We had a lovely quiet Christmas day the CE and I, enjoying a small lobster tail and baked potato for dinner. (I’m well and truly tired of turkey and ham! Thinking we’ll do a repeat for New Year’s eve.) We stopped going out years ago (for NYE) and with the Covid continuing to mutate, snow and ice, no problem enjoying our cozy home and TV. That large screen provides front row seats to watch the ball drop in New York and the fireworks over Lake Michigan from Chicago. Works for us!
December always brings extra shopping and home time with decorating and packing, trips to the post office, and food planning and prep. Still, we managed fifteen book reviews for December, most from NetGalley, three audiobooks from my lovely local library. That CE is a reading machine!
Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney (audiobook)
Fletcher and the Blue Star by John Drake (a CE review)
Last to Know by Brandy Heineman (a CE review)
Elinor by Shanno McNear (a CE review)
Targeted by Stephen Hunter (a CE review)
The Last House on the Street by Diane Chamberlain
Rohm Around the Dial by Micheal Maxwell (a CE review)
Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty (audiobook)
Twenty Years Later by Charlie Donlea (a CE review)
The Great Witch of Brittany by Louisa Morgan
The Dark Hours by Michael Connelly (a CE review)
Jane Darrowfield and the Mad Woman Next Door by Barbara Ross
City of the Dead by Jonathan Kellerman (a CE review)
A Deception Most Deadly by Genevieve Essig
Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain (audiobook)
Good News! My reading challenges have all been updated! I made and exceeded all of my goals. You can check out the challenges page by clicking the Reading Challenges page. Thinking I’ll bump everything up except the Goodreads Challenge next year.
I’m currently at 408 NetGalley reviews and updated my widget graphic to 400. I’m holding pretty steady at 96-97% feedback ratio and try not to get too crazy with looking for new books, but with so many new books being uploaded for the new year, it’s tough. I’ll update the sidebar graphic again at 420. How are you doing with your challenges?
Then, more good news! Perhaps you remember that in February 2020 I’d found and tried attending two local book clubs meeting in the afternoon, the Third Monday Book Club and Fiction Addiction, the latter of which made more sense. In my area. Closer. But just starting and stopped immediately due to the first Covid shutdown.
Well, the library is trying again having reinvented the book club and now calling it As the Page Turns Book Club AND it will be online. Strictly a digital bookclub and they picked The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller for the first selection. (Yes, it’s an Amazon #1 best seller in classic American literature, published August 2012.)
Also, the moderator issued instructions for receiving the ebook through Freading. Whaaa?? (Are you familiar with this digital book download library?) Try as I might, that was simply going to be a no-go and I gave up in frustration. So I jumped into my handy-dandy and ever available Overdrive (also Libby). Sure enough, the book was listed in both ebook and audiobook formats (on a wait list). Guess which one I chose?! Hmmm, well, this will be interesting. Wish me luck!
Have you read any of the books listed above? Encouraged to look into one you missed? I hope so!
Thank you for joining my community if you are new and thank you again to my established followers.
©2021 V Williams
So many great books this year, always a major challenge to whittle them down to ten.
Therefore, I thought I’d try for one favorite per month. The CE tends to be generous, so I schooled him again on his favs.
Many five-star rated books and new authors competing with favorites. As always, a wide range of genres covers fiction in categories from action adventures and cozy mysteries to family drama, historical, suspense, and thrillers as well as several non-fiction biographical books in both ebooks and audiobooks.
Listed by month this time, thinking next year I’m going to note my No. 1 pick in the monthly recaps, hopefully making a year-end wrap-up easier. Links on titles and pics are to my full review that will also provide sale info.
Jan – Dead Cat, Run by Annabelle Lewis – Such a pleasant surprise, this book. Mythology, yes, but still the ancient oft-repeated story of good versus evil. Each of the characters are powerful, engaging, emotive. “I’ll see you again, my friend, in the next life. And then, heed my words, dead cat. Run.”
Feb – The Wise Ass by Tom McCaffrey – This tale covers all the bases: humor, family, love, suspense, thriller, and the supernatural—somehow interwoven in a natural, almost believable way. Well-plotted, well-paced, and highly entertaining. The pulse-pounding climax alone is worth the price of the book, but don’t skip the rest, it’s just way too much fun. “Sorry, Sir! The Irish are fighting amongst themselves and the Lions refuse to come out.”
Mar – Search for Her by Rick Mofina – Rick Mofina begins a tale of a frantic search and a number of plot twists. As you read his tale you feel fairly certain that you know who the culprit is. This narrative would be a very good read for anyone studying criminal justice. [A CE review.]
Apr – Finlay Donovan is Killing It by Elle Cosimano – [Audiobook] Is a mystery, contract killer supposed to be funny? Yes! This one’s a hoot! I really liked Nick and Julian—great, possible romantic interests—and Vero is a keeper…Loved the backfires of the plans, the twists, the dialogue, and the way the narrator delivered the well-paced plot.
May – Key West Dead by Mark Nolan – Mark Nolan builds a great deal of tension in this narrative. Note: This is Book 6 of the Jake Wolfe series and how many have we read? ALL OF THEM. The duo of Jake and Cody are engaging, intelligent, fast, cunning, and capable, but tender and hot at the same time! [A CE review.]
Jun – Dog Eat Dog by David Rosenfelt – Rosenfelt has created an attorney who, having the benefit of a substantial inheritance, has quit, or tried to several times. (He runs a dog rescue called the Tara Foundation. He loves dogs.) Andy’s self-deprecating sense [of humor] bounces between that and confirmation of his brilliance. I always love it when they get to the courtroom—there are teachable moments, intelligent and full of fancy footwork, maneuvering, not to mention some memorable acting scenes.
Jul – The Perfect Ending by Rob Kaufman – This storyline fires the imagination from the get-go. It’s dark, delightfully deceiving, and emotionally wringing. The author tweaks his main character with just a slight amount of humor and moral justification. It’s so wrong. Twisted mystery, suspense. I released more than one audible groan…omg. This one is a must read!
Aug – The Harp and the Rose by Jean Grainger – Amazing how the author develops characters sure to mirror those of the time, fleshing them out, making them real, sympathetic. The stories are heart felt, she is passionate about her Irish history and the love of her home in Cork shines through the prose. The novel is compelling, strongly engaging, and hard to put down as the pace never waivers.
Sep – Gamblers, Fools, and Fate by Michael Reisig – I’ve read most of Reisig’s novels and enjoyed each and every one. The characters are richly drawn, infused with charm and wit while the dialogue is fresh and natural in the wild adventures you’ve come to expect in a Reisig novel. As always, a delightful escapade, one that fills my head with sights and sounds, heart-pounding exploits, the intelligence of animals, and the themes of love and life.
Oct – Daughter of the Morning Star by Craig Johnson – Okay, a couple things: In most Longmire novels, there is a lot of Native American involvement, the Bear usually featured prominently, and the author tends to include a lot of info about reservation life as well as supernatural or mystical stories handed down through the families by the separate tribes as to their beliefs, spiritually driven. And this one is no different. [Audiobook]
Nov – Under Pressure by Sara Driscoll – There is more than one theme here, the bond between the handler and their canine, the amazing intelligence of a service K9, and that a family can be comprised not just of blood relatives but those closely bonded by circumstance. The novel is an easy one to fly through—you don’t want to put it down!
Dec – The Last House on the Street by Diane Chamberlain – The 1965 accounts are electric, pervasive, and lead the frank, mind-blowing plot. The descriptions of the window-dominated house clashes wildly with the dark, invasive moss-covered forest surrounding it. Gradually, the two main characters stories merge, peeling away minute reveals, building tension, heartbreak, fear. The storytelling is immersive, impactful, tragic. It’s a tough read…“I wasn’t just moving from one town to another. I was moving from one world to another…”
No, not all the monthly favorites were five stars but still resonated and many five-star reads didn’t make the list—though as with every bookblogger—I tend to read my favorite authors and demure making them favorites all the time. Just know that in addition to those listed above, you can’t go wrong with an Amanda Hughes (Bold Women Series), Margaret Mizushima (Timber Creek K-9 Series), or Nevada Barr (Anna Pigeon Series) or standalones.
Do any of these grab your interest? Read it already? Disagree with my review? I’d love to know and welcome your comments.
©2021 V Williams
Remember back in 2018 that I discovered the phenomenon of so many of my upcoming books with a Tuesday release date?
It’s happened again with my February books, but not just with a Tuesday release date—all scheduled to release February 22, 2022. There is something magical about that date!
I have four and didn’t realize the commonality until I was surveying my upcoming review dates for NetGalley. But I’m not going to wait for February. These are all scheduled for my reviews in January (two are mine, two from the CE). Oh. My. Gosh! I’m thinking you have to check these out—they will be special. (Blurbs are excerpts.) Links on pics.
The Silent Sisters by Robert Dugoni
International Mystery and Crime
Print Length: 399 pages
In this pulse-racing thriller by the New York Times bestselling author of The Last Agent, an American sleeper cell in Russia goes silent—and it’s one man’s duty to find them…
After a harrowing escape from Russian agents on his last mission, Charles Jenkins thinks he’s finally done with the spy game.
An Amazon Charts, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal bestselling series.
My review, first of the year, on January 2.
Red Burning Sky by Tom Young
Historical WWII Fiction, Military Thriller
Print Length: 300 pages
From the author of Silver Wings, Iron Cross comes a suspenseful and thrilling saga based on the true story of one of World War II’s most daring and successful rescue missions.
Summer 1944: Yugoslavia is locked in a war within a war. In addition to fighting the German occupation, warring factions battle each other…
Red Burning Sky is a riveting and ultimately triumphant military thriller based on true events, all the more remarkable for being so little known—until now.
His review on January 4.
Murder on an Irish Farm by Carlene O’Connor
International Mystery and Crime, Cozy Mystery
Print Length: 330 pages
The wedding of Siobhán O’Sullivan and Macdara Flannery in the village of Kilbane in County Cork, Ireland, comes to an abrupt halt when the skeleton of a groom is unearthed . . .
It’s not every day you see two garda marrying each other…
My review on Jan 18.
The Berlin Exchange by Joseph Kanon
From “master of the genre” (The Washington Post) Joseph Kanon, an espionage thriller set at the height of the Cold War, when a captured American who has spied for the KGB is swapped by the British and returns to East Berlin needing to know who arranged his release and what they want from him.
Berlin. 1963. The height of the Cold War. An early morning spy swap, not at the familiar setting for such exchanges, or at Checkpoint Charlie, where international visitors cross into the East, but at a more discreet border crossing, usually reserved for East German VIPs…
His Review on Jan 30.
How many books will you review that also have a release date of 2-22-22?
I think it calls for a collective raise of glasses—a special toast—how often can that happen? Cheers!!
©2021 V Williams
So many great books on tap this month, I singled out just six to highlight upcoming books on my #TBR.
While there doesn’t appear to be Christmas books on this list, you may still find just the book you are looking for (including two audiobooks) in this wide variety of genres. I’m including a short (in most cases, excerpt) blurb and the cover links will take you to the Amazon listing. Check them out!
Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty
Listening Length: 18 hrs 3 mins
Released: September 14, 2021
From Liane Moriarty, the number one New York Times best-selling author of Big Little Lies and Nine Perfect Strangers, comes Apples Never Fall, an audiobook that looks at marriage, siblings, and how the people we love the most can hurt us the deepest.
The Delaney family love one another dearly – it’s just that sometimes they want to murder each other….
If your mother was missing, would you tell the police? Even if the most obvious suspect was your father?
This is the dilemma facing the four grown Delaney siblings.
A Macmillan Audio production from Henry Holt and Company
I finished this audiobook a week ago. I can understand why this was a (final) nominee for Mystery and Thriller in the Goodreads Choice Awards 2021. My review on Thursday, Dec. 16.
The Great Witch of Brittany: A Novel by Louisa Morgan
Print Length: 446 pages
To be Released: February 15, 2022
Return to the world of A Secret History of Witches with the bewitching tale of Ursule Orchière and her discovery of magical abilities that will not only change the course of her life but every generation that comes after her.
There hasn’t been a witch born in the Orchière clan for generations. According to the elders, that line is dead, leaving the clan vulnerable to the whims of superstitious villagers and the prejudices of fearmongering bishops.
A tale of magic and fate, triumph and heartbreak, and the powerful bonds between mothers and daughters unfolds in the late 1700s in this spellbinding novel from master storyteller, Louisa Morgan.
The author weaves a hypnotic tale of the arts in the seventeenth century. I greatly enjoyed A Secret History of Witches and in April, 2020, The Age of Witches, and I’m excited to jump into her new book to be released early next year—currently on pre-order. My review scheduled for Dec 19.
Jane Darrowfield and the Madwoman Next Door (A Jane Darrowfield Mystery Book 2) by Barbara Ross
Print Length: 250 pages
To be Released: December 28, 2021
Jane Darrowfield is using her retirement years to work as a professional busybody, with most of her business coming from her West Cambridge, Massachusetts, community. This time her client is right next door . . .
Megan, who’s purchased the house next to Jane’s, needs some help from her snooping neighbor. Megan’s been having blackouts, hearing voices—and feeling like someone’s following her. Are these symptoms of an illness—or signs that she’s in danger?
I enjoy the author’s Maine Clambake Mystery series including this year Shucked Apart, and Professional Busybody Book 1 of this new series in an audiobook. Enjoyable, easy, fun, and fast reading. My review scheduled for Dec 24.
Targeted (Bob Lee Swagger Novel Book 12) by Stephen Hunter
Print Length: 384 pages
To be Released: January 18, 2022
After his successful takedown of a dangerous terrorist, Bob Lee Swagger learns that no good deed goes unpunished. Summoned to court by the United States Congress, Swagger is accused of reckless endangerment by a hardheaded anti-gun congresswoman. But what begins as political posturing soon turns deadly when the auditorium where the committee is being held is attacked…
A CE review scheduled for tomorrow, Dec 10.
The Last House on the Street: A Novel by Diane Chamberlain
Print Length: 346 pages
To be Released: January 11, 2022
A community’s past sins rise to the surface in New York Times bestselling author Diane Chamberlain’s The Last House on the Street when two women, a generation apart, find themselves bound by tragedy and an unsolved, decades-old mystery.
Two women. Two stories. Both on a collision course with the truth–no matter what that truth may bring to light–in Diane Chamberlain’s riveting, powerful novel about the search for justice.
My review scheduled for Dec 12
The American Agent: A Maisie Dobbs Novel by Jacqueline Winspear
Listening Length: 11 hrs 2 mins
Beloved heroine Maisie Dobbs, “one of the great fictional heroines” (Parade), investigates the mysterious murder of an American war correspondent in London during the Blitz in a pause-resisting tale of love and war, terror and survival.
When Catherine Saxon, an American correspondent reporting on the war in Europe, is found murdered in her London digs, news of her death is concealed by British authorities. Serving as a linchpin between Scotland Yard and the Secret Service, Robert MacFarlane pays a visit to Maisie Dobbs, seeking her help. He is accompanied by an agent from the US Department of Justice – Mark Scott, the American who helped Maisie get out of Hitler’s Munich in 1938. MacFarlane asks Maisie to work with Scott to uncover the truth about Saxon’s death.
Fresh from a raving review of the audiobook by a blogger buddy, I discovered a copy in my wonderful, well-stocked local library. My review on Dec 30.
See any here that you’ve either read or will want to read? Winners all, NYTimes bestselling authors several, favorite authors, and stories you don’t want to miss. I can highly recommend both audiobooks mentioned above and I know Ms. Morgan’s book will have my head swimming in fantasy soon. I can’t wait.
©2021 V Williams
in Conspiracy Thrillers
I am so delighted today to provide a review for you at my blog stop for The Girl You Killed by Leslie Wolfe on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour.
Scroll down to enter your chance to win the Giveaway!
Psychological Thriller, Domestic, Legal
Publisher : Italics Publishing (October 5, 2021)
Number of Pages – 302
ASIN : B09CN54114
Andrea Brafford’s life is nearly perfect. A passionate marine biologist, happily married to Craig, the man she loves, recently moved into a home commensurate with their success to enjoy a life many others only dream about, in one of Houston’s most desirable suburbs. But only a few months later, a trial that dramatically polarizes their town names Craig Brafford as a defendant in the murder of his young wife, shattering the serenity of the peaceful community.
Andi’s name is on everyone’s lips, her relationships exposed and torn to shreds in a highly publicized case that has everyone’s eyes glued to the internet. Andrea’s life remains a mystery that investigators and public opinion equally fail to solve. Was she the happy, devoted wife she’d made everyone believe she was?
Only she can answer that question.
The best-selling author of Dawn Girl is back with a suspenseful, gripping psychological thriller. Fans of Celeste Ng, Alex Michaelides, and Liane Moriarty will enjoy The Girl You Killed, an addictive psychological thriller that will keep readers enthralled until the last page.
Andrea Brafford is a graduate marine biologist working on a doctorate. She is married to Craig, has a gorgeous home in a desirable area of Houston, and just interviewed for the job of her dreams—sure she nailed it. And? She just discovered she is pregnant.
She is over the moon with excitement about the baby—but not so sure hubby Craig will be. He’s deep in high end real estate, working feverishly to include in his client list the “whales” of the area bringing in exclusive clients with the big bucks. He has repeatedly groomed her in hosting elite dinner parties with the select invitee list (providing eye candy), subbing as chef, staging, and general go-fer duties.
Unfortunately, she did not get that coveted job at her alma mater, nor any of the ensuing positions sought. Why not?
The author skillfully builds the tension, developing Andi as a very sympathic character and Craig as a rapidly declining supportive husband. Andi is passionate about the ocean and much as she’s trying to support Craig, would love nothing more than to work as she’s been trained.
The well-plotted psychological thriller weaves forward motion into the drama with each chapter, the storyline never sags, and the way she concludes chapters with portions of court testimony builds the suspense. This doesn’t look like it will end well!
There were times I questioned Andi’s decisions—how in the face of info she’s gleaned—could she still create plausible excuses. How could that end well? Is she blind?
Stop with the Stepford thing already! Blinded by love, maybe, but not wholly stupid, nor justifying actions with all her faculties.
The pace continues to speed up, keeping the reader glued to the pages and flipping. Shocking twists, compelling, and unique. Greatly enjoyed the intelligent writing style. Loved that final twist at the conclusion–wondered when that would happen!
My first novel by this author. I’ll be looking for more.
Sign up for your chance to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card on this Rafflecopter giveaway
About The Author: Leslie Wolfe is a bestselling author whose novels break the mold of traditional thrillers. She creates unforgettable, brilliant, strong women heroes who deliver fast-paced, satisfying suspense, backed up by extensive background research in technology and psychology.
Leslie released the first novel, Executive, in October 2011. Since then, she has written many more, continuing to break down barriers of traditional thrillers. Her style of fast-paced suspense, backed up by extensive background research in technology and psychology, has made Leslie one of the most read authors in the genre and she has created an array of unforgettable, brilliant and strong women heroes along the way.
A recently released standalone and an addictive, heart-stopping psychological thriller, The Girl You Killed will appeal to fans of The Undoing, The Silent Patient, or Little Fires Everywhere. Reminiscent of the television drama Criminal Minds, her series of books featuring the fierce and relentless FBI Agent Tess Winnett would be of great interest to readers of James Patterson, Melinda Leigh, and David Baldacci crime thrillers. Fans of Kendra Elliot and Robert Dugoni suspenseful mysteries would love the Las Vegas Crime series, featuring the tension-filled relationship between Baxter and Holt. Finally, her Alex Hoffmann series of political and espionage action adventure will enthrall readers of Tom Clancy, Brad Thor, and Lee Child.
Leslie has received much acclaim for her work, including inquiries from Hollywood, and her books offer something that is different and tangible, with readers becoming invested in not only the main characters and plot but also with the ruthless minds of the killers she creates.
A complete list of Leslie’s titles is available at LeslieWolfe.com/books.
Leslie enjoys engaging with readers every day and would love to hear from you. Become an insider: gain early access to previews of Leslie’s new novels.
- Email: LW@WolfeNovels.com
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wolfenovels
- Follow Leslie on Amazon: http://bit.ly/WolfeAuthor
- Follow Leslie on BookBub: http://bit.ly/wolfebb
- Website: LeslieWolfe.com
- Visit Leslie’s Amazon store: http://bit.ly/WolfeAll
Purchase Link – Amazon
Thank you for visiting my stop on the tour and please visit the other stops listed below!
October 27 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW,
October 27 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT
October 28 – Novels Alive – GUEST POST
October 29 – Novels Alive – REVIEW
October 30 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
October 31 – off
November 1 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
November 2 – Mysteries with Character – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
November 2 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW
November 3 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – GUEST POST
November 3 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT
November 4 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT
November 5 – Elizabeth McKenna – Author – SPOTLIGHT
November 6 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
November 7 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT
November 7 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW
November 8 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHTNovember 9 – fundinmental – REVIEW
Thanks to Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours for the opportunity to read and review this cozy mystery!
©2021 V Williams
Since my daughter’s move, I’ve been playing catch-up as well as re-scheduling and again must apologize if a few of my reviews went late. I’ve got the CE reading and taking on a few more novels than I’d previously scheduled to free up my time to finish the graphics, reviews, and posts to social media.
Unfortunately, the CE is still dealing with the shingles, reducing his energy, raising the level of pain, and pushing his patience with the tenacity of the malady. And yes, another call to beg for help went unanswered, so we are dealing with it as best we can.
At any rate, he is reading between naps, and together we managed sixteen book reviews for October, most from NetGalley as well as the library for my audiobooks.
Ravens in the Rain by Christie and Jeff Santo
Silent Island by Dana Perry
Always Remember by Cathryn Grant
All the Devils Are Here by Louise Penny
Indigo by Paula Berinstein
Daughter of the Morning Star by Craig Johnson
Hypnosis is for Hacks by Tamara Berry
Deep in the Forest by Lynda McDaniel
The Curse of Morton Abbey by Clarissa Harwood
The Bone Bed Patricia Cornwell
When the Skies Cry by Steve N Lee
The Pilot’s Daughter by Meredith Jaeger
Fly Away by Kristen Hannah
These Silent Woods by Kimi Cunningham Grant
A Christmas Legacy by Anne Perry
Unwitting by Deven Greene
I have worked on my reading challenges though they are not yet up-to-date. You can check out the challenges progress by clicking on my Reading Challenges page. Goals reached thus far are the Historical Reading Fiction, Audiobook, and NetGalley challenges.
I’m making progress on the Goodreads challenge of 175, now at 156. As I mentioned last month, I’m going to push for attaining my 500 reviews badge on NetGalley, perhaps reducing somewhat library audiobooks or author requests. Currently at 384 NG reviews, I’ll have to concentrate on it and to mark the occasion will be setting up a graphic to post in the challenges section of my sidebar. How are you doing with your challenges?
Speaking of the sidebar and widgets, I’m still struggling with the update of them (with the block editor), my most recent edit trying to mark the challenges achieved. Answers from the happiness engineers get me nowhere, the last one suggesting I first load the graphic to the media folder. Duh…really.
As always, I so appreciate my new followers and am thankful for my active followers. I hope you and yours are continuing to weather the Covid storm.
©2021 V Williams