Book Review: “In Search of McDoogal” by Mae Clair @maeclair1 @storyempire #IARTG #WritingCommunity

Hello and welcome to my book review of “In Search of McDoogal” By Mae Clair.

book cover in search of mcdoogal

Meet Mae Clair.

bio pic mae clair

A member of the Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers, Mae Clair is also a founding member and contributor to the award-winning writing blog, Story Empire. She has achieved bestseller status on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble, with several of her novels chosen as book club selections.

Mae writes primarily in the mystery/suspense genre, flavoring her plots with elements of urban legend and folklore. Married to her high school sweetheart, she lives in Pennsylvania and is passionate about cryptozoology, old photographs, a good Maine lobster tail, and cats.

Discover more about Mae on her website and blog at


book cover in search of mcdoogal


In search of something ugly…

All Brady Conrad wants to do is earn a few merit points with his artist girlfriend, so he volunteers to cover her gallery when she leaves town. What should be an easy day of sales goes belly up when he mistakenly sells a cherished painting.

With the clock ticking toward Vanessa’s return, Brady has less than a day to track McDoogal down. He coerces his friend Declan to tag along for moral support. How difficult can it be for an investigator and the director of a renowned institute to find a single painting in a town the size of a postage stamp?

Neither Brady nor Declan counted on a suspicious sheriff, rival baseball teams with a longstanding grudge, or a clueless kid trying to win his girlfriend with all the wrong gifts.

McDoogal is smack in the middle. But Brady’s biggest dilemma isn’t the disastrous hunt. It’s confessing to Vanessa her painting is the ugliest thing he’s ever seen.

My Review: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐A wonderful addition to this talented author’s repertoire.

I’ve been a fan of author Mae Clair since I first read the Hodes Hill series.

This genre is new to her and she has nailed it. Comedic writing is difficult at best, and this author has the talent to make it look easy. Her comedic timing is perfect.

The wonderful characterizations of the focused duo of Brady and Declan make them clearly visible. Their snappy banter and camaraderie born of comfort in each other’s presence make them both intensely likable.

I enjoyed the fast pacing as Brady and Declan set out to retrieve a painting and avoid the consequences of Brady needing to fess up to his new girlfriend that he messed up badly when left in charge of her gallery, The journey these two close friends set out on had me laughing out loud. A case of anything that can go wrong … did.

Mae Clair had gifted us with a marvelous cast of characters, and a read that left me smiling long after I finished reading.

Top-notch all the way.  A wonderful addition to this talented author’s repertoire.



Contact Mae Clair:


Amazon Author Page:

Mystery, Suspense & Urban Legends | BookBub | Newsletter Sign-Up

Website & Blog | Goodreads

Thanks so much for joining me today! I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

NEW: “Fiction in A Flash Challenge!” Join in, have fun, and let loose your creative muse.#FictionInAFlash @pursoot @IARTG #ASMSG #WritingCommunity.

Flash Fiction best header

Hello everyone and welcome to my new “Fiction in A Flash Challenge!” Each week I’ll be featuring an image and inviting you to write a Flash Fiction piece inspired by that image in a genre of your choosing.  Maximum word count: 750 words.

Please put it (or a link to it) in a comment or email it to me at My email address. by 4pm on May 28th. Subject: Fiction in a Flash Challenge. If you post it on your own blog or site, a link to this page would be much appreciated.

I’ll be sharing all entries received, and, my own contribution here on May 29th.

I do hope you join in! Have fun, let the creative muse loose!

And now …The photo.

Flash Fiction MEERKATS FOR 1st post

I look forward to seeing you!

Now have fun!






Short Story” “Just Before Dawn.” #RRBC #IARTG #WRITINGCOMMUNITY

Just Before Dawn

Short Story: “Just Before Dawn”. May 5th, 2020.

Tracey awakened screaming. She gulped in lung-fulls of air forcing herself to focus on her breathing; struggling to remain calm knowing the consequences if she lost control altogether.

The chill in the air caused her to shiver on this mid-fall morning. A glance at the digital clock confirmed it was 4:00 a.m. Tracey reached for her iPhone and checked the temperature, 35 degrees was tolerable. She flicked on the fireside and set it on low, and moved into the kitchen, pleased to discover she’d prepared the coffee last night. She poured a large mugful, heaped in the sugar, and grabbed her Marlboro.

The sitting room offered comfort and she flicked on the table lamp and settled herself down with the nicotine and sugar hitting her system and bringing with it the pleasure of treasured memories. The days before the uprising had been filled with warmth and laughter. Her husband Kyle was a quiet man prone to overthinking, but he had a wicked sense of the ridiculous, he made her feel safer than any other person ever had, dead, or alive.

Memories of that last morning together forced themselves into her reality. They’d been seated right here on the sofa, with a mug of steaming coffee each and their ever-present cigarettes. Kyle placed his arm around her shoulders, “You snored last night.” He’d said with a smile.

Tracey grinned up into his face, “I snored? I could have done far worse after that spicy Thai curry you made for dinner!” the thought caused her to giggle and Kyle had laughed with pleasure. “You’re wicked. You know that, right?”

“I’ve had the best teacher sex can buy.”

The warm banter had continued for a few minutes before Kyle had grown still and Tracey watched the process evolve and waited on his thoughts.

“Troubles coming, honey, and it’s coming soon.”

“I know. Folks are angry. That’s not a recipe for calm.”

“They’re angry with good cause. The police have been too heavy-handed dealing with the long ques for food. That guy died last week, and they’d said it was accidental even though the video showed clearly that it was no such thing. The use of excessive force was abundantly apparent. People are hungry and they’re watching their children cry with the need for more food. The lack of freedom has finally broken them.” He grew silent again and then half-whispered, “It’s happening everywhere right across the country. You need to be prepared. I want you to promise me that you remember everything we discussed in preparation for this time coming. Tell me you have?”

“I remember. The bug-out kit is fully prepared, and I have another ready as well in a different location.”

Kyle expelled a sigh of relief, “Good, that’s good, honey. So, what do you have me doing this morning?” he gave her his smile.

“We need groceries. I’m sorry, I know the lines are long but the coffee’s low, we’re out of toilet paper and milk, and a few other essentials and I want the makings of an omelet for dinner if you can get them.”

“I’ll head off soon as they open, make me a list … you know I’ll forget something if you don’t.”

Tracey had nodded in agreement. “I’m impressed when you make it to the supermarket at all. Last time you came home with a tank full of gas and the morning paper instead of the groceries you’d gone out to buy.”

Kyle’s face burned and he shrugged, “Perfect is boring. You hate to be bored.”

Tracey laughed with pleasure, “You know me so well.”


6:00 a.m.

Tracey watched from the deck as her husband carefully backed the SUV down the steep driveway. She gave him a wave of farewell and stood watching until the car disappeared from view. It had begun to sleet, and visibility rapidly became obsolete. Another cup of coffee beckoned and then she’d focus on dressing and preparing for her day.

She showered and pulled on a warm black tracksuit and runners then headed into her home office and logged on to her laptop. Her diary confirmed she had five clients to call this morning. The pro-bono case was causing the most concern, her client stood to serve a life sentence for murder.  He had insisted on pleading not guilty despite the pile of evidence stacked against him. She lit another smoke and began re-reading and cross-checking every incident.


10:00 a.m.

Tracey checked the clock for the hundredth time since 8:00. She grew concerned that Kyle had been distracted again and lost all track of time as he was prone to do.

She began calling his phone when 9.00 o’clock rolled around and her calls all went instantly to his messages.

When 1:00 p.m. came she was becoming frantic with worry. What if there’d been an accident? He could be hurt and undiscovered even laying in a ditch somewhere. After all, the road would have been slippery with the sleet that had begun just as he left the house. Her thoughts spiraled and she watched the clock and waited. At 5:00 p.m. she rang 911 … the number constantly rang out. “Fuck! What the hell is happening?”

She hurried across to the television and flicked on the news channel, the pandemonium she witnessed caused her to run for the bathroom as she threw up.

She fixed herself a stiff bourbon and sat again fixated on the scene unfolding in front of her.

What seemed to be hundreds of screaming people were gathered on the downtown streets and the Police cordons weren’t holding. Sporadic gunfire rang out and the screaming intensified. The news anchor struggled to make himself heard. “News update this hour, if you’ve just joined us here’s an update … At approximately 6:00 A.M this morning large groups of people began forming in long lines outside police headquarters, they were somber and silent in the beginning.”

Tracey concurred … the film showed exactly that. There was an urgency about these folks, but so far, no overt aggression.

She longed for a glimpse of her husband and prayed she wouldn’t see him at the same time. Kyle was caught up in this to be sure, but she hoped that he was still in the car and sitting watching carefully in the backup of traffic that must have ensued.

She ran to the wall panel and made her decision. Thanking God that Kyle had seen ft to take preventative measures of security. They were a good thirty-minutes-drive from downtown and this property was in an isolated pocket not seen from the road. That was a bonus. Tracey pushed the controls, initiating the movement detectors that would shoot out flares and a loud alarm if the boundaries of the properties were breached, by car or on foot.

She’d activate the surveillance drone soon.

She stumbled briefly as she ran into the bedroom and retrieved the bug-out backpack from the closet. Dressing hurriedly in clothes suited to the outdoors, she then placed the loaded shotgun on the coffee table where she’d be sitting. The monitor was now sitting alongside her laptop. Tracey checked the contents of the bug-out kit and nodded with contentment. She had everything she’d need for a week at the outside. She hoped her abysmal hunting skills would never be needed. Now all she could do was wait.


11.00 p.m.

The late evening news bought with it tales of loss on a huge scale and flashes of heroism. The police had been overrun and as every city was currently experiencing this coordinated nationwide attack there would be no backup coming, at least until the government stepped in and sent out the National Guard and declared a curfew, she was surprised that that hadn’t happened yet. Grateful in many ways for the delay, as many more lives would be lost under martial law.

Kyle’s words echoed into her consciousness. “The President has lost control, hon. It’s too late to implement the measures to prevent what’s surely coming. People no longer trust the politicians. That will cause a revolt. It’s simply a matter of time.”


Three months later:

Tracey stood watch in the late spring air. She was grateful for the people she’d taken in. Grateful too that she hadn’t shot them as they approached with their hands raised in surrender. Two women and three children aged from just four to fifteen now lived with her. Their company and assistance had kept her sane. She could smell the venison cooking and her stomach rumbled in anticipation, it had been a while since they’d eaten red meat and they all craved it. She bagged enough bush-turkeys to alleviate their hunger, but this meal would be special. Kyle would be proud of how her hunting skills had improved.

She moved the binoculars and ran her eyes across the ridgeline, a flicker of movement caused her to stiffen. There was someone out there, too close for comfort. Tracey ran inside and alerted the others to prepare before she exited the building and set out on foot, dodging in and out of the shelter of the trees and grateful, they’d now grown their spring camouflage.

There it was again, moving slowly down an unseen path and stopping frequently. She homed in the sights and captured the intruder in them. A man by the height of him with a hoodie pulled down over his head. He carried a weapon. Tracey ensured her shotgun was ready.

The male moved closer and Tracey raised the gun, “Stop right there and go back where you came from. I have my shotgun pointed at you and I won’t miss. Place your weapon on the ground now!”

The main did as he was ordered and raised his hands in supplication.

Tracey moved closer. “Okay. Now go.”

“I guess you’re angry about me being late, honey.”

Tracey screamed in joyous recognition of Kyle’s beloved voice, and she ran towards him and was swept up in his arms and held there safe at last.

“So, you got distracted again, huh?”

“Something like that.” He laughed softly.

“Coffee’s hot.”

“I love you.”

She placed her fingertips against his mouth. “I’ll let you show me how much later. But baby you really need to take a shower first.”

“I guess it’s worse than snoring in bed, huh?”

“You got that right.”

Their laughter lifted and echoed around them as they walked back to their home to face an uncertain future. Yet both content in their understanding that whatever may come they’d stand and face it together.

Knowing in advance that the darkest hour was just before dawn.










Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – New Book on the Shelves – #Thriller – The Reckoning Squad by S. Burke

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Delighted to welcome Suzanne Burke to the Cafe and Bookstore, with her memoirs written as Stacey Danson and her other books as S. Burke. The featured book is her most recent, a thriller, The Reckoning Squad.

About the book

The Reckoning Squad was the new name being whispered in the darkened corridors of the powerful in Washington. The name was whispered with awe, and the whispers grew louder.

Twenty people had been carefully vetted and recruited to undergo specialized training. Training engineered to break them utterly, intended to shatter everything they once believed themselves capable of surviving. Only the best of them made it through the twelve weeks of hell. They now formed a cohesive black-ops unit, known as The Reckoning Squad.

Their facility is breached, and the team’s numbers are decimated. The survivors know that they’re in a fight for their lives. They have been betrayed from within. Trust…

View original post 489 more words

Book Review: “Hieroglyph” By Wendy Jayne Scott @WendyJayneScott #RRBC #RWISA

Hello and welcome to my book review of “Hieroglyph;(TC’s Adventures Book 1) by Wendy J Scott @WendyJayneScott

Wendy scott bio pic

About the Author:

Wendy has an NZ Certificate in Science (Chemistry), which allows her to dabble with fuming potions and strange substances, satisfying her inner witch. Wendy writes adult fantasy as Wendy Scott and children’s stories as WJ Scott. In 2012 Hieroglyph was selected by NZSA for one of five mentorships (mentor author Anna McKenzie). Hieroglyph won the Gold Medal in the UK Wishing Shelf Book Awards 2015, 9-12 year category, and the Silver Medal in the International Readers’ Favorite Book Awards, Children’s/Preteen 2016.

:Cover heiroglyph


“Did Ancient Egyptians visit Australia?”

13-year-old TC has a secret. No one knows she possesses a supernatural power.
Can TC help her Uncle Max, an archaeologist; to unearth enough evidence to prove Ancient Egyptians visited Australia before he’s discredited in the media by those that want the past to stay buried?

“Some would say that I have a gift, but to me, it’s always been a curse. Before I changed my mind, I tugged off my gloves and whipped my head left and right, checking to see that no one was watching. I sucked in a breath and steadied my nerves then thrust my hands against the stones and touched one of the cartouches. Time and place ripped away.”

An enthralling archaeological mystery, mixing the supernatural with humour and suspense.

The first of TC’s adventures – an archaeological mystery for junior readers and above.

My REVIEW: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 A delightful read.

I’ve heard so many good things about this author and I’m delighted to find that praise well deserved. This short should capture and hold the attention of its targeted audience. It’s well written and doesn’t make the mistake of talking down to its intended readers. Beautifully done.

As an Australian, I was immediately drawn to the story and found all the descriptive and visualizations of my beautiful country to be accurate and well described. Bravo.

The plot is multi-faceted and intriguing. Did the ancient Egyptians visit Australia? Ah, but see it matters not if they did or they didn’t. This talented author involves all the senses throughout her book and makes all she writes seem utterly feasible. You become a believer.

The characterizations could perhaps have been fleshed out a little more, we all read things differently after all. However, nothing distracts from the story. Others have written much about the inner workings of this book, so I’ll be brief.

Young protagonist TC is developed very well and has the strength to carry that throughout this short read.

She joins her Uncle Max in Australia, whilst he is enveloped in his research into the possibility that the Ancient Egyptians may have visited its shores. 

Members of the media are going out of their way to discredit him.

TC’s special abilities allow her to envisage that time as if she were right there in the midst of it. Author Scott has marvelous descriptive abilities certain to transport the reader into a time and place of the authors choosing. I highly recommend the book to the young teens and the young at heart. Well done.


Twitter:  @WendyJayneScott



Amazon page

Purchase This Book

Thanks for stopping by this morning. I look forward to hearing your thoughts. ❤


Book Review: “2121:Twilight’s Last Gleaming (Revolution Book 1) By Karl Morgan @KarlJMorgan #RRBC


Hello and welcome to my book review of “2121: Twilight’s Last Gleaming (Revolution Book 1) by Author Karl Morgan:

BOOK COVER 2121 Karl Morgan.

Meet the author:

Karl Morgan face


I love science fiction and fantasy! As a normal, breathing human being, I have my own ideas about how and why we are here. I also have my views on why evil and good exist in this world. Put all of that together and I am blessed to have the chance to share my words with you, my readers.

Writing continues to be an adventure for me. Each story refines my skill and allows me to delve into different aspects of my personality and to better define my world-view. But please do not think that makes me special. We are all on our own adventures, and hopefully, each of our lives allows us to learn and grow.

If you are interested in stories that will challenge how you see the universe around you, my books might be right up your alley. Expect the unexpected. I have written space operas where you can travel the universe and see how much and how little things change from planet to planet and species to species. I have and am writing crazy stories about people who somehow end up with incredible talents that can and do change the world. And believe me, the adventure has just begun.
BOOK COVER 2121 Karl Morgan.



Is America’s future in the hands of a fourteen-year-old boy? Jack Kennedy is growing up in a nation destroyed by a corrupt, uncaring government. While the elites live in splendor in their domed city centers, the masses live in squalor and poverty. Farmers struggle to survive in walled villages to protect themselves from the terrorists and gangbangers who ravage the countryside.

The elderly are banished as there is no will or money to support them. The promise of our country has become a dystopian nightmare where life is hard and hope is an illusion.

Until now, Jack’s life has been good. When his best friend ventures to the nearby Ottumwa Free City to look for his former coworkers, Jack hitches a ride and discovers our president’s horrific secret. The truth is revealed in the slaughterhouse, and their lives will ever be the same again.
In this fast-paced action thriller, Jack and his friends and family must fight the most violent and terrifying forces of man and nature to stay alive. If they succeed, perhaps there is hope for all of us; if not, we are doomed and America will be forever lost.

My Review: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ A dark vision of a future tinged with hope.

This book captured my attention immediately. Predominantly because the central character’s name of Jack Kennedy invoked immediate images and thought of another great man who carried this name. One wonders if this was deliberate: if so it certainly worked for me.

The world of 2121 is a terrifying place to try and survive. I’m reminded of Soylent Green in many ways. Author Karl Morgan doesn’t spare us from the stench of corruption in the book. He takes us into the darkest recesses of man’s inhumanity and he does it without flinching. The inhuman side of humanity is revealed in strong language which I found absolutely necessary. The author has used military terminology to great effect and has clearly done extended research.

The rich and privileged live in absolute comfort, protected under their domed city.

While the poor try to survive the utter devastation and poverty. The elderly are banished and cannibalism has become the acceptable norm.

Yet there lingers a dream and a hope amongst those that see a different future, that premise keeps the book from being too painful to read. I became a little confused in parts where the threads of the story overlapped. However, this was a good read and I’ll be reading more of this author’s work as a result. not for the faint-hearted, but for those that enjoy hard-hitting writing this should prove a most enjoyable read.

Follow the author here:

Twitter:  @KarlJMorgan



Join The Adventure!

Amazon Author Page






United we stand. The gift of my child’s smile.#RRBC #RWISA

This old world just keeps getting weirder by the minute, but given I wasn’t expected to live more than a few hours when I was rushed into hospital recently the weirdness just continues. My darling daughter found me unconscious and unresponsive and a team of dedicated paramedics kept me alive as they rushed me into the intensive care unit. The doctors are at a loss to understand how I possibly survived, I was clinically dead and the fact that I’ve just been released and am back in the loving shelter of my dear little family as we go into the world wide lockdown has them scratching their heads in amazement. My daughter and I have spoken at length about this and we have both come to the conclusion that even in my subconscious my absolute will to fight back will not let go. I don’t know the answers, my friends. I do know that my life has been one massive fight for survival and I simply don’t know how to give up. Whatever the reasons, my friends, I’m here. I’m loved, and if I have more words yet to write they will be written. Thank you so much for caring. I hope that you and your loved ones are safe and know that we all stand united in a world holding its breath. United we stand, divided we fall. Great old song, it means so much more to hear it now.
Hugs, my friends.