Book Review: Secrets of the Ravine

Hey, readers. Hope you’re having a lovely week and enjoying October (my favorite month of the year).

As a reader, sometimes you’re in the minority. Such is the case for me with Secrets of the Ravine, a title I picked up through Kindle Unlimited. There are not many reviews but all are four and five stars and some raved about how much they loved the characters. You’ll see where I differ when you read my review.

My Review

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

An okay read…

Good premise, but this one fell a bit flat for me. The book opens with Magpie Mackenzie (yes, her name is Magpie, not Maggie) meeting Zac who is a dead ringer for her former boyfriend who mysteriously disappeared twenty-eight years earlier—the same day her father’s girlfriend was murdered.

At the time of his disappearance, Mark and Magpie were teenagers. She’s now in her early forties, owns a mercantile shop in a ghost/tourist town, and has two grown children. She learns Zac is twenty-eight years old and begins to wonder if he is Mark reincarnated.

The same day Zac shows up, a body is found in an area known as The Ravine—an area inhabited by old hippies. (Most of whom haven’t left the sixties behind.) Magpie’s father was a suspect in the original murder but after Mark disappeared, suspicion turned from him. When it’s discovered the body was Mark, Magpie’s dad is once again the prime suspect.

Magpie and Zac—who instantly had a sexual attraction to one another, despite the age difference—partner up to catch the real killer. Doing so places both of them in danger.

The killer’s identity was obvious from the start. The author didn’t throw in any red herrings. The characters were okay, but throughout most of the book, I didn’t even like Magpie. She lusted after/loved Zac, but alternatively, she was jealous of his attention to the investigation. (Come on, Magpie, you’re an adult, not a child.)

Part of the book seemed to drag, and more than once I considered putting it in the DNF pile. The action did pick up at the end, somewhat redeeming it.

Three and a half stars rounded up to four for review purposes.

With books, you win some and you lose some. This book had potential, but I was disappointed. If not for the last couple of chapters, I would have lowered the rating to three stars.

Book Review – The Haunting of Chatham Hollow @StaciTroilo @MaeClair1

Hey, Readers. Last week I was privileged to host Staci Troilo on the first stop of the promotional tour for The Haunting of Chatham Hollow. The book was co-authored by Mae Clair. Today, I’m delighted to share my five-star review.

If you’d like to follow the tour stops, just click on either author’s name above. Both post links on their blogs for the daily stops.

My Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Love of Money…

I’ve read and enjoyed several books by both authors, so you can bet I was eager to get a copy of this one. The Haunting of Chatham Hollow didn’t disappoint.

Ward Chatham, founder of Chatham Hollow was a bitter and evil man. It’s said the love of money is the root of all evil, and that’s certainly the case with him. When he died there were rumors he had hidden all his gold somewhere within his home, Chatham Manor.

Almost a century after his death, the wife of Chatham’s mayor invites several people, including two mediums, into their home (Chatham Hollow) to conduct a séance. Charlatan Benedict Fletcher attempts to summon Ward Chatham’s ghost. He along, with everyone present, got more than they bargained for and left the citizens of Chatham Hollow believing Ward had cursed the town.

Fast forward to the present day when the renowned television show Spirit Search comes to town during the annual founders day celebration for a reenactment of the séance. Will Chatham’s ghost reappear?

Set in two different centuries, the dual timeline flowed seamlessly. The setting and descriptions made me feel like I was in Chatham Hollow—both past and present. The characters are well-developed. It takes skill for two people to co-author a book. These authors certainly know their craft. If you enjoy a good ghost story, I highly recommend this book.

As you can see, I loved The Haunting of Chatham Hollow. If you haven’t purchased a copy, you can do so by clicking on the link above. You might also want to check out some of their other books. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Halloween Reads #WIPWednesday

Hey, everyone. WIP Wednesday means one of two things. Most of the time I write about a work in progress, but other times it’s a work in publication. Today’s post is about the latter. So, here we go…

For those of you who have followed this blog for a while, you know I’m fascinated with full moons. Bet you couldn’t guess that by the blog header photo. Anyhow, Halloween is almost upon us. And this year we have a special treat for that day – a full moon. Not only that, it’s the second full moon of October, which makes it a blue moon. Those happen roughly every 2.5 years, hence the term, “Once in a Blue Moon.”

My first short story, The Blue Moon Murders was featured in an anthology collection, Unshod. It’s based on a legend that when a family member dies on a blue moon, three more will follow. You might guess there are multiple murders in this story. If you’d like to read, Unshod is free. It’s a western-themed book, but it’s not your typical western. Some stories are modern-day, others are historic. A little something for everyone.


An anthology of traditional and contemporary western short stories where the characters are lain bare.

  • Feel the pain of a young Japanese girl who comes home from an internment camp after World War II and learns it’s easier to go with the flow than to fight the current.
  • Struggle with an expectant mother on the cold winter prairie while she waits for her husband to come home from a hunting trip.
  • Journey with a young woman to the Four Corners as she tries to connect with her Navajo ancestors.
  • Try not to believe in the superstition of the blue moon—if one dies, three more will follow.
  • Know that one way or another, life will change inalterably that day.
  • Walk in the footsteps of an old cowpoke who thought he made the deal of a lifetime.
  • Suffer the torments of a young lady who wants desperately to marry but seems destined never to wed.
  • Walk the wild western paths and run from unimaginable dangers.
  • Choose between an unhappy life of luxury or a happy life of simplicity.

Nine female authors pen western tales that you’ll want to retell around a campfire. These aren’t your granddaddy’s westerns. They’re the next generation’s, and they’re darn good.

Click here to get your free copy.

Macabre Sanctuary is another collection of stories by several talented authors. You might guess with a title like that there are thrills, chills, and things that go bump in the night. My story is titled The Keepers House. Is it a ghost that inhabits a haunted island? Why is he interested in the lighthouse keeper’s home?


Thrills. Chills. Shadows and superstitions. Things that go bump in the night. Macabre Sanctuary boasts suspenseful fiction designed to elicit goosebumps and raise heart rates.

  • Learn the lore of a haunted island.
  • Grapple with the undead while robbing graves Halloween night.
  • Endure a hazing ritual unlike any other.
  • Deal with a demon at an All Souls’ Day celebration.
  • See what happens when you court death in the wild.
  • Battle zombies and cannibals in a quest to stay alive.
  • Travel back in time to witness the birth of true evil.
  • Fear prophetic nightmares made manifest.
  • Come to terms with new ethereal realities.
  • Befriend a feline to extend earthly life.

This collection from ten talented authors offers ghosts and demons, spirits and zombies, cannibals and killers… even a ferocious animal. Historical and contemporary tales of violence and fright keep readers on the edges of their seats. There’s something for everyone who loves spine-tingling, bone-chilling, blood-curdling stories.

Macabre Sanctuary is also free. Get your copy here.

If you’re into time travel stories, check out Quantum Wanderlust. In this collection, some authors take you into the future, while others travel back to the past. My story Goldwings is about a Navy Aviator that travels back to 1943—during World War II.


What if you had all the time in the world?

Thirteen authors answer that question with short stories about time travel. Go back in time to right a wrong, forward to see the future. No jump is too large, no method unfeasible, no lesson beyond learning.

  • Visit the past to learn a family secret.
  • See the formation of a future dictatorship.
  • Assume responsibility for weaving the fabric of time.
  • Travel back in time to WWII.
  • Use a family heirloom to solve problems.
  • Wear an inheritance to visit ancestors.
  • Leave a dystopian future for the hope of something better.
  • Make history come true in an unexpected way.
  • Fight evil fairies to protect a chosen angel.
  • Live with the childhood memory of visitors until the day they arrive.
  • Seek medical help for a memory issue and get way more than bargained for.
  • Discover that with great power comes great responsibility.
  • Uncover the secrets of a pharaoh’s tomb and curse.

Do the characters observe or interact? Is the outcome better or worse than the original timeline? Read these stories to learn how far they go, how they get there, and what happens when they return.

The scope is virtually limitless, definitely timeless.

Like the other stories, Quantum Wanderlust is free. You can get a copy by clicking this link.

Speaking of blue moons, there is a lunar event that’s even rarer. Every nineteen years or so, the month of February has no full moon. It last happened in 2018. Bet you can’t guess that I’m writing a story with that in mind? Cold Dark Night is the first book of my upcoming Legends of Madeira series. The planned release date is February 2021.

Hode’s Hill Series .99c Sale #GhostFiction #SupernaturalSuspense #ParanormalMystery

Hey, everyone! I didn’t have a post for today, so it’s the perfect time to reblog this post from my friend, Mae Clair. For those of you who haven’t read her Hodes Hill Series, now is the perfect time to grab your copies. They’re all on sale this month! Why not take advantage and purchase your copies?

From the Pen of Mae Clair

Hi, friends. I’ve been away since last Friday afternoon for an extended weekend at the beach. The weather was awesome and it turned out to be one of the best vacays DH and I have had. I got some great pictures and hope to share later in the week.

In the meantime, I have exciting news—my publisher is shining the spotlight on my Hode’s Hill series throughout the month of February. Both End of Day and Eventide will be priced at .99c for the month, and Cusp of Night—book one­­—will be free from the 20th through the 25th. If you’ve been on the fence about reading any of these, now is the perfect time to gobble them up. With Cusp free, later this month, it means you can grab all three books for a total of $1.98. Please help me spread the word!

These books cross…

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Eventide ~ New Release by @MaeClair1 #TuesdayBookShare

Hey, everyone. It’s always a pleasure to host friend and fellow author Mae Clair. She has a brand-new release, the third and final of her Hode’s Hill Series. I’ve read all three books and had decided this one is my favorite. Let’s welcome Mae!

Joan, many thanks for hosting me on your blog. It’s a pleasure to be here today as I share my new release Eventide, the final book in my Hode’s Hill series. One aspect of writing the series I’ve really enjoyed is getting to play with dual timelines. Each book features a mystery in the past, along with one in the present. Both mysteries eventually collide as the characters in the present unravel clues from the past.

In the case of Eventide, I chose early spring of 1878 for my setting in the past. Hollande Moore has been hired by twin brothers Nathaniel and Tristan Stewart to look after their mother, Sylvia, who has become difficult and reclusive, following the death of her husband. But Hollande senses something more sinister at play. Something unspoken between the brothers and their mother who seems determined to get rid of her.

In this excerpt, Hollande tries to learn what she can from the Stewart family cook, Annabelle.

“Annabelle, are you aware of any disagreement this morning?”

“Disagreement?” Head lowered, Annabelle worked at shaping biscuits.

“Between Nathaniel and Sylvia. I thought I heard them arguing in the drawing room before Nathaniel left.”

“I wouldn’t know, miss.” Annabelle’s back stiffened slightly. “Surely if I did, I wouldn’t linger. You know how the missus can be.”

Sadly, Hollande did. Sylvia would have accused the girl of eavesdropping. “I just don’t know what to do.” She sipped her tea but had no true taste for it. “I’ve been useless at helping Sylvia. I fear she may dismiss me.”

“Mr. Nathaniel would never allow that.”

 Heat rose to Hollande’s face. Had Annabelle sensed the growing closeness between them? “What about Tristan?”

“I couldn’t say. I’ve never met Mr. Tristan.”

Hollande stared. “Never?”

“He doesn’t come until evening, does he, being away at the quarry all day? I leave well before that.”

“But there must have been times when he delayed in the morning? Stayed for breakfast.”

“He’s gone before I arrive. Usually grabs a meat pie or such to take with him.” Annabelle fell silent and still as if internally debating a matter. Finally, she faced Hollande. “If you ask me, miss, there’s something wrong between the brothers. I don’t wish to speak out of turn, but I sense no great love between them.”

Hollande’s fingers tightened on her teacup, a sliver of cold knifing through her. Apparently, she wasn’t the only one who’d noted Nathaniel’s disregard for his brother. Yet only last night he’d spoken so fondly of their younger years. What could have happened to drive them apart?

“I think they intentionally avoid each other,” Annabelle continued. “Make certain their paths don’t cross. I only have sisters, but that’s no way for siblings to behave.”

It certainly wasn’t.

Hollande’s stomach knotted. Could their brotherly animosity have anything to do with the way Sylvia doted on Tristan? She’d only been a resident of Stewart Manor for a short time, but even to her it was obvious Sylvia preferred one twin over the other. No wonder Nathaniel had been so sullen when she arrived. His brother spent his days in Curtisville, leaving Nathaniel the bulk of responsibility for their mother, yet she often snubbed him.

What a wretched circumstance.

Hollande enjoyed Tristan’s company, but on the whole, spent far less time with him than Nathaniel. A few hours in the evening while he entertained his mother. In the morning, he was usually gone before she awoke. Only once, she’d caught him coming down the steps and managed a few snippets of small talk before he dashed off for another day at the quarry.

There’s something wrong between the brothers.

Hollande met Annabelle’s gaze, the cook’s words ringing in her head. “How long have you been here?”

“Oh, not long.” Annabelle turned back to the counter and began tidying up her mess. “Just a few months, but I’m determined.”

“What do you mean?”

“There were several girls before me, but she drives them all away.”


Annabelle nodded. “If you ask me, she doesn’t want another woman in the house.”

To learn how these characters from the past impact the lives of Madison Hewitt, her sister, and their friends in the present, I hope you’ll consider purchasing Eventide, which is now available from all major booksellers. You’ll make this author very happy. Thank you in advance for your consideration, and many thanks to Joan for hosting me today!

Universal Purchase Link


The darkness is coming . . .

The old house near Hode’s Hill, Pennsylvania is a place for Madison Hewitt to start over—to put the trauma of her husband’s murder, and her subsequent breakdown, behind her. She isn’t bothered by a burial plot on the property or the mysterious, sealed cistern in the basement. Not at first. Even the presence of cold spots and strange odors could be fabrications of her still troubled mind. But how to explain her slashed tires, or the ominous messages that grow ever more threatening?

Convinced the answer lies in the past, Madison delves into the history of the home’s original owners, only to discover the origin of a powerful evil. An entity that may be connected to a series of gruesome attacks that have left police baffled. No matter where she turns—past or present—terror lingers just a step away, spurred on by a twisted obsession that can only be satisfied through death…

Order Eventide HERE

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