Book Reviews by Mae Clair: Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon #HistoricalFiction #Hindenburg

Striped kitten lying on open book, eyeglasses resting on pages. Book and kitten on white blanket

Recently, a brick and mortar bookstore closed up shop in my area. A discount store that sold new, overstock hardbacks and paperbacks, the place hadn’t been in business that long. Word is a larger retailer expressed interest in the space, along with the two stores on either side, so the outlet center didn’t renew the leases. I haven’t heard what will be taking over all three spaces, but was saddened to see the bookstore go. Before closing their doors, they had a blow-out sale—paperbacks for $1.00 and hardbacks for $2.00. I bought armloads (as if I don’t already have enough to read).

I couldn’t wait to dive into Flight of Dreams, a fictional account of the Hindenburg disaster. Much like the Titanic, I think people are drawn to exploring the tragedy because it’s so mind-boggling. The Hindenburg was meant to usher in a new age of air travel, but its destruction effectively brought an end to the era of the dirigible. If you’re a fan of historical fiction, I highly recommend this stunning novel which masterfully transports you to an earlier age.

NOTE: The Amazon link at the end of the review connects to the Kindle version which has a different cover. I love the hardback cover so much, I couldn’t resist using that in my post.

Black and white image of the Hindenburg exploding into flames at its mooring mast in Lakehurst, NJ
Sam Shere (1905–1982), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Zeppelin the Hindenburg on fire at the mooring mast of Lakehurst (United States of America) 6 May 1937. Ballast water is thrown down. Exit airships.

book cover for Flight of Dreams shows Hindenburg in flight above city with factories, bridge, waterways, tall buildings

FLIGHT OF DREAMS
by Ariel Lawhon

BLURB:
On the evening of May 3rd, 1937, ninety-seven people board the Hindenburg for its final, doomed flight to Lakehurst, New Jersey. Among them are a frightened stewardess who is not what she seems; the steadfast navigator determined to win her heart; a naive cabin boy eager to earn a permanent spot on the world’s largest airship; an impetuous journalist who has been blacklisted in her native Germany; and an enigmatic American businessman with a score to settle. Over the course of three hazy, champagne-soaked days their lies, fears, agendas, and hopes for the future are revealed.
 
Flight of Dreams is a fiercely intimate portrait of the real people on board the last flight of the Hindenburg. Behind them is the gathering storm in Europe and before them is looming disaster. But for the moment they float over the Atlantic, unaware of the inexorable, tragic fate that awaits them.

Brilliantly exploring one of the most enduring mysteries of the twentieth century, Flight of Dreams is that rare novel with spellbinding plotting that keeps you guessing till the last page and breathtaking emotional intensity that stays with you long after.


Kindle cover for Flight of Dreams shows woman in foreground, sepia-tone drawings of air ship and air balloons in background
Kindle Cover

MY REVIEW:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Although a fictional account of the Hindenburg disaster, the author of Flight of Dreams uses actual passengers and crew members on the ill-fated zeppelin to tell the story of its destruction. Chapters alternate between the navigator, the cabin boy, the stewardess (the first female attendant on a zeppelin), a journalist, and an American passenger. There are other non-POV characters who populate the story—including vaudeville performer, Joseph Spah—all of whom breathe life into this amazing tale, and all of whom were either actual passengers or crew. Of the 97 people on the fateful flight, 62 survived.

Ariel Lawhon turns a deft lens on the behemoth air ship and the era in which it graced the skies. The pages are soaked with the nuances of history, the shadow of coming war, and interpersonal relationships. Within the pages you’ll find intrigue that often plays out like a chess match as the hidden agendas of various characters overlap.

The chapters are fairly short, which keeps the plot moving at a steady pace. I liked the way each chapter immediately picks up on the one before it, despite a change in POV. Ending chapters are clipped dramatically short to generate maximum tension.

From the start, the reader knows the Hindenburg is slated for disaster, but seeing how the mammoth dirigible reaches that point keeps suspense simmering just below boil throughout. I loved the descriptions and details of time spent on the air ship. Much like the Titanic, the crash of the Hindenburg—which brought the age of the dirigible to an end—remains a fixation for many. Keep in mind this is a novel, and a fictional account of what might have happened, but it is exceptionally well written. The moment I finished the book, I began Googling the passenger and crew list to learn more. I highly recommend this novel to anyone who has an interest in the Hindenburg, the dirigible era, or who simply enjoys good historical fiction.

AMAZON LINK

New Release: Good Liniment by C. S. Boyack #superherofantasy #urbanfantasy #lizzieandthehat #writingcommunity @Virgilante

red quill pen on a piece of old parchment paper, with an ink well with words Welcome Guest in script

Hello, and happy Thursday. My guest today is good friend and Story Empire colleague, Craig Boyack, here to talk about his latest Lizzie and the Hat release. I’ve read all of these novellas and thoroughly enjoyed them all. After you check out Craig’s post, be sure to take a gander at my review for Good Liniment listed at the end. And now, here’s Craig…


Thanks for letting me borrow your space again, Mae. I’m here to talk about Good Liniment. This is the newest entry into The Hat Series. Remember, this series consists of short novels that can be read in a single afternoon. They’re also stand-alone stories, so you can start anywhere you like without feeling lost. Maybe somewhere like Good Liniment.

I have my spokesmodel, Lisa Burton, out touring around with her posters, and those always lead to a few clicks. That leaves me to talk about the craft elements of my stories.

One thing I strive for is to avoid low hanging fruit. I’m not saying I haven’t used zombies or vampires in my stories, but I try to make them different somehow. Those who know about Kevin the vampire will understand that he’s not a sparkly and romantic hunk of a guy.

Whenever I can, I try to come up with something new. Speculative fiction has enough dragon riders, schools for the magically gifted, and others. This brings me to creatures I created for this story; bog trogs.

A bog trog is a magical creature about one story tall. They’re amphibious predators who live underground. Inside their gut, they produce the most powerful magical element of all, magical ambergris.

One of my new characters, Cyrus Yoder, makes a living by harvesting the occasional bog trog then selling ambergris to members of the magical community. Finding a creature that lives underground is no mean trick.

Cyrus is acutely aware of herd management, and only harvests one every few years to replenish his stock. Otherwise, he monitors their locations using a sequence of archaic tools and notebooks to determine when they might move again.

He has to wait until one of the trogs relocates to gain access to them. Bog trogs cause sinkholes when they move, so it’s not a very safe battleground when the time comes. They’re also not above eating him.

Good Liniment happens at a time when Cyrus is out of ambergris and desperate to restock his supply. Even the cult that’s trying to kill off witches won’t keep him home when one of the creatures decides to relocate.

I try to be peripherally aware of many things. Sometimes they come together in strange but wonderful ways. A news bit about sinkholes, a bit about finding ambergris washed up on the shore and what it’s worth, then one day a bog trog shows up at the writing cabin. I keep notes and bookmark interesting tales I come across online. I also use Pinterest as a great visual resource that helps me remember items.

If you would like to go hunting for a magical creature that has no problem eating you, using nothing more than a spear on unstable ground, then part of Good Liniment might appeal to you. Oh, and Cyrus does it all while someone else is trying to kill him simply for being a witch.

book cover with imposing four-story gothic looking building against night sky

BLURB:
Someone is murdering members of the local witches coven. They turn to Lizzie and the hat for their unique skills that might help eliminate the killers.

A religious zealot might be a monster, but is still a human being. This task isn’t the same as staking vampires or shooting zombies. It isn’t the usual project Lizzie takes on for her night work.

This all takes place during a recovery period for Lizzie. She needs to keep her cover band together and find a new way of getting them gigs. More bands and less venues are making finances tight. The hat didn’t make things easier during her absence, by spreading rumors about why she took her sabbatical.

Someone killing others over a point of view insults Lizzie’s sensibilities. She has secrets to keep. Her employers have secrets, too. It doesn’t make for a comfortable working environment, but she agrees to do what she can.

Convincing her strong willed employers to stay indoors during all this poses another problem. Can she keep them alive long enough to finish her task?

Good Liniment is full of magic, magical creatures, and an entire underground community living amongst us.

The Hat Series consists of short novels that can be read in a single afternoon. They’re full of snarky dark humor and can be easily read out of order.

PURCHASE GOOD LINIMENT
SERIES LINK

bio box for author, C.S. Boyack

Connect with Craig at the following haunts:
Blog | My Novels | Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook | Pinterest | BookBub


Bog trogs, sinkholes, magical ambergris—Craig is at his usual imaginative best with his latest Hat story. Be sure to hop over to Amazon and ONE-CLICK your copy. Before you go, however, here is my review of this entertaining story!


Another good entry into The Hat series, Good Liniment has Lizzie and the hat coming to the aid of a coven of witches… more precisely, they’re hired to find a killer who murdered one of the coven and is looking to up the score.

The first order of business is getting Lizzie and the Hat together again, given the way the previous novella ended. Boyack does that quickly and efficiently, while providing a glimpse into Lizzie’s family background. There are also several new characters, most of the supernatural variety.

My favorite is “Noodles” a quasi pet-like creature belonging to Cyrus Yoder, a witch and key player in this story. As usual, Boyack’s imagination runs wild with the variety of witches he dreams up, and an amusing foray to a comic con.

There’s plenty of adventure, cameos from past characters (Kevin the vampire, Joe Yoder the cop, and a surprise guest). More music from Lizzie and the Pythons, snark from the Hat, sightings of Hellpox, and a personal favorite of mine—forays into Night Bump Radio. But there are also tense moments, and a hard hit for Lizzie (you’ll have to read the book to discover what that’s all about).

A fun and imaginative tale with a universe that just keeps growing!

Book Reviews by Mae Clair: The Prince and the Prodigal by Jill Eileen Smith @JillEileenSmith #Biblicalfiction #OldTestamentFiction #HistoricalFiction

Striped kitten lying on open book, eyeglasses resting on pages. Book and kitten on white blanket

I have a number of book reviews to catch up on, but I so enjoyed my most recent read, I couldn’t resist bumping it to the top of the list. The Biblical account of Joseph’s life has always ranked among my favorite of the Old Testament (David is a close second), but strangely, there are few offerings. I pre-ordered this book the moment I saw it, and hated for it to end. One of those books where you want to reach the end, but you don’t because then the story is finished. You know what I mean, right?


Book cover for The Prince and the Prodigal shows profile of young man in Egyptian dress from shoulders up, sunset and pyramid in background

THE PRINCE AND THE PRODIGAL
BY Jill Eileen Smith


BLURB:
Joseph is the pampered favorite son of the patriarch Jacob. His older brothers, deeply resentful of his status in the family, take advantage of the chance to get rid of him, selling him to slave traders and deceiving their father about his fate. It seems like their troubles are over. But for Joseph and older brother Judah, they are just beginning.

While Joseph is accused of rape and imprisoned, Judah attempts to flee the memory of his complicity in the betrayal of his younger brother. After decades apart, the brothers will come face-to-face in a stunning role reversal that sees Joseph in a position of great power while Judah begs for mercy. Will forgiveness or vengeance win the day?

Bestselling and award-winning author Jill Eileen Smith brings her considerable research and imaginative skills to bear in this vivid retelling of one of the most popular stories found in Scripture–a story of jealousy, betrayal, and a reconciliation that only God could bring about.


Rating: 5 out of 5.

MY REVIEW:
For a long time, I’ve looked for a novel about Joseph, my favorite person from the Old Testament, but there are few to be found. I was therefore ecstatic when I learned about the release of The Prince and the Prodigal, and immediately placed it on pre-order. The book is everything I’d hoped it would be and more.

Anyone familiar with the Old Testament knows the animosity Joseph’s eleven brothers felt for him as the first son of Rachel and the favored firstborn of Jacob. Not everyone, however, may realize the role Judah played in Joseph’s being sold into slavery, or the guilt Leah’s fourth-born surely carried afterward for years. Smith uses this as the basis for his splitting off to start his own tribe.

Joseph’s story is shown side-by-side with Judah’s, revealing the tribulations and growth of both men—as Joseph goes from slave to ruler of all Egypt, second only to Pharaoh, and Judah learns to return to God only after years of strife within his own family. The story of Tamar and Judah is covered in detail (Tamar is one of only four women mentioned in the lineage of Jesus according to the Gospel of Matthew).

While Dinah’s backstory with Shechem is hinted at, the events are set before The Prince and the Prodigal takes place, but Dinah (Jacob’s only daughter) is also a POV character.

From the dusty tents of Jacob to the confinement of Pharaoh’s prison and the lavish palaces and gardens of Egypt, scenes are painted with vivid detail. Chapters are short and keep the action moving forward at a brisk but engaging pace. The people who populate the narrative (both historical and fictional) are given depth that draws the reader into the struggles they face, both spiritual and physical. I loved the way Joseph and Judah are portrayed, and as the two female POV characters, Dinah and Tamar are equally well defined.

This is a story of family. Of brotherhood, forgiveness, and redemption. Strength in the face of adversity, healing, and most of all, the belief that God is ever faithful and will deliver. Old Testament fiction is one of my favorite genres. I rank this book as a favorite, not only in the genre, but among my favorite reads of all time. I will certainly go back and read this again. A superb retelling of Joseph’s story and one I highly recommended.

PURCHASE FROM AMAZON

Murder They Wrote #FreeEbook #ShortStories #Anthology #Mysteries #WritingCommunity

Book banner ad for Murder They Wrote shows ebook lying on sweater, old watch nearby

Murder They Wrote is FREE through Saturday, 2/26

I’m pleased to have my short story, Winter Reckoning, among the tales in this anthology. A straight mystery set in Medieval England (no supernatural elements or the cryptids I favor), the story takes place at a holiday gathering in a snow-bound castle. Did I mention there’s a body, scheming nobles, plenty of suspects, and a killer to identify?

I hope you’ll join in the sleuthing! 🙂

BLURB:
Murder comes in 7 different genres. By 7 different authors.

Are you a fan of courtroom drama? In the anthology’s first story, Abraham Lincoln defends a friend’s son against a charge of murder. 

For lovers of speculative fiction, Jason Fogg dissolves into mist to sneak through open windows and snoop for clues. 

Book cover shows two figures in black silhouette in an empty room with large windows and curtains behind, gunman shooting victim in back

How about a cozy? Jazzi, Jerod, and Ansel discover a dead body while renovating a kitchen, dining room, and half bath. 

Have a craving for a Regency? Lord Peregrine and his wife, Elizabeth, use their sharp minds and quick wit to solve a murder at a garden party. 

Need a bit of literary fiction? A young, lonely widow must deal with the theft of a valuable butterfly collection. 

And what about a little psychological horror? Twin sisters discover that their attic is haunted by not one, but two ghosts. 

Last, but never least, the anthology concludes with a historical mystery. A young, newly married knight is accused of murdering his obnoxious host at a holiday gathering in his castle.


Murder They Wrote offers a variety of clever tales in which there are clues to be found, red herrings to avoid, and villains to unmask. And because each short story is a complete mystery, you can engage your detective skills a little at a time, or all at once as your mood dictates.

I’ve closed comments on this post, but hope you’ll. . .

GRAB A COPY FROM AMAZON

Mae Clair’s Top 10 Reads of 2021: One Through Five

smart cat sits near a stack of books on a white background

Hello, and welcome to the final half of my Top 10 Reads for 2021. If you missed books six through ten, you can find them HERE.

All of the books I’m sharing are five-star reads. Each is linked to Amazon where you can read the blurb and explore reviews. I’ve included a few brief thoughts on each. 

Fun Fact 1:
I read book two on this list in January of 2021. It held the top spot as my favorite until December when a late-in-the year-read bumped it to number two. That’s a long time to be numero uno, especially given I’d read over 100 books by then!

Fun Fact 2:
I enjoyed all of these books so much, I purchased each in hardback or trade paperback, despite having read ebook copies of most.



5. IN THE SHADOW OF JEZEBEL by Mesu Andrews
A riveting journey of faith following Jehosheba, the granddaughter of Jezebel, who has been groomed to become a high priestess of Baal. Through an arranged marriage, she weds the high priest of God’s holy temple. The story presents a mix of warring kingdoms, political maneuvering, betrayals, and the rise and fall of rulers, all the while remaining truthful to the Old Testament and historic events.

4. FALLING by T.J. Newman
A pulse-pounding thrill ride about an airline pilot forced to decide between crashing his plane full of passengers or saving his wife and children who have been taken hostage by terrorists. I can’t say enough about the frantic pace in which the last half plays out. Falling is already slated for the big screen.

3. CHASING THE BOGEYMAN by Richard Chizmar
It’s the summer of 1988 and a serial killer haunts a small town. I can be squeamish about books with serial killers, but there is nothing overly graphic in this novel. Chills, goose bumps, suspense, and tension abound. In Chizmer’s skillful hands, the book becomes mystery, thriller, and a haunting tale of small-town life that lingers long after finishing. 

2. LEAVE THE WORLD BEHIND by Rumaan Alam
Most reviewers either loved or hated this book with little room for middle ground. It’s a curious, sometimes annoying, but fully engrossing story about two couples (one white, one black, strangers to each other) who end up stranded together after an unknown event has knocked out phones, internet, and power. All the reader knows is that something terrible has happened. Something big. By turns eerie, mesmerizing, and crass, the atmosphere is what makes this book so outstanding—and disturbing.

MY TOP PICK FOR 2021 WITH FULL REVIEW

ISAIAH’S DAUGHTER
by Mesu Andrews

When it comes to historical novels, there are two time periods I love best—Victorian England and Old Testament times.

Starting in mid-November through the end of 2021, I devoured fourteen novels based on the lives of people who populated the Old Testament. Of them all, Isaiah’s Daughter moved me enough to claim top honors as my favorite read of the year. Maybe it’s because I’m so drawn to the story of King Hezekiah.

From his frightening childhood, as son to a father/king who worshiped idols and sacrificed children to the pagan god Molek by tossing them into fire, to the difficulties he faced during his own reign—especially against the Assyrian army—Hezekiah placed his faith in God for deliverance. At his side, supporting him with steadfast love, his wife, Hephzibah, was every bit as faithful. 

The story of Isaiah’s Daughter follows both from the time they are children—in a world of constant upheaval and danger—to their eventual marriage and adult years. The challenges each faces is staggering. The Bible tells us that because of his great faith, Hezekiah “was successful in whatever he undertook” and that “there was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him.”

What astounds me most is the way in which the author has brought these people to life in a very personal sense. There is nothing stuffy, stilted, or draggy about this book. Both “Hezi” and “Zibah” are given vibrant life, along with many other historical figures and several fictional characters. The insight to Isaiah’s life as a prophet is particularly compelling, especially when balanced against his home life as a husband and father. The result is mesmerizing while delivering a message about the everyday struggles of faith we face. 

Certain parts had me as tense as a bowstring and I couldn’t read fast enough. Others made me laugh or warmed my heart to overflowing, and still others left me saddened by circumstance. Most of all, I was inspired and uplifted. I found it hard to put this book down and can’t recommend it highly enough. I would give it ten stars if I could! 


And that wraps up my top picks for 2021. I’m looking forward to discovering many new stories in the coming year and passing along my reviews. The great thing about books is the extraordinary variety which helps all of us find our own “goodreads.” I hope you’ve enjoyed exploring some of mine.

Mae Clair’s Top 10 Reads of 2021: Six Through Ten

Soft cuddly tabby cat lying in its owner's lap enjoying and purring while the owner is reading a book

Hello! It’s time to select my Top 10 reads from last year. If you’re someone who loves to devour books, you know how dreadfully hard this is. In my case, the first five were easy, but six through ten were tougher to decide. I was going to list all ten books in a single post, but they’re all so good I decided to spotlight them in two separate posts.

Each book is linked to Amazon where you can read the blurb and explore reviews. I gave every one of these fives stars and have included a few thoughts on each. Before I get to the results, I have a few cool stats to share.

I read 115 books in 2021. My original goal for the Goodreads challenge was 60, so I almost doubled that. Consider me jazzed. Or chuffed (shout-out to Fraggle and Harmony!)

The shortest book was 11 pages, the longest 530, with the average 245 pages.

January and July were my two top reading months with 12 books each. September saw the fewest with six.

Here’s a look, counting down from number six through ten, on my top list!

10. THE PERFECT GUESTS by Emma Rous
A twisty mystery that involves three different time periods, all of which converge for a spectacular finish. The present timeline plays off the board game Clue with guests gathering in an old mansion as test-run for a new business that hosts murder mystery parties.

9. THE GUEST LIST by Lucy Foley
An isolated location, treacherous weather, and a group of characters with plenty of skeletons rattling in proverbial closets. I’m usually pretty good at fingering the culprit, and although I had suspicions that eventually proved correct, the whys and wherefores completely blindsided me.

8. BLOODLESS by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
Combining the mystery of D. B. Cooper with a series of odd murders in which the victims are drained of blood? Only Preston & Child could pull off a plot like that, and they do it exceptionally well in this latest outing for FBI Special Agent Aloysius X. L. Pendergast (whose cases always flirt with the supernatural or bizarre). I’m a diehard fan!!

7. SURVIVE THE NIGHT by Riley Sager
Cat-and-mouse suspense combines with well-plotted fiction in this slick, edge-of-your seat thrill ride. The operational word here is TENSION—with a capital T. It wasn’t until the end when everything falls into place that I realized how deftly I’d been played.

6. HOME BEFORE DARK by Riley Sager
A good old-fashioned ghost story. No gore or horror, just plenty of eerie happenings that deliver goose bumps, shivers and chills. Numerous twists and turns near the end had me trying to pick up my jaw from the floor. This is mind-blowing storytelling at its best, especially if you are a fan of ghost stories that twist like a corkscrew and prickle your skin. 


I’d love to hear if you’ve read any of these and what your thoughts are. Tomorrow, I’ll be counting down books five through one, but in the meantime, let’s chat about these titles. Do any of them appeal to you?

Limited Time 99c Sale: A Thousand Yesteryears by Mae Clair #mystery #suspense #thriller #writingcommunity #mothman #pointpleasant #urbanlegends

Hi, friends. I hadn’t planned to blog today, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share news of a limited time sale. My publisher has placed A Thousand Yesteryears, book one of my Point Pleasant series on sale for 99c. You can read this as a stand-alone novel, or as the first of three books comprising the series.

Book cover for A Thousand Yesteryears by Mae Clair, depicting a wooded thicket at night

New York Times best-selling author, Kevin O’Brien called this book “Masterful, bone-chilling fiction…one intense thriller. A Thousand Yesteryears will keep you guessing, gasping and turning the pages for more.”

I honestly don’t know how long the sale will last (it’s likely a 1-2 day flash sale), so if you’d like to sink into a novel where “A woman’s homecoming is met with death threats, a treacherous killer, and a legendary monster” now is your chance.

I’ll be taking a closer look at the urban legend behind this book in 2022, as part of a new series I’m planning called Mae Clair’s Cabinet of Curiosities.

A Thousand Yesteryears is a fictional account of historic events and established folklore, involving the tragic collapse of the Silver Bridge in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, and sightings of the Mothman. I made two weekend trips to the actual town and surrounding areas while writing this series in order to visit areas firsthand and talk to the locals. I’ve been honored to have many book reviewers who live/lived in the area remark on how well I captured the town.

I’ve closed comments, but invite you to meet the Mothman and learn the history of a once thriving river town!

Teaser ad for A Thousand Yesteryears, a novel of suspense by Mae Clair

PURCHASE LINK

New Release: Things Old and Forgotten by Mae Clair #speculativefiction #magicalrealism #fantasy

My book birthday has arrived! Things old and Forgotten is now available on Amazon. I’m going on tour throughout the moth of October, and to celebrate, I’m offering the ebook at the introductory price of .99c through Halloween. Grab your copy now and discover…

BOOK BLURB:

A man keeping King Arthur’s dream of Camelot alive.
A Robin Hood battling in a drastically different Sherwood.
A young man facing eternity in the desert.
A genteel southern lady besting a powerful order of genies.
A woman meeting her father decades after his death.

These are but a few of the intriguing tales waiting to be discovered in Things Old and Forgotten. Prepare to be transported to realms of folklore and legend, where magic and wonder linger around every corner, and fantastic possibilities are limited only by imagination.


A number of awesome friends are helping me spread the word by hosting me on their blogs. If you’d like to tag along the schedule is below—but rest assured I’ll be announcing my stops each day!:)

10/5 • Staci Troilo
10/6 • Jan Sikes
10/7 • John Howell
10/12 • Gwen Plano
10/12 • Marcia Meara
10/13 • Denise Finn
10/14 • Joan Hall
10/19 • Harmony Kent
10/20 • Craig Boyack
10/21 • Jacqui Murray
10/21 • Jill Weatherholt
10/23 • Teri Polen on Bad Moon Rising

10/26 • Judi Lynn

Thanks again for joining me on my release day and helping me celebrate the launch of Things Old and Forgotten. I’m popping the virtual bubbly and throwing oodles of confetti. Should you like to see what all the fuss is about (and I certainly hope you will), hop over to Amazon and grab a copy for yourself! 🙂

PURCHASE LINK (US)
PURCHASE LINK (UK)
BUY FOR THE INTRODUCTORY PRICE OF .99C

Guest Author Thursday: Sue Rovens with Rage #suspense #crimethriller

red quill pen on a piece of old parchment paper, with an ink well with words Welcome Guest in script

Welcome to another Guest Author Thursday. Today, I’m delighted to feature Sue Rovens, who has brought along her latest release, Rage, in addition to an intriguing post about her characters and plots. Personally, I’m a huge fan of character-driven fiction. Check out Sue’s post then drop her some thoughts in the comments.

Take it away, Sue!


Thank you so much, Mae, for having me as a guest. The opportunity is most appreciated!

Anyone who prefers suspense over hardcore horror/gore should find my books to their liking. My characters are people who have faults, problems, and at times, heavy baggage. I don’t shy away from polarizing issues and taboo topics. However, at the same time, I don’t glorify these facets. The people in my stories are as “real” as those we meet everyday (or read about in the papers). The various situations I put them in is what drives the narrative.

Rage, my newest novel, follows two main characters – Wilbur Weston and Lyndsay Yager. Wilbur is a depressed and bitter man who hates the world almost as much as himself. Lyndsay is his therapist who is a train wreck of an alcoholic on the brink of divorce.

While Rage casts a dark shadow over itself, the reader will discover the characters’ reasoning for the choices they make – both good and bad. It’s a suspenseful tale full of hurt and desperate people who see themselves as doing what they must – righting their wrongs.

Rage comes in at 232 pages and is available in paperback and in Kindle format from Amazon.

BOOK BLURB:

Weston Cross is a bullied and abused man who wants nothing more than to escape from his agonizing mental anguish and excruciating misery. After a harrowing brush with death, he discovers a better way to twist his depression and self-despair into something different…something sinister.

Lindsay Yager, the therapist assigned to help Weston with his internal battles, is fighting her own demons. On the verge of a nasty divorce, she finds solace at the bottom of a bottle. Her anger and vitriol take no prisoners, even when lives are at stake – including her own.

Depression sets the stage, but RAGE will have the final say.

AUTHOR BIO:

Sue Rovens is an indie suspense/horror author who hails from Normal, Illinois. She has written four novels and two books of short horror stories.

Track 9, her second novel, snagged a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly (May 2018), her short story, “Coming Over”, from her book, In a Corner, Darkly (Volume 1) was turned into a screenplay and short student indie film by the theater department of Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, and another short story, “When the Earth Bled”, won 2nd place in the Support Indie Authors short story contest earlier this year. Her two most recent books (Buried and Rage) are under Plump Toad Press.

Sue owns a blog (suerovens.com) which includes interviews with authors, musicians, podcasters, and artists. She is an Executive Producer for an indie (short) horror film which is currently in production called “Let’s Do Things that Make Us Happy”. Sue is also a co-host and story writer for the new horror podcast, Ye Olde Terror Inn.

Sue is a member of The Chicago Writers Association and the Alliance for Independent Authors (ALLi).

Blog: https://suerovens.com | Email: srovens@yahoo.com

I also want to let your readers know that I interview authors (and artists and musicians) of ALL genres and professional levels. Currently, I have 179 author interviews, as well as a handful of music folks and artistic people.

Everything is done through email and on YOUR schedule/timeframe. If you are interested in being a part of the Meet & Greet (author interviews), Spotlight (artists), and/or Flipside (music folks), please send me a quick email. ALL are welcome on my blog. Thanks!


What a nice invitation. Not only has Sue brought her latest release to share, but also an opportunity for all creative sorts out there. I hope you’ll reach out to her—and don’t forget to hop over to AMAZON to pick up your copy of Rage!

Book Spotlight and Review: Darkness Hides by JC Gatlin #murdermystery @SunburyPress

An open book with rays and orbs of light shooting from the pages

Happy August! I have a new guest visiting today with a compelling release. JC Gatlin is a Sunbury Press author who has brought along his latest book, Darkness Hides. A hurricane, an estranged sister relationship, a body in the Gulf—I was hooked as soon as I read the blurb! And isn’t that cover great?

I hope you’ll share your thoughts with JC in the comments, and look for my review at the end of the post!

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Someone she knows is watching.

Someone she knows is stalking.

And something hides in the darkness.

Twelve months ago, a violent injury ended Kate Park’s career with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. Now she’s returning home to her little beach town and teaching boat safety classes while her body heals. Maybe she’ll even mend the estranged relationship with her caustic younger sister. But time is running out. 

As the Florida West Coast braces for an approaching Category 4 hurricane, Kate uncovers a corpse in the churning Gulf waters. Then another. And another. It’s no longer her job to get involved, but she can’t help investigating. And the clues reveal all three victims have one thing in common: a connection to her sister.

In a brewing storm of rage, guilt, and family secrets, she confronts her bitter sibling and faces a childhood better left buried with the bodies washing ashore. To unravel the threads of this mystery is to come to a frightful realization.

Run from the water.

Hide from the wind.

Flee from the shadows where a weeper seeks revenge.




PURCHASE FROM:
SUNBURY PRESS | AMAZON

Author JC Gatlin

AUTHOR BIO:
JC Gatlin lives in Tampa, Florida, and writes mystery novels that include sunny Florida locales and quirky locals as characters. His last novel, H_NGM_N: Murder is the Word, won the coveted Florida Royal Palm Literary Award for Best Mystery in 2019. He is active in the Florida Writer’s Association and is a board member on the Florida Writer’s Foundation, a charity organization that fights illiteracy.  Learn more at JCGatlin.com


MY REVIEW:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Thank you, Sunbury Press and Milford House Press, for my ARC.

Wow, there’s a lot going on in this book! Kate, and her sister Elise have not spoken for over a year, following the death of Elise’s five-year-old son, Noah. Kate, a former Fish and Wildlife Commission officer, who was shot in the line of duty, is on loan to the local police department, but determined to return to her old job. Her current boyfriend is an environmental activist, battling a condo developer over the potential destruction of a historic lighthouse. Her old boyfriend, the lead singer in a band, shows up unexpectedly (no, this is NOT a romance novel, so put those fears aside), her boss’s wife is pregnant, one month shy of delivering, and oh—there just happens to be a category 4 hurricane sitting off the Florida Gulf Coast. 

Add a missing person’s case, which soon turns into murder, then several murders and you’ve got a cauldron ready to boil over. Suspense, family dynamics, action/thriller—it’s all here. But the most compelling aspect is a truly complex murder mystery. Although I did finger the killer correctly before the end, the motive caught me completely by surprise. The author did an excellent job of juggling multiple plot threads while throwing out enough red herrings to make me second guess myself more than once. 

There were several characters I didn’t really care for—including one who I should have felt sympathy for—but who instead grated on my nerves. With a capital G! That said, Kate, as the central character had the strength to carry the novel. I especially liked her relationship with her boss, Trace, and her attachment to her rescue animals. The climatic scenes leading up to Hurricane Sebastian making landfall and during the storm itself had me madly swiping pages on my Kindle. There were a couple minor threads that didn’t ring true for me and some repetition that could have been avoided, but overall, this was an engrossing story. If you enjoy a good murder mystery layered with plenty of suspense, Darkness Hides will keep you riveted. I’m already scoping out other titles by this author.