Tag Archives: mystery

January River by Bernard Jan (Book Showcase)

Five friends. One dog. One river carrying a secret.

When one of their friends goes missing, everything comes crashing down for the small group of childhood friends in the small town of Greenfield. Ethan takes it hard. Then he loses his dog, his only consolation.

Hoping to start anew, Ethan leaves Greenfield and moves to New York City. Far from the ghosts of his childhood and the river that gives and takes life. There he finds his one true love and builds a career as a bestselling author.

But how long will Ethan’s happiness last as doubts creep back into him and shatter his reality? And will his reconciliation with the past come at too great a price?

All rivers carry their secrets, but not every river keeps its secret forever.

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Ethan McCoy lay in the grass, stretched out to his full length. He flung his head back and unbuttoned his shirt, exposing his neck and the pale skin of his chest to the sun. His rolled-up sleeves were already drenched in sweat. Perspiration ran off his forehead, dripping onto the jacket folded under his head in a faux pillow.

Ethan removed the light-sensitive glasses from his nose and wiped the sweat off with a handkerchief. Inhaling deeply, he stared at the sun through unprotected eyes. The scent of Greenfield invaded his nostrils, conquering his throat, lungs, and heart. Inside him the memories were waking up, ignited by familiar feelings from the past.

In the strong light he felt a pain in his eyes, forcing him to close them. So that he might suffer too, he didn’t move to escape into the protective shadows. Determined to stay exposed to heat that reached him from the vast distance with such strength, he willed the sun to cause him pain. Wanted it to numb his senses and make him oblivious to any and all experiences—both pleasant and unpleasant. Most of all, he wanted to let go of the internal pain that refused to leave him alone after all these years.

He wished one pain could soothe another. The physical could annul the emotional. Even as he thought it, he knew it was in vain. He also accepted there was no cure for that pain. At best, it might be blunted some day and become just a painful reminder of his past.

But it would never disappear.

Because if it did, Greenfield would no longer exist. The artificially created grove beside the river in which he now rested, would vanish too. The same for Willy, then Jason, Derrick, and Sarah. Riv and . . . Susan. Could they evaporate, all of them? Did he have the right to ask that?

Or, what if it were possible for all of them to remain in their reality where they belonged? While he—Ethan—disappeared? Both could be possible only by some supernatural phenomenon. Something that could never happen.

Eventually moving into the shadows, he took off his shirt, shoes and socks and continued with his fantasy. Recalling. Or gathering up the strength and determination to do what he intended. Well, that’s what he planned on saying if someone asked him why he was there. So far, nobody had. Nobody knew. He arrived less than an hour ago. He hadn’t gone to the town, but had come straight to the river. To the place where everything had begun. Therefore, it only seemed fitting that it be where the beginning of the end transpired. The place where he would insert a period at the end of a life story. If he got lucky, he’d tear out a blank page and start anew. No memories. No past.

Without the bad memories, he could live in peace.

However, if he were honest with himself, that would be equally impossible to achieve.


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Raven’s Glen by Nancy E. Polin (Book Review)

Skylar Donaghue has no memory of the night her parents died. When the perfect career opportunity arises, she ignores her brother’s superstitious warnings, choosing to leave the Choctaw reservation where she grew up and return to the place of her birth…

Widowed and caring for his young daughter, relationships are the last thing on Jack Langham’s mind. A chance encounter finds him intrigued, then captivated by a beautiful, but mysterious, violet-eyed woman and before he realizes it, he’s falling faster than fate may ever allow…

Stephen Donaghue holds the key to that long ago night, but never speaks of it. Now that Skylar is being pulled into the past, he fears its ghosts will darken their future and claim his sister forever…
 
 
 
 
(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 
 
Raven’s Glen elicited many emotions from me. Read on to discover which ones and why. 


Curiosity: For a while, I pondered these questions…
What was up with the house?
What truly happened the night Stephen escaped with Skylar?
Will Nancy elaborate on John Patrick’s fascination with the occult?
What’s Molly’s background? How could she sense something was a miss with Jack’s house. 
What was up with the numerous encounters with the ravens?
Did Stephen have a unique skill like Skylar?
 
Frustration: Several times, I wanted to shake some characters. I wanted Jack to realize that not everything was kosher with his daughter, girlfriend, neighbor, and house. I wanted Stephen to wake up and stop dragging his feet regarding Chloe. 
 
Fear: For years, I have suffered from night terrors. No matter the age, they are frightening. I can’t imagine my bogeyman becoming real. I wouldn’t want to deal with a live version of Skylar and Avery’s monster either. Brief description: One side of his face was smashed in; the other was charred. An eye that appeared to be melting down his face. 
Gross, right?!
 
Love and Hope: Love was expressed throughout this story. Not always with words but with actions. Avery playing matchmaker for her dad. Avery trying to protect her dad and Skylar from the burnt man. Jack and Skylar finding themselves. Stephen finally realizing how important Chloe was to him. Jack sitting vigil against Sky’s bedside. Stephen taking a walk on the dark side. Even the ravens brought hope that evil would soon leave everyone’s life forever. 
 
I want to end the review with my favorite line from Raven’s Glen. It occurred during a meeting between Jack, the Principal, and a bully’s parents. The father of the bully said, “Words cannot physically harm, but hitting can.” What Jack said next is the absolute truth. 
 
(Jack) “Words can cause intense damage. It’s just not as easily seen with the naked eye.”
 
Recommend this book to others? YES! 

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score:  ❤❤❤1/2

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Nancy E. Polin began writing as a child and returned as a late bloomer to add experience and the occasional quirk to her work. She’s published four novels and several short pieces to date and is currently pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing. Nancy shares her life with her husband, kids and critters, nestled within the towering firs of the Pacific Northwest.
 
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The Shop Before Life by Neil Hughes (Book Review)

After two happy centuries in the prelife, Faythe is battling the most dangerous human emotion. She’s bored.

But when she accepts a once-in-a-prelifetime opportunity to become Apprentice at the magical Shop Before Life, her days become dreadfully interesting.

Now she helps customers with the most important choice they’ll ever make: who to become in the afterprelife–or “life”, for short. Will they be born on Earth with MATHEMATICAL GIFTS? Or perhaps they’d prefer DELIGHTED BY CATS?

But Faythe has questions of her own. Like–what exactly is in these jars of human traits? And who is the mysterious Supplier who creates them?

Unfortunately, these questions could awaken an ancient conflict and even destroy the Shop itself. They should maybe mention that sort of thing during orientation.

Management are going to be furious, but their divine punishment must wait. Right now, Faythe needs to discover the secrets of the Shop in order to save it.

If she fails, nobody will become themselves ever again . . .

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

 

Life is a fickle b!tch. People are born. People live. People die.

People speculate what comes after death. Some people believe there’s a heaven and hell. While others stand firm in the knowledge, nothing is awaiting us in the afterlife. With all the discussion on the after, people rarely speak of the before. This is where The Shop Before Life became very interesting to me.

Whether you have faith in a higher being or not, this story will get you thinking. I can’t disclose the bombshell Faythe discovered when she met Management; however, I will briefly talk about the shop and the jars of traits.

 

Every possible trait was available to those who entered the shop.

1.) Grab a basket and browse the numerous aisles.

2.) See something you like, add it to your basket.

3.) Once you fill your basket and can’t carry anymore, head to checkout.

4.) Now, you are all set to journey to Earth and be born.

 

Sounds simple, right?! Ah, the simplest ideas and jobs often prove most challenging.

Have you ever been to the store and the shelves haven’t been restocked yet?

Something you want is out of stock?

Maybe your favorite store closed down?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then how upset did you become?

The people of prelife reacted in the same manner you’d expect a living, breathing person to behave. Yup, they went off the rails.

Life on Earth was affected because of the events happening in and around the shop.  I won’t say how though. (No Spoilers)

 

I encourage everyone to read this story. It’s highly entertaining, thought-provoking, and the perfect book for many age groups.

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score:❤❤❤❤

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As well as The Shop Before Life, Neil Hughes is the author of Walking on Custard & the Meaning of Life, a hilarious and useful guide to life with anxiety. Along with writing more books, he spends his time on humorous talks about mental health, standup comedy, physics, computer programming, and everything from music, video games, languages and pub quizzes. He struggles to answer the question “so, what do you do?” and is worried that the honest answer is probably “procrastinate.” He would like it if you said hello at enhughesiasm.com

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The Crown for Castlewood Manor: My American Almost-Royal Cousin Series by Veronica Cline Barton (Book Review)

The English ancestral manor of Cherrywood Hall is ready to compete for selection in an upcoming British TV period drama series: the grounds are manicured, the mansion is polished, and the servants are poised. American heiress Gemma Lancaster Phillips has crossed the pond to help her cousin defeat the three other stately homes vying for the prize.

What Gemma doesn’t realize is that this competition is life or death, and someone is taking that challenge literally. The occupants of one home are killed in an automobile accident, and murder becomes a frequent occurrence at the other locations. Who is behind the mayhem? Selection would be a major coup for both the estate and the community. At first the other contestants seem to be likely suspects, but no one is quite certain as the tragedies continue. Could it even be Emma’s beloved cousin Evan, the surviving heir to the Lancaster fortune, or Kyle, his best friend and estate manager? With the Royal family in attendance at each event, the puzzle becomes a crucial one for Scotland Yard, and they enlist Gemma’s help to solve the mystery.

When the competition’s winner is announced on New Year’s Eve, will Gemma’s future be forever tied to her ancestral past?

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

Wow, royal families really know how to throw a party. No matter where the competition events were being held, pandemonium was soon to erupt.

Shots fired. Drinks poisoned. Suspicious car accidents.

Who was the killer and was he or she working alone?

This was not a simple murder mystery book. Veronica Cline Barton (the author) will have you guessing right up until the end when Chief Inspector Marquot explains all the motives behind each illegal act.

BTW: I would be shocked to know any reader was 100% correct in all the who’s and why’s of this multiple murder mystery.

I do have some bit of advice before you crack open this book. Grab snacks!

Veronica mentioned food so many times that I was starving by the time I finished the book. 🙂

Good luck, super sleuths!

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score:❤❤❤❤

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Veronica Cline Barton earned graduate degrees in both engineering and business and has had successful careers in the software and technology industries. Her lifelong love affair with British murder mysteries inspired her to embark on a literary career. The Crown for Castlewood Manor and Cast, Crew, & Carnage; the Filming of Castlewood Manor are the first and second books in what she calls her My American Almost Royal Cousin Series. When not traveling and spinning mystery yarns, she lives in California with her husband, Bruce, and her two cats, Daisy and Ebbie.

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Yuletime at Cherrywood Hall: Once Upon a WolfPack Anthology by Veronica Cline Barton (Book Showcase)

Once Upon a Wolfpack

Contributing author, Veronica Cline Barton

I was so honored to have my short story, Yuletime at Cherrywood Hall, Pippa’s First Christmas, included in the #WolfpackAuthors anthology that was published earlier this year. The anthology is a compilation of works by authors of all genres, and all proceeds are donated to the Lockwood Animal Rescue Center (LARC) My contributed short story is one close to my heart—it is a prequel to a storyline in the 3rd book of my #cozymystery series, Deadly Receptions; the Debut of Castlewood Manor. It tells the tale of a tainted bridal veil from years gone by and introduces the readers of my series to Aunt Pippa, the beloved ancestral aunt who saved the Cherrywood Hall estate with her marriage to Charles Lancaster, the 4th Marquess of Kentshire.

The short story takes place in the weeks before Christmas. Pippa has been receiving demeaning messages criticizing her every move as an American married to the popular marquess. A chance snowstorm brings her nemesis to Cherrywood Hall. Pippa meets her husband’s previous fiancé, the author of the critical notes–a jilted woman who is filled with anger at the woman who holds the position and privilege that she thought would be hers. As a blizzard rages outside, her mind is set on deadly revenge…Will Pippa’s first Christmas at the hall be her last?

Read more about the #WolfPackAuthors anthology and the great cause it benefits here:

The idea was simple: form a group of authors based on the mantra, “Do good things for the right reasons.” We are a pack – #WolfPackAuthors. Together, we expand exposure for our books, help one another with all aspects of the process, pick each other up when the lonely life of writing gets us down.

As with wolves, words can be dangerous or healing. The reintroduction of the wolf, hunted to the brink of extinction, carries such far-reaching results as to make vegetation grow on what was once barren, and to change the paths of rivers. Considering these powerful facts, we chose to donate the proceeds of this anthology to Lockwood Animal Rescue Center /LARC, a facility with a unique mission. They are one of the few organizations focused heavily on wolves, integrating military veteran rehabilitation into the caretaking process.

In this collection of work, you will find a showcase of many of our members’ talents: A young girl betrothed to a werewolf, yet her father, a human, is the true monster. Two snipers who lay in wait, an otherworldly supreme being watching them, in the form of a majestic wolf. A she-wolf sets her sights on a young woman, married to the man she loved. The paradoxical story of the big bad wolf, who through no fault of his own sets out on a calamity filled adventure. A batch of witty private investigators at work solving crime. A sarcastic banshee, a shapeshifting detective, and a vampire, all friends, investigate a string of murders. There are many others, varied in style or genre.

Come on an adventure with the WolfPackAuthors. We’ve got the stories you want; together, we hope to make the world a better place for wolves, humans, and those who dare to dream.

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Cozy MysteryYuletime at Cherrywood Hall: Veronica Cline Barton
Fairy Tale/ ParodyUnfairy Prosecuted: J.W. Crawford
Fairy TalePoppy: Tia Fanning

Fantasy/ SupernaturalFor the Love of the Pack: Sharon Lopez
Horror/ Meta horrorThe Untold One: B.L. Clark
HorrorFrost Harbor: Alexander Pain

LiteraryOmega Road: Lee M. Tipton
Magical RealismAn Early Snow: Andi Marchal
P.I./ DetectiveThe Wolf: Joe Congel 

P.I./ Detective, Cozy MysteryMrs Solberg’s Problem: CW Hawes
PoetryWolf Pack United: Angie-Marie Delsante
PoetryWelcome to the Den: Lori Katherine

Romance/ SupernaturalThe Soap Maker’s Mother: Christina van Deventer
Science Fiction/ MilitarySacha: Jeff DeMarco
Science Fiction/ ParanormalWolf Cry: Z Gottlieb
Science Fiction/ ParanormalCircus of the Night: Stefan Angelina McElvain
Urban FantasyTrue Nature : Luna Selas

 

Veronica Cline Barton earned graduate degrees in both engineering and business and has had successful careers in the software and technology industries. Her lifelong love affair with British murder mysteries inspired her to embark on a literary career. The Crown for Castlewood Manor and Cast, Crew, & Carnage; the Filming of Castlewood Manor are the first and second books in what she calls her My American Almost Royal Cousin Series. When not traveling and spinning mystery yarns, she lives in California with her husband, Bruce, and her two cats, Daisy and Ebbie.

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