#ThrowbackThursday – A Life for a Life: A Mystery Novel (Appalachian Mountain Mysteries Book 1) by Lynda McDaniel – #mystery

#ThrowbackThursday - A Life for a Life by Lynda McDaniel

Back when #ThrowbackThursday was a popular meme, I joined with a number of others to highlight an old favorite that was published over a year ago. Good books never get old! (Some authors don’t either!) Many of my #TBT posts included reviews predating this blog and were only shared on Goodreads.

Many of the posts included my favorite authors, but there were also Indie authors and novels that were direct author requests. This is one such book originally released August 15, 2016.

After I read the prequel to this series recently, I thought I’d share that as well as the review I posted for A Life for a Life posted back on January 20, 2019, also reviewed on Goodreads. Ms. McDaniel consistently runs an average 4.5 stars for her books sold on Amazon.

 

Add to Goodreads

Review Prequel – Waiting for You

[Author’s Note: I’ve pulled back the curtain on Abit’s and Della’s lives before they meet in Laurel Falls, N.C. Find out how Abit lost all hope of having a meaningful life and why Della had to leave Washington, D.C.]​​

My Thoughts:

Waiting For You (Appalachian Mountain Mysteries Prequel) by Lynda McDaniel It was so much fun to get into the prequel and discover the why and how of Abit. Like so many deemed “slow,” he has an amazing ability to think in the now and discern people in an uncommon way. He may be “a bit” simple, but he’s not stupid and don’t ever think he doesn’t understand. He does. But it may not be the same way you do.

Protagonist Della Kincaid is a former DC reporter who fled from a failed marriage, years of tension, deadlines, and subtly veiled threats regarding her stories. She is longing for a less demanding way of life in 1984 and when she spotted the “for sale” sign on the General Store in Laurel Falls, decided she’d found it.

Young Abit sorta came with the package. His old cane chair was a fixture on the front porch of the country store and he knew all the customers by name. His dad had previously owned the store.

Tiny Laurel Falls quickly becomes a character by itself, tucked into the Appalachians. Della knows very little about running a general store, but she aims to provide a personal touch. And she can write anywhere.

Start with the prequel–it’s free! It’s written in an easy-folksy style, fast read, and leave you wanting to get into Book 1, which I highly recommend!

Murder Ballad Blues - a Mystery Novel - Lynda McDanielMs. McDaniel will release Murder Ballad Blues, Book 4 of the series on September 15. It is available on pre-order now at Amazon.

Lynda McDaniel - authorAbout the Author: I [Lynda McDaniel] love writing page-turners–both fiction and nonfiction. And I love helping others to do the same, living into their dreams of writing books. I believe my success comes down to a respect for my readers and clients. I know I’m easily bored, so I work hard to engage and inspire my readers.

After all, we’re all busy these days, and I want to deliver value–whether that’s a gripping mystery filled with memorable characters or books on writing that give you the tools to write your own fiction and nonfiction. Both make me happy.

I got my start as a writer in the most unlikely place–a town of 200 people in the mountains of North Carolina. But living there changed my life in so many positive ways. Decades later, I realized that everything I value today, I was introduced to there. My Appalachian Mountain Mysteries–“A Life for a Life,” “The Roads to Damascus,” “Welcome the Little Children”–pay homage to the people of Appalachia who taught me so much. And to Mollie the Wonder Dog, who plays a role in both “The Roads to Damascus” (aka Millie) and in “Welcome the Little Children (as Millie and Mollie).

To keep up to date with Abit, Della, and the gang (and receive a free novelette that pulls back the curtain on Abit’s and Della’s lives before they met in Laurel Falls), head over to http://www.LyndaMcDanielBooks.com. No spam, no pestering, just the free novelette, a 12-part serialized preview of my upcoming Book Four (via my blog), and special offers/updates.

Over the years, I’ve written more than 1,200 articles for major magazines, hundreds of newsletters and blogs. I’m proudest of the 18 books I’ve written. My nonfiction books include “Words at Work,” which I wrote straight from my heart, a much-needed response to all the questions and concerns people have about writing today. (It won top honors from the National Best Books Awards.) I’ve also written two Amazon Bestselling Books: “How Not to Sound Stupid When You Write” and “Write Your Book Now!” (with Virginia McCullough).

I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, but I’ve lived all over this country–from the Midwest to the Deep South to Appalachia to the Mid-Atlantic to the Pacific Northwest. Whew! I finally settled in Santa Rosa, California, a place that reflects the values I learned while living in the mountains of North Carolina, all those years ago.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Muzzled (An Andy Carpenter Book 21) by David Rosenfelt – a #BookReview – #TuesdayBookBlog

Andy rescues dogs–and people.

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars Five Stars

Book Blurb:

Muzzled by David RosenfeltIn David Rosenfelt’s Andy Carpenter mystery, Muzzled, Andy and his beloved golden retriever, Tara, are back on the case as a favor to a friend.

Andy Carpenter is a lawyer who would rather not practice law. He’d rather spend his time working with the Tara Foundation, his dog rescue organization, and being with his family and his two dogs, Tara and Sebastian. But when a friend asks him for a favor that involves both dogs and his lawyerly expertise, he can’t say no.

Andy’s friend Beth has found a stray that seems to have belonged to a murder victim–in fact, the man and two of his colleagues died in an explosion a few weeks ago. But when the murdered man contacts Beth, asking for his dog back, Andy knows there must be more to the story. The man claims his life is in danger, and that’s why he disappeared. As much as Andy doesn’t want to get involved–anything to avoid a new case–he can’t help but come to the rescue of a man who’d risk everything, even his life, to reunite with his dog.

My Review:

I just love it when another Andy Carpenter book comes out! I know it’ll be a novel I can get into immediately, keep my attention, and divert my interest blissfully away from the world’s current situation to a well-plotted and critically thinking topical issue. Well, close anyway.

Muzzled by David RosenfeltAs you know if you’ve seen any of my previous reviews of this series, Andy Carpenter is a retired (unless he gets a new client he can’t refuse), defense attorney. In this case, he answered a call from his friend Beth. He has worked with Beth previously, helping to rescue and reunite strays with their owners. In this case, not a stray, but an owner reported killed in a horrific boating explosion who now wants his dog back. Oops.

As you’ll also remember, Andy’s first love is his dog rescue, the Tara Foundation, that he founded with Willie Miller and wife. Pete Stanton, his beer and burgers buddy also happens to be captain of the Homicide Division of the Paterson Police Department and has picked up on the not-so-dead-guy, Alex Vogel. Seems two of his partners were killed in the explosion that he somehow survived. It’s not looking good for Alex.

All the members of the K Team are involved, of course, one being his wife, Laurie (an ex-cop), our favorite Lurch character Marcus, along with Corey and his K-9,  Simon Garfunkel. Other favorites are involved as well as and soon they are embroiled in a complicated narrative of start-ups, super-bugs, pharmaceuticals, IPOs, and mafia types. Is this truly a vaccine that will neutralize a super-bug?

There is generally a good portion of the book devoted to interviews, investigations, and Sam’s deep dives into the ether world where most shouldn’t go. Shhh! The courtroom scenes are as gripping as the investigation leading to a conclusion surprising in the face of most Andy Carpenter books–a little dismaying even. There is some of the usual work and play with the doggies missing from the storyline as well and that definitely threw a curve in what I was expecting. I’ve come to anticipate a particular formula much of which is devoted to snappy dialogue back and forth between Andy and Laurie and those he works with. There is a sarcastic but loving edge to discussions, easy humor-punctuated banter consistent in each book. While it certainly wasn’t missing, this plot skewed just a bit unsettling this reader.

I’ve burned through a mix of uncorrected digital galleys from NetGalley (including this one), ebooks and audiobooks from the library, and have a particular affinity for the audiobooks narrated by Grover Cleveland. He so totally sells Andy Carpenter that even if I’m reading the book, hear his voice. I got in on The K Team (Book 1 of the new series) and two Doug Brock books (narrated by Fred Berman); a great deal more serious than that special Andy Carpenter sense of humor and razor wit. Obviously, I missed many at the beginning of the series, but did catch The Twelve Dogs of Christmas Book 15, Collared Book 16 (no review), Rescued Book 17, Bark of Night Book 19, and Dachshund Through the Snow Book 20. Yes, I missed Book 18 Deck the Hounds (planned on doing that one for Christmas books this year as well as the new one coming out in October, Silent Bite). Looking back, I see I gave a consistent five stars for each of the Carpenter books. (Above links are to my blog reviews.)

So Rosenfelt mixed up his modus operandi just a bit this time. I still found it to be filled with great characters, engaging plot, sarcastic but witty and fun, intelligent and complex with dogs counted among support characters. For me, it’s a win-win. Totally recommended.

Add to Goodreads

 Book Details:

Genre: Traditional Detective Mysteries, Animal Fiction
Publisher: Minotaur Books
ISBN: 1250257115
ASIN: B0818NPRRF
Print Length: 261 pages
Publication Date: To be released >BIG>July 7, 2020 – Happy Release Day!
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

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.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Exit Strategy (NYPD Negotiators Book 1) by Jen J Danna – a #BookReview #crimethrillers

Rosepoint Publishing: Five of Five Stars Five Stars

 Book Blurb:

Exit Strategy by Jen J DannaIn this taut new suspense series featuring NYPD detective Gemma Capello and her close-knit law enforcement family, a madman brings a halt to the heart of the city that never sleeps . . .

After her mother’s death during a bank robbery when she was a child, Gemma Capello grew up to become one of the NYPD’s elite hostage negotiators. In a family of cops, there’s rarely a day when a Capello isn’t facing down some form of threat. Still, despite their unpredictable schedules, they always find time for their annual family summer picnic. But this year, a sudden phone call changes everything.

A heavily armed gunman has taken hostages at City Hall. Gemma races downtown to join the rest of the Hostage Negotiation Team as they scramble to identify the captives—fearing the mayor may be among them. But as they search for answers and struggle to gain control of the circumstances, it becomes clear that the mayor is at the center of it all, just not in the way they initially believed.

With several lives on the line and a criminal who always seems to be one step ahead, Gemma is the only one able to connect with the suspect. Soon, she finds herself engaging in a battle of wits while enduring a battle of egos in the command center. With time running out and a mastermind who has proven he’ll do whatever it takes to get what he wants, Gemma risks it all—her career and her life—in a last-ditch effort to save the hostages. Now, she needs to figure out how to save herself . . .

My Review:

Exit Strategy by Jen J Danna - a police proceduralGemma Capello grew up in an NYPD cop family. She is predisposed to being a negotiator after her mother dies trying to de-escalate a bad situation. She has worked in various positions with the NYPD but her real talent is negotiating to save lives. But Hostage Negotiating is not an exact science.

There are many situations that require a trained negotiator. Gemma is one of the best. The issue is that the negotiator has to follow guidelines set up by the department and hers is not the final word.  The backup for the negotiators is the A-team. Their mission is to neutralize the situation and to save as many lives as possible with deadly force.

The negotiator is responsible to a “controller” whose purpose is to balance expediency with results. Usually, the negotiator is much more empathetic than the controller. Given the situation, Gemma finds herself in she has to continually beg for more time. People’s lives are at stake.

Ms. Danna has done a tremendous job of fleshing out her novel. I felt drawn to the situation and the location in New York due to her excellent description of the settings. She adds in some history of the area and of the subway system. I was enthralled with her historical accuracy and description of the New York City subway system and both current and abandoned stations.

Growing up in Little Italy, Gemma knows the area and some of the people who live there. Her childhood dovetails well into the overall outcome of the tale. She wants to save hostages and ultimately the perpetrator.  The perpetrator is a sympathetic character in this story and you understand his motivation but cannot embrace the methodology. I found myself hoping that Gemma could de-escalate the situation and that the perpetrator would survive. CE Williams

Feeling empathetic towards both the villain and Gemma was swept along on a terrific well-plotted storyline. Parts of this book will make you want to go to New York and witness some of the areas described. My hat is off to this author and her attention to detail and the weaving of a great read. CE Williams

Add to Goodreads

 Book Details:

Genre: Crime Thrillers, Police Procedurals, Kidnapping Thrillers
Publisher: Kensington Books
ASIN: B07ZPKNKTP
Print Length: 256 pages
Publication Date: To be released July 28, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Pre-Order Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

Jen J Danna - authorThe Author: A scientist specializing in infectious diseases, Jen J. Danna works as part of a dynamic research group at a cutting-edge Canadian university. However, her true passion lies in indulging her love of the mysterious through her writing.

With Ann Vanderlaan, she writes two series. Under Danna and Vanderlaan, they craft suspenseful crime fiction with a realistic scientific edge. Their five Abbott and Lowell Forensic Mysteries include DEAD, WITHOUT A STONE TO TELL IT; NO ONE SEES ME ‘TILL I FALL; A FLAME IN THE WIND OF DEATH; TWO PARTS BLOODY MURDER; and LAMENT THE COMMON BONES.

Under the joint pseudonym of Sara Driscoll, they write the FBI K-9s mysteries series, starring search-and-rescue team Meg Jennings and her black lab, Hawk. The series includes LONE WOLF, BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE, and STORM RISING. The fourth book in the series, NO MAN’S LAND, will release in December 2019. [Note: Both the CE and I read this one and also thought a five star. The author has a gripping writing style.]

Jen is also the author of the upcoming NYPD Negotiators thriller series, with the first book, EXIT STRATEGY, releasing in August 2020.

Jen lives near Toronto, Ontario with her husband, two daughters, and three rescued cats, and is a member of the Crime Writers of Canada. You can reach her through the contact page on her website or by email at jenjdanna@gmail.com.

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Beneath a Blazing Sky (Bold Women of the 20th Century Book 1) by Amanda Hughes – a #BookReview

“For readers who like history with a bit of a love story.”

Our Shared Review-Five Stars Five Stars

 Book Blurb:

Beneath a Blazing Sky by Amanda HughesThe dawning of the Twentieth Century and it is a world in chaos.
Raised on Coney Island among scoundrels, cheats, and dreamers, Piper Albrecht is apprenticed to violence at an early age. Not until she is rescued by her aunt and moves to the elegant Upper East Side of Manhattan does she experience a different life, the life of a well-educated, forward-thinking young woman. But the roller coaster ride is far from over. After building the most fashionable millinery house in America, Piper spearheads relief efforts in Belgium during The Great War, bringing food to civilians trapped behind enemy lines. Once again, she is immersed in turmoil, misery, and violence. Partnering with her is Bret Collier, a charismatic adventurer, who hides not only his past but his future. She is drawn to his easy charm and cavalier exterior, but this American is not who he appears to be.
Choosing the right path can mean life or death for Piper, and she must move swiftly because the war is intensifying, and her entire world is on fire.
Join Amanda Hughes with another host of unforgettable characters on a wild ride in Beneath the Blazing Sky.

My Thoughts

Piper Albrecht started life as a scrapper and she remained thus. Growing up on Coney Island, she learned to live and thrive among chaos, popcorn and sea odors, thieves and cheats. She learned a lot working the crowds to sell her peanuts with McKinley, the little Capuchin monkey on her shoulder. The youngest of the siblings, she worked the crowd pretty much on her own, her mother having relinquished her time and talents elsewhere. School was not a big priority, but learning how to fight those who would steal her meager income was. She had plans. Right up until the day at age eleven she shot the man who would have killed her mother.

She’d been caught in other scrapes. This time was serious and it took a lot of work to keep her from reform school. Her aunt Tilly (childless) and her husband would take her in. Piper becomes an Eliza Doolittle of Manhatten and Tilly has a lot of work cut out for her. Tilly, however, is heavily embroiled in the Suffrage Movement and sees an opportunity to inspire Piper.

The Suffrage Movement extended over decades and proved a huge battle within the US evoking many bold women to stand up for the right to vote alongside the men. The author recreates those tension-filled early times in the movement when rallies and speeches often turned ugly and violent. (Part of the problem was that it was thought women involved in the movement were also a part of temperance, so it was assumed if they got the right to vote, they’d vote to ban alcohol.)

While Piper finds her natural path into successful adulthood, she also discovers she is not always the pilot of her pathway. When she is thrust into a role, not of her choosing, Piper manages to intelligently handle the circumstances. Innocently stranded in Belgium during the Great War, she is borne into the movement to deliver goods to those scattered following the German invasion and in doing so is partnered with Bret Collier. Bret is an American adventurer who carefully hides his past. The work is dismal, exhausting, and fraught with constant heart-pounding vigilance, but is rewarding.

“In East Africa, there is a saying: ‘When elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers’…”

The author is an amazing storyteller with an easy emotive writing style, weaving the years of Piper as she evolves from an Eliza Doolittle character to a fashionable force in society to one of the women working the relief for those in the rear zone (those predominantly women and children) of war.

Bottom Line:

I’ve followed the Bold Women series for some time and am always astonished at the unsung women and stories the author manages to pull together to create her strong female protagonists, performing anonymously unacknowledged but important roles achieved in history. Although a series, each is a standalone story within the time period, pulling from chronicles as it adds a touch of spice, sense of the period environment, and a touch of romance that never overwhelms the main well-plotted tale.

One of my favorite authors, I can download a novel from Amanda Hughes and know I’ll get a gripping, immersive narrative with a strong sense of little known but fascinating history with engaging, well-developed characters. Strongly recommended.

His Thoughts

Beneath a Blazing Sky by Amanda HughesPiper Albrect is a young girl growing up on Coney Island. She has to fight to keep her place in society. Young and small in stature she is fearless in a fight. Her Jewish heritage is often denigrated but does not change her perspective.

Amanda Hughes has captured the essence of what it was like to be a young girl in that environment. Following the evolution of Piper is a joy! She hawks peanuts and has a monkey as her constant companion. Everyone at that time struggled to stay alive and Piper is no exception. Her mother’s questionable character results in a serious confrontation and she is sent to live with well to do relatives. Her entire life is changed.

The lifestyle of her aunt is far different than the one in which she has been living. The housekeepers in Tilly’s home are scornful and dismissive. Piper is pulled from the life she lived into a life of comfort. The handling of the transition from ragtag to entitled is masterfully done by Amanda. I could imagine the struggle and shock endured by this young lady.

World War One was a very stressful time in United States history. We did not want to become involved in that war and remained neutral for much of it. Meanwhile, Herbert Hoover was working tirelessly to help the people of Belgium survive. All of the animals and crops are commandeered by the Germans to fuel their war machine. Piper and her family become involved in helping the citizens of Belgium survive. Thanks to her upbringing she is well trained for her years in WWI.

CE WilliamsRomance is built into this novel and it is fun to realize that rich or poor, we all have our trials. Piper is no exception. The novel takes us through some of these and the reader will identify with many of the trials and setbacks. Being in a foreign country during war time is dangerous and life can be elusive. The narrative makes the reader appreciate the calmer years between conflict.

As you read this novel, you will be embroiled in a world over a century old, but still very pertinent in today’s world. 5 stars CE Williams

Add to GoodreadsBook Details:

Genre: Military Historical Fiction, US Historical Fiction, War Fiction
Publisher: Lillis & Jaymes
ASIN: B08BTR4PYR
Print Length: 334 pages
Publication Date: To be Released July 9, 2020
Source: Direct Author Request
Title Available for Pre-Order: Beneath a Blazing Sky [Amazon]
 

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

The Finders: A Mystery (Mace Reid K-9 Mystery Book 1) by Jeffrey B Burton – a #BookReview – #TuesdayBookBlog

Check off all your mystery boxes with this doggy treat.

The Finders by Jeffrey B Burton

Book Blurb:

Jeffrey B. Burton’s The Finders marks the beginning of a fast-paced new mystery series featuring a heroic golden retriever cadaver dog named Vira and her handler, Mason Reid.

Mason “Mace” Reid lives on the outskirts of Chicago and specializes in human remains detection. He trains dogs to hunt for the dead. Reid’s coming off a taxing year—mourning the death of a beloved springer spaniel as well as the dissolution of his marriage. He adopts a rescue dog with a mysterious past—a golden retriever named Vira. And when Reid begins training Vira as a cadaver dog, he comes to realize just how special the newest addition to his family truly is…

Suddenly, Reid and his prize pupil find themselves hurled into a taxing murder case, which will push them to their very limits. Paired with determined Chicago Police Officer Kippy Gimm, Mace must put all his trust in Vira’s abilities to thwart a serial killer who has now set his sights on Mace himself.

My Review:

Yes, okay…okay. It had a dog on the cover. And aren’t I lucky that the cover delivered!

My first experience with the author and this his first in a new series, the Mace Reid K-9 Mysteries, I can’t help it. I’m a new solid fan. The protagonist Mason “Mace” Reid is adorable–not as cute as his dogs, mind you, but there is a vulnerability about him that makes him massively approachable. (Unhappily divorced, he’s still going through the awkward stage. “And, just for the record, Heartache never flushes.”) He does love dogs. He trains them–it’s a side job–obedience, search, and HRD (human remains detection). It’s that latter niché that has him on the local police payroll, called from time to time to search for cadavers. Well, that’s gross but necessary, after all, he lives in Lansing but is frequently called to Chicago.

The Finders by Jeffrey B BurtonHe keeps two canine sisters that have that twin thing going for them, Delta Dawn and Maggie May and a boy named Sue (are you getting it yet?). So when Elvira (Vira) is rescued from a near-death experience, the golden retriever quickly assumes family alpha. That might NOT have gone over so well with the GSD Sue, but he’s aloof and still in recovery from having saved Mace’s life.

There is something special about Vira. Officer Kippy Gimm, who found Vira at a crime scene thought so too. Kippy is partnered with Dave “Wabs” Wabiszewski (see why they call him Wabs?) and she soon seeks out Mace to see about possibly joining forces on a missing persons file she and her partner are working. It doesn’t take long, however, before Mace and his sensitive nose-sniffing dog catches the villain’s attention and ooh is he bad.

The author has given as much personality to Mace’s dogs as to Mace and Kippy comes in a very close second. She and Mace seem to click and it doesn’t take long before the cheerleading squad is chanting romance…okay…not romance. Interest? The usual fast-pace slacks just a tad when they get their heads together to bounce off perp and profiling ideas, but otherwise, this storyline just drives the well-plotted novel with humor, human interest, snappy dialogue, and canine info (feeds my endless fascination with their abilities), along with some nasty side-stuff from the bad guy. Who doesn’t enjoy the perfect mix of K-9 antics with engaging MC (human and canine) personalities, mystery, and Chicago area location details you can visualize?

You’ve seen my interest and appreciation in the David Rosenfelt books and this might be most closely compared to his humor with the serious plot points of the Andy Carpenter books. This is a wonderful start to what promises to be a wholly entertaining series. I read a lot of doggy stories. I may be an expert on dog stories. And I happily recommend this novel and new series. Must Love Dogs? Nah, this is fun whether you do or don’t.

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

Add to GoodreadsBook Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuth, Cozy Animal Mystery, Cozy Animal Mysteries
Publisher: Minotaur Books
ASIN: B0818NVFT7
Print Length: 288 pages
Publication Date: Released June 30, 2020 – Happy Publication Day!
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Kobo

Jeffrey B Burton - authorThe Author: Jeffrey B. Burton was born in Long Beach, California, grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota, and received his BA in Journalism at the University of Minnesota. THE FINDERS, the first in Burton’s K-9 mystery series, will be coming out in June of 2020 (St. Martin’s Publishing Group). Novels in his Agent Drew Cady mystery series include THE CHESSMAN (MacAdam/Cage, 2012; paperback Harlequin Suspense, 2015), THE LYNCHPIN (MP Publishing, 2015), and THE EULOGIST (The Permanent Press, 2017). His short stories have appeared in dozens of magazines. Jeff is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and the Horror Writers Association. Jeff lives in St. Paul with his wife, daughter, an irate Pomeranian named Lucy, and a goofball/sweetheart of a Beagle named Milo.

This roller coaster of a thriller has some luscious ingredients: moneyed surroundings, including billion-dollar mansions and the boardroom of a bloodsucking pharmaceutical company; some lengthy and artfully described fights and chases; and a killer-for-hire who, intentionally or not, runs off with the whole show. – Booklist on THE EULOGIST

An action-packed thriller with a high body count . . . The plot grabs readers from the start, twists abound, and good triumphs–mostly. – Library Journal on THE EULOGIST

Burton delivers an outstanding serial killer thriller that will impress even seasoned practitioners of this subgenre.
–Publishers Weekly (A Starred Review) on THE CHESSMAN

Jeffrey Burton’s terrific mystery, ‘The Chessman,’ is made up of a lot of moving parts the author brings together masterfully.
–St. Paul Pioneer Press on THE CHESSMAN

Visit http://www.jeffreybburton.com to see more about Jeff’s novels and short stories.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Newgate’s Knocker: An Aviation Thriller by Greg Peterson – a #BookReview – #crimethriller

Review of an Aviation-Crime Thriller by the CE.

Newgate's Knocker - Entry to Newgate Prison, LondonThe expression ‘As black as Newgate’s knocker‘ is generally believed to refer to the heavy iron knocker on the gate of Newgate Prison, London.

Rosepoint Publishing: Five of Five Stars Five Stars

Book Blurb:

Newgate's Knocker by Greg W PetersonFBI special agent Bob Capone’s hand-picked team of experts work feverishly through the night to connect a curious electronic box, the Bennetti crime family, and Empire Airline captain Mike Nicholson. As the sun sneaks the first light into the nation’s capitol, Capone is finally able to make sense of the myriad of bizarre events brought to his desk during the long night. Flight 855 will depart Chicago in only minutes, and the horrific nightmare will begin to unfold. Capone knows that he’ll need more than a miracle to prevent the crazed airline captain from fulfilling his diabolic quest. Newgate’s Knocker is a fictional story, however, the highly sophisticated wave pulse generator described in the book is, in fact, based on tested technology. Should such a device become viable and available to terrorist organizations, then Newgate’s Knocker could prove prophetic.

His Review:

A spine-tingling mystery/suspense of terrifying prophecy. Greg Peterson has put years of experience into this tale of potential aviation sabotage. A brilliant aviator robbed by a greedy company plans revenge. Can the FBI unravel the events before a catastrophe develops? Greed motivates some and international espionage motivates others.

Newgate's Knocker by Greg W Peterson - An Aviation ThrillerPeterson’s understanding of the workings of large jets coupled with understanding the electrical engineering that goes into today’s sophisticated aircraft is apparent. Electrical systems as well as computer systems have long been susceptible to strong electrical storms and magnetic disruption.

A missing pilot noted by a small-town Texas sheriff begins the saga. A crack FBI task force starts to unravel the plot. The timeline is very short from start to finish. The payout is large for some mobsters who imagine their future opulently rosy as they work with the perpetrator. Life means nothing to them as they plot the destruction of many lives for their own financial gain.

Federal agent Bob Capone is alerted regarding the missing pilot and airline concerns. He puts together a small task force to figure out why the pilot is missing. The group explores all options and the methods used to develop the search are intriguing. Why would a pilot nearing retirement suddenly disappear?

Suspense builds as you read this novel and becomes a driving force in the reader’s day. Oh no, you won’t want to put this book down! An unlikely romance is sprinkled in between an air force vet and a twenty-three-year-old flight attendant. This human-interest enhancer does not diminish the tale.

My final impression is the terrifying potential of this plot actually working in real life. Our entire country and economy are based on electricity and electronic devices. Should a major disruption happen to these devices our entire economy would collapse.  Peterson is exploring the aircraft industry. But what about every day computing and e-mails. The results are mind-boggling. CE Williams

Enjoy the book and the characters! I hope it generates as much excitement in other Peterson readers as it did in me. Bravo! Thank you to the author for my review copy and these are my unbiased opinions.

5 stars – C.E. Williams

Add to Goodreads

 Book Details:

Genre: Crime Thrillers
ASIN: B0864QFJKV
Print Length: 397 pages
Publication Date: March 18, 2020
Source: Direct Author Request
Title Purchase Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

 

Greg W Peterson - author - Newgate's KnockerThe Author: Greg Peterson is a prior naval aviator, commercial airline pilot, and air traffic control specialist. He holds nearly every fixed wing flight certificate available and is a certified ground and instrument instructor. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering Technology from St. Cloud State University in Minnesota.

Although Mr. Peterson has been published in a number of professional magazines. “Newgate’s Knocker” is his first full-length novel. The story is fictional, however, you may find it interesting that the historical background of the main character, Mac Macintyre is based on Mr. Peterson’s real life, and most of the aviation sequences are also taken from his flying experiences.

Greg Peterson is certified in seven different categories by the International Code Council and has owned and operated a professional residential home inspection company since 1999. His home inspection report supplement provides a comprehensive explanation of many common concerns reported in most home inspections. His home inspection supplement, “Your Home Inspected-An Addendum For Residential Home Inspection Reports” can be purchased in Kindle, paperback or CD form. He can be contacted by email at: gregpeterson@comcast.net

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Photo attribution: Newgate’s Knocker

The Secret of Dunhaven Castle (A Cate Kensie Mystery Book 1) by Nellie H Steele – a #BookReview #mystery

“A new spin on the classic ghost story”

A shared review with the CE.

Book Blurb:

A heartwarming journey of discovery

The Secret of Dunhaven Castle by Nellie H SteeleStill reeling after the sudden death of her parents, Dr. Catherine Kensie is struggling to pursue her career as a history professor at a small, midwestern college. With no known family, other than her beloved dog, Riley, Cate is astonished when a stranger appears on her doorstep to tell her that she has inherited a castle in Scotland and an antique gold watch accompanied by a mysterious note from a distant relative. When the will stipulates that she must live on the estate, Cate finds the promise of exploring her past impossible to decline. With nothing to hold her back and a desperate desire to surround herself with a familial connection, Cate and Riley say goodbye to their hometown and make the trek across the pond to their new Scottish home.

Soon after arriving, Cate finds castle life to be less than a fairy tale, suspecting something may be amiss in her new home. Between strange events and peculiar manifestations, Cate begins to question her own sanity when it appears that she is the only one experiencing these bizarre incidents. She attempts to make sense of what is happening as she struggles to explain the increasingly unexplainable. With a shroud of mystery enveloping her and Riley, will Cate discover the secret of Dunhaven Castle? 

My Thoughts

Nothing stirs the imagination like a centuries-old castle, wherever it is. In this case, I just know that the castle is old enough to be through generations of the MacKenzies and located in Scotland.

Dr. Catherine Kensie (Cate) is still struggling for tenure having been teaching at a small midwestern college in Aberdeen for several years. But about the time she is denied, again, she is introduced to an attorney who claims she has inherited a castle in Dunhaven, being the only remaining relative of the castle’s owner. She will inherit the title of the Countess of Dunhavenshire. Yahoo!

It’s a no-brainer. She’ll close out her apartment, box up what she’ll move, prepare her little dog, Riley, and fly across the pond to claim her inheritance. The castle is as presented in the pictures. It’s huge, gorgeous, and comes with perks–including a special watch, only bequeathed in person with instruction–and quirky manifestations.

This narrative becomes quite the enjoyable little romp into the Scottish countryside along with a storyline that builds the suspense and a protagonist that must have inherited that Scottish stubborn streak as she’s like a dog with a bone. Cate just keeps picking at it until she begins to unravel the mystery. She is young and energetic and the historian in her is bound to discover the truth and expose the story–all of them. From the beginning, she feels an affinity for the castle–like she belongs there–she’s part of it. I’m sure the reader will continue to see her develop as this series grows.

There are only a few characters so they are easy to keep track of and they all lend interest, even while not yet fully fleshed. I’m reserving judgment of Jack. He’s…okay, but not terribly adventurous.  The well-plotted and easy-paced storyline keeps interest and engagement through the conclusion. The reveal, however, is correctly guessed long before the climax, but still comes with a satisfied grin and interest in seeing where the author will take this one next.

The author has a simple writing style, at times overly minute to minute descriptive. It’s tell not show, but a fun premise and entertaining. Book One, now is your chance to get in on the beginning of what promises to be a fun series. Book 2 Murder at Dunhaven Castle just released and I suspect will ramp up the thriller-suspense aspect considerably.

I was contacted by the author with a request for review in exchange of a gifted copy of Book One and can recommend as the beginning of a promising series. 4/5 stars

His Thoughts

The Secret of Dunhaven Castle by Nellie H SteeleWill a Doctorate in History guarantee a good future and life result? Cate Kensie is teaching in a small-town college with all of the drama of a small town. Tenured professors play games with new hires and throw them the dregs and bones of the teaching year. The future is not guaranteed and Cate is a slave to the whims of her superiors. Her pay is low and her workload high. The coveted letter of a tenure track is nothing more than another setback. Maybe next year they will consider giving her the opening she desires.

An unusual visit from a British solicitor presents Cate with a dilemma. Should she stick with her dream or follow the foreign path to her future. She has no family to talk to, her parents having died in a tragic accident.  Should she abandon her dream and embark on a totally different path in a foreign country. The tenure rejection that is another slap in the face helps her decision.

She has no idea why the solicitor has ferreted her out. She has never known anyone in Scotland and certainly cannot understand why they would have even considered her. She and her small dog Riley will be uprooted if she accepts the offer. Firstly, she has to have a DNA test to prove that she is even related to the person who has identified her as a possible relative. She submits to the test and is found to be a direct relative of the person, Lady Gertrude MacKenzie, who has named her in her will.

The estate she inherits is large and well maintained. Scotland is an entirely different environment for a young American lady and her dog. Her future is set in a rather remote location. This is often a dream for some young and poor people as they grow up: What if I were royalty, how would my future be?

The story shifts to a lonely life in a Scottish castle near the town of Dunhaven. She is the only heir to the fortune and she is given an old timepiece with the strange inscription “Always keep an eye on your time.”

Getting used to a large castle and grounds takes more than a little time. Included in the inheritance is a family of caretakers and groundskeepers. Weeks follow to discover all that the inheritance entails. It is a fun read to accompany Cate on her adventure. I enjoyed seeing the Scottish countryside and lochs from her point of view. As she engages in the search for her roots you begin to enjoy her youthful optimism.

This whole story is well-plotted and pushes your imagination as you read. As I child I dreamed of such an event, but reality was always at the back of my mind. It is fun to relive that fantasy through this authors’ eyes. It is a great escapist novel. 4.5/5 stars – CE Williams

Add to Goodreads

 Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Animal Mysteries, Supernatural Mysteries
Publisher: A Novel Idea Publishing LLC
ISBN: 1951582020
ASIN: B07Z9HS887
Print Length: 316 pages
Publication Date: November 26, 2019
Source: Direct Author Request
Title Purchase Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

 Rosepoint Publishing: 4.25 of Five Stars Four and One Quarter Stars

Nellie H Steele - authorThe Author: Nellie H. Steele lives in the South Hills of Pittsburgh with her family and her many fur-babies. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys teaching Statistics at a local university or watching her dogs and cats play in the yard.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Dangerous Pursuits (A Hazel Best & Gabriel Ash Mystery Book 7) by Jo Bannister – a #BookReview – Traditional Detective Mystery

Book Blurb:

Dangerous Pursuits by Jo BannisterWhen Gabriel Ash comes across a terrified young woman fleeing a brutal attacker, he and Hazel Best are drawn into a complex and baffling investigation.

Rachel Somers, running . . . Something appalling happened in the wood. When Gabriel Ash and his dog come to her aid, she thinks she’s safe. But this is Norbold, where things aren’t always as they seem.

Detective Chief Inspector Gorman thinks this is his worst nightmare: a predatory paedophile who’s prepared to kill rather than be taken. Constable Hazel Best thinks she’s helping both the Somers family and her friend Ash, but her tendency to follow her heart rather than her orders is about to get her into trouble again. And the people of Norbold have noticed that descriptions of the attacker, sketchy as they are, fit Ash better than they fit anyone else.

With panic stalking the town, DCI Gorman needs to make an arrest before more young girls are attacked, before someone else dies, before the vigilantes who burned Ash’s shop decide to burn him too. But the parameters keep shifting, and almost none of the facts he’s relying on will turn out to be true. The solution to the mystery is more shocking, and more tragic, than even these three could have imagined.

My Review:

Obviously, I’ve been living under a rock, as Dangerous Pursuits and this series is my introduction to the author and I gotta say, why haven’t I seen these books before?!

Before I get too crazy on just how much I enjoyed the metaphors and similes (mostly the latter) and that Irish sense of humor, I must not miss mentioning the actual mystery in the premise, which is a serious one.

“…you know what a mob is, don’t you? It’s a group of people whose IQ is in inverse proportion to its size.”

“The only difference between a teenage girl and a viper is eye shadow.”

“…thought there was more dignity in jumping than waiting to be pushed.”

Ooh! So this is character-driven or plot-driven? I read it and I don’t know.

Dangerous Pursuits by Jo Bannister cover with picture of Patience, the white lurkerYou can’t discount these main characters. Constable Hazel Best and Gabriel Ash (second-hand bookseller in his shop Rambles With Books) perfectly complement each other despite the difference in age and just about every other thing going. Gabriel, after all, has a dog he named Patience (the white lurker) who talks back to him. Not unusual, you say, most people talk to their animals. But no, I’m not talking as in anthropomorphic, I’m talking English. Of course, no one but Gabriel can hear her.

This is a well-plotted and fast-paced mystery and the mystery never leaves center stage while carefully involving the characters from the offices of DCI Gorman and the other close contacts owing to Constable Best. Chewing on the lack of clues, they bounce one theory after another off each other. And just when you think you can see where this is obviously going, there’s another twist.

These two main characters are immensely engaging and the author’s writing style entertaining and immersive. This is an easy and comfortable book to take your time and enjoy or gobble up and enjoy the chuckles between the occasional serious contemplative philosophical hypotheses. Dialogue is typical English, introducing me to some new terms I’ve not seen before in UK books.

The conclusion is one you’ve seen coming, but denied, hoping it wasn’t so. A familiar theme but one we must keep seeing. Such an important, and topical, concept. Still, it’s been a delightful ride and I can’t wait for the next. Heartily recommended.

Add to Goodreads

Book Details:

Genre: Traditional Detective Mystery, Police Procedural
Publisher: Severn House Publishers
ASIN: B086TZD71B
Print Length: 240 pages
Publication Date: To be released July 1, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Pre-Order Links:

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble

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

Jo Bannister - authorThe Author: [Goodreads] Jo Bannister lives in Northern Ireland, where she worked as a journalist and editor on local newspapers. Since giving up the day job, her books have been shortlisted for a number of awards. Most of her spare time is spent with her horse and dog, or clambering over archaeological sites. She is currently working on a new series of psychological crime/thrillers.

©2020 V Williams – V Williams

Grave Consequences (A Bay Island Psychic Mystery Book 5) by Lena Gregory – #BlogTour #BookReview #Giveaway

I am so delighted today to provide a review for you at my blog stop for Grave Consequences by Lena Gregory on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. Scroll down to enter your chance to win the Giveaway!

grave consequences-banner

Book Details

Grave Consequences (A Bay Island Psychic Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
5th in Series
Publisher: Beyond the Page (May 21, 2020)
Print Length: 194 pages
Digital ASIN: B0881XMPB2

Book Blurb

Cass Donovan is reminded that you can’t believe everything you hear, especially when it comes from the dead . . . 

When stories begin circulating of a centuries-old ghost haunting the Bay Island lighthouse, Cass is caught up in mystical happenings of her own, with countless voices from the beyond all clamoring for her attention with dire warnings. But before she has a chance to learn whether there’s a connection between the rumored ghost and her restless visitors, the lighthouse keeper mysteriously falls to his death, and Cass’s reputation for communing with the dead lands her right in the middle of the police investigation.

Cass knows the victim was no saint, as he made little effort to hide his philandering ways from his wife or anyone else, and often acted out with no thought for the feelings of others. But had he finally gone too far, or were there more menacing motives behind his murder? As Cass begins building a list of suspects, including the man’s supposedly grieving wife and a mysterious new woman in town, she also turns her ear to those otherworldly voices, hoping for a clue. And as she begins to close in on the culprit, she realizes too late that if she’s not careful, she’ll soon be communicating with the dead in person . . .

My Review

Grave Consequences by Lena GregoryCass Donovan uses her psychic abilities to give readings at her Bay Island boardwalk shop she calls Mystical Musings. Although I’ve read one of the author’s novels in the All-Day Breakfast Cafe Mystery series, this is my first experience with this series. I do enjoy the paranormal aspect always filling me with that Twilight Zone music theme and just a few goosebumps and Cass presents as a great protagonist.

Although she’s always been aware of her intuition, she has comfortably grown with her psychic powers until she witnesses Fred soaring from an upper window in the lighthouse to the rocky shore below. He was a randy character, known for womanizing. It’s disconcerting that when Cass tries to relax and “open” her psychic gate, she is now flooded with voices of the departed all vying for her attention and she’ll get no info from the dear and newly-departed Fred though there are others who think she might have.

As the well-plotted and paced cozy mystery proceeds to unfold, Cass is introduced to Simone Carlson who appears to have the same abilities–and more. She is hoping she can teach her to block all but the specific voice she wants to hear. Obviously, she has more to learn–what a delicious concept! Time and talent.

In the meantime, her two main support characters have her back and about every waking moment. Greatly devoted to Cass is Bee, though every time I saw his name, thought of a woman. Stephanie is a married friend who is aware, as is Bee, of Cass’s psychic abilities. Cass has a puppy, a Leonberger, who has grown into his paws and is still in training lending more than one audible hoot.

As always when I read a book with a coastal setting, I get such nostalgic remembering our visits to the Pacific, camping and free-diving for abalone (the “steak” of the sea–YUM!), and one year visiting lighthouses. (They really are amazing the way they are laid out for the ships at sea.) At any rate, this narrative punched my buttons for setting descriptions, quirky characters, twists and red herrings, talented and independent (mostly) main character, and even a wet dog with fur full of sand–sure to add a chuckle–especially if you’ve ever been there. The conclusion pulls all loose threads together and drops a couple hints of what you might find in Book 6.

I received this digital download from the publisher for the book tour and greatly appreciate the opportunity to read and review. Recommended to those who enjoy an entertaining and immersive cozy mystery.

Add to Goodreads

Giveaway

Sign up for your chance to win (1) $25 Amazon Gift Card in this Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author

Lena Gregory - authorLena Gregory is the author of the Bay Island Psychic Mysteries, which take place on a small island between the north and south forks of Long Island, New York, and the All-Day Breakfast Café Mysteries, which are set on the outskirts of Florida’s Ocala National Forest.

Lena grew up in a small town on the south shore of eastern Long Island. She recently relocated to Clermont, Florida with her husband, three kids, son-in-law, and four dogs. Her hobbies include spending time with family, reading, jigsaw puzzles, and walking. Her love for writing developed when her youngest son was born and didn’t sleep through the night. She works full time as a writer and a freelance editor and is a member of Sisters in Crime.

Author Links

Newsletter: http://lenagregory.us12.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=9765d0711ed4fab4fa31b16ac&id=49d42335d1.

Website: http://www.lenagregory.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lena.gregory.986

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Lena.Gregory.Author/?fref=ts

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LenaGregory03

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14956514.Lena_Gregory?from_search=true

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

Purchase Links – Amazon – B&N – Kobo

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

Tour Participants:

June 8 – Gimme The Scoop Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

June 9 – Ascroft, eh? – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

June 9 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

June 10 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

June 10 – Read Your Writes Book Reviews – GUEST POST

June 11 – MJB Reviewers – REVIEW,  INDIVIDUAL GIVEAWAY

June 11 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – SPOTLIGHT

June 12 – eBook Addicts – SPOTLIGHT

June 12 – Cassidy’s Bookshelves – SPOTLIGHT

June 13 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST

June 13 – Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

June 14 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

June 14 – Baroness’ Book Trove – SPOTLIGHT

June 15 – Thoughts in Progress – CHARACTER GUEST POST

June 15 – Diane Reviews Books – REVIEW, INDIVIDUAL GIVEAWAY

June 16 – Mysteries with Character – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

June 16 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT

June 17 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

June 17 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW, GUEST POST

June 18 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

June 18 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – SPOTLIGHT, INDIVIDUAL GIVEAWAY

June 19 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

June 19 – Cozy Up WIth Kathy – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW

June 20 – Literary Gold – CHARACTER GUEST POST

June 21 – Sapphyria’s Books – REVIEW

June 21 – Brooke Blogs – REVIEW Great Escapes Book Tours

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Legacy of Lies: A Legal Thriller (Bocephus Haynes Book 1) by Robert Bailey – a #BookReview

“To be respected was wonderful, but to be feared was divine.”

Book Blurb:

Legacy of Lies by Robert BaileyA small-town attorney takes on prejudice and corruption in this powerful legal thriller.

Small-town lawyer Bocephus Haynes comes home late one night to find District Attorney General Helen Lewis waiting for him. Her ex-husband has just been killed. She’s about to be arrested for his murder. And she wants Bo to represent her.

There’s a lot working against them. Just before his death, Helen’s ex-husband threatened to reveal a dark secret from her past. Bo has been in a tailspin since his wife’s death. What’s more, his whole life has been defined by a crime committed against his family, and he continues to face prejudice as the only African American litigator in Pulaski, Tennessee.

Bo’s back is against the wall, and Helen resigns herself to a dismal fate—but a stunning discovery throws everything into chaos. There’s a chance for justice, but to achieve it, the cost might be too much for Bo to bear. 

My Review:

HooBoy! I blindly stepped into this one with no warning!. A new author, new series for me, and although perhaps the series for you as well, apparently a spin-off of a previously successful series.

Legacy of Lies by Robert BaileyMain character Helen Evangeline Lewis is the General (district attorney general of the Twenty-Second Judicial Circuit), Tennessee. Helen loves that designation, revels in it, and she does her utmost to maintain that level of fear and respect. But now she finds herself on the other side and begs protagonist Bocephus Hayes to represent her in the alleged murder of her ex-husband. Bo has been through a triple whammy, the loss of his wife, his children, his practice as one of Pulaski’s premier defensive attorneys. He’s been slumming it–at a total loss–devastated and can’t seem to pull himself back from the brink…until something Helen says stirs him to action.

There are references to characters from a previous series and this series continues with a few of those support characters, family of Bo, the General’s office, persons of the court, and baddies everywhere, generally in positions of power. Having been an extremely successful prosecutor, the General keeps secrets from Bo and sends him out for discovery.

You have to give it to author Bailey for putting together a suspenseful, emotional well-plotted and fast-paced legal thriller. Short chapters keep you flipping pages as Bo continues to recreate his team and wrest tidbits. Helen, after all, has as many detractors as fans. It won’t be easy.

It’s apparent there are layers to the plot lending Helen’s secrets potent causes of PTSD, conspiracies with a separate case with which she was working, and Bo’s racially charged background. Bo, a big African American who might have gone pro NFL had he not blown out his knee, is a force to be reckoned with in the courtroom as well. The reader almost gets a three-dimensional character here though I assume there will be more to come after this set up of a new series. I liked the characters of Chief Deputy Sheriff Frances Storm and Sheriff Hank Springfield.

But there is a triple-whammy in store for the reader as well as the courtroom revs up for the defense and Helen, herself, is called to testify. You’ve heard that old adage, “never ask a question to which you don’t know the answer?” (Or something close to that.) Boy does the prosecutor make that mistake! And then the author isn’t through as there are several more twists, one designed to knock the breath out of you. The conclusion has surprises, one on top of the other until the great reveal that turns into one big shock. Still, how is this all this possible? Hmmm…It’s complex, entertaining, and immensely engaging. And that ending? Surely that’ll produce a HUH! And you can’t say it wasn’t a fun ride.

I received this digital download from the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Looks like I have a new legal thriller author I’ll be following and I’m looking forward to Book 2 in this series. Recommended.

Add to Goodreads

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

Book Details:

Genre: Conspiracy Thrillers, Legal Thrillers
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
ASIN: B07YKTYZJ6
Print Length: 329 pages
Publication Date: June 1, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link(s): Legacy of Lies [Amazon] 

Robert Bailey - authorThe Author: Robert Bailey is the bestselling author of the McMurtrie and Drake Legal Thrillers series, which includes The Final Reckoning, The Last Trial, Between Black and White, and The Professor. The first two novels in the series were Beverly Hills Book Awards legal thriller of the year winners, and Between Black and White was a finalist for the Foreword INDIES Book of the Year.

For the past nineteen years, Bailey has been a civil defense trial lawyer in his hometown of Huntsville, Alabama, where he lives with his wife and three children. For more information, please visit http://www.robertbaileybooks.com.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

January River by Bernard Jan – a #BookReview

Five friends. One dog. One river carrying a secret.

A shared review experience with the CE.

Book Blurb:

January RiverWhen one of their friends goes missing, everything comes crashing down for the small group of childhood friends in the small town of Greenfield. Ethan takes it hard. Then he loses his dog, his only consolation.

Hoping to start anew, Ethan leaves Greenfield and moves to New York City. Far from the ghosts of his childhood and the river that gives and takes life. There he finds his one true love and builds a career as a bestselling author.

But how long will Ethan’s happiness last as doubts creep back into him and shatter his reality? And will his reconciliation with the past come at too great a price?

All rivers carry their secrets, but not every river keeps its secret forever.

My Review:

Growing up in a 70s rural town in the panhandle of Nebraska, Ethan, his brother Will, and their friends enjoy a languid summer, playing in the river and dreaming of crafting a raft. It was an innocent time of fields and farms, bucolic setting, pines, and exchanges of goals and secrets. When Ethan finds a golden retriever, near death, he enlists the help of his buddy’s dad, a vet, and helps to ensure the beautiful animal escape death. There are obvious indications of abuse.

January River by Bernard JanYears later, there are tragic occurrences that drive Ethan to New York to join his brother where he naively discovers a wildly different type of life. But Will is a nomad who loves the ocean and leaves his apartment in the care of Ethan. Ethan gains a job and begins to cement a future, working, writing, and meeting a woman who will become his wife.

A storyteller, Jan fills his literary fiction with deeply felt philosophical prose while continuing to try to come to terms with his past. Reconciliation in the present, while seeking relief of the grief from his past and the beautiful community in which he spent a carefree boyhood until that disastrous summer.

There are themes of heartbreak, love, evil, redemption, and finally, reconciliation. Jan steps up his details but misses a few threads that the reader might have wanted to know whether resolved. There were occasional song titles that fit with the melancholy and the timeline of the narrative covered some twenty-five years. While the author did a heroic job of translating from Croatian to English, there were a few missed edits (was it adopted–or stepson?) and simple contradictions.

We were contacted directly by the author requesting an honest review in exchange for a gift copy of his novel and we appreciated the opportunity which in no way swayed our opinions. Recommended to those who enjoy a circumspect peek in mid-west America 70s to 90s, the love of dogs, and the literary drama of life. 4 stars

His review:

This coming of age novel is staged around a western Nebraska town. The author captures the essence of being a young boy in a farm community. Being the “little brother” Ethan is following an older brother in a bucolic setting of rivers and grain fields and quiet summer days. He gets to explore life and nature. He finds a near-death dog that he rescues and nurtures back to health. Their bond becomes inseparable.

Losing one member of his childhood gang haunts him throughout the book. His older brother is a beacon to him throughout life without being a guide. The relationship of the boys and parents is well developed and appreciated. The family has a well-developed business and an opportunity for either or both boys to inherit a profitable business.

Life has many twists and turns and Bernard Jan has captured the emotional essence. Many parents have witnessed the castle of their expectations for their offspring evaporate when the child develops his own interests. Peppered within life are many divergent trails and opportunities. The author captured the feel of those forks in the road.

Ethan follows his older brother Willy to New York. The serendipitous change of environment is indeed a path that draws Ethan from his youth. He works as a waiter in a restaurant and gets to be a key part of the business. He tends to be a recluse but is drawn out by a love interest. His dynamic of life changes. CE Williams

I was amazed at the awesome translation of this book from Croatian into other languages including English. I am grateful for the excellent work the team of editors accomplished. I highly recommend this book to animal lovers and those who appreciate a good “coming of age” novel. True to life the road is curving and bumpy and an excellent escape. 4 stars – CE Williams

Add to Goodreads

 Book Details:

Genre: Pet Dogs, Friendship Fiction, Family Relationship, Animal Fiction, City Life Fiction

  • ISBN-10:9535958151
  • ISBN-13:978-9535958154
  • ASIN: B086LJJC8V

Print Length: 235 pages
Publication Date: April 3, 2020
Source: Direct author request
Title Link(s): January River

Amazon   |   Barnes and Noble

 Rosepoint Publishing: Four of Five Stars 4-stars

Bernard Jan - authorThe Author: “There is no greater joy than to share what you love with those who appreciate it.”–Bernard Jan

My pen name is Bernard Jan. I am a novelist and a poet from Croatia, and I have released three books in English.

“A World Without Color” is a true story of the last three days I spent with my cat, while “Look for Me Under the Rainbow” in a unique and gentle way sheds light on the plight of harp seal pups in Canada. It warms the heart of all readers concerned about our planet and its treasures. “January River” is a heartwarming cross-genre novel about five friends, one dog, and one river carrying a secret.

My first two books were written at the beginning of the war in Croatia in 1991 amidst air alerts and illusory attempts when I wanted to believe and think that life is normal, that everything is all right with the world. I have published five novels, two novellas, and one book of poems in Croatian. Four of my books, including the book of poems, were translated into English.

My passion for music and entertainment resulted in my becoming a partner of Tom’s Music Place, which was established in 2009 by my friend Thomas Carley Jr., whose objective was to raise the respect of music.

My desire to help others came to the fore during my years advocating environmental protection and advocacy of animal rights. I did volunteering work for the refugees, because suffering does not know any borders. When it comes within your reach in your home, you simply have to do something. As part of my animal advocacy activities, it has been a great honor and pleasure to translate “Eternal Treblinka: Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust” by Charles Patterson into Croatian.

For more information, visit my website https://www.bernardjan.com.

Twitter https://twitter.com/BernardJanWorld
BookBub https://www.bookbub.com/profile/bernard-jan
Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1028921.Bernard_Jan
LinkedIn https://hr.linkedin.com/in/bernard-jan-197a50112
AllAuthor https://allauthor.com/author/bernardjan/
AUTHORSdb https://authorsdb.com/community/17089-bernard-jan
Steemit https://steemit.com/@bernardjan
booklife https://booklife.com/profile/bernard-jan-20785
Biopage https://www.biopage.com/public/bernardjan
YouTube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

The Mockingbird’s Song by Wanda E Brunstetter (Amish Greenhouse Mysteries Book 2) – a #BookReview

“Where Is the Hope in Grief for a Young Amish Widow?”

Book Blurb: The Mockingbird's Song

Sylvia has been nearly paralyzed with grief and anxiety since the tragic death of her husband, father, and brother in a traffic accident. She tries to help in the family’s greenhouse while caring for her two young children, but she prefers not to have to deal with customers. Her mother’s own grief causes her to hover over her children and grandchildren, and Sylvia seeks a diversion. She takes up birdwatching and soon meets an Amish man who teaches her about local birds. But Sylvia’s mother doesn’t trust Dennis Weaver, and as the relationship sours, mysterious attacks on the greenhouse start up again.

His Review:

The Mockingbird's SongThe mysteries of the Amish Community are well developed in this story. I found the interplay between the family dynamic and hierarchy intriguing and illuminating. The loss of three primary males in one family left a gaping hole in the lives of the characters. The author develops a very colorful portrayal of a family grieving for the lost members and the adjustments that are necessary to survive.

Sylvia Beiler is a young mother left with two small children to raise and a husband to grieve. My understanding of the support of each other by the family was greatly enhanced. I found the Amish culture to be solid and a bit enviable. Close-knit families are by and large gone from the American way of life.

A humorous character, Virginia, is a lonely neighbor across the street, who spies on the Amish family and their greenhouse. She is battling with separation anxiety as she didn’t want to leave Chicago when her husband relocates. She loses her neighborhood anchor and only friend. Virginia is pathetic and her prejudice at times entertaining, disliking the Amish and wishes to return to Chicago. She is basically lost in her current environment and very unhappy. She is aware of vandalism at the greenhouse but has not been able to see the perpetrators.

The narrative illuminates the problem with closed communities and the difficulties that members of the community face as they travel life’s highway. The Amish are usually patriarchal in nature but with the death of three primary male members, the role is transferred to the matriarch. It is sadly intriguing to watch the interaction of the family members and their methods of coping with each other. One of the things I found captivating was the quest by younger adults to please their elders.

Bird watching and coming of age add spice to the story. I would have enjoyed a more descriptive account of the wedding ceremony of the Amish. A young engaged couple seemed to enjoy more of a standing in the family dynamic than some older members which I found a bit strange. CE Williams

The overall story was satisfying and illuminating and I recommend it for reading. While it is not fast-paced, the overall book is very enlightening. Our thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for our review copy. Available on pre-order now. 4/5 stars C.E. Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Amish & Mennonite Fiction, Amish Romance, Christian Mystery & Suspense Romance
Publisher: Shiloh Run Press

  • ISBN-10:1643522310
  • ISBN-13:978-1643522319
  • ASIN: B085LYZMDN

Print Length: 320 pages
Publication Date: To be released August 1, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title: The Mockingbird’s Song
Pre-order the book at these locations:

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble

Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4-stars

Wanda E Brunstetter - authorThe Author: Wanda Brunstetter is an award-winning romance novelist who has led millions of readers to lose their heart in the Amish life. She is the author of almost 90 books with more than 10 million copies sold. Many of her books have landed on the top bestseller lists, including the New York Times, USA Today, Publisher’s Weekly, CBA, ECPA, and CBD. Wanda is considered one of the founders of the Amish fiction genre, and her work has been covered by national publications, including Time Magazine and USA Today.

Wanda’s fascination with the Amish culture developed when she met her husband, Richard, who grew up in a Mennonite church, and whose family has a Pennsylvania Dutch heritage. Meeting her new Mennonite sister-in-laws caused Wanda to yearn for the simpler life. In their travels, she and her husband have become close friends with many Amish people across America. Wanda’s desire to explore their culture increased when she discovered that her great-great grandparents were part of the Anabaptist faith.

All of Wanda’s novels are based on personal research intended to accurately portray the Amish way of life. Many of her books are well-read and trusted by the Amish, who credit her for giving readers a deeper understanding of the people and their customs.

Wanda’s primary attraction to the Amish is their desire to live a devout Christian life that strives to honor God, work hard, and maintain close family ties. Whenever she visits her Amish friends, Wanda finds herself drawn to their peaceful lifestyle, sincerity, and close family ties, which is in stark contrast to the chaos and busyness that plagues so many modern “Englishers.” Time and time again, Wanda loses her heart in the Amish life, and she hopes her readers will, too. For more information, visit: http://www.WandaBrunstetter.com

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Snowed Under (A Maggie McDonald Mystery Book 6) by Mary Feliz – a #BookReview – #cozymystery

Happy Release Day!

Book Blurb:

Snowed Under by Mary FelizWhen professional organizer Maggie McDonald finds a body in a snowdrift outside her friend’s ski cabin, she must plow through the clues to find a cold-blooded killer . . .

Lake Tahoe in February is beautiful, but Maggie can’t see a thing as she drives through a blinding blizzard with her friend Tess Olmos and their dogs, golden retriever Belle and German shepherd Mozart.Maggie has offered her professional decluttering skills to help Tess tidy up her late husband’s cabin in preparation to sell. She also plans to get in some skiing when her husband Max and their boys join them later in the week.

What she doesn’t plan on is finding a boot in a snowdrift attached to a corpse. The frozen stiff turns out to be Tess’s neighbor, Dev Bailey, who disappeared two months ago. His widow Leslie expresses grief, but Maggie can’t help but wonder if it’s a snow job. As more suspects start to pile up, things go downhill fast, and Maggie must keep her cool to solve the murder before the killer takes a powder . .

My Review:

My first experience with the author and the series included dogs (and if you follow my blog, you know I can’t resist a book with doggy characters) and gorgeous Lake Tahoe–such a soft spot in my heart for Lake Tahoe–so many happy memories there. But winter in Tahoe? Oh yes, can be extremely treacherous.

Snowed Under by Mary FelizThis entry to the series has protagonist Maggie making a trip to Tahoe with her good friend Tess Olmos in February as Maggie will take on years of accumulation in Tess’s family cabin in preparation for a future sale to finance Tess’s son’s college expenses and her change of profession. Maggie is a professional organizer and this will be a getaway trip for her with her family following later for a ski vacation. Should be perfect! But, oops! The weather can turn on a dime in the High Sierras. The blizzard from hell hits them on their way over Donner Summit (no doubt you’ve heard that well-know story before–the Donner Party?) and it’s all they can do to make it to the cabin safely.

Leaving the car where it doesn’t belong in the turnaround, the first trip out of the cabin in the morning to trek back to the car has Maggie discovering a DB (that’s dead body in cop-speak). Unfortunately, the husband of one of Tess’s neighbors took his dog out just after Christmas and never returned. It sends Tess reeling as she lost her husband just 18 months previous and is part of the reason she’s selling. Between the weather and the unnerving discovery, organizing, cleaning, and clearing gets put on the back burner.

Maggie begins to meet the neighbors from the cul-de-sac snoop to the family of the deceased, all just struggling to survive the latest spate of storms crippling the mountains and their lives. The conditions are extreme, between the loss of power and heat, high winds, and plummeting temperatures, everyone hunkers down. Descriptions of the mountains and hillside homes create an appropriate frigid scene. Maggie’s dog, Belle, and Tess’s dog, Mozart, along with neighbors dogs lend added dimension to the cozy, if not freezing atmosphere.

Perhaps this is one of those series in which you should have started with Book 1. I found myself lost, especially in the first third of the book understanding the characters. There seemed contradictions in description, causing a stumble, awkward scenes, and dialogue. Maggie begins her surreptitious interviews of the neighbors and discovers there may have been more than one possible suspect. Chief Quinn Petit seems to welcome the help even as the plot takes some twists which will have you suspending disbelief. Visit from friends back home (under extreme conditions?) and a sudden introduction to the perp in the conclusion was rather contrived and somewhat a disappointment for me.

I received this digital download from the publisher and NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read for a review. If you’ve followed the series, you may very well appreciate this entry, enjoy the cozy mystery.

Add to Goodreads

Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuth Mysteries, Cozy Animal Mysteries
Publisher: Lyrical Press

  • ISBN-10:1516105311
  • ISBN-13:978-1516105311
  • ASIN: B07WBY669T

Print Length: 227 pages
Publication Date: June 9, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link(s): Snowed Under

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

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

Mary Feliz - authorThe Author: Mary Feliz writes the Maggie McDonald Mysteries featuring a Silicon Valley professional organizer and her sidekick golden retriever. She attends organizing conferences in her character’s stead, but Maggie’s skills leave her in the dust. Her first book, ADDRESS TO DIE FOR, received a Kirkus Star and was named a Best Book of 2017 by Kirkus Reviews. Suspense Magazine selected CLIFF HANGER as a Best Book of 2019. A Certified California Naturalist, Mary enjoys sharing the beauty of her state’s natural world with readers.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Act of Deception: A Medical Thriller (A Doc Brady Mystery Book 2) by John Bishop MD – a #BookReview – #Medical Fiction

Medical malpractice lawsuits–Big, Big Bucks

Book Blurb:

Act of Deception by John Bishop MDIs it medical malpractice, or is the attorney just another ambulance chaser?

It’s 1995, and Houston orthopedic surgeon Dr. Jim Bob Brady has been sued for medical malpractice; a mysterious infection caused a knee replacement to end up as an amputation. Donovan Shaw, a ruthless plaintiff’s attorney, has taken the case and doesn’t seem bothered by the fact that he and Brady share a number of friends. “It’s not personal!” Shaw says. But it feels personal—especially when Shaw threatens, “I will do anything, and I mean anything, to win the case, even if I have to destroy you and that pretty wife of yours. I will stop at nothing. You remember that!”

And Brady isn’t the only one in his practice being sued. How is Shaw getting his inside information? Can the patients afford to say no to filing lawsuits, even if the claims aren’t valid? Through a series of twists and turns, and with the support of his wife Mary Louise and their professional investigator son J. J, Brady once again doggedly goes into “sleuth mode” to get to the truth of the matter—even after his life is put in jeopardy. Will he survive, only to find himself at the mercy of the wild and wooly Houston court system? Is this whole mess his fault? Or is there an act of deception involved? 

My Review:

Act of Deception by John Bishop MDDr James Robert Brady, Jim Bob to you Southerners, is a valued orthopedic Houston surgeon with a reputation for excellent work when he discovers himself being sued by one of his patients. William (Billy) Jones had his right leg amputated above the knee after a deadly infection sets in five months following Dr Brady’s original knee replacement. He’d previously had infections that Dr Brady treated with apparent success and is shocked to see him back with further complications.

The storyline examines the murky world of malpractice lawsuits, the difference between barratry and solicitation, ambulance chasers sometimes involved, and the insurance company’s role in the escalating problems of insurance coverage and medical-legal support.

Feeling with absolute certainty that he did everything according to the book and as his colleagues concurred at the time, he now seems to be faced with the uphill battle of proving his lack of culpability in the tragic resulting surgery to Mr. Jones. Not that he’s being hung out to dry all by his lonesome, but everyone soon begins to advocate his settling. Just make it go away.

Nope!

Won’t do it.

Something is off.

Brady’s reputation has taken years to build. This would destroy him. Moreover, with the hospital facing increasing expenses and several other doctors facing lawsuits, their group and his affiliated hospital are facing a crisis. They go to trial.

Plaintiff’s lawyer is a sleaze, the kind of attorney who gives the profession a bad rap. But he’s good. He’s very, very good. Moreover, his investigator is a despot. He is bad news; very, very bad. Dr. Brady collaborates with his sleuthing son, engages any help he can find, and desperately searches for the missing connection.

The author introduces a number of well-fleshed support characters, both protagonists and antagonists. Jim Bob is well-developed, also a musician of some note, given dimensions in his personal as well as professional life. An unexpected twist occurs which momentarily knocks the plot off the rails, but much occurs off-stage and quickly brings you back up to speed. It is a well-paced and plotted story into the reveal, which hands the reader one last little twist.

There are sufficient medical explanations and terminology to convince the reader of the expertise of the author and between that and the insight into the world of medical insurance and malpractice lawsuits, quite the eye-opener. I liked the way the courtroom scenes unfolded (loved the judge!) and the doctor’s theory advanced into the satisfying conclusion.

I received this digital download from the publisher and NetGalley in the expectation of an honest review and appreciated the opportunity to read Book 2 of the series. I’ll be interested to see what develops in Book 3. Recommended.

Add to Goodreads 

 Book Details:

Genre: Medical Fiction, Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Mantid Press

  • ISBN-10:1734251123
  • ISBN-13:978-1734251128
  • ASIN: B087HHY69X

Print Length: 276 pages
Publication Date: June 10, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link(s): Act of Deception (on Pre-Order Now at)

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble

 Rosepoint Publishing: Four of Five Stars 4-stars

John Bishop - authorThe Author: [John Bishop MD] Lost for over 20 years, Act of Murder is the first rediscovered novel in a new medical thriller series set in the changing environment of medicine in the mid-1990s. Bishop’s sense of humor and surprising wit create a story of medical miscreants capable of murder, mayhem, and greed. His 30 years as a practicing orthopedic surgeon give the reader a unique glimpse into the medical world with all its problems, intricacies and complexities, while at the same time revealing the compassion and dedication of most health care professionals.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

The Pearl of York, Treason and Plot by Tony Morgan – a #BookReview – #HistoricalFiction

Rosepoint Publishing: Five of Five Stars Five Stars

Book Blurb:

The Pearl of York by Tony MorganThe gripping new historical novel set in atmospheric Tudor York.
Winner of the Coffee Pot Book Club Highly Recommended award – “A heartbreaking book that grabs you from the first page and does not let you go until the last full-stop. I cannot praise this book enough. It was absolutely brilliant from beginning to end. This is an example of Historical Fiction at its most exquisite.”

When Margaret Clitherow is arrested for illegally harbouring Catholic priests, her friends, led by a youthful Guy Fawkes, face a race against time to save her from the gallows. As events unfold, their lives, and our history, change forever.

What events could persuade a happily married woman to become a martyr or transform a young man into a terrorist?

My Thoughts

Guy Fawkes didn’t set out to be an explosive expert, nor Mistress Margaret Clitherow a martyr. Nor did either begin life as a Catholic, but life, experience, and events have a way of unfolding an inexorable path down which we seem to be drawn. This storyline doesn’t focus on Guy Fawkes and his later exploits that eventually got him caught but it is while he is being tortured that he reverts to the narration of his life to divert himself from the pain to the path that diverged with Mistress Clitherow.

In Tudor York, England is in the midst of a major change of reigning churches and seeing a dissolution from the Roman Catholic Church and the Papists. It has now become a treasonable offense to remain Catholic and suddenly those who practice the “old religion” must do so in privacy, careful not to reveal their true allegiance. AND, anyone caught harboring a priest or the religious were quickly brought up on the same stiff penalties as those caught performing Mass.

In a well-researched and plotted account of the story of St. Margaret Clitherow, the author weaves a plausible account of young Guy being expelled from school for fighting with the town bully and the discovery of his mother sneaking out to Mass held in a deeply secreted space under and behind the residence of Margaret Clitherow. She has a reputation for kindness, thoughtfulness, and generosity. Her husband is the neighborhood butcher, a Protestant, and elevated in social standing. But one night, after Guy accompanies his mother to Mass, the house is raided and one of the two priests is caught. Not long after, Mistress Clitherow is also arrested.

The trial being a sham, not difficult to imagine she’ll be sentenced to death. The form of her punishment, however, is said to be shaped by how she’ll plea. And she does not. Will not. She is caught between a rock and a hard place. Anything she admits to would only trickle down and cause untold suffering to not only her family but many others as well. In addition, she will not denounce her Catholic faith, revert to the Church of England. She appears to have no equitable way to save her own life and resolutely resigns herself to a death she didn’t realize would be quite such a horrendous, hideous, extremely torturous way to die. Still, she has no real choice. It seems beyond reason that humans could devise such a brutal execution.

The author has done a tremendous job of bringing a stinging history to light and creating a plausible explanation for her sacrifice as well as the lasting effects her death and the later death of Guy’s own family has on the course his life will take. Fawkes’s life left an indelible mark in the history of England as well.

If I had any quibbles, it was the subtle changes of Guy’s retrospective to his current circumstances on the rack. Utterly engaging tale of suspicion, betrayal, brutality, survival, and faith. Deeply emotional and sympathetic characters, barbaric instruments, descriptions of Tudor streets vibrant with the sounds and fetid smells of crowded city life. Thoroughly entertaining, captivating prose.

“Abundance of knowledge does not teach men to be wise.”

“Mistress Clitherow…she’s a pearl inside this monstrous oyster.”

We received this digital download from the author in the expectation of a review and these are our own opinions. Wholly recommended.

His Thoughts

The Pearl of York by Tony MorganThis author opened my eyes to the reason for western migration to the Americas in the 17th century. The Reformation period developed large schisms within the European countries. The Church of England was replacing the Roman Catholic Church and it became a treasonable offense to remain Catholic. Trials were held throughout Great Britain for those who practiced the old faith or harbored priests. Priests that did not renounce their faith were subjected to terrible pain and ultimately killed.

Mistress Margaret Clitherow is one of these unfortunates. She resided in York and was held in great esteem by the local populace. However, she was caught attending clandestine Catholic masses. It would have been easy to save her own life, simply renounce her faith and embrace the Protestant Church of England. For a staunch catholic this would mean saving her life but going to hell. She is a young and affable lady caught in a martyr’s quandary. She will not give up her faith.

The main character, young Guy Fawkes, is determined to save her. He and a local priest as well as a Protestant minister set out to accomplish that task. The fervor within the area is to trap and bring to justice those who have not renounced their faith.

Some of the methods for punishing the holdouts are particularly gruesome.

Priests who are caught were usually hung, drawn and quartered. The spectacle was available for the entertainment of the population. Trying to rescue those who practiced the faith was also a treasonable event.

This book is well written and mesmerizing in the telling. I wondered how Martin Luther and the others who began the Reformation must have felt. The tithes received by the church would be kept in the countries who altered their faith. The faithful paid the ultimate price for the changes to the faith and the dissolution of the Roman Catholic faith in the various countries. CE Williams

I highly recommend this book to those who cherish their faith and embrace the sacrifice made by those who suffered the ultimate for their beliefs. This author captures the sentiment of the period in the telling. 5 stars CE Williams

Add to Goodreads

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Thriller
ASIN: B0852P7RPV
Print Length: 237 pages
Publication Date: March 1, 2020
Source: Direct Author Request
Title Link(s): The Pearl of York [Amazon]

Tony Morgan - authorThe Author: [Goodreads] Tony Morgan is a Welsh author living in Yorkshire in the UK, near to the birth place of Guy Fawkes.

His books have been described as a perfect read for lovers of the works of C.J. Sansom and S. J. Parris and anyone interested in how historic events have shaped our own times.

In addition to writing novels, Tony gives history on topics such as Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot and the life of Margaret Clitherow.

[Find Tony Morgan on his website here.]

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

In My Attic (A Magical Misfits Mystery Book 1) by Lina Hansen – a #BookReview – #TuesdayBookBlog

Book Blurb:

In My Attic by Lina HansenSometimes all it takes is murder to discover who you truly are.
Grammar school teacher Myrtle Coldron has no patience to spare for Aunt Eve’s Wiccan shenanigans. Myrtle ignores auntie’s frantic plea for help—only to learn she has crashed from the attic to her death. The circumstances are suspicious; murder is on the cards. Riddled with guilt, Myrtle returns to the Witch’s Retreat, Eve’s beloved Bed and Breakfast, to sleuth for the truth.

No such luck.

The sleepy, historic village sheltering the B+B also hides a mystery. Soon enough, Myrtle is besieged by a zany posse of suspects, nightly visitors in the attic, threatening notes—and a zombie primula with a mind of its own.

Somebody is out to get her, and it will take all her skills—including those she doesn’t care for—to keep Myrtle alive.

My Review:

Myrtle Coldron has to return to Avebury and her aunt’s B&B when she is notified of the former Wiccan’s passing. Her aunt had tried to call for her help, but Myrtle wouldn’t return the call. The local police close the case marking the death accidental but now her death appears to be very suspicious, she feels even worse and vows to learn the truth.

In My Attic by Lina HansenHer aunt’s B&B called the Witch’s Retreat has only a few guests at the moment and she has the aid of Eve Coldron’s housekeepers-pseudo managers to keep things in order. The aunt had taken her in after the tragic death of her parents. Her cousin, Daisy, Eve’s heir apparent, is not the most reliable and Myrtle will stay to help make arrangements and coordinate with the attorney.

Unfortunately, her aunt bequeaths the B&B to Myrtle leaving her cousin only a stipend and a place to live. Strange things begin to happen and begin to escalate. The two male guests seem at odds with each other. Avebury is an interesting setting, ancient (with an aura even we felt when we visited–also a cold, rainy day). The weather coming out of a long winter is still wet, dreary, and cold lending a dismal atmosphere.

The subject of witches, druids, and the mystery of the stones have enjoyed quite a bit of research and lends entertaining threads. The staff (sisters), local residents, and a coordinating officer introduce several support characters. Myrtle is not fully developed, though we know she is an unmarried educator. She undertakes a search to discover her aunt’s artifacts and in the process begins to discover much more about her aunt–and herself–than she ever imagined.

Although well-plotted, the pacing, particularly at the beginning, is rather slow as it establishes the scene, B&B descriptions, and characters. I enjoyed the writing style infused with self-talk and some humorous observations. The author allows the tension to build as additional quirky happenings send Myrtle scrambling to protect herself and reveal the who and why. The climax comes unexpectedly revealing the one you might not have suspected. While there are a couple unexplained threads, the conclusion leaves a couple doors open for a storyline to explore in Book 2.

I was offered the digital download in the hope of a review and feel it’s a good start to a promising series. If you enjoy a magical aspect in your reads or witchy stories, you’ll appreciate this narrative of the discovery of powers.

Add to Goodreads

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Mystery, Amateur Sleuths, Witch & Wizard Mysteries
Publisher: Literary Wanderlust

  • ISBN-10:1942856512
  • ISBN-13:978-1942856511
  • ASIN: B085KPYKPT

Print Length: 280 pages
Publication Date: July 1, 2020
Source: Direct Author Request
Title Link(s): In My Attic (Amazon)

Rosepoint Publishing: Four of Five Stars 4-stars

Lina Hansen - authorThe Author: LINA HANSEN has been a freelance travel journalist, teacher, bellydancer, postal clerk and science communication specialist stranded in the space sector. Numbed by factoid technical texts, she set out to write the stories she loves to read– cozy and romantic mysteries with a dollop of humour and a magical twist. After living and working in the UK, Lina, her husband, and their feline companion now share a home in the foothills of Castle Frankenstein. Lina is a double Watty Award Winner, Featured Author, and a Wattpad Star. In My Attic is the first of the Magical Misfits series of mysteries.

Contact Ms. Hansen at http://linahansenauthor.com/contact/ or @lhansenauthor

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Killing Time by Suzanne Trauth #BlogTour #Excerpt #BookReview #Giveaway

I am so delighted today to provide a review for you at my blog stop for Killing Time by Suzanne Trauth on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. Scroll down to enter your chance to win the Giveaway!

Killing Time by Suzanne Trauth

Book Details

Killing Time (A Dodie O’Dell Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
6th in Series
Publisher: Lyrical Press (June 2, 2020)
Number of Pages: 215
Digital ASIN: B07W8ZX8JV

Book Blurb

With Halloween just around the corner, Dodie O’Dell is making preparations to transform the Windjammer Restaurant on the Jersey Shore into a haunted house, while the Etonville Little Theatre is staging Dracula. But casting the titular Transylvanian is proving challenging. The amateur actors in the company are not shy about chewing the scenery, but who among them can convincingly sink their fangs into a victim’s neck? When a mysterious newcomer with a transfixing Eastern European accent lands the part, rumors that he might be an actual vampire start to take flight—not unlike the bat who’s recently been spotted in the town park.

But everyone’s blood really runs cold when a stranger is found in the cemetery with a real stake in his heart. Dodie decides to put her Halloween theme menu on the back burner and stick her neck out to bring the killer into the light of day. She’d better keep her wits about her, though—or Dodie may be the next one to go down for the Count . . .

Excerpt

“It sure looks haunted,” Edna murmured to no one in particular, to the cast of Dracula in general. They were grouped around her on the sidewalk that ran past the old Hanratty place that Carlos and Bella had rented. I’d never been inside though once I’d driven by it when I first moved to Etonville on my way out of town. The house stood on half an acre of scruffy lawn with patches of dried dirt, surrounded by a few straggly trees—minus leaves at this time of the year—and no neighbors. The nearest houses were on a side street some distance away. The three-story building looked as if it might collapse at any moment, its outer walls covered with weathered, gray shakes, the steps to the front door supported by concrete building blocks. There was no handrail. Light leaked out of windows on the first floor. Curtains covering small, circular panes on the third story—an attic room?—quivered. Was someone up there watching us? I shivered. A turret rose upward from the right side of the structure, giving the house a smidge of outdated dignity. A drain pipe dangled loosely from the gutter.

“Let’s go.” Penny corralled actors and nudged everyone forward to the front door. There were six company members, Renfield saying he’d be along later, plus Penny, Lola, Pauli, and me. Strength in numbers.

We crept across the porch cautiously, aware of the creaking beneath us as the flooring shifted with each individual’s footsteps. Penny put out a hand to knock on the door. Before she could hit knuckles to wood, it flew open. “Welcome everyone!” Bella stood in the doorway, a silhouette backlit by muted foyer lighting.

Behind her Carlos stood silently, observing the group huddled in his entryway, like deer caught in headlights.

Lola took the lead, moving graciously into the house. “Thank you. So nice of you to invite us to your home.”

I’m not sure what the members of the Etonville Little Theatre were expecting. Given the exterior and location of the Hanratty homestead, I anticipated something out of a late-night classic horror film.

My Review

Fall is closing in, Halloween is upon the town of Etonville and the Etonville Little Theatre has decided on running with Dracula. They have a great new actor who is playing Dracula as if he is one–his wife and the cast party at their old, creepy home part of the mystique. Problem is, someone in a Grim Reaper costume is found in the local cemetery with what appears to be a stake through his heart. This definitely carries the whole Halloween production too far.

Dodie O’Dell is manager of the Windjammer Restaurant on the Jersey Shore. Because of the season and the scheduled play, they are very busy in the restaurant promoting a theme menu. She definitely has a capable chef in the kitchen and bar and restaurant staff are more friends than employees. But this one strikes too close for comfort and she’ll have to “look into it.” Not the first time she’s taken on sleuthing duties.

Dodie is also engaged to the local police chief, Bill, and while not having reservations about him, is dragging her feet getting into the whole wedding planning thing with BFF Lola. So distracting herself with the current mystery is not too difficult.

In the meantime, we are introduced to the restaurant regulars, the town’s recurring characters, and some description of the area and contiguous small villages.

It’s a cozy mystery. They do tend to begin a bit slow for me. I’m as bad as the next mystery reader waiting anxiously for something to happen. Dodie has a fine way, however, of handling the restaurant while beginning with questions surrounding the details of the victim’s death then zeroing in on the weirdly perceived Dracula actor.

As Dodie begins sifting through clues and building on instinct, the reader is treated with the eccentricities of some of her closest buddies, Edna the police dispatcher who speaks in code–police code–and Penny who enjoys famous quotes, but always gets them wrong.

“What doesn’t kill you makes you live longer.”

Not character-driven really, as Dodie makes steady progress with her investigation and interviews, but the characters really start growing on you. The description of the restaurant setting is easy to imagine and becomes warm and comfortable with the smells of the kitchen wafting into the dining area.

Dodie’s quandary regarding Bill isn’t really hammered out until the conclusion (but then very satisfactorily), and the climax ramps up the excitement considerably with a real surprise you probably didn’t see coming. (Well, okay, I didn’t.) The sixth in the Dodie O’Dell mystery series, this can function fine as a standalone, and is certainly a series with premise and characters you’ll enjoy.

I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley for this book tour and greatly enjoyed the opportunity to read and review. Recommended cozy mystery.

Add to Goodreads 

Giveaway

Sign up for your chance to win one of three print copies (US only) in this Rafflecopter giveaway

Four-point Five of Five Stars 4.5-stars

Suzanne Trauth
Suzanne Trauth, Harvard Studio, Montclair, NJ. 06/27/2014 Photo by Steve Hockstein/HarvardStudio.com

About The Author: Suzanne Trauth is a novelist, playwright, screenwriter, and a former theatre professor at a university. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, the Dramatists Guild, and League of Professional Theatre Women. When she is not writing, Suzanne coaches actors and serves as a celebrant performing wedding ceremonies. She lives in Woodland Park, New Jersey.

Author Links 

Webpagewww.suzannetrauth.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/SuzanneTrauth/

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/SuzanneMTrauth

GoodReadshttps://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6187623.Suzanne_M_Trauth

Purchase Links

Amazon – B&N – Kobo

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

Tour Participants:

May 19 – Elizabeth McKenna – Author – SPOTLIGHT

May 19 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW

May 20 – StoreyBook Reviews – CHARACTER GUEST POST

May 20 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW

May 21 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT

May 22 – Laura’s Interests– CHARACTER GUEST POST

May 22 – View from the Birdhouse – REVIEW

May 22 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

May 23 – Christy’s Cozy Corners– CHARACTER INTERVIEW

May 23 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

May 24 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW

May 25 – Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

May 25 – fundinmental – SPOTLIGHT

May 26 – Dee-Scoveries – SPOTLIGHT

May 26 – Reading Is My SuperPower – GUEST POST

May 27 – Ascroft, eh? – GUEST POST

May 28 – eBook Addicts – REVIEW

May 29 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

May 30 – Gimme The Scoop Reviews – REVIEW

May 31 – Diane Reviews Books – REVIEW

May 31 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – AUTHOR INTERVIEW  

June 1 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW Great Escapes Book Tours

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Kelegeen by Eileen O’Finlan #BlogTour #BookReview #Giveaway

I am delighted today to provide a review for you at my blog stop for Kelegeen by Eileen O’Finlan on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. Scroll down to enter your chance to win the Giveaway!

kelegeeen-banner

Book Details

Kelegeen
Historical Fiction
Publisher: BWL Publishing Inc. (March 1, 2018)
Paperback: 433 pages
ISBN-10: 0228600294
ISBN-13: 978-0228600299
Kindle ASIN: B07B52K2TB

Book Blurb 

Ireland 1846 

Meg O’Connor, daughter of poor Irish cottiers, eagerly anticipates her wedding to Rory Quinn.  Her dreams of marriage and family vanish along with Ireland’s potato crop when Kelegeen’s inhabitants awaken one morning to find their sole source of food destroyed by blight.

At first Meg and Rory are able to use their skills, hers of sewing and his of wood carving, to provide for themselves and their families.  But tragedy and a costly mistake end those means of survival forcing them into more dangerous ventures.

As An Gorta Mór, the Great Hunger, continues to churn through Ireland ravaging the country’s peasantry with no let up in sight, Meg is compelled to make the most difficult decision of her life.  What she chooses could be the salvation of the O’Connor and Quinn families or it could separate her forever from all she knows and loves.

My Thoughts

I love the cover, the premise, and always a good historical novel. Of course, my grandfather, bless his blatherskite heart, claimed a connection to Cork. I think most have heard of the Great Potato Famine of Ireland between 1846 and 1849, as it certainly led to a large population of immigrants to America. But that was never the whole story. There was something even darker than the blight growing in the background.

As crops failed because of the blight, people began running out of food. The potato crop meant sustenance through the ensuing winter. But failing their normal stores of food meant people scrambling to find work to buy what they could with pennies for wages. It would appear, however, that the English began a systematic effort at thinning the Irish population. They took the land and became unrepentant landlords, evicting the occupants and destroying the cottages, boycotting stores of food sent by other populations, and placing a tax which starving populations had no way of paying.

This novel focuses mainly on two families, the O’Connors and the Quinn’s, along with priest Father O’Malley. There are certainly other families playing support roles in various forms, from the family of the town drunk to the family who fails to lend to neighbors, zealously guarding anything they were able to hoard. Others became susceptible to diseases that starvation promotes and quickly the casualties of their small community. Meg O’Connor and Rory Quinn are looking forward to a wedding when the famine hits, delaying nuptials. Quinn’s family runs the worst of bad luck and soon the craft Rory was using to bring in money is squashed, literally, with his hand.

There is no light at the end of the tunnel here–the famine continues through one winter and growing season after another, soon forcing activities none would have thought capable.

KelegeenThe character of Father O’Malley is exceptional. He is well developed and so completely sympathetic you want to cry with him when he must perform Last Rites. He seems to have an inexhaustible fortitude and always goes out of his way to care for his parishioners. Meg is a scrapper. Seems she can manage whatever the heinous task she must perform, along with her mother who steadfastly teaches by example and holds the family together.

Along comes an English doctor. I kept waiting for his other shoe to drop. It appeared to me he was trying too hard to be accepted by the Irish in his territory and I wondered what mischief he could heap on those willing patients.

Meg eventually decides that she must go to America. There is jobs, money, opportunity and she’ll send money home hopefully to be able to reunite with Rory, which whom she is committed in a rather ingenious way, I thought.

I was left trying to figure out where Kelegeen is located. I would have loved descriptions of the town and people. The Catholic priest at the forefront commanded a great deal of philosophy and had me wanting to light a candle for him but the narrative might have been tightened or shortened somewhat, generating a faster pace. It certainly pointed out issues over-riding the major problem (that of the blight) exacerbating the tragedy (the English). It was well-plotted, highly researched, and detailed.

For the sensitive, the conclusion is emotional, wringing out all the poignant issues of pushing off to the unknown, leaving loved ones behind. I received this digital download from the publisher for this Great Escapes Book Tour. It’s powerful and recommended.

His Thoughts

Truly a masterpiece of historical representation! War is not the only way to defeat a people. The Romans did it at Masada by isolating the Jews and starving them out. The Irish were starved and nearly wiped out by a famine exacerbated by lack of support and a naval blockade of Irish ports.  An import fee was charged at the British ports even on charitable foodstuffs for the victims. Thus, we have this tragic expose of the plight of hundreds of thousands of Irish men, women, and children unfold.

A terrible attack was waged against the Catholic religion when Henry the Eighth persecuted the church and its’ clergy.  Many priests and bishops were killed or exiled. Whole communities were decimated by an English aristocracy with cold and calculated barbarism. A potato famine yielded little or no food for the tenant farmers. However, the citizens had to pay a rental fee every six months for land that had been confiscated by the British. If the rent was not paid their small bungalows were destroyed following eviction. At times 10 or 12 people occupied the house with their animals and all their meager belongings.

This book chronicles the lives and trials of a young couple and their families in these tragic times. Most neighbors were happy to help others when they had the ability. Having a house with many small children and mouths to feed makes for extreme hardship. The parish priest does his best to help assuage the suffering and comfort his people. Some of the men turned to drink to help forget their inability to provide for their wives and children.

CE WilliamsEscaping to America and Australia were sometimes the only way to help families at home. Getting the small fee for passage often took food out of the mouths of the family. The mental toll on the families and priests tasked with their spiritual well-being was beyond heartbreaking.

This book is not easy to read, but understanding of that difficult time is truly eye-opening. Prepare to love the characters and pray for the souls lost in this tragedy. 5 stars – C.E. Williams

Add to Goodreads 

Giveaway

Sign up for your chance to win one (1) print copy of Kelegeen on this Rafflecopter giveaway

Rosepoint Publishing:  4.25 of 5 Stars Four and One Quarter Stars

Eileen O'Finlan - authorAbout The Author: Eileen O’Finlan calls her writing “history with a twist” because she is intrigued by the unusual and little known aspects of history – the stories on history’s margins, the things rarely taught in the classroom. For her, that’s where history really gets fun.

Born in Springfield, Massachusetts, her family moved to Worcester when she was two.  Four years later they moved to Holden where Eileen grew up and where she now resides with her 93-year-old mother and two cats.

Eileen holds a Bachelor’s degree in history and a Master’s Degree in Pastoral Ministry.  She works full time for the Diocese of Worcester and teaches online courses in Catholic studies for the University of Dayton, Ohio.  She is proud to say that Pope Francis owns a copy of her debut novel, Kelegeen.  Erin’s Children, the sequel to Kelegeen, will be released by BWL Publishing, Inc. in December of 2020.

Author Links

Webpage:  https://eileenofinlan.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/eileenofinlanauthor/ ;

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17762333.Eileen_O_Finlan ;

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/eileenofinlan ;

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnoxfrZpgvtHbAH74qM_vEQ ;

BWL Publishing, Inc. Author page:  http://bookswelove.com/o-finlan-eileen/

Purchase Links: Amazon: –  Barnesandnoble.com  –  Apple iTunes  –  Google Play  – Kobo – Smashwords

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

Tour Participants:

May 21 – My Devotional Thoughts – REVIEW

May 22 – Baroness’ Book Trove – SPOTLIGHT

May 23 – eBook Addicts – SPOTLIGHT

May 24 – Literary Gold – EXCERPT

May 25 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

May 26 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

May 26 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – CHARACTER GUEST POST

May 27 – Jane Reads – GUEST POST

May 28 – Gimme The Scoop Reviews – EXCERPT

May 29 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT

May 29 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book– AUTHOR INTERVIEW

May 30 – StoreyBook Reviews – CHARACTER GUEST POST

May 30 – fundinmental – SPOTLIGHT Great Escapes Book Tours

 Thanks to Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours for the opportunity to read and review this historical fiction novel!

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Bones of the Innocent: A Mason Collins Crime Thriller 3 by John A Connell – A CE #BookReview

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars Five Stars 

Book Blurb:

Bones of the Innocent by John A ConnellMason Collins grapples with secrets and murder as he races against time to save the lives of abducted teenagers in a case a twisted as the streets of Tangier’s medina.

Summer, 1946. Just as assassins from a shadowy organization close in for the kill, a flamboyant stranger offers Mason a way out: He must accompany the stranger to Morocco to investigate the abductions of teenage girls. Girls that vanished without a trace.

Once Mason lands in Tangier, he discovers that nothing—or no one—is what it seems. This playground for the super rich is called the wickedest city in the world, and he realizes those who could help him the most harbor a terrible secret.

But just as Mason begins to unravel the mystery, the assassins have once again picked up his trail. Now, Mason must put his life on the line to find the girls before it’s too late. If he lives that long…

Bones of the Innocent is the third in the Mason Collins series of historical crime thrillers that bestselling author Lee Child declares is “…a must-read series for me.”

If you like your murder mystery served with a dose of adrenaline and a dash of the bizarre then you’ll love Bones!

His Review:

“Keep your friends close and your enemies closer’” is very appropriate for this tale. John Connell has developed his character, Mason Collins, into an international cop for hire. Bones of the Innocent by John A ConnellThe setting is Tangier and is a very good reason not to visit the place. From the onset Mason is at odds with most of the police force in the area.

The other characters are well developed and most of them are hateful. When diplomats’ children are among the missing, it sparks a big investigation into the missing youths. Tangier is a melting pot of many cultures and distrust of other cultures is a key element in this narrative. The dialogue points out the problem with multi-languages being used in a very small country.

As the plot develops, the local police are less than thrilled with the intrusion of this outside detective.  There seem to be many false leads leading to the climax. Distrust between ethnic groups hampers straight forward investigations. Disparity between the haves and have-nots is everywhere.

CE WilliamsThe author keeps this story going at a fast clip and a well-scheduled reading interval will help with the book. The climax is rewarding and satisfactory.  I found the loss of many different ethnic children very disturbing and disheartening. 5 stars

We received this digital download from BookBub and appreciated the opportunity to read and review and these are my honest opinions. 5 stars – C.E. Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Thrillers, Kidnapping Thrillers
Publisher: Nailhead Publishing
ASIN: B07T1PGV1G
Print Length: 378 pages
Publication Date: July 5, 2019
Source: Publisher and BookBub
Title Link: Bones of the Innocent [Amazon]
Barnes and Noble

Add to Goodreads 

John A Connell - authorThe Author: John A. Connell is a 2016 Barry Award nominee and the author of the Mason Collins series. He was born in Atlanta then grew up in Ohio, New York and Virginia before ending up in Atlanta again at the age of 13. He has a BA in Anthropology, and has been a jazz pianist, a stock boy in a brassiere factory, a machinist, repairer of newspaper racks, and a printing-press operator. He then moved to Los Angeles to work as a motion picture camera operator for film and TV, where he worked on films like Jurassic Park and Thelma and Louise, and on TV shows, including NYPD Blue and The Practice. John and his wife spend their time between the U.S. and France.
He is a member of the International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America.
John loves to hear from readers, so please feel free to contact him at john@johnaconnell.com

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

What You Don’t See (The Chicago Mysteries Book 3) by Tracy Clark – a #BookReview

A top vanity magazine owner didn’t get to be a media empress without stepping on a few toes.

Book Blurb:

What You Don't See by Tracy ClarkVonda Allen’s vanity magazine has taken the Windy City by storm, and now she’s on her way to building a one-woman media empire. Everybody adores her—except the people who work for her. But who’s sending her flowers with death threats?

As Vonda’s bodyguard, off-duty cop Ben Mickerson could use some backup—and no one fits the bill better than his ex-partner, Cass Raines. But when two of Vonda’s staff turn up dead, Ben and Cass are suddenly locked in battle with an unknown assailant. And when Ben is attacked in the media chaos of a public appearance, Cass is left to find out what secrets Vonda is keeping, who might want her dead, and how she can bring Ben’s attacker to justice.

My Review:

Oh yes, had to grab this one–a mystery, an ex-(female)cop from the Chicago PD. I’m still fascinated with the love affair so many seem to have with Chicago–having moved to “Chicagoland” myself a few years ago and almost nightly tune in to distressing news–I’m amazed there are still people who view the Windy City with affection. (No worse than any large city, I guess, and my son certainly loves working there.) Still so much to learn, however, and the city is pretty amazing.

Cassandra (Cass) Raines is a former Chicago Police Officer now private investigator. She’s been approached by her former partner, Ben Mickerson, pulling off-duty cop assignments, to join him in what is supposed to be an easy, but very profitable assignment. Vonda Allen made it to the top publishing her vanity magazine, but now seems to have garnered the animosity of someone who is sending flowers with death threats. Someone doesn’t like her.

What You Don't See by Tracy ClarkUnfortunately, their first outing with the narcissistic publisher at a bookstore ends in a life and death struggle with Ben ending in the hospital. She failed to follow the assailant, opting instead to stay with Ben in an attempt to save his life. But now it’s personal. She quits Vonda and while Ben is still being stabilized in and out of complications, there are two deaths in connection to the publisher. Cass begins her own investigation.

First, it’s obvious the author has an intimate knowledge of Chicago and I loved the ride-alongs. Cass is streetwise, complex, takes no s**t from anyone. Still, she might go home and dissolve into tears, her tender side overwhelming her. She is sympathetic and compassionate. A survivor. A defender. Dialogue is smart, sassy, and peppered with bits of sharp-witted retort. Also, she has a new love interest.

Characters range from the loathsome (the cop who almost got her killed) to immensely empathetic. I really enjoyed the author’s descriptive writing style.

“My eyes narrowed to reptilian slits.”

“…then fought the cars full of sugared-up shorties streaming into the zoo’s parking lot before naptime.”

In particular, I enjoyed the snappy repartee between Cass and Angela Dotson-Hughes. Dotson-Hughes is a majorly fun character, someone easily pictured in the role she was playing. Unnecessary to know what color she is, she is fun, sharp, fast, serious. Cass continues to search for clues and makes gradual headway even as the well-plotted narrative gathers steam.

There are red-herrings, and I loved the unexpected twist near the conclusion, spiking into a well-crafted climax. Oh, that was neat! Cass’s “family” provides a strong emotional backdrop for her, including an introduction to the father who abandoned her when she was twelve–just a couple little sub-plots here–all neatly tied together. I love it when the conclusion melds so beautifully, leaving the reader with a satisfied smile.

I received this digital download from the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. My first experience with the series and author, but felt it can work fine as a standalone. Oh, yeah, I’m hooked and looking forward to Book 4. Engaging, entertaining, clean, sweet read. Coming up on release date–look for it!

Add to Goodreads

Book Details:
Genre: Private Investigator Series, Women Sleuths
Publisher: Kensington
ASIN: B07TT3WSQH
Print Length: 352 pages
Publication Date: To be Released May 26, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Purchase Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble

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

Tracy Clark - authorThe Author: Tracy Clark works as an editor in Chicago. In addition to her Cass Raines novels, she has had a short story published in the anthology “Shades of Black: Crime and Mystery Stories by African-American Authors.” A native Chicagoan, she is currently working on her next mystery.

[Author photo and bio from Goodreads] Tracy Clark, a native Chicagoan, is the author of the Cass Raines Chicago Mystery series, featuring ex-cop turned PI Cassandra Raines, Her debut, BROKEN PLACES, made Library Journal’s list of the Best Crime Fiction of 2018 and was short listed in the mystery category on the American Library Association’s 2019 Reading List. CrimeReads also named Cass Raines Best New PI of 2018. The novel was nominated for a Lefty Award for Best Debut novel, an Anthony Award for Best Debut Novel and a Shamus Award for Best First PI Novel. Her second Raines novel, BORROWED TIME, was nominated for the 2020 Lefty Award for Best Mystery Novel. She is the winner of the 2020 G.P. Putnam’s Sons Sue Grafton Memorial Award. You can visit Tracy on Facebook, or go to her author website at tracyclarkbooks.com.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Curse of the Ninth by Ruthie Marlenée – a #BookReview

“Oranges for health, California for Wealth”

Book Blurb:

Curse of the Ninth by Ruthie MarleneeIn the fall of 1930, Charley, not yet born, knows what happened to his father Doc as he lay dying. Like a changing of guards upon his death, Doc transfers over his consciousness to his unborn son.

Now sharing the life of his dead father, Charley has no choice except to carry out his father’s plans, including taking revenge on Doc’s killer. Despite the consequences.
Charley floats in and out of juvie, jail, and finally ends up in the U.S. Naval Hospital’s mental ward as a perfect candidate for the government’s “Project Chatter.”

Confused and threatened, Charley only wants to live like a normal person and marry the woman he loves, goals that feel impossible unless he can somehow get rid of his father’s beyond-the-grave influence.

My Review:

Uh, okay…

This is a hard one. It actually names the “phenomenon of transferring one’s consciousness into a pure form at the time of death.”  Phowa (a Buddhist meditation practice ).

Curse of the Ninth by Ruthie MarleneeDoc dies, but it isn’t an accident. His unborn son receives his restless and spiteful spirit. He’ll want retribution. There is no simple way to properly review this book. It’s complicated, unusual, I doubt you’ve read another like it. The cast of characters are at opposing sides of the moral compass and I felt the most sympathy for the mother, Phoebe. Phoebe is a gifted concert pianist and introduces to the well-drawn plot the myth of Beethovan’s curse…the curse of the ninth. (He died before he could complete his tenth symphony.)

There are issues here–many. Doc was married before–to Stella, who gave him two sons and a daughter. Stella was an alcoholic and made life miserable before Doc met Phoebe, who transformed his life and was about to give him a baby. A son…Charley. And it is Charley’s POV that drives the book along with a stellar cast of support characters–most flawed, bitter relatives, thieving partners, one of whom convinces the widow her new son needs a dad.

And Charley, the most egregiously damaged, possessed of his father’s vengeful spirit and often uninvited voice. The complex tale follows Charley’s life-long struggle with Doc’s spirit, failing to evict him after numerous attempts. Charley possesses the amazing musical ability of his mother and the strains of the Ode to Joy often weaves in and throughout the pages (indeed I plugged into the YouTube version), steeped in prose and philosophy, arguments of mental illness.

Set during the 30s through 1949, much of the narrative is relayed through sessions with Dr. Savage, a Navy psychiatrist, in an effort to determine how Charley should be diagnosed and discharged. At this point, Charley seems a ne’er do well, constantly at odds with the voice in his head, and who wouldn’t diagnose him as schizophrenic? Boy does that open a can of worms!

A compelling read, whether or not rooting for Charley. A strange mixture of the occult, historical reference, and poetic prose. Beautiful description, engaging author writing style, although I was a little dismayed by the conclusion. A family story from the author years in research, her grandfather would be proud.

I received this digital download directly from the author and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Looking for something different? Recommended to any interested in the occult, spiritual world, myths, eastern philosophy, even literary and historical fiction. Kudos to the author for weaving a fascinating tale between fact and fiction. 4.5/5 stars

Add to Goodreads

Book Details:
Genre: Occult Fiction, Literary Fiction, Occult Horror
Publisher: E L Marker
ASIN: B08429CXWS
Print Length: 320 pages
Publication Date: January 19, 2020
Source: Direct Author Request
Purchase Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes and Noble

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

Ruthie Marlenee - author, poet, ghostwriterThe Author: Ruthie Marlenée “Like her main character Charlie, Ruthie Marlenée grew up hearing wild, colorful stories about her wealthy, entrepreneurial grandfather…The result (of a suggestion from her father) is her novel, “Curse of the Ninth,” a tale based on real and imagined events. After almost twenty years since the kernel of the idea was planted, after going back to UCLA to workshop the story, after earning her Writers’ Certificate in Fiction and a nomination for a James Kirkwood Literary Award for “Curse of the Ninth”, Marlenée is happy to find a home with the WiDo/E.L. Marker Family of Publishers. A company Marlenée describes as “a personable and genuine organization willing to take this project on.”

Marlenée believes that writing is about using your imagination and so sometimes when she writes she can’t help but add bits of magic or elements of speculation.  In her current novel, she marries the notion of the Curse of the Ninth Symphony, where a composer is doomed to complete a tenth, together with the Buddhist meditation practice of Phowa, the transference of consciousness at time of death.”

Taken in part from an article dated October 2, 2018, WiDō Publishingtm, Novelist and Screenwriter Ruthie Marlenée Signs with E.L. Marker™ See full article here.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Sucker Punch: Getting Killed Can Be the Least of Your Problems by Jim Carroll – a #BookReview

Rosepoint Publishing: Five of Five Stars Five Stars

A Vicarious Blogger review of a military thriller

Book Blurb:

Sucker Punch: Getting Killed Can Be the Least of Your Problems by Jim CarrollJohnny Mack wanted to be an airline pilot who flew all over the world, made great money and met lots of girls. At 18 that seemed like a fair trade for a few years in the Army.

Johnny found out too late that in 1971 the Army only needed helicopter pilots. And they only needed them in Vietnam.

After an unfortunate incident involving a General’s daughter, Johnny ‘volunteers’ to go undercover on a Medevac crew suspected of selling Army medicines to the enemy.

Johnny’s control officer’s incompetence is deadlier than any enemy. Johnny’s crew are psychopathic pirates.

Then there is the regular job. Coming into hot landing zones. Loading the dead and wounded. Ignoring the screaming and thrashing about in the back. Holding the helicopter steady as bullets rip through the bird. Cleaning out the blood and gore as part of the regular post flight.

There is no one to trust. Death is coming from every direction.

As life spirals out of his control, Johnny realizes that getting killed may be the least of his problems. His sanity, his soul and everything that he believes himself to be, are in as much danger as his life.

His Review:

Sucker Punch - a thriller by Jim CarrollAnyone who has seen a Cobra helicopter in action is amazed at the nimbleness of the machine and the awesome firepower. Many young men during the Vietnam War aspired to be a pilot and fly one of those beauties. Our hero, John Mack, is just such a fellow. Training is arduous and upon the completion of his training, he and his buddy “Face” set out for final liberty before deployment.

Young ladies can get Warrant Officers into real trouble and Mack is no exception. A general’s daughter who looks much older spends some time with him giving him a painful medical condition and a trail directly to the general.

Rather than flying the Cobra Mack is sent to Vietnam to be a co-pilot on a Huey. His primary mission is to uncover someone who is selling medical supplies to the enemy. He is the third WO sent to unravel this mystery. The other two were missing and killed in action.

Cobra attack helicopterThe flying sequences and characters in this tale are very entertaining and remind me of standard military people in times of war. Very few people get particularly attached to teammates because they could die on any given mission. This coupled with undercover work makes our hero particularly vulnerable.

This book is very fast-moving and hard to put down. Danger is a daily event for the helicopter crews in a war zone. As a reader, you will immediately become engrossed in the survival aspect of this fast-moving drama and nail-biting scenes. Some of the descriptions of the war are downright hair raising. Therefore, I warn you to set aside a block of time because you will not want to put this book down.CE Williams CE Williams

We received this book from the publisher and NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review and these are my honest opinions. This novel is scheduled to be published on Friday, May 15, 2020.

Book Details:

Genre: Military Thrillers, War and Military Action Fiction
Publisher: Zeljim Publishing
ASIN: B084S6HR1Q
Print Length: 271 pages
Publication Date: To be released May 15, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Sucker Punch

Add to Goodreads 

Jim Carroll - author The Basketball DiariesThe Author: [from Goodreads bio] James Dennis “Jim” Carroll was an author, poet, autobiographer, and punk musician. Carroll was best known for his 1978 autobiographical work The Basketball Diaries, which was made into the 1995 film of the same name with Leonardo DiCaprio as Carroll.

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams

V Williams

Photo attribution Cobra by Public Domain Pictures.net

The Secrets of Bones: A Mystery (A Jazz Ramsey Mystery Book 2) by Kylie Logan – a #BookReview

Book Blurb:

Second in a new series from national bestselling author Kylie Logan, The Secrets of Bones is a riveting mystery following Jazz Ramsey as she trains a cadaver dog.

The Secrets of Bones by Kylie LoganAssembly Day at St. Catherine’s dawns bright and cloudless as professional woman gather from all around Ohio to talk to the schoolgirls about their careers ranging from medicine, to NASA, to yoga. Jazz Ramsey has also signed up to give the girls a taste of her lifelong passion: cadaver dog training. Her adorable new puppy Wally hasn’t been certified yet, so she borrows the fully-trained Gus from a friend and hides a few bones in the unused fourth floor of the school for him to find.

The girls are impressed when Gus easily finds the first bone, but then Gus heads confidently to a part of the floor where Jazz is sure no bones are hidden—at least not any that she’s put there. But Gus is a professional, and sure enough, behind a door that no one has opened in ages, is a human skeleton. Jazz recognizes the necklace the skeleton is wearing, and that it belonged to Bernadette Quinn, an ex-teacher at the school who’d quit her job abruptly one Christmas break. But now it seems Bernadette never left the school at all, and her hiding place makes it clear: this was murder.

Bernadette in life had been a difficult personality, and so there are a plethora of suspects inside the school and out of it. As Jazz gets closer to the truth she can’t help but wonder if someone might be dogging her footsteps…

My Review:

Thank you Allison of Minotaur Books for my download of The Secrets of Bones for a review.

As any who follows my blog knows, I love stories of hard-working service dogs, of which there are so many kinds of service and breeds, there is no lack of possible stories. This is one of those stories. It was a Friday, the day dawned clear and warm…oh wait…that’s another whole era and most of you are too young to remember Dragnet. Okay, maybe it was a Friday, but closer to June when the girls at prestigious St Catherine’s would be getting out for the summer.

The Secrets of Bones by Kylie LoganJazz Ramsey, Administrative Assistant to the principle, is helping with career day, introducing a seasoned, now retired, cadaver dog to demonstrate the service these well-trained canines provide. She has a new puppy, an Airedale named Wally, but he’s still young and untrained–simply along for the adorable factor. The demo comes to a skidding halt when Gus finds not just the bone she hid, but a whole skeleton (good dog) and judging from the remaining clothing, they know just who the skeleton belonged to.

The skeleton is thought to be a former nun, now an over-zealous teacher. Unfortunately, she had few friends and rubbed a great many people the wrong way, so there was an abundant number of possible suspects. Jazz feels she must defend her friend and the principle, Sister Eileen, as the cop in charge eyes her as the possible perp. The victim was never seen after Christmas vacation, leaving a resignation letter, following a strong disagreement with Sister Aileen.

Eileen is a great character, smart, charismatic, and efficient in her handling of the school. Nick is apparently a previous love interest, a detective, and another great support character and there are others. Jazz is dedicated to her cadaver dog training and Wally and presents as a dedicated and competent assistant at the school. She’ll figure out what happened all those years ago if it kills her–and it might.

Lots of red herrings, but really, it wasn’t difficult to figure out. In the meantime, the storyline was well-paced, cleverly written, and engaging. The conclusion answered all the questions and the reveal exposed. I easily read as a standalone and enjoyed the setting of the school as well as the Cleveland area descriptions. My problem was the lack of focus on the dog(s). Hopefully, the dogs will be working more in the next installment.

I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for those who enjoy cozy mysteries.

Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuth, Cozy Animal Mystery, Animal Fiction
Publisher: Minotaur Books
ASIN: B07Z2LFM12
Print Length: 336 pages
Publication Date: May 5, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Secrets of Bones (Amazon)
Barnes and Noble
Kobo 

Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint Publishing: Four of Five Stars 4-stars

Kylie Logan - authorThe Author: Kylie Logan-A pseudonym used by Constance Laux. Aka Miranda BlissCasey DanielsKylie LoganConnie DekaConnie Lane.

Constance Laux is an U.S.American writer of romance novels as her real name and under the pen names: Connie Deka and Connie Lane. Writing as Constance Laux, she’s published nine historical romance novels and as Connie Lane, she writes both category romance books and romantic suspense/comedy novels.

She was born on January 21 in Cleveland, Ohio. She remembers the day she got her first library card and the first book she took out of the Cleveland Public Library; Horton Hatches the Egg. She studied English Literature in the Queen’s College in the prestigious university of Oxford. She married with her love of adolescence, and they live in a suburb of Cleveland with their two children, and an oversized Airedale named Hoover. [Bio source: Goodreads, Wikipedia info and photo]

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Out of the Red and Into the Black: A Debt is Paid by Shane A Ahalt Sr – A #BookReview

Book Blurb:

Out of the Red and Into the BlackUnspeakable acts go on under our noses every single day. If you could do something about them would you? How far would you go? Shane Ahalt’s debut thriller will have you questioning your morality and your stance on vigilantism.

When Chris Caldwell, the chief of police of a small town, investigates the kidnapping of Tyler Creasy and the brutal and torturous murder of his parents, the investigation reveals dark secrets of the family. As the clues unravel and similar instances are discovered to have occurred over a period of more than 60 years, the question arises “Is this an isolated incident or is there something more sinister in the works?” Chief Caldwell’s investigation turns up more than he bargained for as history seems to repeat itself. Will he solve these vicious and violent murders or will they become cold cases? Will he discover what happened to Tyler? Find out in Shane Ahalt Sr.’s debut thriller, Out of the Red and Into the Black.

His Review:

A child with serious abusive issues originating from parents has a lifelong cross to bear. Tyler Creasy and his friend Raquel are two such children. Accidental touches when young lead to a world of depravity I have never contemplated. The question that roars into your mind as you read this book is: “How can any parent do this to their own children?”

Out of the Red and Into the Black by Shane Ahalt SrBrian Smart is a computer analyst with the F.B.I. He was rescued as a young man by someone who had been similarly subjected to such abuse. After being rescued Brian was loved and well educated. His foster father charged him with one task. When given the chance, he would rescue another child subjected to this abuse and thereby “pay it forward”. Brian begins to see this happening and sets out to rescue the child being abused.

The author has developed a skillful methodology to capture the offenders and bring them to justice. The justice is renegade in nature and therefore the rescuers are being sought by the same organization that Brian works for. Most of the crimes occur in four contiguous states and these are the area that Brian’s FBI group investigates.

The use of computer cyber security and advanced monitoring methods are intriguing and effective. I found myself having no sympathy for the recipients of their crimes. I did find that the overall crimes and subsequent retributions to be duplicitous. The two young people are being taught by Brian to assist other young people caught in this abomination.

CE WilliamsI was torn between having hope for the victims and concern about the impact on their lives as they tried to make restitution for what happened to them. “Revenge is Mine” sayeth the Lord, certainly is not argued in this text. Rather “An Eye for an Eye and a Tooth for a Tooth” is the norm. I appreciated the authors’ attention to detail and methodology. Living in the bubble of not having been visited this issue was a far simpler way to live. We received this author request and download in the expectation of a review and these are my honest opinions. Trigger Warnings: Graphic descriptions. 4 stars CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Crime Thrillers, Kidnapping Thrillers, Murder Thrillers
Publisher: Indie Author
ASIN: B07ZQTJYJY
Print Length: 196 pages
Publication Date: October 29, 2019
Source: Direct author request
Title Link: Out of the Red and Into the Black (Amazon)
Barnes and Noble

Add to Goodreads

 Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4-stars

Shane A Ahalt Sr - authorThe Author: Shane Ahalt Sr. is a father, husband, teacher, writer, and 21 year veteran of the United States Navy.

Upon graduating The George Washington University, he was commissioned in the Navy where he flew helicopters. When he retired from the Navy, he decided to give back to his community by becoming a High School Math teacher.

Although he is a native of the Washington D.C. suburbs. He is currently a teacher in Florida at a small alternative school.

Writing is a talent he stumbled upon and, to date, he has published one book, “Out of the Red and Into the Black.”

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Forgiveness Falls by Kate James – a #BookReview

Book Blurb:

Forgiveness Falls by Kate JamesWhen Alice overhears a murder confession at her family’s Adirondacks inn, she takes this for a bad dream. Later, she attributes an eerie scream from the courtyard to the same elusive nightmare.

After all, she had an alarming evening, marked by a freak fire and frightened talk of “glowing eyes” sure to hurt the inn’s reputation.

But as the mysteries multiply and grow more malicious, Alice and her son suspect a scam. Aimed at the family? Then again, it’s possible the resurrection of a local legend has awakened sleeping souls…

Romance complicates matters, as Alice is drawn to a guest her ex-cop brother distrusts. Then there’s the unknown poetry that finds its way into her head…as if someone’s trying to reach her – maybe to warn her?

My Review:

There is so much we don’t know that we don’t know, but certainly there has always been, in one form or another, that feeling that there might be some form of life after death. And, generally, there are good reasons why the soul is “stuck” rather than finding their own appropriate heaven (or hell).

Forgiveness Falls by Kate JamesParanormal or metaphysical, this novel is chocked full of philosophy much of which is highlighted mainly through the classic poets, including the master (Shakespeare), as well as ideologies of the author. Each chapter is headed by an appropriate quote. (I recognized Ariel from William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest.) Many were recognized, many were thought-provoking, but there were many.

Alice Thorpe’s family manages their Adirondacks inn by themselves, each in their appropriate niche, and are currently hosting a variety of guests, but some strange things begin to happen. When the occurrences begin to escalate and become increasingly dangerous, the family must sit down and analyze together when and/or why this might have begun. They can pinpoint several possibilities. For one, they are looking into the prospect of rebuilding an old transcendentalist commune called Valor Farm of the 1850s founded by Miranda Frasier. Miranda had a tragic history and she as well as her beloved were the object of many ghost stories surrounding Forgiven Falls. Forgiveness Falls is said to have healing powers. The family differs on how to handle that information on their website.

There are deep philosophical discussions that include mythology, such as the Dark Man or the Green Man and origins of pagan beliefs, native herbs, and nature. The four elements of the Tarot. “Everything in nature has its own unique voice…” Arguments about the sixth sense, space, and time.

“Is harm done knowingly the only kind that matters?”

 The author did a great job in assembling an appropriate cadre of support characters, including a young person working on a thesis and her guest, a psychic. There is a death about half-way into the narrative written off-screen that throws a deeper wrinkle into what might be happening or why. Alice and her new romantic interest, Jack, are not wholly developed and Alice’s mounting inclusion into the metaphysical remained a bit at arm’s length.

The book begins a slow burn to the premise and may have benefited somewhat by shortening the serious transcendentalist arguments. Still, it was a very well-plotted narrative with a cast of suitable characters and intelligent dialogue. I kept waiting for the antagonist to be divulged and was quite surprised (denying to the very end) the ease into the disquieting conclusion.

While this may have been a bit heavy for me on the metaphysical, a reader who enjoys a hearty transcendentalist discussion with occult, supernatural, mystical, or paranormal practices would benefit from the obvious knowledge of the author.

Book Details:

Genre: Occult Fiction, Ghost Fiction
ASIN: B082VN7M2T
Print Length: 369 pages
Publication Date: December 17, 2019
Source: Direct author request
Title Link: Forgiveness Falls 

Add to Goodreads

Kate James - authorThe Author: Kate James is a successful coach, meditation teacher, speaker and writer who lives south of Melbourne. Kate helps her clients discover their values and innate strengths and guides them toward purposeful, meaningful lives. Her business is called Total Balance.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

The Last Agent (Charles Jenkins Book 2) by Robert Dugoni – a #Book Review – #TuesdayBookBlog

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars Five Stars

(A shared review with the CE–my Vicarious Blogger.)

Book Blurb:

An Amazon Charts, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal bestselling series.

The Last Agent by Robert DugoniAn American operative in Russia is on the run for his life in a thriller of heart-stopping betrayal and international intrigue by the New York Times bestselling author of The Eighth Sister.

Betrayed by his own country and tried for treason, former spy Charles Jenkins survived an undercover Russian operation gone wrong. Exonerated, bitter, and safe, the retired family man is through with duplicitous spy games. Then he learns of a woman isolated in Moscow’s notorious Lefortovo Prison.

If it’s Paulina Ponomayova, the agent who sacrificed her life to save his, Jenkins can’t leave her behind. But there’s no guarantee it’s her. Or proof Paulina is still alive. To find out, Jenkins must return to Russia. Next move: blackmail Viktor Federov, a former Russian officer with his own ax to grind, into helping him infiltrate Lefortovo. The enemy who once pursued Jenkins across three continents is now the only man Jenkins can trust.

Every step of the way—from Moscow to Scandinavia to the open ocean—they’re hunted by a brutal Russian agent on a killer quest of his own. Out of loyalty to Paulina—dead or alive—Jenkins is putting everyone’s life on the line for a new mission that could be his last.

My Review:

No one–NO one–can do an espionage spy thriller like Dugoni. I read The Eighth Sister and thought it his best and my favorite (I’ve also read his Tracy Crosswhite series), but this one…

This one catches you up quickly and then proceeds to become more pulse-pounding with each page that flies by. Put it down? NOPE! The Last Agent is absolutely riveting from mesmerizing beginning to jaw-dropping conclusion. Brilliant!

Moscow in winter. Mercy! (Is that like Siberia with buildings? Worse than Chicago?) Beyond brutal.

The Last Agent by Robert DugoniCharles Jenkins, retired and living with his much younger wife, son, and baby daughter gets the information that Paulina Ponomayova, the woman who he thought had sacrificed her life so that he could return to his family, may be alive, and if scuttlebutt is to be believed in heinous Lefortovo prison. Beyond hell on earth, if she’s there it’s to extract the remaining four names of the Seven Sisters. He barely escaped home that former undercover operation and was then brought up on charges of treason by his own government. Exonerated. He’s done with the CIA for good. The man is in his sixties–leave him alone. But, Paulina–the thought of her at the mercy of those vicious Russian interrogators tear at his heart. He can’t ignore the fact that he would never have seen his family again, were it not for her.

Upon returning to Russia, Charles will contact Viktor Federov, the agent treated as badly as Charles by his own country, his fault for letting Jenkins escape. Viktor is driven by two motives; one is money and Charles knows just how to push that button. He’ll enlist Viktor’s help in penetrating the prison. Each holds a grudging respect for the other as well as a modicum of mistrust.

Paulina, an empathetic character from Book 1 as well as Viktor, both formidably strong support characters. The antagonist in Book 2 is wickedly intuitive and whether a step ahead or behind, raises the apprehension, missing by inches regardless the teeth-chattering cold, the protagonist’s terror palpable. You don’t get to relax or take a breath. The chase is on, the stakes are high, and there are myriad agents coordinating and pushing to the next checkpoint. Can they survive the frigid conditions with FSB ranking Efimov desperate to capture not only Paulina, but now Charles and Viktor?

The well-plotted suspense thriller brings each heart-stopping scene to within a hair’s breadth and then the author throws another curve, another red herring, another spine-tingling twist. Will Charles live to see his baby girl again? Unique storyline, electrifying narrative never lets the tension sag.

While you might attain more insight into the main characters brought forward from Book 1, you could very well enjoy this book as a standalone. There are certainly references back to previous character interactions, relationships, and motives. We received this digital uncorrected proof by the publisher and NetGalley and SOOO appreciate the opportunity for the read and review. Totally recommended!

Book Hangover

His thoughts:

Working for “The Agency” is not for the weak of heart. Being a spy has a daily danger and death is always close. Dugoni’s hero, Charles Jenkins’ is living that life. He escapes from Russia with the help of an operative named Paulina Ponomayova.

Misinformation is woven masterfully through this thriller. The life of a spy in Russia is only assured if they are successful in catching the enemy. Putin has no use for people on his payroll who do not produce and capture enemies of the state.

Paulina has spent months in one of Russia’s most infamous prisons. She has remained silent and been subjected to countless painful interrogations. Her assistance in helping Charles escape is a thorn in the side of the former KGB now the FSB. The Kremlin is certain that she has intimate knowledge of those who helped set up the escape network.

Charles feels he must go back in to assist getting her out of the prison and out of Russia. The agent tasked with capturing Charles is disavowed by the FSB and barely escapes being shot. The CIA wants to rescue Paulina if at all possible for the valuable intel and can’t take the chance she might, if alive, keep her secrets.

CE WilliamsThe capability of Russia’s intelligence community along with their ruthless procedures makes for a very engaging read. They are everywhere inside and outside of Russia. The training for agents must be intensive as they doggedly pursue Charles and Paulina. I suppose death for failure is a prime motivator of the agents of the Russian Secret Service (FSB). By choosing this book you are forfeiting any opportunity for a good night’s sleep. Enjoy! 5 stars CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: International Mystery and Crime, Legal Thrillers, Crime Action and Adventure
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

  • ISBN-10:1542014972
  • ISBN-13:978-1542014977
  • ASIN: B07P9QFQH4

Publication Date: September 22, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Last Agent

Add to Goodreads 

Robert Dugoni - authorThe Author: Robert Dugoni is the critically acclaimed New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and #1 Amazon bestselling author of the Tracy Crosswhite police detective series set in Seattle, which has sold more than 5 million books worldwide. He is also the author of The Charles Jenkins espionage series, and the David Sloane legal thriller series.

His stand-alone novels include The 7th Canon, Damage Control, and the literary novel, The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell – Suspense Magazine’s 2018 Book of the Year, for which Dugoni’s narration won an AudioFile Earphones Award; as well as the nonfiction exposé The Cyanide Canary, a Washington Post Best Book of the Year. Several of his novels have been optioned for movies and television series.

Dugoni is the recipient of the Nancy Pearl Award for Fiction and the two-time winner of the Friends of Mystery Spotted Owl Award for best novel set in the Pacific Northwest. He is also a two-time finalist for the International Thriller Award, the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction, the Silver Falchion Award for mystery, and the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award.

Robert Dugoni’s books are sold in more than twenty-five countries and have been translated into more than two dozen languages.

Visit his website at http://www.robertdugoni.com, and follow him on twitter @robertdugoni and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/AuthorRobertDugoni

©2020 V Williams V Williams

The Dead Don’t Sleep by Steven Max Russo – A #BookReview

Book Blurb:

The Dead Don't Sleep by Steven Max RussoFrank Thompson, a recent widower and aging Vietnam veteran is down from Maine visiting his nephew, Bill, and his family in New Jersey.

While at a trap range, he and his nephew have a chance encounter with a strange man who claims to remember Frank from the war.

That night, the windows in Bill’s home are shattered along with the quiet peaceful lives the two men had been living.

Three veterans from a special combat unit directed by the CIA during the Vietnam War have gathered to discuss what they are going to do about a man they claim killed one of their own over forty years ago.

Jasper, Birdie and Pogo were part of a team that called themselves the National League All Stars. They were a squad of psychopathic killers trained by Special Forces to cause death and mayhem during the war. Now, they have banded together to hunt down and kill the professional soldier who led them all those years ago.

Drawing on his military training and a resurgent bloodlust from his tortured past, Frank prepares for a final, violent reckoning that will bring him full circle with the war that never left him.

His Review:

Vietnam was a very ugly affair. Clandestine operatives from the NSA and CIA interspersed with highly trained military operatives make for strange bedfellows. Russo portrays some of those individuals as damaged and living in the past. The hero, Uncle Frank, has moved to remote Maine to keep himself distanced and away from that past.

The Dead Don't Sleep by Steven Max RussoVisiting his nephew after his wife’s passing, he has a chance encounter with some of the people he served with. Like most veterans, Uncle Frank does not share or talk about his past. However, there are others who cannot forget that war and continue to hold grudges, even after 50 years.

Testing of psychedelic drugs on some of our military was common during that war. Many ex-military cannot leave the hallucinogens alone. Amphetamines and other drugs used to help the soldiers stay sharp and awake are integrated into this story. Also, bad intelligence leads to the death of many innocent villagers. Regrettably, some of our troops become psychotic in an attempt to stay alive.

This plot becomes explosive as three former soldiers decide to kill Uncle Frank. They have not abandoned their ruthless procedures. They spread mayhem into Maine as they attempt to exact revenge against “Turd Man,” their name for Uncle Frank.

Mr. Russo masterfully spins military strategies into both the antagonists and Uncle Frank’s character. Life becomes very cheap as the three try to exact their revenge. The mindset of the characters is developed with precision. Uncle Frank falls back on his military training and sets up a defensive perimeter to protect himself.

CE WilliamsThe development of this story is enlightening and tragic. I recommend it to all who are contemplating a military career. Our soldiers have a very difficult task and as warfare becomes more technical and complex; survival becomes much more difficult. Set aside a block of time to read this book because you will not want to put it down.

We were given the digital download after a read request fro the author in exchange for a review and these are my honest opinion. 5 stars CE Williams

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars Five Stars

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense, Crime Thrillers, Crime Fiction
Publisher: Down and Out Books
ASIN: B081B99VBB
Print Length: 292 pages
Publication Date: November 18, 2019
Source: Direct author request
Title Link: The Dead Don’t Sleep (Amazon)
Find the book at these additional locations:
Barnes and Noble
Kobo 

Add to Goodreads

The Author: Steven Max Russo (no bio listed on Amazon or Goodreads)

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Between the Cracks by Carmela Cattuti #BlogTour #BookReview #Giveaway

I am so delighted today to provide a review for you at my blog stop for Between the Cracks by Carmela Cattuti on the RABT Book Tours and PR. Scroll down to enter your chance to win the Giveaway!

Between the Cracks Book Tour

Book Details

One woman’s journey from Sicily to America

Historical Fiction

Publisher: HenschelHAUS Publishing

Book Blurb

Join Angela Lanza as she experiences the tumultuous world of early 20th century Sicily and New York. Orphaned by the earthquake and powerful eruption of Mt. Etna in 1908, Angela is raised in the strict confines of an Italian convent. Through various twists of fate, she is married to a young Italian man whom she barely knows, then together with her spouse, immigrates to the U.S.

My Thoughts

Between the Cracks by Carmela CattutiHaving survived the powerful eruption of Mt Etna and the earthquake associated with the catastrophe, Angela Lanza is left with no idea what happened to her family, specifically her sister, and that would become a recurrent theme throughout the semi-biographical novel. Many of the orphans were sent to orphanages or convents, and as a young girl, Angela found herself in an Italian convent. Her life in Messina, Sicily, a painful memory now only allowed to speak Italian.

Angela’s life changes dramatically when she is the chosen bride of an Italian American. Each has their own reasons for the marriage and Angela finds herself the partner of the son in a diverse family in New York, including a young half-sister who Angela takes under her wing. Speranza in return begins the task of teaching Angela English. An accomplished seamstress, Angela finds work and discovers Franco has been extremely industrious, accomplished in the building trades, and saving money. But Franco is rather close-minded when it comes to his family and to his mother’s and sister’s plans for young Speranza.

Not a marriage of convenience, nor of love, they do the best they can, getting to know each other. Franco still has family in Italy and particularly a cousin who is fast-becoming an outspoken poet, speaking out against Fascism, and he worries about him and what is happening in Europe and the coming world war. Meanwhile, Angela’s dream of children of her own is shattered.

Franco and Angela are beset with problems, not only their own, but his close family, while Angela does her best to be the proper help-mate. Eventually, one tragedy after another, the roles are reversed and it is she who must become the stronger of the two, facing down each misfortune after the other, holding the household together and coming to terms with his family’s path.

Interesting writing style, somewhat simplistic, often descriptive of her native land and that of the family she lost as well as Franco’s thoughts and motives. An often heart-breaking turn of events that might have broken the back of a weaker willed person, Angela certainly struggled with the life she felt God handed her. Life in the convent would have presented so radically different. A narrative that has you hoping for the best though realizing there are often, in real life, no fairy-tale endings. Still, the triumph here was in the mindset and strength to go on, overcoming adversity and coming out the other side.  

Add to Goodreads

Giveaway

Sign up for your chance to win one (1) paperback copy of Between the Cracks on this Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author

Carmela Cattuti - author

Carmela Cattuti started her writing career as a writer for the Somerville News in Boston, MA. She is a writer, painter, and yoga instructor in Boston. After she finished her graduate work in English at Boston College, she began to write creatively. As fate would have it, she felt compelled to write her great aunt’s story. Between the Cracks and The Ascent have gone through several incarnations and will become a trilogy.

Author Links

Website: www.ccattuticreative.com/carmela-cattuti-books

Facebook: www.facebook.com/carmelacattuticreative

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ccattuti

Instagram: www.instagram.com/carmelacattuticreative

Purchase Links

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Between-Cracks-Womans-Journey-America-ebook/dp/B00EIR08TO/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=carmela+cattuti&qid=1581979505&sr=8-2

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/carmela+cattuti?_requestid=3832793

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

Tour Participants:

April 10 – RABT Book Tours – Kick Off

April 10 – Nana’s Book Reviews – Spotlight

April 11 – Salt and Novels – Excerpt

April 13 – Mythical Books – Guest Post

April 14 – Tea Time and Books – Spotlight

April 15 – Java John Z’s – Excerpt

April 16 – The Sexy Nerd Revue – Spotlight

April 16 – The Avid Reader – Interview

April 17 – Nesie’s Place – Spotlight

April 18 – Sylv.net – Spotlight

April 20 – Historical Graffiti – Guest Post

April 21 – Texas Book Nook – Review

April 22 – Novel News Network – Review

April 23 – Ravenous Reader – Spotlight

April 24 – Rose Point Publishing – Review

April 10 – RABT Reviews – Wrap Up RABT Book Tours and PR Tour Host

Thanks to RABT Book Tours and PR for the opportunity to read and review this historical fiction mystery!

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Final Judgment (Samantha Brinkman Book 4) by Marcia Clark – a #BookReview – #TuesdayBookBlog

Shared review with the Vicarious Blogger

Book Blurb:

Final Judgment by Marcia ClarkA murder investigation draws firebrand attorney Samantha Brinkman into her boyfriend’s past in this novel of high-risk suspense by bestselling author Marcia Clark.

When it comes to relationships and self-preservation, defense attorney Samantha Brinkman has always been cut and run. But it’s different with her new lover, Niko, an ambitious and globally famous entrepreneur. Sam is putting her faith in him. She has to. He’s also her new client—a suspect in the murder of an investor whose shady dealings turned Niko’s good life upside down.

He had the motive: revenge. As did many others who banked a fortune on the wrong man. That’s a point in Niko’s favor. So is his alibi for the day of the slaying. Until that alibi mysteriously disappears. As Sam’s feverish search for another viable killer begins, the investigation only leads deeper into Niko’s past and its secrets.

From the darkest suspicions to final judgment, fighting for Niko is Sam’s job. To do it, she must risk everything on a man who could make all her worst fears come true.

My Thoughts

I’m not quite sure whether this is supposed to be a legal thriller or not. True, defense attorney Samantha Brinkman is back with her three-person legal office. Besides herself, there is Alex her tech guru and investigator and Michelle her BFF and paralegal, bookkeeper, office manager. And there are other files to work, cases to manage, court appearances and meetings with two clients. But in the meantime, she has apparently become majorly involved with Niko. He is gorgeous and well-to-do. Unfortunately, he is also the person who advised his mother to invest in a money scheme too good to be true and she’s lost everything.

Final Judgment by Marcia ClarkNiko’s financial contact is just the tip of the iceberg and this multi-plot gets complex real fast. Niko has a couple holes in his alibis and Sam begins to detect lies and sins of omission. She is getting serious about him, but is now torn between his possible guilt or innocence when the second guy coordinating the scheme goes missing. Now she’s really up a creek, positive one minute Niko did it, but vowing to defend him with everything she has. She has the feeling regardless that she must find the one who did it–if he didn’t. She must know the truth. Did he kill one–or both of them?

I did have a few problems with this one. Sam is still fighting demons from her childhood and he is still giving her nightmares. Niko is giving her nightmares. She is taking showers morning and night, drinking a lot of tequila, and discussing things with both her assistant/associates that would be considered not only very personal, but privileged and discussing illegal activity–theirs. There is little time devoted to any courtroom appearances–most is running down leads, contacts, other investors, and the well-plotted mystery gets more complicated. More a whodunit than legal thriller.

I enjoyed descriptions of the area and legendary traffic jambs, travel into insanely rich neighborhoods of the LA basin. There were twists and the conclusion came as a surprise. Sam, still acting more PI than attorney, managed to pull a fast one and gain some long-desired resolution. Certainly a win-win. There is profane language as well as frank deviant behaviors. My second book with the author having read Snap Judgment, I really prefer more legal/courtoom action, less romance. I received this uncorrected proof from the publisher and NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to continue in the series. 4 stars

His Thoughts

I found the defensive attorney, Samantha Brinkman, a little too needy in her relationship with her lover. The chapters were structured around the same tenet; how could she save her client/lover? But this boyfriend/client was a bit of a reach for me. I could understand her need for strong male bonding but she seemed to swing cold and then hot.

Her stepfather was a very wicked man as were the other villains in this story. Despite her shortcomings, Samantha weaves a very intriguing tale of justice and recompense. The storyline is built around the seedy side of investing and the male depravity is eye-opening. Two of the villains are portrayed as sociopaths. Interesting legal maneuvering while trying to keep a killer out of prison makes for a far-fetched tale. Her childhood was abysmal and therefore the conclusion was gratifying.  CE WilliamsI asked myself if there are actually attorneys who would do such a thing. Knowing Marcia Clark’s background, I wonder if she actually works at that game. I rather feel that this is a mental alter ego that wishes some of this was actual methodology.

This is an entertaining book with a satisfying ending. Marcia, thanks for the literary ride and adventure. 4 stars – CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Legal Thrillers, Vigilante Justice
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
ASIN: B07TMN6WR8
Print Length: 416 pages
Publication Date: April 21, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Final Judgment (Amazon)
Barnes and Noble

+Add to Goodreads 

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4-stars

Marcia Clark - authorThe Author: California native Marcia Clark is the author of Guilt by Association, Guilt by Degrees, Killer Ambition, and The Competition, all part of the Rachel Knight series. A practicing criminal lawyer since 1979, she joined the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office in 1981, where she served as prosecutor for the trials of Robert Bardo, convicted of killing actress Rebecca Schaeffer, and, most notably, O. J. Simpson. The bestselling Without a Doubt, which she cowrote, chronicles her work on the Simpson trial. Clark has been a frequent commentator on a variety of shows and networks, including Today, Good Morning America, The Oprah Winfrey Show, CNN, and MSNBC, as well as a legal correspondent for Entertainment Tonight.

Follow Marcia on Twitter at @thatmarciaclark – Connect with Ms. Clark on her website.

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Black Velvet (The Erin O’Reilly K-9 Mysteries Book 1) by Steven Henry – a #BookReview #cozyanimalmystery

“USA TODAY Bestselling Book 1 in the Erin O’Reilly Mysteries series.” A shared review with the Vicarious Blogger.

Book Blurb:

Black Velvet by Steven HenryErin learned a lot from her partner: stay alert, follow your nose, and once you’ve got your teeth in them, never let go.

It’s tough working nights with the NYPD. The crime rate is high, the hours are terrible, and forget about a personal life. So when Officer O’Reilly and her K-9 Rolf switch over to the day shift, things are looking up. She’s even able to find time for a new boyfriend.

But when the theft of a priceless painting from the Queens Museum leaves a fellow police officer dead, Erin and her four-legged partner find themselves dealing with dangerous criminals, sleazy art dealers, and obstructive detectives in a race to capture the killers…and just maybe bring closure to a 75-year-old crime.

My Thoughts

Being the sucker that I am for a K-9 book and having found this series for Reading Ireland Month 2020, I went back and bought (gasp! How unusual is that!!) Book 1 of the series. There are currently seven in the series and I’m determined to progress to the rest.

Erin O’Reilly is a patrol officer for the NYPD with K-9 partner Rolf. She has been on the job for eleven years, ready for a change and has her eyes set on detective. She is second generation NYPD and proud of it, strong, confident, and dedicated.

A date at a major art gala runs awry when men dressed as part of the security team grabs an extremely valuable painting. The painting has yet to be authenticated, leading to insufficient security and they do a grab and run. Unfortunately, a patrolman gets caught in the crossfire. In formal attire and without her normal gear, she does her best with the downed officer’s gun, calling in the theft, backup, and a bus for the casualty.

Erin recognizes the uniform theft from a call she’d previously had and begins her investigation. Unfortunately, as the officer dies, the case has now gone to the detectives in her precinct and they tell her to back off. Of course, now fully involved, not likely she’ll do that.

Erin comes off a bit gruff, rude, sharp, and almost hostile at times. She has difficulty reining in that Irish temper and becomes offensive with the date who is trying to help her. After all, he is the art expert who invited her to the exclusive exhibit where he was known and connected. He is able to reliably give her a couple leads that sets her investigation.

I enjoyed the interaction with her K-9 partner and her work with him, his well-trained commands in German. She exhibits some training of her own, remembering lessons when the need arises. The well-plotted and paced police procedural moves along at a good clip, reminding you that it really isn’t over until it’s over. The conclusion was sweet, the transfer to detective in the new unit being formed in Manhattan.

Since I’ve already read Book 2, I can see where the author pulled back on the wholly bad-ass female officer to a slightly more mellow detective. There are compelling characters and she is given more dimension–after all–this was Book 1. This book is a fast read, not terribly difficult to figure the culprit, but the climax satisfying. I already see the growth that happens in the newly minted detective of Book 2–a new challenge for her, not quite so sure of herself but with enough background she’s no green-horn either and can hold her own. Engaging and entertaining. 4 stars

Book Titles are the go-to drink for the series entry. Recipe included and they mysteriously include Guinness! Book 3 of the series is entitled White Russian. Wanna make any bets on the drink?

His Thoughts

Black Velvet by Steven HenryIf crime doesn’t pay, why is there so much of it? Erin O’Reilly is a beat cop in New York who answers the call and puzzles over the answer. Her partner is Rolf, a German Shepherd with an unending loyalty and a nose for perps. A minor burglary turns major.

Steven Henry spins his tales with a master’s touch. This small-time burglary turns into a major art theft and the death of one of New York’s finest. The problem is an underlying disdain for beat cops by major crime detectives. Many times Erin appears to be one step ahead of the detectives despite their telling her to butt out of their case.

The minor burglary includes four uniforms taken and the cash register unopened. One of the criminals is caught by Rolf and Erin, but he is a minnow in the pond later the theft of a priceless painting. The plot thickens as the detectives’ order Erin to butt out and let them solve the case.

The dialog in Mr. Henry’s books make it difficult to put down. There are no idle moments in this tale. The action is very fast and would make a good television mini-series. As the plot thickens, the crime shifts to the death of the cop in the commission of the major art theft.

CE WilliamsIt is a delight to read Mr. Henry’s books and engage with his characters. Sleepless nights are rewarded with an exciting and ongoing plot. Erin’s character is a no-nonsense second-generation cop in Queens. She is portrayed as a small dynamo of a cop. She is much bigger with her partner Rolf. Criminals would certainly like to do her physical harm but a 96 pound German Shepherd is not to be trifled with.

Try the book, you will enjoy the characters and the repartee. 5 stars CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Animal Mysteries, Women Sleuths
Publisher: Clickworks Press
ASIN: B077LT86SM
Print Length: 244 pages
Publication Date: November 17, 2017
Source: Purchased Direct from Publisher
Title Link: Black Velvet(Amazon)
Barnes and Noble
Kobo

+Add to Goodreads 

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

Steven Henry - authorThe Author: Steven Henry is the USA Today bestselling author of the Erin O’Reilly mysteries and the Clarion Chronicles. He learned how to read almost before he learned how to walk. Ever since he began reading stories, he wanted to put his own on the page. He lives a very quiet and ordinary life in Minnesota with his wife and dog.

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Running Out of Road-A Buck Schatz Mystery Series Book 3 by Daniel Friedman – a #BookReview

The Edgar Award-nominated Buck Schatz series of mysteries featuring a retired cop in Memphis continues with Running Out of Road.

“Daniel Friedman has done it again—only better.”— Michael Sears, bestselling author of Black Fridays

Book Blurb:

Running Out of Road by Daniel FriedmanOnce, Detective Buck Schatz patrolled the city of Memphis, chasing down robbers and killers with a blackjack truncheon and a .357. But he’s been retired for decades. Now he’s frail and demented, and Rose, his wife of 72 years, is ill and facing a choice about her health care that Buck is terrified to even consider. The future looks short and bleak, and Buck’s only escape is into the past.

But Buck’s past is under attack as well. After 35 years on death row, convicted serial killer Chester March finally has an execution date. Chester is the oldest condemned man in the United States, and his case has attracted the attention of NPR producer Carlos Watkins, who believes Chester was convicted on the strength of a coerced confession. Chester’s conviction is the capstone on Buck’s storied career, and, to save Chester’s life, Watkins is prepared to tear down Buck’s reputation and legacy.

My Review:

Oh, ARGH! What DO I get myself into? Absolutely NOT what I expected when I requested a copy of this book. It’s a crime novel, right? And about a retired cop from Memphis. I might have expected a few of his most memorable busts. But no, what I get is a novel with multiple major societal issues, hot buttons, and book club fodder.

But where do I start? This is not your typical crime novel as noted above. No–far from it. Protagonist Baruch “Buck” Schatz has been diagnosed with dementia. He’s almost 90. He uses a walker to get around and getting up to cross his now tiny assisted living apartment takes all his energy. His wife of 72 years, Rose, has recently been diagnosed with cancer. Can this get any worse? Oh, yes–trust me.

Running Out of Road by Daniel FriedmanThe novel is structured atypically. Buck gets a call from Carlos Watkins, a reporter doing an NPR series regarding one of Buck’s infamous busts from the old days. The perp is beyond despicable, but now after 35 years on death row, his letters have finally garnered attention and Carlos wants to hear Buck’s side of the story shortly before he is to be executed and now also of advanced years.

Now it gets complex, complicated running a narrative unique in POV from Carlos’ transcripts of the American Justice series to Buck in the current year of 2011, and reverting to the time when Chester March first comes to Buck’s attention–1955. Crime fighting was different then–he busted some heads. His grandson, and newly graduated law school student studying for the bar, advised Buck from the beginning not to talk to Carlos. It became evident Carlos had an agenda.

“…the past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

But you are literally getting multiple sides of the story, a news event that observers documented and saved. It’s all in the files. Schatz was a decorated police detective. Tough, Jewish, driven. He would get a confession–one way or the other. March from privileged white landowners who maintained the confession was beaten out of him by Schatz. There is the fervent man promoting strong arguments against the death penalty as well as Carlos running his NPR series, phone interviews with March pleading the circumstance of his confession and arguments against his impending sentence date.

Character-driven, each one passionate about his/her side promoting their program in eloquent discourse. And there are many. Issues of racism, discrimination, ageism, capital punishment, long-married couples and their failing health. Who will leave the other first?  Buck rages against the decisions that must be faced.

The storyline progresses from intense to urgent as the full picture begins to converge. It’s ethos and pathos.  Hope and hopeless. A hardboiled novel, no punches pulled, the one issue of age and declining health sad and hitting rather too close to home. There are some graphic descriptions tied to March’s crimes and profane language. I did, however, enjoy Buck’s appreciation for America’s early “muscle” cars–an upbeat note in an otherwise dark, noir account pocked with soap-box oratory, my only quibble.

I received this digital ebook from the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review this book. It was written exceptionally well–brilliant–I might say and I hated what it said. The author’s writing style is unique, infectious and it bites early and hard–impossible to put down. Book 3, no problem, can be read as a standalone. Would I read another? Sure–assuming present circumstance could stand the hard truth at the time.

Book Details:

Genre: Alzheimer’s Disease, Jewish Literature & Fiction
Publisher: Minotaur Books

  • ISBN-10:1250058481
  • ISBN-13:978-1250058485
  • ASIN: B07S6J67SS

Print Length: 288 pages
Publication Date: March 24, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Running Out of Road (Amazon)
Barnes and Noble
Kobo
+Add to Goodreads 

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

Daniel Friedman - authorThe Author: Daniel Friedman is a graduate of the University of Maryland and the NYU School of Law. His debut novel, Don’t Ever Get Old, was nominated for an Edgar Award for Best First Novel. He lives in New York City.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

This Magick Marmot (An Abracadabra Mystery Book 5) by Sharon Pape #BlogTour #BookReview #Giveaway

I am so delighted today to provide a review for you at my blog stop for This Magick Marmot by Sharon Pape on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. Scroll down to enter your chance to win the Giveaway!

This Magick Marmot by Sharon Pape

Book Details

This Magick Marmot (An Abracadabra Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
5th in Series
Publisher: Lyrical Press (April 7, 2020)
Pages: ~300
Digital ASIN: B083TXHJLH

Book Blurb

A fatal case of school spirit . . .

Kailyn Wilde, owner of the Abracadabra potion shop, feels some dread anticipating her ten-year high school reunion at the new hotel in New Camel—but it turns out even worse than she feared. Running into her very first boyfriend is pleasant enough. Chatting with Ashley—who still can’t let go of a tragedy that happened on prom night—is a bit more uncomfortable. But the worst part comes when one of Kailyn’s oldest friends is found dead in the ladies’ room.

Soon this upstate New York town is in an uproar. And with some help from time-traveling wizard Merlin—who has adopted an unusual and alluring creature as his familiar—it’s up to Kailyn to identify the alumnus most likely to commit murder . . .

My Review

What’s better in these dark times than a good cozy mystery that is fun from beginning to end with great characters that turns humor up several notches? I didn’t discover this series until I read Book 4 but found each to function fine as a standalone. Still, I can’t help but wonder what I’ve missed in the others.

This Magick Marmot by Sharon PapeBook 5 has protagonist Kailyn Wilde, owner of the Abracadabra Potion Shop nervous about attending her ten-year class reunion. She has Aunt Tilly to assure her that she will be fine and she is…right up until she runs across Ashley still obviously mourning the death of her intended in an apparent accident on prom night followed by the discovery of another of her classmates newly deceased in the ladies room.

In the meantime, Aunt Tilly is still trying to provide a home for their long distant relative Merlin, who accidentally time-traveled into their lives. Now the wizard can’t seem to figure his way back and has decided he must have a familiar and decides on a marmot. Merlin has apparently lost some of his magick as his spells seem to go awry fairly often.

Kailyn is still in witchy apprenticeship and needs to get with the program, as any untried magickal talents she possesses will go dormant after the age of 30. Her spells need some work as well. She has leveled with Travis, her sweetheart, about her skills and as he is a news anchor seems to keep an open mind about the whole thing, having witnessed some remarkable happenings.

Kailyn is great at ferreting out clues, interviewing those associated with the recently deceased and realizes the motive and tie to the ten-year-old accident that was never explored sufficiently to rest the case. Between calming Tilly and Merlin and interviewing suspects, she tends to her shop creating the proper potions, makeup and creams, then adds her spells that give her products “something extra” they can’t get elsewhere.

It’s character-driven while never losing sight of the mystery, infusing humor often, mad-cap situations with a wizard from several previous centuries ago, and her own familiar (an aging kitty) as well as five other cats (mercy!).

As a side note: I guess ground hogs are also known as marmots as well as “whistlepigs” although in the northwestern states are also known as rock chucks (or wood chucks). I can remember, however, dodging little rodents crossing the road not much larger than adult mice (baby marmots?) when riding my motorcycle, and trying very hard NOT to hit one of the little things–but ground hog size they were not (thank heaven)–and was told they were whistlepigs. So ???

This is such an engaging series and wonderful to lose yourself, even temporarily, into the wonderful world of magick with characters easy to invest in. I was given this digital download by the publisher through NetGalley for this blog tour and fully appreciate the opportunity to read and review. Recommended as a well-plotted, fast-paced and fun cozy mystery. Get your own copy, you’ll be glad you did. Trust me.

+Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint recommended

Giveaway

Sign up for your chance to win one (1) Digital Set of 5 of Abracadabra Mysteries by Sharon Pape Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author

Sharon Pape - authorSharon Pape describes her writing career as having two stages. Back in the dark ages, before computers were in every household, she had three paranormal books published. The first one was condensed by Redbook Magazine, the first paperback original they had ever condensed. Around the same time, Redbook published her first short story.

Then life brought her an unexpected challenge that went by the name of breast cancer. When her treatment was over, she became a volunteer for the American Cancer Society’s Reach to Recovery Program and went on to be the program’s coordinator for Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. Several years later, with the help of her surgical oncologist and two other survivors, she started her own not-for-profit organization to provide information and peer support to newly diagnosed breast cancer patients.

Once the organization was running smoothly and didn’t require as much of her time, she returned to her first love – writing. During this second stage of her career, she’s been writing cozy mysteries with a paranormal twist and a splash of humor.

Author Links

Website – http://sharonpape.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sharon.pape.94

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sbpape

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/641079.Sharon_Pape

Purchase Links – Amazon  –  B & N

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

Tour Participants:

April 6 – Elizabeth McKenna – Author – SPOTLIGHT

April 6 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

April 7 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – SPOTLIGHT

April 7 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

April 8 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – GUEST POST

April 8 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

April 9 – MJB Reviewers – REVIEW

April 9 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW

April 10 – Literary Gold – CHARACTER GUEST POST

April 10 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

April 11 – Nadaness In Motion – SPOTLIGHT

April 11 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT

April 12 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW

April 12 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

April 13 – ebook addicts – REVIEW

April 13 – Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

April 14 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

April 14 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW

April 14 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

April 15 – A Wytch’s Book Review Blog – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

April 15 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

April 15 – Dee-Scoveries – SPOTLIGHT Great Escapes Book Tours

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams