Posted in Cozy, Giveaway, mystery, Spotlight, suspense on June 15, 2017

Fatal Facade (An Allison Campbell Mystery Book 4)
Cozy Mystery/Suspense
4th in Series
Henery Press (June 13, 2017)
Paperback: 278 pages

Synopsis

Allison Campbell accepted a dream assignment: a visit to the Italian Dolomites to help Hollywood socialite Elle Rose reinvent herself. A guest cottage on the grounds of Elle’s historic castle promises to be a much-needed respite from Allison’s harried life on the Philadelphia Main Line, and the picturesque region, with its sharp peaks, rolling pastures, and medieval churches, is the perfect spot from which to plan her upcoming wedding.

Only this idyllic retreat is anything but peaceful. There are the other visitors—an entourage of back-biting expats and Hollywood VIPs. There’s Elle’s famous rock star father, now a shadowy recluse hovering behind the castle’s closed doors. And then there’s Elle’s erratic behavior. Nothing is as it seems. After a guest plummets to her death from a cliff on the castle grounds, Allison’s trip of a lifetime turns nightmarish—but before she can journey home, Allison must catch a killer.

Books in the Allison Campbell Mystery Series:

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About the Author

Wendy Tyson’s background in law and psychology has provided inspiration for her mysteries and thrillers. Originally from the Philadelphia area, Wendy has returned to her roots and lives there again on a micro-farm with her husband, three sons and three dogs.  Wendy’s short fiction has appeared in literary journals, and she’s a contributing editor and columnist for The Big Thrill and The Thrill Begins, International Thriller Writers’ online magazines. Wendy is the author of the Allison Campbell Mystery Series and the Greenhouse Mystery Series.

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June 13 – Cozy Up With Kathy – SPOTLIGHT

June 13 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – INTERVIEW

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June 15 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

June 15 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

June 16 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW

June 17 –  Nadaness In Motion – INTERVIEW

June 18 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

June 19 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW

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June 21 – Queen of All She Reads – REVIEW

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June 23 – Books,Dreams,Life – INTERVIEW

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June 25 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT

Posted in 3 1/2 paws, Giveaway, Review, suspense on June 11, 2017

No Turning Back: A Novel
Women Sleuths/Suspense Thriller
Crooked Lane Books (June 13, 2017)
Hardcover: 352 pages

Synopsis

You’d kill to protect your child – wouldn’t you?

Anna Graves’s whole life has recently been turned upside down. A new mother, she’s just gone back to her job as a radio presenter and is busy navigating a new schedule of late night feeding and early morning wake ups while also dealing with her newly separated husband. Then the worst happens. While Anna is walking on the beach with her daughter, she’s attacked by a crazed teenager. Terrified, Anna reacts instinctively to protect her baby.

But her life falls apart when the schoolboy dies from his injuries. The police believe Anna’s story, until the autopsy results reveal something more sinister. A frenzied media attack sends Anna into a spiral of self-doubt. Her precarious mental state is further threatened when she receives a chilling message from someone claiming to be the “Ophelia Killer,” a serial killer who preyed on the town twenty years ago—and who abruptly stopped when Anna’s father committed suicide.

Is Anna as innocent as she claims? And is murder forgivable, if committed to save your child’s life?

Internationally bestselling author Tracy Buchanan takes readers on an emotional roller coaster ride filled with heart-stopping secrets and hairpin turns in No Turning Back, her US debut.

Amazon B&N * IndieBound

Review

The first line of the synopsis really sets the reader up for this book – “You’d kill to protect your child – wouldn’t you?”. I think most people would said that yes they would to protect a child, spouse, etc if the situation warranted that drastic of an action. But how would you feel and act and react in the months following? Probably a lot like our main character Anna. She feels guilty about the situation and honestly didn’t mean to kill the teen that appeared to be attacking them and acting crazy. How was she to know that there was more to the situation than meets the eye?

What follows in the rest of the book is Anna dealing with her guilt, trying to figure out why the teen was crazy, trying to protect her child, and investigating these deaths and are were the deaths perpetrated by The Ophelia Killer (TOK) from 20 years ago that her father was investigating for an article?

The first 2/3 of the book fill in a lot of details and history is explained somewhat of the TOK but to me were a bit slow. Plus most of the chapters were really really long (personal preference is to stop at a chapter and was sometimes hard in this book). I also didn’t understand how a comb could kill a person even if they fell on it because that would have to be a lot of force for a comb to penetrate the skin (assuming plastic comb vs metal).

There are many characters to not like and a few red herrings mixed in to get you thinking that someone was behind all this that wasn’t really. I felt for Anna because of all the negative press she was receiving and how everyone painted her in a bad light and made assumptions that just weren’t true. Most of that was tied to the media and the stories they reported. Not too surprising considering what we see in the media today.

I’d probably give this 3 1/2 stars. I was originally give it 3 stars but it really picked up near the end and was not expecting the twist at the end!

About the Author

Tracy Buchanan lives in the UK with her husband, their little girl and their one-eyed Jack Russell. Buchanan traveled extensively while working as a travel magazine editor and has always been drawn to the sea after spending her childhood holidays on the coast visiting family–a fascination that inspires her writing. She now dedicates her time to writing and procrastinating on Twitter.

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June 7 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT

June 8 – Bookworm Cafe – SPOTLIGHT

June 8 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

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Posted in Giveaway, Romantic Suspense, suspense on May 29, 2017

Book Details:

Book Title: Deceiving Bella: Book #11 In The Bodyguards of L.A. County Series
Author: Cate Beauman
Category: Adult Fiction, 588 pages
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Createspace
Release date: October 13, 2016
Tour dates: May 22 to June 16, 2017
Content Rating: R (Sex scenes, language, some intense moments)

Book Description:

Isabella Colby has always yearned for normalcy. Now that she’s settled in LA, she finally has it. Good friends, a pretty home, and her thriving career as the Palisades’ top skincare specialist are a dream come true. Bella is content until she meets her hunky new neighbor, but her attraction to the blue-eyed cutie is the least of her worries when contacting her long-lost father threatens to destroy her happy life.

Reed McKinley is more than ready to forget the past. His seven-year stint as an NYPD detective nearly got him killed. His wounds have healed and he’s starting over as Ethan Cooke Security’s latest recruit. With sixty-hour workweeks and little time to himself, the last thing on his mind is a relationship. Then he bumps into the gorgeous woman next door.

Reed and Bella become fast friends. Before long, Reed discovers that Bella is keeping dangerous secrets. Bella may have the answers to decades-old questions he’s been searching for. Reed will risk it all to uncover the truth, but he soon realizes that the deeper he digs, the direr the consequences.

“This book captured my attention from the very beginning. The author did an excellent job of developing the characters and helping the reader feel like he was along for the story. I have enjoyed all of the books in this series, but I must say Deceiving Bella is one of my favorites!” Amazon Customer

 

 

Deceiving Bella is the eleventh book is the Bodyguards of L.A. County Series. Check out the first ten books here!
 
 

Book One

 

Morgan’s Hunter, the story of Morgan and Hunter. (4.2 Stars!)

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Morgan Taylor, D.C. socialite and wildlife biologist, leads a charmed life until everything changes with a phone call. Her research team has been found dead—slaughtered—in backcountry Montana.

As the case grows cold, Morgan is determined to unravel the mystery behind her friends’ gruesome deaths. Despite the dangers of a murderer still free, nothing will stand in her way, not even the bodyguard her father hires, L.A.’s top close protection agent, Hunter Phillips.

Sparks fly from the start when no-nonsense Hunter clashes with Morgan’s strong-willed independence. Their endless search for answers proves hopeless—until Hunter discovers the truth.

On the run and at the mercy of a madman, Morgan and Hunter must outsmart a killer to save their own lives.

One thing I noticed right away was Hunter is smoking hot. This author captured his attractiveness well. Many romance authors have said their main character was good looking, but this was one of the very few times where I thought, “Wow. He’s hot!” And let me tell you blonde-haired blue eyed guys are not my type. The author deserves some serious props here.”  – Raven Reviewer

Book Two

Falling For Sarah, the story of Sarah and Ethan. (4.5 Stars / Award Winner!)

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Widow Sarah Johnson struggled to pick up the pieces after her life was ripped apart. After two years of grieving, she’s found contentment in her thriving business as photographer to Hollywood’s A-list and in raising her angel-faced daughter, Kylee…until bodyguard and long-time friend Ethan Cooke changes everything with a searing moonlight kiss.

Sarah’s world turns upside down as she struggles with her unexpected attraction to Ethan and the guilt of betraying her husband’s memory. But when blue roses and disturbing notes start appearing on her doorstep, she has no choice but to lean on Ethan as he fights to save her from a stalker that won’t stop until he has what he prizes most.

This story, although starting sad with Jake’s death, goes zero to sixty from there. A creepy, insane , psycho thrown in with HOT manly men always make for an awesome ride.”
Inside BJ’s Head

 

Book Three

Hailey’s Truth, the story of Hailey and Austin. (4.4 Stars!)

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Hailey Roberts has never had it easy. Despite the scars of a tragic childhood, she’s made a life for herself. As a part-time student and loving nanny, she yearns for a family of her own and reluctant Austin Casey, Ethan Cooke Security’s best close protection agent.

Hailey’s past comes back to haunt her when her long lost brother tracks her down, bringing his dangerous secrets with him. At an emotional crossroads, Hailey accepts a humanitarian opportunity that throws her together with Austin, taking her hundreds of miles from her troubles, or so she thinks.

What starts out as a dream come true quickly becomes a nightmare as violence erupts on the island of Cozumel. Young women are disappearing, community members are dying—and the carnage links back to her brother.

As Austin struggles to keep Hailey’s past from destroying her future, he’s forced to make a decision that could turn her against him, or worse cost them both their lives.

“WOW. My head is in a whirl from this one. From the high intensity of Suspense, down to the oh-so yummy Romance, by far, Hailey and Austin have the hottest freaking scenes of the three books! ~ It’s so good… or I’m so bad because–I hate to admit it–I reread the hotter than Hades scenes! I could read the entire novel again, and that’s rare for me.”  Hammy

Book Four

Forever Alexa, the story of Alexa and Jackson. (4.4 Stars!)

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First grade teacher and single mother Alexa Harris is no stranger to struggle, but for once, things are looking up. The school year is over and the lazy days of summer are here. Mini-vacations and relaxing twilight barbeques are on the horizon until Alexa’s free-spirited younger sister vanishes.

Ransom calls and death threats force Alexa and her young daughter to flee their quiet home in Maryland. With nowhere else to turn, Alexa seeks the help of Jackson Matthews, Ethan Cooke Security’s Risk Assessment Specialist and the man who broke her heart.

With few leads to follow and Abby’s case going cold, Alexa must confess a shocking secret if she and Jackson have any hope of saving her sister from a hell neither could have imagined.

“FOREVER ALEXA is a book that is impossible to put down. I loved the first three books in this series, Morgan’s Hunter, Falling for Sarah and Hailey’s Truth, but FOREVER ALEXA is far and above my favorite in the series. That being said, I not only recommend but encourage readers of romantic suspense to give Ms. Beauman’s books a try…..you will not be disappointed!!!”  NicoleMD

 

Book Five

Waiting For Wren, the story of Wren and Tucker. (4.6 Stars!)

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Wren Cooke has everything she’s ever wanted—a thriving career as one of LA’s top interior designers and a home she loves. Business trips, mockups, and her demanding clientele keep her busy, almost too busy to notice Ethan Cooke Security’s gorgeous Close Protection Agent, Tucker Campbell.

Jaded by love and relationships in general, Wren wants nothing to do with the hazel-eyed stunner and his heart-stopping grins, but Tucker is always in her way. When Wren suddenly finds herself bombarded by a mysterious man’s unwanted affections, she’s forced to turn to Tucker for help.

As Wren’s case turns from disturbing to deadly, Tucker whisks her away to his mountain home in Utah. Haunted by memories and long-ago tragedies, Tucker soon realizes his past and Wren’s present are colliding. With a killer on the loose and time running out, Tucker must discover a madman’s motives before Wren becomes his next victim.

“I loved the book, the chemistry between all the players, always love it when a man knows what he wants and goes about getting it. Of course I did cry some tears and my spine tingled not just the suspense but the intimate times Tucker and Wren spent together and not just between the sheets.”  Seawitch Reviews

Book Six

Justice For Abby, the story of Abigail and Jerrod. (4.6 Stars / Award Winner!)

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Fashion designer Abigail Harris has been rescued, but her nightmare is far from over. Determined to put her harrowing ordeal behind her and move on, she struggles to pick up the pieces of her life while eluding the men who want her dead.

The Mid-Atlantic Sex Ring is in ruins after Abby’s interviews with the police. The organization is eager to exact their revenge before her testimony dismantles the multi-million dollar operation for good.

Abby’s safety rests in the hands of former US Marshal, Jerrod Quinn. Serious-minded and obsessed with protocol, Ethan Cooke Security’s newest agent finds himself dealing with more than he bargains for when he agrees to take on his beautiful, free-spirited client.

As the trial date nears, Abby’s case takes a dangerous turn. Abby and Jerrod soon discover themselves in a situation neither of them expect while Jerrod fights to stop the ring from silencing Abby once and for all.

“I really thought this would be a routine bodyguard/subject book, boy was I wrong. Cate Beauman’s characters popped! By the end of this book (which I read in one sitting) I was exhausted but replete… From paragraph to paragraph this story shifts and changes. The betrayals and surprises come at the reader at a furious pace. And while this story revolves around a very dark occurrence, there are enough moments that will make you smile, chuckle, snort and go “awwwww.”  
Sebella Blue

Book Seven

Saving Sophie, the story of Sophie and Stone. (4.7 Stars / Award Winner!)

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Jewelry designer Sophie Burke has fled Maine for the anonymity of the big city. She’s starting over with a job she tolerates and a grungy motel room she calls home on the wrong side of town, but anything is better than the nightmare she left behind.

Stone McCabe is Ethan Cooke Security’s brooding bad boy more interested in keeping to himself than anything else—until the gorgeous blond with haunted violet eyes catches his attention late one rainy night.

Stone reluctantly gives Sophie a hand only to quickly realize that the shy beauty with the soft voice and pretty smile has something to hide. Tangled up in her secrets, Stone offers Sophie a solution that has the potential to free her from her problems once and for all—or jeopardize both of their lives.

Saving Sophie is truly a beautiful story… Cate has woven a meaningful story about a courageous woman who overcomes domestic violence to build a life for herself…The author beautifully shows the readers the struggles and fears that Sophie goes through to break free. There is pain in sorrow and beauty in the tears. The heroine is broken and whole. She survives to show us that if you have the courage and the will you can overcome all odds… Saving Sophie is about abuse, courage, romance, honor and so much more.” Rebecca

 

Book Eight

 

Reagan’s Redemption, the story of Reagan and Shane. (4.5 Stars / Award Winner!)

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Doctor Reagan Rosner loves her fast-paced life of practicing medicine in New York City’s busiest trauma center. Kind and confident, she’s taking her profession by storm–until a young girl’s accidental death leaves her shaken to her core. With her life a mess and her future uncertain, Reagan accepts a position as Head Physician for The Appalachia Project, an outreach program working with some of America’s poorest citizens.

Shane Harper, Ethan Cooke Security’s newest team member, has been assigned a three-month stint deep in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky, and he’s not too happy about it. Guarding a pill safe in the middle of nowhere is boring as hell, but when he gets a look at his new roommate, the gorgeous Doctor Rosner, things start looking up.

Shane and Reagan encounter more than a few mishaps as they struggle to gain the trust of a reluctant community. They’re just starting to make headway when a man’s routine checkup exposes troubling secrets the town will do anything to keep hidden–even if that means murder.

“Cate Beauman’s eagerly anticipated book Reagan’s Redemption the 8th book in her Bodyguards of La series did not disappoint! I have not found a book in a long time that I just could not put down. I literally stayed up until 2am reading. This book had it all, suspense, great hero, heroine, mystery, and romance. I believe Cate definitely knocked this one out of the part.” Jeannie K

Book Nine

Answers For Julie, the story of Julie and Chase. (4.6 Stars! / Award Winner)Buy Now!

Julie Keller relishes the simple things: hot chocolate on winter nights, good friends she calls her family, and her laid-back career as a massage therapist and yoga instructor. Julie is content with her life until Chase Rider returns to Bakersfield.

Bodyguard Chase Rider isn’t thrilled to be back in the town where he spent his childhood summers. His beloved grandmother passed away, leaving him a house in need of major repairs. With a three-week timetable and a lot to do, he doesn’t have time for distractions. Then he bumps into Julie, the one woman he hoped never to see again. Chase tries to pretend Julie doesn’t exist, but ten years hasn’t diminished his attraction to the hazel-eyed stunner.

When a stranger grabs Julie’s arm at the grocery store—a woman who insists Julie’s life isn’t what it seems, Chase can’t help but get involved. Julie and Chase dig into a twenty-five-year-old mystery, unearthing more questions than answers. But the past is closer than they realize, and the consequences of the truth have the potential to be deadly.

“This series just gets better and better! I loved Answers for Julie – as with the whole series, it’s a careful balance between suspense and romance, the characters are really well developed, and the plot moved at just the right pace with a fair number of surprises thrown in!” LCF

Book Ten

Finding Lyla, the story of Lyla and Collin. (4.7 Stars!)Buy Now!

Principal Dancer Lyla Markovik-Avery is always on the go. Grueling practices and endless performances rule her busy days–and things are about to get more hectic. Russia is rolling out the red carpet for their beloved star, despite the string of violent terrorist attacks that have rocked the nation.

Bodyguard Collin Michaels’ life is falling apart. His long-time relationship recently ended. He’s trying to start over, but that’s easier said than done. Luckily, Collin has a new assignment on the horizon: keeping a beautiful ballerina safe for the next three weeks.

Collin finds comfort in Lyla’s easy friendship, but that all changes after a night out on the town. Simple feelings become complicated–something Collin can’t afford, especially when tragedy strikes and Collin realizes Lyla’s caught in the middle of a dangerous plot for revenge.

Collin and Lyla are forced to flee. They need to reach the border before it’s too late, but the odds are stacked against them in a country that wants them dead. With time running out, Collin formulates a risky plan that might be their only chance of making it out alive.

“In reading the synopsis, I wasn’t sure how I would like this although I love all of Cate’s books. Boy, was this a surprise for me. This book is wonderfully written with so many twists and turns, it was hard to put down. Such a beautiful love story with action, suspense, drama, and a bit of sadness too. I loved Lyla and felt sad because of how she felt she had to live her life. I also loved Collin and how he recognized the journey that Lyla needed to take. Of course, being a man, he is on his own journey of self realization as well. Wonderful story that I KNOW I will be reading again.” Ree Ree

 

Meet the Author
International bestselling author Cate Beauman is known for her full-length, action-packed romantic suspense series, The Bodyguards of L.A. County. Her novels have been nominated for the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award, National Indie Excellence Award, Golden Quill Award, Writers Touch Award, and have been named Readers Favorite Five Star books. In 2015, JUSTICE FOR ABBY was selected as the Readers’ Favorite International Book Award Gold Medalist, while SAVING SOPHIE took the Silver Medal. SAVING SOPHIE was also selected as the 2015 Readers Crown Award winner for Romantic Suspense and FALLING FOR SARAH received the silver medal for the 2014 Readers’ Favorite Awards.Cate makes her home in North Carolina with her husband, two boys, and their St. Bernards, Bear and Jack. Currently Cate is working on her twelfth full length novel.


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Posted in Book Release, excerpt, suspense on May 19, 2017

Synopsis

Would you risk everything to save a stranger?

Off the coast of Venice lurks Poveglia, the world’s most haunted isle, steeped in centuries of innocent blood. A deranged doctor who took great joy in torturing his patients in life continues to rule his abandoned asylum after death.

Few go to Poveglia willingly, but medium Kate Carlsson has no choice. It’s her job.

While struggling to retrieve a young girl’s soul, Kate uncovers some shocking truths about the evil on the island that challenges her own convictions and morals—and even her life.

Is saving Lily worth making a deal with the infamous Doctor of Death, or is the price too high to pay?

Excerpt

The woman was hysterical, sobbing so much I couldn’t understand her. As I pressed my cell harder against my ear, the wind sprouted claws and slashed at my meager sweater until I shivered. Phone calls used to be rare, but I’d been getting more and more since Jackson and I had gone public with what had happened to us in China. Now everyone in Vermont seemed to know my name, and they all needed help.

“Hello? This is Kate, please talk to me.”

The crying increased in volume, blistering my ears. I would have hung up if not for the wind. Its power intensified, churning the dead leaves and other debris from the sidewalk around my feet. There was something strange about its sudden force, which drove me against the brick facing of Hildy’s Fine China & Sundries. (Hildy’d had an ampersand before it was trendy.)

“Hello?” The single word contained the edge of my fear. Both my voice and hands were shaking. Something did not want me to talk to this woman. Something did not want me to help her. I’d taken hundreds of similar calls over the past few years, but had never felt anything like this. “Please say something. I’m afraid we’re going to lose our connection.”

Clutching at my sweater to keep it from being blown away, I ducked my head, shielding my face as my hair whipped around in a furious tangle. I huddled against Hildy’s shop, wondering if I should go in, but the older woman wouldn’t be impressed to see me on my phone. Her establishment was a temple, a library. The loyal customers who kept her in business spoke in whispers and walked on tiptoes. By bursting in like this and continuing my shouted, one-sided conversation, I’d have become the proverbial bull. Not good.

“Miss Carlsson? Kate Carlsson?” The woman had regained her composure enough to gasp my name. The grip around my heart tightened, even though I’d known all along the call was meant for me.

“Yes, speaking. What’s wrong?” There was no point wasting time with idle chitchat. Obviously something was wrong—very wrong. Another gust of wind knocked my skull against the side of the building and pain jolted through my brain.

The caller was silent for so long I ordinarily would have assumed she’d hung up, lost her nerve. It happened. It wasn’t easy for people to admit they needed my help. It was a leap of faith, a willingness to open their minds to the possibility that something they’d spent their entire lives denying could be real after all.

But the wind told me otherwise. I waited for her to speak again, raising one arm between my face and the building to protect my head. The chill had seeped into my bones, and what I wanted more than anything was to run home and immerse myself in a steaming hot bath while I drank a cup of the pumpkin spice tea I’d just purchased. I didn’t want to talk to this woman. I didn’t want to hear about what terrible things were happening at her home, for surely terrible things were happening. But I’d learned long ago that my gift was bigger than me, and if this woman needed it, I wasn’t going to turn away from her.

Finally she spoke. I could barely hear her over the gale, which shrieked like a tortured soul. “My mother is attacking my child.” Her voice trembled with fresh tears. “I can’t believe it, haven’t wanted to believe it, but it’s true. I’ve seen it.”

“Is your mother dead, Mrs…”

“Walkins. My name is Walkins. Yes, she died last year. But she was such a good woman. She loved Lily. I can’t believe she would do these things. Why would she do these things?”

I could feel curious eyes burning into me, watching me struggle to stay on my feet. Pushing my hair away from my face, I risked a glimpse and was immediately sorry I had. The leaves around my feet had arranged themselves in the form of a girl, a girl not much shorter than me. As I stared, my pulse throbbing behind my temples, the terrifying apparition raised a rustling arm toward me before collapsing onto the sidewalk.

“Whatever is hurting Lily isn’t your mother, Mrs. Walkins. What’s your address? I’ll be right there.”

About the Author

J.H. Moncrieff’s work has been described as early Gillian Flynn with a little Ray Bradbury and Stephen King thrown in for good measure.

She won Harlequin’s search for the next Gillian Flynn in 2016.

Her first published novella, The Bear Who Wouldn’t Leave, was featured in Samhain’s Childhood Fears collection and stayed on its horror bestsellers list for over a year.

When not writing, she loves exploring the world’s most haunted places, advocating for animal rights, and summoning her inner ninja in muay thai class.

Get free eBooks and a new spooky story every week here.

Posted in Book Release, excerpt, suspense on May 19, 2017

Synopsis

On the day the villagers were forced to flee Hensu, not everyone got out alive.

Jackson Stone is touring the abandoned Chinese city when he slips away from the group to spend the night, determined to publish an account of his ghostly experiences there.

Then he meets Yuèhai, a strange, soft-spoken woman who can tell him the city’s secrets—secrets the Chinese government would kill to keep hidden.

As Jackson uncovers the truth about Yuèhai and the ghost city, he’s drawn into a web of conspiracy, betrayal, and murder. He must risk everything to save himself and bring honor back to Yuèhai and her family.

Excerpt

It was easier than I thought.

All I had to do was bide my time in one of the less popular temples, crouching behind a weird-ass statue while the guides checked for stragglers. Thankfully, they didn’t do a thorough search, just popped their bobbed heads in and glanced around before returning to their cozy cruise ships.

Guess I couldn’t blame them. It seemed like it was always pissing down rain in this part of the country—at least, it had been since we’d been here—and even though it was mid-September, it was freaking cold.

As I stepped over the temple’s sacred threshold and hurried to the place I’d chosen to camp for the night, I grinned, unable to resist pumping my fist in the air. I’d done it. What would the group say when they realized I wasn’t on the ship?

Only the terminally stupid got left behind on a tour, so they’d probably figure I was hung over again, and in that, they’d be partially right. It takes skill to get a decent buzz on the watery crap they call beer in China, which is why I switched to the rice wine. Doesn’t take much to feel it, but you pay for it the following day.

It was only six o’clock, but the sun was already setting. Flipping up the hood of my jacket against the drizzling rain, I whistled to keep myself company, careful not to slip on the wet path. The place where I’d decided to spend the night was perfect. Even though it had fallen into ruin, this particular temple still had a bit of roof left, so I’d be able to get dry. Since it was open to the air, I wouldn’t have to worry about my campfire burning it down. There was enough junk in there to keep a decent fire going—not that I was worried.

It wasn’t like I believed in ghosts.

China has plenty of ghost cities, but I’d gone for the most infamous. The locals believe spirits actually live here. Now that Hensu was empty of tourists, with their incessant questions and stupid umbrellas hitting me in the head every time I turned around, it had an abandoned feel that was more than a little creepy.

A figure loomed out of the darkness, brandishing a sword at my skull, and I jumped before realizing it was another statue. In the daylight, with its pig-like face and coating of moss, it had been comical.  I wasn’t laughing now. Why the Chinese decided to fill their ghost city with fake ghosts was beyond me. If they really believed spirits lived here, the statues were overkill.

I dug a flashlight out of my daypack and clicked it on, but that just made things worse. It cast an eerie blue glow that danced in the statues’ eyes, turning their grins into leers.

“Chill, Jacks,” I muttered to myself. “They’re rocks, and you don’t believe in this supernatural shit, remember?”

There was no way I was gonna drain my phone battery to see where I was going, no matter how much the blue light spooked me. What the hell was wrong with me? Why had I regressed to the age of ten? Gotta be the hangover. I had to lay off the booze. Who knew what was in that Chinese stuff? I’d probably pickled my brain.

It took me about ten minutes to scrounge enough wood for a decent fire. By then my fingers were numb with cold and my stomach was growling. There hadn’t been time to grab breakfast on the ship, and I’d forfeited lunch when I’d ditched the tour. The sooner I could get a hot meal in me, the better. Maybe then I wouldn’t be so damn jumpy.

A flicker of movement outside the shelter made me look up. The hairs on the back of my neck bristled.

Wait…was that statue closer than before?

It had been a lot farther away when I’d set up camp. I was sure of it.

That’s ridiculous. Statues don’t move.

Still, the way the light danced in the sculpture’s eyes was unnerving. A log cracked in the fire, startling me so much I laughed out loud.

Rustle rustle.

There was definitely something out there, and it was getting closer.

Probably just a dog.

That didn’t make me feel much better. Any dog out here would be hungry. Not to mention ill tempered. Of course the one thing I hadn’t brought was a weapon. Against a ravenous animal, my Swiss Army knife would be useless.

Rustle rustle.

The sound was louder now, and worse, it felt intentional. Peering into the darkness beyond the fire, I couldn’t see a thing. My legs began to tremble, and I really had to piss.

Get a grip, Jackson. It’s probably a frog. Or a mouse. Just a wee rodent, not some gargoyle from the Chinese underworld coming to get you.

I didn’t believe it. Not for a second. For one thing, that sound was too deliberate, too sneaky. I’d lived in a dorm for four years, for Christ’s sake. I knew what it sounded like when someone tried to sneak up on me.

That’s it.

My tour group had returned, spotted my campsite, and now a few of the guys were having some fun at my expense. No doubt they hoped I’d scream like an idiot so they could record it for posterity on their phones and broadcast my humiliation all over social media.

I leapt to my feet. “Stop fooling around, guys. I know you’re out there. Show yourselves, or I’ll come out there and get you.”

The rustling stopped.

Clutching a plank of wood, I tried to seem somewhat intimidating.

Water dripped from the ravaged roof in a slow and monotonous trickle. It was enough to drive me insane, but at least the rain had stopped.

Then I heard another sound—one that wasn’t as easy to dismiss.

The crunch of footsteps on the path, gradually getting louder.

Maybe it was a dog.

A rabid dog.

Something out of Stephen King’s nightmares.

I shone the flashlight down the path, squinting into the dark.

Nothing there.

Still the footsteps moved closer.

“Who’s there?” I yelled, grateful my voice remained steady. My hands were another matter, causing the light to waver. “Hello?”

The path was empty—until it wasn’t.

There was a glimmer of white, and a pale face emerged from the darkness. I stumbled backward, nearly impaling myself on what was left of the firewood. Retreating until I hit one of the posts that held the shelter upright, I willed whoever it was to go away. I hadn’t signed up for this.

It was a prank, just a stupid prank to make some cash.

The air in the shelter changed, becoming heavier and heavier, weighing on my lungs and pulling them down, down, down.

My breath escaped with a tiny squeak.

A young woman stood outside the remains of the temple, staring at me with huge, dark eyes. She wore a coat that was three sizes too big for her and her feet were bare.

Sagging with relief, I pressed my hand against my chest as if I could will my heart to slow down. “You scared the crap out of me, girl. Where did you come from?”

The girl continued to stare at me without speaking. I was getting that prickling feeling on the back of my neck again, and I didn’t like it.

“Were you with a group?”

What happened to her shoes? If she’d planned to spend the night, she certainly hadn’t put much thought into it.

There was no hint of recognition at my words, no indication she intended to reply. Her expression was as blank as it had been before I spoke. And then it dawned on me.

She doesn’t understand a word I’ve said.

Traveling would be so much easier if everyone spoke the same language. Squirming, I was wondering how I was going to get rid of her when she responded.

“I live here.”

“You speak English?”

There was an unbearable pause while she studied me in silence. Finally, I couldn’t take the awkwardness any longer.

“What do you mean, you live here? I thought this place was abandoned.” Then it occurred to me she might be homeless. Hensu would make an ideal hideaway for the down and out.  No one came around at night, and during the day, she could blend in with the hordes of tourists. She’d need some shoes, though.

I do.”

“Yeah, right. Where, in the pagoda?”

In the middle of the town square was a pagoda thousands of years old. The ground underneath was so saturated with moisture that the pagoda could disappear into a hole in the earth at any moment. I knew I was being a jerk, but I was tired of playing games. Being alone in the ghost city had been creepy, but stumbling through this clumsy small talk was much worse.

“My house is down there.” She indicated the hill our group had climbed to reach the ruins of the abandoned city. At the bottom, there was a dock where small boats deposited their cargo of wide-eyed tourists and their cameras.

Sure. Sure it is.

Then it dawned on me.

“Let me guess—you’re one of the actors, right?”

Dozens of costumed performers wandered the site during visiting hours, posing as judges of the underworld. No doubt there had been a few ghosts flitting around as well. This girl, with her pale face and bare feet, would be a natural.

“I’m not an actor. I’m a musician.”

“What do you play?” I asked, though I couldn’t have cared less what this strange girl did for kicks. I wanted to get back to my project, and there was no way a ghost was gonna drop in with all this chitchatting going on.

“I’m a violinist.”

Figures.

“Do you have it here? Your violin, I mean?”

I liked the idea of hearing some strings. From the look of her hands, I was willing to bet she could play something beautiful. Maybe even Vivaldi.

Best of all, we wouldn’t have to talk.

She lowered her head, dark hair closing over her face like shutters. “It was destroyed. In the flood. Along with everything else.”

Then I got what she’d been trying to say. Her tense was off—understandable, considering English wasn’t her first language. What she’d meant was, she’d lived here. Before the flood waters came and her village was evacuated.

“Why don’t you sit down and warm your feet? They must be freezing.” Realizing I was still gripping my pathetic weapon, I tossed the plank of wood on the fire, which sent up a torrent of protesting sparks. She didn’t move, only continued to stand at the entrance of the temple, watching me.

“I wasn’t invited.”

“Well, you’re invited now. Come on in.” I hunkered down next to the fire and stretched my chilled hands toward its warmth. As she hesitated, I waved her in. “C’mon, sit. I don’t bite. Seriously, get closer to the fire. You look cold.”

“I’m always cold.” She finally took a seat on an old floor beam across from me, watching me as if I might, in fact, bite.

“Said every woman ever.” Now that she was talking instead of dissecting me with her eyes, I appreciated the company. One thing our tour lacked was any opportunity for meaningful interaction with the locals. Hopefully having someone to shoot the shit with would make the night go faster, because it was obvious nothing supernatural was going to happen. In order for my book to be a best seller, I’d have to make shit up, but that was okay. Writers did it all the time. I’d call it…I know, narrative non-fiction. “Would you like a Coke? It’s lukewarm, but at least it’s something.”

“No, thank you.”

My mouth was dry—probably from the many times I’d rammed both feet into it—so I drank what was left in my can. As I slurped the flat, syrupy sweetness, I could feel her staring at me again. It took everything I had not to squirm.

“That sucks about your violin. Wasn’t there enough warning to pack your stuff?”

With my excitement over the tour and seeing an abandoned city for the first time, I hadn’t given a thought to the people, the ones who used to call this village home. What they had gone through; what they had suffered? Some of those families had probably lived here for generations, and having to leave everything behind must have been painful.

She stared at me like I was the stupidest guy who’d ever crossed her path, and I was definitely feeling like it. “Pack my stuff?” she repeated with excruciating slowness, as if she were speaking to a mentally challenged child.

“Sorry…gather your belongings? Were you able to gather your belongings?”

“No.”

“You weren’t given any warning?” Her story was giving me chills. Of course I’d heard of people losing everything in a flood, but this particular flood was manmade, the result of rerouting the Yangtze River through a new dam.

Her brow furrowed in confusion. When she wasn’t wearing that you’re-an-idiot expression, she was quite pretty. Not exactly babe material, but she had potential. Too young for me, though. I guessed she was in her early twenties. “Warning? For what would I need warning?”

“To gather your belongings. Your violin and everything. So you could take it with you when you left.”

She sighed. It was the longest, most exasperated sigh I’d ever heard. It seemed to come from her toes and work its way upward, deflating her. “I don’t understand your questions. I never moved. I’ve never gone anywhere.”

Either she didn’t comprehend English, in spite of her ability to speak it, or she was disturbed. Neither scenario was ideal. Time to change the subject.

“So… have you seen any ghosts around here? I’m writing an article about the Hensu hauntings.” With all the stealth I could manage, I nudged my recorder closer to her. If she had a good story, I wanted to capture every word.

“Ghosts?” She raised an eyebrow at me, and fluttered her hands at the nearest statue, the one that gave me the creeps. “Ghosts are everywhere.”

Maybe I wasn’t cut out for this writing stuff, especially if I had to interview the locals. Getting paid to travel was cool, but I could always harvest rice crops or haul garbage out of the ocean. At this point, that seemed preferable.

“Yeah, I saw those, but I’m not talking about statues. I’m talking about the real thing.” When she continued to stare at me without speaking, I exhaled a sigh of my own. Turning on my phone, I checked the time. It was just ten thirty—how was that possible? Ordinarily you wouldn’t catch me going to bed before two in the morning, but it had been an exhausting day, and the after-effects of the previous evening’s rice wine were haunting me. Behind my right eye, my brain throbbed.

Piling the fire high with the last logs and bits of kindling, I glanced over at her. She was still watching me, her face as expressionless as a mask. I wanted to ask her to stop, to look somewhere else, but how do you say that without being offensive?

I regretted asking her to stay. Having her around was beginning to feel worse than being alone.

She cocked her head to one side, as if she were an entomologist and I were some freakish species of bug that had crawled onto her microscope. “You are reporter?”

It took me a minute to get her meaning. “Not really. I’m more of a…creative writer, I guess you’d say.”

My aptitude for bullshit knows no bounds. That counts as creative, right?

“But you write. You tell stories.” An insistent tone crept into her voice, like she was accusing me of lying.

I was getting that hinky feeling again. Even though every pitiful instinct I had was screaming at me to deny it, I chalked up the paranoia to exhaustion and the last of yesterday’s rice wine torturing my beleaguered liver.

“Sure, I guess.” Leaning forward, I stirred the embers with a stick, feeling her eyes burning into me.

“I look for someone to tell my story. You—you could tell my story.”

Oh shit, here it comes. “Maybe. It depends. What’s your story?” At least it’ll help kill a few minutes.

I expected her to launch into an autobiographical tale, or perhaps start talking about her music. Instead, she appraised me through the firelight, her eyes large enough to swallow her face.

Her scrutiny was unnerving.

“The world must know my story, but I am not sure you are the right person to tell it.”

Wow. Keep your old story, then. “Okay.” I shrugged, wondering why she’d brought it up in the first place. “Fair enough. But my tour group is only here until tomorrow. Then our Yangtze cruise ends and we’ll be traveling by bus again.”

Her lips curved in a smirk that seemed to mock me. “Do not worry. I will find you.”

 

About the Author

J.H. Moncrieff’s work has been described as early Gillian Flynn with a little Ray Bradbury and Stephen King thrown in for good measure.

She won Harlequin’s search for the next Gillian Flynn in 2016.

Her first published novella, The Bear Who Wouldn’t Leave, was featured in Samhain’s Childhood Fears collection and stayed on its horror bestsellers list for over a year.

When not writing, she loves exploring the world’s most haunted places, advocating for animal rights, and summoning her inner ninja in muay thai class.

Get free eBooks and a new spooky story every week here.

Posted in Giveaway, Guest Post, Interview, mystery, suspense, Young Adult on April 20, 2017

EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN
By Lindsey Lane

 

  Genre: YA /  Mystery / Suspense

Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux

Date of Publication: December 16, 2015

Number of Pages: 240

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Tommy Smythe is missing.

Fact: Tommy was good at physics and less good at basic human interactions.

Fact: Tommy recorded his thoughts and observations in a notebook.

Fact: Tommy believed in the existence of parallel universes.

Fact: Tommy was adopted.

The facts are simple. The conclusions to be drawn from the facts are not simple. Did he run away to find his birth parents? Did he slip through a wormhole and enter one of the multiple universes he believed in? Did he simply wander off?

Only one thing is certain: until a possibility is proven true, all possibilities exist.

Told through multiple perspectives, here is a story about how residents of a small town seek answers to the mystery of a teen’s disappearance.

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Praise

“In her first novel for teens, Lane offers a gripping and genre bending mosaic.” – Publishers Weekly

“Complex and Rich” – Horn Book

“This is the kind of book you tuck in with and escape into, and it will stay with you long after you finish the last lines.  Haunting and beautiful.” – Jennifer Mathieu, author of The Truth About AliceDevoted, and Afterward

“The narrative jiggers between unexpected opposites—joy and fear, love and violence, grief and hope—all the while holding forth the constant idea that the world offers us credible evidence of what seems impossible if we only know where to look.”  J.L. Powers, author of Amina, This Thing Called The Future, and the forthcoming Broken Circle

“Ever look at a pearl and notice that its one color is, in fact, many colors? That’s the beauty of EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN, the stunning debut novel by Lindsey Lane.” – Conrad Wesselhoeft, author of Adios Nirvana, Dirt Bikes, Drones and Other Ways To Fly

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A Dead End That Changed My Direction

Guest Post by Lindsey Lane

In a way, the beginning and ending of every book must be discovered.

Let me explain. For Evidence of Things Not Seen, there were a few beginnings. There was the beginning when I woke up from a dream where I saw a boy standing in a pull out by the side of the road. I wondered what that boy was doing there, so I began writing into the dream, into the place by the side of the road, into that landscape and its people.

But there was also the beginning several years before when I wrote a play called The Miracle of Washing Dishes, which was a play about the epiphanies characters had while washing dishes. The epiphanies and the dishes held the play together. I think the play was a success because people like to witness epiphanies. They like to feel their world can be shifted even if they are too afraid to do it themselves.

There was also the beginning when Alexander Calder’s mobiles touched my work and I realized that I could fracture a storyline and that all the fragments would still hold together and tell a complete story with spaces for the reader to enter in and make it their own.

These few beginnings above informed me as a writer. They brought me to the place of telling this particular story. The boy led me into the world of the pullout where everyone who came there had some sort of epiphany. The characters each had their own gossamer thread and, because the center of the story was missing (Tommy), the threads wobbled (like pieces of a mobile) as they do when some thing has gone missing from our lives. Each time we come to the pages of our manuscripts, we bring our history as well our intention to tell a true and honest story. We quarry for the best nuggets and we line them up one by one leading the reader deeper into the world we have created.

But where do we take our readers once we have them traveling the bloodlines of our stories? Where do we want them to land? What feeling do we want them to have as they step away our stories? Comfort? Despair? Promise?

My original ending had a bow on it. Luckily enough, an agent was reading my manuscript and she was quite enthused about it. She kept emailing me all the way along, saying how much she liked each chapter and how deep and finely woven each character was. When she got to the ending, she wrote, “With the tenor of this book, I don’t believe you can wrap things up so neatly. “

I took another look.

If each story line shakes the characters to their core and brings them to a revelation, could I really wrap the whole kit and caboodle in a bow?

I knew that I didn’t want to land in a place of despair. That wasn’t the essential truth in each character. Each epiphany, each revelation was meant to be positive. You see, essentially, I believe that people treat people like they want to be treated and that given a choice, we fall on the side of good. But at the same time, there is a natural anxiety in being alive. We don’t know what will happen tomorrow. We don’t know what will happen when we wake up in the morning. We can feel afraid. Or we can live with the mystery and find the promise that something good might happen. That’s where I landed the book: there is promise in the mystery.

Lindsey Lane is the author of the young adult novel Evidence of Things Not Seen (Farrar Straus Giroux) and the award-winning picture book and iTunes app Snuggle Mountain (Clarion/PicPocket Books). She is represented by Erin Murphy Literary Agency. Before she received her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts in 2010, Lindsey was a features journalist (Austin Chronicle and Austin American Statesman) and an award-winning playwright (The Miracle of Washing Dishes). Lindsey is a featured presenter at schools and conferences and universities and also teaches writing at Austin Community College, Writers League of Texas, and the Writing Barn. She lives in Austin, Texas but loves to travel, especially to the ocean. She loves books, films, good food and her cadre of dear friends. Her idea of a perfect evening is having a dinner party at her home with friends from around the world and discussing everything under the sun while eating, drinking, and laughing.

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Posted in Giveaway, Interview, suspense, women on April 17, 2017

THE GRAVE TENDER
By Eliza Maxwell

  Genre: Women’s Fiction / Psychological Suspense

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

Date of Publication: April 11, 2017

Number of Pages: 248

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A chilling psychological suspense novel, The Grave Tender explores the dark boundaries people cross to save loved ones, and the limits of family bonds tested by the deepest of betrayals.

Endless questions from a shadow-filled East Texas childhood haunt Hadley Dixon. People said her mother, Winnie, was never quite right, but with one single, irreparable act, life as Hadley knew it was shattered. The aftershocks of that moonlit night left her reeling, but the secrets and lies had started long before

When a widowed and pregnant Hadley returns years later, it’s not the safe harbor she expects. The mysteries surrounding a local boy’s disappearance remain, and the townspeople still whisper about Hadley’s strange and reclusive Uncle Eli—whispers about a monster in their midst.

But Hadley’s father and grandmother, the cornerstones of everything safe in her world, avoid her questions. If Hadley stays here, will she be giving her children the family they need or putting their lives in danger?

The hunt for answers takes a determined Hadley deep into the pine forests, in search of sunlight that will break through the canopy of lies long enough to reveal the truth.

“The Grave Tender will grasp you in its hooks from the beginning as you try to figure out the truth behind each character, because no one is truly what they seem … Addicting, easy to read, and hard to put down.”Shelbi LeMeilleur, Insite Magazine

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Please welcome author Eliza Maxwell to StoreyBook Reviews!  We wanted to get a feel for Eliza and her writing and so we hope this interview with her answers all those burning questions!

Where did your love of writing come from?

I’m a mom, and honestly, if I could get anyone to listen to me at home, I probably wouldn’t feel the need to write stories to send out into the world.  I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but sometimes I do feel a bit like I’d imagine the zookeeper at the monkey house feels.

What was the hardest part of writing this book? 

The Grave Tender was my first book, and the toughest part was learning a system that worked for me through good old fashioned trial and error.  There are as many different ways to write a book as there are voices to write them, and the advice of others can only take a person so far.  I took the long, hard road with The Grave Tender, but I hope I learned a few things along the way, about myself and about how to build a book.

What literary character is most like you?

I’ve always had a fondness for Agatha Christie’s Miss Jane Marple.  I think I’d be perfectly content in an English village, gardening, gossiping, and solving the occasional murder.  English villages do seem to have more than their fair share of dead bodies around, at least in fiction, don’t they?  Yes, when I grow up, I definitely want to be Miss Jane Marple.

What does your perfect writing spot look like? Is that what your ACTUAL writing spot looks like?

When the weather is willing, I prefer to write outdoors.  My amazing husband has helped me turn our deck into a bit of an oasis, and that’s my favorite place to write, hands down.  Occasionally though, when I need to leave the distractions at home, I like to sit at a bench in the local cemetery with a pen and notebook.  A bit odd, maybe, but it’s peaceful and it feels connected to the kinds of stories I write.

If you could time travel, what time period would you first visit? 

Funny, when I think of time travel, the first thing I’d love to do would be to go back and meet my family when they were young.  I’m fascinated by the idea that our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, each led unique lives long before we ever came on the scene and how those lives influence the generations that came after.

If you could speak with any accent from anywhere in the world, what would you choose and why?

British.  No hesitation.  I’d love to be able to get away with saying things like, “Cheeky bugger,” and “Bloody hell”.  In fact, I might go around saying nothing but that.  All day.  Every day.  Perhaps with the occasional, “Murder is never simple, Inspector,” thrown in for good measure.

What is your favorite quote?

“You’ve always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.” –Glinda the Good Witch

Eliza Maxwell lives in Texas with her ever patient husband, two impatient kids, a budgie named Sarah, and a bird dog who lives a tortured existence.  She’s an artist and writer, an introvert and a British cop drama addict.  A former bookseller with a lifelong love of the written word, she can often be found barefoot on the front porch lost in a good cup of coffee and a great book.

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Library card socks

Paperback copy of THE LIFE WE BURY by Allen Eskens

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, suspense on April 7, 2017

Synopsis

First in a chilling new paranormal romantic suspense series from award-winning author Abbie Roads

He’s found her at last

Cain Killion knows himself to be a damaged man, his only saving grace the extrasensory connection to blood that he uses to catch murderers. His latest case takes a macabre turn when he discovers a familiar and haunting symbol linking the crime to his own horrific past—and only one woman could know what it means.

Only to lose her to a nightmare

Mercy Ledger is brave, resilient, beautiful—and in terrible danger. The moment he sees Mercy, Cain knows he’s the one who can save her. He also knows he’s beyond redemption. But the lines between good and evil blur and the only thing clear to Cain and Mercy is that they belong together. Love is the antidote for blood—but is their bond strong enough to overcome the evil that stalks them?

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Excerpt

He stepped out of the shower, nabbed a towel and dried himself as he walked into the bedroom.

And nearly ran into her.

A towel—a mere piece of cloth—wrapped her body, the edge of it tucked in just above the swell of her left breast. Her skin shone pink from her bath and her hair hung in a tangled wet mess over her shoulders. She’d never looked quite so lovely.

When she didn’t say anything he forced his gaze to rise above the towel to her face. Her eyes were aimed downward, toward his—

“F*.” He’d been standing there just holding the towel in his hand, not even thinking to hide the log—that hadn’t gone away—jutting straight out from his body. He slapped the towel over his dick, nearly decapitating it.

“I was…” She swallowed and looked at him. “…looking for something to wear. I didn’t want to interrupt you.”

She wanted something to wear? His ears heard the words, but all his brain could focus on how easy it would be to get that towel off her. She didn’t need to wear anything.

“Cain?” Alarm sounded in her voice. Her eyes widened.

He took a step back, ass-smacked into the edge of the bathroom door.

“You’re bleeding.”

It wasn’t her words, but the concern in her voice that knocked him out of the stupor he’d been in. He glanced down at himself. A rivulet of blood ran down his chest from the gunshot wound high up on his shoulder.

She moved closer to him. He couldn’t move away. All he could do was press his ass harder into the wall.

With steady hands, she unhooked the secure edge of her towel, let it swing from one hand in front of her. He caught a glimpse of pink breast and pale thigh, before he clamped his eyes shut. But he’d seen enough. His dick went granite. The unrequited longing painful. He smothered a groan.

She pressed her towel low on his abdomen, so low her hand brushed his—the one covering himself with a towel. His dick leaped, strained for her touch.

She raised the material, stroking up his skin, higher and higher—until she gently pressed it to his wound. “You want me?” Her voice was thick and husky as if she were having a hard time talking.

He forgot how to speak, but his body remembered the universal sign for yes. He nodded. Or at least he tried to. Maybe he was having a stroke or something because suddenly he felt paralyzed. And confused.

“Open your eyes. Look at me.”

Disobedience didn’t exist. He opened his eyes. She looked at his hand trying to cover his erection, then met his gaze. “I can tell. I just thought I’d ask.” A sweet smile—shy as a spring sunrise, and stunning as summer sunset settled on her lips.

She peeked under the towel on his shoulder and he peeked at her body.

Glorious. Long slender muscles and bones. Her breasts weren’t large, instead they were perfect with peach colored nipples he longed to taste. The only imperfections—the fading green bruise on her ribs and the filigreed cross scarred into the flesh over her heart.

He pointed at the cross. Jesus. What was wrong with him? He’d forgotten how to use words.

She glanced down at herself and then settled her hand over the raised flesh as if to pledge her allegiance. “It’s to protect me. I know it sounds weird, but I felt that if I had this symbol carved into my body I’d be safe from the demons in the world.”

She grabbed his free hand and placed it over the scar. The coolness of the damaged flesh imprinted on his palm. She tugged at his other hand—the one covering himself with the towel. No way could he deny her. The material fell from his fingers and she guided his other hand up to the puckered ring around her throat—where his father had cut her neck—and settled it on that scar as well.

A jolt, almost a shudder ran through him at the dual connection. He melted in to her. Merged with her. Became a part of her. Somehow touching those places was more intimate than anything they could do sexually. She had given him her greatest gift. Her vulnerability and trust.

About the Author

Abbie Roads is a mental health counselor known for her blunt, honest style of therapy. By night she writes dark emotional novels, always giving her characters the happy ending she wishes for all her clients. Her novels have finaled in RWA contest, including the Golden Heart. She lives with her family in Marion, OH.

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Posted in 3 1/2 paws, Review, suspense, Thriller on March 26, 2017

Synopsis

When you’ve lost it all, how far would you go to get it back?

Bennett Covington has a good life. The support of a loving, growing family. A satisfying job. A roof over his head. Not perfect, but close enough.

Nothing lasts forever, of course. After stumbling into the middle of a back-alley murder, Bennett becomes entangled in a web of violence set in motion by members of a shadowy criminal organization.

Subjected to psychological torment, Bennett struggles to understand the depth of their evil intentions – intentions that threaten to take much more than just his life.

Through it all, one question endures: why have they taken such a keen interest in him? When he runs, they catch him. When he hides, they find him.

The only way out is to fight back.

Review

I thought this was a mystery but it is more suspense with a sci-fi twist. There are many things that are not really explained at the end – like Poe, what exactly is he but he isn’t human!

The book did keep moving on at a pretty quick pace and kept me interested in what would happen next. Would Bennett get out of the situation he was in? Would his family be ok? Why did they keep calling him Yannick?

There were many times at the beginning when Bennett first got involved with these characters by accident and why he kept going back – was it curiosity or was it more?

There was a twist at the end that leaves the book open for a sequel or just leave you wondering what could possibly happen next.

We give this 3 1/2 paws

About the Author

Chip Scarinzi is an award-winning communications executive and the author of two books. His first book, Diehards, is a work of non-fiction about sports fandom. Ghosts is his first novel. Scarinzi lives in the San Francisco Bay Area island community of Alameda with his wife and two young daughters.

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Posted in excerpt, Historical, Spotlight, Supernatural, suspense on March 12, 2017

Synopsis

Devil in the Countryside is a story about the most famous werewolf investigation in history, brimming with intrigue and war, love and betrayal, and long-kept vendettas.

It’s 1588, the height of the Reformation, and a killer is terrorizing the German countryside. There are reports that the legendary Werewolf of Bedburg has returned to a once-peaceful land. Heinrich Franz, a cold and calculating investigator, is tasked with finding whomever — or whatever — the killer might be. He’ll need all the help he can get, including that of a strange hunter who’s recently stumbled into town. Though they’re after the same thing, their reasons are worlds apart. And through it all, a priest tries to keep the peace among his frightened townsfolk, while a young woman threatens his most basic beliefs.

In a time when life is cheap and secrets run rampant, these four divergent souls find themselves entwined in a treacherous mystery, navigating the volatile political and religious landscape of 16th century Germany, fighting to keep their sanity — and their lives.

Excerpt

Chapter 1

1588 – Near the town of Bedburg, Germany

It had been some time since Investigator Heinrich Franz had inspected a murder scene, and he relished the opportunity. As he removed his black gloves to inspect the body, a tingle ran down his spine.

The victim’s body was situated near a tree, tucked away from any trails or passing eyes.

“Our killer wanted to make it difficult to identify the victim, but not to find her,” Heinrich said to his right-hand man and bodyguard, Tomas.

He crouched over the body. Her exposed entrails had been dragged around the trunk of the tree, separating her legs from her torso. Her right foot was missing three toes, and her left arm was missing altogether. Her mangled face was a canvas for flesh-eating insects. He could only tell the victim was female by the tattered blue dress she wore and the stringy blonde hair plastered against her head.

Heinrich glanced at the dress. Maybe it will help to identify her, he thought, and then looked at her face. Because that certainly won’t.

Heinrich prodded beneath the dress, but found no signs of defilement. The stench of decay was not yet overwhelming, but still strong enough to offend his keen nose.

“She’s been dead for less than twenty-four hours,” the investigator said. He turned to the frightened farmer standing behind him. “And you found her when?”

“This morning, sir.” The farmer held a grimy cap close to his chest. “I was walking my dogs when the wind brought her smell right to me. Then I saw crows circling—”

“I didn’t ask how,” Heinrich said, “just when.

The investigator circled the tree and bent down to examine the torso with a magnifying glass. Flies and maggots crawled over her body and through her deep cuts. Heinrich put a finger to one of her small, exposed breasts. It was cold and clammy.

“She was killed in broad daylight, sir?” the farmer asked.

Heinrich ignored the man. He pocketed his magnifying glass, stood up with creaking knees, and wrestled his hands back into his gloves. “Judging by the size of her breasts and feet, I’d say she was no more than fifteen years of age.”

“Just a child,” the farmer murmured. He started fidgeting with his cap, and then stammered. “There wouldn’t perhaps be any kind of . . . reward for finding the body, would there, sir?”

Heinrich gave the man an icy glare and spat on the grass. Heartless swine, he thought, shaking his head. Trying to profit on the death of a child. He started pacing in front of the farmer, and then stroked his chin and twirled his thin, wispy mustache. He stared at the man’s fat, doughy face. He was middle-aged, with a patchy gray beard. His eyes were soft, and he looked harmless, but Heinrich knew that appearances never made the man, nor told the whole story.

“The real question I have,” Heinrich said, “is what was a young girl doing out here alone, so far from any roads?”

“Perhaps she was lured here?”

The investigator eyed the farmer. “A fine observation,” Heinrich said with a disingenuous smile. Then it vanished. “My next question is what were you doing out here so far from the trails?”

The farmer scratched his scalp, and then his face slowly distorted and his mouth fell open. He stammered some more. “Y-you can’t believe that . . . that I . . .” he trailed off. “I told you, sir, I was leading my dogs—”

Heinrich nodded and Tomas came to the farmer’s side and grabbed his arms. The farmer shouted and squirmed and tried to break free.

“You can’t do this, sir! I came to you only trying to help!”

Yes, trying to help your purse.

Tomas looked pale and queasy as he wrestled with the farmer.

“Take him to the jail,” Heinrich ordered. “I’ll be by a bit later. Find out whatever you can.”

Tomas nodded and turned away.

“And Tomas,” Heinrich added. The soldier spun on his heels, and Heinrich stared into his eyes. “Whatever means necessary.”

Tomas nodded again. “What are your thoughts, sir?”

Heinrich sighed and put his hands on his hips. “I’m thinking the Werewolf of Bedburg has returned.”

About the Author

As far back as he can remember, Cory Barclay has always loved the “big picture” questions. How much knowledge did humanity lose when the Library of Alexandria was burned down? Why has the concept of Heaven remained intact, in one form or another, throughout most of human history and how has it impacted life on Earth?

And even before that, when he first began writing stories in grade school, he’s been fascinated with histories and mysteries. Whether Norse mythology, the Dark Ages, or the conquests of great leaders, Cory’s been that kid who wants to know what’s shaped our world and write about it. Especially the great unsolved mysteries.

So Devil in the Countryside was a natural for him.

Born and raised in San Diego, he graduated from University of California, Santa Cruz, where he studied Creative Writing and Modern Literary Studies. He’s also a songwriter and guitarist, and – no surprise – many of his songs explore the same topics he writes about – the great mysteries of our crazy world.

Devil in the Countryside is his second novel and he’s hard at work on its sequel.

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