Book Review Tuesday: The Ballad of Mrs. Molony #UrbanFantasy #SuperHeroFantasy @Virgilante

Warm and cozy window seat with cushions and a opened book, light through vintage shutters, rustic style home decor. Small cat on window seat, along with coffee cup by pillow, Words Book Review Tuesday superimposed over imageIt’s pumpkin weather and I have a great pumpkin read to share today. Craig Boyack has a new Lizzie and the Hat adventure, and it’s a perfect fit for this month. The great thing about Lizzie and the Hat novellas is that you can read them in any order. Each story is complete to itself. They’re also an ideal size for a fairly quick read.

And let’s not forget the Hat or his trademark snark. I LOVE that character! 🙂


Book cover for The Ballad of Mrs. Molony shows straw cowboy hat on wooden table with cobwebs, pitchfork beside tableThe Ballad of Mrs. Molony
by C. S. Boyack

C. S. Boyack’s unique crime fighting duo is back in a new Lizzie and The Hat adventure. Not familiar with these two? Lizzie is a twenty-something who wields a mean pistol and plays the upright bass in a cover band with the help of the hat. He may look like a fedora (or whatever hat style he chooses), but he’s actually a being from another world—capable of zinging some of the best snarky dialogue you’re likely to encounter. These two play off each other with witty banter and plenty of adventure as they go up against supernatural bad guys. This time, it’s a group of vampires haunting the rodeo circuit.

That makes for a lot of colorful happenings as Lizzie, the hat, and their band take on the country music scene, mingling with broncobusters and cowboys. Boyack treats us to plenty of rodeo experiences in addition to Lizzie and the hat working to track down the vamps. Some of the moments that stood out for me included Lizzie target-shooting ghouls in a cemetery, egged on by the hat’s snarky asides; a vampire with a speech impediment; the hat’s addiction to “my internet” and his ongoing insistence the band should have a fog machine. And then there’s Mrs. Molony—but you’ll need to read this supernatural romp yourself to find out just how she plays into the story. Clever, clever, clever!

AMAZON LINK
black bat with wings outstretchedGenre:  Superhero Fantasy > Superhero Science Fiction > Paranormal & Urban Fantasy

I give The Ballad of Mrs. Molony 5 Stars, and 5 Spooky Bats


And speaking of spooky things—if you’re out and about the blogosphere, you can find me at Teri Polen’s place today. Want to find out what book scared me so much, I threw it in the trash? Hop on over for my turn on Teri’s Halloween-themed Bad Moon Rising.

Guest Author Thursday: Hiding Cracked Glass by James J. Cudney #newrelease #giveaway @jamescudney4 @Shalini_G26

red quill pen on a piece of old parchment paper, with an ink well with words Welcome Guest in scriptWelcome to another Guest Author Thursday. Today is release day for James J. Cudney’s newest novel, Hiding Cracked Glass (Perceptions of Glass book 2). To celebrate, Jay is offering a GIVEAWAY to two lucky winners!  Just CLICK TO ENTER.

I read the first in this series, Watching Glass Shatter and was enthralled by the depth of character development Jay brought to each member of the Glass family. You can find my review for Watching Glass Shatter HERE.

I asked Jay for a post that would address family dynamics and how they factor into his books, and boy did he deliver. I hope you enjoy his post today as much as I did—then don’t forget to grab your copy of Hiding Cracked Glass and ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!


logo for Digital Reads Blog Tours has banner with business name over the spines of old books

Some of us are obsessed with good plots. Others connect with strong characters. When you combine the two, and you toss in the family dynamic, it’s almost as if a book explodes with boundless drama. As readers, we often search for ourselves or those we know in the characters of our favorite books. Even when it’s a science-fiction or fantasy novel, and the story is not at all realistic, it is still a place where we want to be. To me, perhaps since I grew up surrounded by family, I find myself drawn to the core relationships in our lives.

I’ll begin with saying I am an only child; however, I have ~15 first cousins who basically spent a lot of time together while growing up. I am probably best as an only child, but at the same time, it has always made me sad too. I often feel so unique and independent that no other person shares the same set of parents as me… that when they are gone, because I don’t have children, I am thoroughly alone in this world. That said… I’m not at all looking for someone to make me feel better. But what this did in my childhood was force me to be creative and imaginative with how I developed relationships. I closely monitored characters on TV and in books. I wrote stories about the relationships. I asked a lot of questions of all my friends and cousins who had siblings.

In the end, this experience helped cultivate my ability to write books with extreme family situations… in both my Perceptions of Glass and Braxton Campus Mysteries series, there are five siblings, lots of extended family members, and a focus on people’s connections with one another. All those nicknames the Glass brothers share for one another? All the competition among the Ayrwick siblings? Then consider my stand-alone novel, Father Figure: Brianna is desperately searching for her father because she only has her secretive mother and no other family. Amalia wants to escape her abusive family and finds herself ending up in a situation she intentionally tried to avoid.

These are the destinies people face in my dreams, and so they become the stories of my characters. When I began writing the outline for Hiding Cracked Glass (HCG), I knew it had to be very similar to Watching Glass Shatter (WGS), but it also had to be very different. In WGS, Teddy (the eldest) deals with the betrayal of a loved one and a desire to quit his job. In HCG, he’s facing the result of his decision but he’s had to battle something far worse he never expected to happen. In WGS, Matt tried to dig himself out of a serious life-and-death situation. In HCG, we learn that he’s likely brought a major impact on his family that he never knew happened. In WGS, Caleb finally tells his family the truth. In HCG, we learn that he might’ve done something very bad and hurt his relationship. In WGS, Zach dazzled us with his attitude toward the others. In HCG, he’s now the one who’s changed the most after what happened at the end of the first book. In WGS, Ethan suffered a devastating loss. In HCG, his wife is learning how to deal with the aftermath of so many secrets.

Kindle and paperback covers of Hiding Cracked Glass, dramatic shattered glass over old envelope on wood grain surfaceI haven’t even shared much about Olivia, the matriarch of these five boys. She’s rude. Abrasive. Distant. Aloof. But she’s also smart and learns the biggest lessons of all. So why is it that she can make a complete change between books? When she receives the blackmail threat in Hiding Cracked Glass, a series of events is kicked off that challenges everything she thought she’d fixed recently. My own mother is nothing like Olivia, but as you dig deeper, you realize Olivia is a compilation of so many strong women who often get a bad rap for being tough and direct… while a man in her position would be considered powerful and a strong father figure.  When my mother read Watching Glass Shatter, besides squirming over two scenes that I included (who wants to know their son / mother is aware of sex or curse words!), the first thing she said to me: “Wow! You put a piece of your personality in each of the 5 brothers. It’s like you selected a trait about yourself that we’ve always talked about and made it a big piece of each brother’s life.”

Yep, go ahead and try to guess those characteristics! Those who’ve met me can easily figure it out. 🙂

I love taking personalities and flipping them around, mostly to show how we all have a perception of ourselves that is a bit like looking through glass. It’s shiny but distorted. It’s smooth but once it cracks, the repairs are almost impossible without professional help. Families are kinda like that too. Relationships are brittle, and they change at the slightest pressure once people communicate poorly. Imagine a father dying in a car accident and leaving behind a will that changes everything. Then imagine hiding that secret and it being found out 9 months later by someone you never thought would’ve been involved. While I have no personal experience with this… and my family wasn’t very big on keeping secrets… there is one that I hardly tell anyone. Now, I think it’s kind of amusing though, and it actually is another family drama story I’m playing around with as a future book.

book cover of Hiding Cracked Glass, dramatic shattered glass over old envelope on wood grain surfaceWhen I was fifteen, my grandfather passed away. During the planning of his funeral, I learned that one of my parents had another sibling I’d never met. Then I learned this sibling living in our same small town (under 3,000 people). Then I learned this sibling had two children who were just a couple of years older than me. Then I learned I went to high school with both of them. First, you’re probably thinking “OMG, that’s so weird and scary!.” You’d be right… but then here’s where my mind went next at fifteen in a conversation with some friends: At fifteen with two slightly older cousins… what would’ve happened if one of those cousins and I had met and gone out on a date or hooked up! We don’t always tell our parents the name of a guy or girl we go on a date with. Our last names were different. Could you imagine the drama if something had happened between us? Yikes, I could almost be the subject of my next book.

Secrets. Lies. Family Drama. Broken Relationships. These are the events of our daily lives. We all have a bit of a soap opera / daytime drama running around in our families. I love exploring the psychological and physical impacts of these connections, and that’s why my books will almost always have the elements of family–past, present, and future–woven into its binding. And perhaps now you might know a little bit about me that you never thought you’d learn. NO, I never actually connected much with my cousins other than the funeral… thought we did socialize for a few years… but then the family fell apart again. Now you can see how I incorporate reality into my literary world! Any crazy stories in your family you’d like to share?


Wow! Did that blow you away? I actually met cousins I never knew I had roughly seven years ago. They’re scattered over the map, but now we hold a family reunion every year. It’s a long story, but I can so relate to Jay’s tale.

And speaking of tales, I’ve got my copy of Hiding Cracked GlassIf you aren’t intrigued from that fabulous post, I know you will be after reading the blurb:

ABOUT THE BOOK:
An ominous blackmail letter appears at an inopportune moment. The recipient’s name is accidentally blurred out upon arrival. Which member of the Glass family is the ruthless missive meant for?

In the powerful sequel to Watching Glass Shatter, Olivia is the first to read the nasty threat and assumes it’s meant for her. When the mysterious letter falls into the wrong hands and is read aloud, it throws the entire Glass family into an inescapable trajectory of self-question. Across the span of eight hours, Olivia and her sons contemplate whether to confess their hidden secrets or find a way to bury them forever. Some failed to learn an important lesson last time. Will they determine how to save themselves before it’s too late?

Each chapter’s focus alternates between the various family members and introduces several new and familiar faces with a vested interest in the outcome. As each hour ticks by, the remaining siblings and their mother gradually reveal what’s happened to them in the preceding months, and when the blackmailer makes an appearance at Olivia’s birthday party, the truth brilliantly comes to light.

Although everyone seemed to embrace the healing process at the end of Watching Glass Shatter, there were hidden cracks in the Glass family that couldn’t be mended. Their lives are about to shatter into pieces once again, but this time, the stakes are even higher. Someone wants to teach them a permanent lesson and refuses to stop until success is achieved.


PURCHASE LINK


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Author James J. Cudney in professional shot with suit and tieBackground
James is my given name, but most folks call me Jay. I live in New York City, grew up on Long Island, and graduated from Moravian College, an historic but small liberal arts school in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with a degree in English literature and minors in Education, Business and Spanish. After college, I accepted a technical writing position for a telecommunications company during Y2K and spent the last ~20 years building a career in technology & business operations in the retail, sports, media and entertainment industries. Throughout those years, I wrote some short stories, poems and various beginnings to the “Great American Novel,” but I was so focused on my career in technology and business that writing became a hobby. In 2016, I refocused some of my energies toward reinvigorating a second career in reading, writing and publishing.

Author
Writing has been a part of my life as much as my heart, my mind and my body. At some points, it was just a few poems or short stories; at others, it was full length novels and stories. My current focus is family drama fiction, cozy mystery novels and suspense thrillers. I think of characters and plots that I feel must be unwound. I think of situations people find themselves in and feel compelled to tell the story. It’s usually a convoluted plot with many surprise twists and turns. I feel it necessary to take that ride all over the course. My character is easily pictured in my head. I know what he is going to encounter or what she will feel. But I need to use the right words to make it clear.

Reader & Reviewer
Reading has also never left my side. Whether it was children’s books, young adult novels, college textbooks, biographies or my ultimate love, fiction, it’s ever present in my day. I read 2 books per week and I’m on a quest to update every book I’ve ever read on Goodreads, write up a review and post it on all my sites and platforms.

Blogger & Thinker
I have combined my passions into a single platform where I share reviews, write a blog and publish tons of content: TRUTH. I started my 365 Daily Challenge, where I post about a word that has some meaning to me and converse with everyone about life. There is humor, tears, love, friendship, advice and bloopers. Lots of bloopers where I poke fun at myself all the time. Even my dogs have had weekly segments called “Ryder’s Rants” or “Baxter’s Barks” where they complain about me. All these things make up who I am; none of them are very fancy or magnanimous, but they are real. And that’s why they are me.

Genealogist & Researcher
I love history and research, finding myself often reaching back into the past to understand why someone made the choice he or she did and what were the subsequent consequences. I enjoy studying the activities and culture from hundreds of years ago to trace the roots and find the puzzle of my own history. I wish I could watch my ancestors from a secret place to learn how they interacted with others; and maybe I’ll comprehend why I do things the way I do.

Websites & Blog
Website | Blog | Amazon | Next Chapter Pub |
BookBub

Social Media
Twitter | Facebook Author | Facebook Braxton Campus | Facebook ThisIsMyTruthNow | Pinterest | Instagram | Goodreads |
LinkedIn

Genres, Formats & Languages
I write in the family drama and mystery genres. My first two books are Watching Glass Shatter (2017) and Father Figure (2018). Both are contemporary fiction and focus on the dynamics between parents and children and between siblings. I’m currently writing the sequel to Watching Glass Shatter. I also have a light mystery series called the Braxton Campus Mysteries with six books available.

All my books come in multiple formats (Kindle, physical print, large print paperback, and audiobook) and some are also translated into foreign languages such as Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and German.


Goodreads Book Links
Watching Glass Shatter (October 2017) |
Father Figure (April 2018)

Braxton Campus Mysteries

ENTER GIVEAWAY FOR HIDING CRACKED GLASS


Welcome Guest: D.L. Cross with Astral Conspiracy Series #AlienInvasion #AlienEncounters @stacitroilo

red quill pen on a piece of old parchment paper, with an ink well with words Welcome Guest in scriptIt’s my pleasure to host Staci Troilo today. Staci is a Story Empire colleague, one of the best writers I know, and a close friend. Her books never disappoint. Her Astral Conspiracy series (written under the pen name D.L. Cross) is pure gold. These aren’t just science fiction stories, but combine elements of thrillers, suspense, mysteries and fast-paced adventure—with character development that pings in the stratosphere.

And now, here’s Staci to tell you more!


Ciao, Mae. Thanks for having me here today. I’m really glad to visit with you and your readers again. Hi, everyone!

file folder marked top secret with name of agent Halpern, Natasha

I’m here today to talk about my Astral Conspiracy series. It’s technically science fiction, as it’s part of the acclaimed Platt and Truant Invasion Universe, but my saga is as much thriller as it is sci-fi, so I thought I’d have a little fun with my marketing and include pages from the top-secret government files on my main characters. Today, I’m sharing info on Tasha Halpern.

DOSSIER

Name: Natasha (Tasha) Halpern

Occupation: Special Agent for US Government AATIP (Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program)

Of Note: A modern-day Mata Hari, her expertise is in asset recruitment

TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW BETWEEN AUTHOR (Staci Troilo a.k.a. D.L. Cross) AND CHARACTER (Special Agent Natasha Halpern) ON ASTRAL DAY (the day the world is alerted to the approach of alien ships) via video conference. (Video is eyes-only, file #7161998-V, director’s approval required.)

Subject photo available, file #7161998-G

Staci: Tasha. How are you?

Tasha: Well, the cat’s out of the bag now. Should make life easier once things calm down. But who knows when that’ll happen, so we’re in Chicken Little mode.

Staci: Even people in the upper echelon of the government are panicking?

Tasha: Maybe more than the general public. We’re responsible for keeping everyone safe. It’s a big responsibility. (looks around, ducks her head, whispers into the mic) And between you and me, the people at the top never like to think their positions are going to be compromised.

Staci: You’re telling me we’re about to meet aliens for the first time, and our elected officials are more worried about power than protecting us?

Tasha: Who says this is the first time?

Staci: (gasping) They’ve been here before?

Tasha: Before? Or still?

Staci: You’re kidding?

Tasha: You didn’t hear that from me.

Staci: So, can’t you talk to the… visitors… and ask them for help? They could be a mediator, bridging the gap.

Tasha: That’s assuming they aren’t hostile toward us.

Staci: Are they?

Tasha: If our… guests were here as friends, don’t you think we’d have announced their presence years ago?

Staci: Years? How long have they been here?

Tasha: A while. A very, very long while.

Staci: Is that how you met Landon? You never told me the meet-cute story.

Tasha: I’m sure I did.

Staci: No. You didn’t.

Tasha: Well, I can’t tell you now. Beck’s bellowing. Gotta run. Stay safe, Stace.

Staci: You, too. (gives a half-wave to an empty screen)

Tasha makes her debut in the Astral Conspiracy series in book one, The Gate. You can read a brief synopsis of all five books below, and each one has links to its product page and a purchase link.

Book covers of all five novels in Astral Conspiracy series by D.L. Crossa

The Gate: When the hypotheses of disgraced ancient alien theorist Landon Thorne prove to be true, he travels across the globe in search of a way to communicate with—and perhaps stop—the approaching alien armada.
Full Blurb | Purchase Link

The Stones: The invasion couldn’t be prevented, but there is a chance the Astrals can be driven away… if Landon Thorne can reach the Georgia Guidestones, unearth its secrets, and decode the mystery before the aliens stop him.
Full Blurb | Purchase Link

The Nine: Landon Thorne and his team of resistance fighters seek a cipher to decode the message accompanying a cache of alien artifacts they’ve unearthed, but the government, a clandestine cabal, and the Astrals themselves stand in their way and might not only put an end to their plans—they might put an end to their lives.
Full Blurb | Purchase Link

The Twins: When all factions converge for a human-versus-alien showdown, resistance fighter Reverie Sterling gets help from the least likely source. But even then, it may be too late for everyone she loves to make it out alive.
Full Blurb | Purchase Link

The Lab: In the final showdown between Earthlings and Astrals, twins Asha and Vonn insist their long-lost grandfather has a plan to save humanity. It’s a long-shot, but the resistance takes it—and no one is prepared for the consequences.
Full Blurb | Purchase Link

Author, Staci TroiloAbout Staci Troilo/D.L. Cross

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.

Connect online:

Website | Blog | Troilo Amazon |  Cross Amazon | Troilo BookBub | Cross BookBubTroilo Goodreads | Cross Goodreads | Social Media

Thanks again for having me here today, Mae. And thanks to all of your fans for indulging me. This post was as fun to write as the stories were, and I appreciate you taking the time to read it. Grazie!


What a great post! If you’ve been following this blog tour, you know each stop has provided a behind-the-scenes look at key players in the Astral Conspiracy series. I’ve been enjoying the heck out of it, and hope you are too. Please use the sharing buttons below to help spread the word about Astral, then drop Staci a few lines in the comments. I gave each of these phenomenal books 5-Stars and count them among my top reads of 2020!

Kindle Unlimited Books #Mothman

Happy Monday, friends! Please pardon my absence of the last few days. I came down with a wretched sinus infection and earache the end of last week, and basically spent my days sleeping or lounging around the house and doing nothing. Because several of my symptoms mimicked COVID-19, I had to have the test done—not a pleasant experience, but thankfully, it doesn’t take long.

I also didn’t have to wait in a string of cars. There was only one ahead of me, so I breezed through pretty quickly. My test was negative, and I’m now feeling much better. I’ve been on antibiotics which have taken care of the sinus infection and earache, but during those down days, I missed a number of your blog posts. I hope to be back in my normal routine with this week.

For those of you who are on Kindle Unlimited, I wanted to share the news that A Cold Tomorrow, and A Desolate Hour, Books 2 and 3 of my Point Pleasant series will be available on KU until November 14. Each of the books can be read as stand alone, and each delves into the urban legend of the Mothman and the tragic collapse of the Silver Bridge in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Of all the books I’ve written, A Cold Tomorrow remains a personal favorite. I even had the cover made into a canvas wall print for my den. Blurbs for both books are below.

eerie farm road late at night below a green skyA Cold Tomorrow
Book 2 Point Pleasant

Where secrets make their home…

Book cover for A COLD TOMORROW by author, Mae Clair shows a deserted country lane at night beneath a sky of green cloudsStopping to help a motorist in trouble, Katie Lynch stumbles upon a mystery as elusive as the Mothman legend that haunts her hometown of Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Could the coded message she finds herald an extraterrestrial visitor? According to locals, it wouldn’t be the first time. And what sense should she make of her young son’s sudden spate of bizarre drawings—and his claim of a late-night visitation? Determined to uncover the truth, Katie only breaks the surface when a new threat erupts. Suddenly her long-gone ex-boyfriend is back and it’s as if he’s under someone else’s control. Not only is he half-crazed, he’s intent on murder….

As a sergeant in the sheriff’s office of the famously uncanny Point Pleasant, Officer Ryan Flynn has learned to tolerate reports of puzzling paranormal events.   But single mom Katie Lynch appears to be in very real danger—and somehow Ryan’s own brother, Caden, is caught up in the madness, too. What the skeptical lawman discovers astounds him—and sends him into action. For stopping whatever evil forces are at play may just keep Katie and Caden alive….

AMAZON KINDLE UNLIMITED LINK

Header image for A Desolate Hour by Mae Clair showing a man standing in a dark mysterious forest with bloody lake in foreground

A Desolate Hour
Book 3 Point Pleasant

Sins of the past could destroy all of their futures . . .

Book cover for A Desolate Hour by Mae Clair shows a small town overlooking a river at night, full moon overhead, cover in wash of green red and black with white letteringFor generations, Quentin Marsh’s family has seen its share of tragedy, though he remains skeptical that their misfortunes are tied to a centuries-old curse. But to placate his pregnant sister, Quentin makes the pilgrimage to Point Pleasant, West Virginia, hoping to learn more about the brutal murder of a Shawnee chief in the 1700s. Did one of the Marsh ancestors have a hand in killing Chief Cornstalk—the man who cursed the town with his dying breath?

While historian Sarah Sherman doesn’t believe in curses either, she’s compelled to use her knowledge of Point Pleasant to uncover the long-buried truth. The river town has had its own share of catastrophes, many tied to the legendary Mothman, the winged creature said to haunt the woods. But Quentin’s arrival soon reveals that she may have more of a stake than she realized. It seems that she and Quentin possess eerily similar family heirlooms. And the deeper the two of them dig into the past, the more their search enrages the ancient mystical forces surrounding Point Pleasant. As chaos and destruction start to befall residents, can they beat the clock to break the curse before the Mothman takes his ultimate revenge? . . .

AMAZON KINDLE UNLIMITED LINK


If you’ve been considering this series, and you’re a KU subscriber, now is a great time to take advantage. This is the first time my publisher has placed any of my books in the KU program. I’m eager to see how it goes.

Happy reading. And, as we near autumn in the northern hemisphere, and the start of cold and flu season, stay safe out there!

Book Release: The Memory by Judith Barrow #familylifefiction

I have a new guest on my blog today. I “met” Judith Barrow through Story Empire, then invited her to share her latest release The Memory. Please make her feel welcome as she gives us a behind the scenes look at what inspired her to write the book.


Thank you so much, Mae Clair, for hosting this guest post and promotion for my new book, The Memory.

Introduction
Many people have asked what was the inspiration for The Memory and my answer is always – memories: memories of being a carer for two of my aunts who lived with us, memories of losing a friend in my childhood; a friend who, although at the time I didn’t realise, was a Downs’ Syndrome child. But why I started to write the story; a story so different from my other four books, I can’t remember. Because it was something I’d begun years ago and was based around the journal I’d kept during that decade of looking after my relatives.

But what did begin to evolve when I settled down to writing The Memory was the realisation of why I’d been so reluctant to delve too far into the manuscript. The isolation, the loneliness, that Irene Hargreaves, the protagonist, endures; despite being married to Sam, her loving husband, dragged up my own feelings of being alone so much as a child. That awareness of always being on the outside; looking in on other families, relationships and friendships had followed me; had hidden deep inside my subconscious. And now, as a contented wife and mother, with steady enduring friendships, it unsettled me. Many people, and as a creative writing tutor I’m one, say that writing is cathartic. Working through Irene’s memories; especially that one memory that has ruled her life, made me acknowledge my own. And that’s fine. I always say to my students, if you don’t feel the emotions as you write, then neither will your reader. In The Memory I’m hoping the reader will sense the poignant, sad times with Irene, but will also rejoice with her in the happier memories

Book cover for The Memory by Judith Barrrow shows woman's legs crossed, woman sitting on stone wall, visible from waist downBlurb
Today has been a long time coming. Irene sits at her mother’s side waiting for the right moment, for the point at which she will know she is doing the right thing by Rose.

Rose was Irene’s little sister, born a chromosome short, an unwanted embarrassment to their mother Lilian but a treasure to Irene. Rose died thirty years ago, when she was eight, and nobody has talked about the circumstances of her death since. But Irene knows what she saw.

Over the course of 24 hours their moving and tragic story is revealed – a story of love and duty, betrayal, and loss – as Irene rediscovers the past and finds hope for the future.

Extract from The Memory
There’s a chink of light from the streetlamp coming through the vertical blinds. It spreads across the duvet on my mother’s bed and onto the pillow next to her head. I reach up and pull the curtains closer together. The faint line of light is still there, but blurred around the edges.

Which is how I feel. Blurred around the edges. Except, for me, there is no light.

I move around the bed, straightening the corners, making the inner softness of the duvet match the shape of the outer material, trying to make the cover lie flat but of course I can’t. The small round lump in the middle is my mother. However heavily her head lies on the pillow, however precisely her arms are down by her sides, her feet are never still. The cover twitches until centimetre by centimetre it slides to one side towards the floor like the pink, satin eiderdown used to do on my bed as a child.

In the end I yank her feet up and tuck the duvet underneath. Tonight I want her to look tidy. I want everything to be right.

She doesn’t like that and opens her eyes, giving up the pretence of being asleep. Lying face upwards, the skin falling back on her cheekbones, her flesh is extraordinarily smooth, pale. Translucent almost. Her eyes are vague under the thick lines of white brows drawn together.

I ignore her; I’m bone weary.

I wait by the bed. I move into her line of vision and it’s as if we’re watching one another, my mother and me: two women – trapped.

‘I can’t go on, Mum.’ I lift my arms from my side, let them drop; my hands too substantial, too solid to hold up. They’re strong – dependable, Sam, my husband, always says. I just think they’re like shovels and I’ve always been resentful that I didn’t inherit my mother’s slender fingers. After all I got her fat arse and thick thighs, why not the nice bits?

I’ve been awake for over a day. I glance at the clock with the extra large numbers, bought when she could still tell the time. Now it’s just something else for her to stare at, to puzzle over. It’s actually twenty-seven hours since I slept, and for a lot of them I’ve been on my feet. Not that this is out of the ordinary. This has been going on for the last year: long days, longer nights.

‘Just another phase she’s going through,’ the Irish doctor says, patting me on the shoulder as she leaves. ‘You’re doing a grand job.’ While all the time I know she’s wondering why –why I didn’t give up the first time she suggested that I should; why, by now, I’ve not admitted it’s all too much and ‘Please, please take her away, just for a week, a day, a night. An hour.’

But I don’t. Because I have no choice. Mum told me years ago she’d sorted it out with her solicitor. There was no way she’d agree to our selling this house; as a joint owner with Sam and me, she would block any attempt we made. There’s no way we could afford to put her into care either; over the years, we’ve ploughed most of Sam’s earnings into the renovation and upkeep of the place. So here I am. Here we are.


Author Judith Barrow holding her book, The Memory

Author Bio
I was born and brought up in a small village on the edge of the Pennine moors in Yorkshire, but, for the last forty-three years I’ve lived with my husband and family near the coast in Pembrokeshire, West Wales, UK, a gloriously beautiful place.

I’ve written all my life and have had short stories, poems, plays, reviews, and articles published throughout the British Isles. But only started to seriously write novels after I’d had breast cancer twenty years ago.  Four novels safely stashed away, never to see the light of day again, I had the first of my trilogy, Pattern of Shadows, published in 2010 by Honno , the longest-standing independent women’s press in the UK. They then published, the sequel, Changing Patterns, in 2013 and the last, Living in the Shadows in 2015. The prequel, A Hundred Tiny Threads was published in August 2017.

The Memory was published in March 2020, and my next book, The Heart Stone, is due to be out in February 2021.

At the moment I’m working on two books; a story set in the 1950s of three women who work in a cotton factory during the declining years of the industry. It’s told from the three points of view; each have disparate and difficult home lives. As friends, they come together in their place of work to share the troubles within their families; problems that will be worsened by the crisis within the cotton trade and their inevitable unemployment.

My other WIP is a more contemporary book again and is the story of two sisters who grow up sharing a lie, and the subsequent consequences that brings.

I have an MA in Creative Writing, B.A. (Hons.) in Literature, and a Diploma in Drama and Script Writing.  I am also a Creative Writing tutor for Pembrokeshire County Council’s Lifelong Learning Programme and give talks and run workshops on all genres.

When I’m not writing or teaching, I’m researching for my books, walking the Pembrokeshire coastline or reading and reviewing books for Rosie Amber’s Review Team #RBRT, along with some other brilliant authors and bloggers.

Again, my thanks, Mae Clair, for hosting this guest post and promotion for my new book, The Memory. It’s been great fun and I appreciate your generosity.


Learn more about Judith at the following haunts:
Hono | Amazon | Website | Facebook Author Page  | Twitter


It was my pleasure to host Judith today. Thank you for visiting and making her feel welcome. Please don’t forget to use the sharing buttons to help spread the news about The Memory! 🙂

Book Review Tuesday: Crooked River by Preston and Child

Warm and cozy window seat with cushions and a opened book, light through vintage shutters, rustic style home decor. Small cat on window seat, along with coffee cup by pillow, Words Book Review Tuesday superimposed over image

Happy Tuesday! If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you know I’m a huge Preston and Child fan. I become giddy whenever they release a book and have waited a year for the newest Pendergast novel, Crooked River. My PenderPal, Marcia Meara, even convinced me to order an autographed copy of the hardcover, and I am so glad I did! Thank you, Marcia!

Of course, I also ordered the Kindle version to read. The other is for admiring. 🙂

And although I’m already in mourning that I’m going to have to wait another year for the next in the series, at least I can share my review of this fabulous book.


Preston and Child deliver another outstanding Pendergast tale, this time involving detached feet that wash up on a beach in Sanibel Island. Based on actual occurrences of this strange phenomenon happening in the Pacific Northwest, P&C have spun their own twisted explanation and moved the location to southern Florida. Pendergast, a special agent with the FBI, is unlike any other fictional detective I’ve encountered, which is why, nineteen books in, this series continues to deliver. He’s unbelievably brilliant, obscenely wealthy, and cool as ice, even in the worst of circumstances. The fact that he consistently ignores established procedure and can verbally vivisect someone without batting an eye only adds to his appeal. Watching him piece together and solve a crime is entertainment of the nth degree. Preston and Child have also given him an excellent cast of supporting characters, who filter in and out of the series through various books. Pendergast’s “ward,” Constance Greene gets to shine in Crooked River. Most of the time, Constance is prim and proper, but when needed, she becomes a skilled and lethal assailant as she proves in this book. I also love Agent Coldmoon, a Native American FBI agent Pendergast worked with in the last book. The contrasts between these two and how they interact is always fun. The book keeps you flipping pages with several divergent plot threads that converge for an explosive ending. Over the top, yes, but for sheer entertainment value, you can’t beat Preston and Child, and especially not Pendergast. Loved it!Crooked River
by Preston and Child

Preston and Child deliver another outstanding Pendergast tale, this time involving detached feet that wash up on a beach in Sanibel Island. Based on actual occurrences of this strange phenomenon happening in the Pacific Northwest, P&C have spun their own twisted explanation and moved the location to southern Florida.

Pendergast, a special agent with the FBI, is unlike any other fictional detective I’ve encountered, which is why, nineteen books in, this series continues to deliver. He’s unbelievably brilliant, obscenely wealthy, and cool as ice, even in the worst of circumstances. The fact that he consistently ignores established procedure and can verbally vivisect someone without batting an eye only adds to his appeal. Watching him piece together and solve a crime is entertainment of the nth degree. Preston and Child have also given him an excellent cast of supporting characters, who filter in and out of the series through various books. Pendergast’s “ward,” Constance Greene gets to shine in Crooked River. Most of the time, Constance is prim and proper, but when needed, she becomes a skilled and lethal assailant as she proves in this book.

I also love Agent Coldmoon, a Native American FBI agent Pendergast worked with in the last book. The contrasts between these two and how they interact is always fun. The book keeps you flipping pages with several divergent plot threads that converge for an explosive ending. Over the top, yes, but for sheer entertainment value, you can’t beat Preston and Child, and especially not Pendergast. 5 big, glittery stars!

Amazon Link
Genre: Thriller > Suspense > Crime Fiction
(Once again Amazon has some bizarre tags listed that don’t apply, so I listed my own above)


 

Hode’s Hill Series .99c Sale #GhostFiction #SupernaturalSuspense #ParanormalMystery

Hi, friends. I’ve been away since last Friday afternoon for an extended weekend at the beach. The weather was awesome and it turned out to be one of the best vacays DH and I have had. I got some great pictures and hope to share later in the week.

In the meantime, I have exciting news—my publisher is shining the spotlight on my Hode’s Hill series throughout the month of February. Both End of Day and Eventide will be priced at .99c for the month, and Cusp of Night—book one­­—will be free from the 20th through the 25th. If you’ve been on the fence about reading any of these, now is the perfect time to gobble them up. With Cusp free, later this month, it means you can grab all three books for a total of $1.98. Please help me spread the word!

These books cross genres—mystery, supernatural suspense, ghost fiction, women sleuths, and horror. Cusp of Night has been noted for its cozy mystery feel in tandem with paranormal thriller aspects. It makes Cusp and the other books in this series hard to define, but judging by reviews, the mesh works.

I’ll leave you with a few snippets to help you decide for yourself. 🙂


Book banner header for Cusp of Night by Mae Clair shows single streetlamp on a dark corner Cusp of Night
Will be free 2/20 through 2/25

 … Clair’s adaptation of her research into spiritualism and the defective generation skipping gene that makes one’s skin blue is nothing short of genius. The result being Cusp of Night… another epic urban tale written in true Clair fashion…

 …Descriptions were meticulous and painted vivid pictures. It’s clear that Clair did her homework on the spiritualist movement and her knowledge shines through in the details. Cusp of Night struck me as part cozy mystery and part occult-thriller. Yes, there is a monster and an evil entity! Highly entertaining!…

…OMG — I love this book! I am a sucker for creepy, supernatural horror, and this story just sucked me right in. I couldn’t stop reading! The story switches point of view, alternating between Maya in the present day and Lucinda Glass more than 100 years ago. Usually I’m not much of a fan of POV jumps, but for this story it worked perfectly. This is the kind of horror that I love to read — Halloween-y type creepy stories and not gore fests…

UNIVERSAL PURCHASE LINK | READ THE BLURB


Banner ad for supernatural suspense novel, End of Day by Mae Clair

End of Day
Currently available for .99c

… Clair is a talented wordsmith who sets a scene artfully. Her descriptions draw a reader in as much as the characters do, with the setting becoming a character itself. While nothing is too gory or horrific, there is a definite sense of eerie foreboding that increases with the tension of the story and culminates in a dramatic climax a reader won’t soon forget…

… Thank you Netgalley, for exposing me to Mae Clair. I can enthusiastically recommend this author to friends and family. She is one author very difficult to put down.I  received a free electronic copy of this second Hode’s Hill novel from Netgalley, Mae Clair, and Lyrical Underground in exchange for an honest review. Only pages in, I was hooked and had to purchase Cusp of Night, number 1 in the series…

… This is a paranormal suspense novel with a dual timeline alternating between the year 1799 and now. A centuries-old curse grips a small town. There are thugs, a sweet dog, monsters, a supernatural talisman, a no-nonsense policewoman, likable characters, despicable characters . . . this book has it all….

PURCHASE  FOR .99c  | UNIVERSAL LINK | READ THE BLURB


Banner ad for Eventide, a mystery novel by Mae Clair, features a dilapidated old houseEventide
Currently available for .99c

 … The setting was brilliant and it even creeped me out which isn’t an easy thing to do!!! I will definitely be purchasing the previous books in the Hode’s Hill series as well as looking for more books by this author. I highly recommend this book to fans of horror, thrillers, suspense and anyone who enjoys a creepy, ghost filled and excellent read. I couldn’t recommend this book enough, well done to a very talented author!!!…

… Mae Clair seamlessly blends past and present timelines, gothic creatures, ghosts and complex characters to create an unforgettable story…

… A very chilling read, if you like supernatural mysteries, grab today! Well written, absolutely frightening, with twists and turns, and chills to the bone. Well written, with interesting characters and development that had me flipping pages…

PURCHASE  FOR .99c   | UNIVERSAL LINK | READ THE BLURB


Well, there you have it—a few thoughts from readers on all three books. I’m truly grateful to everyone who has read and reviewed this series. Hopefully, this month’s sale will bring Hode’s Hill to the attention of a larger audience. If you know anyone who likes mysteries with goosebumps, I’d be grateful if you share the sale and free pricing with them. Thanks in advance for helping me spread the word. Happy reading to all!

A Blog Visit Today #Eventide #GhostFiction

Hello, friends! This spot is usually reserved for my Tuesday Book Reviews, but I have nothing new to share this week. Yes, I went a whole week without reading a book—shocking I know 🙂

I did, however, do a beta read for a friend, so I still had my nose buried in something.

scared young woman with candles image in victorian styleToday, the fabulous Joan Hall is hosting me with another look at Eventide. I hope you’ll pop over to Joan’s blog where I’m sharing an excerpt from my “past” timeline, which is set in 1878.

If you’ve followed any of my mini-tour posts, you’ve already met Madison, the heroine from the present day timeline. Today, I’d like to introduce you to Hollande Moore, my heroine from the past.

You can find the post HERE. Drop by if you have a spare moment, and say hello. And, by all means, if you’re not already following Joan, now is the perfect time to click FOLLOW on her blog. She always has something interesting to share, especially her Mystery Monday posts, which I love.

‘Nuff said. I’m outta here, and hope to see you at JOAN’S PLACE. 🙂

New Release: The Light by Marcia Meara #WakeRobinRidge

Banner ad for The Light, Wake Robin Ridge book 4 by Marcia Meara

I’m thoroughly jazzed (chuffed if you’re on the other side of the pond) to have my good friend, Marcia Meara, here today with her new release The Light. She’s sharing a super cool post about wake-robins which figure into the series title, Wake Robin Ridge.

Confession time: this yankee thought wake robins were birds. Duh! Fortunately, Marcia is here today to set me straight and educate me about The Wake-Robins of Wake-Robin Ridge.


Thank you so much for letting me visit with you and your followers today, Mae. I’m pretty excited about the release of my latest novel, The Light: Wake-Robin Ridge Book 4, and hope folks will be curious to learn more about this book and the preceding three:

Wake-Robin Ridge
A Boy Named Rabbit
Harbinger

Happy New Year to You All!

Many readers have asked me how I came up with the name of my first novel, and the answer is very simple. In fact, it’s staring at everyone the minute they pick up any of the four books in the series. I did mention it at the very start of the first book, but many people either miss it, or have forgotten it by the last page of the story. It all comes back to my beloved North Carolina mountains and the trillium erectus, or wake-robin.

Anyone who has ever walked through the woods in the Appalachian Mountains knows that bluebells, bird’s foot violets, and trillium carpet the forest floor in early spring. Beneath the evergreens, dogwoods, and redbuds, these low-growing wildflowers spread in every direction and are a delight to behold.

As you might imagine, bluebells are blue, and bird’s foot violets are violet. Trillium, on the other hand, are usually white. Except when they aren’t.

Scattered here and there among those snowy white trillium are a few that are a deep, wine red. Those would be the ones commonly called wake-robins. The splashes of red amidst the usual sea of white draw the eye immediately, and I’m certain I’m not the only one to find them beautiful. In fact, I love them so much, before I’d written one word of my first book, I knew I wanted to name my fictional mountain ridge after them. I loved the idea of Mac’s secluded home on top of a sparsely-populated mountain being surrounded by wildflowers every spring, with the wake-robins popping up just often enough to warrant being the namesake for the entire ridge—and my newly conceived series, too.

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The next time you have an opportunity to walk through the wooded areas of the northeastern part of the country, keep an eye open for bluebells and violets on the forest floor, and search every patch of snow-white trillium for the splashes of dark red that mark the wake-robins.  I hope you’ll enjoy spotting them as much as I do.

BLURB FOR THE LIGHT:

Book cover for The Light by Marcia Meara shows young boy standing on a rock with hand extended toward a floating orb of lightThe Magic is Back!

For Robert MacKenzie Cole—or Rabbit, as he’s known to all—the chance to accompany his family to see North Carolina’s infamous Brown Mountain Lights has him nearly dizzy with excitement. And what better night to watch this unexplained phenomenon unfold than Halloween?

But when the entrancing, unpredictable lights show up, Rabbit gets far more than he bargained for. He’s gifted with what folks in the Appalachians call “the Sight,” and it’s this extrasensory perception that enables him to spot the one light different from all the rest.

In his biggest challenge to date, Rabbit—aided by his daddy and his newest friend, Austin Dupree— begins a quest to learn more about the mysterious light. Their investigation unveils a web of cons and corruption none of them expected and exposes a brutal murder along the way.

Throughout all, Rabbit is unfaltering in his commitment to do whatever it takes to understand the truth behind the glowing orb and to determine how he can help it. After all, it followed him home.


Intrigued? I can vouch for all of the books in this series. I rated each one 5-stars, with The Light earring a five star glittery review. If you missed it, you can find it on my Tuesday Book Reviews.

PURCHASE HERE

About the Author:
Author, Marcia MearaMarcia Meara lives in central Florida, just north of Orlando, with her husband of over thirty years, four big cats, and one small dachshund.

When not writing or blogging, she spends her time gardening, and enjoying the surprising amount of wildlife that manages to make a home in her suburban yard. She enjoys nature. Really, really enjoys it. All of it! Well, almost all of it, anyway. From birds, to furry critters, to her very favorites, snakes. The exception would be spiders, which she truly loathes, convinced that anything with eight hairy legs is surely up to no good. She does not, however, kill spiders anymore, since she knows they have their place in the world. Besides, her husband now handles her Arachnid Catch and Release Program, and she’s good with that.

Spiders aside, the one thing Marcia would like to tell each of her readers is that it’s never too late to make your dreams come true. If, at the age of 69, she could write and publish a book (and thus fulfill 64 years of longing to do that very thing), you can make your own dreams a reality, too. Go for it! What have you got to lose?

Marcia has published seven novels, two novellas, and one book of poetry to date, all of which are available on Amazon:

Wake-Robin Ridge
A Boy Named Rabbit: Wake-Robin Ridge Book 2
Harbinger: Wake-Robin Ridge Book 3
The Light: Wake-Robin Ridge Book 4
Swamp Ghosts: A Riverbend Novel
Finding Hunter: Riverbend Book 2
That Darkest Place: Riverbend Book 3
The Emissary: A Riverbend Spinoff Novella
The Emissary 2: To Love Somebody
Summer Magic: Poems of Life & Love

Find Marcia at the following haunts:
Marcia’s Amazon Author Page
You can reach Marcia via email at marciameara16@gmail.com or on the following social media sites:
The Write Stuff | Facebook | Pinterest
Twitter: @marciameara

Are you hooked? You should be. Rabbit is one of the most unique characters I’ve encountered in fiction. Don’t forget to grab your copy of The Light HERE, then drop Marcia  a line in the comments below.


And, on another note, I am visiting with friend and Story Empire colleague Harmony Kent today, sharing a new excerpt from my current release. Eventide. If you’ve got a spare moment, I’d love for you to pop over and say hello! 🙂


 

Last Minute Christmas Shopping? Preorder an ebook!

In many ways, December is a double-edged sword when it comes to book releases. On one hand—prior to Christmas—many are looking to gift books as presents. After Christmas, there is usually a huge pool of readers who have received gift cards for books, and are considering what to purchase.

The downside?

Not a lot of bloggers and readers are online during the week leading into Christmas or the week after. So, what’s an author to do?

If you’re like me, you take a chance, and float a post in the blogosphere anyway.

The last book on my publishing contract with Kensington is being released on December 31st. In one respect, it’s a cool way to close out the year. In another, I fear Eventide may get lost in the shuffle. I’d love if it launched with New Year’s Eve fireworks and a lot of rah-rah-rahs to pave the way. It’s been on pre-order for a while now, and I know many of you have already clicked that button (THANK YOU!). If you haven’t, here are a few snippets from pre-release reviews that I hope may entice you.

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

“Mae Clair has an unparalleled voice. Her writing is lyrically beautiful and powerfully evocative. She sets a sinister mood like no other author on the market. She’s on my auto-buy list, and with good reason. Just when I think she can’t possibly top her last work, she does. I’m eagerly awaiting her next title, and it is without reservation I give this novel five well-deserved stars.”
…Author and editor, Staci Troilo

“Once again, Mae Clair makes things that “go bump in the night” come to life with devilishly detailed scenes, a plot that encompasses decades and a mystery that begs to be uncovered . . .Great characters, a touch of the paranormal, and a rollercoaster ride to the end!”
…Tome Tender Book Reviews

“The plot runs both in the past (1800s) and in the present day and gives you plenty of mystery, suspense, and twists in both timelines. While I sussed out that something was up with the historical brothers early on, I completely failed to work out what it was, so kudos to the author for that bit of cunning. A solid five star read.”
…Author and editor, Harmony Kent

“I liked the entertaining and gripping plot that kept me on the edge, the well thought cast of characters and the world building. Even if it’s the last in a series I had no issues with the plot or the characters. I look forward to reading other books by this author as I really liked her style of writing.”
…Anarella, NetGalley Reviewer

“Mae Clair paints her stories with masterful imagery and a host of lovable characters just as imperfect and flawed as the rest of us. That makes walking beside them within the story, all the easier! If you love a great mystery with a touch of the paranormal, you won’t be disappointed in Eventide!”
…Author, Debbie Peterson

These are only snippets from a few of the reviews that have already surfaced on Goodreads. I’ve been really happy with them, and especially from the number of people who commented how easily Eventide read as a stand-alone, despite it being the close to my Hode’s Hill series. That’s always a concern for an author, but apparently, not something I need to be worried about.

So…If you’re looking for a book to gift, or even scouting out a read of your own, it’s the perfect time to pre-order Eventide. It will have the distinction of popping onto your e-reader on the final day of 2019. A close to a series, and a close to the year. Not such a bad match, when you think about it 🙂

Banner ad for Eventide, a mystery novel by Mae Clair, features a dilapidated old house

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…

UNIVERSAL PRE-ORDER LINK