book reviews

4 Great Books I Got For Free

Here are four books I read and loved during the last month (or so):

  • Church of the Spilled Blood–a wise-cracking private investigator loses a client to kidnappers, but won’t back off the investigation, even when asked not-so-nicely by the FBI
  • The Bid–a man is kidnapped. No one cares–until they begin to understand why he was chosen.
  • Death in the Time of Ice–a peek into the life of Neanderthals and how they might investigate murder
  • Rogue Empire — an overseas CIA operation goes horribly wrong, but the reasons aren’t what they appear to be


Church of Spilled BloodChurch of Spilled Blood

by Jesse Miles

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jesse Miles’ Church of the Spilled Blood (Author Buzz 2017) is a fast-moving, well-plotted thriller. Jack Salvo, private investigator, is part of a 24-hour-a-day team hired to protect visiting Russian gymnasts. Although his expertise is more on the investigating end of crimes than bodyguarding, he takes the job at the personal request of a good friend. When one of the girls is kidnapped, Jack takes it personally (of course), but is shut out of the case. When he disagrees with how the police are investigating, he decides to find the kidnapper his own way.  Though he is warned off, he won’t let up until he solves the mystery.

Jack is an interesting combination of guts, stamina, cleverness, an ability to hone in on what is important, and a cerebral side that loves philosophy and art. Traveling with him is never boring, not the least of it because Jack has a sharp sense of humor:

“If I were commissioned to redecorate the place, I would start with a flame-thrower.”

I thoroughly enjoyed watching Jack work methodically through clues and connect seemingly disparate clues. A little like Robert Crais’ Elvis Cole without the sidekick or girlfriend or overarching morality that guides his actions. It should be noted that I didn’t think the cover fit the story. Yes, there was a beautiful girl in it (aren’t there always), but she wasn’t central to the plot.

Overall it is very satisfying.

–received a free copy from NetGalley in return for an unbiased review


The Bid (Cruxys Solutions Investigation #2)The Bid

by Adrian Magson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Adrian Magson’s “The Bid” (Midnight Ink 2017) is the story of a man who is kidnapped for unknown reasons. Oddly, no one cares he is missing–not his family, employers, or the friends he doesn’t have. The only one who notices is an insurance company he is paying to react if he doesn’t contact them daily for a period of five days. When the two agents assigned to find him try to do that, they are blocked by everyone involved, including law enforcement until the two agents find that he is kidnapped not for money but for what he can do with drones. Quickly, they unravel enough scary details that suddenly everyone cares. The question is: Can they find the man before he does something that will change the nation?

A good summary of this book is from the publisher’s own description:

The prisoner who wakes up in a box miles from anywhere.

The jailer who doesn’t question his job.

The shipment of drones stolen in transit from a cargo hub.

The kidnappers planning a devastating attack on US soil.

The plot is fast moving, intricate, and clever. The characters are fairly flat, but likable and smart. Overall, this is well-suited to thriller readers intrigued by the possibility that drones present in causing havoc around the world.

–received a free copy from NetGalley in return for an unbiased review


Death in the Time of Ice (A People of the Wind Mystery)Death in the Time of Ice

by Kaye George

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Georgia Kaye’s historic fiction “Death in the Time of Ice” is an engrossing story about life in a Neanderthal tribe: how they communicate, hunt, and live in a community. It revolves around one of two twins (Ung Strong Arm and Enga Dancing Flower) as she grows to adulthood, seeks a mate, hunts to save her tribe, and loves her twin sister dearly. A mammoth hunt, critical because the tribe is starving, ends badly when sister Ung is gored and the tribe’s leader is murdered. The tribe has no experience with members killing other members or solving such a crime, but this doesn’t stop Enga as she struggles to find clues, unravel their meaning, and get anyone in the tribe to listen.

This is an exciting immersion into Neanderthal culture (intriguing to me because I’m an armchair investigator of earliest man) with a few interesting differences from anything I’ve ever read:

  • They communicate with thoughts not words or hand gestures.
  • Women are more powerful than men.
  • The youth of the tribe have considerable influence over group decisions.

The author does a wonderful job of portraying this struggling group’s hunger and desperation as they fight to survive in an impending and deepening Ice Age world where their primary sources of food are disappearing. It is well-plotted, nicely-paced with intriguing characters that are believable as part of man’s primal past. It is written in a simple straightforward style reminiscent of Bonnye Matthews’ “Ki’ti’s Story”. Recommended for those interested in a peek into primeval life.

–received this free as part of the #MysteryThrillerWeek activities. Mystery Thriller Week (February 12-27) is a celebration of mystery and thriller writers, showcasing their work, offering it free for reviews, and cheering the success of authors. It also offers a competition (with prizes) for the best 300-word hook on an upcoming or current mystery or thriller.


Rogue Empire (Blake Carver Series)Rogue Empire 

by William Tyree

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A CIA operation to bring down an overseas drug lord goes badly wrong, resulting in an American drone blowing up the Chinese embassy. Blake Carver, the agent on the ground, finds himself in the crosshairs for who is blamed and flees to not only save his life but figure out who really committed this crime. Before the book ends, Blake is shot at on two continents, forced to use the assistance of a questionable though genius hacker, and ends up relying on the help of an ex-girlfriend who he hasn’t spoken to in years but he still misses. Even more interesting is that Carver has hyperthymesia, better known as super-autobiographical memory, which means he remembers everything that’s ever happened if he experienced it or read about it.

There are a few plot points I found challenging to accept, but overall it was a well crafted international tale of intrigue.


View all my reviews


Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, and the thriller, To Hunt a Sub. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer,  a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning. The sequel to To Hunt a Sub, Twenty-four Days, is scheduled for Summer, 2017. Click to follow its progress.

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44 thoughts on “4 Great Books I Got For Free

  1. Jacqui, thank you for these great reviews, concise but give such insight into each and every one of the four books. I’m intrigued by the unusual era setting of Death in the Time of Ice – that must take some skill to write well!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well I think you have me…. the William Tyree book looks terrific. Although with 2 under 3 years old at home and going to school it leaves me very little time to read extra books, but I may have to try to make time before the end of the month during my #TVFree28Challenge 🙂 Thanks for sharing these titles, hopefully I might get a chance soon to read especially the William Tyree book.

    Liked by 1 person

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  4. Hi Jacqui – interesting books … “Spilled Blood” sounds a good read … while “Death in the Time of Ice” … I’d worry about as to the authenticity re the Neanderthals … not sure about that … but an interesting take, I’m sure … cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: 4 Great Books I Got For Free — WordDreams… – ameoti.co.uk

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