May Book Reviews, Part 2

I’m excited that June is finally here, and pool season has arrived! I spend a lot of time during the summer pool season reading and plotting my WIPs, and am looking forward to my warm weather routine. But first, I’d like to share the books I read in May. You can find part one of my reviews HERE. And now for the books I read during the last half of the month. Click the Amazon Link below each review for blurbs and additional information. Perhaps something will strike your fancy!

Book cover for Global WeirdnessGlobal Weirdness
By Climate Central

If you’re interested in climate change, this is a good place to start. Greenhouse gases, severe weather, global warming, extinction events—it’s all here. The chapters are short and the material presented in such a way that it’s easy to understand and follow. A few chapters seem repetitive in places, but overall the flow from one to the next follows in smooth succession. The book addresses more than just greenhouse gases, also looking at ocean evaporation, sunlight reflection, cloud cover, threatened species and predictions for the future. This is an older book (I think was written in 2012) but I still found it informative and interesting. 3.5 stars.

Amazon Link
Genre: Weather > Environmental Science


Book cover for The HousemateThe Housemate
By C. L. Pattison

Chloe and Megan have been best friends for twelve years. When they find the perfect home for lease, they need a third roommate to swing the rent. They meet Sammi who seems a perfect fit, but after she moves in things start to go haywire. Sammi is secretive about her past and doesn’t appear to have friends or family. Items go missing, Chloe suffers a setback at her job that appears to be the result of sabotage, and a special dress belonging to Megan is irreparably damaged—just a few of the oddities that arise after Sammi enters their lives.

This book reads very quickly (I finished it in two nights), and it is definitely a page turner. Chloe and Megan alternate POVs, along with a third mystery narrator who isn’t revealed until the end. Although I guessed the identity of that narrator halfway through the book, there were plenty of twists that took me by surprise, and when the ending was said and done, I admired how the author let the story play out.

There are a few places where you need to go with the flow and not analyze too closely (i.e, nope, that wouldn’t happen in the real world) but if you’re looking for an entertaining read that would translate well into a cable channel movie, this book is gold. 4 Stars.

Amazon Link
Genre: Psychological Thrillers


Book cover for Fever DreamFever Dream
By Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

I recently hooked yet another friend on this series and decided to reread this book (for the third time) while she was reading it. Although I have devoured all of the Pendergast books, several stand out as my personal favorites and this is at the top of the list.

Aloysius X. L. Pendergast is a Special Agent with the FBI, a man who holds two doctorate degrees, and comes from a very rich and very old southern family. To say he is eccentric is equivalent to calling the ocean a lake. Pendergast does things his way, has little if no regard for authority, favors immaculate black suits, and drives a Rolls Royce Silver Wraith. He is a near-albino with extremely pale whitish hair, silver eyes and pale skin. He’s also damn good at solving crimes, even when they have a bizarre or potentially supernatural slant.

In Fever Dream, the crime becomes personal when he suddenly discovers the wife he lost twelve years earlier was likely murdered—and wasn’t exactly who he thought her to be. This book revealed a side of Pendergast readers hadn’t seen before which is one of the reasons I love it so much. That, and a scene involving boats, rednecks and a rundown bar that SCREAMS to be filmed. The audience would be on its feet cheering. 5 whopping big stars!

Amazon Link
Genre: Thriller > Suspense


Book cover for To Kill a MockingbirdTo Kill a Mockingbird
By Harper Lee

I can’t believe I never read this book before! It’s truly a classic in every sense of the word. I picked up a paperback copy a year ago to read on a flight but never got around to it. My loss. I recently came across my copy and devoured it in two days, riveted from the opening page. I’m almost intimidated to write a review. No wonder this book was voted Novel of the Century in a 1999 poll by Library Journal.

A beautiful coming of age story set in a small town at a time when racial prejudice was rampant, this book positively brims over with heart, wisdom, and wit. The characters are simply outstanding. I fell in love with Atticus Finch, Scout, Gem, Dill, Boo Radly, Calpurnia, and so many more. As for the meaning of the title and the way it ties into the story, I had goose bumps.

Brilliant ending, brilliant characters, brilliant story. Star ratings don’t do it justice. A masterpiece of literature!

Amazon Link
Genre:  Literature > Classic Literature and Fiction


Book cover for The Meg shows a behemoth shark under water, many small boats aboveThe Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror
By Steve Alten

I first read this book back in the late 90s when it was originally released. Given I’m a fan of creatures and monsters, I was eager to dive into the story all over again. Happily, I was not disappointed.

Discovered in the Mariana Trench, a “Jurassic shark” (a prehistoric megalodon) manages to reach surface waters, where it goes on a rampage in the modern world. The characters are great—people you can cheer for, others you boo with relish.

Dr. Jonas Taylor, ex-Navy deep sea submersible pilot is especially excellent in the lead role. There are good guys, bad guys, a cheating wife/pushy reporter, billionaire playboy (who happens to be Jonas’s best friend) and a brilliant, beautiful scientist. I recently discovered the author wrote a number of books that piggyback on this one, hence my desire to re-read The Meg. The story has also been made into a movie—which I’m sure (when I finally see it) will have me breaking out the popcorn. I can’t wait to follow up reading the other books in this series of shark adventures—maybe just not at the beach!  5 Stars.

Amazon Link
Genre: Action Thriller > Suspense Action > Sea Adventure Fiction


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 foregroundUnclear Purposes (Driscoll Lake 3)
By Joan Hall

I’ve followed the Driscoll Lake series from book one. Each novel is excellent, but the final is in a league of its own. The author clearly owns her small-town setting and the people who populate it.

When a woman is found murdered in Driscoll Lake, and two women die by similar means in a neighboring town, ex-FBI agent, Vince Green (now a private investigator) finds himself center stage trying to solve the murder. He and Christine Lawrence are the ones who found the victim in Driscoll Lake—a victim with a secretive past who has ties to multiple people in the town, including Christine’s ex mother-in-law. Toss in an old, unsolved crime, an arrogant police detective, art gallery clues, and the blossoming attraction between Christine and Vince, and you have book that will keep you entertained from page one.

Hall doles out her clues a little at a time, dropping them like breadcrumbs into a forest of divergent paths. Just when you think you’re starting to fit the pieces together, a new twist sends you down the wrong trail. The strong ensemble cast is handled with dexterity, each character awarded moments in the spotlight. Several of the secondary players are particularly notable. Equal parts mystery and romantic suspense, this intriguing novel presents a fabulous close to an excellent series. Each Driscoll Lake novel can be read as a standalone, including Unclear Purposes. Highly recommended! 5 Stars!

Amazon Link
Genre: Mystery > Romantic Suspense > Crime Suspense


Thanks for checking out this month’s reviews. I’ll be back in June with 1-2 more review posts (depending on how much I read). I hope you found something to add to your TBR and I wish you happy reading!

 

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! 🙂 

Reading, WIPs, Raven, and the Puppy Bowl

Sunday was odd. It’s normally the one day I stringently devote to writing but I finished my WIP last week and shipped it off to my editor. That amounted to a lot of Snoopy dancing Friday and Saturday night. I started reading a new book, Where the Crawdads Sing, which appears to be the “it” book of 2019 if all the buzz is true.

I’m currently 55% through, and although I’m glued to the story, I’ve yet to discover whatever it is that makes this book so haunting and unforgettable. Fingers crossed the magic will reveal itself before the end.

Sunday became a day of getting my year-end tax receipts together—not a chore I look forward to. It took several hours before I was done, and I am glad to finally have the chore behind me. Afterward, I discovered the Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet and was glued for the entire two hours.

I’d heard of the PB before, and even caught glimpses here and there, but never actually watched the whole thing from start to finish. Aside from the genius behind the marketing—which I couldn’t help appreciating—the Puppy Bowl is an overload of cute. With teams Fluff and Ruff, hamsters in a blimp, cheerleading kangaroos, sloth referee, kitty half-time, and an Amazon gray parrot doing updates, you can’t go wrong. I plan to be back every year.

As I write this, I’m watching the Super Bowl, and don’t know the outcome, but I’m enjoying the commercials. Anyone else love the Bud Knight and the competitive look at corn syrup?

I’ve got a crazy work week lined up with several meetings on the day job and several after-work appointments. At least the weather is going to be in the forties and fifties, a huge jump over the single digit temps of last week. Raven was glued to my side day and night for warmth.

And speaking of my beautiful feline, how is it possible for her to be comfortable like this.

black at squished between pillows on couch

Weird, huh? For something less bizarre, you can find me on Story Empire today with a post about Writing Tight. Raven invites you to drop over and say hello. I hope to see you there!

Has it really been that long?

I took a look at my last blog entry and realized it was over a month ago. Wow! How does time past that quickly? I’ve wanted to blog more consistently this year, but once again, that goal was shoved behind the eight-ball. So, what have I been doing?

The day job has kept me busy covering two positions—occasionally three—with staff out for various reasons. Thankfully, everyone is back now, but two weeks of double and triple duty took a huge toll on my energy level. I also did a book signing the end of April, which was a bust, at least in relation to sales. The day turned out to be the first nice Saturday my area had seen in ages, and no one wanted to be inside. There were about thirty authors who participated, but no one was selling. On the plus side, I did a lot of networking, made new friends, and enjoyed myself.

End of Day was finished on time and sent to my editor. She asked for a few changes, thankfully, nothing too large. I made them and shipped them off, but still had one problematic scene that required additional tweaking. We chatted on the phone about that, and I delivered the changes the next day. Content edits are done and now I’m waiting on the copy editor.

In the meantime, I drafted the synopsis, blurb, and tag for book three, completing the information forms my publisher requires. I’m ahead of schedule and have them ready to go when requested. The last time I had nothing when asked and narrowly avoided  a panic attack and meltdown. I feel pretty good about book three—even though it doesn’t have a title yet. Once again, I’ve got past and present timelines. For the past, I’m able to play off a hodgepodge of ideas I used in an old decaying trunk novel, and my lead character in the present is one who popped up unexpectedly in book two, End of Day. Originally, I planned for other characters to carry the lead in three, but Madison Hewitt pantsed her way into the spotlight. Even better? I have a pseudo outline for this book, something I rarely have. Jazzed!

In some ways I feel like I’m juggling a three-act play. Book one, Cusp of Night is up for pre-order, releasing on June 12. I’m working on promo for Cusp, while doing the edits on book two, End of Day. My publisher has also asked for the first chapter of book three to include in the back matter of End of Day. I’ve never been able to deliver that before, but I think I might pull it off. So, despite a crazy April of covering dual jobs and being buried in edits and promo, it feels like my head is above water. For the moment. We all know how easily everything can come crashing down.

I apologize if I haven’t been as visible lately or able to make my usual blog rounds. I try to keep up with rounds as much as possible, but sometimes, it’s hard to squeeze everything in. And I think most of you who are regular followers know I disappear offline from Friday to Sunday night for me and hubby time. 😊

Anyway, it’s good to post again. In parting, I thought I’d share some snazzy postcards and Twitter ads I made for a few older novels (and one new one). What do you think?

Banner ad for cusp of Night, a mystery/suspense novel by author, Mae CllairBanner ad for Myth and Magic a romantic suspense/mystery novel by Mae ClairBanner ad for Eclipse Lake, a a romantic suspense/mystery novel by Mae Clair

Visiting on a Friday

It’s Friday! Who doesn’t love the end of the work week? It’s gray and mucky in my area, but none of that matters given there is a weekend around the corner—albeit with a few inches of impending snow. Hopefully, it’s the last we’ll see of the white stuff until next winter.

Today I’m visiting with Teri Polen at Books and Such sharing one of my favorite novels in her Friday Reading Corner. Teri is a gifted writer, voracious reader, and fabulously supportive of others. I highly recommend clicking the “follow” button on her blog while you’re there.

Hop over and check out my post if you get a chance…you might even pick up a bit of news about my upcoming release, Cusp of Night.  🙂

old books in a stack beside a cup of coffee on a lace doily

 

 

The Siren Call of Books #amreading

I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Wait—I take that back. I do know what’s wrong. I have a horrible weakness I can’t overcome. Several things in life beckon me—clothes, shoes, jewelry, sparkly things, cats, and chips (not necessarily in that order). I love the beach, a good vacation in a relaxing low-key setting, and I love…

Books.

It’s a disease. I know it is. This past weekend DH and I had some errands to run that placed us near the local brick-and-mortar bookstore. If I read a book a day for the next year I still wouldn’t be caught up with my gargantuan TBR, but the siren call reeled me in—books upon books upon books. Keep in mind, I already had my next several reads lined up in a queue on my Kindle, a few of those titles I’ve been anticipating for some time. So what did I do?

This:

books by Brendan Duffy

Did I need to buy these books? Of course not.

Darn if I didn’t get hooked by the titles and the blurbs. Suddenly, both have found their way to the top of my TBR, shuffling my already queued up reads farther back.

Why do we do this? I know I am not the only bibliophile out there. No matter how many books we have, it’s never enough. And no matter how geared up we are for the next read in our queue, it’s easy for something pop out of the blue and take its place. There are days I wish I could do nothing but read. For now, I’ll continue to juggle my reading life with my writing life.

And be sucked in by bookstores and libraries whenever I pass.

Spill your guts. You do the same thing, right? 😀

Looking Back at 2017

Here we are with only a few days of 2017 still remaining.  Like most, I look back and think the months blasted past in the wink of an eye. Another year already? It seems impossible, yet 2018 will soon be ushered in with champagne toasts and confetti. As I normally do at this time of year, I like to reflect on the good tidings the year has brought with a quick breakdown.

WRITING
As a writer, I signed a new three-book contract with Kensington Publishing’s Lyrical Underground imprint. After finishing my Point Pleasant Series, I thought I was done with deadlines, but I couldn’t say no when the publisher asked me to submit something new. Thinking about that still has me on a cloud, and I can’t wait to introduce everyone to Cusp of Night, the first title in my Hode’s Hill Series, which will release in June.

June 2017 saw the release of A Desolate Hour, the last book in my Point Pleasant Series. I was sad to say goodbye to those characters, but gained a sense of accomplishment for finishing my first series. A bit of a rush. 🙂

Book sales were up for the third year in a row (YAY!) but I’m  worried about the first two quarters of next year. I don’t have anything releasing until the summer of 2018, which is certain to impact what I earn. I guess it’s a good thing I work a full-time job. I have a feeling it will be years (if ever) before I earn a steady income from writing. Still, it’s nice to see a return from doing something I love and connect with new readers in the process.

Banner ad for A Desolate Hour by Mae Clair features Man standing in a dark mysterious forest with bloody lake in foreground

My short story, Family Tree, was accepted for publication in the time-travel anthology, Quantum Wanderlust. If you haven’t already picked up a copy, treat yourself to an early New Year’s gift as Quantum Wanderlust is free and contains an eclectic mix of stories from various authors.

Banner ad for short story time travel anthology, Quantum Wanderlust

READING
It’s no secret I love to read. Each year I participate in the Goodreads Reading Challenge. Last year I surpassed the number of books I set for myself, but this year I fell short—probably due to the aforementioned writing deadlines. That said, I managed to read 60 books. My goal was 75. I guess I need to dial that back for 2018.

Goodreads gave me some other cool stats about my reading. The shortest book I read was Belle’s Christmas Carol, a 33 page novella. The longest? That would be Paul McCartney: The Life at 864 pages. Quite a difference. The average length of the books I read was 209 pages according to GR.

AUTHOR PRESENTATIONS
I gave my first author presentation in October, themed on folklore and urban legends. Afterwards, I sold books and made a number of connections. I considered the evening a huge success and can’t wait to do a presentation again. Who knew it would be such fun!

PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS
I met the membership requirements to join two professional writer’s organizations—The Mystery Writers of America and The International Thriller Writers.  I am so honored to be a member of these groups and hope to better utilize those memberships in 2018. Yet another step in my ongoing journey as an author.

STORY EMPIRE
The authors of Story Empire are such a blessing to me! I am thrilled to be part of a group blog devoted to writing and helping other authors succeed. This year, Story Empire was nominated for Favorite Writing Blog at Positive Writer. I just found out that winners will be announced in January, so we have our collective fingers crossed. Thank you to everyone who voted for us.

I know I speak for all of the SE authors when I say we are grateful to our readers for their support and the time taken to visit our small corner of the blogosphere. We have some new features planned for 2018 and I hope you’ll stick with us as we explore and share those together.

PERSONAL STUFF
I don’t share a lot about my family on my blog, but I am so grateful for each and every one of them, especially my wonderful husband, who I met in high school. All these years later, he’s still my soulmate and my one-and-only!

We had some fun this year with a trip to Cancun in the spring, and one to Florida in the fall. No, that’s not hubs below, but the pic is from our first night out in Cape Coral—at an open air bar/restaurant called the Yacht Club. We liked it so much we went back twice. The Captain was there to greet visitors.

With a large statue of Captain Morgan outside of the Yacht Club restaurant in Cape Coral, Florida

We also did some major renovations on our house, installing zoned heat and air conditioning and completely gutting our kitchen and dining room—removing a wall and creating one large room. Someday I’m going to get around to sharing the story of remodeling….with a cat 🙂

Cute black cat looks into camera from unfinished cabinet section

Which brings me to Raven. She joined us late in 2016, and makes every day entertaining. Pets bring such joy, and I’m thankful we found her and she found us—even when she’s climbing into things she shouldn’t be!

Finally, a heartfelt thanks to my readers and wonderful circle of blogging friends. I value each and every one of you. Over the last five years, I’ve learned that writing is not for the faint of heart. I couldn’t do this without you guys. Who else would understand the triumphs and hurdles of a writer’s life? 🙂

I wish all of you a Happy New Year with good health and good cheer. Here’s to a fabulous 2018 for all of us!

New years eve celebration background with champagne and confetti. Wishes for a magical 2018 from author Mae Clair

A Book Lover’s Tag

In a few days I leave for a nice long vacation to sunny beaches and dockside restaurants with good seafood and drinks sporting tiny umbrellas. I’m taking a few books with me that I’ve had on my read list for a while. Top of the list is The Life She Was Given followed by Everything We Lost. If I make it through those, I’ve got plenty of others in the wings. Plane flights and beaches are great for disappearing into good fiction.

Which brings me to today’s post. D. Wallace Peach ( a lovely blogger who you should follow 🙂 ) tagged all her followers with the Book Lover’s Tag, and I was so intrigued, I had to play along. Who doesn’t like discussing books and reading habits? You’re already interested, right? 😊

Consider yourself tagged should you like to play. Just answer the questions on your own blog, but while you’re here I’d love to know your all-time favorite book. Yeah, I know it’s a tough question, but Diana posed the same one and I made myself chose a single title.

Before we get to your answer, take a look at my reading habits:

Soft cuddly tabby cat lying in its owner's lap enjoying and purring while the owner is reading a bookDo you have a specific place for reading?
Not specific but I do have a favorite. I’m happy to read anywhere, but my regular way of unwinding each night is to read in bed before I fall asleep. It’s the perfect way to end each day. Bonus points if my cat, Raven, decides to snuggle.

book mark for author Mae Clair with spooky house at top, eerie inside setting at bottom Bookmark or random piece of paper?
Normally a bookmark. I had my own created for swag, so I normally grab one of those when I’ve got a paperback or hardback. I’ve always been someone who likes colorful bookmarks, so even before having my own, I always had something artsy, usually bought from a bookstore. I still have a collection. Of course, these days, a lot of my reading is done on my Kindle. When I e-read I don’t use the bookmark feature.

Do you eat or drink whilst reading?
Most of my reading is done before I go to bed, so no. If I’m reading at other times (camped out on my deck or on the living room sofa), I always have something to drink and occasionally something to munch.

Music or TV whilst reading.
Occasionally, I’ll play soft instrumental background music when I read, but other than that, any sound is a distraction that must be squashed immediately!

One book at a time or several?
Only one. It’s the way I write, too—one story at a time.

Do you prefer to read at home or elsewhere?
Most of my reading is done at home but books are so easily transported, I have no objection to reading elsewhere. I never go on an appointment (doctor, dentist, hair stylist) without taking a book along.

Read out loud or silently?
Usually silently, but sometimes when I’m caught up in a story I “whisper read” without even realizing it. I’ll also do that thing where your tongue forms the words against the roof of your mouth but your lips stay closed, Weird, I know.

Do you read ahead or skip pages?
I read page by page unless a section really drags. When that happens, I’ll skim the pages that follow until the story picks up again. Not really reading ahead, just skimming. With a great book, however, I am riveted word by word right up until the close.

Break the spine or keep it like new.
If it’s a nice fat paperback, I have no qualms about folding the cover back which usually results in a creased spine and pages that waffle upright into a fan. If it’s a hardback, I’m far more careful. I’ll remove the dust jacket to preserve it, and take care not to break the spine.

Do you write in books?
Only if the book is non-fiction. I normally read those for research (or because the subject fascinates me) and then I write all over the pages, highlight passages, draw arrows and gleefully post sticky tabs for easy reference. If it’s a work of fiction, the pages stay pristine. 😊

What books are you reading now?
I’m just finishing up Keeper of His Soul by Lauralynn Elliott, a paranormal tale with a conflicted vampire—the best kind. After that I’ll be reading the books I mentioned above, The Life She Was Given and Everything We Lost. They’re going on vacation with me.

What is your childhood favorite book?
book cover of Planet of Death by Robert Silverberg
There were two books that made a huge impression on me as a child. Planet of Death by Robert Silverberg which I read in fourth grade. The vivid cover sucked me in, and decades later, I still remember it as an adult. The book was my first experience with science-fiction and I was enthralled.

The other book is The Wicked Pigeon Ladies in the Garden by Mary Chase, also read when I was in elementary school. It opened my eyes to magic, spooky houses, Victorian ladies, and a bit of time travel. Once again, I was enraptured. Those two books, coupled with my own imagination, and encouragement from my parents, really opened the door to writing.

Book cover for THE TERROR by Dan Simmons which shows an old clipper ship without sails surrounded by ice and glaciersWhat is your all-time favorite book?
This is such a hard question and my favorite has changed over time. I have a number of favorites, but if I have to chose a single title, it’s The Terror by Dan Simmons. I’ve never read anything like it—a blend of historical fact, folklore, mystery, horror, even a bit of romance. Simmons penned a fictional account of Sir John Franklin’s doomed expedition to find the Northwest Passage and did it in manner that is haunting, lyrical, gruesome and brutal. It’s a mammoth tome topping 900 pages, but well worth the journey.

That’s it! You’re all tagged. 🙂
Remember to share your favorite book in the comments with your reason why.

Treasures of a Different Sort

Recently, I was cleaning out my desk when I found a hardback book buried in the bottom of a drawer. It’s a special book, given to me when I was a teenager by an old friend’s mother. Even as a kid I loved to read, and my friend’s mom had an extensive library—a full wall in her basement taken up by custom-built bookcases. I loved looking at all the titles, and she was more than happy to let me borrow whatever I chose.

I was first attracted to The Gregory Hill because of its cover. I thought it looked like a good, spooky mystery. Turns out it wasn’t spooky, but was a good mystery. After reading it twice (several months apart), I looked for a copy of my own. But it was an old book and I didn’t have any luck.

When my friend’s mom got wind of my hunt, she gave me her copy. The book was in nice shape for an older title. She came into possession of The Gregory Hill in 1960 (noted on the inside cover), and passed it to me in 1976 or 1977. I’ve read it multiple times, and the constant wear eventually took its toll. This book is 57 years old. Don’t ask me why I used masking tape to hold it together back in the day. That’s probably all I had at the time, and since it has been taped up for decades, I’ve left it that way. It may look a mess, but I guarantee this is a favored book I would never part with.

The second book is an indie book—published waaaaay before indie books existed. My dad was in the Army Signal Corps, stationed in the Pacific Theatre during World War II. He experienced Burma, India and the Orient. When he was twenty-four, he wrote The Yanks Came, a short fifty page recollection of events during his time there. From the preface (below) he says he published it so that the other soldiers in his company would have a record of what took place. My dad always liked dabbling with words (which is where I inherited my love of writing), but his true passion was art—oil paints, pastels and charcoal. Even so, he published this book and saw that everyone in his company received a copy.

Typeset author's preface page of an old journal from 1946

The Preface of The Yanks Came

My father passed away from cancer when I was thirteen. He was in his fifties then (I was a “late in life” baby), but I treasure the fact that I still have a battered copy of The Yanks Came—one of only two copies in my family. Maybe, somewhere “out there” others copies still exist, tucked away in attic trunks or drawers. Fortunately, the pages inside my copy are in great condition. Only the cover has become worn. Not too shabby considering this book is 71 years old! Take a look…

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And you know what’s even better? I have the original draft of the The Yanks Came. Yep. Talk about a treasure! The pages are tucked away in an old binder. The inside cover page came to me damaged, but otherwise the draft is well preserved. Take a look. The two inside shots are especially interesting.

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Did you note the date on that piece of loose-leaf? September 28th, 1945!! This is something I really treasure. I had goose bumps writing this post.

History. Family. Memories.

—and a love of the written word that echoes through time.

What’s on Your Bookshelf?

whimsical colorful rendering of an open book lying in tall grass beneath a starry sky If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you know I love to read nearly as much as I love to write. Today, I was invited to share my bookshelf with D. S. Nelson, the author of the Blake Hetherington mystery series (among other engaging reads).

Hop over and visit me at her blog, Every Day’s A Mystery. I’m sharing photos of my bookshelves and chatting about a few favorite novels. While you’re there consider giving Dawn’s blog a follow. She shares an eclectic mix of topics ranging from writing and reading to craft projects, green living and nature. See you there!