Medellin: Acapulco Cold by Bill Fortin – a #BookTour #BookReview

Book Tour-Medellin Acapulco Cold

I am so delighted today to provide a review for you at our blog stop for Medellín Acapulco Cold (A Cold War Adventure with Rick Fontain Book 3) by Bill Fortin on the Virtual Author Book Tours and reviewed by my associate.

Book Details

Title: Melellín Acapulco Cold by Bill Fortin

Genre: War and Military Action

Publisher: Cold War Publications

Publication Date: May 20, 2019

Print Length: 354 pages

  • ISBN-10:099647868X
  • ISBN-13:978-0996478687
  • ASIN: B07Q89YD2G

Book Blurb 

In March 1987, the CIA’s Operation Acapulco Cold took on the Medellín cartel. The journey would be dangerous. The alternative for not recovering the nuke would be too horrible to imagine. 
A theft occurs as a result of President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev’s treaty agreement in January 1986. Russian SS-20 medium-range missiles were removed from Eastern Europe and their nuclear MIRV packages removed. A shadow group inside the failing Russian government steals three of the nose-cone assembles.
A Russian named Geonov is charged with selling one of these devices to the Medellin cartel. The asking price was $40 million dollars in cash. Pablo Escobar did not even blink when he was offered one. Operation Acapulco Cold is the detailed action taken by the CIA to address this life-altering situation.

His Review

Medellin Acapulco Cold by Bill FortinCould a nuclear catastrophe of epic proportions result from the “War on Drugs?” Bill Fortin explores this in the third book of his Rick Fontain series. The drug war seems to be one way with the United States taking the lead on stopping this social blight. The cartels do not take interference lightly.

A former KGB operative develops a way to smuggle a multiple-warhead device which is slated for destruction out of a former Soviet Bloc country and into cartel control. Payback will be immense when the device is placed in a largely populated area. A crater 150 kilometers wide and 10 meters deep would completely destroy one of the largest population centers on the planet.

Rick Fontain and a group of highly dedicated black-op agents working in a number of countries must stop the placement of the weapon. Multiple agencies track the path of the device and the people paid to deliver the payload. The group is a seasoned element of protection and exude confidence and skill while working with meticulous timing.

Well researched perspective often includes historical bits and pieces. This well-plotted novel tasks the group with finding the warheads and neutralizing the threat delivered during the Reagan administration. The first task is to find the weapon.  People die in the transporting of the weapon because of the improper shielding of the device.  Will the weapon be delivered by land, sea, or air?

Bill Fortin writes this novel with military precision and the participants go all the way to the White House with President Ronald Reagan. Will the group be able to stop the impending assault? They must! But along the way will be obstacles and twists that keep the complex page-turning storyline moving.

Associate Reviewer - C E WilliamsThis is a fast-moving, well-developed plot put together with military procedure protocols. Having read Book 2 of this series, I knew what to expect from detail-oriented Bill Fortin and each book works well as a standalone. He packs in a wallop to get your attention and never flags after that.  It is hard to put the book down and I read it in two days. I shudder to think of the probability of something like this really happening.  A five-star thriller guaranteed to keep you up at night. C.E. Williams

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars Five stars

Bill Fortin - authorAbout The Author: Maryland author Bill Fortin worked for Bell Labs and is the former CEO of Integrated Building Solutions, INC. Today, he leads the newly established self-publishing group Cold War Publications. A Master’s in the Management Sciences from University of Baltimore qualified him to address a wide-range of audiences on the international stage. As a Bell Labs subject matter expert for Intelligent Building technologies he was asked to consult on projects in 37 countries.

A native of Westminster, Maryland Bill is an active member of Rotary and retains membership in the Association of the 3AD. He is married to Judy and is surrounded by a host of 4-legged children (Border Collies). Virtual Author Book Tours.com

 Thanks to Virtual Author Book Tours.com for the opportunity to read and review this topical thriller!

©2019 CE Williams

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Let’s Fake a Deal by Sherry Harris – a #BookReview

Let's Fake a Deal by Sherry HarrisTitle: Let’s Fake a Deal (A Sarah W Garage Sale Mystery Book 7 by Sherry Harris

Genre: Amateur Sleuth, Cozy Craft and Hobby, Cozy Animal Mysteries

Publisher: Kensington

  • ISBN-10:1496716981
  • ISBN-13:978-1496716989
  • ASIN: B07K5ZMBZB

      Print Length: 304 pages

Publication Date: To be released July 30, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Let’s Fake a Deal

Book Blurb:

SHE’S GOT THE GOODS . . .
As a former military spouse, Sarah Winston’s learned a little about organizing, packing, and moving. Her latest project sounds promising: a couple of tech-industry hipsters, newly arrived in her Massachusetts town, who need to downsize. Unfortunately, when Sarah tries to sell their stuff, she discovers it’s all stolen—and she’s the unwitting fence.

BUT SARAH’S PROBLEMS ARE JUST BEGINNING
Michelle, an old friend of Sarah’s from the Air Force base, is in line for a promotion—but not everyone is happy about it, and she’s been hit with an anonymous discrimination complaint. When one of the men she suspects is behind the accusations turns up dead in Michelle’s car, Sarah needs to clear Michelle’s name—as well as her own for selling hot merchandise. And she’ll have to do it while also organizing a cat lady’s gigantic collection of feline memorabilia, or they’ll be making room for Sarah in a jail cell . . .

My Review:

Let's Fake a Deal by Sherry HarrisYes, Book 7 of the series and I read Book 6! Has to be a record, huh? Our favorite garage sale guru protagonist, Sarah Winston is back. Her friends and acquaintances from the local air force base stemming from her marriage to military man CJ, now an ex, are also featured, including Seth, who has already uttered the “L” word. Once again, I appreciated the short explanation of military acronyms (it’s been a long time since my man was in the Navy) and general description of the military community as well.

Sarah really seems to know her business and can identify a valuable piece when she sees it. She is busy working a garage sale when the police show up, shut it down, and arrest her for receiving and selling stolen goods. About the same time, her enlisted friend, Michelle from the base is front and center person of interest when a body is found in her trunk. She has a complaint lodged against her and suspects it was the deceased.

Sarah begins wrestling with both issues as she takes on a new client, one that will take a great deal of time sifting through boxes of old treasures in the basement, finding and separating the more valuable and setting prices for all of the cat-related items from jewelry to paintings. The cat lady herself is pretty eccentric, making for a fun interlude between her running down leads and interviewing persons who might help with either her own arrest or the pending arrest of Michelle.

Dialogue is exchanged easily and believably between her friends, Seth, and her brother Luke, often punctuated with her own comical comebacks in self-talk. I like the way she thinks and it adds a humorous hue to the well-plotted, easy-going storyline. Since she’s been on her own, created and managed a business, Sarah has definitely gained in her ability to handle people. I particularly enjoyed her retort after a veiled threat from a ranking officer, “You may outrank him,” I tipped my head toward James, “but you hold no sway over me.” Bravo! And with that said, I believe you’d get a good idea about her character, whether the others are all well-fleshed in this series entry or not. Most receive sufficient general description to visualize the individual. I think each book could function well as a standalone within the series.

My problem was with the usual bull-headed police officer arresting or immediately jumping to conclusions regarding guilt with little regard to investigating the crime and leaving the leg work to an amateur sleuth. Still, the novel was engaging and easily invested in reading through to conclusion, solving both issues, neatly buttoned up.

I received this ebook download from the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. I really enjoy the Sarah Winston character and look forward to the next in the series. Recommended for those who enjoy a cozy mystery out of the food loop.

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars Four stars

Sherry Harris - authorThe Author: Agatha award-nominated author, Sherry Harris, started bargain hunting in second grade at her best friend’s yard sale. She honed her bartering skills as she moved around the country while her husband served in the Air Force. Sherry uses her love of garage sales, her life as a military spouse, and her time living in Massachusetts as inspiration for the Sarah Winston Garage Sale series.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

 

The Road Home by Richard Paul Evans – an #Audiobook Review

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars Five stars

the-road-home

Title: The Road Home: The Broken Road Series by Richard Paul Evans

Genre: Contemporary Romance, Religious and Inspirational Fiction

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio

  • ASIN:B07L3CCDBC

Listening Length: 5 hrs., 52 mins.

Release Date: May 7, 2019

Source: On Loan from Local library

Title Link: The Road Home

Book Blurb:

the road home-kindleFrom number-one New York Times best-selling author Richard Paul Evans, the dramatic conclusion in the riveting Broken Road trilogy – a powerful redemption story about finding happiness on a pilgrimage across iconic Route 66.

Chicago celebrity and pitchman Charles James is supposed to be dead. Everyone believes he was killed in a fiery plane crash, a flight he narrowly missed. But thanks to that remarkable twist of fate, he’s very much alive and ready for a second chance at life and love. Escaping death has brought Charles some clarity: the money, the fame, the expensive cars; none of it brought him true joy or peace. The last time he was truly happy was when he was married to his ex-wife, Monica, before their relationship was destroyed by his ambition and greed, which involved bilking people out of thousands of dollars through pyramid schemes.

In the exciting and provocative series that began with The Broken Road and The Forgotten Road, Charles is still on his pilgrimage across the iconic Route 66 in The Road Home. He intends to finish his trek from Amarillo to Santa Monica, despite learning his ex-wife is now engaged. With the initial reason for his trip in jeopardy, he still has lessons to learn along the way before he discovers – and arrives at – his true destination.

My Review:

Oh my stars, such a beautifully written novel, read by the author! He knows how to inject the right amount of emotion where it is needed and uses an understated technique that grabs your interest and won’t shake loose.

Audio

I’m such a fan of audiobooks!

They bring a whole new dimension to a narrative you don’t get when reading. Better than a movie, conjures the verbal picture in your mind as did the old radio shows–hanging on to each word.

Charles James is an extremely wealthy celebrity, gaining his money through all the wrong channels. He escaped death by misplacing his briefcase/laptop and going back to retrieve it, discovers the plane had left the gate and departed. It crashed, killing everyone on board. He’s reported dead.

But it’s the proverbial second chance, isn’t it!–handed to him on a platter. What is he going to do with it? Lacking joy or peace, the money can’t give him the relationship he had with his ex-wife or the true friends he’d lost climbing the ladder. He has decided to go on a pilgrimage to find his ex-wife and himself in the process by walking Route 66.

map of US Route 66

Route 66? Are you nuts? That’s 2,500 miles through some of the most brutal landscape in America which originally ran through Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona established in 1926. It is a trip from Chicago (where Charles James begins his journey) to Santa Monica. Through part of America’s heartland, endless miles of corn and wheat fields to the extreme temperatures and hostile environment of the Mojave Desert. Eventually by-passed by the interstate highway system, Route 66 became “Historic Route 66” and gradually began fading into obscurity.

The short chapters are headed with interesting sayings, many worth saving. This final series entry begins in Texas and proceeds west through the last three states of the route, finding interesting characters along the way, towns almost forgotten, ghost towns, and long stretches of miles with no services at all. The descriptions are nostalgic, the lessons provide an ah ha! moment you can use in your own life.

The conclusion draws a pleasant picture of rewarding those who gave of themselves along his journey with no expectation of reward and the eventual meeting of his ex. Does it provide his “happily ever after?” You’ll have to read or listen for yourself. (And I recommend you do so!)

This charming literary fiction novel, the third in the series, is engaging, often emotional, but totally worth investing in the time to listen, share, or buy and read. (I will be searching for the first two!) This one, however, was cleverly integrated so that it functioned well as a standalone and provided one of those “feel good” books you don’t want to end. You may also want to check out the first two in the series:

I received my download copy from the library. You may find a copy in your own library, and I recommend as a must read (or listen). Trust me.

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Richard Paul Evans - authorThe Author: Richard Paul Evans
When Richard Paul Evans wrote the #1 best-seller, The Christmas Box, he never intended on becoming an internationally known author.

Officially, he was an advertising executive, an award-winning clay animator for the American and Japanese markets, candidate for state legislature and most importantly, husband and father. The Christmas Box was written as an expression of love for his (then) two daughters. Though he often told them how much he loved them, he wanted to express his love in a way that would be timeless. In 1993, Evans reproduced 20 copies of the final story and gave them to his closest relatives and friends as Christmas presents. In the month following, those 20 copies were passed around more than 160 times, and soon word spread so widely that bookstores began calling his home with orders for it.

His quiet story of parental love and the true meaning of Christmas made history when it became simultaneously the #1 hardcover and paperback book in the nation. Since then, more than eight million copies of The Christmas Box have been printed. The Emmy award-winning CBS television movie based on The Christmas Box starred Maureen O’Hara and Richard Thomas. Two more of Evans’s books were produced by Hallmark and starred such well-known actors as James Earl Jones, Vanessa Redgrave, Naomi Watts, Mary McDonough and Academy award winner Ellen Burstyn. He has since written 10 consecutive New York Times bestsellers and is one of the few authors in history to have hit both the fiction and non-fiction bestseller lists. He has won three awards for his children’s books including the 1998 American Mothers book award and two first place Storytelling World awards. Evans’s latest book, The 5 Lessons a Millionaire Taught Me About Life and Wealth, is now available.

Of his success, Evans says: “The material achievements of The Christmas Box will never convey its true success, the lives it has changed, the families brought closer together, the mothers and fathers who suddenly understand the pricelessness of their children’s fleeting childhood. I share the message of this book with you in hopes that in some way, you might be, as I was, enlightened.”

During the Spring of 1997, Evans founded The Christmas Box House International, an organization devoted to building shelters and providing services for abused and neglected children. Such shelters are operational in Moab, Vernal, Ogden and Salt Lake City, Utah and Lucre, Peru. To date, more than 16,000 children have been housed in Christmas Box House facilities.

As an acclaimed speaker, Evans has shared the podium with such notable personalities as President George W. Bush, President George and Barbara Bush, former British Prime Minister John Majors, Ron Howard, Elizabeth Dole, Deepak Chopra, Steve Allen, and Bob Hope. Evans has been featured on the Today show and Entertainment Tonight, as well as in Time, Newsweek, People, The New York Times, Washington Post, Good Housekeeping, USA Today, TV Guide, Reader’s Digest, and Family Circle. Evans lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with his wife, Keri, and their five children.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Attributes: Audiobook graphic – Findaway Voices

Map of Route 66 – KissPNG

Pics Route 66 – Wikipedia

 

The Unlucky Ones by Kerry Wilkinson – a #BookReview #Bookouture

The Unlucky Ones by Kerry WilkinsonTitle: The Unlucky Ones (Detective Jessica Daniel thriller series Book 14) by Kerry Wilkinson

Genre: Serial killer thrillers, police procedurals, organized crime thrillers

Publisher: Bookouture

  • ASIN: B07RJZBD6M

Print Length: 333 pages

Publication Date: Happy Publication Day! July 9, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: The Unlucky Ones

Book Blurb:

In the latest heartpounding crime thriller from bestselling author Kerry Wilkinson, Detective Jessica Daniel must find a twisted killer who forces innocent people to relive harrowing near-death experiences one final, fatal time…

A young man is killed by a car, right in front of his distraught fiancé. A missing person is pulled from the canal, only identifiable by his dental records. A troubled young woman takes a deadly leap from the top story of a car park. What could link these three bodies?

To the police, these are tragic but everyday occurrences in their line of work. But when Detective Jessica Daniel discovers that each death is connected to an incident in the victims’ pasts, she knows there’s a dangerous killer at large.

Her investigation leads to a man living on the edge of town, new to the area. A man who receives mysterious visitors at all hours of the night, and who the neighbours refuse to talk about. After staking out his apartment, Jessica receives a message from her superiors: Do not investigate this man.

Ignoring the warning, Jessica is determined to find out how he is involved in the murder of three innocent people. But when she and her colleague are attacked one night, it’s clear that the closer she gets to the truth, the more danger she’s in… can Jessica stop the killer before they get the chance to strike again?

An absolutely unputdownable thriller, packed with twists and turns. Fans of Robert Dugoni, Rachel Caine and Robert Bryndza will be totally gripped by Kerry Wilkinson’s Detective Jessica Daniel crime series.

My Review:

The Unlucky Ones by Kerry WilkinsonMy only experience with this author was a standalone (thriller) that I read early in 2018. I greatly enjoyed that book and remembered the name of the author, so requested this one as soon as I saw it. Of course, it would have to be book 14 in the series, but I can honestly say I enjoyed it regardless. Heaven only knows what I missed in the first thirteen, but I suspect it was some protagonist development as well as team development with whom she normally works. DI Jessica Daniel is a great detective and certainly has the years of experience to know her way around the department.

While she and her partner, Detective Constable Archie Davey (who is driving), are returning from an estate pondering the unusually low stats in a previously high crime area, she glances–JUST FOR A SECOND–to her cell phone and that’s when their marked vehicle hits a pedestrian. He doesn’t survive. Jessica will have the possible help of a sub while Archie is out, but during the course of the investigation of the estate, she also begins to see a potential link to another crime that may have something in common with the pedestrian fatality.

I like Jessica. She is real. She has her foibles, wins and losses, and she has a lot going on in her life and a great deal of history. She has a droll sense of humor which provides a lighter touch to an otherwise sensitive issue. While Jessica is generally low key, she has a wicked sense of people and can pick up nuances. She manages to glean leads that are overlooked by others.

The clever well-plotted storyline begins at an easy pace, bringing in main characters introduced in previous series entries. The dialogue includes a lot of banter between characters that add an aura of real-life and the discussion of Jesus on Saturday was a classic I’m quite sure has more than a few pondering. The real-life scenes add a great deal to life in Manchester for us in the colonies and I must admit to becoming used to (and appreciating) the colloquialisms, slang, and common English terms.

The thriller progressed to additional deaths, all by victims of a previous near-death experience with Jessica connecting the dots amid a heart-pounding climax. As the conclusion solved the serial killer’s identity and segued into the estate puzzle, money goes missing but it is instantly obvious who that culprit is. The conclusion winds down with more of a sigh than a whimper.

The novel is for me character-driven and even in this first, short introduction to the protagonist, I’ve become a solid fan. I was given this ebook download by the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. A different slant on a serial killer thriller and recommended to all who enjoy a crime thriller.

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars Four stars

Kerry Wilkinson - authorThe Author: Kerry Wilkinson has had No.1 crime bestsellers in the UK, Australia, Canada, South Africa and Singapore. He has also written two top-20 thrillers in the United States. His book, Ten Birthdays, won the RNA award for Young Adult Novel of the Year in 2018.

As well as his million-selling Jessica Daniel series, Kerry has written the Silver Blackthorn trilogy – a fantasy-adventure serial for young adults – a second crime series featuring private investigator Andrew Hunter, plus numerous standalone novels. He has been published around the world in more than a dozen languages.

Originally from the county of Somerset, Kerry has spent far too long living in the north of England, picking up words like ‘barm’ and ‘ginnel’.

When he’s short of ideas, he rides his bike or bakes cakes. When he’s not, he writes it all down.

Recent & Upcoming US releases:
Silent Suspect (Jessica Daniel 13): 14 January 2019
Something Buried (Andrew Hunter 3): 7 March 2019
A Face In The Crowd: 6 June 2019
The Unlucky Ones (Jessica Daniel 14): 9 July 2019

Find out more at: http://kerrywilkinson.com or http://facebook.com/KerryWilkinsonBooks

©2019 V Williams Blog author

The Great American Cheese War by Paul Flower – a #BookReview

The Great American Cheese War by Paul FlowerTitle: The Great American Cheese War by Paul Flower

Genre: Terrorism Thriller, Vigilante Justice Thriller, Satire, Humor

Publisher: Farrago

  • ISBN-10:1788421574
  • ISBN-13:978-1788421577
  • ASIN:  B07R1S25SG

Print Length: 320 pages

Publication Date: June 27, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: The Great American Cheese War

Book Blurb:

Governor Bill Hoeksma of Michigan is a simple, gun-loving son of a billionaire who idolises George W. Bush.

When a mysterious illness afflicts members of his inner circle, his conspiring advisors point to a rumoured viral weapons attack – via monkeypox-carrying prairie dogs – launched by the Wisconsin government. Governor Bill decides the Michigan militia should lead the military response, chaos ensues, and he falls unwittingly into a scheme of his powerful father’s making. That scheme begins with cheese research and a Hollywood movie star. How it will end all depends on two unlikely heroes: an aging lesbian state senator, and a high-school teacher born and raised in the Michigan militia.

When the conspiracy runs out of road, and guns are drawn in a showdown outside a Cracker Barrel, will anyone emerge victorious from the Great American Cheese War?

My Review:

The Great American Cheese War by Paul FlowerYou might guess from the title (which is what got me), that this might be a seriously tongue-in-cheek book and if you are looking for something to read today that will have you laughing, shaking your head in disbelief, or rolling your eyes at the author’s targeted jabs and hilarious prose, you are in for a considerable treat.

The author has a difficult time reigning in his politically incorrect thoughts and no one is safe from that jaundiced but critical eye. Governor Hoeksma of Michigan is a gun-toting son of a billionaire eight cents short of a dime and he’s just the beginning.

“Bill wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer but neither was he the dimmest bulb in the lamp.”

He is easily manipulated, which is exactly why his billionaire dad put him in the office. The governor is convinced of the conspiracy theory that has ostensibly been launched against Michigan stemming from cheese research, quietly called the Cheesus program. (No, I’m not kidding–Cheesus.)

The governor deciding on the Michigan militia opens a whole new door to a passel of new characters that are as crazy, off-key, and ludicrous as those who argue over the possibility of a monkeypox-carrying prairie dog, except, of course, that there are no prairie dogs in Michigan (or Wisconsin for that matter). The militia is populated by caricatures of what everyone’s concept might be–and then some. The author artfully switches dialogue between an 83-year-old and his political buddy lesbian state senator as easily as he does between members of the militia. Chewing tobacco, beer, open or concealed carry, gun shows, target practice, and militia maneuver practice. One of those, born to it so to speak, is Miky, unwitting protagonist, or she is possibly one of a couple and very empathetic. On the other hand, the antagonists-politicians are as despicable as Francis in The House of Cards. The main characters were all well-developed enough to either like or dislike them.

The satire runs rampant into the conclusion, which turns a semi-serious cheek. A five-star book, my only problem, if there was one, was of the occasional four-letter language. This is a well-plotted can’t put down book in a farcical satire completely unique to the genre. As for the Michigan vs Wisconsin cheese–which is better? Hard to beat California cheese!

I was granted this ebook download by the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. An absolute hoot of a novel and highly recommended.

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five of Five Stars Four point Five of Five Stars

Paul Flower - authorThe Author: No bio listed.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Rewind by Catherine Ryan Howard – a #BookReview

Rewind by Catherine Ryan HowardTitle: Rewind by Catherine Ryan Howard

Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense Thriller

Publisher: Blackstone Publishing

  • ISBN-10:1538519704
  • ISBN-13:978-1538519707
  • ASIN: B07P925NB9

Print Length: 300 pages

Publication Date: September 3, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Rewind

Book Blurb:

From the bestselling, Edgar-nominated novelist Catherine Ryan Howard comes an explosive story about a twisted voyeur and a terrible crime …

PLAY

Andrew, the manager of Shanamore Holiday Cottages, watches his only guest via a hidden camera in her room. One night the unthinkable happens: a shadowy figure emerges on-screen, kills her, and destroys the camera. But who is the murderer? How did they know about the camera? And how will Andrew live with himself?

PAUSE

Natalie wishes she’d stayed at home as soon as she arrives in the wintry isolation of Shanamore. There’s something creepy about the manager. She wants to leave, but she can’t—not until she’s found what she’s looking for …

REWIND

Psycho meets Fatal Attraction in this explosive story about a murder caught on camera. You’ve already missed the start. To get the full picture you must rewind the tape and play it through to the end, no matter how shocking …

My Review:

Rewind by Catherine Ryan HowardTaking a page from a couple of classic thrillers (see blurb), this one begins violently and was almost too graphic for this gentle bedtime reader. Still, intrigued, I proceeded.

Then the well-plotted thriller settles into another classic well-known timeline switchback, this one called play, pause, rewind, or fast forward, a play on words given the plot gimmick. Usually, that meant delving into the backstory of another of the main characters. That also means a switch of POV and really the storyline carries no major protagonist. The characters are well-developed, giving us more clues each switch back to the individual. The victim Natalie O’Connor becomes more sympathetic, and the Anthony (Psycho) character, Andrew more loathsome, creepy, and leaves you cringing, waiting for the shower scene. Audrey Coughlan is struggling to find a niché and determines that this is it. Sean, the newly installed, unseasoned garda of the village is appealing.

Indeed, the little Irish village outside of Cork becomes a character itself; dark, cold, the people tight and mistrusting, unwilling to share a pint but more than willing to share the latest gossip. Everyone knows everyone else, their history, their business, their secrets. Or, most of them. What they don’t know, they suspect. Andrew, the manager of Shanamore Holiday Villages, a failed development of exclusively odd cottages; Icky Dickie, who should have moved on–but is protecting his secret as well–better to be in tiny, quiet, frigid seaside Shanamore, especially during the off-tourist season than risk detection.

Natalie is a major Irish Instagram personality and she has disappeared. Audrey is working it–looking for the story and finds herself in the same unit as Natalie. Working through the timeline, the reader is gradually caught up to present day and conclusion, which has snuck in quietly and without a whimper. We knew who it was all along but needed the full explanation and reveal. And it was necessary to wait for Audrey and the police to ferret out the truth, dropping crumbs and red herrings along the way, to finally give a name to the heinous antagonist(s).

It’s a tale about the privacy given away, truth bent for stats, perhaps too freely in social media, and the following the media attracts. It is an intense and engaging, fast-paced suspense-filled thriller that gives the voyeur a peek into another world you may not have wanted to know.

I was given the ARC download by the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for any who enjoy a disturbing thriller. Breathe–you are safe now.

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five of Five Stars Four point Five of Five Stars

Catherine Ryan Howard - authorThe Author: CATHERINE RYAN HOWARD was born in Cork, Ireland, in 1982. Her debut thriller, DISTRESS SIGNALS, was an Irish Times and USA Today bestseller, and was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey/New Blood Dagger 2017. Before writing full-time, she was a campsite courier in France, a travel administrator in the Netherlands and a front desk agent at a hotel in Walt Disney World, Florida. She is currently studying English at Trinity College Dublin and wants to be a NASA astronaut when she grows up. Her second thriller, THE LIAR’S GIRL, will be published in March 2018.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Digging Up History by Sheila Connelly – a #BookRevieew

Digging Up History by Sheila ConnollyTitle: Digging Up History (A Museum Mystery) by Sheila Connelly

Genre: Cozy Mystery, Women Sleuths

Publisher: Beyond the Page

  • ISBN-10:1950461157
  • ISBN-13:978-1950461158
  • ASIN: B07T85Q684

 Print Length: 221 pages

Publication Date: June 25, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Digging Up History

Book Blurb:

When a summer intern at the Preservation Society discovers an aged document hidden in the binding of an antique book, Society president Nell Pratt is intrigued by the possibilities: is it a valuable historic document or just a useless scrap of paper? When analysis reveals that it’s a hand-drawn map of one of Philadelphia’s oldest neighborhoods, Nell learns that the area is being excavated for a new real estate development and may hold long-buried secrets from the city’s historic heyday.

Determined to get to the bottom of the map’s origin and what it might tell her about the mysterious plot of land, Nell will have to contend with a construction company owner who disappears, a former Society board member who’s harbored a dark secret her entire life, and a remarkable discovery that may have the dead turning over in their graves . . .

My Review:

Digging Up History by Sheila ConnollyWell, isn’t this a cozy of a different color! The blurb piqued my interest and I always enjoy reading historical tidbits, this one taking place in Philadelphia. Yes, the eighth in the series and my first, although I’d read one other in a different series by the same author.

The protagonist is Nell Pratt, the president of the Society for the Preservation of Pennsylvania Antiquities. The society has recently been bequeathed a collection of books from Harriet Featherstone, a long time resident of the city and a former active member. It is from this collection that intern Dylan discovers a map hidden between the old, disintegrated cover and the new cover of a book that starts them on a journey of discovery.

Nell discusses the find with her significant other, James, an FBI agent, who informs her they can actually glean an image and the words from the faded map. When the map appears of historic interest, Nell contacts Marty Terwilliger, a former board member. Marty confesses to a grisly discovery she made decades ago at the location and together they set out to see what, if anything still exists. Across the street, however, a construction project has stalled due to the discovery of hundreds of skeletons that had been buried under a parking lot. Are the two related? Or even of the same time period?

While Nell proceeds with the investigation, bringing into the mystery the police as well as additional historic experts, they discover deeper secrets that turn darker with each new development. I didn’t find Nell fully fleshed as she was probably well developed in previous series entries. She did, however, manage to form more theories, ideas, and arguments for what might have happened than I ever could have imagined.

Two main mysteries to solve, not the least of which is first to determine the event century given the obvious deterioration of the remains. Century resolved, now to investigate deeds and records that could possibly shed some light on who, why, what, and when. The where they’ve got. Not all characters are well developed or engaging.

Interesting possible scenario in the shocking discovery presents thought-provoking visions during an era of extreme turmoil in our country–the city among the forefront of the turbulence. The author, however, repeats the discovered facts numerous times and then proceeds with additional theories. The skeletons are referred to as bodies, but given how old the remains, really couldn’t have much flesh left. Twists are confronted, but not all add significance to the outcome and the conclusion clouds a bit having already been deduced.

I was given this ebook download by the publisher and NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for those with a penchant for early American history and a clean, victim-free cozy.

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Three point Five of Five Stars Three point Five of Five Stars

Sheila Connolly - authorThe Author: After collecting too many degrees and exploring careers ranging from art historian to investment banker to professional genealogist, Sheila Connolly began writing in 2001, and has now published over thirty traditional mysteries, including several New York Times bestsellers.

Her series include the Orchard Mysteries (Berkley Prime Crime), the Museum Mysteries (Berkley Prime Crime), The County Cork Mysteries (Crooked Lane Books), the Relatively Dead Mysteries (Beyond the Page Press), and beginning in 2018, The Victorian Village Mysteries from St. Martin’s Press.

Her first full-length, standalone ebook, Once She Knew, was published in October 2012.

Connolly has also published a variety of short stories: “Size Matters” appeared in the 2010 Level Best Anthology, Thin Ice; “Called Home,” a short prequel to the Orchard series, was published by Beyond the Page in 2011; and “Dead Letters,” an e-story featuring the main characters from the Museum series, will be published by Berkley Prime Crime in February 2012. Beyond the Page also published “The Rising of the Moon,” and another Level Best anthology includes “Kept in the Dark,” which was nominated for both an Agatha award and an Anthony award for 2013.

She is passionate about genealogy, both American and Irish, and is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Society of Mayflower Descendants. She is also an Irish citizen and owns a cottage in West Cork.

She lives in a too-big Victorian in southeastern Massachusetts with her husband and three cats. Find out more about her at her website, http://www.sheilaconnolly.com

A Fantasy Writers’ Handbook by Richie Billing – a #BookReview

A Fantasy Writers' Handbook by Richie BillingTitle: A Fantasy Writers’ Handbook by Richie Billing

Genre: Authorship, Authorship Reference, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writing

  • ISBN-10:109778133X
  • ISBN-13:978-1097781331
  • ASIN: B07RR37H9K

Print Length: 275 pages

Publication Date: June 12, 2019

Source: Author request

Title Link: A Fantasy Writers’ Handbook

Book Blurb:

‘A Fantasy Writers’ Handbook’ provides detailed guidance on the pillars of storytelling as well as aspects of writing that rarely feature in other books, such as writing fight scenes and world-building. At times the focus shifts away from the technical elements and considers the philosophies behind writing, ways to help you maintain focus, and methods of battling the demons of doubt that forever loom over our shoulders. 

Section two explores the thriving genre of fantasy and the many facets that make it what it is, before looking at the histories of our world that so often inspire our fantasy tales.

The final part looks at the things that come after you’ve finished your story—formatting, peer reviewing, finding publishers—and other things the contemporary writer can do to enhance their careers, such as making and maintaining a website, blogging, and marketing methods.

By the end, you’ll have a sound foundation upon which to build as well as the tools to venture on alone with courage and confidence. To reach that point, all you need is a commitment to work hard and the determination to overcome the challenges ahead.

My Review:

A Fantasy Writers' Handbook by Richie BillingWhen Richie contacted me to inquire whether or not I’d be interested in reading his non-fiction book shortly to be released, I looked at the cover and read the synopsis. Nah, I’m not a fantasy book person. Well, maybe, I liked his intro and there were thirteen Goodreads reviews, all five star. Since then, it’s been released and there is one naysayer on Amazon that still has me scratching my head. (Gees Louise, there is always one, isn’t there?)

No, I don’t write fantasy. What would I want with a fantasy writers’ handbook? Well, glad you asked!

  1. Simplicity–ease of use.
  2. Conversational style, one on one, it’s you and me, babe.
  3. Anything you’ve ever wanted to know about writing (not just fantasy).
  4. Rich resources
  5. Tons and tons of plot ideas, character ideas including physiology, sociology, and psychology, conflicted morals. (He even cites the anti-hero Walter White from Breaking Bad. That seals it–this is a winner!)
  6. Use of animals to gain empathy, sympathy (or kick the dog and create a nasty antagonist).
  7. Definitions of plot, theme, or premise. World building.
  8. Tense, POV. But he doesn’t just describe a first or third person tense–no, it’s broken down into specifics I’ve never heard of before–third person omniscient; third person limited…huh?
  9. Creating tension, but not over the top kill your reader tension. Just enough to keep said reader suspended in suspense.
  10. Building in emotions. Conflict.
  11. Dialogue
  12. The no-no’s of info-dumping. Getting into the show; not tell right. The “most-hated writing rules” some of which are changing. And, really, now I can start a new sentence with a conjunction without violating anything? (Good! Cause I was doing it anyway!)
  13. Out with the passive voice!! But, wait, there ARE a few instances where passive voice is the voice of choice. AND, author Billing quotes ample example.
  14. Definitions of story lengths, as few as this or as much as that.
  15. Editing–brace yourself–hold your nose–and forge on, get’er done.
  16. Blogging–nice to see that validation–one I continue to work on. It’s another outlet of creativity. (I gave up trying to paint a long time ago.)
  17. Social media–choose what is right and works for you.
  18. Formatting: Another new one for me, the Shunn style. Is this something you are familiar with? If you are writing novels, quite possibly so as it is apparently becoming the industry standard. Yeah, I know about Times New Roman, but have always shunned it. (tee hee)

The author doesn’t stop there, however, and here is where his book specifically cites fantasy publishers–so many resources. Garth Wright, you gotta check out this stuff, man, and then exchange some of your own great ideas with Richie.

Did I have any niggles (forget it was geared for fantasy writers), yes. This is a young man in Liverpool. He is speaking to other young people, or at least not as old as myself, and occasionally dips into the words more commonly associated with younger generations. No doubt you’ll enjoy and be amazed at his extremely comprehensive personal instructional text. I don’t think there is anything he’s forgotten, left out, or hasn’t covered in minute detail. If there is, I’m sure he’d be glad to hear about it!

I received this ebook download as a result of the author’s direct request for a read and review and these are my own independent opinions. This is an awesome resource you’ll be sure to use frequently regardless your genre. Check it out and let me know what you think!

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

Richie Billing - author [Goodreads] The Author: [Richie Billing] My middle name is Edward, so my name is also Dick Ed, though I much prefer Richie (although Dick Ed is sometimes warranted). I’m from a city called Liverpool, known for football and The Beatles. I like Neil Young, The Allman Bros, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Tess Parks and more, and most nights I’m up till the wee hours either scribbling away or watching the NBA.

Website

https://richiebilling.com/

Twitter

Magpie_Richie

©2019 V Williams Blog author

The Image Seeker by Amanda Hughes – a #BookReview #bestselling author

Five Stars Five stars

The Image Seeker by Amanda HughesTitle: The Image Seeker (Bold Women of the 20th Century Book 2) by Amanda Hughes

Genre: US Historical Fiction, Cultural Heritage Fiction

  • ASIN: B07SQ5GGDQ

Print Length: 328 pages

Publication Date: HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY-June 20, 2019!

Source: Author request

Title Link: The Image Seeker

Book Blurb:

The Dust Bowl 1936-Battered and near death, Billie Bassett gazes up at the stars from the door of a boxcar wondering if she can go on. Yet, in spite of the violence and privation riding the rails, she endures and becomes one of the finest photojournalists in the nation.
From humble beginnings in an Indian boarding school in Minnesota to high society in New York City, Billie experiences it all. Her pioneering camera work attracts the attention of a group of elite New York journalists who catapult Billie to fame and fortune, but it comes at a price. Her talents are required in the war effort, and she must travel undercover, deep into Nazi Germany as a courier. By her side is the charismatic and acclaimed journalist, Max Rothman, Billie’s harshest critic and dearest friend. But Max does not reveal to her his own clandestine and dangerous agenda.
The Image Seeker is a tale of lost youth, strength, and rebirth set in one of our country’s most tragic eras, The Great Depression and in the cauldron of hatred that was Nazi Germany.

My Review:

The Image Seeker by Amanda HughesRest assured, you need look no further than author Amanda Hughes for an authentic, historically accurate, and poignant historical fiction novel. They consistently touch all the right buttons!

The female protagonists in the Bold Women series do not try to project a super-hero feminist. They are vulnerable but persevering, subtle but daring, quiet but strong, using their native intelligence and quick-witted response to the given situation. I love that they could also be you–or me. This is the second in the Twentieth Century series, but each of these books can be read as a standalone.

Billie Bassett is separated from her family in Minnesota at age 5 and sent to an Indian boarding school to integrate her into (white) society. Not allowed to speak her native language, she is fed, sheltered, and educated–until a tragic occurrence forces her decision to escape. She has been lucky in that during several summers she was welcomed into a German farm family exchanging domestic help for another kind of education. And something else–love and support. It is through the encouragement and generosity of this couple she will further her new and growing interest in photography.

The storyline grips from the first page, grabs your attention, and does not let go. Much of what I thought I knew of this period in our history is opened up, laid out, examined in intensity I’d yet to visualize. Billie is instructed in the ways of life on the rails–teaching her the signs and symbols of hobo communication, the “jungles,” protection, hunger. It’s an amazing lesson and combined with the languages she’s learned by immersion, invaluable.

But there are always forks in the road and each that the talented Billie has boldly chosen or fought for has led inexorably to the path that would lead to achievement, independence, even a wealth of sorts–dollars no less than those of connections. The connections lead to a dangerous mission for her country at the 1936 Games of the XI Olympiad in Berlin, witnessing the rise of Nazi Germany, and while she steadfastly refuses romance in her life, it finds her, unbidden.

The well-plotted narrative builds upon itself, leading you to cringe more than once over what will happen next, and scared that you think you might know. Dialogue is natural and the storyline easy to follow, though trust me that there will be a few unexpected twists along the way. The conclusion is carefully drawn pulling in threads after a harrowing escape, smoothing out the ripples, allowing the adrenaline to settle back down.

I received the ebook download from the author for a read and review and the review is my own and independent opinion. I’m a big fan of this award-winning and bestselling author. (Read my interview with Amanda here.) I thoroughly enjoyed The Image Seeker and found SOO many parallels in my life–as well as I’m quite sure you might as well. (My paternal grandmother born on a Chippewa reservation and maternal grandmother in Minnesota.) The Depression generation suffered through some horrible deprivation and saw many of those ingrained habits handed down to succeeding generations. (Save everything! Rugs out of old nylons–oh yeah.) Many rode the rails and we have a legacy of country/folk music to prove it. Trains have always held a fascination hard to deny–the power of the behemoths–and the legacy they spin. So many stories. Whether or not you are a historical fiction buff, you’ll love this fascinating narrative. Highly recommended!

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Amanda Hughes authorThe Author: Bestselling and award-winning author, Amanda Hughes is a “Walter Mitty”, spending more time in heroic daydreams than the real world. At last, she found an outlet writing adventures about bold women through the centuries. Well known for her genre-busting books, she is the winner of the Gems National Medal for Writing, featured in USA Today and is nominated for the 2017 Minnesota Book Award. Amanda is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, and when she isn’t off tilting windmills, she lives and writes in Minnesota. Don’t miss these page-turning novels for readers who like historical fiction with a just bit of a love story. All of her books are stand-alone and can be read in any order.

The Bold Women of the 17th Century: The Firefly Witch Book 1

The Bold Women Series of the 18th Century: Beyond the Cliffs of Kerry Book 1 The Pride of the King Book 2 The Sword of the Banshee Book 3

The Bold Women Series of the 19th Century: The Grand Masquerade Book 1 Vagabond Wind Book 2 The House of Five Fortunes Book 3

The Bold Women Series of the 20th Century: The Looking Glass Goddess Book 1

Interested in her new books or a free novelette? Go to http://www.amandahughesauthor.com

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Across the River by Richard Snodgrass – a #BookReview

Across the River by Richard SnodgrassTitle: Across the River (Books of Furnass Book 4) by Richard Snodgrass

Genre: Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction

Publisher: Calling Cow Press

  • ISBN-10:099976991X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0999769911
  • ASIN: B07SS5J113

Print Length: 340 pages

Publication Date: December 26, 2018

Source: Publicist and NetGalley

Title Link: Across the River

Book Blurb:

In the summer of 1863, Judson Walker, a captain of Morgan’s Raiders, and Jonathan Reid, a young engineer, come to Furnass to appropriate two of Colin Lyles’ steam-powered road engines. The purpose is to outfit the engines with iron plate and the newly developed Gatlin Guns, and, with Morgan, deliver the war engines to General Lee’s army in Central Pennsylvania. Amid Walker’s growing involvement with Lyle’s wife Libby, deserting soldiers, and Reid’s own agenda, Walker learns Morgan isn’t coming. The novel reaches its climax with Lyle trying to sabotage the war engines. Walker must decide between Libby and duty toward his men, the war and individual human values.

My Review:

Across the River by Richard SnodgrassMost of you are aware I enjoy a good historical fiction yarn and I’ve certainly read a number of novels of the Civil War. Most deal with the horrific battles.

This one is different.

Two men from the Confederate calvary in a group known as Morgan’s Raiders have entered a small village in Pennsylvania on a secret mission. Captain Judson Walker is accompanied by pseudo-engineer Jonathan Reid on a secret mission in which a local has been perfecting what he calls a “road engine.” They are befriended by the owner of Steamworks and invited to stay with him as Reid studies his machine to test the feasibility of combining it with a new invention that will replace hundreds of men at the front line and hopefully swing the war to the Confederate side.

From the beginning, you get this isn’t a normal military operation, nor the home of Colin Lyle a normal marriage. In a skirmish prior to arrival, Walker is wounded and taken under the wing of Lyle’s wife, Libby. She is a woman born about four generations before her time, a transplanted southerner who immediately gleans that despite the Union uniforms, these two may not be northerners. She’s an enigma, outspoken, intelligent, and insists Walker be checked out by their village doctor with whom it would appear she may have a relationship other than doctor/patient. The little village has not seen the conflict first hand, but residents are kept fairly up to date of the progress and properly suspicious of anyone new to the area.

The storyline is well-plotted, but grows and flows rather languidly, shifting first and third persons (putting you in the head of one and his thoughts, particularly Walker as he relives scenes of his skirmishes with Morgan), as well as the other main characters. Walker is smart, deeply distrustful of Reid, and exhibits battle fatigue. Reid, although he’d like to think is the smarter of the two, has no military mind and the two often clash. Reid is interested in the glory he’s sure he’ll receive from producing a successful war machine. Lyle is just grateful that someone at long last has seen fit to investigate his contraption.

There is much philosophical consideration and reflection, Reid’s arrogance makes him an unsympathetic character, Libby gets weird and also unsympathetic, and Walker flashes back to his “one that got away” comparing her with Libby. References to the couple’s children–but where were they? The rest of Walker’s troop arrives, several in need of medical attention. The dialogue reads realistic for the time and the description of the big house dark and uninviting. Difficult to determine how this will all work out, the author does a fine job of wrapping up a satisfying conclusion, but leaves out a few minor details.

I was contacted by the publicist for the author and offered a free copy through NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review. There were some format problems. Very different view of the civil war and the individual personalities involved make it a compelling, unique read.

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

The Author: No author info, page, or links

©2019 V Williams Blog author

 

When Sally Comes Marching Home by Richard Milton – a #BookReview

When Sally Comes Marching Home by Richard MiltonTitle: When Sally Comes Marching Home (a Sally Honeychurch spy thriller) by Richard Milton

Genre: Espionage Thrillers

Publisher: Bowater Books

  • ISBN-10:1790392268
  • ISBN-13:978-1790392261
  • ASIN: B07R897F32

 Print Length: 350 pages

Publication Date: April 19, 2019

Source: Direct author request

Title Link: When Sally Comes Marching Home

Book Blurb:

In 1945, World War II is ending. For Major Sally Honeychurch the war is just beginning.

Major Sally Honeychurch has spent two years as an agent behind enemy lines. Now the war is over, the women who risked their lives are no longer needed. Sally is back in civvy street, haunted by the French Resistance lover who died in her arms.
When terrorists smuggle an atomic bomb into London, The Head of MI6 urgently summons her for one more mission. Sally has inside knowledge few possess. She was there when the first atom bomb was assembled and detonated.
Sally is the only woman among hundreds of soldiers and intelligence agents hunting the terrorists. And she uncovers a clue to their identity that will rock the establishment to its foundations. To save London, she must not only track down the conspirators, she must also battle the prejudices of the men in charge.

My Review:

When Sally Comes Marching Home by Richard MiltonYou don’t have to read a horror story to be scared out of your wits by a book because there is nothing scarier out there than the possible annihilation of humankind or the destruction of the planet. Just how close we’ve come, earlier than you might have guessed, more seriously than you thought possible, and more non-fiction than you’d have ever been afraid to consider.

Thank you, Nina, of The Cozy Pages for your referral of author Richard Milton to me, thinking it might be something I’d consider reading and reviewing. It would appear I’ve been hitting historical fiction lately, many of World War II. Reading books into which so much research has been dedicated is eye-opening and as the author of my last historical fiction, Mary Lawrence, posed in her book, “…historical fiction must first be grounded in reality, then allowed room for creative interpretation.” Gees, Nina, this one scared the socks off me!

Having parachuted down behind enemy lines in France, Major Sally Honeychurch is no novice in espionage and trained in combat is more than capable of taking care of herself. She spent two years under the crushing tension of possibly being exposed and arrested by the Gestapo. Sally is also experienced driving in extreme conditions, successfully so, and as a result is invited to drive to and witness the first atomic bomb explosion dubbed Trinity in New Mexico. While she has an amazing file and important contacts, still faces extreme gender prejudice in any military circumstances.

Following the end of the war, most men in her position are recruited into the secret service, while the women were relieved of duty and sent home. Sally is teaching when she receives a call that compels her return. Statuesque at 5’11”, blond, and light eyes she commands attention, but not usually of the respectful variety. Still, she’s intelligent and a self-starter and when the investigation begins swings into her intelligence persona to ferret out the terrorists.

The well-plotted storyline moves at an even pace, gradually increasing the tension over the chapters as it introduces the support characters, Mac Mackenzie, her old buddy now a Scotland Yard Police Inspector, being one. Sally is well-developed, lesser so the support characters, though it is Sally as the main character that is the driving force behind the plot-driven novel. She’s been through enough of the prejudiced male reaction to her station to know how to neutralize her response.

Intelligence has determined the materials for an atomic bomb have been delivered to London and they must figure out who is behind, find, and defuse the bomb in a race against time. The author carefully ramps up the characters and their roles in supplying the bits and pieces Sally uses to determine the source and location. Who is behind the plot flies in the face of their theories and she must battle them as well.

Successful infiltration may be just the beginning when confronting a fanatical Nazi supporter. So many historical details shared here regarding the theories, beliefs, doctrines of Hitler himself that permeated those around him, infesting them with the dogma and runes commonly worn by the SS and polluted the people with Nazi ideology and mysticism.

Scary? Oh yeah! Terrifying? Oh yeah! Sometimes the line blurred between that of fiction and non-fiction making it all the more horrifying. You don’t need zombies or vampires, sometimes reality is more petrifying. The build-up is worth the tailspin and the conclusion comes as a huge relief allowing you to breathe again.

The dialogue certainly harkened back to post WWII and scenes of military and the London streets rang some bells. Sally is a realistic WWII female spy hero (as many unsung women were) and the Nazi antagonist detestable. Teddy Buckingham was properly charismatic. Historic notes following the conclusion is enlightening and corroborative.

Did I have niggles, other than the chills and goosebumps? Actually, a few minor details–like (I’m sure a typo) describing a rifle that didn’t exist in 1945, a driving scene with Miss Sally (I’m sure wouldn’t have bothered anyone else), and just a little disbelief in her tenacity in the face of pain (but a little adrenalin will go a long way in keeping you going), and this thoroughly engaging book keeps you flipping pages.

I was given this ebook download in response to acceptance of the referral and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review this remarkable historical fiction slash espionage novel. Highly recommended.

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five of Five Stars Four point Five of Five Stars

Richard Milton - authorThe Author: (Amazon) Richard Milton is a British writer, journalist and broadcaster. He currently freelances for The Daily Telegraph and other newspapers. He is the author of a dozen books – both fiction and non-fiction – all now available on Kindle as well as in book form.

Read his blog and latest book news at – http://bit.ly/1Bm0twR

His non-fiction books are highly controversial. “Bad Company”, which The Sunday Times chose as its Business Book of the Week, sets out to explain why large corporations sometimes behave in self-defeating and even insane ways. Richard Milton - author

His equally controversial “Shattering the myths of Darwinism” caused some members of the scientific establishment to start chewing the carpet and foaming at the mouth, by daring to demand real empirical evidence in support of Darwinian beliefs, in place of conjecture and pseudoscience. “Alternative Science” (also published as “Forbidden Science”) examines how and why good science is sometimes thrown out with the bad for purely ideological reasons.

His book “Best of Enemies” looks at Anglo-German relations through two world wars and charts the origins of modern propaganda. The book is currently the subject of a TV film of the same name to be broadcast on German and British TV later in 2015.

His latest non-fiction book, “The Ministry of Spin”, reveals for the first time the story of how the post-war Labour government secretly held onto the wartime Ministry Of Information: how they buried this powerful propaganda machine deep in Whitehall: and how they turned its wartime propaganda powers on the British Parliament, media and people in order to push through their peacetime political programme.

In fiction, he has published three mystery thrillers and a book of short stories.

“Dead Secret” is a paranormal mystery thriller. Investigative journalist Tony Gabriel stumbles onto his biggest ever story when he inherits the papers of a long-dead historian – and finds himself the target of an ancient secret society. Are they just rich, powerful people playing an elaborate game, or have they truly gained paranormal powers to see into the future?

“The Glass Harmonica” is a mystery thriller. Concert pianist Julia Franklin is heir to an inheritance worth a billion dollars – enough to bankrupt America’s oldest bank when the trust matures. Miles Bartholemew, of Bartholemew Equity and Trust, has to find the heirs of the Franklin trust and deal with them permanently, before his family’s bank is ruined.

“Conjuring For Beginners” is a crime thriller. When legendary con-artist Ferdy Daniels dies alone and penniless, his daughter, Rosa, inherits his victims, who are convinced she was his partner in crime. To keep one jump ahead of them – and stay alive – Rosa must unravel Ferdy’s web of deceits. But to re-trace her father’s footsteps, she must learn to become as quick-witted and cunning as Ferdy, the master magician.

“True Stories: Mysteries of Crime and Punishment” is a collection of short stories with a difference. Every story in the book is true – except one. Some tell of crimes that have gone unpunished by the law. Some are crimes against laws that are unwritten. And some are crimes that exist only in the mind.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Sam Wick Rapid Thriller series by Chase Austin – a #BookReview

San Wick Rapid Thrillers by Chase Austin

Introduction to the first three in the Sam Wick Rapid Thriller series of pulp fiction books.

Titles: Wicked Storm-Book 1, Wicked Deceit-Book 2, Wicked Hunter-Book 3 – Sam Wick Rapid Thrillers by Chase Austin

Genre: Pulp Thrillers, War Fiction, Political Fiction

Wicked Storm-Book #1 – ASINB07P833GN5

  • Print Length: 76 pages
  • Publication Date: March 28, 2019

Wicked Deceit-Book #2 – ASINB07PKDRRN6

  • Print Length: 183 pages

Publication Date: May 1, 2019

Wicked Hunter-Book #3 – ASIN: B07PNK69PP

  • Print Length: 195 pages

Publication Date: June 1, 2019

Source: Direct author request with Advanced Reader’s Copies

Title Links:

Wicked Storm

Wicked Deceit

Wicked Hunter

Book Blurb-Book 1- Wicked Storm: A Thrilling Short Story

A girl’s life at stake. A cage match. Only one chance.

Task Force-77 (TF-77) is a black ops team of NSA and the US Military. This is the team, the U.S. government calls when it needs to get people out of the most dangerous places on earth.

Sam Wick.Task Force 77’s best. Master Extractor. Perfect Assassin. Where the government cannot and will not go, he will. 

Wicked Storm by Chase AustinMy Review-Book 1:

Talk about fast and furious! This is a short story, long on action, short on character development. The action is apparently meant to garner interest in the series that is coming with promise to develop characters as the entries progress. The last 30% of the first book is a series teaser along with introductory chapters of Wicked Deceit.

Sam Wick is a baddie to the bone. Interesting premise here and well-plotted with a cute twist you may not have suspected. No rules, no harm, no foul. (Okay–forget about the “harm” part.) You’ll have to suspend some disbelief, but otherwise, a fast read. Fun to read a short story once in a while! Of course, we used to call them “dime novels.” And there were some edit problems.

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Book Blurb-Book 2Wicked Deceit: A Pulsating Race-Against-Time Thriller with High Body Count

What do you do when your own President wants you dead? 
You call Sam Wick. 

His missionExtract Carlos Cruz-Diez—a New York Times reporter from the clutches of death.

Location: Venezuela Consulate in Vienna, Austria.

The Obstacle: Venezuela’s National Intelligence Service has sent sixteen of their best to execute this mission.

Timeline: Twenty-four hours. Time is running out. Bullets are flying. Bodies are piling up. Nothing is as it seems.  

Wicked Deceit by Chase AustinMy Review-Book 2:

Sam Wick, our protagonist, is the returning main character and this is the second in the series, but easily read as a standalone. The reader is being fed little bits of information about Sam Wick. In this entry, Sam joins team Vesuvius who is headed by Jessica, the logistics liaison. There is some chemistry between she and Sam and the team heads into Venezuela on a bloody mission. Once again, the plot kicks into high gear and zooms to conclusion. 007 on steroids. Wick likes to play the strong, silent type, opting to dazzle with pregnant pauses and clear-eyed stares. (At least he won’t bore you with babble on a long flight!)

Some support characters here, not a one-man band, including Jessica and Henrique, the Venezuelan intelligence service director. Not a lot of humor, these missions are played out seriously, fast, and deadly. I saw some improvement in the second of the series in storytelling, but with minimal editing this also exhibited many problems from awkward English to repeated descriptions and punctuation errors. Hopefully, these problems were corrected prior to publication.

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Book Blurb-Book 3 – Wicked Hunter: A High Octane Action Thriller

The Taliban have abducted a CIA agent. No one knows where he is being kept. Time is running out. Can he be saved?

His mission: Extract Josh Fletcher, a CIA operative, from the Taliban Backyard

Deadline: Less than twelve hours.

Wicked Hunter by Chase AustinMy  Review-Book 3:

Okay, down to business, the author is finding his writing chops and this well-plotted storyline is enjoyable to read. Well, another caveat, if you are squeamish, may not be your cup of tea. This is another entry that gets serious very quickly, and Sam actually reaches out to his go-to sharp-shooter for help. We get additional details on Sam, a little more description of the scene and a more thorough introduction and description of the mission. And again, functions just fine as a standalone.

Definitely a more relaxed, cohesive writing style with points of interest well-described. Sam takes the time to plot out the mission control areas and timing, logistics and personnel. Set up more thoroughly, the storyline lays out smoothly although you are still actively ignoring some disbelief. A quotable: “Master your breath, master your mind.”

Unfortunately, again, an ARC rift with edit misses that is hoped were found and corrected prior to publication.

With the third entry to the series and the improvement noted, it would appear that these might continue to be of interest to those who enjoy a fast and furious read, no-holds-barred type of action. A throw-back to more pulp fiction days, just read for fun.

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Chase Austin - authorThe Author: Chase Austin Get your FREE Starter Library http://www.thechaseaustin.com

Hope you would like my new series – Sam Wick Rapid Thrillers.

Book 1- Wicked Storm
Book 2- Wicked Deceit
Book 3- Wicked Hunter
Book 4- Wicked Blood
Book 5- Wicked Ghost

Welcome to my world.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Pysanky Promise by Cathy Witbeck #BookReview #readingroom

Five Stars

I am so delighted today to provide a review for you at my blog stop for Pysanky Promise: A Children’s picture book about pysanky (Ukrainian Easter eggs) by Cathy Witbeck in the Reading Room at Sage’s Blog Tours.

Sage's Blog Tours - Reading Room

Book Details:

Title: Pysanky Promise by Cathy Witbeck

Publisher: Calico Barn Books

Publication Date: November 15, 2018

Print Length: 34 pages

  • ISBN-10:1732262624
  • ISBN-13:978-1732262621
  • ASIN: B07KLWM3HX

Pysanky Promise by Cathy WitbeckBook Blurb:

When a young girl learns that her grandmother’s hands have grown too shaky to make pysanky (Ukrainian Easter eggs), she learns the art herself, hoping to heal her grandmother’s heart. The book explains the method for making pysanky, as well as a bit about the history, symbolism, and tradition behind the craft.

My Review:

Aww, such a beautiful little book, geared for the Easter child in all of us sure to span all ages and cultures alike. This little book takes the art of creating Ukrainian Easter eggs and weaves it seamlessly into family tradition, history, and the construction process (and the process does take time).

“The world pysanky is related to the word ‘pysaty’, which means ‘to write.’ Pysanky are egg with a message written on them…People have been making pysanky for many years. Before Christianity, people believed the egg was a source of power…”

The designs are fabulous, but more than that–the designs, the borders, the colors all mean something and “each color has more than one meaning.”

White-purity — Yellow-kindness, happiness — Orange-strength, endurance — Green-spring, hope — Blue-sky, good health — Red-love, passion — Black-eternity

And some designs: Diamond-knowledge, Fish – a symbol of Christianity, Flower – beauty and wisdom, Star – beauty and perfection

I wish you could see these brilliant colors and breathtaking designs–and you can get a glimpse of the promise at the author’s website or find her book at most retail book outlets including Overdrive.

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Sage's Blog ToursI’m thinking many of these design and color meanings are common to many more cultures and it was certainly fun to be reminded of their translations again. Thanks to Sage’s Reading Room for the opportunity to read and review this beautifully illustrated children’s book! Also recommended for anyone who enjoys learning new cultural ideas and their origins.

Cathy Witbeck - authorAbout The Author: Cathy Witbeck is an author/illustrator, a Ukrainian Easter egg instructor, a mom to five, wife to one, and a voracious reader of pretty much everything, especially picture books.

Raised on a ranch in Southern Alberta, Canada, she grew up surrounded by siblings, cows, and barn cats. Understandably, her website is http://www.calicobarnbooks.com.

Cathy was once asked by the American Egg Board to make a pysanka for The White House (yes, that White House) to represent the state of Utah for the Decorated Egg Event. Sadly, the event was canceled before she could attend the swanky reception that had been planned. A tragedy of epic proportions.

Cathy Witbeck es autora / ilustradora, instructora de huevos de Pascua de Ucrania, madre de cinco hijos, esposa de uno y voraz lectora de casi todo, especialmente de libros ilustrados.

Nacida en un rancho en el sur de Alberta, Canadá, creció rodeada de hermanos, vacas y gatos de granero. Comprensiblemente, su sitio web es http://www.calicobarnbooks.com.

Una vez, la American Egg Board le pidió a Cathy que hiciera un pysanka para que la Casa Blanca (sí, esa Casa Blanca) representara al estado de Utah para el Evento del huevo decorado. Lamentablemente, el evento se canceló antes de que ella pudiera asistir a la elegante recepción que se había planeado. Una tragedia de proporciones épicas.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

The Star and the Shamrock by Jean Grainger – a #BookReview

The Star and the Shamrock by Jean GraingerTitle: The Star and the Shamrock

Genre: Historical Irish Fiction

  • ASIN: B07SFGLDJH

Print Length: 288 pages

Publication Date: May 28, 2019

Source: Direct Author Request

Title Link: The Star and the Shamrock

Book Blurb:

Ariella Bannon has no choice: she must put her precious children, Liesl and Erich, on that train or allow them to become prey for the Nazis. 

 

Berlin 1939. 

When her husband doesn’t come home one day, Ariella realises that the only way she can ensure her children’s safety is to avail of the Kindertransport, but can she bear to let them go?

A thousand miles away, Elizabeth Klein has closed herself off from the world. Losing her husband on the last day of the Great War, and her child months later, she cannot, will not, love again. It hurts too much.

But she is all Liesl and Erich Bannon have.

Thrown together in the wild countryside of Northern Ireland, Elizabeth and the Bannon children discover that life in the country is anything but tranquil. Danger and intrigue lurk everywhere, and some people are not what they seem.

My Review:

The Star and the Shamrock by Jean GraingerIt is a testament to just how well the author spins a story as each has such charm, is independent, and brings to the forefront information you may never have been aware of that spans humanity with a direct impact.

In The Star and the Shamrock, we are privy to the story of Elizabeth Klein, living in London, who defied her Catholic mother to marry a Jewish man who was shortly killed in the Great War. With her grief, she also lost their child shortly thereafter. It is to the credit of a sympathetic nun that it was recommended she get her teaching credential. She never returned to the beautiful Irish countryside of Northern Ireland or to her mother or the home she grew up in.

Living in London with everyone facing yet another war, she receives a plea from a distant cousin’s wife in Europe, begging her to receive their two children. Ariella Bannon’s husband disappeared after coming to the aid of a Jewish woman and she realized will likely never come home. She is desperate to get her children to safety and successfully navigated the channels to get her children on the Kindertransport–but hopes a relative can receive them.

It is not long after they are safely delivered to her home in London that the city is being bombed, including her home and the school where she taught. Her mother had passed away the previous year, leaving her childhood home her own recourse and it is in Ballycregggan, County Down, where she opens her spacious and comfortable childhood home to Liesl and Erich Bannon. Elizabeth shortly realizes there is a “farm” where many other Jewish Kindertransport children have been sent and they have need of a teacher. It is there she meets many support characters, all of whom are well-fleshed and most sympathetic. She also meets Daniel Lieber, a mechanical engineer, also a Jewish refugee, taking on odd mechanical jobs at the school to help keep it running.

The well-plotted storyline takes on a number of issues, particularly describing a war-time existence, suspicion, love and support or distrust. Elizabeth is thrilled to be a “mother” and does an admirable job at the Farm, gradually learning that children are underestimated in their understanding of a situation. It’s a dark time in our history, but love trumps race or language barriers and there are times when people rally together for the good of all.

As always, Ms. Grainger plucks at your heartstrings with lovingly developed opposing characters, believable dialogue, and tension that pulls you toward what could be a tragic conclusion or the happy ever after. Still, this is war–and you never know.

I was allowed an advance reader copy by the author for a read and review and was absolutely delighted to be counted among those so privileged. How do people survive in these circumstances? The human spirit is amazing! Recommended for any who enjoy good literary fiction, historical fiction, and those behind the front line war scenes that should also be acknowledged for their heroics.

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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.

(Grainger's) Author's Circle - Novel of ExcellenceWINNER 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’….The sequel to The Tour, called Safe at the Edge of the World, follows Conor O’Shea once again as he takes another motley crew on a tour of Ireland…The third Tour book in that series is called The Story of Grenville King and in it Conor gets an opportunity to renovate and run an old castle as a five star resort, but something isn’t quite right, and the castle has many secrets…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 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.

Shadow of a Century, is set in New York in 2015 as well as in Dublin during the events of Easter Week 1916…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.

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. {Note: Bio truncated in the interest of space. See her full bio here.]

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Impeccable Petunia by Katie Christine – a #BookReview

Impeccable Petunia Part II The Two Tails by Katie ChristineTitle: Impeccable Petunia: Part II The Two Tails by Katie Christine

Genre: Fantasy, Animal Tales, Mothers and Children’s Fiction

  • ISBN-10:1719822859
  • ISBN-13:978-1719822855
  • ASIN:B07HFCL9RG

Print Length: 145 pages

Publication Date: September 8, 2018

Source: Direct Author Request

Title Link: Impeccable Petunia

Book Blurb:

As The Two Tails opens, the flock confronts a spiral of death and disappearance. Ensnared by a rapacious raccoon and desperate for a way out, Petunia, the backyard chicken, must throw herself at the mercy of the dark, open road with little more than gumption, a pair of useless wings, and a dubious companion as her guide.

My Review:

Impeccable Petunia Part II The Two Tails by Katie ChristineImpeccable Petunia Part I Claws Paws, Feathers & Jaws by Katie ChristineLet me begin by explaining that this is a two-part story with Impeccable Petunia: Part I, Claws, Paws, Feathers, and Jaws being novella size, part II more than double that. The request from the author and the blurb had me intrigued–the protagonist is a chicken??!–and it was illustrated. I really liked the covers and it didn’t sound like it was that long, perfect for me to fit in between some of the longer books I was scheduling. I had intended to skim through Part I so I’d be knowledgeable about Part II, but it didn’t happen and would probably have served up a better appreciation for Part II.

Petunia is not your average chicken for sure! Since I raised chickens (both Rhode Island Reds and Black Barred), I have an affinity for our feathered fowl. Huge difference between those two breeds, both serving the purpose of meat and (brown) eggs. Unfortunately, chickens have personalities and it’s all too easy to name them–i.e., Petunia. But I have no knowledge of Orpington’s, Arauncana’s, or Wyandottes, although they all appear to be easy-going backyard chickens. They do, however, need protection from predators.

In this installment, Petunia has apparently been taken inside the human’s house to recover from a predator assault where she’d just like to stay. The narrative introduces many support characters, including cats, a raccoon, and a dog. But it is Max the cat that Petunia determines she must rescue after he is taken away. While she is away, the pecking order disintegrates, and factions split. Samantha has long wanted to take control of the coop and she is pushing her agenda right up until the foxes (absent the cat) begin coming around to raid the coop.

The gossip, bickering, back-biting (tee hee), and rivalries push and pull until Winchester the raccoon makes a deal to help defend the chicken yard. Amazing how well-fleshed the persona of these individual chickens, let alone the sneaky, low-down agenda of the raccoon. The author did an amazing job of anthropomorphizing the characters so that even facial expressions, wing nuances, or tail flickers were easily pictured. The author obviously knows chickens and other domestic animals.

While I marveled at the imagination and creativity that went into the well-developed storyline, I was not able to really get into the pecking order squabble with the hens, the constant fear in which they lived, fighting to keep from being carried off in the jaws of a fox. The tale turns dark, sad, heavy. Petunia returns and the conclusion resolves most issues but remains a tension-filled setting. Petunia returns to tend her garden, Winchester to his prize–but not for long. There are illustrations, but viewed on my cell phone were small, dark, and difficult to see.

I received this ebook download from the author in return for a review and these are my honest opinions. I do not feel it is a children’s story with an almost noir feeling, more an adult tale and I’m sure there is an appropriate target for the book. Recommended for anthropomorphic fantasy-loving readers. You won’t believe the world of chickens!

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Three point Five of Five Stars Three point Five of Five Stars

Katie Christine - authorThe Author: [Katie Christine] From a young age Katie’s parents instilled in her a love of animals and art. She has many fond childhood memories of long summer afternoons spent curled up in a quiet corner of the local library. She lives outside Seattle, Washington with her husband/illustrator, Jonathan Edward, their Super-Sheltie, Niles and cats, Frankenstein and Penelope.

Katie Christine holds degrees from UCLA and USC, enjoys the outdoors, gardening, reading, and discovering new music.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Decanted Truths by Melanie Forde – a #BookReview

Decanted Truths: An Irish-American Novel by Melanie Forde5 Stars – Five stars

Title: Decanted Truths: An Irish-American Novel by Melanie Forde

Genre: Literary Fiction, British and Irish Literature

Publisher: D Street Books, a division of Mountain Lake Press

  • ISBN-10:1730785867
  • ISBN-13:978-1730785863

ASIN: B07K6VM2Q1

 Print Length: 333 pages

Publication Date: November 8, 2018

Source: Direct Author Request

Title Link: Decanted Truths

Book Blurb:

For Irish immigrant families like the Harrigans and Gavagans, struggle has been the name of the game since they arrived in Boston in the nineteenth century. For twice-orphaned Leah Gavagan, who comes of age in the Depression, the struggle is compounded by bizarre visions that disrupt her daily life — and sometimes come true. She has difficulty fitting in with her surroundings: whether the lace-curtain Dorchester apartment overseen by her judgmental Aunt Margaret or the wild Manomet bluff shared with her no-nonsense Aunt Theo and brain-damaged Uncle Liam. A death in the family disrupts the tepid life path chosen for Leah and sets her on a journey of discovery. That journey goes back to the misadventures shaping the earlier generation, eager to prove its hard-won American credentials in the Alaskan gold rush, the Spanish-American War, and The Great War. She learns of the secrets that have bound Theo and Margaret together. Ultimately, Leah learns she is not who she thought she was. Her new truth both blinds and dazzles her, much like the Waterford decanter at the center of her oldest dreams — an artifact linking three Irish-American families stumbling after the American Dream.

My Review:

Decanted Truths: An Irish-American Novel by Melanie FordeAmazing study of two Irish families as they assimilate into America early nineteenth century and specifically Leah Gavagan, deftly kept within the “family” another who struggled so greatly after the fall of the status of the Harrigans. Leah has “visions” as if her life isn’t difficult enough that sets her apart from her peers and creates some problems within her own circle–the one she thought was hers.

It is Margaret, pseudo-matriarch of the Harrigan family who, upon her death, leaves shocking personal family background that causes such an upheaval in Leah. The narrative swings back to an earlier time to young Margaret, setting the picture of the struggles, with her failures, deceits, and ultimate betrayal. Dissecting the Irish psyche in the process, the proud, staunch definition of who they are, not so much a race, but more a mind-set and characterization or designation of how they became that distinct class of people. “…forgiveness does not come easily to the Irish race.”

“Perception competes with reality in any immigrant’s assessment of life in America.”

There are a number of support characters that are alternately brought into sharp focus, accounting for the dynamic throughout the well-crafted storyline–more of a biography–such a deep but lovingly complex understanding of the people from past generations–the history of a family. Into the family, a Waterford decanter is bestowed by the boy who immigrated to America in the bowels of the ship. The decanter, zealously protected and handed down, has become a symbol for the family of their final acceptance of each other and their adopted land, as well as a symbol of the truths that are eventually exposed.

While the novel begins rather slowly, pulling all the characters into the center of attention, the author creates a literary novel of intelligence, the meaning of family, and the imprint each evokes in our lives. It is a unique gift, an unusual examination of people, and a share of the commonality in us all.

I received this ebook download from the author in hopes of an honest opinion and I appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended to any who enjoy a deep study into beautifully written literary prose.

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Melanie Forde - authorThe Author: For most of her writing career, Melanie Forde ghosted on international security issues. She published her first novel, Hillwilla, in 2014, followed by On the Hillwilla Road in 2015. Her West Virginia trilogy culminates in Reinventing Hillwilla, 2018. Twenty years in the making, her Irish-American family saga, Decanted Truths (Note: Currently available on NetGalley), was also released in 2018.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

The Going Back Portal by Connie Lacy for Sage’s Reading Room #BookReview

I am especially delighted today to provide a review for you on my blog in the Reading Room for The Going Back Portal by Connie Lacy on the Sage’s Blog Tours.

Sage's Blog Tours - Reading Room

Book Details

Title: The Going Back Portal by Connie Lacy

Genre: Native American Literature, Time Travel Romance
Publisher: Wild Falls Publishing

  • ISBN-10:0999608479
  • ISBN-13:978-0999608470
  • ASIN: B07N7MW7HW

Print Length: 328 pages

Publish Date: January 28, 2019

Book Blurb

The past is a dangerous place in this fast-paced time travel novel…Kathryn Spears is a skeptical producer for a TV investigative news team. So when her grandmother claims a Cherokee Indian woman is living on a neighboring farm, she dismisses it as early Alzheimer’s. Because, obviously, there is no farm nearby. Not in the present anyway. But when she follows Nana’s lead, Kathryn is transported back in time to the year 1840 where she finds a young Cherokee woman left behind when her family marched west on the Trail of Tears. 

Forest Water is ensnared in a perilous struggle to keep her ancestral lands against a violent white man who claims the farm, and then claims her as well. Desperate to help her new friend, Kathryn becomes entangled in a battle between good and evil with much higher stakes than she imagines.

Each of these young women falls in love with a man from her own time, but there are threats, both seen and unseen, that could cost them their lives.

My Review

The Going Back Portal by Connie LacyTime travel is such a whimsical thought–haven’t we all given it some consideration? This novel would give you that ride back in time, but more than that, the storyline picks up in 1840 at the time the Trail of Tears takes place, a sad indictment of the government against the native American population of the Cherokee.

Kathryn Spears is a producer for the local TV investigative news team. Her grandmother, Nana informs her that she has a new neighbor on her cottage property, a Cherokee woman with a baby. Because of her infirmity, her mother insists she would not be capable of making the march that her family is facing and she arranges a “marriage” with a white man who will help protect the homeland of her ancestors. Unfortunately, though Isham becomes a beloved husband and father to their baby girl, his unsavory, vicious brother forces his way in and Nana witnesses some of the resulting brutality. She begs Kathryn for help in getting police involvement.

Kathryn, however, is aware that Nana has been slipping and often confuses events or people. She suspects early Alzheimer’s but will accompany Nana to try and find the source of her delusions. They weren’t delusions though and she suddenly finds herself on Nana’s property more than two centuries previous with Forest Water who is struggling to survive the cruelty of Jonah.

The author draws a parallel to the subject scenario of both timelines, that of the sexual predator in her current investigation and Forest Water before her. There are a number of arguments presented with the idea of the grave consequences of messing with history. Is it set in stone? Can it be changed without changing every generation succeeding the event?

The narrative is so cleverly laid out in teasing diary entries that it’s easy to get swept up in the idea of passing through a time portal with the hopes of saving the young woman. Many native American beliefs, customs, and language are shared, the hardships of the time described, and tension mounts as Kathryn continues to make ill-informed decisions (which continued to frustrate me). In the meantime, the romantic interest she discovered through the translation of Forest Water’s diary puts her in unfavorable light when her co-worker suspects domestic abuse with Eric while actually stemming from encounters in 1840.

The twists continue in this well-plotted and fast-paced story, Kathryn battling with her current life situation and that of trying to help a situation far removed from her ability to resolve. Nana had insisted she possessed Cherokee blood and the timeline might indicate a great, great ancestor, in which case, is she messing with her own life as well? Some amazing arguments presented here from the conundrum of whether or not humanitarian issues have been made better or remain the same.

I was given this ebook download by the publisher and Sage’s Book Tours and greatly appreciate the opportunity for the read and review. Refreshingly different, raising more moral questions than can be solved, but for the magical time while reading the book allowing the fantasy that there are unexplainable events to which we may never have the answers. Maybe time travel is one. Sage's Blog Tours

Thanks to Sage’s Book Tours and her Reading Room for the opportunity to read and review this most unusual and delightful time travel odyssey! Please suspend your disbelief, enjoy the vision, and check out this one for yourself.

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five of Five Stars Four point Five of Five Stars

Connie Lacy - authorAbout The Author: [Amazon] Connie Lacy worked for many years as a radio reporter and news anchor, with a couple of brief forays into TV news along the way.  Her experience as a journalist shows up in some of her novels.  She also dabbled in acting in college and community theater. She uses those experiences in some of her books as well.

[Goodreads] Her novels are fast-paced stories featuring young women facing serious challenges set against the backdrop of some thorny issues. She writes time travel, magical realism, climate fiction and historical fiction – all with a dollop of romance.

Growing up, she lived in Japan and Okinawa where her Army dad was stationed. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke with a degree in Journalism and Creative Writing. She and her husband live in Atlanta.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

The Lost Road to Key West by Michael Reisig – a #BookReview

The Lost Road to Key West by Michael ReisigTitle: The Lost Road to Key West (Book 10) by Michael Reisig

Genre: Men’s Adventures, Action-Adventure, Travel Adventure

Publisher: Clear Creek Press

ASIN: B07RV2KFZT

Print Length: 230 pages

Publication Date: May 13, 2019

Source: Author request

Title Link: The Lost Road to Key West

Book Blurb:

The novel you’re about to read is a work of fiction. But the premise of this story is true – it actually happened. If you enjoy tales of lost treasures, wild adventures, ancient civilizations, and governments that sometimes bury truths, you’re going to like this one.
M.R.
In one of the most incredible plots Michael Reisig has ever created, he blends modern history and an ancient Egyptian chronicle to forge a story that is based on actual, but nearly unbelievable facts. What if, at the turn of the 20th century, two intrepid explorers actually discovered the ruins of an ancient Egyptian city inside the towering walls of the Grand Canyon? What if those explorers were killed, their discovery hidden, and the artifacts they unearthed (along with the chronicles of one of the most remarkable sea-faring, and culture-founding accounts in history) were stolen, and hidden in the basement of one of America’s major historical institutions? 
If you’re looking for a white-knuckle adventure of courage, extraordinary friendships, and “complicated” love affairs, all woven around contemporary and ancient historical accounts, this is the book! So, put on your boots, buckle up, and follow Kansas Stamps and Will Bell into the adventure of a lifetime, or two. 

My Review:                                                                                                     

The Lost Road to Key West by Michael ReisigI always love the outlandish sense of adventure of these two guys, long time buddies, Kansas Stamps and Will Bell. If they can’t find it, you know it will find them and you can bet your book that with a new episode you will have something even more wild and crazy than before. The entertainment comes in the way that author Michael Reisig weaves the adventure where truth lies–then he has a little fun with it. Somewhere, somehow, Reisig finds (for the most part) completely unknown myths or fables and wraps his artistic fiction around it. So let the fun begin.

The Key West series Book 10 actually keeps us within the United States and within our own Grand Canyon. And it is grand–immense actually–with a river 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and a mile deep it is mind-boggling beautiful, mysterious, and treacherous. Rather than Key West, Mexico, or South America, the author has found another astounding legend to key on. Or is this merely a legend? Don’t all legends begin with some truth, some kernel that is handed down through time?

Was it just a way to sell newspapers, or did the April 5, 1909 edition of the Arizona Gazette recount the actual discovery of a monstrous city-sized cavern that contained artifacts of…Egypt? Nah, couldn’t be. Right? But there were two men who disappeared shortly after relaying their story to the paper that killed evidence of it almost immediately. And the Smithsonian denied ever having had anything to do with Professor S. A. Jordan and G. E. Kinkaid. True, the entrance to the cavern would have changed a great deal in the several millennia following the initial settlement. The entry to the cave system is now 1500 feet down the side of the shear cliff into the canyon wall. Speculation was that it would have originally been river level. But don’t take my word for it. This is fascinating stuff, folks!

Here are the boys with Crazy Eddie and Tax and Jing. We’ve come to love the two offspring of Kansas and Will and in this installment Jing has saved the life of a baby Osprey who she has undertaken to tame and train and will become as valuable as the canines. Kansas still has his beloved dog, Shadow, and they’ve run across Dax, another old buddy who has his canine companion, Smoke. Dax **knew** a guy and he told his story to Kansas and Will. Uh oh.

The guys go into this one light, leaving the Hole in the Coral Wall Gang to their current endeavors. The author always throws in remarkable support characters to augment our main characters and this time it is Connor O’Connor. (If you couldn’t guess, an Irishman.) He has also been hunting for the entrance to the cavern and together they pool info and resources. O’Connor has a monkey and a donkey. Even with the circus, they are a formidable group against the baddies.

Reisig waxes poetic as he recounts sayings of their favorite rastamon, Rufus, and the narrative moves between disbelief and “what ifs.” Three things more or less real (you decide): (1) The Hopi insist they evolved from the “Inner World,” (2) we know that the Cherokee have DNA markers associated with the Berbers (native Egyptians), and (3) many of the areas around the north side of the canyon have Egyptian names, i.e., Isis Temple, Tower of Set, Tower of Ra. Well, it certainly opens the door for some lively discussion, huh?

This installment doesn’t come to a screeching halt like the others sliding in sideways in a haze of dust, sweat, and tears. The conclusion was quiet and somewhat reflective. The series is escapist amusement; sexist, engaging, entertaining, and always a celebration of that exuberant free-wheeling post-Vietnam era, music, booze, and adrenalin. (Ever heard the term “Go fly a bike?” The flyboys returning home had to have another outlet…) But his novels never fail to leave you with fascinating venues or myths to research. This one was a mind-blowing douzy that I (obviously) had a lot of fun with!

While this is Book 10 of The Road to Key West series, each book can be read as a standalone. I received this ebook as a beta-read and later an ARC from the author in hopes of a read and review and these are my own opinions. Recommended as men’s adventures, buddy adventures, and travel adventures full of laugh and scratch.

Rosepoint Recommended

Four point Five of Five Stars Four point Five of Five Stars

 

Michael Reisig - authorThe Author: Michael Reisig has been writing professionally for 20 years. He is a former Caribbean adventurer turned newspaper editor, award-winning columnist, and best-selling novelist. After high school and college in Florida, he relocated to the Florida Keys. He established a commercial diving business, got his pilot’s license, and traveled extensively throughout the southern hemisphere, diving, treasure hunting, and adventuring.

Reisig claims he has been thrown out of more countries in the Caribbean Basin that most people ever visit, and he admits that a great many of the situations and the characters in his novels are authentic – but nothing makes a great read like experience…

He now lives in the mountains of Arkansas, where he hunts and fishes, and writes, but he still escapes to the Caribbean for an occasional adventure.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

 

The Night Window by Dean Koontz -a #BookReview

The Night Window by Dean KoontzFive Stars Five stars

Title: The Night Window (Jane Hawk Book 5) by Dean Koontz

Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller

Publisher: Bantam

  • ISBN-10:0525484701
  • ISBN-13:978-0525484707
  • ASIN: B07GMS9JXT

Print Length: 432 pages

Publication Date: May 14, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: The Night Window

Book Blurb:

A visionary young filmmaker hunted for sport across a vast Colorado ranch by the celebrated billionaire at the heart of a monstrous cabal . . .

A brilliant computer hacker slipping through top-secret databases a whisper ahead of security trackers, gathering the facts to fight the all-powerful perpetrators of mass murder . . .

A pair of brutal operators, methodically shadowing their targets with every cutting-edge tool in the arsenal of today’s surveillance state . . .

A sequence of quiet heroes—everyday citizens—stepping up, stepping forward, intent on countering the advancing darkness . . .

A Vegas mob boss teamed with a homicidal sociopath, circling a beloved boy and his protectors, aiming to secure him as leverage against his fugitive mother . . .

And that fugitive mother herself, ex-agent Jane Hawk, closing in on the malevolent architects of ruin she has stalked as they stalk her, prepared to sacrifice herself to finally bring them down.

These are the people and circumstances of The Night Window, the thrilling new novel in Dean Koontz’s acclaimed Jane Hawk series. Replete—and then some—with the ingenious twists, the spellbinding action, the resonant themes, the sheer heart that has characterized Jane’s journey from the start, The Night Window follows its extraordinary heroine to her long-sought objective, in a stunning, unforgettable finale.

The Night Window by Dean KoontzMy Review:

What a stunner of a finale! Book 5, the conclusion in the Jane Hawk series was inarguably the best. Don’t get me wrong–I really enjoyed the previous installments–and couldn’t wait for the next. This doesn’t disappoint. It leaves you breathless, spent, with a major book hangover.

Book Handover

Yes, that is a real condition: Book Hangover (book hang-oh-ver) n. The struggle of trying to reconnect with reality after finishing a really amazing book.

If you started this series from Book 1, kudos! But even if you didn’t, this would still function well as a standalone. Just that you get all that backstory with the first 4. Jane Hawk is an amazing young woman, cunning, intelligent, and capable who had a spectacular career in the FBI. But something went wrong, criminally wrong, and she left and went rogue after the death of her beloved husband. Now she is desperately trying to save her son as well as expose the Techno-Arcadians whose nano-technology mission is to contain and control the population. They have a good running start.

The author has a way of painting the good people very good. You love them. You could hug them–you know them. They are real, enormously empathetic, and you’d love to meet them in real life. Most especially this time ex-FBI guy Vikram Rangnekar. What a brilliant sweety! He is a white hat genius hacker. Then the other side, darker than dark, evil ego-maniac billionaire Wainwright Warwick Hollister. I love the way Koontz gives you a baddy such as Hollister and pits him against sweet, naive Tom Buckle. You begin rooting for Tom immediately, heart in your throat, he’s an innocent for heaven’s sake!

The chapters skip between scenarios, Hollister, Weatherwax, Jane and then Vikram. In her mad dash to reveal and destroy the Arcadians, Jane had garnered somewhat of a sympathetic, independent following who are distrusting and disbelieving of the vile assassination of her character on the social media. And always, there is the uncanny connection of mother to son. Then there are Mustafa al-Yamani and Charles Douglas Weatherwax doggedly tracking Jane while Mustafa is being counseled by Weatherwax on the proper and stylish dress and manner of the population of Long Island. Brooding about the proper after-shave fragrance or man purses among other upper-crust conundrums adds a bit of humor and comical spice that cuts somewhat the horror of these two agents. Koontz balances the hate with love, the evil with good and all the while discussing technology fascinatingly sinister while mind-blowingly mesmerizing. It can sound all too real!

Shocking discovery--What!?? And then the shocking conclusion, the only way Jane could see to expose something this massive, this evil. But I couldn’t believe what I was reading! Really though, it was incredible. How else could this have been handled? It was brilliant and devastating. Koontz is the man. The master storyteller. Loved this series! It moves at a remarkable pace. I’m a grateful recipient of an uncorrected digital ebook download and loved the opportunity to read and review. Totally recommended.

Did you read this book? Let’s talk about it!

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

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Prologue to Murder by Lauren Elliott – a #BookReview

Prologue to Murder by Lauren ElliottTitle: Prologue to Murder (Bookstore Mystery) by Lauren Elliott

Genre: Cozy Mystery, Amateur Sleuths

Publisher: Kenginston

  • ISBN-10:1496720202
  • ISBN-13:978-1496720207
  • ASIN: B07G6S6B1Q

 Print Length: 304 pages

Publication Date: April 30, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Prologue to Murder

Book Blurb:

After a career working with rare books at the Boston Public Library, Addie Greyborne is back in her seaside New England hometown—where unfortunately, murder is not so rare . . .
 
Gossip columnists love a bold-faced name—but “Miss Newsy” at Greyborne Harbor’s local paper seems to specialize in bald-faced lies. She’s pointed a finger of suspicion at Addie after librarian June Winslow never makes it home from a book club meeting. And when June’s found at the bottom of a steep flight of stairs, Addie’s not only dealing with a busybody, but a dead body.

It’s a good thing the guy she’s dating is the police chief. But both the case and her love life get more complicated when a lanky blonde reporter from Los Angeles shows up. She’s trying her hardest to drive a wedge between the couple . . . as if Addie doesn’t have enough problems dealing with angry townspeople. Despite all the rumors, Addie doesn’t know a thing about the murder—but she plans to find out. And the key may lie in a book about pirate legends that June published. Now she just has to hunt down the clues before she becomes a buried treasure herself . . .

My Review:

Prologue to Murder by Lauren ElliottAddie Greyborne has returned to her roots in coastal New England. She has inherited the rare book and curio shop and employs Paige. Her BFF is Serena and she has begun a relationship with the town Police Chief, Marc. Great, great, great, Greyborne is a founding father but unfortunately she has not successfully been enfolded back in the loving arms of the townsfolk. She’d cleared her name and solved the last murder and now the librarian is missing, eventually found deceased and Addie has taken it upon herself to clear her name once again after “Miss Newsy” published a nasty rumor about Addie possibly being behind both.

June, the librarian was found in an underground tunnel that history of the town proves an integral part of pirate lore, hidden treasure, and family feuds. The mystery creates an interesting premise and Addie begins sifting the clues, chasing down her aunt’s old books in the attic as well as haunting museums and other bookstores and pirate shops for details on the intricate set of tunnels, closed by the town council for being unsafe. Few are privy to those tunnel plans, but Addie begins to wonder about pirate treasure being a motive for the murder of June, who’d possibly found more in her research than the city fathers were comfortable with.

Well, all that part is fun. The twists are fun. That whole area of the New England coast is rife with pirate lore, rich with pirate enclaves, and many of the most successful hid vast treasures in hurricane safe havens, most never again found. What I had a problem with were the introduction of so many new characters, and Simon–another possible love interest. (Oh, no, not the dreaded love triangle!) The protagonist herself was less than a reliable narrator, caught in contradictions and fabrications, and few of the support characters fared any better. Marc comes off as being wishy-washy, warning her with one breath of leaving the investigating to him while asking for her thoughts and help with the next. Huh? Lacy is just plain nasty. Dialogue runs snarky and at times rather juvenile.

Bottom Line: While the mystery is a good plot device, the pace is too slow for this reader, and I could not find any of the characters worth investing in. The history is engaging but the narrative falls flat. The antagonist as revealed in the conclusion is not wholly unexpected, although I did like that little bit that Addie does with the pirate shop operator at the end.

This is the second in the series and might well be read as a standalone. I received this ebook download from the publisher and NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review.

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Lauren Elliott - authorThe Author: Lauren Elliott grew up devouring the entire Nancy Drew series and then graduated to Victoria Holt, Agatha Christie, Barbara Erskine, Lynn Kurland, and Michael Crichton to name a few of her favorite authors. When it came time for post-secondary education, journalism seemed like the logical choice as she had written for as long as she could remember. Soon after graduation, while working for a small publication, she discovered that reporting wasn’t what fueled her writing passions. As someone with an additionally strong background in professional theater who had the love of storytelling and captivating and holding an audience, her fiction-writing career began to take center stage.

Lauren Elliott’s new Beyond the Page Bookstore Mystery series promises to keep readers guessing right up until the last chapter. Plot twists and an array of colorful characters make for page turning, whodunit adventures filled with suspense, mystery, murder and just a touch of romance.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Like Lions by Brian Panowich

Five Stars Five stars

Like Lions by Brian PanowichTitle: Like Lions: A Novel  by Brian Panowich

Genre: Small Town and Rural Fiction, Police Procedurals, Crime Thrillers

Publisher: Minotaur Books

  • ISBN-10:1784082716
  • ISBN-13:978-1784082710
  • ASIN: B07J4WBB81

 Print Length: 293 pages

Publication Date: April 30, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Like Lions

Book Blurb:

Clayton Burroughs is a small-town Georgia sheriff, a new father, and, improbably, the heir apparent of Bull Mountain’s most notorious criminal family.

As he tries to juggle fatherhood, his job and his recovery from being shot in the confrontation that killed his two criminally-inclined brothers last year, he’s doing all he can just to survive. Yet after years of carefully toeing the line between his life in law enforcement and his family, he finally has to make a choice.

When a rival organization makes a first foray into Burroughs territory, leaving a trail of bodies and a whiff of fear in its wake, Clayton is pulled back into the life he so desperately wants to leave behind. Revenge is a powerful force, and the vacuum left by his brothers’ deaths has left them all vulnerable. With his wife and child in danger, and the way of life in Bull Mountain under siege for everyone, Clayton will need to find a way to bury the bloody legacy of his past once and for all.

My Review:

Like LionsWell, phooey, a new author to me and this a sequel to Bull Mountain (2015) before it, prize-winning graphic grit-lit. So I can’t gauge whether this is better or as good as the first. I will say, however, that I read as a standalone and, believe me, you have no problem picking up very quickly on just who these hillbilly, backwoods, and heinous people can be. (N.B. Skip if you don’t want a personal aside: One time when my motorcycle buddy, Noni, and I were riding through West Virginia we stopped at a large pull-out area to scour maps for directions thinking we might be lost. The narrow, darkened two-lane road, often broken out by heavy summer rains just seemed to go through this tree and vine-covered valley forever. The area was eerily quiet, no sounds–deserted. We peered through the grime-covered window into the barn and got the creeps. Noni said to me, “Do you want to be someone’s barefoot mama?” I said “NO!” and flipping the face shield of my flip-up helmet down we jumped back on our bikes and took off. There are some mountains and hollers out there that simply do NOT invite visitors. Ever heard of the Hatfields and McCoys?)

It didn’t take me long in this book to get those same prickly apprehensive vibes and the tension stayed elevated throughout the narrative which begins with a chilling and compelling prologue hook.

Clayton Burroughs, county sheriff of this small north Georgia location, is still recovering from the major, near-death injuries of a year ago. But his family and the legacy left by his father and brothers is never far under the tumultuous crime-ridden surface. It’s Burroughs territory and they reined heavily until that confrontation. Their deaths and his lack of desire to take over the helm of the dynasty has begun to open the door for new and even darker gangs or clans and the paths forged by his recently deceased brother, Hal. Clayton and his wife, Kate, have been struggling to keep their marriage together despite his slow recovery, pain, and guilt-ridden attitude.

Oh. My. God. You don’t even want to have to stop for gas here. There are forces unseen and powerful building a dreadful foreboding of the war to come. These factions play for keeps and when moonshine took a back seat to the drug trade, millions of dollars, as well as the territory, went up for grabs. Ever played around in the mountains over forest service roads only to confront a big-assed pickup truck with a gun rack in the rear window? (We have.) And that’s your sign.

“What doesn’t kill you, makes you numb, was truer to the point.”

“He was a cereal-box preacher–all sugar and tooth decay, dressed up to look wholesome and good for you.”

“Pride will kill you faster than a bullet.”

This is a gritty, southern lit, hick lit, hillbilly noir or whatever you want to call it and I’ll warn you, it’s rude, crude, and socially unaccepted. From the language to the graphic scenes, it surpasses “Breaking Bad” for pulling no punches. The characters are raw, open, and vicious. Scary real. Kate is wonderful, strong, decent. She loves her man. But the man is damaged and he’s drinking. He has a number of “family” who will cover his back–well, most that–because this is also a story of loyalty and betrayal. His office gal slash dispatcher, Cricket, is a great support character, and he has a number of them “on his side.” The characters have names like Scabby Mike and Nails McKenna, JoJo and Coot Viner. You’d expect that…

As for the fun they were throwing at Coot for his Tracker, I have to say they are a great little car (cheap-Jeep) for climbing those northern Georgia hills–or off-road into the deserts of Arizona!

The conflict and turmoil have you reeling from the punches and flipping pages, unsure what will happen next, except that it is probably not something good. The plot moves with gathering speed until the climax and then like a pebble in a pond, the rivulets begin to slow. Wow, is this guy a storyteller or what?

And then, BAM! just when you think everyone is safe, the epilogue. NOOO! 

I can’t stand it–I may have to part with my milk money and get Bull Mountain. I received this ebook download from the publisher and NetGalley and totally, absolutely, irrefutably found it electrifying; it’s a train wreck, a shock of a book that you can’t put down. Totally recommended for all you thriller fans; deep, dark, noir fans. Do you have the stomach for it?

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The Author: *Brian Panowich feels a bit strange writing about himself in the third person but he will do his best. Brian started out as a firefighter that wrote stories and morphed into a writer that fights fire. He has written three novels, a boatload of short stories, and maintains a monthly column called Scattered & Covered for Augusta Magazine. He lives in East Georgia with four children who are more beautiful and more talented than anyone else’s. He also might be biased.Brian Panowich - author

Brian’s first novel, BULL MOUNTAIN, topped the best thriller list on Apple iBooks, placed in the top twenty best books on Amazon, and went on to win the International Thriller Writers Award for Best First Novel, as well as the Southern Book Prize for Best Mystery. The book was also nominated for the Barry Award, the Anthony Award, The Georgia Townsend Book Prize, and was a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize. BULL MOUNTAIN was also selected for the coveted BOOKS ALL GEORGIANS SHOULD READ list by the Georgia Center of the Book, and has been the recipient of several foreign press awards. Brian’s latest novel, LIKE LIONS, isn’t due out until April, but Daniel Woodrell and CJ Box really liked it, so Brian is pretty happy. Oh, and YEAR OF THE ROOSTER will be out next year. (2020)

Brian Panowich burst onto the crime fiction scene in 2015, winning awards and accolades from readers and critics alike for his smoldering debut, Bull Mountain. Now with Like Lions, he cements his place as one of the outstanding new voices in crime fiction.

Note: That Tracker was ours. ©2019 V Williams Blog author

Murder in the Reading Room by Ellery Adams – a #BookReview

Murder in the Reading Room by Ellery AdamsTitle: Murder in the Reading Room (A Book Retreat Mystery Book 5) by Ellery Adams

Genre: Amateur Sleuths, Cozy Mystery

Publisher: Kensington

  • ISBN-10:1496715659
  • ISBN-13:978-1496715654
  • ASIN: B07G6NJK5W

Print Length: 320 pages

Publication Date: Released April 30, 2019-Happy Publication Day!

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Murder in the Reading Room

Book Blurb:

Storyton Hall, Virginia, is a paradise for book lovers who come from all over for literary getaways. But manager Jane Steward is temporarily leaving for another renowned resort—in hopes of solving a twist-filled mystery . . .

Jane’s boyfriend is missing, and she thinks she may find him at North Carolina’s historic Biltmore Estate. Officially, she’s there to learn about luxury hotel management, but she’s also prowling around the breathtaking buildings and grounds looking for secret passageways and clues. One of the staff gardeners promises to be helpful . . . that is, until his body turns up in the reading room of his cottage, a book on his lap.

When she finally locates the kidnapped Edwin, his captor insists that she lead him back to Storyton Hall, convinced that it houses Ernest Hemingway’s lost suitcase, stolen from a Paris train station in 1922. But before they can turn up the treasure, the bell may toll for another victim . . .

My Review:

Murder in the Reading Room by Ellery AdamsDefinitely a book lovers paradise, the author knows her books and has created a beautiful picturesque setting in Storyton Hall, aptly named for it’s multiple private, cozy settings.

This being the fifth in the series and yes, of course, my first with the author and the series, I seem to have missed a well-developed fleshing of the protagonist and the storyline leading to this last(?) of the series. This is one series where you might do well to begin with number one. I greatly enjoyed the author’s writing style, very subtle, full of prose, and so descriptive of the idyllic venue that you want to start packing for your bags.

Apparently in the Book 4, Jane Steward’s boyfriend went missing. Jane is a widow with two young precocious boys. She is the manager of Storyton Hall, a pseudo-resort, with a strong literary style that includes a number of themed rooms/ libraries; i.e., Henry James Library, Daphne du Maurier Morning Room, and William Faulkner Conference Room. In her role as manager, she has joined a luxury hotel management seminar that is taking place at North Carolina’s historic Biltmore Estate–specifically because she believes that is where her Edwin Alcott is being hidden. The seminar will give her access sufficient to haunt the halls and grounds in an effort to find Edwin. The first, very shocking problem, however, manifests when she and Landon successfully discover him–and confront despot rogue Templar Ramsey Parrish as well.

Storyton itself has been in the Steward family for generations and is home to a wide variety of beautiful arts and treasures, not the least of which is possibly the Secret Library which may hide a suitcase stolen from Ernest Hemingway, lost in 1922. With the rumor that the Stewards are holding the suitcase and its priceless content comes many a problem, including the one that is currently the target of the Templar Ramsey, current manager of the behemoth Biltmore Estate. He will apparently stop at nothing to get to the secret library and the suitcase, including kidnapping. Jane’s own Landon Lachlan (head of Storyton Hall’s Recreation Department), is part of an elite group called “the Fins” also their first line of defense. In addition, she has a ladies group called “the Cover Girls” a literature club. Eloise is her best buddy, sister of Edwin. (She might have gone too far, however, when she named her boys Fitzgerald and Hemingway.)

The characters are all complex, literate, and deep in the bookish world, upper-class society, and southern history with associated activities. More twists are incorporated into the well-plotted mystery, dripping with charm, nostalgic quotes from many famous and classic authors. (Test yourself on how many you recognize!)

There are just too many secrets associated with the theme resort, hidden society, however, and push come to shove, Jane is tired. While there are casualties, they happen “off page.” I really enjoyed the wide variety of support characters, so appropriately named, the location so visual, the atmosphere cerebral. The pace works well right into a downplayed climax almost smoothed over in the blurred conclusion which forms part of the reason for the epilogue.

I was given this ebook download by the publisher and NetGalley and totally appreciated the opportunity to read and review this unique and captivating novel. Recommended for any bibliophile who can quote from the classics or book lovers in general, as well as cozy mystery lovers. There is something here for everyone–including that touch of romance!

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five of Five Stars Four point Five of Five Stars

Ellery Adams - authorThe Author: Ellery Adams, a USA Today and New York Times bestselling author, has written over thirty-five mystery novels. She shares her North Carolina home with her husband, two trolls, and three keyboard-hogging felines. Ellery loves coffee, bubbly, boxing, jigsaw puzzles, baking, and black jelly beans.

Her traditionally published series include The Secret, Book, and Scone Society Mysteries, The Book Retreat Mysteries, The Books By the Bay Mysteries, and The Charmed Pie Shoppe Mysteries.

Her Indie series include The Supper Club Series, The Hope Street Series, and The Molly Appleby Collectible Series.

For discussion questions and more, visit http://www.elleryadamsmysteries.com

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Lance: A Spirit Unbroken by Walter Stoffel – a #BookReview

Lance: A Spirit Unbroken by Walter StoffelTitle: Lance: A Spirit Unbroken by Walter Stoffel

Genre: Dog Care, Pet Dogs (Doggy Memoir)

Publisher: Diamond Publishing International

  • ISBN-10:0986150002
  • ISBN-13:978-0986150005
  • ASIN: B01LZWMUF2

Print Length: 244 pages

Publication Date: August 19, 2016

Source: Direct author request

Title Link: Lance: A Spirit Unbroken

Book Blurb:

Marley meets… Cujo ?

What would you do if there was a dog in your neighborhood forced to live outside day in/day out, at the mercy of abusers, wild animals and brutal weather?

Walter does nothing—at first. Then, an accidental meeting with Lance, a Border Collie, sets the wheels in motion for a down-to-the-wire, life-saving rescue and a disappointing discovery: Lance turns out to be a threat to anyone he can get his teeth on—including his rescuers!

Their lives turned upside down by this semi-feral “pet”, Walter and his wife Clara are forced to answer a painful question: do they euthanize the dog they rescued?

Making their life-or-death choice even more difficult is Lance’s hilarious quirkiness; when not threatening, he’s incredibly entertaining—though a State Trooper, the local drug dealer, and a Megan’s Law parolee, among many others, would beg to differ.

This rollicking, thought-provoking, and—at times—heart-wrenching true-life account of the unorthodox rescue of an unorthodox dog is guaranteed to captivate:
-Dog lovers
-Recovering addicts (there are numerous passages that the 12-step community will relate to)
-Survivors of child abuse (the author reveals his own poignant connection with Lance)
-Any reader who can laugh, cry, or enjoy having her/his faith in humanity restored.

(Note: This book was noted in my associate’s book list and he couldn’t resist also reading. His review follows mine.)

My Review:

Lance: A Spirit Unbroken by Walter StoffelThis dog should never have lived the ten long years chained in the yard subject to extreme abuse when he wasn’t either starving, freezing, or both. And unfortunately, living through the abuse, the spirit in this animal that absolutely would NOT give up is discovered (after Walter and Clara adopt him) to carry mountains of baggage. Walter had seen the dog on his walks in the neighborhood before but most likely had no clue of the extreme cruelty he was being subjected to. It is after he begins a dialogue with Anna, a neighbor who has befriended the dog, cleaned his space and provided fresh water, food, and an occasional neighborhood walk that he begins to get the picture of a dog desperately in search of rescue.

His previous owners have left him with an extreme case of PTSD; he is psychotic, schizophrenic. Is he salvageable? Probably not. Yet, there is an intangible something there. A highly intelligent Border Collie who has managed to survive will have many cards hidden under his paws. Absolutely unpredictable behavior, the only thing for sure they can count on, is not being able to pet their new rescue.

So what drives a person, or couple, to take on this challenge? Could it ever be worth the sacrifice–and heaven knows they’ll make many of those. First, Walter was probably the only one in a jillion who could begin to glean some understanding of just how traumatic this dog’s life had been–and sympathize–no wonder he reacted like he did!

The conundrum here is not so much Lance as Walter. His canine experience either totally lacking or his confidence in turning the dog around grew to extremes in lack of common sense (something he freely admits) when dealing with a highly intelligent Border Collie. Knowing the dog was a biter and lacked any kind of predictable behavior, he walked with the dog unleashed into the woods. Huh? Talk about a train wreck!

Cats, kids? No problem. Completely unpredictable for a normal dog, this dog seemed to have no problem being around children. How many times did this dog rescue his rescuers? He could show compassion, sympathy, and there were times he had them totally entertained, mesmerized with his antics.

Bottom Line: Loved the book, cringe-worthy as much of it was. Yes, I can think of even worse canine abuse, but you have to give this duo some kudos for fortitude. Still, what bothered me was the seven years of shocking trials of off-leash stories, car rides (a serious threat to not only themselves but to anyone else on the road), and the continued abuse of new animals by the previous owners with no one stopping those idiots getting a new dog. Also, I must note the amount of redundancy, although some of which did introduce new arguments for or against. The conclusion, though expected, is hard to take. Thrilled, and terrified at the same time, that the dog could actually get those years to get out and run like the wind, bound over rocks, trees, and into ponds like a normal dog.

I received a request from the author for an honest opinion of his memoir of Lance in exchange for a free copy. Hard to put this book down, the storytelling is compelling. I did so enjoy the story and appreciate the opportunity to read and review.  Recommended for any fan of dogs or pets. Research the breed–all canines are not born equal–but they all get into your hearts.

“Some of our greatest…treasures we place in museums; others, we take for walks.” Roger Caras, wildlife preservationist.

Associate Reviewer - C E Williams

His Review:

A highly intelligent Border Collie abused for the first ten years of his life! This book shows a love and fortitude seldom seen. I was extremely moved by this lovingly crafted account. Bravo to the author! CE Williams free from the author for an honest opinion.

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five of Five Stars Four point Five of Five Stars

Walter Stoffel - authorThe Author: Walter Stoffel is a freelance writer and publisher who specializes in human interest memoir and fiction. Though having previously participated in multiple dog and cat rescues, nothing prepared him for his life with the title character in Lance: A Spirit Unbroken. The author has a rich work history that currently includes teaching GED and counseling inmates at local correctional facilities. He also has experience as a certified mental health screener. For many years, he lived and worked in various South American countries. Most unique occupation: chipping excess concrete off the undersides of bridges in Virginia. All his coworkers were wearing prison stripes. Mr. Stoffel is a member of the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group, Pennwriters and Barbara’s Writing Group, a critiquing association. When not writing, he loves to read, travel, work out, and watch bad movies. The author has a B.A. in psychology and is a credentialed alcoholism and drug counselor. He lives in Canadensis, PA with his wife Clara, their dog Buddy (a rescue) and their cat Winky (another rescue). Personal accomplishment: after having hip replacement surgery, Walter entered a marathon and finished it – dead last. Extra special personal accomplishment: surviving seven years living with the devil dog (Lance). Please visit Walter at http://www.Lance: A Spirit Unbroken.com, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

The Body in the Wetlands by Judi Lynn – a #BookReview

The Body in the Wetlands by Judi LynnTitle: The Body in the Wetlands (A Jazzi Zanders Mystery Book 2) by Judi Lynn

Genre: Cozy Mystery, Women Sleuths

Publisher: Lyrical Underground

  • ISBN-10:151610840X
  • ISBN-13:978-1516108404
  • ASIN: B07FZN7CVT

Print Length: 268 pages

Publication Date: April 23, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: The Body in the Wetlands

Book Blurb:

High summer in River Bluffs, Indiana, is always sweltering and sweet. But the heat is really on when a decidedly dead body turns up in the neighborhood.

When established house flippers Jazzi Zanders and her cousin Jerod donate a week’s worth of remodeling work to Jazzi’s sister Olivia, they’re expecting nothing more than back-breaking roofing work and cold beers at the end of each long, hot day. With Jazzi’s live-in boyfriend and partner Ansel on the team, it promises to be a quick break before starting their next big project—until Leo, an elderly neighbor of Olivia’s, unexpectedly goes missing.

When the friendly senior’s dog tugs Jazzi and the guys toward the wetlands beyond Olivia’s neighborhood, they stumble across a decomposing corpse—and a lot of questions. With Jazzi’s pal Detective Gaff along to investigate, Jazzi finds her hands full of a whole new mystery instead of the usual hammer and nails. And this time it will take some sophisticated sleuthing to track down the culprit of the deadly crime—before the killer turns on her next . . .

My Review:

The Body in the Wetlands by Judi LynnMy second book with the series and author and must admit it’s one of the few books I’ve read with a location in Indiana–and flippin’ houses? Oh, yes! Hubby and I tried that for many years, though heaven knows not so easily, quickly, or successfully as this series would imply. We worked nights (after work), weekends (for years), and spent every dime we made on repairs. Old houses mean old electrical, pipes, floors, and cabinets–don’t get me started with the rest. Heaven help you if you had to open a wall.

At any rate, this narrative again picks up with Jazzi working with her cousin Jerod and newly moved in boyfriend Ansel–her Viking God. Tall and gorgeous, you’ll hear more about him and often. Jerod is a happily married family man. This house again has those “good bones,” so much of the work will be cosmetic as opposed to the sledgehammer they took to the walls of the last house. Still, besides painting, they were redoing floors and gutting bathrooms and the kitchen. In the middle of the remodeling, Ansel is called back to the old family farm to help with their repair problems and her cousin comes down with the flu his little ones bring home from school. (THAT sounds normal, huh?)

Guess that’s a good thing, as Jazzi and the neighbor’s dog find (not one, but) two bodies near their flipper.  With Jerod sick, Jazzi is free to flit with Detective Gaff, whom she got to know very well last episode. Detective Gaff, it would appear, loves to invite her along on his interviews. And, unfortunately, that is not the end of finding bodies.

I did love the cover and there are two wildly different dogs appearing as support characters. Jazzi still has the whole family over every Sunday (mercy!) and Ansel really enjoys the family time, but most especially her cooking. The mystery moves at cozy pace with snippets of remodeling interwoven with new red herrings and twists. The characters take the spotlight. I’m still not overly thrilled with Jazzi as protagonist and neither she nor Ansel seemed really trusting at being apart for the two weeks he’d be at the farm. Two weeks? Really? And the romance, both prior to his leaving and after he got back? Didn’t need it.

Bottom Line: I do enjoy this series, the setting and characters become engaging, and I will continue to look for the next one. The pacing is even and well-plotted into a downplayed, almost anticlimactic conclusion. While dialogue is clean and for the most part natural, I still felt some relationship problems between she and Ansel. There is more fleshing on Ansel and some quirks that didn’t set well, as well as the explanation of Jazzi’s reticence due to previous relationship difficulties. The antagonist began to materialize as a bit obvious rather soon after he was introduced. So, my problems: (1) Disbelief in the speed and description of the rehabbing process, (2) too much romance in the cozy mystery, and (3) support role with the detective–unrealistic.

I received this ebook download from the publisher and NetGalley in return for an honest opinion and appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for those who enjoy a different type of backdrop in a cozy with some romance.

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

Judi Lynn - authorThe Author: [Judi Lynn is a] USA Today Best-selling author for The Body in the Attic.
When I started self-publishing, I wrote urban fantasy as Judith Post. Then my wonderful agent, Lauren Abramo, suggested I try to find a publisher by writing romance, and she was right. I sold my Mill Pond romances to Kensington’s Lyrical Press. After six romances, my equally wonderful editor, John Scognamiglio, asked if I’d like to try to write a mystery. Ironic, because I started writing–forever ago–by writing mystery short stories and selling them. I decided to write about a fixer-upper because my husband and I bought a 1920s small bungalow when we got married, and it needed lots of work. We’re still working on it. And cooking crept into the stories because I LOVE to cook and have friends over to eat supper with us. A lot of my passions have ended up in my books:)

©2019 V Williams Blog author

The Family Lie by Jake Cross – a #BookReview

The Family Lie by Jake CrossTitle: The Family Lie by Jake Cross

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Publisher: Bookouture

  • ASIN: B07N8VVHGF

Print Length: 305 pages

Publication Date: April 23, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: The Family Lie

Book Blurb:

You whispered goodnight to your daughter. You didn’t know that would be your last goodbye.

You wake up in the middle of the night.

Your five-year-old daughter is gone.

Your husband is nowhere to be seen.

Your family think he took her.

The police believe he’s guilty.

But he wouldn’t do that, would he?

He’s a loving father. A loving husband. Isn’t he?

My Review:

The Family Lie by Jake Cross

No, no, no! I definitely broke my own rules with this one. I saw the blurb, noted the cover. Would not usually entertain reading a book about a kidnapped child. But I did. And I’ll revert back to my own (personal) rules.

This novel sets a stage that looks promising. Hooks you in, gets you reading, but soon goes into left-center field. What happened?

Five-year-old Josie is kidnapped from her bedroom in the middle of the night. Main character Anna wakes to find rain pelting the window, husband missing, patio door open and floor soaked as well as in Josie’s bedroom–open window–rain blowing in. But no Josie and no Nick. It doesn’t take long before she’s called in the police, but almost immediately they suspect something other than a kidnapping. For one, the husband is gone as well. Isn’t it more likely he took off with his child?

Now begins a long and tedious search, which goes on, and on, throughout which we are introduced to secondary characters, police, detectives, investigators, condescending and suspicious. And here’s where a few of my problems enter. I really don’t like any of them. Particularly the one who refers to Anna as “dear.” ARGH! Anna’s constant referral to her daughter as “my little lady.” (No clue why that annoyed me so much. Munchkin, I could understand, or??? We certainly had nicknames for our own.) And then they find Nick, apparently knocked over the head, drugged, and dragged along for the ride. But then, where was Josie?

The narrative begins introducing twists that throw you off the original scent, scatters the few ideas you might have held for the antagonist(s). And as the storyline plods along, gets further afield. Here are circumstances the reader could not have known about. Although I can appreciate that the parents might veer in the opposite direction in their effort to get to Josie, Nick comes off weak and largely ineffectual. Anna is unsympathetic, who later bemoans the fact that she hasn’t called her daughter by her name. Seems neither police nor parents make informed decisions.

The writing seems a bit awkward at times, the dialogue gawky, some of the scenes inappropriate (come on–he put his hands between her legs? And she accepted it? Not!) Must admit, this novel was not for me, although you may enjoy it. I received this ebook download from the publisher and NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review.

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Three of Five Stars Three Stars of Five

Jake Cross - authorThe Author: Jake Cross lives in England and is the author of the standalone thrillers The Family Lie, now on preorder, and The Choice, which hit the top 5 in Australia and was a bestseller in the UK and Canada. And on Kobo, but we don’t talk about that here. He’s on Twitter as @JakeCrossAuthor, if you want to say hello. ©2019 V Williams

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