Heartwood Box by Ann Aguirre #bookreview #YA #mystery #TuesdayBookBlog

A dark, romantic YA suspense novel with an SF edge and plenty of drama, layering the secrets we keep and how appearances can deceive, from the New York Times bestselling author.

In this tiny, terrifying town, the lost are never found. When Araceli Flores Harper is sent to live with her great-aunt Ottilie in her ramshackle Victorian home, the plan is simple. She’ll buckle down and get ready for college. Life won’t be exciting, but she’ll cope, right?

Wrong. From the start, things are very, very wrong. Her great-aunt still leaves food for the husband who went missing twenty years ago, and local businesses are plastered with MISSING posters. There are unexplained lights in the woods and a mysterious lab just beyond the city limits that the locals don’t talk about. Ever. When she starts receiving mysterious letters that seem to be coming from the past, she suspects someone of pranking her or trying to drive her out of her mind. To solve these riddles and bring the lost home again, Araceli must delve into a truly diabolical conspiracy, but some secrets fight to stay buried… 

I’ve never read this author before, but when the book description mentioned a small town with secrets, and suspense with a sci-fi edge, I knew it was time to become acquainted with her work.

This book grabbed me right away.  Araceli feels a presence in the attic, and actually sees the string attached to a light bulb turn on by itself – I was all in.  Mysterious lights in the forest, loads of people missing, a box that transports letters to a recipient decades earlier – it just got better.  A lot goes on in this novel, and that’s something I enjoyed about it.  It’s also an usual blend of contemporary, romance, suspense, and sci-fi, something that should attract readers of several genres.

Traveling with her journalist parents for most of her life, Araceli has experienced things most teens can’t imagine, so it’s understandable that she dives into these mysteries head first.  While I admire her bravery and determination, she also comes across as selfish and headstrong, since she doesn’t always consider the consequences of her actions – especially when they involve the lives of other people.  Then again, these are the actions of a teenager.

I don’t generally read YA contemporary, but with sci-fi, suspense, and time travel tossed into the mix, I plowed through this book in a couple of days.

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

 

 

Pride and Fall (Cathedral Lake #3) by Staci Troilo #bookreview #suspense #romance

Fear unchecked cripples. Fear conquered liberates. 

Faith Keller has suffered much in her life–the murder of her sister, the near-destruction and almost-ruin of her family, a traumatic abduction. It’s no wonder she battles the effects of PTSD on a daily basis. The last thing she needs is to be the subject of an intense police investigation for the very crime her father was blamed for years before. Yet, despite her family’s staunchest efforts, she finds herself on the hot seat with a tenacious officer–but one whose attention she actually relishes.

Carter Emerson takes his job seriously. It’s the only tribute he can make to honor his fallen brother, and he’s determined to do the title “police officer” justice. When he sets his sights on Faith Keller, he’s torn. His mentor tells him he’s got it all wrong, but the evidence doesn’t lie. The worst part? He doesn’t want her to be guilty. He just wants her.

A story of healing and personal growth, Pride and Fall ends the Keller Family trilogy with action, deception, and a revelation readers won’t see coming.

This is the third book in the Cathedral Lake series, but it could also be considered a standalone.  Although reading the first two may be helpful, enough backstory is provided in Pride and Fall so that it’s not confusing.

After reading the first two books over the past year or so, it felt like catching up  with old friends again when I picked up this novel.  I’d missed these characters, and was anxious to see where life had taken them.  But we didn’t get to catch up for long, because the action and suspense begin almost immediately.  The other books have focused primarily on other family members, but this story is very much Faith’s.  She’s struggling with PTSD, along with trying to establish her veterinary practice and independence, while also dealing with family relationships fraught with tension.

Faith’s relationship with Carter is also tension-filled, and they have to maneuver around several obstacles before hitting smooth waters.  Carter is a new character to the series, and I enjoyed seeing his sometimes harsh, professional outer layers peel away to reveal a likable, gooey center.  As much as I enjoyed Carter and Faith’s relationship, as an animal lover, I thought the ‘relationship’ between Max and Ruby (their canine companions) was adorable and charming.

It was nice to see these characters find their happily ever after (hopefully) and finish their story.  If you’re a fan of family drama and suspense with a dose of romance, you can’t go wrong with this series.

#BadMoonRising: Mind-Shaft: A Paranormal Anthology by S. Burke #paranormal #horror

Today’s author shares her collection of paranormal short stories focusing on horror, romance, and suspense – something for everyone!  And she may or may not have stayed in a haunted hotel.  Welcome Suzanne Burke!

My grateful thanks to Teri Polen. I’m so delighted to be featured here today. It’s an honor to appear with the wonderfully talented authors taking part in this exciting tour.

Creepiest thing that’s ever happened while you were alone?

I still get a little spooked just thinking about this. My daughter and I had checked into a hotel on the outskirts of the small country town where we planned on relocating. She planned on catching up with friends in the area, and I looked forward to an early night. She’d headed off, and I enjoyed take-out Pizza and watched a vaguely entertaining comedy on T.V. I headed to bed and snuggled down for sleep. The sound of the television woke me. I figured my daughter had arrived home, and I was more relaxed and content in knowing that she was safe for the evening.

The television volume increased and I recall feeling surprised. My daughter is normally so considerate of other people. I finally gave up on sleeping and walked out to the only other room to ask her to turn down the sound. She wasn’t there. I looked at the television and grunted, a little surprised and annoyed with myself. I’m one of those people that makes certain all the power points are switched off before retiring for the night. Obviously, I’d missed one. I walked across to the tv and found it was indeed switched off from its only power source. I have no explanation that makes any sense to me at all. Suffice it to say I spent the next few hours sitting and watching the door. We checked out first thing next morning.

You’re home alone, but you hear footsteps in your house–what do you do?

Ah …good ol’ fight or flight? Well for starters I don’t call out in a shaky voice “Who is it?” Can you imagine the reaction if a voice that sounded vaguely like Darth Vader responded with an evil cackle, “I’m your immediate future.” Eeek! Seriously? Then of course, if I were a character in one of my books I’d go all Lara Croft on that intruder’s ass. In the real world, I would likely drop and roll under the bed and dial 911. Or Ghost Busters  … I do love those uniforms.

Are you superstitious?

My initial response would be, “Who me? No.” But if you ask me that question again on a Friday the 13th that happens to fall on a full moon … during a solstice … and I’m standing under a ladder stroking a black cat you’ll likely get a completely different response.

What’s your work schedule like when you’re writing?

I needed to think about this. I’ve never really looked at what schedule I keep. I’ve discovered that I don’t really have one. I’m disabled and can no longer work outside my home, and that hands me the luxury of time. Apart from regular meal breaks and the few hours of catch up time I spend with my daughter and grandson each day, I have the wonderful freedom of writing when and as the muse directs me. I can be found sitting up all night when a character grabs me and holds me hostage. I sleep very little but do tend to crash and burn when I ignore the warning signs and find myself needing to sleep for twenty-four hours straight.  Chaos anyone?

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I read voraciously. I like stretching my comfort zone and exploring genres and authors that are new to me. It’s so exciting when you read something truly memorable. I wind down by listening to music and enjoy watching a myriad of shows on Netflix.

What are you working on now?

I have just (yesterday) completed the 1st (Unedited) draft of my new book. This one is a full-length thriller  with the working title of “Whatever It Takes.” Set in Hollywood. Here’s a sneak peek at the book blurb.

James Kincaid had it all.

He’d made it the ‘A’ list in a town that prized and idolized winners above all else.

Then life began exacting a price that no man could be expected to pay as the people he cared about began dying by anything other than natural causes.

He couldn’t move on with the dream without knowing why.

Andi O’Connor was the woman he’d hired to do ‘whatever it takes’ to find him the answers.

Could this disenchanted, ex-homicide cop uncover the truth without adding to the growing list of those already sacrificed on the altar of a serial killer’s insanity?

MIND-SHAFT BLURB.

An Anthology of Paranormal short stories. Horror, Romance, and terrifying Suspense.

Sisterly Love. … Paranormal Horror. After the tragic murder/suicide of her parents, Pippa, at just Nineteen-years of age, finds herself taking on the full responsibility for raising her fifteen-year-old sister, Emma. Emma is … more than just a little different. The body count is increasing. Nothing and no one is as they seem.

Halloween Homecoming … A Halloween party is the perfect venue for serving justice on the menu. Leighton Caulfield and his Lawyer are about to get their just desserts. In a way that nobody is prepared for.

A Place So Cold … Children are missing! Time is running out. Can the stranger from Australia lead the rescuers to them in time?

Spin! …Doctor Cameron Christopher is concerned that his patient Holly Daniels is caught in a downward spiral into complex Dissociative Disorder. Using Hypnotherapy he takes her back to explore when the nightmares began. Nothing in his experience as a Psychiatrist prepared him for what lay dormant … and waiting.

The Director’s Cut … A Paranormal Romance beyond time. Award-winning Director, Christopher Manning is searching for far more than a location for his next blockbuster. The emptiness that has permeated his entire life is crying out for resolution. Join him as he seeks the answers.

Mind-Shaft … Victoria Denton served revenge swiftly and without mercy. Her future happiness seems assured. If only the past would remain where it should.

AUTHOR BIO:

Suzanne Burke resides with her daughter and grandson in a small country town located hundreds- of-miles to the west of her previous home in Sydney Australia.

Suzanne had long wanted to write, life interrupted and she didn’t begin her journey into the world of writing until she was in her early fifties.

Suzanne has written her memoirs under the author name of Stacey Danson, both her non-fiction books have ranked in the top 100 paid in kindle on Amazon. “Empty Chairs” and “Faint Echoes of Laughter” continue to earn wonderful reviews.

Suzanne writes her powerful Thrillers “Acts Beyond Redemption” and “Acts of Betrayal” and her Paranormal anthology “Mind-Shaft” as S. Burke.

SOCIAL MEDIA & BUY LINKS:

Author BLOG:
https://sooozburkeauthor.com/

TWITTER
@pursoot

Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/StaceyandSuzie

Amazon Author Page”
https://www.amazon.com/Suzanne-Burke/e/B01G3JUXVW/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

PURCHASE MIND-SHAFT

Amazon

#BadMoonRising: Track 9 by Sue Rovens #thriller #suspense #horror

Today we welcome Sue Rovens and her thriller, Bad Fish!  Read on to discover how a nasty hotel became the inspiration for her book, and how she feels about Ouija boards (I’ve decided no one has had a good experience with them).

Have you ever played with a Ouija board?

Yes, but I think they’re evil. I know…it’s just an old parlor game. But there is a deep-seeded belief in me that tells me playing with one opens the door to evil. I think it stems from growing up in the late 60’s and early 70’s and watching scary movies by myself.

Are you superstitious?

I think it depends on the circumstance. I don’t particularly seek out going against superstitions. For example, I won’t open an umbrella in the house on purpose or walk under a ladder, but if I knock over the salt shaker, I will toss some grains over my shoulder. I certainly don’t think black cats are bad luck – Noodle (my 5.5 year old kitty) is a great ball of purr! I also don’t consider Friday the 13th especially bad – although it does mean that my paycheck will be smaller on account of how we get paid at the university.

If you were paid to spend the night in a haunted house, would you do it?

Under certain conditions. 1. How much am I being paid? ($100? Forget it. $50,000? Maybe) 2. Am I allowed to bring other people? 3. What kind of haunting?

So. Many. Questions.

 How do you develop your plots and characters?

I listen. I watch. I notice. I read. Most of my plots and characters are pulled from nuggets of real life. In Badfish (my first novel), I based the motel on a place where I ALMOST stayed (it was too nasty – which is where I got the idea for the story). In Track 9 (my second novel), I based it off of the train station I saw in Munich back in 1996. For the new book, Buried, I combined two ideas – one, from an episode of Hoarders, and two, from a story I read awhile back about a funeral home NOT burying the bodies and reusing materials.

For characters, most of them are VERY loosely based on people I’ve met, known, or seen (probably similar to most other authors).

Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?

Good writing is certainly an influence – Stephen King, Jack Ketchum, and more recently, Benjamin Percy to an extent, are three examples. However, the more I write, the more I find my own style.

I prefer to write to the story and the characters. I don’t necessarily write in “pretty prose” or in an esoteric literary style. That’s fine for some, but it’s not for me. That’s why I love Jack Ketchum’s way around a sentence/page/paragraph – it’s all about moving the story forward and understanding the characters and not so much about the minutiae. If a writer takes four pages to describe the weather, I check out.

What are you working on now?

Right now (2018), I am working on my third novel, Buried.

Blurb:   Priscilla Wyatt is a hoarder who lives next to a funeral home and cemetery in Foote, Indiana. When Weenie, her dachshund, comes home with a ghastly find from a grave, Pris’s desire for a new collection spirals out of control and plummets headfirst into the macabre.

Gerald Zenith, proprietor of Sommerville Funeral Home, could care less about the dead. Between running scams, bilking families in mourning, and keeping a necrophiliac-leaning subordinate in check, Gerald’s hands are full enough. He doesn’t have time to concern himself with a middle-aged woman who pokes around the cemetery during the wee hours of the mornings.

By the time Pris unearths someone she knows, hell has already broken loose within the walls of Sommerville. Some secrets are too big to stay buried.   

This novel will be put under the suspense genre, though there are bits of horror. It’s actually very character-driven; much more than straight horror books tend to be.

After a catastrophic railway accident leaves a trail of carnage and devastation in its wake, the small train station in Rain, Germany is shuttered.

Six months later, Gary and Grace Wolf, returning home after their belated honeymoon, find themselves trapped inside the now defunct terminal. What they discover within its walls leads them to make harrowing decisions. What they learn about each other pushes them to the brink of disaster.

Back in Bloomington, Illinois, their best friends, Mike and Sarah Waverly, await their return. A few hours before the plane is scheduled to land, Mike becomes tormented by troubling premonitions concerning Gary and Grace. Driven to find out the truth, Mike finds himself battling mysterious and inexplicable obstacles that plunge him into his own personal hell.

Everyone’s fate hangs in a precarious balance as the clock runs out.

Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.com/Track-9-Sue-Rovens/dp/1544012292

Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review for Track 9: https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-5440-1229-2

My Blog: http://suerovens.com (follow me! I interview authors of ALL genres!)

Author Bio

I am an indie suspense writer who has written two novels and two anthologies of short horror stories. My third suspense novel, Buried, is currently being read by beta readers. The plan is to have it available for the public sometime in 2019. All my books are available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.

I wish I could say that I write full-time (for a living), but no. I work at Illinois State University as the Stacks Maintenance Manager in Milner Library. I’ve been with ISU for 27 years (in various positions throughout the library).

I have a Master’s Degree in Kinesiology and Recreation and a Bachelor’s in Speech Communication from ISU. Long ago, I held an EMT-B certification.

When I’m not writing, I’m either running, watching weird movies, lifting weights, herding Noodle (our 5½  year old enormous black cat who weighs about 18 pounds) and our year old kitten, Monkey, around the house or hanging out with Charlie, my “partner in crime”.

 

 

#BadMoonRising: Cusp of Night by Mae Clair #supernatural #suspense

Today’s guest is no stranger to this blog.  I just hosted a cover reveal a few weeks ago for the new book in her Hode’s Hill series, End of Day, releasing in January – and it’s just as eerie and beautiful as Cusp of Night.  I read also Cusp of Night and it gave this horror fan wonderfully warm fuzzies.  Welcome, Mae Clair!

Teri, thanks so much for bringing Bad Moon Rising back again. I always enjoy following the posts and discovering new authors and books. It’s a pleasure to be here and I enjoyed answering your questions.

In the spirit of Halloween:

Have you ever played with a Ouija board?
When I was a kid, probably tween years or early teens. I remember being creeped out and intrigued at the same time. We stopped playing with it when it went to GOODBYE during one session. I don’t remember the question we asked. I do remember a friend’s parents being skeptics, so we all gathered at their table and just the parents used the board with the planchette. It took a while but the planchette did move and my friend’s parents grudgingly admitted there was something to it.

I had several of my characters use a Ouija board in A Cold Tomorrow, book two of my Point Pleasant series, but there’s no way I’d touch one today.

Are you superstitious?
Absolutely! Not about things like walking under ladders, breaking mirrors, or black cats. (I own a black cat named Raven). But I am superstitious about Ouija boards, haunted houses, and things I consider better left alone. At the same time, I love exploring old cemeteries…just not at night.

If you were paid to spend the night in a haunted house, would you do it?
No way! I won’t even go in a haunted house during the day with a group of people. Just my luck something would latch onto me and follow me home. Weird, because I had no qualms driving down a deserted road in the TNT to look for the Mothman. I guess you could say I have few reservations about urban legends, but the supernatural stuff freaks me out.

In the spirit of writing:

What is the hardest part of writing?
For me, it’s not about writing, but finding the time. I think most writers juggle that problem, trying to balance family life and in many cases, a full-time job. And don’t get me started on promo, LOL. It’s never ending. I do most of my writing on the weekend, carving out a huge chunk of hours on Sunday afternoon. I’ve worked that way for years and it’s been a good fit, although there are plenty of times I still end up chasing a deadline.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Read. Honestly, it’s my favorite pastime. I constantly have my nose in a book, and if I’m not reading for pleasure, I’m reading for research. In the summer, I enjoy spending time by my pool (usually with a book). And as introverted as I am, if I’m out somewhere with music, I love to dance.

What are you working on now?
A supernatural mystery/suspense novel called Eventide. It’s book three of my Hode’s Hill series. Book two, End of Day, releases January 19th, and the first book, Cusp of Night, is what I’d like to share with your readers today. All three books feature dual timelines, one in the past and one in the present, with both stories coming together in the end. The past timeline for Cusp of Night is rooted in the Spiritualism movement of seances and table-tilting of the late 1800s. It was fascinating research.

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

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

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

book banner ad for Cusp of Night by Mae Clair shows dark alley with old fashioned streetlampsUNIVERSAL PURCHASE LINK

Connect with Mae Clair at BOOKBUB and the following haunts:

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bio box for author Mae Clair

Project Prometheus (Assassin Fall #2) by Aden Polydoros #bookreview #YA #thriller #TuesdayBookBlog

The Academy stole everything from Hades, their perfect assassin. Angry and leaving bodies in his wake, he finds two other ex-assassins doing the exact same thing.

Tyler and Shannon once killed for The Academy. Now they’re tracking and hunting down its scientists. So why is The Academy only after Hades?

Shannon will do whatever it takes to protect Tyler, even if it means teaming up with a former rival. While she seeks answers to her past, Tyler wants to learn the truth about the mysterious white room, which no one has ever seen except him.

As for Hades? He simply wants revenge.

They all need answers, even if it means returning to the organization where it all started.

The first book in this series, Project Pandora, was one of my most addictive, electrifying reads last year, and I didn’t think I’d survive the wait for book two.  I made it (barely), and dove right into Project Prometheus – and it’s worth the wait.

Since he’s mentioned in the blurb, I’m not giving anything away when I say Hades is alive.  He continues to be my favorite character in this series, and after learning more of his backstory in the novella, Hades Rising, my heart broke for him.  The Academy made him a lethal, trained assassin with a wavering moral compass at best, and because of that, it’s difficult for him to function in normal society.  He doesn’t trust easily, if at all, and struggles to find his path in this book after suffering a tremendous loss.

The POV rotates primarily between Hades, Shannon, and Tyler, and while there are several harrowing, nail-biting action scenes, this novel also reveals surprising secrets, unexpected confusing and conflicting emotions from some characters, and strategic plans of revenge and exposure.  And exactly what Project Prometheus entails.

If you’re a fan of genetic engineering, conspiracy theories, and anti-heroes, you can’t go wrong with this thrill-ride of a series.  This book is scheduled for release August 28th, 2018.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC.

Cusp of Night (A Hode’s Hill Novel) by Mae Clair #bookreview #supernatural #mystery

The truth hides in dark places . . .
 
Recently settled in Hode’s Hill, Pennsylvania, Maya Sinclair is enthralled by the town’s folklore, especially the legend about a centuries-old monster. A devil-like creature with uncanny abilities responsible for several horrific murders, the Fiend has evolved into the stuff of urban myth. But the past lives again when Maya witnesses an assault during the annual “Fiend Fest.” The victim is developer Leland Hode, patriarch of the town’s most powerful family, and he was attacked by someone dressed like the Fiend.   
 
Compelled to discover who is behind the attack and why, Maya uncovers a shortlist of enemies of the Hode clan. The mystery deepens when she finds the journal of a late nineteenth-century spiritualist who once lived in Maya’s house—a woman whose ghost may still linger. Known as the Blue Lady of Hode’s Hill due to a genetic condition, Lucinda Glass vanished without a trace and was believed to be one of the Fiend’s tragic victims. The disappearance of a young couple, combined with more sightings of the monster, trigger Maya to join forces with Leland’s son Collin. But the closer she gets to the truth, the closer she comes to a hidden world of twisted secrets, insanity, and evil that refuses to die . . .

This story has everything that intrigues me – ghosts, mediums, seances, buried secrets.  And that cover!  I’ve read several other books by this author, and couldn’t wait to dive into this new series.

The timelines blend seamlessly in this intricately plotted supernatural mystery, and the gradual reveal of Lucinda’s life is both fascinating and heartbreaking.  Maya is also a compelling protagonist, and I enjoyed her reaction upon realizing she wasn’t the only resident in her house – entirely believable.  A well-drawn supporting cast rounds out the character list, but don’t go making assumptions while reading – not everything is what it appears on the surface, and characters may surprise you.

There are a few chilling moments in the novel that gave this horror lover warm fuzzies.  I also loved that one of the characters was reading Salem’s Lot (one of my fav King books) at 2 am in the morning while waiting for a supernatural event to occur or not occur.  I could totally be friends with this person.

If you’re a fan of supernatural mystery/suspense, you can’t go wrong with this series, and I’m excited to see what the next book brings.