Spoiler Free Review – Deceptive Waters

Hey there friends! Today I’m going to be reviewing Deceptive Waters. This was an interesting ARC read that kept me hooked even though I didn’t really like the characters and the ending raised quite a few questions.

Book: Deceptive Waters

Author: Carolyn Courtney Lauman

Genre: Adult, Mystery

Summary: When Mary Branson witnesses a car hurtle off the Golden Gate Bridge in the fall of 1998, little does she realize that, twenty years later, she’ll find herself revisiting the haunting details of that crash. But when a woman’s body is found floating along the dark shores of the Chesapeake Bay, Mary tasks herself with unravelling the truth behind both deaths.

Not everyone wants Mary to uncover that truth, let alone publish a novel based on the secrets she exposes. With ominous forces working to silence her, Mary turns to her law enforcement husband and a street-savvy private investigator for help. Can she stay alive long enough to finish her story?

In Deceptive Waters, Carolyn Courtney Lauman introduces her readers to Mary Branson, the lead character in her mystery and suspense Deceptive series. Enjoy reading how Mary transitions from international business executive to writer of true-crime-turns-fiction. You won’t be disappointed.

Continue reading “Spoiler Free Review – Deceptive Waters”

The Victim of the System by Steve Hadden – Review

Welcome back friends! I hope you are having a great day! Today, I’m going to be reviewing The Victim of the System by Steve Hadden. This was an okay thriller, but I didn’t really like the characters, and I found some the twists unbelievable. I was given a free copy of this book by Reedsy Discovery in exchange for an honest review.

Book: The Victim of the System

Author: Steve Hadden

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Summary: Twenty-two years ago, Ike Rossi’s life was shattered when his parents were murdered. He surrendered his football scholarship and returned home to find their killer and raise his sister. Now, the crime of a local ten-year-old genius, Jack Cole, threatens to unearth old wounds.

When Ike meets Jack inside the Pittsburgh courthouse, he doesn’t see a murderer but instead a boy who’s been victimized by a system that’s left them both without justice. Despite knowing the case will resurrect the painful demons of his parents’ unsolved murders, Ike agrees to clear Jack’s name. The court of public opinion and the district attorney have an airtight case. Worse, taking Jack’s side thrusts Ike into the crosshairs of the most powerful family in Pittsburgh, the Falzones.

Now, with only days before the trial, Ike confronts the Falzones’ crumbling empire to find the shocking evidence that could save Jack. At the same time, he races to decipher a series of cryptic clues from Jack’s dead father that could hold the key to his son’s freedom. But each step closer to the truth draws them further into danger, and as three fractured families collide, Ike is forced to choose between saving Jack—and saving himself.

This was a disappointing book. I liked the thriller aspect and the mystery of what Nick Falzone was trying to hide, and how the pacing picked up towards the end. However, I felt that some of the characters were unrealistic, the really minor romance aspect was predictable, and some of the twists at the end were really unbelievable.

Ike Rossi is a former, yet still famous, quarterback who is currently a private investigator. He also has a secret career as a formidable boxer. I was a bit skeptical of Ike and never really warmed to him. I liked his sister and Mac a little bit, but as the story continued, they became less involved in the story. I felt like the fact that Ike is famous, and apparently one of the best PIs (so much so that he frightens the Falzones), and also a tough unbeatable boxer was unnecessary. It seemed kind of convenient for him to be this super hero guy who never backs down and always does what is right. When he meets Jack, he has an internal battle because he wants to help him, but already has a prior contract. But he ends up doing the right and honorable thing and helps Jack out.

Jack was okay, I didn’t really care about him, and I was a little annoyed by the fact that he is “special” and very smart. His aunt, Lauren, really annoyed me. She is demanding, rude, and I absolutely loathed her when she yelled at Ike for refusing to take the job, and when he left later on. She had no right to do so, especially when he had a prior commitment, and it annoyed me that her self-centered (or well, it’s more for Jack) attitude, and little speech about “real commitment” was one of the reasons why Ike took the case. I really hated her character. The tiny romance aspect between Ike and Lauren did not help matters at all. It could have been eliminated, and the story would have been fine.

The Falzones were interesting, and I kind of liked Shannon. The dynamics between the two halves of the family and the increasing tension added to the suspense and intrigue.

The ending was okay, however, some of the twists thrown in did not make sense at all and they weren’t fully explained. The ending was going really great until those twists happened.

In the end, this was a meh thriller with disappointing characters, and some unbelievable twists.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

You can read a much more positive review here before deciding! Have you read The Victim of the System? What did you think? What was the last thriller that you read? Chat with me in the comments below!

Against Their Will by Carolyn Courtney Lauman – Review

Hi guys and welcome to another book review!! Today’s review is of Against Their Will by Carolyn Courtney Lauman. This is my first book review with Reedsy Discovery and I’m super excited!! Against Their Will is a captivating thriller with amazing writing, compelling characters, and an intriguing plot.


Book: Against Their Will

Author: Carolyn Courtney Lauman

Rating: ★★★★☆

Summary: A holiday drive to Florida ends tragically for Izzy and Maria when their car breaks down outside a rural North Carolina bar. Kidnapped by two brutally sadistic men, the sisters are held captive in a remote fishing cabin. As the men become increasingly unhinged, their savagery intensifies, propelling the young women into a desperate fight for their lives.

Decades and distance have healed their physical injuries, but Izzy and Maria’s once-close relationship has failed to survive in the aftermath of their nightmare. Estranged and living on opposite coasts, they rarely see or speak to each other.

Now, one of the kidnappers has been released from prison, vowing to exact his revenge on Izzy and Maria. As a hurricane rages around them, the sisters endeavor to repair their bond, confronting many hard truths in the process. Can they reconcile in time to defeat the demons from their past?

Many thanks to Reedsy Discovery for giving me a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

Quote: I’m not sure if I’m just punishing myself by pushing away everything I used to love.

Izzy and Maria are best friends as well as sisters who are travelling from their home in Pennsylvania for a holiday with friends in Florida. On the way, their car breaks down, sending the girls to a dodgy bar in hopes of finding a mechanic to help them. What happens though, destroys their once close bond, and leaves the girls fighting for their lives.

I really liked Maria. She’s a fighter, someone determined to survive no matter what’s thrown at her. I didn’t really connect to Izzy, but the story doesn’t follow her life so we don’t really get to know her. However, both sisters fiercely love one another and are determined to survive the horror that they’ve been through. I also understood why they drifted apart, and was really hoping that they reconciled in the end.

Quote: I am angry with everyone and no one at the same time.

Billy and Frank were horrible monsters, and I was shocked by their crimes. However, they were real people, with terrible pasts that may have driven them to do what they did to Maria and Izzy. That doesn’t justify what they did at all, but it makes them real, and not just characters who are evil just for the sake of the story.

One thing that could be changed, maybe, was seeing their interactions with Frank’s sister or maybe some of their friends. The only reason Frank’s sister had any role in the story was to testify, but it would have been interesting to see how Billy and Frank acted with her or their friends when they were sober. Their past was interesting, but it would help make them more believable characters if we had an idea of what they were like on a normal day.

I loved how thrilling the story was. I couldn’t put the book down until I finished Part I, and even then, I was still wondering and very excited to know what happened next. I’m a big fan of criminal trials, and the legal aspect of the story made me love it even more. The second half was just as good as the first, and I really enjoyed it. The ending was great; sad, but still very good, and I liked how Izzy and Maria were strong despite everything. The writing was also amazing!

In the end, this was an incredible fast-paced debut, with great characters, and a captivating plot.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Content Warnings: sexual assault, abuse, kidnapping, and explicit content

I’m so excited to have finally reviewed a book with Reedsy! I definitely recommend you give this book a try, and I really hope you enjoy it!