Book Review Tuesday: The Haunting of Abram Mansion by Alexandria Clarke and Lullaby (Ellie Jordan Ghost Trapper #7) by J. L. Bryan #ghosts

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

Today is a theme book review day. I have two novels that fall into the genre of ghost suspense. I’m seriously behind on the Ellie Jordan Ghost Trapper series, which I always enjoy.The other book is part of a haunted house series that is new to me. Take a look…

BOOK BLURB:

A riveting new haunted house mystery that will keep you guessing until the end!

When Peyton and Benjamin Fletcher inherit a dilapidated house in the quiet town of Falconwood, Connecticut from Peyton’s grandfather, all they want to do is get rid of it. Unfortunately, the will stipulates that the couple must live in the house for a minimum of six months before they sell it. As Peyton and Ben try to make the best of the situation, Peyton discovers the house is inhabited by ghosts, and they aren’t happy with the mansion’s new occupants.

MY REVIEW:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Peyton and Ben are ready to sign their divorce papers when Peyton inherits the Abram Mansion from her maternal grandfather. His will stipulates they must live the mansion for six months before they can sell. It’s not an ideal situation, especially for Peyton who wants the divorce finalized as quickly as possible so she can move on with her life. What Peyton doesn’t expect is to encounter in the home are ghosts.

I loved the small town of Falconwood and the descriptions of the crumbling old mansion. The house comes with a murky history that includes the suicide of the last owner and the disappearance of his wife and child. Throughout the story we get hints of what might have taken place, but full disclosure doesn’t come until near the end.

I also really liked Peyton’s friendship with Theo, a young woman she meets in Falconwood, and Theo’s son Sammy. Della and Basil, an older couple, plus Mason, who runs the Black Cat Cafe were also excellent characters, and I really liked Ben. It did, however, take me a long time to warm up to Peyton. She came across as selfish at the beginning of the book, especially in her relationship with Ben.

This is not really a spooky haunted house story so much as a mystery set in a house with hauntings. The book held my interest but there were points that frustrated me. I felt the entire plot thread with Theo’s drug-addled ex could have been eliminated, and several things (especially regarding the home’s original owner, and Peyton’s grandfather) didn’t ring true. I also had issues with how the school responded to Sammy’s consent forms.

Although the writing was good, there were editing problems throughout—words and typos—but not enough to ruin the story. The book could have used a better edit. Finally, the author had a weird habit of summarizing parts of the story every now and then, as if a new reader had just stepped into the story and needed to be told what happened previously. It made me wonder if the novel had been stitched together from a serialized work.

The Haunting of Abram Mansion is part of the “Riveting Haunted House Mystery Series” books written by different authors. This novel, despite the issues I mentioned, was certainly enjoyable enough for me to try others in the series.

BOOK BLURB:

Life is more difficult than ever at Savannah’s only ghost-hunting detective agency. While Ellie copes with her mentor’s departure and other unwelcome developments, she also worries about the supernatural injuries keeping her boyfriend caught in an endless slumber.

At the same time, Ellie and Stacey are called in to investigate an eerie entity haunting a baby’s nursery room. The ghost appears late at night, its face barely visible on the baby monitor, and sings a chilling song.

Soon, Ellie learns there are more ghosts in the house, and at least one of them is a dangerous, child-hunting monster who must be stopped before it kills again.

MY REVIEW:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I’m behind on this series, but I always enjoy the stories, especially the mysteries related to the spirits Ellie, Stacey, and Jacob encounter. This time, their investigation involves several ghosts in a house that is undergoing renovations, one of the spirits particularly violent. There’s also an eerie lullaby that no one can distinguish words to when they hear it, and a very creepy scene involving a toy baby doll.

While I LOVED the ghost(s) plot thread, I’m not overly thrilled with Eckert Investigations being purchased by a larger, high-tech company with two spiritual gurus as the head honchos. Support/tech guy, Hayden (“the Hoff”) is a fun character, but I could do without Nicholas and Kara, especially Kara. I’ll wait to see how their characters play out in successive books. Right now, I wish the stories hadn’t taken that turn.

Ellie is excellent. She’s a tough cookie who stands up to hair-raising encounters. She’s also great with a comeback, a bit like a female Harry Dresden minus the magic. I look forward to catching up with more ghost-hunting with Ellie and crew (hopefully without Kara involved!).

Book Reviews by Mae Clair: The Book of Accidents by Chuck Wendig #ghosts #suspense

Striped kitten lying on open book, eyeglasses resting on pages. Book and kitten on white blanket

Today, I’m sharing another book I was on the fence about reading. Based on the blurb, I was afraid the story might be too dark for me, but I’m glad I took a chance. I had no problems navigating the pages. This is such an unusual tale, I’ll let the blurb and my review carry any further thoughts.

BLURB:

family returns to their hometown—and to the dark past that haunts them still—in this masterpiece of literary horror by the New York Times bestselling author of Wanderers

“The dread, the scope, the pacing, the turns—I haven’t felt all this so intensely since The Shining.”—Stephen Graham Jones, New York Times bestselling author of The Only Good Indians

Long ago, Nathan lived in a house in the country with his abusive father—and has never told his family what happened there. 

Long ago, Maddie was a little girl making dolls in her bedroom when she saw something she shouldn’t have—and is trying to remember that lost trauma by making haunting sculptures. 

Long ago, something sinister, something hungry, walked in the tunnels and the mountains and the coal mines of their hometown in rural Pennsylvania. 

Now, Nate and Maddie Graves are married, and they have moved back to their hometown with their son, Oliver.

And now what happened long ago is happening again . . . and it is happening to Oliver. He meets a strange boy who becomes his best friend, a boy with secrets of his own and a taste for dark magic. 

This dark magic puts them at the heart of a battle of good versus evil and a fight for the soul of the family—and perhaps for all of the world. But the Graves family has a secret weapon in this battle: their love for one another.

MY REVIEW:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I’ve never read Chuck Wendig before, but this book was quite the experience! Nate, a former cop, moves his wife, Maddie, and fifteen-year-old son, Oliver back to his childhood home in a rural area of Pennsylvania. The house holds horrible memories for Nate—his father was horribly abusive—but it promises a new beginning away from the city. Right from the start there are a number of odd things that take place. Probably why the first half of the book was my favorite. I have a passion for early shivers and goosebumps and loved the creepy, unexplained strangeness taking place.

Build-up was fantastic—whispers of a serial killer executed decades before, a “felsenmeer” or field of boulders, an old tunnel that spurned urban legends, an abandoned coal mine, a deer and insects behaving strangely, and a mysterious figure in the woods. Having lived in Pennsylvania all my life, I could relate to so many of the rural surroundings, locales, and places that were mentioned.

But the heart of the book is its characters. I was so wrapped up in the lives of Nate, Maddie, and Oliver. Even secondary characters like Fig, Jed, and Caleb are fully fleshed out and given strong supporting roles.

It’s Oliver who turns out to be the key player. He’s gifted, but the importance of that gift only becomes apparent as the suspense rachets from simmer to boil. The story is definitely “out there.” Be prepared to dip your toes into elements of fantasy and magical realism along with horror. There are multiple twists and turns from start to finish but the ending melds everything together for a strong conclusion.

Wending has a gift with words. I loved his prose, at times beautiful and at other times vivid enough to make me feel squeamish. I also enjoyed the afterword in which he described the previous incarnations of the book and how it came to be. I’m glad he stuck with what was first a “trunk novel.” I expect this one will haunt a lot of readers.

Book Reviews by Mae Clair: Home Before Dark by Riley Sager #ghostficton #ghostsuspense @riley_Sager

Last week I reviewed Riley Sager’s Survive the Night, which released yesterday. Home Before Dark has been on my Kindle for some time, buried among the books I keep buying. When I realized I hadn’t read it yet, I set out to correct the oversight immediately. This one is another “Wow! Just Wow!”

BOOK BLURB:

In the latest thriller from New York Times bestseller Riley Sager, a woman returns to the house made famous by her father’s bestselling horror memoir. Is the place really haunted by evil forces, as her father claimed? Or are there more earthbound—and dangerous—secrets hidden within its walls?

What was it like? Living in that house.

Maggie Holt is used to such questions. Twenty-five years ago, she and her parents, Ewan and Jess, moved into Baneberry Hall, a rambling Victorian estate in the Vermont woods. They spent three weeks there before fleeing in the dead of night, an ordeal Ewan later recounted in a nonfiction book called House of Horrors. His tale of ghostly happenings and encounters with malevolent spirits became a worldwide phenomenon, rivaling The Amityville Horror in popularity—and skepticism.

Today, Maggie is a restorer of old homes and too young to remember any of the events mentioned in her father’s book. But she also doesn’t believe a word of it. Ghosts, after all, don’t exist. When Maggie inherits Baneberry Hall after her father’s death, she returns to renovate the place to prepare it for sale. But her homecoming is anything but warm. People from the past, chronicled in House of Horrors, lurk in the shadows. And locals aren’t thrilled that their small town has been made infamous thanks toMaggie’s father. Even more unnerving is Baneberry Hall itself—a place filled with relics from another era that hint at a history of dark deeds. As Maggie experiences strange occurrences straight out of her father’s book, she starts to believe that what he wrote was more fact than fiction.

MY REVIEW:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I’ve come to realize the great thing about a Riley Sager book is that they’re all so different. This time around, he delivers a good old-fashioned ghost story. No gore or horror, just plenty of eerie happenings that deliver goose bumps, shivers and chills.

Maggie Holt has inherited Baneberry Hall, a house she and her parents fled in terror in the middle of the night when Maggie was five years old. She has no memory of the supernatural events that occurred in the house, but thanks to a best-selling nonfiction book her father wrote (think Amityville Horror) the whole world knows what took place during the twenty days her family lived there. Her life has been defined by “the Book” as she has come to think of it. Neither parent will talk about that time. Now, with the passing of her father, Baneberry Hall comes to her. The house has been uninhabited since the night her family fled, leaving all of their belongings behind. 

Maggie plans to renovate the house and sell it, but in the process, she is determined to discover what really happened during those twenty days and nights depicted in the Book. 

The story alternates chapters between Maggie’s POV in the present and chapters from the Book. The latter are told in her father’s POV and cover the supernatural happenings at Baneberry Hall.

Once again, Sager delivers a twisty page-turner. It’s difficult to say much about this one without giving away spoilers. I will mention that I loved the creepy ringing of room bells, the chandelier in the Indigo Room, and the session with the Ouija board. The ghosts—Mister Shadow and Miss Pennyface—are the definition of eerie, and the history of the families that occupied the house previously is played for massive goose bumps.

Numerous twists and turns near the end had me trying to pick up my jaw from the floor. As soon as I thought I was on firm footing, Sager yanked the proverbial rug out from under me again. This is mind-blowing storytelling at its best, especially if you are a fan of ghost stories that twist like a corkscrew and prickle your skin. Another stand out read from a stand out author!

Book Reviews: The Drowning Kind by Jennifer McMahon #GhostFiction

Creative concept of book open on a dock by lake with pages of book part of lake. Sunset setting with ducks on lake

Hi, Friends! Tuesday turned out to be a day that got away from me, so I’m doing my usual book review post today. I should be back on schedule next week. In the meantime, I have a review from one of my auto-buy authors to share. I pre-ordered this book the moment I saw it was available!

BOOK BLURB:
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Invited and The Winter People comes a chilling new novel about a woman who returns to the old family home after her sister mysteriously drowns in its swimming pool…but she’s not the pool’s only victim.

Be careful what you wish for.

When social worker Jax receives nine missed calls from her older sister, Lexie, she assumes that it’s just another one of her sister’s episodes. Manic and increasingly out of touch with reality, Lexie has pushed Jax away for over a year. But the next day, Lexie is dead: drowned in the pool at their grandmother’s estate. When Jax arrives at the house to go through her sister’s things, she learns that Lexie was researching the history of their family and the property. And as she dives deeper into the research herself, she discovers that the land holds a far darker past than she could have ever imagined.

In 1929, thirty-seven-year-old newlywed Ethel Monroe hopes desperately for a baby. In an effort to distract her, her husband whisks her away on a trip to Vermont, where a natural spring is showcased by the newest and most modern hotel in the Northeast. Once there, Ethel learns that the water is rumored to grant wishes, never suspecting that the spring takes in equal measure to what it gives.

A haunting, twisty, and compulsively readable thrill ride from the author who Chris Bohjalian has dubbed the “literary descendant of Shirley Jackson,” The Drowning Kind is a modern-day ghost story that illuminates how the past, though sometimes forgotten, is never really far behind us.

MY REVIEW

Oh, how creepy! I love how Jennifer McMahon weaves spookiness and mystery so deftly in dual timelines. She never disappoints me with her books. Both timelines in this story are engrossing, but I was riveted by the one in the past which centers around a luxury resort hotel. The time period is 1929-1930, slightly before and after the Great Depression. People flock to the hotel, looking for healing. Many swear they’ve been cured of ailments after a dip in a pool on the property, or by whispering a wish to the water. 

This is no ordinary pool. The water is murky and dark and bears a sulfuric, metallic scent. It’s rumored the water gives as much as it takes, and for every wish it grants, payment must be made in kind.

Will and Ethel are newlyweds trying to start a family. Ethel desperately wants a baby, and it seems such a simple thing to make a wish by the water—especially after a dip in the pool heals three cuts on her leg as if they never existed. I loved both Will and Ethel, and was on pins and needles as their life unfolded after Ethel’s wish.

In the present, Jax arrives at her grandmother’s home, Sparrow Crest, once the site of the hotel. She and her sister Lexi spent summers with their grandmother and grew up swimming in the pool. When their grandmother passed away, Lexi inherited the property, but now she’s gone—drowned in the pool. Jax considered Lexi’s mental state precarious but knows her sister was an expert swimmer. Soon after arriving, she discovers bits and pieces of old history Lexi was collecting about the pool and the old resort hotel, along with journal entries and frantic scribblings.

Chapters alternate between Ethel’s POV in the past and Jax’s in the present. Although I was not as invested in Jax’s storyline as Ethel’s, she had some wonderfully goose bump scenes. Like when she’s measuring the depth of the pool at night with a flashlight or when she thinks she hears someone outside and finds wet footprints by the door.

This is an atmospheric read, slowly building suspense. The descriptions of the pool are haunting and dark, the mystery intricate and compelling. I loved how both past and present funnel together in the concluding chapters. The ending was not what I expected, and I had to ruminate on it for a while. Definitely a twist. 4.5 stars rounded up to 5 for review posting.


Jennifer McMahon was the first author I read who used dual timelines in a novel. It was because of The Night Sister, that I chose to use past and present timelines in my Hode’s Hill series.

Like The Night Sister and The Drowning Kind, the three novels that comprise Hode’s Hill—Cusp of Night, End of Day, and Eventide combine mystery and suspense with ghostly elements. In closing, I’m going to offer a shameless plug. If you haven’t read Hode’s Hill, you can pick up all three books in the series for a total of $4.97. Each novel can be read as a standalone, but my publisher currently as a sale going on the whole set.

As always, I wish you happy reading. Be sure to let me know your thoughts on The Drowning Kind, too!

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. 🙂