“AVIA I: Thunderstorms & 45’s” is the debut novel for thriller author Stacey Carroll. “AVIA II: Bullets & Betrayal” is the follow-up. I decided to review both novels together since AVIA I leads directly into AVIA II, although AVIA II can be read as a stand-alone. Personally, I recommend reading AVIA I first, as it will make AVIA II more enjoyable as far as getting to know the main characters and understanding the “why” of events in the second book.
Thunderstorms & 45’s!
In “AVIA I: Thunderstorms & 45’s,” we meet the title character, Avia Conn. We learn pretty much right away that she has a chance to con a rich woman out of fifty million dollars before her vacation to Hawaii. She’s going to need help to do it, though. To do this, she calls in people she calls her “cousins.” Meanwhile, she is still dealing with serious heroin addiction and alcoholism that she’s been battling for many years. Can her protector and love of her life, Benton Docks, help Avia pull of this heist and get the hell out of town before it’s too late?
This heist thriller is a page-turner. It’s fast-paced with many twists and turns. As is the case with many best-laid plans, things don’t go according to plan. You really don’t know where the plot is going next. The unpredictability of AVIA I is a major part of this book’s appeal.
For me, the best part of this book is the two main characters, Avia Conn and Benton Docks. While they definitely have a steamy romance, it’s an extremely complex relationship. Benton has to put up with a lot of nonsense with Avia with alcohol and drug addictions, but he loves her as she is, which isn’t easy.
There’s a lot going on in AVIA I, but it’s deftly handled by the author. It isn’t what you might call a “high-octane” thriller, but it gets you hooked pretty much from the first page. Avia and Benton are very likeable characters, and while there are others, they are certainly the most likeable. This is good, because they are the main characters in AVIA II, as well.
Be forewarned that it does contain a fair amount of sex scenes, but all are important in the development of both the plot and characters. It’s not an erotic romance, but this book definitely has plenty of adult scenes. Then again, in Avia and Benton’s line of work, especially Benton’s as a con man, sex is often a major part of the job. Avia does her fair share of conning, too, of course.
All in all, AVIA I is a solid 4-star debut novel. It has realistic, likeable main characters and an unpredictable ending. All you need to know is that we will be seeing Avia, Benton, and many other of the characters in this book again in AVIA II. I highly recommend this book for anyone who’s tired of the formulaic heist thrillers and is looking for something more original to read.
Bullets & Betrayal!
In “AVIA II: Bullets & Betrayal,” we meet Avia and Benton soon after the events of AVIA I. But, this book is a lot more complex than the first AVIA novel. It involves three different plotlines and switches between being an organized crime family thriller, a more traditional thriller, and a police procedural. This book features not only Avia and Benton, but also a rival organized crime family in the Sanchez, and Detective Greg Locke.
Locke is on a mission to put away both Avia and Benton. After a heist gone bad, Avia and Benton have narrowly escaped jail time. But, they are very much stuck in their life of crime and don’t have any intention of getting out of it. So, will Avia and Benton make it to their Hawaii vacation, or will they end up in jail?
We also meet the leader and the pilot of the Sanchez organized crime family. The war is on between the Company that Avia and Benton belong to and the Sanchez. The Sanchez was introduced briefly in AVIA I, but now we learn the ins and outs in their rivalry with the Company.
Also, we learn more about the workings of the inner workings of the Company. Without giving too much away, it’s clear that both Locke and the Sanchez are working hard to take down the Company. They are clearly for different reasons, but they are both taking steps, some more extreme than others, to get the job done.
Even more action-packed than AVIA I with even more twists and turns than the first book in the series, “AVIA II: Bullets & Betrayal” is a long, much more involved book that develops both the main characters, Avia and Benton, and others that were only glanced over in AVIA I. Like AVIA I, this is not an erotic romance brand of thriller, but it does contain many sex scenes - all of which make sense in character development and moving the plot forward. Just be forewarned if you are sensitive to lots of adult content.
Also, I will warn you that AVIA II has a cliffhanger ending that will have you biting your nails to the nub in anticipation for AVIA III. This book really keeps you on the edge of your chair right up until the end and slams you with dire circumstances that won’t be resolved until the next book. “Bullets and Betrayal” is a 5-star thriller in the eyes of this reviewer.
If either of these books sound like your speed, I invite you to check AVIA I and AVIA II out on Amazon! If you like them, please leave an honest review. The author greatly appreciates it!
** I received review copies of these ebooks in exchange for fair and honest reviews.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 13, 2018 – Thriller author Stacey Carroll is releasing Thunderstoms and .45: Avia Version on Amazon Kindle and in print on March 20, 2018. Thunderstorms and .45s will be placed on Amazon under Books -> Mystery Thriller and Suspense -> Thriller and Suspense -> Crime -> Heist, for purchase in digital and print formats.
After gunning down a police officer in front of the Sarasota police station, Avia flees to Michigan where con artist Benton Docks and hitman Brian are scamming a rich socialite out of her money. Hoping to relax and integrate herself into the scam, she’s thrown into another disaster when one of her cohorts shoots the woman for threatening to expose them.
If you’re tired of thrillers that look like thinly disguised horror novels with more blood, guts and gore than you’ve seen on The Walking Dead, and suspense novels that forget critical character and relationship development, Avia is for you.
Thunderstorms & .45s Avia Version promises a thrilling ride and an introduction into the organized crime world of the Company. The kindle version will retail on Amazon for $4.99. The print version will retail for $8.99.
Stacey Carroll is the author of the thriller series - Avia. She also authors the paranormal erotica series - The Blooddoll Factory. Stacey grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana. she went to college at Indiana State University (ISU) and graduated with a Bachelor's degree in aerospace in the professional pilot program. She has flown Cessna 152s, Cessna 172s, the Pipe Seneca and the King Air. She also graduated with a minor in computer science that specialized in web design.
She has always been interested in reading and writing, and the first book she was ever read was the Grimms Brother's Fairy tales. From the ages of 6 to 11, she read the Nancy Drew series. By the age of 11, she had graduated to Stephen King novels. A few of her favorites include Carrie, Tommyknockers, The Dark Tower Series up to book 3 (That's where it stopped in the late 80s/ early 90s), Pet Semetary, The Shining, Night Shift, The Stand, It, Cujo, Christine, The Eyes of the Dragon and Thinner (Richard Bachman). In her teen years, she moved on to Anne Rice and got through about four of those books before they degraded. If you've ever read Anne Rice, you know book 5 isn't readable. Stacey has read a couple Harry Potter books as she was introduced to them in the early 2000s, and she's never read or watched anything Twilight or 50 Shades. Sorry. I'm a vampire purist, and nothing needs to be said about the latter. You already know.
She is currently an author and freelance writer. She received an honorable mention in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine in 2008 for a short story entitled The Field. In 2014, she was published in 13 Stories by Us by MacKenzie Publishing.
Other books by Stacey
Are you into thrillers, action, and suspense novels? Here are 14 hand-picked novels we think may whet your action and suspense fiction appetite!
As the full might of the American intelligence community is mobilized to stop it, the CIA's new director must confront a web of threats both at home and abroad, from a resentful White House chieftain, to a cunning Israeli spymaster, and the fearsome commander of the Iranian Quds Force.
In Moscow--after an oil trader with ties to the Kremlin is found burned alive in his Geneva home--an aide to Russia's adored and despotic president is caught between opposing powers. At one side is an eccentric billionaire with lofty dreams of reorienting Russia toward the West, and at the other is the autocratic strongman whose ardent quest for resurgence has brought Russia into a risky, open confrontation with NATO.
In Lebanon, the Syrian civil war that raged for years across the border has reached its bloody climax. Yet in its wake, a new menace comes crawling from the shadows to feast on the remains. A brilliant CIA officer in Beirut, working desperately to penetrate an exhausted Hezbollah, is first to recognize the danger. As she begins calling on deaf ears, it is only a matter of time until the drums of war start beating again in the Middle East--and now with the greatest terrorist the world has ever known leading the charge.
Warping the line between illusion and reality, amid a labyrinth of characters, plots and counter-plots that span the globe--from the halls of the Kremlin and the suburbs of northern Virginia, to the slums of Beirut and the back alleys of Tehran--comes a story of intrigue and betrayal, life and death, setting a collision course toward a firestorm that will consume thousands and blind a superpower.
Then the Captain drops a new assignment on their desk: an affluent Bay Area lawyer is missing. The man’s wife stomps into their office screaming about a contract she found hidden in the backups of their home computer. A contract with a seven-figure payout, and an incriminating Exhibit A.
Following the trail of both the motorcycle rider and the lawyer with Kandy complaining, “We’re homicide detectives, there should be a body,” leads to a vintage motorcycle club called the Ton Up where lips are sealed, a yacht harbor on the coast where riddles run deep, and a midnight roadside confrontation that ends with a splash. As the trails twist they soon find that these people and places have one thing in common:
A violist named Mylin. Who plays in an all-female orchestra called The Girls of the Orient. And, unbeknownst to her, is the subject of a fine-art photographer’s latest collection.
From San Francisco to Mexico, the treacherous cliffs of the Pacific coast to the desolation of Nevada’s high desert, Tune Up moves like Kandy’s turbocharged Mini through a foggy landscape of false identities, fake romance, and frenzied chases, as Qigiq realizes one picture really can reveal more than 1,000 words.
As he covers an intense season of high school football, Jake is blown away by the passion everyone has for the sport. But as the new guy in an alien, insular town, he’s also running up against the old-boy network. That’s making it difficult for him to get answers about murky financial dealings and a dubious school redistricting decision that just so happens to have brought some of the best players in the state to perennial powerhouse Dolphin High, which had fallen from dominance.
Three Yards and a Plate of Mullet is a thoroughly entertaining flashback to 1980s Florida. Uniting the worlds of high-stakes high school football with newsroom drama and eccentric characters, it follows our intrepid young reporter as he works to make it in the business he loves while finding his way around a peculiar culture.
He holes up at The Watergate on a senator's dime and enlists a call girl as his unwitting ally. But with the media eating Trent alive, he doesn't have long before they catch him. From the tony clubs of Georgetown to murders on Capitol Hill, The Intern has all the twists and turns of a classic DC thriller, with an added comedic flair.
He immediately meets a damsel in hitchhiking distress who says her name is Mona. Her presence persuades him that the bright lights and dark clubs of Chicago might be his kind of town. So on a summer Saturday night they settle into a fancy hotel overlooking the beaches of Lake Michigan.
On Sunday...Mona disappears.
But she leaves behind more than a sweet memory that involves Tommy in a brand new cash flow problem he never imagined. While trying to sort out how to stay on the right side of the law and get back on the road, he meets a young criminologist who helps him, a DJ who doesn't, and a librarian who teaches him about the city, women, and the art of the makeover. After truth and lies are stirred like a blue martini, being assaulted by a pink monkey, and witnessing a drive-by shooting that drowns a Ferrari--Tommy is desperate to help Mona.
If he can find her.
As his investigation progresses, he unravels a plot that, if not stopped, will result in the untimely and murderous deaths of tens of millions of people. Bai Tide is Bai’s greatest challenge yet. A mission that will take him from the windswept beaches of San Diego to a whiteout blizzard in the foothills of Pyongyang, and make him question everything he thought he knew about working in the field…and about himself.
With a little dry humor and some heart-stopping tension, Michael Kravitz wades into the drama of a post-EMP attack. It is the story of Ben Randal, his family, his neighbors, and some quirky friends coming together with some old-fashioned values and hope as they struggled to survive in this sudden and unprecedented crisis as Boston Darkens.
The threat of an EMP attack on a major United States city is a real one. Michael Kravitz brings the consequences of an electromagnetic pulse bomb attack to life in his short thriller, Boston Darkens. As the title would suggest, the setting revolves around Boston, Massachusetts and surrounding cities and towns in nearby Rhode Island and Connecticut. The tale is told by Ben, originally from Nebraska, who fortunately knows a thing or two about survival and being self-sufficient.
What's particularly good about Ben’s first person narrative is that it's believable. As someone who is from southern New England myself, I can verify many of the details that Kravitz weaves into Ben's picture of the highly disordered post-EMP attack chaos in the region. The characters he creates are believable and the situations realistic.
Kravitz thought this world out well, clearly depicting just how a world without electricity well could be. Even the electrical components of most vehicles are fried too, leaving the streets and highways an auto graveyard. There is plenty of detail, and it draws you into the new reality of a world thrown into disarray. Even with the detail, the narrative flows well and Ben's own personality is reflected throughout. He is honest and tells the story just as if this was really happening here and now.
Without giving too much away, I can say the greatest strength of Boston Darkens is showing both the good and bad sides of human nature with equal treatment. I have many other good things to say about this short novel. But being as brief as it is, too many spoilers would be given away if I go any more in-depth.
Despite being such a quick read, Boston Darkens is enjoyable and exciting. It’s worth the price of admission. There's plenty of action and drama, with just enough reflection on the state of things to give you a break. I daresay that this story has blockbuster film potential. It's well-told, and while there is a conclusion, it's open-ended. This is intentional, as this book is the first in a series. I look forward to seeing what becomes of Ben, his family, and friends in sequels to Boston Darkens.
You can buy “Boston Darkens” as an ebook, paperback, or hardcover at Amazon.
*I received a free review copy in exchange for a fair and honest review. This review is in no way influenced by any outside sources. No other compensation was received for this review.
I have recently finished reading part one of the Matt Fulton trilogy “Active Measures”. While I will not go into much detail on the plot or characters, I want to try to describe what the experience was like reading the novel. I also want to examine what kind of audience would enjoy this novel and possibly who might not, and also what you might like or dislike about reading it.
Part one of what will eventually become a trilogy under the title “Active Measures” is a fairly large novel of over 600 pages. The content and subject matter is dense and very detailed, intricate and developed. It is a global geopolitical thriller that spans all over the world with many characters. There are many threads of plot that are developed and begin to intersect each other by the time part one of the novel ends.
When you read this novel, be prepared to be transported from one part of the planet to another, whether it be the United States in a meeting between the President, his advisors and intelligence agencies, Russia, the Middle East, or elsewhere. There are many characters, and reading the book requires a lot of concentration and some interest in geopolitics. I personally am not very well educated on the subject matter, so the reading of this novel was somewhat difficult for me. Sometimes I had a hard time remembering who was who amongst the characters, and how they were related to each other and what significance they had to the plot.
There are some interesting dialogues, and the level of dialogue is philosophical as some scenes depict the motivations and ways of thinking of various characters, whether they be intelligence officers in the CIA, members of the Russian government, United States special forces personnel, undercover spies, and even terrorists plotting an attack. Even though some characters were very similar and I wasn't sure who was who, I could in general get the sense of what role or part each played in the story. There is no one single protagonist hero, but a handful of characters whose actions will eventually intertwine, and will most likely intersect more concretely in the second and third installments of the eventual trilogy, which are yet to be published. The novel is very detailed and I would say very well written.
The main question I would like to put forth is what audience of reader would be interested in and enjoy this novel. The author in his acknowledgments cites authors like Tom Clancy and John le Carre as an influence and inspiration to his writing. I personally have only read 2 of Clancy's novels (“Hunt for Red October” and “Rainbow Six”) and am familiar with his other novels and some of le Carre's work, although I have not read any of the latter's novels. So if you like Clancy and le Carre, or other spy or geopolitical novels, you might like this. I personally struggled to get through this novel, with the density of the plot and the plethora of different characters and their yet to be interconnected paths in the story. But by the end I was grateful to have pushed through it, and was surprised to find myself interested in reading the second and third installments whenever they will be finished and actually published. The author has a website, where you can contact him and find info about his writing. If you get to reading this book, visit his site and send him a message letting him know what you think.
I hope this review, although scant in detail, gives you an idea of whether this might be something you would want to give a chance and acquire a copy to read. The author does not dumb down or water down the material and it requires some dedication and concentration to get through and mentally keep track of who is who and what is going on, but if you like these kind of stories, you might enjoy this.
*I received a free review copy in exchange for a fair and honest review. This review is in no way influenced by any outside sources. No other compensation was received for this review.
Dan Brown's very controversial mystery thriller novel "The Da Vinci Code" is one which at points in my life I refused to read. Having watched the movie version, I had a general idea of what it was about. So I felt no need to read the book itself to decide whether it had any merit or not.
Essentially, the story follows the actions of protagonist Robert Langdon, a symbologist who studies religious symbols and their meanings. He is framed for the murder of the curator at the Louvre museum in France. This is where many famous works of art, including the "Mona Lise" of Leonardo da Vinci, are on display. The murdered man leaves clues as to who the murderer is. His granddaughter, a very intelligent cryptographer and code breaker, is brought in to assist in solving the mystery.
The story turns into a search for the missing Holy Grail. Supposedly, it has been kept hidden by the Catholic Church, for fear it would overturn all that the Church teaches as true. The secret is supposed to be that instead of having been crucified a bachelor, Jesus Christ had actually married Mary Magdalene. It's also said that he had children, leaving a bloodline that lives on to this day.
It is claimed that the Church has slandered Magdalene as a prostitute, doing everything it can to hide this secret that she was really the wife of Jesus and mother to His children. There is a lot of dialogue regarding this. Also, there is talk of the Gnostic gospels and other literature proposed for the Bible, but rejected by the Church as having been inauthentic. Essentially, it was not written by the authors they are claimed to be written by.
There is also the claim that it wasn't until the 4th century that Jesus was only believed to be divine. This was many centuries after His death, around the time of the rule of Constantine and the Nicene Council. Before then, all His followers believed He was merely a mortal man, and not an immortal incarnation of God. There are also claims by the characters that the Bible had been altered, mistranslated, and ultimately tampered. Over time, this was done to obscure and falsify the "truth" about Jesus, especially about His relationship to Mary Magdalene.
While these ideas are interesting and make for an intriguing story, I find them unconvincing. Having studied the Bible and Church teaching, I can assert that the author has not really studied Catholic theology very much. He is trying to promote an idea of "the sacred feminine" and claims the Church regards females and sexuality as dirty and inferior. He tries to turn Jesus into a mere mortal man, and Mary Magdalene into a divine God. He does not pay attention to the reverence given to women by the uplifting of Mary as Mother of God. The book talks about Eve bringing humanity into its downfall. But it says nothing of the ascension brought to humanity through the Blessed Virgin Mary and her cooperation with the salvific plan of God.
Having studied a lot of the issues that are touched on in "The Da Vinci Code," the alternate theory of Jesus and His supposed descendants, the novel did nothing to alter my beliefs in the orthodox teachings of Christianity. The release of this book spurned a huge reaction from Christians of all denominations. This lead to all kind of books debunking the claims made in Brown's novel, such as "The Da Vinci Hoax", "Debunking the Da Vinci Code", "The Da Vinci Fraud", etc. I think the dialogue is a good one, and I will suggest that you do take the time to read Dan Brown's novel. You also should look into some of the opposing claims made in books that criticize and argue against the main premise of the Code.
At the very least, reading books like this can demonstrate how wild alternate versions of history can be concocted and developed. There are stories that can convince lots of people of something that just isn't true or never happened. Brown says Jesus was married to Magdalene and had children. I say someone made it up. Even in the study of history, it is important to know that lies or fabrications can be made up. These lies can be meant either to tear down ideas one does not like, or to promote and build up ideas that one wants to become fact.
You can purchase "The Da Vinci Code" on Amazon here.
It has taken me a while to get to actually reading any of Dan Brown's widely read novels. Tonight I just finished reading "Angels & Demons", which I will follow up with the more well known "The Da Vinci Code".
Angels and Demons is a book I find myself having difficulty reviewing. The story is very compelling, interesting and exciting in the action and fast paced puzzle solving required of the main character, religious symbologist, Robert Langdon. The story is laid on a backdrop of a debate about the supposed harmony, or incompatibility, of religion and faith with science and reason. Basically, the story is about a scientist, who is also a Catholic priest, who discovers a way to create antimatter, and supposedly proving that the act of creation of something out of nothing is possible, therefore proving the existence of a Creator God. But apparently someone has taken this antimatter and hidden it somewhere in the Vatican, where all of the world's Catholic cardinals have congregated to elect a new Pope, the most recent Pope having died of a sudden stroke 15 days previously. Robert Langdon is called in to help solve the murder of the priest scientist who created the antimatter and he must solve the riddles left behind by members of the secret society and enemy of the Catholic Church, the Illuminati.
A lot of the characters in the story represent different views on the relationship of religion with science, of faith with reason. Some characters believe they are harmonious and complementary, while others belief they are contradictory and at odds, the worst of enemies to each other, with one being better than the other. The novel contains a lot of interesting historical information and interpretation. I don't know how much of it it true, and how much either concocted or embellished to create a more compelling and dramatic story, but I think the historical tidbits make it more interesting, regardless of how historically accurate they are. The action of the novel is fast paced and exciting. The dialogue is usually interesting. I found the book to be hard to put down.
Overall, and interesting and fun book to read. Being Catholic myself, some of the jabs to my Church were a little annoying, but I can take a punch, and so can the Church. I probably don't agree with a lot of the author's own opinions and beliefs, but that is ok. I still think I could get something out of this book. I plan to read "The Da Vinci Code" next, which, having seen the film version, I know there will be a lot which I will find inaccurate and untrue. But I will read it, so that I have a better idea of what I am critical of.
While you can probably find an inexpensive copy of this book in your local thrift store, if you want to buy it online, you can find it at Amazon here.