A Valiant Deceit (An Olive Bright Mystery Book 2) by Stephanie Graves – #BookReview – #historicalmysteries

Rosepoint Publishing: Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

A Valiant Deceit by Stephanie GravesYoung pigeoneer Olive Bright has been conscripted, with her racing birds, to aid the fight against the Nazis. It’s not the daring role she’d envisioned for herself, but her quiet little English village is not nearly as sheltered as she imagined . . .

Returning to Pipley following her FANY (First Aid Nursing Yeomanry) training, Olive is eager to step up her involvement in the war effort. Her pigeons are being conscripted to aid the Belgian resistance, and it’s up to Olive to choose the best birds for the mission. To protect the secrecy of their work, she must also continue the ruse of being romantically involved with her superior, Captain Jameson Aldridge, a task made more challenging by the fact that she really does have feelings for the gruff Irish intelligence officer.

But perhaps the greatest challenge of all comes when an instructor at Station XVII, the top-secret training school housed at Brickendonbury Manor, is found dead in Balls Wood by a troop of Girl Guides. The police quickly rule Lieutenant Jeremy Beckett’s death an accident, but based on clues she finds at the scene, Olive begins to suspect he might have been a spy.  Involving the reluctant Jamie, she is determined to solve the murder and possibly stop a threat to their intelligence efforts which could put the Belgians—not to mention her pigeons—in grave danger.

His Review:

Bullets and bombs were not the only weapons in use during WW II. During war, information is extremely valuable. Troop movements, weapons deployment, and stockpiles are viable targets of value. The distance between the British Isles and the European mainland is very small in some locations.

Olive has been using and training pigeons for racing and sport. Small packets of information attached to a pigeon’s legs are usually undetectable. The birds were often dropped into enemy territory with spies. Vital troop movements and concentrations could then be sent back to England via these birds. Olive was very proud of her flock and their accomplishments.

A Valiant Deceit by Stephanie GravesShe became very attached to her aviary friends and gave each of them a name. As they were shuttled into Belgium and France, she would look for them to return to their cages. Attached to their legs were usually a 2 1/2 to 3 inch canister with a coded message inserted. The messages helped to win the war and protect some of the inserted spies and combatants.

Stephanie Graves has added a valuable piece of war history and memorabilia in this entertaining tale. Her character, Olive, is a Nancy Drew want to be who has solved some crimes in her day. Her commanding officer is Jameson Aldridge. He is skeptical of the entire mission and continually questions she and her birds’ abilities to help in the war effort.

CE WilliamsGrudgingly he admits to her accomplishments, but keeps a close rein on her activities, as she tends to get herself into trouble with her constant delving into other people’s affairs. The story is fun and imaginative. I really enjoyed the author and her repartee between the characters. Overall, a very fun and engaging read. 5 stars – CE Williams

We received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author and publisher through NetGalley that in no way influenced this review. These are his honest opinions.

Book Details:

Genre: Historical World War II Fiction, Historical Mysteries
Publisher: Kensington Books
ASIN: B093XVNDBH
Print Length: 329 pages
Publication Date: January 25, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link(s): A Valiant Deceit [Amazon] 
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Kobo

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Stephanie Graves - authorThe Author: STEPHANIE GRAVES has recently turned from happily-ever-afters to murder. The author of four published novels under the pseudonym Alyssa Goodnight, she transitioned to writing under her real name with her debut historical mystery, OLIVE BRIGHT, PIGEONEER. Her books have been featured in Entertainment Weekly, First for Women and Woman’s World. She lives with her family and two rescue pups in Houston.

Visit her at msstephgraves.com to subscribe to her newsletter or find her on FB, Twitter, Instagram or BookBub.

©2022 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Enter a Wizard, Stage Left (A Zodiac Mystery) by Connie di Marco #BlogTour #BookReview – #Giveaway

Enter a Wizard Stage Left by Connie DiMarco
I am delighted to provide a review for you at my blog stop today for Enter a Wizard, Stage Left by Connie di Marco on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. Scroll down to enter your chance to win the Giveaway!

Book Details

Enter a Wizard, Stage Left (A Zodiac Mystery)
Traditional Mystery
Prequel Novella
Suspense Publishing (October 26, 2021)
Print length ‏ : ‎ 111 pages
ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09JGV526H

Book Blurb

Julia Bonatti wasn’t always a crime-solving San Francisco astrologer. She was a young woman, engaged to the love of her life, preparing for a teaching career when tragedy struck. Her fiancé was killed in a hit and run accident. As Julia struggles with her loss and attempts to find meaning in her life again, she takes refuge with her grandmother Gloria. But there’s little time for grief or rest because Gloria, a retired seamstress, needs Julia’s help. Gloria’s been hired to create costumes for a production of Agatha Christie’s Appointment with Death at the newly opened Theatre Mars in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood.

Theatre Mars is a stunning jewel, the cast is supremely talented and the script is brilliant. What could go wrong? Julia gets the first hint of trouble when her new friend, the owner of The Mystic Eye bookshop, warns that all might not go well. Opening night will take place during the dark of the moon, the last three days before the new moon, a time that bodes disaster for any new project. The dire prediction comes true when the lead actress is murdered before the final curtain, echoing the play itself. Julia discovers a vital clue to the murder, but a clue that puts Gloria’s life in grave danger. Can Julia rescue her grandmother before it’s too late? And will a black cat play a leading role?

My Review

Thank heaven for Grandmother Gloria’s welcoming and understanding home after the sudden fatal accident that killed Julia Bonatti’s fiancé. Julia badly needed a different scene, a waystation to give her the necessary time to push through the grieving process.

Enter a Wizard, Stage Left by Connie di MarcoGloria is a retired seamstress and is involved in the local theatre group facing opening night. They’ve requested Gloria deliver the costumes for a dress rehearsal and to fix any costume problems they may be facing with the various actors and the diva busy making life miserable for all in the cast. She asks for Julia’s help. The production is an Agatha Christie mystery, Appointment with Death. Oops! That title may be prophetic.

Julia takes the opportunity to check out The Mystic Eye Bookshop next door, but the owner promptly warns her that the timing, astrologically-speaking, is asking for disaster. Unfortunately, the prediction comes true when the nasty lead actress is actually murdered before the opening night final curtain.

Ah, I love the subject of astrology and dove into this prequel to the series having previously jumped into the Tale of the Dragon. It’s a fascinating study and Julia begins the research and analysis that leads to her own astrology clinic. There is a lot to the Zodiac and the author imparts a few interesting tidbits along the way.

While Julia is an interesting protagonist, I really enjoy support characters Gloria and Kuan. And let’s not forget the kitty! Fun, fast little mystery, though I was left scratching my head a bit over the search and rescue.

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Giveaway

Sign up for your chance to win one of (10) Digital Copies of Enter a Wizard, Stage Left (A Zodiac Mystery) by Connie di Marco on the Rafflecopter giveaway.

Connie di Marco - authorAbout The Author: With the Zodiac Mysteries, featuring Julia Bonatti, a crime-solving San Francisco astrologer, Connie di Marco has combined her fascination with astrology and her love of writing mysteries.  Writing as Connie Archer, she’s the national bestselling author of the Soup Lover’s Mysteries from Berkley Prime Crime.  You can find her excerpts and recipes in The Cozy Cookbook and The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook.  She is a member of International Thriller Writers, Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters in Crime.  She lives in Los Angeles but dreams constantly of the San Francisco fog.

Author Links

Website:  http://www.conniedimarco.com/

Blog:  http://www.conniedimarco.com/blog/

FaceBook:  https://www.facebook.com/zodiacmysteries/  or https://www.facebook.com/zodiacmysteries/

Amazon:  https://amzn.to/3HdGb25

Twitter: @Connie di Marco

GoodReads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/dashboard?ref=nav_profile_authordash

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/connie_di_marco/

Purchase Link – Amazon

Thank you for visiting my stop on the tour and please visit the other stops listed below!

Tour Participants:

January 5 – Maureen’s Musings – REVIEW

January 5 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT

January 6 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

January 6 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

January 7 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, GUEST POST

January 7 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog – SPOTLIGHT

January 8 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

January 8 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT

January 9 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

January 10 – Baroness’ Book Trove – SPOTLIGHT

January 10 – Nadaness In Motion – REVIEW

January 11 – Literary Gold – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

January 12 – Read Your Writes Book Reviews – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW

January 13 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

January 14 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

January 15 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

January 16 – Nellie’s Book Nook – REVIEW, GUEST POST

January 17 – I Read What You Write – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

January 18 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book -SPOTLIGHT Great Escapes Book Tours

Thanks to Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours for the opportunity to read and review this cozy mystery!

©2022 V Williams V Williams

The Golem and the Jinni: A Novel by Helene Wecker – #Audiobook Review – #TBT

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker - banner

(Amazon) Editors Pick Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 

Book Blurb:

Audie Award Finalist, Fiction, 2014

Helene Wecker’s dazzling debut novel tells the story of two supernatural creatures who appear mysteriously in 1899 New York. Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a strange man who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. When her master dies at sea on the voyage from Poland, she is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York Harbor. Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian Desert. Trapped in an old copper flask by a Bedouin wizard centuries ago, he is released accidentally by a tinsmith in a Lower Manhattan shop.

Struggling to make their way in this strange new place, the Golem and the Jinni try to fit in with their neighbors while masking their true natures. Surrounding them is a community of immigrants: the coffeehouse owner Maryam Faddoul, a pillar of wisdom and support for her Syrian neighbors; the solitary ice cream maker Saleh, a damaged man cursed by tragedy; the kind and caring Rabbi Meyer and his beleaguered nephew, Michael, whose Sheltering House receives newly arrived Jewish men; the adventurous young socialite Sophia Winston; and the enigmatic Joseph Schall, a dangerous man driven by ferocious ambition and esoteric wisdom.

Meeting by chance, the two creatures become unlikely friends whose tenuous attachment challenges their opposing natures, until the night a terrifying incident drives them back into their separate worlds. But a powerful menace will soon bring the Golem and the Jinni together again, threatening their existence and forcing them to make a fateful choice.

Marvelous and compulsively listenable, The Golem and the Jinni weaves strands of folk mythology, historical fiction, and magical fable into a wondrously inventive and unforgettable tale.

My Review:

Okay, don’t say it.

            This one is definitely not my usual genre. But there’s a reason for that.

I went hunting for audiobooks in which George Guidall narrates. He is one of my very favorite narrators and another reason I listen to so many Longmire audiobooks (written by Craig Johnson). This one caught my eye and oh my gosh! What an amazing journey!

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene WeckerMiddle Eastern fiction woven beautifully with historical fantasy—so much to learn—so fascinating. A major atmospheric classic in fairy tale proportions. And the names, the language, the insight into Jewish culture, literature—all very smoothly rolled off Guidall’s tongue like a man reciting romantic poets, bathing the reader softly in the moment, caressing the ears.

This is a book to be read leisurely, digested, and enjoyed. The pace is languid through introduction of main characters and into backstories, explanations of the who and why. The backstories provide a greater understanding of present-day activities, the protagonist’s issues, proclivities, limitations, and each their separate and not necessarily complementary powers.

The author also examines the lengths at which each, both golem (Chava) and jinni (Ahmad) (supernatural beings) had to go to manifest normal human characteristics—the toll that extracted from each—and the extreme relief each must have felt when they were finally able to expose themselves to the other.

Take the time. It’s worth it. The characters, both main and support, are amazing. Easy to become invested, engaged. Arbeely, the Rabbi, Maryam Faddoul, empathetic. Michael Levy, poor guy—and Dr Saleh (Ice Cream Saleh), poor guy–sympathetic.

It’s an immersive fantasy brought to life with characters that create an enchanting tale of the ancient arts and magic.

The last 15-20% of the book brings the whole tale into one giant wizardy conclusion that has your head spinning with visions. All but one issue satisfying. BUT.

[Spoiler ahead]

I hate what happens to Michael and is the only reason I can’t wholeheartedly recommend this as a 5+ star narrative. Surely there is an alternative! His only fault is his innocence. He loved the golem and I felt would have accepted her, knowing her powers, albeit some unfortunate. ARGH!

The Hidden Palace by Helene Wecker[Note: You may be interested to know that the author has produced a sophomore release called The Hidden Palace: A Novel of the Golem and the Jinni. Declared “well worth the wait,” it was released June 8, 2021 and was also narrated by George Guidall.]

Book Details:

Genre: Historic Middle Eastern Fiction, Jewish Literature, Jewish Historical Fiction, Historical Fantasy
Publisher:  HarperAudio
ASIN: B00BU8DV2K
Listening Length: 19 hrs 42 mins
Narrator: George Guidall
Publication Date: April 23, 2013
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link(s): The Golem and the Jinni [Amazon]
Barnes & Noble
Kobo

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five Stars 4 1/2 stars

Helene Wecker - authorThe Author: Helene Wecker’s first novel, THE GOLEM AND THE JINNI, was awarded the Mythopoeic Award for Adult Literature, the VCU Cabell Award for First Novel, and the Harold U. Ribalow Prize, and was nominated for a Nebula Award and a World Fantasy Award. A sequel, THE HIDDEN PALACE: A TALE OF THE GOLEM AND THE JINNI, will be published in June 2021. A Midwest native, she holds a B.A. in English from Carleton College and an M.F.A. in Fiction Writing from Columbia University. Her work has appeared in literary journals such as Joyland and Catamaran, as well as the fantasy anthology The Djinn Falls in Love and Other Stories. She currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and children.

George Guidall - audiobook narratorThe Narrator: George Guidall is a prolific audiobook narrator and theatre actor. As of November 2014, he had recorded over 1,270 audiobooks, which was believed to be the record at the time. Wikipedia

 

 

©2022 V Williams V Williams

happy thursday!

Where There’s a Will (Roland Sinclair WWII Mysteries Book 10) by Sulari Gentill – #BookReview – #TuesdayBookBlog

2021 NED KELLY AWARD NOMINEE, BEST CRIME FICTION

Book Blurb:

Hell hath no fury like a family disinherited…

Where There's a Will by Sulari GentillAmerican millionaire Daniel Cartwright has been shot dead: three times in the chest, and once in the head. His body is found in Harvard Yard, dressed in evening attire. No one knows who he planned to meet there, or why the staunch Oxford man would be caught dead at Harvard—literally.

Australian Rowland Sinclair, his mate from Oxford and longtime friend, is named executor of the will, to his great surprise—and that of Danny’s family. Events turn downright ugly when the will all but disinherits Danny’s siblings in favor of one Otis Norcross, whom no one knows or is able to locate. Amidst assault, kidnapping, and threats of slander, Rowly struggles to understand Danny’s motives, find the missing heir, and identify his friend’s killer before the clock—and his luck—run out.

A deft blend of history and mystery, WHERE THERE’S A WILL offers an alternately charming and chilling snapshot of Boston and New York in the 1930s, with cameo appearances by luminaries of the day including Marion Davies, Randolph Hearst, Errol Flynn, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, and an arrogantly ardent Joe Kennedy, who proves no match for Rowly’s sculptress friend Edna…

My Review:

I love it when I can get into daily life of the 1930s crowd, although these characters are all so wealthy it was difficult for me to identify.  The background is Boston, New York, and North Carolina and name-dropping throughout the narrative brought some jolting moments. Not that old, but these support or peripheral characters are names even most younger people would recognize.

The protagonist, Rowland Sinclair, and his cronies are Australian called from Singapore to Boston upon notice of the death of a close and dear friend, David Cartwright. Rowland is accompanied by Edna (who he insists on calling Ed), Clyde, and Milton. To Rowland’s horror, he has been named executor of David’s will. Upon reading of the will, however, the family discovers the bulk of David’s wealth is to go to one Otis Norcross—assuming he can be found. The Cartwrights are not happy.

In languid prose, the narrative proceeds with no one breaking out a sweat to find Otis—although that is the declared objective from the beginning as well as the discovery of who killed David. In the meantime, the novel introduces all manner of early to mid-thirties characters, invoking scenes in which Marion Davies, Joseph Kennedy, or William Randolph Hearst might appear. (Followed by Errol Lynn and Orson Wells.)

“Reputation is what you are supposed to be; character is what you are.”

There are gangsters, both Irish and Italian, formal dress codes for dinner, fashions, sights and sounds of the time along with delightful and entertaining quotes from news reports as intro to new chapters.  I also enjoyed the lively scenes of the dance halls, noting the Savoy in New York and the creation and popularity of the Lindy Hop.*

There are twists, turns, and shenanigans that sidetrack the MCs and I loved the tidbits regarding some of those historical figures as well as F Scott Fitzgerald and Monopoly (the Parker Brothers game that saved the company). So many historical luminaries woven into the story!

I must admit that my attention waned several times throughout the book as the gain in the whodunit was rather slow, then something would happen to spark my interest again. Took a while to get to the heart of the matter, the histories of the victim and the missing Otis, and I’d guessed the antagonist shortly after introduction to the plot.

My first experience with the author and the series, it’s obvious that Rowland and Ed have a thing, have had for some time, so I wasn’t particularly thrilled about the solution in the conclusion but any history buff would enjoy the Louella Parsons worthy gossip.

I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author and publisher through @NetGalley that in no way influenced this review. These are my honest thoughts.

Trigger Warning: Homophobia

Rosepoint Rating: Four Stars 4 stars

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Book Details:

Genre: Organized Crime, Historical Mysteries
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
ISBN: 1464214905
ASIN: B09158FKZ2
Print Length: 386 pages
Publication Date: January 18, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo

Sulari Gentill-authorThe Author: After setting out to study astrophysics, graduating in law and then abandoning her legal career to write books, Sulari now grows French black truffles on her farm in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains of NSW. Sulari is author of The Rowland Sinclair Mystery series, historical crime fiction novels (eight in total) set in the 1930s. Sulari’s A Decline in Prophets (the second book in the series) was the winner of the Davitt Award for Best Adult Crime Fiction 2012. She was also shortlisted for Best First Book (A Few Right Thinking Men) for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize 2011. Paving the New Road was shortlisted for another Davitt in 2013.

[Goodreads] Sulari lives with her husband, Michael, and their boys, Edmund and Atticus, on a small farm in Batlow where she grows French Black Truffles and refers to her writing as “work” so that no one will suggest she get a real job.

* The Lindy Hop is an American dance which was born in the African-American communities in Harlem, New York City, in 1928. [Wikipedia]

©2022 V Williams V Williams

Diary of an Angry Young Man by Rishi Vohra – #BookReview – Coming of Age Fiction

Book Blurb:

Raghav is an ordinary seven-year-old growing up on the ‘good’ side of Colaba in Bombay. His is a safe, protected world and he is kept well away from the ‘other’, darker side of Colaba, which nevertheless, holds a deep fascination for him with its colorful, busy alleys bustling with activity, people and mystery – the ‘real’ world as far he is concerned.

Diary of an Angry Young Man by Rishi VohrBut life has other plans and Raghav’s entire world comes crashing down one day. In the space of a few crucial hours, his childish innocence is ripped away brutally, and he also loses the one person who may have made his world right again – his mother. That fateful day alters the course of his life and the ‘other’ side is the only place he can escape his now truly miserable home life and his bitter father who he resents more and more each day. He never tells even his closest friends about the horrific abuse he suffered the day his mother died, the day a fierce, burning anger took root in his very soul.

Now, 20 years later, all his peers and friends are settling down into jobs and the business of growing up. But Raghav is still trapped between his now suffocating relationship with his father, his own inability to find a job and make a life for himself and the painful memories of his childhood ordeal that still haunt him. And this is when he meets Rani one day, an orphan beggar girl who knows life on the streets of Mumbai, but not in the way Raghav does. He wants to ‘save’ Rani from the beggar mafia and give her a chance at a better life. His strong need to stand up for something, to truly help someone is fueled by the recent Nirbhaya gang rape case in New Delhi, that evokes painful memories of his own past trauma.

Set in Bombay in 1992 and Mumbai in 2012, and inspired by true events, Diary of an Angry Young Man is a coming-of-age urban drama that explores the complex layers of humanity. And the city that engenders them. [Goodreads]

His Review:

Diary of an Angry Young Man by Rishi VohraGrowing up in India might as well have been on another planet. Now in 2012, Raghav is a little old to be living at home with his sister and father. Father is angry at him because he does not have a job even though he has a university degree! Raghav’s days are spent messing around with four friends.

Economic status is very important. Raghav is not among the poorest but he certainly seems to be borderline. He stays away from home all day because he does not want to be continually harassed by his father. The problem is that he has no motivation to do anything but hang out with his companions.

This story is very enlightening regarding life in India. The inter-relationships have some parallels to my own childhood. There is an establishing of hierarchy as in most societies and there are bullies and have-nots. The worst situation is that of orphans and street people.

CE WilliamsRaghav has a very big problem though and one which he’ll tackle for himself as much as the other. He is worried about a young girl and her employment as a street beggar. Her plight brings back bitter memories of his own shattered childhood. His compassion opposes those who exploit other people. Rather than beg for their own benefit, they must beg so that a street thug can get rich while they have a bare subsistence life. The book points out a general lack of compassion as well as abuse and poverty; many of the same desperate conditions experienced elsewhere as well as redemption. 4.5 stars – CE Williams

We received a complimentary review copy of this book following a request from the author that in no way influenced this review. These are his honest opinions.

Rosepoint Publishing: Four point Five Stars 4 1/2 stars

Book Details:

Genre: Coming of Age Fiction, Crime Fiction
ASIN: B09CQ1QRVN
Print Length: 174 pages
Publication Date: August 15, 2021
Source: Direct author request
Title Link: Diary of an Angry Young Man [Amazon]

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Rishi Vohra - authorThe Author: A Green MBA and Wine Specialist, Rishi Vohra has authored three novels, ‘I am M-M-Mumbai,’ ‘HiFi in Bollywood’ and ‘Once Upon the Tracks of Mumbai.’ His short story, The Mysterious Couple, was featured in Sudha Murty’s anthology – Something Happened on the Way to Heaven, and another short story, Kaala Baba, in Neil D’Silva’s urban horror anthology – City of Screams. His other short stories include The Saas-Bahu Conflict which was published in the HBB Horror Microfiction Anthology and In Your Eyes in Tell Me Your Story’s LGBTQ anthology Pride, Not Prejudice : Decriminalising Love.

To get in touch with him or for more information, please visit http://www.rishivohra.com.

©2021 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Head Shot (The Marko Zorn Series Book 2) by Otho Eskin – #BookReview – #policeprocedural

Rosepoint Publishing: Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

The Most Elusive Assassin in the World Versus D.C. Homicide Detective Marko Zorn

Head Shot by Otho EskinWashington, D.C. homicide detective Marko Zorn is investigating the murder of an actress—an old love—when he is assigned to protect the visiting prime minister of Montenegro, the beautiful Nina Voychek.

Political enemies are planning her assassination—this, he knows—but now it’s apparent that he, too, is a target. As he foils the initial attempts on his life, he pulls out all stops—deploying his sometimes nefarious resources—to hunt whoever is targeting him and prevent an international tragedy on American soil.

Decoded messages, Supermax prisoner interviews, mafia lawyers, and an ancient Black Mountain curse swirl among the icons of D.C. Marko and his young partner, Lucy, face down what may be multiple assassins with diverging agendas. Or are they facing one assassin—the deadliest and most elusive on the international stage?

Perfect for fans of David Baldacci and Daniel Silva

His Review:

Marko Zorn is not a popular Washington Metropolitan police detective. This novel starts out with a rifle bullet barely missing him as he bends down to pick up his newspaper. His abrasive attitude and demeanor have caused most people to keep him at arms-length. His superiors put him on details that keep him out of the office and away from his fellow officers.

Head Shot by Otho EskinWhen a popular actress from Montenegro is sent death threats, he and his partner Lucy are assigned to protect the lady. The ambassador of Montenegro is not happy but bows to pressure from both the U.S. government and the government of Montenegro. Nina Voychek is involved in a stage presentation whose main actress is killed during a performance. Zorn is chosen as a bodyguard during Nina’s time in America.  Having recently been a target, Zorn would prefer to be on the down-low. Instead, he is a bodyguard to a theatre group who would prefer he disappear.

Otho Eskin has written a realistic-designed hero in Marko Zorn. He is not the usual tall and dark James Bond type but rather overweight and short. His reputation among law enforcement has been tarnished by service in Chicago. It became endearing to engage with a hero that is less than perfect. His investigations are at time bumbling–bringing to mind Columbo. However, his successful record speaks for itself.

CE WilliamsThe climax is intriguing and very innovative. I particularly appreciated the outcome because of the continual pressure placed upon Ms. Voychek by her country’s ambassador and entourage. I suggest anyone who desires a good escapist tale buy the book. 5 stars – CE Williams

Book 2 but can be read as a standalone. We received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author and publisher through NetGalley that in no way influenced this review. These are his honest opinions.

Book Details:

Genre: Espionage Thrillers, Police Procedurals
Publisher: Oceanview Publishing
ASIN: B08S4646SJ
Print Length: 305 pages
Publication Date: December 14, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Head Shot [Amazon] 
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Kobo
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Otho Eskin - authorThe Author: Otho Eskin published his first thriller, The Reflecting Pool, to great reviews and book club interest in 2020. It was selected as an Amazon Editors’ Pick for Best Mystery, Thriller and Suspense. The Reflecting Pool follows Marko Zorn- a Washington D.C. homicide detective who has a strong ethical compass but refuses to play by the rules. The sequel, Head Shot, also featuring Marko Zorn will be released in December, 2021.

Before he turned to writing fiction, Otho Eskin served in the U.S. Army and in the United States Foreign Service in Washington and in Syria, Yugoslavia, Iceland and Berlin (then the capital of the German Democratic Republic) as a lawyer and diplomat. He was Vice-Chairman of the U.S. delegation to the United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea, participated in the negotiations on the International Space Station, was principal U.S. negotiator of several international agreements on seabed mining and was the U.S. representative to the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. He speaks French, German, and Serbo-Croatian. He was a frequent speaker at conferences and has testified before the U.S. Congress and commissions.

Otho’s career in the Foreign Service unknowingly prepared him for thriller writing later in life as he witnessed political corruption at every strata of society. While stationed in East Berlin during the cold war, the East German intelligence service (Stasi) operating on behalf of their Soviet masters, published a book entitled “Who’s who in CIA (correct title), translated into several languages and with wide distribution. This propaganda effort listed Otho and was intended to claim that he was a U.S. spy. (He was not). This was part of East German and ultimately Soviet, disinformation campaign to make the work of U.S. Foreign Service officers serving abroad more difficult.

Otho Eskin has also written plays including: Act of God, Murder as a Fine Art, Duet, Julie, Final Analysis, Season in Hell, among others, which have been professionally produced in Washington, New York and in Europe.

Otho is married to writer Therese Keane and lives in Washington, D.C.

©2022 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Going There by Katie Couric – #Audiobook Review – Biographies of Journalists

Audiobook-Going There by Katie Couric

#1 New Release – Audiobook: Journalist Biographies

(Amazon) Editors Pick – Best Biographies & Memoirs

Book Blurb:

Heartbreaking, hilarious, and brutally honest, Going There is the deeply personal life story of a girl next door turned household name.

For more than forty years, Katie Couric has been an iconic presence in the media world. In her brutally honest, hilarious, heartbreaking memoir, she reveals what was going on behind the scenes of her sometimes tumultuous personal and professional life – a story she’s never shared, until now. Of the medium she loves, the one that made her a household name, she says, “Television can put you in a box; the flat-screen can flatten. On TV, you are larger than life but smaller, too. It is not the whole story, and it is not the whole me. This book is.”

Beginning in early childhood, Couric was inspired by her journalist father to pursue the career he loved but couldn’t afford to stay in. Balancing her vivacious, outgoing personality with her desire to be taken seriously, she overcame every obstacle in her way: insecurity, an eating disorder, being typecast, sexism . . . challenges, and how she dealt with them, setting the tone for the rest of her career. Couric talks candidly about adjusting to sudden fame after her astonishing rise to co-anchor of the TODAY show, and guides us through the most momentous events and news stories of the era, to which she had a front-row seat:  Rodney King, Anita Hill, Columbine, the death of Princess Diana, 9/11, the Iraq War . . . In every instance, she relentlessly pursued the facts, ruffling more than a few feathers along the way.  She also recalls in vivid and sometimes lurid detail the intense pressure on female anchors to snag the latest “get”—often sensational tabloid stories like Jon Benet Ramsey, Tonya Harding, and OJ Simpson.

Couric’s position as one of the leading lights of her profession was  shadowed by the shock and trauma of losing her husband to stage 4 colon cancer when he was just 42, leaving her a widow and single mom to two daughters, 6 and 2. The death of her sister Emily, just three years later, brought yet more trauma—and an unwavering commitment to cancer awareness and research, one of her proudest accomplishments.

Couric is unsparing in the details of her historic move to the anchor chair at the CBS Evening News—a world rife with sexism and misogyny.  Her “welcome” was even more hostile at 60 Minutes, an unrepentant boys club that engaged in outright hazing of even the most established women.  In the wake of the MeToo movement, Couric shares her clear-eyed reckoning with gender inequality and predatory behavior in the workplace, and downfall of Matt Lauer—a colleague she had trusted and respected for more than a decade.

Couric also talks about the challenge of finding love again, with all the hilarity, false-starts, and drama that search entailed, before finding her midlife Mr. Right.  Something she has never discussed publicly—why her second marriage almost didn’t happen.

If you thought you knew Katie Couric, think again. Going There is the fast-paced, emotional, riveting story of a thoroughly modern woman, whose journey took her from humble origins to superstardom. In these pages, you will find a friend, a confidante, a role model, a survivor whose lessons about life will enrich your own.

My Review:

Are you a big fan of Katie Couric? I must admit I’d probably not watched her more than twice. Pretty, perky Katie pretty much delivers the entire book in her blurb—true to form–and there’s not much more I can say. You can see why the print book weighs in at a hefty 529 pages. (Sometimes, when I feel that the bio is WAYYY too long to include, I provide an excerpt. In this case, the blurb being WAYYY too long is a heads up into the kind of narration you’ll receive in the audiobook.) Narcissistic. Over the top, you say? Boy howdy!

Katie, the baby of the upper middle-class family, loved the spotlight from the beginning and often found ways to achieve it. Girl next door she’s not, unless you come from a family with accomplished, educated, parents of means, (a devoted father).

Going There by Katie CouricWhat you see is her perception: “ It is not the whole story, and it is not the whole me. This book is.” Nah, I don’t think so. I don’t believe the reader gets the unvarnished truth (maybe we can’t handle it). But’s it’s the truth as she wants you to believe. Her second best vocation—journalist. I do believe she comes off first as an entertainer, wantonly seeking veneration.

There is a public and private persona…which often blends into the same—a journalist decrying the coming “me, too” while quietly discussing and dismissing her own behaviors. Moaning over the loyalty factor while showing none to co-workers. I was rather surprised (and appalled) over the handling of the nanny—good grief—how many times did the nanny more than adequately cover her entitled butt? The brutal cancer that took her Jeff, crying she should have noticed, while running off constantly and consistently being absent during crises for the next big story or opportunity. Career first. So many contradictions! And then launching into charity work for the cancer causes. Must keep the face in the press!

Downright mean to many of her female co-workers and competitors, climbing the ladder on the backs of those who were paving her way.

Name dropping ad nauseum. Of course, she had a long, storied career and there were few celebrities she didn’t meet, try to interview, or gain notoriety from. So many unflattering stories about others, then how often she’d turn around and do the same—but that was different—she could explain it away to her satisfaction.

If I was prepared to change my mind after listening to her audiobook (she narrates, of course), I didn’t. It comes off exactly as my first impression of her–and that didn’t change.

Somewhere in the audiobook she coins the phrase, Truth decay.” Yup. I agree.

Book Details:

Genre: Biographies of Journalists, Journalist Biographies, Biographies & Memoirs of Women
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
ASIN: B094RGFVWX  
Listening Length: 15 hrs 27 mins
Narrator: Katie Couric
Publication Date: October 26, 2021
Print Length: 529 pages
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Going There [Amazon]

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Two point Five Stars Two and one-half Stars

Katie Couric - authorThe Author: Katherine Anne “Katie” Couric is notable as an American journalist who became well-known as co-host of NBC’s Today. In 2006, she made a highly publicized move from NBC to CBS, and on September 5, 2006 she became the first solo female anchor of the weekday evening news on one of the three traditional U.S. broadcast networks. She currently serves as the anchor and managing editor of the CBS Evening News, having replaced Bob Schieffer on September 5, 2006. Schieffer served as the interim anchor following the departure of long time anchor and managing editor Dan Rather on March 9, 2005. [Goodreads]

[NB: Couric left the CBS Evening News in 2011 after five years.]

©2022 V Williams V Williams

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