Book Review Tuesday: For the Love of Money @KimCoxAuthor

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 imageHi, friends. Thanks for joining me for Book Review Tuesday. I’ve cut back on my blogging temporarily, trying to stay on top of things in the current environment of insanity related to Covid-19. If you don’t see me online as regularly as I normally am, rest assured I fully intend to get back to my regular schedule including posts of Wednesday Weirdness. For the immediate future, I intend to keep sharing Book Review Tuesday posts and other sporadic posts here and there. I’m hoping all of you stay healthy and well. We will get through this mess, together!

And now, enough of that! 🙂

I have a great book to share with you. If you like romantic suspense twined up with mystery, you’re sure to love this five-star read:


Book cover for Love of Money by Kim Cox shows young couple facing away with arms around each other, German shepherd in foregroundFor the Love of Money is a book that will appeal to both fans of mystery and romantic suspense. When his best friend, Daniel, dies in a car crash, Alan Pearce heads to the small town of Bears Hollow in North Carolina. Reports say Daniel’s car plummeted off the side of the mountain, but Alan refuses to believe his friend could make such a tragic mistake on roads he knew so well.

Once in Bears Hollow, Alan crosses paths with Police Chief Jessie Kendall, who suspects foul play. At the top of the list is Daniel’s superficial wife Leta, who had been begging her husband to relocate to California so she could pursue an acting career. But it isn’t long before other suspects crawl out of the woodwork. Jessie even briefly considers Alan a suspect, until the two start to work together to get to the bottom of the tragedy.

Cox creates enjoyable characters. Both Jessie and Alan are strong, but (for me) Alan really took center stage. His interactions with both Leta and Jessie are deftly handled. Leta comes across spoiled and shallow but with a few glimmers of humanity underneath. When the killer and motive are unmasked, both come as a surprise.

I liked the gradual growth in the relationship between Alan and Jessie as attraction builds between them. And Jessie’s German shepherd is a scene stealer! The writing is polished and the story flows at a steady pace as suspects and clues are addressed. If you like books that include both a murder mystery and a sweet romance, you’re sure to enjoy For the Love of Money. 5 Stars!

AMAZON LINK
Genre: Romantic Suspense > Mystery Romance


Although I am working full days remotely from home, I know many people are stuck indoors. It’s the perfect time to catch up on your TBR and add new books like For the Love of Money. I wish you happy reading!

Book Review Tuesday: Grinders by C. S. Boyack

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 imageHappy St. Patricks Day, everyone! Whether you’re Irish or not, ’tis a day for the wearing’ o’ the green, and a tip o’ the hat to the wee folk. Right now, we could all use a little luck given the state of the world in view of Covid-19. Whatever your corner of the planet, I hope you stay safe and well. If you’re stuck inside, it’s the perfect time to catch up on your reading.

With that in mind, let’s jump into this week’s book review!


Book cover for Grinders, a speculative fiction novel features neon lights and holographic images by C. S. BoyackJimi Cabot, and her partner Lou, are two cops assigned to the “Grinder Squad” in a futuristic San Francisco. Grinders are people who have their bodies altered through illegal surgeries which use computer chips to provide enhanced senses. Despite their department assignment, Jimi and Lou usually find their days eaten up by the drudgery of routine patrol and domestic disturbance calls—until they happen upon a trail that may lead to the most wanted grinder in police databanks.

There is strong parallel storyline involving the grinder they’re after, enabling the reader to see both sides of the situation. Beyond that, however, there is so much more that goes on in this book. I loved the friendship that developed between Jimi and Brandi (a grinder), and I loved Lou’s tie to Sailor, the horse he rode when he was on mounted patrol before the division was disbanded.

Most intriguing of all is the world Boyack has created. One that includes a “grid” for travelling, bots in all shapes and sizes, and a constant bombardment of advertising. “Holobarkers”­—floating globes broadcasting advertisements—roam the streets, swarming around people with their messages. Cars and buses flash moving advertisements and 3D holographic images are found everywhere. There is an “electric forest” (one of my favorite elements), in the process of being torn down because it is already considered old technology. Holographic spiders and jack-o-lanterns bob around on Halloween, and a 3D King Kong climbs a building to promote a movie. The creativity of this world is off the charts. Every page brings some new wonder or futuristic element that is vividly portrayed. Between the story and inventions, I was mesmerized. A highly original work!

AMAZON LINK
Genre: Cypberpunk > Science Fiction


Grinders is quite the gritty and colorful world. I could so see this as a series on Netflix! 🙂

In Search of McDoogal…Settings and Place Names

Coffee drink cup beside large blue purse with Kindle showing book cover for In Search of McDoogal by Mae Clair in centerHappy Monday, friends! Once again, I am on the road, visiting with my good friend, Marcia Meara. She is graciously allowing me to take over her blog to discuss the setting for my new release, In Search of McDoogal, along with some silliness I tossed into the book. It’s amazing how much you can fit into a 90-minute short read!

I hope you’ll drop by to see what today’s discussion is about. And while you’re there, poke around Marcia’s blog to discover her selection of great books and great fun. I guarantee becoming a regular follower of her blog will leave you with plenty of smiles.

I hope to see you THERE!

 

My Cat Said What?

Beautiful black cat in bow window with rose in bloom behind glassHi, friends. I’m late in sharing this post today, but I hope you’ll forgive me in the craziness of the Covid-19 world. I spent the day working my way through stores and grocery shopping ( an experience unlike any I have ever had in my life). Don’t even ask about the absence of toilet paper!

Anyhoo, craziness aside, my precious rescue kitty, Raven, is the guest on Victoria Ziegler’s blog today. Yes, Raven, not me. So what does a cat say?

Hop over to Tori’s place to find out! Raven and I hope to see you THERE.

The Inspiration Behind In Search of McDoogal #buddyfiction #comedy #amazonshortread

Book cover for In Search of McDoogal by author Mae Clair shows a quaint street scene in a small townI’m out and about today! If you happen to be roaming the blogosphere, take a moment to hop over to Joan Hall’s blog.

Joan is a good friend and a Story Empire colleague. Today, she’s allowing me to take over her blog as I share some of the inspiration behind my recent Amazon 90-Minute Short Read, In Search of McDoogal.

If you’re not already following Joan, check out her blog while you’re there. She offers great content and is highly supportive of others. I especially love her Mystery Monday posts.

I’m closing comments here, but hope to see you at Joan’s place!

New Release: In Search of McDoogal by Mae Clair #buddyfic #humor #comedyoferrors

Hi, friends. I’m super excited! Instead of sharing a book review today, I’m sharing news of my own release! I had originally intended to do a cover reveal before publishing In Search of McDoogal, but then decided to go all in.

If you’re a regular follower of my blog, you already know McDoogal is a different type of story for me. Not only can you read it in ninety minutes or less, but it’s light-hearted in tone. No creatures or beasties, no dark or brooding mystery to solve. Just two guys on a day trip, trying to recover a…well…I’ll let the excerpt explain.

Banner ad for In Search of McDoogal by author, Mae Clair shows cover on e-reader and smart phone, artist's paint brushes in cup to the right side

In the excerpt below, Brady Conrad has just arrived at the house of his friend, Declan Fitzgerald. These two have known each other since high school and are colleagues at an institute dedicated to marine and environmental research. After dragging Declan from bed with a rude doorbell symphony, Brady unloads his tale of woe. He speaks first, followed by Declan.


“I’m in trouble.” Overly dramatic, but he was in deep shit, and if he didn’t do something in the next fifteen hours, he ran the risk of becoming dead meat.

“Huh?”

Hard to believe the guy held two doctorate degrees. Brady headed for the family room.

“What kind of trouble?” Declan trailed after him.

“I sold Vanessa’s McDoogal.”

Declan stared. Blinked a few times as if trying to displace the fog of sleep. “What’s a McDoogal?”

“A cat.”

“You sold a cat?”

“No, the cat’s dead. I sold a painting.”

“Of what?”

“Of McDoogal.”

“You sold a painting of a dead cat?”

“Yes. No!” Damn, had he lost the ability to speak English? “The cat wasn’t dead in the painting!”

“Oh.” That at least appeared to have penetrated. “Where’d you get a painting of a cat?”

“I told you. It was Vanessa’s.”

“The painting?”

“Yes. And the cat.”

“I didn’t know Vanessa had a cat.”

“She doesn’t.”

“So, she had a painting of someone else’s cat?”

“No. Damn it, Declan, stop making this so freaking complicated! Vanessa had a cat. A long time ago. She did a painting of it back when she was in college, then the cat died. The painting had sentimental value. I didn’t know and sold it by mistake.”

“Why didn’t you say that in the first place?”


Sound like fun? If you enjoy a story with a quirky tone, an assortment of oddball characters, and plenty of shenanigans, I think you’ll like In Search of McDoogal. I don’t do comedy often, but I did have fun with this! 🙂

Book cover for In Search of McDoogal by author Mae Clair shows a quaint street scene in a small town

Genre: 90 Minute Amazon Short Read > Buddy Fiction > Humor > Day Trip
Publication Date: March 7, 2020

BLURB:
In search of something ugly…

All Brady Conrad wants to do is earn a few merit points with his artist girlfriend, so he volunteers to cover her gallery when she leaves town. What should be an easy day of sales goes belly up when he mistakenly sells a cherished painting.

With the clock ticking toward Vanessa’s return, Brady has less than a day to track McDoogal down. He coerces his friend Declan to tag along for moral support. How difficult can it be for an investigator and the director of a renowned institute to find a single painting in a town the size of a postage stamp?

Neither Brady nor Declan counted on a suspicious sheriff, rival baseball teams with a longstanding grudge, or a clueless kid trying to win his girlfriend with all the wrong gifts.

McDoogal is smack in the middle. But Brady’s biggest dilemma isn’t the disastrous hunt. It’s confessing to Vanessa her painting is the ugliest thing he’s ever seen.


If you’re looking for a light-hearted read themed around a comedy of errors, be sure to grab your copy of In Search of McDoogal.

Available from AMAZON for $1.99

PURCHASE HERE

Wednesday Weirdness: Black Dogs of Folklore

pathway between large, gnarled trees with words "on the path of Wednesday Weirdness" superimposed over image

For today’s Wednesday Weirdness, I’m referencing a creature that appears in End of Day, book two of my Hode’s Hill series. Long before writing that tale, I was intrigued by legends of the nocturnal black dogs of folklore. Larger than an average canine, such creatures are a portent of doom or death and will usually appear to a lone traveler. In times past, those who walked the roads at night would buddy-up with a companion, hoping to stave off the dog’s appearance. Even then, the animal might only be visible to one of the two, assuring the person meant to see the hound could not escape their destiny.

dark, foggy forest with path through centerMany cultures believe in a creature or object that is said to be an omen of death. I remember finding a black feather as a child then running home terrified, sobbing to my mother, when someone told me it was a sign of death. She did what mothers do—calmed my fears, hugged me, and told me I would be fine. Moms don’t lie, but I remember lying awake that night, listening to every creak and groan of the house waiting for something to happen. When dawn arrived, I decided I was safe.

Superstitions are always more frightening when examined in the dark, especially through the eyes of a child.

But the legend of the Black Dog was passed from country to country and continent to continent by adults. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle even had his master detective, Sherlock Holmes tangle with “The Hound of the Baskervilles” (my favorite Holmes story).

Large standing stone in a field of browned grassAnd then there is Black Dog Tor, a large standing stone said to conceal the spirit of a spectral hound.  In all cases, these dogs are utterly silent which makes their eerie appearance all the more spine-tingling. Imagine crossing a grassy knoll silvered by moonlight and watching a bulky apparition with glowing eyes crest the rise.

Black Dogs were also seen at crossroads, footpaths, gallows, gravesites and bridges. Sometimes associated with storms, they were given differing names depending on location and who was telling the tale—grims, hellhounds, Padfoot, Hairy Jack, the yeth hound, Gurt, and Black Shuck to name a few.

It makes you realize black cats weren’t the only critters to get a bad rap!

Book Review Tuesday: The Other Mrs. by Mary Kubica

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 imageHappy Tuesday! I have an intriguing book to share, one that I can definitely see generating a lot of book club discussion.The Other Mrs. is also slated for Netflix, and I can’t wait! I have so many thoughts about this story, but I’ll restrict them to my review.

And a bonus today—look for a special announcement at the end of this post! 🙂


Book cover for The Other Mrs. shows lighted window in gale of dark house, a woman's image in backgroundThe Other Mrs.
by Mary Kubica

The Other Mrs. is a psychological thriller with a murder mystery at the core. Dr. Sadie Faust and her husband Will, a professor, relocate to Maine when Will inherits his sister’s home.

Will’s sister Alice, has committed suicide, leaving her old home, and her sixteen-year-old daughter, Imogene, behind. Maine is a huge adjustment, especially given the home is located on an island, the mainland only reachable by ferry. It’s winter and storms are common. Queue claustrophobic atmosphere. I’m not a fan of winter, but I do love reading books set during the season.

And then there is Imogene—bitter and resentful—who does everything in her power to make Sadie feel threatened and unwelcome. Sadie and Will have two other children, Otto, fourteen and awkward, and Tate, grade school age and a bundle of energy. Shortly after the Faust family moves into their new home, a neighbor woman is murdered. Thus, begins the mystery of who killed her and why.

The story unfolds through the viewpoints of three different characters—Sadie, a woman named Camille, and a young girl called Mouse. Chapters alternate between them, some more engrossing than others. There were several chapters mid-point where the story dragged, and I grew weary of Camille and Mouse’s narration (mostly because it’s told rather than shown), but Sadie’s chapters kept me thoroughly engrossed. As suspicion regarding the killer mounts, she pulls a few stunts that had me doing palm/forehead, but they’re forgiven in the overall tension of the book. Once past the middle bubble, I couldn’t read fast enough.

Between the setting with the plague of winter snow, the oppressive weight of Alice’s questionable suicide, and Imogene’s rebellious behavior, there’s a lot going on in this book in addition to a murder mystery.

I did figure out the main plot point early on, but the author peppered the story with enough curve balls to make me second guess myself repeatedly. And I do mean repeatedly. Eventually, my suspicions were proven right, but the connection to the murder and the killer’s motive came as a complete surprise. If you enjoy psychological thrillers that blur lines with domestic thrillers and murder mysteries,The Other Mrs. is well worth the read. 4.5 Stars from me.

AMAZON LINK
Genre: Domestic Thrillers > Murder Thrillers


Now, about that bonus I mentioned…

My Story Empire colleagues and I have big announcement taking place today. We don’t normally post on a Tuesday, but our news couldn’t wait. If you haven’t already visited, I invite you to hop over to the Empire, and see what the Story is all about. 😉

The Last Movie I Saw…

When it comes to down time and relaxing, I spend more hours with my nose buried in a book or my Kindle than I do watching TV. Friends and family frequently recommend good programs they find on Netflix or network channels, many of which sound awesome, but somehow, I always end up skipping them. I DVR two shows that I’ll watch when I have time—The Good Doctor and God Friended Me, but other than that, I invest little time in TV.

When my mother was living, I took her to the movies every weekend. We’d trade up—one week she’d pick the film, the next, I’d chose. That went on for decades. DH enjoys movies at home, not the theater, so these days I catch new releases On Demand if I remember to watch them at all. Most times I forget.

Film strip with projector

But Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was different. The moment I heard about it, I was determined to catch it when it hit Xfinity and DVD.

I’ve never seen a Quentin Tarantino film before, and I’m not sure I’ll watch another, but I was “gone” on this one. Hubby and I rented it on Xfinity. I liked it so much, I ordered the DVD from Amazon. Since then I’ve watched it again, something I haven’t done with a movie in years. I’d like to say it’s all about good storytelling, but maybe it’s just me. Maybe it comes down to personal preference.

My sister and her husband were not enthralled. We discussed it in detail, and I’ve been trying to figure out why I’m so smitten with the story.

I love the year in which it’s set—1969—the music, the fashions, the background theme. Go go boots, Matt Helm, Steve McQueen, the Mamas and the Papas, bell bottoms, hobo bags, and much more.

If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s about a 1950’s western star and his stuntman, set in a changing Hollywood. Leonardo DiCaprio’s character, the one-time lead in ‘Bounty Law” is aging and living on past glory. Used to being cast in the role of hero, he now finds himself facing lesser parts—spaghetti westerns and villains, his stuntman (Brad Pitt) tagging along.

Cowboy on a horse at sunset, leading a riderless horse behind him

As a fan of old westerns, I appreciated the nods to the past, especially Lancer. I was in grade school in 1969 and never knew Lancer existed. I didn’t find it until 2001, when I stumbled over the show in reruns. Along with Bonanza, it’s now one of my two all-time favorite westerns.

I was thrilled when I discovered Lancer played such a huge part in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood—yet another reason I loved the movie.­­­ Would I have enjoyed it as much without that association? I’m not sure. For me, Lancer was a huge bonus.

That link aside, DiCaprio and Pitt (who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor) were both excellent. And if you’re wondering about the much-publicized connection to Charles Manson and the Sharon Tate murders…um, yeah…all there, but not in the manner you’d expect.

What surprises me most is that my sister—who was a teenager in 1969—didn’t appreciate this film as much as I did, and I was barely in grade school at the time. Maybe it’s because I’ve always held a love affair with the 60s, despite being a child of the 70s.

Is it over the top? Absolutely. Foul language? In abundance. Nudity? Nope, that one you can scratch. Everyone’s cup of cinema tea? Apparently not, but I’m sure to savor it again.

Have you seen this movie? What are your thoughts?

Wednesday Weirdness: A Love of Creatures

pathway between large, gnarled trees with wacords "on the path of Wednesday Weirdness" superimposed over imageHi, friends. I was thinking about creatures the other day. No big surprise there. My mind often wonders that way. I’m a wuss when it comes to haunted houses, ghosts, and most things supernatural (despite writing about them), but creatures are another story. Leave the demonic slant out and I’m a fan girl.

Looking back, it started with the old soap opera Dark Shadows. Yeah, I’m dating myself. Everyone knows Barnabas Collins, but I was thoroughly smitten with Quentin Collins. I was six years old and captivated by the idea of someone turning into a werewolf. The thought of the moon altering someone’s behavior held me enthralled. Small wonder, the first book I had published was a werewolf tale.

Early photo of author, Mae Clair standing beside a large wood carving of a bat with folded wings

A creature I discovered in Rhode Island, late 1990s

A few years later, I saw Night of the Gargoyles, a movie that introduced me to flying creatures haunting the southwest. Around the same time, I watched a sci-fi movie with my parents. I have no idea what the name was, or what it was about. I just remember a huge insect like creature being emblazoned against the sky (still vivid in my head). Let it be known I detest 95% of insects, but this was a creature. An alien, most likely.

In my tweens and teens I discovered dragons, unicorns, and all manner of beasties from myth. That led to a love of reading and writing epic fantasy. In my thirties, I drifted away from fantasy into magical realism. The creatures became more subtle, sometimes wrapped in human guise. After that I fell in love with the bizarre. Stories of curiosities, creatures from cryptozoology, tales of visitors from other worlds.

Author, Mae Clair, beside the Mothman statue in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, June 2013

With the Mothman statue in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, 2013

Do I believe this stuff? Well, that’s as much a mystery as the cryptids, isn’t it? Let’s just say I’m mostly a skeptic who loves the possibility of “what if.” Despite all the logic and rationality of the world, the detailed facts unearthed by science and technology, I never want to lose the wonder and magic of childhood when everything carried the gloss of “what if.”

Creatures aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. But for all the hairy-winged-scaled-hunched over-misunderstood creatures out there, I’m a fan girl. What about you? Have you got a favorite.