We Were Kings by Court Stevens #bookreview #YA #mystery #thriller #TuesdayBookBlog

Twenty years ago, eighteen-year-old Francis Quick was convicted of murdering her best friend Cora King and sentenced to death. Now the highly debated Accelerated Death Penalty Act passes and gives Frankie thirty final days to live. From the Kings’ own family rises up the one who will challenge the woefully inadequate evidence and potential innocence of Francis Quick.

The at-first reluctant and soon-fiery Nyla and her sidekick (and handsome country island boy), Sam Stack, bring Frankie’s case to the international stage through her YouTube channel Death Daze. They step into fame and a hometown battle that someone’s still willing to kill over. The senator? The philanthropist? The pawn shop owner? Nyla’s own mother?

Best advice: Don’t go to family dinner with the Kings. More people will leave the dining room in body bags than on their own two feet. And as for Francis Quick, she’s a gem . . . even if she’s guilty. 

I’ve wanted to read this author’s books for quite a while (she also has several published under Courtney C. Stevens), but just hadn’t been able to fit them it. When I saw her newest release pop up on NetGalley, I immediately requested it and was so excited to be approved.

I couldn’t pry the Kindle from my fingers with this novel. In fact, I was so caught up in the last 20% I was late meeting a friend for dinner – I needed to know how it would end. No way could I wait until later that evening to find out.

Nyla’s been raised my her mother (no father is in the picture), and they’ve lived with a family friend for the past several years. After her mother’s best friend receives the death penalty for a murder whe allegedly committed twenty years ago, secrets upon secrets are spilled about Nyla’s mother’s past and what happened all those years ago. Nyla and her new friend Sam (whose dad was a childhood friend of Nyla’s mother) soon dive deep into the mystery of who really killed Cora King. Once Nyla meets the King family, they all come under suspicion at some point during the story. They’re one dysfunctional bunch with plenty of skeletons stuffed in the closet.

The buildup to the big reveal had me suspecting almost everyone, and the twists are whiplash-worthy. And the reveal scene itself – shocking and so vivid I could see it playing out in my mind as if I was watching it on screen.

We Were Kings is a fast-paced mystery full of secrets, surprises, and maladjusted family dynamics. I’m just sorry it took me this long to read a book by this author.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Anatomy: A Love Story by Dana Schwartz #YA #historicalfiction #mystery #TuesdayBookBlog

A gothic tale full of mystery and romance about a willful female surgeon, a resurrection man who sells bodies for a living, and the buried secrets they must uncover together.

Edinburgh, 1817.

Hazel Sinnett is a lady who wants to be a surgeon more than she wants to marry.

Jack Currer is a resurrection man who’s just trying to survive in a city where it’s too easy to die.

When the two of them have a chance encounter outside the Edinburgh Anatomist’s Society, Hazel thinks nothing of it at first. But after she gets kicked out of renowned surgeon Dr. Beecham’s lectures for being the wrong gender, she realizes that her new acquaintance might be more helpful than she first thought. Because Hazel has made a deal with Dr. Beecham: if she can pass the medical examination on her own, the university will allow her to enroll. Without official lessons, though, Hazel will need more than just her books – she’ll need bodies to study, corpses to dissect.

Lucky that she’s made the acquaintance of someone who digs them up for a living, then.

But Jack has his own problems: strange men have been seen skulking around cemeteries, his friends are disappearing off the streets. Hazel and Jack work together to uncover the secrets buried not just in unmarked graves, but in the very heart of Edinburgh society.

Gothic tale, willful female surgeon, a man who sells bodies, and Edinburgh 1817 – there’s just nothing bad here, folks. Everything about the description made me want to read this novel. And then there’s the cover – what a stunning work of art!

Hazel is a woman ahead of her time. Although from a wealthy family, she’s continually reminded by her mother that Hazel’s brother will inherit their estate, and she must marry her cousin to maintain her lifestyle. But that’s not important to her. Hazel is determined to become a female surgeon, which is unheard of in her time. Women can’t possibly comprehend the complexities of the human body. Dressed as a man, she attends classes and is an exemplary student, until being tosssed out after it’s discovered she’s the wrong gender. That’s only a minor inconvenience – she soon makes a deal with a renowned surgeon. If she passes the medical exam on her own, he’ll train her himself. You’ll immediately root for this strong-willed, intelligent girl.

To pass the exam, Hazel needs bodies to practice on, and it seems she’s destined to meet Resurrectionist Man Jack, who’s been unable to find honest work. When people begin disappearing off the street but then turn up alive with fewer body parts, Hazel and Jack have a mystery on their hands. The title may lead you to believe this is primarily a love story, but that’s not exactly true. Yes, there’s a romance, but it’s not at all the main focus of the story. I believe the title refers to Hazel’s love of anatomy over most anything else in her life.

The novel moves along at a brisk pace, but I was a little surprised at how quickly this standalone wraps up. Despite that, I thought the ending was perfect for these characters and the story setting. I haven’t read anything else by this author, but you can be certain I’ll be checking into her backlist. If you’re a fan of historical fiction and strong female protagonists, you can’t go wrong with this book.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

#BlogTour You’ll Be the Death of Me by Karen M. McManus #YA #mystery #suspense

Ivy, Mateo, and Cal used to be close. Now all they have in common is Carlton High and the beginning of a very bad day.

Type A Ivy lost a student council election to the class clown, and now she has to face the school, humiliated. Heartthrob Mateo is burned out–he’s been working two jobs since his family’s business failed. And outsider Cal just got stood up…. again.

So when Cal pulls into campus late for class and runs into Ivy and Mateo, it seems like the perfect opportunity to turn a bad day around. They’ll ditch and go into the city. Just the three of them, like old times. Except they’ve barely left the parking lot before they run out of things to say…

Until they spot another Carlton High student skipping school–and follow him to the scene of his own murder. In one chance move, their day turns from dull to deadly. And it’s about to get worse.

It turns out Ivy, Mateo, and Cal still have some things in common. They all have a connection to the dead kid. And they’re all hiding something.

Now they’re all wondering–could it be that their chance reconnection wasn’t by chance after all?

I’ve read a couple other mystery/suspense books by this author and couldn’t resist the opportunity to participate in a blog tour for her newest release.

It starts out like a Ferris Bueller kind of day for friends Ivy, Mateo, and Cal when they decide to skip school, but they sure don’t wind up at a baseball game or fancy restaurant for lunch. When they wander into the scene of a very recently committed murder – seriously, the body hadn’t even begun to cool – their day goes off the rails at the speed of light. Panicked and on the run, the teens make one bad decision after another and dig themselves in deeper. I wanted to rip their heads off. Although close friends in middle school, the three of them drifted apart and spend time rehashing the scenario that seemed to cause the divide. Old wounds are reopened, fingers are pointed, and at times the three turn on each other while trying to discover who the murderer is.

All three characters are well-crafted and are dealing with their own problems – besides being possible murder suspects. Mateo works three jobs to help pay for his mother’s medications after she loses the family business. Cal is dumped by another girlfriend who left him with some unfair parting shots, and his list of friends is sadly very short. Overachiever Ivy struggles to prove herself to her parents. After her talented younger brother skips a grade, she feels as if a competition exists between them. She’s undoubtedly an intelligent girl (I adored the random trivia she’d text Cal in the wee hours of the morning), but of the three seems to make the worst decisions. Honestly, I’m surprised Cal and Mateo didn’t just dump her a few times, but she does make up for it.

The plot will keep you guessing, and there are a couple red herrings to throw you off. At the big reveal, the person behind everything is probably someone you’ll never guess, but I won’t say why – no spoilers. I will say I’d hoped for a more jaw-dropping moment.

I think all of this author’s books are standalones, but the ending almost leaves an opening for a sequel. I know I wouldn’t mind seeing what happens next, but I doubt it’s in the cards. This is a quick read that doles out clues along the way – pay attention early in the book – and will keep you guessing.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Karen M. McManus is the #1 New York Times and international bestselling author of young adult thriller/mystery novels, including One of Us Is Lying, One of Us Is Next, Two Can Keep a Secret, and The Cousins. You’ll Be the Death of Me will be her next novel, publishing December 2021. Her work has been translated into more than 40 languages worldwide. Karen lives in Massachusetts and holds a master’s degree in Journalism from Northeastern University, which she mostly uses to draft fake news stories for her novels. For more information, visit http://www.karenmcmanus.com or @writerkmc on Twitter and Instagram.

A Thousand Yesteryears (Point Pleasant Series #1) by Mae Clair #bookreview #suspense #supernatural

Behind a legend lies the truth…

As a child, Eve Parrish lost her father and her best friend, Maggie Flynn, in a tragic bridge collapse. Fifteen years later, she returns to Point Pleasant to settle her deceased aunt’s estate. Though much has changed about the once thriving river community, the ghost of tragedy still weighs heavily on the town, as do rumors and sightings of the Mothman, a local legend. When Eve uncovers startling information about her aunt’s death, that legend is in danger of becoming all too real…

Caden Flynn is one of the few lucky survivors of the bridge collapse but blames himself for coercing his younger sister out that night. He’s carried that guilt for fifteen years, unaware of darker currents haunting the town. It isn’t long before Eve’s arrival unravels an old secret—one that places her and Caden in the crosshairs of a deadly killer…

A Thousand Yesteryears is the first book in the Point Pleasant series, but somehow I read books two and three before it. Guess that answers your question about reading them in order. Each can serve as a standalone but share many of the same characters.

I’ve read several novels by this author, and she has such a talent for creating characters you love or hate. These are no exception. You want Eve to grapple with her tragic past, put it behind her, and settle her deceased aunt’s estate – and maybe even take over the hotel left to her and stay in town. You want Caden to realize he’s not responsible for the death of his sister and shed the blame he carries about that night. You also have a deep desire for the killer who ended the lives of their friends and family to get what’s coming to them because these characters feel like your own family.

Of all the subgenres of suspense, supernatural suspense is my favorite. I’m always a fan of the otherworldly, and basing a series on the Mothman and setting the story in the town where he was reportedly seen intrigues me even more. Is he a good guy or a bad guy? He makes appearances in this novel, so you’ll have to decide for yourself.

Small towns, long held secrets, sweet romances, dark mysteries, and strong characterization make this series a must read and will enthrall supernatural suspense fans. The Mothman is just a bonus.

Year of the Reaper by Makiia Lucier #bookreview #YA #fantasy

The past never forgets…

Before an ambush by enemy soldiers, Lord Cassia was an engineer’s apprentice on a mission entrusted by the king. But when plague sweeps over the land, leaving countless dead and devastating the kingdom, even Cas’ title cannot save him from a rotting prison cell and a merciless sickness.

Three years later, Cas wants only to return to his home in the mountains and forget past horrors. But home is not what he remembers. His castle has become a refuge for the royal court. And they have brought their enemies with them.

When an assassin targets those closest to the queen, Cas is drawn into a search for a killer… one that leads him to form an unexpected bond with a brilliant young historian named Lena. Cas and Lena soon realize that who is behind the attacks is far less important than why. They must look to the past, following the trail of a terrible secret—one that could threaten the kingdom’s newfound peace and plunge it back into war. 

With Cas returning home after being imprisoned and presumed dead for so many years, this description gave me The Count of Monte Cristo vibes. I also liked that it’s a standalone.

This book sneaked up and put a bear hug on me. With characters I loved, others I loved to hate, and the mystery of who was behind the attacks, I wanted to plow through it in one sitting. After three years of prison beatings and torture, surviving the plague, and witnessing so much death, Cas has a dark side to him. He’s not the person who disappeared three years ago, and his struggle to control that part of him is a challenge. I immediately liked Lena. She’s disguised as a royal messenger and steals Cas’s horse the first time they meet. She loves books and isn’t a fan of the rule requiring her to be in the company of male escorts/chaperones most of the time. I’m always a fond of rebellious characters.

The mystery of the assassin is full of red herrings and plot twists that lead Cas and Lena on a perplexing journey. It kept me guessing, but by the big reveal (and it’s a good one), I’d guessed the culprit. There’s a paranormal element I didn’t expect, but it adds a nice angle to the story. The supporting cast is also strong, but Bittor is a standout for me with his humorous lines and big heart.

Although the story is complete without it, I’d hoped for an epilogue set five years in the future, but I won’t go into detail about that date – no spoilers. With compelling characters, a gripping mystery, paranormal flair, and a sprinkling of humor, Year of the Reaper enthralled me from beginning to end.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

#BadMoonRising Wild Darkness by Paula Cappa #shortstory #thriller #mystery

Hope you’re all getting into the Halloween spirit by watching scary movies (or It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown – it’s a must watch every year for me), carving pumpkins, or eating all the candy and then going out to buy more before the trick or treaters get there tomorrow – whatever works for you. Today’s author regularly uses tarot cards – but not in the typical way. If you’re a writer, you may want to adopt her technique. I know I’ll be looking into it. Welcome Paula Cappa!

Have you ever had a tarot card reading?

Not exactly. I have had psychic readings. I do like the tarot. I have a stack of tarot cards on my bookshelf over my writing desk and often use the book “Tarot for Writers.” I pick the cards out with a question in mind, and it  triggers my creativity. Kind of like brainstorming with the inner self, exploring my subconscious to deeper creativity. It’s very exciting and I’m often surprised how well the tarot directs me and the character in my story. Word out there has it that John Steinbeck used tarot cards to inspire his creativing writing process too.

If you watch horror movies, are you the person who yells at the characters, covers your eyes, or falls asleep?

I’m not fond of hard core horror. I’m more the quiet horror type. I like the supernatural to be so mysterious that you have to find out what truth is coming through the action. Hauntings attract me and that’s why almost all of my fiction deals with ghostly presences. I consider my work supernatural, not horror, because it’s the spirituality of those existing in the beyond who fascinate me.  I want to get to know them and bring them into our physical world.

Do you ever see figures in your peripheral vision?

Oh yes. Often when walking in nature, the woods, or in cemeteries (I frequent a local cemetery near my home) there are shadows and light flashes that catch me. They are not figures exactly, but presences that draw my eye and my thoughts. So I spend time listening. In my novel The Dazzling Darkness (which takes place in a cemetery in Concord, MA) I spent weeks in cemeteries, walking through the statuary and headstones to get a sense of the dead. Gray rainy days are especially inspiring. Rain ghosts!

What do you do to get inside your characters’ heads?

I spend time being them by eating the food they prefer, dressing like them, speaking in their tone of voice and performing their jobs. In my novel Greylock, the central character is a Russian concert pianist. I don’t play piano, but I spent hours listening to Rachmaninoff concertos (volume turned up)  and played an imaginary keyboard on my desk. This experience gave me a deep feeling of what it’s like to feel the music inside my hands and mind, letting the music fill me. I became Alexei Georg for the two years I spent writing Greylock, a mystery with a music phantom.

How would you describe your book’s ideal reader?

My ideal reader is someone who loves to explore the spiritual side of ghosts in fiction. Why do the dead come back to us? Why do they hover in our lives? Learning from ghosts is a lifelong endeavor of mine and my readers aren’t afraid to go into the world of fiction to find a ghost come forward on the page. There is a truth in that we are in the midst of the spiritual world all the time. If you believe spirit is everything and life is indestructible, you will enjoy my supernatural mystery stories.

What are you working on now?

I am half way through a novel about a rain ghost who haunts a windmill in Bedford, NY.  A poet, a sketch artist, a shaman, and murder by magic.

The force of nature, force of death, force of consciousness. A short story of Agatha Ashfield who explores the spiritual realms of ghosts. Come meet Falling Water, the ghost beneath the hickory trees on Mohawk River.

Agatha Ashfield, a wise woman in her late years, has long been fascinated by the power of Nature. She meets a ghost called Falling Water who dwells beneath the hickory trees by Mohawk River. As Agatha seeks her destiny, she struggles to overcome fears of her impending death, find a way to trust goodness, the power of Nature, and release her everlasting consciousness. This is a short tale of mystery, love, passion, and spirituality. If you enjoy exploring the spiritual world and its realms, you will enjoy entering Agatha’s mysterious Wild Darkness. Wild Darkness was originally published at ParAbnormal Magazine, March 2020.

Amazon reviewer: “Imaginative and creative story. The narrator places you firmly by Agatha’s side and you feel like you are taking that final journey with her.”

Purchase Link

Amazon

Author Bio and Social Media

Paula Cappa is the recipient of a Chanticleer Book Award and American Book Fest’s Best Books Award Finalist for her novel Greylock. She also earned the prestigious Eric Hoffer Book Award, Silver Medal Winner at Global Book Awards, The Readers’ Favorite International Bronze Medal for Supernatural Suspense, and is a Gothic Readers Book Club Award Winner in Outstanding Fiction. She is the author of Greylock, The Dazzling Darkness, and Night Sea Journey—print editions published by Crispin Books, Milwaukee WI.Night Sea Journey was featured as an on-air reading at RiverwestRadio, Fearless Reader Radio in Wisconsin.Cappa’s short fiction has appeared in ParABnormal Magazine, Coffin Bell Literary Journal, Unfading DaydreamDark Gothic Resurrected MagazineWhistling Shade Literary Journal, SmokeLong Quarterly, Sirens Call Ezine, Every Day Fiction, Fiction365, Twilight Times Ezine, and in anthologies Journals of Horror: Found FictionMystery Time, and Human Writes Literary Journal. She is a freelance copy editor and writes a short story blog, Reading Fiction, at paulacappa.wordpress.com. Paula Cappa is Co-Chair of the Pound Ridge Authors Society in Pound Ridge, NY.

Website and Reading Fiction Blogpaulacappa.wordpress.com

Facebook:   https://www.facebook.com/paula.cappa.94

Goodreads URL: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6553133.Paula_Cappa

Twitter     https://twitter.com/PaulaCappa1 

Instagram   @paula_cappa

Amazon Author Page:    https://www.amazon.com/Paula-Cappa/e/B009P2HZ7A/

Buy Links for novels:

The Dazzling Darkness  https://www.amazon.com/The-Dazzling-Darkness-ebook/dp/B00CJH944U

Night Sea Journey, A Tale of the Supernatural https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009ONWSC2

Greylock   https://www.amazon.com/Greylock-Paula-Cappa-ebook/dp/B0168XVNZS

#BadMoonRising August-Lost by R.G. Vaughan #thriller #mystery

Get the candy ready – Halloween is only a week away! Hope these authors have been getting you into the holiday spirit. Today features another new author to BMR. Guests at his Halloween party might want to check those candy apples twice before eating them – you can’t be too sure what’s really inside. Welcome R.G. Vaughan!

Have you ever had a tarot card reading?

No, and I never will. Although I’m not a believer, there’s a nagging voice of caution in the back of my mind. I prize logic and science above all else, but the last thing I would want is to be proven wrong in this particular area. After all, if tarot card reading is real, it would mean there are forces at work that would make me very nervous. And if there are good spirits out there, then there must be bad ones.

I suppose ignorance is bliss so I’ll bury my head in the sand.

Would you rather dunk for apples or carve a Jack o’ lantern?

That depends on who’s in the room at the time. There are some people I wouldn’t trust with the tools for carving a Jack o’ lantern, and others I wouldn’t trust as I put my face near a barrel of water. That might sound paranoid but it’s a side effect of being a thriller writer. I think of the worst ways to kill someone in normal situations.

Candy apple or candy corn?

Candy apple all day long. Everything about them is amazing. Especially the thick part that pools when they’re drying. And the fun you can have with party guests is particularly cruel. Put out a batch of candy apples at your next party, but plant an onion in there somewhere. Then, sit back and wait for someone to take a bite.

What do you do to get inside your characters’ heads?

Each character is an enhanced version of people in my life– past and present. I’ve known these people for years and enjoy watching and listening to them. When a character is needed, I try to think of which one would be the best person for that situation. Bear in mind, I’ve served in the Armed forces for more than twenty years. The people I’ve met along the way come from a variety of backgrounds and all have pretty spectacular characteristics.

By using real people to anchor my characters, I feel like I already know them and can anticipate how the story will unfold–what would they do if this or that happened? But sometimes, the words run away from me and I’m left surprised by what appears on the page.

How would you describe your book’s ideal reader?

Someone who knows right from wrong but is morally flexible in how and when punishment should be applied. I tend to think that we all have a hidden dark side, and deep down, all of us are capable of vengeance to a certain degree.

However, I don’t believe in evil for evil’s sake. Every antagonist must have a reason to be what they are, and I want my readers to be able to empathize or even agree with them. But they should also root for the protagonist.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on books two and three to August–Lost at the moment. They are being written side by side because I can’t decide which order they should be released. I’ve also got another series in the pipeline that I add to from time to time. But I’m struggling with where that series should be set. I’m torn between the UK and USA.

Secrets, omissions, disingenuous greetings. What do people hide?
Even the most trustworthy have secrets. The neighbour who smiles when walking their dog, the delivery man who thanks you for a signature, even the police officer who takes your statement could all be hiding something dreadful.

DI Matt Bruce processes evidence with absolute clarity, but with PTSD restricting his ability to empathise, he lives as a prisoner to a tragic history. Thankfully, DS Val Marsh is brought in to unseal his bottled feelings and help release him from himself. But when a simple murder case evolves into something more, the pair stumble upon haunting crimes of vengeance and hate, and a myth from the art underworld becomes a terrifying reality.

Purchase Link

Amazon

Author Bio and Social Media

Born in Wales, UK in 1982, Rob grew up with two brothers and one sister in the valley of Aberdare.

From a young age, he aspired to follow in his Grandfather’s footsteps and join the Royal Air Force. That dream came true in May 2000 when he left home for the first time. He remembers his first big challenge was interacting with people. Thanks to his strong and fast Welsh accent, his fellow trainees struggled to understand him, leaving him feeling isolated. Never-the-less, he finished his training and is twenty-one years into a military career. During this time, he served in many countries including multiple tours of Iraq and Afghanistan, and has deployed on several international aide missions around the world.

Having read hundreds of books over the years when flying in the back of military cargo aircraft, he only put pen to paper two years ago. During a particularly difficult chapter in his life, he found solace in writing and released his debut novel in August 2021.

Married to his childhood girlfriend, he’s always had a reason to return back to Aberdare where he lives with his wife and son. And even though a two-hour commute sounds horrible, it gives him plenty of time to ponder on his plots and characters.

rgvaughan.com

Twitter

#BadMoonRising Undercover: Crime Shorts by Jane Risdon #shortstories #mysteries #thriller

Today’s author lives in England, but when she contacted me, she mentioned her featured book was being used by a class at Western Kentucky University. Which is located ten minutes from me. It’s a small world, my friends. She’s also experienced some hair-raising moments with figures in her peripheral vision. Making her debut at BMR, welcome Jane Risdon!

Hello Teri, thanks for hosting me on your fab blog. I hope your readers my answers to your questions.

Have you ever had a Tarot card reading?

Actually, I’ve had many. Years ago, when I was still working in the international music business we (my husband and I) were asked to get involved in a series for the new and revolutionary Satellite television which was all the rage. One production company asked us to put together a show about Mediums, Clairvoyants, Spiritualists, and Witches – it was in return for some favours.

It involved us spending a year going the length and breadth of England interviewing all manner of people and during many such interviews, we—of course — had Tarot card readings.

Some readings were hilariously ridiculous but one or two were rather hair-raising. Suffice to say we filed it all away for the programme, which sadly, didn’t transpire because the production company lost their funding. But from our point of view, we put it down to experience. We are still waiting for what the cards told us, to come true.

Do you ever see figures in my peripheral vision?

I haven’t seen any for many years but when I was first married, we had a grotty flat in an old Georgian house — my husband’s band was still struggling back then – and the flat was all we could afford, especially with a new baby, and many landlords back then refused to entertain allowing babies and children in their accommodation; I used to see many figures out of the corner of my eye. Shadows walking out of a cupboard and across the room, a feeling of not being alone when I knew I was.

Prior to my experiences at the flat, I had also had an experience when I was pregnant and lived in another flat, also in an older property, when I used to get the feeling that someone was watching me while I slept. My husband and his band were way on tour, and I was alone. I was often woken by sensation of being observed and a few times I opened my eyes to see an old lady, dressed like an Irish crofter, leaning over me staring. In fact, when my husband returned from tour, she appeared again, and he saw her too. I went into labour the next day.

Candy Apple or Candy Corn?

In England we call an apple covered in toffee, a toffee apple, and I gather that is what you mean. Although I have lived and worked in America, I have never had candy apple or candy corn, so I cannot say yes to either. I have had toffee apple, but not for many years. I value my teeth.

In response to your questions, Teri, I’d like to talk about my latest — as yet unpublished novel –  Ms. Birdsong Investigates, which is the first in a series and is out with my agent now.

Would you and your main character get along?

Ms. Birdsong Investigates: Murder in Ampney Parva, is the title of my series about a former MI5 Intelligence Officer who has been forced into early retirement due to a joint operation with MI6 — involving the Russian Mafia and Ukrainian people traffickers — going pear-shaped. Lavinia Birdsong tries to find her way back into the Security Services when a local woman goes missing and she has the opportunity to investigate her disappearance, hopefully inveigling herself back into the Security Services.

I think Lavinia and I would get along really well. We both love rock music, and good wine.  She is an intelligent woman, and she is a martial arts expert and a crack shot — and that is where we part company — I am most definitely neither. She does not tolerate fools gladly and has a wicked sense of humour. Lavinia is a true patriot, a ruthless opponent with a keen sense of right and wrong.

I am fascinated by the secret world of spies and criminals where Lavinia Birdsong has spent most of her adult life. I know we’d get on like a house on fire.

A ‘taster’ chapter can be found in my crime collection – Undercover: Crime Shorts which is available now.

If you decided to write a spin-off character, who would you choose?

I’ll stick with my new series, Ms. Birdsong Investigates for this. My spin-off character would be Michael Dante, MI6 Intelligence Officer.

Lavinia has worked at MI5 for twenty years and during that time she has worked in several areas of the Security Services, including being on secondment to MI6 for some years. She met Michael Dante, whilst working with a team of MI5/MI6 officers sent on a mission, Operation Matryoshka.  

Michael is her former lover when my books begin, but he is a great candidate for a spin-off character. Michael and Lavinia have unfinished business in the series, and who knows what might happen, but he would be good to follow in a spin-off series throughout his career and his investigations as part of MI6. He is a determined man, ruthless in his pursuit of terrorists and criminals just like Lavinia is. He has a strong love of country and justice.

What do you do to get inside your character’s heads?

I am a crime writer mostly, and my writing often features my past career in the international music business and also my earlier career working at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Both careers are a gift to a crime writer for so many reasons. However, I have also written Women’s Literature (Only One Woman with Christina Jones) which is available now, and in various other genres which can be found in many of the anthologies I’ve contributed toward with short stories, and my experiences in music and in public service have definitely influenced my writing and how I mould my characters.

Using my experiences and memories from those times in most of my writing, it is easy for me to get inside the heads of my characters because I have worked in these areas, have met people similar to my characters and observed them. I know what makes most of them tick. I can put my experiences and knowledge into my work because of my past careers. And I know where to look for information, and I have detectives I can call upon to assist me if I get stuck.

In order to ensure my writing is as accurate as it can be, and to ensure that I don’t have Lavinia or any of my characters in any of my books do something which is wrong or impossible — when tracking and investigating terrorists or criminals — I decided some years ago to educate myself in the basics of Forensic Science and Criminal Justice. I took several courses especially designed for crime writers who want to ensure their writing is as correct and accurate as it can be. These courses also helped me get inside the heads of my characters, not only the investigators but the perpetrators too.

I read a lot of crime novels, thrillers, and mysteries, as well as watcing True Crime on TV too. This helps me with writing my characters and trying to see events from their point of view.

This has been fun Teri, once again, many thanks for letting me loose on your blog.

Under one cover for the first time a collection of Crime Shorts from Jane Risdon featuring previously unpublished stories which will have you on the edge of your seat. There is an extract from Jane’s forthcoming novel (series) Ms Birdsong Investigates Murder at Ampney Parva: Operation Matryoshka – with the title of Undercover – for those who’ve been awaiting this series about a former MI5 Intelligence Office, Lavinia Birdsong. There’s something for everyone who enjoys a good yarn and more twists and turns than Spaghetti Junction.

Purchase Link

Amazon

Author Bio and Social Media

Jane Risdon is the co-author of ‘Only One Woman,’ with Christina Jones (Headline Accent) and ‘Undercover: Crime Shorts,’ (Plaisted Publishing), as well as having many short stories published in numerous anthologies. She writes for several online and print magazines such as Writing Magazine, and The Writers’ and Readers’ Magazine.

Undercover: Crime Shorts was the February Free Book of the Month on the virtual library and festival site, MYVLF.com, and her live video interview features in their theatre. She is a regular guest on international internet radio shows such as theauthorsshow.com, chatandspinradio.com and The Brian Hammer Jackson Radio Show, as well as podcasts and online video interviews including Donnas Interviews Reviews and Giveaways and Be Bold and Break the Mould.

Undercover: Crime Shorts is being used by Western Kentucky University, Kt. USA, in an Intro to Lit Class for second year students Autumn 2021. Jane will be doing a Zoom Q&A session with the student in October 2021.

She is the Lead Panellist, next March (2022), for an online discussion of The Intersection of Literary Fiction and Women’s Literature at LitCon, an author’s conference out of New York USA.

Before turning her hand to writing Jane worked in the International Music Business alongside her musician husband, working with musicians, singer/songwriters, and record producers.  They also facilitated the placement of music in international movies and television series.  In her early life Jane worked public service at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, The Ministry of Defence and other government departments.

In December 2020 Jane signed with Linda Langton of Langton’s Literary Agency in New York City, New York USA. You can contact Jane via Linda at: www.langtonsinternational.com

Jane’s Links:

Ms. Birdsong Investigates has her own private Facebook Group and you can join her here:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/msbirdsonginvestigates

You can find Jane on:

https://janerisdon.com

https://www.facebook.com/JaneRisdon2/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5831801.Jane_Risdon

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jane-risdon

https://www.instagram.com/janerisdonwriter/

#BadMoonRising Cold Dark Night: Legends of Madeira #1 by Joan Hall #thriller #suspense #mystery

Happy Friday! The urban legend tale shared by today’s author may send shivers up your spine and encourage you to pick up the pace when driving past cemeteries – it’s an eerie one. She brings the first book in her Legends of Madeira suspense/thriller series, Cold Dark Night. Welcome Joan Hall!

Which urban legend scares you most?

The Legend of La Llorona doesn’t really scare me, but I’m fascinated by it. This legend varies from state to state, but in Fort Stockton, Texas a “woman in white” was seen as late as the 1960s along a stretch of highway outside of town. She would “attach” herself to cars and ride for about ten miles. As a child, I heard a family story about my grandfather’s brother who died in the early 1900s. Three weeks before his sudden (and unexpected) death, he encountered a woman in white near a cemetery. She “rode” alongside his horse until he passed the cemetery gate.

Have you ever had a tarot card reading?

I haven’t had a tarot reading, but a relative used to read cards using a regular deck. Some things she “saw” actually came true, including the death of a neighbor. She said there would be a lot of controversy surrounding the death and she was right.

If you watch horror movies, are you the person who yells at the characters, covers your eyes, or falls asleep?

I don’t watch a lot of horror movies, but I used to cover my eyes if there was blood in any scene. I once made the mistake of eating dinner while watching the movie Seven. I had to stop the film. The only reason I wanted to see it is because I’m a fan of Morgan Freeman.

What do you do to get inside your characters’ heads?

I picture the scene or situation, then ask myself, “What would I do in this situation?” Sort of like acting out a movie in my mind.

Which book have you read more than once?

Mary Higgins Clark was one of my favorite authors. I’ve read several of her books more than once. Among my favorites are Remember Me and Moonlight Becomes You. A favorite childhood book was The Incredible Journey. I used to read it every year in the fall, even after I became an adult.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on a collection of short stories for some time. They’re a mixed bag of ghost fiction, contemporary, suspense, and possibly one military fiction story. I’m also beginning the second book of my Legends of Madeira series.

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

https://amazon.com/Cold-Dark-Night-Legends-Madeira-ebook/dp/B0968CXZQ9

Bio and Social Links

From the time she was a small child, Joan Hall always enjoyed listening to a good story. The ones that often intrigued her most were those steeped in folklore, and her Scots-Irish relatives had plenty of them to tell.

At the age of ten, Joan decided she wanted to become a writer. Having written in the mystery and suspense genre, her Legends of Madeira series is the first in which she delves into folklore and legends.

When she’s not writing, Joan likes to spend time outdoors, observe the night skies, and explore old cemeteries. She also enjoys ghost walks and hearing the stories behind the “hauntings.” She and her husband share their Texas home with two cats.

You can connect with Joan at the following sites:

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

#BadMoonRising Blaze In, Blaze Out by Joseph Lewis #thriller #mystery #indieauthor

Today I have a thriller to share with you that’s available for pre-order and will be released January 2022. Find out why his family refuses to watch movies with him and how he may have proof the figures in his peripheral vision exist. Welcome Joseph Lewis!

Would you rather dunk for apples or carve a Jack-o’-lantern?

Definitely, without any doubt or hesitation at all, I would carve a Jack-o’-lantern. The thought of sticking my head in a barrel where others had their drool and slobber and their mouths on the apples truly gags me. There is absolutely no way. Nope. Nada.

If you watch horror movies, are you the person who yells at the characters, covers your eyes, or falls asleep?

My wife and kids refuse to watch scary movies with me. In fact, they don’t enjoy watching movies with me. I ask too many questions. I talk. Every bad habit you can think of while watching movies- that’s me. It was only after my wife and I were married that I found out Kim would shut her eyes at scary parts. I never knew because I was glued to the screen. I’ve screamed. I dumped popcorn on the people sitting next to me. I seldom shut my eyes because I want to see what is happening and what is coming next. But, I’m noisy.

Do you ever see figures in your peripheral vision?

Absolutely. I consider myself a spiritual person. I believe in good, therefore, I believe in evil. I believe in angels and in helpful, caring spirits who guide us. I’ve written them into my novels- George’s grandfather; Brian’s twin brother. They are there to help, counsel, guide, and many times, to give comfort and serve as a sounding board. So, yes, I believe in ghosts or spirits and I believe I’ve seen or at least witnessed them in my life or around me. We’ve had lights suddenly turn on. We’ve had the faucet in the kitchen sink turn on. Our dog has barked at a “spot” in the living room. It makes life interesting.

Would you and your main character get along?

Absolutely! I like my characters. I have more in common, I think, with the adolescent boys in my stories. At first glance, you would see the boys as athletes, but you’d be missing significant character traits. They are sensitive, loving, caring, loyal to a fault, and, in Brian’s and George’s case, willing to sacrifice their lives if it meant their brothers could live. They laugh easily. They love one another. They are beyond tough. Several have a tough shell but are marshmallow on the inside. They have depth. They are fun. I think we’d be friends.

What do you do to get inside your characters’ heads?

I think it’s easy for me because of my background in psychology and counseling. This is my 46th year in education. I’ve been around kids all my like. I stand in the hallway and listen and watch them. I wander the cafeteria watching how they interact with each other, with adults. When I sit down to write, I use all of this information as I imagine my characters in various situations. Because I write thriller-crime-detective stories, I imagine one or more in situations that would stretch, pull, and test their mind, heart, and soul. As I said, it is easier for me than perhaps other writers.

Which book have you read more than once?

There are several. Lord of the Flies jumped to mind because the plot fascinated me. It pitted kids against one another, forcing them to choose sides. It created situations where good was challenged by evil. It gave us a scenario of what life might be like without rules. Ghost Story by Peter Straub and The Stand by Stephen King were two others. In Ghost Story, the real/imagined Fenny Bate scared the heck out of me. I couldn’t read it at night. The Stand is like Lord of the Flies in that there was the struggle between good and evil, the light and the dark. Characters had to rise to a different level, often challenging their own beliefs and abilities. Great books! I think I want to pick up one or more again!

If you could spend the day with another popular author, who would you choose?

I’ve learned so much by reading David Baldacci- action, mystery, and intrigue from the opening page with twists at the end; by reading John Sandford- his ability to describe action without clichés, and I love his characters- they are real to me; by reading Stephen King- his ability to make me laugh right along with sit on the edge of my seat; by reading Tony Hillerman- his ability to create a story with so very few characters in a setting (the Navajo Nation Reservation) I love and use in my writing. These are the authors I would love to spend an evening with. Talking, story-telling, laughing, learning from. And of course, I’d invite Robin Williams and Billy Crystal because I wouldn’t want it to get too serious. We all need to laugh.

Working with a joint multi-law enforcement task force, Detective Pat O’Connor infiltrated a Ukrainian crime family headed by Dmitry Andruko. O’Connor and his control, Detective Paul Eiselmann were the linchpins in the guilty verdict.

The two detectives thought it was over.

Eiselmann planned for a quiet weekend with his family at home. O’Connor planned on attending a high school soccer game and then head to Northern Wisconsin for a fishing trip with another cop, Detective Jamie Graff and four teenage, adopted brothers: George Tokay, Brian Evans, Brett McGovern, and Michael Two Feathers.

But Andruko is ruthless and vindictive. From his prison cell, he hires two contract killers to kill both O’Connor and Eiselmann and anyone else in the way. The killers can be anyone. The killers could be anywhere, and the killers could strike at any time.

The quiet weekend and the short vacation turn into a deadly nightmare as O’Connor’s and Eiselmann’s lives and the lives of the four boys are in peril. 

Purchase Link

Blaze In, Blaze Out available for preorder NOW at https://www.blackrosewriting.com/mystery/blazeinblazeout. Purchase your copy prior to January 6, 2022, and receive a 15% discount. Use the promo code: PREORDER2021 

Amazon

Author Bio

After having been in education for forty-six years as a teacher, coach, counselor and administrator, Joseph Lewis has semi-retired and now works part-time as an online learning facilitator. He uses his psychology and counseling background in crafting thriller/crime/detective mysteries. He has taken creative writing and screen writing courses at UCLA and USC.

Lewis has published seven books, all available on Amazon and each to excellent reviews: Taking Lives (August 2014; May 2021) the prequel to the Lives Trilogy; Stolen Lives (November 2014; May 2021) Book One of the Lives Trilogy; Shattered Lives (March 2015; May 2021) Book Two of the Trilogy; and Splintered Lives (November 2015; May 2021) Book Three of the Trilogy each from True Visions Publications, and then re-issued by Black Rose Writing; Caught in a Web (April 2018) from Black Rose Writing, which was a PenCraft Literary Award Winner for Crime Fiction and named “One of the Best Crime Fiction Thrillers of 2018!” by Best Thrillers; Spiral Into Darkness (January 2019) from Black Rose Writing, which was named a Recommended Read by Author’s Favorites. His newest, Betrayed November 2020 is a Maxy Award Runner-Up for Mystery-Suspense, a Literary Titan Silver Book Award Winner, and a Reader’s Favorite 5 Star Rating Winner. Blaze In, Blaze Out is currently available for preorder and will be released January 6, 2022. Lewis is currently working on another thriller-crime-mystery.

Born and raised in Wisconsin, Lewis has been happily married to his wife, Kim. Together they have three wonderful children: Wil (deceased July 2014), Hannah, and Emily. He and his wife now reside in Virginia.

Social Media Contact:

Author Website at www.jrlewisauthor.blog

Twitter at @jrlewisauthor

Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/Joseph.Lewis.Author

Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/Joseph-Lewis/e/B01FWB9AOI /

Blog at: www.simplethoughtsfromacomplicatedmindsortof.com