmeyer #johnfkennedy #washington #thesixties #cia @absltmom

The Lost Diary of M by Paul Wolfe

There are times in a fictional recounting of a real person you wonder what is true and what is in the fiction category. I kept on thinking in reading this book, that even if a small portion of this fictionalized diary was true, how scary our world was. It was a time when a nuclear holocaust seemed to be our future. In school, I do remember hiding under our desks for our bomb drills (ridiculous really) and seeing on television the escalation of tensions, and always the videos captured of that mushroom cloud. We were young small kids frightened really but never really understanding the games that were being played out in front of us.

Some might consider Mary Pinchot Meyer, a socialite, a woman who was born before her time. Her free wheeling life, her ability to thrown many curves at convention, her adherence to the world of LSD and its advocates, plus her secret affair with a president, made her quite the different type of Washingtonian lady. She had been married to a CIA chief, sister in law of Washington Post”s Ben Bradlee, friend of Timothy Leary, and a feminist.

Mary always seemed to be one who went against the main stream, one who loved to throw some dirt into the faces of the elite, one who eventually was murdered a year after her presidential lover, John F. Kennedy was murdered.

This book throws quite a bit of innuendo into the forces that not only killed Kennedy, but also provided a background for the many dalliances that Kennedy had and the way in which his thoughts about the Cold War were formulated much to the chagrin of the CIA and the elite.. We are shown Washington as a den of cutthroat power hungry leaders who wanted nothing more than a nuclear age of bombs and the loss of countless lives. We saw those who urged that Castro and hence Russia be blown up without the cost of consequences to the average soul living in America. Scary times indeed and as Mary leads a group of women randomly known as Chantilly Lace, she fights for peace having Kennedy’s ear and feeling that LSD was the answer to war mongering because it enlightened people to see their inner selves, the ones that wanted inner peace.

We can look back now and still wonder about those sixties, when a young charismatic man led this country, but what can never be denied is the mystery that still to this day surrounds the details of his life and death and to a great extent Mary’s as well.

This diary is imaginative, a narrative that is mostly a myth, but what if some of it were true? How frightening to once again be reminded that for many war seems to be the only answer. Mary knew this to be true and although she led a most unconventional life, she was never afraid to buck accepted norms, flaunt mores and morals of the time, and cast the traditional aside.

This was an interesting book, a provocative story that once again made me realize that even if we think ourselves to be a witness to history, we really are totally bereft of knowing the real story.

Thank you to Paul Wolfe, Harper Publishing, and Edelweiss for a copy of this intriguing book.

What Lies Between Us @johnmarrs1 #thomas&mercerpublishing #psycologicalthriller #motherdaughter @absltmom

They say a mother daughter relationship can be one of the strongest bonds between two people. These relationships are complex and can go from each being each other’s best friend to one of animosity and hate. So, when John Marrs decided to take on this time honored relationship, his view turned a bit to the dark side.

What Lies Between Us

Having read. loved, and been majorly spooked by John Marrs’s The Passengers, I was quite anxious to experience those very same feelings once again, and once again I can gladly say I was not disappointed. His books encompass that feeling of well this would probably never happen, but what if it did question that rolls around in your head and takes hold.

Maggie and Nina are a mother daughter duo living in the same house, eating the same food, passing each and every day together, and best of all seeming to exist in a world of hate and animosity. One lives in an attic plotting her escape while the other lives in a world of hate, vitriol, and somewhat cloudy remembrances of the past.

So much has gone on between these two ladies that as the story is masterfully developed, we learn the many facets of each of these women’s personalities and behaviors. Maggie, the mother, expresses her overwhelming, undying love for her daughter, Nina. She has in the past and continues to be a protector, carrying this protectiveness into zones that are both bizarre and dangerous. Maggie is the consummate mother, a manipulator, and will never let anyone or anything come in the way of her daughter’s life. However, where Nina is concerned, Maggie has stars in her eyes and becomes a captive of everything that Nina is and has been

Nina hates her mother. She blames her for all the ills of her life of thirty-seven years. Forgive and forget are not on her play list and yet Nina does seem to have times where her forgetfulness has played out with devastating results. She is a sad adult, a troubled adult, an adult keeping secrets that are destroying her. She will seek revenge to her dying days and her focus of that revenge is a mother who seemed to have only her daughter’s best interest at heart…or did she?

This was an exciting heart pounding thriller that kept the focus squarely on the relationships that can develop when one is in a constant state of denial, of over protectiveness, and fear. Mr Marrs is a superstar in fessing out the story in slowly dripping details and makes each revelation one that is shocking and ghastly. This is one not to miss if you so enjoy a tale of horrifying, dreadful, and distressing proportions.

Thank you to John Marrs, Thomas & Mercer, and NetGalley for a copy of this chilling tale due out on May 15, 2020.

and here’s the author: