#ThrowbackThursday ~ Swan Loch by Randy Mixter #Crime #Paranormal #Romance

Renee at It’s Book Talk began this meme as a way to share old favourites, as well as books that were published over a year ago. Not to mention those that are languishing on the to be read pile for whatever reason.

I’ve read a few books by this author and enjoyed them all. Swan Loch was published in 2012, I read and review it in 2014…. Continue reading

Morning Star

  • morningstarAuthor: Randy Mixter
  • Published: November 2012 by CreateSpaceIndependent Publishing
  • Category: YA, Fiction, Paranormal.
  • five-stars

A Child. A Horse. A Miracle.

Eight year old Dannie Walker is fighting for her life. Her doctors have told her father she has an incurable disease. All hope is lost. Or is it?

Mysterious and majestic, Morning Star appears in spectacular fashion, sailing over the barbed wire fence as Nate Walker is checking the perimeter of his horse ranch for any damage, and gallops on towards his house. 

Dannie Walker is in hospital, a very sick girl, without apparent hope of recovery. Dannie has a vivid dream one night about a horse and desperately wants to go home. She isn’t the only one having dreams, her father has his own ghosts he needs to lay to rest.

The horse raised its head and their eyes met and in those dark eyes she could see everything; all the good, all the hopes, all the dreams. And she felt a voice more than heard it. A voice she had never heard before but still seemed familiar. A voice that began in her head before it spread throughout her body. A voice that brought her peace and joy.

Mix these elements together with a loving family, a magical horse and a legend about a blue flower and you have a heart warming and captivating story of miracles and mysticism, love, loss and hope. Things Randy Mixter writes about extremely well. 

I love the introduction about the legend of the Morning Star, a dark blue rose-like flower, explaining how it’s been extinct for many hundreds of years and opinion is divided about the truth of the plant’s existence. 

Morning Star was thought to be discovered and worshipped by the Maya empire on or about 900 AD, if their hieroglyphics were any indication. The Maya culture believed the flower had mystical powers while in full bloom.

I believe this novella would appeal to younger readers, just the right length, as well as older ones that want to escape for a couple of hours into a wonderfully descriptive world of mystery and enchantment, which makes anything seem possible, and with a touch of the paranormal. A great story.

Book links ~ Amazon UK Amazon US

The Rocking Chair Lady

  • TheRockingChairLadyAuthor: Randy Mixter
  • Published: September 2012
  • Kindle Edition
  • Category: Contemporary, Paranormal, Fantasy
  • five-stars

The Rocking Chair Lady is a fictional short story based on a young boy’s fascination with an elderly lady’s stories of her adventurous, and sometimes magical life. Expect the unexpected.

A hauntingly beautiful and engaging short story of an old lady and a young boy exchanging reminiscences. The boy soon runs out of his own stories but the old lady still shares her magical life stories and thoughts with the boy each time he visits. The visits span a few summers, the boy is captivated by the stories and learns a lot about the old woman, her husband and how they met. She tells him of her life and adventures, story by story and year by year. 

I was thirteen years old when I first met the rocking chair lady. It was early June and I was helping Andy, a friend of mine, deliver newspapers……

I didn’t wear a watch back then, but I figured it was close to lunch time when I arrived at my last house of the day. It was an old brick house with a long wooden front porch. I noticed several wind chimes hanging from the porch’s ceiling. I knocked on the door several times with no success and was about to put down the paper and leave, when I heard the faint voice of a woman say ‘come in’ from somewhere inside of the house. I was wary and the voice seemed to sense my fear.

And so begins an unusual friendship which grows with each subsequent visit and both the old lady and the boy look forward to their brief times together.

Randy Mixter always writes with such appeal and sensitivity and manages, in this story, to incorporate a lot into a few pages, giving the two characters distinct and extremely likeable personalities. I couldn’t help but be drawn to them and the old lady’s stories of a life which embraced all opportunities and was full of rich and deep experiences.

There are touches of sadness, which isn’t unusual for someone of advancing years, and a wonderfully magical, correlated ending which is a delight, leaving feelings of pleasure in a story skillfully told. 

About the author

RMixterRandy Mixter lives in Pasadena, Maryland, with his wife Veronica and their five cats. He writes in a variety of genres including Fantasy, Action/Adventure, Mysteries, and Suspense Thrillers. He currently has several novels and short stories available, with more on the way.

Find out about new releases, special discounts, and free book promotions at https://sites.google.com/site/randymi…

Check out his Facebook author’s page at: https://www.facebook.com/RandyMixters…

Follow him on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Northwooder1
Read his blog at: http://randy-mixter.blogspot.com/

2014 ~ Top Books

There have been so many great books this year, it was a very hard choice but, in no particular order, here are my top 12 reads/listens.

  1. Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah. Alternating between the past and present and telling the story of a family drama. After the death of their father, sisters Meredith and Nina struggle to really get to know their seemingly reserved and cold Russian born mother. As the sisters finally begin to discover their mother’s tragic story the three women can reach out to each other and find the bond that ties them together. My review.
  2. The Martian by Andy Weir. Mark Watney is part of a team of astronauts sent to Mars and because of a terrible misunderstanding he is left behind. Completely alone and facing certain death, Mark struggles to survive in a totally alien environment. When the people back at NASA discover Mark is still alive the race is on to rescue him before his supplies run out. My review.
  3. Once Dead by Richard Phillips. The first of three prequels that set up the Rho Agenda trilogy. Jack Gregory is the CIA’s top assassin but when an encounter with a notorious criminal goes wrong Jack is left for dead. On his death-bed Jack is revived by a dark entity and has the choice of being a host to the demon or death. A sci-fi thriller with a supernatural twist. My review.
  4. Swan Loch by Randy Mixter. A really lovely, romantic and touching story that traverses time. Swan Loch is a peaceful New England town until a killer strikes. Police Chief Chris Hayward and FBI agent Jake Stanton try to solve a seemingly impossible case and for Chris it becomes very personal. Just when all hope is lost Chris finds the most precious thing in his life. A touch of the paranormal in this mystery thriller. My review.
  5. The Black Hours by Alison Williams. A chilling tale of life during the time of the self-styled Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins, as he travels the country seeking out those he believes are in league with Satan. Seventeen year old Alice Pendle finds herself under suspicion in a tale of persecution and superstition. A suspenseful and gripping drama which mixes fact with fiction. My review
  6. Beyond Midnight ~ Asunder by Sarah M Cradit. Part of the paranormal Southern drama series, The House of Crimson and Clover, Asunder finds the Deschanel family reeling with the backlash of shock and horror brought on by the results of a two hundred year old curse. Hope brings them together to face whatever the future may hold. My review.
  7. Kings and Queens by Terry Tyler. A uniquely different concept and delivery with characters that parallel the life and times of Henry VIII and his wives in a modern day setting. Harry Lanchester’s dream of becoming a rock star is shattered with the death of his older brother and as Harry steps up to take the reins of the family business his life takes on an uncanny resemblance to the famous erstwhile King of England. My review.
  8. The Test by John Lansing. Although I’m loving the Jack Bertolino series, this short story is so touching and evocative, with incredibly vivid imagery and beautiful writing that it had to make this list. From the present day Jack Morgan looks back on his teenage years, being a fourteen year old growing up in the Long Island of the 1960s amid the racial tensions of the time and how it affects the rest of his life. My review.
  9. Losing It All by Marsha Cornelius. Frank Barnes, a homeless veteran, is content living on the streets and making the most of the little he has. Chloe Barnes is evicted and left destitute with two small children and finds life in shelters harsh and unforgiving. The two lives are interlinked and brought together in a compelling storyline. My review
  10. Don’t Touch (Null City #2) by Barb Taub. Lette Simoneau inherits a drastic form of the family ‘gift’ or curse as Lette thinks of it. Everything she touches each day turns into something different. Lette’s search for a cure leads her to the conclusion that boundaries are self-imposed  and as such are surmountable. An imaginative and fun story with a likeable protagonist. My review.
  11. Disappearing In Plain Sight by Francis Guenette. A very well crafted novel centred on the very tight knit community of Crater Lake on the shores of Vancouver Island. The characters are all genuine and the way they deal with their feelings and situations is very believable and show the complex layers which make up human nature. My review.
  12. Passing Through Perfect by Bette Lee Crosby. Book three of the Wyattsville series is set at the end of the Second World War as Benjamin Church returns to Alabama. A powerful and moving tale of the prejudices and intolerance of the time, showing the good and bad sides of human nature regardless of skin colour. My review.

And my top 5 series.

  1. Sandman Slim series by Richard Kadrey. This is a supernatural urban fantasy series which really caught my imagination with a very unlikely hero – or anti-hero would probably best describe James Stark, half angel, half human. Stark’s return from 11 years in hell, bent on revenge is a sharp, hilarious and sardonic tale. MacLeod Andrews portrays Stark and a multitude of diverse characters perfectly. Audiobooks 1-3.5.  Audiobooks 4-6
  2. The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne. An Urban Fantasy series featuring Atticus O’Sullivan, the last of the Druids, who lives in Arizona and runs an occult bookstore. Atticus draws his power from the earth through the Druidic tattoos on his arms. He is able to shape shift and enjoys hunting with his Irish Wolfhound, Oberon. A fun series full of myths, legends, gods, goddess, witches and demons. Superb performance by Luke Daniels, with distinct voices for each character. My reviews 1-3, 4-6, 7
  3. The Project Eden Series by Brett Battles. This is a really compelling storyline. As Daniel Ash’s world crashes down around him he’s catapulted into a nightmare scenario. He can’t comprehend the fact that what happened is no accident. And there is worse, much worse to come as a deadly organisation plots the end of humanity as we know it. MacLeod Andrews delivers a flawless narration. My reviews.
  4. The Georgie Connolly Series by E.L. Lindley. Georgie Connolly is a transplanted English woman living and working in Los Angeles. Feisty and very often landing herself in hot water, Georgie acts on the spur of the moment, without thinking things through.  A change from the norm, Georgie is not connected to law enforcement but makes documentaries, no matter how serious the subject. A fun and easy series but with dangerous undertones. My reviews #1 #2
  5. The Black Series by Russell Blake. Artemus Black is a Hollywood P.I. Down on his luck, with money problems, anger issues and an assistant who ridicules him endlessly and a fat cat that hates him. Life couldn’t get much worse. A great characterisation of an easy to like protagonist with a cast of memorable, humorous characters and excellent and witty story lines. My reviews #1, #2, #3, #4

 

Summer’s Passing

  • Summer'sPassingAuthor: Randy Mixter
  • Published: June 2013 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
  • Category: Romance. Paranormal, Fantasy
  • four-half-stars
Doug Munroe and Rebecca Carlyle are young and in love. He met her when he saved her life, but now he may need to save her again. Someone, or something, wants her and there is no place to hide, and no safe haven from the memories of her troubled past. Before the summer ends, the past and present will meet. Will Doug be able to save the woman he loves one last time? Or will an evil from long ago take her from him forever?
Strange things are happening in Port Grace, Florida.
Doug has come to Port Grace for the summer in order to write a novel, something he’s always wanted to do but it took a chat with a mysterious stranger to push him into making a decision. Annie appeared at a party, struck up a conversation with Doug and then was gone. He never saw her again.

Annie became a part of my life for less than an hour on a cool spring night, but she left me with just enough words to spark my imagination.  She gave me the framework for my first book, and with the blueprint came these instructions. “Start slowly. Teach your words how to walk before you teach them how to fly.”

It was Annie’s words that sent me to the Gulf of Mexico when I should have been pounding the pavement in search of employment.

During a trip into Port Grace one evening Doug witnesses a terrible car accident. He manages to pull the car’s only occupant, who he later learns is Rebecca, through the smashed window before an explosion turns the car into a fireball. 

Beckie and Doug feel an immediate connection, as if they’ve always known each other. Doug takes on the not always easy task of looking after Beckie when she’s released from the hospital and their relationship blossoms.

Meanwhile, in another time, Rachel is rescued by Morgan and nursed back to health. Their story parallels Doug and Beckie’s in many ways. Two romances, both women wear a mystical necklace and have cats. Add to that mysterious paintings and an unseen evil stalking both couples and you have the recipe for a great story.

Summer’s Passing is two love stories with an underlying paranormal/fantasy thread, woven together with a surprise twist at the end. Randy Mixter has an imaginative and sensitive approach to relationships and creates realistic and likeable characters that bring out the emotional force and intrigue of his stories. Stories which more often than not have an element of the unexpected and extraordinary, allowing imagination to run free with unlimiting possibilities. Well written and engaging with vivid imagery. An easy, feel good and very enjoyable read.

Adding To My Bookshelves #2

This weeks book swag…

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Adding yet more to the never-ending TBR pile 😉 I can’t help myself.

Summer’s Passing ~ Randy Mixter 

Doug Monroe and Rebecca Carlyle are young and in love. He met her when he saved her life, but now he may need to save her again.
Someone, or something, wants her and there is no place to hide, and no safe haven from the memories of her troubled past.
Before the summer ends, the past and present will meet. Will Doug be able to save the woman he loves one last time? Or will an evil from long ago take her from him forever?

Sarah of the Moon ~ Randy Mixter 

The Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco in 1967. Alex Conley, a part-time writer for a Baltimore newspaper, is dispatched to chronicle the events occurring there. It is June of 1967, and the summer of love is in full swing. Alone, in this strange and magical place, he meets a girl named Sarah, a free spirit who is as mysterious as she is beautiful. What are the secrets of her past? Why does she dance each night under the light of the moon? 

These are just a few of the puzzles Alex needs to solve in the short time he has in that city. Then there’s another complication. He is beginning to fall deeply in love with her.

Blackberry Winter ~ Sarah Jio

Seattle, 1933. Single mother Vera Ray kisses her three-year-old son, Daniel, goodnight and departs to work the night-shift at a local hotel. She emerges to discover that a May-Day snow has blanketed the city, and that her son has vanished. Outside, she finds his beloved teddy bear lying face-down on an icy street, the snow covering up any trace of his tracks, or the perpetrator’s.

Seattle, 2010. Seattle Herald reporter Claire Aldridge, assigned to cover the May 1 “blackberry winter” storm and its twin, learns of the unsolved abduction and vows to unearth the truth. In the process, she finds that she and Vera may be linked in unexpected ways…

Dead Run ~ Erica Spindler

A panicked message on her answering machine is the last Liz Ames hears from her sister Rachel. Determined to find her, Liz heads to Rachel’s home in Key West. Within hours of her arrival a man jumps to his death. Then a teenage girl is found murdered.

The ritualistic style of the killing is hauntingly similar to that used by the notorious “New Testament” serial killer—now on death row. Could these deaths be related to Rachel’s disappearance? Is a copycat killer at work? And why do the police refuse to help? As Liz peels away the layers of deception, she finds this island paradise harbours an unspeakable evil…

Home Front ~ Kristin Hannah

From a distance, Michael and Joleen Zarkades seem to have it all: a solid dependable marriage, two exciting careers, and children they adore. But after twelve years together, the couple has lost their way. They are unhappy and edging towards divorce. Then the Iraq war starts and an unexpected deployment will tear their already fragile family apart, sending one of them deep into harm’s way and leaving the other at home, waiting for news. When the worst happens, each must face their darkest fear and fight for the future of their family.

An intimate look at the inner landscape of a disintegrating marriage and a dramatic exploration of the price of war on a single American family. Home Front is a provocative and timely portrait of hope, honour, loss, forgiveness and the elusive nature of love.

(Synopses from Amazon)

Red Moon/Sorcerer

Jake Stanton, FBI Agent and former member of the U.S. Army’s elite Omega force, is dispatched to Virginia to find the murderer known only as the Red Moon Killer. Together with Silvanus Merlin, a man with extraordinary talents, they track the elusive killer who attacks only on nights of the full moon. They must hurry, for soon the moon will be full once more, and the killer will strike again.

‘The moon is rising, and a killer prowls the night.’

After reading the wonderful Swan Loch I wanted to follow Jake Stanton’s story. Before Sorcerer comes a short story, Red Moon, in which we’re introduced to Silvanus Merlin and his daughter, Keira. Jake and Merlin solve a series of gruesome murders which only occur during nights of the full moon. Merlin has an uncanny capability and is able to solve seemingly impossible cases. He is sometimes brought in by the FBI and he and Jake are assigned to the Red Moon case. They are in a race against time to find the murderer before the effects of the next full moon have more horrific consequences. A really good lead in to Sorcerer.

 

  • SorcererAuthor: Randy Mixter
  • Published: April 2013 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
  • Category: Mystery/Suspense, Adventure, Fantasy
  • four-half-stars

FBI agent Jake Stanton is a wanted man. He is wanted by the same individuals who search for Keira’s father, Silvanus Merlin, his partner in a previous case, and the man who once saved his life. Together, Stanton and Keira will journey to a place dark and dangerous, a place where an amazing discovery awaits and a secret that may change the world as we know it.

Keira hasn’t seen her father since the Red Moon case but they communicate regularly through dreams. Merlin is in danger and wants Keira to find Jake and ask for his help. 

The danger involves an artefact Keira uncovered at a dig in Egypt. An artefact that could, and probably would, catastrophically change the world if it fell into the wrong hands. Even as Keira and Jake race to find Merlin, men with evil on their minds are on Merlin’s trail and they will stop at nothing to get what they want.

From a cave deep in the forests of the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina to the heat and dust of Egypt, a trip undertaken by extraordinarily unconventional means, a very descriptive tale of adventure, action and mystery, with a sci-fi twist, pulled me along on a tide of suspense. Whatever thought I had of what was about to happen was turned on it’s head as something completely different transpired.

Great character development, and especially interesting is getting a little more of Merlin’s backstory and a slight insight into his amazing powers. 

He leaned on the railing and closed his eyes. He set his mind free to see what it would find. When he oped his eyes an hour had passed and he had found things hidden in the dark, things born in fire, with sharp teeth and claws, crouched and ready to spring. He had been wrong, but there was still time to make the necessary changes. At least he hoped so.

I love how Randy Mixter stretches the bounds of possibility, in different ways in each novel, and compels the reader to consider unimagined concepts. The quote in the front of the book is very apt.

‘The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious’ ~ Albert Einstein

The epilogue is bittersweet. Will Jake and Emma meet again? I hope so.

Swan Loch

  • SwanLochAuthor: Randy Mixter
  • Published: April 2012 by CreateSpace
  • Independent Publishing Platform
  • Category: Mystery/Thriller/
  • Paranormal/Romance
  • five-stars

Danger has come to the peaceful New England town of Swan Loch, Maine, in the form of an elusive killer who strikes quickly and then vanishes after each murder, leaving no bodies behind…

Police Chief Chris Hayward, with the help of FBI agent Jake Stanton, tries to solve a crime that seems unsolvable, and now it’s personal. Hayward’s wife has become the killer’s latest victim…

When all hope seems lost a young girl wanders into Swan Loch. She claims the wind brought her there and she has a message for Chris Hayward. Your wife is alive and I know where to find her.

After finishing this book it took me a little while to gather my thoughts enough to write a review, this story elicited so many emotions. It’s a thriller, with suspense and a sweet and compelling love story threaded through, and blended with fantasy, the supernatural and a very dark evil. The concept of a parallel universe where everything is the same and yet not completely is a fascinating one. As is the ‘doorway’ between the two…as the quote (roughly) goes ‘There are more things in Heaven and Earth than are dreamt of.’ And I love the significance of the swans.

Bodies have been disappearing without trace over several years and judging by the pattern a serial killer is heading towards Swan Loch, a beautiful small town. Chris Hayward and Jake Stanton must work together and try to stop the impending disaster.

Chris begins to have vivid dreams as the evasive killer draws ever nearer, causing increasing feelings of dread and forewarning and giving rise to the question, who can predict or explain the power of the subconscious mind? 

The passages from the killer’s point of view are quite chilling…

The man with the dead eyes dragged the body across the barren field….This was always his favourite part, disposing of the body. It was so fast, so efficient…..He imagined the confusion on the detectives’ faces as they attempted to figure this one out. Let’s see, he was shot in the head while still in his car……Although a blood trail accompanied the drag furrows, there is no excessive blood where the ruts end….He did like the confusion it caused but it was a time consuming process after all, and it cut into his already short hunting season.

Randy Mixter has a singular and sensitive style of writing shown by the way the delightful relationships and friendships are brought into play. The characters are engaging, well-developed and real, the emotions created, happiness, pain, despair and love are all clearly apparent. Love begins and thrives, is lost and found again in the most curious and extraordinary circumstances which gives this story its strong appeal. It’s heart breaking, moving and uplifting in equal measure. Can love overcome any obstacle, no matter how seemingly final? The answer may surprise you.

I look forward to reading more by this author. 

Swan Loch may be purchased through Amazon US and Amazon UK