Release Blitz – A Drummer in Red (Young America Book 1) by Gordon Saunders – @RABTBookTours #yahistoricalfiction

YA Historical Fiction
Published Date: 1-8-20
Publisher: INtense Publications LLC
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Lewis Elliot and his mother, Stella, are forced to flee their Baltimore home for the modest farm of their cousins in Gloucester County, Virginia. They arrive just as the feared Lord Cornwallis and the hated Colonel Banastre Carleton take up residence in Gloucester Point and across the York River in Yorktown. The war heats up as Cornwallis fortifies Yorktown and Carleton begins foraging raids in Gloucester County.
Then, while Lewis and his cousins, Lloyd and Tetty, are off to Gloucester Courthouse to try to sell enough tobacco to provide for the family, Carleton raids the farm and Stella receives a life-threatening injury.
Through battle, betrayal, unexpected alliances, and, apparently, the Hand ofGod, Lewis and his cousins and friends take a role in the events leading to Cornwallis’s surrender on October 19, 1781, after the last major battle of the Revolutionary War.

My Review

What a delightful way to get in some history of the last vestiges of the war that marked our independence. A credible story of the time in this coming of age saga of the youngsters in the Revolutionary War of Gloucester County, Virginia.

Lewis Elliott is forced to join his cousins as Cornwallis takes up a position in Yorktown. Lewis’ older cousin Lloyd is eager to join the battle with his dad, while Tetty works with his Aunt Virginia to feed and care for their now extended family.

Lewis begins to assert himself in providing services where he can and meets a young French chef’s assistant. Together they go to gather crabs for the soldiers when a storm hits. Lewis has a better command of the French language than does Gilly. Together they are introduced later to Crispin, but who do you trust when there are spies and Loyalists?

Interesting lesson of the men as painted by the author, both good men and bad, a British officer counseling Lewis when Lewis acts out possibly endangering not only himself but others, “It’s not your private war.” But there are many lessons to be learned here, not just the history of the time and area, but that of trust, betrayal, love, death, friendship and survival. Lewis matures beyond his years and views his relatives and finally his dad with understanding, love, and forgiveness.

I can see a tremendous amount of research here, history in very palatable, relatable,  and suspenseful fashion and enjoyed the information of the culture of tobacco as well as the oft-spoken French.

And the drummer. “The drummer means a parley,”…I didn’t know that!

I was given this digital download by the publisher and RABT Book Tours and appreciated the opportunity to read and review. An interesting read for any young adult.

About the Author

Growing up in Boston, and living in four countries in Europe over 25 years, gave Dr. Saunders a desire to know and share the history that’s shaped the world we live in today.

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RABT Book Tours & PR

 

Release Blitz for A Drummer in Red by Gordon Saunders for @RABTBookTours

I am thrilled to be a participant today in this #releaseblitz for A Drummer in Red, a YA Historical Fiction, Young America series Book 1. 

YA Historical Fiction
Published Date: 1-8-20
Publisher: INtense Publications LLC
 photo add-to-goodreads-button_zpsc7b3c634.png

Lewis Elliot and his mother, Stella, are forced to flee their Baltimore home for the modest farm of their cousins in Gloucester County, Virginia. They arrive just as the feared Lord Cornwallis and the hated Colonel Banastre Carleton take up residence in Gloucester Point and across the York River in Yorktown. The war heats up as Cornwallis fortifies Yorktown and Carleton begins foraging raids in Gloucester County.

Then, while Lewis and his cousins, Lloyd and Tetty, are off to Gloucester Courthouse to try to sell enough tobacco to provide for the family, Carleton raids the farm and Stella receives a life-threatening injury.
Through battle, betrayal, unexpected alliances, and, apparently, the Hand ofGod, Lewis and his cousins and friends take a role in the events leading to Cornwallis’s surrender on October 19, 1781, after the last major battle of the Revolutionary War.
About the Author

Growing up in Boston, and living in four countries in Europe over 25 years, gave Dr. Saunders a desire to know and share the history that’s shaped the world we live in today.

Contact Links
Publisher Links
RABT Book Tours & PR

 

Shattered Justice (A Bone Gap Travellers Novel Book 3) by Susan Furlong – a #BookReview #thriller

Gritty, raw, and unrelenting but war-damaged ex-Marine Irish Traveller. Where is the justice?

Shattered Justice by Susan FurlongBook Blurb:

In the Appalachian town of Bone Gap, Tennessee, backwoods justice is more than just blind. It’s swift, silent, and shockingly personal. Especially for Irish Traveller turned deputy sheriff Brynn Callahan . . .
 
“Hear No Evil.”

The first message is found in a playground. A few feet away, a  pair of human ears hang from the monkey bars. Deputy sheriff Brynn Callahan isn’t sure what to make of this grisly scene. Do the ears belong to a murder victim? And if so, where is the body? One thing Brynn is sure of: the earring on one of the earlobes belongs to a man she met at a party the previous night.  . .
 
“Speak No Evil.”

The second message is discovered next to a human tongue on a park pavilion. Once again, no body is found. Brynn can’t help but wonder if the crimes are rooted in the town’s long-simmering tensions between Bone Gap locals and the barely tolerated Travellers who’ve settled there.
 
“See No Evil.”

For Brynn, the investigation hits too close to home—forcing her to confront the demons of her own past. But time is running out. Brynn has to track down the culprit before a third message is delivered—and a third victim is claimed. Rich, atmospheric, and brilliantly chilling, Shattered Justice is the third Bone Gap Travellers novel from the acclaimed author of Splintered Silence and Fractured Truth.

My Thoughts

Shattered Justice by Susan FurlongAnother intense, book-hooking entry to the Bone Gap Travellers series that has you alternately cringing and then reading faster. Ex-Marine Brynn Callahan returned to her family home after an IED ended both her tours and that of her cadaver dog, Wilco. But it wasn’t easy to return to the Appalachians with her Irish Travellers (or Pavees) and assume a job with local law enforcement (the “settled”), straddling both sides from a community that keeps to themselves and wields their own sense of law enforcement.

Brynn is still suffering from PTSD, as is her dog, and daily struggles with staying clean of the relief she found in dealing with the pain and trauma of those horrific scars. Her first-person dialogue plops you squarely in her head and the fight is unrelenting. Brynn languishes on the fringe between the settled, answering to Pusser who directs her investigations as she deals at home with her own tight-knit neighbors.

Obviously, this novel sets the old saying on edge as ears are found followed by a severed tongue, but the plot won’t be that simple and soon revisits the closely held secret of her beloved Gran setting a strong distraction.  There must be two bodies, but they are missing. Are they connected to the Pavee brought in, Mo’s husband?

The author has an amazing writing style, often producing quotable moments, “…gray, that undefined color in between black and white, the color of limbo, the zone between life and death,” and

“Did you learn anything from your slip, Brynn?” My eyes snapped back to Margaret…Why, yes, Margaret, I learned that Black Label whiskey is worth every damn penny…”

“And when they surface, we suddenly know: we are all victims of our past and vulnerable in our present.”

Brynn is intelligent, flawed, and damaged but between her investigation and Wilco’s help, she’ll ferret out the truth, as deeply buried as it is. The well-developed support characters provide a graphic mindset along with descriptions of the deeply wooded mountains, foreboding and sinister, hides more than the Travellers. A profoundly disturbing depiction moves forefront along with some stomach-turning descriptions. The dialogue is brutal, many times raw, threatening, and the tension builds to a massively intricate conclusion and one you won’t guess. Actually, it could be assumed you stopped trying and just raced through to the heart-stopping climax.

I was given a digital download by the publisher and NetGalley and am extremely grateful for the opportunity to read and review my third book in this series–and looking forward to Book 4. Recommended to any looking for a unique premise and genuinely engaging mystery. This might standalone, but you’ll miss a lot of backstory if you don’t start at the beginning. 4.5/5 stars

His Thoughts

Justice in the backwoods of Tennessee. Can there be such a thing? Ms. Furlong writes a compelling novel about just such a query. This novel is fast moving and at times graphically gruesome. Add a war broken detective and a three-legged dog and you have a read hard to put down!

Brynn is the detective who is scarred from three tours with the US Marines. She has internal demons as well as the perpetrators she is working to bring to justice. She and her dog are both victims of an IED (improvised explosive device). Pain pills and other drugs as well as alcohol are also demons that must be defeated by our detective.

The perpetrators are a related family of women who work to bring justice to their part of the world. A moral code inherent in this society of misfits called Travellers or Pavees cloud the investigation. The women show extraordinary abilities to evade their pursuers.

The layout of the book and the end result left a little to be desired. The reason for the violence is a thread throughout the book which seems apparent. One suicide which was not a suicide, inept police work and inter-clan justice and you have a web full of holes.

Following the clues to the killer or killers is not easy. Ms. Furlong throws in the struggles that many returning military face trying to meld back into society. I found some of them to be red herrings that tended to leave my crime-solving forensic training yelling “WHAT?!”

As with many cozy type mysteries, I find the denigration of the males in the police force a little tedious. Certainly one would expect clashes between the male and female detectives, but not to the extent posed by Ms. Furlong and Harris. It is a common perception by society and the interaction of men and women in the work force. However, this seems a little gratuitous. As society evolves, the movement to have total equality in all areas seems contrived. The issue is well developed in Ms. Furlong’s plot.

The ending of the book is why I did not give it five stars. Out of nowhere another antagonist emerges. Again, a female who seems to be as bent on justice as the primary villain. This is a serious blindsiding in the development of the plot and its’ conclusion. The gruesome crimes seemed overdone and the end story left me asking the question, WHY? Associate Reviewer - C E Williams

Ms. Furlong’s discussion narrative at the end of the novel is a good planning tool. It certainly helps to develop the overall novel in the reader’s mind. I can see where a group discussion may very well lead to a better understanding of the issues and problems faced by veterans in general. My hat is off to her as a very good writer and an understanding human being. 4/5 stars CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Thrillers, Women Sleuths
Publisher: Kensington Books

  • ISBN-10:1496711726
  • ISBN-13:978-1496711724
  • ASIN: B07NX1X3HP

Print Length: 304 pages
Publication Date: Happy Publication Day! December 31, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Shattered Justice

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Susan Furlong - authorThe Author: Susan Furlong the author of several mystery series including the acclaimed Bone Gap Travellers series. She also contributes to the New York Times bestselling Novel Idea Mysteries under the pen name Lucy Arlington. She has worked as a freelance writer, academic writer, ghost writer, translator, high-school language arts teacher, and martial arts instructor. She and her family live in central Illinois. Visit her on Facebook or at http://www.susanfurlong.com.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Sealed Off (A Maine Clambake Mystery Book 8) by Barbara Ross – a #BookReview #cozymystery

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5-stars

Sealed Off by Barbara Ross

Book Blurb:

Early October is “winding down” time in Busman’s Harbor, Maine, but there’s nothing relaxing about it for Julia Snowden. Between busloads of weekend leaf peepers at the Snowden Family Clambake and a gut renovation of the old mansion on Morrow Island, she’s keeping it all together with a potentially volatile skeleton crew—until one of them turns up dead under the firewood.

When the Russian demo team clearing out the mansion discovers a room that’s been sealed off for decades, Julia’s baffled as to its purpose and what secrets it might have held. Tensions are already simmering with the crew, but when one of the workers is found murdered, things come to a boil. With the discovery of another body—and a mysterious diary with Cyrillic text in the hidden room—the pressure’s on Julia to dig up a real killer fast. But she’ll have to sort through a pile of suspects, including ex-spouses, a spurned lover, and a recently released prisoner, to fish out one clammed-up killer.

My Review:

I so enjoy the stories of the Snowden Family Clambakes on Busman’s Harbor, Maine. The family built a large mansion and completed the Morrow Island clambake business with fire pits, picnic tables, and covered pavilion to lend the perfect Maine lobster experience to the tourists. Unfortunately, the old mansion was left empty and in a sad state of deterioration after 1929 suffered a devastating fire a couple years ago. They are now in the process of a complete renovation.

Sealed Off by Barbara RossArriving on the island to complete prep for one of the last days’ clambakes of the season, Julia Snowden discovers a body underneath the woodpile.

But there’s more…

A dual plot pops up when the demolition crew at the mansion opens a room that had been totally enclosed with the inhabitant’s personal effects still in the wardrobe and drawers. OMG! I got totally sucked into the interior room next to the nursery, sealed off and hidden. I love story ARC twists like this! Even more delicious, a diary is discovered in the underwear drawer dating 1898.

Now you know Julia is going to have to work on the murder cause the main and most obvious suspect is her boyfriend’s brother, an ex-con. Oops! Forget thinking this will be a simple mystery. There are twists and obvious suspects, ticked off the list one by one. Still, I had suspicions, but wasn’t sure right up until the reveal. Then, oh yeah, we knew this wouldn’t be an easy solve and it involved an unpleasant trope.

Then the governess who wrote the diary–what in the world happened to her? It’s totally engaging with deep plunges into genealogy and web searches, gleaning names one by one.

As always with the Maine Clambake series, it’s easy to invest in the narrative and the delightful small fishing village, the lobstermen jargon, boating terms, and perspectives on weather and waves. You can smell the salt air and crave those fresh dishes. (YES! Fresh is a whole different kettle of fish! One of our fond memories is the breakdown of the old VW bus we had full of Pacific crab. What could we do? Waiting for help, we gorged on fresh crab!) Anyway, the Snowden family has such a history and calls on one of their oldest for this one, sharing memories of the mansion, delightful foods (recipes at the end of the book) and descriptions of the colorful northern state.

The conclusion draws both plots to a satisfying close, neatly tying loose ends, except one: Julia’s boyfriend…stay tuned.

I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley and was thrilled to get another Maine Clambake mystery to read and review. Recommended for any who enjoy an immersive location, interesting characters, and complex but satisfying plots.

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Culinary Mystery, Amateur Sleuth
Publisher: Kensington Books

  • ISBN-10:1496717953
  • ISBN-13:978-1496717955
  • ASIN: B07Q7X57MG

Print Length: 256 pages
Publication Date: December 31, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Sealed Off+Add to Goodreads
Barbara Ross - authorThe Author: Barbara Ross is the author of the Maine Clambake Mysteries and the Jane Darrowfield Mysteries. Her books have been nominated for multiple Agatha Awards for Best Contemporary Novel and have won the Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction. Barbara’s Maine Clambake novellas are included along with stories by Leslie Meier and Lee Hollis in three holiday anthologies from Kensington Publishing. Barbara and her husband live in Portland, Maine.

[Goodreads] Barbara Ross is the author of seven Maine Clambake Mysteries. The eighth, Sealed Off, will be released in December 2019. Her novellas featuring Julia Snowden are included along with stories by Leslie Meier and Lee Hollis in the anthologies Eggnog MurderYule Log Murder and Haunted House Murder.

Jane Darrowfield, Professional Busybody, the first book in a new mystery series, was released in June 2019.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

The Ghost of Christmas Past Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries (Book 8.5) by Angie Fox – a #BookReview #Paranormal #cozy

[Amazon] “*A ‘between the books’ holiday story you don’t want to miss!”

The Ghost of Christmas Past

Book Blurb:

Southern girl Verity Long needs a Christmas miracle…

Verity is ready to deck the halls, jingle some bells, and maybe, just maybe have a merry Christmas with her boyfriend’s stuffy family. Truly, if she doesn’t extend the proverbial olive branch to the overbearing Wydells, she’s afraid she’ll hit them over the head with it.

But when her boyfriend’s mother pulls a shocking stunt, Verity finds herself with a big decision to make. And if that’s not enough, there’s an unexpected guest at her door. It’s the ghost of the woman who helped rescue Verity’s pet skunk three years ago that very night. And now she’s there to change Verity’s life as well.

My Review

Definitely wasn’t prepared for this one, borrowed heavily from one of our favorite Christmas classics. I was into the ghost of Christmas present before it hit my forehead with an ah ha moment. Oh, DUH! I get it!

The Ghost of Christmas Past by Angie FoxVerity Long discovered she set off a force by accident that has introduced her to the shadow world through Frankie, now her resident ghost. She is getting pretty good with this ghost stuff, but can’t predict their visits or needs. This last one helped rescue an animal that Verity is still caring for and requests help with another animal in serious danger. She reluctantly agrees as she’s already had a day of it.

Getting ready for a Christmas party at her boyfriend’s house, Verity receives a rather shocking gift. The Wydell’s have been a long-established family in the area and she’s sweet on the middle child Ellis now but feels it’s time to draw a line with his mother. Hopefully, it’s not the equivalent of burning the bridge to her sweety, but that’s the rub, huh?

Perhaps having it out with Virginia Wydell was not the best way to handle the situation on Christmas Eve and she opts out of the party. She’ll go instead to rescue the endangered animal. It’s there she gets another shocker that’ll force her to rethink her handling of the former situation.

I really enjoyed the way in which the situation was handled, making for a sweet resolution. This is a shorty, meant to augment between full novels and is simple and easy enough to read as a standalone. Fast, fun delightful read for the season with the theme of friendship, family, reconciliation, and that touch of romance. Frankie, as a former ghost, is a great support character, and Virginia, the bitter, nasty, crotchety antagonist is appropriately hateful.

I was given this digital download by the publisher through NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended to any who enjoys a modern take on a beloved classic.

His Review

Dickens meets the Ghost Whisperer in this Christmas frolic! Verity is a young lady saddled with the ability to communicate with the dead while having a potential future mother-in-law from hell. She is also an animal lover at heart and puts up with a spirit named Frankie who uses her for his own ends.

Add in a potential future husband who is totally controlled by a very vengeful mother and you have the basis of a story. Verity being able to communicate with the spirit world is called upon by many of the “disturbed or incomplete spirits” who want favors from her for their relatives.

A surprise gift from her potential mother-in-law adds fuel to the situation. I found the young lady both strong of spirit and short on will power. The combination makes for an entertaining short read that I could recommend to anyone who wants to retreat from reality. Associate Reviewer - C E Williams

The book is easy to read and entertaining. I would suggest it for young ladies or brides to be. 4.5/5 stars CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Mystery, Paranormal, Ghost Stories
Publisher: Moose Island Books

  • ISBN-10:1939661617
  • ISBN-13:978-1939661616
  • ASIN: B07XPGBZ1L

Print Length: 152 pages
Publication Date: November 29, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Ghost of Christmas Past

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Angie Fox - authorThe Author: New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Angie Fox writes sweet, fun, action-packed mysteries. Her characters are clever and fearless, but in real life, Angie is afraid of basements, bees, and going upstairs when it is dark behind her. Let’s face it. Angie wouldn’t last five minutes in one of her books.

Angie is best known for her SOUTHERN SPIRITS™ mysteries, and for her ACCIDENTAL DEMON SLAYER books. Visit her at http://www.angiefox.com.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

The Dog on the Acropolis by Mark Tedesco – a #BookReview – #timetravel

The Dog on the Acropolis by Mark TedescoBook Blurb:

A family living in Greece at the time of the construction of the Parthenon and another family, thousands of years later, eking out a living at the base of the Acropolis.

The repercussions of the meeting of man and dog would unfold in unforeseen ways that would impact the lives around them.

The narrative takes the reader to Greece’s Golden Age, in which one dog, Daria, would scamper up the hill to keep up with Adelino, a stonecutter working on the new temple, and his son Tiro. The lives of Pheidias, the architect of the Parthenon, Adelino and Diana his wife, as well as Tiro their son, would intersect in unexpected ways.

The story brings then brings the reader back into the present where past and present eventually coincide, transforming the lives of both canines and humans.

My Review:

As most who read my blog know I’m a sucker for a dog story and this one taps into that mysterious corner of the dog’s mind that we would all love to tap. We know there must be more in there than, “ball, ball, throw the ball,” or “food, food, I’m hungry.” In this book, we get the full chimichanga–a dog that taps into his very, very early ancestor. Here in his present day, he dreams of the experiences of the Golden Age of Greece that now drive his life and his mood.

The Dog on the Acropolis by Mark TedescoDraco is a stray (black lab) that lives at the Acropolis present day. He sleeps on the steps of the Parthenon, running down into the village during the day to make his rounds. Each of the humans he seeks fulfills a need, from food, to water, to bathing (of which he seems to get more than his share), and companionship and protection.

The Plaka is a tourist area bustling with cafes and all manner of touristy shops, most owned by generations of shopkeepers. High on Draco’s list of generous shopowners are Akil, Alexander, and Cynarra. Akil is a baker struggling with his son until his son Jason notices the dog that has adopted his dad.

But Draco is a stray and he cherishes his freedom. He has a job to do and he takes it very seriously. He guides tourists up the hill to the Acropolis. His dreams recall his ancestor Daria, a small female, who befriends Adelino, a stonecutter. He has a twelve year old that would love to work with his father and is thrust into the position of breadwinner when Adelino befalls a horrific accident and is bedridden for some time. Tiro willingly finds a position with Pheidias, the architect of the Parthenon, which will house a monstrous statue of the goddess Athena.

While the dogs are centuries apart, they both create a bond with their humans and the shared bond extends through their human base of friends–bringing them all closer together. I enjoyed the canine characteristics that lovingly enlarge the circle of companions. The things we love about dogs don’t appear to change over the centuries. They are still sensitive to human needs and nuances, providing the touch of calm understanding that their human counterparts appear to crave.

The premise is a good one but hampered a bit by the daily routine which varies little and soon becomes oft-repeated slowing the storyline. The chapters regarding the stonecutter and his family open another time and existence enlightening the human struggle for survival at the time. The dialogue is fairly simplistic and several times bounce between the present and the ancient creating momentary confusion. While there is a passage of time, little changes other than the children are getting older and Cynarra manages to break from her parent’s flower shop to go to a UK university. (She was expected to take over the shop while her brothers went their separate ways.) There are a few inconsistencies, making me wonder if I’d remembered something incorrectly last scene. Draco seemed to subsist on hand-outs of bread and cheese, only getting a mention of dry dog food near the end.

The conclusion, while sad, reinforces the theme of love, devotion, loyalty, and compassion and pointedly noted the inadvertent gift of canine to humans. A unique and well-plotted narrative, I appreciated receiving a copy in expectation of a review. These are my own opinions.

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Academia Publications

  • ISBN-10:0578214369
  • ISBN-13:978-0578214368
  • ASIN: B07T24YHSL

Print Length: 199 pages
Publication Date: June 11, 2019
Source: Direct author request
Title Link: The Dog on the Acropolis

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Mark Tedesco - authorThe Author: Mark Tedesco is a published author and history teacher in Los Angeles. He was born in California but lived for many years in Europe. There he developed a unique perspective which is apparent in his teaching and writing.

His first book “That Undeniable Longing – My Road to and from the Priesthood” is a memoir of his sojourn in Rome in a Vatican seminary leading to ordination. Readers have been taken aback by his honesty and integrity in recounting his journey. His account continues as he eventually decided to leave the priesthood in order to be “true to himself”.

His second book is “Loving Hoping Believing – Poetry to Live By”. Poetry comes alive here as the words express the love possible between two persons, the joy of being united, the anguish of loss and the hope of fulfillment.

After eight years of research, Mark’s work of historical fiction draws the reader into an experience of Ancient Rome. “I am John, I am Paul: A Story of Two Soldiers in Ancient Rome.” The mysterious bond between the two soldiers is intertwined with the historical events of the 4th century.

“Lessons and Beliefs: Searching for Love in the Gay World”: Since wisdom is born of reflection on experience, Mark Tedesco takes the reader on a journey as he contemplates the quest for fulfilling relationships with others and with himself.” Lessons and Beliefs: Searching for Love in the Gay World” is both self-help and memoir, giving a riveting account of love and relationships in the gay world.

Besides writing, Mark’s passions run the gamut from archeology to sports and fitness. His colleagues consider to him to be somewhat of a Renaissance man. He enjoys imparting to his students his thirst for life and happiness. This thirst, or quest, is apparent in every work Mark devotes himself to.

[Goodreads] If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future?

I would travel to the ancient world, to Rome, Greece and Egypt. If I could avoid getting the Plague or dying in battle, I would enjoy the grandeur and drama of ancient civilizations and travel to see the wonders of that world. I would wander the streets of Rome and gaze up at the temples and painted statues and walk through the bazaars of Alexandria while listening to the many languages of visitors and residents. Yes, the ancient world would be where I would time travel.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Bookmarked for Murder (Mystery Bookshop Book 5) by V M Burns – a #BookReview #cozymystery

Bookshop owner with aspirations to becoming a writer–clever plot manipulation.

Bookmarked for Murder by V M BurnsBook Blurb:

Amateur sleuth Samantha Washington’s shopping trip to Chicago takes a deadly detour when a man is murdered on her bus . . .
 
After some post-Christmas retail therapy in the Windy City, mystery bookshop owner and historical whodunit novelist Sam Washington is returning home to North Harbor, Michigan, on a chartered bus. With Nana Jo and her gal pals Irma, Dorothy, and Ruby Mae from Shady Acres Retirement Village along for the ride, it’s a lively trip. But one passenger is not so lively—a gentleman Irma befriended is found dead in his seat after an unscheduled stop. The ladies immediately shift gears to find out who punched his ticket, while Sam slips into the driver’s seat to make sure Nana Jo and her crew steer clear of fatal conclusions . . .

My Review:

Samantha (Sam) Washington is returning to North Harbor, Michigan with her Nana Jo and her cadre of Shady Acres Retirement Village characters after a lovely post-Christmas excursion to Chicago. Unfortunately, the man who decided to come along with Irma and the others is found murdered following a rest stop on the way.

Bookmarked for Murder by V M BurnsSam, the mystery bookshop owner, is also an aspiring writer and she often slips into author mode to continue her London-based historical mystery manuscript. I’d forgotten that these narratives involved a mystery within a mystery, but quickly became acclimated to the “heads up” signal and it proves to be a fun little ditty within the main whodunit. Sam is seeing Frank Patterson, a budding romance, and evolving in an unhurried way. She has two small poodles at home beginning to show signs of aging.

Sam is really coming along in development. I enjoyed her more in this particular entry to the series, although I wondered a number of times how she could be gone from her bookshop so much. Nana Jo is a major support character, frequently stealing the show, but is a great strong and independent representative of her generation. The rest of the Shady Acres crew range in age, all seniors who exhibit a wide spread in life experiences and capabilities and all contribute to solving the crime.

The antagonist is not too difficult to guess, although the motive would remain elusive. Sam’s historical mystery manages to reach a conclusion shortly before the main storyline draws to a close. The main storyline is peppered with humorous bits and observations. The author includes the best definition I’ve read of exactly what comprises a cozy mystery, which I found enlightening. The only problem I had was how the local officer in charge of investigation was painted.

I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley and enjoyed the read and review in return. Book 5 would function fine as a standalone and I believe my favorite so far. Recommended for any who enjoy a fast-paced, cleverly laid out, cozy

Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuth, Cozy Crafts and Hobbies, Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Kensington Books

  • ISBN-10:1496718313
  • ISBN-13:978-1496718310
  • ASIN: B07P9MR138

Print Length: 256 pages
Publication Date: November 26, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Bookmarked for Murder

+Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint Publishing: Four of Five Stars 4-stars

V M Burns - authorThe Author: V.M. Burns was born and raised in the Midwestern United States. She received a Bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University, a Master’s degree from the University of Notre Dame and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Seton Hill University. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Dog Writers Association of America, Thriller Writers International and a lifetime member of Sisters in Crime. She is the secretary of her local chapter of Sisters in Crime (The East Tennessee Smoking Guns) and the Education Grants Coordinator for the national Sisters in Crime. She currently resides in the warmer area of the U.S. with her two poodles. Readers can visit her website at http://www.vmburns.com

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Hands Up by Stephen Clark – a #BookReview #crime #policeprocedural

Hands Up by Stephen ClarkBook Blurb:

Officer Ryan Quinn, a rookie raised in a family of cops, is on the fast track to detective until he shoots an unarmed black male. Now, with his career, reputation and freedom on the line, he embarks on a quest for redemption that forces him to confront his fears and biases and choose between conscience or silence.

Jade Wakefield is an emotionally damaged college student living in one of Philadelphia’s worst neighborhoods. She knows the chances of getting an indictment against the cop who killed her brother are slim. When she learns there’s more to the story than the official police account, Jade is determined, even desperate, to find out what really happened. She plans to get revenge by any means necessary.

Kelly Randolph, who returns to Philadelphia broke and broken after abandoning his family ten years earlier, seeks forgiveness while mourning the death of his son. But after he’s thrust into the spotlight as the face of the protest movement, his disavowed criminal past resurfaces and threatens to derail the family’s pursuit of justice.

Ryan, Jade, and Kelly–three people from different worlds—are on a collision course after the shooting, as their lives interconnect and then spiral into chaos.

My Review:

In his sophomore novel, Clark’s protagonist Ryan Quinn proclaims “I’m not a murderer. I’m not a murderer. I’m. Not. A. Murderer. It’s a great hook and a promise that this novel won’t leave you sagging in the middle. And it doesn’t. Ryan, a rookie in Philly has killed an unarmed black male. He was on a patrol with his partner, Sgt. Greg Byrnes. It was Byrnes who pulled the young man over–he likes to do that. Sometimes for no reason–other than their color.

Hands Up by Stephen ClarkAuthor Clark doesn’t blanch when he tackles an extremely sensitive subject. Ripped from the headlines, a terrible scene occurring in most large cities, the perceived indictment of “blue on black.” There were times when I found some scenes difficult to read as I know they occur and it’s sad, challenging, begs deniability.

But the author doesn’t stop there. There are several other issues here that are fed the public, not the least of which is social media and the sensationalist news bombarding us each night. Perhaps the naive public would prefer to believe the old saying, “Believe nothing you hear, and only one half that you see.” (Yes, that wasn’t Mark Twain, that was Edgar Allen Poe.)

The family of the young man figures prominently as Jade (Tyrell’s sister) and Kelly (his father) wade through grief, anger, and heartbreak. Kelly has returned to mourn the death of his son after an absence of ten years and experiences alienation from his family owing to his abandonment. Jade is bent on revenge and blinded by anger. Ryan can’t come to terms with what happened, something in his backstory, and it’s his therapist who advises he should live where he works.

The POV trades chapters with Jade and Kelly in third person. They are as well developed as Ryan, who has a fiancé in the wings. The storyline extends through activism, gang control of hoods, racism, and complex family ties. There are intimate glimpses into each family, creating an emotional tie and investment in each camp. A view to both sides.

Kelly gradually wheedles his way back into the family with the exception of Jade. Jade, meanwhile, has met and developed a plan of revenge against Ryan. But something goes haywire–and I found myself disbelieving what would happen next. Just not going to happen. It wouldn’t.

While I couldn’t exactly get into Kelly’s shoes, neither did I empathize so much with Ryan--the man just shouldn’t have tried to follow in his father’s footsteps–a cop he’s not. Regina, Tyrell’s mother, is engaging and a grief-stricken, believable character while chaos is swirling around her.

There is a thoughtful suggestion to solving the larger problem–that of getting to know each other and times when the author presented arguments such as “our young black men are much more likely to die at the hands of another black man than a cop.” Or, “turn your frustration into legislation.”

There are a couple of twists you didn’t see coming and, whether or not likely, dropped your heart and gave you a “no way out” feel. This can’t end well. While we get both sides of the coin periodically, it’s a contention too complicated to solve easily in a hard-hitting novel of the topic and the conclusion probably ends the only way it could. The book is one that should be widely read, particularly in our volatile climate.

I remember participation in our local gospel choirs (including the MLK Celebration Choir), the admonition to wear “stained glass colors.” The music was joyous, the musicians gifted, and my soprano buddy, Linda, beautiful (she still is). It was, indeed, a celebration, but in more ways than one.

I received this digital download from the author in exchange for a review. This pounds out a message more should read. It’s fast-paced and shocking. It’s gritty and hard to read and that’s why more people should.

Book Details:

Genre: African American Urban Fiction, Urban Fiction
Publisher: WiDo Publisher

  • ISBN-10:1947966200
  • ISBN-13:978-1947966208
  • ASIN: B07X36LH8Z

Print Length: 300 pages
Publication Date: September 10, 2019
Source: Direct Author Request
Title Link: Hands Up
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The Author: [Goodreads] Stephen Clark is a former award-winning journalist who served as a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times and as a politics editor for the Washington, D.C. bureau of FoxNews.com. Stephen grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and now lives in North Jersey with his wife and son. He has a bachelor’s degree in communications from Arcadia University and a master’s degree in journalism from Syracuse University. Find Stephen at:

Website

https://www.stephenclarkbooks.com/

Twitter

https://twitter.com/StephCWrites

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Christmas on the Home Front (Land Girls #3) by Roland Moore – a #BookReview #historicalfiction

Another that my associate reviewer and I enjoyed, particularly as we binged on the Netflix series.

The Land Girls - Netflix

Book Blurb:

It’s the last Christmas of the war but will things ever be the same again?

Christmas 1944

Despite the food rationing and the bitterly cold weather, the land girls of Pasture Farm, Connie Carter, Joyce Fisher and Esther Reeves, are determined to celebrate this Christmas in style.  The fighting might still be raging, but they all hope this could be the last Christmas of this dreaded war.

But as the day approaches, word spreads in sleepy Helmstead that two German Airmen are on the run.  With everyone on high alert, the mood is tense and the women take no chances.  Until the German airmen find them…

Trapped at Pasture Farm with the enemy, the women are determined to find a way to freedom and overpower the airmen.  But it means risking everything…including their lives.

My Review

In checking out this book as my next possible read, I discovered that the storyline was actually a successful BBC series, The Land Girls. We were able to view on Netflix and were hooked. The novel doesn’t disappoint, and happily, though the series and author were new to me, #3 read just fine as a standalone. And, BONUS, it was fun to put a face (that of the actors in the series) to the characters in the book, Joyce, Connie, Esther, Iris, and Finch.

The Land Girls by Roland MooreWhile the main character is Joyce Fisher, there are a number of well-developed support characters that comprise the Woman’s Land Army stationed at Pasture Farm. It doesn’t take long before you get to know each, their strengths and weaknesses, and the particular position they hold at the farm. The Land Girls have been created to supplement the loss of farm support and help provide food supplies. They have learned to manage with shortages and been creative in continuing the work necessary to aid in the war effort.

This entry to the series has the reader looking at Christmas 1944 and the witness of a German plane shot down not far from the farm. Too close, in fact. Joyce and Esther have been left at the farm during the Christmas countdown, the others scattered, and find themselves face-to-face with two desperate German airmen. The tension ramps up quickly as the men try to connect with sympathizers to collect and get them back home.

The farm is near Lady Hoxley’s Estate, where she is housing an American Army unit and an interim hospital in a branch of her mansion. I believe the farm is on her land, with perhaps Finch providing management, but not completely clear if he doesn’t own the farm. Still, Lady Hoxley keeps tab on the girls and lends support where she can.

The story jumps timelines, backtracking to an appropriately revealing scene with that point of view and then skips back, perhaps with a different character and replaying the scene to bring the two back to the same point in time. It can be just a bit confusing at first but serves to provide a full picture.

I was given this digital download by the publisher through NetGalley and was totally thrilled to have the opportunity to read and review. I thoroughly enjoyed the book (as well as the TV series) and heartily recommend to all who enjoy historical fiction. Whether it’s fiction or not, there is still so much to be learned from the “greatest generation.”

His Review

Christmas on the Home Front by Roland MooreThe scene is World War II and Britain is in its’ darkest hours. Everyone in the country pitches in for the war effort. City girls retreat to the farms to replace young men and boys sent off to war and assist in planting and harvesting.

Mr. Moore develops the characters as delightful, energetic and hard-working farm hands. Add to that the always present small-town gossips and busy-bodies and you have a very entertaining mix. Enemy aviators downed in the English countryside add danger and flavor to this tale.

Collaborators during WW II were present in France as the French underground. English helping the Germans were quite unusual and unexpected. Add foreign troops assisting the British from many different countries and you have a complete montage of love, heartbreak, intrigue and despair wrapped up in a daily struggle.

The young women are very naïve and vulnerable. Mix in lonesome foreign troops and escaping foreign airmen and you have a very volatile mix. Moore continually weaves humanity into his story. One almost had sympathy for the downed enemy airmen. However, their duty to escape and get back to their units made them less than sympathetic characters. Associate Reviewer - C E Williams

These books have been made into a TV series and I enjoyed them. But reading the book gives one a much broader appreciation for the trials suffered by all those involved in the WWII conflict. Set aside time, you will not want to put the book down. 5/5 CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: 20th Century Historical Romance, Small Town & Rural Fiction, War Fiction, TV Movie & Game Tie-In Fiction, Family Saga
Publisher: One More Chapter

  • ISBN-10:0008204454
  • ISBN-13:978-0008204457

ASIN: B07S47KQNV
Print Length: 273 pages
Publication Date: November 14, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Christmas on the Home Front
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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4.5-stars

The Author: Roland Moore is an award-winning series creator and scriptwriter working in a wide range of genres for film and television in the UK, America, and China.

He created the BBC1 returning period drama series, LAND GIRLS and he was recently the Head Writer on HUMANS for Endemol Shine China and Croton Media. HUMANS is the first sci-fi drama for Chinese television. Roland storylined the series (based on the AMC/C4 series), wrote six episodes and managed a team of UK writers through various drafts.

His children’s feature film 2:HRS recently received its theatrical premiere in the UK. He has also been commissioned to write a wartime spy drama for Jack Huston and his dystopian police series, THE LAST COP, has been optioned by Black Box Media.

He has written extensively for Big Finish writing original audio dramas for their DOCTOR WHO and SURVIVORS ranges. Other credits include SUMMER CAN WAIT (feature), RASTAMOUSE, SMACK THE PONY, DOCTORS, MAN STROKE WOMAN and PETER RABBIT. Find Roland Moore at the following links:

Twitter: @RolandMooreTV
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/landgirlstvbook
http://www.rolandmoore.tv

©2019 V Williams V Williams

The Land Girls photo attribute: Netflix

The Other People: A Novel by C J Tudor – a #BookReview #Thriller

English author has hit another out of the ballpark ” from the acclaimed author of The Chalk Man and The Hiding Place.”

The Other People by C J TudorBook Blurb:

 [from Goodreads] She sleeps, a pale girl in a white room . . .

Three years ago, Gabe saw his daughter taken. In the back of a rusty old car, covered in bumper stickers. He was driving behind the car. He watched her disappear. But no one believes him. Most people believe that his daughter and wife are dead. For a while, people believed that Gabe was responsible.

Three years later and Gabe cannot give up hope. Even though he has given up everything else. His home, his job, his old life. He spends his days and nights traveling up and down the motorway, sleeping in his camper van in service stations, searching for the car that took her. Searching for his daughter.

Katie spends a lot of her life in service stations, working as a waitress. She often sees Gabriel, or ‘the thin man’ as she has nicknamed him. She knows his story. She feels for him because Katie understands what it’s like to lose a loved one. Nine years ago, her father was murdered. It broke her family apart. She hasn’t seen her oldest sister since the day of the funeral; the day she did something terrible.

Fran and her daughter, Alice, put in a lot of miles on the motorway. Not searching. But running. Trying to keep one step ahead of the people that want to hurt them. Because Fran knows the truth. She knows what really happened to Gabe’s daughter. She knows who is responsible. And she knows that if they ever find them, they’re dead.

My Review:

When I see as much buzz as I saw for the previous two C J Tudor books and noticed this one available for request on NetGalley, you know I had to bite. Really? This is only her third book? Each a standalone? This is one seriously chilling novel with a prologue that has your teeth jangling almost immediately.

Where do I start?

The Other People by C J TudorIs it a thriller? A mystery? Vigilante Justice? An eye for an eye. Bible: Chapter and Verse. But wait–isn’t there a touch of the supernatural? Whatever it is, it’s a stunning, exciting, blast of a read and once started very difficult to put down. Start with a cuppa–you’ll need the edge.

There are several threads, the main one being protagonist Gabe. This man is so well developed you want to get out your army boots and give him a swift kick. But then, he’s been through the worst that life can offer, the savage death of his wife Jenny and daughter, Izzy. Then why does he insist Izzy is alive? He has been searching for her ever since that night. His grief is palpable, all-consuming.

And there is Katie, a waitress. She can sympathize with Gabe as she too has experienced the horrible, senseless death–that of her beloved father. And the inevitable breakdown of her family. Kate is an empathetic support character, struggling as she is to care for her two children, solving a childcare problem by working graveyard. It is at her service station restaurant where she often sees Gabe, a motorist stopping weekly on his daughter-seeking mission.

Fran and her daughter Alice are running. It’s a frantic existence, one she is aware that is wringing on Alice. It’s not fair–Alice is so young. She’s been traumatized and exhibits anxious and unusual behavior.

And lastly, there is this other girl, quiet, kept in perpetuity in a sterile white room with the machines and the nurse.

As the author spoon-feeds you little bits and the storyline begins to build and coagulate, it also builds a dread, a heart-thumping rise in blood pressure. The scenarios switch from POV to POV, each creating another building block exposing again a raw truth. A lie by the sin of omission? Secrets held tight–they all have them–loathe to expose any to light.

The reader is led helplessly through each thread looking for the one that pulls them all together. Who are The Other People. Can they be exposed? Is there any way Gabe will find his daughter or peace? The sheer complexity begins to wear on you. The confusion released with each new revelation, blinding twists, becomes absolutely gripping, page-turning entertainment.

The frenetic conclusion, while satisfying, introduced another shocking revelation–but the full reveal bordered on TMI, mildly gratuitous. Otherwise, the whole ride through this book was one very exciting charge into a stunning third effort. I can’t compare this to the others as this was my first experience with the author, but I can assure you, most be my last.

I was given this digital download by the publisher through NetGalley and was thrilled to have the opportunity to read and review. Wholeheartedly recommended for any who loves an engaging well-plotted thriller.

Book Details:

Genre: Domestic Thrillers, Kidnapping Thrillers
Publisher: Ballantine Books

  • ISBN-10:059315343X
  • ISBN-13:978-0593153437
  • ASIN: B07R6J4N96

Print Length: 288 pages
Publication Date: January 28, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Other People

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Rosepoint Publishing: Four Point Five of Five Stars 4.5-stars

C J Tudor - authorThe Author: C. J. Tudor was born in Salisbury and grew up in Nottingham, where she still lives with her partner and young daughter.

She left school at sixteen and has had a variety of jobs over the years, including trainee reporter, radio scriptwriter, shop assistant, ad agency copywriter and voiceover.

In the early nineties, she fell into a job as a television presenter for a show on Channel 4 called Moviewatch. Although a terrible presenter, she got to interview acting legends such as Sigourney Weaver, Michael Douglas, Emma Thompson and Robin Williams. She also annoyed Tim Robbins by asking a question about Susan Sarandon’s breasts and was extremely flattered when Robert Downey Junior showed her his chest.

While writing the Chalk Man she ran a dog-walking business, walking over twenty dogs a week as well as looking after her little girl.

She’s been writing since she was a child but only knuckled down to it properly in her thirties. Her English teacher once told her that if she ‘did not become Prime Minister or a best-selling author’ he would be ‘very disappointed.’

The Chalk Man was inspired by a tub of chalks a friend bought for her daughter’s second birthday. One afternoon they drew chalk figures all over the driveway. Later that night she opened the back door to be confronted by weird stick men everywhere. In the dark, they looked incredibly sinister. She called to her partner: ‘These chalk men look really creepy in the dark . . .’

She is never knowingly over-dressed. She has never owned a handbag and the last time she wore heels (twelve years ago) she broke a tooth.

She loves The Killers, Foo Fighters and Frank Turner. Her favourite venue is Rock City.

Her favourite films are Ghostbusters and The Lost Boys. Her favourite authors are Stephen King, Michael Marshall and Harlan Coben.

She is SO glad she was a teenager in the eighties.

She firmly believes that there are no finer meals than takeaway pizza and champagne, or chips with curry sauce after a night out.

Everyone calls her Caz.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

No Man’s Land (An FBI K-9 Novel Book 4) by Sara Driscoll – a #BookReview

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5-stars 

I love it when I learn something new and this was an eye-opener! A shared review, my associate and I agreed on this one!

No Man's Land by Sara DriscollBook Blurb:

Special Agent Meg Jennings and her search-and-rescue dog are on the trail of a killer hiding where others fear to tread…

For Meg Jennings and her K-9 companion, Hawk, exploring the ruins of a deserted building is an exciting way to sharpen their skills without the life-or-death stakes they face as part of the FBI’s Human Scent Evidence Team. But deep in the echoing rooms of an abandoned asylum, Hawk finds the body of an elderly woman. The victim couldn’t have made her way into the derelict building on her own. Before forty-eight hours pass, Meg learns of more cases of elders found dead in neglected urban structures.

There’s not enough evidence to link the deaths—yet. But Meg scents a pattern, and when she gets word of another senior gone missing, she and Hawk don’t hesitate. Meg is sure a murderer is hunting the elderly, and she can prove it if she can just find a connection. It will take the expert coordination of her whole team, along with help from Clay McCord and Todd Webb, to uncover the means, let alone a motive. And to stop someone who has operated in the dark for so long, Meg will need to risk more than she has to give . . .

My Review

No Man's Land by Sara DriscollI was definitely due to having a major, knock-my-socks off novel and this one rang all the bells. A new author and series for me, Book 4 won’t be the last. Love it when I can learn something new and No Man’s Land teaches while it winds a heart-racing mystery around a service animal, search and rescue mystery. Is it Hawk’s story (a black lab) or is it Meg Jennings, part of the FBI’s Human Scent Evidence Team that takes center stage? She is larger than life–and she goes where few men venture.

Meg is off on a weekend, looking to expand Hawk’s skills in a new and exciting hobby; exploring the ruins of abandoned buildings, long since deserted, left to decay and crumble into life-threatening ruins. Who does that? When we were in Goodyear (Arizona), there was an abandoned structure that absolutely haunted your vision. The Phoenix Trotting Park, short-lived, and deserted for fifty-one years was finally demolished in 2017. I found it endlessly fascinating, but would never have attempted to explore it. (I noted it in my Freaky Friday post in 2016.)

Goodyear Phoenix Trotting Park

Apparently, it’s a thing though. Who Knew? Urbex. That is, urban explorers. The more massive, the better, I guess. Industrial, medical, commercial. And Meg’s exploration is cut short when Hawk alerts to a (deceased) human presence. Whaaa??

I loved the way the author intertwines fact with fiction, weaving little details not only about the buildings and the people who do that sort of thing, but filling the fast-moving novel with obvious technical expertise, extensive research, and a wonderful cast of characters. Meg is well-developed and the support characters all mesh together in a practical and methodical exercise of search and rescue, containment of the scene.

The mystery of the killings goes deeper, much much deeper, and introduces you to a whole new subject. There are some things you wish you didn’t know but learn you did and in quick immersive fashion.

The novel hooks you immediately and gathers speed in an impossible to put down race to the conclusion–and a heart-stopping climax. This can be read as a standalone but I’m seriously sorry I missed the first three and I’ll look forward to the next one out.

I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley and thrilled to have the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for any who enjoy a gasp-producing thriller. This is one you must not miss! Trust me.

His Review

There are many reasons for murder. This author has coupled FBI profiling with urban exploring. Add search dogs and this is a novel not to be put down. Search and rescue added to the mix and then an obscure reason for the crime.

The heroine, Meg Jennings is an associate with the Federal Bureau of Investigation who stumbles across a body on a weekend adventure with an experienced urban explorer.  She and her dog Hawk are up to their necks in this mystery. I appreciate how the author develops the plot as the novel matures. Associate Reviewer - C E Williams

It always comes down to money, doesn’t it. Trying to make a shortcut in life’s journey trips him up. Enjoy the ride as this author takes you on a serious journey through the conclusion. She does not disappoint. 5/5 stars CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Serial Killer, Cozy Animal, Police Procedurals
Publisher: Kensington Books

  • ISBN-10:1496722477
  • ISBN-13:978-1496722478
  • ASIN: B07P9MMX96

Print Length: 304 pages
Publication Date: November 26, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: No Man’s Land
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Sara Driscoll - authorThe Author: Sara Driscoll is the pen name of Jen J. Danna and Ann Vanderlaan, authors of the Abbott and Lowell Forensic Mysteries. Jen is an infectious disease researcher at a cutting edge Canadian university near Toronto, but loves to spend her free time writing the thrilling and mysterious. Ann lives in central Texas with five rescued pit bulls, including Kane, now a certified therapy dog. She also trains with Kane for competitive nose work. You can follow the latest news on the FBI K-9 Mysteries at saradriscollauthor.com

Phoenix Trotting Park attribution: Wikipedia

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Verse and Vengeance: A Magical Bookshop Mystery by Amanda Flower – a #BookReview

Wouldn’t you love to visit this most unusual bookshop!

Verse and Vengeance by Amanda FlowerBook Blurb:

With the help of Walt Whitman’s works, magical bookshop owner Violet Waverly puts her pedal to the metal to sleuth a bicycle-race murder that tests her mettle.

A bicycle race is not Charming Books proprietor Violet Waverly’s idea of a pleasant pastime. But police chief David Rainwater wheelie wants them to enter the Tour de Cascade as a couple, so she reluctantly consents.

The Tour de Cascade is the brainchild of Violet’s Grandma Daisy. The race is a fundraiser to build the Cascade Springs Underground Railroad Museum. But not everyone in this Niagara Region village supports the race. As if the bike race weren’t tiring enough, pesky private investigator Joel Redding is snooping around Charming Books. It takes all of Violet’s and Grandma Daisy’s ingenuity to keep Redding from discovering the shop’s magical essence–which communicates with Violet through books.

When Redding perishes in an accident during the race, David discovers that the brake line of the private eye’s bike was cut. Worse, Violet tops his list of suspects. As Emerson the tuxedo cat and resident crow Faulkner look on, Charming Books steers Violet to the works of Walt Whitman to solve the crime. But no other names ring a bell as culprits, and as David’s investigation picks up speed, Violet will have to get in gear to clear her name.

My Review:

Verse and Vengeance by Amanda FlowerProtagonist Violet Waverly is “Caretaker” of the magical birch tree located inside the Charming Books bookshop. Her grandmother, Daisy, also works in the bookshop when she is not fulfilling her duties as the new mayor of Cascade Springs. She has begun a project to provide an Underground Railroad Museum in the village hall. Also prominently featured are Faulkner the resident talking crow who lives in the branches of the tree and Emerson, the black and white tuxedo cat. The fourth in the series and my second, I’ve had no problem reading each entry as a standalone.

Grandma Daisy has urged both Violet and her boyfriend, police chief, David Rainwater, to ride in the Tour de Cascade, a major event meant to provide construction funds for her project, but before the ride is completed, Violet comes upon the fatal accident of private investigator Joel Redding. The shop’s magical “essence,” quietly deposits hints to her about the murder in the works by Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass.

Violet is still not completely confident of David and won’t divulge her secrets re the bookshop. There is one major perp which Violet steadfastly refuses to believe and works to get to the bottom of who and why. She is a no-nonsense, direct question type of amateur sleuth and there are twists and turns in this well-plotted mystery. The narrative proceeds at an even pace and the fictitious setting of the small tourist town near Niagara Falls is descriptive and inviting. Also, I enjoyed little bits of humor, i.e. “I swear the man could wax on about dryer lint.”

Birch tree However, poetry quotes from Whitman (not one of my favs) on a cell phone Kindle app are difficult to read and interrupt the flow. I’m still having difficulty imagining the interior with the tree (aka The Goddess Tree) and spiral staircase to a second-floor apartment. It’s a paranormal–must swallow some disbelief. There are elements that are not wholly explained in the surprising conclusion and as an ARC edit misses and a few detail contradictions.

I was granted this ebook download by the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read for my unbiased review. I am looking forward to Book 5 and recommend to all who enjoy an easy, fast cozy read with a touch of paranormal and romance.

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Animal Mysteries, Ghost Mysteries
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

  • ISBN-10:1643851519
  • ISBN-13:978-1643851518
  • ASIN: B07NTYQQM4

Print Length: 260 pages
Publication Date: To be released December 10, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Verse and Vengeance
 

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Three-point Five of Five Stars 3.5-stars

Amanda Flower - authorThe Author: Amanda Flower, a USA Today bestselling and Agatha Award-winning mystery author, started her writing career in elementary school when she read a story she wrote to her sixth grade class and had the class in stitches with her description of being stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel. She knew at that moment she’d found her calling of making people laugh with her words. Her debut mystery, Maid of Murder, was an Agatha Award Nominee for Best First Novel and her children’s mysteries, Andi Unexpected and Andi Under Pressure, were an Agatha Award Nominees for Best Children’s/YA Novel. Andi Unstoppable won the Agatha Award for Best Children’s/YA Novel 2015. Amanda is a former librarian living in northeast Ohio. Visit her at http://www.amandaflower.com

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Birch Tree Attribution: The Goddess Tree

A Cold Trail (Tracy Crosswhite Book 7) by Robert Dugoni – a #BookReview

It’s an unusual Tracy Crosswhite mystery away from her Seattle station and home and into a whole new and dangerous setting.

A Cold Trail by Robert DugoniBook Blurb:

The last time homicide detective Tracy Crosswhite was in Cedar Grove, it was to see her sister’s killer put behind bars. Now she’s returned for a respite and the chance to put her life back in order for herself, her attorney husband, Dan, and their new daughter. But tragic memories soon prove impossible to escape.

Dan is drawn into representing a local merchant whose business is jeopardized by the town’s revitalization. And Tracy is urged by the local PD to put her own skills to work on a new case: the brutal murder of a police officer’s wife and local reporter who was investigating a cold-case slaying of a young woman. As Tracy’s and Dan’s cases crisscross, Tracy’s trail becomes dangerous. It’s stirring up her own haunted past and a decades-old conspiracy in Cedar Grove that has erupted in murder. Getting to the truth is all that matters. But what’s Tracy willing to risk as a killer gets closer to her and threatens everyone she loves?

My Review:

Boy was I excited to see another of the Tracy Crosswhite series coming out! I’ve read several of Dugoni’s books, including one not in the Crosswhite series and enjoyed each one. While Book 7 may be read as a standalone, you might wish to begin with Book 1 to really get how each of the main characters has evolved to this point.

A Cold Trail by Robert DugoniIn A Cold Trail, Tracy is a new mom with a two-month-old (Daniella) still on maternity leave from Seattle while her attorney husband, Dan, has arranged for their return to their hometown of Cedar Grove to the former home of his parents while they are renovating their home in Seattle. Dan has taken on a client fighting the sale of his downtown business and building. Most of the others sold for a nominal price with the promise they would be completely rehabbed and brought up current codes with new dynamic owners.

But Tracy is barely getting acquainted with the nanny Dan arranged for help with the baby before she is approached by the former police chief to look into the death of a journalist and a former attorney turned PI. The young woman (the journalist) was investigating the cold case of a woman who was murdered more than twenty years previous. Putting her homicide detective hat back on has both disturbed Dan and Tracy as well, questioning her safety while leaving an infant at home.

The well-plotted storyline quickly divides between that of her investigation in the cold cases and Dan’s legal maneuvers with regard to the revitalization of the downtown area and the handling of the properties. The legal complexities get interesting and educational while the cold cases Tracy is working on beginning to worry the antagonist.

The cast of support characters shift somewhat with them being in Cedar Grove and in their stead are more support characters with lots of personality, full fleshed (Vic). The Irish nanny is super until deemed at risk and whisked away for safer climes. The reader gets that old mother’s conundrum, staying home or working away from her child (especially an infant and in this case in a hazardous profession) while the men are free to carry on with their careers with no public ramifications.

I like that Tracy is still, at heart, a strong, independent, and intelligent woman and skillful at her job. She can handle most any situation. If Dan didn’t think he wanted her working out of the house away from his baby, why then hire the nanny, who got awfully convenient. The narrative begins to swing back and forth between her cases and his, trading off in a melding or juxtaposition of timeline. Clever! The book hooks you in and holds the reader in a riveting and complicated tale through the great reveal, one you might have guessed, but still surprised.

Tracy working an active investigation, however, and expressing (two bottles) of breast milk for the nanny to use while she was off just didn’t ring true for me. (You might wish to revisit the issue of breastfeeding, Robert.)

I received this ARC digital download from the publisher through NetGalley and was thrilled for the opportunity to read and review. I really enjoy this series and greatly look forward to Book 8. Recommended for all mystery fans and I think you’ll also enjoy the courtroom tactics.

Book Details:

Genre: Police Procedurals, Women Sleuths, Murder
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
ISBN: 1542093228
ASIN: B07NXPN3B8
Print Length: 355 pages
Publication Date: February 4, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: A Cold Trail
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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five of Five Stars 4.5-stars

robert dugoniThe Author: Robert Dugoni is the critically acclaimed New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and #1 Amazon bestselling author of the Tracy Crosswhite police detective series set in Seattle, which has sold more than 5 million books worldwide. He is also the author of The Charles Jenkins espionage series, and the David Sloane legal thriller series.

His stand-alone novels include The 7th Canon, Damage Control, and the literary novel, The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell – Suspense Magazine’s 2018 Book of the Year, for which Dugoni’s narration won an AudioFile Earphones Award; as well as the nonfiction exposé The Cyanide Canary, a Washington Post Best Book of the Year. Several of his novels have been optioned for movies and television series.

Dugoni is the recipient of the Nancy Pearl Award for Fiction and the Friends of Mystery Spotted Owl Award for best novel set in the Pacific Northwest. He is also a two-time finalist for the International Thriller Award, the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction, the Silver Falchion Award for mystery, and the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award.

Robert Dugoni’s books are sold in more than twenty-five countries and have been translated into more than two dozen languages.

Visit his website at http://www.robertdugoni.com, and follow him on twitter @robertdugoni and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/AuthorRobertDugoni

©2019 V Williams V Williams

The Memories We Hide: Can you trust your memories? by Jodi Gibson

Can we indeed trust our memories, especially in the view of a tragic event?

The Memories We Hide by Jodi GibsonBook Blurb:

Laura Murphy thought she could, that was until she returned home.

When Laura returns home ten years after the death of her childhood sweetheart Ryan Taylor, her past begins to unravel and memories she’d long pushed aside begin to resurface.


Having trouble reconciling truth and memory, Laura reconnects with childhood friend Tom, to try and find closure, but Tom has issues of his own. Not only is he faced with the threat of losing his farm, but he is also hiding a secret that could change everything for them both.


Will Laura and Tom find the answers they need to move forward, or will they discover that memories can’t always be trusted?

 My Review:

Having fled her small town in her teen years following a tragic accident, Laura Murphy returns after ten years to be with her terminal mother. Returning, however, has begun to push powerful emotions stemming from the accident so long ago that ended the life of her boyfriend in the last week of their twelfth year.

The Memories We Hide by Jodi GibsonThe mind is forced sometimes to take heroic measures to shield the person of an event too horrendous to accept. And though Laura had spent those years steadfastly refusing to revisit the event, attempting to shove it out of her life has only resulted in confusion, her heart unsettled and unable to quell the feeling that the terrible memory is just beyond her reach and inability to resolve.

The debut of this author’s contemporary women’s fiction explores the problem of understanding and coming to peace with the past. Until those issues have been determined and resolution implemented, there can be no peaceful future.

The narrative tackles some major family matters, depression, friendships, young love and relationships that shape life as well as the crush of betrayal. There is a lot to sort through and the mystery of what happened is gradually revealed as Laura attempts to sift through the snatches of her memory to attain the truth–perhaps too difficult to bear.

It’s a heavy subject and the novel worked to create a small-town vibe, collective secrets slowly revealed. Inherent in the anguish, however, is the repetitive nature in the storytelling. There were times either the protagonist or support characters spilled into wringing emotional scenes. Laura is not as well-developed as she might be, and scenes flipped to reliving the moment during the school years sharing obscure details and YA angst.

Ryan Taylor, the lost love, is a character well-fleshed by Laura’s memories as well as a personal journal. Tom, a close childhood friend is most engaging and sympathetic but also possessed of closely held secrets.

The author waxed prose at times, with an interesting turn of phrase or description (“The rain formed a diagonal drizzle that slid slowly down the windowpane“), but I missed some investing into the small-town feel of the people. The sense of hopelessness and frustration in the depressed young interwove a powerful statement.

The climax came with a ring of disclosures almost shocking and one more far-reaching than you’d have guessed.

I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review. The conclusion is satisfying but the book would benefit from one more pass through an editor.  Recommended for those more inclined to emotional family struggles and women’s fiction.

Book Details:

Genre: Australian & Oceanian Literature, Small Town & Rural Fiction, Women’s Friendship Fiction

  • ISBN-10:0648551202
  • ISBN-13:978-0648551201
  • ASIN: B07VBCHJ53

Print Length: 260 pages
Publication Date: August 20, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Memories We Hide

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Rosepoint Publishing: 3.5 of Five Stars 3.5-stars

Jodi Gibson - authorThe Author: Jodi Gibson is an Australian author of women’s contemporary fiction. She writes in two genres – character-driven contemporary drama, and light-hearted rom-com.

Her contemporary dramas revolve around the lives of seemingly ordinary people and usually involve secrecy, lies, and a touch of mystery.

Her lighter style rom-coms are the perfect escape from the mundaneness of everyday life with characters who will make you laugh, cringe, and whom you’ll love spending time with.

When she’s not writing you’ll find Jodi managing our family bathroom renovation business, kid-wrangling, and tending to the many animals on her mini-farm in regional Australia. You’ll also often find her with my nose in a good book, or in the kitchen baking and dreaming of her next traveling adventure.

2019 V Williams V Williams

Paw of the Jungle (A Paw Enforcement Novel Book 8) by Diane Kelly – a #BookReview #cozydog

Enjoy this K-9 service dog, police procedural, cozy animal mystery series.

Paw of the Jungle by Diane KellyBook Blurb:

Police officer Megan Luz and her K-9 partner in crime, Brigit, are on all fours as they try to solve their latest Lone Star mystery.

AT THE ZOO
The weather is beautiful, work is slow, and her canine colleague could use a walk. What better day for Megan to take Brigit to the Fort Worth Zoo, where they can let loose and witness the law and order of nature unfold? But what begins as a fun field trip turns serious when a pair of rare hyacinth macaws named Fabiana and Fernando goes missing. Is the new custodian, a gentle soul who happens to be an ex-convict, to blame? Or is something far more sinister afoot?

AND ON THE HUNT
The birds are worth thousands of dollars, and the list of people on the premises who might have stolen them is long. Soon other animals start disappearing. . .and Megan and Brigit have their hands and paws full of suspects. But when a rare black rhino is taken from the zoo, presumably for its black-market-friendly horn, time is of the essence. Can Megan and Brigit find out who’s behind the mystery—before they too become prey?

My Review:

I was introduced to this author and series last year when I was lucky enough to receive The Long Paw of the Law (see my review here). Fort Worth Texas officer, Megan Luz is back with her K-9 service dog, Brigit. Her favorite guy, Seth, also has a service dog, a yellow Lab named Blast. Seth is a bomb squad technician and firefighter.

Paw of the Jungle by Diane KellyOnce again, the story is told in multiple POVs, one being protagonist Megan, along with Brigit, and the antagonist, dubbed The Poacher, whose elevator never reaches the top floor. There are a number of great support characters, along with Derek, the “Big Dick” Mackey (“The donkey wasn’t the only jackass here.”), and Detective Bustamente. There is a little romance, the (male) Lab adores Brigit, and the romance between Seth and Megan doesn’t over-power the well-plotted mystery.

In this series entry, a number of valuable rings go missing about the same time as a pair of Hyacinth macaws go missing from the zoo. It is nearing Christmas and the mall is full, people in a rush and Megan isn’t sure that the ring owners haven’t just misplaced them. But the birds? No way could the regular zoo staff have allowed them to escape. Unfortunately, it’s not long before a member of the antelope family similarly goes missing. And then it just gets worse.

In the meantime, the reader is treated to a wealth of information regarding laws of hunting in Texas, game ranches and animal poachers, as well as ex-con recidivism rates depending on available prison rehab classes. I love the chapters devoted to Brigit and her take on humans, as well as the little hints of reading dog body language. (In 2015, law enforcement officers in Texas began receiving training in canine encounters, reducing the number of unnecessary canine deaths.) And always, the author’s sense of humor shines through, often injecting thought-provoking LOL moments.

In regard to using online tutorials to learn welding: “I’d used online tutorials myself. But despite watching three makeup lessons, I’d yet to master the smoky eye.”

The narrative grabs your attention immediately and keeps a fairly steady pace with the exception of explanatory bits noted above. Megan is working hard to test for detective grade and in the meantime the series has built an engaging set of characters you can’t help investing in. Entertaining atmospheric setting coupled with an intelligent and anthropomorphic glimpse into the psyche of a magnificent, intelligent canine partner.

I was given this digital download by the publisher and NetGalley and was thrilled to have the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for any who enjoy K-9 associated books, police procedurals, suspense, and sweet and easy pseudo cozy. Looking forward to Book 9!

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Dog Mysteries, Police Procedurals
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
ISBN: 1250197376
ASIN: B07P9LPNHB
Print Length: 365 pages
Publication Date: To be released November 26, 2019
strong>Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Paw of the Jungle
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[Rosepoint Publishing: 4.5 of Five Stars 4.5-stars

Diane Kelly - authorThe Author: A former tax advisor, Diane Kelly inadvertently worked with white-collar criminals on multiple occasions. Not surprisingly, Diane decided self-employment would be a good idea. Her fingers hit the keyboard and thus began her Death and Taxes romantic mystery series. A graduate of her hometown’s Citizen Police Academy, Diane Kelly also writes the hilarious K-9 cop Paw Enforcement series and the new House Flipper cozy mystery series.

Diane’s books have been awarded the prestigious Romance Writers of America Golden Heart® Award and a Reviewers Choice Award.

Try a sample of Diane’s work, along with works by other cozy mystery authors, by checking out “Cozy Case Files” for free on Amazon Kindle.

Be the first to receive book news by signing up for Diane’s newsletter at http://www.dianekelly.com/ “Like” Diane on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/dianekellybooks. Follow her on Instagram at dianekellybooks and on Twitter @dianekellybooks.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Mercy Road by Ann Howard Creel – a #BookReview World War I #HistoricalFiction

I love books based on true stories–most especially about brave and trail-blazing women in our history.

Mercy Road by Ann Howard CreelBook Blurb:

Inspired by the true story of the World War I American Women’s Hospital, Mercy Road is a novel about love, courage, and a female ambulance driver who risks everything.

In 1917, after Arlene Favier’s home burns to the ground, taking her father with it, she must find a way to support her mother and younger brother. If she doesn’t succeed, they will all be impoverished. Job opportunities are scarce, but then a daring possibility arises: the American Women’s Hospital needs ambulance drivers to join a trailblazing, all-female team of doctors and nurses bound for war-torn France.

On the front lines, Arlene and her fellow ambulance drivers work day and night to aid injured soldiers and civilians. In between dangerous ambulance runs, Arlene reunites with a childhood friend, Jimmy Tucker, now a soldier, who opens her heart like no one before. But she has also caught the attention of Felix Brohammer, a charismatic army captain who harbors a dark, treacherous secret.

To expose Brohammer means risking her family’s future and the promise of love. Arlene must make a choice: stay in the safety of silence or take the greatest chance of her life.

My Review:

Mercy Road by Ann Howard CreelThe beautiful opening paragraphs of this novel grabs your attention with the fleet-footed and magnificent Tornado, the Favier Farms prized breeding stallion. The small privately-owned ranch had a reputation built for race-winning Thoroughbreds and the French-born master of the manor a special knack for finding the best. Unfortunately, the fire that ensues levels the house he and his wife lovingly built and where Arlene and her brother Luc were raised. It is after the devastating fire that also kills her father that they discover the truth of the finances.

Desperate for employment to keep family and farm together, Arlene discovers an unusual opportunity for a woman in 1918. Owing to her father teaching her French and how to drive (GASP! In 1918?), Arlene will ship over to the last vestiges of the war in France to drive an ambulance for the American Women’s Hospital Services (an amazing story in itself).

American Women's Hospital Services
Two uniformed women with American Women’s Hospitals Services, ca 1919. (Courtesy of Drexel University, College of Medicine, Archives & Special Collections) as posted on the Women’s Voices for Change

What follows is a narrative into the war-torn country now covered with destruction and desolation, ashes and shell-pocked country roads. The group Arlene arrives with gradually begin the acclimation into the effort but it takes a huge toll on the women–warned but still not prepared for just how bad it would be.

Arlene is fairly well developed, although not all support characters are. She is quickly pursued by a US officer and rejects his advances according to rules, but he is having none of that. In the meantime, she discovers a childhood acquaintance likewise driving an ambulance, but he for the Army. A reigniting proceeds between herself and Jimmy and the ensuing romance pops back and forth into the storyline.

Written in first person through Arlene, the story is well-plotted and the pace even albeit slowed by the irrational interest of the narcissistic officer and the romance with Jimmy. I enjoyed the informational bits of the ambulance, the countryside, the people of France and her connection through her father, as well as the description of the many rescues. Also, the reader is reminded of the catastrophic flu that swept the globe as well as the rampant diseases brought about by such savage conditions. There was a rather obvious but surprising note regarding another of the crew and the climax came with sinking heart. Still, the author manages to weave a plausible concluding scenario with most loose threads neatly tied.

I received this ARC from the publisher through NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. It’s gratifying that the contribution of women’s war efforts are beginning to come to light. And BTW, I absolutely love that cover! Recommended for any who enjoy historical fiction, WWI narratives, and positive achievements by women.

Book Details:

Genre: World War I Historical Fiction, Historical European Fiction
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

  • ISBN-10:1542041988
  • ISBN-13:978-1542041980
  • ASIN: B07PWF72XG

Print Length: 278 pages
Publication Date: Happy Publication Day, November 19, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Mercy Road+Add to Goodreads

Ann Howard Creel - authorThe Author: Ann Howard Creel was born to write. By the age of ten she was writing daily in a diary, and by the age of twelve she had written an entire novel on a typewriter her father was getting ready to throw away. She worked for many years as a Registered Nurse, but the urge to write never left her. So after work and tending to children’s needs, she began to write again. During that time, she could have been found helping with math homework, making spaghetti, and writing a very drafty chapter all in the same night.

After first writing for children, she turned her attention to Historical Fiction. Her first novel for adults, THE MAGIC OF ORDINARY DAYS, was made into a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie on CBS. Her recent titles have been Kindle bestsellers and include WHILE YOU WERE MINE, THE WHISKEY SEA, THE UNCERTAIN SEASON, and her latest, THE RIVER WIDOW.

She now writes full-time. Ann’s main characters are always strong women facing high-stakes situations and having to make life-changing decisions. Her historical settings have ranged from Victorian-era Galveston to World War II in New York City. Her next novel, MERCY ROAD, to be published in 2019, takes readers to World War I France.

Besides writing, Ann loves old houses, new yoga routines, and all things cat. Contact her via her website http://www.annhowardcreel.com or oonnect on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authorannhowardcreel or Instagram: @annhowardcreel.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

The Dog I Loved: A Novel by Susan Wilson – a #BookReview

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5-stars

Brilliant, immersive, totally absorbing fiction reads like a true story.

(So good I couldn’t keep it to myself and I’m sharing this review with my associate, the CE.)

Book Blurb:

The Dog I Loved by Susan WilsonAfter spending years in prison for a crime she didn’t intend to commit, Rose Collins is suddenly free. Someone who knows about the good work she has done—training therapy dogs while serving time—has arranged for her early release. This mysterious benefactor has even set her up with a job in the coastal Massachusetts community of Gloucester, on the edge of Dogtown, a place of legend and, for the first time since Rosie’s whole world came crashing down, hope. There she works to rebuild her life with the help of Shadow, a stray dog who appears one rainy night and refuses to leave Rose’s side.

Meghan Custer is a wheelchair-bound war veteran who used to be hopeless, too. Living at home with her devoted but stifling parents felt a lot like being in prison, in fact. But ever since she was matched with a service dog named Shark, who was trained in a puppy-to-prisoner rehabilitation program, Meghan has a brand new outlook. Finally, she can live on her own. Go to work. And maybe, with Shark by her side, even find love again.

Two strong women on a journey toward independence whose paths collide in extraordinary ways. Two dogs who somehow manage to save them both. A tale of survival and a testament to the human spirit, The Dog I Loved is an emotional and inspiring novel that no reader will soon forget.

My Thoughts

This novel seizes you from the beginning and does not let go until you’ve read the last word of the last page and in between unfolds an amazingly written story that reads so realistic, so full of drama, it’s hard to believe this is fiction.

The Dog I Loved by Susan WilsonRosie experienced limited freedom when she left her family to live with Charles Foster in New York. He comes from old money, position, and education and almost from the beginning begins to separate Rosie from her family and friends. It quickly becomes obvious he can be demeaning and cruel. But his death is truly an accident, Rosie trying to prevent an accident, and through Charles’ mother’s contacts and her own incompetent PD, enters prison with a long sentence.

Before her horrific service-connected injury leaving her a paraplegic, Meghan was known as Captain Meghan “Buster” (though her real name is Custer). She is struggling with the loss of independence and over-protective and smothering parents until she learns of the service dog program trained by prisoners. She will meet Shark, the first dog trained by Rosie and during the orientation, the two damaged women bond.

When Rosie is suddenly exonerated and released after six years, she is also plunked into the position of overseer of a complete renovation of an early American property. The house is just outside Gloucester, a coastal city on Cape Ann, Massachusetts, at the remains of “DogTown,” a “village lost in time.” In the meantime, an unusually large and mysterious dog has entered Rosie’s life and she quickly bonds with the perceptive animal she names Shadow.

Author Susan Wilson has penned a masterful tale weaving modern-day storyline with that of an historical account of the enigmatic but remote area she is overseeing. There are several POV’s and all the characters are so fully engaging, including the fully-fleshed dogs, that the reader easily invests in each as well as the well-plotted and engaging narrative. You MUST know how this will turn out!

This absolutely amazing book hits so many tough subjects from women in prison to wounded warriors, PTSD, dysfunctional families, estrangement, and friendship. Unique plot–totally immersive. My first experience with this author won’t be the last and I’m off to see what else I can find written by this author. You owe it to yourself to grab this book releasing TODAY! Trust me, you’ll be glad you did–and you’re welcome!

His Thoughts

Can dogs really read minds, or is it their desire to please that makes them so responsive? Susan Wilson has combined a historical fiction format into a prisoner training dog scenario. An Irish lass, the only daughter in a family with five other siblings, Mary Rose Collins (Rosie)  is controlled and sheltered. Enter a spoiled rich kid of an entirely different social status and you have gas on water.

Rosie is dominated by older brothers and controlling parents. Her way out seems to be Charles Montgomery Foster who courts her but hides her because of her “poor side of the tracks” background. Gifts are given with obvious hooks and his mother disdains her.

Then a tragic accident kills Charles and his mother pushes stiff prosecution of Rosie. Her next twenty years will be in a correctional institution. A “prisoner training program” allows her to become involved with something other than the daily drudgery of prison life. She is tasked with training a Service Dog named Shark.

Meghan is a wounded warrior with a future in a wheelchair and only partial use of her body. The dog is a life-saver to both ladies. Two weeks together with the dog and the two women bond with each other as well as the dog.

Then Rosie’s prison sentence is suddenly vacated and she receives a job helping restore a centuries-old house.

Associate Reviewer - C E WilliamsSusan Wilson combines the history of the Massachusetts seashore with a love of dogs and has woven a fantastic tale. She adds another dog “Shadow” who comes into Rosie’s life when she needs him most. Overall the story is both heartwarming and complete in its amazing emotional development of the plot and characters.

I cannot endorse this book enough. Give yourself time because you will want to complete the book in a single setting. Thank you for the experience, Susan! 5/5 stars CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Animal Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Literary Fiction, Women’s Friendship Fiction
Publisher: St Martin’s Press

  • ISBN-10:1250078148
  • ISBN-13:978-1250078148
  • ASIN: B07PBNB7YJ

Print Length: 368 pages
Publication Date: Happy Publication Day, November 12, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Dog I Loved
I was granted a download of this uncorrected digital galley by the publisher through NetGalley and was totally thrilled with this novel. It is one that will resonate for some time to come. Thank you St Martin’s Press! It’s officially a book hangover.

Book Handover

+Add to Goodreads

Susan Wilson - authorThe Author: SUSAN WILSON is the author of ten novels, including the New York Times bestselling One Good Dog. In her most recent novel, TWO GOOD DOGS, the two main characters from One Good Dog, Adam March and his rescued pit bull Chance, make a return. She lives on Martha’s Vineyard. Visit her online at http://www.susanwilsonwrites.com

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Fan Mail (An Aspen Adams Novel of Suspense Book 2) by Daryl Wood Gerber

Fan Mail by Daryl Wood GerberBook Blurb:

Local celebrity news anchor Gloria Morning is used to receiving declarations of love and praise in her weekly fan letters, but when a Lake Tahoe doctor is murdered and she gets an anonymous note telling her it was done for her glory, her appreciation turns to panic. Unsure of where else to turn, she enlists the help of novice private investigator Aspen Adams. No sooner does Aspen begin digging into who sent the macabre note than another murder occurs, followed by another note, and she soon realizes she’s up against a ruthless and deranged killer.

Working with scant clues and a puzzling array of potential suspects, Aspen is determined to unearth the elusive connection between the victims and her client. But as the body count grows and the murderer remains a mystery to both her and the police, Aspen discovers she’s gotten closer to the killer than she ever imagined, and now she must risk everything she holds dear to stop the killings, including her own life . . .

My Review:

The second in the series and not my introduction to this author, I was attracted to the Lake Tahoe locale, that beautiful jewel in the Sierra’s that divide the California-Nevada border with world-class mountain recreation and gaming on the Nevada side.

Fan Mail by Daryl Wood GerberThis entry to the series finds Aspen slowly ascending the ladder of her aunt Max’s private investigation office while juggling the niece she accepted into her home in Book 1. While it may not be necessary to begin with the first book, you might glean a bit more backstory for explanation into her current lifestyle. Candace, sister Rosie’s daughter, is fourteen and a teenager balancing with bouts of 30 and she figures rather prominently in Book 2. She can be alternately wise and intrusive, insightful and ignorant.

There are a number of support characters, including the detective boyfriend Nick, a slightly contentious relationship. He neither takes her theories very seriously, nor she his dismissal of her lightly. I didn’t think this was a match in Book 1 and maintain that opinion. Aspen has a well-educated, experienced background that she occasionally calls on for help in dealing with all the varied characters and possible suspects. That doesn’t keep her from making stupid, rooky (cozy) mystery mistakes.

Gloria Morning is a local celebrity of some note and reaches out to Aspen for help regarding the receipt of notes that have turned scary suspect when a local GYN is murdered. When a second murder occurs with another anonymous note proclaiming that it was done for her, Aspen kicks her investigation into high gear with the help of aunt Max.

This one has a high body count and numerous possible suspects which she begins to sift through. I still have a bit of a problem investing in Aspen, can’t quite get my head around where she is coming from. Candace was a bit annoying and Nick just isn’t there.

The well-plotted mystery moves, but not without repeating and rehashing theories, a little B&E of her own, and no license really to do more than deliver summons. She still hasn’t quite grasped the role of parent to her niece, either allowing her freedom to be off with her friends or dragging her to interviews where she should never be allowed. I guessed the perp early and the conclusion pulled into slightly reaching territory–not sure I was buying.

I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review and these are my own opinions.

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense, Private Investigator Mysteries
Publisher: Beyond the Page

  • ISBN-10:1950461297
  • ISBN-13:978-1950461295
  • ASIN: B07YGS5WP1

Print Length: 282 pages
Publication Date:
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Fan Mail

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Daryl Wood Gerber - authorThe Author: SIGN UP FOR MY NEWSLETTER, which comes out once a month and with a new release
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Tasty, zesty, dangerous!

Agatha Award-winning author Daryl Wood Gerber writes the bestselling COOKBOOK NOOK MYSTERIES and FRENCH BISTRO MYSTERIES. As Avery Aames, she pens the bestselling CHEESE SHOP MYSTERIES. In addition, she writes stand-alone suspense thrillers, including GIRL ON THE RUN and DAY OF SECRETS and DESOLATE SHORES. Fun tidbits: Daryl jumped out of a perfectly good airplane, and she hitchhiked around Ireland by herself. Also, as an actress, Daryl appeared in “Murder, She Wrote.” She loves to read, cook, and golf. She has a frisky Goldendoodle named Sparky who keeps her in line!

Thank you so much for visiting my page. Follow my PROFILE for important updates. And thank you for your reviews!

©2019  V Williams V Williams

The Angels’ Share: A Wine Country Mystery Book 10 by Ellen Crosby – a #BookReview #historymystery

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5-stars

“The angels’ share was the amount of alcohol or spirits lost to evaporation…anything that aged in barrels or casks.”

The Angels' Share by Ellen CrosbyBook Blurb:

Ellen Crosby pours up another corking mystery with The Angels’ Share, an intriguing blend of secret societies, Prohibition bootleg wine, and potentially scandalous documents hidden by the Founding Fathers, all of which yield a vintage murder.

When Lucie Montgomery attends a Thanksgiving weekend party for friends and neighbors at Hawthorne Castle, an honest-to-goodness castle owned by the Avery family, the last great newspaper dynasty in America and owner of the Washington Tribune, she doesn’t expect the festive occasion to end in death.

During the party, Prescott Avery, the 95-year old family patriarch, invites Lucie to his fabulous wine cellar where he offers to pay any price for a cache of 200-year-old Madeira that her great-great-uncle, a Prohibition bootlegger, discovered hidden in the US Capitol in the 1920s. Lucie knows nothing about the valuable wine, believing her late father, a notorious gambler and spendthrift, probably sold or drank it. By the end of the party Lucie and her fiancé, winemaker Quinn Santori, discover Prescott’s body lying in his wine cellar. Is one of the guests a murderer?

As Lucie searches for the lost Madeira, which she believes links Prescott’s death to a cryptic letter her father owned, she learns about Prescott’s affiliation with the Freemasons. More investigating hints at a mysterious vault supposedly containing documents hidden by the Founding Fathers and a possible tie to William Shakespeare. If Lucie finds the long-lost documents, the explosive revelations could change history. But will she uncover a three hundred-year-old secret before a determined killer finds her?

 My Review:

Yes, thrilled that I was given a download for The Angels’ s Share as I’d come late to the party (again) getting in at Book 9, Harvest of Secrets last November. (See that review here.) It was my first introduction to the wine country of Virginia. I still have a soft spot in my heart for the wine country of Napa, California, but this series has given me a burning desire to beat a hasty exit from Indiana to experience that special area around Jamestown. Mercy, the history!

The Angels' Share by Ellen CrosbyInterest was hooked immediately and, although a series, can work well as a standalone. So easy to become engaged with the characters, the locale, and the description of the wine. Protagonist Lucie Montgomery and fiancé Quinn Santori go back to the plush wine cellar to retrieve the cell phone left after a private discussion with Prescott Avery. There they discover the 95-year old patriarch and owner of Hawthorne Castle dead. His death is not the result of age or a fall, however, and the discussion she and Prescott held in private quickly sends her on a quest for three-hundred-year-old Madeira, possibly hidden in her own winery.

The Madeira though is only the top layer of the complex well-drawn plot, delving into the history of the area and the local Freemasons including their connection with the Founding Fathers. Lucie begins to notice the subtle hints of Shakespearean phrase referenced to centuries old documents and artifacts. In order to find the precious wine, she’ll have to correctly interpret the materials left in her father’s secret safety deposit box.

Concentrating on the mystery of the documents, the reader is immersed in fascinating and detailed early American history of the Jamestown triangle. I love the way the author ties ancient mythology to her stories, and indeed, this entry to the series had a great deal more to do with the history mystery than that of the winery getting ready for Christmas.

So much intriguing information, aways a lot going on, the storyline never slows and keeps the reader flipping pages, each one leaving another lesson or plot point in one of the layers. It is an immersive book you don’t want to put down and delivers the implied promise of the cover. Perhaps Shakespeare didn’t write his own plays? There is so much you don’t know that you don’t know.

I‘m looking forward to visiting again soon and heartily recommend this entry in the well-developed series to anyone who enjoys a high-speed romp into one of our country’s most beautiful and history-laden areas. I received this uncorrected digital galley from the publisher (thank you, Minotaur!!) and NetGalley and appreciate the opportunity to read and review.

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Culinary Mystery, Amateur Sleuths
Publisher: Minotaur Books

  • ISBN-10:1250164850
  • ISBN-13:978-1250164858
  • ASIN: B07PBP8BVX

Print Length: 362 pages
Publication Date: Happy Publication Day November 5, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Angels’ Share
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Ellen Crosby - authorThe Author: Ellen Crosby is the author of the Virginia wine country mysteries and two mysteries featuring international photojournalist Sophie Medina. In 2019, Minotaur Books will publish THE ANGELS’ SHARE, the 10th wine country mystery. Before writing fiction, Crosby worked as a freelance reporter for The Washington Post, an economist at the US Senate, and Moscow reporter for ABC Radio News. Visit her website at http://www.ellencrosby.com and follow her on Facebook at EllenCrosbyBooks, Twitter at @ellencrosby & Instagram at ellencrosbyauthor.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

San Diego Dead: An Action Thriller (Jake Wolfe Book 4) by Mark Nolan – a #BookReview #thriller

You can’t beat ex-Marine Jake and his ex-war dog Cody for an entertaining fast-moving thriller.

San Diego Dead by Mark NolanBook Blurb:

Danger awaits Marine-turned-lawyer Jake Wolfe on his vacation to sunny San Diego and Cabo San Lucas. There he finds sugary white sand beaches, warm turquoise water, boat trips among gray whales, and … cold blooded murder.

It was meant to be a relaxing holiday for Jake and his adopted war dog, Cody, but violence erupts when he crosses paths with a criminal cartel urgently seeking to reclaim a deadly package.

Jake learns the missing item is a threat to US citizens and vows to stop the cartel from possessing it, no matter what vigilante justice actions he might have to take.

Time is running out and thousands of innocent lives are at risk. Will the two combat veterans be able to retrieve the dangerous item before the killers do? The clock is ticking, but Jake hopes that if anybody can help find the package, it has to be his highly-trained and ultra-intelligent dog, Cody.

Find out what happens next. Start reading the latest Jake and Cody thriller right now and enjoy another fast-paced stand-alone story by author Mark Nolan.

My Review:

The fourth in this series and I’ve read them all. (Believe it–unusual, I know.) Just when Jake thinks he can relax a bit in Cabo, frolic in the sun, play with the fishies and his best girl, Sarah Chance, the cartel interrupts the fun with business of their own and it’s back to the states and the business of U.S. security.

San Diego Dead by Mark NolanCody was his buddy’s war dog. His dog survived, his buddy did not, and as he’d lost his own war dog, adopted the dog known to be a maverick with a case of PTSD. Well-trained, scary intelligent, and an asset, both Jake and Cody are called back to service in top-secret missions, diverting him from his lawyery office and Sarah to distraction.

Sarah continues to wrestle with her strong feelings for Jake, but can’t reconcile his sudden life-and-death departures, this one to find and destroy the package the cartel wants so badly. She is a vet with a business of her own and probably understands Cody as much or more than Jake.

What follows is a smorgasbord of mystery, action, adventure, murderous assassins, terrorists, kidnapping and general mayhem. The fast-paced, well-plotted thriller moves through twists and turns. Jake is well-developed as is Cody and there is a partial perspective from Cody as he observes his human.

While Jake can be deadly on his own, he had multiple sources of help this time, most characters previously introduced, including his link to Secret Service Agent Shannon McKay who points and authorizes his direction. Each entry to the series works well as a standalone with individual stories. The dynamic between Jake and Cody steals the show although this one pushed the boundaries of anthropomorphizing. Cody still huffs out his “ha, ha, ha” and if you’ve owned a dog likely have seen the same.

The last third of the book settled “on plane” and felt like the Nolan writing style I remembered gathering speed into the disquieting conclusion. (Jake is still grateful for the opportunity to live on, and sail, the Far Niente.) I enjoyed the descriptions of hacker practices and depth of cartel infiltration to the U.S., as well as the explanations for readers at the end, and the occasional reference to military jargon.

“..what we’d say the word Marine stands for?…Marines Always Ride in Navy Equipment.”

Still, while the storyline hooks you immediately, I felt a difference in about the first two-thirds of the book. There seemed to be a different writing style than I was previously used to and discovered several anomalies as well, including contradictions and repeats. Otherwise, it’s a swiftly moving read and one you’ll enjoy.

I received this digital download from the author for the opportunity to read and sincerely appreciated the opportunity to review. (Thank you, Mark!) These are my own unbiased opinions.

Book Details:

Genre: Financial Thrillers, Crime Thrillers

  • ISBN-10:1687417261
  • ISBN-13:978-1687417268
  • ASIN: B07TP7RSTX

Print Length: 346 pages
Publication Date: August 31, 2019
Source: Author request
Title Link: San Diego Dead

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4-stars

Mark Nolan - authorThe Author: Subscribe to Mark Nolan‘s reader newsletter for updates, specials, and to be notified when a new book is available. (Links to my reviews)

Mark Nolan’s books in order:

1. Dead Lawyers Don’t Lie
2. Vigilante Assassin
3. Killer Lawyer
4. San Diego Dead

He is currently hard at work on his next novel.

Mark also tries to make time every day to answer emails from readers. You can get in touch with him at marknolan.com.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Bad Memory (Jessica Shaw Book 2) by Lisa Gray – a #BookReview #suspense #thriller #badmemory

This series is classic #crimenoir PI fiction. Dark suspense, damaged protagonist prone to booze, electric.

Bad Memory by Lisa GrayBook Blurb:

Quiet towns keep big secrets.

Private investigator Jessica Shaw is leading a quiet life in a Californian desert community, where she spends her days working low-level cases. But when a former resident asks Jessica to help her sister, Rue Hunter—a convicted murderer whose execution is days away—Jessica can’t resist the offer.

Rue doesn’t remember what happened the night two high school students were killed thirty years ago, but everybody in town is certain she’s guilty. As Jessica looks for answers, she finds that local rumors point one way and evidence points another. And nobody wants to face the truth. Meanwhile, Jessica can’t shake the feeling that someone is stalking her—now more than ever, she knows she can’t trust anyone.

As Jessica digs deeper, she encounters local secrets in unlikely places—including the police department itself. But the clock is ticking, and Jessica must find the truth fast—or Rue’s bad memory may be the death of them both.

My Review:

My first in the series of two and I can see why Book 1 (Thin Air) has garnered over 2K reviews on Amazon. Yes, perhaps it would be good to start with Book 1 but I had no problem understanding where this woman might have come from. Of course, the name Jessica Shaw kept hauling me back to the Jessica Jones (TV) series, so regardless of any kind of description, all I could envision was young, pretty, dark and seriously bent, Jessica.

Bad Memory by Lisa GrayThe storyline revolves around a death row inmate due for execution, the sudden questioning of her own confession, and her sister’s desire to get at the truth–either way. I loved the way the author built a slow-burn, gleaning a small clue that somehow festers into an actual useable gem–something to build on.

Each chapter names either the main character or one of the many support characters and captures their view of the circumstances, whether currently, or back the thirty years that the murders happened. You get details filled in without being mired in minutia between solidly leading chapters. The hook from the beginning doesn’t let up and you’re in for the count. The reader might be guessing, jumping ahead knowing what’s coming, and then thwarted again by yet another twist or red herring.

But these are old secrets. Deadly secrets. And Jessica is racing again time to either stall an execution or supply those missing pieces of the memory that just doesn’t seem to form a whole picture. It’s complex. Far more than you might have thought. Realistic dialogue, engaging characters, and thoroughly well-plotted mystery, suspense, thriller.

Jessica might be just a bit difficult to invest in; perhaps you’d have to have walked somewhat in her shoes (and I hope you haven’t). She hasn’t been taught the latest defensive moves, barely owns a gun, and isn’t the deadly female whiz-bang of Dean Koontz variety. Jessica is vulnerable but savvy, smart, independent. The question is–can she save this woman due for execution?

I received this digital download from the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Definitely up for Book 3! My problems were a few edit misses and a couple contradictions a beta reader should have caught. Other than that, this one is totally recommended and predicted to do very well. Get in on (almost) the ground floor, or go back and start with Book 1. Either way, you can’t miss.

Book Details:

Genre: Private Investigator, Crime Thrillers
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

  • ISBN-10:1542092329
  • ISBN-13:978-1542092326
  • ASIN: B07Q8FD47T

Print Length: 311 pages
Publication Date: October 24, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Bad Memory
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Rosepoint Publishing:  4.5 of Five Stars 4.5-stars

Lisa Gray - authorThe Author: (Amazon) Lisa Gray has been writing professionally for years, serving as the chief Scottish soccer writer at the Press Association and the books editor at the Daily Record Saturday Magazine. Lisa currently works as a journalist for the Daily Record and Sunday Mail. This is her first crime novel. Learn more at http://www.lisagraywriter.com.

(Goodreads) Lisa Gray is a writer and journalist, and the author of the PI Jessica Shaw thriller series.

She decided at a young age that she wanted to write features for magazines and somehow ended up working as a football journalist for 14 years instead.

After too many winters spent freezing at matches and worrying about dodgy wi-fi connections, Lisa gave up football to work as a content writer at a national newspaper, where she had a spell as their books columnist.

An avid reader, she was hooked on Sweet Valley High and Point Horror books as a youngster, before turning to crime. Her favorite authors include Michael Connelly, Lee Child and Karin Slaughter.

THIN AIR is her debut crime novel and the first in a series about private investigator Jessica Shaw.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

 

Dogs Don’t Lie: A Kallie Collins Cozy Mystery by Lisa Shay – a #BookReview

One book, two opinions. Do they agree or disagree? The CE and I weigh in on a new cozy mystery.

Dogs Don't Lie by Lisa ShayBook Blurb:

On call at Crater Emergency Animal Hospital, I, Doctor Kallie Collins, receive a curious request from the sheriff’s department. I’m to meet with a detective at a small ranch outside of town.
You see, there’s this dog with a bone he’s not willing to part with.
On scene, the dog tells me the bone is human. Actually, he shows me the location of the body, complete with a human skull, through an animal-communication technique I learned a couple years ago. Now I have to explain how this works to the detective, convincing him I’m not the murderer.
Who knew a simple farm visit would put me in the middle of a murder investigation? Well, I did kinda jump into this mess. I had to. I know what happened. The two four-legged witnesses to the murder told me.
And I’m the only one listening.

My Thoughts

Dogs Don't Lie by Lisa ShayIt didn’t take long before I realized I’d bumbled into YA fantasy turned cozy. And I must admit, the cover and the blurb got me.  While I might not be the target audience for this particular genre, I was intrigued by the unusual concept of Dr. Kallie Collins, veterinarian, being able to communicate with animals. In this case, most specifically a dog and cat. Notice I didn’t say talk, although certainly she did that. The communication took a different form. Kallie is young, unmarried, and recently out of vet school, but she’s making (air) waves right into notoriety.

The characters, beyond protagonist Kallie, are all very engaging and very well fleshed. She has two close friends, Gracie Parker and Samantha Griffin (Sam), who are quick (well, mostly, sorta) supportive of her swiftly escalating escapades. While once again, the author drops the name Nancy Drew, Kallie prefers being known as Kinsey Millhone (a reference to the fictional character created by Sue Grafton in her Alphabet series).

Kallie meets the probable love interest, Detective Ben Jacobson, when she is called out to investigate a dog that won’t relinquish her bone. She found it–it was hers! The problem was that it was a human bone and it doesn’t take long for Kallie to exhibit her dog whispering talents and create converts.

Kallie seems to be a great deal more adventurous than cautious and it doesn’t take long before she is deep into the mystery, part of which was also a new plot concept (to me anyway). Then come red herrings, lots of giggles, food (especially cupcakes and burgers), and her mother’s trying to match her up with a nice young man. (I must confess there are several eye-rolling passages.) A few edit misses and could have used an expanded explanation to account for the passage of time or change of scene.

But…you know what? It’s cute. And it works. The venue is the gorgeous Pacific Northwest (or as my motobuddy used to call it, the Great “Northwet”). The characters are engaging, the well-plotted concept unique, and the interaction with the animals investing and I’m quite sure anyone a monster fan of Star Wars would love it. (Her ringtone was The Imperial March, for heaven’s sake.) You will enjoy getting to know these solid characters and now is the time to get in on the first of what looks to be the first of a sweet new series. 4/5 stars

His Thoughts

A very astute veterinarian oversees an unlikely adventure with the help of two animal friends. Communicating telepathically with a dog and cat, Kallie Collins is thrust into an investigation of mysterious events including fraud against senior citizens.

This author writes an entertaining tale that kept me turning pages. At times I wondered why the heroine kept investigating when very real threats were made on her life. Twists and turns lead to the intriguing climax with a little potential romance brewing with an attractive sheriff’s deputy detective named Ben Jacobson.

Associate Reviewer - C E WilliamsKallie’s strong female character with the help of two friends, brings the story along smartly. Of course, her mother is attempting to find a suitor for her unmarried daughter. A younger crowd will find this read very entertaining. C E Williams – 5/5 stars

I received this digital download from the publisher and NetGalley and shared with the CE who also greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Totally recommended as a fast, fun romp in a cozy mystery.

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Animal Mystery, Amateur Sleuth
Publisher: Indie

  • ISBN-10:1686589409
  • ISBN-13:978-1686589409

ASIN: B07XJTNPPC
      Print Length: 191 pages
Publication Date: September 30, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Dogs Don’t Lie

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Rosepoint Publishing:  4.5 Stars of Five Stars 4.5-stars

Lisa Shay - authorThe Author: Yes. Lisa Shay is my pen name.
But it’s still me. R E Sheahan. Since I write YA Science Fiction/Fantasy, it seemed a good choice to go with a pen name for the cozy mysteries.
I live on the coast in the Pacific Northwest.
I read. A lot. Pretty much any genre.
I love animals. A bonus since the cozy mysteries are about a veterinarian who can communicate with animals.
I’m crazy over anything Star Wars, Star Trek, Marvel, LOTR, Dr. Who, and, well all of them.
Yes. I’m a geek.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Tracking Game – A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery Book 5 by Margaret Mizushima – a #BookReview

One of my favorite series, the Timber Creek K-9 mysteries, is back with Tracking Game. While Mattie is interesting, it’s her relationship to Robo that’s the fascination behind these emotive narratives.

Tracking Game by Margaret MizushimaBook Blurb:

Two brutal murders, a menacing band of poachers, and a fearsome creature on the loose in the mountains plunge Mattie Cobb and her K-9 partner Robo into a sinister vortex.

An explosion outside a community dance sends Mattie Cobb and Cole Walker reeling into the night, where they discover a burning van and beside it the body of outfitter Nate Fletcher. But the explosion didn’t kill Nate–it was two gunshots to the heart.

The investigation leads them to the home of rancher Doyle Redman, whose daughter is Nate’s widow, and the object of one of their suspect’s affection. But before they can make an arrest, they receive an emergency call from a man who’s been shot in the mountains. Mattie and Robo rush to the scene, only to be confronted by the ominous growl of a wild predator.

As new players emerge on the scene, Mattie begins to understand the true danger that’s enveloping Timber Creek. They journey into the cold, misty mountains to track the animal–but discover something even more deadly in Tracking Game, the fifth installment in Margaret Mizushima’s Timber Creek K-9 mysteries.

My Review:

I do so enjoy these mysteries, set in Timber Creek Colorado, the venue beautifully described and compelling. More so, the human-canine relationship between Mattie and her highly trained and gorgeous, head-turning German shepherd Robo. Smart as a whip and intuitive, Robo and Mattie share a strong working and personal bond few professed dog lovers possess.

Tracking Game by Margaret MizushimaAlso greatly appreciated are the tidbits of doggie handler wisdom shared by Mizushima woven in her well-plotted narratives so that you glean as much appreciation for “man’s best friend” as the author obviously enjoys, including commands and (prey drive) triggers. Info such as the scent exuded by a fugitive in stress is often called “endocrine sweat,” easy for a dog to pick up.

In Book 5, the start of the book begins somewhat hesitantly, with protagonist Deputy Mattie Cobb and her love interest Cole Walker (a veterinarian) at a dance. There is a short rehash of their history, including Mattie’s damaged childhood leading to her intense fears with allowing herself to trust or love. Then the phone call that interrupts their evening and begins the page-turning mystery that once again weaves powerfully between her and her K-9 partner. Definitely where she feels most comfortable and confident. And it seems Cole brings baggage of his own to the match.

The intriguing storyline has Mattie and Robo involved in a homicide at the scene of a burning van. The area is populated by ranches and the man is the husband of the daughter of one of the old established area ranches. As Robo tracks down bits of clues and Mattie works with the department on the investigation, several suspects turn up. Unfortunately, one of these is later found–also murdered–and his body scavenged leading them to suspect there might be more than two legs in the woods with deadly intent.

A new support character is introduced, wildlife manager, Glenna Dalton, who handles a Rhodesian ridgeback, trained for wildlife tracking purposes. There are some serious twists in the plot you would not have guessed, and the well-developed characters set off for the high mountains and their target(s). It’s a fast-pace to the satisfying conclusion.

I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. These can all be read as a standalone, they are independent stories. I’m looking forward to Mattie gaining greater independence from her past. I’ve read two others in the series, Burning Ridge and Hunting Hour and highly recommend them all.

Book Details:

Genre: Traditional Detective Stories, Cozy Animal Mysteries
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

  • ISBN-10:1643851357
  • ISBN-13:978-1643851358

ASIN: B07NKR63LP
Publication Date: To be released November 12, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Tracking Game

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Rosepoint Publishing: Four Point Five of Five Stars 4.5-stars

Margaret Mizushima - authorThe Author: Margaret Mizushima is the author of the award-winning and internationally published Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries. Active within the writing community, Margaret serves on the board for the Rocky Mountain chapter of Mystery Writers of America and was elected the 2019-2020 Writer of the Year by Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. She lives in Colorado on a small ranch with her veterinarian husband where they raised two daughters and a multitude of animals. She can be found on Facebook/AuthorMargaretMizushima, on Twitter @margmizu, on Instagram at margmizu, and on her website at www.margaretmizushima.com.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Rescued: An Andy Carpenter Mystery (Audio)Book 17 by David Rosenfelt – a #BookReview

Yahoo! Another Andy Carpenter audiobook by David Rosenfelt. Rescued is my third and I’ll shortly be looking for another. (Love that library…!)

Rescued by David Rosenfelt

Five Stars 5-stars

Book Blurb:

In Rescued, David Rosenfelt again delights listeners with the charm and wit they’ve come to expect. Even the most fervent fans of the sardonic Andy Carpenter and his team will be enthralled by this latest case, where the stakes have never been higher.  

Defense lawyer Andy Carpenter is reluctant to take on any more cases. He’d much rather spend his time working for his dog rescue organization, the Tara Foundation, than find himself back in a courtroom. However, when a truck carrying more than 70 dogs from the South to the rescue-friendly Northeast turns up with a murdered driver, Andy can’t help but get involved. 

Of course Andy is eager to help the dogs, many of whom come to the Tara Foundation while awaiting forever homes – it’s the man accused of murder who he has a problem defending. The accused just happens to be his wife Laurie’s ex-fiance; her tall, good looking, ex-Marine ex-fiance. Even though he acknowledges having argued with the victim, he swears that he is not a killer, and though he would rather not, Andy has to admit he believes he’s telling the truth. 

For Andy, even with dozens of successful cases behind him, this case that his wife insists he take may prove to be his most difficult.

My Review:

Rescued by David RosenfeltDefinitely another hit with Book 17. A defense attorney that would rather not do legal work anymore! New Jersey lawyer Andy Carpenter is married to former policewoman Laura and keeps a small office with an office manager. He also has an eclectic support group in his circle that includes Marcus. He created the Tara Foundation, a canine rescue where he’d much rather spend his time..

The Andy Carpenter series are full of self-deprecating humor, mystery and suspense, with an engaging group of characters. The mysteries are well-plotted and complex and each could standalone. In Book 17, there are a dizzying number of dogs to place, freed from a truck heading northeast whose driver was killed and the truck abandoned. Thing is, it appears to point to his wife’s ex-fiancé.

Andy is first person and is constantly doing mind aerobics, that self-talk as funny as the spirited dialogue. He also talks to his dogs (sometimes they answer) and the dialogue with his wife is always enlightening. He tackles the case bit by bit, adding each new clue and building a feasible but tightly spun yarn. As always, he tackles what might be a losing court case and the courtroom scenes become a steady intelligent climb to the unexpected reveal. In the meantime, there has been suspense, red herrings, and cast of characters you come to love.

I received this audiobook from my local library (thank you!)–they have a remarkable selection–and was thoroughly entertained and invested. Grover Gardner does an incredible job of interpreting the very entertaining narrative by David Rosenfelt. Totally recommended for anyone looking for an unpredictable but amusing hoot. It’s good to laugh! I’ve now been the recipient of Book 20, Dachshund Through the Snow (my review here), and loved it as well, converting to solid fan. Whether audio or digital, either way, you’re in for a real treat (no tricks) if you pick up one of this series.

Book Details

Narrator: Grover Gardner
Genre: Animal Fiction, Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Macmillan Audio

  • ASIN: B07ND4GKTJ
  • Listening Length: 6 hours and 57 minutes

Publication Date: July 17, 2018
Source: Local Library Audiobooks
Publisher: Minotaur Books (July 17, 2018)
Print Length:  257 pages
ASIN: B078RX215H
Genre: Traditional Detective Mystery
Title Link: Rescued

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David Rosenfelt - authorThe Author: (Amazon Author Page) David Rosenfelt, a native of Paterson, New Jersey, is a graduate of NYU. He was the former marketing president for Tri-Star Pictures before becoming a writer of novels and screenplays. “Open And Shut” was his first novel; “First Degree,” his second novel, was named a best book of 2003 by Publishers Weekly. He currently lives in Southern California with his wife and 35 dogs.

(Goodreads Author Page) I am a novelist with 27 dogs.

I have gotten to this dubious position with absolutely no planning, and at no stage in my life could I have predicted it. But here I am.

My childhood was relentlessly normal. The middle of three brothers, loving parents, a middle-class home in Paterson, New Jersey. We played sports, studied sporadically. laughed around the dinner table, and generally had a good time. By comparison, “Ozzie and Harriet’s” clan seemed bizarre.

I graduated NYU, then decided to go into the movie business. I was stunningly brilliant at a job interview with my uncle, who was President of United Artists, and was immediately hired. It set me off on a climb up the executive ladder, culminating in my becoming President of Marketing for Tri-Star Pictures. The movie landscape is filled with the movies I buried; for every “Rambo”, “The Natural” and “Rocky”, there are countless disasters.

I did manage to find the time to marry and have two children, both of whom are doing very well, and fortunately neither have inherited my eccentricities.

A number of years ago, I left the movie marketing business, to the sustained applause of hundreds of disgruntled producers and directors. I decided to try my hand at writing. I wrote and sold a bunch of feature films, none of which ever came close to being actually filmed, and then a bunch of TV movies, some of which actually made it to the small screen. It’s safe to say that their impact on the American cultural scene has been minimal.

About fourteen years ago, my wife and I started the Tara Foundation, named in honor of the greatest Golden Retriever the world has ever known. We rescued almost 4,000 dogs, many of them Goldens, and found them loving homes. Our own home quickly became a sanctuary for those dogs that we rescued that were too old or sickly to be wanted by others. They surround me as I write this. It’s total lunacy, but it works, and they are a happy, safe group.
http://us.macmillan.com/author/davidr…

The Narrator: Grover Gardner’s narration career spans twenty-five years and over 550 audiobook titles. AudioFile Magazine has called him one of the “Best Voices of the Century” and features him in their annual “Golden Voices” update. Publishers Weekly named him Audiobook Narrator of the Year for 2005. His recordings have garnered 18 “Golden Earphones” awards from AudioFile and an Audie Award from the Audio Publishers’ Association.
http://grovergardner.blogspot.com/

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Janis: Her Life and Music by Holly George-Warren – a #BookReview

Warning: This book contains offensive language, sexual references and phrases, drug references and aberrant behavior.

Book Blurb:

Janis: Her Life and Music by Jolly George-WarrenLonglisted for the 2020 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence

This blazingly intimate biography of Janis Joplin establishes the Queen of Rock & Roll as the rule-breaking musical trailblazer and complicated, gender-bending rebel she was.

Janis Joplin’s first transgressive act was to be a white girl who gained an early sense of the power of the blues, music you could only find on obscure records and in roadhouses along the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast. But even before that, she stood out in her conservative oil town. She was a tomboy who was also intellectually curious and artistic. By the time she reached high school, she had drawn the scorn of her peers for her embrace of the Beats and her racially progressive views. Her parents doted on her in many ways, but were ultimately put off by her repeated acts of defiance.

Janis Joplin has passed into legend as a brash, impassioned soul doomed by the pain that produced one of the most extraordinary voices in rock history. But in these pages, Holly George-Warren provides a revelatory and deeply satisfying portrait of a woman who wasn’t all about suffering. Janis was a perfectionist: a passionate, erudite musician who was born with talent but also worked exceptionally hard to develop it. She was a woman who pushed the boundaries of gender and sexuality long before it was socially acceptable. She was a sensitive seeker who wanted to marry and settle down—but couldn’t, or wouldn’t. She was a Texan who yearned to flee Texas but could never quite get away—even after becoming a countercultural icon in San Francisco.

Written by one of the most highly regarded chroniclers of American music history, and based on unprecedented access to Janis Joplin’s family, friends, band mates, archives, and long-lost interviews, Janis is a complex, rewarding portrait of a remarkable artist finally getting her due.

My Review:

Janis by Holly George-Warren

I wonder how many decades back you’d have to go to find someone who doesn’t recognize the music or the name of Janis Joplin.

The “beatnik from Port Arthur, Texas” set a new high bar for uninhibited powerful, emotional singing by a woman in the mid-to-late sixties. Unleashing raw talent on a still poodle-skirted US exploring rock and roll, Joplin went “Full Tilt Boogie” with a full repertoire of blues, folk, and R&B following her rocky start in San Francisco in the hippie neighborhood of Haight-Ashbury. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll. For all that wildly barely contained talent, Joplin was a fiercely conflicted young woman, dying at the age of twenty-seven of a heroin overdose; China white.

The author begins the biography with a quick history of Seth and Dorothy Joplin, the singer’s parents and the “triangle” in Texas she haunted as a rebellious girl, always seeking her mother’s approval and her father’s love. School was not kind to Janis, deeply wounding her and sealing that mutinous daughter apart seeking her own persona. She was always different, more one of the boys than friends with her peers. Easy for her to discover an escape into music…and booze…and drugs…and sex.

It was a long, hard climb from the hard-scrabble life in San Francisco to fame around the world, with countless musicians and bands, unsustainable love, the search for success and fame. The author did an amazing job with researching, interviewing and tracing letters home that provide the rocky road on which Janis traveled. The extreme highs and lows. George-Warren relates the anguish with which she desperately clung to threads of approval and drowned disappointment.

It was after the Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967, that she could become a national star. During the short period of her major celebrity, Janis managed to turn out myriad hits and set iconic records. Among her best known, “Cry Baby,” “Summertime (a personal favorite),” “Ball and Chain,” “Piece of My Heart,” and “Me and Bobby McGee.”

She was indeed rude, crude, and (for the most part) socially unacceptable, but man could she set an audience on fire with that voice, jumping to their feet and stomping to the music with as much wild abandon as the person on stage. No silver linings here–we all know the story and it doesn’t end well. Janis herself philosophized her life in bits noted at chapter beginnings, many of which I found profound:

“Don’t compromise yourself. It’s all You’ve got.”
“I would never be young again. I’d have to cry all over.”
“You shouldn’t have to be young until you’re old enough to cope with it.”
“What if they find out I’m only Janis?”
“Onstage I make love to twenty-five thousand people, then I go home alone.”

Janis’s last album, “Pearl” was released three months after her passing in January 1971.

If you’ve ever heard that plaintive wail and wondered about the woman behind the voice, you must read this biography. No gloss-over here, just a well laid out chronology of the tragic path another of our singing icons took and the legacy left for aging hippies and the younger generations hooked by those bluesy ballads.

I received this digital download from the publisher (thank you!) and NetGalley and totally appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended to anyone who enjoys well-researched celebrity biographies and well-written histories–get to know Janis–the person and the singer. That was, at times, two different people.

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Book Details:

Genre: Biographies of Composers & Musicians, Biographies of Actors & Entertainers, R&B Artist Biographies
Publisher: Simon and Schuster

  • ISBN-10:1476793107
  • ISBN-13:978-1476793108
  • ASIN: B07P5GD3SZ

Print Length: 337 pages
Publication Date: To be released October 22, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Janis

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five of Five Stars 4.5-stars

Holly George-Warren - authorThe Author: Holly George-Warren is an award-winning writer, editor, producer, and music consultant. She has contributed to more than two dozen books about rock and roll, including The New Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll, The Rolling Stone Book of Women in Rock, and The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll. She’s also written for the New York Times, the Village Voice, the Journal of Country Music, and Rolling Stone. Ms. George-Warren lives in upstate New York with her family.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Here Comes Santa Paws (A Melanie Travis Mystery Book 24) by Laurien Berenson – a #BookReview

Enjoying the Christmas Spirit with a light-hearted Christmas Season mystery.

Here Comes Santa Paws by Laurien Berenson

Book Blurb:

It’s the most wonderful time of the year in Connecticut, but Melanie Travis finds surviving this December may take a real Christmas miracle when a yuletide murderer comes to town . . .  

As Melanie attempts to deck the halls in a house overrun by pampered Poodles, her event planner friend, Claire, is busy playing Santa—beard and belly not included—for the wealthiest clientele on Connecticut’s Gold Coast. A personal shopper gig in the affluent town of New Canaan seems like business as usual. Except Claire’s stylish stint comes at a higher price than she bargains for when she stumbles over her newest customer’s dead body on the job. Named a prime suspect for murder, she begs for Melanie’s help, then vanishes like cookies and milk on Christmas Eve . . .

Determined to track down Claire, Melanie, and her nosy Aunt Peg dash into a dizzying investigation that leads to even more questions. Why was homicide victim Lila Moran, a secretive woman with an untraceable past, permitted to live on a well-known socialite-turned-recluse’s private estate, and is Claire keeping her own incriminating secrets under wraps? Now, with a grinchy New Canaan detective on their case and disturbing clues piling up like presents beneath the tree, the crime-solving duo must rein in a sinister Kris Kringle before they’re the next ones on someone’s deadly wish list . . .

My Review:

It’s looking like Christmas in New Canaan,  a haven for some of Connecticut’s wealthiest and lucky Claire is in the cat-bird seat having created a personal shopper clientele list. Claire is the wife of Melanie’s ex and they’ve managed to forge a friendship in spite (or maybe because) of their shared history. When Claire calls Melanie for help in a panic, Melanie doesn’t hesitate to run to her aid.

Here Comes Santa Paws by Laurien BerensonDelivering her client’s packages, Claire has stumbled on the body of Lila Moran in her client’s gatehouse on the property of a reclusive and wealthy socialite. It doesn’t take long before the police suspect Claire and Melanie, as well as her feisty Aunt Peg, are compelled to investigate the murder on their own. Melanie has a full house with a husband, two sons, five Standard Poodles and an irascible spotted rescue mutt.

It isn’t long before instigator Claire helps get Melanie in trouble with Detective Hronis and told to leave the detecting to the detectors. That isn’t going to happen with Aunt Peg either and together they begin the process of scenting out clues and interviewing. It’s an easy-going, well-plotted mystery and includes a number of well-developed characters as well as support characters.

Twists and red herrings are introduced, but each interview leads inexorably to the antagonist, whom you might have guessed. I suspected, but enjoyed the ride through the process with that light and fun writing style. While the dogs do not figure prominently, they do create asides and help break the tension with common doggy antics and support.

I started early in the series with a free offering from BookBub and then haven’t seen another until this one. Obviously, Melanie has evolved and the author’s biting sense of humor has bloomed and matured within her narratives. It’s easy to get involved with this protagonist and quickly run through the fun and fast book.

I was given this digital download by the publisher and NetGalley and sincerely appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for those who enjoy a light mystery with lovable canines and empathetic main characters.

Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuth Mystery, Cozy Animal Mystery, Private Investigator Mystery
Publisher: Kensington Books

    • ISBN-10:1496718453
    • ISBN-13:978-1496718457
    • ASIN: B07MB475ZK

Print Length: 208 pages
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Here Comes Santa Paws
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Laurien Berenson - authorThe Author: I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing something. I always wanted to tell stories and I’m incredibly grateful that now there are people who want to read them. I think of the Melanie Travis mystery series as the saga of a woman’s life–with complications. And dogs. And love. And lots of laughter. We should all be so lucky.

Laurien Berenson is an Agatha and Macavity Award nominee, winner of the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, and a four-time winner of the Maxwell Award, presented by the Dog Writers Association of America. She and her husband live on a farm in Kentucky surrounded by dogs and horses. She can be reached at her website: http://www.laurienberenson.com

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Yellowhead Blues: A Hunter Rayne Highway Mystery Book 5 by R. E. Donald – a #BookReview

I saw this series and enjoyed it and recommended to my associate reviewer, the CE, who was still driving truck at the time and thought he’d enjoy. He did. The following is his review.

Book Blurb:

Yellowhead Blues by R E DonaldJust west of the Rocky Mountains, a frightened horse with a bloody saddle is found running loose on the Yellowhead highway. Former RCMP investigator Hunter Rayne is on the road in his eighteen-wheeler when he’s flagged down to help calm the horse and find its missing rider.

The horse with the bloody saddle leads Hunter and a good-natured French Canadian cowboy into a complicated murder mystery. The police are none too happy with his interference, but Hunter strongly believes the RCMP has arrested the wrong man and sets out to uncover who stood to gain from the death of a wealthy ranch owner.

His belief in the suspect’s innocence is shared by a rookie female RCMP constable who joins him in the search for the truth. She befriends the dead man’s young fiancé in an effort to get answers, and discovers that the vulnerable Texas beauty is not who the victim’s family believes her to be.

This is the fifth novel in a unique mystery series set on the highways of North America.

His Review:

A flag-down on a remote Canadian highway thrusts Hunter into another mystery/adventure. This author skillfully twists this ex-Canadian Mounted Policeman into twisted intrigue. A burly French-Canadian flags him down to help with a spooked horse.  Leon Rousseau is a good Samaritan trying to save the animal’s life! Hunter gives him a hand.

Yellowhead Blues by R E DonaldA blood trail leads back to the horse’s former rider and Leon’s dog Blue leads the way. Ms. Donald has put together a great read including a grifter, a manipulated young lady and a ranch owner. The tale will mesmerize you as you try to figure out exactly what happened! Was it a hunting accident?

Leon, the good Samaritan, is arrested for the murder. Hunter takes care of Leon’s dog Blue while trying to solve the crime. He juggles the investigation with his current job of long- haul trucker.

The characters involve the reader immediately in a drama of love, greed and a young female Mounty, Bianca Morrison; trying to establish herself in the remote Canadian setting. This book is fun, engrossing and hard to put down. I was certainly not disappointed with this entry to the series and this may be her best of the series so far. The novel would work fine as a standalone, the characters are immersive, the setting atmospheric.  She spins a terrific yarn!

We received this digital download from the publisher and NetGalley and really appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Totally recommended for anyone who enjoys a well-plotted mystery with a unique and beautiful setting. You won’t be disappointed either. C. E. Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Mysteries, Crime Thriller, Crime Fiction
Publisher: Proud Horse Publishing

  • ISBN-10:0994076258
  • ISBN-13:978-0994076250

ASIN: B07TDQ9RB2
Print Length: 315 pages
Publication Date: July 21, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Yellowhead Blues

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5-stars

R E Donald - authorThe Author: R.E. Donald is the author of the Hunter Rayne Highway Mysteries series. Ruth worked in the transportation industry in various capacities for 25 years and draws on her experience in creating realistic characters and situations in her novels.

Ruth attended the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, B.C., where she studied languages and creative writing to obtain a Bachelor of Arts degree.

She currently lives on a ranch in the South Cariboo region of B.C., where she and her partner, Gilbert Roy, enjoy their Canadian Horses (Le Cheval Canadien) and other animals.

©2019 C E Williams

Associate Reviewer - C E Williams

Portal to Murder by Alison Lingwood – a #BookReview

Yahoo! I won this Print Book in an International Giveaway

Portal to Murder by Alison LingwoodBook Blurb:

This is a story of the use and misuse of the internet.
Angela is a bored, middle-aged spinster approached on the internet by an ex schoolfriend Kevin.
Concerned that her boring existence will not hold his interest, she weaves a fabric of lies, becoming more and more obsessed with her fantasy life.
But Kevin too is not who he claims to be, and the relationship between the two of them leads to death and destruction.

My Review:

A debut by this author and certainly a heroic effort penning a fully engaging novel that grips from the first page.

Mercy! How easy is it to unintentionally involve persons in a web of deceit using the internet. The interaction is arms length–shielded by the internet wall of protection. So easy to hide behind that shelter. From one small fantasy turned twisted to another whose life was already irrevocably warped. Of these myriad characters, a few innocents caught in this perverse tale turned sinister and eventually deadly.

Portal to Murder by Alison LingwoodI’m not sure. Is the main character the antagonist? Perhaps. There would appear no protagonist. There are empathetic characters in Giles (I felt so bad for him), his daughter, Harriet. The good support characters unintentionally involved by their network of friends. Then there are the others. You can’t think like them. (I hope not anyway!) Can’t figure them out. Angela–just–yuck. Yuck, yuck, and phtooey! She is so well fleshed you can smell her.

I enjoyed the journey through to discovery with the Detective Inspector Timothy and DS Talbot. Gleaning one tiny piece at a time until all the rest came together. And it was not a pretty picture.

Yes, I’m American and the dialogue purely British, but the dialogue is quite natural and believable. Antagonists are well developed as my suspicion is you are supposed to dislike them. They are egregious. And you do.

“Oh, what a tangled web we weave…”

The conclusion is folded out patiently, so if at some point you got mildly lost, you could catch up at this point. Since the antagonists were intentionally set early, you knew who. But it was that last little zinger that got me and I hadn’t expected that one. No, quite the opposite, in fact.

My only problem with this very complex tale was the edit misses and a few missing words. Could have benefitted by an additional editor. Otherwise, this is one spell-binding drama that I would have no problem recommending.

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense, Crime Thriller, Mystery

  • ISBN-10:1480225320
  • ISBN-13:978-1480225329
  • ASIN: B00B5ULJZY

Print Length: 314 pages
Publication Date: January 24, 2013
Source: International Giveway by Kerry @ https://chataboutbooks.blog
Thank you, Kerry!
Title Link: Portal to Murder

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4-stars

The Author: Alison Lingwood was born in Cheshire in 1952 and this is her first novel. She is an ex-lecturer and retired businesswoman who lives in Staffordshire with her husband. [This author now has six published novels, the last, Immersed in Murder in August, 2018.]

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Trials and Tribulations – The Robinswood Story Book 3 by Jean Grainger – a #BookReview

This is me–a blubbering mess–and you know I don’t easily admit to tears from reading a book.

Five of Five Stars 5-stars

Book Blurb:

Trials and Tribulations by Jean GraingerRobinswood Estate, County Waterford, 1950

Three sisters, the three men that love them, and a house that could consume them all.

Assuming their roles as the new Lord and Lady Kenefick and returning to Robinswood with the plan to drag it back from the brink of dereliction, is taking its toll on Kate and Sam. With a young family to raise, a very limited budget and only Kate’s parents to help, the task seems insurmountable.

Kate’s eldest sister Eve and her husband Bartley have found happiness in each other after some dark years, but when a face from the past appears, it seems that everything they have worked so hard to create is threatened.

Aisling, the middle sister, is being evasive and the family suspect something is very wrong. On the face of it, she has it all, a lovely husband, a comfortable house and a supportive family, but she is in deep trouble, and nobody can even guess at the real reason why. 

Meanwhile Lady Lillian, Sam’s sister, is useless and arrogant, refusing to accept that things have changed and that her title is not going to get her what she wants, least of all from her husband Beau.

In the midst of it all Dermot and Isabella Murphy try their best to maintain a life and a home for their family, but the trials and tribulations of life at Robinswood might just tear them all apart. .

My Review:

Ms. Grainger has exceeded herself as the supreme storyteller of the Irish, whether or not she’s ever kissed the Blarney Stone, which btw, as I understand it, is not all that far from Cork, from whence she hails. This book grabs you from the beginning and takes you through highs and lows ending in a thrilling conclusion containing not one but two twists that take your breath away.

Trials and Tribulations by Jean GraingerIt’s easy to love these characters, all hard-working, driven, and pulling together to make a success of Robinswood. What’s not to love? The writing style is easy, descriptive, and sensitive, wrenching from even the hardened reviewer emotive sighs. The continuation of the story of the Kenefick and Murphy families (and their reversal of roles) drives this well-plotted domestic drama.

There is a lot going on in this one and I wish I could skim without spoilers, but this is one you have to read for yourself to appreciate. Kate (the wife of Sam), while the youngest of the three (Murphy) sisters, seem to have taken on the job of coordinating the management and has fallen severely short of manpower with the illness of her mother that also affects her dad. She is at her wits end, needs help, and sending up distress signals hasn’t seemed to work. Lady Lillian (and the former lady of the manor), is still more liability than asset. “Lillian was as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike…”

Outhouse There are guests to attend, meals to prepare, fields, animals, and outhouses to convert to much-needed labor housing. (In America we use that term for a structure meant to describe a relief station with no plumbing.) Eve’s husband Bartley, who is a seventh son of a seventh son and a former traveller (or tinker) is working with Beau (Lillian’s husband), and Mark (Aisley’s husband). There is a complex layer of little side dramas, pregnancies, and conflicts. One of the conflicts becomes deadly and leads to another whole drama affecting the entire tribe.

Character and locale driven, this storyline is immersive, including engaging characters you come to care about, whether empathetic or annoying. You might well wish to begin with the first in this series to fully understand where this book begins. The narrative can function fine as a standalone with simple references to a previous relationship. Grainger invokes some fine Irish humor and the dialogue is natural. The evolution of Lillian was one I didn’t expect, and I LOVED the conclusion. While I had a suspicion of the final twist, it was the journey to that moment that had you holding your breath in disbelief. Okay, Ms. Grainger, you put one over on us and I know you are very busy snickering about it. I loved the new character Hannah, my heart ached for Bartley, and soared with Beau.

I was given this digital download as an advance to those special few in hopes of a review and these are my own opinions. This is the best one yet; could also have been titled tragedy and triumph. Highly recommended. You can’t go wrong here, folks. Trust me.

Book Details:

Genre: 20th Century Historical Romance, Historical Fiction, Historical Irish Fiction

  • ASIN: B07XGFMB15

Print Length: 331 pages
Publication Date: To be released October 1, 2019
Source: Author Request
Title Link: Trials and Tribulations

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Jean Grainger - authorThe Author: JEAN GRAINGER, USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR

SELECTED BY BOOKBUB READERS IN TOP 19 OF HISTORICAL FICTION BOOKS.

WINNER OF THE 2016 AUTHOR’S CIRCLE HISTORICAL NOVEL OF EXCELLENCE

Hello and thanks for taking time out to check out my page. If you’re wondering what you’re getting with my books then think of the late great Maeve Binchy but sometimes with a historical twist. I was born in Cork, Ireland in 1971 and I come from a large family of storytellers, so much so that we had to have ‘The Talking Spoon’, only the person holding the spoon could talk!

I have worked as a history lecturer at University, a teacher of English, History and Drama in secondary school, a playwright, and a tour guide of my beloved Ireland. I am married to the lovely Diarmuid and we have four children. We live in a 150 year old stone cottage in Mid-Cork with my family and the world’s smallest dog, a chi-chon called Scrappy-Do.

My experiences leading groups, mainly from the United States, led me to write my first novel, ‘The Tour’. My observances of the often funny, sometimes sad but always interesting events on tours fascinated me. People really did confide the most extraordinary things, the safety of strangers I suppose…The fourth Conor O’Shea book is called The Homecoming of Bubbles O’Leary and features a group of friends taking their friend Bubbles home to Ireland from New York, on last time.

My first World War 2 novel, ‘So Much Owed’ is a family saga based in Ireland following the Buckley family of Dunderrig House. The story opens in the trenches of WW1 at the end of the war and moves to tranquil West Cork. As the next generation of the Buckley family find themselves embroiled once again in war, the action moves from Ireland to wartime Belfast, from occupied France to the inner sanctum of German society in neutral Dublin. The history of the period was my academic specialty so I’m delighted to be able to use it in a work of fiction.

I released a second WW2 book, called ‘What Once Was True’ earlier this year and so far people seem to really like it. Its set in a big old house, and based on the lives of the two families that live there, The Keneficks that own it and the Murphys that work for them.

Shadow of a Century, is set in New York in 2015 as well as in Dublin during the events of Easter Week 1916, where Irish men and women fought valiantly to rid our island of British Imperialism. While not my academic specialty, I loved researching this book. My husband, most fortunately for me is an expert on this era and so I didn’t have to go too far for assistance. The story features three very strong women, united through a battered old flag. Its essentially a love story, but with a bit of intrigue thrown in for good measure.

Under Heaven’s Shining Stars, was published in 2016 and is set in my home city of Cork. My next book, What Once Was True, tells the story of a big old house in Co Waterford during WW2. Two families live there, the impoverished Keneficks who own it and the hard-working Murphys who work for them. Life has remained unchanged for centuries but when war comes, it means everything changes and people have to question what once was true. This book was selected by Bookbub readers as in the top 19 Historical Fiction books of 2018. The sequel to this, Return to Robinswood, continues the story. (See my review here.)

My latest book, The Star and the Shamrock is about two little German Jewish children who find themselves on the Kindertransport out of Berlin. They end up in Northern Ireland and it was a real labour of love. The research was harrowing at times, but I hope I’ve done justice to the stories of so many children who escaped the Nazi terror, often never again to see their parents. This is a book of hope in dark times, of the enduring power of love and the incredible resilience of the human spirit.

Many of the people who have reviewed my books have said that you get to know the characters and really become attached to them, that’s wonderful for me to hear because that’s how I feel about them too. I grew up on Maeve Binchy and Deirdre Purcell and I aspired to being like them. If you buy one of my books I’m very grateful and I really hope you enjoy it. If you do, or even if you don’t, please take the time to post a review. Writing is a source of constant contentment to me and I am so fortunate to have the time and the inclination to do it, but to read a review written by a reader really does make my day.

***Truncated in the interest of space–please see her entire bio here.

Cartoon outhouse attribution: clipartmag.com (Thank you)

©2019 V Williams V Williams