Book Review Tuesday: The Body in the Gravel @judypost, Tempted by Mr. Wrong @JacqBiggar

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 imageWelcome to another Book Review Tuesday. I’m glad you could pop in and join me. As I type this, it’s dumping buckets of rain outside, and has been for hours. Fall has arrived in Central Pennsylvania. Yesterday, I put pumpkins out, and packed up my summer porch decorations. There was some melancholy involved, as I am a summer gal at heart, but I do have a fondness for autumn. Raven is curled up beside me, and I plan on ending the evening with another book. It’s the perfect cool weather for reading. Which brings me to today’s reviews.


Book cover for The Body in the Gravel by Judi Lynn shows a pile of gravel with feet sticking from the bottom, shovel stuck in gravel near top, cut pug dog looking over the pile, and a house in the brackgroundThe Body in the Gravel
by Judi Lynn

This is the third entry in the Jazzi Zanders mystery series and by now the characters feel like family, especially the leads. Jazzi has a habit of stumbling over dead bodies while working to flip houses with her cousin, and her exceptionally hot Nordic boyfriend, Ansel. This time, the body is delivered in a load of gravel—literally tumbling out of a dump truck. It isn’t long before Jazzi gets to sleuthing, helping her detective friend, Gaff, get to the bottom of “whodunit.” And in this case, there is an entire roster of suspects, each with possible motive.

The murder victim, Darby, was not well-liked or even marginally social. Suffice to say he made a lot of enemies, ticked off a lot of people, and burnt a lot of bridges. The author creates plausible motive for each of the potential murderers, tossing out enough red herrings for plenty of suspicion to lead the reader astray. All of the Jazzi novels have been well constructed and plotted, but I found the murder in this one a level above the rest, just a bit more complex, and that made for great reading.

Toss in Jazzi’s impending marriage, several new secondary characters—along with returning favorites from Jazzi’s family­—AND a few of Ansel’s bristly relatives, and there is plenty to keep you flipping pages, speeding toward the end. I liked the way everything played out and fit together. Flavored with romance, heartwarming scenes, and family dynamics, this is an engaging cozy mystery. George, the pug, is back, as are cats Inky and Marmalade, and there is always something wonderful cooking in Jazzi’s kitchen. She has an ideal life, if not for the dead bodies that seem to show up every time she turns around. Fortunately for readers hooked on this fabulous series, it’s good to know there is more to come! 5 Stars!

Amazon Link
Genre: Cozy mystery > Amateur Sleuths 


Book cover for Tempted by Mr. Wrong by Jacquie Biggar shows close up of handsome man with beard scruff, mustached and blue eyes in profile,Tempted by Mr. Wrong
by Jacquie Biggar

New families make for tempestuous days—at least in this story of love denied. When Jason and Tammy-Jo (T.J.) are teenagers their parents marry, making them step-siblings. By the time they’re seniors in high school, they’ve fallen in love, something that doesn’t fly well with Tammy’s father. When he intervenes and sends Jason packing, T.J. turns elsewhere to soothe her broken heart, following the path her father maps out for her by marrying a man destined for success.

Now it’s ten years later, Jason is on an undercover assignment for the SEC and Tammy’s caught in the middle once again. Her husband—who has been wretched to her—winds up murdered on their front lawn. There to investigate both T.J.’s husband and father, Jason has to keep his purpose a secret while reconnecting with his family—and that includes stirring up all the feelings he still holds for T.J.

If you enjoy romantic suspense, this book is one you won’t want to miss. The case that builds against T.J.’s deceased husband puts everyone in danger, including Jason’s team, his mother, step-father, and T.J. herself. Jason and T.J. navigate their feelings for each other with plenty of misunderstandings, matched only by the heat of undeniable attraction. As always, Biggar knows just how far to push her characters before bringing them to the realization they belong together. The interesting spin in this book is the familial connection and the complications it causes. Jason’s relationship with his stepfather, Sam, is bitter and combative, but Sam has a loving, caring marriage with Jason’s mother. A sticky situation that gets fully fleshed out at the end.

A breezy read with polished writing, dialogue that rings true, and characters who lodge in your heart, this is an entertaining read with a feel-good finish. 5 Stars!

Amazon Link
Genre: Romantic Suspense


There are so many good books waiting on my TBR, and each day I seem to add more. I’m not sure how much reviewing I’ll be doing in November once NaNoWriMo kicks in, but in the meantime, I always enjoy sharing my selections with you. Thanks again for visiting, and I hope you enjoyed the reviews.

Book Review: Finding Hunter by @MarciaMeara #bookreviewtuesday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amazon Link
Genre: Psychological Fiction > Romantic Suspense

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

Book Review: Old Bones by Preston and Child #bookishtuesday

Hi, friends! I only read one book last week, but it’s one I’ve been waiting for. Impatiently.

Being the rabid Preston and Child fan, I am, I preordered Old Bones, and started reading the day it was released. Isn’t the cover fabulous?

Book cover for Old Bones by Preston and Child features rugged hillside with skulls visible in the ground, ragged trees above

This is the first book in a new series which features Nora Kelly, an archeologist who has previously appeared in Preston and Child’s Pendergast novels. Initially, I wondered if she was strong enough to carry a book on her own. Yes, there is room for improvement, but Nora fared fairly well her first time out. P&C gave her a fantastic plot—searching for “the lost camp” of the Donner Party. Yeah, those Donners.

Nora pairs up with a historian who claims to have found a journal belonging to one of the victims of the Donner tragedy. At the same time, rookie FBI agent, Corrie Swanson, is investigating a series of grave robberies and a person who went MIA. There is a connection between all these incidents, but I won’t say more for fear of spoiling the plot.

Highlights for me involved the remote setting, the Donner history, the creepy tale of Samantha Carville, the mounting tension and fear among Nora’s team, and—best of all­—Corrie Swanson.

I’ve been a fan of Corrie since she first appeared in Pendergast #4, Still Life with CrowsAt that time, she was a teenage misfit with dyed purple hair, major attitude, a Goth appearance, and an alcoholic mother. Pendergast hired her to chauffer him around her small midwestern town—after he bailed her out of jail.

In Old Bones, Corrie gets a starring role beside Nora. Her first major investigation with the FBI means she has to navigate the “good old boys” in local law enforcement, prove her theories at the Bureau, bite her tongue when it comes to red tape and orders, plus overcome Nora’s objections when she sticks her nose in (and Nora has plenty of objections).

Most of the novel clips along at a steady pace. It’s an easy read that keeps you turning pages. There is plenty of talk of cannibalism, excavation of bone fragments, and a ghost story or two (told around a campfire) for good measure. Ratchet up the tension as the last few pieces fall into place, and the closing chapters will have you chewing your nails.

The epilogue­—during which Special Agent Pendergast makes a cameo appearance—is a nice wrap, setting the stage for the series. It looks like P&C have plans for Nora and Corrie to work together in the books ahead, and a I couldn’t be happier. Corrie is well developed, but Nora could use a bit more growth. I look forward to reading along as that happens.

5 Stars!

Blurb and Amazon Purchase Link
Genre: Suspense > Suspense Thrillers

What do you think? Intriguing?

 

Book Reviews: Gideon’s Corpse by Preston and Child, The Betrayed Wife by Kevin O’Brien

Hi, friends. I hope you had an enjoyable weekend and that your Tuesday is off to a good start. We had friends over on Friday for a small pool party then spent our weekend gearing up for a family reunion we’re hosting this coming weekend.

We had a scare on Saturday when we walked out front and realized our door was standing open. It was a windy day and when I opened it (about twenty minutes earlier) I must not have shut it tightly. The problem is I have a totally indoor cat. To say that I was spastic is putting it mildly. I looked all over for Raven, starting with her “safe spot” under our bed then went room to room while hubby looked outside. Five minutes of frantic searching without results and I was on the verge of blubbering. I decided to take one more look under the bed and there she was, tucked at the end, blissfully unaware I was seconds from a meltdown. Needless to say, she has been getting lots of extra fussing and cuddles.

And now on to this week’s book reviews, both of which garner five big glitzy stars from me.

Book cover for Gideon's Corpse by Preston & Child shows title in large lettering overlaying a file with tear, nuclear symbol in backgroundGideon’s Corpse
by Preston & Child
If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you’re probably aware I’m a HUGE fan of the writing team of Preston and Child. Gideon’s Corpse is the second novel in the Gideon Crew series (currently at five novels). I read the first when it was released a few years ago but wasn’t immediately smitten. Then a certain someone (ahem…Marcia) convinced me I needed to give book two a try.

Dr. Gideon Crew is a unique combination of con artist, ex-professional thief, and brilliant physicist. Recruited by a mysterious and powerful organization to run interference in impossible situations he routinely lands in a melting pot of danger. In Gideon’s Corpse, Crew finds himself acting as a liaison to the FBI when a former colleague and top nuclear scientist takes a family hostage at gunpoint. The outcome leads to a terrorist plot to vaporize a major American city in ten days—and the clock is ticking.

I remembered very little about the first in the series but had zero difficulty falling into the story. It starts off with a bang (the hostage situation) and moves at a blistering pace. Gideon pairs up with a strait-laced FBI agent. Much of the fun of the novel is watching the two work together, gaining respect for the other’s methods and for each other.

Clues build in a clever, twisty manner but just when you think you know where the plot is headed it does a complete 180 leading to an explosive, action-packed conclusion.

If you like your characters with a mix of trickster and quick-thinking brilliance, Gideon Crew is your man. He has a good heart, sometimes makes stupid mistakes, but somehow always manages to land on his feet. I will definitely be reading the rest in this series (thank you, Marcia!). Preston and Child once again deliver the kind of intelligent thriller that has become their trademark.

Amazon Link
Genre: Terrorism Thrillers > Medical Thrillers


Book cover for The Betrayed Wife by Kevin O'Brien shows the face and neck of a blond-haired woman from the nose downThe Betrayed Wife
by Kevin O’Brien

I can always count on Kevin O’Brien to deliver a juicy thriller, and he does not disappoint with his latest, The Betrayed Wife. This book has it all­—a not-so-perfect marriage, illicit affairs, dark family secrets, suspicious deaths, and an illegitimate child.

Shelia O’Rouke has had to overlook a number of her husband’s indiscretions, so when sixteen-year-old Eden shows up claiming to be his daughter, Shelia tries to make the best of it. She welcomes the girl into her home and encourages her three children to do the same. But Eden has an insolent attitude and a creepy boyfriend. It isn’t long before things start to go horribly wrong. Someone tampers with the breaks on Shelia’s car, rigs her washer so that she is almost electrocuted, and tries to poison her. An obnoxious tenant moves into the house next door, and an anonymous caller starts sending Shelia and her teenage son, Steve, mysterious texts. O’Brien has a knack for writing teenagers, and he juggles several successfully in this novel.

As usual, the deftly-orchestrated plot serves up plenty of misdirection to keep the reader guessing. Although I did (eventually) decipher the ending and motive prior to the conclusion, I followed several false trails before putting the pieces together. There are characters to hate, characters to love, and a multi-layered mystery that ties up neatly at the end. Riveting from start to finish, the book works as a psychological thriller, domestic thriller, and page-turning suspense novel. Finished in two sittings and highly recommended!

Amazon Link
Genre:  Domestic Thrillers > Serial Killer Thrillers

D.L. Cross Talks Aliens and Alternate Identities

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who wouldn’t want to read it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until an alien armada targets Earth.

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

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

And not everyone will make it out alive.

Universal Purchase Link | More Information | Invasion Universe Newsletter

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

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

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

And he’s found the enemy.

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

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

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

Universal Purchase Link | More Information

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

Other Links:

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


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

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

Cover Reveal: Eventide by Mae Clair #thriller #supernaturalsuspense

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

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

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

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


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

Blurb:
The darkness is coming . . .

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Reviewing Meg: Nightstalkers @meg82159 and All the Missing Children (Muddy River Mystery 3) @judypost #BookishTuesday

Hi, friends. Since I’ve been reviewing books on a regular basis, rather than holding all my reviews for of the end of the month or even splitting them into two parts, I’ve decided to make a regular habit of sharing book reviews on Tuesdays. This may amount to only one book, or—depending on how much time I have on my hands during the week—it could be more or less. A big fat goose egg (hopefully not). Today, I bring you reviews from two series I love. To read the official blurbs and learn more about each novel, click the Amazon link.

Meg: Nightstalkers by Steve Alten

Book cover for Meg: Nighstalkers by Steve Alten shows two colossal sharks going after a swimmer below water, fishing boat on surfaceIn book five of the Meg series, sister sharks Bela and Lizzy are causing havoc in the Pacific Ocean after having escaped from their pen at the Tanaka Institute owned by Jonas Taylor and his wife Terry. Worse, the sisters are able to reproduce without male insemination and have started birthing genetic clones of themselves, the pups roaming lose in the water. Suffice to say, a few people meet with unfortunate ends.

Across the globe, Jonas’s son David has once again teamed with an expedition set on capturing a prehistoric creature responsible for the horrific tragedy that has left him with night terrors and a thirst for revenge. Eventually, the paths of David, Jonas, and Scottish marine biologist, Dr. Zachary Wallace will converge near Antarctica. This is where the book goes a little south for me, no pun intended. Wallace is a character from Alten’s popular Loch series of novels (I read the first one years ago) but the plot thread veered off course with a stab at time travel.

The storyline devoted to Bela and Lizzy gets five solid stars. The action is adrenalin-pumping and tight. The sisters, with the way they hunt—one brains, one brawn—make for plenty of nail biting and riveting moments. These two sharks are devious, intelligent, and dangerous. They routinely steal the show!

Alten swaps chapters/scenes of Jonas hunting Bela and Lizzy with David deep diving after dangerous predators. There are plenty of hair-raising encounters with both plots, keeping the tension ramped high and the reader flipping pages. This would have been a five star read for me if not for the spin with Zachary Wallace. Even so, I plan to devour the next Meg book. I can’t wait to see what happens next! 4.5 stars.

Amazon Link
Genre: Space Marine Science Fiction > Horror Fiction


All the Missing Children (Muddy River Mystery 3) by Judi Lynn

Book cover for Where are All the Missing Children by Judi Lynn shows hooded cloaked figure holding crystal ball with young dark-haired man in foregroundRaven and Hester are back again, battling one of the strongest foes they’ve ever faced. When a new supernatural settlement is attacked—all the adults killed, the children missing—Muddy River’s demon enforcer and his powerful witch mate discover an ancient evil is behind the deaths and abductions.

Murlyn, a warlock who practices the dark arts, and who isn’t above using others to amplify his power, has set a devious plan in motion. One that uses gullible supernaturals and innocent children. Murlyn’s thirst for power is unmatched, and unless Hester, Raven, and their band of friends can stop him, all of Muddy River and other supernatural settlements face extermination.

Once again, Judi Lynn has created a fast-paced mystery of good vs. evil. Characters I’ve come to love from the first two novels in this series are back, joined by a host of others who quickly make their mark. Lynn knows how to pull heartstrings while layering her plot with clues that play out like a trail of breadcrumbs. She levels each scene to ratchet the tension, all the while heightening the relationship between characters, forging emotional bonds with the reader. Consider me smitten. I love all of these characters, and the supernatural battles that ensue between good and evil more then satisfy with plenty of breathless action. Party cozy, part urban fantasy, part mystery, this book and those in the series, score gold on multiple levels. Vivid and imaginative. 5 big stars!

Amazon Link
Genre: Witch and Wizard Mysteries > Occult Fiction


Thanks for visiting with me today and for checking out my latest reviews. As always, it’s fun sharing these, and I hope to spark your interest in the wonderful stories these authors present!

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

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

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

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

And he’s found the enemy.

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

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

And now my 5 star review:

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

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

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

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

Happy reading!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blurb:

Some people take secrets to the grave…

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

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

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

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

Universal Purchase Link

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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!