Unexpected Outcomes by Carolyn Ridder Aspenson

Book Excerpt

I am pleased to feature Carolyn Ridder Aspenson’s upcoming title; Unexpected Outcomes. Today I have an excerpt of Chapter 1 and a generous giveaway hosted by the author. Unexpected Outcomes is scheduled for release on 9/19/17 and is the 4th book in the Angela Panther Mystery series. Stick around for a chance to win a set of ebooks!

Unexpected Outcomes
Unexpected Outcomes 
By Carolyn Ridder Aspenson

Synopsis:

Unexpected Outcomes An Angela Panther Mystery is the 4th book in the Angela Panther paranormal Mystery series.

Angela is a stay at home mom who just happens to be a psychic medium. Join Angela, her dead mother Fran, and her best friend, Mel as they help Atlanta are detective Aaron Banner solve crimes and cross over spirits in this women’s sleuth mystery.

LIES, SECRETS AND THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL.

When a frantic 911 call stumps a suburban Atlanta police department, psychic medium Angela Panther is asked to help. Without a body or a ransom note, the cops question whether there’s even a crime, but Angela’s certain the woman’s no longer among the living.

On the outside, the woman’s family seems run of the mill, but Angela’s sixth sense tells her something different, she just has to find the evidence—and the victim’s remains, to prove it.

With the help of her best friend, Mel, and Fran, her celestial super sleuth mother, she sets out to find it and stumbles into a web of dark, dangerous family secrets worse than she ever imagined.

When a desperate spirit forces Angela to act on impulse, she makes one wrong move and lands right in the path of the killer. Alone, and begging for her life, Angela realizes she might not make it out alive.

This book is the 4th in the series but as with all the others, can be read as a stand-alone.


Chapter One Excerpt

“I CAN’T BELIEVE I’m gonna die. Please, no. Why are you shooting at us?”

I pulled the trigger and watched as the bullet raced through the air, smacking my best friend in the center of her chest.

I bolted upright; sweat dripping from my forehead, tears streaming down my cheeks, my heart beating faster than ever. I’d just dreamed I’d shot my best friend, my best friend. I mumbled under my breath. It’s just a dream, just a dream.

My husband Jake rolled over and rubbed my leg. “You okay, babe?”

I lay down and snuggled into him. “Another nightmare. I shot Mel.”

He wrapped his arms around me and squeezed. “We both know that would never happen. It was just a dream. Don’t let it upset you.”

I glanced at the clock. It was four AM, and I knew I wouldn’t fall back asleep, so I kissed Jake and got up for the day, resigned to the fact that I’d be exhausted before nightfall. I shuffled to the bathroom, closed the double doors, and flipped on the light. My eyes sunk like anchors in the blue and black pits swelling below them. Sleep eluded me most nights, and the nights I did catch a few z’s contained restless and fitful slumber, and it showed.

Downstairs, I made a fresh pot of coffee, and while waiting for it to finish, replayed the dream in my head. Nothing was clear except Mel. Fuzzy images of gravel and trees flashed briefly in my head, but their pictures remained too blurred and indistinct to identify with any clarity. My gift allowed me to communicate with the dead, not predict the future, and half of me thought the dream meant nothing. The other half though, threw red flags up all over the kitchen, practically screaming “Danger, Will Robinson”, like that old TV show. That half knew the Universe didn’t have a rulebook, and the fear of what it could mean crushed my heart like a ton of bricks. Six months ago I couldn’t feel what a ghost felt, but that had changed, so I knew endless possibilities existed, and that scared the bejesus out of me. I powered on my phone and pounded out a text to Mel.

“I had a bad dream,” I wrote.

It didn’t take long for her to respond. That’s how best friends worked. No matter what time it was, they were there when we needed them. “Wow, me too. It was so strange. I shot you.”

My heart raced into the anaerobic zone. I snatched my keys from the key box, slipped on my tennis shoes and bolted out the door and into my car in the garage. Both of us having the same dream wasn’t a coincidence. It meant something, and I didn’t need my spidey sense to tell me that.  Continue reading “Unexpected Outcomes by Carolyn Ridder Aspenson”

See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

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See What I Have Done
By Sarah Schmidt
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press
ISBN13: 9780802126597
Pages:  328
Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery

Synopsis:

In this riveting debut novel, See What I Have Done, Sarah Schmidt recasts one of the most fascinating murder cases of all time into an intimate story of a volatile household and a family devoid of love.

On the morning of August 4, 1892, Lizzie Borden calls out to her maid: Someone’s killed Father. The brutal ax-murder of Andrew and Abby Borden in their home in Fall River, Massachusetts, leaves little evidence and many unanswered questions. While neighbors struggle to understand why anyone would want to harm the respected Bordens, those close to the family have a different tale to tell—of a father with an explosive temper; a spiteful stepmother; and two spinster sisters, with a bond even stronger than blood, desperate for their independence.

As the police search for clues, Emma comforts an increasingly distraught Lizzie whose memories of that morning flash in scattered fragments. Had she been in the barn or the pear arbor to escape the stifling heat of the house? When did she last speak to her stepmother? Were they really gone and would everything be better now? Shifting among the perspectives of the unreliable Lizzie, her older sister Emma, the housemaid Bridget, and the enigmatic stranger Benjamin, the events of that fateful day are slowly revealed through a high-wire feat of storytelling.


my-thought

Retellings and historical fiction occupy a large portion of space among my shelves. True crime and mysteries equally reside next to them. So picking up See What I Have Done was an effortless process. A historical re-imagining of the Borden murders offered promises of intrigue and suspense that were not to be ignored.

Schmidt provides a fictionalized glimpse into the days before, during and after the Borden axe murders that kicks off with Lizzie’s discovery of her father’s gruesome death. What ensues is a somewhat odd tale offered through multiple points of view. We are introduced to Lizzie, her family and those immediately involved through a series of narration that felt at times, unnecessary and missed the mark for me on a few levels.

I struggled with the alternating perspectives, as I found myself lacking interest when not directly engaged with Lizzie’s story. The addition of alternating PoV read more like a distraction that took from the overall effect as opposed to adding to it. I did enjoy being introduced to the remaining Borden family and maid Bridget, but I would have personally preferred to experience this tale solely through the eyes of our young protagonist.

I struggled with the relaxed pace and absence of urgency. I anticipated more excitement surrounding the heinous crime that was committed in the Borden household. I did come to appreciate the rich, atmospheric and slow burn style of story that was supplied with a truly unique prose, but ultimately encountered a few issues that hindered my time with the book. Unfortunately, my digital copy was riddled with formatting and grammatical errors that created a challenge, and I often found myself walking away in frustration.

While See What I Have Done failed to fully capture my interest, I feel the author’s original take on an infamous mystery will still offer a unique experience that many will find great value in. If you have ever found yourself fascinated in the story of Lizzie Borden, I urge you to explore this novel and form your own opinion.

*I would like to thank Netgalley and Grove Atlantic for providing me with this copy in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Purchase Links:

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Broken Branches by M. Jonathan Lee

brokenbranchesthe-book
Broken Branches
By M. Jonathan Lee
Available 7/27/17
Publisher: Hideaway Fall
ISBN13: 9780995492332
Pages: 294
Genre: Mystery

Synopsis:

‘Family curses don’t exist. Sure, some families seem to suffer more pain than others, but a curse? An actual curse? I don’t think so.’

A family tragedy was the catalyst for Ian Perkins to return to the isolated cottage with his wife and young son. But now they are back, it seems yet more grief might befall the family.

There is still time to act, but that means Ian must face the uncomfortable truth about his past. And in doing so, he must uncover the truth behind the supposed family curse.


my-thought

I have stared at this screen off and on for nearly two days in vain, attempting to compose a review that would accurately describe my time with Broken Branches. I am not sure that the end result will be entirely successful, but I have reached that point where I simply have to proceed.

This is a story of grief and loss. This is the mystery of the Perkins’ family history and the curse they have carried told through a compelling narration of past and present. We are introduced to Ian Perkins as he finds himself returning to his family home with his wife and son after a suffering a loss. Unfortunately, the Perkins are not alone. A dark history and tragedy seem to have taken up permanent residence within this remote cottage, overshadowing the lives within like the ever-present and looming sycamore tree that has haunted Ian’s dreams and childhood.

This is a story centered around slow revelation. The sort of tale that buries itself deep into your mind and finds a lasting home. Immediately thrust into lives full of misfortune and great loss, we are driven to explore Ian and his past. His family is amid turmoil with a threatened marriage and his unhealthy obsession with the family curse that haunts him. Ian’s character is successful simply for how credible he is. Perfectly timed emotions and responses accompany his descent into fear, setting the stage for a fully immersive mystery.

The world building cleverly embodies the traditional elements one can normally find in ghost stories. Cobweb Cottage is filled with ghastly sightings, creaking floors and the unknown, easily invoking a sense of the forbidding and sinister that creates an atmospheric read. The end result is the sort of suspense that leaves you holding your breath and turning each page in eager anticipation. Think “peaking through your fingers while watching a horror film.” You absolutely have to know what happens, but are terrified of the possibilities.

Lee’s succinct and fluent writing style is a refreshing change of pace, that manages to carry the story effortlessly while creating an ominous tone and experience. Competent narration allows for a natural transition between events of past and present. The end result is a fulfilling mystery that promises to delight a wide array of fans.

*I would like to thank the publisher for this copy in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

Visit Hideaway Fall and Pre-Order Here.

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