Book Review Tuesday: The Family Across the Street by Nicole Trope @nicoletrope, Missing Molly by Natalie Barelli #suspense

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

Hello! I am back from vacation and excited to dive into August. I had a wonderful time relaxing with plenty of pool days and also a fantastic time out with hubby and friends. Oh, and did I mention shopping, my favorite sport? I also had the luxury of enjoying several books, two of which I’m delighted to share today. Both of these fall into the suspense genre, and both kept me intrigued for different reasons. Take a look and see what you think. . .

BOOK BLURB:

Sometimes, the most perfect families are hiding the most terrible secrets. How well do you know the people next door…?

Everybody wants to live on Hogarth Street, the pretty, tree-lined avenue with its white houses. The new family, The Wests, are a perfect fit. Katherine and Josh seem so in love and their gorgeous five-year-old twins race screeching around their beautiful emerald-green lawn.

But soon people start to notice: why don’t they join backyard barbecues? Why do they brush away offers to babysit? Why, when you knock at the door, do they shut you out, rather than inviting you in?

Every family has secrets, and on the hottest day of the year, the truth is about to come out. As a tragedy unfolds behind closed doors, the dawn chorus is split by the wail of sirens. And one by one the families who tried so hard to welcome the Wests begin to realise: Hogarth Street will never be the same again.

A completely gripping, twist-packed psychological thriller, perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty, Sally Hepworth and Lisa Jew

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

MY REVIEW:

Thank you Bookouture and NetGalley for my ARC!

This book isn’t at all what I anticipated from the blurb. I was expecting a gradual unraveling of secrets related to a family on a suburban street. Instead, I got a heinous situation pretty much right off the bat, and one that escalated as the book progressed. The entire storyline plays out during the course of a single day, the scenes conjuring a heightened sense of claustrophobia along with escalating danger.

There are a number of characters who surprise you. When the book started, I wasn’t sure how I felt about and delivery driver, Logan, or neighbor, Gladys, but both become standout characters and steal the show. I’m not sure what it says about me that I was more invested in them than Katherine, the woman in danger.

I don’t want to say much about this novel for fear of giving the plot away. There are scenes that made me uncomfortable that touched on domestic abuse (I usually avoid such books but didn’t realize the theme before downloading it). That said, as intense as some scenes were, they didn’t turn me off from the story. I found it engrossing and was completely caught off guard by the twist at the end. This was a well-executed story, but I felt the blurb was misleading, thus the story was not what I expected. 3.5 stars rounded up to 4 for review purposes.

BOOK BLURB:

Everyone has secrets, and Rachel Holloway is no exception. She’s worked hard to keep the past where it belongs: dead and buried. And so far, she’s been very successful. 

But now the small newspaper where she works wants to produce a podcast on a cold case:  the disappearance twelve years ago of young Molly Forster.

Some secrets should never see the light of day, and as far as Rachel is concerned, whatever happened to little Molly is one of them. Rachel has a life now, a boyfriend she loves and a three-year-old daughter she adores, and she will do anything to protect them.

But to do that, no one can ever know that she is Molly Forster.

MY REVIEW:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

I’m a fan of Natalie Barelli. This is the third book of hers I’ve read. I positively LOVED The Accident and The House Keeper. Missing Molly was an enjoyable read but not quite on par with the other two.

Molly Forster was the sole survivor the night her older sister and her parents were murdered. Only twelve at the time, she witnessed the killings and immediately went into hiding. Since then, she has lived under the radar through false identities. Now, her past has caught up with her in the form of a new podcast “Missing Molly,” which vows to discover what really happened to “little Molly.”

Sounds like a great set-up, right? Especially given Molly (now going by the name of Rachel) works for the newspaper that is producing the podcast. She ends up in a hands-on position, searching for answers, while trying to discourage interest in the podcast. Unable to do that, she tries to steer the focus away from finding Molly to what really happened the night of the killings—all the while trying to conceal her identity.

The first half of the book was exceptional. Molly’s panic has her acting erratically and making bad decisions. Her boyfriend (they have a young daughter together) and her closest friend fear she’s having psychotic episodes. The fast pace and drama kept me flipping pages. I really felt for Molly. Once she and a co-worker begin digging into the Forster family, mystery and investigative angles come into play. It’s clear the wrong person was convicted of the murders, and the true killer is still out there, getting closer to Molly so he can finish the job he started all those years ago.

Tension builds at the end, but I was disappointed in the overall revelation of the killer and the cover-up that took place. His appearance in Molly’s life happened too quickly, as did the wrap at the end. I did think the scenes that take place on a bridge were exceptionally good, and I was happy with the final ending. Overall, this is a diverting book and one that will certainly keep readers entertained. A solid read, just not on the level of some of Barelli’s other work. Either way, I remain a dedicated fan and look forward to other releases from this author. 3.5 stars rounded to 4 for review purposes.

Guest Author Thursday: Cold Dark Night by Joan Hall #newrelease #mystery #supsense #legendsofmadeira

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

Today, I’m excited to have my good friend and Story Empire colleague, Joan Hall, as my guest. She’s here to celebrate the release of Cold Dark Night, the first in a series I’ve been eagerly looking forward to. I’m delighted she chose to send me an excerpt with a character I fell in love with in an earlier novel. This time, Jason Montgomery gets a starring role and I couldn’t be happier. Here’s Joan to tell you more.


Thank you for hosting me today, Mae. I’m excited to be here to tell your readers about my newest release, Cold Dark Night. It’s the first novel in the Legends of Madeira series. Each book begins with a historical event that ties to the present.

Promo graphic for cold dark night shows kindle reader on starry background. Kindle book cover shows gallows lightly imposed on dark starry sky, mountains in foreground

Those who have read my Driscoll Lake series, will recognize a couple of familiar names. Jason Montgomery is one of those characters who took me in a different direction than I originally planned. I’m glad I listened.

When we first met Jason in Unclear Purposes, he was arrogant, self-serving, and caused more than one headache for his boss, Matt Bradford. Now he’s police chief in the small town of Madeira. Will his past ways come back to haunt him?

EXCERPT:

Manuel’s attention turned toward the front. “Uh, oh. You wanted to meet Bridges. Here’s your chance.”

Two uniformed officers approached their table. Jason recognized Officer Daniels. The other was a young man, mid-twenties, with sandy hair and piercing blue eyes.

“Well, well, well,” the officer said, “Guess you’re our new chief. Hope that’s not a beer you’re having. Wouldn’t look good for you to be drinking on the job.”

Jason’s fork made a clamoring sound as he dropped it on his place. “I gather you’re Bridges.”

The young cop pointed to his name tag. “That’s me. Figured the old man here would try to get on your good side.”

Officer Daniels seemed embarrassed. Manuel ignored the comment.

“You certainly aren’t doing anything to merit favor,” Jason said. “But we’ll discuss it later. Right now, you’re interrupting our lunch.”

“Guess it would be in our best interest to find a table.” Bridges grinned at Daniels. “We don’t have the luxury of taking long lunch breaks.” With that, he strode away.

Daniels followed with an embarrassed backward glance.

“So that’s Zach Bridges,” Jason said.

“The one and only. More than once, I’ve wanted to can him, but he does his job. He’s a damn good officer when he’s not acting like a jerk. A little attitude adjustment would serve him well. The man doesn’t show respect to those in authority.”

“Insubordination is reason enough to fire him whether he does the job well or not. Why didn’t you let him go?”

“Politics. His aunt is the mayor’s wife. He’s always quick to remind others of that.”

Jason inwardly winced, remembering times when he’d thrown it in Matt’s face about the Driscoll Lake City Council being responsible for his hiring.

“Another reason I didn’t want your position. I’m getting too old to deal with stuff like that. Comes with the territory, I’m afraid.”

“I knew that would be the case. I can handle Zach Bridges. I’ve seen his kind before. I used to be a lot like him.”

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Cold Dark Night is available on Amazon for the introductory price of .99 through June 15. The price increases to $3.99 afterward, so now is a good time to grab a copy.

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 history, 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, her husband will be the next to die.

PURCHASE FROM AMAZON

Connect with Joan:
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |   Bookbub  |  Goodreads  |  Instagram

bio box for author, Joan Hall

I can’t tell you how excited I am for Joan and the release of this novel. It combines elements I love—mystery, great characters, historic elements, and folklore. It was a no-brainer to snatch it up the moment it became available, especially at that great introductory price. Help Joan celebrate her book launch by dropping her a comment, then using the sharing buttons to spread the word about Cold Dark Night. Of course, you’ll want to hop over to Amazon and ONE-CLICK your copy, too! 🙂

Cover Reveal: End of Day by Mae Clair #thriller #suspense #supernatural

Hi, everyone. What a wonderful way to kick off the week! I get to share the cover and blurb of my forthcoming novel, End of Day, book two in my Hode’s Hill series. But even more than that, I’m overwhelmed. I put out a call asking for help in splashing this baby throughout the blogosphere and twenty-seven awesome friends volunteered to provide me with space. Twenty-seven!! You guys are the best! 🙂

I also know that many of you routinely support me by commenting on the posts I share on other sites. I certainly don’t expect anyone to comment on twenty-seven sites, so I’m going to say thank you in advance because your support means the world to me. If you see the post and want to give it a like, that will surely make me smile. I also recommend clicking the follow button on the bloggers supporting me. There’s a reason these people are so amazing and helpful.

Twenty-seven!! Did I mention I’m overwhelmed? And humbled. Thank you, thank you!

And now . . .

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

Release Date: January 15, 2019
Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Supernatural Thriller
Publisher:  Kensington Publishing • Lyrical Underground Imprint

BLURB:
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 in a tragic legacy tracing back to the founding of Hode’s Hill. In order 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.


What do you think? Once again, I love what Kensington Publishing did with my cover art suggestions. Should you choose to read the book, you’ll discover why that old church and cemetery are vital to the story.

End of Day is a mystery/suspense novel with a healthy dollop of supernatural thriller tossed in. Release date is January 15, 2019, but pre-orders are available now through this link. Naturally, I’d love if you moseyed on over and clicked 🙂

You can also add End of Day to your Goodreads to-be-read list (which garners the book additional exposure. Just saying 😉 You know how this stuff goes, right?).

Finally—yeah, there’s one of those—if you haven’t read, book one, Cusp of Night, you can find it here. Whew! All done with the promo stuff now, but I have to admit I’m pretty “gone” about the cover art for End of Day. Is it a winner?

Cover Reveal: Cusp of Night by Mae Clair

Today is uber-exciting for me! At long last, I’m able to share the cover and blurb for Cusp of Night, the first book in my upcoming Hode’s Hill series. Cusp of Night  will release on June 12th, but in the interim, it’s available to add to your TBR on Goodreads.

I have many good friends sharing this cover across the blogosphere today and tomorrow, so you’re likely to see it pop up in various places. Thank you to everyone participating in my cover reveal splash, and to everyone dropping by to share in my excitement.   Here’s my new baby . . .

book cover for Cusp of Night, a mystery/suspense novel by Mae Clair

Release Date: June 12, 2018
Genre: Mystery/Suspense

BLURB:
Recently settled in Hode’s Hill, Pennsylvania, Maya Sinclair is enthralled by the town’s folklore, especially the legend about a centuries-old monster. A devil-like creature with uncanny abilities responsible for several horrific murders, the Fiend has evolved into the stuff of urban myth. But the past lives again when Maya witnesses an assault during the annual “Fiend Fest.” The victim is developer Leland Hode, patriarch of the town’s most powerful family, and he was attacked by someone dressed like the Fiend.

Compelled to discover who is behind the attack and why, Maya uncovers a shortlist of enemies of the Hode clan. The mystery deepens when she finds the journal of a late nineteenth-century spiritualist who once lived in Maya’s house—a woman whose ghost may still linger.

Known as the Blue Lady of Hode’s Hill due to a genetic condition, Lucinda Glass vanished without a trace and was believed to be one of the Fiend’s tragic victims. The disappearance of a young couple, combined with more sightings of the monster, trigger Maya to join forces with Leland’s son Collin. But the closer she gets to unearthing the truth, the closer she comes to a hidden world of twisted secrets, insanity, and evil that refuses to die . . .


What do you think? I love what Kensington Publishing did with my cover art suggestions. Should you choose to read the book, you’ll discover why that corner street lamp, alley, and the brownstone buildings looming in the background are perfect—like a scene plucked from my book!

Cusp of Night is a mystery/suspense novel but it has a healthy dollop of urban legend and the paranormal.

Thanks for hanging out with me today! 🙂