Summer Reading List Giveaway

What’s on your stack of books to read over the summer?  M. wants your summer reading recommendations and to spice things up, he’s offering to give away a copy of one of his books for his favorite recommendation (paperback, ebook or audiobook).  Check out what he has been reading lately below and use the form to send him a book recommendation.  If he picks your suggested book, we’ll email you to let you know you’ve won.  And YES there could be multiple winners so suggest away!

What author M. Louis has been reading lately: 

Currently reading:  “She”, by H. Rider Haggard, I’m lovin it so far.

Recent reads:

  • An Innocent Client by Scott Pratt. Nice beach read, 4 stars.
  • Beneath a Scarlet Sky, by Mark Sullivan. Incredible true story about a young Italian man surviving world war II in a heroic fashion, 5 stars.
  • The Secret Wife, by Gill Paul. I loved this. Parallel love stories stretched over time and entwined, 5 stars. My recent favorite.
  • Departure, entertaining sci fi about unintended consequences, 4 Stars.
  • A Criminal Defense, Nice beach read, 4 stars.
  • I read 6+ John Le Carre books (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, etc.) all excellent books depicting George Smiley as an unassuming but effective spy for the British during the cold war. 4-5 stars.
  • The Revenant, by Michael Punke, better than the movie, helped with timeline, 5 stars.
  • Almayer’s Folly, by Joseph Conrad, Intriguing depiction of an unusual spot in the world where cultures clashed in the 1800s. 5 stars.
  • Big Little Lies, by Liane Moriarty. One of those books that succeeds on the screen as well. Murder in an affluent neighborhood. 5 stars.
  • I read several Raymond Chandler books, (Farewell by Lovely). Kind of loses itself in todays world, ie socially insensitive to be mild. 3 stars.

Jake is racking up the ⭐ Stars!


Jake is racking up the stars for his audiobook adventures! ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Reviews👁 🕵  💪:
⭐⭐⭐⭐ “Lots of action and danger!…Fun yet full of twists and turns. … Colin Iago McCarthy does an excellent performance.” Listeners
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “Would sit in car to finish chapters! … When a book leaves me wanting more, I know I’ve hit a winner!”

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “I loved the internal repartee carried on in Jake’s head and his vulnerability, while being the tough noir PI. Very entertaining!”

Brian’s Book Blog
⭐⭐⭐⭐.5 “A thriller filled with twists and turns.”

Me Love Books
“If you are looking for a fast-paced and action-packed detective thriller that reads/sounds like a proper action movie, Secondhand Smoke is definitely a great choice.”

Erika Loves To Read
“I think this book would probably make an enjoyable movie due to the numerous action-packed scenes. P.S. This book made me wanna visit Portland!”


Smart Alec Detective Saves Woman from Boring Workout


Below is a message we received from a reader in Portland, Maine.

Dear Jake –

Once again my new year’s resolution is to up my fitness game and walk on my treadmill for an hour a day.  Yes, a whole hour – go big or go home I say.  I even got a jump on things and started the day after Christmas.  I’d forgotten just how totally boring a treadmill is, so I did some research and found this post about how audiobooks help get the best of your workouts.  Searching for exciting audiobooks (I get bored easily) I downloaded Angel’s Devil from Audible and gave it a try.  It was just what I was looking for!  Before I knew it I’d done 90 minutes of walking and just to get to the end of the chapter.  I actually looked forward to the next days workout to find out what happened next.  

Happily I found you had a second audiobook and am in the middle of that.  Really, why are you always tangling with your yoga instructor?  You have crimes to solve!  But anyway I wanted to say thanks for making my workout fun and keeping me on point.  I don’t know what I’ll do when I finish book 2 but I’m glad I found you and look forward to book three!

Janet Loomis, a new fan

Jake Brand PI on Audible   |  iTunes  |  Amazon


Review: The Girl In The Ice

The Girl In The Ice
The Girl In The Ice by Robert Bryndza
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Girl in the Ice, by Robert Bryndz, is the first novel in the Erica Foster come series. Erica is a DCI in the London police. She’s recovering from the death of her husband, also a police officer, who was killed in an ambush of a raid that she was responsible for commanding.

Seriously wounded in the raid herself, both physically and mentally, she’s recovered enough to begin to work again.

Her first case back on the job involves the murder of a beautiful socialite whose father is politically connected. Pressured by her boss, the victims father, competing officers, and her own shaky emotional state, Erica battles to find the killer in spite of opposition from all involved.

Well written and entertaining, the story keeps the reader turning pages all the way to the end. Interesting characters and believable villains help along the way.

4 stars


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Review: Crossfire Trail

Crossfire Trail
Crossfire Trail by Louis L’Amour
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

Whenever you want an old school yarn, there’s no one better to turn to then Louis L’amour. Sell described as “…the man in the shadows of the campfire”, his characters are thick with personality. His stories echo an American past as romantic as they are frightening. Men who kill, good or bad. Women who love and wilderness on the edge of being settled. In Crossfire Trail, Rafe Caradec escapes the clutches of a ship captain. A captain who relies on shanghied sailors for labor. A shipmate asks Rafe to help his family and save the ranch, on his death bed.

Faced with unfair odds and the beauty of Ann, the dead man’s daughter, there can only be one outcome. Entertainment.

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Review: The Absent One

The Absent One
The Absent One by Jussi Adler-Olsen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Absent One, written by Jussi Adler-Olsen, is the second book in the department Q series. Carl Morck is a police detective who has been relegated to a dead file department, reviewing old unsolved cases.

In this book, a group of school classmates have a history of physically attacking strangers, beating them senseless, and in some instances, killing them. Flash forward and the core of the gang are wealthy, influential and just as craven. When carl starts to make headway on an old double murder, they use their influence to try to detail him.

Well written, entertaining with intriguing characters.

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Review: Violence of Action: The Untold Stories of the 75th Ranger Regiment in the War on Terror

Violence of Action: The Untold Stories of the 75th Ranger Regiment in the War on Terror
Violence of Action: The Untold Stories of the 75th Ranger Regiment in the War on Terror by Marty Skovlund Jr.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The book Violence of Action, is a collection of stories self told by US Army rangers, and written by Marty Skovlund. It takes place primarily in Afghanistan.

Each soldier becomes an author, relating scenes of death and agony. The tone of the stories feels like professional soldiers relating details of their job like we would about our own jobs. But theirs just happens to include stark unforgiving violence at its core.

A great view into the minds of men who defend our country.

five stars

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Review: The Invention of Wings

The Invention of Wings
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd is a fictional story loosely based upon the lives of Sarah and Angelina Grimke. They were born into a wealthy plantation family in Charleston South Carolina in the early 1800’s. The Grimke family, like many of that time and place owned slaves. Sarah and Angelina abhorred the institution and became amongst the most famous, or infamous, abolitionists of the times. They became the front for the movement, primarily writing pamphlets and speaking to women’s groups. When men began to attend the public speaking events, the abolitionist movement was attacked for involving women. As a result, the movement itself was split in two due to gender bias. So Sarah and Angelina became early advocates for equal rights for women.

It is an excellent book, well written, and portraying a life for slaves that was horrific, and a life for women that was disheartening at best. Sarah loves to read books from her father’s library. She is well educated and has decided she wants to be a lawyer. Her dad, and the community refuse to allow her to pursue a professional career. And when they discover that she’s taught a slave nicknamed Handful, to read, they take all but one book away from her, depriving her of her favorite pastime.

Handful lives a torturous life. Maybe not the worse by standards of the times, but certainly that of a slave. At one point she decides to attend a newly founded all black church. The white community decides to shut it down, having all the attendees arrested. The owners of the arrested slaves are offered the chance to pay a fine to free their property. Handful’s owner, Sarah’s mother, refuses to pay. As a result, Handful is forced to labor in a prison where her foot is mangled.

Sarah is gripped with shame for not having the ability to free Handful. And Handful is gripped with cynicism that white society is so dismissive of fellow human beings. In the midst of their different races, they become friends, both horrified by the institution of slavery.

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Review: Girl in the River

Girl in the River
Girl in the River by Patricia Kullberg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Girl in the River by Patricia Kullberg is a well written book about Portland, Oregon from the late thirties into the fifties. A young Mae Rose’s mom dies from a botched abortion at the end of the depression. Having no family to help her, she moves from rural Oregon to Portland. Bad luck and dire economic times force her to make hard choices to survive.

Well written, the book provides an interesting description of Portland and some of its residents, as Mae works to not only survive but thrive.

5 stars!

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Review: The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins, is a Hitchcock type thriller. It combines human profiles with danger. The book takes the perspective of three women; Rachel, Anna, and Megan, whose lives intersect around men and two homes located along a rail line.

Rachel has become a divorced, unemployed alcoholic. She rides a train into and back from London everyday, pretending to go to work. Anna is married to Rachels ex and is frustrated by Rachels inability to leave her and her new family alone. Megan lives down the street from Anna.

Rachel’s train ride passes the two homes twice everyday. She sees things, and imagines others that entangled her in a murder investigation.

The presentation style is unique. A chapter will focus on one of the three women who will narrate. Each time they do so, they do so twice in a row, once in the morning and once in the evening. It allows each character to question their thoughts and judgements, as they work to solve their insecurities and fears.

Each of the women have secrets and flaws that drive their behavior. Each of them have a different perspective of men. And each of the men in their lives have their own motivations, fears, and anger that counter with the women.

A very enjoyable read. 4 stars.

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