Book Reviews by Mae Clair: Carolina Moonset by Matt Goldman #mystery #suspense #southernfiction

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

Happy Hump Day! For today’s book review, I must give a shout-out to Lady Tessa of Tessa Talks Books who first alerted me to this fantastic family drama and mystery. Carolina Moonset is definitely a winner!


Book cover shows old antebellum mansion on edge of marsh at twilight

CAROLINA MOONSET
by Matt Goldman

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Thank you to Net Galley and Macmillan-Tor/Forge for providing an ARC.

From the title, to the book cover, to the blurb, I couldn’t wait to disappear into the pages of this novel. I was so engrossed, I read 68% in one sitting, then finished it the next day, frustrated sleep had intervened.

Joey Green visits his parents in the small South Carolina town where his father grew up, focused on spending time with his dad, Marshall, a beloved local physician who is sinking into dementia. When Marshall starts talking about the past, holding conversations with people who aren’t there, Joey and his mother chalk his behavior up to a deteriorating mind. But it soon becomes apparent there are secrets hidden in his reminiscing, puzzle pieces that bind the past to the present. When one of the town’s most influential citizens is murdered, suspicions fall on Marshall, but Joey knows his father is innocent. Finding out who is responsible opens a door on an old tragedy and unresolved circumstances.

While I found the mystery from the past to be the more intriguing of the two, I was completely surprised by the identity of the killer in the present. Although this is more of a quiet story, it moves at a pace that makes it impossible to set the book down. The descriptions are phenomenal, the richly detailed setting easily transporting the reader to a place of salt marshes, shrimp boats, and antebellum homes.

Main and secondary characters are equally well-developed, and no one gets short shrift (I developed such a soft spot for Bubba). There is a subplot with a low-key romance, but it enhances rather than detracts from the overall tale. Beautifully written, this is a story that touches on relationships, sacrifice, heartache, and love. I thought the ending was perfect, and would recommend this to anyone who likes an intelligent and compelling mystery with memorable characters.

RELEASE DATE IS MAY 31, 2022
PRE-ORDER FROM AMAZON OR YOUR FAVORITE BOOK VENDOR

New Release: Brother of Interest by Karina Bartow @KarinaBartow @WildRosePress #mystery #familylifefiction #detectivefiction

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

Hello and thanks for joining me today as I welcome Karina Bartow to my blog. Karina is a first time guest who reached out to ask if I would be interested in taking part in her blog tour. Of course, I said “yes!” I hope you’ll make her feel welcome as she shares a story I think all writers can relate to…


The Power of Perseverance in Publishing
By Karina Bartow

Yesterday, The Wild Rose Press released Brother of Interest, the sequel to my debut novel, Husband in Hiding! This was the culmination of five years of waiting, hoping, and yes, a little crying. But a lot more work went into it than that.


I’d already finished the sequel when Husband in Hiding was released in 2015. My publisher at the time seemed eager to continue the mystery series, so I thought I was set to have a new installment out every year like the big-time authors do. I broadcasted it to just about everyone who bought the book, which began an endless game of hearing, “When’s the sequel coming out?” The anticipation thrilled me, but as matters started to fizzle out with the company and the sequel’s publication appeared ever more unlikely, the question became wearisome to discuss.

At a crossroads, I decided to shift my focus until the dust settled and pursue my second novel, Forgetting My Way Back to You. In fact, I first discovered Wild Rose when I was shopping that to companies in 2017, but it didn’t end up being the right match for them. I proceeded with Vinspire Publishing and hoped they might be a good home for the Brother of Interest, but they didn’t feel that it was right for their catalog. Nonetheless, they gave me input that helped the plot along. While it changed the way I originally wanted the beginning to unfold, I saw the advantages of implementing their advice and how it would better attract readers and prospective publishers.

Fast-forward a year, I came across Wild Rose again and realized they also publish mysteries, so I figured I’d give it another shot. After reading the first three chapters, the editor wanted me to make some tweaks but said she’d be willing to look at it again once I did so. When I resubmitted it to her, she complimented me on my adjustments, but she felt the story still needed some work. She suggested I read Revision and Self-Editing for Publication as I continued to sculpt it further, so I ordered the book that day.

Between its guidance and hers, I looked at the plot with clearer vision and adjusted elements I may never have thought to without it. I didn’t even intend to submit it to her again, but I didn’t want to waste the insight she gave me. I knew it’d benefit me regardless.  The week I resumed sending out queries, I mustered the nerve to contact her to thank her for her help and ask if she’d like to review it once more. To my surprise, she did, and it led to a long-awaited acceptance letter.

I wanted to share this experience for the hard-working, often frustrated, aspiring authors like me—and dreamers of all sorts. Perseverance and persistence does pay off, but it involves more than pure willpower. You can’t close the door on a company just because of past rejections. You also can’t squander the wisdom the right people provide. When it comes to publishing, very few editors/agents give you anything past a straightforward rejection, so you should appreciate it when someone takes the time to give you tips. They could give you just the leg-up you need to find success…sometimes where you least suspect it!


Book cover for Brother of Interest by Karina Bartow shows old-fashioned baby buggy with handcuffs dangling from handle

Brother of Interest
(Unde(a)feted Detective Series Book 2)

BOOK BLURB:
When Minka Avery left the police department and her life as a deaf detective, she thought chasing after her toddler daughter and keeping tabs on her mischievous husband would be the extent of her excitement. Before long, however, her brother lands on the list of suspects in a high-profile crime and throws her world into chaos.

Torn between her conflicted feelings for him and her desire to see justice carried out, she decides to unofficially explore the matter on her own. She begins to see that the case is bigger than it seemed at first glance, but before she can unravel it further, she discovers Robin using her garage as a hideout from the authorities! Now forced together, can Minka overcome the many distractions to figure out the massive scheme that’s really playing out? And can the bizarre circumstances somehow improve her and Robin’s chilly relationship?


PURCHASE FROM
The Wild Rose Press | Amazon | Walmart | Books-A-Million

Author, Karina Bartow

AUTHOR BIO:
Karina Bartow grew up and still lives in Northern Ohio.  Though born with Cerebral Palsy, she’s never allowed her disability to define her.  Rather, she’s used her experiences to breathe life into characters who have physical limitations, but like her, are determined not to let them stand in the way of the life they want.  Her debut novel, Husband in Hiding came out in 2015, followed by Forgetting My Way Back to You, 2018.  She may only be able to type with one hand, but she writes with her whole heart!

To learn more, visit https://karinabartow.com/

Social media:
Blog | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads


I love celebrating new releases, and am delighted to be hosting Karina just a day after the release of Brother of Interest. Don’t you just love that book cover? And how about that post? We all know this is a tough business with a lot of ups and downs. I’m glad Karina stuck with her dream and didn’t give up. It just goes to show that bridges are never burnt, doors are never closed, and there’s always room to keep trying. Happy book birthday to Karina!

PURCHASE BROTHER OF INTEREST FROM
The Wild Rose Press | Amazon | Walmart | Books-A-Million


Book Review Tuesday: Cold Dark Night by Joan Hall #mystery #suspense @JoanHallWrites

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

Welcome to another Book Review Tuesday. Cold Dark Night is the first novel in Joan Hall’s Legend of Madeira series. It follows her recent novella prequel, House of Sorrow, but you needn’t have read that to enjoy her latest release. Cold Dark Night serves perfectly as a stand alone. For those who read House of Sorrow, you’ll be richly rewarded by how everything fits together in this enjoyable mystery that weaves past and present with author finesse.

BOOK BLURB:

New husband, new house, new town… and a new mystery to solve.

Tami Montgomery thought her police chief husband was going to be the only investigator in the family when she gave up her journalism career and moved with him to Madeira, New Mexico.

But after the historical society asks her to write stories for a book celebrating the town’s one-hundred fiftieth year, she becomes embroiled in a new mystery. If she can’t solve this one, she could lose everything. Her research uncovers a spate of untimely deaths of local law enforcement officials. Further digging reveals a common link—they all lived in the house she and Jason now share.

Tami isn’t a superstitious person, but the circumstances are too similar for coincidence. Then she unearths an even more disturbing pattern. And if history repeats itself, Jason will be the next to die.

MY REVIEW:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Tami Montgomery and her husband, Jason, have just moved to Madeira, New Mexico where Jason has accepted the job as Madeira’s new police chief. They settle into an old Victorian home, which Tami soon learns has an interesting, disturbing history. Several of Madeira’s former police chiefs lived in the house and met with untimely deaths, more than one of them murdered.

As Tami delves deeper into trying to uncover the link between the deaths and her home, Jason has his hands full dealing with a rebellious officer, a string of burglaries, an officer-involved shooting, and the mayor’s interfering wife. There’s also the unexpected arrival of Jason’s estranged father, and the frightening dream visions of danger from Tami’s new friend, Abbey.

I loved the small-town setting of this novel. Hall does a great job of bringing Madeira vividly to life, not only in the present but the past as well. There are several chapters that give readers glimpses into characters from the 1800s, and how their lives will eventually impact what takes place in the present. The author weaves a tale of more than one unsolved murder, doling out clues like breadcrumbs. Another plot thread incorporates lunar folklore and how it may or may not factor into the murders. I especially enjoyed how Hall incorporated those threads into the story, tying everything together for a thoroughly satisfying conclusion.

Bottom line: Cold Dark Night is an intriguing mystery that includes all the elements that make for a page-turning read—wonderful characters, a multi-layered plot, historical elements, and folklore. And easy five stars!

Book Spotlight: Secrets of the Galapagos by Sharon Marchisello @SLMarchisello @SunburyPress #mystery #crime

An open book with rays and orbs of light shooting from the pages

Hello, and welcome to a new Sunbury Press Book Spotlight. If you’ve been following my blog, you that Sunbury Press is a traditional publisher located in my area. Twice a month, I’ll be highlighting their authors with book spotlights. Each selection has been chosen to appeal to the reading taste of my followers. You’ll find mostly mysteries, suspense, thrillers, and supernatural stories. Today, I’m welcoming Sharon Marchisello, with her mystery novel, Secrets of the Galapagos. I hope you’ll drop her a line and make her feel welcome!

book cover Secrets of the Galapagos, large tortoise in front on sand beach, cruise liner in background

Book Description:
Shattered by a broken engagement and a business venture derailed by Jerome Haddad, her unscrupulous partner, Giovanna Rogers goes on a luxury Galapagos cruise with her grandmother to decompress.

At least that’s what her grandmother thinks. 

Giovanna is determined to make Jerome pay for what he’s done, and she has a tip he’s headed for the Galapagos.

While snorkeling in Gardner Bay off the coast of Española Island, Giovanna and another cruise passenger, tortoise researcher Laurel Pardo, both become separated from the group and Laurel is left behind. No one on the ship will acknowledge Laurel is missing, and Giovanna suspects a cover-up.

When the police come on board to investigate a death, Giovanna is sure the victim is Laurel. She’s anxious to give her testimony to the attractive local detective assigned to the case. Instead, she learns someone else is dead, and she’s a person of interest.

Resolved to keep searching for Laurel and make sense of her disappearance, Giovanna finds that several people on board the cruise ship have reasons to want Laurel gone. One is a scam involving Tio Armando, the famous Galapagos giant tortoise and a major tourist attraction in the archipelago. And Jerome Haddad has a hand in it. Thinking she’s the cat in this game, Giovanna gets too involved and becomes the mouse, putting her life in jeopardy. But if she doesn’t stop him, Jerome will go on to ruin others.

PURCHASE LINKS:
SUNBURY PRESS | AMAZON

Author, Sharon MarchiselloAUTHOR BIO:
Sharon Marchisello is the author of two mysteries published by Sunbury Press: Going Home (2014) and Secrets of the Galapagos (2019). Her other publications include travel articles, corporate training manuals, short stories, book reviews, a blog, and a nonfiction book about personal finance, Live Well, Grow Wealth. She earned a Masters in Professional Writing from the University of Southern California and is an active member of Sisters in Crime. Retired from a 27-year career with Delta Air Lines, she now lives in Peachtree City and does volunteer work for the Fayette Humane Society. 

AUTHOR WEBSITE | TWITTER


Given Sharon’s background with Delta Airlines, it doesn’t surprise me she’s chosen to write about such an exotic and intriguing locale, not to mention the famed giant Galapagos tortoise. The blend of intrigue and mystery in this one sounds quite compelling. Sharon will be popping in to say hello, so be sure to drop her a comment and share your thoughts about her release. As always, thanks for visiting, and please click the sharing buttons to help spread the news about Secrets of the Galapagos.

Book Review Tuesday: Confesions on the 7:45 by Lisa Unger @lisaunger #domesticthriller

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’m finally getting caught up with my book reviews, so I’m changing up the format a bit. I normally don’t provide the blurb when I review, but since I’m planning on doing only one book per week, I thought I’d start adding in the blurbs. I still have several back burner reviews, but I may not end up sharing them all. For today, here’s a fabulous domestic thriller.

BLURB:
Selena Murphy is commuting home on the train when she strikes up a conversation with a beautiful stranger in the next seat. The woman introduces herself as Martha and soon confesses that she’s been stuck in an affair with her boss. Selena, in turn, confesses that she suspects her husband is sleeping with the nanny. When the train arrives at Selena’s station, the two women part ways, presumably never to meet again.

Then the nanny disappears.

As Selena is pulled into the mystery of what happened, and as the fractures in her marriage grow deeper, she begins to wonder, who was Martha really? But she is hardly prepared for what she’ll discover…

________________________________________________________________________________

MY REVIEW:
The plot of this novel sucked me as soon as I read it. Selena, a mother of two, is coming home on the train after a day at her office when the woman beside her strikes up a conversation. Martha confesses to sleeping with her boss, and in a moment of uncharacteristic openness, Selena confesses she believes her husband is sleeping with her nanny, Geneva. When the train reaches its destination, the two part ways. Not long afterward, Geneva goes missing.

As the police launch an investigation, Selena’s marriage and her whole world implodes. Who was the woman on the train, and why is Selena suddenly receiving text messages from her?

I found this book a bit slow getting off the ground, especially when a third character outside of the main thread (Pearl) was introduced. Although I liked Pearl—a lot—there were a few hiccups in following what was happening and when. By the middle of the book, however, I was hooked and couldn’t read fast enough to see how everything played out.

The twists and turns, much like left and right jabs, kept flying out of nowhere. A few elements stretch the imagination, but for sheer entertainment value, this is a delicious psychological thriller with a superbly satisfying ending. Another book I would love to see made into a movie. I will definitely seek out more by this author.

5 STARS

________________________________________________________________________________

I’m glad I stuck with this one despite the slow start. The payoff was entirely worth it and I made another dent in the TBR!

As always, whatever tale you’re presently enjoying, I wish you happy reading!

Cover Reveal: Eventide by Mae Clair #thriller #supernaturalsuspense

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

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

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

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


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

Blurb:
The darkness is coming . . .

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

It’s Release Day! End of Day by Mae Clair #SupernaturalSuspense #Mystery #Thriller

Today is the book birthday for End of Day, book 2 of my Hode’s Hill trilogy.  If you enjoyed book 1, Cusp of Night, you’ll find this one in the same vein. Once again, I’m visiting the small Pennsylvania town of Hode’s Hill, but with a plot whose tentacles reach back to the town’s founding. As in Cusp of Night, I’ve spun two mysteries—one in the the past (taking place in the year 1799) and one in the present. You get two separate mysteries that tie together at the end.

Book cover for End of Day, mystery/suspense novel by Mae Clair shows old dilapidated church with bell tower and a cemetery in the background overgrown with weeds

The past is never truly buried…  

Generations of Jillian Cley’s family have been tasked with a strange duty—tending the burial plot of Gabriel Vane, whose body was the first to be interred in the Hode’s Hill cemetery. Jillian faithfully continues the long-standing tradition—until one October night, Vane’s body is stolen from its resting place. Is it a Halloween prank? Or something more sinister?

As the descendants of those buried in the church yard begin to experience bizarre “accidents,” Jillian tries to uncover the cause. Deeply empathic, she does not make friends easily, or lightly. But to fend off the terror taking over her town, she must join forces with artist Dante DeLuca, whose sensitivity to the spirit world has been both a blessing and a curse. The two soon realize Jillian’s murky family history is entwined with a tragic legacy tracing back to the founding of Hode’s Hill. To set matters right, an ancient wrong must be avenged…or Jillian, Dante, and everyone in town will forever be at the mercy of a vengeful spirit.

~ooOOoo~

In Cusp of Night, I introduced the reader to the spiritualist movement of the 1800s, sham mediums, and a creature called the Fiend.

This time around, the story touches on Church Grims, Folk Memories, and a collection of monsters. Yes, monsters. I do love my creatures 🙂 The two lead characters—Jillian Cley and Dante DeLuca—had minor roles in Cusp. They take center stage, along with several new characters who bullied their way into the story. I never saw Madison, Sherre Lorquet, or the Porter Brothers coming until they appeared in their respective scenes. All added new layers which helped develop the plot. My muse knew what he was doing.

Thank you to everyone who pre-ordered. If you haven’t already grabbed a copy and would like to, you can purchase from the bookseller of your choice through this link.

Although this is the second book of a series, it can also be read as a stand alone. I would love to tell you more about grims and folk memories, but for now, I’ll let them unravel in the book. 🙂

Joan Hall on Small Town Secrets #StoryEmpireRoadshow

Today, during the Story Empire roadshow, I’m delighted to welcome Joan Hall to my blog. She and I have a similar love for mysteries and small town settings. Don’t miss out on meeting some of the characters who populate the small town in her book Unseen Motives. Take a look . . .

Small Towns Have Secrets

Hi everyone. I want to thank Mae for hosting me on this second stop of the Story Empire Roadshow. Yesterday I gave you a brief view of the fictitious town of Driscoll Lake. It’s a growing bedroom community, but still small enough that many residents know one another.

vintage photo of a bookmobile with crowd gathered around it

Many people prefer to live in small towns where the crime rates are low and life takes on a slower pace. Bud even small towns have secrets and Driscoll Lake is no exception. I probably should say some people in the town have secrets.

Stephanie Harris is my protagonist in Unseen Motives. She comes back to town for the first time in twenty years for a funeral and soon learns someone doesn’t want her to stay. She receives a “welcoming” note the day she arrives and two others. Someone follows her home one night in an attempt to frighten her, and then she receives a threatening phone call.

Instead of allowing these things to scare her away, Stephanie is determined to learn more about the circumstances surrounding her father’s death.

Stephanie doesn’t know who to trust. Even her high school crush Matt Bradford first acted as if he doesn’t want her around. Their initial meeting was less than friendly and Stephanie learns he was in her aunt’s house only hours before she found the first note.

Brian Nichols is another former classmate. Once the town renegade, Stephanie was convinced he would be in prison by now. When she saw him shortly after her arrival, she was surprised to learn he became a successful building contractor. He acts friendly, but when she wants to question his mother (who was once her father’s secretary) Brian is hesitant to allow it. He tells Stephanie its best to leave the past alone.

Kyle Lawrence, a local newspaper reporter, is eager to help. But Stephanie learns from his wife Christine that Kyle has an obsession about her father’s crime. He was only sixteen when the events happened. Why would he have such an intense interest? Does he have something to hide?

Rachel Jackson is the daughter of Madelyn Cameron Denton, the woman Stephanie’s father murdered. While Rachel accepts the police investigation of her mother’s death, she doesn’t want the past revisited. However, Stephanie can’t imagine Rachel being behind the threats. Rachel isn’t that kind of person.

Then there is the unknown man who makes certain he’s aware of Stephanie’s activities. When he isn’t watching himself, he has people within the town to spy upon her. He can’t afford the truth to come out—to do so would destroy everything he’d worked hard to achieve.

As you can see even people in small towns have their secrets. And small towns aren’t exempt from crime. Murder, suicide, embezzlement. Who would have imagined something like this would have happened in Driscoll Lake?

Book cover for Unseen Motives by Joan Hall features close-up of a window surrounded by brick and vines

Unseen Motives is on sale this week for .99
Click here for the purchase link.

And be sure to check out tomorrow’s tour stop where I’ll be talking with Matt Bradford, Driscoll Lake’s handsome police chief.

At the end of the week, I’ll select two random winners for $10.00 Amazon gift cards. To enter, leave a comment below. What do you think about these characters? Can you tell which ones have unseen motives?

joan hall, author bio box

Connect with Joan:
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Amazon  |  GoodreadsGoogle+  | Pinterest 

Continue to follow the Story Empire Roadshow at these
blogs for more giveaways, prizes and fun!

Staci Troilo | C. S. Boyack | Harmony Kent | Joan Hall | P. H. Solomon