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

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

The Land Girls - Netflix

Book Blurb:

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

Christmas 1944

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

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

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

My Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

His Review

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

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

ASIN: B07S47KQNV
Print Length: 273 pages
Publication Date: November 14, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Christmas on the Home Front
+Add to Goodreads 

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4.5-stars

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

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

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

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

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

©2019 V Williams V Williams

The Land Girls photo attribute: Netflix

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

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

The Other People by C J TudorBook Blurb:

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

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

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

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

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

My Review:

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

Where do I start?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

Genre: Domestic Thrillers, Kidnapping Thrillers
Publisher: Ballantine Books

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

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

+Add to Goodreads

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everyone calls her Caz.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

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

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

Verse and Vengeance by Amanda FlowerBook Blurb:

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

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

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

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

+Add to Goodreads

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

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

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Birch Tree Attribution: The Goddess Tree

Scarlet Fever: A Novel (“Sister” Jane) by Rita Mae Brown #BlogTour #BookReview #Giveaway #cozymystery

Scarlet Fever by Rita Mae Brown

I am delighted today to provide our reviews for you at my blog stop for Scarlet Fever by Rita Mae Brown on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour.

Scroll down to enter your chance to win the Giveaway!

Book Details

Scarlet Fever: A Novel (“Sister” Jane)
Cozy Mystery
12th in Series
Ballantine Books (November 26, 2019) Happy Publication Day!
Hardcover: 304 pages
ISBN-10: 0593130006
ISBN-13: 978-0593130001
Digital ASIN: B07P8J8KVM

Book Blurb

Winter blizzards bring a flurry of cases to solve in this riveting new foxhunting mystery featuring “Sister” Jane Arnold and her incorrigible hounds from New York Times bestselling author Rita Mae Brown.

Frigid February air has settled into the bones of the Blue Ridge Mountains, making for a slow foxhunting season, though “Sister” Jane Arnold’s enthusiasm is not so easily deterred. With the winter chill come tweed coats, blazing fireplaces—and perhaps another to share the warmth with, as the bold hunting scarlets worn by the men in Sister Jane’s hunting club make the hearts of women flutter—until someone’s stops entirely.

Harry Dunbar, a member of the Jefferson Hunt club with a penchant for antique furniture, is found with his skull cracked at the bottom of the stairs to a local store. There are no telltale signs of foul play—save for the priceless (and stolen) Erté fox ring in his pocket. Sister and her hounds set out to uncover the truth: was this simply an accident—a case of bad luck—or something much more sinister?

Steeped in the deep traditions of Virginia horse country and featuring a colorful cast of characters both two- and four-legged, Scarlet Fever is another spirited mystery from Rita Mae Brown.

My Thoughts

This is classed as a cozy animal mystery, but was still a surprise. The author presents a number of POVs including those of the foxes, hounds, horses, as well as humans. And humans–there’s a bunch of them. Protagonist Sister (Jane Arnold) functions as Master of Foxhounds for the Jefferson Hunt and has quite the rep as a competent leader. It’s fox-hunting season, frigid out there in the Virginia hills looking at the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the foxes are plentiful.

And smart.

No, really smart. I had no idea.

There is a whole language to learn with the fox-hunting business, and try as I might, I still don’t understand the whole reasoning. Kinda like the fishing “catch and release.” This is a tight-knit, well-to-do community with tons ‘o bucks tied in fox-hunting hounds, gorgeous and fleet-footed Thoroughbreds, some Bays, and a wardrobe to die for. The boots would cost my monthly income. The term scarlet refers to the recent predominance of the color with people buying coats off the rack rather than being tailored.

This narrative opens a world you might only have been briefly aware, perhaps a sport associated more with the English (or the French?). It’s a lesson that takes some time in immersion, but there is a death that looks suspicious. There is an undercurrent of interest and discussion of exquisite antiques, drug and opioid problems, and the plight of the aged and oft less than sympathetic treatment of patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

My introduction to the series and this author would be Book 12 and with the complex cast of characters, you might wish to begin with Book 1. Somewhat slow to start, the well-plotted mystery moves you headlong into a world you’ve never imagined. I particularly enjoyed the conversation between the animals, not just between the dogs, but species to species.

“…hunting can be so unpredictable. One soon sees who has courage, who has brains, and who has both. Truthfully, the horses have more of both than the humans.” 

The author has an interesting no-nonsense way of laying out the facts in a droll and unemotional manner. The conclusion is not wholly unexpected and there is no horrific life or death struggle at the climax. Loose threads are joined. I was, however, intrigued by the description of the hunt or tailgate breakfasts.

I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley for this blog tour and appreciated the opportunity to read and review. 

His Review

Be patient! I thought this book started slowly with 27 pages of introduction of the characters. I was about to abandon it but got into the tale. Masterfully contrived the story held interest and suspense for me. A world I have only seen pictures of opened up. Fox hunting has always seemed gratuitous for the rich and really out of reach for average folk.

Ms. Brown has evolved the characters into personalities both human and canine.  The older foxes had many traits that older humans have. A den becomes a sanctuary for individuals and not families. It seems except for breeding season, the fox either vixen or reynard, prefers solitary living. They also have a penchant for sweets and human blankets and coats. Fun to explore their habitats and habits.

The author held my interest throughout the book including a couple of sub-plots that were neatly wrapped up at the end. She is the complete author and artist. Stick with this book and enjoy your reward. CE Williams

+Add to Goodreads 

Giveaway

Sign up for your chance to win this Rafflecopter giveaway!

Rita Mae Brown - author

Rita Mae Brown is the bestselling author of the Sneaky Pie Brown mysteries; the Sister Jane series; the Runnymede novels, including Six of One and Cakewalk; A Nose for Justice and Murder Unleashed; Rubyfruit Jungle; and In Her Day; as well as many other books. An Emmy-nominated screenwriter and a poet, Brown lives in Afton, Virginia, and is a Master of Foxhounds and the huntsman.

Author Links 

Website – http://ritamaebrownbooks.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/RitaMaeBrown

Purchase Links – Amazon – B&N – Kobo – IndieBound

Thank you for visiting my stop on the tour and please visit the other stops listed below!

Tour Participants:

November 25 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – SPOTLIGHT

November 25 – Reading Is My SuperPower – SPOTLIGHT

November 26 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

November 26 – Baroness’ Book Trove – SPOTLIGHT

November 27 – Diane Reviews Books – REVIEW

November 27 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT

November 28 – THANKSGIVING – OFF

November 29 – Ebook addicts – SPOTLIGHT

November 29 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

November 30 – Laura’s Interests  – REVIEW

November 30 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

December 1 – I Read What You Write – SPOTLIGHT

December 1 – This Is My Truth Now – SPOTLIGHT

December 2 – Literary Gold = SPOTLIGHT

December 2 – fundinmental – SPOTLIGHT

December 2 – The Book Diva’s Reads – SPOTLIGHT

December 3 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

December 3 – A Chick Who Reads – REVIEW

December 4 – My Reading Journeys – SPOTLIGHT

December 4 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT

December 5 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT

December 5 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT Great Escapes Book Tours

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

©2019 V Williams V Williams

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

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

Paw of the Jungle by Diane KellyBook Blurb:

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Dog Mysteries, Police Procedurals
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
ISBN: 1250197376
ASIN: B07P9LPNHB
Print Length: 365 pages
Publication Date: To be released November 26, 2019
strong>Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Paw of the Jungle
+Add to Goodreads 

[Rosepoint Publishing: 4.5 of Five Stars 4.5-stars

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

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

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

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

©2019 V Williams V Williams

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

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

Mercy Road by Ann Howard CreelBook Blurb:

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

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Storm of Secrets: A Haunted Bluffs Mystery by Loretta Marion #BlogTour #BookReview #Giveaway

Storm of Secrets

I am so delighted today to provide a review for you at my blog stop from both myself and my associate for Storm of Secrets by Loretta Marion on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. Scroll down to enter your chance to win the Giveaway!

Book Details

Storm of Secrets: A Haunted Bluffs Mystery
Paranormal Mystery
2nd in Series
Crooked Lane Books (November 12, 2019)
Hardcover – 327 Pages
ISBN-10: 1643851756
ISBN-13: 978-1643851754
Digital ASIN: B07NTY8L1N

Book Blurb

A deadly storm, a missing three-year-old child, a suspicious death, and the eerie presence of the spirits of the dead set the stage for the second mesmerizing installment of Loretta Marion’s paranormal suspense series.

A powerful storm descends upon Cape Cod’s Whale Rock at the peak of tourist season–and the weekend Cassandra Mitchell’s and Daniel Benjamin’s wedding is set to take place at The Bluffs, the magnificent Victorian mansion Cassie inherited from her family. In the wake of the storm’s destruction, three-year-old Lucas Kleister goes missing–and the body of small-time drug dealer Lee Chambers is found in a restaurant dumpster. Now, the WRPD are faced with a murder to solve, a missing child to find, and the aftermath of one of the worst storms in recent memory.

While aiding with the clean-up and helping the displaced, Cassie has been receiving cryptic messages from the spirits of her great-grandparents, Percy and Celeste Mitchell, the original residents of The Bluffs. At first, the messages are benign, but soon, they begin to point to something more sinister. As Cassie works to decipher their meaning, the specter of a mysterious local legend surfaces. The tale of Barnacle Boy–and what happened to him during another destructive storm decades earlier–will weave through the desperate search to find Lucas and the identity of a killer.

My Review

Storm of SecretsThe second installment of this series continues to build on the mystery of the paranormal circumstances enveloping the mansion at The Bluffs that protagonist Cassie Mitchell has inherited, saved, and refurbished along with an adjacent rental/studio in the Carriage House. Along with her fiancé Daniel, a former FBI agent, the town dives into prep for the massive storm that canceled their wedding and Cassie discovers a body in the dumpster behind one of the merchants downtown.

Daniel is enlisted in the search for the missing three-year-old, Lucas, as well as gleaning clues regarding the identity of the man in the dumpster. Daniel and she work unofficially with the Whale Rock Police Department, sussing clues and trading information.

This supernatural thriller introduces a fascinating sub-plot beneath the main plot using current and historical timeline filler to add background to the mysterious Christopher Savage, a displaced person staying temporarily at the Carriage House. The extra layer adds a depth of complexity to the storyline that interspersed with the frantic search for the boy and investigation into the dumpster body keeps the intensity at high level.

I enjoyed the paranormal aspect of the narrative, her great-grandparents often confusing Cassie with messages she is unable to immediately interpret. The relationship between she and Daniel is painted romantically as an ordinary middle-age couple and her relationship with estranged sister, Zoe, fitful. The author weaves a fascinating correlation between that of Cassie and her family with that of Christopher and his and gradually more secrets find their way to the surface.

I was given this digital download by the publisher through NetGalley for this blog tour and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. I’ve enjoyed both books in this series and would welcome the chance to read the third. This entry could read fine as a standalone, but you may wish to begin with Book 1 to get a full explanation of the paranormal nuance. Recommended for any who enjoy a little supernatural vibe to their mysteries.

His Review

Missing children at sea are never happy circumstances. Add to that a search during a violent storm and the setting of “Storm of Secrets” is launched. Whale Rock Village in Massachusetts is in the track of the storm when a bright object catches Cassie Mitchell’s eye, leading to the discovery of a body hidden in the nearby dumpster.

Barnacle Boy was the first child lost and washed up on the beach years earlier. Buried in the Mitchell family graveyard his identity is still unknown. Who is this boy and why was a three-year-old child left to play on the beach with his older brother?

Merging family history with current missing persons adds a savage twist to this tale. Can local police and gossips help to solve this mystery? Each clue seems to lead further from a happy ending. The lost boy Lucas should have never been out playing with his older brother, Nicholas, with an impending storm. Six years old does not make a mature baby sitter. Associate Reviewer - C E Williams

This book is both engrossing and unnerving. At times it appears there will be no satisfactory conclusion. Read the book and enjoy the masterful conclusion! CE Williams

+Add to Goodreads

 

Giveaway

Sign up for your chance to win a Grand Prize bag filled with goodies in this  Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author

Loretta Marion - authorA true bibliophile, Loretta Marion‘s affection for the written word began in childhood and followed her like a shadow throughout her life as she crafted award-winning marketing and advertising copy and educational brochures. She then applied her writing skills as a volunteer, establishing a Legacy Story program for hospice patients, which inspired her to create her own fictional stories. Her debut novel, The Fool’s Truth, is a twisty mystery set in Maine. Her Haunted Bluffs Mystery Series is set on Cape Cod and was introduced by Crooked Lane Books in 2018 beginning with HOUSE OF ASHES. Her newest release, STORM OF SECRETS, is the second book of the series.

When not whipping out words on her laptop, she is traveling, enjoying outdoor pursuits, or is curled up with a delicious new book. Loretta lives in Rhode Island with her husband, Geoffrey.

Author Links – 

Website:  https://www.LorettaMarion.com

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

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15863622.Loretta_Marion

Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/lorettamarion/

Purchase Links

Amazon     Barnes and Noble   Penguin Random House    Indiebound   Kobo

Thank you for visiting my stop on the tour and please visit the other stops listed below!

Tour Participants:

November 8 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

November 8 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW

November 9 – Elizabeth McKenna – Author – SPOTLIGHT

November 9 – StoreyBook Reviews– GUEST POST

November 10 – Diane Reviews Books – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW

November 11 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW

November 11 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

November 12 – I Read What You Write – GUEST POST

November 13 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

November 13 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

November 14 – Cozy Up With Kathy – GUEST POST

November 15 – That’s What She’s Reading – REVIEW, EXCERPT

November 16 – MJB Reviewers – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

November 16 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

November 17 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

November 18 – eBook Addicts – REVIEW

November 19 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

November 19 – Mysteries with Character – AUTHOR INTERVIEW Great Escapes Book Tours

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

©2019 V Williams V Williams

From Wild to Mild – A Dog in Two Worlds – a #BookReview #blogtour @iReadBookTours #Giveaway

From the Pups & Purrs Press comes this entry to the Pups & Purrs Series, From Wild to Mild by Sunny Weber. Middle-grade children’s (teachable moment) book just as delightful for adults who love animals.

From Wild to MIld by Sunny WeberBook Details
Book TitleFrom Wild to Mild: A Dog in Two Worlds by Sunny Weber
Category: Middle-Grade Fiction (Ages 8-12), 196 pages
Genre:  Animals/pets
Publisher Pups & Purrs Press
Release date:   August 23, 2019

Book Blurb

Eight-week-old Australian Shepherd Kaya is kidnapped by a nasty coyote to be food for his mate and puppies. Instead, the loving mother raises Kaya with her own pups. But as hard as she tries, Kaya can’t completely fit in—she can’t kill prey or stay awake for night hunts.

Why can’t she make herself a true coyote? Constantly criticized by her coyote father,

Kaya finds support in her new mother and siblings. She also figures out
how to contribute through teamwork with her brother and sister.
Trapped by a dog rescue, Kaya re-enters the human world and learns the differences between how dogs and coyotes live. When freed to roam again, does she return to her forest freedom—or remain with her farm family?
Can Kaya forever straddle between the Wild and the Mild?

My Review

So glad I was introduced to this book as it is one that grips very quickly with the abduction of an eight-week-old pup by a nasty coyote, Maka. The protagonist and POV is an Australian Shepherd, adorable, but confused by his introduction to the den, scared that she’d become dinner for Taina and the coyote pups, Gopher and Flower, who would become his adopted sister and brother. Taina gathered the strange little pup into the fold and loved, sheltered, and fed Kaya as her own.

From Wild to Mild by Sunny WeberBut Maka was not so easily swayed by the puppy and found her difficult to teach. Kaya has a whole different set of instincts, circadian rhythms, and was often corrected when she didn’t fit the coyote criteria. Indeed, she’d rather sleep at night than hunt and discovered she would greatly prefer to coordinate hunting with her sister and brother so that she would not have to kill to eat making Maka increasingly short-tempered about sharing food she had not acquired herself.

It’s so easy to see so many common human conundrums in the storyline–that of the individual marching to her own drum–hearing the music the others didn’t hear–not appreciated for her own gifts that didn’t conform to the norm.

Perfect for those teachable moments with children old enough to grasp the nuances! If shared with an adult, so much the better, but definitely open to thoughtful discussion whether child or adult.

As with a human child, Kaya would find it necessary to rebel. She began to observe the canine/human connections with the local townspeople. They looked to be happy. The dogs obviously were well-loved, cared for, performed their jobs seriously and were rewarded for effort. The problem was in the conversion from wild back to mild–that of a dog integrated into a human pack. It took love and patience.

But then Maka is not through. His territory, his rules, and the conflict between protecting Kaya’s new family and her coyote family must be resolved–one way or the other.

This beautifully illustrated novel is well written, well-plotted, with fully developed human as well as canine personalities. (I loved the little goat!) The story is engaging from the beginning, fast-paced, with a very satisfying conclusion sure to elicit a few tears with happy smiles. Short and very sweet, this is a must-read for anyone who enjoys a literary animal adventure.

This blog tour is being combined with two additional books in the series, Hurricane Dog: A Tale of Betrayal, Redemption and Change, and The Dog at the Gate: How a Throw-Away Dog Becomes Special. Click on the participating links below to check out all three books!

Buy this Book:

Amazon.com

Add to Goodreads

 

Sunny Weber - authorAbout the Author: Sunny Weber has over 25 years of experience in animal welfare advocacy. She is a professional humane educator and believes compelling storytelling reflects her passion for seeing the world through the eyes of the animals she teaches about.

Real stories are Sunny’s key to making deep impressions on young minds, for the future of animal welfare lies in sensitive people who will have the power to alter the negative impacts of previous generations and bring about positive change for all inhabitants of our planet.

Sunny has developed educational programs regarding compassion, respect, and care of domestic and wild animals. She writes extensively on animal issues in fiction, non-fiction, and blogs.

Sunny lives in Colorado with dogs and cats. Their yard is a Certified
Backyard Habitat for birds, squirrels, rabbits, pollinators, and any
other creature with fur or feathers who wanders in.

Connect with the author:    Website Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Linked-In

Book Tour Schedule:

Nov 11 – ROCKIN’ Book Reviews – book review From Wild to Mild / guest post / giveaway

Nov 12 –  My Journey Back – book review The Dog at the Gate / giveaway

Nov 13 – Locks, Hooks, and Books – book review The Dog at the Gate / giveaway

Nov 13 – Blooming with Books – book review Hurricane Dog / giveaway

Nov 14 – Book Corner News and Reviews – book review of From Wild to Mild / giveaway

Nov 15 – Svetlana’s reads and views – book review From Wild to Mild

Nov 15 – Rosepoint Publishing – book review From Wild to Mild / giveaway

Nov 15 – Jypsylynn – book review The Dog at the Gate

Nov 18 – My Journey Back – book review Hurricane Dog / giveaway

Nov 18 – ROCKIN’ Book Reviews – book review Hurricane Dog / giveaway

Nov 19 – FUONLYKNEW – book review The Dog at the Gate / giveaway

Nov 19 – Blooming with Books – book review From Wild to Mild / guest post / giveaway

Nov 20 – Locks, Hooks, and Books – book review Hurricane Dog / giveaway

Nov 20 – ROCKIN’ Book Reviews – book review The Dog at the Gate / giveaway

Nov 21 – Book Corner News and Reviews – book review of The Dog at the Gate / giveaway

Nov 21 – Svetlana’s reads and views – book review Hurricane Dog

Nov 21 – Books for Books – book review The Dog at the Gate

Nov 22 – Jypsylynn – book review of Hurricane Dog

Nov 22 – FUONLYKNEW – book review of Hurricane Dog / giveaway

Nov 25 – Book Corner News and Reviews – book review of Hurricane Dog / giveaway

Nov 25 – Blooming with Books – book review The Dog at the Gate / giveaway

Nov 26 – FUONLYKNEW – book review of From Wild to Mild / giveaway

Nov 26 – Books for Books – book review Hurricane Dog

Nov 27 – Locks, Hooks, and Books – book review From Wild to Mild / giveaway

Nov 27 – Svetlana’s reads and views – book review The Dog at the Gate

Nov 28 – My Journey Back – book review From Wild to Mild / giveaway

Nov 29 – Jypsylynn – book review of From Wild to Mild

Dec 2 – Books for Books – book review From Wild to Mild

Dec 2 – Mystery Suspense Reviews – book review of From Wild to Mild

Enter the Giveaway:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you to Lauren at iRead Book Tours for the digital download of this book for a read and review. I really appreciated the opportunity to read this lovely book and heartily recommend to any that enjoys animal adventure books.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

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

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5-stars

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

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

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

His Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

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

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

Book Handover

+Add to Goodreads

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

©2019 V Williams V Williams

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

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

San Diego Dead by Mark NolanBook Blurb:

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

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

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

Genre: Financial Thrillers, Crime Thrillers

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

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

+Add to Goodreads 

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4-stars

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

Mark Nolan’s books in order:

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

He is currently hard at work on his next novel.

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

©2019 V Williams V Williams

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

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

Dogs Don't Lie by Lisa ShayBook Blurb:

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

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

His Thoughts

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Animal Mystery, Amateur Sleuth
Publisher: Indie

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

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

+Add to Goodreads 

Rosepoint Publishing:  4.5 Stars of Five Stars 4.5-stars

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

©2019 V Williams Blog author

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

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

Tracking Game by Margaret MizushimaBook Blurb:

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

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

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

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

 +Add to Goodreads

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

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

©2019 V Williams V Williams

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

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

Rescued by David Rosenfelt

Five Stars 5-stars

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

Book Details

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

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

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

+Add to Goodreads

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2019 V Williams V Williams

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

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

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

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

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

My Review:

Janis by Holly George-Warren

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

+Add to Goodreads

Book Details:

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

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

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

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

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

©2019 V Williams V Williams

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

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

Here Comes Santa Paws by Laurien Berenson

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

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

Print Length: 208 pages
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Here Comes Santa Paws
+Add to Goodreads 

Laurien Berenson - authorThe Author: I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing something. I always wanted to tell stories and I’m incredibly grateful that now there are people who want to read them. I think of the Melanie Travis mystery series as the saga of a woman’s life–with complications. And dogs. And love. And lots of laughter. We should all be so lucky.

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

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Belinda Blake and the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing by Heather Day Gilbert #BlogTour #BookReview #Giveaway

Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

I am so delighted today to provide a review for you at my blog stop for Belinda Blake and the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing by Heather Day Gilbert on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. Scroll down to enter your chance to win the Giveaway!

Book Details

Belinda Blake and the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Lyrical Press (October 1, 2019)
Number of Pages ~195
Digital ASIN: B07M75GGX4

Book Blurb

Exotic pet-sitter Belinda Blake is nervous about her new job at the White Pine Wolf Preserve, but it turns out that the care and feeding of wild carnivores may be the least dangerous part of the gig . . .

Pet-sitter Belinda Blake is no stranger to dealing with wild animals, but she’s wary when the owner of the Greenwich, Connecticut, preserve asks her to help out with her “fluffy darlings.” Her caution seems justified on her very first day, when she discovers a tour guide—dead, bloodied, and surrounded by wolves in the enclosure.

Was it death by predator or something more sinister? The body count rises, but something’s not adding up. As she gets to know the rescued wolves and wolf-dog hybrids better, Belinda realizes that her human colleagues are not above suspicion. With help from her own “pack”—her pregnant sister, Red the chauffeur/bodyguard, and hunky farmer Jonas—Belinda is hot on the killer’s tail, but if she doesn’t find him soon, he’ll do more than muzzle her to keep the truth from escaping.

My Review

Again (my reoccurring theme, huh?), a new author and series for me and I’m quite happy to be introduced to this unusual and quirky cozy.

Belinda Blake and the Wolf in Sheep's ClothingBelinda Blake is an exotic pet-sitter. And a gamer. Not your average gamer either–a video game reviewer working on a Twitch stream. (Yes, I googled it–it’s a live streaming platform for gamers worldwide.) Although off page, she’s had extensive experience caring for unusual pets (Book 1 involved a snake), her father is a vet and she got the best kind of first hand knowledge. That said–this is her first gig with wolves.

Wolves are such a controversial subject and certainly divides groups of people pro and con. They can be undeniably mysterious, beautiful, and dangerous. Wolves are not dogs and everything I’ve ever heard about them is that they really cannot be domesticated. They are wild. Period. But then again, maybe not?

So of course you know I’ll happily read and review a book about wolves. But then, this is a cozy. There is bound to be a victim or two and it isn’t long before Belinda on her new contract at the White Pine Wolf Preserve will confront a badly mauled (now deceased) human–formerly a tour guide. Unfortunately, it doesn’t end there.

There is an amazing cast of employees at this preserve, well-developed enough you get the picture. Belinda herself seems to be independent and unusually spirited (obviously sufficient to tackle exotic pets). She has an amazingly supportive family and yes, not one, but two possible love interests–the über rich one and the thoughtful and sexy farmer.

It would seem there might be more than one who would qualify as a suspect and red herrings abound. Belinda continues to fulfill her contract, while investigating and gaining new perspective on possible motive until she ferrets out the one you may not have considered at all.

The conclusion was rather lengthy, tying off all loose ends in explanation until it just completely winds down. A slightly unusual finale; one that left doors open to Book 3.

I was given this digital download by the publisher through NetGalley for this book tour and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended to faithful cozy readers seeking a unique setting. You’ll enjoy this one.

+Add to Goodreads

Giveaway

Sign up for your chance to win one (1) Prize Package from Heather Day Gilbert (US Only) in this Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author

Heather Day Gilbert - authorHeather Day Gilbert, an ECPA Christy award finalist and Grace award winner, writes contemporary mysteries and Viking historicals. Her novels feature small towns, family relationships, and women who aren’t afraid to protect those they love. Like Belinda Blake, Heather plays video games, although so far she hasn’t done any exotic pet-sitting or hunted any murderers.

Author Links

Websitehttp://heatherdaygilbert.com

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/Q6w6X

Facebook Author Pagehttps://www.facebook.com/heatherdaygilbert

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

Twitter@heatherdgilbert

Pinteresthttps://www.pinterest.com/heatherdgilbert/

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7232683.Heather_Day_Gilbert

Purchase Links

Kindle    Nook     Kobo      AppleBooks     Google Play

Thank you for visiting my stop on the tour and please visit the other stops listed below!

Tour Participants:

October 1 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT – Sapphyria’s Books

October 1 – Literary Gold – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

October 1 – The Power of Words – REVIEW

October 2 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW

October 2 – Here’s How It Happened – SPOTLIGHT

October 2 – The Self-Rescue Princess – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

October 3 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT (may not post)

October 3 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

October 3 – Maureen’s Musings – REVIEW

October 3 – MJB Reviewers – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW

October 4 – I Read What You Write – GUEST POST

October 4 – Ascroft, eh? – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

October 5 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

October 5 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

October 6 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW

October 6 – Diary of a Book Fiend – REVIEW

October 7 – Carole’s Book Corner – REVIEW

October 7 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

October 8 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

October 8 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

October 8 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, GUEST POST Great Escapes Book Tours

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

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Portal to Murder by Alison Lingwood – a #BookReview

Yahoo! I won this Print Book in an International Giveaway

Portal to Murder by Alison LingwoodBook Blurb:

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

“Oh, what a tangled web we weave…”

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

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

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense, Crime Thriller, Mystery

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

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

+Add to Goodreads 

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4-stars

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

©2019 V Williams V Williams

The Garden Club Murder by Amy Patricia Meade #BlogTour #BookReview #Giveaway

I am so delighted today to provide a review for you at my blog stop for The Garden Club Murder by Amy Patricia Meade on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. Scroll down to enter your chance to win the Giveaway!

The Garden Club Murder by Amy Patricia Meade

Book Details

The Garden Club Murder (A Tish Tarragon Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Severn House Publishers (September 1, 2019)
Hardcover: 208 pages
ISBN-10: 0727889443
ISBN-13: 978-0727889447
Digital ASIN: B07TXLVLPP

Book Blurb

Literary caterer Letitia ‘Tish’ Tarragon is preparing her English Secret Garden-themed luncheon for Coleton Creek’s annual garden club awards, but when she is taken on a tour of some of the top contenders with the garden club’s president, Jim Ainsley, Tish is surprised at how seriously the residents take the awards – and how desperate they are to win.

Wealthy, retired businessman Sloane Shackleford has won the coveted best garden category five years in a row, but he and his Bichon Frise, Biscuit, are universally despised. When Sloane’s bludgeoned body is discovered in his pristine garden, Tish soon learns that he was disliked for reasons that go beyond his green fingers. Have the hotly contested awards brought out a competitive and murderous streak in one of the residents?

My Review:

Another new author and series for me, this one a “literary” caterer Tish Tarragon, owner of Cookin’ the Books Café and Catering. The author may be having a little fun with us, naming his protagonist tarragon, but we get it, and it’s not the first of the humorous little zingers you’ll encounter. Tish has a helper who performs the bakery type chores, while her good buddy and old friend, the local weatherman, Julian (Jules) Jefferson Davis loves to help with bartending type duties.

The Garden Club Murder by Amy Patricia MeadeTish has been hired by a local senior community to cater their luncheon for the annual garden club awards. She is met by the club’s president, Jim Ainsley, and on a tour of the facilities and the gardens discovers the body of Sloane Shackleford bludgeoned to death in his award-winning garden. Shackleford owns a Bichon Frise named Biscuit, which is, of course, the reason I was attracted to the cover.

In southern style cozy fashion, we are introduced to the many residents and their support roles and it doesn’t take long before they are clamoring for her to investigate. It seems she’s in the position to do so–receiving gossip and real information with little prodding from the residents. Most are empathetic and all have their stories, some eighty years worth, while Tish is wrestling with her English Secret Garden theme menu, decorating the center patio, coordinating with Sheriff Clemson Reade, fostering the Bichon, taking in her devastated best friend Mary Jo and her two children after her husband divulges he’s in love with his twenty-something assistant and balancing her relationship with lawyer Schuyler Thompson.

With a few turn of phrases, I wondered several times if I was reading an English author (and I guess now that’s true), although the story takes place in Virginia. There were some humorous observations, comments, and the dialogue is generally on the lighter side as the venue could have gotten a bit heavy given the community and the murder. Included were a number of punny analogies, “Doesn’t he realize he’s about as welcome as a porcupine in a nudist colony?”

I couldn’t really get into the character of Tish, who was oblivious to a second romantic interest or her investigative style, but did enjoy the mystery, admitting I couldn’t figure out the perp, then got gob-smacked with the confession and the big reveal. While there was virtually no one who liked the man and many who might have done the deed, I definitely could not pick out the one who did, although I was a little sad at the turn it presented.

I was given this digital download by the publisher through NetGalley for this blog tour and appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for those who enjoy a cozy in which you can’t guess whodunnit. If you could, and did, write me–okay?

+Add to Goodreads

Giveaway

Sign up for your chance to win (1) Print Copy – The Garden Club Murder (A Tish Tarragon Mystery) by Amy Patricia Meade (U.S. Only) in this Rafflecopter giveaway 

About the Author

Amy Patricia Meade - authorAuthor of the critically acclaimed Marjorie McClelland Mysteries, Amy Patricia Meade is a native of Long Island, NY where she cut her teeth on classic films and books featuring Nancy Drew and Encyclopedia Brown.

After stints as an Operations Manager for a document imaging company and a freelance technical writer, Amy left the bright lights of New York City and headed north to pursue her creative writing career amidst the idyllic beauty of Vermont’s Green Mountains.

Now residing in Bristol, England, Amy spends her time writing mysteries with a humorous or historical bent.  When not writing, Amy enjoys traveling, testing out new recipes, classic films, and exploring her new home.

Author Links:

Webpage: https://amypatriciameade.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/amy.patriciameade/

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/amypmeade

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/174006.Amy_Patricia_Meade

Purchase Links  – Amazon – B&N – AbeBooks

Thank you for visiting my stop on the tour and please visit the other stops listed below!

Tour Participants:

September 16 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT WITH RECIPE

September 17 – I’m All About Books – CHARACTER GUEST POST

September 17 – LibriAmoriMiei – REVIEW

September 18 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

September 18 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT

September 19 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

September 20 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

September 20 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW

September 21 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW

September 22 – I Read What You Write – SPOTLIGHT

September 23 – Reading Is My SuperPower – GUEST POST

September 24 – Mysteries with Character – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

September 24 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

September 25 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

September 26 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW

September 26 – Cozy Up With Kathy – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

September 27 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

September 27 – A Blue Million Books – GUEST POST

September 28 – Literary Gold – CHARACTER GUEST POST

September 28 – Diane Reviews Books – REVIEW

September 29 –Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

September 29 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW Great Escapes Book Tours

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

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Good Morning, Bellingham by Marina Raydun #BlogTour #BookReview

Welcome to my stop on the Blog Tour for Good Morning, Bellingham by Marina Raydun on the Sage’s Blog Tours.

Good Morning, Bellingham

Book Blurb

When Peta goes missing, a two-decade-old secret threatens to rip at the seams and come out in the open. Relationships are tested as one dysfunctional family comes together in search of their daughter, sister, and wife. What they find instead will change each one of them forever.

My Review

Good Morning, Bellingham by Marina RaydunLocated in the beautiful northwest of Washington, Peta Knudsen is the beloved weather girl on the local small-town TV station of Bellingham. She is married to Peter, also a celebrity of the same station. Peta is the mother of a baby girl, Gwenny, and has gone missing–completely, totally missing. Gone.

Just, gone.

After Peter sounds the alarm, the family, extended family, and everyone in town rally in search, discover her last known location, and go from there. The POV splits with each telling, in detail, their relationship with the missing woman. As the story progresses (besides her husband), her mother, sister, sister’s boyfriend, therapist, therapist’s son, and even the therapist’s ex-husband weigh in on their relationship and with each new connection, a darker and yet deeper story emerges.

It becomes obvious very quickly that Peta was an extremely troubled young woman, skilled in hiding her emotions on camera, she nonetheless had a childhood and mother that left her scarred (hence the therapist). The birth of her daughter forces an awakening and insight into her mother. Most are well-developed characters and it doesn’t take long before you can divide those in her life that you’d find extremely unpleasant (hint: her mother), as well as those whose own background and well-hidden secrets create an abundance of tension of their own. It is apparently the accidental discovery of one of the long-held secrets that set her off on the ill-conceived mission resulting in her disappearance.

The novel begins rather slow and generally weaves between the characters, working through some deeply held convictions that formed the lives, personalities, and emotional relationship to each. Connections gradually become revealed as the book progresses through the obvious conclusion. Each has become intellectual and psychological toys by the author who manipulates each member successfully to create an intense domestic noir narrative delving into the psyche of family members in the midst of crisis.

“…what if having to fight for something this hard means you weren’t meant to have it to begin with?”

+Add to Goodreads

Book Details

Genre: Women’s Literature Fiction, Psychological Literary Fiction

  • ISBN-10:0578559862
  • ISBN-13:978-0578559865
  • ASIN: B07WD1T3WB

Publish Date: September 9, 2019
Print Length: 292 pages

About the Author

Marina Raydun - authorMarina Raydun‘s published works of fiction include a compilation of novellas One
Year in Berlin/Foreign Bride, a suspense novel entitled Joe After Maya, as well as a two-
part series, Effortless. Born in the former Soviet Union, Marina grew up in Brooklyn,
NY. She holds a J.D. from New York Law School and a B.A. in history from Pace
University. She is an avid music fan, a cat lover, and an enthusiastic learner of
American Sign Language. Whenever she is not writing, Marina enjoys spending time
with her family, catching up on Netflix, and baking. Sage's Blog Tours

Thank you for visiting my stop on the book tour and thanks to Sage at Sage’s Blog Tours for the promotional materials and digital download for this profound women’s fiction novel!

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Dachshund Through The Snow: An Andy Carpenter Mystery by David Rosenfelt – a #BookReview #Mystery #rosepointpub

NOooo, this says Book 20 of 20. Say it isn’t so! I’ve only caught one previous (Bark of Night, Book 19) and I’m feeling abused. I may have to resort to trying the library–but I will find some more. In the meantime, you might want to grab this one while you can. These are too much fun to miss.

Five Stars 5-stars

Dachshund Through the Snow by David RosenfeltBook Blurb:

This Christmas, lawyer Andy Carpenter and his golden retriever, Tara, can’t say no to helping young Danny and his dachshund, Murphy.

Lawyer Andy Carpenter and his wife, Laurie, have started a new Christmas tradition. Their local pet store has a Christmas tree, where instead of ornaments there are wishes from those in need. One poignant wish leads Andy to a child named Danny, whose selfless plea strikes a chord. Danny asked Santa for a coat for his mother, a sweater for his dachshund, Murphy, and for the safe return of his missing father.

It turns out Danny’s father doesn’t want to be found, he’s on the run after just being arrested for a murder that took place fourteen years ago – a murder that Danny’s mother swears he didn’t commit.

With his trademark humor and larger-than-life characters – including a police officer and his K-9 partner, Simon – Rosenfelt never fails to deliver as Andy and his eccentric crew dash to reunite a family in time for Christmas. 

Dachshund Through the Snow by David RosenfeltMy Review:

If you love dogs (and even if you don’t but love a good mystery), you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of David Rosenfelt’s Andy Carpenter mystery series. I discovered this author plying the pages of the audiobooks in my local technically advanced library. They have all those things–audiobooks, movies, books! (See my review for Bark of Night here.) Well, I loved that audiobook so much I went searching for the author on NetGalley and found this one. I was thrilled when they accepted my request. I knew it’d be good. Some, you just request, or order, just because you know. Right?

Well, I was. Right, that is. Loved this novel! I love a good book with a sense of humor. No, it’s not a cozy and doesn’t get that idea. These are serious mystery books, well-structured plots, fully engaging from page one. Interviews, investigation, legal maneuvering, filing of all manner of papers, as well as courtroom capers. It’s that writer’s style, you know. He has a way with his snarky lawyerly attitude that tells you maybe being an attorney was not what he really wanted to do. And it wasn’t. Luckily for him (we should all be so lucky), he inherited beaucoup bucks. Now he can do want he wants and he loves dogs. In fact, he created an animal rescue and would love nothing more than to spend his time there, because lawyering, as you might know from the fees they routinely collect, takes mountains of time. He’d rather not. He’s early retired. Or supposed to be.

This narrative begins simply enough with a Christmas request and devolves into a full-fledged, multi-level whodunit. A young boy asked that his dad be brought home from jail and a murder he didn’t commit fourteen years ago. Yeah, yeah, yeah. They are all innocent. And this one has his DNA thanks to the strangled eighteen-year old’s fingernails. But as Andy gets deeper into the case, he begins to believe he is–innocent–that is. Now: How to prove it.

Parallel with the main plot premise is a retiring cop who’d love to have his beautiful K-9 service dog retire with him. But Simon is nine. They don’t retire service dogs until they are ten. Here’s the bad news (okay, more bad news): Simon is beginning to exhibit signs of arthritis. Remember, German Shepherds tend to have hip problems. So Andy sues for species discrimination.

Dialogue between Andy and his wife, (former) policewoman Laurie is intelligent and realistic. He has a cadre of unusual support staff, including Marcus (the silent muscle), a computer technie-hacker, and an office manager who also rather not work and usually doesn’t. Despite his irreverent attitude, he can be quite self-deprecating when called upon to do any hero stuff. But don’t ever sell him short. He’s known for his brain, not brawn, and his courtroom triumphs would bear that out.

Talk about hitting all the right buttons. Intelligent mystery, dialogue, twists, red-herrings, and dogs. How deep does this fourteen-year-old murder mystery go? How can you get past DNA evidence after all this time? I love the complications and finally decided I knew the ultimate culprit (it goes up the chain). But the twist at the end totally throws a monkey-wrench into that theory.

I received this book from the publisher and NetGalley and totally appreciate the opportunity to read and review. (THANK YOU Minotaur!) And this book and this series is highly recommended. I’ll continue to follow this author, even if he’s leaving Andy behind.

+Add to Goodreads

Book Details:

Genre: Holiday Fiction, Animal Fiction, Traditional Detective Series
Publisher: St Martin’s Press and Minotaur Books

  • ISBN-10:1250237688
  • ISBN-13:978-1250237682
  • ASIN: B07P9LQ99N

 Print Length: 313 pages
Publication Date: October 1, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Dachshund Through the Snow
David Rosenfelt - authorThe Author: David Rosenfelt, a native of Paterson, New Jersey, is a graduate of NYU. He was the former marketing president for Tri-Star Pictures before becoming a writer of novels and screenplays. “Open And Shut” was his first novel; “First Degree,” his second novel, was named a best book of 2003 by Publishers Weekly. He currently lives in Southern California with his wife and 35 dogs.

©2019 V Williams

V Williams

The House of Five Fortunes by Amanda Hughes – a #BookReview #rosepointpub

You know I’m a huge fan of author Amanda Hughes and her Bold Women Series. She writes her historical novels with such sensitivity and emotion. If you are not familiar with this author, your time has come.

5-stars

The House of Five Fortunes by Amanda HughesThe House of Five Fortunes (Bold Women of the 19th Century Series Book 3) by Amanda Hughes

Book Blurb:

While Xiu peddled pipe dreams, a nightmare was waiting.
Sensual and exotic, San Francisco’s Chinatown in the 1870’s was filled with temptation and greed. Raised in this quagmire of vice, Xiu Jung caters to wealthy thrill-seekers with her elegant opium den, The House of Five Fortunes. With the help of Madison Hayes, the illustrious actor, she makes it the most fashionable salon on the West Coast. But a string of murders is sweeping the city, coming closer and closer to Xiu. Madison said he would protect her, but could this mysterious outsider be trusted?
From Chinatown to Deadwood, Amanda Hughes once again takes you on a page-turning adventure of a lifetime.

My Review

I can’t imagine the time this author spends in her research of these time periods and specifically the people of this 1867-1876 narrative regarding the Chinese community in San Francisco. The eldest of the three children of foster parents Day, Xiu (she-you) was often called upon to help with her two younger siblings, her own sister Lei, and Peter, an issue of both the pastor and Dolly Day.

Her mother had set up a thriving business and when Xiu lost both foster parents, took over raising her sister and brother as well as work in the House. Later with successful but mysterious actor Madison Hayes who financially backs a remodel, they create an exclusive and fashionable salon. Unfortunately, as her siblings’ age, they each become problems about the same time anti-Chinese sentiment begins to manifest in overt hostilities.

The author weaves such a dramatic tale of the old west, San Francisco in the height of the Barbary Coast days (from which many a sailor was shanghaied), when brothels, gambling dens, opium houses, and saloons went wild with sailors disembarking in search of good times and the gold strikes burgeoned the city with a population ill-prepared to handle the growth. Chinatown had long looked to protection from the two major tongs in power. Fashions evolved, hotels built with opulence in mind catered to the wealthy, and commerce was exploding. The atmosphere of the city is laid open, raw with the sights, smells, and the cacophony of development.

A crisis with Peter forces a change in direction from which recovery may not be capable, but evolves the relationship with Michael–another very dangerous development. The reader is immersed with the engaging and well-developed characters, both main and support characters, the strongly atmospheric tale swirling in your head, creates the mind-movie. It’s easy to become so involved, you are holding your breath. Dialogue pulses with accent nuance and the reader becomes totally invested. A favorite quote said by her father to Xiu:

“I’m not in charge of the light inside you, Xiu. You are. Don’t wait for someone else to come along and light your lamp.”

I received this well-plotted and fast-paced ebook download from the author with no expectation of a review, although it’s a book I thoroughly enjoyed and wanted to share. In fact, I also shared it with my associate reviewer and the CE loved it as well. Now it’s up to you.

His Review

The House of Five FortunesTranscontinental railroad work attracted immigrants from many parts of the world. Pastor and Dolly Day were a couple who followed the construction and proselytized to the construction crews. Our protagonist, a Chinese immigrant child and her sister were adopted by the Days after a tragic fire killed their parents. The world was a wide-open cold mountainous area for the children.

Xiu as well as all of the associated characters in this novel are well developed and loved and admired or despised and castigated. The strength and fortitude of character is beautiful to behold. Recognition of the characters and their attraction brings to light the pathos of the situation.

Going from “end of the rails towns” up the western side of the Sierra Nevada the foster children stayed with their parents. Dolly Day had learned how to run a business as a madam and was very good at it. The plight of the Chinese immigrants as the tunnels were carved in the Sierra Nevada mountains was a terrifying and dangerous life. Blasters were lowered on ropes from the higher areas and drilled holes and then filled them with black powder prior to signaling to be pulled up. Sometimes the crew pulling them up was not quick enough and the explosion would kill the blast workers.

Prejudice was rampant and marrying between whites and Asians was strictly forbidden. The Chinese could not mix with the whites and had to eat and sleep in separate quarters. After the completion of the railroad, the Chinese workers were not even allowed to ride the trains home they had helped build, and many areas in San Francisco forbid the Chinese immigrants from entering.

Amanda Hughes paints a very enlightening picture of the turmoil and struggles of these Chinese adopted children in the California frontier. The few Chinese women in California were relegated to whore houses or areas strictly segregated with Chinese. This book is a treasure of enlightened understanding of the early years in California and the hatred and prejudice toward the Chinese.

The House of Five Fortunes is an opium den where Dolly Day is able to establish a thriving business. The girls learn to read and write English and are not familiar with their native language. Many twists and difficult times face these young girls. They are treated with respect by the Chinese but segregated from the white population who would rather they went back to China. Associate Reviewer - C E Williams

This book is an excellent example of the trials that were endured by many groups; Irish, Italians, Germans and of course the Chinese. The humanity that Amanda writes into her historical novel puts this tale into a class of history which every schoolchild should read. I came away with a feeling of sorrow and amazement at the resilience of these early ethnic groups. This five-star read has a terrific moral! 5/5 stars C.E. Williams 

Book Details:

Genre: Multicultural and Interracial Romance, Asian American Literature and Fiction
Publisher: Lillis and Jaymes

  • ISBN-10:1535367385
  • ISBN-13:978-1535367387
  • ASIN: B01L7BW79M

Print Length: 325 pages
Publication Date: August 28, 2016
Source: Author request
Title Link: The House of Five Fortunes

+Add to Goodreads 

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

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

Twitter: @amandahughesauthor

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Fatal Cajun Festival by Ellen Byron – a #BookReview #cozy

Love that sound, love that food, and the Mardi Gras atmosphere.

Fatal Cajun Festival by Ellen Byron

Fatal Cajun Festival: A Cajun Country Mystery by Ellen Byron

Book Blurb:

USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Ellen Byron cranks it up to eleven in the fifth fast and funny Cajun Country mystery.

Louisiana B&B owner Maggie Crozat kicks up her heels at a country music festival–but she’ll have one foot in the grave if she can’t bring the killer of a diva’s hanger-on to heel.

Grab your tickets for Cajun Country Live!, the pickers’ and crooners’ answer to the legendary New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Maggie Crozat, proprietor of the Crozat Plantation B&B, plans to be in the cheering section when her friend Gaynell Bourgeois takes the stage with her band, Gaynell and the Gator Girls.

The festival’s headliner, native daughter Tammy Barker, rocketed to stardom on a TV singing competition. She has the voice of an angel…and the personality of a devilish diva. But Maggie learns that this tiny terror carries a grudge against Gaynell. She’s already sabotaged the Gator Girls’ JazzFest audition. When a member of Tammy’s entourage is murdered at the festival, Tammy makes sure Gaynell is number one on the suspect list.

Gaynell has plenty of company on that list–including every one of Tammy’s musicians. Posing as a groupie, Maggie infiltrates Tammy’s band and will have to hit all the right notes to clear her friend’s name.

My Review:

Fatal Cajun Festival by Ellen ByronA cozy mystery with recipes, my first with the author and the series, and you know what? I really enjoyed it! I know what you’re thinking–Rosepoint Pub has had one too many and who is covering for her? Au Contraire, lovely readers, and I appreciate your concern!

First, you are wondering, “yeah, but it’s number five of the series” (with an adorable cover). Take heart. Although I’m sure you’d enjoy reading 1-4, this one functioned fine for me as a standalone for several reasons: (1) Locale driven but enough info about the main and support characters without doing a complete backstory, and (2) multi-layered and complex storyline that kept your attention. (Oh, and I might mention a complete listing of characters appears at the beginning and if I didn’t get lost, you shouldn’t.)

(Magnolia) Maggie Crozat is proprietor of the Crozat Plantation B&B in Pelican, Louisana. Her fiancé is Bo, Detective Bo Durand. And then there is Gaynell Bourgeois, Maggie’s best friend and soon to be person of interest. Lest I am to blame for confusing you, I’ll only further mention Tammy Barker, the local girl country star gone big time come back to gloat.

It is Maggie’s Grand-mère (Charlotte Crozat) who suggests the little town have a Cajun Country Live! Festival to catch music fans on their way to the larger fest in New Orleans. In the meantime, widow Grand-mère is off on a “death cleaning” and discovers something in the process she can’t ignore. Maggie must gear up her booth with Pelican Pralines as well as offer her paintings. (She also holds a new position as Doucet’s art collection specialist.)

Being a headliner, Tammy arrives amid huge pomp with her entourage, totally over-shadowing another local (lesser successful but talented) musician, Gaynell. Well, you know how musicians are. There is bound to be a clash and Gaynell and her Gator Girls land in the middle. Tammy’s manager is soon discovered in some bushes. Dead. Before Tammy’s group moves on to the Jazz Festival, Maggie will have to move fast to clear Gaynell’s name.

Boy, I do love the music, and add Cajun or Zydeco to the mix is probably the only place left where an accordion sounds GOOOOD with a washboard! Grab some crawdads, shrimp, and Cajun spice and you have a festival! This book just exudes that enthusiastic feel-good time. And then there is the mystery–mercy that gets complicated–but then you’re immersed in the whole atmosphere of the Louisiana Cajun Country. (Also, there is the Reader’s Digest explanation of Cajun vs Creole.) This is fascinating stuff, people!

Zydeco musicians at the Cajun Zydeco Festival
Photo Attribute: Cajun Zydeco Festival photo by Cheryl Gerber

The dialogue is peppered with a mix of French and Cajun patois. Maggie is interesting, but it is the history and tidbits of the area that I most appreciated and invested. It is well-paced and I must admit I didn’t guess either the perp or the reason, which provides a fascinating twist, even entirely plausible. There are bits of humor along the way; one of my favorites describing a cluster of teens.

“A giggle,” Maggie said. “I think you’d call it a giggle of girls.” (Yup!)

The conclusion came on the heels of another of Maggie’s open mouth, insert foot moments. She did annoy me a couple times. Also, I stumbled over Gaynell’s name more than once, wishing it were something else; Jane even, but Gaynell(?). Still, her character was fully engaging. I loved the recipes (and you remember I don’t usually look at them). They seemed geared to feed the entire southern militia, but that won’t stop me from trying a couple and the ingredients are already on my shopping list!

I received this digital ebook from the publisher and NetGalley and was thoroughly entertained, grateful to have the opportunity to read and review. I’m totally onboard for Book 6! Recommended to those mystery fans who don’t always get a culinary cozy and to anyone looking for an entertaining read. (Eat first.)

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Culinary Mystery, Cozy Craft and Hobby Mystery
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
ISBN: 1643851292

  • ASIN: B07NKW8WMY

 Print Length: 298 pages
Publication Date: Happy Publication Day! September 10, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Fatal Cajun Festival 

+Add to Goodreads

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

Ellen Byron - authorThe Author: Author of MARDI GRAS MURDER, the 2018 AGATHA AWARD winner for Best Contemporary Novel.

Ellen Byron writes the USA Today bestselling Cajun Country Mysteries. MARDI GRAS MURDER won the Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel and was nominated for a Best Humorous Mystery Lefty Award by Left Coast Crime. A CAJUN CHRISTMAS KILLING and BODY ON THE BAYOU, both won the Lefty Award for Best Humorous Mystery, and were nominated for Agatha Awards in the category of Best Contemporary Novel. PLANTATION SHUDDERS, the first book in the series, was nominated for Agatha, Lefty, and Daphne awards. Cajun Country Mysteries offer “everything a cozy reader could want,” according to Publishers Weekly, while Library Journal says, “Diane Mott Davidson and Lou Jane Temple fans will line up for this series.” HERE COMES THE BODY, the first book in her Catering Hall Mysteries will launch in March 2020 under the name Maria DiRico.

Ellen’s TV credits include Wings and Just Shoot Me; she’s written over 200 magazine articles; her published plays include the award-winning Graceland and Asleep on the Wind. She is a native New Yorker who lives in Los Angeles and attributes her fascination with Louisiana to her college years at New Orleans’ Tulane University. She also worked as a cater-waiter for Martha Stewart, a credit she never tires of sharing. Have an early copy of Martha’s first book, ENTERTAINING? Ellen’s standing right next to her in the group shot.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Hot Shot by Fern Michaels – a #BookReview

Hot Shot (The Men of the Sisterhood Book 5) by Fern Michaels

Hot Shot by Fern MichaelsBook Blurb:

Loyalty is a way of life for the Sisterhood and their significant others. When lawyer Lizzie Fox’s husband, Cosmo Cricket, is left critically injured after being shot by an unknown assailant, the men of BOLO Consultants head straight for Las Vegas to comfort Lizzie—and to uncover a dangerous enemy in the City of Sin.

As head of Nevada’s Gaming Commission, Cosmo has powerful enemies. Yet the shooting seems to be related to one of his private projects. Built in the desert outside Las Vegas, Happy Village is a flourishing community for seniors who have lost a spouse. Cosmo’s widowed father found new purpose in running the venture. But the neighborhood that’s now home to Happy Village was once run by rival gangs, a complicated past that has come to haunt the place. Jack, Harry, and the rest of the crew need to remove the threat, risking everything to take on a vicious and mysterious gang leader known only as Hot Shot. And while the men of the Sisterhood fight for justice for their friend, Cosmo is fighting for his life—and the stakes have never been higher . . .

My Review:

Loved the cover, the blurb sounded interesting. Then what? Perhaps you have to have read the first four of the series, or the Women of the Sisterhood first. Either way, I was totally missing something with this book. My first experience with the series and the author; perhaps mea culpa.

Hot Shot by Fern MichaelsThe narrative starts slow, stays slow, and turned into a snoozer for me. A large list of characters, I guess Jack Emery is the protagonist. He’s the one with the large shepherd, Cyrus, and you know I’m a sucker for a book with a dog. But this one? Not so much. I’d read books that anthropomorphize the canine-human relationship, but this one is a bit over the top (even for me). I couldn’t warm up to Jack, Harry, or any of the crew, though really they were not that well-developed in this entry.

Then there is Happy Village, a senior facility now overseen by a rich and powerful half-partner, Cosmo Cricket who is gunned down early in the book and his wife Lizzie Fox, pretty powerful in her own right, sends out the missive for help. Cosmo left in place after he rehabbed the complex a gang to protect the Village from a rival gang that previously ruled the area in a seedy part of Las Vegas. I’m not a fan of Las Vegas, so references to the boiling desert heat hit a nerve reminding me of the two weeks we spent stranded after our vehicle quit. (The repair dealer is as big a rip-off as are the casinos.)

As the plot moves into ever more characters and them into the dark web, things proceed from slow to nasty. Jack and his cronies set up a plan of action to look into what is going on with the shooting of Cosmo, resident disappearances at Happy Village, and the person controlling the gang of despots. The antagonist(s) is no surprise. Difficult to become engaged with characters you can’t identify with, nor have empathy or interest.

The conclusion rolled into a climax that becomes horrific. I actually had to slow down and read that part to really understand they were doing what I thought they were doing. There were edit misses along the way and words together with no space and words separated by a space (i.e., Cy – rus, ada – mant). A reference to the biker gang having nine or ten Har leys (sic) which “translates to nineteen or twenty gang members” was almost funny. (Not unless nine or ten Harley-riding gang members were riding “bitch.” (Or “two-up” And I don’t see that happening.)

I had a few other nit-picky issues, but you get the idea. I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley. Sad to say, it just didn’t work for me.

Book Details:

Genre: Sisters Fiction, Crime Fiction
Publisher: Zebra

  • ISBN-10:1420146025
  • ISBN-13:978-1420146028
  • ASIN: B07L2GKGCL

Print Length: 336 pages
Publication Date: (Reissue edition) August 27, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Hot Shot

+Add to Goodreads

Two-point Five of Five Stars Two point Five of Five Stars

Fern Michaels - authorThe Author: Fern Michaels is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the successful Sisterhood series and the Men of the Sisterhood series and dozens of other novels and novellas. There are over 150 best-selling books with 110 million copies in print. Fern Michaels has built and funded several large day-care centers in her hometown, and is a passionate animal lover who has outfitted police dogs across the country with special bulletproof vests. She shares her home in South Carolina with her four dogs and a resident ghost named Mary Margaret.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Thicker Than Water by Johnny Worthen – a #BookReview

Thicker Than Water: A Tony Flaner Mystery by Johnny Worthen

Thicker Than Water by Johnny WorthenBook Blurb:

Tony Flaner, sarcastic, slacking, sleuth from, THE FINGER TRAP, has given up being a good detective. Now he babysits a pampered dog for a high-strung family and of course that dog is kidnapped right under his nose. He tries to care, really he does, but he can’t. He couldn’t even if he weren’t otherwise distracted by the sudden death of his neglected aunt Vicky hundreds of miles away in scenic Moab, Utah.

To solve her murder, Tony wades into tourist town politics and nagging guilt to unravel hot plots and cold cases. He must learn the secret ways of Nordic Indians, elves and goblins, motorcycle maniacs, tabloid slanderers, yapping dogs, hated rivals, and old loves to find out what’s THICKER THAN WATER.

My Review:

What DO I get myself into? This one is totally off the wall–in a good way! Tony Flaner is a sorta detective of indeterminate age. He must be somewhere close mid-to-late thirties, after all, he has a fifteen-year-old son and an ex with whom he is great friends. He should be, she gave him a generous settlement in the divorce. He is one of these guys who doesn’t know what he wants to be when he grows up and he still hasn’t (grown up).

In this first-person narrative, he is reduced to taking on the care of a spoiled dog after deciding being a PI isn’t what it was cracked up to be. He is tired of taking pictures of wayward spouses. Then he gets a call from a childhood friend in a town he’d pushed to the back of his memory. His aunt Vicky has been murdered and the local police are writing it off. He can’t have that, it was his aunt Vicky who took him in at the age of ten and loved and nurtured him as her own. Her own son, Rick, was about his age. He spends some time reflecting on Rick, called “Thick” by everyone except Tony (and he’ll explain why.) He’ll return to Moab, Utah to look into it using his amazing detective powers.

Admittedly, here is a main character that is rather unlikable. He’s irreverent, snarky, and fails badly at being a focused adult. Then the next page he reflects on how much he owes his aunt and exudes guilt over his lack of attention and communication. He could have, would have, should have exhibited a great deal more respect, honor, and gratitude. He reconnects with the girl who had his attention in Moab and begins his investigation.

Thicker Than Water by Johnnyy WorthenWhile the story begins just a tad slow, I think it’s intentional to fix this protagonist’s mindset to you. He’s flippant. But he’s serious about his aunt. Moab, not so much, and there are plenty of jabs at poor Moab as a small Utah town that leaves no doubt in your mind as to the character of the inhabitants or the tourists who swarm yearly to enjoy the local recreation. Mountain biking (bicycles), rock climbing, and scenic orange-hued arches. (We rode into Moab one evening looking for a motel during our southwest national park ride one year and woke the next morning to find ashes covering our motorcycles. There was a huge forest fire in the hills and we were diverted from our original route.)

The author then takes you on a mad romp in some kind of bad trip with a constant barrage of charming analogies or bits of Tony wisdom:

“Utah’s gets its official state flower, the Orange Traffic Pylon, from I-15.”
“…Hike Three Days Through Cactus To See This Lame Hole in the Rock Arch…”
“It’s easier to teach a cat to come on command than it is to evict a tenant.”
“He knitted his forehead like a lemur taking a trig quiz.”
“…Moab’s primary export was its children.”
“When I started seeing noises…”

Maybe you have to be on something to completely get all the dialogue. It comes at you in snappy patterns, switching references briefly in mid-conversation to a wholly unrelated conversation. But you read it. Did you pay attention? Remember it? This is a frustrated stand-up comedian, reminding me just a little of Rodney Dangerfield. (He got no respect either.)

The author may not describe in detail what each support character looked like, but you definitely got to know them. I really enjoyed both his ex-wife and Allie. And Rick, poor slow Rick, is sympathetic albeit shocking at times.

Did I figure out the antagonist? Yes, although in true Agatha Christie style, he deftly laid it out following a conclusion you’d better keep up with–it came in stages throughout the last quarter of the book. The plot is unique, well-paced, and even at 582 pages didn’t take long to fly through. Fascinating train wreck and an author writing style that may grow on you too. My only problem was the occasional objectionable language and the edit misses. Still, the crazy thing is nothing if not entertaining and wraps in a satisfying conclusion, a grin on your face, and a chuckle in your heart.

I was given this digital download by the publisher through NetGalley and appreciated the new perspective on a PI mystery novel. Recommended for those who enjoy a distinctive MC and plot and scenic locale.

Book Details:

Genre: General Humorous Fiction, Private Investigator Mysteries
Publisher: Dandelion Ink LLC

  • ISBN-10:1733107231
  • ISBN-13:978-1733107235
  • ASIN: B07W418BVW

Print Length: 582 pages
Publication Date: August 22, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Thicker Than Water

+Add to Goodreads

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

Johnny Worthen - authorThe Author: JOHNNY WORTHEN grew up in the high desert snows and warm summer winds of the Wasatch Mountains. He graduated with a B.A. in English, minor in Classics and a Master’s in American Studies from the University of Utah. After a series of businesses and adventures, including years abroad and running his own bakery, Johnny found himself drawn to the only thing he ever wanted to do — write. And write he does. Well versed in modern literary criticism and cultural studies, Johnny writes upmarket multi-genre fiction – thriller, horror, young adult, comedy and mystery so far. “I write what I like to read,” he says. “That guarantees me at least one fan and a hectic job for my publicist.”

When not pounding on his keyboard, teaching the craft, attending conferences and conventions, Johnny Worthen can be found with his wife and boys in Sandy, Utah.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Grateful American by Gary Sinise – a #BookReview

Gary Sinise recently published Grateful American: A Journey from Self to Service and I’m thrilled to present his book to you today. This heartfelt, emotional narrative has become a NYTimes bestseller.

Grateful American: A Journey from Self to Service by Gary Sinise

Book Blurb:

As a kid in suburban Chicago, Gary Sinise was more interested in sports and rock ‘n’ roll than reading or schoolwork. But when he impulsively auditioned for a school production of West Side Story, he found his purpose–or so it seemed. 

Within a few years Gary and a handful of friends created what became one of the most exciting and important new theater companies in America. From its humble beginnings in a suburban Chicago church basement and eventual move into the city, the Steppenwolf Theatre Company launched a series of groundbreaking productions, igniting Gary’s career along with those of John Malkovich, Joan Allen, Gary Cole, Laurie Metcalf, Jeff Perry, John Mahoney, and others. Television and film came calling soon after, and Gary starred in Of Mice and Men (which he also directed) and The Stand before taking the role that would change his life in unforeseeable ways: Lieutenant Dan in the Academy Award–winning Forrest Gump.

The military community’s embrace of the character of the disabled veteran was matched only by the depth of Gary’s realization that America’s defenders had not received all the honor, respect, and gratitude their sacrifices deserve. In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, this became Gary’s mission. While starring in hits like Apollo 13, Ransom, Truman, George Wallace, CSI:NY, and Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, Gary has worked tirelessly on behalf of those who serve this country, entertaining more than a half million troops around the world playing bass guitar with his Lt. Dan Band, raising funds on behalf of veterans, and eventually founding the Gary Sinise Foundation with a mission to serve and honor America’s defenders, veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need.

Grateful American is the moving, entertaining, profoundly gripping story of how one man found his calling: to see that those who defend this country and its freedoms are never forgotten.

Grateful American by Gary SiniseMy Review:

Mr. Sinise sub-titled his work A Journey from Self to Service. I’d be more inclined to say from self to self-less. The actor begins very honestly, painting his childhood years in a happy middle-class American home in the southside of Chicago with loving, supportive parents. These days he might have been classified as dyslexic–back then–he was left to struggle in school, barely gathered D grades but advanced to the next level despite his lack of reading or writing skills. By the time he was in high school, he skipped more classes than attended until a teacher discovered his gang look band with his buddies and advised they audition for the upcoming school play, West Side Story. The rest is, as they say, history…although there were many years of paying dues in between, each test or challenge met and surmounted.

Some time following his delayed graduation, he eventually organized a young theatre company he and several of his friends called Steppenwolf in 1974. They located in the Unitarian Church in Deerfield, now located in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. What followed is a combination of luck, grace, guidance, and perseverance. Within the theatre community, he is surrounded by a core group of friends, drinking buddies, drugs (it’s the 70s), talent, and growth–slow–but growth. He also meets the woman who will become his wife, Moira.

Years pass, decisions made, regretted and backpeddled, but gradually, Sinise gains more and more attention going forward leading to his breakthrough part in Forrest Gump (1994 – twenty-five years). Gary Sinise as Lt. Dan in Forest Gump

(Who hasn’t seen Forrest Gump at least three times?) Sinise loves acting but never forgets his love of music, fueled by his bass guitar. Having married into a family of veterans, including Viet Nam, he decides he wants to get his young adult band back and do a show for vets and that’s the beginning of the Lt. Dan Band, but only the tip of the iceberg that will become his work with recognizing the sacrifice of the military and acknowledging all the work that needs to be done in support of those who continue to fight for our freedom.

Most of the book is dedicated to his life experiences and movies that eventually turned into the opportunity to do the TV drama spinoff, CSI: NY. During those years, he and his wife had three children and there are health issues with Moira and other family and friends. He relates their commitment to church and their faith. And Sinise never shies away from describing the cost to the men and women of the military that continue to defend and buttress our freedoms.

Then Sinise widens his outreach to those first responders, fire, police, firefighters, and rescue. Nine-eleven burned into his conscience the need to do more. And there is always more. The children of the casualties also became beneficiaries of his constant search to discover what else he could do, including working with the USO stateside and abroad. He formed the Gary Sinise Foundation and continues to shower gratitude and to remind them they are not forgotten nor taken for granted. He never wants a returning hero to receive the treatment experienced by those returning from duty during the Viet Nam conflict. He also writes of the many awards received for all the good work he has initiated.

I really enjoyed the book, have long been a Gary Sinise fan, and hold him in high regard acknowledging all he has accomplished. I requested and was granted the digital download by the publisher through NetGalley and was absolutely thrilled to receive for a read and review and these are my own opinions. I only had two problems: The format of the ebook received (an early eARC?)  had missing words, lots of edit misses, with “DO NOT COPY” and “material copyrighted” or “do not duplicate” sprinkled throughout the text. Also, the author didn’t lay out a chronological narrative, but tended to bounce backward or forward as thoughts hit him as an explanation for how or why events occurred. Otherwise, I’m sure the format has been perfected in the new releases and heartily recommend the very genuine and powerful Grateful American.

Title Link: Grateful American: A Journey from Self to Service
Genre: Biographies of Actors and Actresses, Television Performer Biographies, Rock Band Biographies
Publisher: Thomas Nelson

  • ISBN-10:1400208122
  • ISBN-13:978-1400208128
  • ASIN: B07DT4GBKJ

Print Length: 288 pages
Publication Date: February 12, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

+Add to Goodreads

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

The Author: (Amazon) Gary Sinise is an Oscar-nominated actor and winner of an Emmy, a Golden Globe, and two Screen Actors Guild awards, and has been honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, all while advocating for America’s veterans for nearly forty years.  For his service work, Gary has been presented with numerous humanitarian awards including the Bob Hope Award for Excellence in Entertainment from the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, the George Catlett Marshall Medal from the Association of the US Army, and the Spirit of Hope Award by the Department of Defense. He was named an honorary Chief Petty Officer by the United States Navy, was pinned as an honorary Marine, and received the Sylvanus Thayer Award at West Point, given to a civilian “whose character, service, and achievements reflect the ideals prized by the U.S. Military Academy.” He’s also the recipient of the Presidential Citizens Medal, the second-highest civilian honor awarded by the President of the United States to citizens for “exemplary deeds performed in service of the nation. ”

Gary Sinise - author

(Goodreads) Gary Sinise is an American actor, director and musician. Among other awards, he has won an Emmy Award, a Golden Globe Award and was nominated for an Academy Award for one of his most memorable roles as Lieutenant Dan Taylor in Forrest Gump. Another notable role was as Detective Mac Taylor in the CBS series CSI: NY (2004–13).

In 2011 Sinise established the Gary Sinise Foundation. The foundation’s mission is to serve and honor our nation’s defenders, veterans, first responders, and their families. His “Lt. Dan Band” performs for military bases, charities and fundraisers supporting wounded heroes, Gold Star families, veterans and troops around the world.

Lt Dan Pic Attribute: Wikipedia
YouTube video: US Army at Fort Huachuca in AZ with the Lt Dan Band

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Bark of Night by David Rosenfelt – a #BookReview #audiobook

You may have detected that this is actually an audiobook rather than my usual cell phone Kindle app and I’m positive that the narration was part of the reason I found this an absolutely eye-rolling LOL delight. This one goes all the way. 5 stars

5-stars

Bark of Night by David Rosenfelt

Book Blurb:

The next audiobook in David Rosenfelt’s witty, heartfelt mystery series featuring lawyer Andy Carpenter and his faithful golden retriever, Tara.

When defense lawyer Andy Carpenter’s veterinarian asks to speak to him privately at the checkup of his golden retriever, Tara, the last thing Andy expects is Truman. Tiny, healthy French bulldog Truman was dropped off days ago with instructions to be euthanized by a man everyone thought was his owner. But now the owner is nowhere to be found. 

Andy is furious. Who would want to euthanize a perfectly healthy dog with no explanation? He is willing to whisk Truman away to the Tara Foundation, the dog-rescue organization which is Andy’s true passion. They will find a home for Truman. But that’s not all the vet tells Andy. Thanks to Truman’s chip, it’s discovered that the man wasn’t Truman’s owner at all…. Truman’s real owner was murdered. 

It’s now up to Andy – with help from his loyal sidekick Tara, Truman, and the rest of the gang – to solve this case. In the latest in the popular Andy Carpenter mystery series, David Rosenfelt’s charmingly clever wit and love of dogs are back and better than ever.

Bark of Night by David RosenfeltMy Review:

As the nineteenth of this series, I’ve gotta ask myself, “why haven’t I seen this before?” There were eighteen before this one? So does that mean you can’t pick this one up or you have to go back to book one? Nope! This worked very well as a standalone.

Definitely a different take on a legal narrative, not a thriller, not a cozy, just a brilliantly choreographed mystery novel with a defense attorney that forthrightly suggests he’d rather not do legal work anymore. And really, he wouldn’t have to. He was left with a considerable inheritance and although would love to quit work, work continues to find him–at least not at a frenetic pace.

New Jersey lawyer Andy Carpenter is married to former policewoman Laura and still keeps open a small office with an office manager, and an eclectic group in his circle that includes Marcus, the description of which conjures up Lurch from the old Addams Family TV series. He and Laura have adopted a son which fits in well with his canine rescue foundation that includes a LOT of dogs. It was Tara, his beautiful golden retriever, that led him to the vet where he discovers the vet has a quandary–he has a bulldog named Truman that was brought in for euthanasia that he doesn’t want to…uh…execute the order. Carpenter is outraged and takes the dog to the Tara Foundation.

Turns out, the chip identifies the dog’s owner as one who was murdered shortly before he was brought to the vet. Carpenter, of course, will end up defending 20-year-old Joey Gamble brought in for the murder of a documentary filmmaker. He knows his client doesn’t match the vet’s description.

The fast-paced narrative weaves from one twist and clue to another with first-person Carpenter wise-cracking and snarking his way through the investigation with the help of Laura and his computer techie hacker. Thank heaven he has one of those, and although he may have to learn SOME of that stuff some day, this isn’t it.

It isn’t long before the whole case gets deeper and deeper into sparkling blue water–specifically off the Florida coast and the FBI gets involved. Nothing is ever simple, huh? And this isn’t. This went way beyond the murder of the filmmaker and actually has quite the ingenious well-plotted storyline.

This is an absolutely delightful romp full of humor, light-hearted suspense, and an engaging group of characters. I love the self-deprecating Andy Carpenter who often relies on his ex-cop wife to know where to turn next.

I received this audiobook from my local library (thank you!)–they have a remarkable selection–and was thoroughly entertained and invested with this one. Can NOT wait for book 20, which I’ve requested through NetGalley (please, please, please…). Totally recommended for anyone looking for an unpredictable but amusing hoot. It’s good to laugh.

Book Details

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

  • ASIN: B07ND4GKTJ
  • Listening Length: 6 hours and 52 minutes

Publication Date: July 16, 2019
Source: Local Library Audiobooks
Publisher: Minotaur Books (July 16, 2019)
Print Length:  265 pages
ISBN: 1250133092

  • ASIN: B07J4VJL3C

Genre: Traditional Detective Mystery
Title Link: Bark of Night

+Add to Goodreads

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2019 V Williams V Williams

The Plain of Jars by N. Lombardi Jr. – a #BookReview

The Plain of Jars by N. Lombardi Jr.

Five of Five Stars Five stars

Title: The Plain of Jars by N. Lombardi Jr.

Genre: Historical Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, US Historical Fiction, Crime Action Fiction

Publisher: Roundfire Books

  • ISBN-10:1780996705
  • ISBN-13:978-1780996707
  • ASIN: B00CPL2P46

 Print Length: 670 pages

Publication Date: (Reprint edition) May 31, 2013

Source: Author request

Title Link: The Plain of Jars

Book Blurb:

What would you do if you found that the bones and ashes you were given by the Air Force were not the remains of your loved one? Dorothy Kozeny, a 64-year-old widow from a small town in Ohio, after getting no answers from the relevant authorities, decides the only thing to do is to go to Laos herself to search for the truth concerning her son’s fate. In 1990, accompanied by a trusted Laotian called Kampeng, Dorothy travels deep into the mountains of rural Laos, attempting to trace her son’s path through inhospitable terrain, an unforgettable trek that provides her with a rewarding, often humorous, and at times frustrating, cross-cultural experience. All clues lead her to a mysterious figure, an alleged CIA operative left over from the war, living in a remote and hostile area deep in the jungle. The second part of the book traces the life of this enigmatic character hiding in Laos, the two main characters linked through Dorothy’s son.

The Plain of Jars by N. Lombardi JrMy Review:

This is an extremely gripping saga about a young lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force, well written, and difficult to put down. Those of us who were drafted during that time can relate to this tale. Why Vietnam? The question was on everyone’s mind at the time of the war and still mystifies me today. What did our country want in Vietnam that over 57,000 U.S. military died and hundreds of thousands were maimed and injured for life?

Hidden in the records of the military are many soldiers who could not return to this country for various infractions against the Uniform Code of Military Justice.  Dropping bombs from 35,000 feet makes the carnage and tedium of war seem far removed from the pilot, but when you are on the ground, the war and the effect of the bombing are all too real.

War was not declared against the Hmong, Laotians, Cambodians or others swept up in the melee. Lt. Andrew Kozeny was shot down in a bombing run in an F105. He experienced first-hand the devastation inflicted on the poor peasants trying to wrestle a living from the humid valleys. A young girl died in his arms, having no idea why the bombs were being dropped on their rural area nor why they were dying. Getting back to his unit he was re-assigned to fly the newer F111. This machine could drop many more bombs and rain destruction where ever it flew, but his memory of the young death was an ever-present confliction in the cockpit.

Lt. Kozeny could not let this vehicle of destruction kill more innocents. He scuttled the jet and wound up hiding in the jungle and evading capture. The Vietnamese would like to capture him but a C.I.A. death squad was sent to eliminate the young airman and his knowledge. This story is all too real and disappointing.

The report of his death was greatly exaggerated and some ashes were delivered home as “his remains.”  However, his mother discovers the ashes are not his and decides to fly to Southeast Asia to find out what happened to her son. This story is the result of that search. The U.S. government and C.I.A. are put into a very different light by this book. One can only be exasperated by the effect of a war none of our generation wanted or embraced. The pain caused thousands to pound home the mantra that “freedom isn’t free.”

Read this book and experience the frustration that affected an entire generation, the mood of the people and plan some time to complete the book because you will not want to put it down. Associate Reviewer - C E Williams

I received this digital download from the author in exchange for an unbiased opinion and in my opinion would garner 6 stars if that were available. Wholly recommended to anyone who enjoys intrigue, secrets, conspiracy, action, military history, emotional tension and turmoil, and redemption. Have I left anything out? C.E. Williams

+Add to Goodreads

N. Lombardi Jr - authorThe Author: N. Lombardi Jr, the N for Nicholas, has spent over half his life in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, working as a groundwater geologist. Nick can speak five languages: Swahili, Thai, Lao, Chinese, and Khmer (Cambodian).

In 1997, while visiting Lao People’s Democratic Republic, he witnessed the remnants of a secret war that had been waged for nine years, among which were children wounded from leftover cluster bombs. Driven by what he saw, he worked on The Plain of Jars for the next eight years.

Nick maintains a website with content that spans most aspects of the novel: The Secret War, Laotian culture, Buddhism etc. http://plainofjars.net

His second novel, Journey Towards a Falling Sun, is set in the wild frontier of northern Kenya.

His latest novel, Justice Gone, was inspired by the fatal beating of a homeless man by police.

Nick now lives in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

©2019 C.E.Williams

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware – a #BookReview

The Turn of the Key by Ruth WareTitle: The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

Genre: British & Irish Literary Fiction, Psychological Literary Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Literary Fiction

Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press

  • ISBN-10:1787300447
  • ISBN-13:978-1787300446
  • ASIN: B07HPCRC7Q

Print Length: 352 pages

Publication Date: Happy Release Day! August 6, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: The Turn of the Key

Book Blurb:

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of In a Dark, Dark WoodThe Woman in Cabin 10The Lying Game, and The Death of Mrs. Westaway comes Ruth Ware’s highly anticipated fifth novel.

When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.

Writing to her lawyer from prison, she struggles to explain the unravelling events that led to her incarceration. It wasn’t just the constant surveillance from the cameras installed around the house, or the malfunctioning technology that woke the household with booming music, or turned the lights off at the worst possible time. It wasn’t just the girls, who turned out to be a far cry from the immaculately behaved model children she met at her interview. It wasn’t even the way she was left alone for weeks at a time, with no adults around apart from the enigmatic handyman, Jack Grant.

It was everything.

She knows she’s made mistakes. She admits that she lied to obtain the post, and that her behavior toward the children wasn’t always ideal. She’s not innocent, by any means. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty—at least not of murder. Which means someone else is.

Full of spellbinding menace and told in Ruth Ware’s signature suspenseful style, The Turn of the Key is an unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.

The Turn of the Key by Ruth WareMy Review:

I was truly excited to be approved for this digital download, with the hype, and what appeared to be an exceptional thriller. But as with many these days, perhaps I’ve been taught to expect knock-down, heart-pounding prose, complete with audible gasps and groans from the reader–me. This one wasn’t it.

The blurb tells most of what you’ll read–Rowan Caine stumbles across a want ad searching for something else and conspires to win the live-in nanny position with well to do architects in the remote Scottish Highlands. They completely rehabbed a Victorian outfitting it as a “smart” home and you know what kind of a technology nightmare that conjures. There are four girls with the oldest, a teen, away at school, and two girls five and eight and a baby (who is apparently not yet walking?) at eighteen months. The parents welcome her into the house, hand her a lengthy digest of instructions and immediately skip off to a big doin’s expecting to be gone at least a week. Hmmm…

Told in first person, Rowan attempts a letter to an attorney she is hoping she can get to defend her (no clue where that money will come from!). She apparently has a court-appointed attorney and you know you get what you pay for. Rowan is in jail on a murder charge and the entire book is supposed to be her letter to the attorney. She says over and over again she didn’t do it. Uh huh.

But Rowan begins to wrestle with the technology immediately, ghost stories, things that go bump in the night, and little things gone missing almost right away. The two middle girls are a nightmare just by themselves. And watch out when the teenager comes home! In the meantime, we are introduced to Jack, the all-around handyman (gotta have the romance touch), and Jean, the erstwhile housekeeper. (NOT a live-in.)

First, I had a problem with Rowan, slinging around words you shouldn’t utter in the presence of those three little ones. She seems to have a short-fuse, lack of sleep, and little patience or aptitude although an experienced nanny. There are interesting tidbits about the smart features, the lack of real landscaping, the poison garden (now THAT’S creepy), and way too many minute details which make up her teeth-grinding life in the Heatherbrae House.

It begins interestingly enough then settles in on a slow account of what happened, or didn’t, that landed her in the slammer. It’s not particularly fast-paced but does present NTK (need to know). So you keep reading. Red herrings slide in, some of which constitute TMI (TOO much information), twists, and fleshing but I really couldn’t invest in Rowan and wasn’t big on Jack. Then the reveals. Oh man…Rowan’s main reveal…it’s a groaner and the last little reveal? (Expected) The conclusion fell short of wrapping up all the questions created to provide tension. I wasn’t thrilled.

I received this digital download through the publisher and NetGalley and appreciate the introduction to this author and her writing style. I’m sure Ruth Ware fans will more fully enjoy and I’ll entertain a second to compare.

+Add to Goodreads

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

Ruth Ware - authorThe Author: Ruth Ware is an international number one bestseller. Her thrillers In a Dark, Dark Wood, The Woman in Cabin 10, The Lying Game and The Death of Mrs Westaway have appeared on bestseller lists around the world, including the Sunday Times and New York Times, and she is published in more than 40 languages. She lives on the south coast of England, with her family.

Visit http://www.ruthware.com to find out more, or find her on facebook or twitter as @RuthWareWriter

©2019 V Williams Blog author

The White Feather Killer by R N Morris – a #BookReview

The White Feather Killer by R N MorrisTitle: The White Feather Killer (A Silas Quinn Mystery Book 5) by R N Morris

Genre: Historical Mysteries, World War I Historical Fiction

Publisher: Severn House Publishers

  • ISBN-10:0727888854
  • ISBN-13:978-0727888853
  • ASIN: B07QFSCCNQ

 Print Length: 288 pages

Publication Date: June 1, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: The White Feather Killer

Book Blurb:

London, 1914. The declaration of war with Germany has made the capital a dark, uncertain place, rife with fear and suspicion. As the pressure on young men to enlist grows stronger, Pastor Cardew holds a rally at his church. Unfortunately, it ends in humiliation for Felix Simpkins when he receives a dreaded white feather – the ultimate sign of cowardice.

Meanwhile, DI Silas Quinn returns to New Scotland Yard after his recent sick leave to find the Special Crimes Department has been closed and his team absorbed into CID. But when a body is discovered in Wormwood Scrubs the day after Cardew’s rally, a white feather placed in its mouth, Quinn finds himself unable to take a back seat in the investigation. Was the murderer really a foreign spy . . . or someone closer to home?

The White Feather Killer by R N MorrisMy Review:

The declaration of war changes London, the country, and the people. The mood has turned dark, distrusting, and suddenly things change between those born in the country and those who immigrated. Men are flocking to enlist and those who do not are beginning to be looked on as cowards (or worse). Many receive the “white feather,” the ultimate, shameful sign that marks the man.

DI Silas Quinn has returned to New Scotland Yard after a sick leave. His Special Crimes Unit has been closed and his former team are now members of the CID, where he’ll also report in a new capacity. When a young girl is discovered murdered and left with a white feather in her mouth, it has to be concluded that she bestowed the feather to a man who took brutal umbrage. But the new head of CID discounts it and decides it must have been a German spy.

In a rather sluggish start, it’s oft-repeated “there’s a war on” and that seems to be the mantra throughout, not to be forgotten that things have changed. There’s a war on. There are a number of characters to be introduced, not the least of which the protagonist, who is slow to develop. There are veiled references to Quinn being in the boobie hatch and that seems to color the relationships of his former co-workers and friends.

So here’s the thing: Guess I didn’t realize this would be on the dark side, almost historical noir in a police setting. It is 1914, so forms of speech would be different and the author stilts the dialogue somewhat to reflect the times. Support characters are fleshed out in rather depressing descriptions and Quinn’s former situation tends to haunt him. The author has a rather unique style of writing that tends to the verbose and he frequently ran to a fascinating turn of phrase. (“…the silent scream of her thoughts…”) Also enjoyed learning some new words, i.e., Antinomianism – that the true believer can do no wrong. Wha???

I enjoyed the easy affectionate familiarity with characters who shared history, the way the dialogue swung to nicknames, giving a light point every now and then to often contentious dialogue. There were red herrings that introduced more possibilities and all along you had your own suspicions and were just waiting for the evidence to be presented.

Then, the final twist. YES! I suspected all along! But in the meantime, a couple even darker incidents, one particularly ugly one that totally aggravated me and wondered why it had to be included. Okay, there was a war on, guess it might have been understandable.

This is book five of the series and doesn’t particularly develop the characters except perhaps for Quinn, but then I had real difficulty with him and couldn’t invest. Possibly would have understood him better had this not been my introduction to the series and the author. The conclusion rolled in on not one, but several reveals, all quietly answering any questions left–and the way it ended? Okay, Interesting… Justice will be done, one way or the other.

I received this ebook download from the publisher and NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review and these are my own opinions. Recommended for those who enjoy a dark, historic police procedural with a damaged protagonist.

+Add to Goodreads

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

R N Morris - authorThe Author (from Goodreads): Roger N Morris (born 1960 in Manchester) is an English writer and advertising copywriter. His short fiction has been published in a number of mainstream, genre, and literary publications. One of his short stories, “The Devil’s Drum”, appeared in the horror anthology Darkness Rising, and was subsequently made into an opera performed by the Solaris Musical Theatre Company in the Purcell Room on London’s South Bank.

©2019 V Williams

Blog author

The Secret Cove in Croatia by Julie Caplin – a #BookReview

The Secret Cove of Croatia by Julie CaplinTitle: The Secret Cove in Croatia (Romantic Escapes, Book 5) by Julie Caplin

Genre: Holiday Fiction, Holiday Romance

Publisher: One More Chapter

  • ASIN: B07L7Y9LL5
  • ISBN-10: 0008323690
  • ISBN-13: 978-0008323691

 Print Length: 400 pages

Publication Date: July 19, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: The Secret Cove in Croatia

Book Blurb:

Sail away to beautiful Croatia for summer sun, sparkling turquoise seas and a will-they-won’t-they romance you won’t be able to put down!

When no-nonsense, down-to-earth Maddie Wilcox is offered the chance to work on a luxury yacht for the summer, she can’t say no. Yes she’ll be waiting on the posh guests… But island-hopping around the Adriatic sea will more than make up for it – especially when Nick, her best friend Nina’s brother, is one of them.

Sparks fly when they meet on board and Maddie can’t believe self-entitled jerk Nick is really related to Nina. But in a secret, picture-perfect cove, away from the real world, Maddie and Nick discover they might have more in common than they realise…

My Review:

Maddie Wilcox manages to score a summer job on a luxury yacht for the summer sailing the gorgeous turquoise seas of Croatia on the Adriatic. The opening was recommended to Maddie by her best friend, Nina, and Nina’s brother will be among the guests. Nina’s brother Nick Hadley, however, has been brought along on the cruise by Tara, an extremely spoiled (and slack-jawed beautiful) model who needed appropriate eye-candy on her arm. No secret they both turn heads.

Split, CroatiaAs I mentioned before, when I saw Croatia in the title, I jumped on the request as we’d brought over a student for his last year of high school and he stayed (with our help, of course). When we finally took him home to see family years later, his parents went all out to show us their beautiful country, including Split and Dubrovnik. The water is indeed glorious and although we did see one island, certainly weren’t privy to an island-hopping yacht, more appropriately termed a gulet. This novel plants a seed and produces a deep yearning to grab some Dramamine and take off!

The Secret Cove in Croatia by Julie CaplinMaddie’s character is so relatable. She has her degree but what she really wants to do is paint and become an artist. It burns deep inside her. She quickly becomes acclimated to the yacht and her master, but the guests, although few in number are more than a handful, particularly Tara. Douglas is a kind soul, if trying too hard with Tara’s friend, and Siri represents another more respectful person, but the model borders on contemptible and Maddie and Nick clash. (You knew she would.)

In the meantime, the reader is treated to a travelogue producing an ache for the road (on in this case the water), the food and the people paint a picture of its own. Another of the small private party, Simon, makes a strong play for Maddie, which at the outset confuses her mind and creates a hormonal scuffle. The actual scuffle results in an introduction to an extremely rich William Randall, director and producer. Bill and his wife become great support characters and a fun portion of the book, describing the super-yacht in such plush terms you can visualize the richness of the appointments, the spacious comfort.

I was happy thinking the romance part of the book was downplayed a little, but then of course circumstance would throw the two together to realize they weren’t all that far off in their histories to see where each was coming from. Still, the novel is a delightfully easy romcom, well-plotted and fast read that all comes together with satisfying intensity in the conclusion. The author’s writing style is light-hearted, dialogue realistic, and the characters were well-developed. My only negatives would be the over-used clichés of the triangle(s), and the oft-repeated mantra of Maddie’s lack of self-confidence. We get it.

I was given this ebook download by the publisher and NetGalley and thrilled to have the opportunity to read and review. If you are looking for a delightfully refreshing summer read, grab this one. You won’t be disappointed.

+Add to Goodreads

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

The Author: (No apparent bio on either Amazon or Goodreads.) From the back of the book: Julie Caplin is addicted to travel and good food. She’s on a constant hunt for the perfect gin and is obsessively picky about glasses, tonic and garnishes. Between regular gin tastings, she’s been writing her debut novel which is set in just one of the many cities she’s explored over the years.

Formerly a PR director, for many years she swanned around Europe taking top food and drink writers on press trips (junkets) sampling the gastronomic delights of various cities in Italy, France, Belgium, Spain, Copenhagen and Switzerland. It was a tough job but someone had to do it. [Those trips provided the inspiration and settings for her trilogy.]

Find Julie on Twitter @JulieCaplin and Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/JulieCaplinAuthor

©2019 V Williams Blog author