The Last Straw (Pigeon-Blood Red: Book 2) by Ed Duncan

The Last Straw (Pigeon-Blood Red Book 2)

4 Stars

Publisher: Creativia

Date of publication: November 25th, 2017

Genre: Suspense, Mystery, Thriller, Crime

Series: Pigeon-Blood Red

Pigeon-Blood Red – Book 1

The Last Straw – Book 2

Where you can find The Last Straw: Amazon

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

When a teenage girl witnesses a carjacking gone bad, she is marked for death by a crime boss with no apparent motive. A black lawyer and a white enforcer with an unlikely history forge an uneasy alliance to protect the girl from a hit man with an agenda of his own. 

After they find out that the crime boss is the father of the black teenage carjacker, Paul Elliott – lawyer and close friend of the witness’s family – begins counseling them. 

As the long-simmering feud between Rico and John D’Angelo reaches boiling point, bodies start to pile up in rapid succession… and old scores will be settled.

My review:

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I like suspense/mystery/thrillers/crime books. I like them because most of the time they can get my pulse running. Also, I am unable to put the book down. That was the case with The Last Straw. This book had me hooked. You know a book is good when you start dreaming about the characters.

As much as I liked The Last Straw, I felt lost at times while reading it. I didn’t understand the connection between Rico and Paul until Paul explained it. I don’t like being in the dark about backstories. I don’t like starting a book and thinking to myself “What are they talking about? What happened?” Unfortunately, that happened in this book. So, if you are to read The Last Straw, you need to read Pigeon-Blood Red first.

I thought the characters were well written. They were 3D and had depth to them. I liked Rico. He was an uneasy anti-hero. He came across as first as an unfeeling killer but as I read the book, he definitely had feelings. He had a strong moral compass. He had no problem killing people but drew the line at killing children. He didn’t have any friends yet he felt compelled to protect Paul against a rival hitman. If there is a 3rd book, I can’t wait to see where the author takes his character.

I didn’t get that same sense of development in Paul. I didn’t feel the connection to him that I felt to Rico. I do think that Paul wouldn’t want to be a person to tick off. That’s for sure. Because he can definitely take care of himself. The end of the book showcased that perfectly.

The Last Straw’s plot was intriguing. Teenaged girl witnesses a botched carjacking. The carjacker is the illegitimate son of a notorious crime boss. She is marked for death but the first attempt takes out her father instead. Paul is determined to protect her from whoever is killing her. Rico is on the hunt for the person who attacked his escort girlfriend when his boss pulls him aside and asks him to take a job. The job: To take out a girl who will be testifying at the murder trial of his son. Rico passes, only to be brought back into it when he realizes that the girl’s protector is Paul. Determined to protect Paul and the girl from the hitman contracted, Rico has to go against a hitman who hates him. And one who is willing to do whatever it takes to finish the hit and take Rico down. Can Rico thwart him?

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This book is bloody. So, if you don’t like violence and blood in a book, don’t read it. I liked it because it was a no holds bars books. It didn’t hold back or pussyfoot around things. Instead, it was in your face and made you think about things. It also made me value the boring life that I live…haha. I also did wonder at one point in the book how the police were dealing with all the bodies.

The secondary characters definitely made the book. But the one that stands out for me was Beverly. She loved her son but she also wanted to see justice done. She went out of her way to make sure that the girl wasn’t going to be touched by her son’s father (which was a lie). She made herself into something from nothing. A strong woman who tried to instill right from wrong in her only child. I liked her.

D’Angelo was freaking nuts. When it was revealed why he hated Rico, I laughed. All that hatred over a woman….smh. He held onto that hatred like a dog with a bone. I could see that he was becoming unhinged towards the end of the book. I did wonder if he was going to go after Rico or try to harm Rico’s charges (can’t say, friends, because Rico didn’t have any). You have to read the book to what he does. I will say that he deserved what was coming to him at the end of the book.

Speaking of the end of the book, it was an explosive bloody end. There were a lot of deaths. Some deserved, some not. But it was the end of the book that put a smile on my face. A classy way to end the book!!!

What I liked about The Last Straw:

A) Well written characters

B) Intriguing plotline

C) Secondary characters that made the book

What I disliked about The Last Straw:

A) Need to read book 1 first

B) Paul’s character wasn’t as developed as Rico’s was

C) D’Angelo

I gave The Last Straw a 4-star rating. This book was a great read with well-developed characters. But you do need to read book 1 first to understand the relationships between Rico and Paul.

I would give The Last Straw an Adult rating. There is sex. Not explicit but it is there. There is graphic violence. There is language. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I would reread The Last Straw. I would also recommend this book to family and friends.

I would like to thank Kelsey from BookPublicityServices for allowing me to read and review The Last Straw.

All opinions stated in this review of The Last Straw are mine.

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**

WWW Wednesday: August 15th, 2018

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WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted bySam at Taking on a World of Wars. So here what I have read/are reading/will be reading.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Last week was a whirlwind. I had a mammogram (my annual) and I had an ultrasound done on my thyroid. Long story short, I have Hashimoto’s Disease and my thyroid was enlarged. My Dr wanted to make sure that it was alright. And it was. Which was a huge relief. I also started back to school shopping last week. Mr. Z’s shopping is halfway done. I won’t find out what is on Miss B’s list until we go to the open house next Friday. They start school on Monday. So yeah, cutting it close. Miss R’s list is very easy and I will be picking up this week. Also, if you don’t see much posts from me, BFA in WoW is now live. So yeah….lol.


What I am currently reading:

Carbon Replacements (The McAllister Justice Series #4)

(click on the picture for Amazon link)

The killer held a knife to her throat—the ultimate decision locked within a dark and deviant gaze.

Determined and dedicated, forensic pathologist Remie Tallin validates her talent by discerning a victim’s last moments of life. Returning to Portland signified her new beginning where a psychopathic stalker designates her a pawn in a seductive game of intrigue. 

The lines between predator and prey blur in hunting a medical genius bent on resetting the laws of nature. Evidence has never failed to point Remie in the right direction, yet conflicting discoveries mock the legal system and defy the scientific arena for clarification.

Detective McAllister’s return from leave includes a new assignment along with a partner well versed in subtle sarcasm and innuendos. Discovering the new medical examiner unconscious at the scene of a grisly murder forces him to unite with his brothers against a world of chaos where reality shifts according to a psychopath’s desire.

I started Carbon Replacements late last night. So far I like it. Romantic thrillers are among some of my favorite books to read. Hopefully, it continues to be good. Carbon Replacements will not be published until 8-19-18. So be on the lookout for my review on that date.


What I finished reading:

Foundryside (Founders, #1)

(click on the picture for Amazon link)

In a city that runs on industrialized magic, a secret war will be fought to overwrite reality itself–the first in a dazzling new fantasy series from City of Stairs author Robert Jackson Bennett. 

Sancia Grado is a thief, and a damn good one. And her latest target, a heavily guarded warehouse on Tevanne’s docks, is nothing her unique abilities can’t handle. 
 
But unbeknownst to her, Sancia’s been sent to steal an artifact of unimaginable power, an object that could revolutionize the magical technology known as scriving. The Merchant Houses who control this magic–the art of using coded commands to imbue everyday objects with sentience–have already used it to transform Tevanne into a vast, remorseless capitalist machine. But if they can unlock the artifact’s secrets, they will rewrite the world itself to suit their aims. 
 
Now someone in those Houses wants Sancia dead, and the artifact for themselves. And in the city of Tevanne, there’s nobody with the power to stop them. 
 
To have a chance at surviving—and at stopping the deadly transformation that’s under way—Sancia will have to marshal unlikely allies, learn to harness the artifact’s power for herself, and undergo her own transformation, one that will turn her into something she could never have imagined.

I loved this book. It is an Italian based dark fantasy/steampunk that was fantastic. I cannot even begin to tell you all how much I liked this book. If you like dark fantasy mixed with steampunk, pick this book up when it is published. Publication date is August 21st, 2018. Be on the lookout for my review then.


What I am reading next (click on the pictures for Amazon links):

Strange CircumstancesMaybe for You (Whiskey and Weddings, #3)The Breakup (The Jordan Brothers)Don't Look Back (Unbroken Heroes, #6)Second Chance at Two Love LaneCowboy, Cross My Heart (Heart of Texas, #2)

Strange Circumstances: I have reviewed Weston Kincaide’s books before. When he asked me if I would like to review an anthology, I said yes. Be on the lookout for my review within the next couple of weeks

Maybe For You: The publisher approached me to review Maybe For You. I accepted because I liked the blurb. I hope the book lives up to it. Maybe For You will be published August 28th. Be on the lookout for my review then.

The Breakup: I am looking forward to reading this book. I had read The Hookup and wondered when Bella and Christian were getting their story. The book will be published on August 28th. Be on the lookout for my review then.

Cowboy, Cross My Heart: I am normally not a fan of cowboy/Western romances. But when the publisher approached me to review this book, I decided to take a chance. Plus, I liked the cover…lol. This book is set to be published August 28th, 2018. Look for my review then.

Don’t Look Back: I was intrigued by the blurb when the publisher sent me the request to review email. Black Ops and romance? Sign me up. This book is set to be published August 28th, 2018. Be on the lookout for my review then.

Second Chance at Two Love Lane: I almost passed on this book when the publisher contacted me. I don’t like matchmaker romances. But, I decided to give it a chance. This book is set to be published August 28th, 2018. Be on the lookout for my review then.


So that’s it. Be on the lookout for the reviews of all these books in the near future.

Have you read any of these books?

Let me know what you thought of them!!

Sister of Mine by Laurie Petrou

Sister of Mine

3.5 Stars

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Date of publication: August 7th, 2018

Genre: Thriller, suspense, mystery

Where you can find Sister of Mine: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Book Synopsis (from Amazon):

Penny and Hattie are sisters in a small town, bound tight to the point of knots. They share a secret they cannot escape, even while it pulls them apart. One night, a match is lit, and Penny’s terrible husband is killed – a marriage going up in flames, and offering the potential of a new life. The sisters retreat into their family home – a house of secrets and memories – and try to live in the shadow of what they put in motion. But Penny’s husband is not the only thing they are hiding, from the outside world and from each other. Under a cloud of long-held resentments, sibling rivalry, and debts unpaid, the bonds of sisterhood begin to crack. How long will Penny and Hattie demand the unthinkable of each other? How often will they say, “You owe me,” and when will it ever be enough? 

My review:

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Sister of Mine had a complex plotline. Penny and Hattie are sisters who are living in a small town. They closer than close due to a secret that they share. That secret is a drain on their relationship. Their relationship, strained, gets more strained when Jameson comes into the picture. When Penny does the unthinkable one drunken night, that the bond breaks. Hattie descends into mental illness to escape and Penny is left picking up the pieces. But, when the police look into Penny’s husband death, new questions arise. What happened that night? And who lit the match? The answers to those questions test the remaining strands of Penny and Hattie’s bond.

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I didn’t like Penny during the first half of the book. She rubbed me the wrong way. Her lack of grief over her husband’s death struck me as odd. Even with the explanation of what he did to her, she came across as flat. Almost emotionless when retelling it. It rubbed me the wrong way. So, when she stepped away to allow Hattie to have her relationship with Jameson, I was a little skeptical. The last half of the book, though, my dislike turned into begrudging admiration. She came back to pick up the pieces when Hattie came apart.

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I felt bad for Hattie. Up until Penny went to school, she had to deal with Penny telling her how she was to blame for her father leaving. Then she was to blame for their mother dying. No wonder she had mental health issues!!! But my pity for her evaporated in the middle of the book. At that point, she lost her damn mind. She made poor decisions and those decisions affected everyone around her.

The mystery angle of the book was fantastically written. As was the suspense.

I did have an issue with the dropped storylines. Mainly the one about Penny and Hattie’s father. There was no closure. I was left wondering what happened to him.

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I am not going to get into the rest of the book. I will say that I was surprised by the huge twist at the end of the book. I was thinking one thing and was left with a huge WTF moment when the secret was revealed. I was also surprised by what that person did and where they ended up.

What I liked about Sister of Mine:

A) Penny and Hattie’s relationship

B) The mystery angle of the book

C) the twist at the end of the book

What I disliked about Sister of Mine:

A) Penny and Hattie’s relationship

B) Hattie losing her damn mind the last half of the book

C) Dropped storylines

I gave Sister of Mine a rating of 3.5 stars. I didn’t like Penny and Hattie’s relationship. I also didn’t like Hattie losing her damn mind in the middle of the book. But, what I didn’t like was the dropped/unfinished storylines. That is why Sister of Mine got a 3.5  instead of a 5-star rating. I did like Penny and Hattie’s relationship at the beginning of the book. The relationship after their childhood but before Jameson. I also loved the mystery angle of the book. Which goes with the huge twist at the end of the book.

I gave Sister of Mine an Adult rating. There is sex but not explicit. There is violence. There is language. I would suggest that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I am on the fence about rereading Sister of Mine. I am also on the fence about recommending it to family and friends.

I would like to thank Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review Sister of Mine.

All opinions stated in this review of Sister of Mine are mine.

**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**

Throwback Thursday: August 9th, 2018

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I’ve decided to do Throwback Thursday but blog style. I am going to select a book I have read before and see if I would still read it.

This week’s Throwback Thursday is a horror/short story.

Bursting with Confidence

click on the picture for Amazon link.

Haley and Abigail are best friends.Abigail is babysitting a little boy named Peter Larsen at an old mansion. She calls Haley and ask her to visit.
Haley visits the Larsen mansion.
After Haley meets Peter, strange things start to happen. Soon, Haley and Abigail learn a few of the Larsen mansion’s dark secrets.

 

Other places you can find Bursting with Confidence: Only on Amazon


 

Did I like Bursting with Confidence when I first read it? Yes. I normally don’t like short stories but this one was interesting.

Would I read Bursting with Confidence now? Maybe. I would have to be in the mood to read it.

How many stars did I give Bursting with Confidence when I first read it? 4 stars

How many stars would I give Bursting with Confidence now? No clue. I would have to reread the book.

Age I read Bursting with Confidence? I think I was in my mid-30’s.

The Middleman by Olen Steinhauer

The Middleman

2 Stars

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books

Date of publication: August 7th, 2018

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense

Where you can find The Middleman: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

New York Times bestselling author Olen Steinhauer’s next sweeping espionage novel traces the rise and fall of a domestic left-wing terrorist group. Told from the individual perspectives of an FBI agent, an undercover agent within the group, a convert to the terrorist organization, and a writer on the edges of the whole affair, this is another tightly wound thriller, and an intimate exploration of the people behind the politics, from a master of suspense.

My review:

I made a mistake when I got The Middleman from NetGalley. I wasn’t paying attention, thought I hit the Read Now button for another book and ended up with this one instead. I do not like political/espionage thrillers. I have read them, even reviewed them, in the past. I can’t get into the books. So, I wasn’t very happy when I realized what I did. But, I decided to suck it up.

I couldn’t get into the book. I struggled to finish it. If I didn’t have a personal goal of not DNF’ing a book, then it would have been DNF’d and forgotten about. But, I stuck it out. It took me 4 nights to finish this book. 4 torturous nights of me falling asleep while reading. That is something I rarely do.

I did like the plot. It was something that I could see happening in real life. 400 young people disappearing all at once. All 400 have traces to a domestic terrorist group. Told from 4 different POV’s, this should have been a riveting book. Instead, I ended up getting bored with the book halfway through. If the author had stuck with one or two POV’s, then it would have worked. But with 4 different ones. Well, I had a hard time keeping track of everything. Even with the chapters marked.

I couldn’t connect with any of the characters. It drove me nuts because I need to have at least 1 connection in the book. I didn’t have any.

I did feel that the book did fit in with the mystery genre pretty well. The story with the 2nd in command of the terrorist group was well-played out. I didn’t see him being who he was until it was explained at the end. As for the thriller genre, not so much. I kept losing attention, which isn’t good in a thriller. You need to be sucked into a thriller book and then spit out at the end feeling. The Middleman didn’t do that. The same thing goes for suspense. The book should have been fast-paced right from the start. Instead, it started off slowly. It did pick up steam by the middle of the book, only to slow down by the end of the book. Very frustrating to read.

I do feel that there was a huge hole in the plotline in the middle of the book. Take for instance Rachel being in the hospital. I had to reread the chapters leading up to her being injured for any mention of her getting hurt. There was nothing. But suddenly, she was on medical leave from a bad injury. Made 100% no sense to me. There are a few more examples but I don’t want to make a novel out of my review.

There was also some lag in the plotline. One right around Rachel’s injury. The other was when Kevin was in Europe, chasing leads all over the place. The author recovered very well but still.

The end of The Middleman was confusing. Not in the sense how it ended. I agreed with the explanations that Rachel got about the case. It was the ending involving another key character. I kind of shook my head and wondered “Why was she there? How did she get there?” I was also left wondering if that group was going to be reborn. Something about what the men were talking about made me wonder that. There were also some unfinished storylines that made me go “Huh“. I hate it when storylines are left unfinished. I hate it even more when it was attached to a major storyline. No closure makes me cranky.

Why I rated The Middleman 2 stars. There were huge holes in the plotline mid-book. There were dropped storylines. There were too many POV’s. There were some things that I did like about The Middleman. I did like the plot. I felt that the mystery angle of the book was well written.

What I liked about The Middleman (to recap):

A) The plot

B) The mystery angle of the book was well written.

What I disliked about The Middleman (to recap):

A) Huge holes in the plotline

B) Dropped storyline

C) Too many POV’s

I would give The Middleman an Adult rating. There is no sex. There is graphic violence. There is language. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I would not reread The Middleman. I would not recommend this book to family and friends.

I would like to thank St. Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books, and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review The Middleman.

All opinions stated in this review of The Middleman are mine.

**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**

Diana Christmas by F.R. Jameson

Diana Christmas

4 Stars

Publisher: 

Date of publication: March 21st, 2018

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Noir

Where you can find Diana Christmas: Amazon

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

In 1959, Diana Christmas – the beautiful, vivacious redhead – was a major star in Britain. It was her moment. She was on the cusp of making it big in Hollywood. Then, she simply walked away from the limelight. Vanished from an industry that adored her. 

Twenty years later, Michael, a young film journalist, arrives at her suburban home and discovers the still vibrant and alluring Diana. Between her sheets, he hears for the first time the reason for her disappearance – a tale of coercion, shame, and blackmail. 

To his shock, he learns that those who destroyed her career and ruined her life still have their claws in her. 

Totally smitten, he promises to help her. But Michael soon finds that the past doesn’t let go easily… 

Diana Christmas – A new thriller of desire and betrayal from F.R. Jameson.

My review:

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Thriller Noir is a newer genre for me to read and review. While I have heard of it, I have seen thriller noir films and I was intrigued by a book form of the movies I have seen. I was glad that I accepted to request to review Diana Christmas. This book was an homage to the black and white thriller noir films that I watched as a child/teen.

Diana Christmas was a vivacious redhead who was about to make it big in the late 50’s Hollywood when she walked away from it all. She vanished. 20 years later, in the late 70’s, Michael tracks her down. An aspiring film journalist, he is thrilled at the chance to meet and interview Diana. He did not expect to end up in bed with her. He also did not expect for her to reveal the true reasons why she walked away from it all or that she is still being blackmailed. Michael, believing he is in love, decides to take it upon himself to help Diana get her blackmailers off her back. But Diana Christmas is not what she seems.

season 2 netflix GIF by Gilmore Girls

Michael was one of the most naïve characters that I have read to date. I liked him but I wanted to shake some sense into him. He put himself into situations that made me mentally shake my head and go “Why would you do that“. Don’t even get me started on his relationship with Diana. That relationship was doomed from the start. He fell in love with her too quickly and she, well, she was not a very nice person to him. Actually, that is an understatement. She cost him everything.

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I didn’t like Diana from the minute she was introduced in the book. She saw that Michael was this naïve young man who actually knew who she was and decided to use him. I went from not liking her to hating her in the middle of the book. What she put Michael through was despicable. I was happy when she got what was coming to her at the end of the book. She deserved everything that happened to her.

The ending of Diana Christmas wasn’t a happy one. It was genius of the author to end the book in that way. It was full of regret, self-loathing and a slight undercurrent of bitterness. Which was a perfect ending for this book.

What I liked about Diana Christmas:

A) It was a new genre for me to read

B) Michael

C) The ending. Refreshing to read a book where everything wasn’t ended happily

What I disliked about Diana Christmas:

A) Diana.

B) Michael (yes, I liked and disliked him)

C) Almost too fast-moving for a book

I would give Diana Christmas an Adult rating. There is sex. There is language. There is violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I would recommend Diana Christmas to family and friends. I would also reread this book.

I would like to thank the author for allowing me to read and review Diana Christmas.

All opinions stated in this review of Diana Christmas are mine.

**I received a free copy of this book and volunteered to review it**

The Third Step by William Lobb

The Third Step

4 Stars

Publisher: Gatekeeper Press

Date of publication: November 3rd, 2017

Genre: Thriller, Suspense

Where you can find The Third Step: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

Dark, gritty, and riddled with back alley characters, The Third Step is one man’s journey into the black recesses of his own soul… 
Meet Frankie, a young, disaffected amateur boxer, really more of a punching bag, a drunk, and a drug addict. He is a loser at love, except for his relationship with his grandma, who, rumor has it, is a white witch. She, along with a handful of others, serve as his moral compass. 

Frankie fights a lifelong struggle to find an understanding of the creator of the universe, not the poisoned caricature painted by the church and the “holy” people who seem to torment him. 

His journey takes him from the East Coast down to New Orleans to face confrontations with his demons, both real and imagined. Along the way, the story is littered with tales of drug smuggling, murder, an affair with a woman who may be the devil herself, and an ultimate quest for revenge. 

Frankie comes to terms with his addictions, but his search for a deeper understanding of this God entity and his need to connect with his soul could be his ultimate addiction, one that may follow him beyond the grave…

My Review:

The Third Step is a raw, gritty book that follows a young man as he deals with addiction, failed relationships, and a struggle with religion. Frankie does questionable things with his life. Things that include drug smuggling, murder, being involved with a girl who is disturbed and revenge. As Frankie starts spiraling out of control, he heads to New Orleans. It is there that he finds the strength to deal with his demons head-on.

Frankie was not a likable character and I am not going to pretend to like him. He did some despicable things in the book. Awful things. But, there were moments where you could see what type of person he could have been. That is what made this book so compelling and what kept me reading it.

Like I mentioned above, this is a raw, gritty book. If you are looking for a book that has a happily ever after, this book is not it. If you are looking for a book where the main character realizes that he needs to turn his life around to better himself, again not the book. This is the book to read if you are looking for a book that is based in reality. This is also a book that doesn’t shy away from anything.

I didn’t like The Third Step. But it was a compelling read and I had to finish it. I had to find out what happened to Frankie. It drew me in.

Now, why did I give The Third Step a 4-star rating if I didn’t like the book? Like I mentioned, the book was a compelling read. It was also very well written. Frankie’s angst over everything came across very clearly.

The end of the book bothered me. It wasn’t what I expected.

I am not going to do a like/dislike section because I was so conflicted.

I would give The Third Step an Adult rating. There is sex. There is violence. There is language. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I would reread The Third Step. I would also recommend this book to family and friends.

I would like to thank the author for allowing me to read and review The Third Step.

All opinions stated in this review of The Third Step are mine.

**I received a free copy of this book and volunteered to review it**

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