Sci-Fi

Killer Thrillers for the Beach – 2017

 

There are two kinds of Beach Reads:

 

  • Action-packed adventure/thrillers that rev up your blood pressure and provide stay-awake reading (killer thrillers)
  • Completely relaxing, low-key, fun mystery books that tweak your brain cells, but allow you to nod off on time


None of the killer thriller titles below are relaxing or low-key. I defy you to nod off while reading any of them. Charge your e-reader, ‘cause you won’t want to take a break – except maybe to eat. Or, you might want to eat while reading.   :-)

Warning: most deal with adult topics and/or contain sporadic adult language.

(Listed in alphabetical order by author)

 

"The 7th Canon" by Robert Dugoni

Book Cover - The 7th Canon - Robert Dugoni

 

 

 

Standalone. Priest accused of terrible crimes.
Read review here.

 

 

 

"The Trapped Girl"  by Robert Dugoni

Book Cover - The Trapped Girl

 

 

Engrossing entry in the Tracy Crosswhite series. Fascinating case. Twists and turns galore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

"The Fixer" by Joseph Finder

Book Cover - The Fixer

 

 

Set in Boston. What a premise!
Read review here.

 

 

 

 

"The Switch" by Joseph Finder

Book Cover - The Switch - Joseph Finder

 

 

Michael Tanner picks up the wrong laptop computer in the airport. After he finds out who the owner is, does he do the right thing? HA!!! Great story!

 

 

 

 

 

"Phantom Instinct"  by Meg Gardiner

Book Cover - Phantom Instinct - Meg Gardiner

 

Gardiner always delivers edgy, complex plots. The lead character should have her own series.
Read review here.

 

 

 

 

"UnSub"  by Meg Gardiner

Book Cover - UnSub - Meg Gardiner

 

 

Stay awake reading at its best. Serial killer topic. Keep the lights on!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"The Second Life of Nick Mason"  by Steve Hamilton

Book Cover - The Second Life of Nick Mason

 

 

Astonishing new series. Adult topics. Pages fly by.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Orphan X"  by Gregg Hurwitz

Book Cover - Orphan X

 

 

 

Excellent read. Adult topics. Another page-turner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Signal"  by Patrick Lee

Book Cover - Signal

 

 

Where does the signal originate? Slam dunk great!
Read review here.

 

 

 

 

 

"The Heist"  by Daniel Silva

Book Cover - The Heist by Daniel Silva

 

 

Intriguing international art heist. Spies included.
Read review here.

 

 

 

 

 

If you have a favorite thriller not listed above, let us know in the comments below.  :-)  Happy reading the killer thrillers for the beach!

 

 

 

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Top 10: The First Four Years of Nightstand Book Reviews

 

Book Cover - Cold Dish

The first four years of Nightstand Book Reviews delivered a wide range of books to my doorstep and to my email inbox. Right from the beginning, I have received more than 100 requests a month (once over 400) from writers and publicists and friends of writers and publicists to review the latest book they had to offer.

 

It has been a fun problem to have. The strategy was (and remains) to choose great reads to chat about and share with the thousands of Nightstand Book Reviews followers around the world. The books on the site are by and large fiction, and tell a well-plotted story involving nicely developed characters. The authors are a mix of bestselling writers of longstanding, and newbies to the field when I first met them. Traditionally published or ebook only? Both happily co-exist on NBR. Occasionally I highlight biographies, great cookbooks, and helpful gardening books. A new feature in 2016 was Author Profiles. You’ll see more of those in 2017.

 

Below is the list of Top 10 books reviewed on Nightstand Book Reviews over the last four years, listed in ABC order by author. These were the books that garnered the most interest on NBR from the worldwide audience during the four years. Six books on the list were the debut novels from those authors. Some powerhouse writers (long, successful careers with great popularity) mixed in with newbies? A good book is a good book.

 

All of these authors now have multiple books out. Click on the book title to read the review.

 

Lee Child – “The Killing Floor”

 

Robert Dugoni – “My Sister’s Grave”

 

Robert Dugoni – “The Conviction”

 

Sherry Harris – “Tagged for Death”

 

Sue Harrison – “Mother Earth, Father Sky”

 

Erin Hart – “Haunted Ground”

 

Tami Hoag – “Alibi Man”

 

Craig Johnson – “The Cold Dish”

 

Leigh Perry – “A Skeleton in the Family”

 

Andy Weir – “The Martian”

 

 

Have you read any of the titles on the list? Wildly different books to be sure, with thrillers, sci-fi, traditional mysteries, and cozies in the group. 

 

And soooo much fun to read.  :-)

 

Thank you all, kind readers, for being part of the Nightstand Book Reviews community during the first four years. Your comments and participation make me smile as I search for the next great read to share with you.

 

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Goodreads Choice Awards – 2016

 

goodreadslogo2016-jpg

Most of the winners of major book awards are selected by members of the groups that give the award – much like the film industry’s Academy Awards are selected each year. Mystery writers vote on the major mystery awards; romance writers vote on the Rita Award, etc. Goodreads, the popular readers/authors site, has a slightly different model for the Goodreads Choice Awards – 2016.

 

During the year, readers chat about books they’re reading and make lists of their favorites for their friends and followers to see. They also rank books they’ve read with stars, indicating how much they liked (or disliked) the titles published that year. There are thousands of books listed on the site, with thousands of comments, giving anyone who’s interested a way to see how a book (published in the U.S. in English) is viewed by the Goodreads group. Amazon acquired Goodreads, so these reviews and stars probably have an impact on book sales.

 

During October, the Goodreads staff looks at the stats and does the math, then nominates 15 books for each of 20 categories that have an average rating of 3.5 stars or more.

 

The members of the Goodreads community vote in elimination rounds. They are allowed to vote in all twenty categories, giving a broader view of a book’s popularity. If you sign up to become a member of Goodreads, you can vote as well. (It's free)

 

Semifinal Round now closed: Nov. 8th thru Nov. 13th  (voting on the original 15 along with the top 5 write-ins in each category – voters can change their minds about the original vote)

 

Final Round is closed: Nov. 15th thru Nov. 27th  (voting on final top 10 books in each category) Results were announced December 6th.  :-)

 

Here are the 2016 voting links for eight of the categories (once there, the other twelve categories are an easy click away):

Fiction

Mystery & Thriller

Historical Fiction

Fantasy

Romance

Science Fiction

Non-Fiction

YA Fantasy & Science Fiction

 

 

The 2015 Goodreads Choice Awards went to:

Fiction: Harper Lee’s “Go Set a Watchman”

Mystery & Thriller:  Paula Hawkins’ “The Girl on the Train”

Historical Fiction:  Kristin Hannah’s “The Nightingale”

Fantasy:  Neil Gaiman’s “Trigger Warning”

Romance:  Colleen Hoover’s “Confess”

Science Fiction: Pierce Brown’s “Golden Son”

Fourteen other categories included horror, non-fiction, memoir, humor, and more.

 

Did you read any of the winning choices from 2015? If so, what did you think? Let us know in the comment section.

 

The 2014 Goodreads Choice Awards went to:

Fiction: Rainbow Rowell's "Landline"

Mystery & Thriller:  Stephen King's "Mr. Mercedes" 

Historical Fiction:  Anthony Doerr's "All the Light We Cannot See"

History & Biography:  Helen Rappaport's The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra"

Romance:  Diana Gabaldon's "Written in My Own Heart's Blood"

Science Fiction:  Andy Weir's "The Martian"

 

The 14 additional categories included cookbooks, horror, non-fiction, children’s books and more.

 

The 2013 Goodreads Choice Awards went to these 6 categories & more:

Fiction: Khaled Hosseini’s “And the Mountains Echoed”

Mystery & Thriller:  Dan Brown’s “Inferno”

Historical Fiction:  Kate Atkinson’s “Life After Life”

History & Biography:  Brian Jay Jones’ “Jim Henson”

Romance:  J.R. Ward’s “Lover at Last”

Science Fiction:  Margaret Atwood’s “MaddAddam”

 

It’s interesting to note that in 2013, 1,953,770 total votes were cast for the Goodreads Choice Awards.

At the end of voting in 2014, there were 3,317,504 votes.

The final tabulation for the Goodreads Choice Awards in 2015 was 3,007,748 votes.

Votes as of 7pm EST 12/6/16?  3,564,071  :-)

Happy reading & thanks for voting!  :-)

 

 

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10 of the Best Books of the Past Year-2016 update

 

BookStack

…and the prize goes to…

 

Readers all over the world choose their next book based on the award winners announced by various organizations during the recent year. Here is a list of ten popular awards for recent novels in the adult category to receive applause and/or rave reviews from colleagues in the genre or from readers who loved the books.

 

Have you read any books on the list? If so, let us know what you enjoyed about them in the comment section. 

 

Agatha Award given to mystery and crime writers, in 2015 cozy subgenre:

“Long Upon the Land” by Margaret Maron

 

Christy Award for excellence in Christian fiction 2016:

“The Five Times I Met Myself” by James L. Rubart

 

Edgar Allen Poe Award awarded by the Mystery Writers of America 2016:

“Let Me Die in His Footsteps” by Lori Roy

 

Goodreads Choice Awards chosen by readers 2015:

“Go Set A Watchman” by Harper Lee

 

Hugo Awards awarded for the best Science Fiction or Fantasy 2016:

“The Fifth Season” by N.K. Jemisin

 

Macavity Award given to favorite 2015 mystery by Mystery Readers International:

“The Killer Next Door” by Alex Marwood

 

Man Booker Prize literary prize for best 2015 novel translated to English language:  “The Vegetarian” by Han Kang, translated by Deborah Smith

 

National Book Award for fiction given to U.S. authors 2015:

“Fortune Smiles: Stories” by Adam Johnson

 

Nebula Awards presented by Science Fiction Writers for 2015 work:

“Uprooted” by Naomi Novik

 

Pulitzer Prize in Literature administered by Columbia University 2016:

“The Sympathizer” by Viet Thanh Nguyen

 

Congratulations to all the winners!  :-)

 

 

 

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The Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Awards – 2016

 

SilverFalchionFinalistLogo

Killer Nashville is one of the most popular conferences in the country for writers and readers and is held each year in the Nashville, Tennessee area. Established by writer and filmmaker Clay Stafford in 2006, the conference assists authors in the craft of mystery, thriller, suspense and crime fiction writing. Stafford and American Blackguard, Inc. also work to further various literacy programs throughout the year.

 

As a part of both encouraging and rewarding writers in their varied fields, the Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Awards are given to authors and their outstanding books published in the previous year. This year, the awards were presented on August 20th at the Guest of Honor and Awards Banquet. Here is a partial list of 2016 finalists for their 2015 titles:
 

Winners are indicated in red.

Best Fiction Adult Book
Baron R. Birtcher, Hard Latitudes
Mylo Carbia, The Raping of Ava Desantis
Christine Carbo, The Wild Inside
Paul Cleave, Trust No One
Craig Faustus, Buck Go Down Hard
Jenny Milchman, As Night Falls
Ray Peden, One Tenth of the Law
D.M. Pulley, The Dead Key
Michael Ransom, The Ripper Gene
Jan Thomas & Grant Jerkins, Done in One
Timothy Vincent, Prince of the Blue Castles

 

Best Fiction First Novel
Kris Calvin, One Murder More
Christine Carbo, The Wild Inside
Bevan Frank, The Mind of God
Michael Ransom, The Ripper Gene

 

Best Nonfiction Adult Book
Unni Turrettini, The Mystery of the Lone Wolf Killer
Merlin Tuttle, The Secret Lives of Bats

 

Best Action Adventure
Baron R. Birtcher, Hard Latitudes
Jan Thomas & Grant Jerkins, Done in One
JD Wallace, Silent Cats: Deadly Dance

 

Best Mystery / Crime
R.G. Belsky, Shooting for the Stars
Kris Calvin, One Murder More
Kay Kendall, Rainy Day Women
BV Lawson, Dies Irae
Melinda Leigh, Minutes to Kill (A Scarlet Falls Novel)
D.M. Pulley, The Dead Key
Michael Ransom, The Ripper Gene
Linda Sands, 3 Women Walk into a Bar
K.C. Tansley, The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts
Jan Thomas & Grant Jerkins, Done in One

 

Best Romance / Romantic Suspense
Melinda Leigh, Minutes to Kill (A Scarlet Falls Novel)
Glenna Mason, In the Rafters

 

Best Science Fiction
Chuck Grossart, The Gemini Effect
Sally Ann Melia, Hunted by Aliens

 

Best Thriller
R.G. Belsky, Shooting for the Stars
Baron R. Birtcher, Hard Latitudes (tie)
Thomas Davidson, Past is Present
Bevan Frank, The Mind of God
Debra K. Gaskill, Call Fitz
Jerry Hatchett, Unallocated Space
Melinda Leigh, Minutes to Kill (A Scarlet Falls Novel) (tie)
Michael Ransom, The Ripper Gene
M.A. Richards, Choice of Enemies
Jan Thomas & Grant Jerkins, Done in One
John Vance, Death by Mournful Numbers

 

Best Comedy
Traci Andrighetti and Elizabeth Ashby, Deadly Dye and a Soy Chai
Thomas Davidson, Past is Present
John Hegenberger, Spyfall

 

Best Fiction Short Story Anthology
Ramona DeFelice Long, Fish or Cut Bait
Kaye George, Murder on Wheels
Joe McKinney, Shrieks and Shivers from the Horror Zine
Josh Pachter, The Tree of Life

 

For additional categories and winners, please visit www.killernashville.com

Congratulations to all the Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Awards-2016 nominees and winners!  :-)

 

 

 

 

 

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Three Summer Vacation Quickie Reviews

 

In a rush to pick out your summer vacation ‘beach-reads’? This may help with the ‘run-in-and-grab’ non-thought process. Categories are listed in no particular order of favoritism or warning…

 

Dragons:

Book Cover - Brisinger by Christopher Paolini

Brisinger” by Christopher Paolini.  

More complex than the previous two books in the trilogy. Eragon is more developed as a character, but this has resulted in less time spent on adventures/conversations with Saphira, his dragon. Still great fun for dragon/fantasy fans.  :-)

 

Rated PG-13 for war and violence.

 

 

Faith-based fiction:
Book Cover - Night Light by Terri Blackstock

Night Light” by Terri Blackstock.

A world-wide power outage has kicked the earth back into 19th century technology. No cell phones, no computers, no AC and people have to ride bikes and grow their own food. Fascinating look at how one Christian family chooses to deal with the challenges of a more primitive life, including digging a well to obtain potable water. The young children in the book have dialogue that is developmentally inaccurate, but the overall story made me wonder how I would cope – and what kinds of vegetables I would be able to grow so that I could barter with someone who raised chickens.

 

Rated PG-13 for a murder, a kidnapping and scenes of drug usage.

 

 

YA Fiction:
Book Cover - I am Number Four by Pitticus Lore

I am Number Four” by Pitticus Lore.

An alien teenager, who has been hiding out on Earth with his protector, must deal with saving the world from nasty beings from his home planet that aim to wipe out his species. Made into a movie, but the book is MUCH better. There are sequels, but “I am Number Four” is the best. Filled with teen bits like first love, outsiders that don’t quite fit in, but are smarter than the ‘cool kids,’ blowing up the high school, etc.  Written for teens that are into intense action stories.

 

Rated PG-13 for alien invasion, intensity, and violence. Adults should look this over to assess its appropriateness for their teen.

 

Do you have a favorite summer vacation book? Let us know in the comments below.  :-)

Check out three quite different Beach Reads from last summer's list here.

Whatever you decide to read, enjoy!

 

 

 

 

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“Signal” by Patrick Lee

 

Book Cover - Signal

Marnie Calvert, FBI agent in Patrick Lee’s “Signal,” smells the bodies before she sees them. A trailer is burned to a crisp, with not much left except a cage holding the corpses of four children. The owner of the trailer is missing.

 

Sam Dryden’s background includes special ops training with the military. He has left that life behind and now flips houses. His ordinary, peaceful evening is interrupted by a call from trusted former colleague in the military, Claire Dunham. She makes an urgent request of Sam: get in the car immediately and meet her in a spot that is two hours away. Once together, they drive to the trailer at breakneck speed and keep the owner from burning it and everyone in it. When Sam and Claire leave the area, the only corpse is the owner’s.

 

Yes, you read that correctly. Calvert, Dryden and Dunham have arrived at the same crime scene – just not at the same time and with very different results. The race against, through, and with time, begins.

 

Patrick Lee’s paradigms of time travel/time shifting are intriguing and part of what compels me to return to his books. Not every book uses time as a plot device, but I love the way Lee’s mind works. In his Travis Chase series, people traveled through a doorway in time to the future and back again. In “Signal,” Lee’s main characters listen to a radio frequency on a device that streams what is reported on the airwaves from the future – a very specific period of time in the future. In this world, time is fluid and actions can be changed before they happen.

 

Imagine if that power was held by people with decades to plan and reshape the future for their own agendas? Nothing good could come of it. Murder, kidnapping, torture? They’ll do anything to get the device that led Claire to the trailer.

 

In “Signal,” Lee deftly handles the time paradox challenges of adjusting actions in response to hearing the consequences. Any modification in events affects everyone in the timeline continuum for all time, and Lee uses that effectively to keep us absorbed. He gives us just enough information about how it all works without too much science-speak or theory that might take us out of the story.

 

Whose reality will control the tale? Can this knowledge ever be used for good? If your “enemy knows your mistakes before you make them,” how can you survive the battle? The answers will keep you turning the pages all night long, because “Signal” is flat out stay-awake reading. And not just because of the time-travel component or the pulse-pounding action. Lee’s characters have depth, a back story, and believable reasons for what they do, be it for good or very questionable motives.

 

Clear your schedule, turn off the computer and the phone (gasp), and be prepared to read straight through to the perfect finish.

 

I was lucky enough to meet Patrick Lee at a recent writer’s conference and he graciously signed my copy of “Signal.” He signed “Ghost Country,” from the Travis Chase series as well and you can read that review here.

 

For information about Patrick Lee, the terrific first Sam Dryden book, “Runner,” and his other series, please visit www.patrickleefiction.com

 

 

 

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