Kill the Next One by Federico Axat

imageTed McKay had it all: a beautiful wife, two daughters, a high-paying job. But after being diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor he finds himself with a gun to his temple, ready to pull the trigger. Then the doorbell rings.

A stranger makes him a proposition: why not kill two deserving men before dying? The first target is a criminal, and the second is a man with terminal cancer who, like Ted, wants to die. After executing these kills, Ted will become someone else’s next target, like a kind of suicidal daisy chain. Ted understands the stranger’s logic: it’s easier for a victim’s family to deal with a murder than with a suicide. However, after killing his targets, Ted’s reality begins to unravel.


Ted thinks he is getting involved in a twisted version of ‘paying it forward’ but is it al that straight forward?  For Ted it seems like a win-win deal but as things start to play out it’s a lot more complicated than that.

This book is one that messes with your head.  There are a lot of WTF moments, then when you think you have it figured out you sit back and go “Ahhhh” then just as fast you are back to scratching your head wondering what happened, flip back a page or two, plow on and it all gets straight again….. then rinse and repeat.   Ted seems to be either suffering from the effects of a brain tumor or he’s just nuts and it takes a while to figure out what is happening.  Separating the threads of fantasy from reality is a long and hard process.

It’s a hard book to review without giving away much of the plot because that is the whole part of this book, there are so many things going on you can’t really say because then it gives it away. There are twists so sharp at times it makes your head spin!  I do love how you see only one piece of the picture at a time, trying to solve it like a jigsaw puzzle with pieces that seem to be missing. The writer did an amazing job in creating the shattered mind of Ted, making you feel just as lost as he is.  When things do finally click into place it’s done in such a way that it’s complex but simple at the same time.  The picture of the maze on the cover of the book is the perfect analogy of what the story is like, one big maze in Ted’s brain.  I loved the complexity of the story and for such a short book the writer made it seems like a lot longer that what it actually is.  I felt for Ted at the end and how it ended.  I do have two words of warning, at the end there is some graphic descriptions of animal cruelty, and the second is, beware of the possum!

ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

5/5 stars


Buy: Amazon

Buy: Amazon UK


Scythe by Neal Shusterman

imageIn a world where disease has been eliminated, the only way to die is to be randomly killed (“gleaned”) by professional reapers (“scythes”). Citra and Rowan are teenagers who have been selected to be scythe’s apprentices, and—despite wanting nothing to do with the vocation—they must learn the art of killing and come to understand the necessity of what they do.

Only one of them will be chosen as a scythe’s apprentice. And when it becomes clear that the winning apprentice’s first task will be to glean the loser, Citra and Rowan are pitted against one another in a fight for their lives.


There are no more countries, wars, politics, disease, hunger, poverty, everything that humans could learn has been learned.and everyone is immortal.  People have the ability to heal and to ‘turn the corner’ and to revert genetically to a younger age.  because of this people are still having babies and the only way to die is to be gleaned by a scythe.

Citra and Rowan are taken as apprentices by Scythe Faraday. It’s the first time that a scythe has chosen two apprentices and it doesn’t sit well with the conclave.  He chose them for their unwillingness to become scythes, and teaches them the art of gleaning but done with sympathy and humanity  as a first priority.  Scythes are above the law, well there is no real law anymore and they are the only part of society with a governing body with rules and regulations, 10 to be precise. Because they are above the law they must do things the way it is set out in their laws and that means to not kill indiscriminately.  There  is a quota system set up so that a balance is maintained.  But as Citra and Rowan attend their first conclave they start to see that all isn’t straight forward in the society and that, like in any other governing body, there are things behind the scenes  that don’t bode well for not only them for for the world as well.

This deals heavily with morality, how not to become the monster when you are in the middle of them.  It’s a great theme to have with the things going on in society as it is today and I thing that Mr. Shusterman did it in a wonderful way of the topic of the book. there is plenty of brutality in the story, just as there is in real life and it makes you question just how you feel about what is happening around you and what you will do to try and end it.  It’s a different take on your average YA Dystopian book in which youngsters are given the powers over life and death, mercy or pure evil in how they accomplish their duties.  It’s part of a series but it’s doesn’t  leave you on a cliff edge like some other series do but leaves you on a gentle slope. An incredible beginning to what will be a thrilling series.  If you loved his Unwind series you will love this one.


4/5 stars




Buy: Amazon UK

Deadly Attraction by Misty Evans


deadly-attractionHis twin brother is dead and the only way National Intelligence officer, Mitch Holden, is going to make it through the holidays is by staying focused on his latest SCVC Taskforce investigation—catching a homegrown terrorist with a penchant for arson. The terrorist has started a wildfire eating up thousands of acres of forest and putting dozens of people in danger. When Mitch is pulled off that assignment to play bodyguard to a sexy forensic psychologist who sees past all his defenses, he ends up in the middle of a personal wildfire that’s as out of control as the one burning around the two of them.

The trial that should have made her career cost Dr. Emma Collins everything—her home, her future, the baby that was growing inside her after she testified against famous actor Chris Goodsman, debunking his insanity defense and sending him to prison for murder. Rebuilding her life in the aftermath, Emma now rescues horses, dogs, and juvenile delinquents, and there’s no way she’s heading to a safe house because Chris Goodsman has escaped. She refuses to let anyone terrorize her or destroy her life again. But when a smart-talking, irresistible federal agent shows up insisting he has to protect her, she realizes her new bodyguard needs a bit of therapy. Good thing taking in lost causes happens to be her specialty.

Two people filled with grief may get burned…

Trapped at the ranch by the wildfire, Mitch and Emma explore a searing attraction, but soon discover they’re not alone. A killer has joined them—one who will do anything to get revenge and isn’t afraid to take out anyone who gets in his way

Both Mitch and Emma hate the Christmas holiday, each for their own reason.  Mitch because he lost his twin brother on Christmas Eve in a rescue mission gone wrong that was led by Mitch and Emma because the  baby she lost.  Both carry around  deep pain.  Where Mitch tries to ignore it, Emma buries it deep so she cane care for not only the people in her life but for her patients as well.

Emma is strong, she doesn’t let things get to her. She is the calm in the storm, even when things hit close to home she wraps her emotions up tight and doesn’t let danger bother her.  If she went around loosing her head every time a client may or may not come after her, her life would fall to pieces.

You can feel the rage building up in Mitch.  Emma wont leave to go to a safe house, determined to no be driven out of her home.  He can’t protect her the way he wants too.  He is angry at the cat and mouse game that Chris is playing with them.

This story doesn’t really show you who is causing havoc in Emma’s life.  We know who is coming after her but is he truly the one that has been playing a game with her or is it someone else?  There are things going on but  Mitch, Emma and even Will can’t get to those who are behind the threat because they are like a mist in the backdrop of the forest fire raging around them. It’s unsettling enough when you know who is after you but it’s in the way that its done that makes it creepy, more of a psychological torment than an actual physical one.

With each book you find out more about different fields of medicine, military tactics, criminal behaviour, Mafia and everything in between!  Misty does an amazing amount of research for each of her books and it shows with the detail that is provided in each story.  That is why I love reading her books, there is so much attention to detail, a strong plot, along with hot men and steamy romance.

ARC provided by author in exchange for a fair and honest review

4/5 stars



Buy: Amazon UK

Buy: B&N


Misty Evans PhotoAbout the Author

USA TODAY Bestselling Author Misty Evans has published over twenty novels and writes romantic suspense, urban fantasy, and paranormal romance. As a writing coach, she helps other authors bring their books – and their dreams of being published – to life.

The books in her Super Agent series have won a CataNetwork Reviewers’ Choice Award, CAPA nominations, the New England Reader’s Choice Bean Pot Award for Best Romantic Suspense in 2010 and the ACRA Heart of Excellence Reader’s Choice Award for Best Romantic Suspense in 2011.

Her Witches Anonymous series was dubbed a Fallen Angel Reviews Recommended Read. The Super Agent Series, Witches Anonymous Series, and the Kali Sweet Series have been on multiple Amazon Kindle bestsellers lists. Her culinary romantic mystery, THE SECRET INGREDIENT, and the first book in her Deadly series, DEADLY PURSUIT, are both USA TODAY bestsellers.

Misty likes her coffee black, her conspiracy stories juicy, and her wicked characters dressed in couture. When not reading or writing, she enjoys music, movies, and hanging out with her husband, twin sons, and two spoiled puppies.

Connect with Misty: Website/ Facebook/Twitter/ Goodreads / Newsletter / Pinterest


***Part of the proceeds from the sales of this book will be donated to Rescue Dogs Rock NYC. Fans who know me know I’m a huge dog lover and I love to support shelters. Please check out RDRNYC’s Facebook page and consider adopting a dog or sending in your own donation! ****


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Faithful by Alice Hoffman

imageFrom the New York Times bestselling author of The Marriage of Opposites and The Dovekeepers comes a soul-searching story about a young woman struggling to redefine herself and the power of love, family, and fate.

Growing up on Long Island, Shelby Richmond is an ordinary girl until one night an extraordinary tragedy changes her fate. Her best friend’s future is destroyed in an accident, while Shelby walks away with the burden of guilt.

At the start of the book Shelby is a shell of a girl.  She doesn’t talk, she doesn’t eat, she self harms, shaves her head and just wants to hide from the world.  She can’t seem to live because of what happened to her best friend Helene.While Helene becomes a thing of worship, a living ghost that draws people towards her, Shelby is shunned and talked about. She was uninjured physically, mentally she is destroyed.  Guilt is sinking her into a black hole that she can’t or won’t get out of.

Shelby lashes out and hurts those around her because she feels that she is a nothing and doesn’t deserve anything.  She hooks up with Ben.  Ben likes Shelby and eventually they get together.  As he falls in love with her she hurts him at every turn feeling unworthy of love and things don’t go well for them.

Since the accident she has been receiving postcards in the mail with things like ‘ See something’, Save something’ written on them.  they come at odd intervals and they are the only thing that seems to keep her going.  As the story progresses life changes for Shelby but can she forgiver herself for what happened to Helene?  She rescues a rag tag group of dogs and is roped into a single mothers family of twin boys and a daughter who is hell bent on making her mothers life hell.  Shelby bucks what is going on around her but how long will it be before she gives in and learns to be loved?

At the start of this Shelby is a bitch, a heartless individual you don’t  feel much for but a mixture of pity and spite.  As time goes on she blossoms like a flower after a long hard winter, and what a joy it is to watch unfold!

I have never read anything by Ms. Hoffman and I feel that I found a real gem of a book!  The way she writes the characters and how they slowly unfold and grow and sink into your skin. It was a fast read for me, once I started I just wanted to keep going.   A coming of age book with characters who are broken, beaten down by life but never give up. A must read!

ARC received by Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

4.5 stars


Buy: Amazon

Buy:Amazon UK

Q&A with Mark Tullius

I want to welcome Mark Tullius to the blog. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer some questions for us here at Happiness is a Book.


MT: Absolutely my pleasure. You are one of the trusted few that sees my work before I put it out, and your feedback has helped a good deal. I credit you for the much needed upgrade to my short story “Reunion.” Thank you.

I’m honored to be one of the few that gets to read your work before everyone else and thank you for letting me work with you with Reunion.


Crash: You have been working on a book called Unlocking the Cage about MMA fighting, what got you interested in it?

MT: After college I found my way into fighting, both boxing and MMA. I could never understand why I spent so much time and effort pursuing sports I wasn’t very good at. I went looking for the answer as an out of shape 40-year-old and traveled to 25 states and over 100 gyms. It became a journey to discover who fighters are and why they fight. Along the way, I trained, sparred, got injured, demoralized, and humbled on the mat, as well as uplifted and inspired by the 400 interviews. I can’t wait to share that story.

Crash: When did you start writing and why?

MT: I always enjoyed words and throwing them together, but I lacked confidence so I didn’t pursue it. It wasn’t until after college that I began writing, starting with an unfinished fantasy novel and some terrible horror stories.

Crash:  Which do you prefer writing, shorts stories or novels?

MT: I’m absolutely thrilled with either of those choices because I’ve spent so much time on Unlocking. I believe the project and book were both worth my time and focus, but it’s reassured me that I am first and foremost a fiction writer.
I love short stories because you can do so much with so little. I now think of them as treats, little breaks I can take from nonfiction or a novel. Sometimes the idea is so strong it demands to be worked on and forces a break. It’s my catharsis, where I can throw out all the shadows darkening my mind.
However, creating larger worlds is the most fulfilling. Understanding your characters so well they feel like friends. Putting them through situations you wouldn’t wish on your enemies. Fun stuff like that.

Crash: What do you like to read if you have the time?

MT: This is something that I neglected for a very long time. I use to read constantly, generally a mix of horror, science fiction, and suspense. When I found an author I enjoyed, I would stay with them and read everything they wrote. This was the case with Stephen King, Dean Koontz, James Patterson, and Chuck Palahniuk. I’m aware each of these authors influenced my style, so perhaps my break from reading was taking the time to develop my own voice.

Crash: Having read your short stories I have to say that they remind me of Stephen King in his younger days, was he an inspiration for you?

MT: Stephen King has been the biggest influence on my writing. That’s all I was reading through high school and college, having such a fun ride catching up on all his incredible stories. He went everywhere with his writing, and I take it as a huge compliment whenever someone says my writing reminds them of the master.

Crash: Where did you get the inspiration for 25 Perfect Days? I have to say it was the first book of yours that I read and it has stayed with me all this time. It is an amazing book and I am forever recommending it to everyone I know who reads.

MT: Thank you, thank you, thank you. I can’t tell you how incredible that is to hear. My goal isn’t to be the next Stephen King, but to leave readers with the same feeling that his books left me. Creating a scene, character, or feeling that a reader won’t forget is what I aspire to do.
Unfortunately, I can’t take all the credit for 25. Wouldn’t you know it, it was the wife. Jen suggested I connect my two ‘light horror’ short stories, “Five Minutes Alone” and “Four Percent.” From there I went a little crazy, and decided to write each story from a different character’s point of view, with a different year and different setting. Not the easiest plan, but a lot of fun inventing family trees, deciding who would be the best character, whether they would die, and what horror they would witness.
There were quite a few readers that found the book too difficult to follow, and disliked the format and its limitations, but so many more like you that appreciated it. Thanks for letting me know through your review and messages.

Crash: You have been writing a few books with your daughter, are there more planned?

MT: Writing the Triple S Agency with Olivia was a good experience, but not great. That’s because we were writing a book fit for little kids, and my 3rd grader has already read all the Harry Potter’s and devours 500 page fantasy novels once a week.
That’s why we’re both very excited to be developing a fantasy trilogy based off the characters I’m about to have tattooed across my back. Think a King/Tolkien mash up with the touch of a sweet little girl to keep it PG-13ish.

Crash: What are your joys in life?

MT: Family, writing, training jiu jitsu, yoga, learning guitar, hanging out with friends.

Crash: Can you tell us something that we might not know about you?

MT: I recently earned my purple belt in 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu and am a huge proponent of yoga. If anyone would like to learn more about me, I often get pretty candid on my weekly podcast, Unlocking.

Crash: Will there be a followup to Brightside?

MT: Most definitely. I’m nearly finished with UTC and will be jumping onto Try Not to Die: In Brightside. This book will be written from a different character’s POV, showing all of day 100, extending past the original’s ending. It will blend nicely into the Brightside sequel, which is partially developed, but won’t be finished for quite some time. Sorry.

Thank you Mark for taking part, it’s been great having you here. Are you working on anything at the moment?

MT: I’m hitting the Try Not to Die’s hard this next year, something possible because I’m giving my coauthors a lot of the workload. Besides the Brightside one, I’m currently playing with one set at a heavy metal festival.

After these are finished, I’ll be polishing up a nearly complete Ain’t No Messiah, the first in a five book series.
I have my work cut out for me.


And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman


“Isn’t that the best of all life’s ages, an old man thinks as he looks at his grandchild, when a boy is just big enough to know how the world works but still young enough to refuse to accept it.”

Grandpa and Noah are sitting on a bench in a square that keeps getting smaller every day. The square is strange but also familiar, full of the odds and ends that have made up their lives: Grandpa’s work desk, the stuffed dragon that Grandpa once gave to Noah, the sweet-smelling hyacinths that Grandma loved to grow in her garden.

As they wait together on the bench, they tell jokes and discuss their shared love of mathematics. Grandpa recalls what it was like to fall in love with his wife, what it was like to lose her. She’s as real to him now as the first day he met her, but he dreads the day when he won’t remember her.

Sometimes Grandpa sits on the bench next to Ted, Noah’s father—Ted who never liked math, prefers writing and playing guitar, and has waited his entire life for his father to have time for him, to accept him. But in their love of Noah, they have found a common bond.

Grandpa, Grandma, Ted, and Noah all meet here, in this peculiar space that is growing dimmer and more confusing all the time. And here is where they will learn to say goodbye, the scent of hyacinths in the air, nothing to fear. This little book with a big message is certain to be treasured for generations to come. 

I read this last night and bawled my eyes out. It was so raw and emotional that tears streamed down my face and made it hard to read at the end.

As much as it is about love and aging it is about loss. The loss of memories, the very things that make us who we are and what those around us mean in our lives. What happens when your memories slip through your fingers like sand and you barely remember who you are, never mind those around you. What it is to see the person you love to not remember who you are and the pain that goes with that. It is a story that I am sure many can relate to, and that is the most heartbreaking thing of all.

My father has started with dementia and I see this as a preview of things to come.  I have known people with Alzheimer’s and it’s heartbreaking to see them struggle to remember and to also see family members sad expressions as their father, mother or grandparents not know who they are and confuse them with people from the past.  As short as this story is I had to stop a few times to get a grip on my emotions as they overwhelmed me a few times. I suggest that if you start reading this one to have tissues handy as you will need them.

A powerful short story that left me sleepless thinking about it.

ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review

5/5 stars