My Girl Tour and Giveaway #newrelease #romance @JacqBiggar

Happy Monday, everyone! I’m kicking off the week by participating in a book tour for Jacquie Biggar’s newest release, My Girl, which sounds positively delightful! I’ve read quite a few of Jacquie’s books, and she always delivers an exceptional heartwarming tale. I’ve already got my copy of My Girl and look forward to getting lost within the pages.

Check it out, and don’t forget the awesome giveaway at the bottom!

My Girl
Gambling Hearts Book 3
by Jacquie Biggar
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Sometimes, the right decision isn’t the easiest one to make
Trish Sylvester knows her family and when they accept a week long stay at a rustic dude ranch, she is concerned- especially since it’s at her ex’s home.
Aaron is overjoyed at the opening of his family’s guest ranch, until he learns their first guest is his ex-girlfriend, her parents–and a fiancé.
And that isn’t the only surprise.
**99cents!**
JACQUIE BIGGAR is a USA Today bestselling author of Romantic Suspense who loves to write about tough, alpha males and strong, contemporary women willing to show their men that true power comes from love. She is the author of the popular Wounded Hearts series and has a new series in paranormal suspense, Mended Souls. She’s been blessed with a long, happy marriage and enjoys writing romance novels that end with happily-ever-afters.
Jacquie lives in paradise along the west coast of Canada with her family and loves reading, writing, and flower gardening. She swears she can’t function without coffee, preferably at the beach with her sweetheart. 🙂 Free reads, excerpts, author news, and contests can be found on her website below!
Jacquie lives on Vancouver Island with her husband and loves to hear from readers all over the world! You can also join her street team on Facebook called Biggar’s Book Buddies.
$25 Amazon gift card
Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

New Release: Silent Payback @jaydawes2 #DetectiveFiction #PsychologicalFiction

Tour banner for Silent Payback by Jaye Marie lists participating blog hosts against a background of a city street/alley with ligjts

Today, I’m delighted to welcome Jaye Marie to my blog. Jaye is awesome at supporting other authors and is a talented writer. She’s dropped by to share her latest release, Silent Payback. If you like mysteries and suspense, this is a book you’re going to want to check out!

book cover for Silet Payback by Jaye Marie shows profiles of two men, one side by side, one with long hair, beard and mustache, other clean cutBLURB:
A city on edge – a detective on shaky ground…

A serial killer roams the streets of Brighton, hunting for his next victim.

When the case lands on detective David Mallory’s desk, will his personal demon prevent him from bringing this vicious monster to justice?

As the body count rises, Mallory finds himself sinking under the weight of his heavy secret – one that could jeopardise his job and his reputation.

With the pressure building, can the troubled detective reconcile his issues and solve the case, before more women die?

About Jaye:
Jaye Marie is affectionately known as the giant redwood, probably because she is very tall, but also because of her love for trees. Most afternoons she can be found repotting or taking care of her bonsai collection, but her love of detective mysteries soon brings her back indoors. She has written three fiction novels in this genre, Nine Lives, Out of Time and Crossfire and is looking forward to publishing Silent Payback, her fourth book.

She spends any free time learning everything she can about self-publishing, and despite all the obstacles, she never gives up on anything and is as stubborn as a mule. She also shares a website http://jenanita01.com with Anita Dawes…

Connect with Jaye at the following haunts:

Email: jayemarie01@btinternet.com
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon | Pinterest | Instagram | Medium

Sound good? Then you’re going to want to One-Click on AmazonRight now you can grab this engrossing story for only .99c. I know I’ve already got my copy. Happy reading!

Creative Solutions for the Modern Writer #newrelease @harmony_kent

Happy Monday, everyone! To kick off your week I’ve got a book to fire your creativity and imagination. Good friend, and Story Empire colleague, Harmony Kent, is here with her newest release. This is one you’re going to want to check out!Book cover for Creative Solutions for the Modern Writer by Harmony Kent

Hello everyone. Harmony here. I’m excited to share my latest non-fiction book with you all today. Huge thanks to Mae for hosting me today.

Creative Solutions for the Modern Writer does what it says on the tin (or cover, lol), and offers tools to fire your imagination. With chapters on things such as using chess and tarot to develop stories, plots, and characters—as well as adopting the principles of nursing triage, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, horoscopes, and more—this little guide is full of fun tips and tricks to get your muse working overtime.

This excellent writer’s companion is available to by now in both ebook and paperback.

Here’s an excerpt for you:
Taken from the chapter on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs …

A series of yellow balls in a row, each with a different expression, frowning, smiling, confused, mad

Where our characters sit on this scale will affect how they respond in any given situation and to any given stimulus. Their position will determine their current aspirations. And the great thing with this as a characterisation tool is that your characters can climb up or fall down as needed.

As your characters evolve and grow throughout the story, you can use the higher levels on the triangle to determine what their aims and responses are likely to be. Likewise, this can also help place their behaviours when everything falls to pieces around them. The lower on the triangle we are, the more animalistic we’re likely to behave. The higher on the scale, the more enlightened.

This tool is excellent for character development as well as for plotting. And it shows how any one character can change in how he or she responds depending upon the situation in which he or she finds themselves.

A kind, gentle woman may morph into a rabid knife-wielding cold killer if her children’s lives are at stake. A big, rough, tough villainous type might go all gooey-eyed over an abandoned puppy … who knows what memories/associations the cute little animal might have tapped into? Perhaps he’s on the yellow level of the triangle, needing belonging, acceptance, and love. Or you could go the other way and make him even more monstrous by having him kill the puppy and eat it because he’s scrabbling around on the lowest level of the triangle and desperate for food.

Author, Harmony KentAuthor Bio
After spending around thirteen years as an ordained Buddhist monk, living in a Zen Buddhist temple, and six years after a life-changing injury following a surgical error, Harmony Kent returned to the world at the tender age of forty.

Now, she is famous for her laughter, and has made quite the name for herself … she’s also, um, a writer … and fairly well known for that too. She’s even won a few awards. Harmony lives in rural Cornwall with her ever-present sense of humour, adorable husband, and quirky neighbours.

Harmony is passionate about supporting her fellow authors.

You can connect with Harmony at the following haunts:
WebsiteStory Empire (co-authored) | Amazon Author Page Twitter | LinkedIn
Goodreads Author Page | BookBub 

Creative Solutions Purchase Link

Book Review: Finding Hunter by @MarciaMeara #bookreviewtuesday

Hello and welcome to another Book Review Tuesday. If you enjoy character-driven fiction layered with family drama, angst, and romance, boy do I have a book for you! My review follows, but you can click the Amazon link to read the blurb and learn more about this fabulous story.

Book cover for Finding Hunter by Marcia Meara shows open journal with pen, cup of tea in backgroudFinding Hunter
by Marcia Meara

Hunter Painter is the youngest of three brothers. Forrest and Jackson have always been more outgoing, a little rough-and-tumble, and clever with the ladies. By contrast, Hunter is reserved, a bit on shy side, a gentle soul whose feelings run deep. He has been in love with Willow Greene since high school, but far too inhibited to approach her. Years later, when a friend gives him a nudge and he finally does, he discovers Willow has harbored the same feelings for him just as long.

The bliss of discovery is short-lived, however, when their love is put to the test all too soon. Hunter’s mother suffers from dementia, potentially underscored by mental illness. Although Hunter recognizes the downward spiral and the increasing severity of her actions, both his father and his brothers turn a blind eye. When tragedy strikes, Hunter’s world shatters and he is left trying to balance a toxic mix of darkness, brokenness, and suffocating guilt. It doesn’t help both his brothers initially turn on him, too encumbered to admit their own shortcomings.

What follows is a tale of anguish, love, and redemption. Unable to cope, Hunter tries to shut out the world, but he is unable to break the ties that bind him to Willow. Even when they are separated, their hearts are constantly entwined. Willow’s strength is steel, the solace Hunter needs when he returns to her—even if only to say goodbye. Hunter’s healing—which encompasses the second half of the novel—doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a testament to the author’s ability to tug heartstrings that she parcels it out in a manner that leaves a lump in the throat.

Meara tackles heavy duty issues—dementia, mental illness, PTSD, family relations, recovery. But she balances the weightier moments with character growth, plenty of realism, and heart. One thing you can always count on in a Marcia Meara novel is heart. Hallmark could take lessons.

As always, the characters are outstanding, and Hunter and Willow will remain with me for a long time to come. In addition, I was thoroughly smitten by Forrest Painter’s story arc. Reading Finding Hunter is like taking a journey. As someone who loves character-driven fiction, it’s a journey I highly recommend others take. 5 glowing stars!

Amazon Link
Genre: Psychological Fiction > Romantic Suspense

And, in an odd twist of fate—or maybe just a snazzy coincidence—I’m over at Marcia’s place today sharing a review of my romantic mystery, Eclipse Lake. If you get a moment, I’d love to have you visit me there. Of course, I’m also curious to hear your thoughts about Finding Hunter, and I’m sure Marcia is, too!  🙂

D.L. Cross Talks Aliens and Alternate Identities

Can you believe we are already over two weeks into August? Summer is speeding by on a rocket ship.

Speaking of rocket ships—and by default space travel—it isn’t a stretch to make the jump to aliens. Today, my guest, Straci Troilo, is serving up two crazy good books, written under her pen name, D. L. Cross. How do I know they’re crazy good? Because I’ve read them both and gave them resounding 5-star reviews!

Staci is a good friend, a talented author, an editor, and a colleague at Story Empire. If, by some impossible hiccup in the universe, you’re not already following her blog, I encourage you to visit her corner of the blogosphere and hop along for the ride.

And now, that I’ve jabbered enough, here’s Staci to tell you about her latest CRAZY GOOD books! 😀


Hi, Mae. As always, I appreciate the warm welcome. And everyone else, hello! Thanks for giving me a few minutes of your time to talk about the Invasion Universe.

If you know me and my early body of work, you know me as Staci Troilo, author of suspense fiction mashed up with romance, paranormal, legal, medical, and/or family drama. I can’t help adding anxiety-ridden situations to the works I write, regardless of the genre.

Which brings me to my latest endeavors. I’m now writing sci-fi.

Splash graphic foe The Gate, a science-fiction novel by D. L. Cross

When I made the jump to science fiction, my publishers insisted on a pen name. (They’re much more conscious of the “also-boughts” on Amazon than I am.) I used to resist writing with different pen names for different genres because I write in so many of them and didn’t want to manage several identities. Turns out, it’s not that difficult. And (if their theories are correct), it’s probably beneficial. At least on some level.

But what I found surprising is my work didn’t change. I’m still writing suspense. Only now, instead of megalomaniacs or serial killers stalking my heroes, aliens are. Actually, that’s not entirely true, either. Sometimes the villains are aliens. Other times, they’re still humans with nefarious agendas.

I have to tell you, I don’t read much sci-fi. But I love it on screen (small or big). Especially space-oriented shows and films. TV series like Lost in Space, Star Trek (original and TNG), Stargate (SG-1 and Atlantis), Roswell… I get lost in them every time they’re on. And movies? I’m hooked. All the Star Wars episodes (even the bad ones), Star Trek (yep, it’s on both lists), Stargate (yes, it made both lists, too), Independence Day, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T., Avatar, even Mars Attacks (there’s nothing wrong with humor—even ridiculous humor). The lists are endless. I watch as many as I can. And I love most of them.

Splash graphic for The Scout: Dark Crossings, a science-fiction novella by D. L. Cross

The cinematography is usually engaging; the world-building enthralling. But what really draws me in is the characters. Regular people fighting larger-than-life enemies against impossible odds. Who wouldn’t want to watch that?

Who wouldn’t want to read it?

That’s why I made the switch to science fiction—because the genre is wonderous. I was still able to tell my kind of stories with my kind of characters. But now, I get to do it in an alien-rich world.

If you read my Astral Conspiracy series, you’ll find aliens—beings with all kinds of advanced tech and inhuman abilities. You’ll also find a lot of history. I have to admit, Ancient Aliens is a guilty pleasure of mine. Not because I believe their theories, but because of all the amazing places the show’s hosts go and the lore they uncover. I know, it’s weird to think of ancient history melding with futuristic science, but I did it. And early reviews suggest the combination is working.

I hope it is. And I hope you agree. If you give it a try, please leave a review and let me know what you think.

If you like the Twilight Zone, you might enjoy The Scout, my Astral Conspiracy prequel story.

And if you like ancient astronaut theories, you may like The Gate, the first novel of my quintet.

Book cover for The Gate, a science-fiction novel by D. L. CrossBlurb:

He lost his job. Lost his girl. Now it’s all he can do not to lose his life.

Landon Thorne is a disgraced archaeologist, a laughing stock in his field because of his unconventional beliefs – he’s an ancient astronaut theorist. No one takes him seriously.

Until an alien armada targets Earth.

Now Landon’s in high demand – by the US government and someone far more sinister.

They race across two continents to the Gate of the Gods, the one place on Earth that might give humans an advantage over the aliens. But no one is prepared for what they’ll find.

And not everyone will make it out alive.

Universal Purchase Link | More Information | Invasion Universe Newsletter

Book cover for The Scout, a science-fiction novel by D. L. CrossBlurb:

The aliens have landed. The humans are panicking. The scouts have been sent.

J’s mission is clear — find an alien outpost, observe, report back. Simple enough. It’s what he’s trained to do. But he’s always worked with his team, never as a party of one. Now he’s been sent out alone to blindly navigate a dense, dark forest until he finds his target. The dynamics are foreign to him, the stakes never higher. He’s completely isolated. Resources are scarce. Comms are down.

And he’s found the enemy.

It’s imperative he’s not caught, but clandestine spying doesn’t yield enough intel. J needs an ally, someone on the inside of the camp who can feed him information. And he finds one. But he gets more than he bargained for with Aria.

Their relationship grows complicated. Her people get defensive. His superior becomes suspicious. He doesn’t know who to trust. His loyalty’s divided, and pressure’s mounting from all sides.

J is shocked when everyone’s true allegiances are revealed. And the consequences of betrayal will be deadly.

Universal Purchase Link | More Information

Bio:
D.L. Cross has loved science fiction ever since she was a young girl and fell for Major Don West on television’s Lost in Space. To this day, she still quotes the show, though her favorite lines were spoken by the robot and the antagonist. Parallel universes or alternate realities, aliens or dinosaurs, superpowers or super viruses, time travel or AI… no sci-fi theme is off limits and all of them fascinate her. D.L. Cross also writes other genre fiction under the name Staci Troilo, and you can find more information about all her identities and all her work at her website: https://stacitroilo.com.

Other Links:

Staci’s Amazon Page | Staci’s BookBub Page | D.L.’s Amazon Page | D.L.’s BookBub Page


I loved so many of the television shows Staci mentioned in her post, plus many others. I remember reading my first science-fiction novel in the fourth grade and being immediately smitten. As someone who’s loved science-fiction from a young age, it’s been a pleasure to discover a new universe populated by remarkable characters and riveting story lines. As I said in my review of The Scout, “You can’t go wrong with anything from the pen of D.L. Cross!” Still not sure?

Check out my review of The Gate, too, then go forth and one-click these wonderful titles! 🙂

Cover Reveal: Eventide by Mae Clair #thriller #supernaturalsuspense

Hi, friends! Thanks for joining me today as I roll out the cover of the final book in my Hode’s Hill Series of novels. A special thanks to Staci Triolo for designing the snazzy header image for me. Isn’t it great? I was so appreciative of Staci’s help, given I feel like I’ve been treading water lately. But then I know she is, too. Most writers recognize it as a regular state of mind.

Every once in a while, we get something sparkly to distract us. For me it’s my latest cover.

Book cover for Eventide, a Hode's Hill novel by Mae Clair shows an old abandoned house in a wash of blue tones

Release Date: December 31, 2019
Genre: Supernatural Thriller / Suspense /Mystery
Publisher:  Kensington Publishing • Lyrical Underground Imprint


As with the first two novels in the Hode’s Hill series, Eventide features a dual timeline with two mysteries—one set in the present, one in the 1800s—that intertwine at the end.

Blurb:
The darkness is coming . . .

The old house near Hode’s Hill, Pennsylvania is a place for Madison Hewitt to start over—to put the trauma of her husband’s murder, and her subsequent breakdown, behind her. She isn’t bothered by a burial plot on the property, or the mysterious, sealed cistern in the basement. Not at first. Even the presence of cold spots and strange odors could be fabrications of her still troubled mind. But how to explain her slashed tires, or the ominous messages that grow ever more threatening?

Convinced the answer lies in the past, Madison delves into the history of the home’s original owners, only to discover the origin of a powerful evil. An entity that may be connected to a series of gruesome attacks that have left police baffled. No matter where she turns—past or present—terror lingers just a step away, spurred on by a twisted obsession that can only be satisfied through death…


I hope you’re intrigued! Pre-orders are already available through all major book retailers via this Universal Purchase Link. Naturally, I am very appreciative of your interest. It’s always hard saying goodbye to a series.

The first two Hode’s Hill novels—Cusp of Night and End of Day—can be read as stand-alones, but Eventide is best enjoyed with the knowledge of what occurred in End of Day. No need to worry though!

There is still plenty of time to catch up with the series as Eventide does not release until December 31st. Books 1 and 2 are available through the links below:
Cusp of Night
End of Day

You can also add Eventide to your Goodreads list HERE. I hope you find this book as intriguing as I did when writing it.

Many thanks for visiting with me today. Cover reveals always feel like a party, and what better way to celebrate than with friends! 🙂

Book Review: The Scout by D.L.Cross #sci-fi #aliens

Closing out my July reading is a standalone novella that I was super-excited to have land on my Kindle. D.L.Cross gives us a peak into both the Invasion Universe and her Astral Conspiracy series (I devoured the first and am eagerly awaiting the second). Before I give you my review, here’s the blurb:

book cover for The Scout by D.L.Cross shows large scary tree on dark backgroundThe aliens have landed. The humans are panicking. The scouts have been sent.

J’s mission is clear — find an alien outpost, observe, report back. Simple enough. It’s what he’s trained to do. But he’s always worked with his team, never as a party of one. Now he’s been sent out alone to blindly navigate a dense, dark forest until he finds his target. The dynamics are foreign to him, the stakes never higher. Resources are scarce. Comms are down.

And he’s found the enemy.

J is shocked when everyone’s true allegiances are revealed. And the consequences of betrayal will be deadly.

A short story set in the bestselling Invasion Universe, “The Scout” by D.L. Cross will have you hungering for more. Pick up your copy today!

And now my 5 star review:

An excellent short story that takes a look at what happens when alien cultures clash.

J is determined to complete his mission as a scout, gathering intel on an alien outpost, but the assignment grows murky when he connects with one of “the enemy.” The pace moves quickly, hurtling the reader toward a confrontation which addresses the nature of loyalties and betrayal.

A quick read, The Scout is part of the Invasion Universe, but stands perfectly on its own. The author also writes the Astral Conspiracy series of novels which made this bit of short fiction a treat for someone eagerly awaiting book 2 in that series. New fans and established fans will enjoy The Scout for its fluid story, tight plot, and polished writing. You can’t go wrong with anything from the pen of D.L. Cross!

Ready to blast off with an out of this world read? You can grab your copy of The Scout: Dark Crossings  at this Universal Purchase Link.

Happy reading!

The Detective, An Excerpt from Unclear Purposes by Joan Hall #RomanticSuspense #Mystery

Exciting times! I’m  thrilled to have my friend, Joan Hall, as my guest today. She’s brought along a fabulous excerpt from her new release, Unclear Purposes. I’m particularly fond of this excerpt because of the featured character. Joan handled him extremely well throughout the book, setting a stage for growth that I found fascinating—just one of the excellent elements in her superb novel. You can find my five start review of Unclear Purposes on Book Bub. And now here’s Joan with her latest release . . .

Mae, it’s an honor to be on your site today and to share about my latest release, Unclear Purposes¸the third and final in the Driscoll Lake Series.

To give your readers a bit of background, there’s a killer on the loose. Driscoll Lake’s new detective, Jason Montgomery, is tasked with solving the crime. But Jason is young, inexperienced, and a bit arrogant. He hasn’t gotten off to a good start with the police chief, Matt Bradford. Let’s get to know Jason a little better and hear his thoughts about the crime.

Book cover for Unclear Purposes by Joan Hall on banner ad /graphic with text from the novel

Jason Montgomery rubbed his forehead as he looked through the file on his desk. Three weeks had passed since the murder of Jenny Allen, and he still wasn’t close to finding her killer. Chief Bradford wanted to meet with him this afternoon to discuss the case, and he wasn’t looking forward to it. If he had even one new piece of evidence, he might feel differently.

Jenny Allen was an enigma. Nothing about her past gave him any clues as to who murdered her. He’d spoken to people who knew Jenny in Taos, Santa Fe, and San Antonio. No one had been able to provide anything that would point him to her killer.

Everyone he’d spoken with said Jenny was quiet and kept to herself. Wasn’t one to make enemies. Jason was beginning to believe the killing had been a random act. Same as the murder in Brewster. He’d kept in close contact with detective Somers.

So far, Brewster police hadn’t come up with a suspect. That was a good thing. If these murders were the work of a serial killer, which was yet to be determined, Jason wanted to be the one to solve the crime. What better way to get in Matt’s good graces and secure his position on the force? And that was only the stepping stone to bigger and better things.

As he looked at the file, another issue came to mind. How was Jenny’s killer able to escape unnoticed? No one who had been jogging that evening reported seeing anything suspicious. Vince Green and Christine Lawrence approached the crime scene from opposite directions. Neither of them saw anyone along the path.

The coroner estimated the victim had only been dead a short time before they found the body. There were no footsteps in the soft earth alongside the path, which meant the murderer had either walked or run at least a short distance along the paved trail.

Christine or Vince might have seen something or someone and had blotted it from their memory. Jason knew of instances where it had happened. The shock of witnessing a brutal crime or being the first on the scene was overwhelming for some people.

If that were the case, he’d be willing to bet Christine was the one who had forgotten. Vince Green was a former law enforcement officer. Trained to be observant. He would notice things most people would overlook.

It was time to have another talk with Ms. Lawrence.

Book cover for Unclear uses shows setting sun reflecting off lake, dark tree line in background, ghost outline of woman's head and shoulders in foreground

Blurb:

Some people take secrets to the grave…

Three years after her husband’s murder, Christine Lawrence still struggles for balance. She has a rewarding career and a close circle of friends but feels oddly unfulfilled. Worse, the close relationship she once had with her teenage daughter has grown increasingly strained.

Former FBI agent, Vince Green, is battling demons of his own—painful secrets that drove him from Driscoll Lake. Newly resettled in the small town, he makes his living as a private investigator.

When Vince and Christine cross paths, stumbling over the body of a murder victim, he’s forced to confront memories he thought long buried. The circumstances surrounding the killing are eerily similar to a victim from his past.

As the body count continues to rise, Christine finds herself drawn to Vince. With a murderer stalking the streets of Driscoll Lake, neither is aware the killer has targeted her as the next victim—or that Vince’s past is key to unmasking a disturbed and deadly killer.

Universal Purchase Link

Bio box for author Joan Hall

Website and Social Media Links:

Website   |  Goodreads  | Twitter   |  Facebook   |   Pinterest   | Instagram   |   BookBub

 

May Book Reviews, Part 1

Hello, and welcome to another round of book reviews. I’m splitting them up this month, sharing half now and the remainder in another post at the end of the month. As always, click on the Amazon link for the book blurb or to learn more about the individual title. First up is a book I read in April but forgot to post. Oops!

Book over for Esther by Angela HuntEsther
By Angela Hunt

I love stories based on those who populate the Old Testament and found this an enjoyable read. It moved a bit slowly in some spots, but overall the story kept me riveted and flipping pages.

King Xerxes of Persia orders all young women who are comely in appearance to be brought to his court to serve as concubines. One will be chosen as his new queen. Esther, a Jewish girl is abducted and taken to the palace. Although she eventually wins the pagan king’s heart and becomes his queen, she must hide her faith for fear of reprisal. But when a man who gains the King’s ear wants to exterminate all Jews, Esther must boldly take a stand—for herself, her people, and her God.

Esther doesn’t get much coverage in the Bible, but the author did an excellent job of staying true to her story. Anything that was fictionalized fell logically into place and the historical and religious elements were brought vividly to life. I fully intend to look for more books by this author. 4 Stars!

Amazon Link
Genre: Ancient World Historical Romance


Book cover for the Moses Chronicles: Exodus by H. B. MooreaThe Moses Chronicles #3: Exodus
By H.B. Moore

This is the final book in a trilogy about Moses. Books one and two take the reader from his birth to his time as an honored son in the Egyptian court, his exile, marriage, and discovery of the burning bush on Mount Horeb. In book three, Moses returns to Egypt to confront Pharaoh with God’s order to set His people free.

I didn’t read the first two books, which could be why the story slowed for me in some places. There are references to previous events and relationships between the characters. That was all interesting to a degree, but what I was most interested in was the test of wills between Ramses and Moses, and—most especially—the many plagues the Lord sent to Egypt. When the author concentrated on those, the book soared.

Told in third-person POV, the chapters shift between the perspectives of Moses, Aaron, Miriam, and Moses’ Egyptian mother, Bithiah. I found the chapters from Moses’ POV and Bithiah’s the most riveting. And, yes, the author handled the parting of the Red Sea. This made me want to watch my DVD of The Ten Commandments again!  4.5 stars!

Amazon Link
Genre: Christian Historical Fiction > Religious Historical Fiction


Book cover for The Invited by Jennifer McMahonThe Invited
By Jennifer McMahon

Jennifer McMahon is one of my auto-buy authors, and I get excited whenever I see a new release from her. The Invited is a ghost story with threads of witchcraft and spiritualism that serves up a generous dollop of greed, tragedy, and twisted genealogy. This book creeps along—a bit slow at the beginning—as characters are introduced and an old legend gradually unfolds.

Like a ticking time bomb, the book builds to an explosive conclusion, sucking the reader deeper and deeper with each successive chapter into the grim history of a small New England town. This isn’t a hide-under-the-covers type of book, but one that delivers shivers and goose bumps, while examining the darker side of human nature.

In the early 1900s, Hattie Breckenridge was hung as a witch, her body discarded in the bog where she made her home. Enter Helen and Nate, a married couple who purchase the land where Hattie lived. In a desire to escape the bustle of suburbia, they begin constructing a home, hoping for a quiet life.

It isn’t long before odd occurrences start. Things go missing, the sound of screaming rises from the bog at night, Nate sees a mysterious white doe. As he becomes fixated on the doe, Helen delves into Hattie’s family tree, learning Hattie wasn’t the only one who met a terrible fate. With the help of an odd young girl named Olive, and a new friend, Helen is soon immersed in digging deeper into Hattie’s past, trying to discover what became of her descendants. Helen grows certain Hattie is trying to communicate with her, warning her of an ugly tragedy to come.

If you like atmospheric reads, small town settings, and things that-go-bump in the night, you’re certain to love this spooky novel. It’s all here—broken families, spirit circles, small town gossip, haunted objects—there’s even whispers of buried treasure. Brilliantly packaged and delivered as only McMahon can do, she once again proves her skill as a gifted storyteller. Now, how long until her next book? 5 Stars!

Amazon Link
Genre:  Ghost Fiction > Witch and Wizard Mysteries


Book cover for The Gate by D. L. CrossThe Gate
by D. L. Cross

In this fast-paced story, author D.L. Cross creates a melting pot of conspiracies, government coverups, and ancient civilizations. Professor Landon Thorne is an expert on alien theories. Unfortunately, most of his speculations have left him labeled a crackpot—until alien spacecraft are detected hurtling toward Earth.

Suddenly, Thorne is the man everyone needs—from secret government operatives to mercenaries for hire. Worse, the woman Thorne thought he loved turns out to be an operative who was assigned as his handler. In the matter of a single day his world goes from routine college campus to hidden government facility, to the wilds of Peru.

Cross sets a breathless pace, juggling a diverse cast of characters, most with their own agendas. There are alliances, crosses and double-crosses, betrayals and perceived betrayals. Tension is kept high with the impending arrival of potentially hostile aliens.

A good deal of research clearly went into this novel, as the author addresses the Roswell Incident, Incas, the Serpent Mound, and a web of other threads that leaves the reader constantly guessing where the next curveball is coming from. Cross throws plenty of them and sets her chapters for hooks that makes it impossible not to keep swiping pages. The writing is tight, the dialogue exchanges, rapid-fire. I found the Roswell thread particularly intriguing. This is the first book in what promises to be a riveting series. If you’re a fan of ancient alien theories mixed with fast-paced intrigue, and characters who command the pages, you don’t want to miss this one! 5 Stars!

Amazon Link
Genre:  Alien Invasion Science Fiction > Colonization Science Fiction


book cover for Whatever it Takes by S. BurkeWhatever It Takes
By S. Burke

I was sucked into this story from the get-go. The idea of a celebrity character and a Hollywood setting brought unique appeal to the story. Toss a serial killer into the mix and I knew I was in for a good read. The author crafted a complex plot with realistic characters. Kudos for a strong female lead who didn’t come off over-the-top, something I trip over frequently in popular fiction. Andi O’Connor is competent and convincing while harboring emotions and flaws that make her believable. Her relationship with James grows through the story—at a realistic pace—as the investigation draws them together.

This is a well-crafted mystery that takes an up close look at investigative work. I felt like I was putting pieces of the puzzle together along with Andi even as the danger level ramped higher. The procedural aspects of the book are exceptionally well done, the characters thoroughly developed. One of the secondary characters in particular was a surprise, sadly flawed and utterly human.

The plot ensures the reader is sent through twisted paths before delivering a satisfying conclusion. I could see this book unfolding as a movie. It has a dark underbelly, seasoned with gritty aspects of life. From the glitz of James’s Hollywood career, to the killer’s cold and abhorrent deeds, it examines two sides of life. I would love to see the character of Andi O’Connor return in a sequel. She definitely has the strength and appeal to carry a series. 5 Stars!

Amazon Link
Genre:  Suspense > Suspense Thrillers


Look for more reviews from me the end of the month. In the meantime, hopefully something I’ve shared appeals to your reader radar. There’s always room on the TBR for a few more! 🙂 

February Book Reviews, Part 2

Hey, gang! Thanks for joining me today as I trot out the final half of my book reviews for February. If you missed part one, and would like to check out what other books consumed my reading time during winter’s coldest and snowiest month, you can find it here.

For the books below, click the Amazon link for blurbs and additional details. I’m only sharing my impressions of each to keep the post from becoming too long.


Book cover for The Hunting Party, a novel by Lucy FoleyThe Hunting Party
by Lucy Foley
A snowbound setting, a killing, and multiple suspects—as soon as I read the premises for this book I was all in. A group of old friends, together since college, reunite every year to catch-up with one another—this time over the New Year’s holiday at an isolated resort in the Scottish Highlands.

This is a privileged group of characters, used to fine dining, the best in champagne and party locations. Some are stuck in the mindset of their college days when responsibility only lingered on a distant horizon, while others have moved onto the reality of demanding careers or starting a family. At first glance, most are superficial, pretty on the surface with a darker underbelly. There are stress fractures in the friendships, fissures that have been building over time, only to rupture with the glittery festivity of New Year.

Most of the characters are flawed in one way or another and very few are above reproach, but the complexity of their entanglements makes for riveting reading. There is no black or white in their actions but nuanced layers of manipulation, one-upmanship, old grudges, and petty jealousies. If that sounds like people you don’t want to get to know, it’s worth taking the time with these characters. They’re skillfully painted by the author, brushstroke by brushstroke. It’s only in the closing chapters that the surface gloss of each is stripped away, and we see them for who they truly are.

My only complaint is that it does take a while to settle into the book. There are four female POVs and one male. Multiple POVs do not bother me, but all the female narration is done in first person (the male in present third). As a result, it took several chapters before I was able to get a grasp on who was narrating. I had to keep flipping back to the title headers until I adjusted to the voices and who was who. If not for the so many narrators (in first person), this would be a five star read for me. It requires a bit of work at the beginning to adjust, but if you enjoy a murder mystery with complex suspects and multiple motives, this is a delicious tale in which to lose yourself for a few days. Extra kudos to the author for catching me by surprise with the murderer and motive.

Genre:  Psychological Thriller
Amazon Link


Book cover for Evil Lurks, a Horror Anthology by various authorsEvil Lurks
(Multiple Authors)
This is a hard book to rate, because of the diversity of stories. All are geared toward the paranormal and horror. I’m sure each reader will have stories that resonate with them more than others. There were a few gems that really stood out for me including The Revelation, Spirit of Lonely Places, Life in There, Onryo, and A Break In. I also enjoyed the first story, Cat Food, which may make you look at your felines a bit differently. Collections of stories are nice because you needn’t read them all at once, but can enjoy a tale over a lunch or coffee break—in this case, along with goosebumps and shivers!

Genre:  Horror Anthology
Amazon Link


Book cover for End of Day, mystery/suspense novel by Mae Clair shows old dilapidated church with bell tower and a cemetery in the background overgrown with weedsEnd of Day
by Mae Clair

Yes, I read my own book—cover to cover without an eye for editing. Having just submitted the third and final book of this series to my editor, I wanted to make sure there was good flow from book two to book three. Obviously I’m not going to review End of Day, but if you’d like to see what other readers think of my second venture into the fictional town of Hode’s Hill, follow the link below.

Genre:  Supernatural Mystery/Suspense
Amazon Link

 


I’ve already got my nose in the the first of March’s books, and am making a dent in the BEHEMOTH I call my TBR.

Sometimes I think of it like The Blob. Remember that old movie with Steve McQueen? There was even a remake in the 80s with Kevin Dillion. Of course I watched them both. And, of course I’ll keep reading, because—it’s an addiction, you know? 😉