Monday, October 31, 2016

Monday Book Review, Halloween Edition! HAUNTED SOULS by Kathryn Knight

Haunted Souls, by Kathryn Knight
Published 2016 by the Wild Rose Press

About the Book:
Four years ago, Emily Shea and Staff Sergeant Brett Leeds agreed to part with no strings attached. Sparks flew during their brief affair, but fate intervened, sending Brett overseas. When an unexpected pregnancy derailed Emily's own plans, her attempts to locate Brett were soon overwhelmed by the challenges of single motherhood. Now, Brett has returned home, and Emily is forced to share her secret.

Despite feeling betrayed, Brett is determined to forge a relationship with their son, Tyler. As the former lovers battle both their inner demons and their mutual desire, another presence enters their lives—Tyler's imaginary friend. Soon, however, the chilling evidence points to a different conclusion: a ghost has formed a dangerous connection with their son. Emily's attempts to help both a lost soul and a friend in need spiral toward a deadly confrontation, and Brett must race to save Emily before he loses her again—forever.
My Take:

This romantic suspense is so much more than a ghost story, but it's the ghost that truly brings this family together. Kathryn Knight does a masterful job of showing us the struggles and tensions of both the hero and heroine, including the fears and insecurities they hide from each other and also from themselves. I loved the way she described the intensity of their emotions, taking us right along with the characters on their emotional roller coasters.

The author gives us alternating viewpoints between the two twenty-somethings: Emily, a veterinary assistant and single mom devoted to her toddler;  and Brett, an Army bomb specialist recently returned from Iraq and now stationed closer to home on Cape Cod. They had a torrid two week affair four years earlier when Brett was home on leave for the holidays visiting his parents, but parted amicably.

Until Emily went back to college and discovered she was pregnant. By the time she tried to reach out to Brett, he'd already been deployed and it was too late. Now that he's home she feels compelled to let him know he has a son.

For Brett, the emotions Emily stirs are still there simmering at the surface, but so is the strong sense of betrayal and broken trust that she could keep a secret this huge for four years. He's also suffering PTSD from his deployment time and unwilling to share that part of his life with someone he doesn't feel he can fully trust.

Tyler is a sweet, totally normal toddler, and thankfully the author didn't narrate any chapters from his point of view (I totally hate when authors do that in an adult book. Not necessary.) He's also very "sensitive" in other senses of the word, and ends up befriending a ghost on one of those gimmicky "haunted walks" that are so popular these days. When strange things start happening, it's obvious to the reader that one of the ghosts followed them home, but it takes Emily and Brett a while to reconcile themselves with the paranormal.

I truly loved this story, these characters, and the way the author weaves the paranormal with the everyday. I'm looking forward to reading more from this author.

Grab a copy on AMAZON

Have a HAPPY and SAFE Halloween!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Snarkology Halloween Hop is Here! #Excerpt and #Giveaway

Thank you for following the Snarkology Halloween Hop from Oct. 26th thru 31st for the opportunity to discover fun, great books, and awesome prizes! 

You can bookmark the hop landing page so you’re able to return at your leisure to "trick or treat" at the seventy-plus participating sites. The Rafflecopter is on the landing page to enter in the Hopwide Giveaway for a chance to win one of several (BIG!) gift cards that are up for grabs. Follow the hop for fun treats, great books and awesome prizes!

Hop Landing Page:

Happy Halloween!

For my Halloween Hop Treat, I'm offering up an excerpt from my ghost story - GHOSTS DON'T LIE as well as the opportunity to win one of two ecopies of my book. For your first chance to win, visit the previous post on this blog (HERE) to read my real-life ghost story and share your own in the comments. For the second chance to win, visit and like my Facebook author page, and comment on the latest post there to let me know you want to win my book...


"If your husband’s been lying to you about so many things, maybe you need to start over.”

“I haven’t been totally honest with him either, I guess.” Jillian sighed and leaned her head against the window again.

The light turned green and he stepped on the accelerator. “Are you secretly an adulterous drug addict, too?”

“No,” Jill said quietly. “But I am a ghost whisperer. I never told him about that part of my life.” She turned to look at Parker. “That’s why you left me in college, isn’t it? Because I wouldn’t tap into that part of myself for you when you asked. I wouldn’t contact Steven.”

Parker’s back stiffened at the mention of his brother. Before he could reply, Jillian spoke again. “He came to me, you know. A few weeks after you took off for the west coast.” She shook her head and gave a small, sad laugh. “He said you were always a little slow, but you’d eventually come back. I’d totally forgotten about his visit. And now here you finally are.”

“Did he tell you what happened?” Parker’s voice sounded casual, but Jillian saw his knuckles turning white against the steering wheel.

She closed her eyes and considered his question. Instead of answering, she posed her own. “I thought you were going to study physics and discover the secrets of the universe. What made you switch to medicine?”

“Because of Steven. To finish what he started, what was taken away from him. My parents were pleased with my choice.”

“And are you happy?”

Parker paused. “Every person I help, every life I save, makes me feel like I’m doing something…right. Something to make a difference in the world.” He glanced over at Jillian as he slowed the car at another red light. “Do you know what I mean?”

Jillian nodded. “That’s what makes you a good doctor. Steven didn’t feel that way, though. All he felt was the pressure of being perfect.”

“My brother loved being a doctor. Someone denied him that future when they killed him.”

“I think he enjoyed medical school. Your brother liked being a student. But that internship at Columbia Presbyterian put the practice of medicine in a different light for him.”

“What are you saying, Jill? He took his own life to avoid being a doctor? That’s absurd.” Parker clenched his jaw and stepped hard on the accelerator when the light changed.

“The suicide was an accident,” Jillian whispered, gripping the armrest.

“It wasn’t suicide.” Parker took the corner a little too fast. “Someone else was there and it was their fault. The police stopped looking.”

The speed of the car made her uneasy, but she focused on the conversation. “You know Steven took drugs. He used them to get through the internship, to numb his mind to the situation. He didn’t know how to tell your parents that he wanted to quit medicine.”

“I don’t believe you.”

Her stomach lurched as the car screeched around another corner. Jillian closed her eyes and tried to use a soothing voice, as if it were one of her kids upset. “Parker, you knew he was using way before the overdose. Remember when he’d come by our apartment, wasted out of his mind?”

“He was drunk. ‘Work hard, play harder’ was his motto.” Parker sped through an intersection as the stoplight changed from yellow to red, not bothering to apply the brakes at all.

Another car barely missed hitting them and Jillian squealed. “Slow down! That was a red light!”

He glowered but said nothing. The only way she knew he heard was his return to a slightly more acceptable speed. Still fast, but less reckless. A black cloud of silence filled the car as the darkened road unfolding before the headlights. Jillian closed her eyes once again, willing her heart rate to return to normal. I shouldn’t have told him anything. He doesn’t want to know, kind of like I don’t really want to know the truth about Alexandra and Kyle.

The uneasy silence continued until Parker turned the car into their neighborhood. Jillian finally spoke. “I’m sorry about Steven.”

“Yeah, me too.” The car careened into the Rogers’ driveway and came to a jolting stop.

Jillian stared at Parker. “What a night, huh?”

Parker barked out a laugh, white knuckles still gripping the steering wheel. “Yeah. What a night.” He turned his head toward Jillian, exhaling heavily. “Look, I’m sorry about the confrontation with Alex. I shouldn’t have brought her to Tony’s. Especially not with your friends there.”

“No, no, it’s okay. There’ve been too many lies in my world lately. I needed a dose of truth. In a way I’m glad Gretchen and Deb were there to hear it. It made me listen to her instead of running away.” She reached over and awkwardly patted his arm. “I’m glad you’re my friend, Parker. I didn’t know how much I missed you until you came back into my reality.”

“Yeah, me too.” Releasing his death grip on the steering wheel, Parker touched Jillian’s cheek. “I want you to know I’ll stick around this time. If that’s what you want.” She could barely make out his eyes in the darkness. “Is that what you want?”

The warmth of his hand was comforting and familiar, despite their years apart. And yet… there was no spark between them. No jolt of awareness demanding her to sit up and take notice. As much as she liked Parker and really had missed him, she didn’t want him as anything more than a friend. “I meant it when I said I’m glad we’ve rekindled our friendship, Parker, but that’s all it’s going to be. Friends.” 

She opened the car door and gave him a last sad smile. “I’ll see you at the hospital in the morning.”
Jillian walked slowly to her front door, braced against the chill of the evening. She hoped her mother and father would already be asleep—she couldn’t handle any more confrontations tonight. Not about Edith’s accident or Kyle’s sexual proclivities or the death of Parker’s brother. There would be time enough for all of that, after she’d had a long talk with her great aunt or her grandmother. 

Why hadn’t one of them told her everything before? Jillian knew that the people in her life sometimes twisted the truth to suit their own needs, but her grandmother would never do that.

Ghosts don’t lie.

But apparently they didn’t always tell the whole truth.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Ghost stories for Halloween Week!

Greetings and welcome to my Ghost Story Corner! If you're coming from a Halloween Blog Hop, you're in the right place! Grab a cup of cider and let's share some spooky tales... I'm offering up a copy of my Wild Rose Press ghost story to one lucky commenter who shares a story with us.

Links back to the rest of the hop are in the sidebar - Happy Hauntings!

Like anywhere in America that was settled hundreds of years ago, Cape Cod has its share of ghosts and ghost stories. From sailors who lost their lives on the shoals right off the coastline to the flapper who died in a mobster-owned speakeasy during the height of the Prohibition era, the Cape has a ghost story for every occasion.

If you do an online search about ghosts on the Cape, you have your pick. There are books compiling local ghost stories, a haunted ghost tour in Hyannis, and historic cemetery tours across Cape Cod.

When we first moved into our Cape home, we even had a ghost of our very own. Ready for a ghost story?

Our home is not historic, or even old by Cape Cod standards. Built in 1958, the original owners summered here from their home in Maryland, and eventually retired to our quiet neighborhood. The husband, a noted scientist and horticulturalist, spent his retirement years developing winter-hearty strains of Camelia bushes, an evergreen similar to a rhododendron usually found from Virginia on southward. Before retirement, however, his work included the creation of powerful defoliant chemicals, including one you may have heard about. Agent Orange. His nickname? The "father of Agent Orange," as he was apparently the scientist working at Fort Detrick who recommended the cocktail of chemicals during the Vietnam conflict that would go on to affect so many lives.

But I digress.

When we purchased the home, no one lived here. The woman had a stroke that left her unable to care for herself, and her daughter moved her to assisted living. Several times a week, the daughter would drop her mother at the house while it was on the market. She'd drop her off after breakfast, and pick her up before dinner. The old woman wanted to spend some last days with her husband.

Her husband who died fifteen years earlier.

According to one neighbor, he died peacefully in his sleep.

But according other neighbors, his later years were troubled by protesters throwing orange tissue-paper flowers in his yard, picketing on the street and harassing him while he worked in his gardens. His own son succumbed to illness caused by exposure to the chemical, having been exposed while serving in Vietnam. He was a troubled soul, whose only legacy was a deadly defoliant that also was a debilitating and often fatal nerve agent for so many young soldiers.

The first time I felt a ghostly presence, I chalked it up to new mother nerves and lack of sleep. My daughter was less than a year old and teething that first summer in the house, not sleeping through the night. After calming her, I'd often grab a book to read in the living room. So often I felt like someone watched me. A few times I saw a shadow moving in the hallway, and jumped to flip on the hall lights, thinking it was one of the boys sneaking around out of bed. Nope.

No one was ever there.

Several times I'd be at the counter in our small kitchen, and see something moving in the den. From my stool, I could see the den's sliding glass doors out to the backyard, but the white form was reflected from inside the room, not outside.

And then there were the doors that would open and close.

My son came upstairs from the basement one day, white as a sheet. He said he was playing with Legos on the floor alone, and looked up when a door slowly swung open, stayed open for a minute, as if someone was peeking in at him, then slowly swung closed again. He wanted to know, was our new house haunted?

By the time the ghost "checked on" my son, I was pretty sure he meant us no harm. It felt like he was doing just that - checking on us, as if we were his family to watch over. The spirit definitely had a male presence, like a grandfather keeping an eye on his grandchildren.

It was the second or third summer when the old woman who sold us the house came back for a visit with her daughter. She wanted to get some cuttings from the prize camelias to plant at her daughter's new home. The daughter was a gruff, overweight, overbearing woman, but she seemed so pleased to see children playing wiffle ball in the yard with our dogs. "Dad would have loved this, right Mom? He always wanted grand kids to play here, right Mom?" The old woman nodded, a tear in her eye.

We got used to his presence. Sometimes house guests would feel him upstairs and ask questions. I'd tell them it was just our ghost, but he was friendly, not to worry.

And then one day, I realized I hadn't noticed the ghost in a while. Had he decided to leave us and haunt somewhere else? I did an online search, and found that his wife had finally passed away. Maybe that was what he was waiting for. He moved on after his wife joined him.

Now that the house has been renovated, I haven't felt even an inkling of ghostly presence. Everything is different now. And part of me misses him. 

Have you ever had a ghost in your house? Or felt a ghost when you visited somewhere? Share your own ghost story for a chance to win an e-copy of my ghost story from the Wild Rose Press, GHOSTS DON'T LIE.

And Happy Halloween to all !

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday Book Review: HIGHLAND BURN by Victoria Zak

Highland Burn (Guardians of Scotland, book one)
By Victoria Zak
Published 2014

About the Book:
Will Love’s Flame Quench the Dragon’s Fire? …

The past never stays in the past, it rears its ugly head eventually. James the Black Douglas knows this all too well. With a past that has left him vengeful and his dragon blood thirsty, his reputation as a ruthless warrior haunts his enemies in their sleep. As his allegiance stands with Robert Bruce, the King of Scotland, he must now repay a debt to the king and agrees to marry his daughter, Abigale Bruce. The problem is he doesn’t want a wife. When flames start to burn out of control between him and the auburn-haired lass, he must decide to either kindle the flames of passion or shelter her from the truth and set her free.

It’s What Shines in the Dark That Brings Forth Your True Light…

Determined to keep his daughter safe and out of the hands of the English, Robert hides Abigale behind the safe walls of a nunnery. After eight long years of living her life in seclusion, Abigale is finally set free. But her new found freedom comes to an abrupt halt when she learns of her betrothal to the infamous Bogeyman – James the Black Douglas. She soon finds herself falling in love with the uncontainable and haunted man. Is her love enough to soften his hardened heart?
My Take:

A sizzling paranormal tale set in 1314 Scotland, the author begins the book with a prologue to explain the premise and mythology her series is based upon. She's come up with a unique take on why the Highlander clans were such fierce and bloody warriors: they're actually not human, but a different race entirely. A race of dragon shifters. Which would explain their legendary fierce fighting abilities, quick tempers, and the "otherness" generally associated with Highlanders.

I mean, it makes a kind of sense.

There was a lot I enjoyed about this book - obviously, the premise being the main thing- but in terms of the execution, I wish the author had painted the characters with more consistent brush strokes. I wanted to like both the hero and the heroine, but at times struggled with stupid things each of them did, or ways they contradicted themselves. I felt a stronger hand in editing might have helped smooth the character growth curves to something easier for the reader to follow and fall in love with.

That said, this was a fast-paced, enjoyable read if you don't get too hung up on every detail. And especially if you like historical fiction with a paranormal bent,  you should give this series a try. Dragon shifters are hot. (Yes, pun intended.)

Find your copy on AMAZON. When I posted this, the Kindle version was free - so why not give it a try?

Friday, October 21, 2016

Friday Feature: Excerpt from JC McKenzie's new release BEAST OF ALL

About the Book:
Two months ago my world collapsed and the beast reigned. Seven weeks ago the SRD captured me. Nine days ago, they injected me with something vile. Today, I break free. And tomorrow? I’ll make them pay.

Badass Shifter Andy McNeilly wakes up from a horrible nightmare, only to discover it wasn’t a dream, and she’s no longer quite so badass.

Chemically curbed, Andy has lost touch with her feras and beast when she needs them most. Can she regain control of her supernatural abilities in time to reap retribution from her enemies, or will she fall as fodder in a power play for control of Vancouver’s seedy underworld?


No feras. No beast. Whatever they shot me with blocked my communication with the animals. Did it prevent shifting as well? I squeezed my eyes shut and tried to call a form and change. Only a headache answered. Dread flittered across my skin. Was this permanent?

As the Carus, the genetic throwback to the first demi-god progeny of the beast goddess, I caged a beast with rage and power rivaled by few, and possessed more than one animal familiar to shift into.

At least, I did until the SRD shot me full of chemicals. Would I ever regain my abilities? Hear the indignant screech of the peregrine falcon? Or the lusty purr of the mountain lion? Or soulful howl of the wolf?

My heart hammered, punching bone. A buzzing sensation filled my head. The “wrongness” of my condition grated against my nerves, slicing them into slivers like a planer shucking off wood shavings.

Something in my abdomen swelled, as if the beast pushed against whatever barrier caged and hid her from me.

I’ll get you out, I told her, not knowing if she could hear. We’ll make them pay.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~