#AmReading – The Crooked Staircase by Dean Koontz

#AmReading The Crooked Staircase by Dean Koontz

Welcome to my #AmReading feature! I am highlighting an author and their book currently visible in the “Fair Weather” widget celebrating blue skies, following seas, and my Goodreads (currently reading) list.

This week I am presenting Dean Koontz and his book The Crooked Staircase: A Jane Hawk Novel (this is the third in the series). I received a digital download via Random House Publishing-Ballantine and NetGalley. The book will be released on May 8, 2018. Amazon classifies the novel as a mystery, thriller & suspense, and is 512 mostly hair-raising pages.

I will be presenting my review on Tuesday, April 24, 2018.

Book Blurb:

Jane Hawk knows she may be living on borrowed time. But as long as she’s breathing, she’ll never cease her one-woman war against the terrifying conspiracy that threatens the freedom—and free will—of millions. Battling the strange epidemic of murder-suicides that claimed Jane’s husband, and is escalating across the country, has made the rogue FBI agent a wanted fugitive, relentlessly hunted not only by the government but by the secret cabal behind the plot. Deploying every resource their malign nexus of power and technology commands, Jane’s enemies are determined to see her dead . . . or make her wish she was.

Jane’s ruthless pursuers can’t stop her from drawing a bead on her prey: a cunning man with connections in high places, a twisted soul of unspeakable depths with an army of professional killers on call. Propelled by her righteous fury and implacable insistence on justice, Jane will make her way from southern Southern California to the snow-swept slopes of Lake Tahoe to confront head-on the lethal forces arrayed against her. But nothing can prepare her for the chilling truth that awaits when she descends the crooked staircase to the dark and dreadful place where her long nightmare was born.

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About the Author

(From Amazon Author page, but there is much more on Goodreads)

Dean Koontz - authorDean Koontz, the author of many #1 New York Times bestsellers, lives in Southern California with his wife, Gerda, their golden retriever, Elsa, and the enduring spirits of their goldens, Trixie and Anna. ©2018 V Williams V Williams

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#ThrowbackThursday – Blackout – Tom Barber

#ThrowbackThursday

Renee began the Throwback Thursday meme on her blog, It’s Book Talk to share some of her old favorites as well as sharing books published over a year ago. Sounded like a good reason to join! I’ll be going back over my favorite authors and stories you might not have previously experienced. Most of these early reviews were books gleaned from a freebie on BookBub and this was no exception. If you’d like to join the meme, you’re welcome to use Renee’s pic from her website. Just provide the link back to her please).

Blackout by Tom BarberThis week I am highlighting Tom Barber, another terrific, prolific author who wrote Blackout (Sam Archer book #3), which I reviewed on Goodreads. He has actually written nine in this series–I read the first three. This novel was published on January 16, 2014, as a thriller-suspense. He consistently runs approximately four stars plus for any of his books sold on Amazon.

Originally posted March 26, 2015

Book Blurb:

Young counter-terrorist cop Sam Archer arrives for work at the Armed Response Unit expecting a quiet day. But unbeknownst to him, a storm is coming. 

Three men have already been killed that morning. One committed suicide by the River Thames. Another was strangled in his car in Washington D.C. And the third was shot in the face in his high-rise New York apartment as he slept. The deaths seem random, thousands of miles apart. But they are all connected. By a shocking event fifteen years ago. And this is only the beginning.

Archer, Chalky and the rest of the Unit suddenly find themselves plunged into a ferocious and violent confrontation, fighting for their lives. The enemy they are up against are brutal, highly trained, well-armed and anonymous. No one knows where they have come from. No one seems to know who they are. But they have a vendetta. They will never forgive or forget, or show mercy. And for some reason, they’re hell-bent on killing ten specific people before the end of the day.

As the Unit tries to find out who these killers are and locate the remaining targets so they can protect them, it becomes a race against time to see who can get there first. As the counter-terrorist unit and the vengeful enemy come up against each other all over the city, Archer and the team soon realise two things.

This enemy is more proficient and deadly than any they’ve ever encountered. And one of their own ARU men is on the extermination list. Continue reading “#ThrowbackThursday – Blackout – Tom Barber”

Murder at the Mushroom Festival – a #BookReview

Murder at the Mushroom Festival by Janet FinsilverTitle: Murder at the Mushroom Festival (A Kelly Jackson Mystery) by Janet Finsilver

Genre: Currently #4576 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank in Kindle eBooks, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Mystery, Cozy

Publisher: Kensington Publishing/Lyrical

Publication Date: To be released April 17, 2018 – Happy publication day!

Source: Kensington Publishing/Lyrical and NetGalley

Title and Cover: Murder at the Mushroom Festival – Cute cozy cover

Murder at the Mushroom Festival is the fourth in the Kelly Jackson series and my first experience with the series or the author. In this installment, Kelly Jackson has been named permanent manager of the Redwood Cove B&B and is gearing up for the festivities by bringing in Elise Jenkins to host a cooking class featuring mushrooms. Continue reading “Murder at the Mushroom Festival – a #BookReview”

I’m Not Ignoring You–Is it WP or the 1200 lb Gorilla?

I'm Not Ignoring You

Spoiler Alert: Anyone else experiencing these issues?

Many of you know that my blog stats suddenly dropped 107 followers the end of March. I’m not ignoring you–honest! I wrote the Happiness Engineers at WordPress regarding the drop as well as the increase in “followers” from Outlook email accounts. Eventually, I got a canned response that didn’t address the issues (either one, but directed me to check my listed follower status).

I wrote again, unhappy with the result of my inquiry, and finally got a response from Damianne who wrote, “Your followers are from social media as well as WordPress. We can’t manage followers from social media, so we don’t have any information about those changes.” That’s true, as my followers are made up of more than 750 social followers, 250+ WP followers, with the balance made up of email followers (no Outlook followers).

She went on to note that “Followers from outlook.com may be spammers and we are looking into the issue generally, and have already implemented some fixes. The follows in themselves are not an actual threat…so really all they’re achieving is to annoy people. We’re working on our end to get these follows blocked, and we’re also removing fake follows as we detect them. On your end, just ignore them for now.”

Wait, What? “Fake follows.” Are you considered a fake follow? Did you get unfollowed?

It wasn’t until later that I realized I was no longer getting notifications from my most active blogging buddies. That’s you! So I apologize–it wasn’t me–it was…WordPress?

I know you are not fake follows, so what happened? Damianne suggested my notifications may be going to my spam folder as a result of my email provider. They are not.

Dot Com vs Dot Org

As a dot com (not a dot org), I do not have the ability to download and use all those wonderful plug-ins that would give me some additional insight into the dynamics of my website. So frustrating! But trying to research what may be happening, I see one overwhelming theme–speed–and mobile technology. 

WordPress-Plugins vs Widgets from My Theme Shop

We know WordPress changed their algorithms this year, but I didn’t realize it would affect my little contribution to the blogosphere. Why? Because nothing stays the same–remember that old adage? People change. Technology advances to keep up with wants and needs. At the forefront of change is Google who has issued five (yes, FIVE, and they all have names) major algorithm updates recently, forcing search engines to change.

I’ve written before about some techniques to avoid being blacklisted such as keyword stuffing (I wouldn’t know how) or avoiding black-hat SEO techniques. Web gurus talk about the need to blog at least once a week (yes, okay) resulting in a “freshen” score, with posts of 2,000 words (fail). Then what?

Mobile First

Apparently, there is a shift for Google to “move their entire search index to mobile-first.” It’s called the Progressive Web App (PWA). Currently, there are two search indexes, mobile and desktop. BUT, these are going to be combined. And then they will crawl the mobile version first–that means “the mobile version of your site will be the one crawled, not desktop.”

It’s all about page speed then? Has my site been penalized because it’s slow? I don’t know–I can’t use a plug-in to check that and I can’t add any “code markups” to speed it up.

The 1200 lb Gorilla

Google has been rewarding publishers that have objectively delivered better mobile experiences to visitors for a while. It should come as no surprise that Google is talking even more about page speed. They are actually going to include it as a mobile ranking signal this year.

Angry woman shooting computer

One of the patterns I routinely follow before scheduling a book review or post is to check to see what it is supposed to look like on a tablet or a mobile device and correct accordingly. Maybe it’s not working.

I will try to “catch up” with some of your posts in the coming week, hopefully to re-establish the connection. In the meantime, I’m always grateful for the likes and comments, especially from Nina at Cozy Pages, Nicole at thebookwormdrinketh, FictionFan, Lynne at Fictionophile, and Cathy at Between the Lines. I’ll be looking to see what you’ve posted recently. I’ve really missed seeing the new posts from all my blogging buddies!

In the meantime, please let me know if you are experiencing somewhat the same with your stats too. Or perhaps you have a suggestion for me? I’d love to hear it! ©2018 V Williams V Williams

#AmReading – A Dog’s Way Home by W. Bruce Cameron

#amreading-A Dog's Way Home by W. Bruce Cameron

Welcome to my #AmReading feature! I am highlighting an author and their book currently visible in the “Fair Weather” widget celebrating blue skies, following seas, and my Goodreads (currently reading) list.

This week I am presenting W. Bruce Cameron and his book A Dog’s Way Home. I received this download from NetGalley. The book was released on May 9, 2017, by Forge Books. Amazon classifies the novel as animal and family life and is only 333 pages.

I will be presenting my review soon! You may recognize that author’s name. He wrote A Dog’s Purpose which was recently released as a major motion picture. In the meantime (from Amazon), here is the

Book Blurb:

Lucas Ray is shocked when an adorable puppy jumps out of an abandoned building and into his arms. Though the apartment he shares with his mother, a disabled veteran, doesn’t allow dogs, Lucas can’t resist taking Bella home.

Bella is inexplicably drawn to Lucas, even if she doesn’t understand the necessity of games like No Barks. As it becomes more difficult to hide her from the neighbors, Lucas begins to sneak Bella into the VA where he works. There, Bella brings joy and comfort where it is needed most.

After Bella is picked up by Animal Control because pit bulls are banned in Denver, Lucas has no choice but to send her to a foster home until he can figure out what to do. But Bella, distraught at the separation, doesn’t plan to wait. With four hundred miles of dangerous Colorado wilderness between her and her person, Bella sets off on a seemingly impossible and completely unforgettable adventure home.

A classic story of unwavering loyalty and incredible devotion, A Dog’s Way Home is a beautifully told, charming tale that explores the unbreakable bond between us and our pets. This fantastic and exhilarating journey of the heart is in the same tradition as the beloved bestseller, A Dog’s Purpose. 

Add to Goodreads

About the Author

(From Amazon Author page)

W. Bruce Cameron - authorBruce Cameron is the New York Times bestselling author of 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter, The Dog Master, and the A Dog’s Purpose series. In 2011 he was named Columnist of the Year by the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. He lives in California.

(From Goodreads) I’ve always loved dogs, which puts me in a unique category along with what, maybe two or three billion people?

W Bruce Cameron - authorWhat’s not to love about an animal who will sit in your living room all day long, waiting for you to get home, and even if you need to work late and then stop for a stress-relieving beverage on your way home, when you unlock that front door, is absolutely overjoyed to see you? How could you not adore an animal who senses when your day is not going well and tries to cheer you up by dumping a sodden tennis ball in your lap? Read his full Goodreads author story here. ©2018 V Williams V Williams

#ThrowbackThursday – Sign Off – Patricia McLinn

#ThrowbackThursday

Renee began the Throwback Thursday meme on her blog, It’s Book Talk to share some of her old favorites including books published over a year ago. Sounded like a good reason to join! Hopefully, you’ll find either a story or author that interests you and you’ll check them out. (And, if you’d like to join the fun, you’re welcome to use Renee’s pic from her website. Just provide the link back to her please).

Sign Off - Caught Dead in Wyoming Book 1 by Patricia McLinnThis week I am highlighting Patricia McLinn, another terrific, prolific author who wrote Sign Off, which I reviewed on Goodreads. She has actually written six in this series. This novel was published by Craig Place Books on July 3, 2015. She consistently runs approximately 4+ stars for any of her books sold on Amazon.

Originally posted March 6, 2016.

Book Blurb:

Divorce a husband, lose a career … grapple with a murder. TV journalist Elizabeth “E.M.” Danniher will tell you she committed two sins — she didn’t stay young, and she made an enemy of a powerful news executive — her ex. She used to break national news. Now her top story as the Helping Out! reporter at dinky KWMT-TV in Sherman, Wyoming is getting a refund for a defective toaster. Tough, funny and determined, Elizabeth wrestles with isolation, keeping a professional edge, and an evolving self-image. Is Wyoming — the land of cattle, cowboys and tumbleweeds — her new home or a road to permanent obscurity? Soon she’s in a battle of wills with ex-football player turned journalist Mike Paycik, who sees her as a handy rung on his career ladder. And there’s the matter of a deputy sheriff—missing or murdered? Elizabeth finds herself investigating at the insistence of a girl who’s set on proving her father’s innocence. Not that enigmatic rancher Tom Burrell makes investigating easy. But Elizabeth won’t fade to black without a fight, no matter how final some might want to make her Sign Off.

My Review:

Sign Off, the first in the Caught Dead in Wyoming series by Patricia McLinn involves E. M. (Elizabeth) Danniher, who is a well-known news reporter from the east. She has been banished by a bitter ex who is a powerful NY TV producer to a small town in Wyoming to be their “Helping Out” reporter for the duration of her contract.

Few at her new station are thrilled she has been plunked into the middle of them and become guarded of their own positions. Feeling impotent to do more than report on defective toasters, she is confronted by a little girl regarding her dad, unfairly accused of murder in the disappearance of a deputy, and inadvertently becomes involves in the investigation.

Among the many characters interacting with her at the station are Mike, a sportscaster, and Diane, camera lady. Elizabeth Danniher butts up against the sheriff almost immediately and manages to lose more support than she gains as she interviews elected officials of the rural town and Mike’s inside contact. Warned off the case by the accused himself, the missing person turns up dead in his truck following the spring thaw obviously the victim of foul play. As events turn deadly, Elizabeth studies the clues and uncovers motives.

There are some interesting insights into the inner workings of a small town TV station, local colorful characters, and small town western US flavor. The antagonist is not one you suspect, and Mike becomes quite the (possibly romantic) attractive ally. The dialogue is clean and believable. The plot moves along at a fairly good clip and I enjoyed the little sub-storyline involving Shadow. All in all, it is engaging and will hold your interest. I received this download from BookBub as a free offering and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review.

Add to Goodreads

About the Author

Patricia McLinn - authorPatricia McLinn’s books have put her name on bestseller lists and her journalism career took her to the Washington Post for 20-mumble-mumble years. But it all started with secrets.

She learned to read at a tender age as a matter of self-preservation because older siblings spelled words to keep secrets from her. Once Patricia discovered that the magic of written words allowed her to know people she hadn’t met and experience places she hadn’t visited, she was hooked.

She wanted to be a novelist from then on, though there was a detour. She received a BA in English Composition from Northwestern University. (Have you ever seen a job posting for an English Composition major? No. And you never will.) With her parents holding out for more practical pursuits, she added a masters in journalism from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism in her fourth year. (Two degrees for the price of one! It was the precursor of a career in coupon-clipping.)

(From Goodreads author page) USA Today bestselling author Patricia McLinn’s novels—cited by reviewers for warmth, wit, and vivid characterization – have won numerous regional and national awards and been on national bestseller lists.

In addition to her romance and women’s fiction books, Patricia is the author of the Caught Dead in Wyoming mystery series, which adds a touch of humor and romance to figuring out whodunit.

Patricia received BA and MSJ degrees from Northwestern University. She was a sports writer (Rockford, Ill.), assistant sports editor (Charlotte, N.C.) and—for 20-plus years—an editor at the Washington Post.

She has spoken about writing from Melbourne, Australia to Washington, D.C., including being a guest speaker at the Smithsonian Institution. She is now living in northern Kentucky and writing full-time. Patricia loves to hear from readers through her website, Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter.

More Throwback Thursday Blogs

Renee at Its Book Talk

Jill at Jill’s Book Cafe

Rebecca at The Book Whisperer

Lynne at Fictionophile

Sam at Clues and Reviews

Holly B at Dressedtoread

Deanna at DeesRadReads and Reviews

Amanda at Literary Weaponry

Annie at The Misstery

Mischenko at Read Rant Rock and Roll

Laurie at Cozy Nook Books

Ann Marie at LItWitWineDine

©2018 V Williams V Williams

Claws for Concern – a #BookReview

Claws for Concern - a Cat in the Stacks Mystery - by Miranda JamesTitle: Claws for Concern (Cat in the Stacks Mystery)

Genre: Currently # 594 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank in Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Mystery, Cozy, Animals

Publisher: Berkley

Publication Date: February 20, 2018

Source: Berkley and Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book

Title and Cover: Claws for Concern – Cover is way too cute cozy typical

OMG, just to look at that beautiful cover you know it’s going to be a cat-lovers kind of novel. Well, I’ve mentioned before that I do love both cats and dogs, though as most of you know, since I have a pretty-extraordinary (cat-sized) dog in the house, my heart is with my adorable puppy.

Still if you lean at all feline, that cover got you. It got me too. And this is the ninth of the series, so you know there are a lot of kitty fans out there, not to mention a NY Times best-selling author. There’s obviously a lot of history here with protagonist Charlie and Diesel, although I’m not sure that the 40 pound Maine Coon isn’t the protagonist. There is definitely some over-the-top anthropomorphizing going on here. A Maine Coon owned my mother and I must admit the cat was definitely a one of a kind kitty. That said… Continue reading “Claws for Concern – a #BookReview”

If Family Noir is In, I Want Out

If Family Noir is In, I Want Out

Remember back in December 2015 when I investigated all these new-to-me genres? Nano-punk, nano-technology, or cyber-punk?

Well, it’s happened again. A number of bloggers I follow have reviewed stories recently they’ve categorized as “Noir.” If it sounds French, it is, and means “dark” or “of the night.” It is usually a genre that deals with violence or sex, but definitely corruption in some manner. (BTW, noire is just feminine for noir, but you knew that, huh.)

Postwar film noir - Humphrey BogartYes, I remember film noir, but “classic” (or roman) noir is considered a “hardboiled” genre that usually includes a self-destructive protagonist. I’m not writing the rules here, only relaying what I found in research–and it’s not pretty folks. Although I must say, we’ve definitely done a number on the original noir fiction spawned from Dashiell Hammett ( 1894-1961) “the dean of the… ‘hardboiled’ school of detective fiction.” The protagonist is not a rumpled, raincoat cloaked, cigar-chomping thoughtful-hearted protagonist, but rather a perpetrator. Forget Columbo! Think Humphrey Bogart. No, much worse. Think Kevin Spacey in LA Confidential. But there is a huge difference in the definition of “noir” and what we are calling forms of noir today.

Harking back to the Huff Post updated in December 2017 by Otto Penzler who didn’t mince words when he described the genre, “noir is about losers,” not private detectives. This is the down and dirty–doesn’t do well and never will. The protagonist in a noir story is driven by just about everything bad a human can exhibit: greed, lust, jealousy. They aren’t ever going to triumph. They can’t! (It’s noir.) And this is what separates the private detective or family noir from noir fiction–the moral ground.

The problem then, as Noir Fiction has splintered off as many sub-genres as the previously discussed fiction novels, is the evolution. Here are just a few:

Classic noir (Hollywood crime dramas emphasizing derisive attitudes and/or sexual motivations)

Family noir (domestic noir)

Film noir

Neo-noir

Photo noir

Pulp noir (classic noir with urban influences)

Scandinavian noir (Scandi noir)

Tech noir

I think it was the Scandinavian noir that set me to scratching my head. A Scandi noir? Certainly, it was the film industry that influenced the change of the hardboiled nuance into a neo-noir flavor. Definitely a contemporary or more modern version of film noir, the term neo-noir was popularized by two French critics back in 1955. It appears these were retro-actively applied to much earlier crime movies including the 1940s as well as the 1950s in the U.S. (Think Bogey)

Farewell My Lovely by Raymond ChandlerSo I jumped on Goodreads again, my go-to of all things bookish, and noted that on their (current) favorite noir list the first six of nine is divided between Raymond Chandler at number one (Farewell, My Lovely (Philip Marlowe, #2)  and two and Dashiell Hammett at number three (The Glass Key).

It was Hammett who created Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon after a character he knew living in San Francisco. His authentic period dialogue was included in the movie famously played by Humphrey Bogart.

 

Black Mask Magazine featuring The Maltese Falcon by Dashell Hammett
Cover courtesy Wikipedia

Raymond Chandler? Really? Because if you were surprised by Hammett’s life dates, Chandler is right there, born in 1888 and died in 1959. Wikipedia notes he began writing after losing his job as an oil company executive. He published a short story in Black Mask Magazine, a pulp magazine in 1933. (First issue April 1920-final issue 1987) Along with Dashiell Hammett and other Black Mask writers, he is considered to be a founder of the hardboiled detective fiction. Philip Marlowe, his protagonist, was also played by the quintessential Humphrey Bogart. He said of the hardboiled detective, “he is the white knight who walks the mean streets, but is not himself mean.”

 

 

Point Blank film noir 1967 starring Lee Marvin
Neo-noir film Point Blank directed by John Boorman, 1967, starring Lee Marvin.

 

Cinematically, Lee Marvin cemented the neo-noir style of film when he starred in Point Blank (1967), introducing a new level of violence in film and established the foundation for later escalation of ferocity and brutality.

I suspect there would be some argument over whether the film Pulp Fiction is actually pulp noir or film noir. Jessica Jones – pulp noir? Where would you classify any of the dark noir books (Gone Girl) (or movies) that you’ve read (seen) lately?

But really, a family noir? OMG–it’s gotta be sad, depressing, and can never be made right.

It’s doomed.

I don’t need it.

I want peaceful.

I want happy–if not happily ever after–a light at the end of the tunnel. Some small promise it’ll be okay.

And hopefully soon.

©2018 V Williams V Williams

Stinger: Operation Cyclone – a #BookReview

Stinger: Operation Cyclone by Bill FortinTitle: Stinger: Operation Cyclone (A Rick Fontain Novel Book 2) by Bill Fortin

Genre: Currently #2811 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank in Kindle eBooks, Literature & Fiction, Genre Fiction, War

Publisher: Cold War Publications

Publication Date: February 12, 2018

Source: Direct author request

Title and Cover: Stinger: Operation Cyclone – Obvious military action

It is shortly after the election of Ronald Regan in 1979 that the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, but it was not until 1982 that POTUS set in motion Operation Cyclone.

The wheels of government and governmental agencies move very slowly. The Afghani people are locked in a desperate attempt to avoid total annihilation by an occupying Russian force. Severely out-gunned and with very limited resources they are resisting one of the strongest armies in the world.  Several covert governmental agencies are trying, albeit slowly, to assist. Continue reading “Stinger: Operation Cyclone – a #BookReview”

#ThrowbackThursday – Drifter by M. L. Gardner

#ThrowbackThursday

Renee began the #ThrowbackThursday meme on her blog, It’s Book Talk to share some of her old favorites as well as sharing books published over a year ago. Sounded like a good reason to join! I’ll be looking back at my favorite authors and stories you might not have previously experienced. Hopefully, you’ll find either a story or author that interests you and you’ll check them out. And, if you’d like to join the fun, you’re welcome to use Renee’s pic from her website. Just provide the link back to her please).

Drifter by M. L. GardnerThis week I am highlighting M. L. Gardner, another terrific, prolific author who wrote Drifter, which I reviewed on Goodreads. She has actually written ten novels, including two series, short stories, and a novella. This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services LLC on January 11, 2014. She consistently runs approximately 4+ stars for any of her books sold on Amazon.

Originally posted January 26, 2015

Book Blurb:

In this fourth book of The 1929 Series, we are led into the world of Richard Sloan, a Massachusetts missing person’s detective who seems to be losing his touch. After six months he hasn’t found anyone alive and becomes desperate to redeem his reputation.

Aryl Sullivan, who suffered amnesia in a boating accident, finds himself caught up in a series of events that land him in London. While in the hands of Gina, a secretive and controlling woman, and her boss, Mickey, Aryl is forever changed as he does what he has to in order to survive.

Following leads on a serial cop killer terrorizing Boston, Detective Sloan unwittingly stumbles on information that leads him to Aryl Sullivan, a man everyone in Rockport thinks is dead.

My Review:

It’s amazing who you can become–given the right–or wrong circumstances. Sometimes, you can’t imagine how you’ve ever become this person. And having become a person you revile, can you ever quit and so back? Can you ever really “go home”? Would you want to?

This is the fourth in the 1929 series; the third I’ve read and this is definitely my favorite. Aryl is “found” by Richard Sloan, a missing persons cop who lucks onto Aryl looking for a serial cop killer. Sloan is a disgruntled, discontented Boston P.D. detective with a marriage teetering on the edge for a reason both partners are impotent to remedy. His record hasn’t been that good of late, finding more “missings” dead than alive; a day late, handing the file to homicide. He desperately hoped his last case, a 16-year-old, would be the reverse to the pattern. It wasn’t. Dejected, depressed, he decided he’d concentrate on the serial killer and counted on it to be his saving grace.

In the third of the 1929 series, Aryl Sullivan has been in a horrific explosion aboard his fishing vessel and barely survives with his body intact, never mind his mind. He has sustained major lacerations to his back which leaves him in severe pain in this installment. Unfortunately, he has no recollection what happened–only that he has been rescued and handed off eventually to land in London where he is then rescued by Gina who introduces him to Mickey. His injuries have left him dependent upon Gina who dishes him an elixir that quickly gets him hooked and leaves him no where to turn. Under his newly acquired circumstances, he becomes a man totally alien to his former self–capable of the unimaginable.

The tale unfolds after Sloan has picked him up from the French police where they both board a ship for the states. Together over the course of the cruise, each unloads his personal story as Aryl has slowly regained his memory and narrates the events of his past year. Aryl faces a shaky return. The experience has been life-changing for Sloan, however, and he makes several decisions both affecting his job and his marriage.

While the storyline borders on unique, there are edit problems that should have been addressed and it was a bit difficult to keep up with who was doing the current narrative since it switched back and forth between Sloan and Aryl. However, both have compelling histories or stories to tell (and they share with each other) and unfortunately for Aryl a long row to hoe before he can fully be brought back into the fold or the family. You have to swallow a few inaccuracies but on the whole, an interesting read and you do become sufficiently engaged in the characters to pursue the outcome.

This book was downloaded as a freebie by BookBub. Different in concept, the switch between the narrations garnered my imagination. Recommended reading–embrace the uncommon style.

Add to Goodreads

About the Author

M. L. Gardner M. L. Gardner is the bestselling author of the 1929 series. Gardner is frugal to a fault, preserving the old ways of living by canning, cooking from scratch, and woodworking. Nostalgic stories from her grandmother’s life during the Great Depression inspired Gardner to write the 1929 series–as well as her own research into the Roarin’ Twenties. She also wrote the Purling Road series and a cookbook. Gardner is married with three kids and four cats. She resides in western Montana. http://www.mlgardnerbooks.com

More Throwback Thursday Blogs

Renee at Its Book Talk

Jill at Jill’s Book Cafe

Rebecca at The Book Whisperer

Lynne at Fictionophile

Sam at Clues and Reviews

Holly B at Dressedtoread

Deanna at DeesRadReads and Reviews

Amanda at Literary Weaponry

Annie at The Misstery

Mischenko at Read Rant Rock and Roll

Laurie at Cozy Nook Books

Ann Marie at LItWitWineDine

©2018 V Williams V Williams

The Advice Column Murders – a #BookReview

The Advice Column Murders by Leslie NagelTitle: The Advice Column Murders: The Oakwood Mystery Series by Leslie Nagel

Genre: Currently # 235 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank in Kindle eBooks, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Mystery, Traditional Detectives

Publisher: Alibi

Publication Date: To be released April 3, 2018 – Happy Publication Day! Clink cocktail glasses

Source: Random House Publishing Group-Alibi and NetGalley

Title and Cover: The Advice Column Murders – Attractive, compelling cozy mystery cover

My first introduction to this series, I found the novel on the more serious side of a cozy mystery. As the third in the series, the protagonist is Charley Carpenter who is the owner of a vintage shop she calls Old Hat Vintage Fashions. This is apparently meant to be a standalone, though characters are brought forward from the first two in the series, including the situation with her shop which is now undergoing a major renovation that she will call Old Hat New Beginnings. (This is also my third book in a row in which the female protagonist is a Charley, Charlie, or Charlee–it must be getting popular to call a female protagonist Charley!) Continue reading “The Advice Column Murders – a #BookReview”

Hatshepsut: The Pharaoh Queen of Egypt – a #BookReview

Hatshepsut: The Pharaoh-Queen of Egypt by in60LearningTitle: Hatshepsut: The Pharaoh Queen of Egypt

Genre: Currently #22 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank in Kindle eBooks, Biographies & Memoirs, Historical, Middle East (One hour, 58 pages)

Publisher: in60Learning

Publication Date: February 3, 2018

Source: Amazon Digital Services and Direct Request by Tyler of in60Learning

Title and Cover: Hatshepsut: The Pharaoh Queen of Egypt – Cover conveys non-fiction material

We were contacted by Tyler of in60Learning with an inquiry regarding reading and reviewing their new concept non-fiction short stories in a quick and easy read 60-minute format. On their “title listing” page, they appear to have twenty-four titles, three of which are audio, the balance in a mix of Kindle and paperbook format. The titles run from biographies to histories with titles releasing from the middle of January 2018 through March. Many more are expected.

Titles include Marilyn Monroe: The Defiant Broad Disguised as a Dumb Blond (BiographyIn60, six reviews at 4.5 average stars) to Alexander the Great: Student of Aristotle, Descendent of Heroes (BiographyIn60 nineteen reviews at 4.5 average stars). The C.E. chose this one as well as Illinois Native Americans: A 9,000 Year Civilization. See that review here.

In60Learning introduces themselves thusly:

“Get Smarter in just 60  minutes with in60Learning. Concise and elegantly written non-fiction books and audiobooks help you learn the core subject matter in 20% of the time that it takes to read a typical book. Life is short, so explore a multitude of fascinating historical, biographical, scientific, political, and financial topics in only an hour each.”

Book Blurb:

When Pharaoh Thutmose II died, he left an heir far too young to rule Egypt. His widow Hatshepsut stepped up to take his place. For at least the next 20 years, Hatshepsut ruled as Pharaoh King of Egypt in an era of prosperous growth and peace. When she died, her nephew Thutmose III attempted to smear her good name and wipe her memory from history. However, despite his efforts, his aunt Hatshepsut holds the title of most famous native Egyptian woman to ever rule as pharaoh; she also retains a legacy as one of the most successful female leaders in early history. Continue reading “Hatshepsut: The Pharaoh Queen of Egypt – a #BookReview”

Rosepoint #Reviews – March Recap

Yes, we have zinged right into April with Easter Sunday! A beautiful beginning to the month.

Fairy Garden - Easter TimeIf the ground is no longer frozen, you know I’ll be grabbing my shovel and turning some dirt in the hope I can get my garden in before the end of April. I already have a few little seeds sprouting in my indoor starter tray. Hopefully, these will do better than last year. And last year? Remember I started the Fairy Garden that we alternatively call (depending on weather) “the Swamp.” I am currently waiting to see what survived and my heart is beginning to sink–I don’t think any of the ferns or Lilly of the Valley made it through the winter. Butterfly bush? History. But I’ve attained some satisfaction in digging out more reeds, snags, and trunks making way for slightly larger bushes than those $5 budget plants. If it’s sunny, I’ll probably be outdoors, at least until all plants are established.

I’ve confessed before to being a stats watcher (as I’ve set several goals) and was thrilled to announce the coming of my first 1,000th follower. I’ve been steadily building on that number and by Wednesday, the 28th of March had attained 1106 followers, looking forward to 1200. Then Thursday, the big crash happened and now the view counter is showing 999. How do you lose 107 followers overnight? But wait! There’s more..no really! Looking at my monthly totals, the blog achieved 1.0k views for the month of March. Hazzah! In fact, the first quarter of 2018 showed a significant jump in views. So I’m at a loss for the loss.

My February Recap noted that I was going to participate in Cathy‘s “Reading Ireland” Challenge. They were Shadow of a Century by Jean Grainger, Irish author, and another titled For the Love of Ireland by Judy Leslie and you’ll find both of those in the linked list below.

Eight new titles read and reviewed in March:

Deja Moo – a #BookReview

If I Live – a #BookReview

For the Love of Ireland – #BookReview

The True Tales of the Road to Key West – a #BookReview

Shadow of a Century – a #BookReview

Last Night – a #BookReview

Fiction Can Be Murder – a #BookReview

Dark Territory – a #BookReview

That intrepid associate reviewer, the CE, reviewed three titles for me in March.

The Telltale Tattoo – a #BookReview

The Tortilla Curtain by T. C. Boyle – a #BookReview

Illinois Native Americans – a #BookReview

#TBR - Easter

Check out my Easter week #TBR, cozy mysteries. In the meantime, I’ve added a book tour from Sage’s Blog Tours, an author request, and I won a beautiful hardback book titled Claws for Concern by Miranda James from Lori at Escape With Dollycas. Boy does it seem strange to hold a “real” book again! Thank you, Lori!

I so enjoy and appreciate my new followers and the ones who continue to read and comment! ©2018 V Williams V Williams

Illinois Native Americans – a #BookReview

Illinois Native Americans - A 9,000 Year CivilizationTitle: Illinois Native Americans: A 9,000 Year Civilization

Genre: Currently #14 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank in Kindle Short Reads, One hour (33-43 pages), History

Publisher: in60Learning

Publication Date: February 3, 2018

Source: Amazon Digital Services and Direct Request by publisher

Title and Cover: Illinois Native Americans – Cover denotes non-fiction material (uh oh–are you up for that?)

We were contacted by Tyler of in60Learning with an inquiry regarding reading and reviewing their new concept non-fiction novels in a down and dirty read and learn in a 60 minutes format. On their “title listing” page, they appear to have twenty-four titles, three of which are audio, the balance in Kindle format. The titles run from biographies to histories with titles releasing from the middle of January 2018 through March

Titles include Alexander the Great: Student of Aristotle, Descendant of Heroes (with 19 reviews and 4.5 average stars and apparently contains footnotes) to The Mexican-American War: A Divisive Expansion (with six reviews and 4.4 average stars). The C.E. chose this one as well as Hatshepsut The Pharaoh Queen of Egypt, which will be reviewed tomorrow.

In60Learning introduces themselves thusly:

“Get Smarter in just 60  minutes with in60Learning. Concise and elegantly written non-fiction books and audiobooks help you learn the core subject matter in 20% of the time that it takes to read a typical book. Life is short, so explore a multitude of fascinating historical, biographical, scientific, political, and financial topics in only an hour each.” Continue reading “Illinois Native Americans – a #BookReview”

Dark Territory – a #BookReview

Dark Territory by Leo J MaloneyTitle: Dark Territory (a Dan Morgan Thriller–#6.5) by Leo J. Maloney

Genre: Currently #80 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank in Kindle Singles, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense and #425 Military

 Publisher: Penguin Random House Publishing Services

Publication Date: April 24, 2018

Source: Penguin Random House Publishing Services and NetGalley

Title and Cover: Dark Territory – Cover depicts military ops

Alex Morgan, the daughter of black ops specialist Dan Morgan, has just come off a sniper hit that took out a North Korean officer in Russia. Now the problem is to exit the country safely and that is determined to be the Trans-Siberian Railway. She is, however, Dan’s daughter, and knows she cannot let down her guard until she is well out of there. But she is not the only one aboard with specialized talents.

Nothing like a thriller that grabs you by the collar and pulls you in and this short story will do just that. Then you better hang on because this plot barrels along and doesn’t give you a chance to catch your breath until the protagonist makes the world safe again. I must admit to reading this black ops veteran author for the first time, although he apparently has a large volume of successful novels to his credit. Continue reading “Dark Territory – a #BookReview”

#ThrowbackThursday – Maids of Misfortune by M. Louisa Locke

#ThrowbackThursday

Renee began the Throwback Thursday meme on her blog, It’s Book Talk to share some of her old favorites as well as sharing books published over a year ago. Sounded like a good reason to join! I’ve gathered up some old reads and reviews from Goodreads to share with you–but a good book never gets old. Hopefully, you’ll find either a story or author that interests you and you’ll check them out. And, if you’d like to join the fun, you’re welcome to use Renee’s pic from her website. Just provide the link back to her please).

Maids of Misfortune by M. Louisa LockeThis week I am highlighting M. Louisa Locke, another terrific, prolific author who wrote Maids of Misfortune (A Victorian San Francisco Mystery). She has actually written five in the series with novellas in between. This novel was published by CreateSpace on December 3, 2009. She consistently runs approximately 4.0/5 stars for any of her books sold on Amazon.

Originally posted January 20, 2015

Book Blurb:

It’s the summer of 1879, and Annie Fuller, a young San Francisco widow, is in trouble. Annie’s husband squandered her fortune before committing suicide five years earlier…Annie Fuller also has a secret. She supplements her income by giving domestic and business advice as Madam Sibyl, one of San Francisco’s most exclusive clairvoyants, and one of Madam Sibyl’s clients, Matthew Voss, has died…Nate Dawson has a problem. As the Voss family lawyer, he would love to believe that Matthew Voss didn’t leave his grieving family destitute. But that would mean working with Annie Fuller, a woman who alternatively attracts and infuriates him as she shatters every notion he ever had of proper ladylike behavior…Sparks fly as Anne and Nate pursue the truth about the murder of Matthew Voss in this light-hearted, cozy historical mystery set in the foggy gas-lit world of Victorian San Francisco. 
Continue reading “#ThrowbackThursday – Maids of Misfortune by M. Louisa Locke”

Fiction Can Be Murder – a #BookReview

Fiction Can Be Murder by Becky ClarkTitle: Fiction Can Be Murder (A Mystery Writer’s Mystery) by Becky Clark

Genre: Currently #6572 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank in Kindle eBooks, Literature & Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Women Sleuths

Publisher: Midnight Ink

Publication Date: To be released April 8, 2018

Source: Midnight Ink and NetGalley

Title and Cover: Fiction Can Be Murder–I get it–her reading chair, but…

This book is every bit as much fun as a cozy mystery but without the recipes! Is it or is it not a cozy mystery? Well, maybe so, though it’s sub-titled a mystery writer’s mystery, and that’s not really a cozy mystery cover, I don’t think. I’m already invested in the characters, however, that she establishes in this, the first of her series and the setting of Denver in March? Come on–Perfect! (As I’m reading from Indiana flirting with snow flurries.) Even were it the middle of summer, everyone is familiar with the cliché of Denver winters, which I’m sure must be comparable to northern Siberia, and fetches chills just saying the word. Continue reading “Fiction Can Be Murder – a #BookReview”

Last Night – a #BookReview

Last Night by Kerry WilkinsonTitle: Last Night by Kerry Wilkinson

Genre: Currently #806 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank in Kindle eBooks, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Suspense, Psychological

Publisher: Bookouture

Publication Date: March 28, 2018

Source: Bookouture and NetGalley

Title and Cover: Last NightCover hints at remote field

Apparently not an English author new on the scene, my first read in one of his standalone books due out the end of this month. Rose Denton wakes behind the wheel, it’s two-something and she is apparently in the middle of a field with blood on her windshield and hood. She is confused, has no memory for how she might have gotten there, and after an inspection of her own body (nothing sore or broken), then around the car can find no apparent victim, animal or human. She has no explanation for her careen through the hedge or why she is here. Continue reading “Last Night – a #BookReview”

The Tortilla Curtain by T. C. Boyle – a #BookReview

The Tortilla Curtain by T C Boyle-eBook coverTitle: The Tortilla Curtain by T. C. Boyle

Genre: Currently #27 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank in Kindle eBooks, Literature & Fiction, Literary Fiction, Satire, and #62 in Contemporary Fiction, Urban

Publisher: Penguin Books

Publication Date: September 1, 1996

Source: Free download BookBub

Title and Cover: The Tortilla CurtaineBook cover attracted my attention (prefer it to the paperback version below)–thought it would interest hubby–this is his review.

This book has been around more than twenty years and certainly long enough that there are more than sufficient synopses. So at this point, I must assume the literary crowd is familiar with the setting in the beautiful but fragile ecology of the Topanga Canyon of Southern California. This scenario situates two couples on a course designed to slap your senses into a new mindset. The classic style Greek pathos novel grasps the very soul of society and squeezes so tightly I came close to declaring a DNF more than once. No getting around it–this is a very difficult book. Continue reading “The Tortilla Curtain by T. C. Boyle – a #BookReview”

Define TBR – In Bookish Terms It Means Different Things to Different People

Most generally in Bookish Terms, TBR stands for “To Be Read.” That wildly general term could mean books that at one point or another laid resident in your library or virtual novels on your Excel spreadsheet, shelf, or shelves.

Or your list may be a very detailed spreadsheet of all the books you want to read (not that you yet possess), perhaps in chronological, alphabetical, (color?) or genre order including print, ebook, or audio editions. Then there is a short, specific list of those few next up in your queue. Mine consists of the latter, usually dictated by publishing date and rotated in and out on my Goodreads list, as I discovered it impossible for me to schedule a month out. I never know what gorgeous cover will catch my eye, or that there is a thriller pop up I must have. That said–my #TBR changes weekly–it’s as fickle as the NYT bestseller lists I just wrote about. That said–here are this week’s books–right now:

#TBR end of March

Last Night by Kerry Wilkinson

“It’s the early hours of the morning and Rose Denton wakes up behind the steering wheel of her car. She’s off the road, through a hedge and in a field. What happened last night?” Contemporary English thriller

Add to Goodreads

Dark Territory by Leo J Maloney

“Black Ops veteran Leo J. Maloney delivers a lightning-fast thriller that puts America’s top operatives on a collision course with Russia’s deadliest weapon . . . The Trans-Siberian Railway is the longest rail line in the world. But for Dan Morgan’s daughter Alex, it could be the shortest trip of her life—and the last.” (Amazon) Military, thriller and suspense

Add to Goodreads

Claws for Concern by Miranda James

“Charlie Harris and his Maine Coon cat, Diesel, are embroiled in a new mystery when a cold case suddenly heats up in the latest installment of the New York Times bestselling series.” Cozy mystery

Add to Goodreads

What about you? What is your definition of TBR? Is it totally out of control or this week’s reads? ©2018 V Williams V Williams