Book Reviews by Mae Clair: The Book of Accidents by Chuck Wendig #ghosts #suspense

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

Today, I’m sharing another book I was on the fence about reading. Based on the blurb, I was afraid the story might be too dark for me, but I’m glad I took a chance. I had no problems navigating the pages. This is such an unusual tale, I’ll let the blurb and my review carry any further thoughts.

BLURB:

family returns to their hometown—and to the dark past that haunts them still—in this masterpiece of literary horror by the New York Times bestselling author of Wanderers

“The dread, the scope, the pacing, the turns—I haven’t felt all this so intensely since The Shining.”—Stephen Graham Jones, New York Times bestselling author of The Only Good Indians

Long ago, Nathan lived in a house in the country with his abusive father—and has never told his family what happened there. 

Long ago, Maddie was a little girl making dolls in her bedroom when she saw something she shouldn’t have—and is trying to remember that lost trauma by making haunting sculptures. 

Long ago, something sinister, something hungry, walked in the tunnels and the mountains and the coal mines of their hometown in rural Pennsylvania. 

Now, Nate and Maddie Graves are married, and they have moved back to their hometown with their son, Oliver.

And now what happened long ago is happening again . . . and it is happening to Oliver. He meets a strange boy who becomes his best friend, a boy with secrets of his own and a taste for dark magic. 

This dark magic puts them at the heart of a battle of good versus evil and a fight for the soul of the family—and perhaps for all of the world. But the Graves family has a secret weapon in this battle: their love for one another.

MY REVIEW:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I’ve never read Chuck Wendig before, but this book was quite the experience! Nate, a former cop, moves his wife, Maddie, and fifteen-year-old son, Oliver back to his childhood home in a rural area of Pennsylvania. The house holds horrible memories for Nate—his father was horribly abusive—but it promises a new beginning away from the city. Right from the start there are a number of odd things that take place. Probably why the first half of the book was my favorite. I have a passion for early shivers and goosebumps and loved the creepy, unexplained strangeness taking place.

Build-up was fantastic—whispers of a serial killer executed decades before, a “felsenmeer” or field of boulders, an old tunnel that spurned urban legends, an abandoned coal mine, a deer and insects behaving strangely, and a mysterious figure in the woods. Having lived in Pennsylvania all my life, I could relate to so many of the rural surroundings, locales, and places that were mentioned.

But the heart of the book is its characters. I was so wrapped up in the lives of Nate, Maddie, and Oliver. Even secondary characters like Fig, Jed, and Caleb are fully fleshed out and given strong supporting roles.

It’s Oliver who turns out to be the key player. He’s gifted, but the importance of that gift only becomes apparent as the suspense rachets from simmer to boil. The story is definitely “out there.” Be prepared to dip your toes into elements of fantasy and magical realism along with horror. There are multiple twists and turns from start to finish but the ending melds everything together for a strong conclusion.

Wending has a gift with words. I loved his prose, at times beautiful and at other times vivid enough to make me feel squeamish. I also enjoyed the afterword in which he described the previous incarnations of the book and how it came to be. I’m glad he stuck with what was first a “trunk novel.” I expect this one will haunt a lot of readers.

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.

Book Review Tuesday: Falling by T.J. Newman #thriller #suspense @T_J_Newman

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

Hoo-boy, hoo-boy! I just finished a book that has to be the BEACH READ OF THE SUMMER! It has “blockbuster movie” written all over it, and I have no doubt Hollywood is already knocking at the author’s door. Falling is definitely one of my top reads of 2021. The hard copy was just a few dollars more than the Kindle version, and with a cover like this, I couldn’t resist indulging. I’m pleased to say the story lives up to the amazing cover and the hype. I’ve been seeing this one all over the place and couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. What a thrill ride!

BOOK BLURB:

#1 NATIONAL BESTSELLER

“T. J. Newman has written the perfect thriller! A must-read.” —Gillian Flynn
“Stunning and relentless. This is Jaws at 35,000 feet.” —Don Winslow
Falling is the best kind of thriller…Nonstop, totally authentic suspense.” —James Patterson
“Amazing…Intense suspense, shocks, and scares…Chilling.” —Lee Child

You just boarded a flight to New York.

There are one hundred and forty-three other passengers onboard.

What you don’t know is that thirty minutes before the flight your pilot’s family was kidnapped.

For his family to live, everyone on your plane must die.

The only way the family will survive is if the pilot follows his orders and crashes the plane.

Enjoy the flight.

MY REVIEW:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Beach Read of the summer!

I’m already anticipating the blockbuster movie. This is a story that keeps you enthralled from page one, but continually ups the stakes with each successive chapter. During the last half, I couldn’t flip pages fast enough, annoyed by the slightest distraction that threatened to pull me from the book.

Captain Bill Hoffman has taken a last minute flight from LA to NY, much to the chagrin of his wife, Carrie. She was counting on his presence at their son’s Little League game but Bill’s decision quickly spirals into a nightmare for both of them–and countless others.

Targeted by terrorists, Carrie frantically tries to keep her family alive on the ground while Bill faces impossible decisions in the air, every choice impacting the lives of the passengers aboard his flight.

This is an adrenaline-fueled, emotional roller coaster. Be prepared to gnaw your fingernails and teeter on a seesaw of right vs. wrong. Many lives comes into play–not just Bill, Carrie, and their children, but Bill’s flight crew, FBI personnel, and those on board. I especially loved senior flight attendant, Jo and her courage in the face of impossible circumstances.

Some reviewers have called a few specific scenes corny, but I loved them. I saw them playing out on the “big screen” complete with gasps and cheers from a movie-going audience, myself included.

The author said she had forty-one rejections before finding an agent to take a chance on her manuscript. His vision is our gain. Newman, a former flight attendant, wrote this book on red-eye flights over a ten year period. I’m thankful she stuck with the manuscript. The finished novel ranks among those books I consider my top reads of the year. I can’t say enough about the frantic pace in which the last half plays out. I have no doubt that Hollywood will scoop this one up quickly.

Book Reviews by Mae Clair: Survive the Night by Riley Sager @riley_sager #thriller #suspense

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

You know when you read a book that blows you away, and you can’t stop thinking about it, talking about it, rehashing all the twisty bits in your mind? You loved it so much, you have to refrain from going back and reading it again? Well, I thoroughly plan to read Survive the Night again, just not right away. I’m still digesting the first go-round.

If you’re not familiar with Riley Sager, I recommend correcting the oversight pronto. He’s another of my auto-buy authors. I’ve read all of his releases with the exception of one, currently waiting on my Kindle. I’ll stop with the fan girl stuff now, and get to the book and my review so you can see why I’m over-the-top jazzed about this one. 🙂

BOOK BLURB:

One of New York Times Book Review‘s “summer reads guaranteed to make your heart thump and your skin crawl”; An Amazon Best of the Month Pick; Named a must-read summer book by The Washington PostVultureBuzzFeedForbesEntertainment Weekly, CNN, New York PostGood HousekeepingE!PopSugarCrimeReadsThrillist, and BookRiot

It’s November 1991. Nirvana’s in the tape deck, George H. W. Bush is in the White House, and movie-obsessed college student Charlie Jordan is in a car with a man who might be a serial killer.

Josh Baxter, the man behind the wheel, is a virtual stranger to Charlie. They met at the campus ride board, each looking to share the long drive home to Ohio. Both have good reasons for wanting to get away. For Charlie, it’s guilt and grief over the shocking murder of her best friend, who became the third victim of the man known as the Campus Killer. For Josh, it’s to help care for his sick father—or so he says. 

The longer she sits in the passenger seat, the more Charlie notices there’s something suspicious about Josh, from the holes in his story about his father to how he doesn’t want her to see inside the trunk. As they travel an empty, twisty highway in the dead of night, an increasingly anxious Charlie begins to think she’s sharing a car with the Campus Killer. Is Josh truly dangerous? Or is Charlie’s jittery mistrust merely a figment of her movie-fueled imagination?

One thing is certain—Charlie has nowhere to run and no way to call for help. Trapped in a terrifying game of cat and mouse played out on pitch-black roads and in neon-lit parking lots, Charlie knows the only way to win is to survive the night.

MY REVIEW:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Thank you Penguin Group, Dutton Books, and NetGalley for my ARC.

Wow. Just wow! I devour books by Riley Sager, so it was a no-brainer to request Survive the Night from NetGalley. I never know what to expect when I’m reading a Sager book. Each is so different, yet all are gripping and engrossing. Strangely, I had reservations about Survive the Night. I’m not a big fan of serial killer fiction, but, hey—it was Sager, one of my auto-buy authors—so I was more than willing to take a chance. I should have known he’d knock it into the stratosphere.

Charlie needs a ride from college to her hometown. She’s desperate to put the past behind her after her best friend becomes the third victim of a serial murderer known as the Campus Killer. She meets Josh, also headed to her home state of Ohio, and agrees to ride with him, sharing expenses along the way. But during the long, dark night over deserted back roads, Charlie begins to suspect Josh isn’t who he claims to be. Too much of what he says doesn’t add up, each successive hiccup making her think she may be sharing the car with the Campus Killer, a man who has reason to want her dead. She caught a glimpse of him in the shadows before he killed her friend.

Although this is a book about a serial killer, there is nothing gory or graphic about it. The operational word here is TENSION—with a freaking capital T!!

The story plays out over the course of several nail-biting hours during which the author had me second-guessing myself multiple times. I waffled between frustration, fear, and irritation over Charlie’s actions. Sometimes I was cheering for her, other times I wanted to shake sense into her. It wasn’t until the end when everything falls into place that I realized how deftly I’d been played.

I also loved the use of old movies in the story (Charlie is a film student) and Charlie’s penchant of separating from reality for brief spans for “movies in her mind.” I did spot one of the “reveals” before the last act, but by then, I believe it was expected. And it was so deliciously perfect, those pieces dropping into place were wholly satisfying.

Survive the Night reinforces why I devour books by Sager. He’s a master of suspense who crosses T’s and dots I’s with such subtlety the reader doesn’t even realize how skillfully he orchestrats threads in the background—until they explode in your face.

Definitely among my favorite reads of the year. If you enjoy cat-and-mouse suspense and well-plotted fiction, don’t miss this slick, edge-of-your seat thrill ride!

RELEASE DATE IS JUNE 29 | PRE-ORDER FROM AMAZON

Book Review Tuesday: Chasing the Boogeyman by Richard Chizmar @RichardChizmar @GalleryBooks #suspense #metafiction #serialkillers

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! For my last Book Review Tuesday of May, I have a fabulous NetGalley read to share. Before I get started, a tip of the hat to Kim of By Hook or By Book for pointing me to this title through her own fantastic review. I count Chasing the Boogeyman as one of my top reads of the year.

BOOK BLURB:

The New York Times bestselling coauthor of Gwendy’s Button Boxbrings his signature “thrilling, page-turning” (Michael Koryta, author of How It Happened) prose to this story of small-town evil that combines the storytelling of Stephen King with the true-crime suspense of Michelle McNamara.

In the summer of 1988, the mutilated bodies of several missing girls begin to turn up in a small Maryland town. The grisly evidence leads police to the terrifying assumption that a serial killer is on the loose in the quiet suburb. But soon a rumor begins to spread that the evil stalking local teens is not entirely human. Law enforcement, as well as members of the FBI are certain that the killer is a living, breathing madman—and he’s playing games with them. For a once peaceful community trapped in the depths of paranoia and suspicion, it feels like a nightmare that will never end.

Recent college graduate Richard Chizmar returns to his hometown just as a curfew is enacted and a neighborhood watch is formed. In the midst of preparing for his wedding and embarking on a writing career, he soon finds himself thrust into the real-life horror story. Inspired by the terrifying events, Richard writes a personal account of the serial killer’s reign of terror, unaware that these events will continue to haunt him for years to come.

A clever, terrifying, and heartrending work of metafiction, Chasing the Boogeyman is the ultimate marriage between horror fiction and true crime. Chizmar’s “brilliant…absolutely fascinating, totally compelling, and immediately poignant” (C.J. Tudor, New York Times bestselling author) writing is on full display in this truly unique novel that will haunt you long after you turn the final page.

MY REVIEW:

Although I’m not a fan of true crime stories, there was something about this book that appealed to me the first time I read a review. Maybe it was the hint of a supernatural/horror element, or maybe the concept of metafiction. I could honestly go rounds with that description and still have difficulty delivering a solid definition. Bottom line, In Search of the Boogeyman is a fictional novel made to read like true crime. The delivery is quite clever, and the story is riveting.

The first few chapters provide background on the central character, where he grew up, why he’s in his present circumstances, etc. etc. and those are almost entirely prose. It took me some settling in to adjust to that pace, but the descriptions about small town life and childhood memories are richly textured and sure to awaken nostalgia. Add in that Edgewood, Maryland is a real town—along with many other places referenced in the novel—and the content begins to feel more factual than fictional. I’ve visited several of the places Chizmar references. By chapter three, I wanted to speed read to the end.

It’s the summer of 1988 and Richard has returned to his hometown just as a murder occurs—unthinkable in a small town like Edgewood. When other murders follow—all young girls, all missing a left ear and posed after death—residents fear a serial killer is on the loose. Dubbed the “boogeyman” the killer seems impossible to catch. Richard finds himself caught up in the search, his path intertwining with a journalist friend and the lead detective on the case. 

I can be squeamish about books with serial killers, but there was nothing overly graphic in this novel. Chills, goose bumps, suspense and tension abound. There are several nighttime scenes that are especially creepy. It’s clear the victims met with violent ends, but gore doesn’t factor into the descriptions which I appreciated. To add to the true crime feel, each chapter closes with photos of crime scenes, town locations, and family photos of the victims. In Chizmer’s skillful hands, the book becomes mystery, thriller, and a haunting tale of small-town life that lingers long after finishing. I also loved the inclusion of an afterward from the author explaining how the book came about and how the photos were developed. Chasing the Boogeyman is definitely among my favorite reads for the year!

Thank you to Gallery Books and NetGalley for my ARC!


Want a good read that will keep you up at night flipping pages? This one surely did! Thanks to NetGalley and my own mammoth TBR, I’ve been binge-devouring books lately. Goodreads tells me I’m nineteen novels ahead in my reading challenge for 2021 (although I did cut it back from last year). As a result, you may start seeing more book reviews from me scattered here and there in the weeks and months ahead. I hope you’ll come back tomorrow when I’ll be sharing my reviews for the first book in a new cozy series, and the latest release in a buddy/paranormal adventure series.

Book Reviews: The Drowning Kind by Jennifer McMahon #GhostFiction

Creative concept of book open on a dock by lake with pages of book part of lake. Sunset setting with ducks on lake

Hi, Friends! Tuesday turned out to be a day that got away from me, so I’m doing my usual book review post today. I should be back on schedule next week. In the meantime, I have a review from one of my auto-buy authors to share. I pre-ordered this book the moment I saw it was available!

BOOK BLURB:
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Invited and The Winter People comes a chilling new novel about a woman who returns to the old family home after her sister mysteriously drowns in its swimming pool…but she’s not the pool’s only victim.

Be careful what you wish for.

When social worker Jax receives nine missed calls from her older sister, Lexie, she assumes that it’s just another one of her sister’s episodes. Manic and increasingly out of touch with reality, Lexie has pushed Jax away for over a year. But the next day, Lexie is dead: drowned in the pool at their grandmother’s estate. When Jax arrives at the house to go through her sister’s things, she learns that Lexie was researching the history of their family and the property. And as she dives deeper into the research herself, she discovers that the land holds a far darker past than she could have ever imagined.

In 1929, thirty-seven-year-old newlywed Ethel Monroe hopes desperately for a baby. In an effort to distract her, her husband whisks her away on a trip to Vermont, where a natural spring is showcased by the newest and most modern hotel in the Northeast. Once there, Ethel learns that the water is rumored to grant wishes, never suspecting that the spring takes in equal measure to what it gives.

A haunting, twisty, and compulsively readable thrill ride from the author who Chris Bohjalian has dubbed the “literary descendant of Shirley Jackson,” The Drowning Kind is a modern-day ghost story that illuminates how the past, though sometimes forgotten, is never really far behind us.

MY REVIEW

Oh, how creepy! I love how Jennifer McMahon weaves spookiness and mystery so deftly in dual timelines. She never disappoints me with her books. Both timelines in this story are engrossing, but I was riveted by the one in the past which centers around a luxury resort hotel. The time period is 1929-1930, slightly before and after the Great Depression. People flock to the hotel, looking for healing. Many swear they’ve been cured of ailments after a dip in a pool on the property, or by whispering a wish to the water. 

This is no ordinary pool. The water is murky and dark and bears a sulfuric, metallic scent. It’s rumored the water gives as much as it takes, and for every wish it grants, payment must be made in kind.

Will and Ethel are newlyweds trying to start a family. Ethel desperately wants a baby, and it seems such a simple thing to make a wish by the water—especially after a dip in the pool heals three cuts on her leg as if they never existed. I loved both Will and Ethel, and was on pins and needles as their life unfolded after Ethel’s wish.

In the present, Jax arrives at her grandmother’s home, Sparrow Crest, once the site of the hotel. She and her sister Lexi spent summers with their grandmother and grew up swimming in the pool. When their grandmother passed away, Lexi inherited the property, but now she’s gone—drowned in the pool. Jax considered Lexi’s mental state precarious but knows her sister was an expert swimmer. Soon after arriving, she discovers bits and pieces of old history Lexi was collecting about the pool and the old resort hotel, along with journal entries and frantic scribblings.

Chapters alternate between Ethel’s POV in the past and Jax’s in the present. Although I was not as invested in Jax’s storyline as Ethel’s, she had some wonderfully goose bump scenes. Like when she’s measuring the depth of the pool at night with a flashlight or when she thinks she hears someone outside and finds wet footprints by the door.

This is an atmospheric read, slowly building suspense. The descriptions of the pool are haunting and dark, the mystery intricate and compelling. I loved how both past and present funnel together in the concluding chapters. The ending was not what I expected, and I had to ruminate on it for a while. Definitely a twist. 4.5 stars rounded up to 5 for review posting.


Jennifer McMahon was the first author I read who used dual timelines in a novel. It was because of The Night Sister, that I chose to use past and present timelines in my Hode’s Hill series.

Like The Night Sister and The Drowning Kind, the three novels that comprise Hode’s Hill—Cusp of Night, End of Day, and Eventide combine mystery and suspense with ghostly elements. In closing, I’m going to offer a shameless plug. If you haven’t read Hode’s Hill, you can pick up all three books in the series for a total of $4.97. Each novel can be read as a standalone, but my publisher currently as a sale going on the whole set.

As always, I wish you happy reading. Be sure to let me know your thoughts on The Drowning Kind, too!

Guest Author Thursday: Joan Hall with House of Sorrow #newrelease #mystery #psychologicalfiction @JoanHallWrites

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

It’s my pleasure to welcome good friend and Story Empire colleague, Joan Hall, to my blog today. Joan is here to share her new release House of Sorrow, the introduction to her Legends of Madeira series. You can find my five star review for this fantastic novella that blends history and suspense HERE.

As someone who has an extensive set of books about Robert F. Kennedy, I’m particularly fond the post she’s sharing today. Take it away, Joan!


House of Sorrow: June 1968 & Bobby Kennedy

Mae, thank you for hosting me today. It’s a pleasure to visit today. I’m excited to tell your readers about my newest release.

House of Sorrow is a short-story prequel to my upcoming novel Cold Dark Night, book one of my Legends of Madeira series. It’s the story of Ruth Hazelton, a reclusive older woman who lives in a two-story Victorian house in the fictional town of Madeira, New Mexico. Ruth reflects on her life, particularly when she and her husband Lee first moved to town.

I included some historical events in the book, as well as some personal memories. Most of the scenes occur in the late 1960s. One event is the assassination of Senator Robert Kennedy.

><><><>< 

“Senator Kennedy has been shot.” 

I still recall waking up to my mother’s words. Mom often had “premonitions” something bad was about to happen. It happened the day of JFK’s assassination and again with Bobby. She’d been unable to sleep that June night, so she turned on the television to hear the sad news. 

In the days following Bobby’s death, I saw his funeral train on television and remember how crowds lined the tracks between New York City and Washington, DC. I was only ten, but it made a profound impact on me.

Robert F. Kennedy at podium, standing in profile, crowd gathered around him
Bobby Kennedy in Los Angeles shortly before his assassination (public domain photo)

Only two months earlier, I had been the one to first learn of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. I hurried into the other room to tell my parents. It’s safe to say 1968 was a volatile year in America.

A few years ago, my husband and I visited DC and Arlington National Cemetery. Seeing the simple marker and single white cross on Bobby’s grave touched me more than the eternal flame at JFK’s.

Single white cross and headstone on field of green lawn, gravesite of Robert F. Kennedy
Photo by Joan Hall

Some may think this is weird, but when I looked at the surrounding hillside, the last line of the song, “Abraham, Martin, and John” came to mind. I could almost picture the four men strolling together on the hill, and it brought tears to my eyes.

In this passage, Ruth has just moved to Madeira and met her neighbor, Sam. It’s only a few days after RFK died. 

Excerpt:

Sam sat in silence for a few minutes. “Damn shame about Bobby Kennedy.”

“Yes, it was. I watched the funeral on television. So sad for Ethel, especially with her being pregnant. That poor child will never know his or her father.”

“Guess it wasn’t surprising at the number of people who lined the tracks as the train made its way to Washington. Not to mention those at the funeral. President and Mrs. Johnson. Even Nixon was there.”

“Coretta Scott King. You know it had to be hard on her, having lost her husband only two months ago. And Jackie, of course.” Ruth had long been an admirer of the former first lady. She’d watched JFK’s funeral on television and was impressed with Jackie’s poise and elegance in such difficult times. She managed to look classy in her black mourning clothes, her brother-in-law at her side.

“First Jack, now his brother. Not to mention Joe Jr. and their sister. I believe that family is cursed. What do you think?”

“I really don’t believe in curses.”

Sam scoffed. “Curses are real.”

“You think so?”

“I do.” He made a sweeping motion with his hand. “Take some of the people who have lived in this—” Sam shook his head. “Never mind.”

“Lived where? Madeira?”

“It’s not important. Besides, I take it you’re not superstitious.”

“I’m not. This may sound callous, but both President Kennedy and Bobby were politicians and public figures. They were bound to have enemies.”

“That’s true, but what about the other Kennedy children?”

“The oldest brother was killed during World War II. Kathleen’s death was simply a tragic accident.”

“You may be right. On the other hand, Jack’s and Bobby’s assassinations could be part of a conspiracy. They got rid of both brothers. Murdered Martin Luther King. With that war over there, this world is a mess.”

Blurb:

Promo graphic with book cover for House of Sorrow shows porch swing on covered front porch

Dream home or damned home? 

Ruth Hazelton is over the moon when her husband Lee agrees the nineteenth-century Victorian in Madeira, New Mexico, is the perfect home for them. While he starts his new job as police chief, she sets about unpacking and decorating.

But it’s not long before Ruth needs more. She becomes a fixture in the community, making time for everyone, volunteering, hosting events—she’s every bit the social butterfly her husband is not. Through her friendships, she learns several former residents of her home met with untimely deaths. If she were superstitious, she might fear a curse, but such nonsense doesn’t faze her.

Until the unthinkable happens.

Now, as the end of Ruth’s life draws near, she must find a way to convey her message and stop the cycle to prevent anyone else from suffering in the house of sorrow. 

Purchase Link

Connect with Joan:

Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |   Bookbub  |  Goodreads  |  Instagram

Bio box for author, Joan Hall

I was six when Bobby Kennedy died. I only have a grainy memory of a newscast. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I became fascinated with him, devouring books on his life, and collecting DVDs—both documentaries and TV movies. One of the things I loved best about House of Sorrow is how Joan spins back the clock to bring so many events of the 1960s and early 1970s to life in her story. It’s an entertaining novella which acts as lead in for what promises to be a most excellent series. I recommend heading to Amazon to ONE CLICK and snatch up your copy today!

Book Spotlight: Out of Kindness by J.A. Walsh @JAWALSH_BOOKS @SunburyPress #thriller #suspense

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

Thanks for joining me for another Book Spotlight. Today, I’m welcoming Sunbury Press author, J.A. Wash with his suspense/thriller novel, Out of Kindness. J. A. has the perfect background to spin this type of tale, as you’ll see when you check out his bio. First be sure to read the blurb for his very intriguing release, then drop a line to share your thoughts! Doesn’t that cover rock?

Book Description:

A beautiful Irish island reveals its ugly secrets in this thriller of the opioid crisis

Sean Casper retired from the Boston Police to get away from murderers. He left Massachusetts to get away from everything else, especially his broken marriage and the pain of his son’s fentanyl overdose.

Casper retreats to a seaside cottage on a beautiful Irish island, unaware he is surrounded by ugly secrets. When Casper finds a mutilated lamb ritually displayed in an ancient cemetery, he reads up on the island’s only recorded murder and sees a pattern.

One of the island’s 600 residents is a serial killer. Someone else is about to die.

His investigation leads to Aoife Walsh, an island native suffering from the same addiction that killed his son. Her best friend was murdered twenty years ago, and she knows who did it. With no authority, but nothing to lose, Casper goes after the killer. 

Instead of finding an island refuge, Casper discovers much of Europe’s heroin passes through the island’s remote coast. And as he gets closer to the truth, he places himself in the crosshairs of the island’s drug traffickers, who will do anything to protect their secrets.

Out of Kindness is a thriller about grief and isolation, swirling in the backdrop of the opioid epidemic, on one of the most hauntingly beautiful islands on Earth.

PURCHASE LINKS:
SUNBURY PRESS | AMAZON

JA Walsh (Author)AUTHOR BIO:

J.A. Walsh worked in intelligence and counter-terrorism after the 9/11 attacks, before embarking on a career advising the U.S. military on energy security strategy. He has degrees in Russian, English literature, and Environmental Law. He and his family split time between Lake Norman, North Carolina and the Florida Keys. Learn more at JAWalsh.com

WEBSITE | TWITTER


I love the location of this one. The story definitely sounds like one to sink your reading chops into, don’t you think? J.A. will be dropping by to say hello, so be sure to let him know your thoughts in the comments. We’d both be delighted if you’d use the sharing buttons to spread the word about Out of Kindness. Thank you for visiting today!

New Release: The Vanished Boy by Harmony Kent @harmony_kent #mystery #suspense

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

It’s my pleasure to welcome friend and Story Empire colleague, Harmony Kent, today with her new release The Vanished Boy. If you enjoy mystery / suspense novels, I know this is one you’re going to want to gobble up. I already have my copy waiting on my Kindle, and it’s next on my read list. Now, here’s Harmony to chat more about her book…


Hi everyone. Harmony here. Thanks so much, Mae, for letting me visit with you today. I’m so thrilled to share the launch of my latest book with you all. 

The Vanished Boy is a mystery suspense novel based around a teenaged boy, who’s gone missing. The book follows the mother as she trawls through her missing son’s online life and realises, to her horror, how out of the loop she’s become. 

The inspiration for this novel came from watching a number of movies based on how our lives both revolve around and are influenced by the Internet and mobile devices. Although these movies covered many genres such as murder/mystery, thriller, and the supernatural, they all centred around the same theme: Apps and living life online. This led me to ponder how many of us spend our lives in digital pursuits rather than physical—both the old and the young? For many people, their actual physical lives become but a shadow compared to their online existence.

Mostly, the shift to a digital world happens slowly. It’s incremental and, too often, insidious. All of which led me to ask how well do we actually know our children? Our loved ones? Those around us? What might be going on in the shadows? From that inspiration and questioning, this story was born. Much of life and our actions originate from the same needs and wants: to be loved and accepted, the ability to differentiate between truth and lies, and the things we do to cover our mistakes and make ourselves look better than the reality instead of owning who we are. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

new release TVB animated flyer

Below is an excerpt from the book:
Her heart stalls, and she forgets to breathe. Then her chest squeezes, her heart hammers, and she sucks in a lungful of air. She’d know this fob anywhere. It’s a Cornish Pirates keyring. The chain is snapped. At some point, this fell off Jayden’s car keys. Her son did come here. Frantic, she runs back to the car and throws herself into the driver’s seat.

She fumbles her mobile from the passenger seat, where she’d tossed it before tearing away from her house, and tries to unlock the screen. Her hand is too wet. Irritable, she wipes her fingers on her trousers and tries again. She’s in. Mike’s number is the last one called, so she hits the redial on it, but the line goes straight to voicemail. Carole checks the signal bars on her phone: four, which is good enough. The problem must be on the detective’s end.

Full of thrumming, frantic energy, she begins to type in the triple-nine for emergency services, but at the last moment realises this won’t count as a life-or-death situation. She deletes the two nines she’s typed and, instead, taps in 101. After three rings, an operator responds. Thank all that exists the police line isn’t as oversubscribed as usual. Sometimes, it gets so jammed that you have to log a request online instead of over the phone.

Hurriedly, Carole garbles out that her son has been missing for three days and she’s found his key fob and it must have broken from his keys.

Calm and collected, the operator asks, ‘Do you have a case log number, ma’am?’

BLURB:

It’s so remote out here. Anything could happen …

A missed phone call in the night is all it takes.

When Carole’s 18-year-old son goes missing, she breaks into Jayden’s laptop to try to understand his life.

All too soon, Carole discovers just how little she knew her boy.

And when one lead after another dead-ends, the distraught mother has to face the unthinkable.

Sucked into a sticky web of deceit and lies, nothing is as it seems.

When your life turns 
inside out and upside down, 
who would you trust?


Author BioAuthor, Harmony Kent
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 adorable husband, ever-present sense of humour, and quirky neighbours.

Harmony is passionate about supporting her fellow authors.

Connect with Harmony at the following haunts:
Website | Story Empire (co-authored)Amazon Author Page | Twitter 
Goodreads | Bookbub

PURCHASE THE VANISHED BOY FROM AMAZON
(U.S. READERS)
OR
UNIVERSAL LINK FOR NON U.S READERS

It’s so true (and sad) what Harmony said in her post about people vanishing into a life online. I love the sound of this book, and can’t wait to dive in. I recommend hopping over to Amazon to one-click. Help Harmony celebrate her release by dropping her a comment then using the sharing buttons to spread the news about The Vanished Boy! Thanks for visiting with us today!

Book Spotlight: Dead on the Delta @KnowltonSBooks @SunburyPress #suspense #thriller

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

Hi, friends. Welcome to another Book Spotlight, featuring author Sherry Knowlton of Sunbury Press. Sunbury is a traditional publishing house not far from my location in Pennsylvania. I’ve agreed to share books from their authors that align with the interests of my blog readers—mostly mystery, suspense, thriller, and supernatural-themed works.

Today, I’m spotlighting, Dead on the Delta. Take a look and let me know what you think in the comments below. Please drop Sherry a “hello” as well. She’ll be popping in to chat. I love the setting she chose for this novel. What do you think? Exotic, much? 🙂


Book cover for Dead on the Delta by Sherry Knowlton shows lie lying in grass

Book Blurb:
Alexa Williams is about to spend four months doing lion research in the African bush with her boyfriend Reese. She looks forward to witnessing the elemental life and death struggle of the wild, but she never imagines she’ll become one of the hunted on the remote Okavango Delta.

Botswana protects its wildlife with strict policies and an entire army deployed to combat poaching. So Alexa and Reese are shocked when poachers wipe out an entire herd of elephants. At the site of the mass slaughter near their lion project, they promise authorities that they’ll watch for suspicious activity as they travel the Delta.

When the country’s strict wildlife conservation policies come under debate in the capital, tensions flare and Alexa begins to suspect the ongoing poaching incidents may be about even more than the illicit ivory trade. Especially when a close friend dies when caught in the crossfire.

After an alarming series of near escapes, gunmen attack the safari camp where she and Reese are staying, and Alexa must brave wild animals and the dangerous labyrinth of Delta channels in a desperate attempt to save the hostages, including the man she loves.

Book Links:
Sunbury Press | Amazon

Author, Sherry Knowlton

Author Bio:
Sherry Knowlton is the author of the Alexa Williams suspense series, including Dead of Spring and Dead of Winter. Passionate about books at an early age, she was that kid who would sneak a flashlight to bed at night so she could read beneath the covers. All the local librarians knew her by name. When not writing the next Alexa Williams thriller, Knowlton works with her health care consulting business or travels around the world. She and her husband live in the mountains of Southcentral Pennsylvania.

Author website