Howloween Murder

Howloween Murder
Howloween Murder by Laurien Berenson

Where Light Comes and Goes

Where Light Comes and Goes
Where Light Comes and Goes by Sandra Cavallo Miller

Monday, October 19, 2020

Where Light Comes and Goes by Sandra Cavallo Miller - Feature and Review


Where Light Comes and Goes brings back Dr. Abby Wilmore, the young family physician who was the protagonist of Miller’s first novel, The Color of Rock. Abby has accepted the directorship of a summer clinic in Yellowstone National Park where she hopes to expand her medical skills. She arrives to find herself working above the increasingly restless Yellowstone supervolcano, treating visitors, staff, and locals, all while evading the advances of a lecherous concession manager and maintaining a long-distance relationship with her partner who stays at the Grand Canyon Clinic. As tremors in the park escalate and the lakes seethe with bubbling gases, Abby learns that some-one is mysteriously killing the bison.

What follows is an engrossing mystery unfolding in a spectacular setting with rich, quirky, and endearing characters and unexpected plot turns. While an overworked Abby makes new friends among her clinic staff and patients, tension builds as the volcano seems to be moving closer to a major eruption and the bison killings become more frequent. Soon, Abby finds herself in mortal danger as the story races to a thrilling and unexpected conclusion.

Sandra Cavallo Miller demonstrated in The Color of Rock that she is a gifted storyteller. Where Light Comes and Goes deftly combines a gripping mystery set in the accurately depicted routine of a busy medical practice amid the wonders of Yellowstone’s magnificent scenery and wildlife. This is entertaining reading at its best.


Where Light Comes and Goes: A NovelWhere Light Comes and Goes: A Novel by Sandra Cavallo Miller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Where Light Comes and Goes by Sandra Cavallo Miller is a 2020 University of Nevada Press publication.

Medical mysteries and intrigue!

This second installment in the Dr. Abby Wilmore series begins with Abby accepting a summer position at a clinic in Yellowstone National Park. This means a separation from her lover, but the change of scenery might be good for her. However, upon arrival she is faced with an entirely different set of problems that cause her anxiety levels to skyrocket- such as the mysterious killing area bison and an intense patient she would like to help but who remains an enigma.

I am so happy I stumbled across this series. The first installment did place more of an emphasis on the romantic elements, although it could also be classified as a novel of suspense. However, the first installment was all about setting the stage for future installments. Now that our main characters have been established, this story has a bit more of an edge to it, with the focus more on the mystery and adventures of working in a national park than on the romantic element. The characters in this chapter were also a bit more interesting, if I may say so, and I enjoyed meeting the people Abby worked with.

The setting, mingled with the medical conundrums, drama, and suspense are a truly distinctive combination. Abby is such a relatable and realistic character, and the well-drawn secondary characters add another level of depth to the story.

I am excited to see how things will progress from here- this series has a real potential to grow and develop- and could have a broad appeal across several genres. Anyone who enjoys mysteries, light romantic suspense, or medical dramas, will find these books appealing.

Overall, this is an interesting and unique series. It flows well, is easy to read, and hard to put down!



I am a recently retired family physician in Phoenix who has always been a writer in my secret heart. Very little fiction has been written about women physicians, and I find it a great challenge to show the struggles and triumphs of day-to-day practice in an entertaining and informative way. To show the human side and at the same time create an adventurous story. When not writing, you might find me on a horse, hiking with a dog, or exploring my latest hobby, volcanology.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Something Worth Doing- by Jane Kirkpatrick- Feature and Review


 In 1853, Abigail Scott was a 19-year-old school teacher in Oregon Territory when she married Ben Duniway. Marriage meant giving up on teaching, but Abigail always believed she was meant to be more than a good wife and mother. When financial mistakes and an injury force Ben to stop working, Abigail becomes the primary breadwinner for her growing family. What she sees as a working woman appalls her, and she devotes her life to fighting for the rights of women, including their right to vote.

Following Abigail as she bears six children, runs a millinery and a private school, helps on the farm, writes novels, gives speeches, and eventually runs a newspaper supporting women's suffrage, Something Worth Doing explores issues that will resonate strongly with modern women: the pull between career and family, finding one's place in the public sphere, and dealing with frustrations and prejudices women encounter when they compete in male-dominated spaces. Based on a true story of a pioneer for women's rights from award-winning author Jane Kirkpatrick will inspire you to believe that some things are worth doing--even when the cost is great.



Something Worth DoingSomething Worth Doing by Jane Kirkpatrick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

*Something Worth Doing by Jane Kirkpatrick is a 2020 Revell publication.

It is not the certainty that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something is worth doing regardless of how it turns out.

This is a fascinating fictional account of the life of Abigail Scott Duniway, a journalist and prolific author and early suffragist who worked tirelessly to help women in Oregon gain the right to vote.

I am so glad the author chose Abigail as her subject. I think it’s important not only to remember these important figures in history, but to also educate younger generations who may have little knowledge of the hardships women endured and how difficult their battles for equality were in a time when women simply melted into the background, to become mere extensions of their husbands. Women were to be ‘protected’ from any talk of business or politics, and wives had little, if any, input in the family decision making.

Abigail was known in nonfictional accountings as being ‘strident’ at times. She didn’t agree with some proposed legislations that bound suffragist to prohibition, and she struggled in her approach, at times, which cost her dearly, and slowed down the progression of the movement.

But this story allows the reader to contemplate a softer side of Abigail and gives us insight into the situations that prompted her to become a fierce crusader for the women’s right to vote.

 Reading of how this author was once denied a library card unless her husband signed for her to have one – back in 1968- I find myself feeling grateful for the sacrifices women like Abigail made for future generations- and for all those who followed in her footsteps. Where would we be without them?

It’s easy to take for granted the many rights and privileges we have today, especially for younger women who never knew a different environment.

While there are still many, many, many hurdles still in our way, I hope we can take inspiration from Abigail. She was a woman who experienced many hardships and trials, much loss, and heartbreak, but even in her moments of doubt, when her spirit was broken and she felt defeated, she never lost her faith, and despite huge setbacks, she continued to fight the good fight until Oregon women finally won the right the vote.

In every generation we need these strong willed, focused, and dedicated figures to guide us through the tunnels of darkness, letting their bright lights illuminate the way so that others will not suffer the same adversity, so that future generations will have the richer and fuller lives they deserve!

The best way to honor these trailblazers is to register to vote and make your voice heard!! 



If you'd like more information about me, please come visit my website at and click on my blog. My dog also has a blog and you can find out what it's like to be Bodacious Bo, too. A monthly newsletter called Story Sparks is my way of sharing books about authors I enjoy as well as commenting on life and love. You'll find out more about me than you probably ever wanted to know!

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Who Did You Tell? by Lesley Kara- Feature and Review


We said to keep it a secret, that no one needed to know.

Astrid is newly sober and trying to turn her life around. Having reluctantly moved back in with her mother, in a quiet seaside town away from the temptations and darkness of her previous life, she is focusing on her recovery. She's going to meetings. Confessing her misdeeds. Making amends to those she's wronged. If she fills her days, maybe she can outrun the ghosts that haunt her. Maybe she can start anew.

But someone is tormenting me now. Someone knows where I am and what I've done.

Someone knows exactly what Astrid is running from. And they won't stop until she learns that some mistakes can't be corrected. Some mistakes, you have to pay for . . .

The question is: Who did you tell? 



Who Did You Tell?Who Did You Tell? by Lesley Kara
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Who Did you Tell? By Lesley Kara is a 2020 Ballantine publication.

Realistic, tense, disturbing!

Astrid is a recovering alcoholic, living with her mother, and struggling mightily to hold on to her new sobriety. She also has a heavy, dark secret hanging over her head, complicating her ability to face her demons head on.

As her memories resurface, Astrid’s past relationship with a guy named Simon begins to take shape- a relationship centered around the pain of addiction, but also one with intense emotions attached.

It is obvious that Astrid is tormented by her past, perhaps with good reason, but apparently someone out there is determined to remind her of her misdeeds, keeping her on a perpetual tightrope as she desperately tries to move on with her life-

I nearly read this book in one sitting- not because it is fast-paced, because it’s not- but because of how deeply I was drawn into Astrid’s struggles. The heavy atmosphere and the constant feeling of foreboding kept me glued to the pages.

This is a mesmerizing and intense story, checking all the correct, traditional psychological thriller boxes. However, it was Astrid's vivid characterization, and her will to stay sober, her vulnerability, uncertainty and fear, and the possibility that she could be in danger, that gave the book an extra padding of depth - more than one normally encounters in this genre.

The drama is very engrossing, drawing the reader deeper into Astrid’s troubled world. The suspense slowly, methodically builds, to a point where it almost becomes unbearable.

I still see a multitude of newly released psychological thrillers out there, but I think the fever has finally broken and there is a slow return to normalcy, which means higher quality stories in this category. However, I still started this book with only average expectations. (Keep in mind, though, that I have not read this author's debut novel- although I plan to remedy that ASAP)

However, this book exceeded my expectations, and is decidedly above average for this category. The novel is very well executed, moody, taut, and suspenseful, but has an added layer of emotional drama that compels the reader to invest, not only in the plot, but in the characters, as well.

Overall, this book is an impressive thriller, and I think Lesley Kara may be an author I’ll want to keep my eye on!




Lesley Kara is the author of the Sunday Times Top Ten Bestseller, THE RUMOUR, published in December 2018. Her second novel, WHO DID YOU TELL, is out now.

Friday, October 9, 2020

FLASHBACK FRIDAY: The Wilding Sisters by Eve Chase- Feature and Review


Four sisters. One summer. A lifetime of secrets.

When fifteen-year-old Margot and her three sisters arrive at Applecote Manor in June 1959, they expect a quiet English country summer. Instead, they find their aunt and uncle still reeling from the disappearance of their daughter, Audrey, five years before. As the sisters become divided by new tensions when two handsome neighbors drop by, Margot finds herself drawn into the life Audrey left behind. When the summer takes a deadly turn, the girls must unite behind an unthinkable choice or find themselves torn apart forever.

Fifty years later, Jesse is desperate to move her family out of their London home, where signs of her widower husband’s previous wife are around every corner. Gorgeous Applecote Manor, nestled in the English countryside, seems the perfect solution. But Jesse finds herself increasingly isolated in their new sprawling home, at odds with her fifteen-year-old stepdaughter, and haunted by the strange rumors that surround the manor.



The Wildling SistersThe Wildling Sisters by Eve Chase
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Wildling Sisters by Eve Chase is a 2017 G.P. Putnam’s Sons publication.

The Wilde Sisters arrive at the Applecote manor in 1959 to spend the summer with their aunt. The girls, Dot, Flora, Pam, and Margot are close and protective of each other. But, their visit to the lovely country estate is dampened by their aunt’s struggle to overcome her daughter, Audrey’s disappearance, five years earlier. The mystery consumes the girls, but the closer they get to the truth, the closer they come to possible danger, and tensions begin to arise between them over two handsome boys.

Fifty years later, with the memory of her widower husband’s wife constantly surrounding her, Jesse is ready to escape the city. Not only that, her stepdaughter was involved in an ugly incident, which figured into her desire to move. Applecote Manor felt like the perfect place in the perfect setting at the perfect time.
However, trouble starts almost immediately. Her stepdaughter becomes increasingly difficult to handle, her husband is always away at work, and disturbing rumors about the house finally reach her ears. As her stepdaughter becomes nearly obsessed with the strange disappearance of a former resident, Jesse feels her life is slowly unraveling.

This is one of those books I was dying to read, but it just kept slipping down the TBR pile until I gradually lost track of it. Thankfully, while searching for another book in my voluminous Kindle folder, I happened across it and made a point to get started on it. I do recall hearing a lot of buzz about his book when it was first released. I have read other books by Eve Chase and was very impressed with her work. But, what drew me to this one was the constant effusive gushing about the novel’s strong Gothic tones. As a huge fan of Gothic novels, I’m going to have to cry foul on that one, just a little. Yes, there are a few Gothic elements, but I didn’t feel they were as strong or pure as many others have. I was slightly let down on that front, however, the story was very compelling, with dual timelines, and a very atmospheric and absorbing mystery to uncover.

As is usually the case for me, I was drawn more towards the historical elements of the story, but the present -day scenario, while not really adding a lot to the mystery, suggests a possible air of pending doom, which was quite effective, and may have been a slightly underrated element in the story.

The author wound the story around until the two timelines merged in a poignant way, slowly releasing the pent -up tensions, and bringing closure to all in a satisfying way.
I am glad this one didn’t drop completely off my radar. The story has a lot of familial touches, bringing the characters to life in a vivid and emotional way, drawing the reader into their world with lush writing, dialogue, and descriptions. Eve Chase once again impresses.



Eve Chase is the pseudonym of a journalist who has worked extensively across the British press. 

Eve Chase always wanted to write about families - ones that go wrong but somehow survive - and big old houses, where family secrets and untold stories seed in the crumbling stone walls. 

Black Rabbit Hall is such a story. 

She lives in Oxford, England with her husband and three children.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Little Darlings by Melanie Golding- Feature and Review

 “Mother knows best” takes on a sinister new meaning in this unsettling thriller perfect for fans of Neil Gaiman and Grimms’ Fairy Tales.

Everyone says Lauren Tranter is exhausted, that she needs rest. And they’re right; with newborn twins, Morgan and Riley, she’s never been more tired in her life. But she knows what she saw: that night, in her hospital room, a woman tried to take her babies and replace them with her own…creatures. Yet when the police arrived, they saw no one. Everyone, from her doctor to her husband, thinks she’s imagining things.

A month passes. And one bright summer morning, the babies disappear from Lauren’s side in a park. But when they’re found, something is different about them. The infants look like Morgan and Riley―to everyone else. But to Lauren, something is off. As everyone around her celebrates their return, Lauren begins to scream, These are not my babies.

Determined to bring her true infant sons home, Lauren will risk the unthinkable. But if she’s wrong about what she saw…she’ll be making the biggest mistake of her life.

Compulsive, creepy, and inspired by some our darkest fairy tales, Little Darlings will have you checking―and rechecking―your own little ones. Just to be sure. Just to be safe.



Little DarlingsLittle Darlings by Melanie Golding
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Little Darlings by Melanie Golding is a 2019 Crooked Lane publication.

Creepy, atmospheric mix of psychological suspense and supernatural folklore

Lauren is understandably exhausted after giving birth to twins, but enough to imagine she saw a woman enter her hospital room and attempt to swap out her babies? Lauren insists someone is out to steal her twins, but the only person who is giving her the benefit of the doubt is Joanna Harper, the officer who responded to Lauren’s initial emergency call.

Then, just as Lauren is starting to feel confident about going out again her babies are abducted, just has she’d feared. Although they are quickly recovered, Lauren has a horrifying reaction, insisting the babies aren’t hers, which promptly lands her in an institution.

As Jo investigates the odd goings on, she makes some interesting discoveries about Lauren’s husband, some lurid folklore tales about twins, and a shockingly similar case that took place decades earlier...

This book was super-hot amongst some of my friends on social media last year. I’d been dying to see what all the fuss was about, but as I was still doing a lot of assigned work at that time the book slid down my TBR list and off my radar. I don’t think I realized the novel had such a strong paranormal tone, thinking it was more of a psychological thriller. As it turns out the novel is adept at genre bending- mixing suspense and mystery with supernatural elements, while painting a vivid portrait of the willing sacrifices parents will make in order to protect or save their children.

It’s an interesting mashup, and it works spectacularly. If all horror novels were like this one, I’d read this genre more often.

I liked Joanna, but occasionally her personal thoughts and relationship woes didn’t really interest me, or add anything much to the story. All her fretting about her feelings slowed down the momentum, occasionally breaking the carefully woven spell. Jo had some far more interesting event in her past that could have been explored more deeply. I didn't think her character was given enough depth, where there was some big potential there.

Other than that, this is a super tense story, very eerie and atmospheric, and despite the slightly disappointing and ambiguous conclusion, it left me with a lingering feeling of poignancy long after the final page was turned.



Melanie Golding is a graduate of the MA in creative writing program at Bath Spa University, with distinction. She has been employed in many occupations including farm hand, factory worker, childminder and music teacher. Throughout all this, because and in spite of it, there was always the writing. In recent years she has won and been shortlisted in several local and national short story competitions. Little Darlings is her first novel, and has been optioned for screen by Free Range Films, the team behind the adaptation of My Cousin Rachel.

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Escape From Wheel by Michael Clifton - Feature and Review + Giveaway


Conquest of the Veil, Book Two

Genre: YA / Fantasy / Magical Realism / Sword & Sorcery 
Publisher: Book Liftoff 
Publication Date: August 4, 2020
Number of Pages: 302 pages


New Life, New World, New Problems
Alexandria Duvalier’s new life on the magical world of Meredith takes a shattering twist when her father, the Duke of Wheel, pledges her hand in marriage to the cruel lord, Rodric Regret. Desperate to escape his clutches, Alex flees the city with the help of her friend, Tell Tollet, a handsome lieutenant in the city guard. But their freedom is short-lived when Rodric’s brutal brother, Stefan, joins in the pursuit.
Hotheaded Prince Tal, heir to the throne of Meredith, has but one goal: kill the Dark Queen and destroy the Veil, the enchanted barrier which has ensnared generations of his people. He discovers a breach in the magical wall and leads an army through, bent on completing his mission.
When an unusual and potent magic calls to him, he follows its trail back to Alex. Thrown together by circumstances and chased across the wilderness by the ruthless Lord Stefan, Tal and Alex are drawn to each other by the greatest magic of all—love. Now they just need to stay alive . . .

Escape From Wheel (Conquest Of The Veil Book 2)Escape From Wheel by Michael Scott Clifton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Escape from Wheel by Michael Scott Clifton is a 2020 publication.

High Fantasy, Epic Adventure and Romance!

This is the second installment in the Conquest of Veil series.

Book one sets the stage with character introduction, world building, etc., and I admit, not being a big High Fantasy or Epic Fantasy reader, I struggled a little. However, by the time the book wrapped up, I was invested enough in the characters to give this second installment a try.

Now that the groundwork has been laid, the flow was much easier for me this time around, and I became instantly involved in Alexandria’s plight.

If you are following along with the series, you’ll recall that Alex has traded her old life for a new one- however, the grass isn’t necessarily greener on the other side. Her problems are quite different now, and quite serious. 

Alex as developed tender feelings for Tel, but her father has arranged a marriage for her … to a man she hates.

When she gets a magical glimpse of her future, which could a variety of ways, depending on her choices, Alex begins to plot her escape from Wheel…

From this point on- the palace intrigue, magic, flying horses, gnomes, and evil gargoyles kept me transfixed. This is an adventurous story, very imaginative, great pacing and dialogue, packed with suspense and emotion.

As I said, I do not read this genre often, but I think casual readers, as well as fantasy connoisseurs will enjoy this series, as well as those who enjoy YA novels. 

For me it was fun to step into another realm and let my imagination run freely for a while. The author did a great job with descriptions, creating a vivid, lush landscape, to enhance the adventure and romance. The illustrations sprinkled throughout the book were also a very nice touch.

Overall, this wild, romantic adventure transported me into an absorbing, addicting tale of good versus evil and kept me riveted to the very end, leaving wanting more! 

Multi-award-winning author Michael Scott Clifton was a longtime public educator as a teacher, coach, and administrator. Professional credits include articles published in the Texas Study of Secondary Education Magazine. He currently lives in Mount Pleasant, Texas, with his wife, Melanie, and family cat. An avid gardener, reader, and movie junkie, Michael enjoys all kinds of book and movie genres. His books contain aspects of all the genres he enjoys: action, adventure, magic, fantasy, and romance. 

His fantasy novels, The Janus Witch and The Open Portal, received five-star reviews from the prestigious Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews, and he has been a finalist in a number of short-story contests, with "Edges of Gray" winning first place in the Texas Authors Contest. 

The Open Portal, winner of the Feathered Quill Book Finalist Award, launches the fantasy book series, Conquest of the Veil. Michael’s latest release, Escape From Wheel, is book two in this fantasy series. Visit Michael’s official websiteor google him @authormsclifton.

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