Review by klbradley. The Mystery of the Hidden Cabin

The Mystery of the Hidden Cabin Wrap Cover 1For a mystery novella to grab my attention, it usually has to be something with an increasing build of anticipation, followed by some dramatic happenings along the way to pave the road for excitement. This is typically harder done in a novella than a novel, due to the short time span to build that suspense. Although The Mystery of the Hidden Cabin by M.E. Hembroff was a shorter read, at roughly 100 pages via Kindle edition, I was pleased with the building suspension throughout.

Published in late 2017, The Mystery of the Hidden Cabin features a main character known as Bess and several of her family members, peers and neighbors. The mystery in the story begins when Bess moves to the small town of Pineview after the loss of her father, where her cousin Megan and some other family members already live. While doing some home renovations, Megan’s father discovers an old cabin behind a kitchen wall. Contained within the small cabin walls are journals, a large trunk, and some other ledgers documenting the lives of former residents. Knowing how much of a mystery buff Bess is, Megan insists on bringing all the items to her to try to decipher.

Bess becomes totally enchanted by the mystery and story behind the former occupants and soon begins seeing a ghostly figure near her, as well as picturing herself in the past alongside the occupants. Will Bess be able to figure out the mystery of who the former residents were, and how will she be able to finally uncover their story?

It’s very obvious upon starting the story that the author has an impeccable eye for attention to detail, as numerous parts of the story seemed to transport me right into their world. With inclusive diary entries by Bess, the main character, followed by diary entries written by the former lady of the house, it’s clearly shown how much attention was put into the time-span of dates between the two characters. While the portion of entries by Bess occurs in the mid 1950’s, the discovered mystery diaries contain entries from the early 1900’s. It’s quite obvious while reading that  the author took careful consideration into how to depict the accurate description of the change in dates and atmosphere that would surround the characters during their specific lives.

Although The Mystery of the Hidden Cabin is the sequel to Bess’s Magical Garden, it was easily read as a standalone novella and I had no trouble with keeping up with characters and situations. The character development throughout the story was well displayed, especially when it came to the main character. The author carefully showed that although Bess was still a child, she cared about her studies and managed to maintain a mature enough personality to be interested in solving a mystery involving the discovered trunk and contents.

While I felt that the story-line presented as well as I could imagine in such a short read, I did feel like the suspension building throughout the novel did not match well to the resolution of the story. The ending seemed a bit rushed and didn’t allow as much of an insight as I was hoping for while reading. I was pleased with the editing of the novel, as I was able to read without any pause for grammatical or spelling errors. The story felt as though it read smoothly, and I would gladly recommend to others looking for a shorter read, while also enjoying a bit of mystery thrown in. I rate The Mystery of the Hidden Cabin 3 out of 4 stars. Although I would have liked to rate this one a full four stars, I felt that the ending didn’t suffice for my appetite for suspense.


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Writing update

Scan0008Scan0001 (2)The Mystery of the Hidden Cabin Wrap Cover 1

The above books: Gramma Mouse Tells a Story, Bess’s Magical Garden and the sequel The Mystery of the Hidden Cabin are available on

It has been awhile since I have posted anything. I have been working on my fourth book titled The Voices of Yesterday. So far I haven’t done a picture for the cover but have ideas floating around in my head.

Kate class is given an assignment to research and write about town pioneers and historical sites. She started researching the Franklin Manor and the Franklin family who lived in town over one hundred years ago. She lives in an apartment in this manor with her mom.

Her parents are newly divorced. Kate has a hard time accepting the changes in her life. She hopes her parents will reunite but her hopes are dashed when her dad tells her some unsettling news.

Kate is working with Rose, another new student, at her teacher’s request. Kate researched on line and in the turret where she finds old journals and other family items. The neighbors tell her interesting stories that she would never have heard otherwise. She gets information in an unusual way. Kate has dreams and is transported back in time. She gets to know the former inhabitants in an unusual way. While she is researching about Franklin Manor she also finds information about her gran and great aunt that she wasn’t aware of.

Kate puts that research to one side until she finishes her school project. She plans on talking to her family during summer vacation when she visits with her mom. She helps her mom dig through the pile of boxes that have accumulated in the farm house. Her great aunt and gran are hesitant about parting with anything. In the attic Kate finds journals and other treasures.

Rose’s grandparents are her gran’s neighbours. They invite her to take riding lessons which Kate eagerly accepts. She bonds with the pony and all her pain over her parents divorce starts to heal. Over the course of the summer she starts to see things differently. Her gran’s neighbors tell her interesting stories that she had never heard before which help her understand the changes that took place in her family’s history.


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Maretha Botha Author Spotlight

Scan0009Maretha Botha has an Italian background. She loves espresso, and she loves pasta- just with olive oil and a bit of grated cheese, or a tasty Pasta Vongole with a few clams, cheery tomatoes and olive oil-this is an easy dish when she is busy illustrating and stopping to cook a fancy meal for hubby, might destroy the image in her head.

However, when she hits a blank-either with illustrating or writing the next big adventure-gardening gives a welcome break, taking photos of what the garden has on offer or simply getting down and doing some digging. A variety of bulbs, especially blue bells are great inspires in Spring, and rose are in a class of their own!

She prefers writing for children between 9 and 14 years, but “even better readers in this age group still like to see a few pictures of their favorite character,” she says. With that in mind, here are a few illustrations from the fourth book in Fauna Park Tales, called “Trails and Trials: An African adventure, as well as a book description.Scan0016Four trails one destination, “Trails and Trials: An African Adventure”, “Fauna Park Tales” 4, is written from four different viewpoints, combining four smaller books into a complete book of 148 ages-each with its own title and subtitles, illustrations, descriptions and footnotes of foreign words-based on “African Adventures of Flame, Family, Furry and Feathered Friends”, a Harper Collins Authonomy Writers’ Website Gold Medal Winner.

Life continues to take strange turns for Flame, a working dog on a free-range cattle farm. He and three of his furry friends follow the trail of Tall Leader and his gang of poachers into the desert, after they kidnapped their beloved orphans and stole all the villagers’ cattle. To follow their enemies’ trail, the brave friends jump on and off trains, sleep under the stars, and find friends and foes while on their dangerous mission. Their loyal feathered friends-a martial eagle and a female eagle owl-are their scouts, helping them whenever they get lost, which is often. All the characters-both human, and furry and feathered-strive to reach the last waterhole at the Tukani River as soon as possible. Here, a cattle stampede, heroic deeds, finding long-lost family and solving secrets happen in quick succession.

“Hope’s Memories”-is a backstory summary of book three, “The Orphans’ Plight: An African Adventure” and gives the reasons why Flame and his friends are on this risky mission. Young and old will enjoy reading more about the African desert, how to survive its harsh climate and appreciate the importance of friendship, especially when facing difficult challenges.

Some illustrations below.





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RRBC Spotlight Author Maretha Botha


Follow the above link to view Maretha Gotha’s information about her life, books and more.


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The Three Musketeers

The three cats huddled together in front of the bay window and appeared to be having a serious conversation. They kept glancing at the humans who decorated the large pine tree in the corner. Every once in awhile there was an occasional meow. If you had learned to talk cat, you would understand what they were saying.

Ringo whispered, “Wait until the humans leave then we can get those colorful little balls they are putting on that tree.” He peaked around the corner of the sofa. “They should be leaving shortly.”

“Oh goody,” Puff Puff continued to groom her bushy ginger tail. “I had lots of fun last year chasing those little balls all over the place.”

“They are watching us,” Queenie turned her back on the humans and washed her white face. “Pretend not to be interested.”

The three cats strolled down the hallway as the little humans giggled and wrestled in the middle of the living room.

Ringo being the oldest explained. “The little humans are excited for the arrival of Santa Clause, a large man with a white beard.”

“Does Santa Clause come for cats to?” Queenie asked, as she looked over her shoulder.

“Santa leaves stockings and presents under the tree. There are always special cat stockings of treats and toys. It is fun,” Puff Puff pounced on a piece of fluff.

“Do you guys want to play in the kitchen?” Queenie asked as she perked her ears forward.

“Hey, good idea,” Ringo meowed as he padded away. “Race you.” There was a racket as the cats raced down the hallway.

Ringo stretched his paws up against the dishwasher pressing buttons and shut the door  with a bang. Then there was the sound of water running. “I always like doing that. It puzzles the lady human when the machine starts like magic. ”

Puff Puff jumped up onto the counter. “Aw, nothing interesting up here.” He landed on the floor with a thud.

Queenie pulled on the pantry door with her paw. She poked around inside before wiggling onto the bottom shelf. “No treats here. Let’s go outside for awhile.”

There was the sound of cat door going flap flap three times as the cats disappeared into the enclosed porch.

“Hey you guys, the humans were saying there was a missing pink slipper.” Ringo padded over to the window as a bird chirped in the spruce fir.

“What clues are there? Where was it last seen?” Queenie jumped on a pile of newspaper listing to the crackling sound. “The little human always loses things.”

“The little boy human lost his red car last week and I was the hero when I found it,” Puff Puff meowed as she watched a squirrel wave his tail in the air.

“The little girl was crying for a long time when she couldn’t find her favorite pair of pink slippers,” Ringo meowed. “She quit crying when I climbed on her lap and started to purr. The humans are watching.”

“Come on. Follow me,” Queenie meowed

Once again there was the sound of the cat door flapping three times as they padded along single file and then the thunder of their paws as they galloped down the hallway in hot pursuit of Queenie.

Ringo slid to a stop almost colliding with Queenie when she stopped in the middle of the hallway. He shook his head. “What now?”

“Don’t let the humans see us. They are watching again.” Queenie meowed.

The three cats formed a circle glancing at the humans every few minutes. “When the slippers went missing the little girl human was playing in the attic.” Queenie meowed.

“There are a lot of nooks and crannies up there. The door is closed.” Puff Puff meowed. “What is your plan.”

Queenie started to scratch the door while she looked over her shoulder at the humans. She slid her paw underneath the door and wiggled and pulled until the door popped open. “A closed door can’t stop me. Come on guys, let’s go.”

One by one three fluffy tails disappeared into the open crack and their feet padded stealthily up the stairs. They padded across the floor and leapt onto trunks and boxes.

Ringo leapt onto a pile of boxes and looked in corners. “Nothing here.”

Queenie padded across the wide plank floor towards a brown wooden trunk. Then her fluffy tail disappeared. In a few minutes she came out with a bonnet in her mouth. Then she disappeared again for a second and came  out with a couple of little satin slippers in her mouth. “These will be better than those fancy presents under the tree.”

“Okay. Let’s go,” Ringo meowed. “Where can we stash the slippers?”

“Under the tree of course,” Queenie said as she pranced across the floor with a mouthful of slippers.

That night when the house was quiet the cats snuck into the living room to the gaily decorated tree that sparkled in the dark room They stood with open mouths as they gazed at the tree.

“How pretty. Everything has been rearranged.” Ringo meowed.

“Let’s put the slippers at the front. The little girl will find them first thing. “Puff Puff meowed. “Hurry. I heard jingling.”

“Okay. Done.” Ringo  placed the dainty satin slippers and bonnet on top of the gaily decorated packages.

The next morning the cats were curled up innocently on their large cushion when excited voices were heard throughout the house as the children opened their stockings. The cats listened to the pitter patter of little feet in the hallway.  Then a little voice was heard above everything. “My slippers and bonnet! They are under the tree!”

Queenie rubbed against her ankles purring while Ringo and Puff Puff watched from a safe distance. They robbed noses and appeared to be telling secrets. “Be careful. The little girl has that look again.”

Then the little girl got down the special cat stockings and gave each of the cats their presents before sitting down to put her little slippers and bonnet on. She danced around the living room as the cats explored their stockings stuffed full of catnip toys and treats. In a few minutes, they abandoned the toys and started jumping around in the empty boxes and in and out of the crumpled wrapping paper.

All day the house was filled with happy voices and sounded like a noisy bee hive as everyone visited. The cats watched and waited for their special treat of turkey. Then gradually the house became quiet as everyone settled down for the night. Ringo, Puff Puff and Queenie settled down on their new puffy beds licking their paws with bellies full of turkey.

The End

If you liked this story then maybe you would like to go the following links for more work.










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Rave Reviews Book Club’s “Spot light” Author, Michael Lynes

Author PicBook CoverAuthor Bio:

Mr. Lynes is a serial entrepreneur who enjoys dry red wine and single malt scotch. When not occupied with arcane engineering projects he spends his time playing with his two grandchildren, baking bread, feeding seasoned hardwood into his ancient Timberline wood-stove, working on his various cars, bird watching and taking amateur photographs. His current menagerie include one short-haired turtle shell cat and a pair of actual turtles.

His last book, There is a Reaper; Losing a Child to Cancer, was an Indie B. R. A. G. Gold Medallion Honoree in January 2017, a silver-medal winner of the 2016 Readers International Awards for Memoir, a medalist in the 2015 New Apple Book Awards for Memoir, a winner of the 2015 TISBA (The Indie Spiritual Book Awards) and a finalist in both the Independent Author Network 2015 Book of the Year Award and the Beverly Hills Book Awards for 2015.

Mr. Lynes was awarded a BSEE degree in Electrical Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology and currently works as an embedded software engineer. He has a consuming interest in the science of emotion as promulgated by Dr. Paul Ekman and has made a comprehensive study of his Face and Emotion courses.

Mr. Lynes has four sons, has been married for over thirty yeas and currently lives with his wife and youngest son in the beautiful secluded hills of Sussex County, NJ.


Follow Michael online:





Michael’s Books:

The Fat Man Gets Out Of Bed: https:/

There is a Reaper-

Two Way Radio

Hey! Let me clue you into the Next Big Thing! Are you ready?

It’s, (insert drum roll here) Handheld Two-Way Radio! Taa-daa(waves tiny flag) Exciting huh?

If you are mentally backing away right now without making eye contact I can’t say I blame you.

Wireless tech is everywhere these days. Nobody thinks twice about downloading movies to their smartphone or posting the live output of their drone-can to their social media account. In fact, unless you’ve sent the last couple of decades living in the interior of Papua New Guinea, you use wireless two-way radios every day.

But , you say, those apps are hip and modern! Handheld two way radio is old school.Good maybe for firefighters or NASA but not for us tech-savvy Gen-Y’ers.

In reality Handheld Radio is even more important and ubiquitous than ever before. In fact according to a recent report in Homeland Security News Wire the worldwide market is on track to exceed sixteen billion dollars in 2017.

Two-way radio provides excellent low cost, high quality communications service to tens of thousands of commercial and public sector workplaces. However as with any complex system there are many modes of failure. Given the critical nature of these services the ability to correctly identify, diagnose and potentially resolve communications issues is a critical skill.

One of the most frequently reported issues with handheld radios is interference. Interference is unwanted radio energy in the same band as your handheld. Sources of interference can be divided into three categories:

1:Other nearby radio users

2 Incidental sources (Power lines, spark plugs or microwaves)

3 Environmental (electrical storms, geomagnetic conditions or sun spots)

Range is the next most reported issue. Range is the maximum that your radio can be separated from another and still be able to exchange information effectively. Radio waves radiate like a light bulb. On a clear night the only thing limiting the range would be the curvature of the earth itself. Why then do you have problems communicating with another radio only a few thousand feet away? The range of a radio signal can be limited by many things, some obstacles (like buildings or other structures) block or absorb or reflect the signal so that it is weakened. Range is also limited by the power that a signal is sent with.

Resolve range issues by increasing power, using a better antenna or changing your location.

Lastly the best advice is to RTFM (Read the Blanking Manual) Know how to use your radio! Mistuning, incorrect transmission settings and incorrect operating modes are frequent causes of performance issues. The user’s Guide or a training video can make you handheld experience tons better.

As with most things, a little common sense and following proper operating procedures go a long way. Before sending you radio in for expensive bench testing or repairs apply these simple troubleshooting tips and save yourself money and time.



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The two kittens, Mat and Fluffy had run until they were exhausted. Their horse friends pawed and whinnied and their voices became hoarse as they neighed in desperation. The biggest horse,Prince frantically pawed at the wall and made a hole large enough for the little animals to escape the flames that leaped in the air. Fluffy begged him to make a bigger hole or let them stay. They had run out into the frosty air as humans came to rescue the big animals that were terrified of the monster that enveloped them.

Mat came to an abrupt halt. “Where are we?” He looked around with eyes as big as saucers. “The biggest horse said to run as far away as possible. He didn’t think the humans would be able to rescue everyone.”

“One minute I was sound asleep on Prince’s back and the next there were red flames leaping on the far wall.” Fluffy meowed. “My fur is a mess and I am hungry. Where can we find something to eat?”

“I don’t know. I don’t know where we are.” Mat looked around again. “The flames didn’t follow us. We need to go back but I don’t know where back is.”

Fluffy looked around trying to get her bearings but shook her head. In all of the time they had lived on the farm they’d never been this far away from home where ever that was. The moon was just peaking through the trees as Fluffy wondered what to do. “Maybe if we climb the trees we will see something familiar. The humans always gave us warm milk when they milked our cow sisters. We will have to put our hunting skills to use and catch our own food.”

Mat looked over his shoulder, “We have company. One of the big eared animals that hop instead of running, like we do. The forest is full of strange animals and I don’t know which ones are more dangerous. If we aren’t careful they might eat us.”

Mat and Fluffy  watched from near a tree ready to scamper up  if necessary. The big eared animal hopped towards them. “You are new here. Where are you from?”

“We ran when large red flames terrified all the animals in the stable. One of our horse friends told us to run as fast as we could. Now we don’t know where home is. There was a white house with a veranda and a stable and other buildings. We got food on the veranda twice a day. The humans always rattled the food dish at meal time..” Fluffy said. “I am hungry and scared. Where is home?”

“There was a large garden all summer wasn’t there?” Miss Bunny asked as she looked at the scraggly kittens.

“Yes, we played there chasing butterflies in the sunshine,” Mat answered. “Do you know where it is?”

“Yes, but there isn’t much in the garden to eat now,” Miss Bunny said. “Have a rest and  then I will take you there. There is water in a bird bath if you don’t mind drinking around feathers.”

“Oh, thank you,” Mat and Fluffy said as they followed their new friend.

“I will take you to my home under the oak tree. You need to rest. There isn’t a fire here so you will be safe, my friends.”

The sun was peaking through the small opening under the oak tree when the kittens yawned and stretched. They were both hungry and thirsty ” I will try out my hunting skills and see if I can find us some breakfast. Miss Bunny offered us some strange green stuff but it didn’t taste good,” Mat said as he looked at his sister.

“Let me help hunt,” Fluffy said. “I am a good hunter, too.”

“Let’s stay together and not go far. Miss Bunny will be back shortly.”

The kittens snooped around the pile of crunchy leaves and soon each had captured a small mouse. They were sitting in Miss Bunnies doorway washing their faces when she returned. “Are you ready to go? I will show you the way home. I sent out word among my friends and it is safe to go that way.”

The kittens padded after Miss Bunny through the dense forest. Mat kept looking this way and that when he  heard strange sounds. They went single file with Miss Bunny in the lead and Mat taking up the rear. He was careful not to fall to far behind. Everything looked strange.

They had been traveling for hours when Fluffy paused. “Look there is the meadow. I will never get all the knots and burs out of my fur. I have never been such a mess. I am famished.”

“Me too but we have to keep following Miss Bunny. She will take us home,” Mat said as he trotted along the path.

Miss Bunny stopped and looked over her shoulder. “Look up ahead. We are just about there. Let’s avoid the burnt building. It smells terrible.”

A few minutes later they saw the charred remains of the stable and on the hilltop the white house stood unharmed. Fluffy and Mat started to run when they saw the house. They stopped a few feet away. “Thank you Miss Bunny. Do you want to come with us?”

“No, I have to stay out of sight. The big dogs chase me. One of my brothers got caught last summer and the dogs riddled him into pieces. I still have nightmares. I can still hear his screams for help.This is as far as I can go. Good luck, my friends,” Miss Bunny said.

“The dogs are our friends. I will have to talk to them,” Mat said as he said goodbye to Miss Bunny.

“Go, before they turn the lights off.” Miss Bunny said as she hugged each kitten.

“I can open the screen door, ” Fluffy said. “It is one of my special talents. Goodbye dear friend. I hope to see you again.”

The sun was low in the sky when Mat and Fluffy jogged across the yard and up the veranda steps where Fluffy hooked her paw under the screen door and opened it.They jumped up on the inside door just as they’d seen the dogs do many times. Mat and Fluffy meowed loudly as they scratched frantically.

In a few minutes the door was opened and a tall human stood there.”My dears where did you come from? We thought we’d lost you forever.” They were both picked up and cuddled. Mat and Fluffy purred and snuggled into the warm arms. “Oh, you must be hungry.”

Mat and Fluffy meowed a yes and squirmed out of the arms and stretched up against the human’s legs meowing.

This story was first published in the Story Quilt, an online Canadian magazine. You can follow me on the following.





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