Tag Archives: psychological suspense fiction

Aduiobook Review: The Curse of Crow Hollow

23 Oct

51zref80qGL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Everyone in Crow Hollow knows of Alvaretta Graves, the old widow who lives in the mountain. Many call her a witch; others whisper she’s insane. Everyone agrees the vengeance Alvaretta swore at her husband’s death hovers over them all. That vengeance awakens when teenagers stumble upon Alvaretta’s cabin, incurring her curse. Now a sickness moves through the Hollow. Rumors swirl that Stu Graves has risen for revenge. And the people of Crow Hollow are left to confront not only the darkness that lives on the mountain, but the darkness that lives within themselves.


bcoffey-209Billy Coffey‘s critically-acclaimed books combine rural Southern charm with a vision far beyond the ordinary. He is a regular contributor to several publications, where he writes about faith and life. Billy lives with his wife and two children in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.


My Impressions:

I was looking for a spooky read for October and I got more than I bargained for in Billy Coffey’s latest novel, The Curse of Crow Hollow. It is indeed a spooky and chill-inducing read, but it is so much more. With its Southern gothic style, its impeccable characterization and Billy’s trademark story-telling, this is a book that will do more than give you the creeps. It’s going to make you think and continue to think long after the last word is shared.

Crow Hollow, Virginia is a small town on the way out. Not many are left in the Hollow — jobs are scarce and its back-woods atmosphere is not likely to attract people or industry. It does have a close-knit community full of gossip, resentment and past sins. And there is a witch on the mountain that overlooks the town. This town is trouble just waiting to happen.

The Curse of Crow Hollow has a first person narrator who is not identified until the end of the book. He is down-home friendly and candid in his description of his fellow citizens. He describes to a visitor what has led up to the current state of the town — burned down buildings and few remaining residents. It’s a ghost story of sorts that begins when four teenagers tangle with the witch and unleash the curse on the whole town. As the story unfolds, the reader is made aware of hidden sins and secrets, deals struck and promises broken. Jealousy and prejudice abounds, though no one wants to acknowledge it, let alone confront it. The whole persona of the town and its people is a mask hiding the ugliness of those determined to go their own way. The town has embraced its isolation from the outside world and from God, although they would never admit that. The curse that takes hold of the town is of their own making, and the evil that has taken hold is not likely to let go any time soon. A few townspeople are determined to make a change and in the end, the reader knows the fight continues, and a sliver of hope remains. The Curse of Crow Hollow is definitely fiction, but completely on the mark for the hypocrisy of a religion without true faith and lives full of sin without repentance. It is riveting and soul-convicting.

I listened to the audiobook version and have to say, if possible, that is the way to read this book. The voice of the narrator is perfect. The last few words spoken made chills run down my spine for quite a long time. Just don’t listen to or read this one after dark, unless you have a very powerful lamp! 😉

Very Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults

Great for Book Clubs.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(I purchased the audiobook from Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)


Do you like scary books? Why or why not?


Audiobook Review: Center of Gravity

26 Aug

510K4Y1r7LL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_The truth could cost her everything.

Her whole life, Ava Carson has been sure of one thing: she doesn’t measure up to her mother’s expectations. So when Mitchell Carson sweeps into her life with his adorable son, the ready-made family seems like a dream come true. In the blink of an eye, she’s married, has a new baby, and life is wonderful.

Or is it?

When her picture-perfect marriage begins unraveling at the seams, Ava convinces herself she can fix it. It’s temporary. It’s the stress. It’s Mitchell’s tragic history of loss.

If only Ava could believe her own excuses.

Mitchell is no longer the charming, thoughtful man she married. He grows more controlling by the day, revealing a violent jealous streak. His behavior is recklessly erratic, and the unanswered questions about his past now hint at something far more sinister than Ava can stomach. Before she can fit the pieces together, Mitchell files for divorce and demands full custody of their boys.

Fueled by fierce love for her children and aided by Graham Thomas, a new attorney in town, Ava takes matters into her own hands, digging deep into the past. But will finding the truth be enough to beat Mitchell at his own game?



52C-300x231After six years behind the anchor desk at two CBS affiliates, Laura McNeill moved to the Alabama Gulf Coast to raise her family. Her accolades in broadcasting include awards from the Associated Press, including Best News Anchor and Best Specialized Reporter.

Laura works at Spring Hill College as the school’s web content and social media manager and​ is active in her community—participating in fundraisers for the American Cancer Society, Ronald McDonald House, and Providence Hospital’s Festival of Flowers.

Laura was recently awarded a 2-book deal with Thomas Nelson Publishing, a division of HarperCollins. Her novel, Center of Gravity, set in Mobile, Ala., will be published in July of 2015. Laura is represented by Elizabeth Winick Rubenstein, president of McIntosh and Otis literary agency in New York.​ Her writing awards include those from William Faulkner-Wisdom Creative Writing Competition, Writer’s Digest, RWA, and the Eric Hoffer competition.

She holds a master’s degree in journalism from The Ohio State University and a bachelor’s degree in English from Clarion University of Pennsylvania. She is currently pursuing a second master’s degree in interactive technology from the University of Alabama. She is a native of Upstate New York and currently resides near the Alabama Gulf Coast with her two children.


My Impressions:

I first heard about Center of Gravity from a discussion on a FB group. Published by Thomas Nelson, it is promoted for the Christian market. There were some comments on the page about the profanity used in the book and if there is ever a reason for it to be included in a Christian novel. Rightly or wrongly, the discussion peaked my interest, and I checked the book out on Amazon. The premise was intriguing and the 4 and 5 star reviews outweighed the 1 stars, so I used an Audible credit and commenced to listening. What I found was a un-put-downable psychological suspense novel. What I didn’t find was a Christian novel.

Ava Carson has an idyllic marriage — or so she thinks. Mother to her adopted son Jack, age 8 and her biological son Sam, 16 months, she has a doting and loving husband, a beautiful country club home and a life that seems to good to be true. And that’s because it is. Ava’s husband Mitchell is a sociopath and, when he snaps, he snaps BIG!

Center of Gravity is riveting. The unraveling of Ava’s marriage is unnerving and caused me to have a knot in the pit of my stomach while listening. Many reviewers say it wasn’t really an enjoyable read, and it wasn’t. But it was very good despite the disturbing twists and turns. Well-written with a good sense of place (Mobile, Alabama), it is told in the first person POVs of Ava, Mitchell, Jack, Ava’s attorney Graham, and court-appointed psychologist Lucy. Lots of POVs to be sure, but it really worked. Everything about this book was good, except . . . this is not a Christian novel.

When I pick up a book from a Christian publisher there are a few things I expect — no profanity and a message of hope/redemption even if subtly woven through the narrative. I admit, I like my books with an edginess that is not always found in Christian fiction. I like real people and real problems and the characters don’t have to be Christians. But I do want a message of God’s grace or mercy or sovereignty; something that will point readers to a God bigger and stronger than the circumstances they are facing. Center of Gravity did, indeed, contain profanity. It wasn’t rampant, but it was there. But that’s not my big issue with the book. Ava and Jack were such compelling characters. There could have been so much they could have learned through their struggles if one or two other characters that had relationships with God could have intersected with their lives. The only spiritual event in the novel was when Ava shot up a prayer to “angels” or “a higher being”. Really!? Center of Gravity was a good secular novel. Unfortunately, it could have been an excellent Christian one.

Audience: adults.

(I purchased the audiobook from Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)