Tag Archives: mystery

Review of “Gull Harbor” – Kathryn Knight

A #1 Kindle Bestseller
A Top Ten Read of 2014 – My Shelf Reviews
19+ consecutive weeks on the top 100 Amazon Bestseller List
A Reader’s Crown Finalist in Paranormal Romance – RomCon 2014
Best Kindle Books 2014 Semi-Finalist in Romance – The Kindle Book Review
 
 

When Claire Linden’s job sends her to the sleepy town of Gull Harbor, she never expects to encounter her ex-boyfriend. As a medium, the prospect of tackling a haunted house is less daunting than seeing Max Baron again. Throughout their passionate college relationship, he promised to love her forever. Then, without explanation, he abandoned her on graduation day. 

Max never intended to break Claire’s heart–a cruel ultimatum forced him to disappear from her life. While he’s shocked to find her in Gull Harbor, he isn’t surprised by the bitter resentment she feels for him…or the fiery attraction that remains between them. 

 

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~~ EXCERPT~~

 

She shook her head vigorously. “I can’t spend your money to do my job. That makes no sense.”

“It’s not about that, Claire. It’s about keeping you safe.” He closed the distance between them, setting off alarm bells in the back of her mind.

Squaring her shoulders, she took a deep breath. “I realize you’re trying to help me, and I appreciate that. But what gives you the right to worry about my safety?”

“I don’t need the right.” He stood over her, and she took a step backwards, bumping up against his desk. His words shouldn’t have sounded menacing, but for some reason, they did. She nodded weakly.

“I am going to keep you safe, Claire,” he said, his eyes flashing. He reached out and stroked her arm.

A shiver ran through her, and she gripped the edge of the desk for support. “Okay,” she breathed. Every nerve in her body was calling for him. She closed her eyes as his hands moved up to cradle her head.

His mouth seized hers, and her lips responded urgently. She lost herself in the kiss, her fingers weaving themselves around his neck and tangling in his hair. His hands moved to her waist, and she gasped as he hoisted her up on the desk.

 

 

(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 

 

I’ve never encountered a ghost, never entered a haunted establishment, so I can’t fully grasp the prospect ghosts are real. However, Kathryn really did have me wondering what if.

Stories of the unexplained are popular because we want to believe death isn’t always the end. After reading Gull Harbor, do I have any desire to venture to the nearest spooky destination and see if there’s any truth behind any of those local whispers about ghosts, apparitions, poltergeist, etc? Sure, a part of me is curious if things of the paranormal nature exist. Then again, another part of me is a chickenshit and wants to live in the world where paranormal beings are just myth.

I have to give props to Claire, the medium/psychic. She handled the situation with Maria (restless soul) better than I would’ve dealt with it. The first time anything flew at my head I would’ve been gone quicker than you can say…..What the bloody hell was that! Frankly, seeing any dead being or hearing their voice would’ve caused me to turn tail and run quick like a bunny. Like I stated above…..mega chickenshit! 

To Kathryn, I might not 100% believe in psychics or paranormal beings but I did enjoy reading about Claire and her desire to help those in need…. living or otherwise. As a reader, I could certainly feel Claire’s determination, frustration, and her unwillingness to give up. I could also feel the passion she had for Max and the love you have for the psychic/medium/paranormal world. Only complaint, I wish there was more time spent on Claire and her dad’s relationship. I feel like you, Kathryn, barely spent any time on their characters and a bit more attention to their backstory, info, would’ve allowed me to care more about their relationship (or lack thereof).

Despite that one gray area, I do feel readers will enjoy this ghostly tale which has suspense, love, and……multiple HEA’s. 

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score: ❤❤❤❤

 

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Kathryn Knight spends a great deal of time in her fictional world, where mundane chores don’t exist and daily life involves steamy romance, dangerous secrets, and spooky suspense. Kathryn writes contemporary romance spiked with mysterious hauntings as well as YA paranormal romance filled with forbidden love. Her novels are award-winning #1 Kindle bestsellers and RomCon Reader Rated picks. When she’s not reading or writing, Kathryn spends her time catching up on those mundane chores, driving kids around, and teaching fitness classes. She lives on beautiful Cape Cod with her husband, their two sons, and a number of rescued pets.

 

Please visit her at any of these locations……

Kathryn Knight (Amazon Author Page) / Twitter / Facebook / Blog

 

~ Passionate Romance with a Paranormal Twist ~

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Review of “Haunted Souls” – Kathryn Knight

~One of the Top 3 Best Books of 2016 at Read Freely~


Four years ago, Emily Shea and Staff Sergeant Brett Leeds agreed to part with no strings attached. Sparks flew during their brief affair, but fate intervened, sending Brett overseas. When an unexpected pregnancy derailed Emily’s own plans, her attempts to locate Brett were soon overwhelmed by the challenges of single motherhood. Now, Brett has returned home, and Emily is forced to share her secret.

Despite feeling betrayed, Brett is determined to forge a relationship with their son, Tyler. As the former lovers battle both their inner demons and their mutual desire, another presence enters their lives—Tyler’s imaginary friend. Soon, however, the chilling evidence points to a different conclusion: a ghost has formed a dangerous connection with their son. Emily’s attempts to help both a lost soul and a friend in need spiral toward a deadly confrontation, and Brett must race to save Emily before he loses her again—forever.

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 ~~ Old Jail, Cape Cod ~~

 

 EXCERPT ONE

 

“Ma’am, he’s not allowed to be in the cells.”

Emily spun around, scanning the room for Tyler. The guide pointed around the corner and she rushed past him, mumbling apologies.

Sure enough, there was a rope hanging across the open entrances to each of the three tiny cells. It hadn’t been enough to deter Tyler, apparently. He was turned away from her, standing near the shadowy back corner. His head was tilted at an angle, as though he was listening to something intently.

An icy shiver traveled up her spine. “Tyler, you can’t be in there. Come on out, honey.”

“Coming, Mommy,” he called without turning around. He nodded toward the wall, speaking in a low voice.

What on earth was he doing? Sweat pooled under the heavy ponytail at the base of her neck even as another chill washed over her. She called him again, glancing nervously at the guide. She didn’t want to break the rules further by following her son into the restricted area.

“Now,” she commanded, leaning over the rope. “One. Two…”

Tyler backed toward her, and she caught the words “I’m sure” before he turned around and ran across the long, narrow floor of the cell. Emily bent, thrusting her hands under his arms and yanking him over the rope. She held him tight, cradling him against her heaving chest. It was too hot in here, too claustrophobic. And yet, a ribbon of cold air curled around her ankles as she carried him back toward the front entrance.

 

EXCERPT TWO

“No, Emily. I don’t want anything to happen to you.” The words slipped out, but they were true. Not much scared him, but a thread of fear trickled through his veins at the thought of her dangerous plans. Brett suddenly realized he’d do anything to protect her, at all costs.

She cocked her head, lifting her eyebrows. “Really? I find that hard to believe.”

“Stop.” Damn it. She was like some kind of gravitational force, pulling him toward her. He closed the distance between them in three long strides. “You know I care about you.”

She stood, looking up at him, her eyes flashing with challenge. “As Tyler’s mom, you mean.” The old clock on her desk ticked off the seconds as they faced off, the heat growing between them.

He pushed at the chair with a savage thrust, and it rolled away quietly on its wheels. Backing her toward the desk, he grabbed her shoulders. “As Emily,” he growled, now angry with himself. But there was no resisting it. He crushed his lips over hers, allowing his desire to take control. His body needed her—it was as simple as that.

 

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Cobb’s Hill Cemetery, Barnstable, Massachusetts.

(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique)

 

I’m not sure if I truly believe in ghosts, the paranormal world; however, I admit stories concerning experiences with the other side fascinate me. Maybe I am like so many others in the world; I get a slight thrill out of being frightened regarding the possibility death isn’t the end for us all. In any rate, ghosts were real for Tyler, Emily and Brett. One lonely ghost, Josiah, made contact with Tyler during a trip to the Old Jailhouse in Cape Cod. Through Josiah’s journey to be reunited with his “lost” mother, we get firsthand knowledge of the hardships faced in the 1700’s. Poor Josiah, his story was just as touching as Brett’s backstory and his was extremely moving.

Many soldiers battle PTSD every day and live in fear of hurting the ones around them. Their battle aboard might be over but the internal war rages on. For Brett, he was not only facing life out of the combat zone but he was acclimating to the fact he had a son. I’m impressed how well Kathryn depicted the struggle for a soldier to keep the wartime demons at bay while rejoining life on US soil.  

Now, though PTSD and ghosts are sensitive subjects, Kathryn didn’t falter on the sensual moments. As Brett integrated himself into his son’s life, and as Josiah moved closer to his reunion with his mom, Brett and Emily couldn’t deny the fire between them never burnt out. As a parent, I can remember those days when the kid is finally asleep and mom/dad hustle to spend some alone time together. *wink wink*  

As you can see, I thoroughly loved Haunted Souls. It touched on a multitude of emotions: fear (as a parent), fear (as a soldier), love, sorrow, and joy. It was a beautiful story about being reunited with a loved one and achieving internal peace. HEA! 

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest)

Score: ❤❤❤❤1/2

 

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~ Passionate Romance with a Paranormal Twist ~

 

 

Kathryn Knight spends a great deal of time in her fictional world, where mundane chores don’t exist and daily life involves steamy romance, dangerous secrets, and spooky suspense. Kathryn writes contemporary romance spiked with mysterious hauntings as well as YA paranormal romance filled with forbidden love. Her novels are award-winning #1 Kindle bestsellers and RomCon Reader Rated picks. When she’s not reading or writing, Kathryn spends her time catching up on those mundane chores, driving kids around, and teaching fitness classes. She lives on beautiful Cape Cod with her husband, their two sons, and a number of rescued pets. 

 

Kathryn Knight (Amazon Author Page) / Twitter / Facebook / Blog

 

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Review of “Tony Mandolin Mystery, Book 1: A Slight Case of Death” – Robert Lee Beers

Vampires don’t exist, do they? That is a question Private Detective Tony Mandolin finds himself pondering as the evidence piles up in a case involving a string of dead redheads and the usual dose of weirdness San Francisco has to offer. To complicate things, Mandolin has to deal with the perception that he has become the latest golden boy of the fog city’s crime boss. Then there’s his cross-dressing friend Frankie…Just another day in San Francisco.

Dive into an exhilarating new noir fantasy series where nothing is as it seems.

 

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 

 

Based on mentions of Magnum, P.I., TJ Hooker and other pop culture name drops, I knew this book wasn’t set in the 1920’s or 1930’s. However, A Slight Case of Death had the feel of a detective classic from the Golden Age of Detective Fiction. You could blatantly sense who inspired Robert Lee Beers in his development of Tony MandolinSome of the word choices, conversations, made this modern day story appear as if we had stepped back in time. The mobsters also spoke like they were from Jersey or New York instead of San Francisco but with old school flare. At least in my opinion that’s how they came across. I don’t know any real mobsters so maybe that’s how they converse. Eh, I digress.

Plot time….

A routine missing person case turns into the manhunt for a serial killer. To stop the killer (aka a vamp) Tony (PI) finds help in the unlikeliest places. But beggars can’t be choosers when the boogey monster has his sights set on you. Gotta admit, despite the nightmare inducing man to monster transformation, Simon was quite the likable vamp. I can see why vampires can lure their prey so easily. You don’t want to like them, but you also find yourself unable to resist their charm. Plus, like Simon, I always played with my food despite my momma’s warning so…. Play on! 🙂

Besides Simon, I also adored Frankie. Frankie was so flamboyant, funny, and won the award for best character. Frankie brought life to scenes that were becoming stodgy. Frankie was the light this book needed when facing a creature only thought to come out at night. When I envision this Frankie, I picture RuPaul: an American actor, drag queen, model, author, and recording artist. Maybe after you read over his parts, you’ll see a bit of RuPaul in this role too. 

 

 

BTW: Many myths were squashed in chapter 20 about vamps but the real shocker came later when we saw what could harm a vampire. This surprising weapon bumped the score from 3 to 3.5 stars! 

  

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score: ❤❤❤1/2

 

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Robert Lee Beers was born on March 11, 1951, on the far northern California coast in the Humboldt Bay area. He is an artist, musician, and a mediator.

In 2008 he was nominated for the JFK Profiles in Courage Award for his work on the Nevada State Assembly.

He is the author of the Hilarious Tony Mandolin Mystery series as well as the epic fantasy, the five-volume Milward Chronicles.

His first novel, The Promised Ones became the number one bestselling fantasy on the Barnes and Noble Fictionwise eBook store for 6 weeks. That book eventually became the novel Birthright, the first in the Milward Chronicles series.

Graphic Audio, the premiere producer of audio books in full cast audio has optioned the first five novels for production. Hole Lotta Shakin’, a Tony Mandolin Short Story is currently in pre-production into a serialized YouTube Audiobook at Tall Tales TV. As for Robert, he is usually found at his desk, laying down the next Tony Mandolin adventure.

 

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Author Showcase / Interview / Review – Richard Paolinelli (Escaping Infinity)

 

  1. Welcome, Richard Paolinelli! For those who might not be familiar with you, would you be a dear and tell the readers a little about yourself? How did you get your start in the writing business?

(RP) I started out as a freelance writer and photographer in West Texas in the mid-1980s, was the lead writer for the first two issues of the Elite Comics series, Seadragon, and then went to work as a sportswriter for newspapers and online websites in New Mexico and in California. In 2010 I retired from newspapers and decided to restart my fiction writing and I’ve been pretty busy since then.

 

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Kam: Did you know I absolutely love comics? I own several hundred and always looking to add more.  😉 

 

 

  1. All writers fear the dreaded “block”. Please tell us how you handle it.

(RP) One of the advantages of having spent so long working for daily publications is having to produce anywhere from 800-3000 words a day, five days a week. You don’t have the option of being blocked. So I really don’t get it now that I’m doing fiction only. On those rare occasions when I just don’t “feel” like writing, I don’t try to force it. Usually a day or two later I’m back at it as usual.

 

  1. Contrary to what some people envision about a writer’s life, it’s not all glitz and glam. Well not for the majority of us. With that bubble sadly busted, when you’re not writing, how to do you spend your time?

(RP) Marketing my books, appearing on radio shows and doing in person appearances. When I’m not doing work-related tasks, I usually read, catch a movie and try to spoil my two grandsons as much as I can.

 

  1. I know many writers, such as myself, keep their pastime/career a secret. Do those close to you know you write? If so, what are their thoughts?

(RP) Everything I’ve written, fiction and newspapers, has been under my real name, so everyone who knows me knows what I do. I haven’t really asked them what they think about it. No one has ever come up and told me to get a real job or anything like that so I’d say they are supportive.

 

  1. Will you share with us your all time favorite authors? If you’re like me, it’s a long list so give us your top ten.

(RP) (In no particular order)

Jack McDevitt

Edgar Allan Poe

HG Wells

Gibson Michaels

Douglas Adams

Harry Harrison

Diane Duane

Tom Clancy

Edgar Rice Burroughs

Dan Brown

 

 

  1. If you could choose one book to go to the big screen, yours or otherwise, which book would you choose and whom would you love see casted in the parts?

(RP) I’d love to see someone take up my latest novel, Escaping Infinity, especially with the quality of CGI today. I think Luke Evans could pull off Peter Childress and Emily Blunt might make a great Liz. The Manager I always envisioned being played by Kelsey Grammer even as I was writing the book.

 

 

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  1. Would you care to tell us what you’re working on now? That is if it’s not top-secret information. If so, just whisper it in my ear. I swear it’ll go no further.

(RP) I actually am juggling three projects. I need to finish up the final two books of the Jack Del Rio series and I am writing a short story I hope will be accepted for a special sci-fi anthology. And I have started on an epic sci-fi/fantasy project that is my “Lord of the Rings” project.

 

 

  1. Where can we find your stories and is there a particular reading order?

(RP) You can find everything I’ve written on Amazon, or go to my website – www.richardpaolinelli.com – and click on the book covers and they will take you directly to their respective page on Amazon. Other that the Del Rio series – Reservations is #1 and Betrayals #2 – there isn’t any particular order you need to read them in.

 

 

  1. Would you please share how your present and future fans can contact you?

(RP) My e-mail is: rp@richardpaolinelli.com

I’m on both Twitter and Gab as: @ScribesShade

And you can leave comments on my blog: https://scribesscribblesblog.wordpress.com

 

 

  1. Before we conclude this enlightening interview, do you have anything else you’d like to share? The stage is all yours.

(RP) Just that I’d like to thank you for interviewing me and for reading my book. I would like to just say to every reader out there: No matter whose book you are reading, one of mine or any other author, the greatest kindness you can do for them is to leave a review of their book, especially on Amazon.

Whether you thought it was the greatest book, the absolute worst or somewhere in between, leaving a review helps them in so many ways. I encourage you to so, even if it is just a few words or a sentence or two. Speaking for my fellow writers, especially ones just getting started, you will have their deepest gratitude.

 

Closing Remarks

Richard Paolinelli is correct on an author’s need for reviews. It helps boost awareness of their writing, helps them improve their craft and encourages them to keep pouring their hearts & souls into their creations. Without reviews and readers sharing their love of a story, writers fade off into the sunset. If you don’t want a writer to vanish, then show them love. Write a review.

With that said, I’d like to present to you a brief look into Escaping Infinity and my thoughts regarding it. 

 

 

Nominated for a 2017 Dragon Award (Best Sci-Fi Novel), Nominated for a 2017 Nebula Award (Non-finalist).

Thousands have checked into the Infinity Hotel over the years. None of them have ever checked out.

Peter Childress and Charlie Womack are successful engineers on their way to Phoenix for an important presentation. But one of Charlie’s infamous “shortcuts” has gotten them good and lost once again. As night falls, the pair stumble across the Infinity Hotel and the promise of a meal, fuel and a good night’s sleep before starting off fresh in the morning is too good to pass up.

But while Charlie immediately takes to the hotel’s amazing amenities, Peter begins to uncover some of the hotel’s dark secrets – a seemingly unlimited number of floors, guests that appear out of time and place and a next morning that never seems to come. Worse still, the entrance to the Infinity has disappeared and no other apparent exit back to the outside world is in sight.

Now, under the watchful eyes of the hotel’s manager and front desk clerk, Peter searches for a way back out and uncovers the horrible truth behind the mystery of the Infinity Hotel.

 

 

(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 

 

After reading the back cover, I knew I was embarking on a freaky, mind-warping ride and was looking forward to the journey Richard was going to take me on. The front cover looked promising as well. It had me thinking this book would be taking place solely in the future. However, once I began reading the prologue, I soon realized space and alien life would encompass the plot. Even though I was only thrown for a loop for about a nanosecond, I soon found myself engrossed in the mystery of the Infinity.

 

Even though I fascinated by the happenings of the hotel, one thing was missing for me which would’ve made me feel more contacted to the storyline. For me, I wanted to know more about the lives of the hotel’s occupants before stepping into the time/space paradox. We got a glimpse of Liz and the football star, but the inquisitive side wanted more history regarding its occupants. I guess if Richard was writing a 700 page novel then my wish would’ve been granted but he wasn’t. He didn’t. To stay on track, he led us through a series of events which would test the sanity of any man or woman. His writing was equally mystifying and eerie as fellow thriller writers Stephen King, Clive Barker, and R.L Stine. That’s saying a lot about his creativity. 

 

All in all, the plot was sound. The follow-through was a tad bumpy but overall a book I am thrilled to have read and happily encourage others to purchase. 

 

Parting remarks…..

1.) Planet Disney cracked me up.

2.) I didn’t know whether to laugh or yell RUN when the door’s guardian became activated. However, I did laugh a wee bit when it went airborne.

 

Good science fiction/fantasy story! 

 

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score: ❤❤❤❤

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Review of “Ghosts” – Chip Scarinzi

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.

 

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique)  

A good mystery novel shouldn’t be easily figured out. It should be orchestrated where each chapter gives you another piece of the puzzle but the whole picture eludes you. Sometimes the piece will fit snugly against a neighboring partner and sometimes you know it has to go there, but no matter how you turn it, it just won’t click into place.

While I was reading Ghosts and presented with the puzzle pieces, I couldn’t get the bigger picture to unveil itself. Was I mad? HELL TO THE NO! I didn’t want a few clicks and boom the show was over. I wanted my brain challenged and Chip definitely made me think. He made me doubt almost everyone, questioning even the good guy’s motives and presented an evil – unsavory – vile character (Poe) who took a licking and kept on ticking… much like Jason Voorhees (Friday the 13th) and  Michael Myers (Halloween). Those two psychopaths wouldn’t stay dead either.

You want a good mystery, then look no further. Ghosts will challenge your mind and keep you hooked until the very end. 

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score:❤❤❤1/2

 

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Review of “Deadly Homecoming at Rosemont” – Connie Chappell

Historian Wrenn Grayson arrives at the Rosemont mansion expecting to receive payment for her services from the mansion’s new owner, Clay Addison. That expectation dies when she and Clay find Trey Rosemont murdered on the foyer floor. Across town, police officers race to Eastwood University. Priceless Egyptian artifacts were stolen from the history department safe. Wrenn’s longtime love, Eastwood professor Gideon Douglas, heads the department. Only recovery of the artifacts will save his career. Life in Havens, Ohio, doesn’t stop for this crime spree. Wrenn works for Mayor K.C. Tallmadge. He wishes Wrenn would stop searching down clues ahead of the police and pacify temperamental playwright Barton Reed. Barton’s play is just days away from opening in the town’s historic Baxter Theater. Amid murder, theft, or curtain calls, Wrenn’s instincts prove sharp. But it’s her stubborn one-woman approach that places her directly in the killer’s path.

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 

The true sign of a great murder mystery novel is the ability of an author to leave you befuddled who was the killer. Connie gave us many suspects, motives, and yet I was not completely sure I knew who was the proper prime suspect. I also  wondered how she was going to tie the murder and theft together & was impressed how thoroughly she linked the two crimes.

She also left us enough breadcrumbs for sequels: What will the future hold for Gideon and Wrenn? Have we seen the last of Elmore, Lucas and Clay? (Surely not) And what about the mysterious Gina Frawley? Will we ever learn what became of her?

So even though the villain (killer) enlightened us about why Trey had to die and details regarding the thievery at Eastwood University, readers will have have enough unanswered questions to have them coming back for another chapter in the life of Wrenn Grayson. 

Well done, Connie! 

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score: ❤❤❤❤

 

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Author Showcase – Sandra Nikolai (Dark Deeds: Megan Scott/Michael Elliott Mystery, Book 4)

~~ CAN BE READ AS A STANDALONE ~~ 

 

“Where evil lurks, no one is safe.”

The suspicious fire that destroyed the shed exposes a surprise corpse—not what ghostwriter Megan Scott and investigative reporter Michael Elliott expected when they reserved a cabin at their friends’ lakeside resort in rural Ontario.

Fear overshadows their visit like a looming storm. Their friends are receiving anonymous threatening letters. An elderly resident is reported missing. Locals are wary. They aren’t used to outsiders snooping around town, asking questions.

When Michael makes a connection to a cold case, evidence points to an ex-convict looking for revenge. He’s had reconstructive surgery. He could be anyone.

Terror blankets the town as the body count mounts. The killer is playing dangerous mind games with everyone—especially with Megan. If she doesn’t find him first, she could well become his next victim.

 

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Excerpt from Dark Deeds by Sandra Nikolai

 

Madame Ora stood five feet tall and wore a red polka dot wrap dress that resembled something I’d once seen in a 1940s movie. Her wispy white hair stood on end and looked as if it had gone through dozens of perms. She beckoned me into a tiny room at the rear. A thick curtain separated it from the rest of the shop. Without a word, she motioned for me to sit down at a round café table and took a seat opposite me.

“Please do not ask me any questions until I have completed my reading.” Her voice was thick with a foreign accent—maybe Polish. She closed her eyes and mumbled words I couldn’t understand, then opened her eyes. “Please show me your hands.”

I extended both hands as requested.

Madame Ora peered at my palms, squinting as if she were trying to decipher coded messages. “My dear, you have suffered a deep loss, but things will change for the better.”

It was a pretty general statement.

“Your loss had to do with a man—a man who shared a deep bond with you.”

My late husband. Good guess.

“This man died suddenly and tragically.”

Okay, this was getting creepy.

“You have since moved on. Another man has entered your life. He is a very brave man.”

I swallowed hard.

Madame Ora continued. “On this particular journey, you are in grave danger, but you are surrounded by protection.”

Grave danger? Protection?

She looked up at me, her eyes staring at the space above my head. “The white feather will protect you. Keep it with you at all times.”

Goose bumps rose along my arms. While she closed her eyes and mumbled the same incoherent words as before, I reached into my handbag and rubbed the tiny white feather between my thumb and forefinger. It seemed beyond coincidental.

Madame Ora opened her eyes. “You may now ask me two questions.”

My practical side told me the simple white feather in my handbag would never protect me from any kind of danger. Regardless, the fact she had mentioned it intrigued me. “Can you be more specific about the grave danger you mentioned?”

She closed her eyes. “You are involved in matters concerning death. I see three dead spirits around you—spirits that have met with unexpected death. Take caution. Not everyone is to be trusted.” She opened her eyes. “Next question.”

Was she kidding? A dozen questions had popped into my head.

I thought of Michael. “Will the man in my life be safe too?”

“He has tempted fate many times and succeeded.”

“What you mean?”

Madame Ora pushed back her chair and rose. “I’m sorry, I have already answered your two questions.”

 

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CLICK ON THE BOOK TITLES TO BE REDIRECTED TO AMAZON!

FYI –> THESE CAN BE READ AS  STANDALONE. 😀 

 

BOOK ONE: FALSE IMPRESSIONS

BOOK TWO: FATAL WHISPERS

(Short Story): TIMELY ESCAPE

BOOK THREE: ICY SILENCE

 

 

Sandra Nikolai is the author of the Megan Scott/Michael Elliott Mystery series. In addition to her novels, Sandra has published a string of short crime stories, garnering awards along the way.

Sandra held jobs in sales, finance, and high tech before leaving the corporate world to pursue a career in writing. She likes to think that plotting a whodunit reveals the lighter—yet more mysterious—side of her persona.

Visit Sandra’s website and sign up to receive her latest book news. Follow her on Twitter: @SandraNikolai or connect with her on Goodreads or Facebook .

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Author Showcase – Susanne Leist (The Dead Game)

 

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~~ EXCERPT ~~

 

Linda was passing the empty tables by the tall windows when she felt her arm being tugged—very hard. Before she could react, she found herself being forcibly dragged through the open patio doors and onto the isolated garden path. She came face to face with the mighty Wolf and his trusted companion, Hayden. The grounds were deserted. Everyone had left the gardens and she was all alone with the two wicked vampires.

Wolf glared at Hayden. “Please let go of her arm; we are not animals. We never force ourselves on women.”

“Chivalry among demons—I’m very impressed. Too bad your table manners and choice of dishes leave a lot to be desired,” Linda said. Her hatred of Wolf had just caused her to forget her low position in the food chain; she closed her mouth to stop herself from talking. In the future, she must remember that he was a vampire—the strongest one in the world—and that he could easily destroy her at any time.

Wolf didn’t seem the least bit focused on her. “I didn’t come here to play parlor games with you. I need you to convince Todd to join with us. He can never be human or will ever be accepted by them. He belongs with us. He must stick with his own kind.”

“He’s not like you in any way at all: he cares too deeply for people and is loyal to his friends. On the other hand, you and your kind enjoy killing too much and have no feelings whatsoever.”

“Todd will never be accepted by humans or by his own kind. He will be an outcast with nowhere to go. He must join with us.”

“Todd is human and will always be accepted by humans.”

“Let’s kill her now, boss. She’s going to be trouble. I could take her away and no one will ever see her again,” Hayden said, grabbing hold of her arm again.

Oops, she did it again. Her big mouth had now sealed her fate. She had to learn how to be more assertive without getting herself into trouble.

Wolf strolled over to her with a wicked gleam surfacing in his eyes.

“I have a much better use for her in the future. When she finally comes to her senses, she’ll realize that she will be better off with a real vampire with limitless powers than with a pathetic human. She’ll learn about intoxicating love and passion—not the games that humans play that pale in comparison.

Here comes the human. Let her go for now.”

Linda was horrified to find herself wrapped in Wolf’s strong, muscular arms. She became hypnotized by his black eyes and tempted by his deep voice. He seemed perfect in every way. She only wanted to be with him.

“I’ll be back for you.” Wolf held her tight against his body and whispered in her ear. “I love the way you stand up to me with your flashing blue eyes. Soon you’ll be mine, my beautiful ice queen.”

Linda couldn’t move her body. She was stuck in some kind of trance…she couldn’t leave; didn’t want to leave if given the choice. His voice soothed her and made her think of love, passion, and great need: a need that could be satisfied only by him with his expert hands and mouth. She knew that one day she was going to be with him, to be joined with him.

He lowered his mouth onto hers and drew her into a swirling haze of unexpected feelings and desires. His mouth fully covering hers introduced her to a new realm of pure pleasure. His powerful form enveloped her, making her feel feelings that were foreign and untried for her. She couldn’t get enough of him. She tentatively began touching his face and then his body with an eager and unrelenting hunger. She didn’t know what she needed, but she knew that she wanted and desired this beautiful man standing right before her. Her past life was washed out of her mind, never to be considered again. She begged him to take her with him tonight. In response, Wolf lifted her in his arms, as if she weighed nothing, and turned to leave the party. His beautiful face looked victorious and happy. His black eyes filled with passion. She hoped that it was because of her. He looked down into her small face and gave a hearty roar.

While Wolf carried her in his powerful arms, a dark shadow swooped out of the house and flew directly at them. Linda was knocked out of his arms, and Wolf was thrown across the patio.

She looked up to see who had attacked them. It was Todd, his eyes a deadly shade of green, standing there panting.

Linda backed away in horror. Todd’s eyes cleared and returned to their original dark color. Then he looked at her. “Don’t ever be afraid of me. I’m here to protect you.”

Then he was struck down by Wolf.

They began circling each other like two wild animals. Todd thrust his body at Wolf, causing Wolf to lose his balance, and they crashed together to the ground. Wolf pushed Todd aside and stood back up. He lunged at Todd, who sidestepped his maneuver. Todd retaliated by lifting him high up in the air and flinging him through one of the glass doors to the house. Wolf rose up and dusted glass off his clothing.

He said to Todd, who stood before him, “We are not anywhere near finished, my dear friend. The next battle between us will be more private—without so many witnesses. If I were you, I would watch your back…and your pretty little girlfriend.” Wolf stalked away with Hayden following close behind. Todd quickly followed.

Linda was left standing alone outside. She felt bereft without the touch of Wolf’s lips on hers and the solid strength of his arms holding her. She had felt the unmistakable pull by him on all her senses. In his arms, she’d felt weak and needy—as if she needed him to live. Todd and Wolf were extremely powerful and both had taken hold of her senses.

 

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If I had known it was going to be so hard,

 involving computer skills to the extreme,

 I might have thought twice about it,

 thought twice about writing my book.

 Writers must write each and every day.

 We must promote our books daily.

 We must post on our blogs each day.

 But there’s not enough hours in a day.

 How do other writers accomplish all this?

 How do they leave free time for their families?

 They must be expert jugglers.

 Experts at writing, blogging, and juggling.

 I must learn this dance,

 this high-wire walk,

 this never-ending battle.

 I must learn to juggle.

 I will do it.

 I will do it all.

 Just give me the chance.

 Book two is being written.

 I feel free.

 I feel empowered.

 I will survive.

 James Patterson, eat my dust.

 

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Author Showcase – Cher Lane (Get Married or Get Dead Trying)

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Kara Kay George had agreed to be on The Stag as a favor to the producer, her old sorority sister. “I just need you for one night,” Noreen had begged. “Then you can go home.” But going home was not an option. As luck would have it, the Stag took a liking to her and decided to keep her around. No way would she fawn over him as the other women were doing. She had a business back home to run and no time for a silly romance, especially not with a man who had his eye on twenty-four other girls.

Tree Gunner had lost a bet at his best friend’s bachelor party, meaning that he had to apply to be on the popular TV show, The Stag. Of course the handsome son of a Houston building magnate was a shoo-in. Certain that he will not fall in love with any of the girls, Tree arrives on the show feeling smug and confident. He’ll enjoy the attention of twenty-five vain, beautiful women, all hoping to marry him and his money, and then haul it back to Houston, alone.
Luana Deneux goes on The Stag with one purpose in mind – to marry Tree Gunner. An heiress with a disappearing inheritance, she and her brother are desperate for her to marry The Stag in order to restore the family’s dwindling coffers, and they will stop at nothing to insure it happens.

 

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Tree Gunner stood in the immense ballroom, looking much calmer than he felt. Known as Houston’s Stud Man, he shouldn’t feel nervous about meeting a group of women, but he did. After all, these weren’t just any women. They were here hoping to marry him. The very word gave him the heebie-jeebies. Him, get married?His buddies must be laughing their heads off.
            The cameras were readied, aimed at him, their lights blindingly bright. He could hear the crew cracking jokes. Something about how, “if I were in his shoes,” and “lucky dog.”  He’d happily trade places with any one of them. It had been just his luck to win, or lose was a better word, the bet with his buddies. They’d been sowing wild oats at Jed’s bachelor party when someone had come up with the bright idea. Winning the bet meant that he had to apply to be on The Stag, which didn’t mean he’d get chosen, but, when you were the handsome son of a building magnate, what was the chance you’d get turned down? So, here he was, nervously awaiting the twenty-five beautiful young women who were coming to meet him to cast their spells and try to drag him to the altar. He cringed inwardly at the thought and looked around, having heard his name called.
            “Tree.”  He turned to see Noreen, the show’s producer, approaching. She was a saucy redhead with bright blue eyes and a ton of energy.
            “The girls should be arriving any moment now,” she said, beaming. “Just smile and look at the camera.  That’s right,” she cooed, her hands busy adjusting this and smoothing that. She tilted his chin at just the right angle, then placed her hands on his broad shoulders and turned him slightly.  “Okay, just stay put, it’s almost show time.” She gave him an overly bright smile and hurried off to yell orders to Hal and Tom, the show’s cameramen.
            “Take it easy,” Tree murmured to her back.  “It’ll be okay.”
             If she heard, she gave no indication, suddenly picking up her heels and running for the entrance.  “They’re here!” she called.
            The show’s announcer, a pleasant looking middle aged man, called out the first girl. Tree watched as she walked across the stage towards him, a fake smile plastered on her heavily made-up face.  He murmured something polite, decided she’d be the first to go, and turned to wait for the next one.  A whole parade of artificial smiles came by, none of them making a lasting impression. Some insinuated that they were “available.” Others claimed to be virgins waiting for the perfect man.  He breathed a sigh of relief. He was safe. None of these women was a threat to his bachelorhood.
            They were almost to the end of the line when he heard a commotion.  He strained his eyes, trying to see beyond the bright camera lights to where two girls stood. They seemed to be having an argument over who would come out first.  At last, a saucy brunette emerged, hips swaying rhythmically to the beat of the Hawaiian music.  She pranced up to him, put a hand around his neck and kissed him soundly on the lips.  “Hello, Mr. Dream Man,” she said huskily, and then gave his butt a pinch with her other hand.
            Tree’s eyes opened wide in surprise, and he gave her a second look.  Her ebony eyes were dark with passion: seductive, materialistic, and sexy as hell. Things were looking up. He grinned and kissed her back, and then turned his attention to the last girl. 
            She walked nonchalantly towards him, her chin stuck up in the air. Tree felt the breath die in his throat as his heart began pumping double time and his… “Oh no, stay down, boy,” he ordered under his breath. Unlike the other women, this one seemed totally unaware of her charms and confident as hell at the same time. His gaze roamed over her body, itching to run his hands over every inch of it. She filled out the sarong perfectly with softly rounded hips and bosom, a tiny waist, and mile long legs. To top it all off, she had a healthy natural tan that let him know she enjoyed being outdoors. Her hair was the color of spun gold and swung freely about her shoulders. Then his eyes collided with hers. They were a dark lavender that reminded him of an exotic flower. A wave of hot passion shot from them, turning his insides to molten lava. She quickly lowered them, and when she looked up again, those lovely exotic eyes looked bored and uninterested, making him wonder whether he had imagined it.
            Reaching him, she extended a neatly manicured hand and smiled politely. “Hi, I’m Kara,” she said in a silky voice.  He ignored the outstretched hand and gripped her shoulders, pulling her against his chest. He heard her gasp just before he leaned down and his lips grazed that luscious mouth. The high heel that suddenly ground into his toe brought him back to his right mind with a jolt.  She gave him a smile of pure innocence, murmured, “sorry,” and walked away to join the other girls, hips softly swaying. 
            Pinched by one and maimed by another.  He didn’t know whether to rub his butt or grab his toe.  He did his best to hide the pain behind a pleasant smile as the camera came in for a close-up.  Then Noreen was there, sticking a microphone in his hand, and asking him questions.
            “Cut,” she called, and then shoved a list into his hand.  “These are points to consider when you qualify the girls.  You won’t want to let them see it, so just take a moment to look it over, and then stick it in your pocket.”  Noreen looked him up and down, patted him on the shoulder and then turned to yell directions to Hal and Tom.  
            Tree looked at the piece of paper in his hands. Points to consider huh?  He scanned down the list.  It sounded as if he was choosing a prized thoroughbred.  This evening, he should approach each girl and determine her breeding, financial status, social standing, and morals.  How was he supposed to remember all these details about twenty-five girls?  Ah, but here came Noreen now, with a small PDA in her hand.
            As if reading his mind, she held out the PDA and said, “You’ll use this to keep track of each girl’s qualities.  After you talk to each girl, pull out your PDA, bring up her name, and enter the details. At the end of the evening, just total the points for each girl and the PDA will let you know which ten girls you’ve selected.  Easy huh?”
            Tree looked at it and frowned.  A computer was going to choose his wife?  “I don’t like this.”  He turned the little PDA over in his hands, and then shoved it at Noreen.  “I’ll talk to each girl and make my selections based on who I like best.”
            Noreen tapped her foot and gave him an impatient look.  “I don’t have time for this nonsense.  Use the PDA.  You’re the one making the entries. You’re the one making the decision, not the computer. It just keeps track of your thoughts so you know who you liked best.” 
            “Like a little black book, huh?”
            “Yeah, like a little black book,” Noreen agreed.  “Just remember, it’s confidential and top secret.  Don’t let it out of your sight.”
            Noreen rushed off, and Tree spent a few minutes familiarizing himself with his little black book.  He pulled up Kara George’s name and read the brief biography.  “Thirty-two years old from Murphy, Texas, Miss George owns and operates a successful cruise and tour business,” he read. “Miss George is hoping to find love and lasting happiness with the Stag, Tree Gunner.”  He laughed aloud.  No way did Miss George look eager to fall in love with him. Other than that brief moment when her eyes seemed to gleam with passion, she looked put out at having to be here at all. He pulled up the comment page and typed:  “Keep this one around, no matter what,” snapped the PDA closed, and stuck it in his pocket, a smile of satisfaction on his face.  He was going to make her pay for the feelings she had aroused in him, whether purposely done or not.
 
 
 

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Cher Lane lives in Texas with her husband, four cats and a dog. She has three sons and one daughter, two step daughters, 15 grandchildren, and five step grandchildren. When she’s not writing, she enjoys working out, going for walks, swimming, sewing and cooking.
 
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Review of “Pumpkin Farmer” – Michael Hughes

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The year is 1979. Malaise, stagflation, turmoil in the Middle East, and a gas crunch; these things are but background noise for what unfolds when a lovesick businessman and a sociopathic drifter cross paths. John Nix, business manager of a Silicon Valley semiconductor startup, picks up Horace Fullworth, a ne’er-do -well heir of a wealthy California family, who has returned to San Francisco after surviving the Jonestown Massacre.

After John discovers his girlfriend cheating, he drives to a bar in the small rustic town of La Honda. He meets Ellie O’Neil, a pretty young woman he offers to drive home. Feeling misled by her, he leaves her on the side of the road, where Horace finds her. John hears that Ellie has gone missing and is overcome with guilt. His struggle with his conscience leads him back to those rugged coastal foothills of the San Francisco Peninsula.

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 

It was fascinating witnessing the ways Horace and John’s paths keep intercepting each other’s. With the level of detail surrounding their daily lives and happenings, you almost feel like you are watching these two men through binoculars. Let me tell you folks, these two gents weren’t sitting around watching pumpkins grow. There was a lot more going on at the pumpkin farm than meets the eye. 

In Chapter 34, the story really picks up steam —- the unthinkable happened. Be prepared for more than one shocking development, which included a surprise revelation. Yes, we had to wait until almost the end of the book. Yes, the big game changer could’ve been touched on a bit more and way sooner. Yes, I would have most definitely altered John and Ellie’s roles at the end.

When you think of sociopaths (Horace), when you read what became of Ellie, and Horace’s discovery, you’ll probably understand my cryptic meaning more clearly. I could describe my plot twist in more detail but I’m afraid it would give away spoilers which I won’t do.

But I will say this, those ending chapters were freaking fabulous and had me saying, “What the f*ck?!” and not in a bad way. Seriously, nice twist!  

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score: ❤❤❤1/2

 

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I’m 25 and currently work for a bank in compliance in Los Angeles.  Pumpkin Farmer and The Crimson Shamrock are my two published paperback novels; I also self-published a novel titled Loafing by La Brea. 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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