Smorgasbord Christmas Book Fair – #Thrillers – Carol Balawyder, Sue Coletta, Terry Tyler, Mark Bierman, Jaye Marie

Welcome to another Christmas Book Fair and today some thrillers that would make perfect gifts.

The first author is Carol Balawyder – a coming of age crime thriller...Just Before Sunrise

About the book

A coming-of-age story with a domestic noir twist.

Nadine, tired of running her call-girl agency has upgraded to gold digger as she finds the perfect rich widower to marry. Discovering that her wealthy widower is an abuser she seduces his stepson, Charlie, to plot her husband’s murder.

But things don’t go as planned and soon she is turning to her experience hiring young call-girls to find the perfect girl to save her from going to prison…

Homeless Maya is drifting on the streets, grieving the recent loss of her mother.
When she is offered the opportunity to prepare a lake-side house to be used as a half-way home for delinquent girls, she doesn’t think twice.

She soon falls for Charlie, the attractive boy next door, who has a seriously dark side. She is drawn into his murderous schemes, doing anything he asks her to, risking her own safety for the promise of a future with him. When she finds herself party to murder, and she realises he is more concerned with his older female accomplice than with her, she must learn to trust her instincts and use all of her courage to get out of their trap alive.

As a subplot there is the rocky romantic relationship between an older woman and a younger man who become involved in investigating the murder for which young Maya is accused of committing.

Just Before Sunrise is a story about loss and survival. About loneliness, betrayals and deadly desires.

A recent review for the book

Jill Weatherholt 5.0 out of 5 stars A different kind of love story. Reviewed in the United States on July 9, 2021

Having read and enjoyed several of author Carol Balawyder’s previous books, I was excited when she announced the release of Just Before Sunrise on her blog. The author’s background in criminal psychology as well as working in drug rehab centers is evident. From the start, the story pulled me in with the well-developed characters and the beautiful setting of Quebec. Having a background in psychology myself, I highly recommend this not so ordinary love story.

Also by Carol Balawyder

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK – Read more reviews : Goodreads – WebsiteCarol BalawyderLinkedIn: Carol Balawyder – Facebook: Carol Balawyder

The first author is Sue Coletta with a review for I Am Mayhem: The Mayhem Series: # 4

About the book

As bloody, severed body parts show up on her doorstep, Shawnee Daniels must stop the serial killer who wants her dead before she becomes the next victim.

But can she solve his cryptic clues before it’s too late? Or will she be the next to die a slow, agonizing death?

With crows stalking her every move, Shawnee can barely function. Things worsen when body parts show up on her doorstep. An unstoppable serial killer wants her dead. Mr. Mayhem threatens to murder everyone she loves, sending Shawnee a piece at a time.

As Mr. Mayhem sits in judgement, his cryptic clues must be solved before the final gavel drops. The game rules are simple—win the unwinnable or submit to a slow, agonizing death.

When Shawnee tries to fight back, she discovers her very existence is based on lies. But the full impact of the truth might become the headstone on Shawnee’s grave.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Carol Smith – Kindle Customer 5.0 out of 5 stars Sue Coletta’s I Am Mayhem Reviewed in the United States on September 23, 2021

Take a deep, deep breath now. Fill your lungs because once you start to read the story it will leave you breathless👹👹👹

Body parts are left for Shawnee Daniels first in a ring box then on her back deck. Shawnee is computer specialist/hacker for the police department. She was a cat burglar at night that is how she became aware of Mr Mayhem and his personal troop of crows,
led by Poe. Mayhem sends her cryptic clues by the crows. Will she ever be able to reason with her nemesis?

This is a gripping, riveting and emotional read! You will feel the intenseness surrounding Shawnee as Mr Mayhem sets her up to fight a challenge bigger than him. Will she be able
to conquer and live unscathed??

I felt that the characters are creatively and artfully drawn each with a distinctive personality. Even the crows have their own persona that make them seem real. The interaction of the cast of characters influences whether the consequences in connection with each other will result in evil or good.

Surprises for Shawnee at every turn!! I was amazed at how Shawnee had the strength
to face all that she faced. I felt the tension, suspense, intrigue and was stunned at the
twist and turns throughout this bone chilling, dynamic read.

This is a compulsive page turner and a highly recommended read. You will definitely want to delve into the midst of Mayhem. This is book # 4 in the Mayhem Series. Looking
forward to the next book already.

A selection of other books by Sue Coletta

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK – follow Sue : Goodreads website/blog: Sue ColettaTwitter: @SueColetta1

The first author today is Terry Tyler with a review for her most recent release Megacity (Operation Galton Book 3) Another book I can highly recommend.

About the book

The UK’s new megacities: contented citizens relieved of the burden of home ownership, living in eco-friendly communities. Total surveillance has all but wiped out criminal activity, and biometric sensor implants detect illness even before symptoms are apparent.

That’s the hype. Scratch the surface, and darker stories emerge.

Tara is offered the chance to become a princess amongst media influencers—as long as she keeps quiet and does as she’s told.

Aileen uproots to the megacity with some reluctance, but none of her misgivings prepare her for the situation she will face: a mother’s worst nightmare.

Radar has survived gang rule in group homes for the homeless, prison and bereavement, and jumps at the chance to live a ‘normal’ life. But at what cost?

For all three, the price of living in a megacity may prove too high.

Megacity is the third and final book in the dystopian Operation Galton trilogy, and is Terry Tyler’s twenty-third publication.

‘As long as some of us are still living free, they have not yet won. Anyone who refuses to live as they want us to has beaten them. That’s how we do it. That’s how we win.’

One of the recent reviews for the book

Stephanie Jane (Literary Flits) 5.0 out of 5 stars Grim dystopia  Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 2 October 2021

It’s a bittersweet experience finishing a beloved book series and that’s exactly how I felt on reaching Megacity’s final page. The third of Terry Tyler’s Operation Galton trilogy, following on from Hope and Wasteland, Megacity illustrates the realities of living within one of Britain’s new ‘perfect’ cities exploring the divide between people who will happily trade freedom for comfort and those for whom the price is far too high. I’ve given each of the three books a 5/5 star rating because of their gripping authenticity which draws me into the narrative. I know Tyler’s imagined world is a grim dystopia, but I would love to live in these books!

Megacity is told from several perspectives so, as a reader, I gained a wide view of how each character’s actions affected their lives and the lives of those around them. I appreciate that no one in the Operation Galton world comes across as supernaturally gifted or wise. They all feel genuine in their beliefs and motivations especially when the results turn out to be seriously unpleasant. There were a few scenes I wish I could unsee!

A small selection of books by Terry Tyler

Read the reviews and buy the books:Amazon UK – And : Amazon US – Follow Terry Tyler: GoodreadsBlog: Terry Tyler Blogspot – Twitter:@TerryTyler4

The next author today is Mark Bierman with a review for his novel a thriller set in Haiti, Vanished which I can highly recommend.

About the book

Tragedy . . . heartache . . . how much more can Tyler Montgomery and John Webster take? This missions trip, the “healing” one, has only added fresh layers of pain. Construction of an orphanage in Haiti’s northwest . . . yes. But a doomed rescue operation, human traffickers, human anomalies, extreme personal danger . . . risk of death? They hadn’t signed up for those.

Turning their backs on the crisis, however, is unthinkable, it’s just not who they are.

One of the recent reviews for the book

John W. Howell VINE VOICE 5.0 out of 5 stars A well-written and fast paced story Reviewed in the United States on September 2, 2021

The first thing that impressed me about this book was that the author took on the heinous subject of human trafficking but managed to create a compelling story without resorting to gratuitous graphic violence and sex. Instead, he kept the story within the bounds of true-to-life human emotions.

The second thing that impressed me was the author’s ability to set scenes and describe the action using colorful and descriptive metaphors that frequently occurred throughout the story. Such descriptions brought the book alive.

The third thing that impressed me was the story itself. The author spent a great deal of time on research, and it showed in the details in the story. For example, Haiti’s setting is not on the usual tourist destination list, so common knowledge of customs and other nuances was not because of kicking back on vacation but took work to ferret out.

This book has plenty of action for those who like action. Although, it does require buying into the premise that a couple of Americans want to help find a kidnapped child just to do it. But, once you get there, the story is page-turning entertainment. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a well-written fast-paced story.

50% of the proceeds from Vanished go to an organization that helps victims of human trafficking.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon USAnd : Amazon UK – Follow Mark: Goodreads – Blog: Mark Bierman WordPressTwitter: @mbiermanauthor

The next author is Jaye Marie for her crime thriller Cross fire

About the book

DI David Snow has a serial killer to catch, a killer as mysterious as the crimes he commits.

Snow is due to retire, but not before he discovers why someone killed his sergeant and is now coming after him.

The killer seems to have a personal vendetta against Snow, but he is determined that no one else should die because of him. His efforts are hampered by the arrival of a new sergeant, ‘ruthless’ Ruth Winton, for she is not what she seems.

Alarm bells start to ring when Snow realises she is after more than just his job

One of the recent reviews for the book

Aug 11, 2021 Colleen Chesebro rated it five stars it was amazing

DI Snow is ready for retirement until his partner Detective Jim Harris is murdered. This single event sets into motion the department’s hunt for Jim’s killer. When Jim’s replacement, Ruth Winton, shows up, Snow takes an instant dislike to the woman. She seems competent, but there is something about her that rubs Snow the wrong way.

When more bodies start piling up with the same wounds that Jim received, Snow considers the murders are all connected. He knows time is running out to catch the killers, but he has a problem. His health has taken a turn for the worse. If he’s too ill to find the killer, who will?

Leave it to me to start a series with the third book! However, I found “CrossFire” to be a standalone book. There are references to DI David Snow’s other cases, but nothing I couldn’t follow.

The book reminds me of some of the British mysteries I watch on Amazon Prime. As the suspense built, I kept turning pages, eager to find out what happened next. The characters are interesting, with Snow taking on the characteristics of the troubled detective. I found him to be a likable guy. There is great detail paid to the backstory of the murderer, which helped to propel the story forward.

If you like psychological mysteries, this was a good read. I’m excited to read some of this author’s other mysteries. Perhaps I should start with the first book in the series!

Books by Jaye Marie

Read the reviews and buy the books:Amazon US – and: Amazon UK – Follow Jaye Marie : Goodreads – Jaye Marie: WordPress Blog – Twitter: @jaydawes2


Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you will be leaving with some books…. Sally.



Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Christmas Book Fair – #Thrillers Carol Balawyder, Leyla Cardena, John L. DeBoer

Welcome to the Christmas Book Fair where I will be featuring all the authors currently on the shelves of the Cafe and Bookstore.

Today something for thriller and mystery lovers.

The first review today is for Carol Balawyder for a book for those who enjoy thrillers, Warning Signs

About the book

Eugene’s research into his criminal mind is not about the why, but how to prevent his horrific crimes. Angie, a young woman starving for passion sees Eugene as her saviour from a lonely life of caring for her heroin addicted mother. How far is she willing to go in order to save her relationship with Eugene and his promise for a future together?

Detective Van Ray is out on a vindictive mission as he attempts to solve the murders of young girls in Youth Protection.

Their lives collide in a mixture of mistrust, obsession and ignoring the warning signs. A psychological thriller about human frailty and loneliness.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Anneli 5.0 out of 5 stars Drawn In  Reviewed in the United States on October 6, 2020

Horror and gruesome killing upset me and I don’t like to read about these details. But author, Carol Balawyder handles the murder scenes in her novel about a serial killer so deftly that I just wanted to keep turning pages – never having the urge to hide my eyes – only wanting to know more.

Once I was hooked (on the first page), she introduced the characters gradually, allowing me to get to know them while keeping me on my toes with dilemmas they each struggled with. Ms. Balawyder expertly slipped in details that would be needed later to make the culmination of the plot flow easily. Nothing happens that seems contrived because the groundwork was laid earlier in the book.

Each of the characters had major flaws but they also had redeeming traits. Even Eugene, the serial killer, was not all bad. Imagine empathizing with a serial killer!

The tension regarding the murderer escalates, and we expect this, but when he befriends Angie, their internal conflicts come into play as well. We already understand why Angie would fall for someone like Eugene, because, by now, we know her personality. But will Eugene hurt Angie? What will Angie do once she starts to suspect that Eugene may be the killer?

What about Darren, the policeman who finds Angie attractive? Will his feelings toward her interfere with his murder investigation?

I was impressed by the way this novel’s plot flowed so smoothly, pulling me in as the characters I came to know so well became entangled in it.

After being drawn into the story on page one, I didn’t want to put the book down until I read, “THE END,” and even then I was thinking about it after I closed the book.

Read the reviews and buy the book : Amazon US  and: Amazon UK

A selection of books by Carol Balawyder

Read reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK –  Read more reviews : Goodreads – WebsiteCarol BalawyderLinkedIn: Carol Balawyder

The next author has recently joined the Cafe and Bookstore with her debut novel –  Leyla Cardena and psychological thriller Becoming Insane

About the book

When the monsters hiding underneath your bed are much less frightening than the bills you have to pay, the family you have to support, the job you have to find, and the unrealized dreams you cry about, then you know there’s a problem. Especially when you are a full-grown adult in your mid-thirties. It’s 1987. John Crane feels like throwing himself out of the window because of his depression, while his friend Jack Vain has to support his spiraling O.C.D. and panic attacks. Their issues are driving them into a shared psychosis. Without these issues, John and Jack may never have needed to go searching for the demon in the middle of the night, through the mean streets of New York. John Crane’s writings will never be read and discussed, and Jack Vain’s drawings and paintings will never be seen and admired. But the creature is here. It knows them. It wants them. It wants their help. It wants to eat, to touch, to create. It wants to live and be free. It wants to avoid death and become immortal. John and Jack’s creativity looks like the perfect host. As the beast of insanity takes hold, will John and Jack survive their own imaginations?

One of the recent reviews for the book

Adele Park 5.0 out of 5 stars Addicting read Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 24 October 2020

Becoming Insane is a fantastic novel. The two friends the novel centre around are brilliantly drawn, so believable. In the beginning, we can sympathise with them as the things which happen to them can easily happen to others. As the novel progresses we are drawn into the strangest journey, the writing is so good we are walking every step of this horrendous journey with the two men. The ending left me wanting more and I can’t wait for a sequel.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US –  And: Amazon UK –  And for Epub: Kobo – More reviews: Goodreads – Website: Leyla Cardena –  Facebook: Leyla Cardena Author  – Twitter: @CardenaLeyla

The final thriller today is from John L. DeBoer with a recent review for Deep Cover.

About the book

As his 40th birthday nears, former Navy SEAL Adam Taylor faces a desk job in the paramilitary security firm he works for – a sedentary executive position devoid of the exciting missions he’d craved during his entire professional life. So he joins the U.S. Marshals Service, hoping to get selected for the elite Special Operations Group of the Service. Soon thereafter, he finds himself involved in a hunt for Russian spies.

Espionage agents trained to pose as Americans in a secret base near Irkutsk, Russia have been inserted into the United States. Their mission: gather information concerning the political and social views of their neighbors and manipulate them to affect U.S. elections in disinformation campaigns. When this program is discovered by serendipity, the FBI, U.S.Marshals Service, and the NSA combine forces to weed out the spies as the 2018 midterm elections approach.

Adam and a cast of characters take the reader on an action-packed, suspenseful journey in which Russian agents scramble to keep ahead of the hunters by eliminating those who can expose the spymasters.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Reviewed in the United States on September 27, 2020

First let me say I do not read many spy thriller stories. Why? Because they scare the hell out of me. Author John L. DeBoer’s spy thriller novel, Deep Cover, is a perfect example of a story that puts my self-defense senses on high alert.

Would a story like this have frightened me twenty years ago? Most probably, not. But, I am reading Deep Cover during a time when the current state of the U.S.A. seems like it’s in some kind of crazy furor. And not just on two different sides, but on many different sides. Today’s politics don’t seem like the two-party system I learned about in school. Right now, I feel like the state of American politics is like one of those crazy wrestler cage matches. Instead of just two wrestlers, it’s like throwing a crowd of wrestlers into the cage. Then it’s every person for themselves. It’s like the direct opposite of dancing in the street.

My take on Deep Cover could be completely off base, but as I said, I don’t read many spy thrillers. DeBoer has expertly written a fast paced thriller novel. Deep Cover will get you where you live. The story revolves around spies meddling in the politics of other countries. And also paints what is probably a very accurate portrait of Russian spies who were placed in the U.S.A. and have been here for fifteen years.

Fifteen years is a long time. I moved from New York City to Texas, and in less than a year, I had affected a darn good Texas accent. And…I loved it! I think it was Neil Diamond who sang, “New York’s home, but it ain’t mine no more.” Along that same vein, Deep Cover mentions a John Wayne movie. My family has been on a John Wayne movie kick here lately. I am familiar with the John Wayne movie, The Searchers. Deep Cover contains a reference to the movie likening the part of a young girl, played by Natalie Wood, to the lives of the Russian spies living in America. The girl had been captured by the Indians and she lived with the Indians, as an Indian for many years. She was an Indian. The similarity to how Natalie Wood became assimilated into the Native American culture and came to identify with the Indian way of life reflects the situation in the lives and feelings of many of the foreign spies who have lived in America for so long. I could see how that fact alone could serve to create a culture of self-sabotage by the spies who have been living comfortably for so long.

John DeBoer has written an intelligent and compelling spy thriller. Deep Cover is an absorbing, action-packed story. DeBoer makes the reader think. Deep Cover is an exceptional thought-provoking read.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US- And: Amazon UK

A selection of books by John L. DeBoer

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK –  Follow John: Goodreads – Twitter: @Johnldeboer


Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you will be leaving with some books for thriller fans on your Christmas list.