Tag Archives: mystery

The Street Between the Pines by J.J. Alo Review

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

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A Gulf War Veteran suffering from a string of bad luck and PTSD must investigate the mysterious creature that has begun stalking his neighborhood in author J.J. Alo’s “The Street Between the Pines”. 


The Synopsis

A strange creature lurks between the pines of Forest Street.

Since the deadly DUI that ruined his life, Curtis Reynolds has long since struggled with sleep deprivation, debt, a failing marriage, and, frankly, justifying his own existence. But when his elderly neighbor is murdered, the Gulf War Veteran returns home to Forest Street, where a dangerous encounter sends him spiraling.

Battling insomnia and PTSD induced visions, Curtis begins an investigation of a mysterious monster, falling down a rabbit hole of folk mythology, government conspiracy, and ghosts from his past that threaten to destroy his fragile psyche and, possibly, all he holds dear.

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The Review

This was a truly rich and captivating horror thriller. The author found the perfect voice for this book’s overall atmosphere and tone, the writing really drawing the reader into the narrative as the small Connecticut town came to life on the page. The visceral nature of the creature’s attacks and the shocking realities of its origins are but two of the big mysteries the author is able to draw open in this book, and the imagery the author’s writing conjured for the reader left plenty of room for the reader’s imaginations to run wild while still providing an almost cinematic approach to the story.

For me, the core of this novel rested on the relatable character development and the chilling nature of the creature’s origins. The creature and the protagonist seemed to become the perfect mirror image of one another, showcasing the pitfalls of those who become ensured in the workings of the government machine, one a soldier left to pick up the pieces of his life, and the other a creature at war with the natural world for the failings of its creators. The web of conspiracies and haunting imagery combined to make the reader feel like they were delightfully lost in a classic X-Files-style creature feature. 

The Verdict

Thrilling, entertaining, and mesmerizing, author J.J. Alo’s “The Street Between the Pines” is a must-read horror thriller of 2023, and a contender for top horror read of the year thus far. The way the author drew out each character’s arc in a natural way felt very Stephen King to me in style, while the government mixed with horror nature of the narrative felt like an ode to iconic Dean Koontz novels, and yet the author’s unique voice and tone shone through on every page. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

J.J. Alo is a commercial actor, writer, and author of the new novel THE STREET BETWEEN THE PINES. 

As a lover of the macabre, J.J. has spent several years writing award-winning horror screenplays and novels creating his interconnected “New England Supernatural Universe” filled with inherently flawed, complex characters and antiheroes. His latest novel, MISERY PLAZA, will be released in the fall of 2023, six months after his debut THE STREET BETWEEN THE PINES in April 2023.

THE STREET BETWEEN THE PINES has placed in two novel competitions: Killer Nashville Claymore Award Competition Finalist and ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Competition Quarterfinalist. His screenplay has won numerous accolades in the Best Horror/Thriller categories in several screenwriting competitions, some of which include the Los Angeles Film and Script Festival, Fright Night Film Fest, and Zed Fest Film Festival & Screenplay Competition to name a few.

J.J. lives and works out of his Connecticut Shoreline home with six insane cats and spends his time visiting coffee shops, movie theaters, and concert venues. He is a lifelong pop culture nerd, ComicCon & cosplay fanatic, avid gym enthusiast, and subpar snowboarder. (he tries!) And he’ll never say no to a perfectly shaken dirty martini. Never. 




On the Sly: A Sylvia Wilson Mystery by Wendy L. Koenig Review

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

A local bar owner becomes the prime suspect in a murder investigation when the body of a former police officer is found inside her locked bar, and she must launch her own investigation to determine who the real killer is before they begin attacking those closest to her in author Wendy L. Koenig’s “On the Sly: A Sylvia Wilson Mystery”.


The Synopsis

Sylvia Wilson, a bar owner in St. Louis, Missouri, arrives at work to discover the body of an ex-police officer in her locked bar. The police focus on her as their primary suspect, so she decides to launch her own investigation into the dead man and his accomplices. But when the killer sends her clear messages that she and her loved ones are on his radar, she knows it’s just a matter of time before someone ends up dead. 

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The Review

This was a tense and gripping thriller. The author did a wonderful job of layering the mystery as the protagonist peeled back each layer slowly and built the heavy atmosphere up for the reader to get lost in. The drama and adrenaline that the author was able to infuse into the narrative helped elevate the shocking turn of events as each clue in the case led to more confrontations for the protagonist, both with the police investigating her and the killer she was investigating in turn. 

The core of this novel’s plot came from the rich character dynamics at play and the atmospheric settings that brought St. Louis to life on the page. The way each character played off each other, and the protagonist’s troubled past mirroring that of the killer in a lot of ways, kept the mystery alive and engaging on the page, and allowed the imagery of the author’s writing to keep the story feeling very cinematic in quality, almost as if it could be a drama series on HBO.

The Verdict

Captivating, thought-provoking, and entertaining, author Wendy L. Koenig’s “On the Sly” is a must-read mystery thriller you won’t want to miss. The twists and turns in the narrative, as well as the gripping character growth and heartfelt emotional weight of the protagonist’s past tying into the narrative, will have readers eager for more from this incredible author. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Wendy Koenig is a published author living in New Brunswick, Canada. Her first piece to be printed was a short children’s fiction, Jet’s Stormy Adventure, serialized in The Illinois Horse Network. She attended University of Iowa, honing her craft in their famed summer workshops and writing programs. Since that time, she has published and co-authored numerous books and has won several international awards.

Website: http://www.wendylkoenig.com

Facebook: http://facebook.com/WendyLKoenig


Instagram: http://instagram.com/wendylkoenig

Amazon link: https://amzn.to/3Eu39SZ

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/75689995-on-the-sly


Excerpt from “On the Sly”

I moved to the front again, checking shadows before dodging into them. Reaching the door, I leaned into it, listening. Silent as a ball of cotton. The key slid smoothly into the lock and turned. I eased open the door. Watched and listened for any movement or noise. Nothing. I slipped my arm in and turned on my lights. The alarm was already off.

Mayhem erupted from my backyard as my dogs snarled and threw themselves at the sliding glass door with angsted fervor. I hadn’t let them out there. Maybe Aaron had stopped by. But the dogs were clearly upset, and they wouldn’t be if it had been my brother who’d visited.

Even if there was a noise, I wouldn’t hear it over the violent ruckus. I sidled into the room. Nothing but my blue furniture and beige carpet. Through the glass door, I saw Ruffles was foaming and standing stock still. When he moved, it was with the stiff-legged, high-toed, movements of a mechanical being. His upper lip was curled completely over his nose and the resulting sound came through the glass like an outboard motor. I’d never seen him so livid, and I honestly wondered how he could breathe like that. 

Satan was throwing herself at the door again and again, as if she were a small missile that would weaken and eventually punch through the glass. I could picture the trauma her body experienced every time she made contact. If I didn’t do something fast, she would be covered in bruises, maybe even broken bones. 

Something had upset them so much that even my presence didn’t calm them. Moving quickly through my home, I cleared all the rooms; no one was hidden anywhere. Then, I put the safety back on the gun, set it down, and went to focus on my poor dogs. I pulled out the rod I kept in the track. That’s when I noticed the dark brown handprint on the sliding door.

Unless I missed my guess, that was dried blood.

I pulled my cellphone and dialed Eccheli. It took him a long time to answer, and he didn’t sound too happy, but his sleep-cracked voice got animated the moment I explained what had happened.

He said, “Don’t touch anything. We’ll be right there.”

“My dogs might be injured. I need to go out there and check them.” Satan had calmed a little, but she still paced the window in agitation. Ruffles was standing stock still, growling.

He hesitated. “Do you have kitchen gloves?”

“I have painter’s gloves.” Actually, I didn’t. But I did have some of the gloves the police left behind at the bar. Close enough.

“Perfect. Go out to them, don’t let them in. We’ll get there right away.” He disconnected. 

I probably was working my way back up Johnson’s ‘person of interest’ list with this middle of the night phone call. Nothing to be done about it.

When he’d said they’d get there right away, he wasn’t kidding. I’d managed to find my gloves, put them on, and had only been outside a few minutes. I was sitting in the soaked grass, trying to calm a frantic Satan so I could inspect her for injuries when my cellphone vibrated against my thigh.

Eccheli asked, “We good to come in?”

“Yeah, we’re out back.”

The minute the front door opened, Satan became all claws and teeth and twisted out of my arms. She threw herself at the glass door, ballistic missile at work again. As for Ruffles, I was used to his snarls, but the intensity of the one he gave at that moment scared me. 

I watched Eccheli and Johnson as they entered my house. Saw how he noticed my Colt Python on the counter, pointed it out to Johnson, and how she nodded and pocketed it. I certainly hoped she was going to give that back; it had cost me a pretty penny. 

As the two detectives cleared the house, again, flashing lights of an arriving squad car ricocheted off the back fence of the yard. I would probably be as popular in my neighborhood as a scorpion. At least there was no siren.

Mr. and Mrs. Detective returned to the front room. Eccheli leaned close to the glass, studying the handprint. Johnson stared out the glass at me and pointed at the door handle. When I shook my head, she pulled out her phone and called me. “How are the dogs?”

I shouted over the violence of growls and barks. “Ruffles has no injuries, but I can’t get Satan to hold still to check her!”

“Want me to call animal control to tranq her?”

I hesitated. I didn’t want to do that to my dogs, but I didn’t foresee Satan letting me check her any time soon and that bloody handprint scared me. I nodded to the woman staring out at me, feeling somehow like a traitor.

Interview with Author David C. Dawson

1)     Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

Writing was therapy for me. I came out late in life, so when I did, writing was the obvious way to “let it all out”.


2)    What inspired you to write your book?

I’ve been in a fabulous writing group for many years. Each month we write short stories for each other’s entertainment. A couple of people in the group were published and I thought, why not me? I didn’t have a big novel burning inside me, and throughout my life I’d written almost exclusively factual content, for news, documentaries, and magazine articles. But I’ve always loved mysteries .

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

A Death in Berlin is set in Germany in 1933 just as Hitler becomes Chancellor. I want people to understand that fascism can resurge at any time, and nobody spots it happening at the time.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I’m fascinated by the events of the twentieth century. So much technological development, so many wars, so much social change. I think it’s the most intense centuries in terms of what happened. Plus it’s well documented so it’s easier to write about than any other century.

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5)  If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

The character of Bill (real name Florence Miles) is based on a real person called Florence Milnes. She was the first executive appointed by the newly formed British Broadcasting Corporation in the 1920s. I’d like to ask her how on earth did she manage to rise to such a senior position in those times, when she was both a woman and a lesbian.

6)  What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

I suppose Goodreads. Readers can be pretty hurtful on there, but the praise outweighs the negative comments so it’s worth it. I don’t understand the apparent glee with which some readers write vile comments, either about my or other people’s books. There’s a real lack of respect among a (fortunately) few people.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Write! It’s a muscle that must be exercised. Self-editing is the worst blockage to writing. The first draft of anything is never going to be perfect. And that inhibits a lot of people. You have to overcome that and get something written down.

8)   What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I’m planning the third book in this particular historical mystery series. It’s going to be set in Paris at the outbreak of the second world war and features Noël Coward very heavily.


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.



Girl Targeted (An Aoife Walsh Thriller Book One) 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.

A newlywed wife who takes an office job whilst awaiting the birth of her daughter witnesses a horrific accident that just may point to a cold-blooded killer, and everyone in her life, including her own husband, may not be able to be trusted in author Val Collins’s “Girl Targeted”, the first book in An Aoife Walsh Thriller series. 


The Synopsis

Office jobs can be stressful. Aoife’s may be lethal.

Aoife’s life is finally on track. She’s happily married, pregnant with her first child and has the world’s best mother-in-law. But when Aoife accepts a job as an office temp, her entire life begins to unravel.

Is one of Aoife’s colleagues a murderer? Is Aoife the next target? Why is her husband unconcerned?

Can office politics lead to murder? 

The Review

I love how the author immediately draws the reader in with their relatable character development and subtle buildup of tension that allows for those explosive moments to really shock the reader and stay with them long after the scene has ended. The rich setting and captivating mystery that surrounds the setting itself give the reader an equally magnetized pull that draws them into the mystery the same as the protagonist, who takes on this investigative role.

The character development really drove the story home for the reader. The determination and curiosity that Aoife displays are so relatable to true crime enthusiasts and journalists alike, and how she balances this with her life as a wife and mother is great world-building in my opinion. Balance this with the twisted relationship that reveals itself over time with her husband, who displays rudeness and abruptness that so many people will recognize from their own past relationships and informs the reader on how far Aoife’s narrative journey takes her over time.

The Verdict

Captivating, thoughtful, and entertaining, author Val Collins’s “Girl Targeted” is a brilliant story and a great first entry into the Aoife Walsh Thriller series. The twists this mystery takes and the dangers that Aoife comes into contact with are a great foundation for building a new heroine to tackle the mysteries and criminal dangers facing her small corner of the world. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


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.

Join Val online at valcollinsbooks.com, and on social media @valcollinsbooks.


The Line is Drawn (Mayson-Dickson Mysteries Book 1) by Jocie McKade Review

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

Two women who discover they are twin sisters must learn the secrets of their past after the only person with all the answers is assassinated and a trail of bodies begins to pile up in author Jocie McKade’s “The Line is Drawn”, the first book in the Mayson-Dickson Mysteries series.


The Synopsis


A secret twin sister? Who knew? Emme Mayson and Jackie Dickson discover they are twins, just before an assassin’s bullet kills the only man who knows everything.

Whisked away to an “off-the-books” witness protection program. With the aid of a wanted hacker, and another pitcher of margaritas, Emma and Jackie are determined to discover the truth about their parents’ secret past and why they were separated into North and South….Was it bad enough to have a man murdered to keep that secret?

Murder, mystery and family fuel the fire between two sisters so different the only thing keeping them from starting another war between the states is the need to solve the case, get their answers and stay alive.

The Review

This was an action-packed and gripping thriller. The author does an incredible job of really delving into the action and suspense right from the first page, pumping up the reader’s adrenaline and keeping the heart pounding as the immediate threat the newly introduced sisters face makes themselves known. The tension between the protagonists and the blend of humor and wit allow the atmosphere to have a sort of charm that meets the action feeling of the narrative that showcases the author’s ability to find balance within the story.

The heart of the story definitely rests within the bond and character growth of the protagonists. The attention to detail the author pays to each character and the amount of backstory the author infuses into both Emme and Jackie allows each of their personalities to shine brightly, and the conflict that arises from their stark differences and approaches to life keeps the reader invested in their story greatly.

The Verdict

Adrenaline-fueled, witty, and entertaining, author Jocie McKade’s “The Line is Drawn” is a fantastic first book in the Mayson-Dickson Mysteries series. The twists and turns in the narrative and the way these characters come together will have readers heart’s pumping, and the open-ended finale will keep readers eager for more of these dynamic sisters. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Jocie worked at several jobs before landing her ideal one as a librarian, a perfect segue to becoming an author.

With a soft spot for U.S. Veterans, she chaired her local Veteran’s Oral History Project, and her work with the program led to her speaking before the project committee at the U.S. Library of Congress. She has won several awards for her non-fiction writing on a multitude of subjects.

Her fiction writing has received the Author / Ambassador at Library Journal Self-e Authors, Winner Queen of the West Reader Favorite Award, Amazon Bestseller – Historical, Double finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards in the Mystery and Humorous Categories, and her novel Baer Truth received 4.5 stars from RT Book Reviews.

Writing humorous cozy mysteries, and romantic comedy, Jocie can find humor in most everything, even when she shouldn’t. She lives in the Midwest on Dust Bunny Farm with her family. When not writing, she grows ArnoldSwartzaWeeds in her garden and RVs whenever the opportunity presents itself.



Letters from Lima by Shaun Randall Review

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

A man struggling with depression and his divorce meets a woman desperate to find her mother’s treasured possessions and discovers a family secret that will take them both into the magic and mysticism of ancient Inkan culture and the culture of Peru in general in author Shaun Randall’s “Letters from Lima”.


The Synopsis

Collin Allweather, a hard-drinking expat and Lima local, struggles to cope with his divorce and depression, but everything changes when he meets another Chicago native. Carolyn Grant, an ambitious young executive, barges into his life while searching for her grandmother’s treasured possessions. Her journey reveals a dark family secret and unleashes a chain reaction that transforms their lives forever.

Their search to uncover the truth takes them through the awe-inspiring natural wonders and incredible anthropology of Per. Letters From Lima engages with the spirituality and mysticism of ancient Inkan culture and demonstrates how the harsh realities of life weave into a tapestry of transformation.

“I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to friends and family. There is something in it for everyone-romance, mystery, death, traveling, and immersion in new and exciting situations and places.” -Maya S.

“I love the sense of humor both Collin and Carolyn have. Several of their conversations had me giggling from the witty banter.” -Haley H.

“I would absolutely recommend this book. I thought it was a joy to read; it was incredibly emotionally poignant and moving, and it was full of lifelike characters who came alive at every turn. I couldn’t tear myself away from it. Letters From Lima has a strong sense of place, and it’s rooted in Inkan and Peruvian culture in a way that makes it unlike other literature of its type. I also think it could appeal to a wide range of audiences. While it is in some ways a romance, it’s also a story of discovery, loss, grief, and love. It’s not women’s fiction; it’s a standout piece of literary fiction that deserves a spotlight. I would recommend it to anyone and everyone. I loved it!” -Quinn A.

Shaun Randall’s authorial voice in Letters From Lima is reminiscent of Marisha Pessl and her best-selling thriller Night Film. He shares an intricate grammatical kinship with Sue Grafton. In this work of literary fiction, Shaun’s expressive complexity and tonal quality harken to the award-winning Jodi Picoult and her #1 New York Times best-selling novel House Rules.

The Review

The author did an incredible job of layering this story with a rich culture and powerful imagery that really hit the reader early on. The setting of Peru was truly memorable, as the story found a natural way to explore the diverse culture and history of the land and its people through both a familial and a metaphysical lens. The emotional depth of this novel helps elevate the tone and atmosphere of the narrative, keeping the reader invested in the story overall.

To me, the heart of the novel rested on the shoulders of the two protagonists, Carolyn and Collin. The happenstance way they cross paths at such pivotal moments in their lives and the way they just instantly mesh with one another brought a heavy dose of romance and intrigue into the story and elevated the emotional journey that they go on as they deal with their respective backgrounds. 

The Verdict

Thoughtful, captivating, and engaging, author Shaun Randall’s “Letters to Lima” is a must-read metaphysical mystery and romance novel. The emotions and depth of culture and rich settings the story employs here will have readers hooked, and the connection between the two main characters helps drive this story forward in a way that draws the reader in further and further as it evolves. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Shaun Randall is originally from San Diego, California and spent time as an adolescent in Portland, Oregon; Colorado Springs, Colorado; and South Florida. Growing up in those settings, on the coasts and in the mountains, instilled a wonder and love for our natural world. In 2008, Shaun moved to Chicago, Illinois which has left an indelible mark on his life and work. In early March of 2020, Shaun took a vacation to Lima, Perú where the next chapter of his life began when he met his fiancé Eliet. They currently make their home together in Barranco, Perú.

Shaun Randall’s writing addresses the struggle to find inner peace and happiness amongst the trappings of modernity. Teaching and wisdom from ancient Latin American civilizations and eastern philosophies permeate his writing as he relates modern western experience with a dry sense of humor and zen master deadpan. Shaun uses an unorthodox approach to creating his phrases that challenge readers to think twice and sort through their emotions. To make sure they are deciding what to think and how to feel for themselves, in spite of the inundation of external influences on a minute-by-minute basis. Shaun Randall’s purpose is to help people enjoy their lives to the fullest by choosing their own path in lieu of the many offered by others, in this miraculously unreal thing we call reality.

Please visit www.shaun-randall.com to learn more about Shaun Randall.

For live appearances, podcast and television appearances, or more information email: info@shaun-randall.com


Parts Unknown by T.L. Hughes Review

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

The disappearance of a young woman sends a state trooper and the police department on a hunt to unravel the mystery of her disappearance and discover whether her husband has sinister motives author T.L. Hughes’s “Parts Unknown”.


The Synopsis

It was Monday, December 28, 1959. Twenty-five-year-old Mildred Walker Torpey had mysteriously disappeared sometime between midnight and the first light of dawn. The day’s newspaper headlines boasted nothing out of the ordinary. A surprise storm with blizzard-like conditions had pummeled the working-class mill town the night before, followed by freezing rain in the early morning. No one saw or heard anything. Most didn’t even realize she was gone.

Within her circle of family and friends, Millie was known to run off with other guys for weeks at a time, but according to her, she ran purely as a means of survival—to stay clear of her hot-tempered husband Pat.

Norby O’Conner, a local and a lieutenant with the Massachusetts State Police, knowing both the woman and the shifty behavior of her abusive husband, takes immediate interest in Millie’s disappearance, suspecting murder. As the weeks turn into months with no sign or word from Millie, Norby and the local police turn up the heat on Pat. But every time he’s taken in for questioning, Pat’s a cool customer, to say the least, especially with Millie’s floozy reputation and no body to be found. What follows is an unraveling of the events that led up to that night as seen through the perspective of the three main characters, Norby, Millie, and Pat in an ultimate showdown of good versus evil.

The Review

This was a well-written and captivating thriller. The detailed writing style really helped bring the setting to life, capturing that small-town life in an era when small towns were worlds unto themselves. The chilling way the story’s murder mystery aspect plays upon the way small-town America, especially those living in poverty or near-poverty lifestyles, helped to elevate the setting of this novel.

The character development was truly top-notch in this novel. The toxicity of the relationship between Millie and Pat and the way they view one another was greatly explored using multiple POVs, and the haunting nature of the crime itself was shocking and tapped into some gothic themes that brought the Edgar Allen Poe vibes that the story emanated. The slow burn of the mystery aspect of the story helped to draw the reader in and the way each layer was peeled back during the investigation in connection with the character development was mesmerizing to behold.

The Verdict

Thoughtful, captivating, and twisted yet engaging, author T.L. Hughes’s “Parts Unknown” is a must-read suspense thriller and mystery read that you won’t want to put down. The twists and turns in the narrative were great, but the true heart of the story rested in the rich character development that not only drove the story forward but spoke to an era that was not the sitcom-perfect life that people believe it to be, but instead was an era of survival and isolation, making this a story you won’t be able to turn away from. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today.

Rating: 10/10 


About the Author

T.L. Hughes was born in Salem, Massachusetts and was educated in Lowell public schools. Influenced by the writings of Jack Kerouac and others, and after graduating from the University of Massachusetts, he took to traveling the U.S. and Europe, eventually settling in Southern California where he lives today. Other than writing, some of his passions include listening to Jazz, Blues, and Rock and Roll music and learning how to play the saxophone. His latest novel, Parts Unknown, is T.L. Hughes’ third novel and his first crime novel.



Ghost Dreams by Matthew Hughes Review

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

A thief comes into contact with the spirit of a woman who lost her child when she was wrongfully thrust into an asylum for her inheritance in the 1940s, and together with his daughter they must contend with her vengeful spirit and the men who wronged her in life in order to uncover the truth behind her child’s fate in author Matthew Hughes’s “Ghost Dreams”.


The Synopsis

Commercial burglar Stan Winkelman encounters the ghost of Jane Manchester, wrongly confined for life in a 1940s insane asylum by a powerful family. She wants to know what happened to Harmon, the baby boy that was stolen from her.

Aided by Jeannie, his ghost-obsessed autistic daughter, Stan and Jane begin a quest to find Harmon, or his descendants. But their search will run them afoul of Andrew Bigelow, reclusive heir to the fortune Jane was robbed of.

And Bigelow is in cahoots with a murderous crew who deal in guns and blood diamonds and will stop at nothing to keep their crimes hidden.

Stan uses his burglar skills to uncover the truth, but that will draw him and Jeannie into a deadly confrontation, with the vengeful spirit of Jane Manchester his only ally. 

The Review

This was a brilliant and powerful story. The blend of crime thriller, mystery, and horror that this story infuses into itself was captivating to read. The heavy atmosphere and compelling chemistry between the cast of characters made this feel like the perfect modern-day gothic ghost story, with a tone that felt like it could have easily fit into a more Victorian-era period if not for the modern-day Washington setting. 

The heart of this narrative had to be in the mystery components of the story and the character development, especially for the protagonist. The complexity of the protagonist’s background and journey, from a thief and morally questionable history to his somewhat heroic turn to find justice and answers for the spirit of this young woman and how they bond together in the face of this tragic backstory, made this a thrilling read. The shocking series of events that unearth the truth behind not only Jane’s history but the truth behind Bigelow’s life, in general, will keep readers hanging off of the author’s every word.

The Verdict

Thought-provoking, chilling, and entertaining, author Matthew Hughes’s “Ghost Dreams” is a must-read crime thriller and horror mystery read. The twists and turns in the narrative help elevate the character growth of the protagonist and the cast of characters greatly, and readers will be invested heavily as the story and mystery unravel over time. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Born in Liverpool, his family moved to Canada when he was five years old. Married since late 1960s, he has three grown sons. He is currently relocated to Britain. He is a former director of the Federation of British Columbia Writers.

A university drop-out from a working poor background, he worked in a factory that made school desks, drove a grocery delivery truck, was night janitor in a GM dealership, and did a short stint as an orderly in a private mental hospital. As a teenager, he served a year as a volunteer with the Company of Young Canadians.

He has made his living as a writer all of his adult life, first as a journalist in newspapers, then as a staff speechwriter to the Canadian Ministers of Justice and Environment, and, since 1979, as a freelance corporate and political speechwriter in British Columbia.

His short fiction has appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’sAsimov’sThe Magazine of Fantasy & Science FictionPostscriptsInterzone, and a number of “Year’s Best” anthologies. Night Shade Books published his short story collection, The Gist Hunter and Other Stories, in 2005.

He has won the Arthur Ellis Award from the Crime Writers of Canada. His novels and stories regularly make the Locus Magazine annual recommended reading list. 



Howl Once For Murder (A Baked Books Murder Mystery Book 1) by Krista Lockheart and Dorothy Danger Review

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

After a bestselling author turns up dead at his own wedding, a small town will be turned upside down as a police detective, a shop owner, and her pet search for the killer in authors Krista Lockheart and Dorothy Danger’s “Howl Once For Murder”, the first book in the A Baked Books Murder Mystery series.


The Synopsis

Not every dog can howl . . . or solve a murder.

Adelaide and Truman—Belle Chasse’s funniest and smartest Basset Hound—are practically inseparable. And when a murder mystery comes barking at their doorstep, they band together to fight for the town they love.

After opening Baked Books with her human bestie, Georgia, Adelaide is delighted when a world-famous author agrees to sign books at their bookstore and bakery’s anniversary event. Truman’s so excited he wears a tuxedo for the occasion!

But Oscar Paris’s life as a bestselling author isn’t exactly everything Adelaide fantasized about in her wildest dreams . . .

especially when he turns up dead at his own wedding, which is regrettably Baked Books’ first big catering gig!

In this funny, charming, and exciting mystery with a sweet romance, “till death do us part” comes much too soon for Belle Chasse’s famous resident.

But with Adelaide and Truman—along with a wildly attractive police detective—on the case, this band of quirky characters, charming animal shenanigans, and puzzles to solve will leave you howling with laughter.

Howl Once for Murder is the first book in the Baked Books Mysteries series that follows Adelaide and her brilliant Basset Hound, Truman, as they solve mysteries and capture your hearts.

Though the main mystery is resolved in each book of the series, the sweet romance will start in book one and continue throughout the series.

The Review

This was the perfect murder mystery novel. The small-town, quirky cast of characters vibe the author crafted really honed in on what makes this genre so special. The citizens who take on the role of detective to solve the mystery; the lone cop trying to unmask the killer; the cadre of suspects; and the mysterious events surrounding the victim’s final days all make this a memorable story. The fun yet chilling atmosphere the author was able to conjure up made the imagery feel even more compelling. The flare of romance in this story added another layer of intrigue for readers to enjoy.

The mystery and character development were at the heart of this narrative. The twists that this narrative took and the clues that this story uncovered kept me invested in the book, yet it was the dynamic relationships the cast of characters had with the protagonist, from her bond with her pet Truman and her best friend Georgia to her budding romance with Trent and even hair-raising confrontations with the list of suspects made this story feel vibrant and alive on the page.

The Verdict

Captivating, fun, and engaging, author Krista Lockheart’s “Howl Once For Murder” is a fantastic murder mystery and a grand first entry into the A Baked Books Murder Mystery series. The twists and turns in the story and the humorous dialogue between the main cast of characters serve as a great mirror image of one another, and the emotional beats in the story hone in on the emotional impact of the loss felt by those close to the victim made this a well-rounded and engaging story to behold. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Critically acclaimed and award-winning author Krista Lockheart writes irresistible cozy mysteries filled with humor and buzzworthy characters and plots. Her favorite activity is interacting with her readers from all over the world, and she enjoys their feedback and comments on her social media platforms. She loves good food, good conversation, and good books! Cooking is a passion, and she especially enjoys making pasta with vegetables. Chocolate, avocado, and seafood are her favorite foods to celebrate with.

Krista comes from an artistic background, and her art workshops sell out within a few hours of signup. Her work has earned cultural council grants and has been featured in newspapers, magazines, and on TV and on the radio.

In the past few months, her memoir, travel travels, and short stories were published four times in the Writer & Readers’ Magazine, and her travel tale about her expedition to Peru was the editorial feature in DRIFT Travel magazine.

She contributed a short story to a Halloween anthology and her debut novel was #1 in 12 categories on Amazon during its initial release (including in the Free Kindle Store and in New release categories).

It also earned five book awards including First Place at TheBookFest in Humorous, a Second Place and Honorable Mention at TheBookFest, a First Place award from Royal Dragonfly Book Awards, and a Silver Award from Literary Titan, along with five star editorial reviews. It was recommended by US Review of Books, and the Chick-Lit Cafe, as well as featured in the Midwest Book Review.