Tag Archives: mystery and suspense

Dead Man’s Doll (Sugarwood Mysteries Book 2) by Diane Bator Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

The holidays bring a bit of horror to the small town of Sugarwood as a woman stumbles across the murder of a local butcher and discovers tales of voodoo and witchcraft integrated into the mystery in author Diane Bator’s “Dead Man’s Doll”, the second book in the Sugarwood Mysteries series!

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The Synopsis

Christmas blooms in Sugarwood in the form of a brightly lit tree in town square, colourful ornaments, and a snowstorm. It’s just Audra Clemmings’ luck that she literally stumbles over the local butcher in Miss Lavinia’s shop. Then a witch doctor arrives in town.

Can Audra solve the mystery before the killer turns their sights on her?

The Review

I absolutely loved the juxtaposition of the holiday settings with the cozy murder mystery meets witchcraft and horror elements of the narrative. The author did an amazing job of bringing a good dose of humor and wit to the narrative amongst the more chilling elements of the story, and the rich detail and atmosphere that the author was able to achieve were inspiring to see come to life on the page.

The character growth and the exploration of our understanding of things like witchcraft, voodoo, and other magical-based belief systems were the true heart of this narrative. The humor and relatability that the author infuses into characters like protagonist Audra and Marilee, and even the inclusion of Audra’s dog Drake, added a depth and captivating element to the cozy murder mystery, while the magical practices element of the story showcased how it is often our own prejudices and misconceptions that make people far more dangerous than the unknown and things classified by society as “supernatural” and having all of this come to life in a Christmas setting was made even better.

The Verdict

Chilling, witty, and entertaining, author Diane Bator’s “Dead Man’s Doll” is a brilliant cozy mystery for the fall/winter season of 2022 and a perfect next chapter in the Sugarwood Mysteries series. The thoughtful and thrilling narrative blends well with the funny character dynamics and rich cultural and spiritual elements explored in the story, making this a one-of-a-kind read you won’t be able to put down. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Diane Bator is a prolific writer published by BWL Publishing. She is a A member of WCYR, Sisters in Crime and a board member for the Crime Writers of Canada. She is the author of several mystery series and a budding playwright.

https://dianebator.ca/

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A Death in Berlin (The Simon Sampson Mysteries Book Two) by David C. Dawson Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

In the 1930’s Berlin, a city that once stood for liberation is about to become the capital of one of the world’s largest waves of oppression, and one man must fight to save the lives of several gay men as the Nazi party rises in author David C. Dawson’s “A Death in Berlin”, the second book in The Simon Sampson Mysteries series.

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The Synopsis

Berlin 1933: When the parties stop…the dying begins

The city that’s been a beacon of liberation during the 1920s is about to become a city of deadly oppression. BBC foreign correspondent Simon Sampson risks his life in a bid to save thousands of gay men from the growing Nazi threat.

This is the second in the Simon Sampson mystery series. The first, A Death in Bloomsbury, was hailed as ‘a good old-fashioned John Buchan-esque mystery reworked for the twenty-first century’.

Simon moves to Berlin where he meets British author Christopher Isherwood and his lover Heinz. He’s also reunited with his banter-partner Florence Miles, better known to her friends as Bill. She’s recruited him into the British intelligence services and he’s got the task of hunting down communist spies.

But when Simon is ordered to spy on an old college friend, his loyalties are brought into question. Who are his real enemies? And how much can he trust his masters?

The Review

This was such a well-developed and engaging historical fiction meets mystery thriller. The atmosphere and intrigue the author was able to infuse into the story really elevated the historical time period the narrative took place in, and the gripping story kept me on the edge of my seat as the author’s balance of fast-paced action and slow-build character growth kept the novel moving at an even pace. The LGBTQ aspect of the narrative and the character growth felt refreshingly natural and insightful, as it played into the history itself quite well.

The rich character dynamics and the unique setting are what really made this story stand out. The chaos and sadness that became such a part of everyday life at the beginning of the Nazi occupation were felt strongly in this novel. The harmonious way the author was able to weave these emotions and facts from our world’s history into the actions and experiences of this cast of characters made this novel so gripping. It allowed the mystery itself felt elevated as the narrative dipped into the espionage spy genre with ease.

The Verdict

Entertaining, thought-provoking, and uniquely pertinent to many of the recurring struggles so many around the world face today, author David C. Dawson’s “A Death in Berlin” is a must-read historical fiction meets suspense thriller and a great addition to The Simon Sampson Mysteries series. With the adrenaline rush and mind-bending twists and turns, this narrative will resonate with readers who enjoy an almost pulpy noir-style storytelling with an LGBTQ-driven cast of characters and a heavy dose of historical research and accuracy. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today! 

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Men in love, men in jeopardy.

David C. Dawson is an award-winning writer of page-turner thrillers with a gay theme and the occasional romance.

His latest novel A Death in Bloomsbury was published in November 2021.

His debut novel, The Necessary Deaths, won bronze for Best Mystery & Suspense in the FAPA chairman’s award. It became the first in the Dominic Delingpole series. The other two books are The Deadly Lies and A Foreign Affair.

His first mystery romance For the Love of Luke was published in October 2018 followed by Heroes in Love.

David lives in London with his boyfriend and ageing motorbike.

You can read his blog here: http://bit.ly/DavidCDawsonblog

In his spare time, David tours Europe on his ageing Triumph motorbike and sings with the London Gay Men’s Chorus.

https://www.davidcdawson.co.uk/

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Spells for Forgetting by Adrienne Young Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Two people haunted by the past on a small island town find dark secrets emerging as strange happenings unearth the magic and folklore that their town has been steeped into for years in author Adrienne Young’s “Spells for Forgetting”.

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The Synopsis

A deeply atmospheric story about ancestral magic, an unsolved murder, and a second chance at true love.

Emery Blackwood’s life changed forever the night her best friend was found dead and the love of her life, August Salt, was accused of murdering her. Years later, she is doing what her teenage self swore she never would: living a quiet existence on the misty, remote shores of Saoirse Island and running the family’s business, Blackwood’s Tea Shoppe Herbal Tonics & Tea Leaf Readings.

But when the island, rooted in folklore and magic, begins to show signs of strange happenings, Emery knows that something is coming. The morning she wakes to find that every single tree on Saoirse has turned color in a single night, August returns for the first time in fourteen years and unearths the past that the town has tried desperately to forget.

August knows he is not welcome on Saiorse, not after the night everything changed. As a fire raged on at the Salt family orchard, Lily Morgan was found dead in the dark woods, shaking the bedrock of their tight-knit community and branding August a murderer. When he returns to bury his mother’s ashes, he must confront the people who turned their backs on him and face the one wound from his past that has never healed—Emery.

The town has more than one reason to want August gone, and the emergence of deep betrayals and hidden promises spanning generations threaten to reveal the truth behind Lily’s mysterious death once and for all.

The Review

This was such a powerful and captivating mystery thriller. The rich character-driven narrative really did an excellent job of elevating the atmosphere and emotional tone of the narrative. The air of suspicion and secrets run deep in this small island town, and the seemingly small-knit community where everyone knows everyone suddenly becomes a bed of deceit in which everyone is a suspect, even those closest to the protagonists. The heated passion and unresolved feelings between both August and Emery add even more tension to this atmospheric thriller and keep readers invested in their divergent stories until they come together in unexpected ways.

For me, the rich and dynamic setting with the subtle yet the natural feeling way the author incorporated magic and fantasy into this narrative felt so alive on the page. The author did an incredible job of showcasing the concept of town secrets, local legends, and the power that secrets and lies can hold over us in life, and blended these themes into a years-long whodunnit that captivated the audience instantly. The atmosphere of this small town played well into the mystery both in the novel and the genre as a whole, as the story elevated the reader’s curiosity factor while also keeping them emotionally invested in these protagonists. 

The Verdict

Haunting, mesmerizing, and entertaining, author Adrienne Young’s “Spells for Forgetting” is a must-read fantasy and murder mystery read. The passionate character development and ideas of destiny and the power of local legends played well with the diverse cast of characters and the sheer volume of twists and turns that will keep readers shocked for days after reading the final pages of this incredible story. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Adrienne Young is the New York Times and international bestselling author of the Sky and Sea duology, the Fable series, and Spells for Forgetting. When she’s not writing, you can find Adrienne on her yoga mat, on a walk in the woods, or planning her next travel adventure. She lives and writes in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.

For information on release, appearances, ARCs, giveaways, and exclusive content, sign up for the newsletter at https://adrienneyoungbooks.com/

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Hero Haters by Ken MacQueen Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

After becoming the prime suspect in the disappearance of the finalists for the nation’s highest medal of valor for civilians, one man must put himself on the line to find and save these heroes from the sinister web they’ve been ensnared within author Ken MacQueen’s “Hero Haters”.

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The Synopsis

Jake Ockham had a dream job, vetting nominees for the Sedgewick Medallion—the nation’s highest civilian award for heroism. His own scarred hands are an indelible reminder of the single mother he failed to pull from a raging house fire; her face haunts him still. Obligations drag him back to his hometown to edit the family newspaper but attempts to embrace small-town life, and the hot new doctor, are thwarted by unknown forces. The heroes Jake vetted go missing and he becomes the prime suspect in the disappearances. Aided by resourceful friends, Jake follows a twisted trail to the Dark Web, where a shadowy group is forcing the kidnapped medalists to perform deadly acts of valor to amuse twisted subscribers to its website. To save his heroes, Jake must swallow his fears and become one himself…or die in the attempt. 

The Review

This brand-new thriller from a brand new author and seasoned journalist was absolutely fantastic. The author immediately showcased the strength of finding the right balance between character growth and suspense building. The atmosphere and tension really elevated the narrative here, capturing the shocking nature of the crimes and the fight for survival that takes place. The focus on “heroes”, and how we treat our heroes in the world is a great central theme to play into this thriller and did a great job of showcasing the humanity within our heroes.

The brilliant character development and escalating suspense were so well delivered. The chemistry between Tina and Jake as the story develops adds a hint of romance into the narrative, but the complexity of the protagonist’s struggle with his brush with heroism and the blend of guilt for those that couldn’t be saved, as well as the human faults all heroes still have in their daily lives that are often ignored in the wake of their heroism, made their development so mesmerizing to read about.

The Verdict

Thought-provoking, atmospheric, and entertaining, author Ken MacQueen’s “Hero Haters” is a must-read suspense thriller of 2022. The gripping blend of haunting dark web crime and the balance of morality with heroism as a whole made this such a rich and dynamic story to dive head first into, and readers will be hard-pressed to put this novel down. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy or preorder by October 5th, 2022!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Before turning to fiction, Ken MacQueen spent 15 years as Vancouver bureau chief for Maclean’s, Canada’s newsmagazine, winning multiple National Magazine Awards and nominations. He travelled the world writing features and breaking news for the magazine, and previously for two national news agencies.

He has written extensively on crime, politics, disasters, both natural and man-made—and, being Canadian, on the shifting fortunes of Queen Elizabeth II and her clan. All of this is potential fodder for future fiction, though the Queen as action hero seems unlikely.

Hero Haters, set in the Pacific Northwest and rural Pennsylvania, is his debut thriller.

MacQueen covered nine Olympic Games and drew the athletic prowess of Jake Ockham, his protagonist, from tracking elite rowers in training and on podiums in Athens, Beijing and London.

He and his wife divide their time between North Vancouver and British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast.

kenmacqueen.com

Only Lies Remain (An Aoife Walsh Thriller Book 2) by Val Collins Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

The discovery of a body leads to old family secrets being unearthed, and a hunt for a killer who could very well be amongst Aoife Walsh’s family takes center stage in author Val Collins’s “Only Lies Remain”, the second book in the Aoife Walsh thriller series. 

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The Synopsis

Everyone thought Danny Walsh deserted his family when his sons were young. But when Danny’s body turns up fifteen years later and his wife, Maura, is implicated in his murder, accusations and old rumours surface.

Aoife rushes in to clear her mother-in-law’s name. But why is it that Maura’s story surrounding Danny’s disappearance doesn’t quite add up?

Aoife’s investigation uncovers old secrets, long-held jealousies, and lies upon lies. With every new revelation, Aoife realises she doesn’t know her family at all. Now her new boss is acting strangely, her best friend is more and more distant and her husband is no help at all.

With her support network crumbling and her family threatened, Aoife must race to keep one step ahead of danger before more innocent lives are lost. But how will she uncover the truth when only lies remain?

The Review

This was a captivating and thought-provoking thriller. As a newcomer to the series, I was immediately enthralled with the expansive cast of characters. Protagonist Aoife is such a brilliant presence in the narrative, providing both the determination and strength a thriller’s heroine is meant to have and yet infusing the vulnerability and emotional components that make her character feel well-rounded. The balance of everyday developments in her life, from her tumultuous relationship with her soon-to-be ex-husband and her desire to help her former mother-in-law, to her growing relationship with the lead investigator and the close friendship she has with Orla.

Yet it was the twisted narrative and haunting atmosphere the author built into this story that made the novel so captivating. The rich world-building and stark settings were brought to life brilliantly using powerful imagery and made it feel very cinematic in nature as if it could be turned into the newest BBC murder mystery and thriller series that takes the world by storm much like The Fall or Broadchurch. The chilling nature of the case and the personal connection the protagonist has to it allow the reader to feel the desperation and need to solve the case that drives this story forward.

The Verdict

Brilliantly written, complex yet inviting, and thoroughly entertaining, author Val Collins’s “Only Lies Remains” is a must-read murder mystery thriller. The twists and turns the narrative takes, as well as the shocking reveal of the killer and his or her motives, will have readers hanging off the edge of their seats, and the author’s skills and powerful command over the genre make her future in this industry something that cannot be ignored.  If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Val Collins is the author of the award-winning psychological thriller GIRL TARGETED and the No. 1 international bestsellers ONLY LIES REMAIN, THE SILENT SPEAK and WHERE LOYALTIES LIE. All four books are stand-alone thrillers and they can be read in any order.

Val has lived in Ireland her entire life, and graduated from University College Dublin. She enjoys chocolate, going for long walks in the countryside, seeing as much of the world as possible, meeting friends, writing, and reading. In fact, she devours books at the rate of one per week, and her favourite authors range from Philippa Gregory and Sophie Kinsella to Lee Child and Linwood Barclay.

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The Flower Enigma (Magnolia Bluff Crime Chronicles Book 5) by Charles Breakfield and Rox Burkey Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A man and woman seeking a quiet vacation away from their busy work lives find themselves instead embroiled in one crisis to another as the small town of Magnolia Bluff experiences a new round of intrigue and terror in authors Charles Breakfield and Rox Burkey’s “The Flower Enigma”, the fifth book in the Magnolia Bluff Crime Chronicle series. 

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The Synopsis

JJ and Jo find the ideal spot to get away from their busy work lives—Magnolia Bluff offers Flower Bed & Breakfast, a quaint country destination within the beautiful Texas Hill Country.

They pull up to the picturesque building only to discover a crowd of citizens anxiously awaiting a special podcast, created by a group of local women, to start. Flower B&B is the sponsor of today’s show in this multi-day series. The couple works through the human log jam. As they check in, they learn that a cyber-attack may prevent the show from airing.

JJ, a technology guru, is convinced by Jo to help the group meet their broadcast promise. While he’s working on the issue, Jo spots a girl in the crowd with fear in her eyes who flashes the international help sign. The teenager vanishes into the throng. Fearful young people signaling for help strikes too close to home for Jo.

Their romantic vacation becomes a journey from one crisis to the next as these vacationers help the evangelizing ladies even as risks are multiplying. Threats expand to include all the podcasters, the show location owners, and suspected missing teens.

Authorities discount the gossipy group’s allegations that Mateo Hernandez built a wall around his property for more than privacy. JJ and Jo work to assemble the necessary clues to convince Chief Jager that Hernandez is a bigger menace. Their nosing around places them both in harm’s way. When Jo is attacked it becomes personal.

This romantic getaway isn’t even close to plan. Lives are at stake, and the young couple won’t accept failure.

The Review

This was such a thrilling and fun suspense thriller of a read. The blend of cyber-thriller and the cozy mystery was such a unique and captivating angle to keep the reader invested in this story, and the fast pace of the narrative gave readers an edge-of-their-seat feeling throughout the entirety of the narrative. The authors were able to find the right harmony of atmosphere that wove both lighthearted dialogues between the protagonists and the townspeople and tension-filled moments when delving into the darker mysteries at the heart of this narrative.

What drove this story, as often is the case with great cozy mystery reads, was the rich character dynamics of the book. The story’s opening chapters reflect this greatly, as Lilly, the owner of the Inn the protagonists are staying in, immediately shows a unique small-town charm as she carries on with grand storytelling and makes hilarious assumptions about people. The blend of humorous interactions like this and the twisted confrontations that arise later on made this story so engaging.

The Verdict

Captivating, thrilling, and engaging, authors Charles Breakfield and Rox Burkey’s “The Flower Enigma” is a must-read cozy mystery meets suspense thriller read and a great addition to the Magnolia Bluff Crime Chronicles series. The rich storytelling and entertaining characters of this small town mystery will have readers invested in this narrative, and the twists and turns it takes will keep you hanging off of the author’s every word. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Charles Breakfield is a renowned technology solutions architect with years of experience in security, cloud computer, hybrid data/telecom environments, artificial intelligence, and unified communications. He finds it intriguing to leverage his professional skills in writing the contemporary award-winning stories of the Enigma Series and the short stories he creates with his co-author.

Never one to sit still, he uses his spare time to explore books on World War II his¬tory, travel with his family, and cultural exchanges everywhere. Charles’ love of wine tastings, cooking creations on the grill like individual pizzas, and Harley riding are sometimes sprinkled throughout the Enigma Series.

Recently, Charles commented that being a part of his father’s military career stationed at various outposts, has positively contributed to the many characters in the stories. He enjoys exploring the various character perspectives and interactions pulling from real people. He accepted the challenge to try to teach Burkey humor which is also incorporated into many of the stories in an unexpected manner.

Burkey commented that If Charles is not creating a new story he paces like a caged tiger. So yes there is another story in the works. You can enjoy snippets of their stories, book trailers, audible sections, and get FREE stuff at www.EnigmaSeries.com.

Rox Burkey is the co-author of the 13 books in the Enigma Series. The prequel, Out of Poland, historical fiction released in 2021. In addition to her award winning novels and nurmerous short stories, she is a techologist by profession. She is known for helping business customers modernize and optimize customer experience (CX) with processes, technology shifts, and building roadmaps to success. Nothing makes her workday go better than for a customer to indicate she helped reach their business goals. She is adept at learning the drivers for customers and helping to measure their success as well as adjust their journey using CX principles.

Rox loves writing fiction as much if not more than her professional job. More than once she has been a featured speaker, workshop leaders, subject matter expert, interviewer, podcaster, book reviewer through RoxBurkey.com. Her favorite is writing the novels and short stories of the Enigma Series. She convinced her co-author Charles Breakfield that writing fiction is a lot more fun than white papers or documentation.

As a child, Rox jumped at the chance to lead the other kids with exciting new adventures built on make believe characters. As a Girl Scout until high school, she contributed to the community and went on to support the local Head Start program. Rox enjoys her family, cross country travel (okay international too) listening to people, outdoors activities, sewing, cooking, baking, and imagining the possibilities.

Recently Rox indicated that her humor was lousy, and Charles was helping her. You can enjoy snippets of their stories, book trailers, audible sections, and get FREE stuff at www.EnigmaSeries.com.

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To Charm A Killer (A Hollystone Mystery Book One) by W.L. Hawkin Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

The High Priest of a powerful coven must search for a killer who is targeting witches as Hecate issues a dreadful prophecy he must race to prevent in author W.L. Hawkin’s “To Charm a Killer”, the first book in the Hollystone Mystery Series! 

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The Synopsis

When a third witch vanishes from Vancouver, the witches of Hollystone Coven spin a charm to catch the killer. But spells ripple with repercussions, and in the ensuing chaos, an innocent seventeen-year-old girl gets caught up in the charm. As obsessed with the killer as the killer is with him, High Priest Estrada vows to find the man and stop him. Then, at their Samhain ritual, Hecate speaks through their high priestess and shocks everyone with her prophecy:

As one of you has spun the charm, now none of you are safe from harm.

One who all felt they could trust, breeds deception cloaked in lust.

One will gain their heart’s desire, while yet another pays with fire.

Before the dark of winter night, four souls pass over into light.

Once begun it cannot end, but circles round as circles bend.

To save the girl and catch the killer, Estrada journeys from the West Coast of Canada to Ireland and Beyond. Abduction, death, fire, and faeries. Who is the killer? Why is he killing witches? And how can he be stopped before Hecate’s prophecy comes true?

WL Hawkin weaves threads of Macbeth and ancient Irish myth with edgy romance in this mysterious urban fantasy. To Charm a Killer is the first in the Hollystone Mysteries series.

The Review

I have had the pleasure of reviewing quite a few books this past year from W.L. Hawkins. Her work always entertains and inspires me both as a reader and a writer, and the interesting thing about this series, in particular, is that I came into it starting with book 2 and then jumping around a bit. I’ve become quite invested in Estrada’s journey throughout this series, and getting to see the genesis of this character and the supporting cast was such a pleasure to read about.

The balance of action and mythos was so strong in this first novel. The way the author is able to integrate the supernatural and paranormal elements into the world so naturally was amazing to read. As someone who is fascinated with the real-world applications of magick, the paranormal, and the supernatural as a whole, it was great to see just how close the author was able to go through real-world practices and mythologies before integrating the more fantastic elements of the narrative.

Yet it was the mystery and suspense of the narrative that was truly great to read about. The shocking murders and the cat and mouse element of the plot between Estrada and the killer kept me hooked on the author’s narrative. Being able to keep the reader guessing the killer’s identity as the clues begin to unravel before them was such a fun aspect of the plot, and kept me on the edge of my seat.

The Verdict

Captivating, entertaining, and thought-provoking, author W.L. Hawkin’s “To Charm a Killer” is a must-read novel and a great first book in the Hollystone Mystery series! The twists and turns in the narrative and globe-spanning mystery blended well into the mythology and supernatural deep dive into witchcraft, magick, and the paranormal as a whole, making this a thrilling story. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

W. L. Hawkin writes myth, magic, and mayhem designed to inspire and entertain. Described as “intoxicating, lush, magically-edgy, page-turners,” her Hollystone Mysteries series features a coven of witches who solve murders using their wits and ritual magic with a little help from the gods. Wendy is also a published blogger, book reviewer, Indie publisher, and poet, with a background in Indigenous Studies and English literature. She loves myth and magic, so when she’s not writing, she’s studying Druidry, shamanism, and mediumship. Although she is an introvert, in each book, her characters go on a journey where she has traveled herself.

She defies genre by writing character-driven fast-paced mysteries and thrillers that involve fantastical characters. See her four book series: To Charm a Killer, To Sleep with Stones, To Render a Raven, and To Kill a King.

Her latest book, Lure, is set on a Chippewa Reservation in the American Midwest and tells the story of Jesse & Hawk.

Firefly Lies by Morgan Matthews Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young woman hoping to put her past behind her is forced to confront her trauma and even her sanity as dark events and a persistent enemy to her family seek to destroy their family estate in author Morgan Matthews’s “Firefly Lies”.

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The Synopsis

A stately manor, one peculiar groundskeeper, and untimely death set the stage for this thrilling and unexpected tale. As a twenty-nine year old married mother of two, Greer Tipton has spent nearly half her life trying to leave the past behind her. Yet she finds herself faced with reexamining her teenage years after agreeing to be interviewed by a biographer.

Greer’s recollection of events is equally as dark as it is compelling. Her harrowing story is fraught with lies, heartbreaking revelations, and an unknown enemy terrorizing her family’s beloved home – Langley Estates. Young Greer must find the answers she so desperately seeks, while also navigating the emotions of first love, loss, and an inherent mistrust of her own sanity.

The reader will be left wondering who, if anyone, can be trusted. Can we as human beings even trust ourselves?

The Review

This was such an engaging and inviting read. The mystery and suspense of the narrative felt vibrant and alive and delved into themes that felt very relatable and relevant to modern-day true crimes. The twists and turns in the story kept me invested in this narrative, as the author’s writing style kept this mystery feeling very mature yet in a genre that many readers would classify as “clean” mysteries. In that regard, the author crafts a narrative that focuses solely on the mystery and not on any elements of more adult narratives that would make this a heated and passionate read instead. 

Yet what drew me into the narrative was the characters, especially when it came to the storytelling perspective. The author’s choice to not only jump back and forth between the past and the present but from the POV of both the biographer and the protagonist of this mystery was so heartfelt and honest in a way. The way biographer was able to bring an outside perspective to the story while also connecting with their “subject”. At the same time, the protagonist kept readers in suspense and brought an emotional depth to the narrative, making this story such a unique reading experience.

The Verdict

Captivating, thoughtful, and exhilarating, author Morgan Matthews’s “Firefly Lies” is a must-read mystery and suspense read of 2022. The drama, twists, and rich character development will keep readers on the edge of their seats. The final revelations about what happened to this family and the true villain of this tale will shock many readers, while also keeping readers emotionally invested in these characters. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Morgan Matthews is a wife, mother, photographer, lifestyle blogger, and fiction writer. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in psychology, as well as a Master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling.

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Tarja Titan: A Terrian Chronicles Novel by TC Marti Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young woman seeking to find others like herself discovers the school of elementals she just joined will show her how different she is even among her fellow elementals, and two dark factions will rise in response in author TC Marti’s “Tarja Titan”, the first book in The Terrian Chronicles series. 

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The Synopsis

Abused and neglected for nearly a decade, Tarja Titan always longed for a home…

But she didn’t anticipate the reception she’d receive upon her return to a world she thought only existed in fiction.

Tarja has always been different. And when she enrolls in Celestial University of the Northeast, she’s elated to mingle with other Elementals, a race of supernaturals with the ability to control one of the nine elements.

Problem is, Tarja’s different even among Elemental standards. It was something she neither anticipated nor wanted, but if she refuses to seek out her calling, TWO dark factions will rise.

This isn’t your classic good v. evil; something Tarja learns the hard way.

The Review

Immediately, from the book’s first pages, I was struck by the idea that this book was a cross between Cinderella, The Magicians, and A conspiracy thriller! The unique world-building and mythos were complimented by the author’s ability to capture the heart of the narrative and highlight the complex reality of life, showing that things are not always about good vs evil, but are far more often found in the shades of grey that surround us all. 

The magic, abilities, and setting of the story in this alternative history of our own world were a great vehicle for the author’s incredible character development. Tarja Titan was a brilliant protagonist, becoming the heart and soul of the story and representing the outsider who would become pivotal to a centuries-long battle so ideally. I loved her relationship with Braden Hawk, her godbrother who saves her from the torment she was living in to start of the novel. The mystery surrounding her backstory and the events that brought her such infamy among Elemental society was so fun and engaging to dive into, and the author’s pacing was perfect for bringing this part of her story to life at just the right speed. 

The Verdict

Captivating, entertaining, and mind-blowing, author TC Marti’s “Tarja Titan: A Terrian Chronicles Novel” is the perfect first chapter in a brand new metaphysical and magical realism alt-history series. The mixture of mystery, suspense, magic, school life, and shadowy organizations was amazing to see unfold on the pages of this book, and the shocking twist ending that leaves other character’s fates hanging in the balance will drive readers back into the series and eager to read book two. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

TC Marti has been an avid reader/writer for over three decades. He is the author of the Elementals Universe, a shared speculative fiction universe spanning multiple series. He is also a workout fanatic, and a fan of Arizona sports teams.