End of Day (Hode’s Hill #2) by Mae Clair #bookreview #supernatural #suspense

The past is never truly buried…  

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

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

This review was meant to be posted months ago, so I have no idea why it was still in my review draft folder.  Maybe it’s fortuitous, because the first book in this series, Cusp of Night, is free, and this book and the last, Eventide, are $0.99 through February 25th.  Take advantage of this deal now – you won’t regret it!

I loved the first book in this series and was so excited to read End of Day, I made it my choice for book club.

This is the perfect book to curl up with on a cold, dreary night.  Some scenes will send chills up your spine and have you glancing over your shoulder to make sure no one’s there.  With book club members, it spawned spirited conversations ranging from genetics (an odd choice, I know) to our beliefs in ghosts and mediums.  For this horror fan, it was a highly enjoyable meeting.

As with the first book in the series, I especially enjoyed the alternating timelines and how Gabriel’s fate was gradually explained.  I remembered Dante from the previous book and looked forward to learning more about him.  He’s now one of my favorite characters in the series, and his scenes with Elliott in the role of a substitute father figure warmed my heart.  Jillian’s tragic circumstances immediately pulled me in, and I count her therapy dog, Blizzard, as one of the best bookish furry friends I’ve read.

End of Day is a compelling blend of paranormal, thriller, and mystery, and although part of a series, can easily be read as a standalone.  I  highly recommend this well-written, atmospheric read.

Scammed (Vale Hall #2) by Kristen Simmons #bookreview #YA #thriller #TuesdayBookBlog

Brynn Hilder is living a life she never dreamed possible: She lives in a mansion, getting a top-rate education at Vale Hall. She has friends and an almost-boyfriend. Anything she wants, she can have.

The only catch? To stay in this life, she has to help the director of Vale Hall take down the bad guys of Sikawa City by collecting secrets and running cons.

Getting everything she wants and fighting evil doesn’t seem like such a bad deal. The thing is, she’s not so convinced anymore that Dr. Odin is really going after bad people after all. And the friends and almost-boyfriend that have made her life so different are all liars and con artists—so can she trust that any of it is real?

The stakes are higher. The cons are riskier. And nothing is what you think it is.

The first book in this series, The Deceivers, was a five star read for me last year, and I couldn’t wait to get to the sequel.  And it’s another five stars.

What happens when you throw a bunch of con artists together?  Trained liars, people who insert themselves into the lives of others and fool them completely?  You can’t trust anyone – and that’s the whole premise of this second book in the Vale Hall series.  Brynn doubts her boyfriend, her friends and acquaintances, and even herself.  She’s always prided herself on being a good judge of character – but is she really?  With several plot twists and blind sides, you won’t know who or what to believe.

With the situations these characters find themselves in, parts of this story gutted me, and I wanted to jump into the book and help them.  As in The Deceivers, all of them are so well-developed, and the focus isn’t entirely on Brynn – each supporting character has their own story to tell.

This book is absolutely riveting, and I read more than half of it in one sitting.  The description nails it – higher stakes, riskier cons, and nothing is at it seems.  The third book will be at the top of my list for must reads next year.

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

If Darkness Takes Us by Brenda Marie Smith #postapocalyptic #thriller #bookreview

IN SUBURBAN AUSTIN, TEXAS, BEA CRENSHAW SECRETLY PREPARES FOR THE APOCALYPSE. But when a solar pulse destroys modern life, she’s left alone with four grandkids whose parents do not return home. She must teach these kids to survive without power, cars, phones, running water, or doctors in a world fraught with increasing danger.

If Darkness Takes Us is realistic post-apocalyptic fiction with a focus on a family in peril, led by a no-nonsense grandmother who is at once funny, controlling, and heroic in her struggle to hold her family together with civility and heart. 

I’ve read several post-apocalyptic novels.  Sure, many of them are sad and cautionary, but I’m a sucker for them.  And this one takes a fresh direction.

When’s the last time you read a novel which features an over 70-year-old grandma as the protagonist?  After a devastating EMP changes life as they know it, Bea, who has health issues, is thrust into the role of primary caretaker of her four grandchildren.  She’s a take charge, no-nonsense kind of woman who comes off as a little controlling at times, but her heart is in the right place.  I think she surprises herself with her inner strength.

It’s obvious the author did her research into the ramifications of EMPs and necessities of survival.  The characters find themselves in situations that are perilous, heartbreaking, life-altering, and even hopeful, but all are easily plausible.  You may even find yourself thinking about creating a stash of supplies – maybe not to the same extent as Bea, but it will cross your mind.

If you’re looking for a post-apocalyptic story with a determined, relatable protagonist and a new spin, If Darkness Takes Us will satisfy that craving.


Hope by Terry Tyler #bookreview #dystopian #thriller

‘We haven’t elected a Prime Minister, we’ve elected a lifestyle’.

As the fourth decade of the 21st century looms, new PM Guy Morrissey and his fitness guru wife Mona (hashtag MoMo) are hailed as the motivational couple to get the UK #FitForWork, with Mona promising to ‘change the BMI of the nation’.

Lita Stone is an influential blogger and social media addict, who watches as Guy and Mona’s policies become increasingly ruthless. Unemployment and homelessness are out of control. The solution? Vast new compounds all over the country, to house those who can no longer afford to keep a roof over their heads.

These are the Hope Villages, financed by US corporation Nutricorp.

Lita and her flatmates Nick and Kendall feel safe in their cosy cyberspace world. Unaware of how swiftly bad luck can snowball, they suspect little of the danger that awaits the unfortunate, behind the carefully constructed mirage of Hope.

Terry Tyler’s nineteenth published work is a psychological thriller that weaves through the darker side of online life, as the gap between the haves and the have-nots grows ever wider. Whether or not it will mirror a dystopian future that awaits us, we will have to wait and see. 

This novel is classified as a dystopian thriller, but make no mistake, it’s also a horror story simply because it isn’t outside the realm of possibility something like this could happen in the not too distant future.  And that should scare the crap out of anyone.

The new PM, his wife, and family are perfect examples of how social media can be used to manipulate followers/viewers and distort the truth.  As in real life, much of the population buy into what they’re selling, but others are put off by the hype and determined not to drink the Kool-Aid.  Soon, disturbing ramifications of these new policies and laws come to light, and the number of jobless jumps significantly.  Lita and her friends are employed and feeling secure in a shared comfortable flat, believing homelessness and unemployment can’t happen to them.  Until it does.  And it’s terrifying to see how easily it can happen.

Tyler does an outstanding job at portraying the different reactions of three people in identical circumstances – yet, Lita, Nick, and Kendall’s emotions and actions are entirely believable and valid.  I felt their frustration and outrage at the system and the sense of helplessness and lack of control over their own situations.

This was an easy five star read for me, and days after finishing, I was still thinking about it.  With shades of Big Brother and current events, Hope is guaranteed to leave you feeling unnerved.

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


The Last Christmas: A Repairman Jack Novel by F. Paul Wilson #bookreview #supernatural #thriller #TuesdayBookBlog

Jack is back.

Wilson never said he was through with Repairman Jack. He said he was through turning in a new novel every year. He also said when a story came along that was right for Jack, he’d write it.

The Last Christmas is that story.

It’s late December between Ground Zero and Fatal Error, a winter of discontent for Jack who’s perhaps spending too much time hanging at Julio’s. An old contact, Edward Burkes, convinces him to take on a missing-person fix. As usual, nothing is as it seems, and the missing person isn’t exactly a person. In fact, it’s like nothing anyone has ever seen.

And in the middle of all this, the mysterious Madame de Medici hires him to safeguard a valuable object. Simple, right?

Not even close.

Yep, Jack is back and, as usual, weird trouble is on his heels.

Many years ago, a friend loaned me Conspiracies, the third Repairman Jack novel. I was immediately hooked and scrambled to read the first two in the series.  Since then, I’ve remained a loyal fan and have read every book, as well as Repairman Jack: The Early Years.  I was distraught when I’d believed the last book of the series had been written a few years ago – so imagine my excitement when I saw a new Jack book on NetGalley!

Repairman Jack is hands down one of the coolest characters I’ve ever read, and it was such a treat to hang out again with him, Abe, Gia, Vicky, Julio, and Parabellum again.  This latest “fix” involves some genetic engineering, but still ties in with the overall arc of the series.  Jack using his powers of “persuasion”, sweet moments with Gia and Vicky, discussions over food with Abe, nail-biting close calls – it’s all here.

This series is classified as horror – not the gore variety – but closer to supernatural occult.  If that’s even a category.  If you enjoy intelligent MCs, otherworldly themes, exciting action sequences, and memorable characters, look no further.  Repairman Jack will always be at the top of my list of favorite books.  Jack is back!

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

#BadMoonRising: Binge Killer by Chris Bauer #thriller #darkhumor

Today’s author discusses Lon Chaney, Jr., Animal from The Muppets (a personal fav), Keith Moon, and how he’s unsure if he scarred his daughter for life more by letting her watch an alien abduction movie or sending her to school with a new haircut by a untrained stylist (himself).  Welcome Chris Bauer!

Would you rather be a vampire or a werewolf?

Always liked Lon Chaney Jr., the first film werewolf I can remember (The Wolf Man, then he reprised this role in two succeeding movies). He, and werewolves in general, suit me more because they are chaos personified, and I find them more sympathetic as characters. I suppose I’ve missed the boat about liking vampires, probably because there’s more romance and sexual tension with them that uses up story space that IMO could be better utilized with raw animal power, and their mayhem is more controlled than a werewolf’s. I suppose I prefer brute force to finesse in my writing as well as my reading. Think of Animal, Jim Henson’s wild Muppet rock drummer: absolute chaos, barely controlled. When my bad guy and gal antiheroes go bad (Randall Burton of BINGE KILLER; Larinda “Church Hammer” Jordan of JANE’S BABY, others) I want them to go berserk, and they do. I’ll throw in another drummer reference: the (very) late rocker Keith Moon of The Who, dead at 32 in 1978. He would have made a great werewolf based on his drumming style—a whirlwind of mayhem—and could well have been Jim Henson’s model for Animal. Just listen to Moon’s performance on “My Generation,” a 60s hit with an incredibly bombastic drum solo as a climax for the song. He was the personification of the raw animal energy that oozed from his arms, hands, and fingertips, shredding his drums just like a werewolf shredding a victim in the forest. (I dunno where this drummer shit came from either, but that’s my story and I’m sticking with it.)

Would you rather be abducted by aliens or a serial killer?

Serial Killer. Those aliens and their prober thingees scare me more than serial killers. Assuming I would get the choice of what kind of serial killer, as in someone who is not into torture, a serial killer will simply kill you and move on to his/her next victim. The act of killing, it seems to me, is what drives them, not torture, in real life and in my fiction, with them wanting to see the life drain from their victims before their very eyes. But aliens… let me tell you a true story about aliens (yeah, I know that sounds kind of off). Fire in the Sky, a 1993 movie about the “true” 1975 alien abduction of Travis Walton, an Arizona logger, was a movie I really wanted to see. PG13 rating. I made the mistake of letting my daughter, age 11, watch the at-home movie rental with me. There’s a (spoiler alert) very intense alien probing scenes at the end. Cringe-worthy, don’t-stick-that-thing-in-there kind of stuff. When she asked me if this had really happened, I went with the answer “Well, I don’t know, the person who was abducted thought it happened to him…” Wrong answer, oh misguided father. TO THIS DAY she says seeing that movie scarred her. Such a parenting fail. Another fail: Cutting my 3-year-old daughter’s hair with a pair of craft scissors just before taking her to nursery school. That, too, was a sad, sad day…

Would you rather be part of the X-Files team or Ghostbusters?

Loved Ghostbusters, but I’m not-not afraid of no ghosts, and I do so want to know “what’s out there” even at the risk of getting probed, so the X-Files team is a better choice. I mean, c’mon, people, in all those billion-trillion-gazillion years of time before us, in all those solar systems, to think that nothing biological ever lived, like, anywhere, at any time during that time, do you think that’s reasonable? That’s not working for me. Let’s go find ’em and let’s probe ’em, ’cause they been doing the same to us for eons and eons, or so said Travis Walton, right? Frankly, the single most devastating, and liberating, news story of all time would be the discovery of life, past or present, on another planet. It would obsolete so much of the ongoing discourse about country, culture, crime, religion, politics, military, etc., that make our headlines daily. Besides, I think naming a character “Fox” was a bold statement when you created that team, you hear me, producer Chris Carter?

“Fox.” I might try to get that scarred-for-life daughter of mine to name our newest grandchild after him, due date October 31.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Complementing the four published novels and a fifth due for publication 2020, I have two completed novels that are unpublished. One is the first novel I wrote, with no training wheels, no short stories under my belt, no experience, all guts, no skills, and ultimately no sale. THE RABBIT, STILLED will probably never see the light of day because it needs a massive rewrite. It’s a contemporary novel dealing with the home and work family dynamics of a hostile corporate takeover, and the potential of a coast-to-coast relocation. I have trouble fitting it into a genre; maybe contemporary suspense? The suspense comes from the questions will they or won’t they, and how do powerless employees manage to retain some control over their lives when they clearly have very little control over their shorter-term futures. Maybe one day I’ll take another look at it; it’s been twenty years since I competed it. The second is a horror novel titled HOP, SKIP, JUMP that I will shop again at some point. It’s a horrific yet touching, redemptive tale of reincarnation, channeling, and what might happen if a person returned to a place and time where she was needed the most. I love the novel because it was cathartic for me to write it, modeling one character after my wife, who never knew her mother because she died in an auto accident when my wife was an infant. It is a classic supernatural horror novel, but it did this body good to take these characters through this heartache while the horror unfolds.

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters of the opposite sex?

All of it is difficult. As a male author I need to pretend that I know how female characters, either as protagonists or acquaintances, think, act, love, hate, fight, emote, react, and even do basic things like eat, drink, and toilet. So how do I handle this? I use what I’ve learned from living with six females over the years (wife, two daughters, four female doggies), which means I’m pretty much only slightly less clueless than a guy who’s been single his whole life. So after I frequently embarrass myself on the page, I do have beta readers and peers tell me where I did hit the mark versus where I shit the bed. Trust me, I need to change the sheets a lot. As if that’s not enough punishment, to ratchet up the challenge I’m also transcending all barriers by trying to capture what it is like to be a transsexual character in the novel I will be looking to place next year. In AMERICA IS A GUN I have a prominent character who is female but identifies as male and starts the physical transition, which is interrupted when he’s convicted of multiple murders by a DA with political ambitions in a trumped-up case, which sends him to a women’s prison. After many years of incarceration that include large chunks of solitary confinement the guilty verdict is overturned, he’s freed, and he wants revenge against the people who put him there, so he goes about the business of acquiring guns toward that end. In this case it will be absolutely necessary for me to utilize sensitivity readers, considering I plan, and need, to show this character in a sympathetic yet compromised light, such that there won’t be any piling on against this already marginalized group of people.

What are you working on now?

Two WIP novels. HER TWELVE LETTER ALPHABET (a work in progress title, strong possibility it will change) is due for submission 2/1/20 to Severn River Publishing and will be published mid-to-late 2020. It’s the second Philo Trout thriller in my Blessid Trauma crime scene cleaners series following HIDING AMONG THE DEAD, released May 2019. The title refers to the twelve-letter native Hawai‘ian language alphabet, and it takes place, where else, on the Hawai‘ian Islands. Organ trafficking, bare knuckles boxing, crime scenes with gore: all will make it into the new novel similar to what was in the first in the series, plus visits to an island that is stuck in the nineteenth century, for better or worse, because of its private citizen ownership since 1864. Its present day setting is based on the real life Hawai‘ian island of Ni‘ihau, which, while not widely known, played a prominent and amazing yet infamous role in WWII.

The second WIP novel, AMERICA IS A GUN, another crime thriller, follows behind JANE’S BABY, my political crime thriller about a present day assault on the landmark 1973 Roe v Wade Supreme Court decision, released June 2018, the audiobook released August 2019. My protagonists from JANE’S BABY are back to deal with the sensitive topic of gun control and gun rights organizations. I might need to go to an overseas publisher for this one, considering how sensitive this topic is in the US, but it’s a novel I really want to get out there. So far one Australian publisher with a US reach said they’d give it a read when it’s complete in late 2020, no guarantee of publication, of course. (I wish more US publishers would take more chances. Large pubbers or Indies, if you have an interest, let me know.) As you might know, Australia has a very robust gun control policy. Readers should know that the novel does have a bias, but it is not against gun ownership or the Second Amendment, it’s a push for more reasonable gun ownership laws, and my gun-owner protagonists have a unique way of addressing the issue.

Okay, that does it for me. Thanks, everybody. Enjoy your Halloween.

A female bounty hunter tracks a maniacal killer to a town in rural Pennsylvania.

A town with its own dark secret…


Counsel Fungo is a unique woman. An experienced bounty hunter, she’s very good at her job. You don’t have to ask. She’ll tell you. Officially, her two canine companions are her therapy dogs. Unofficially, she considers them to be her partners. Counsel has suffered intense loss and was once the victim of a horrible crime. But now these experiences drive her unquenchable thirst for justice. And she’ll do anything to stop criminals from preying on the vulnerable.

Randall Burton is a serial killer and a rapist. Diagnosed with a terminal disease, he has jumped bail and intends to go out in a blaze of glory. He heads to sleepy Rancor, Pennsylvania, named one of the “Safest Towns in America,” for one last, depraved, hurrah. A quiet town tucked away in the Poconos, its citizens are mostly widowers, bowlers, and bingo players. Mostly.

There’s a reason no one in Rancor has reported a major crime in the past 50 years. And neither Counsel nor the killer are quite ready for what this town has in store…

Purchase Links

BINGE KILLER: https://tinyurl.com/BINGE-KILLER
HIDING AMONG THE DEAD, a Blessid Trauma Thriller: https://amzn.to/2IQ15JE
JANE’S BABY: http://amzn.to/2FUKT5j
SCARS ON THE FACE OF GOD: https://tinyurl.com/SOTFOG


“The thing I write will be the thing I write.”

Chris is a brute force novelist (BINGE KILLER, HIDING AMONG THE DEAD, JANE’S BABY, SCARS ON THE FACE OF GOD) who wouldn’t trade his northeast Philly upbringing of street sports played on blacktop and concrete, fistfights, brick and stone row houses, and twelve years of well-intentioned Catholic school discipline for a Philadelphia minute (think New York minute but more fickle and less forgiving). Chris has had some lengthy stops as an adult in Michigan and Connecticut, now lives in Doylestown, PA, and he thinks Pittsburgh is a great city even though some of his fictional characters do not. He still does most of his own stunts, and he once passed for Chip Douglas of My Three Sons TV fame on a Wildwood, NJ boardwalk. He’s a member of International Thriller Writers, and his work has been recognized by the National Writers Association, the Writers Room of Bucks County (PA), and the Maryland Writers Association. Oh, and he likes the pie more than the turkey.

Social Media

Website: chrisbauerauthor.com/
Twitter: @cgbauer

#BadMoonRising: If Darkness Takes Us by Brenda Marie Smith #postapocalyptic #thriller

When’s the last time you read a post-apocalyptic thriller featuring a 70+ year-old plucky grandma as the protagonist?  I had the pleasure of reading an ARC of this book, and today’s author definitely put a fresh spin on it.  A confirmed night owl, you might find her binge-watching Ancient Aliens while editing her next project.  Welcome Brenda Marie Smith!

Would you rather boogie down to Monster Mash or get your groove on to Thriller?

I’m showing my age here, but I’d have to go with Monster Mash. I’m one of the only people I know who remembers how to dance the Mashed Potato. And the Monster Mash is just the Mashed Potato with scary monster hands. So, I’d have to play to my strengths, lol.

Would you rather be locked in a haunted insane asylum or lost in the woods with a killer on the loose?

Until a few weeks ago, I would have said I’d prefer the woods so that I’d have more chances of escape and more places to hide. But then I read Marisa Noelle’s The Shadow Keepers, a great YA thriller about troubled teen girls trapped in a haunted asylum. If I could be trapped with those plucky girls, I’d feel a lot safer and I’d know they would have my back. And maybe I could also get some mental health treatment at the same time.

Would you rather be part of the X-Files team or Ghostbusters?

Being a Ghostbuster with a crew of comedians would be a lot of fun. But I’d have to go with X-Files, especially if I could work with the younger Fox Mulder. I need to know what truths are out there, and working on finding them as a full-time job would be very emotionally satisfying to me. It would be worth the danger and the ridicule.

What behind-the-scenes tidbit in your life would probably surprise your readers?

I am an extreme night owl, and I like to stay up until 3:00 or 4:00 a.m. reading, editing, posting on social media, playing computer games, and watching TV, usually doing several of these things at once. My fave things to watch are Rachel Maddow, true-crime shows, and Ancient Aliens (yes, I’m weird, haha). My son and I have binge-watched every apocalypse and dystopia we can get our hands on. And I often go to bed at the same time my husband is getting up for work, the poor guy.

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters of the opposite sex?

I think men are much more sensitive than women often realize. They have such different ways of showing their worries and fears than we do. It’s harder to capture men’s emotions in the subtext because it’s subtle. And it’s difficult to make their dialogue sound like a man. It’s very rewarding when I get it right, though it usually takes me tons of rewriting to get there.

What are you working on now?

I’m polishing up the sequel to If Darkness Takes Us. It’s called If the Light Should Come (though that title could change a bit), and it’s from grandson Keno’s point of view. Who knew I had an eighteen-year-old young man living inside me? I can’t believe how fast that kid’s voice spewed out of my head. I couldn’t type fast enough to keep up with him. I’m hoping that I sell enough copies of If Darkness that my publisher will pick up If the Light. Fingers crossed!

I’m also working on a project set in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas in the 1970’s, but I have to keep the plot hush-hush for now. Let’s just say that hippies are involved.


IN SUBURBAN AUSTIN, TEXAS, BEA CRENSHAW SECRETLY PREPARES FOR THE APOCALYPSE. But when a solar pulse destroys modern life, she’s left alone with four grandkids whose parents do not return home. She must teach these kids to survive without power, cars, phones, running water, or doctors in a world fraught with increasing danger.

If Darkness Takes Us is realistic post-apocalyptic fiction with a focus on a family in peril, led by a no-nonsense grandmother who is at once funny, controlling, and heroic in her struggle to hold her family together with civility and heart.

Purchase Links



https://www.facebook.com/events/1117598618442240/ (For my book launch event at BookPeople in Austin, November 16th, 5 p.m.)


Brenda Marie Smith studied fiction in the UCLA Writers Program. Born and raisedin Oklahoma City, she was part of the back-to-the-land movement, living off the grid in the Ozark Mountains, and then joining the Farm—an off-grid, vegan hippie community, based in Tennessee—where her sons were delivered by midwives.


In Austin, Texas, Brenda managed student housing co-ops near the University of Texas for fifteen years. If Darkness Takes Us is her second novel. Her first, Something Radiates, is a paranormal thriller. Brenda and her husband own and reside in a grid-connected, solar-powered home in South Austin. They have five grown sons, one daughter-in-law, two grandkids, and a self-assured kitty cat.

Social Media

Website: www.brendamariesmith.com
Blog: https://brendamariesmith.tumblr.com/ (where I’m running a series, What NOT to Stock for An Apocalypse, followed by What TO Stock…)
Twitter: @bsmithnovelist
Facebook: Books by Brenda Marie Smith