April Book Reviews

Last month I said I was going to split this post and share half the middle of the month and half the end of the month. Naturally, things didn’t work out as planned. 🙂

Since I only read five books this month, I thought I’d share the entire post today. There were two that were rough for me—you’ll be able to tell when you hit the reviews—and for the first time in my life I gave a book a 2.5 rating on Goodreads (although I didn’t share it on Amazon). This was my April collection. As always, because the post in lengthy, click the Amazon link to read the blurbs or learn more about each book.

The Dinner
By Herman Koch

This book has been on my radar for a long time and I finally decided I needed to satisfy my curiosity. This was made into a movie in 2017 (no, I haven’t seen it, but I’m considering). The story is kind of like a train wreck. A distasteful mess, but hard to ignore.

Set in the Netherlands, the basic premise involves two well-to-do couples, (brothers and their wives) who get together for dinner at an exclusive restaurant.

The book cleverly spans the course of the dinner—appetizer, entrée, dessert. A few hours in which an ugly crime is prodded and examined like a specimen in a petri dish. Both couples have fifteen-year-old boys who have been involved in a heinous act (there is nothing remotely sexual for those of you who, like me, shy away from such ugliness).

The reader gets to know each character up close and personal, with insight into previous history and the actions of the boys. This is one of those books where I didn’t find redeeming value in any of the characters though the women are surprisingly worse than the men. These are not witchy, stuck up b*tches. They come across as genuine, protective of those they love and utterly self-sacrificing while being loathsome. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where I disliked every character.

That aside, this is a well written, disturbing story that delves into the complex nuances of human nature. Don’t expect to like any of the characters, but this is definitely one for discussion in book clubs and with other readers. I waffled between 3 and 4 stars, so I’m going with 3.5.

Amazon Link
Genre: Psychological Literary Fiction > Psychological Fiction


Bigfoot: The Non-Fiction, Factual arguments in favor of the existence of Sasquatch
By Joachim Dale

As someone who has long been fascinated by cryptozoology, I was intrigued by this work which addresses arguments in favor of the existence of Bigfoot. The author clearly did his research, drawing on centuries-old sightings, testimonials, physical evidence, and most interesting for me–the famed Patterson-Gimlin film, which is examined in detail.

Throughout, facts are presented in a concise and understandable manner and the book is ordered in such a way that by the time you reach the final chapter (Conclusions) the reader has been presented with a strong argument for the existence of these ape-like creatures that have long eluded man. The writing is polished and case arguments presented vividly. Whether you are a believer in Sasquatch or someone fascinated by the legend, you will find Mr. Dale’s work compelling. This is a short novella-length quick read.

Amazon Link
Genre:  Biological Science of Apes and Monkeys > Biological Science of Wildlife


Book cover for Silent Mayhem by Sue ColettaSilent Mayhem: The Mayhem Series #3
By Sue Coletta

In the third and latest book in the Mayhem series, author Sue Coletta pushes the action to a fever pitch. Someone is leaving a bloody trail of murder behind by beheading victims and leaving cryptic clues. Former cat burglar and legit hacker, Shawnee Daniels, who works for the police department, follows the clues while being caught up in her own twisted web of problems. Notorious serial killer “Mr. Mayhem” has been leaving her messages, delivered by his ominous murder of crows, or posted a secret website.

All three books in this series are exceptional but this one is elevated to a new level of intrigue by the relationship Coletta weaves between Mayhem and Shawnee, threads that hint of joint family history. Brilliant! Mayhem is cultured, precise, and meticulous. Shawnee is a whirlwind of in-your-face action, tough as nails on the outside, with a vulnerable underbelly. The contrast makes for mesmerizing encounters with an odd give-and-take between these two dynamic personalities.

As someone who has read a great deal of books on Native American history and folklore, I found those tie-ins especially riveting. Skinwalkers, serial killers, vendettas—it’s all here. Mayhem’s relationship with his wife is tenderly portrayed. Crows, Poe, Edgar and Allan are given multiple spotlights to shine, and the ending leaves a deadly open thread for the next book in this fantastic series.

Amazon Link
Genre:  Women Sleuths > Suspense


Book cover for Silent Mayhem by Sue ColettaThey All Fall Down
By Rachel Howzell Hall

If I have an all-time favorite story trope it has to be an eclectic cast of characters in a remote location with individuals being picked off one by one. I think it goes back to my childhood when I was in love with the game Clue and when I first saw Agatha Christie’s book And Then There Were None made into the movie Ten Little Indians.  So naturally when I saw the premise for They All Fall Down—mansion in a Mexican paradise where a group of strangers gather only to be picked off one by one—I couldn’t wait to boot up my Kindle and dive in.

Sadly, I almost DNF’d this book. At the 40ish mark I had met all of the characters, but nothing was happening (yawn). Then finally around 46% the book took off with a bang. I was riveted and had high hopes—until it quickly nosedived again. One of the most interesting characters is killed too early, I knew the killer’s identity from the first death, and guessed the reveal at the end. What I will say for the positive is that the author had a great descriptive voice and her MC was unique. There is some highly entertaining banter between several of the characters and the book reads easily. I did stick it out to the end, but none of the characters have any redeeming qualities which made it rough to finish. Loved the premise but didn’t care for the outcome. 2.5 stars rounded to 3 for Goodreads.

Amazon Link
Genre: Thriller and Suspense 


Book cover for The Body in the Wetlands by Judi LynnThe Body in the Wetlands
By Judi Lynn

In book two of the Jazzi Zanders murder mysteries, home remodelers Jazzi, her hunky boyfriend, Ansel, and her cousin Jerrod are once again in this thick of rehabbing property and getting caught up in murder. Jazzi gets to know neighbor, Leo, during his regular walks with his dog Cocoa. When Leo disappears and two bodies are discovered in shallow graves behind the neighborhood subdivision, Jazzi once again becomes embroiled in unmasking the killer. On the personal front, her relationship with Ansel is put to the test when he returns home for a brief time to help his dysfunctional family with property repairs. A young college student takes an interest in Jazzi. Friendly and outgoing, his charm may just be the mask for a killer, but he’s only one of numerous suspects.

The author treats us to an eclectic cast of characters, then weaves a bubble of suspicion around each. Jazzi’s large family, plus her detective friend, Gaff, are all back again, as is Ansel’s dog, George the pug. You’ve got to love these people, who feel like friends. While this is a cozy mystery there is still plenty of guessing, and intricate plotting that leads to unmasking the killer. The writing is polished and breezy, the mystery elements set up like neat dominoes that all fall into place at the end. Another great entry in an enjoyable series!

Amazon Link
Genre: Cozy Mystery > Amateur sleuths


I hope you’ve discovered something among these titles that may interest you. If you came across a great novel during your recent reading, be sure to share in the comments. In addition to writing, I love chatting books. I just wish I had more hours to devote to my gargantuan TBR!

February Book Reviews, Part 2

Hey, gang! Thanks for joining me today as I trot out the final half of my book reviews for February. If you missed part one, and would like to check out what other books consumed my reading time during winter’s coldest and snowiest month, you can find it here.

For the books below, click the Amazon link for blurbs and additional details. I’m only sharing my impressions of each to keep the post from becoming too long.


Book cover for The Hunting Party, a novel by Lucy FoleyThe Hunting Party
by Lucy Foley
A snowbound setting, a killing, and multiple suspects—as soon as I read the premises for this book I was all in. A group of old friends, together since college, reunite every year to catch-up with one another—this time over the New Year’s holiday at an isolated resort in the Scottish Highlands.

This is a privileged group of characters, used to fine dining, the best in champagne and party locations. Some are stuck in the mindset of their college days when responsibility only lingered on a distant horizon, while others have moved onto the reality of demanding careers or starting a family. At first glance, most are superficial, pretty on the surface with a darker underbelly. There are stress fractures in the friendships, fissures that have been building over time, only to rupture with the glittery festivity of New Year.

Most of the characters are flawed in one way or another and very few are above reproach, but the complexity of their entanglements makes for riveting reading. There is no black or white in their actions but nuanced layers of manipulation, one-upmanship, old grudges, and petty jealousies. If that sounds like people you don’t want to get to know, it’s worth taking the time with these characters. They’re skillfully painted by the author, brushstroke by brushstroke. It’s only in the closing chapters that the surface gloss of each is stripped away, and we see them for who they truly are.

My only complaint is that it does take a while to settle into the book. There are four female POVs and one male. Multiple POVs do not bother me, but all the female narration is done in first person (the male in present third). As a result, it took several chapters before I was able to get a grasp on who was narrating. I had to keep flipping back to the title headers until I adjusted to the voices and who was who. If not for the so many narrators (in first person), this would be a five star read for me. It requires a bit of work at the beginning to adjust, but if you enjoy a murder mystery with complex suspects and multiple motives, this is a delicious tale in which to lose yourself for a few days. Extra kudos to the author for catching me by surprise with the murderer and motive.

Genre:  Psychological Thriller
Amazon Link


Book cover for Evil Lurks, a Horror Anthology by various authorsEvil Lurks
(Multiple Authors)
This is a hard book to rate, because of the diversity of stories. All are geared toward the paranormal and horror. I’m sure each reader will have stories that resonate with them more than others. There were a few gems that really stood out for me including The Revelation, Spirit of Lonely Places, Life in There, Onryo, and A Break In. I also enjoyed the first story, Cat Food, which may make you look at your felines a bit differently. Collections of stories are nice because you needn’t read them all at once, but can enjoy a tale over a lunch or coffee break—in this case, along with goosebumps and shivers!

Genre:  Horror Anthology
Amazon Link


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 weedsEnd of Day
by Mae Clair

Yes, I read my own book—cover to cover without an eye for editing. Having just submitted the third and final book of this series to my editor, I wanted to make sure there was good flow from book two to book three. Obviously I’m not going to review End of Day, but if you’d like to see what other readers think of my second venture into the fictional town of Hode’s Hill, follow the link below.

Genre:  Supernatural Mystery/Suspense
Amazon Link

 


I’ve already got my nose in the the first of March’s books, and am making a dent in the BEHEMOTH I call my TBR.

Sometimes I think of it like The Blob. Remember that old movie with Steve McQueen? There was even a remake in the 80s with Kevin Dillion. Of course I watched them both. And, of course I’ll keep reading, because—it’s an addiction, you know? 😉

February Book Reviews, Part 1

Despite having two DNFs on my reading list this month, I still managed to discover some good books. The DNFs were authors I didn’t know and had not read before. Both titles sounded promising, but after six chapters each, neither could get off the ground. Needless to say I was disappointed, but I did enjoy some great books I want to share. Because I read six in February, and one of the later reviews is rather long, I’m splitting this post into two parts.  Look for part two on Wednesday.

Once again, because I don’t want to make the post too long, click on the Amazon link if you’d like to read the blurb and learn more details about the book selections.


book cover for Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia OwensWhere the Crawdads Sing
by Delia Owens
I expected this book to be great, given all the buzz it’s had. The story is engaging and holds the reader’s interest. I was especially taken with the vivid descriptions of the marsh and small-town life in the 1960s. I was halfway through the story thinking how good it was, but kept waiting for that extra something to make it “great.”

And then it happened…

The last third of this book is what elevates it beyond good story-telling to exceptional story-telling. Where the Crawdads Sing deserves all of the accolades it’s received and more. The characters are ones that will linger in my mind for a long time to come, especially the conclusion of their story. As for the marsh—it became a character in itself. This is a book I can easily see myself going back and reading again. A wonderful coming of age tale with added layers of mystery.

Genre:  Literature and Fiction > Coming of Age
Amazon Link


book cover for The Lost Man by Jane HarperThe Lost Man
by Jane Harper
This is the second book I’ve read by Jane Harper, and I have a third on my Kindle. She always spins a good murder mystery plot, along with a compelling Australian setting. This time around, the reader is treated to the remote solitude of the Outback, whose grit, dust and dry heat seem to permeate every scene.

Brothers Nathan and Bub Bright meet up at a legendary gravestone dividing their properties, only to find their third brother, Cameron—in charge of the family homestead—dead. Harper takes her time introducing the reader to an array of characters as well as family background issues that become key later on. I thought the beginning moved a bit slowly, but the mystery eventually took off. At that point, I couldn’t flip pages fast enough.

There was a continued reference to a particular item (no spoilers) that I thought much too heavy-handed (I get it, already!), but other than that this was a good read. I waffled back and forth on the identity of the killer and was proven right at the end, but not for the reasons I suspected. Jane Harper is on my auto buy list, and although I didn’t care for this book as much as The Dry, it delivered a solid tale with an awesome ending.

Genre:  Mystery and Crime
Amazon Link


book cover for Can't Let Go by Alison GreyCan’t Let Go
by Alison Grey
This is a quick easy read, built around old secrets, friendships, betrayals and lies.  The main character, Larkin, marries into one of the most privileged families of Charleston high society. Larkin comes from a poor background and doesn’t fit in–until she’s befriended by Caroline Beaufain, the queen bee of the social scene. Although the book doesn’t really take off until the middle, the beginning is far from draggy. The author has a way of introducing characters and setting scenes that kept me flipping pages, even as I  was waiting for the hammer to fall.

This is a psychological thriller, so don’t expect explosive action. It’s more about figuring out what each character has to gain and what they’re willing to do to achieve their goals. When the impact does hit, the fallout is quick and jaw-dropping. I won’t say I’ve never seen this plot done before, but the way Grey handles it is riveting and fresh. I will definitely be looking for more books by this author and have already pre-ordered her next release!

Genre:  Psychological Thriller > Suspense
Amazon Link


So what do you think? Do any of these appeal to you? Have you read any?  What’s next on your reading list?  Drop me a line below and let’s talk books!

The Siren Call of Books #amreading

I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Wait—I take that back. I do know what’s wrong. I have a horrible weakness I can’t overcome. Several things in life beckon me—clothes, shoes, jewelry, sparkly things, cats, and chips (not necessarily in that order). I love the beach, a good vacation in a relaxing low-key setting, and I love…

Books.

It’s a disease. I know it is. This past weekend DH and I had some errands to run that placed us near the local brick-and-mortar bookstore. If I read a book a day for the next year I still wouldn’t be caught up with my gargantuan TBR, but the siren call reeled me in—books upon books upon books. Keep in mind, I already had my next several reads lined up in a queue on my Kindle, a few of those titles I’ve been anticipating for some time. So what did I do?

This:

books by Brendan Duffy

Did I need to buy these books? Of course not.

Darn if I didn’t get hooked by the titles and the blurbs. Suddenly, both have found their way to the top of my TBR, shuffling my already queued up reads farther back.

Why do we do this? I know I am not the only bibliophile out there. No matter how many books we have, it’s never enough. And no matter how geared up we are for the next read in our queue, it’s easy for something pop out of the blue and take its place. There are days I wish I could do nothing but read. For now, I’ll continue to juggle my reading life with my writing life.

And be sucked in by bookstores and libraries whenever I pass.

Spill your guts. You do the same thing, right? 😀

Can I Start My Weekend Now?

If there was ever any doubt, let it be known that I love Fridays. The weekend is looming around the corner, and I’m already in countdown. Now that summer has arrived, I will be spending sunny afternoons plotting and/or reading poolside. I still need to work in my normal writing schedule but I’m hoping to grab a little down time as well.

funny cat peeking over shelf at camera

I’m also hoping to get back to a more regular blogging schedule. This past week, saw an award (thank you, Jess Bakkers) and a surprise from my husband (thank you, love of my life). If you’re interested in either post, just follow the links.

Looking back:
On Story Empire, Joan Hall shared a post that cleverly combined The Beatles, Sgt. Peppers and Writing and Harmony Kent shared Part One of her series Commas and How to Use Them. Today, you can find the weekly Curated Writing Content gathered by the authors of Story Empire. I hope some of these appeal to you.

Looking ahead:
My own writing projects are moving forward. A Desolate Hour will be releasing on July 18th, and I recently submitted a short story for an anthology I was invited to participate in. You’ll be hearing more on the latter as publication time approaches.

Book cover for Ghosts by Gaslight, a book on Spiritualism by Troy TaylorCurrently, I’m knee deep in research mode for my next novel, The Blue Lady of Hode’s Hill.  Although I read daily, I’ve been entrenched in non-fiction as opposed to putting a dent in my TBR.

Half of Blue Lady deals with Spiritualism in the late 1800s as related to practicing mediums and fraud. I’ve been reading a book called Ghosts by Gaslight by Troy Taylor in order to get up to snuff. It’s fascinating, but dense, especially as I’m making notes as I go. I also just picked up a massive tome on Harry Houdini, someone who has always intrigued me—more so as I delve into the late 19th century and early 20th century.

We’re spending tomorrow evening with friends so this weekend is more about fun and pool time, but I’ll work writing and research in somehow.

What about you? What project or book is calling you and are you a Friday Fanatic like I am?

A Brick in the Walk

My husband catches me by surprise sometimes. I mean really by surprise. We joke a lot because he’s not much of a reader and doesn’t understand why anyone would “waste time” reading a story. He’ll read instructional manuals and text books, but fiction? Not going to happen. The cosmic joke is that he’s married to a fiction writer.

Wait. It gets better.

After working for State Government for many long years, he was able to retire early with full benefits. That was great until a year later when he ran out of projects to do around the house, and decided he wanted to go back to work part time. So he got a job at—cosmic joke #2—a library!

It’s an easy job, something to keep him busy, but I think he enjoys it. He does meeting room set-ups and some minor maintenance around the place. The man is surrounded by books every day and by librarians who rattle on about their love of the written word. He’s come to appreciate the importance of libraries and the programs they offer, while the librarians couldn’t be happier to have someone of his work ethics. He has them completely spoiled.

The library itself is inviting, and I love going there. Among other amenities, there are plenty of comfy sitting areas both inside and out. One of the outside areas is in a section where people are able to purchase “memory bricks” for special occasions or in honor of loved ones. People place milestones there—anniversaries, awards, and names of family members. Take a seat on the bench that overlooks the area, and this is what you’ll see immediately to the left.

Brick that says Mae Clair

Yep. My husband surprised me with that. My name at our local library—a place of books, learning and imagination. I was thoroughly caught off guard. There were tears, hugs and laughter.

My books are in that library and now my name will hang around outside forever, long after I’m gone. Like I said, the man really surprises me sometimes.  🙂

multiple bricks with names

 

What’s on Your Bookshelf?

whimsical colorful rendering of an open book lying in tall grass beneath a starry sky If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you know I love to read nearly as much as I love to write. Today, I was invited to share my bookshelf with D. S. Nelson, the author of the Blake Hetherington mystery series (among other engaging reads).

Hop over and visit me at her blog, Every Day’s A Mystery. I’m sharing photos of my bookshelves and chatting about a few favorite novels. While you’re there consider giving Dawn’s blog a follow. She shares an eclectic mix of topics ranging from writing and reading to craft projects, green living and nature. See you there!

 

The Writing Year That Was…

The year is drawing to a close. In a short while, we’ll be bidding 2016 goodbye. I’m excited about starting new projects and setting new goals in 2017, but it always helps to look back over the previous year. 2016 was a tough one, but it was also very good to me. Many thanks, my friends, for taking the journey with me. Here’s my personal look back, and a wish to all of us for continued success in the year ahead!

Holiday thank-you card surrounded by open fountain pen, and red and green decorations . Gold ink

WRITING
I wrote and delivered three manuscripts—two full length books, and one short story. Not too shabby for juggling a writing career with a full-time job, but I will be more than happy to wave goodbye to contract deadlines.

RELEASES
A great year! Book one of my Point Pleasant Series, A Thousand Yesteryears released April 26, and book two, A Cold Tomorrow, released December 20. Tucked in-between, my short story, The Lady Ghost, was part of Macabre Sanctuary, a free anthology of Halloween-themed stories that released on September 30. That book is still free, so if you haven’t grabbed a copy yet, don’t miss out!

RRBC
I kicked off 2016 as a brand new member of the Rave Reviews Book Club, an experience that has been a highlight of my online journey. Not only did I discover great authors and fabulous books, but I’ve made many wonderful and supportive friends as a result. And talk about fun! The Back to School Blog Block Party was the standout for me, but there were plenty of exciting events taking place throughout the year.  Please see my RRBC page to learn more about this fantastic club and how it can benefit you. I’ve already renewed my membership for 2017.

BOOK OF THE MONTH
Myth and Magic was a RRBC book-of-the-month club selection in May. I picked up many new reviews as a result and was able to participate in a club discussion regarding the novel. Can we say “jazzed?” 🙂

BOOK SIGNINGS
I did two local book signings this year (one in April and one in October), and although neither resulted in a plethora of sales, I did sell copies, and had a lot of fun in the process. I also got to network with a number of other local authors and made some great connections.

STORY EMPIRE
What started as brainstorming ideas about promotion with a few other authors, evolved into a full blown website. I’m delighted to be part of this fabulous online group which also includes Staci Troilo, Craig Boyack, Harmony Kent and Sandra Cox. If you aren’t a member of the Empire, we’d love to have you follow our blog where we talk craft, writing, books, and even run off-the-wall promos. Look for more from the SE group in 2017. We’re always dreaming up something!

BESTSELLER STATUS
For the second year in a row, I hit bestseller status on Amazon, this time with
A Thousand Yesteryears, which peaked in the paid store at #1 in mystery/thriller/suspense paranormal and #1 in sci-fi/fantasy magical realism. Yes, I took screenshots. Ranking higher than Stephen King, for however brief the stay, had me floating! If you haven’t read A Thousand Yesteryears yet, now is your chance to pick up a copy for .99c for a limited time.

READING
I set my Goodreads Reading Challenge at 50 books this year, thinking I wouldn’t read as much as normal with my contract deadlines. I ended up reading 82, which proves I can’t keep my nose out of a book, I guess. My reads come from a mixture of mainstream novels, novels written by friends and RRBC members, plus others I stumble across on Twitter or book blogs. As a member of RRBC, I’m required to read 4 books a year by other member authors. in 2016, 30 of my 82 books were RRBC reads.

beautiful black cat with a glossy coat nestled in an open cardboard boxRAVEN
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my cat, Raven, adopted the end of September. Cats are curious creatures, and yes, she gets into many things she shouldn’t, but she’s a joy. And boy, has she grown! That’s her at the right on Christmas Day. Notice the new toy in the background (just one of many). Like a typical cat, she’s more interested in the box. She does, however, have a “Santa mouse” that she loves. 🙂

TOP TWELVE
For those of you might not know, 12 is my favorite number. Just recently, I discovered A Thousand Yesteryears made book reviewer, Jennifer Thomason’s, top twelve reads of 2016! I was thrilled to find my novel included, especially given the amazing talent in the group. You can see all twelve books on Jennifer’s blog, Dandelions Inspired. If you love to read, click “follow” while you’re there. I think Jennifer probably reads more than anyone I know! And if you’re an author, check out the review submission guidelines on her blog. She’ll give you a fair shake.

LYRICAL THRILLS
Like camping? Like to read? Lyrical Underground tagged me on Facebook this week, alerting me they’re doing a giveaway to celebrate A Cold Tomorrow. I wouldn’t mind having these goodies myself. Hop over to see what they’re giving away! I love that they’re always doing something.

BOOK SALES
My best year yet!! I’ve heard it usually takes several years to see results, and I’ve finally reached the point where that’s happening. Hopefully, I can continue to build on that momentum going into 2017 and beyond. A HUGE thank you to everyone for the support you’ve shown me. You have made my author’s journey a blessing.

Wishing you all a fabulous New Year! Cheers, and let’s head into 2017 together!    

#FridayBookShare @ShelleyWilson72 – You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by @AuthorKevin

Welcome to another Friday Book Share! Anyone can join in. Just answer the following F.R.I.D.A.Y. questions based on the book you’re either currently reading or have just finished reading. Use the hashtag #FridayBookShare and remember to tag Shelley (@ShelleyWilson72)

early morning beach scene with sun breaking through the clouds over oceanFirst line of the book.

Recruit fans by adding the book blurb.

Introduce the main character using only three words.

Delightful design (add the cover image of the book).

Audience appeal (who would enjoy reading this book?)

Your favorite line/scene.

~ooOOoo~

I just finished reading  YOU’LL MISS ME WHEN I’M GONE by Kevin O’Brien. Kevin is one of my all time favorite authors and I never miss one of his releases. I’d been saving this one to take to the beach with me the end of the month, but I finally caved and read it by the pool instead. I couldn’t resist any longer!

First Line of Book:

There was no backing out of it now.

Recruit fans by adding the book blurb:

NO FORGIVENESS
Andrea Boyle moved to Seattle to give her seventeen-year-old nephew, Spencer, a fresh start after the death of his parents. Andrea has found her own new beginning with Luke, a successful playwright and father of a teenage son, Damon. The boys appear to have little in common, but in truth they share a private torment…

NO REMORSE
When a tragedy befalls Damon, it’s just the beginning of a nightmare that unfolds. But the worst is yet to come once a dark secret from Spencer’s past is exposed. And when Luke is brutally attacked, both of their futures are at stake.

NO SECOND CHANCE
Now it’s up to Andrea to prove Spencer’s innocence to the police—and to herself. Because for reasons she has revealed to no one, even Andrea can’t help questioning the truth—and fearing that she may be next to pay the ultimate price…

Introduce the main character using only three words.

Andrea Boyle—Loyal, determined, brave

Delightful design (add the cover image of the book).

Book cover for You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone by Kevin O'Brien features close up of three old mailboxes on country road at night, middle box leaning to side

Audience appeal. Who would enjoy reading this book?

Anyone who enjoys suspense and/or psychological thrillers.

A favorite line/scene.

The camera panned from the front of the car to the back, where a thin, forty-something blonde was sprawled across the seat. A piece of duct tape covered her mouth. Squirming, she rolled over on her side. The camera zoomed in on her hands, tied in back of her. Then the unsteady camera panned up and moved in close to her face—until Spencer could see the terror in her eyes.

“I think some of you already know my mother,” Damon said. 

Amazon purchase link

What do you think? Sound like a winner? I recently devoured it and gave it 5 stars. Kevin always tells an exceptional tale, IMHO.

Let’s Talk Bad Reviews by Mae Clair

Psst! I’ll tell you a secret. The first review I ever got was three-stars. Now, I don’t necessarily consider three stars a bad review, but I don’t count it as great either. I’ve given a number of three-star reviews and imagine them somewhere middle of the road.

Naturally, as a newly published author, launching my first book, I had dreamed of five stars. There were plenty that followed, but that first one came as an eye-opener. I even had one of my friends give a four-star review and then send an email explaining what I could have done better. I learned from that gentle criticism, as I have done from many others in the past.

female holding up finger arguing wearing glassesI didn’t agree with the reviewer who said I had too many characters or that my plot was too complex, but I do understand that romance readers don’t always like their stories ladled with mystery and multi-tiered plots. Lesson learned. Which is why I’ve made an adjustment to my genre, story-telling, and branding.

It wasn’t until I wrote my fifth book that I received my first two-star review. By then I realized every reader has an opinion and I’m not going to appeal to all of them. I have no problem with someone giving me a negative review, but I had a BIG problem with what the person insinuated. I won’t go into the details, but for the purpose of this post, let’s just say I was upset.

I remember sitting on my back porch, talking to my husband about it. Venting verbally. As an author, I don’t respond to reviews, positive or negative, even though I read every one. An unwritten rule that I learned early in the game. That made accepting that review even harder. I couldn’t defend myself.

During my spat of whining, my husband said something that resonates to this day—basically when you put yourself “out there” you open yourself to criticism, just like any artist. He asked me how many times I had dissed a movie or song, or even a book. Maybe I didn’t post those reviews online but I had an opinion, and everyone was entitled to theirs. If I was going to be a writer, I couldn’t stop people from saying what they wanted to say about my work. It goes with the territory.

Another lesson learned.

By the time I got my first one-star review (and I can’t even tell you what book it was for), I’d adapted a new attitude. I had read a blog post not long before that said something along the lines of “if Stephen King and J.K. Rowling get one-star reviews, why shouldn’t I?” And then it hit me—I’d arrived. I was no longer just getting reviews from friends and other writers I knew online, but readers who had no connection to me. Readers who were rating my work on the same scale they would rate the work of best-selling authors like Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (my favorite writing team). I was in a whole new realm, and although the three, two, and one-stars still crept up occasionally, there were far more four and five-star reviews. Instead of being discouraged by a mediocre review, I now take them in stride as part of my chosen profession.

Reviews are important to an author. Good or bad, we learn from them and they contribute to our growth. If you’ve gotten a bad review you’ve probably felt some of the uncertainty I have. If you haven’t—trust me—it’s just a matter of time. The larger your audience, the more opportunity you have to snag a reader who doesn’t quite get what you’re trying to say. Take it in stride. As my husband told me, when you’re “out there” you expose yourself to the opinions of others.

If you’ve read any of my books, I ask you to leave an honest review. Reviews are the equivalent of gold to an author, and all are greatly appreciated.

If you’re a writer, have you ever felt yourself the target of an unfair review? Has it impacted your love for writing? How do you deal with negative reviews?