March Book Reviews Part 1! @JanSikes3 Joy York @JoyYorkAuthor @lionelraygreen #writingcommunity #whattoread #mustread #indieauthors #bookreviews

Dead of Winter

by Lionel Ray Green

“Dead of Winter” is a scary short story set on a lonely country road. Joe is driving to meet up with his partner when he sees a woman stranded by her car. He pulls over to help with obvious bad intentions. He is a creepy character who wants something but at the same time needs help from his partner—whom he can’t contact. The woman is careful in her responses and doesn’t jump right into trouble with him, which I liked. The pacing was broken up with chapters that worked well, as it seemed to match Joe’s thinking process. There are a couple of surprises, with a great twist. The ending was very satisfying. I can easily recommend this quick read.


The Bloody Shoe Affair: A Daring and Thrilling Adventure with the Jailer’s Daughter

by Joy York

“The Bloody Shoe Affair” is a fun YA whodunit set in Mississippi in the late 1960s. Fourteen-year-old Christi is visiting her grandparents for their 50th-anniversary celebration. She stays with her cousin, Lily, whose father is a law officer, and the house is attached to the jail. Lily’s curiosity of a pair of bloody shoes found but no body pull the two girls into a who was or wasn’t killed. Lily decides the man sitting in jail is innocent, and the two girls begin their investigation. It was fun to go back to the late sixties and see references to snacks, clothes, music, and communications. It brought back some memories of when I grew up. I liked how opposite these girls were, but how they pulled together and got along. Lily was strong and knew how to manipulate adults. While Christi wanted the excitement brought into her life by her cousin, she was more cautious. This was a fun read that reminded me of the Nancy Drew books I used to enjoy with more thrills added in. I could see middle-grade readers enjoying this as well as YA and adults. A fun story that kept me engaged with an exciting ending!


Jagged Feathers

by Jan Sikes

“Jagged Feathers” focuses on Vann or the soldier who brought the message back from Sam in “Ghostly Interference.” He has settled into a cabin with a stray dog who found him. He is broken from the war and vows not to give his heart to anyone. But he also has the rune given to him by another couple, Jag and Rena, who found their happily ever after. When Vann goes into town to get supplies, he runs across a sick woman, Nakina, who needs help. Promising not to go to the hospital, he takes care of her. One thing I really loved about this story is the gentleness of these two characters and their journey. Vann doesn’t feel like a whole man with part of his leg missing but is courageous and kind. Nakina is not only running from some bad people but learning about her gifts and how to use them. Both are artistically inclined, with Vann working with wood and Nakina feathers. Painting feathers completely fascinated me. Plus, they both are carrying issues from their past that could hold them back. I fell in love with the stray dog Champion and this couple. When the bad finds Nakina, it becomes nonstop action while this couple keeps connecting. It’s a beautiful love trying to bloom while they battle the bad guys. This was a perfect blend of PTSD, guilt, bad guys, friendship, acceptance, and embracing the spiritual realm. I absolutely loved this story and can’t wait for the next rune couple. 😊 I highly recommend!


I only post my 4 & 5-star reviews. If I don’t like a book, I won’t finish it. It doesn’t feel right leaving a review in that case, but I have been known to email the author:) Life is too short not to enjoy every book you read!

Watch for a special edition blog this week! You won’t want to miss it.

Embrace your inner child  with a huge hug by reading a great book! D. L. Finn

Books That Changed Me—2021 Winter Edition! @JanSikes3 @JoanHallWrites @JacqBiggar @Sandra_Cox #writingcommunity #mustreads #fivestarbooks

snowy driveway
Our shed on a snowy day ten years ago.

Winter has arrived with the shortest day of the year. The icy air permeates the walls, and there is nothing quite like cuddling under a blanket to read during the long nights. The busy holidays are here, but I still carve out that time to lose myself in a wonderful story.

It’s always hard to pick three or four books from the many I read and enjoy, but these stories have left me changed after reading them. They introduced me to a new world, and I fell in love with the characters. I want to visit some of these places. They are books you can’t put down, and so good you forget you are reading. They put you right into the story.

Here are my choices this time around. I’m sharing the blurb and my review that has been on my blog before but is worth showing again. These are books to curl up by a warm fire and sip hot chocolate or mulled wine.

BLURB

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

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

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

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

My Review

I read the prequel to this story, “House of Sorrow,” and loved that, so I was eager to read the first book in the Legends of Madeira Series. Jason and Tami Montgomery left Driscoll Lake for Jason’s new job as the town’s police chief in Madeira, New Mexico. They buy the house that was in the prequel and quickly settled into the small, mostly welcoming town. It was nice to see characters from the Driscoll Lake series, but unnecessary to have read those books to appreciate this story. I enjoyed Jason’s growth and how he approached his new job. Tami immediately made friends and got involved in the town’s historical society that was doing a book on the town’s history.

Tami, who had been a journalist, jumped right into her part of researching past police chiefs. She soon found herself looking for more answers as she dug deeper into the murder mystery of two of these chiefs. I loved the characters, and Madeira was a place I’d like to visit. Many subplots were woven in that added an extra depth to the story. Tami was a favorite character, as was the neighborhood’s stray cat, Oscar. There was a mystery to be solved, and it appeared Jason was in danger. I had a few guesses and changed my mind more than once, but finally, by the end. I realized who it was, but not why. I love the use of legends, history, and psychic abilities mixed in with well-rounded characters and a mystery that goes back over one hundred years. This is a nicely paced read that I can highly recommend.

LINK


BLURB

Will a Christmas wish bring two lonely hearts together and give a little girl the family she’s always wanted?

Single parent, Grace Donovan arrives in the small town of Emerson with the hope a trial program at the local cancer clinic will be the answer to prolonging her young daughter’s life. She doesn’t expect to fall for her handsome boss.
As principal of Emerson Elementary, Kyle Roberts is aware of the students’ medical issues and his heart goes out to little Cassie Donovan and her mother. When he learns Grace needs a job, he fabricates a childcare program, and is pleasantly surprised by its success. Now, if only he could help Cassie’s recovery and get Grace to give him a chance before she learns of his duplicity.
Cassie Donovan barely remembers the father who died when she was just a toddler, but she does know her mother is sad. Even though Cassie wants a puppy more than anything, she gives up her wish to ask for a daddy from Santa Claus, that way if she gets sick again, Mommy won’t be alone.

This Christmas, two families are brought together by a Christmas wish and a child’s need for a miracle.

My Review

“Love Me” is a wonderful holiday read about a mother and her daughter fighting cancer. Grace and Cassie move to a new town to try an experimental treatment, and luckily an anonymous donor covers the expenses. Grace finds a job at Cassie’s school while Cassie finds a new best friend. I love how the story is told from both the mother and daughter’s POV. Cassie wants a puppy for Christmas, but she decides her mother needs a companion if something happens to her. It’s a story that tugged on my heart, thinking about a little girl battling for her life when she should be playing and having fun. Her strength and caring shine throughout the story as a powerful symbol of love, and the mother, having lived through so much loss and heartache, keeps going for her daughter. I could feel the emotion behind Cassie because her character is based on an amazing young girl on social media who is fighting this battle. This was a heartwarming romantic story that didn’t back down from the reality of childhood leukemia. I highly recommend this!

LINK


BLURB

A modern day, shapeshifting sheriff.
He’s the sheriff of a sparsely populated county in Montana. His blood brother and childhood best friend is Chief of Police on the Blackfoot Reservation, but they no longer speak. His deputy is a southern transplant with the body of a high-priced call girl, a voice of honey and mouth of a trucker. And if that’s not enough, he’s got a secret that would stun those that know him best. Other than that, it’s business as usual for Sheriff Mateo Grey.

My Review

“Mateo’s Law” is an exciting paranormal, western romance that I read in two sittings. It is set in a small town in Montana, where Blair moved to join the force as a deputy. She is in a long-distance relationship but is attracted to the sheriff, Mateo. When something attacks a town resident, they investigate it together, but Blair is unaware of Mateo’s secret of being a shapeshifter. I love it when Mateo is in his alternative form, and I felt his freedom. The scenery is lush and the town a place I’d want to call home. Blair and Mateo have great chemistry, conversations, and working relationship. I was definitely rooting for Blair and Mateo and hope more stories are coming with these characters. If you love a paranormal page-turning romance, you won’t want to miss this!

LINK


Mountain Laurel Christmas

by Jan Sikes

BLURB

Orphaned, his family torn apart by tragedy, Cole Knight has come a long way from a ramshackle miner’s cabin on the side of the Cumberland Mountain.
Daring to follow an impossible dream, he’s made it big in the music business. Now, he’s a country music sensation with a huge house, fancy cars, plenty of willing women, money, and adoring fans. He should be on top of the world. Instead, he’s drowning in a swirling pool of self-contempt and relentless guilt.

It’s easier to lose himself in a bottle than face the hard truth…he hasn’t delivered on a promise he made to his father.

It’s almost Christmas, and the sting of failure drives him back to that tiny cabin in the mountains. But has he waited too late to put the shattered pieces back together—to find himself and restore a lost family?

My Review

“Mountain Laurel Christmas” is a perfect holiday read. Cole Knight has gone from having everything taken from him as a child to becoming a huge country star who has everything. Yet, the emptiness from when he was a young boy can’t be filled with money, fame, or drinking. One night, Cole is overwhelmed and ends up at the place where he grew up. It’s here he searches for what’s missing and begins his journey to healing. The detail to the setting and music brought the story deeper, making me feel like a friend was sharing their story with me. Although a quick read, it is a reminder of what is important, especially during the holiday season. I highly recommend this heart-warming story that can be enjoyed any time of the year.

LINK


This is my final blog of the year. Happy Holidays!

 

New Release! “Cold Dark Nights” by Joan Hall! @JoanHallWrites #WritingCommunity #IndieAuthor #NewRelease #Mystery #MustRead #StoryEmpire #WhatToRead

I’m thrilled to have fellow Story Empire author, Joan Hall, here today to share her latest release, Cold Dark Night. It is a book I loved and look forward to the rest of the series. Here’s my review: LINK

Thank you for hosting me today, Denise. I’m delighted to be here to talk about my newest release, Cold Dark Night. It’s the first novel in the Legends of Madeira series. Each book begins with a historical event that ties to modern day.

We both share a love for animals. I think when character has a pet, it tells readers a lot about their personality. Although I like all animals, I’m especially fond of cats. I have two of my own, a seven-year-old tuxedo named Tucker and a six-year-old black Manx named Little Bit. We adopted Tucker, but Little Bit found us.

Both cats, but especially Tucker, are extremely sensitive our moods and emotions. He clings a lot if one of us is sick.

Oscar is a black cat that readers first meet in House of Sorrow. He’s a “mixture” of my two cats. Just as Little Bit “found” us, Oscar “found” Ruth. After her death, he roamed the neighborhood where neighbors made sure he had food and received proper care. Oscar wouldn’t stay with any of them, remaining a bit reclusive, but things changed when Tami moves to town.

And like Tucker, Oscar is sensitive to Tami’s emotions. I’d like to share two excerpts. The first is when Tami first meets her new fur baby. The second scene comes later in the book.

Excerpt:

Tami walked to the door with Abbey. When she opened it, a large black cat darted across the deck.

“Fantastic. Oscar finally showed up.”

“Is he your cat?”

Abbey shook her head. “He belonged to Ruth. He’s been roaming the neighborhood since she died. Everyone looks after him and makes sure he has food and shelter, but he won’t stay with anyone for long.”

The cat meowed, reached a paw out to Tami, then twined between her legs.

“Well, hello there. You’re certainly friendly.” Tami bent down to scratch him behind the ears.

“That’s unusual. He’s been standoffish, especially to strangers. But I’ve often heard people don’t choose cats, cats choose them. It looks like you have a new buddy.”

><><><><

It was mid-morning when the uneasiness gripped Tami again. She’d been in her office, trying to slog through an article for a regional magazine.

After the conversation with Jason, her disparaging mood left. But now she couldn’t shake the feeling that something bad was about to happen, as if danger lurked nearby.

Oscar jumped from his spot on the love seat onto her desk, then nudged her arm. During the past few weeks, the cat had acted sensitive to her emotions. It was as if he knew when she was upset or troubled. His presence never failed to comfort her.

“Hey, buddy.” She scratched behind his ears. He rewarded her with a soft purr. “You always know how to make me feel better, don’t you?”

The cat continued to rub his head on her hand before lying across her keyboard—something he hadn’t done before.

“Guess I won’t get any more work done this morning.” Tami laughed as she reached to power down her computer. It was then she noticed the date.

February 16. Lee Hazelton died on this date thirty-eight years ago.

She looked out the window. The expected cold front hadn’t arrived. Three months ago, she’d visited Ruth’s grave on the date of her death. She could do the same for Lee.

><><><><

Cold Dark Night is available on Amazon for .99 through June 15. After then, the price goes to $3.99, so now is a good time for readers to grab a copy.

Blurb:

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

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

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

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

Purchase Link

Connect with Joan:

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

Mae Clair’s Cover Reveal for “End of Day”

Please welcome today’s special guest Mae Clair! She’s sharing her new book cover with us.

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

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

BLURB:
The past is never truly buried…

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

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

End of Day can be read as a stand alone novel or as a follow-up to book one of the Hode’s Hill series, Cusp of Night.

End of Day is available for pre-order through this link
and available to add to your Goodreads to-be-read list here.

Connect with Mae Clair at BOOKBUB and the following haunts:

Amazon | BookBub | Newsletter Sign-Up
Website & Blog | Twitter | Goodreads | All Social Media

 

Bio Box 8-27-2018

Book Release: Cusp of Night by Mae Clair

I’m excited to welcome Mae Clair to today’s special book:

Many thanks for hosting me on your blog today, and allowing me space to chat with your readers, Denise. I’ve just rolled out a new mystery/suspense novel called Cusp of Night I’m excited to share. A book that uses dual mysteries—one set in the past and one in the present—the story also contains elements of the supernatural and urban legend.

My character in the present is Maya Sinclair, a woman who has recently relocated to the town of Hode’s Hill to accept a job as a reference librarian. The move comes at a good time because in many ways she’s starting over. Several months in the past she was the victim of a near fatal car accident. For two minutes and twenty-two seconds she was clinically dead. That time span plays a key element later in the story, but for now I want to hover on those numbers.

old fashioned clock face superimposed at end of road , lightning flashing down from sky

Did you ever click on your cell phone or look at the clock and have a perfect trifecta of numbers greet you? Think 1:11, 2:22, 3:33, 4:44, 5:55. I always get a little thrill when that happens. For some reason, 4:44 is a sequence I catch frequently. Maybe that’s why my favorite number is twelve. Hmm. I never made that connection until writing this post.

Like most writers, I’m a wordsmith. I tolerate numbers, but I’ve never had a love affair with them like I have with words. All of that aside, there’s something magical about 4:44 and its cousins. I don’t know if those perfect moments mean something—serendipity?—but I couldn’t resist playing off the thought in Cusp of Night. For Maya Sinclair, in her rented brownstone, the past comes calling at 2:22 AM. Not only her past, but that of a woman who once resided there and died over a century ago. A woman whose spirit has yet to move on.

Intrigued? I hope so. 😊

Here’s the blurb for Cusp of Night. I hope you find it captivating reading, whatever the time!

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

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

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

PURCHASE HERE

You can find Mae Clair at the following haunts:
Website | Blog | Twitter | Newsletter | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon | Other Social Links

bio box for author, Mae Clair