#BookReview Intricate Deceptions by Jennifer Rayes

Intricate Deceptions was an exceptional start to an exciting series.

This novel was far better than I expected it to be. At the beginning, I was a little put off by the start (loss of memory/amnesia as an intro hasn’t boded well for me in my readings) but it turned out to blow my mind! I’m really impressed with Jennifer Rayes’s story telling and I am desperate to get the next novel in this book now!

Anywho, my opinions:

1. The start felt like an adult novel 100%, but as the story went on it felt closer to a New Adult novel. It is definitely R rated for some of the content (human trafficking), but some of the conversations felt more YA like (the romance).

2. Without spoiling, some of the plot points seem to happen “just in time” or to fit the narrative, rather than the story unfolding in a timely manner to get to those sections. I would have loved this book to be a little bit longer and come to the conclusions on their own, but the plot still worked.

3. CLIFFHANGER. Jennifer, why did you do this to me? Now I NEED the second book!

4. Difficult content – Human trafficking, prostitution, kidnapping… Some of this content may be difficult to read for some people. Keep that in mind when you want to read this book! I did think Jennifer did a great job in this book with how she addressed the tough/harsh issues of the world. It’d be very difficult to have a book be light-hearted at some moments, but harsh at others yet Jennifer managed to keep the tones perfect and at the right timing.

5. Time period – I’m kind of confused on what the time period is. At the beginning, it felt like early times monarchy but as I moved forward it felt like a modern story without cellular devices. That confused me the most with this book, but once I got past that and just let myself enjoy the book it was no problem at all. I probably missed the cues somewhere (gotta love exam time). In the next book, I’d love to see this expanded on more. Maybe I could learn more about the history of this magical world we’ve dove into in this novel?

6. Characters seem to disappear for a while at the beginning of the book, but they do come back! I was worried that characters were being introduced for no reason, but Jennifer did tie them back into the story. I hope more of them make appearances in further novels!

Overall, I really liked this book! When you look past the small continuity errors, this book is an exciting ride that I want to continue! Hopefully I’ll be able to get my hands on a copy of the second book!

Four out of five stars!

Jennifer Rayes requested a review for this book and sent me a free copy. This had no impact on my review, this is my honest opinion.

Find Intricate Deceptions on Amazon:

Intricate Deceptions on Amazon.ca

Intricate Deceptions on Amazon.com

Find Jennifer Rayes on her website or Goodreads:

http://jenniferrayes.wix.com/intricateseries

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7410834.Jennifer_Rayes

Did you enjoy this review? Check out another you might enjoy! #BookReview The Charming Predator by Lee MacKenzie

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#BookReview Hidden by Catherine McKenzie

Hidden by Catherine McKenzie was the most surprising book of the year – it 200% exceeded my expectations!

If you haven’t read this book, I’d highly recommend it. This contemporary novel follows the death of a man and the fallout that ensues. Jeff steps into the street (with his eyes closed, bad decision on his part) and is killed. His wife and son along with his co-workers must come to accept his death and unravel a big secret he left behind.

There is lots of drama in this book – cheating, big life decisions like changing jobs, following dreams and dealing with past mistakes. Claire, Jeff’s wife, used to date Jeff’s brother. When he left for Australia and broke up with Claire, suddenly feelings were developing between the now married couple. Claire and Jeff have a son, Seth, and end up experiencing a miscarriage when they try for a second child. Jeff always seems to compare himself to his brother and has his doubts about Claire’s love. When Claire kisses Tim (her ex/Jeff’s brother) Jeff goes on a bit of a spiral – in secret, of course.

Tish is Jeff’s coworker. She works in HR and ends up helping him out during the firing that occurs just before he dies. The two of them went on a work trip together, and it’s always hinted that there might be something more between them. Once Jeff dies, Claire goes on the hunt to see if this relationship existed.

The big theme of this book seems to be surrounding the concept of not knowing a secret or a bad thing can keep you innocent. Claire would have been devastated to know her dead husband cheated on her. Was it better to keep it in the dark? Would she have liked it better to know he was faithful or that he cheated? This final question is left up to the reader after the final chapter. Along the way, I kept going back and forth on whether I believed anything happened. The book does give the reader a concrete answer on this.

My personal opinions:

1. I don’t like Tish. I’m not sure if Catherine meant for us to hate her, but I definitely did not like her. She goes to the funeral and makes Claire’s life miserable. That woman didn’t need to do this! Why in the world would you go out of your way to hurt a grieving widow?! She also seems rather clueless about her own daughter. There is a side of me that feels bad about her, but MAN I still dislike her. In the end, I believe she’s the type of woman who is incredibly selfish. She did and didn’t do something major plot points for her own well-being. No where does it say she did it for the well being of Claire, Seth, her husband, Jeff or her own daughter.

2. Jeff’s a dumb man. He’s also a jerk. Mainly because he’s self-conscious about his relationship, so he should have gotten some major therapy for that. If you’re so concerned that you’re wife used to date your brother, maybe don’t marry her? After his wife’s miscarriage he didn’t seem that supportive either, but that’s my own personal opinion on how it was written. Also, who walks with their eyes closed into a street?

3. In the end, Claire should have run off into the sunset with Tim. I think she would have been much happier with him, especially after reading all of Jeff’s short comings. Maybe that’s the inner romance reader in me…

I might seem to have many negatives about this book, BUT IT IS STILL SO GOOD. I was hooked on every word and needed to know how the book ended. It was compelling and intriguing. I cannot recommend it enough.

The book does seem to be a “you love it or you don’t” sort of novel with other reviewers, so reader beware! Either way, I enjoyed it! And that is what counts.

Final question: Did Claire ever join her sister in a joint law firm? I NEED TO KNOW. CATHERINE, HIT ME UP GIRL!

Five out of five stars.

I received this book through Goodreads First Reads.

 

Check out this book on:
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Did you enjoy this book (or review!)? Here’s some other books you might enjoy:
#BookReview The Fourth Courier by Timothy Jay Smith
#TopBooksList Briar’s Crime, Mystery & Thriller Reads
#BookReview The Age of the Child by Kristen J. Tsetsi

 

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#BookReview Bunnicula by James & Deborah Howe

Happy Spooky Month!
This is my favourite time of year, so it’s time to share some of my fave spooky reads! This particular book is a personal fave from my youth. Enjoy!

 

Back in the day, Bunnicula was THE book to read in elementary school. The class clambered to the front of the classroom to sit in our little circle and have story time. This book turned us all into little book loving zombies and we were desperate for more. Unfortunately, our school and teachers were only ever able to get the first book, but that didn’t deter us. We all had it memorized by the end of the day.

Fast forward to 2020. I see this book in a local used bookstore and I decide, “Hey, why not read it again and see if it holds up?” I can see this book for what it is – an absolute delightful middle grade novel that introduces fun horror to youthful eyes. As an adult, it didn’t hold up for me but I still have a special place in my heart for it. Who doesn’t love Bunnicula? Seriously.

Vampire Bunnies. It’s such a unique idea and I LOVE it. This book sits with Goosebumps on my happy, little, Halloween-loving shelf. This bunny goes and drains vegetables, because obviously it was owned by Dracula! It’s a fun concept and super silly! It’s definitely a book I would recommend for parents and educators. Get your little readers into a spooky, Halloween spirit with this little gem!

As an adult, it feels like a funny SNL skit. It’s not scary to us because we know it’s fiction but to little kids it’s a potential nightmare (in a good way, it’s not THAT scary). The anticipation as a child was not there as an adult, but I can still appreciate how wonderfully written this book is. It’s short and sweet but packed full of story!

Also, surprise ending! I forgot how this book ended so I was pleasantly surprised!

The only negative I had with this book was some of the adult references: classic books, taxes, etc. Kids might not understand these terms, but if they have a great adult reader helping them along, it might be a good educational opportunity, I guess.

Overall, this book is a childhood fave of mine that I would still highly recommend! It’s so nostalgic for me and I truly miss the whimsical nature of reading these books!

Four out of five stars.

 

You can find out more about this childhood classic on:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Indigo
Kobo

 

Looking for more middle grade books? Here’s some recently featured on my blog that you might enjoy:
#BookReview The Great Grain Elevator Incident by Kevin Miller
#BookReview Seizure by Kathy Reichs
#BookReview Loki’s Wolves by K.A. Armstrong and M.A. Marr

 

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#BookReview Wrong Place by Michelle Davies

Michelle Davies has crafted one of the best thrillers I’ve ever read, honestly.

It’s rare for me to get so caught up in a thriller novel. Normally, I know what’s coming and just bumble along and read it for the fun. With this book, I had so many theories about what was going on and it was exciting! The twists and turns along the way had me recrafting my theories until I was almost spot on near the end. The entire story is written well that it all builds on each other, until you come to the finale and everything just clicks.

Maggie Neville is a Family Liaison Officer who is dealing with two crimes at the same time. An elderly woman has been attacked, and it appears to be the same duo hurting other elderly ladies who live alone. And then a husband and wife appear to have been in a scuffle, possibly from a domestic dispute. And then, she realizes they might not be so different from each other…

There’s so many parts to this story. Sadie, the elderly lady who was attacked, has only her granddaughter Della as a family member. That family has drama since Della’s Mother long since disappeared and never returned. Della believes her Mother attacked Sadie. Then there’s Eleanor, who was attacked by her husband in a domestic dispute. Add in that Maggie has her own dark secrets that could tear her family apart, and that her co-workers are trying to find the duo who were attacking old ladies… There’s a lot going on.

Despite all of these interconnecting plot lines, the story is packed tight perfectly. I never felt like the plots were too much! Michelle spends enough time on each plot line that when it switches over to another character, I’m not disappointed. I honestly was surprised with how great this book worked for me. I need the rest of this series STAT!

I’d highly recommend this book. I am totally impressed and even managed to go through it a second time to see what I missed. This perfectly crafted book needs an audience! It’d be a real shame for it not to grab it!

Side Note: You do not need to read the rest of this series to know what’s going on. You get filled in with enough information to know what’s happening.

Five out of five stars!

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

 

Check out my fave 2020 thriller at the links below:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Kobo

 

If you love mysteries and thrillers, here’s some other books featured on my blog you can add to your TBR:
#BookReview Law and Addiction by Mike Papantonio
#BookReview The Extra Cadaver Murder by Roy Innes
#TopBooksList Briar’s Crime, Mystery & Thriller Reads

 

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#BookReview Close to Home by Cara Hunter

Holy. Moly!

Close to Home by Cara Hunter is one wildly epic ride that mystery and thriller lovers will absolutely be OBSESSED with! I sure was!

Eight-year-old Daisy Mason suddenly vanishes during her parents party. When the investigation about her disappearance begins, things seem fishy. The family is strange, there’s no clear leads and something just isn’t right… There were tons of guests at this backyard barbecue – friends, family, school mates. Could one of them taken Daisy? The police force won’t stop until they locate this youngling.

For my first point, I did NOT see this ending coming. There was an inkling there, but I was never fully convinced of which way this story was going to go. Cara set this story up so wonderfully that there was never a dull moment and my inner Detective was constantly at work.

I also really appreciated how Cara slowly unwound the story behind this dysfunctional family. They aren’t what they appear to be, and slowly but surely we see what’s truly going on behind the scenes. Because of this, my theories about what happened were constantly being molded and changed, which was really fun! Throw in the fast-paced nature, the epic Tweets and News Reports and the character dynamics presented and you’ve got one amazing book.

My biggest negative about this book was that there was no chapters. This book was continuous which led to me being unsure of where to stop. There are breaks in the story, but I like having a full stop at a chapter. This doesn’t affect the story at all, it’s more of a personal pet peeve.

Another note: This book features child pornography, child kidnapping and abuse, and potential child murder. It’s not for the light-hearted. Reader beware!

I can honestly say I’m surprised this book doesn’t have more ratings, reviews and people talking about it. It’s one of the best books I’ve read in a long time! This book needs to get in the hands of readers because Cara Hunter is marvelously talented! Cat and mouse tales like these are just splendid.

Overall, DI Adam Fawley should be among the top mystery books out there. I’m not kidding – it was one of the best I’ve read in a very long time, and I read a fair about of thriller, suspense and mystery books. I’d highly recommend this! 110% recommendation! I haven’t had this much fun in a mystery in a very long time.

Five out of five stars.

I received an ARC version of this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

 

Check out this book on:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Indigo

 

If you love mystery, thrills and suspense, check out some other books recently featured on my blog:
#BookReview Law and Addiction by Mike Papantonio
#BookReview The Extra Cadaver Murder by Roy Innes
#TopBooksList Briar’s Crime, Mystery & Thriller Reads

 

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#BookReview Fire on the Island by Timothy Jay Smith

Fire on the Island by Timothy Jay Smith is an addicting, fun and thrilling ride around a small Greek village.

In this thriller, an FBI agent finds his way to a Greek island where fires keep happening. He is investigating why they are happening and who could have caused him. Along the way, he comes across local islanders and business owners trying their best to succeed and living their lives. He meets himself a fancy man who he begins to fall for, and who might not be who he says he is. Many other islanders face the same fate: there’s a priest who isn’t so saintly, a family struggling to keep their business afloat, an Albanian waiter who has lots of drama going on, and his new lover’s sister is trying to get with every man no matter the relationships she ruins for them along the way.

This book is WILD. I was instantly stuck to it and truly intrigued about the ending. It took a bit for the entire story to piece itself together, but when it does it’s absolutely marvelous. I can easily say this is one of my top 2020 reads. I couldn’t put the book down!

There are some difficult topics in this book, like suicide and rape. Reader beware – this book doesn’t go too crazy into these topics, but they are still there. The mystery and romance is much more in the fore front.

On another note: This book is LGBT friendly! Huzzah!

Overall, this book was excellent! I’d highly recommend picking this book up if you love mystery and suspense with a dash of romance.

Five out of five stars.

Thank you to Timothy Jay Smith and NetGalley for a free copy of this book in exchange of an honest review.

 

Check out this book on:
Goodreads
Amazon.com
Amazon.ca
Indigo
Kobo
B&N

You can find Timothy Jay Smith on:
Goodreads Author Page
http://www.timothyjaysmith.com/
Twitter – @timothyjaysmith|

Tim on Santorini

Here’s another Timothy Jay Smith book recently featured on my blog:
The Fourth Courier by Timothy Jay Smith – Briar’s Reviews

Check out more mystery and suspense novels to fill up your TBR:
#BookReview Law and Addiction by Mike Papantonio
#BookReview The Extra Cadaver Murder by Roy Innes
#BookReview A Woman of Valor by Gary Corbin

Give me a shout out on Twitter if you read this review! #briarsreviews @ReviewAlholic

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#BookReview Hart & Soul #1: Kill The Story by Jahnna N. Malcolm

Oh man! I got so excited when I hit the jackpot and found a lot of books from my childhood at a local book sale. I found the first four books in this series and scooped them up instantly. I remember always wanting to read these from the library but I always maxed out the number of books I could have out. I never actually ended up reading this series even though my heart was set on them. So, fast forward many, many years and I finally get to experience the books that all of the ‘popular’ kids were reading.

This book was so pleasant and clearly written back in the eighties and nineties. AND I LOVED IT. It’s so nostalgic for me, which is probably why I enjoyed it so much.

Amanda Hart is a writer (and the editor-in-chief for her school’s newspaper). She is going to release a series of stories about the sororities present in her city and someone is NOT happy. They are going after her with vicious notes and threats. When Amanda and her team call upon a courier service, along comes Mick Soul with his handy dandy bicycle. He gets attacked when trying to deliver a copy of their story, and suddenly Hart and Soul wind up working on the mystery together. Mick enrolls in her high school to help figure out who is threatening her… because what else is a bicycle courier supposed to do in his spare time? School? Pfft, no!

It’s a “will they, won’t they” sort of duo – like Bones and Booth, Ross and Rachel, Jane and Rafael, etc. Hart and Mick have so much chemistry for a middle grade (almost YA) novel that it’s unbelievable. Seriously, I just need to finish the series to know if they end up together because they are super flirty in this book!

There’s a good cast of characters filling up the typical high school tropes: Jason the nerd who wants his story in the paper, Pepper the best friend, Josh the tech geek, Whitney the mean girl, and so on.

My one big flaw is as followed: you can kind of figure out what’s going to happen by the end but it’s not really hinted at. I love when mystery books leave you little hints here and there, but there’s not much until the end. I had a pretty good inkling of what would happen based off reading way to many mystery books and watching too many mystery shows, but I wanted to work my way through this mystery with Hart and Soul. It doesn’t ruin the story by any means, but I’m a picky reader like that.

Side note, this is my FAVOURITE line in the whole book:
“What a slime!”

Seriously, that’s a Briar insult from my childhood. Score +1 for that gem!

Overall, this book is cute and fun! I love a good throw back and I’m so glad I found this book. I will 100% be continuing this series, especially since I have the next three books on my shelf. Hopefully I managed to score the rest of the series! This book is an absolute delight and I 100% recommend it either for middle grader/YA readers or some of you as old as me who want a childhood nostalgia trip.

Three out of five stars!

You can find this book on:
Amazon.ca
Barnes & Noble

If you love middle grade novels, check out some other fantastic books featured on my blog:
#BookReview Unlimited by Kevin Miller
#BookReview Peter Green and the Unliving Academy by Angelina Allsop
#BookReview Monster Blood (Goosebumps) by R.L. Stine

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#BookReview In Search of Valor by Gary Corbin

In Search of Valor by Gary Corbin is an excellent thriller following a female university student who wants to one day be a detective.

This is the prequel to A Woman of Valor, and goes into the university life of Val Dawes. During her first year studying criminology, Val meets Rhonda – a potential partner for their paper in Crim 101 with the wicked Professor Hirsch. The two discuss what paper they going to write together, and then decide to go pick up Rhonda’s daughter Jada. Unfortunately, for both of them, Jada is not there and has been abducted. Drama and thrills ensue as the local police department, detectives, Rhonda and Val try to figure out who could have taken Jada and why. Val gets to put her detective skills to work when she helps out the local department in this case.

I was hooked to this story! I truly enjoyed it and couldn’t put it down. There’s enough drama and action in such a fast paced manner that I barely noticed the time and pages flying away on me. It was just the perfect length and I felt that there didn’t need to be anymore to this book. It’s a great intro to Val’s past life, and sets it up beautifully for the next book.

Gary Corbin has an excellent writing style that makes reading easy and fast. The story moves flawlessly and I never once felt the need to put it down. He’s a master at this genre, in my humble opinion. I always love a good book by Gary Corbin! They never disappoint.

I would highly recommend picking up either book in this series. You don’t need to read one to know what’s going on in the other, but they do compliment each other well.

Five out of five stars.

Thank you to Gary Corbin who sent me this book in exchange of an honest review.

 

You can find this book on:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Barnes & Noble
Indigo
Kobo

Check out the sequel, A Woman of Valor,  on:
Amazon.com
Amazon.ca
Kobo
Goodreads

Here’s some links about the author, Gary Corbin:
Goodreads
http://www.garycorbinwriting.com/
@GaryCorbin

Check out my other reviews of Gary’s books:
#BookReview The Mountain Man’s Badge
#BookReview The Mountain Man’s Bride by Gary Corbin
#BookReview The Mountain Man’s Dog by Gary Corbin
#BookReview A Woman of Valor by Gary Corbin

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#BookReview The Champagne Conspiracy by Ellen Crosby

The Champagne Conspiracy is now one of my top 2020 reads!

I love a good cozy mystery to snuggle under the covers and read some tea with. This book fit the bill and was a wonderful distraction from the bad weather in my town.

This is the seventh book in the Wine Country Mysteries series by Ellen Crosby, but don’t be discouraged by that number. I found this book super easy to jump into. It would have been nice having all of the background relationships and mysteries to fall back on, but I had zero issue becoming instantly addicted to this book and feeling for these characters.

Lucie and Quinn make wine and are good buddies! At their Vineyard one day, Gino Tomassi (an older gentleman who also likes and makes wine) strolls in and presents an old mystery about his family. Lucie and Quinn decide to help out after a pinch of blackmail and tragedy are brought up. One of Lucie’s friends also has some mystery and intrigue occurring in her life, for which Lucie must help out with. Will both be solved? Will there be any closure for these families? Also, flapper dresses!

This book easily became my guilty pleasure and I truly want to grab the rest of the books in this series. It’s a bit more than a cozy mystery, but still fit the bill quite well. There’s a pinch of romance, lots of drama, a mystery that you can see coming if you pay attention and lots of humour. Also, alcohol and wine! The descriptions of wine… Ellen Crosby has a way with words, let me tell ya! There was also a splash of history, which I always like hearing about! Ellen made the history far more interesting than any of my history teachers ever did.

I found the ending to be a little bit predictable, but only if you really paid attention. I was thoroughly addicted to this book so I saw the signs, but I don’t think every reader will. Books like this deserve all the hype! It’s well written and well thought out!

Overall, this fast paced, cozy mystery is a must read! It’s delightful, full of character development and likeable characters. Also, I love the representation of a physical disability in a main character. It’s shown in such a real and respectable way to – it doesn’t slow her down but it’s there. Much respect!

Five out of five stars!

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

 

You can find out more about this book on:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Indigo
Kobo

 

If you love cozy mysteries, here’s some other books featured on my blog that you might enjoy:
#BookReview Poison by Punctuation by Kelley Kaye
#BookReview Depraved Heart by Patricia Cornwell
#BookReview A Study for Love by Ruth Miranda

Check me out on:

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#BookReview Razor Girl by Carl Hiaasen

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Razor Girl by Carl Hiaasen is a funny, smart and entertaining novel that will keep you hooked until the very end!

This book was strange in the best way! It’s a mysterious thriller with extreme amounts of comedy and lunacy splashed throughout. It’s like one of the best sitcoms you can find on television these days (think the hilarity of Bones, but the intensity of NCIS/CSI). Throughout the book, you follow Merry, Yancy, Buck, Coolman and a variety of other wacky characters. Merry is the “Razor Girl” the title suggests, who performs hilarious acts of crime to get some well needed money to fund her insane antics. She runs into Yancy, an ex-cop, and they search for the missing Buck – a now famous man due to various antics of his own.

The book was a little hard to follow for me, but that was because I read it over a long period of time. That left me confused with following certain characters. It is a great book, but I’d recommend reading this book either in a binge or in a short period of time. The book is wild and has lots of fun story lines to follow, which could be confusing if you stay away from the book for too long.

I did find the book rather slow, but it was super funny – so it made up for the lack of speed. At times, I felt like there was some unnecessary slowness that could have been avoided but I’m a reader that loves a really fast pace. The mysteries and the comedy is mixed in nicely, which can keep your mind away from the slow moving pace if you are interested in comedic tones.

I haven’t read any books by Carl Hiaasen before this, but now I definitely want to get my hands on more of his books! The book was seriously funny, which is something I am lacking in my bookshelf. I’d highly recommend reading his books if you love lots of humor in your books. I couldn’t believe how many times I laughed out loud from super silly comments and situations Carl put his characters in. The jokes weren’t just one timers either – they were continued throughout the book (similar to how Arrested Development carries jokes over an entire episode). I seriously loved the humor! More authors need to learn how to include humor like Carl does! When I read other reviews after this book and saw that many readers thought this book was the LEAST funny, it made me wonder how much funnier his other books must be! This book was 5 star comedy for me!

Overall, the kookiness and craziness of this book is fantastic! It’s a great read that will make you laugh out loud!

Four out of five stars!

I received a free copy of this from Goodreads First Reads.

 

Check out this book on:@ReviewAlholic

Goodreads

Amazon.com

Amazon.ca

 

Find out more about Carl Hiaasen on:

Goodreads – Carl Hiaasen

Website – carlhiaasen.com

 

Did you enjoy this review? Check out another you might enjoy! #BookReview The Mountain Man’s Dog by Gary Corbin

 

Comment below-  what book do you find seriously funny?
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