Book Review Tuesday: The Shadows by Alex North, The Girls Weekend by Jody German #HorrorSuspense #SupernaturalMystery #WomenSleuths

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 imageHello, friends, and welcome to my first Book Review Tuesday of the New Year. Although I was offline for November and December, I did manage to read several books—not nearly as many as I hoped. I even failed in my Goodreads Challenge this year, only managing 65 of the 70 books I’d hoped to read. That aside, the next few Tuesdays will be devoted to books I devoured at the end of 2020. Let’s get started!


Book cover shows white hand on black background, silhouettes if four people at knuckles of fingers, their shadows stretching to form gaps between the fingersThe Shadows
by Alex North

I became a fan of Alex North after reading his first book. The Whisper Man. When I read about North’s inspiration for The Shadows—the horrid but true-life Slender Man case—I was immediately intrigued. It’s difficult to imagine how the assailants in the Slender Man case could have been motivated to such an atrocious act by an internet forum. North takes that idea and puts his own spin on it, changing the killers from teen girls to teen boys.

The book is told in first person and third person with two timelines, past and present. As a teen, the main character, Paul Adams, was involved with a group of four, led by Charlie Crabtree, an anti-social obsessed with lucid dreaming. Paul breaks ties with the others when Charlie’s behavior becomes fanatical. When a good friend is killed and the death is attributed to Charlie (after which he disappears) Paul is saddled with grief, guilt, and anger. He leaves town at eighteen, hoping to put the tragedy behind him.

Twenty-five years later, another teen is killed, the murder eerily reminiscent of the tragedy in Paul’s past. At the same time, he returns home, needing to deal with his mother’s dementia. The past returns in the form of internet forums devoted to Cratbtree, the old killing, and a sinister cult-like figure known as Red Hands.

North is a good storyteller and he spins a complex tale. I was surprised by the major twists at the end and the tale held my interest. Paul’s POV is delivered in first person in both past and present, while a detective in the present is relayed in third person POV.

I am a fan of books that switch between past and present, and although I enjoyed this book, there were moments that frustrated me. The gaps between past and present often stretched too long. When there was a huge hook ending on a chapter in the past, the stretch to return took too long because of the need for two POVs in the present. By that time, I had forgotten or lost the momentum from the past. Add in lucid dreaming sections, and scenes occasionally became muddled for me.

There was also a storyline that I felt was plodding, but at the end becomes a key element. Brilliant, really. Overall this is a slow burn, and the reader needs to stick with the story. Not as riveting as The Whisper Man, but still an intricately spun tale. I think it may have been better sticking solely with the main plot thread. I generally love complex novels with multiple threads, but in this case, it bogged things down a bit too much.

3.5 Stars rounded up to 4 for review ratings

AMAZON LINK
Genre: Horror Suspense > Supernatural Mystery > Supernatural Thriller


Book cover has lake at night with house in distance, windows blazing with lightThe Girls Weekend
by Jody Gehrman

Several former college friends, now in their thirties, reunite for a weekend at a sprawling estate owned by the most successful of the group. Sadie MacTavish has achieved J.K. Rowling like fame through a series of middle grade novels that were optioned for the big screen. Life with her handsome Scottish husband, and beautiful teen daughter appears idyllic and perfect.

By contrast, June Moody’s boyfriend has just dumped her via text, and she hasn’t become the great American novelist she once envisioned. The last thing she wants to do is spend a weekend with her former frenemy/rival, Sadie, and Sadie’s husband, Ethan, who once proposed marriage to June. But mutual friend, Amy, is expecting a baby, and Sadie is the one throwing the shower.

June joins Sadie and Amy, along with their remaining friends from college–Em and Kimiko. It’s obvious from the get-go Sadie is a control freak who manipulates everyone and everything in her orbit. When she turns up missing after the first night, blood splatter and a broken statue point to foul play.

There are plenty of undercurrents and baggage among the characters. Amy has suffered mental problems most of her life, Kimiko has a fondness for drink and drugs, Em wants to keep something hidden, and Ethan isn’t as devoted as Sadie has led everyone to believe. A landscaper who lives on the property was overheard arguing with Sadie, and her daughter’s boyfriend isn’t well received by mom.

Suspects, much?

This book kept me flipping pages as the relationships between the characters become more detailed, many overlapping as the chapters progress. Watching all the pieces fall into place is a bit like a slo-mo train wreck. I’m usually able to figure out “whodunit” before the end of most mysteries, but my initial guess proved wrong.

As the narrator, June is a relatable character, one it’s easy to get behind, especially when she finds herself the prime suspect due to her previous relationship with Ethan.

Overall, I found the story suspenseful, but at the same time breezy and fast-paced. The writing is exquisite, with many turns of phrase and descriptions that made me stop to soak them in. Highly enjoyable and atmospheric!

5 Stars

Amazon Link
Genre: Amateur Sleuths > Women Sleuths


Thanks for visiting with me today. It’s great to be back sharing reviews again. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments! 🙂

Plans for 2021 #writing #writingcommunity

Happy First Thursday of 2021! Thanks for joining me today. I’m diving in and focusing on returning to blogging after a two month lapse. November was consumed by NaNoWriMo, and December by a business move I coordinated. With all of that behind me, It’s great to be back. I’m geared up for the New Year with an abundance of energy, and a plethora of plans. Plans are good, right? So are goals and ideas.

Word 2021 Goals on torn brown grunge paper background

After an embarrassingly long time, I have finally finished my WIP, a straight mystery with a tinge of folklore. While working, I used the title Hornwood for reference, but the tentative title is The Keeping Place. I’m not exactly enamored, but it fits with the story. End result: the title is subject to change. The manuscript is the WIP I wrapped during NaNoWriMo with some carry over into December.

I’m currently editing Hornwood and sharing chapters with my critique partners. After that, I plan to shop the manuscript to literary agents—though I dread the thought of the process involved. Research on where/how to submit, and most of all, writing query letters. Still—I need to push forward, taking the next step in my evolution as a writer. If I strike out, I will probably seek out a small online press and submit there.

While all  this is going on, I will be working on a novel for indie publication. That book doesn’t have a title either, but (most of) the story has been with me in one form or another for decades. The characters simply refuse to leave me alone, demanding I tell their tale. The story is twisted and tragic—at least part of it is—combining my love for past and present. Part horror, part supernatural suspense, it falls into the same vein as my Hode’s Hill series. Right now, I’m planning it as a standalone, but time will tell.

Finally, I have been sitting on a number of short stories for two years. I’m still undecided what to do with them. My original plan was to cobble them together in a collection and indie pub them, but I’m considering seeking out magazines for publication. The only thing holding me back is the time I need to devote to researching markets. There is a chance a few of those stories might show up in anthologies.

Which gives me three projects to focus on for the coming year—one to market to agents, one to indie pub, and a collection of shorts that is still up in the air. Of course, I plan to continue Book Review Tuesdays and Guest Author Thursdays with other random posts here and there. I’d like to chat more about my writing and my characters. Hopefully, that will keep my energy level in high gear. In any event, I’m off and running with my plans!

Would you like to share some of yours?

Guest Author, Jan Sikes and Auras #GhostlyInterference #NewRelease

Hello, everyone! After two months away from blogging—November for NaNoWriMo, and December for a business move—I’m happy to be back at the keyboard again and back in the blogosphere. Even better, I’m kicking off my first post of 2021 with the delightful Jan Sikes, friend and talented author. She’s here to share her newest release and also an intriguing post about auras. Take it away, Jan!

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

Thank you, Mae, for allowing me to take over your blog today and talk about my new book release! I deeply appreciate your generosity!

In Ghostly Interference, Charlotte Peters, Jag’s mother, has the ability to read and see auras around people. It’s something she’s done since Jag can remember. That ability makes it difficult for him to hide his true feelings from his mother. 


Book cover for Ghostly Interference shows ghost image of kneeling GI in background, motorcycle and road in foreground

Here’s a short excerpt from “Ghostly Interference.” 

Fifteen minutes later, he perched on a stool at the kitchen counter while Charlotte Peters put the finishing touches to a vegetarian lasagna. She hummed a classic rock song from the sixties.

Jag never ceased to be amazed at how his mother held her beauty even in her mid-forties, with slender frame and long blonde hair she kept tied back in a pony-tail or in a braid. And, although he didn’t mention it, he often wondered why she hadn’t remarried after his dad died.

She slid the lasagna into the oven and handed him a chilled Perrier. “You look like you’ve had a day. Wanna talk about it?”

Jag waved away the bottle. “Can I have a glass of wine instead?” 

She nodded and turned to retrieve a bottle of Cabernet and two glasses. 

“How do you do it, Mom?”

She raised her eyebrows. “Do what?”

“Always know when things are out of sync with me.”

A smile spread across her face. “You forget I can read your aura, dear. You normally have a lot of yellow and pink around you but today there is red and orange. It’s really quite simple.”

Jag sighed. “Of course.” He’d grown up knowing his mother had special gifts. But, it seemed to him that she’d only allowed herself to be more open about them in the past few years.

Here’s what I’ve learned about auras and reading them. 


Anything that has an atomic structure will have an aura, an energy field that surrounds it. Simply put, the aura is the energy field immediately surrounding a person or thing. I have seen auras around inanimate objects as well as living entities. Children are very good at seeing auras, and often depict them in crude drawings by placing a ring of some color around a person’s head. 

To see an aura around a person or even an object, you must look a little off center and continue to stare. If you blink, the aura disappears and you start over. Sometimes you can see it right away and other times it takes a few minutes. I very often can see auras around heads in an oval shape. The color of auras tell what the person is experiencing at that time on a physical and emotional, even spiritual level. It helps if the background behind the person is either black or white with natural light.

Here are a couple of Aura photos I had taken through the years.

The first was in 2012 in Denver, Colorado and the second taken in Sedona, Arizona two years ago. The colors are completely different. 

What some colors signify:

1. Deep Red – Hardworking, physical, action, power, survival, realistic, vital, grounded, strength, stamina or physical explorer.

2. Red – Excitement, Physical, energetic, competitive, leader, winner, achiever, courage, will-power, sexual, entrepreneur, or promoter.

3. Orange – Pleasure, enjoyment, challenge, thrill, positive, action-oriented, creative expression, adventurer or business.

4. Yellow – Playful, sunny, creative, fun, learning, light, movement, entertainer, radiates optimism, warmth, charming, or easy-going.

5. Green – Social, nature, content, harmony, teacher, loves to communicate and share with others, perfect host or hostess.

6. Blue – Caring, sensitive, loving, helpful, loyal, helper, compasison, peaceful, desire to be of service and to help support others.

7. Indigo – Clarity, calm, deep inner feelings, love, seeker, introverted, inner knowing, authenticity, high sense of inner values, or artistic.

8. Lavender – Imagination, mystical, daydreamer, fantasy, artistic, soft, creative, fragile, sensitive, often appear spacey, unrealistic or etheric.

9. White – Transcendent, transformation, spiritual, healing, quiet, enlightened, sensitive, or live in higher dimensions.

10. Black – Black is probably the most negative colour to appear in one’s aura. It is associated with mental illness, stress, depression, hatred and negative feelings. It can also indicate the person’s habit of acting miserly.

Of course, there are many more colors, but these are a few of the basics. 

I’d love to hear from you. If you’ve had any experience with auras, please share them! 

Banner ad for Ghostly Interference shows book in paperback, kindle and phone versions

BOOK BLURB:

Jag Peters has one goal in his quiet comfortable life—to keep his karma slate wiped clean. A near-miss crash with a candy apple red Harley threatens to upend his safe world. He tracks down the rider to apologize properly. Slipping into a seedy biker bar, he discovers the rider isn’t a “he”, it’s a “she”, a dark-haired beauty.

Rena Jett is a troubled soul, who lives in a rough world. She wants no part of Jag’s apology, but even while she pushes him away, she is attracted to him. When he claims to see a ghost—her brother—can she trust him? And could her brother’s final gift, a magical rune stone with the symbol for “happily ever after” have the power to heal her wounds and allow opposites to find common ground—perhaps even love?

BOOK TRAILER LINK

BOOK PURCHASE LINKS: 
AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | KOBO | iTUNES | GOOGLE PLAY

Connect with Jan Sikes at the following haunts:
Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon Author Page


I hope you enjoyed Jan’s post and are looking forward to meeting Jag and Rena in Ghostly Interference. I’ve already got my copy loaded on my Kindle, waiting on my TBR. Please kick off the New Year by taking a moment to drop Jan a comment and share the news about her release by using the buttons below.

The Culmination #NewRelease #MilitaryThriller @gmplano

Hello, friends. It’s been a full month since I’ve blogged, but taking time off for NaNoWriMo made a huge impact on my WIP. I hope to get back in the swing of things eventually, but December will likely be sporadic for me. The company I work for is undertaking a physical move to a new location and life is chaotic right now. If you don’t see me about in the blogosphere for a few days, I’m likely up to my ears in packing and unpacking, LOL.

Today, I’m super excited to welcome friend and Story Empire author, Gwen Plano, with her latest release, The Culmination. I read the first two books in this series and enjoyed them both. I’ve already grabbed my copy of The Culmination and am looking forward to seeing how this adventurous series ends. Please welcome, Gwen!

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

Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog, Mae, and for helping me launch The Culmination, a new beginning. Just a couple of days ago, it went public on Amazon and I’m super excited. To celebrate, the Kindle edition is on sale at 99¢ through December.

So, what’s the book about? The Culmination can best be described as a military thriller. It tackles difficult topics such as denuclearization, the power struggles over oil in the Middle East, as well as the ever-present danger of war. Readers will find themselves sitting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, walking in the historic Red Square, and laughing with children in an orphanage in Turkey. They will glimpse the horror of war and watch the give and take of a negotiated peace. Readers will also meet the two Heads of State who fall in love and subsequently commit themselves to creating a world in which all are family.

I never expected to write this book, but in some ways, I had no choice. The characters crowded into my office and insisted that I listen to them. In a very real way, they wrote the book. I simply tapped the keys.

kindle reader with book  The Culmination, a military thriller shows silhouettes of couple holding hands with young girl, military chopper in background

BLURB:
The Culmination, a new beginning is the third book in The Contract thriller series. After an assassination attempt on an Air Force base in northern California, tensions mount. Heads of state meet to craft a denuclearization agreement. The meetings between these nuclear powers take a murderous turn. A nefarious conspiracy re-emerges and leads the characters into the heart of the Middle East, where they encounter the unexpected and find a reason for hope.

EXCERPT:
Margaret Adler, the Vice President of the United States, has flown to Moscow at the request of Russia’s president. She is met by his son, Ivan. Upon seeing him, Margaret flashes back on her experience as a soldier in Afghanistan and wonders if they crossed paths at that fateful time. Margaret begins the conversation…

“It’s possible we were there at the same time. Maybe we were in the same locale.”

“Are you serious? Really? Why would anyone willingly recall such bloodshed?” Ivan’s eyes lower, and he glances to the side.

She presses, “I keep thinking we’ve met. Would you humor me and think back with me?”

“I don’t like such games.” Ivan’s response sounds gruff, and Margaret steps back as her agents step nearer. “Besides, I’m not sure what that would accomplish. This is one nightmare I choose not to recall. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.” He glares at her.

Margaret nods. “I understand, of course. But if we can travel back in time, perhaps we might decide if we can trust one another.”

He shakes his head and scoffs, “I can’t imagine that to be possible.”

“Isn’t it worth the effort to find out?”

Her persistence wears down his obstinacy, and begrudgingly, he agrees. Ivan stares off into the distance.

Margaret notices his grimace and realizes he’s gone back to the battle.

She lowers her voice and says, “A shell hits the building I’m in, and I rush outside. I can’t see through the clouds of dust and debris. People scream. People run. I hate this place, and it hates me.

“I call to my men, ‘Let’s get out of here.’ There’s gunfire, and we’re unsure which direction to run. I can smell the blood, the sweat, and the fear. It’s musty and thick; it lingers and gags me. Sand and bodies lie beneath my feet. I stumble and recoil at the horror that I meet. I see a female soldier among the masses. She moans from the hit she received. I reach for her arm to pull her up, but the limb is all that follows me. I retch and call for my men.”

Kindle book The Culmination beside map of Middle East with magnifying glass over map

Pomoch’ yey!” Ivan yells. “And my men help her. They put a tourniquet on her arm, and we move on.”

Margaret holds back the shock that she feels and looks at Ivan. He keeps his eyes closed, and he appears to be caught in a battle.

Margaret says, “Another explosion. The shell lands close to me. My face is on fire, and I get thrown backward. I can’t move.”

Ivan reacts with a gasp and reaches for his face, now frozen and white and trembling.

Margaret says, “I’m being moved—my body dragged. The Afghan Northern Alliance is helping me.”

Ivan’s jaw clenches, and he holds his shoulders rounded and slumped. Resignation floats across his face.

Margaret notices his instability. He teeters. She calls out, “Soldier, lean in. Lean in!”

Ivan leans into Margaret. She wraps her arm around him, and time becomes fluid. Ivan chokes out tears, first in agonizing bursts, and then in sobs—loud and wrenching.

Margaret draws Ivan closer. They now stand cheek to cheek, tears blending. “Ivan,” she says. “Ivan, what do you feel?”

He doesn’t respond.

Again, she asks, “Ivan, what do you feel?”

His words are halting, “Failure. I could do nothing. I was only there to arrange for more armaments.”

“All right, what else do you feel besides failure?”

He holds her tighter. “Useless. I’m barely a man now. My body has betrayed me; it is broken.”

“There’s more, Ivan. Tell me what else you feel.”

“Sadness. So many are gone. My friends, my enemies. Gone. And for what?”

“The remorse of a soldier. I understand. There’s more.”

He flounders and struggles to regain composure.

“Ivan,” Margaret says. “What more do you feel?”

He pulls her close and whispers, “I feel hope—hope that maybe the treaty will work. It has to. It must. Maybe the countries are serious about ending this horror. That is my hope.”

Margaret nods. “You’ve identified your purpose.”

Ivan clasps her left arm, and at the firm feel of the prosthesis, he jerks away.

He opens his eyes and looks into hers. “You’re the one, aren’t you? The one we stopped and helped.”

“Yes. You saved my life.”

Contact with Gwen at the following haunts:
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon Author Page

Bio box for Gwen Plano

Book Links:
Letting Go into Perfect Love
The Contract between heaven and earth
The Choice: the unexpected heroes
The Culmination, a new beginning

Whether you’re new to this series, or have been following from the start, I hope you’ll join me in celebrating with Gwen on her release. And what a deal at .99c! Please use the sharing buttons and help us spread the word about The Culmination. Don’t forget to GRAB YOUR COPY and drop Gwen a comment. Thanks for visiting today. I wish you happy reading!

Happy Halloween and a Break for NaNoWriMo

Illuminated home garden path patio lights with halloween pumpkin lanterns

Happy Halloween! Wishing you plenty of treats and no tricks!

As I mentioned earlier this week, I’m going to take a break from blogging for the month of November. I’m focusing on NaNoWriMo and attempting to finish a WIP that has been languishing far too long (wish me luck!).

I’ll be popping in at Story Empire from time to time, and hopefully, can make a few rounds of the blogosphere as well–especially if I get stuck. Although I’m hoping that won’t happen…er, the getting stuck part. Please pardon my absence.

Here’s wishing everyone a Happy Halloween. Regardless if you’re participating in NaNoWriMo, or working at your own pace, I hope your muse is extra generous. See you in a month. 🙂

Guest Author: Mark Bierman @mbiermanauthor #spooky #halloweenpoem

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

Hello, friends! I hope you will welcome first time guest, Mark Bierman, to my blog. I’ve reviewed Mark’s book, Vanished on my blog, and he often pops in to comment on posts and guest posts, but he’s never actually been the guest before. We’re changing that today.

If you’re not familiar with Mark, please check out his blog, Adventures in Writing. He always has something interesting to share, and is a wonderful person to know. And now, here’s Mark!


It’s an honor to be here! I can’t thank Mae enough for inviting me to be a guest on her mazing blog. I’ve read a number of her books and declare myself a fan. In light of her penchant for penning the superntaural and a nod to upcoming Halloween. I took a shot at writing a short poem based on this photo. Thanks for taking the time to read it and please have a look around Mae’s site.

spooky deserted room with fireplace, rocker and chandelier, ghostly hands and shadows on walls

Sit down a spell, your hosts await,

Mere Shadows, they’ll possess you, ten deep

Your mind is naught more than their slate

The soul is the prize, and it’s snatched for keeps

Oh, don’t be shy, cozy up to the fireplace

A dark finger, carves your name in the ashes

The letters turn bloody, you feel a cut on your face

A mirror reveals a black mass from chin to lashes

It spreads quickly over, and you’re now a host

The other Shadows glide through each other, and you

All substance gone, you drift aimlessly, like a ghost

Trapped for eternity, no portal to pass through    


That definitely induced the creep factor! I love that photo and Mark’s poem is a perfect goosebump match! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did and will drop Mark a line with your thoughts. 

Also, be sure to check out his book, Vanished. You can find my 5-Star Review HERE.

Book cover for Vanished by Mark Bierman shows a white hand print on a red backgroundVANISHED
by Mark Bierman


Tragedy . . . heartache . . . how much more can Tyler Montgomery and John Webster take? This missions trip, the “healing” one, has only added fresh layers of pain. Construction of an orphanage in Haiti’s northwest . . . yes. But a doomed rescue operation, human traffickers, human anomalies, extreme personal danger . . . risk of death? They hadn’t signed up for those.

Turning their backs on the crisis, however, is unthinkable, it’s just not who they are.

PURCHASE LINKS: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | iBooks

photo of author, Mark BiermanAbout the Author:
Born and raised on a farm near Brockville, Ontario, Mark Bierman’s childhood consisted of chores, riding horses, snowmobile races across open fields, fishing trips, and many other outdoor adventures.

Transitioning into adulthood also meant moving into large urban areas that introduced this country boy to big city life.

Drawing upon his many experiences as a private investigator and later, a correctional officer, Mark combines his unique experiences and imagination to create stories and characters.

Connect with Mark at the following haunts:
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Blog | Goodreads | Instagram

 

                                                                           

Book Review Tuesday: The Last Pilgrim by Noelle Granger, Pretty Evil New England #truecrime @SueColetta, Magical Whispers #Poetry @BalroopShado

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

I missed doing a Book Review Tuesday last week. Hubby and I have started a new remodeling project so my reading time took a hit. Today, however, I’ve got some great books to share. Two are based on historic accounts and actual events, the third is a soothing and mesmerizing book of poetry. Take a look . . .


Book cover for The Last Pilgrim by Noelle Granger shoes girl in colonial dress standing on shore looking to clipper ship at seaThe Last Pilgrim
by Noelle Granger

The Last Pilgrim is an amazingly researched historical novel detailing the life of Mary Allerton Cushman, the last survivor from the Mayflower. Mary was four years old when she arrived at the Plymouth Colony. She lived to be 88, dying in 1699. During her lengthy life she experienced the hardships, upheaval, and struggle to survive in a new land. Her growth from curious, wayward child to strong, intelligent woman takes the reader on a remarkable journey populated by historical figures and events.

The author delves into multiple issues ranging from political disputes, relations with neighboring tribes, even religious disagreements. Everyday life is presented in such engrossing detail it’s easy to lose track of time as Granger immerses her readers in a world all but unfathomable today. Her passion for those she has undertaken to write about, along her meticulous research, shines through in every passage. I found myself reluctant to stop reading at night when sleep called.


Close up of a 19th century woman from nose to chest, with blood splatter over imagePretty Evil New England: True Stories of Violent Vixens and Murderous Matriarchs
by Sue Coletta

In Pretty Evil New England, author Sue Coletta takes a look at five 19th century female serial killers and their victims, including how these women—all who moved within genteel society without arousing suspicion—perpetrated their crimes. In some cases, the killers were highly respected individuals and often times, the victims were members of their own family. Coletta’s meticulous research provides detailed backgrounds of each killer, along with glimpses into the disturbed workings of their mind and how each sought to justify their actions. There is insanity, narcissism, and heartless manipulation, among other twisted motivations. I found Coletta’s explanations of how female serial killers differ from their male counterparts surprisingly eye-opening.

The book is divided into sections, each devoted to a particular killer and her victims. But it isn’t just the actual crimes Coletta focuses on. She also shows us how each woman was apprehended, then places the reader in the courtroom for an in depth look at her trial, and the outcome. The subject matter, while grim in nature, is in no way gruesome to read, and Coletta’s manner of delivery is thoroughly engrossing, the writing flawless. I highly recommend Pretty Evil New England to fans of true crime, AND crime fiction and suspense novels. The author held me spellbound from cover to cover and I finished this book in two days.

I received an ARC of this book for an honest review.
I give Pretty Evil New England 5 Stars!

Pre-Order from Amazon (Releases November 1)
Genre: Biographies of Serial Killers > History of New England U.S.


Book cover for Magical Whispers shows waterfall tumbling over rocksMagical Whispers
by Balroop Singh

This beautiful collection of poems focuses mostly on elements of nature, offering stunning verses that speak to heart. The author uses words like a paintbrush, conjuring images that seep with tranquility, ebbing like a gentle tide into the spirit and mind. Spend time with each exquisite verse. These are poems to absorb and savor. Poetry is personal and touches each in a different manner. Verses resonate differently with each individual, but I have no doubt there is something mesmerizing for each in this collection that varies in tone from serene, to mystical, to thoroughly enchanting. Those that particularly resonated with me included Life is much More, Magic, A Concert, and A Moon Fairy (among others). I am frequently in awe of this poet’s skill with weaving words on a loom. If you love words…if you love deftly layered verse, this collection is not to be missed.

AMAZON LINK
Genre: Poetry

I give Magical Whispers 5 Stars!


Thanks for joining me today. This will be my last Book Review Tuesday for quite some time, as I plan to go dark during the month of November to concentrate on NaNoWriMo. I’ll still pop in on Story Empire, as I have responsibilities there, but otherwise you won’t see me online much, if at all. I’ll miss everyone but hope you’ll understand my need to focus on my WIP—I really MUST get it done! Hopefully, when I resurface in December, I’ll be sharing the wonderful news that I met my 50K goal and finished the thing 🙂

I do have a guest scheduled this Thursday and hope you’ll return to chat and wish him well.

‘Fiction In A Flash Challenge’ Week #21 NEW Image Prompt! Join in the fun! #IARTG #WritingCommunity #flashfiction #writingprompts @pursoot

It’s that time again! Suzanne Burke chose a great photo for her most recent flash fiction photo prompt—a perfect fit for autumn weather, Halloweenish happenings, or things that go bump in the night. As always, I enjoyed playing with this prompt and giving my muse free rein. To learn more about Soooz’s weekly fiction challenge, click HERE to join in the fun.

This time I came in at exactly 750 words (the limit) when including the title.

Old abandoned, boarded up two-story home in autumn woods at sunset

Image by Peter H from Pixabay

I’ve Got a Plan

“You really bought this?”  Mason shook his head as he surveyed the derelict property. In its day, the house had probably been grand. Now, it was nothing more than a weathered, ivy-encrusted shell. Gilded by the last rays of the setting sun, the old two-story appeared part of the barren woodland surrounding it. “I hope you can get your money back.”

“It was dirt cheap.” Jeremy’s face glowed with pride. “Besides…I’ve got a plan.”

There was always a plan with Jeremy—another fanciful idea or dragon tail. It had been that way since he was a kid. “Okay, I’ll bite. What’s the plan?”

“A Halloween Haunt. Picture it.” Jeremy spread his hands, framing the house. “It won’t take a lot of money. Just enough to shore things up and make certain they’re sound. We add a few fog machines, cheap vintage furniture, and I’m telling you, Dad, it can’t fail.”

“You’ll need actors.”

“I’ve got that covered. We add to the existing atmosphere and play up grim and creepy.”

Business would be limited to a few months in the fall, but that wasn’t entirely problematic. Plus, it would be good experience if the kid pulled it off. At twenty-eight, it was time he managed something. 

“Maybe.” Mason wasn’t ready to commit. “Let’s see inside.”

~ooOOoo~

Isabelle rolled her eyes at the agonized creak of the front door. It had started screeching like that somewhere during the last century. “Dearest, we have company.”

Liam flipped a page in his book. “Two men. I saw them standing out front.”

“Don’t you think you should go downstairs and see what they’re about?” She lowered her embroidery hoop to her lap, the soft folds of her saffron gown, a color match for the flames in the hearth. As cozy as their sitting room was, she understood why Liam was reluctant to leave but one of them had to address the situation. “You’ve already read Moby Dick numerous times.”

“But I never tire of it. We could send Chloe.”

“That strumpet?” Isabelle clucked her tongue. “I think not. I don’t even know why the fool girl insists on lingering.”

“She did love me.” Liam set his book aside. “Probably still does.”

He was a distinguished man with a smattering of gray in his hair, his eyes the dark blue of midnight skies. Isabelle was sometimes overcome by her devotion to him. She couldn’t term the affection love—not any longer—but her emotion ran strong. She’d been naïve when they’d wed, but after a decade discerned his wandering eye. Especially after Chloe came to live with them, lending a hand with domestic chores.

“Her love is irrelevant. I do not share.”

“As you proved.”

Isabelle flashed an innocent smile. “You always enjoyed my tea in the past.”

“Minus the poison.”

“At least I followed you to the grave by drinking it myself.”

“Not quite the grave.” He motioned to the room at large.

“Which brings us back to the problem downstairs.”

“Very well.” Liam heaved a breath. “I’ll scare them off like the others.”

~ooOOoo~

“It has potential.” After exploring the main level, Mason was almost ready to commit. It would take an outlay of cash, but nothing he couldn’t raise. Maybe this time Jeremy would finally turn one of his pipedreams into gold. “We should look upstairs.”

He started toward the staircase, halting abruptly when he spied a figure at the top. “What the—” 

The man’s face appeared chiseled from granite. Dressed in outdated clothing, he looked much like a Dicken’s character, wearing a short waistcoat, silken cravat, and high-topped boots. 

He speared a finger in their direction. “Trespassers! You do not belong here!” The walls shook at the boom of his voice. The floor heaved and cracked. Behind him, lightning exploded from the ceiling, filling the air with ozone. “Leave while you can.”

“Holy shit!” Mason stumbled backward, colliding with his son.

Jeremy caught him by the shoulders. “Don’t mind him, Dad. That’s just Mr. O’Conner.” He hustled past, climbing the steps two at a time. “Hiya, Mr. O’Conner.” He flipped a wave to the stunned apparition. “Chloe told me all about you and your wife. You’re going to fit right in. Aren’t they, Dad?” Jeremy glanced over his shoulder. “Dad?”

Mason stood rooted to the landing, knees quavering, heart thundering. “J-J-Jeremey…” He couldn’t seem to find his voice. “Th-that’s a ghost.”

“Yeah, I know.” The idiot kid grinned ear-to-ear. “Didn’t I tell you we wouldn’t need actors?”

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.