Book Review: Gryphon House by Ashley Fogg

⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4 out of 5 stars


As a collection of three short stories, Gryphon House was a fast, entertaining read. The middle story “The Washer Woman” was, by far, my favorite. 

The titular tale “Gryphon House” was very brief, set a wonderfully foreboding atmosphere from the start, but fell a little flat at the end. If I were rating them individually, this one gets 3.5 stars. 

“The Washer Woman” gets 4.5 stars. It was a great blend of a kidnapping and detective story with a liberal splash of paranormal. Really great!

The final tale “Time Cheat” has a lot of potential. I really enjoyed the story but, like “Gryphon House,” the ending just happened. I felt like here was an “a-ha!” moment brewing but it just turned into an “a-uh?” for me. I’d give this  story 3 stars. 

So, all together? This was an enjoyable collection, well worth the short time it takes to read. I give it a 4 overall!

If you’re interested, you can get your copy HERE. It’s free to read on Kindle Unlimited. 

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Book Review: D.R.E.X. Blackout by Natasha Bennett 


💥💥💥💥 4.5 out of 5 stars

I really enjoyed D.R.E.X. Blackout. The X-files fan in me was screaming “I want to believe!” as I dove headfirst into a world of secret (government?) agencies, superhuman / supernatural creatures, and the fight to save mankind from annihilation.

As a main character, Matt was immediately likable. Following the murder of both his wife and daughter, Matt is convicted and sent to prison. He didn’t do it, of course, and before he can be transferred to lockup, he is mysteriously exonerated and set free. The people behind his sudden change of fortune are none other than D.R.E.X. Before he knows it, Matt is sucked into their organization. To his thinking, he’s there for no other reason than to find those responsible for murdering his family. But the leader of D.R.E.X. may have other plans for him. 

I really enjoyed Ms. Bennett’s tale. She did a great job painting a picture of a shadowy government agency, one we know we shouldn’t trust but are forced to regardless. Matt’s new D.R.E.X. teammates (Ryan and Lyndsay) were great characters too. 

What kept me from giving this a full five stars were a few editing issues and a major timeline glitch. At one point it’s mentioned that Matt’s wife contacted her old boss at D.R.E.X. ‘a few days ago’ yet Matt’s already been found guilty of her murder at trial? You & I both know murder trials take a little bit longer than that! 

In the grand scheme of things, I really enjoyed this book. Clearly leaving room for more D.R.E.X. exploits in the future this story concludes nicely, with no cliffhanger. Fans of sci-fi, horror (although the horror element here is mild IMO), and secret agency stories would be well-served by this book. 

If you’d like to check out D.R.E.X. Blackout for yourself, it’s available HERE in both paperback and e-book formats. 

A Christmas miracle

Something I’ve been dreaming about for almost a decade finally happened today.

After venturing out in the torrential rain with my daughter this morning to (almost) finish Christmas shopping, I arrived home to find a parcel sitting on the coffee table. Just a simple cardboard box from Amazon, but when I saw it my heart about stopped.

“My book!” I squealed. To say my tone was full of glee would be an understatement, yet the look of puzzlement upon my husband’s face halted my box ravaging. “Why are you looking at me like that?” I asked him.

“I know you’re excited, but you buy books all the time.”

I laughed. “Not a book. My book.”

My paperback copy of Mirror, Mirror is here!

It was one thing to see my books for sale online, to download them to my Kindle like I’d done with so many other “real authors” in the past… but to hold that paperback copy!?! It’s just so much more. The feel of the cover, the smell of the pages, and knowing that what’s inside it is all me. Wow. Third best Christmas ever! (In case you’re wondering the tie for best Christmas goes to each of my children’s first Christmases. I might be a proud book momma, but my flesh & blood kiddos are always #1)

Although I’ve lots to do… cookies to bake, orange marmalade to cook & can… something tells me I might just be curled up in my reading chair with a blankie, a warm cup of something, and my book tonight.

Merry Christmas everyone! Stay safe, cherish your family, and enjoy the holiday in whatever way is most meaningful to you. Cheers!  ~Jess

Book Review: Buried Ladies by Angela Hausman 

🌟🌟🌟🌟 4 out of 5 stars


Wowza! Where do I start? Buried Ladies has a lot going on. I mean A LOT! A suspected murder vs missing person, a serial killer, drug smuggling, computer hacking, clandestine government operations, and daring (and, need I say, illegal) international rescue attempts. I seriously wondered how the author was going to pull it all off, but to my pleasant surprise it all came together nicely.

In particular, I loved how interconnected the stories of Estella’s disappearance and the “Buried Ladies” serial killer were. While as readers we know the two cases aren’t directly linked, it added a misdirect for the detectives and other characters in the story, and ended up with a satisfying payout as the story progressed.

With all the aforementioned action, you can imagine there were quite a few characters to track as well. I was impressed by how quickly and effortlessly Ms. Hausman was able to introduce each of her primary players. I found myself caring for them immediately. There are so many main characters though, that some of the secondaries (Jaime’s brothers, for instance) felt kinda glossed over in my opinion. Not enough to detract from the overall feel of the story, mind you, but enough so that I had to at least mention it.

While this book is the first installment in a series, Buried Ladies wraps up and ends nicely. No worries about huge cliffhangers! Yay. It gives us a conclusion but with wonderful potential for future stories. I’ll look forward to the next book.

Want to read Buried Ladies for yourself? Pick up a copy HERE (it’s free on Kindle Unlimited).

It’s event time!

Don’t forget to join the Indie Writers’ Cooperative over on Facebook all day today and Sunday for a fun filled event. 


We’re giving away over 40 different e-books across several genres, so at the vey least stop by and enter! 

Authors will be hosting different hours, so there will be something new & different happening at all times. Hope to see you there! 

“Desolation Gulch” New Cover Reveal & Excerpt

Christmas came early this year! 🤓

Some of you may recall, just a short time ago, how I was blessed to receive a new cover for my book Mirror, Mirror (if not, check it out here). Well, there was another cover of mine that needed even more love, but because I was getting ready to do print on demand paperbacks for Mirror, Gulch took the backseat. Once I was done with the POD project, however, I approached the ever-amazing Katie Cody Designs about tackling one more cover.

Here’s the original:


Not so hot, huh? Don’t worry; I had no delusions of grandeur with this one. It was simply a matter of expediency. Gulch was the first of my self published works, I knew absolutely nothing about cover design, but I happened to have this landscape shot that “would do.” Believe it or not, there is something to like about this cover version (for me at least): this is the actual landscape that inspired the story. Beautiful but desolate, harsh yet alluring, the high desert of Eastern Oregon is a spellbinding place and ultimately I wanted my cover to convey a little of that.

When I conversed with Katie about this cover, I told her about the story, the reasons behind my original cover image selection, and then told her she had free rein to make whatever she wanted. I was completely open. I did offer to send her a few additional landscape shots I’d captured of the region and told her she was welcome to use them, but only if she wanted and if they fit her vision. After my first cover with Katie, I had total faith in her and really wanted to see what her ideas might be. Ready to see what she came up with? It’s brilliant!


I positively LOVE what she designed! The gorgeous landscape is represented, along with the ever-present danger of Fallon looming over everything. What do you guys think?

Now, if the cover update alone isn’t enough to make you want to visit Desolation Gulch, keep reading below for an excerpt from the book’s first chapter…

*****

Run!

That was the only thought in my head, but I was frozen in place. My mind was completely unwilling to process the images my eyes were trying to feed it. My hands clenched convulsively at my sides and I could feel beads of perspiration spring up on my brow as I tried to will my petrified body to move.

Cold, dead eyes gazed up at me, pleading for help, but the woman was beyond salvation. Bruises marred her pale body and wove a tight, roping pattern around her neck. A dark pool of red blood bloomed beneath her torso. I wanted to look away, but the murky, clouded eyes held my gaze.

Run!

A muffled noise from somewhere behind me, a footstep, startled me and sent goose bumps running up and down my spine. I whirled around on the spot and saw him standing behind me, his eyes alight with dark fire as he watched my every move.

“What are you doing down here Valerie?”

His voice was smooth and sweet. He spoke in the same voice I’d become so deeply infatuated with months earlier, but I knew now it was a voice he hid behind. It was something I had learned at some great personal expense.

“I… I thought I heard something,” I stammered stupidly.

He only smiled. “Of course you did.” He moved forward assuredly until he stood even with me in front of the dead woman. One of his pale hands indicated the broken shell on the ground. “You heard her.”

I was shaking with fear. I tried to hide it, even though I knew it would be a wasted effort; he would know every emotion raging inside my body.

I had seen this woman before, mere hours earlier, vibrant and alive. “What happened to her?” I breathed, fearing what his answer would be.

His response was preceded by a guttural laugh. He seemed to find my inquiry truly amusing. “Use your imagination Valerie. Can’t you guess?” I shook my head stubbornly and he laughed again. “Better that you don’t think about it then,” he suggested, one of his hands closing around my arm in an iron grip. My heart hammered so loudly I felt sure he could hear it as he pulled me from the room.

I was mildly surprised when he paused to close the door behind us, blocking the nightmare scene from view. I had no idea what was coming, but I was at least thankful to be away from the thrall of the dead woman’s eyes. I could still see it all when I shut my eyes, but it came as a great relief not to be confronted by the dead woman’s face anymore.

He turned back to face me and his voice was light, almost jovial as he said, “Now what are we going to do about this Valerie?”

“Wh-what do you mean?” I stammered. I couldn’t make my heart stop hammering.

His eyes flickered to the closed door. He suddenly softened, lessening his grip on my arm. “Why don’t we go upstairs? It’s late and I imagine you must be tired.” I nodded warily, confused by his change in demeanor, and allowed him to half-lead, half-drag me back to my quarters in the house. Once there he smiled at me again, but this time his smile was not reassuring: it was menacing.

He pushed me roughly into the room, his usually velvet soft hands suddenly hard and unyielding. “Stay in there,” he growled. He looked at me again, his eyes hard. His lips remained motionless, but I could hear his voice loud and clear inside my head, threatening me.

You should have minded your own business Valerie.

Then he left my thoughts, closed the door, and locked me inside. I collapsed on the bed, my mind filled with only one thought.

I’m going to die.



If you want to know what happens next for poor little Valerie, download the full version from Amazon HERE 

Indie Writers’ Cooperative Facebook Event Dec 17th & 18th


Looking for something (else) to do this weekend? Skip the holiday shopping madness and join the Indie Writers’ Cooperative for a rollicking good time over on Facebook.

There will be so much going on, with FREE BOOKS being one of the major attractions. Who can say no to a free read? Now, I know how busy life gets this time of year, so just toddle on over to the event page right now to RSVP. It’s gonna be a blast. 

Book Review: Where There’s a Will (Inspector Stone, Book One) by Alex Carver

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 out of 5 stars


Where There’s a Will is a wonderfully paced mystery and, as the first installment in the Inspector Stone series, sets the stage for a great British investigative saga. 

Inspector Stone is a good guy, a hardworking inspector, so it was easy to invest myself in his endeavors. We learn a little bit about his family, a topic I hope we’ll come back to in future installments. Sacrificing details about his family was a necessary evil given all that transpires with Stone’s criminal cases. 

There’s a lot going on in this book. While in the midst of investigating an armed robbery and a hit and run accident, the daughter of a rich businessman is kidnapped for ransom. How much can one inspector juggle? Apparently quite a lot. There were a ton of details to keep straight between the various cases, but Alex Carver did a good job keeping them interesting. It could’ve been easy to lose readers in all the tiny details.

Interspersed in Inspector Stone’s side of the narrative, we are treated to parts of the story from the POV of Alice, the kidnapped teenager, and her captors. I enjoyed these parts of the story immensely as they helped to maintain a high level of tension. 

Overall, this was a very well written mystery. Those who love detective stories will enjoy Where There’s a Will. I eagerly await Inspector Stone’s next case. 

Pick up your copy of Where There’s a Will HERE. You can read it for free on Kindle Unlimited. 

Book Review: The Golden Desires by Ann Pratley

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 out of 5 stars


What an interesting story concept! In The Golden Desires we are introduced to two main characters: Trent & Isabella. Trent lives in the modern world, in a large city (exactly what city isn’t important) and he’s fed up with his life. The busy-busy, rush-rush of his daily grind has finally done him in and he decides to kip off into the wilderness for some solitude. While journeying he sees, as if a mirage in the distance, a huge castle-like fortress atop a distant mountain. Driven by curiosity he endeavors to reach the huge edifice. 

Meanwhile, in that far away fortress, lives a young woman: Isabella. Her society is the polar opposite of Trent’s, an egalitarian civilization where everyone works for the betterment of others, safe within the walls of their city. As Trent journeys ever nearer, both parties begin to have dreams of one another, drawn inexorably toward someone they’ve never met. 

When Trent finally reaches the fortress, he finds only rubble. The issue: Trent and Isabella are centuries apart! While they can see and interact with one another, none of the villagers can see Trent, nor can he see them or the thriving village within which they live. This magical quality was a nice twist, delving into the realm of fantasy romance. 

This is the fourth book I’ve read by Ann Pratley, and as such the style of The Golden Desires felt very familiar to me. As some reviewers have pointed out, Ms Pratley’s writing can include some rather long sentences, however this never bothered me in her other works and especially not in this tale. In this particular instance, the author’s style was well suited to the tone of the world she has created. It provided an old-world flair, reminiscent of classic literature and befitting of her unique civilization.

I enjoyed the budding relationship between Trent and Isabella. I especially found Trent’s awakening to a new way of living particularly endearing. My only quibble was that the ending of the story felt rather abrupt. I know there is a second book planned, and the ending was not a cliffhanger, but it still felt a tad lacking (to me). Did it leave me hungry for the next installment? Absolutely! As with her other books, Ann kept me enchanted throughout. 

Pick up a copy HERE. It’s free for a limited time, so act fast!

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