Landscape of a Marriage: Central Park Was Only the Beginning by Gail Ward Olmsted – #BookReview – #biographicalfiction

Rosepoint Publishing: Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

Landscape of a Marriage by Gail Ward OlmstedA marriage of convenience leads to a life of passion and purpose. A shared vision transforms the American landscape forever.

New York, 1858: Mary, a young widow with three children, agrees to marry her brother-in-law Frederick Law Olmsted, who is acting on his late brother’s deathbed plea to “not let Mary suffer.” But she craves more than a marriage of convenience and sets out to win her husband’s love. Beginning with Central Park in New York City, Mary joins Fred on his quest to create a ‘beating green heart’ in the center of every urban space.

Over the next 40 years, Fred is inspired to create dozens of city parks, private estates and public spaces with Mary at his side. Based upon real people and true events, this is the story of Mary’s journey and personal growth and the challenges inherent in loving a brilliant and ambitious man.

His Review:

Fredrick Law Olmstead is arguably the most famous and well-known landscape artist in the world. During his lifetime he was sought after around the world for his talented approach to landscape design. Central Park in New York City and the design of the Worlds Fair and Exposition in Chicago in the late 1800’s is among many shining examples of his work.

Landscape of a Marriage by Gail Ward OlmstedThis author has scraped away the accolades and achievements and made the artist into a more personal figure. His wife Mary and he had many decades of a happy marriage despite the loss of a number of offspring. Mary was the linch-pin which held together his myriad of accomplishments. She led the family through many heartbreaking episodes and was often a sounding board for family events.

Looking at the accomplishments of the Olmstead clan, tragedies often clouded and overshadowed the triumphs. Losing a daughter and three sons is a tragic example of the challenges faced by the family. One in particular is Charlotte who lost her way as an adult and spent most of her life in an asylum. Mary kept her wits and steered the family through all the heartbreaks.

The author illuminated the importance of a strong matriarch in this family enterprise. Mary made lifelong friends who helped her through the darkest of days when children were lost and the future looked the darkest. Mr. Olmsted helped to develop and enhance some of the nations most prized national parks including Yosemite. This particular chapter is very endearing.

CE WilliamsThe end result is a very endearing tale of a family with vision and purpose. Fredrick Law Olmstead and his sons and daughter helped to leave a family legacy of unparalleled significance. Anyone who visits the national parks and many city and/or regional parks owe the majesty and authenticity of the landscape to the tenacity of this family. Read this book and enjoy the enlightening adventure. 5 stars – CE Williams 

We received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author and publisher through NetGalley that in no way influenced this review. These are his honest opinions.

Book Details:

Genre: Biographical Fiction, Romance
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
ISBN: ‎1684337216
ASIN: B0947331QQ
Print Length: 315 pages
Publication Date: July 29, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Landscape of a Marriage [Amazon]
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Gail Ward Olmsted - authorThe Author: [Gail Ward Olmsted] I enjoy writing about quirky, lovable women in search of their happy ever after! My newest title- Landscape of a Marriage, is historical fiction. It’s the story of renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted told through the eyes of Mary, his wife of 44 years. Watch for it this summer!

A hopeless romantic, I am married to the love of my life. My favorite role is that of mom to two young adults and I enjoy reading, boating, knitting, music and traveling.

©2021 V Williams V Williams

This Much Huxley Knows: A Story of Innocence, Misunderstandings and Acceptance by Gail Aldwin – #BookReview – Friendship Fiction

Rosepoint Publishing: Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

This Much Huxley Knows by Gail AldwinI’m seven years old and I’ve never had a best mate. Trouble is, no one gets my jokes. And Breaks-it isn’t helping. Ha! You get it, don’t you? Brexit means everyone’s falling out and breaking up.

Huxley is growing up in the suburbs of London at a time of community tensions. To make matters worse, a gang of youths is targeting isolated residents. When Leonard, an elderly newcomer chats with Huxley, his parents are suspicious. But Huxley is lonely and thinks Leonard is too. Can they become friends?

Funny and compassionate, this contemporary novel for adults explores issues of belonging, friendship and what it means to trust. 

His Review:

Huxley is a very precocious young boy. His forté is understanding words by re-spelling them in his head. The fun in the story is his occasional misunderstanding of the meaning and the resultant chaos resulting from this error. His vocabulary is very advanced for his age group. However, in school he is often corrected by his teacher who recognizes his attempted faux pas, and he wonders why his jokes are curtailed.

This Much Huxley Knows by Gail AldwinHe has difficulty making friends. One of his friends is Leonard, a senior invalid in a wheelchair. Leonard understands his jokes and is often good for a small piece of chocolate. The adults in the school community take umbrage to his hanging around the school yard and giving candy to the children. Huxley cannot understand why he is restricted from seeing and visiting with Leonard.

The innocence of youth runs headlong into the wisdom of parents. He is told not to talk to Leonard or go near him. He is confounded by this directive and is hurt by his fathers’ lack of understanding about his friend. Many of the other parents, especially the fathers, take it upon themselves to correct the situation.

The story is replete with suspicion and innuendo. The ending is satisfied when the situation with Leonard is fully understood. Huxley is asked to curtail his visits with Leonard but still has the ability for an occasional visit. The author visits the situation from both the innocence of youth and the suspicion of the parents involved.

CE WilliamsThe manipulation of words by this young wordsmith make the reading fun and amusing. I highly recommend it. 5 stars – CE Williams

We received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author and publisher through NetGalley that in no way influenced this review. These are his honest opinions.

Book Details:

Genre: British Contemporary Literature, Friendship Fiction, Coming of Age Fiction
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
ASIN: B0944Q8SGV
Print Length: 217 pages
Publication Date: July 8, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: This Much Huxley Knows [Amazon]
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Gail Aldwin - authorThe Author: Gail Aldwin is a British writer who has lived and worked in Australia, Papua New Guinea, Uganda and Spain. As well as novels, short fiction and poetry, Gail co-writes short plays and comedy sketches with 3-She, a collaborative group of three women writers. Their shows have been staged at theatres and arts centres in South West England. Follow Gail on social media – she loves to interact with readers and writers.
Twitter: https://twitter.com/gailaldwin
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gailaldwinwriter/
Blog: https://gailaldwin.com

©2021 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

The Wise Ass by Tom McCaffrey – a #BookReview – #TuesdayBookBlog

Rosepoint Rating: Five Stars 5 stars

“You are a wise ass!” he said. “Better than a dumb ass,” I quipped.

 Book Blurb:

The Wise Ass by Tom McCaffreytAfter his brothers are murdered, a New York mob lawyer testifies against his associates and is forced to enter WITSEC (the Witness Protection Program). He and his wife are relocated to a rural area outside a small town in Colorado where he is compelled to adapt to his new life under the constant threat of mafia reprisal. Reflexively resisting his immersion into all things country, this life long city boy meets and adopts a loquacious mule and befriends his closest neighbors, who have even greater secrets to conceal.

A renegade US Marshall, a lesbian couple that includes a powerful psychic-medium-witch and an ex-army ranger complete his new circle of friends. When the mob associates are released due to the lawyer’s intentionally prejudicial testimony at trial, they come gunning for him before the retrial can occur. When Wise Guys meet the Wise Ass and friends all hell breaks loose.

My Review:

With a title like The Wise Ass and that picture on the cover, the book is not a difficult choice, but if you needed more than that, the blurb should do you in nicely. Still, that doesn’t even begin to introduce you to the brilliantly unique narrative the author has penned with copious prose and humorous passages. 

I was excited to read this one as I knew it would be different—I didn’t know just how different it would be. Forget trying to suss out the plot, just roll with it and enjoy.

The Wise Ass by Tom McCaffreyThe protagonist, Jimmy McCarthy, is so well developed the reader will become engaged almost immediately. He has a wacky sense of humor, family, and philosophy that pulls you in. His wife, Gina, is perfect, also well drawn and together with Jimmy create a strong, invested bond with the reader.

Jimmy, however, makes a questionable decision against his former Mafia family boss which lands him in the WITSEC program as Jimmy Moran in rural northern Colorado. In his own private Twilight Zone (cue in TZ music theme), he begins to meet his neighbors, both humans and otherwise. I loved all the support characters—each very special. (No “wise” guys here—all of those are back in New York.) I loved the author’s frequent references to Celtic lore and common Latin phrases, easily melding educational references with sci-fi nuances. The novel is peppered with wise cracks and quotables:

“…you don’t have to dig very deep to find the strong vein of superstition that permeates the soul of any Celt.”

“Sorry Sir! The Irish are fighting amongst themselves and the Lions refuse to come out.”

“No trespassing. Violators will be shot. Survivors will be shot again.”

“I remembered what my sister always used to say to me when we were children whenever I was facing some seemingly insurmountable problem: ‘Leap and the net will appear.’” (American naturalist, John Burroughs)

The storyline progresses gently into the conclusion that suddenly goes all brilliant intense to THE STORM and switches POVs from each of the support characters to Jimmy, ending with… “Then the wind came…” Masterful way of building tensionOMG—such a dynamic way to hit, and hit hard, the climax.

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.

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. I can’t WAIT for the next installment!

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Book Details:

Genre: Legal Thrillers, Fantasy Action & Adventure, Paranormal & Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Black Rose Writing

    • ISBN-10 : 168433635X
    • ISBN-13 : 978-1684336357
    • ASIN: B08V9GR7FZ

Print Length: 242 pages
Publication Date: To be released February 18, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley 

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble

Tom McCaffrey - authorThe Author: Tom McCaffrey is a professional retread. Having successfully worked in NYC as an attorney in the entertainment field for decades, he moved with his wife to the outskirts of a small town in Northern Colorado, and pursued his first love, writing. He believes that a good writer is like a good attorney. His written work must convince his readers that the view he is sharing is honest and true.

[Goodreads] Tom McCaffrey is a born-and-bred New Yorker who, after a long career working as a successful entertainment attorney in Manhattan, relocated with his wife to a small town in Northern Colorado to follow a road less travelled and return to his first passion, writing. Despite the local rumors started by Claire the mule, he denies being in the Witness Protection Program.

©2021 V Williams

Unnatural (Erica Rosen MD Trilogy Book 1) by Deven Greene – A #BookReview – #medicalthriller

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

Unnatural by Deven GreeneDr. Erica Rosen is perplexed when she sees a young Chinese girl with blue eyes in her San Francisco pediatrics clinic. The girl’s mother, Ting, is secretive, and Erica suspects she has entered the country illegally. Later, Erica encounters Ting’s son and discovers he has an unusual mutation. Erica learns that Ting’s children underwent embryonic stem cell gene editing as part of a secret Chinese government-run program.

The Chinese government wants to murder Ting’s son to prevent others from learning about his unusual mutation and the secret gene-editing program. At Ting’s urging, Erica heads to China to expose the program and rescue the infant Ting was forced to leave behind, all while attempting to evade the watchful eye of the Chinese government. 

His Review:

Could world sports dominance be an offshoot of gene manipulation? Deven Greene explores the concept in this spell-binding tale of international intrigue and romance! This book sweeps you away into a world of excessive national pride and the attempt at world domination in the sports’ world. Adolph Hitlers’ attempts at creating world class athletes to dominate the Olympics were tame compared to this tale.

Unnatural by Deven GreeneTing, a diminutive Asian female and her son/daughter Wing Shu are in the room for a physical exam for kindergarten. Dr. Erica Rosen is struck by the impossible; this Chinese child has blue eyes! This is genetically impossible! A lack of any health history or history of vaccinations begins a very engaging tale of genetics, gene manipulation and seemingly science fictional intrigue. Read the first chapter and you are hooked by this book.

Deven has simplified some of the scientific jargon to make it understandable for someone who has not had genetics classes. Gene splicing and correction of DNA (Desoxyribonucleic Acid) family traits that cause diseases or maladies in later life are replaced with gene sequences that do not have these traits! Imagine the way a child would look with more muscle mass, stronger bones, perfect complexion and optimum height and weight. Add a body extremely adept at utilizing oxygen and nutrients. The ability to run long distances without fatigue! The possibilities are endless and mind-blowing!

China is a country with a large system of facial recognition cameras in most major cities and a cadre of police and governmental officials tasked with controlling the population and eliminating dissidents. With technology utilized throughout the country to control the population and their opportunities for advancement, how can a foreigner get into the country and explore the newest technology. A very difficult task indeed for a non-native visitor.

Dr. Rosen undertakes the task of visiting China to find a missing child and unravel the ongoing research into gene technology. Once in country she learns quickly that you cannot trust anyone. People loyal to the communist regime will go to any lengths to protect the technology and states’ secrets. Can a lost child be rescued and the state secrets be unraveled? This read demands time set aside as the action is fast paced, well plotted and very engaging. 5 Stars – CE Williams

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from NetGalley. These are my honest opinions.

Book Details:

Genre: Medical Thrillers, Crime Thrillers, Suspense Thrillers, Genetic Engineering Science Fiction eBooks

  • ISBN-10 : 1684336082
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1684336081
  • ASIN : B08Q35H24G

Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Print Length: 292 pages
Publication Date: January 7, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Unnatural [Amazon]
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The Author: Fiction writer Deven Greene lives in the San Francisco Bay area. Ever since childhood, the author has been interested in science. After working as a biochemist, Deven went back to school and became a pathologist. When writing fiction, the author usually incorporates elements of medicine or science. Deven has penned several short stories. Unnatural, Erica Rosen MD Trilogy Book 1 is the first novel the author has published. The two sequels are in the works.

©2021 CE Williams – V Williams the CE and I

Sockeye by Michael F Tevlin – A #BookReview #readingirelandmonth20

A Review by associate CE.

March!

Book Blurb:

Sockeye by Michael F TevlinJoe Wallace returns to this remote Oregon valley from self-imposed exile to bury the father who abandoned him a decade ago. Sad, alone and drinking, Joe has nearly given up on life and love.

Things change when Joe meets Ana, whose Nez Perce ancestors once called this valley home. Joe joins Ana’s cause to restore a lost sockeye salmon run to the lake where he grew up. As their relationship deepens, their peril grows. Somebody wants them gone – or dead.

The escalating threats rekindle a fire Joe thought was dead or buried in him. When his jealous brother tries to develop the family’s land, Joe must make a stand.

In the end, Joe discovers a life worth living, with a woman he was meant to love, in the place he was meant to live. And he realizes the redemption possible in a deep connection to the land.

His Review:

Do sons need to atone for the failings of their fathers? This author explores this issue in this sad and revealing story set in one of Oregon’s most beautiful settings. Joe Wallace left under the pressure of an alcoholic father and a murdered fiancée. He thought Alaska and a life of fishing could keep him insulated from the loneliness and heartbreak of lost love.

Sockeye by Michael F TevlinBut life does not offer solitude as forgiveness for forgotten memories. Joe comes back for the funeral of his father only to confront the devils of his past. Do-gooders are attempting to restore the salmon runs in outback Oregon. They see the controlled waterways and dams as a total rape of the natural environment.

Of course, there is sibling rivalry between Joe and his older brother. The family homestead of 160 acres is a prime opportunity for developers to change this ranch forever. His older brother has been counting the value of the land for years. All that is needed is to have Joe and his sister McKenzie agree to sell the property to developers. Neither of them wants to sell the property and lose their childhood home and memories.

A young Nez Perce Indian lady is part of a consortium to blow up the dam and revert the land and river to its’ natural flow. Most of the small town is against the plan because the dam provides life-giving water to the ranches and farms in this semi-arid region. No matter which way they turn, the Wallace family is going to make enemies.

Alcoholism is a cruel taskmaster. No matter where you go it will always seek you out. Old man Wallace had places where bottles were hidden all around the ranch property. Like father like son, Joe knew all of the secret hiding places and followed in his fathers’ shadow. He felt he would never be able to live up to the example set by his dad and the bottle was a convenient crutch.

The young lady, Ana, falls in love with Joe. The old adage that two people influenced by alcohol will always seek each other holds true in the story. Disaster is always a bottle away. These well-developed characters fight through this problem and it almost destroys them. A son is born to them and Ana struggles to keep Joe centered on his new family.

CE WilliamsThis narrative is well developed and engaging. Anyone coming from a broken home destroyed by alcohol will recognize much of this storyline. I found the story compelling. 4/5 stars CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Native American Literature, Family Life Fiction, Small Town and Rural Fiction
Publisher: Black Rose Writing

  • ISBN-10:1684334659
  • ISBN-13:978-1684334650
  • ASIN: B084Q83GS5

Print Length: 304 pages
Publication Date: March 12, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Sockeye (Amazon link)

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4-stars

Michael F Tevlin - authorThe Author: Michael F. Tevlin was born not far from Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York, and grew up on Staten Island. He is the second of five children. His father was a New York cop, and both his parents were the children of Irish immigrants. He has a bachelor’s from the State University of New York at Oneonta and a master’s in journalism from the University of Oregon. He and his wife, Diane, moved to Oregon when they were 25 and put down roots. He worked briefly as a reporter before moving on to a corporate and freelance writing career. His first novel, “Sockeye,” will be published by Black Rose Writing in March 2020. He plays guitar and sings, loves the outdoors, surfs occasionally when visiting his older son in California and fly-fishes whenever he can with his younger son. He and Diane have two grandkids and live in Portland.

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams