SnatchedWe have a policy at that we follow without fail, until today. I guess there are exceptions to every rule. Our rule is that we don’t review any book we haven’t read, much less host a giveaway for such a book. And we basically only review fiction. Snatched by bestselling author Bruce Porter breaks both of those rules, all in one fell swoop.

I debated what to do about this book from the moment that I received it from the publisher. I honestly don’t recall the circumstances under which I received it; however, I knew something had gone awry. Even if it were fiction, it might not be the kind of fiction I normally read. That said, I know Bruce Porter’s reputation as a hard-hitting journalist and his talents as a bestselling author who exposes the truth about subjects we don’t normally like to discuss. That created a dilemma for me. I set Snatched aside while I tried to decide what to do.

What I decided to do is to host a giveaway for my advance readers copy and to provide a synopsis. I can’t do a full-fledged review because I have not read this book. It is just not my kind of book, so I didn’t even try to read it. I did, however, think that it might be a book that will appeal to some of you – hence the giveaway.

Our story begins in 1991 in Coral Gables, Florida, but you need a little background first.

Pilar grew up in Colombia as the pampered, beautiful daughter in an aristocratic family. She charmed everyone she met, and knew only too well how to use that charm to get what she wanted. She loved to live on the edge, possibly because she had never wanted for anything and/or possibly because she believed nothing bad could ever happen to her.

She was inevitably drawn to bad boys, and to increasingly more dangerous men as she grew older. Through those men, she found herself drawn further and further into the cocaine trade, and eventually into its highest levels.

It took hard work to get herself out of that life, and two failed marriages in the process. Eventually, however, she was able to lead a normal life with her two children. By the time she was forty, she was living in Boca Raton and was moving in increasingly powerful circles in South Florida – including political circles that included major players in the Democratic Party. While she was attending an elite fundraiser, her housekeeper phoned to tell her that two large men had showed up at her house and had frightened her. Pilar notified the police, who assured her that they would follow up on the suspects’ van license plate number. The whole thing left Pilar feeling very unsettled.

The DEA had found Pilar. What she didn’t know was that while she was going about her life, her second husband was making a deal with the DEA in return for a reduced prison sentence…a deal that was going to throw her right back into the lion’s den of cocaine cartels.

Soon the DEA was exerting extreme pressure to get her to infiltrate the infamous Cali, Columbia cartel. There she became the head of a massive undercover money laundering sting operation. It exposed cartel members in ways that had never been done before, and was probably the most successful drug sting operation at the time. So you’d think Pilar would be a DEA heroine, right?

Unfortunately, Pilar did such a good job at portraying a money laundering criminal that she became a target for kidnapping by a band of South American guerrillas. To add insult to injury, the U.S. government declined to pay the ransom money to get her back – dumping it all back into the hands of the DEA agents who’s been handling the undercover operation.

Can the DEA get her out before the guerrillas realize they’ve kidnapped an undercover federal agent instead of a cocaine-trade money launderer? What will happen if she’s discovered for who she really is? Pilar is caught between two very unstable and unreliable groups, neither of whom seem to care about her life one way or the other…not a good place to be (she said in a gross understatement).

So, why don’t I read books like Snatched when I read so many fiction thrillers? I read thrillers as an escape from the stress in the world around me – I look at them as puzzles to be solved. When the situations are real, it’s not so easy for me to detach and I find it actually adds to my stress levels instead of decreasing them. I do know, however, that not everyone reacts that way. I also know that Bruce Porter is renowned for his research and reporting. For those reasons, I’m offering to pay this book forward in a giveaway. I strongly suspect some of you will really enjoy reading about Pilar’s life and what happened to her.

Can’t wait to read it? Snatched is available in all formats from your favorite online bookseller. Click on the link below to get it to read immediately.

I’d love to get your comments on Snatched or Bruce Porter and/or his other work.

Our Giveaway:
One lucky reader will win an ARC (advance readers copy) of Snatched by Bruce Porter!

Giveaway Rules:
1) The deadline for entries is Saturday night, 6/4/2016, at 11:59pm EDST. No entries after that date/time will be eligible.
2) This giveaway is open to entries with U.S. mailing addresses only because we do not ship books outside of the U.S.
3) Please note: You must be at least 18 years old to enter this particular giveaway because of the nature of this book’s content.
4) You must use the Rafflecopter form. Even if leaving a comment is part of the giveaway, you must use the form in addition to leaving the comment for the comment to count as an entry.
5) If you already follow Popcorn Reads on Twitter or Linky, you must still complete that part of the Rafflecopter form for your follow to count as an entry.
6) If you do not provide a complete mailing address in the Rafflecopter form, your entry will not be eligible. We will use your mailing address to ship your book to you. Please allow 2-3 weeks for book delivery.
7) That’s it – this is an easy giveaway, so have fun and best of luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Death of a Fixer-UpperDeath at a Fixer-Upper is Book #1 in the Home Sweet Home cozy mystery series by Sarah T. Hobart. As a real estate agent, Sarah knows a thing or two about Northern California real estate and the real-life weird things that can happen during real estate transactions. She also has a great sense of humor. Those two qualities lend authenticity to this cozy mystery set in small-town coastal Northern California and make it a lot of fun to read. Of course I love Northern California’s quirky small coastal towns, so I may be just a bit biased; however, I think anyone who’s ever had any dealings with real estate is likely to relate to this story. Should Death at a Fixer-Upper be on your TBR pile?

Sam Turner and her son, Max, love their little coastal Northern California village of Arlinda. Since her divorce, she’s gotten her real estate license and she’s feeling really good about life in general. Although she’s only had her license for about five months, she knows her small town like the back of her hand and she can’t wait to help people buy or sell their homes there…she just has to figure out how to make that work.

Unfortunately Sam has a landlord a lot of us could relate to – one who could care less about her and has decided he’s going to evict her so he can do something else with his property. That’s landlord loyalty for you…oh well. Luckily, she’s found a little place to buy and is just praying escrow will close before they have to be out of the rental.

And she’s suddenly getting a lot of interest in a really old local Victorian home for sale, which is odd because it looks like it’s in awful shape. It’s one of those homes that’s been allowed to fall into disrepair and is going to need major work to be salvaged. Sam can’t imagine taking on such an extensive renovation…especially one for a house rumored to be haunted.

“But when I rounded the last turn and the once grand old house loomed into view I almost stalled the engine again. It was a three-story tumbledown structure smothered by thick vines that climbed right up to the eaves. Weathered redwood boards covered the exterior, any paint long since pulled off by relentless fingers of ivy…”

Still you never know who will get the flipping/renovation bug and want to buy an older home, and who is she to tell buyers what they should or shouldn’t want to buy. As she lines up showings, she’s optimistic that a bidding war could ensue with so much interest. Still she has to wonder why so many people seem so interested in this particular property. Why is it so special all of a sudden?

Very quickly she finds that she’s got three offers on the property before anyone has even seen or inspected it, and that is beyond weird. I mean California real estate moves at a fast pace but not that fast, especially in a small remote town far away from San Francisco and Los Angeles. Then the unthinkable happens. When she arrives at the house to show it to one of the bidders, she finds him in no condition to view the house – he’s been murdered. Well hell, that’s not good.

I don’t believe in ghosts.
So when I found the corpse I didn’t fall apart. Not then, anyway. Maybe later, after some other stuff had happened – but that’s getting ahead of myself…I admit that a chill settled on my spine: clammy fingers of fear and dread that were only natural, given the circumstances. But ghosts? I don’t think so.”

Now the police are involved, but they don’t seem to have a clue what to do to find the killer. Sam can see her badly needed commission flying out the window – not to mention that there’s a killer on the loose and it could be anyone – from one of the other bidders to a local resident to her ex-husband, who’s suddenly reappeared after 14 years.

Why is he back? What are his ties to this property? Would someone want this property so badly that they’d kill to get it and, if so, why? What the hell is going on? Looks like Sam is going to have to be the one to find out if she has any hope of clinching a deal to sell it. Just what she needs right now…not!

“When it was all over, I could have kicked myself for missing the obvious. But that’s hindsight for you. By the time I’d made sense of things, people were dead, and I was…changed. Like I said though, there’s no going back.”

I know my synopsis probably makes Sam sound a little cynical and only concerned about her commission, which is not the case. She’s actually a very compassionate and caring person, the kind of person you’d like to have as a friend and a real estate agent…and she’s between a rock and a hard place financially. She does have to be concerned about that commission…and she’s horrified that a client has been murdered on her watch. Those two things drive her to work to find out who killed him much more persistently than the police. Like most small towns everywhere, Arlinda has its share of quirky characters and empire builders – and that makes for some interesting dynamics.

Sarah T. Hobart has populated Death at a Fixer-Upper with a cast of people who anyone from a small town can easily recognize, and their quirks and foibles lead to a lot of chuckles. That coupled with a story thread with enough twists to turn into a pretzel make for one hell of a fun cozy mystery. I read it in one sitting because I was having too much fun to put it down. It transported me to the Northern California coast, one of my favorite places in the world, and provided a great popcorn read. I can’t wait to see where this series goes!

Can’t wait to read it? Death at a Fixer-Upper is available as a bargain e-book from your favorite online bookseller. Click on the book-cover link below to download it for only $2.99 to read on your Kindle, tablet, computer, or cellphone instantly!

I’d love to get your comments on Death at a Fixer-Upper, Sarah T. Hobart, and/or this review!

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Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrick Backman: Finding Yourself A Bit Late

Britt-Marie Was Here

I became an instant fan of Swedish author Fredrick Backman when I read A Man Called Ove, so I couldn’t wait to read Britt-Marie Was Here. If Ove was a curmudgeon then Britt-Marie is persnickety. This is another lovely story about breaking out of your comfort zone or, in this case, being kicked out of […]

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Admiral by Sean Danker: Danger on a Ship Stranded on a Hostile Planet


When I read the publisher’s description for Admiral, Book #1 in the Evagardian sci-fi series by Sean Danker, I was intrigued by the concept. As you can tell from this week’s reviews, I was in the mood for some classic outer-space military sci-fi reading so I snapped it up. I am so glad I did […]

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Outriders by Jay Posey: A New Masterful Military Space Thriller Series


Outriders is Book #1 in a new outer-space, military sci-fi series by Jay Posey. His name may ring a bell because we reviewed all of his novels in the dystopian, post-apocalyptic, sci-fi Duskwalker trilogy – a trilogy I absolutely loved. I can assure you that Jay has brought his unique spin to outer space in […]

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Warrior Witch by Danielle L. Jensen: A Fitting End to The Malediction Trilogy

Warrior Witch

The Malediction trilogy by Danielle L. Jensen was an eye-opener for me. If you read my review of Book #1, Stolen Songbird (link at the end of this review), you’ll learn I initially turned down that novel because I couldn’t imagine that anyone could make trolls attractive much less romantic lead material. Boy, was I […]

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