Wednesday Weirdness: The Dog Suicide Bridge

pathway between large, gnarled trees with words "on the path of Wednesday Weirdness" superimposed over imageWelcome to another Wednesday Weirdness. Today, I have a strange tale that will certainly strike at the heart of any pet lover.

Many people love to take their dogs for a walk. Whether it’s a turn around the neighborhood, a stroll down a country lane or a jaunt through the park, it’s a relaxing experience for owner and companion. If you have a dog, you may have even meandered across a bridge or two, your best friend trotting happily at your side. The image certainly conjures a quaint picture.

Unless you happen to be walking your pet on the Overtoun Bridge in Scotland. 

Looking across Overtoun Bridge. Stone bridge with greenery on either side, rain puddles in pathway

Looking across Overtoun Bridge. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia. Lairich Rig [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Tucked into the countryside, near the town of Dumbarton, the Overtoun Bridge is a gothic looking structure that carries a much darker name—the Dog Suicide Bridge. Built in 1895, it soars fifty feet over a placid stream below.

Since the 1960s more than fifty dogs have leapt to their death from the bridge. Making that anomaly even stranger is the fact all of the dogs have jumped from the exact same spot, and each apparent “suicide” has occurred on pleasant, sunny days. All of the dogs involved have been “long-nosed” breeds—collies, labradors and retrievers.  A few, fortunate enough to survive the fall, returned to the top of the bridge and leapt from the same spot again, as if compelled by a supernatural force.

Why this horrifically odd behavior from man’s best friend? Is it possible a dog can suffer depression and commit suicide? Or is the bridge cursed, as some speculate?

Overtoun House, forbidding Gothic looking abode at end of long drive

Overtoun House, Photo courtesy of Wikimedia. By dave souza (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

It’s long been believed animals have a keener sense of the spirit world than humans. Perhaps the dogs in question sensed a malevolent presence in Overtoun House, a nearby residence rumored to be haunted. Or perhaps they detected something extraordinary in an area considered a “thin place.” According to legend, Overtoun exists in a region where Heaven and earth are nearly joined.

The most practical explanation to date involves the presence of mink below the bridge. In marking their territory, it’s believed the mink emit a scent powerful enough to lure the dogs to their death. Overcome by the odor, the dogs react instinctively. Blinded by the wall rising beside them, they fail to realize the height from which they plummet.

Why, however, would any animal that survived such a fall, willingly return to the bridge and jump again?

Perhaps the answer will never be known. Thus any dog-owner should be wary when taking their pet for a stroll across Scotland’s Overtoun Bridge. I certainly would!

Book Review Tuesday: Under the Water by Paul Pen, Under Siege by @ judipost

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

Happy Tuesday! I have two books to share this week. One—despite being a bestseller with polished writing from an author I enjoy—earns three stars. The other is a one-hour read from a series I’ve fallen in love with.


Book cover for Under the Water by Paul Pen shows title on watery background with bubblesPaul Pen is a Spanish author whose work is routinely translated into English. My first experience reading one of his novels was Desert Flowers, a highly unique, haunting, yet disturbing story. It’s one that remains with me to this day despite the fact I read it in early 2018. A book like that sets a high bar for anything that follows. When I saw Under the Water, I couldn’t wait to download it.

The story started off with a bang—a family of four moving from Seattle to Boston, traveling across country in an RV, planning to sightsee along the way. We get the idea they are hoping for a new start after a series of misfortunes. The ten-year old son lost his eye in an accident, the teenage daughter’s two pet ferrets disappeared, the mother’s hair is now healthy again after falling out in clumps. Weird, huh? This is when the book is good, offering sketchy details that are never quite filled in.

Then, while night-driving in a secluded area, the husband clips a woman who leaps onto the road. Here, things start to sour instead of kicking into high gear. My first problem was accepting that a family of four traveling across country wouldn’t pack a single flashlight in their RV. An RV! Instead, they rely on their cell phones for flashlights—and, of course, those end up missing.

After that, the story degenerates into a hot mess, especially when the woman’s reasons for being on the road are revealed. It requires a stretch of the imagination and dedication to stay with the book. Had it been any author other than Paul Pen, I would have probably stopped reading. I wanted mystery. A haunting, disturbing plot like Desert Flowers. Instead I got infidelity and revenge. I’ve read plenty of books with unlikable characters that I found enthralling, but this one fell short. Toss in the fact the opening chapter seems gimmicky and unnecessary after you know the ending, and I can’t give this book more than 3 stars.

Amazon Link
Genre: Psychological Literary Fiction >  Spanish & Portuguese Literature


Book cover for Under Siege by Judi Lynn shows fierce looking woman in skimpy warrior outfit holding long knife as if to attackUnder Siege: A Muddy River One Hour Read
by Judi Lynn

The citizens of Muddy River have seen their share of problems. A town populated by witches, vampires, shifters, fae, and other preternatural beings, it’s also a place where locals pull together when trouble surfaces. Lead by Raven, the town’s enforcer and fire demon, along with his mate Hester, a powerful witch, Muddy River has stood up to several diabolical challenges.

In this short read, evil surfaces in the form of mortals who have targeted the town. As always, Raven, Hester, and their friends rise to the challenge, banding together to defend their community, including newly arrived members.

If you’re not familiar with Muddy River, this is a nice introduction to the many diverse people who populate it. A magical world where shifters, vampires, and witches gather at the local pub to discuss the day’s events, or rally around a kitchen table to plot strategy. If you’re already familiar with Muddy River, it’s a time to reconnect with characters who have become family. If you’re new to the town, it’s an excellent glimpse into what makes this series—part paranormal, part cozy mystery, part suspense—such a winning combination. You can read this tale in under an hour, and like a Halloween treat, you’ll find yourself wanting more.
5 Stars!

Amazon Link
Genre: Paranormal Mysteries > Witch and Wizard Fiction


Judi Lynn always delivers a good story and I hope you’ll check out her Muddy Series if you haven’t already.

I expected more of Paul Pen’s book. I think of three stars as an average read. Nothing spectacular, but nothing dreadful either. This book was well written, but there were flaws I found hard to overlook. My biggest issue—when the gloss of the mystery was stripped away, I didn’t care for the story. That’s personal taste, and it happens to all of us. I’m sure others will love the book.

How do you feel when a favorite author disappoints you? I will certainly read Paul Pen again. Will you stick with an author after they deliver a story you didn’t care for?

Let’s chat about it.

Creative Solutions for the Modern Writer #newrelease @harmony_kent

Happy Monday, everyone! To kick off your week I’ve got a book to fire your creativity and imagination. Good friend, and Story Empire colleague, Harmony Kent, is here with her newest release. This is one you’re going to want to check out!Book cover for Creative Solutions for the Modern Writer by Harmony Kent

Hello everyone. Harmony here. I’m excited to share my latest non-fiction book with you all today. Huge thanks to Mae for hosting me today.

Creative Solutions for the Modern Writer does what it says on the tin (or cover, lol), and offers tools to fire your imagination. With chapters on things such as using chess and tarot to develop stories, plots, and characters—as well as adopting the principles of nursing triage, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, horoscopes, and more—this little guide is full of fun tips and tricks to get your muse working overtime.

This excellent writer’s companion is available to by now in both ebook and paperback.

Here’s an excerpt for you:
Taken from the chapter on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs …

A series of yellow balls in a row, each with a different expression, frowning, smiling, confused, mad

Where our characters sit on this scale will affect how they respond in any given situation and to any given stimulus. Their position will determine their current aspirations. And the great thing with this as a characterisation tool is that your characters can climb up or fall down as needed.

As your characters evolve and grow throughout the story, you can use the higher levels on the triangle to determine what their aims and responses are likely to be. Likewise, this can also help place their behaviours when everything falls to pieces around them. The lower on the triangle we are, the more animalistic we’re likely to behave. The higher on the scale, the more enlightened.

This tool is excellent for character development as well as for plotting. And it shows how any one character can change in how he or she responds depending upon the situation in which he or she finds themselves.

A kind, gentle woman may morph into a rabid knife-wielding cold killer if her children’s lives are at stake. A big, rough, tough villainous type might go all gooey-eyed over an abandoned puppy … who knows what memories/associations the cute little animal might have tapped into? Perhaps he’s on the yellow level of the triangle, needing belonging, acceptance, and love. Or you could go the other way and make him even more monstrous by having him kill the puppy and eat it because he’s scrabbling around on the lowest level of the triangle and desperate for food.

Author, Harmony KentAuthor Bio
After spending around thirteen years as an ordained Buddhist monk, living in a Zen Buddhist temple, and six years after a life-changing injury following a surgical error, Harmony Kent returned to the world at the tender age of forty.

Now, she is famous for her laughter, and has made quite the name for herself … she’s also, um, a writer … and fairly well known for that too. She’s even won a few awards. Harmony lives in rural Cornwall with her ever-present sense of humour, adorable husband, and quirky neighbours.

Harmony is passionate about supporting her fellow authors.

You can connect with Harmony at the following haunts:
WebsiteStory Empire (co-authored) | Amazon Author Page Twitter | LinkedIn
Goodreads Author Page | BookBub 

Creative Solutions Purchase Link

Wednesday Weirdness: Jellyfish of the Air

pathway between large, gnarled trees with words "on the path of Wednesday Weirdness" superimposed over imageWelcome to my first Wednesday Weirdness. As a collector or curiosities, I hope to have many odd stories and unexplained phenomenon to share with you in the weeks and months ahead. Some of these posts appeared previously on my blog in the guise of Mythical Mondaybut I’ll only recycle those from my early days of blogging with few visitors. Other posts will be cover new oddities and some of the strange legends that have inspired many of my books.

First up—jellyfish of the air. This particular subject is one that has fascinated me from the moment I stumbled over it years ago.

Many people believe multiple dimensions flow through alternate timelines and places, others that they coexist within the same time and space as us, but aren’t visible to the naked eye.

Wilhelm Reich, a controversial psychoanalyst born in the late nineteenth century, was so convinced of this fact he set out to capture evidence on film.

Intense northern lights (Aurora borealis) over Lake Laberge, Yukon Territory, Canada, with silhouettes of willows on lake shore.Reich’s theory was built around the concept of something called “orgone,” a life force or cosmic energy omnipresent in the ground and sky. As proof such energy existed, Reich offered the Northern lights and St. Elmo’s fire as examples. He was so enraptured of the idea, he built “orgone accumulators”—life sized boxes in which he hoped to harness the energy and use it to cure his patients of diseases such as cancer.

The problem: Wilhelm Reich was not a licensed medical practitioner. The procedure, along with his highly dubious mental state and other questionable treatment theories, eventually landed him in hot water with authorities. Details of Reich’s life can be found on Wikipedia for anyone interested in learning more about his bizarre behavior and therapy concepts.

What interests me is an experiment he supposedly conducted in 1953 with the help of photographer Norman Leistig.

Reich had Leistig’s assistant raise an “orgone-charged” rod into the air in the hopes of attracting one of the invisible beings he believed existed. Within five seconds a huge jellyfish-like creature attached itself to the rod, becoming visible long enough for Leistig to capture it in a photograph. But the terrified screams of Leistig’s assistant so repulsed the manifestation it faded from sight.

Supposedly, twelve additional people witnessed the spectacle. Reich and Leistig were so unnerved by the experiment they refused to discuss it (although it’s rumored Leistig referred to Reich as “the Devil himself” much later in life).

Interestingly, I couldn’t find a single mention of this experiment among the numerous sites I visited related to Reich or Leistig, and I checked many. Even Google images came up blank. That makes me question whether it even took place, but like anything in a “cabinet of curiosities” I’m drawn to the idea. I originally stumbled across the story and a pin of the photo on Pinterest.

The original link connects to a photo blog for the
Caledonian Mining Expedition Company.

Check out the second photo from the top,
then come back and let me know what you think.

Hoax or not you’ve got to admit that is one freakishly cool photo…although I certainly wouldn’t want to get stung by that thing. No wonder Leistig’s assistant screamed his head off!

In closing, if you’re out and roaming about the blogosphere today, you can also find me at Teri Polen’s blog answering some spooky questions, and at Story Empire discussing writing sprints. It’s a busy Wednesday so if I’m a little slow responding to comments please bear with me! 🙂

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.

What Happens in Maine…

…doesn’t always stay in Maine. In this case, I brought back a cold.

Not just any cold, but a miserable head cold complete with sore throat, sneezing, coughing, watery eyes—I can’t remember the last time I felt so sick. It started a week ago Monday night while we were in Freeport. By the time we returned to our lake house outside of Bar Harbor on Tuesday, I was going downhill fast. By Wednesday, we decided to cut our vacation short and head home.

Thankfully, we squeezed a lot into the time we were there. We spent two days in Bar Harbor, a day in Freeport, and enjoyed the serenity of the lake house. We ate at a lot of great places (lobster and seafood!), met some wonderful people, took a 2.5 hour nature cruise with views of seals, porpoises, the Egg Rock lighthouse, elaborate mansions, cliff faces and islands. In addition, I did a ton of shopping. So although the trip was cut short, we still had an awesome time.

The house was amazing, with a soaring two-story coffered wood ceiling and two rows of trapezoid windows plus two sets of French doors overlooking the lake. We loved relaxing each evening on the deck and watching the sun set. Peaceful—and very remote.

A dirt lane with trees on either side

A mile drive on dirt and gravel to reach the house

The property sat back from the main route several miles. We took a country road four miles back off the main drag, then turned onto a dirt lane where we drove another mile through woods before arriving at the house. My phone cut out before we even turned onto the country road. Not having cell signals or a land line (and no one around) was kind of freaky but the setting was so peaceful, it was easy to overlook.

First day in Bar Harbor

The next day we hit Bar Harbor, which was a 45 minute drive away. A great place, but it was PACKED with people. We spent two days walking the town. It’s loaded with all manner of eclectic shops and eateries, and is located on the water. Each day a cruise ship arrived and water-taxied passengers into town. We heard a lot of English accents in the shops. When afternoon rolled around, we grabbed a beer in a brew pub. I’m more of a wine drinker, but even I thought it was good. I couldn’t fit my glass in the selfie I snapped (at left).

Author, Mae Clair, standing beside a full-size statue of a knight

Shopping in Freeport

We spent an entire day in Freeport, where a highlight was visiting the L.L. Bean Flagship Store. This thing is humongous. It’s the anchor store of the L.L. Bean Campus, which includes separate stores for hunting and fishing, bike, boat and ski, a home store, and a discovery park. We only ever made it into the Flagship store, and I’m not sure we even made it through the whole thing. I bought two sweater coats and DH bought two down vests. The really interesting thing about this store is that it’s open 24/7, 364 days a year. The only day the store closes is Christmas. Other than that, you can shop any time or any hour.

At the British Goods store (on left), I had to stop for a shot with a friend.

Close up of slender nail

The culprit

Later, during the trip we discovered our left rear tire was leaking. We’d chosen to use a rental car rather than put mileage on one of our vehicles given it was a 11.5 hour trip one way, and while in Maine we planned to do a lot of driving. Freeport was a 2.5 hour trip from the lake house where we stayed. We did book an overnight for that, but given the location of the house, everything we did was at least a half hour to fifty minutes away. Turns out we picked up a nail somewhere, which meant finding a garage to remove it and plug the hole. We tried three before we finally found one who could take care of the problem. The guy was a man of very few words (I think he probably spoke a little over a dozen the entire time we were there), but he was a lifesaver. No way could we have driven 11.5 hours home with a tire leaking air.

Chatting with Millie

Among the people we met, Millie in Freeport really stands out. DH and I were relaxing after dinner with a drink at the outdoor fire pit, when Millie came out and joined us. We spent the entire evening chatting with her. She was an older woman, traveling from Massachusetts with her husband (he had already headed up to their room), and a sheer pleasure to chat with. We connected with so many enjoyable people on the trip, all of who will remain part of our memories. Despite having to head home early, we squeezed a lot into the time we were there, and look forward to returning at a later date.

We were expecting autumn temperatures, with most all of the clothing we packed suited for mid 60s weather. Fortunately, we each packed some lighter items as well, as the days were unseasonably warm in the mid to upper 80s. We did get to see an array of beautiful fall foliage, but the peak color comes later this month. No moose sightings, but several moose crossing signs. I tried to snap a picture of one from the highway but it came out as a brown and yellow blur.

No cryptids either, but the surroundings were inspiring. I dreamed up an extensive character list and plot for a story which I’ve decided to make my upcoming NaNo project. I can’t wait to get started!

In closing, I’ll leave you with some photos taken while in Bar Harbor. It’s definitely a cool place to visit! Starting next week, my Wednesday Weirdness posts will begin. I hope you’ll join me for a weekly dose of strangeness!

 

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Book Review Tuesday: Viral Blues @Virgilante, Nine Lives @jaydawes2, Here to Stay @mredwards

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! I’m back from Maine and eager to catch up with everyone. I’ll be chatting more about my trip to the Pine Tree State tomorrow, but first, I’d like to share this week’s book reviews. Ready? Let’s dive right in!


Viral Blues
by C. S. Boyack

When nefarious forces tamper with the population’s vaccine supply, substituting lethal viruses in place of inoculations, a group of players with unique gifts unites to bring down the supernatural forces responsible. Think a mash-up of superheroes, zombies, and music, and you’ve got a hint of the fast-paced and highly imaginative story that comprises Viral Blues.

Our group of power players includes an ex-thug who hasn’t lost his knack making people talk, a sexy, brilliant robot girl, a street savvy detective with a habit of evaporating into fog, a girl as handy with pistols as she is fronting a band, and an extra-terrestrial being in the guise of a hat. Yes, a hat.

Boyack gives each of these colorful characters (and more) a chance to shine in his high-octane tale. Our heroes battle hordes of zombies, organized crime bosses, and supernatural bad guys. The action sequences are peppered with near escapes and shoot-outs, and the dialogue flies as fast as the bullets (I love the hat’s snarkiness). Most all of these characters have appeared in other books and novellas Boyack has written, but tossing them together in a melting pot was a stroke of brilliance. I loved watching them interact, particularly Lisa, the robot girl (a favorite of mine) and Clovis, the thug. The hat pretty much steals every scene he’s in (did I mention I love his dialogue?).

The climatic confrontation is explosive and should be filmed. If you like imaginative stories, memorable characters, and superhero theatrics, you’ll love Viral Blues. As an extra treat the author adds a secret chapter at the end, much like the final in a movie after the credits roll. Highly enjoyable! 5 Stars!!

Amazon Link
Genre: Paranormal and Urban Fantasy > Superhero Fantasy


Book cover for Nine Lives by Jaye Marie shows close u of woman's face super imposed over sunset on oceanNine Lives
by Jaye Marie

In Nine Lives, we meet Kate, a fifty-nine-year old artist who has had a wretched string of bad luck when it comes to men, and who is now going through the motions of a day-to-day existence. She has health issues, smokes too much, and is plagued by an inner voice that constantly monitors her decisions.

Much of the story is written in expository style, admittedly not something I am used to. The reader is treated to a lot of background information about how Kate’s life has evolved and how each day unfolds. She’s made mistakes, bad choices she now recognizes, and has been taken advantage of by more than one man. Kate hopes the worst is behind her—especially now, with a female mentor and friend who offers the steadfast support she has been lacking. Sadly, there are still hurdles to overcome, the toll of which becomes evident when several in Kate’s orbit meet with foul play.

The writing is crisp, the descriptions vivid. Dialogue, when it appears, is well done, although the bulk of the book relies on narrative. I did find several of the scenes difficult to read and had to skim them. That aside, the author did an excellent job in creating a thoroughly reprehensible villain, who I couldn’t wait to see reach a justifiable end.
4 Stars.

Amazon Link
Genre: Psychological Fiction


Book cover for Here to Stay by Mark Edwards shows part of house at night, lighted upper window with someone standing in front of window, tree to left of houseHere to Stay
by Mark Edwards
It’s every newlywed’s hope for wonderful in-laws. In the case of Elliott, a mild-mannered science teacher, his neat, orderly life is turned upside down by the in-laws from hell. A chance encounter with Gemma ends with her saving his life. Four months later, they’re married, and shortly after that, Gemma asks if her parents can move in for a few weeks. They’re coming back to England after being in a France for an extended time and have no place to go.

Having recently finished the remodeling work on his dream home and eager to meet his in-laws, Elliott is happy to oblige. Jeff and Lizzie Robinson arrive along with Gemma’s younger sister, Chloe, who appears almost catatonic. It’s unclear why the three left France—which seems to have been in a hurry—or how they managed before they did. Gemma is tight-lipped and jittery around them, and barely acknowledges her sister. Although Chloe eventually comes out of her shell, it becomes evident Jeff and Lizzie have no plans of moving.

They settle in like squatters. Much like parasites or roaches who invade and take over. These two are revolting—obnoxious, gross, filthy, loud, rude, utterly repellant. Jeff is a bully, Lizzie a piranha. Gemma refuses to stand up to them and avoids them whenever possible even as they start to trash Elliott’s home. They’re brazen enough to haul in paint and start arranging furniture to their liking (side note: if you think the law should be involved, that’s addressed).

Frustration? Yes! I was irritated with Elliott for being so blind about what was happening and refusing to take a firmer stand. He is a likeable protagonist, one who garners sympathy from the reader, but someone you want to see take forcible action. When that moment finally arrives, it’s not in the way I would have expected. But this is a Mark Edwards psychological thriller which means there are going to be numerous curveballs. In that respect, the author delivered several. If that’s not enough, he tossed in a few mysterious murders early in the book for good measure.

Here to Stay is a story about what people will resort to when pushed to the breaking point. This is dark psychological fiction—darker than I would normally choose to read. I’ve been a fan of Mark Edwards for a long time, which is why Immediately grabbed the book upon release. Well written, well-told, and certain to wring a host of emotions from the reader, it’s a gripping tale with a dramatic ending. 4.5 stars.

Amazon Link
Genre: Psychological Fiction> Mystery, Thriller and Suspense


Have you read any of these? How do they sound to you? I’d love to get your thoughts in the comments!

One Cat, Three Trees #pets

Hi, friends! I need to talk about cats today. And trees. Not the leafy outdoor kind, or even the decorative indoor ones strung with fairy lights. No, the trees I want to discuss are specifically made for cats.

DH and I adopted our rescue cat, Raven, from a no-kill shelter when she was just three months old. We purchased her first tree before we even brought her home. Below is her “gray tree” which used to be in front of our bow window. You’ll understand the past tense in a minute.

Three-tiered cat tree with sisal/scratching posts. Small black cat sitting on tree middle tree platform

Later, when we remodeled our kitchen, we had room to add a second tree. Given how much she loves to look outside, we purchased Raven’s “brown tree” to place in front of the French doors leading to our deck. Again, with the innocent look (although I had to move the fronds from the back, because she considered them playthings for her amusement).

Black cat sitting on a large cat tree in front of a French door

You wouldn’t think an animal this delicate-looking could be destructive, but cats have a lethal weapon—CLAWS! If you’ve ever owned a cat, you know the damage they can do. As evidence, I present:

The gray tree is so far gone, we disassembled it. What you see above are the remains waiting to be carted outside for trash pick-up. The brown tree has been moved into the living room. Raven still has a ways to go before it’s no longer worthy of scratching.

In the meantime, we brought this behemoth home.

Five-tiered cat tree with large sisal columns in front of French doors. Black cat sitting on center platform of tree

It’s going to be a long while before she manages to claw her way through these sisal posts. But don’t let that innocent face fool you. She’s already started sharpening her claws on the rope. I should be grateful, because she leaves my furniture alone.

I know pet owners can relate to spoiling their animals. It doesn’t matter if you have a cat, dog, guinea pig, parrot, or some other critter. They all hold a special place in our hearts.

After today, I am headed for Maine, and will be incommunicado until early October. I’ll be looking forward to chatting with everyone when I return. In the meantime, let me know what you think of Raven’s new tree. If you have cats, is clawing something you have to manage? If you have dogs, can they be equally destructive? Are your pets pampered silly? Let’s chat!

 

Book Review Tuesday: That Darkest Place by @MarciaMeara #bookishtuesday

Welcome to Book Review Tuesday. Today, I’m thrilled to share another five star read. I’d like to clarify that I never publicly review a book unless I’m able to provide a minimum of three stars—which I consider an average read. That’s why you mostly see four and five star reviews on my blog with the occasional three star. Today’s book definitely earns five sparkly stars.

Book cover for Taht Darkest Place by Marcia Meara shows image of man with head bowed in his hand, shattered glass superimposed in backgroundThat Darkest Place
by Marcia Meara

The third book of the Riverbend series focuses primarily on Painter brothers, Jackson and Forrest, though youngest brother Hunter, is still a strong presence in his unique and quiet way. I fell in love with his character in book two.

At the end of Finding Hunter, Jackson was behaving horribly—lashing out at those around him, physically and verbally abusive. He ended up in a car accident believed to be the result of drunk driving. In That Darkest Place, the truth of what really took place and why is quickly revealed. Once brought to light, Jackson’s long road to recovery begins.

Once again, Meara tackles some weighty issues, but the most powerful theme is the unshakable bond of family, specifically brothers. Forrest and Hunter are not about to let Jackson muddle through on his own. Presenting a united front, they eventually have Jackson back to functioning almost normally again. Along the way there are physical and emotional hurdles to overcome, but there are also heartwarming and humorous moments to offset the weightier scenes.

In addition, both Forrest and Jackson meet women who impact their lives. It’s especially fun seeing Forrest—the former ladies’ man of Riverbend—thrown off-kilter in his first serious relationship. If that isn’t enough, Meara tosses in an unidentified stalker who holds a grudge against Jackson and isn’t afraid to act on that bitterness. The thread adds a nice mystery element to the book which culminates in a heart-pounding ending.

As always, the writing is polished with a pace to keep you flipping pages. If you like fiction that engages your heart and is flavored with strong family bonds, romance, mystery, and characters who remain with you long after you turn the final page, don’t miss That Darkest Place. It’s filled with light and love.

Amazon link
Genre:  Psychological Fiction > Romantic Suspense

 

More News: Blogging Schedule

Hi, friends! Last week I told you about my new website. Today, I’m sharing plans for a new I blogging schedule. Beginning soonish. Probably Octoberish.

I’m on a roll! But first. . .vacation.

DH and I are headed to Maine the end of next week, through the end of September. Please excuse my lack of comments on your blog posts while I’m gone. I’ll look forward to chatting with you when I return in October.

An open tablet, pen, and a pair of glassesAt that time, Book Review Tuesdays will continue, but I’ve also decided to add another regular weekly post. Those of you who have been longtime followers of my blog may remember Mythical Mondays. It’s a theme I kept up for years, eventually abandoning for lack of time. No, Mondays are not coming back, but something sorta/kinda/quasi-similar­—Wednesday Weirdness.

Like my Mythical Monday posts, you’re apt to find myth, legends, and folklore, but I’m also planning to share anything I come across that’s too “weird” for explanation. That opens the door to mysteries, strange coincidences, unexplained happenings, and even a few personal experiences. I’ll also be chatting about the “oddness” that inspired each of the books I’ve written. I’ve missed sharing that aspect of my writing and look forward to trotting it out again.

You may see other random posts from me here and there, and as always, I’m happy to host friends with new releases and other news you’d like to share. Give me a shout and we’ll get something scheduled!

So, why am I telling you this now? It’s been said that if you publicly state an intention, you’re more apt to follow through. Who wants to promise something, then fail to deliver? With that said, picture me nervously gnawing my fingernails (my nail tech is not going to be happy).

I know I’m going to be insane when I return from Maine. There will be a ton of catch-up on my day job, October is NaNoWriMo prep time, and the Story Empire Something Wicked Blog Tour will kick off toward the end of the month. But there’s always something to delay plans, right? I’m going to ignore all of the potential hurdles and go for it. I have Staci Troilo and Joan Hall, to thank for inspiring me with their own blogging schedules.

And while I’m in Maine, as Craig Boyack told me—“Find some great New England cryptids while you’re there.”

Sounds like good advice to me! 🙂