The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner – #AudiobookReview – #TBT

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

 

Goodreads Choice Award nominee 

Book Blurb:

A forgotten history. A secret network of women. A legacy of poison and revenge. Welcome to The Lost Apothecary….

Hidden in the depths of 18th-century London, a secret apothecary shop caters to an unusual kind of clientele. Women across the city whisper of a mysterious figure named Nella who sells well-disguised poisons to use against the oppressive men in their lives. But the apothecary’s fate is jeopardized when her newest patron, a precocious 12-year-old, makes a fatal mistake, sparking a string of consequences that echo through the centuries.

Meanwhile in present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, running from her own demons. When she stumbles upon a clue to the unsolved apothecary murders that haunted London 200 years ago, her life collides with the apothecary’s in a stunning twist of fate – and not everyone will survive.

With crackling suspense, unforgettable characters, and searing insight, The Lost Apothecary is a subversive and intoxicating debut novel of secrets, vengeance, and the remarkable ways women can save each other despite the barrier of time. 

My Review:

I have to admit, half the fun of this book is reading the reviews. Everyone has an opinion and they literally run from one star to five, more than a few quite vehemently.

Okay, so it isn’t the 2021 great American novel. I borrowed an audiobook from my lovely local library for the purpose of participating in their virtual book club choice for the quarter. (Yes, quarter—nothing is read in a month—or an audiobook listened in a week.) Obviously, a babe in the woods, I had no idea the controversy this title generated after its release of a much anticipated fantasy thriller-mystery. Well, picky, picky, picky.

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah PennerIt does actually start off with a hook, Nella (more than one POV, btw), is a late eighteenth-century apothecarist dispensing poisons to women seeking relief from abusive, explosive relationships. No simple divorce remedies back then. Eliza, however, (another POV) is only twelve sent to retrieve the potion for her mistress. Eliza is smart, manipulative, and brilliantly maneuvering herself into a position from which Nella may end up paying the price.

Okay, now switch to Caroline, an eccentric American in London using reservations previously meant to celebrate her wedding anniversary. Unfortunately, prior to leaving on the vacation, his affair is disclosed which pretty much puts the kibosh on any celebration. Yes, she goes anyway, sans said husband. She’s different, you see.

On a little tour of the mud from the river Thames, she discovers a little bottle—cue Gaynor the local library historian. But at least solving the burning question of the bottle takes her mind off her cheating husband and what?? She thinks she might be pregnant? Uh oh. That could be a sticky wicket!

So, are we having fun yet? Ah, come on—it’s magical realism—fantasy. I say, just go for it!

So flipping back to 1791, things are getting mighty dark for Nella and Eliza is a quick study. It doesn’t look like this can end well though—and doesn’t—Eliza lacking the experience. Phooey. And I preferred that timeline.

The storyline with Nella and Eliza can be pretty intense, while the timeline with Caroline packs in a little filler. Some of Caroline’s motives are muddled and you might be scratching your head, wondering where this is going. Or, is it going at all? Yeah, but not real fast.

This is a narrative that you are not to supposed to over think. So much to stop and contemplate, totally dismiss. In consideration, was it engaging or entertaining—sufficiently so that you finished the book? I zipped right through the audiobook—waiting—I’m not sure for what. Forget magical realism. Fantasy takes a hit as disbelief can’t be stretched far enough to think you could survive jumping very far into an icy river and surviving. Okay, I’m taking it too literally again. No over thinking.

While the conclusion seemed a bit abrupt and left more than a few shakes of the head, it was a bit farcical, remember? Just go with it and if this is a genre you enjoy, you’ll no doubt enjoy this novel. The narrators did a good job, too, you might enjoy that even more.

Rosepoint Rating: Three-point Five Stars 3 1/2 stars

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Book Details:

Genre: Magical Realism, Historical Fantasy Fiction, Literary Fiction
Publisher: Harlequin Audio
ASIN: B08BXB3JVY
Listening Length: 10 hrs 18 mins
Narrators: Lorna BennettLauren AnthonyLauren Irwin
Publication Date: March 2, 2021
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo

 

Sarah Penner - authorThe Author: Sarah Penner is the New York Times bestselling author of THE LOST APOTHECARY (Park Row Books/HarperCollins), available now wherever books are sold. THE LOST APOTHECARY will be translated into two dozen languages worldwide. Sarah and her husband live in St. Petersburg, Florida with their miniature dachshund, Zoe. To learn more, visit SarahPenner.com.

©2022 V Williams V Williams

#throwbackthursday

The Physicists’ Daughter by Mary Anna Evans #BlogTour #BookReview #Giveaway

The Physicists’ Daughter by Mary Anna Evans

I am delighted today to provide a review for you at my blog stop for The Physicists’ Daughter by Mary Anna Evans on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour.

Scroll down to enter your chance to win the Giveaway!

 

Book Details

The Physicists’ Daughter: A Novel
Historical Fiction
Poisoned Pen Press (June 7, 2022)
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 352 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1464215553
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1464215551
Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09TGB4BVK

Book Blurb

The Nazis are no match for the physicists’ daughter.

New Orleans, 1944

Sabotage. That’s the word on factory worker Justine Byrne’s mind as she is repeatedly called to weld machine parts that keep failing with no clear cause. Could someone inside the secretive Carbon Division be deliberately undermining the factory’s war efforts? Raised by her late parents to think logically, she also can’t help wondering just what the oddly shaped carbon gadgets she assembles day after day have to do with the boats the factory builds…

When a crane inexplicably crashes to the factory floor, leaving a woman dead, Justine can no longer ignore her nagging fear that German spies are at work within the building, trying to put the factory and its workers out of commission. Unable to trust anyone—not the charming men vying for her attention, not her unpleasant boss, and not even the women who work beside her—Justine draws on the legacy of her unconventional upbringing to keep her division running and protect her coworkers, her country, and herself from a war that is suddenly very close to home.

His Thoughts

Justine Byrne was taught welding, trained by her parents. She knew things that most Americans could only dream of. She was given a job at Higgins Industries Carbon Division. She and the people in the division were making parts designed by others that they never saw assembled into anything.  Justine’s parents had been killed because of the technology they helped develop.

Justine is young and lovely and two suitors are attempting to win her heart. One is a spy placed by Germany prior to WW II.  The Higgins Plant was hidden in the bayous of southern Louisiana. There was an airfield next to the plant where the top-secret parts were made.

The Physicists' Daughter by Mary Anna EvansSupervisors at the plant were men with infirmities that kept them from being enlisted in the military. They were usually self-important oofs who lorded over everyone, particularly the women. They made life miserable for the better-looking girls.

Saboteurs were sent in by the Nazi’s to find out what was being made at the plant and also to slow or stop production. This was extremely unusual for a young lady during the war. Parts that were broken in the fabrication were quickly welded by her and production continued.

CE WilliamsThis tale of the valiant efforts by women hired in all war industries, showed the ability of women to do jobs formerly only held by men. The women were being paid more than they had ever been paid before, the same wage as a man doing the same work. Six, ten to twelve-hour days, left them only Sundays to rest and prepare for the following week. The book is very well written and I could not put it down!  4.5 stars – CE Williams

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Giveaway

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Mary Anna Evans - authorAbout The Author: Mary Anna Evans is the author of The Physicists’ Daughter, the first in her series of WWII-era historical suspense novels featuring Rosie-the-Riveter-turned-codebreaker Justine Byrne. Her thirteen Faye Longchamp archaeological mysteries have received recognition including the Benjamin Franklin Award, a Will Rogers Medallion Award Gold Medal, the Oklahoma Book Award, and three Florida Book Awards bronze medals. She is an associate professor at the University of Oklahoma, where she teaches fiction and nonfiction writing, including mystery and suspense writing. Her work has appeared in publications including Plots with Guns, The Atlantic, Florida Heat Wave, Dallas Morning News, and The Louisville Review. Her scholarship on crime fiction, which centers on Agatha Christie’s evolving approach over her long career to the ways women experienced justice in the twentieth century, has appeared in the Bloomsbury Handbook to Agatha Christie (coming September 22, 2022), which she co-edited, and in Clues: A Journal of Detection. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Rutgers-Camden, and she is a licensed Professional Engineer. She is at work on the second Justine Byrne novel, The Physicists’ Enigma.

Author Links

Website: https://maryannaevans.com/

Twitter: @maryannaevans

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MaryAnnaEvansAuthor

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

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/mary-anna-evans

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/12395.Mary_Anna_Evans

Purchase Links:

Bookshop   IndieBound    Barnes and Noble    Amazon      Booksamillion     Nook     Kindle     Kobo

Thank you for visiting my stop on the tour! Great Escapes Book Tours

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

©2022 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Bayou Book Thief (A Vintage Cookbook Mystery 1) by Ellen Byron – #BlogTour #BookReview #Giveaway

Bayou Book Thief by Ellen Byron

Bayou Book Thief by Ellen Bryon

I am delighted today to provide a review for you at my blog stop for Bayou Book Thief by Ellen Byron on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour.

Scroll down to enter your chance to win the Giveaway!

Book Details

Bayou Book Thief (A Vintage Cookbook Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – New Orleans Louisianna
Publisher ‏ : ‎ Berkley (June 7, 2022)
Mass Market Paperback ‏ : ‎ 304 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0593437616
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0593437612
Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09FPJHVGK

Book Blurb

A fantastic new cozy mystery series with a vintage flair from USA Today bestselling and Agatha Award–winning author Ellen Byron.

 Twenty-eight-year-old widow Ricki James leaves Los Angeles to start a new life in New Orleans after her showboating actor husband perishes doing a stupid internet stunt. The Big Easy is where she was born and adopted by the NICU nurse who cared for her after Ricki’s teen mother disappeared from the hospital.

 Ricki’s dream comes true when she joins the quirky staff of Bon Vee Culinary House Museum, the spectacular former Garden District home of late bon vivant Genevieve “Vee” Charbonnet, the city’s legendary restauranteur. Ricki is excited about turning her avocation – collecting vintage cookbooks – into a vocation by launching the museum’s gift shop, Miss Vee’s Vintage Cookbooks and Kitchenware. Then she discovers that a box of donated vintage cookbooks contains the body of a cantankerous Bon Vee employee who was fired after being exposed as a book thief.

 The skills Ricki has developed ferreting out hidden vintage treasures come in handy for investigations. But both her business and Bon Vee could wind up as deadstock when Ricki’s past as curator of a billionaire’s first edition collection comes back to haunt her.

 Will Miss Vee’s Vintage Cookbooks and Kitchenware be a success … or a recipe for disaster?

 

My Thoughts

It’s difficult to leave an old favorite like the Cajun Country Mystery series behind when the author pulls the plug and begins a new series.

But if we must, at least we get to enjoy her new series set in Louisiana, as the author favors us with the sounds, scents, and majesty that is the local mystic of New Orleans.

Bayou Book Thief by Ellen ByronRicki (Miracle Fleur di Lis James-Diaz) has returned to New Orleans where she was born after suffering the loss of her husband and a scandalous end to a job n LA in which she was a naïve and innocent pawn.

She has landed a position with the Bon Vee Culinary House Museum where she creates a gift shop containing vintage cookbooks and kitchenware. Unfortunately, a trunk containing a donation of vintage cookbooks turns out to contain a body instead. The body is that of a former Bon Vee employee fired for being a book thief and all-round scoundrel.

Becoming a little put off by the local detective, Ricki begins using her tracking skills to investigate on her own.

“NOPD stands for ‘Not Our Problem, Dude.’”

Ricki is a smart woman, although deemed less than confident after her recent losses, and treads lightly. There are some wonderfully diverse support characters, from Madame to Lyla and Cookie, the latter “a recovering children’s librarian.”

Little sub-plots or threads take the story in different directions and introduce the reader to some interesting practices in the book world. Lyla becomes a suspect, but then there are several lesser characters also vying for the position and it’s difficult to nail down who among them has the greater reason for offing not one, but a second, victim. Ricki’s imagination tends to go wild with motives most of which are tossed immediately.

The red herrings were narrowed and fed into the conclusion, which settled most of any loose threads remaining, and I must admit I was surprised by the culprit. As in most cozy mysteries, there is a fostering romance and one big thread strongly hinted that will be carried forward. It’s a douzy.

Also, as in many cozy mysteries, appropriate recipes, in this case vintage southern recipes are shared after the epilogue with this note that gave me a chuckle:

“Onions, celery, and peppers are affectionately known as the “holy trinity” in Cajun and Creole cooking.”

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Giveaway

Sign up for your chance to win (1) PRINT COPY – Bayou Book Thief (A Vintage Cookbook Mystery) by Ellen Byron (U.S. Only) Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Ellen Byron - author
Ellen Byron – author

About The Author: Ellen’s Cajun Country Mysteries have won the Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel and multiple Lefty Awards for Best Humorous Mystery. Bayou Book Thief will be the first book in her new Vintage Cookbook Mysteries. She also writes the Catering Hall Mystery series under the name Maria DiRico.

Ellen is an award-winning playwright, and non-award-winning TV writer of comedies like WingsJust Shoot Me, and Fairly Odd Parents. She has written over two hundred articles for national magazines but considers her most impressive credit working as a cater-waiter for Martha Stewart. An alum of New Orleans’ Tulane University, she blogs with Chicks on the Case, is a lifetime member of the Writers Guild of America and will be the 2023 Left Coast Crime Toastmaster. Please visit her at https://www.ellenbyron.com/

Author Links

Newsletter: https://www.ellenbyron.com/

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/ellenbyronauthor/

https://www.facebook.com/CateringHallMysteries/

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/ellenbyronmariadirico/

Bookbub:

https://www.bookbub.com/profile/ellen-byron

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/maria-dirico

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/23234.Ellen_Byron

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19130966.Maria_DiRico

Purchase Links

Amazon – B&N – Kobo – Google Books – Alibris – IndieBound – PenguinRandomHouse

Thank you for visiting my stop on the tour! Great Escapes Book Tours

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

©2022 V Williams V Williams

The Last Paladin (P T Deutermann WWII Novels) by P T Deutermann – #BookReview – #historicalfiction

The Last Paladin by P T Deutermann

Rosepoint Publishing: Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

A gripping tale of anti-submarine warfare in the World War II Pacific Theater, by a master of military adventure fiction.

The Last Paladin by P.T. Deutermann is based on the true story of the USS Holland (DE-24), a World War II Atlantic Fleet destroyer escort which has spent the past two years in the unforgiving battle for survival against the German U-boats of the North Atlantic.

The Last Paladin by P T DeutermannSummoned to relieve destroyers that are bogged down by escort duty in the escalating Pacific Theater, the Holland is met with a rather cold reception. In the eyes of Pacific Fleet sailors, North Atlantic convoy duty pales in comparison to the bloody, carrier-sinking battles of Savo Island and Guadalcanal. However, Atlantic Fleet ships have had to specialize in one thing: anti-submarine warfare.

The Holland is sent off into remote South Pacific operating areas with orders to find and destroy Japanese submarines—but with little expectation of success. Her commanders take the mission literally; using radio intercepts that are being ignored at higher levels, they determine that the Japanese have set up a 1000-mile-long picket line of six submarines, an entire squadron’s worth, to act as a moveable barrier against the expected American advance into the next set of islands. These submarines are poised to sink every American aircraft carrier and destroyer and to change the course of the war.

What happens next is one of the legendary stories of the US Navy. The Last Paladin is high stakes naval warfare at its best, told with utter authenticity and a former ship captain’s understanding of dramatic, intense combat. P. T. Deutermann continues his acclaimed series of WWII thrillers in this unforgettable novel.

His Review:

The war in the Pacific Theater is at its’ zenith. The USS Holland has been in the Atlantic working with the British and has been re-outfitted and sent to the Pacific to aid in the fight against Japanese submarines. The Pacific fleet commanders are less than cordial with the arrival of one of the Atlantic fleets’ destroyer escorts. The ship receives a less than tepid welcome and is assigned a backwater near the Solomon Islands to patrol.

The Last Paladin by P T DeutermannThis saga is told from both the ships’ captains’ point of view and the second in command. The story is fictional and covers the sinking of six Japanese submarines during the war. A picket line of Japanese subs is set up to warn the Imperial Navy of ship movements toward the Marianas and Solomon Islands. The crew of the USS Holland discover the submarines and set out to eliminate the threat. The purpose of the Japanese picket line of submarines was to give advance warning of U.S. Naval Fleet movements.

Some of the history disclosed is very interesting. I found the push and pull between Admirals Spruance and Halsey to be particularly interesting. The story points out the tremendous pressure both of these fine admirals were under. The lives of countless sailors, ships and marines and army were in the balance.

The maintenance of secrecy and the health of the sailors aboard the ship is well defined. Hunting submarines during the war was a duty fraught with danger. Using such tools as sonar and radar often alerted the submarines that the ship was in the area. These tools for discovery were often as valuable to the enemy sailors as to the personnel aboard the Holland.

CE WilliamsThe story is fictional but alludes to the exploits of an actual ship the USS England (DE 635). I could not verify this ship or information because the construction of a ship with this name was not completed because of the wars’ end. However the tension and dynamics of this story kept me involved and reading during every free moment. Enjoy the ride! 5 stars – CE Williams

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with the opportunity to read and review this book.

Book Details:

Genre: Historical World War II Fiction, World War II Historical Fiction, War Fiction
Publisher: St Martin’s Press
ASIN: B09CNFWMX9
Print Length: 288 pages
Publication Date: July 19, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Last Paladin [Amazon]

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P T Deutermann - authorThe Author: Peter Deutermann was born in Boston in 1941. His father was in the Navy, so he subsequently lived all over the United States and also in Argentina. He graduated from the naval academy in 1963 and served in the navy for 26 years, rising to the rank of Captain. While in the navy, he published one textbook on naval operations and several professional articles in navy-oriented journals. He held three commands: a Swiftboat in the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam, a guided missile destroyer in the Atlantic Fleet, and a destroyer squadron based in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. His last tour of duty was as the division director for chemical, biological, and radiological weapons arms control negotiations on the staff of the Joint Chiefs in Washington, DC.

He retired from active duty in 1989 and began his fiction-writing career. He has published twenty novels since 1992, all with St. Martins Press, including the just-released World War II navy novel, entitled The Commodore, and the Washington thriller, The Red Swan. He has completed his 21st novel, entitled The Iceman, a World War II navy submarine story, scheduled for publication in August, 2018. See all the books on his website at http://www.ptdeutermann.com

In addition to a BS in naval engineering, Mr. Deutermann holds an MA in public administration from the University of Washington in Seattle, WA. He is also a Member of the Royal College of Defence Studies in London. He is married and has two children. Mr. Deutermann and his wife of 50 years live in Rockingham County, in the Piedmont of North Carolina, on their family pony farm.

©2022 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Chill--It's Sunday

The Sea Nurses: An absolutely heartbreaking wartime saga by Kate Eastham – #BookReview – #historicalfiction @Bookouture

The Sea Nurses by Kate Eastham

Book Blurb:

The young nurse ran across the wooden deck, her feet skidding. She spotted an injured young man clinging to the ship’s rail, his eyes wide with terror. She could see the water rushing up to meet them. ‘We need to jump!’ she screamed. In that moment, a wave washed over them. She lunged forward to grab his hand, but she was a second too slow. Somewhere, deep inside the vessel, came a loud crack. The hospital ship was breaking apart…

The Sea Nurses by Kate Eastham1914. Evie Munro is a Scottish fisher girl, working the herring season from Wick to Great Yarmouth. For Evie, every day is the same – gutting fish at the docks, shoulder-to-shoulder with her friends, followed by fresh bread, a warm whiskey toddy and an early night. But when Germany declares war on Britain, everything changes.

As her village begins to empty of young men, Evie’s life is marked by a heartbreaking tragedy at home. Her happiness destroyed, she vows to join the war effort as an army nurse, caring for wounded soldiers on the imposing hospital ship Britannic.

But as the war rages on and the ship comes under direct fire, Evie’s courage is put to the ultimate test. Can Evie and the nurses of the HMHS Britannic save the day and heal the patients in their care? Or will her life become one more casualty in Britain’s heroic fight for freedom?

His Review:

Hospital ships rolling in a tempestuous sea is the setting for this saga. Iris Purefoy is a worker in a fish processing plant turned nurse. She has always had a knack for taking care of injuries in the processing of fish and also setting broken limbs. The tale begins on large ocean-liners, The RMS Olympic and HMHS Brittanic!

The Sea Nurses by Kate EasthamHospital ships are prime targets for German submarines because they carry wounded enemy combatants. If they are cured or rehabilitated, they will be sent back into battle to attack Germany again. Better to have them at the bottom of the sea rather than returning to battle.

The nurses serve twelve hour shifts six days a week and only have Sundays off. The pressure is immense and the pace grueling. Extreme mental duress is always a factor. Thinking or dwelling on any young patient can cause a serious degradation of morale. Looking at a patient with a limb missing and then assuring them that all will be well is not an easy task!

Nurses by their personalities are empaths  and feel the need to assuage the pain of those in their care, but they must effectively remove themselves from the obvious pain of their charges and work as quickly and effectively as possible. Triage is one of the most critical and heartbreaking tasks of their job. Assuring the patient he will be taken care of quickly, knowing that he is dying is heartbreaking but necessary.

CE WilliamsThe dialogue and descriptions of the nurses in this book is heartwarming and endearing. I found myself drawn to their humanity and abilities fulfilling. Whether they were on cruise ships or hospital ships, they treated their patients with professionalism and caring. I applaud the author in her treatment of this heartbreaking anthology of nurses in time of war. 4.5 stars – CE Williams

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with the opportunity to read and review this book.

.

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

Book Details:

Genre: Women’s Historical Fiction, Sisters Fiction, Women’s Friendship Fiction
Publisher: Bookouture
ASIN: B09VHDPX1Z
Print Length: 284 pages
Publication Date: June 6, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Sea Nurses [Amazon]
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Kate Eastham - authorThe Author: Kate Eastham trained as a nurse in the late 1970s and enjoyed a long career before a change in circumstance meant that she needed to be a full time carer for her partner. Determined to make the most of this new role ‘working from home’ she cleared a space at the kitchen table for a pile of books and a writing pad and started to make notes on the history of nursing. Inspired by the achievements of Florence Nightingale and Mary Seacole during the Crimean War she was also captured by the sheer grit and determination of other ‘ordinary women’ whose voices from the past are seldom heard. An idea for a novel was born and her first book, ‘Miss Nightingale’s Nurses’, was published by Penguin in 2018, closely followed by three more in the series.

Having thought that she would never find anything to replace the work in nursing that she loved, she is now equally immersed in her writing, drawing on years of experience and the stories told by so many patients. With her passion for history, Kate aims to continue making visible the lives of ordinary yet extraordinary women from the past.

Her current fiction is set during the World Wars and will be published by Bookouture.

©CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

I'm not getting out of bed today.

The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth – #Audiobook Review – #TBT

The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth

The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth audiobook banner

(Amazon) Editors Pick Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

There’s only been one time that Rose couldn’t stop me from doing the wrong thing and that was a mistake that will haunt me for the rest of my life.

Fern Castle works in her local library. She has dinner with her twin sister Rose three nights a week. And she avoids crowds, bright lights and loud noises as much as possible. Fern has a carefully structured life and disrupting her routine can be…dangerous.

When Rose discovers that she cannot get pregnant, Fern sees her chance to pay her sister back for everything Rose has done for her. Fern can have a baby for Rose. She just needs to find a father. Simple.

Fern’s mission will shake the foundations of the life she has carefully built for herself and stir up dark secrets from the past, in this quirky, rich and shocking story of what families keep hidden.

My Review:

You can’t beat this clever read for the tension, suspense, and riveting pacing. The author has managed a brilliant masterpiece of unreliable voices.

Who are you to trust? The voice of Fern, on the autistic spectrum, is super sensitive, reticent, intelligent but socially inept. She often views simple concepts literally and it’s confusing to her. Her sister, the slightly older twin, has been successful in life. Marrying, holding a responsible, well-paying position, and always,

…always,

watching over her vulnerable sister.

The Good Sister by Sally HepworthThe sisters, however, have had a chaotic childhood and suffered traumas along the way. They both hold devastating secrets. Rose, through years of therapy, has been advised to keep a journal, chronicle her thoughts and the reader is spoon-fed her entries, alternating with the direct, open, and cloistered life of the librarian, Fern.

When Fern discovers Rose appears incapable of conceiving, she decides this is what a good sister would do—surrogate a baby for Rose. But Fern also decides it’s she who must decide who the sperm donor will be and when she meets Wally (the name she assigns to him), it seems he will be the perfect donor. Wally (Rocco) has issues of his own and understands Fern so it might appear these two are a good match. Indeed, it’s easy to invest in these characters.

While the head might be saying…”wait a minute…there are problems here,” the heart is nodding with joy that these two people, damaged though they might be, found each other and make a happy match.

In the meantime, Rose is beginning not to look so rosy. Doesn’t ring true. She’s manipulative—all those years taking care of Fern—protective? Or controlling.

In the meantime, the well-plotted narrative takes alternate dark and light turns, yanking sensitivities, emotions, pushing boundaries and begins to sneak in a few little revelations—twists you wouldn’t have suspected and the rug starts gently being pulled out from under you.

These two are so different. In looks. In character. In their memories. How could they view the same event with such diverse recollections?

Not prepared for the ultimate reveal, this one knocked the wind out of me. WOW. Have I just been played or what?

I received a review copy of this audiobook from my local lovely library and the narrator did one very fine job—totally had me hooked. These are my honest thoughts.

Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Thrillers, Family Life Fiction, Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
ASIN: B089XJLJ43
Listening Length: 8 hrs 31 mins
Narrator: Barrie Kreinik
Publication Date: April 13, 2021
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Good Sister [Amazon] 
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Kobo

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Sally Hepworth - authorThe Author: Sally Hepworth is the bestselling author of The Secrets of Midwives (2015), The Things We Keep (2016) The Mother’s Promise (2017), The Family Next Door (2018), The Mother In Law (April 2019), The Good Sister (April 2021) and The Younger Wife (April 2022). Hollywood actress and producer, Amy Poehler, has optioned The Mother In Law for a TV series.

Sally’s books have been labelled “enchanting” by The Herald Sun, “smart and engaging” by Publisher’s Weekly, and New York Times bestselling authors Liane Moriarty and Emily Giffin have praised Sally’s novels as “women’s fiction at its finest” and “totally absorbing”. Sally’s novels are available worldwide in English and have been translated into 10+ languages.

Sally lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and three children.

©2022 V Williams

V Williams

#throwbackthursday

Death by Didgeridoo (Jamie Quinn Mystery Book 1) by Barbara Venkataraman – #BookReview – #cozyanimalmystery

Book Blurb:

Death by Didgeridoo by Barbara Venkataraman Attorney Jamie Quinn is on a six-month hiatus from practicing law to deal with her beloved mother’s death. Rarely leaving the house, she shares most of her days with her late mother’s cranky cat.

But soon, Jamie is forced into action by a frantic call from her Aunt Peg, whose autistic son Adam is in police custody and suspected of murdering his music teacher, a once-famous rock star named Spike.

It’s up to Jamie to find the real killer. The problem is, Spike seems to have had more enemies than he had friends, and Adam had confessed to the murder already. Can Jamie piece together the evidence and bring the murderer to justice before it’s too late?

A delightful, light mystery set in the small town of Hollywood, South Florida, Death By Didgeridoo is the first book in Barbara Venkataraman’s Jamie Quinn Cozy Mysteries series.

My Review:

That’s a fun word—Didgeridoo—of course, a wind instrument originating and common to Australia. But, yeah, so both the title and the cover are a serious draw.

Fortunately, the short story following delivers the implied promise. It’s both unique and vaguely familiar.

Death by Didgeridoo by Barbara Venkataraman A cozy mystery with an attorney protagonist (shudder), practicing family law until her mother’s death leaves her devastated and almost literally unable to function. Six months has not seen her return to her former active lifestyle, now barely capable of leaving the couch long enough to feed her mother’s cranky cat. The cat is on a formidable mourning period of its own.

When she receives a hysterical call from her Aunt Peg about her son, Adam, Jamie is forced to get up and deal with it—it’s family—and Adam cannot handle being pulled in and suspected in the murder of his music teacher with his own musical instrument. Adam has Asberger’s Syndrome. He is shutting down–and this trauma could make it permanent.

Jamie is forced to swing her focus on her cousin and her aunt—she is not a criminal attorney—but is smart and resourceful and it doesn’t take too long (this is a short story after all) to first, get her cousin calmed, and then invoke the help of her best friend and a PI.

The storyline necessarily moves at a good pace and along the way develops the characters sufficiently that the reader becomes invested in a positive outcome. The victim of the didgeridoo was not particularly viewed with love but the numero uno suspect is entirely innocent and naïve and almost becomes victim number two. It’s easy to become invested in the characters.

A quick read, engaging, and entertaining. I received a (now permanently) free review copy of this book as an introduction to the series after a request from the author that in no way influenced this review. These are my honest thoughts.

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

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Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Animal Mystery, Women Sleuths, Literature & Fiction
Publisher: Next Chapter
ISBN: ‎ B099KZ3XX8
ASIN: B00GVJ4WOY
Print Length: 102 pages
Publication Date: November 13, 2013
Source: Author request

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo

 

Barbara Venkataraman - authorThe Author: Award-winning author Barbara Venkataraman is an attorney and mediator specializing in family law and debt collection.

She is the author of the Jamie Quinn Cozy Mystery series, as well as: Teatime with Mrs. Grammar Person; The Fight for Magicallus; If You’d Just Listened to Me in the First Place; Quirky Essays for Quirky People; and the Flash Fiction Shorts series.

She has won the Indie Book of the Day award twice, the Book of the Day Award, a gold medal for memoir in the Readers’ Favorite Competition, was a finalist in the Kindle Book Awards twice, and won first place in the Amateur Detective category of the Chanticleer Murder & Mayhem Mystery Writing Competition.

Her popular Jamie Quinn Cozy Mystery Series includes: Death by Didgeridoo, The Case of the Killer Divorce, Peril in the Park, Engaged in Danger, Jeopardy in July, and Malice in Miami.

Her recent non-fiction: Accidental Activist: Justice for the Groveland Four, a memoir she co-authored with her son about lessons he learned while working to exonerate four men falsely accused of a terrible crime in the Jim Crow South.

©2022 V Williams V Williams

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