A Fantasy Writers’ Handbook by Richie Billing – a #BookReview

A Fantasy Writers' Handbook by Richie BillingTitle: A Fantasy Writers’ Handbook by Richie Billing

Genre: Authorship, Authorship Reference, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writing

  • ISBN-10:109778133X
  • ISBN-13:978-1097781331
  • ASIN: B07RR37H9K

Print Length: 275 pages

Publication Date: June 12, 2019

Source: Author request

Title Link: A Fantasy Writers’ Handbook

Book Blurb:

‘A Fantasy Writers’ Handbook’ provides detailed guidance on the pillars of storytelling as well as aspects of writing that rarely feature in other books, such as writing fight scenes and world-building. At times the focus shifts away from the technical elements and considers the philosophies behind writing, ways to help you maintain focus, and methods of battling the demons of doubt that forever loom over our shoulders. 

Section two explores the thriving genre of fantasy and the many facets that make it what it is, before looking at the histories of our world that so often inspire our fantasy tales.

The final part looks at the things that come after you’ve finished your story—formatting, peer reviewing, finding publishers—and other things the contemporary writer can do to enhance their careers, such as making and maintaining a website, blogging, and marketing methods.

By the end, you’ll have a sound foundation upon which to build as well as the tools to venture on alone with courage and confidence. To reach that point, all you need is a commitment to work hard and the determination to overcome the challenges ahead.

My Review:

A Fantasy Writers' Handbook by Richie BillingWhen Richie contacted me to inquire whether or not I’d be interested in reading his non-fiction book shortly to be released, I looked at the cover and read the synopsis. Nah, I’m not a fantasy book person. Well, maybe, I liked his intro and there were thirteen Goodreads reviews, all five star. Since then, it’s been released and there is one naysayer on Amazon that still has me scratching my head. (Gees Louise, there is always one, isn’t there?)

No, I don’t write fantasy. What would I want with a fantasy writers’ handbook? Well, glad you asked!

  1. Simplicity–ease of use.
  2. Conversational style, one on one, it’s you and me, babe.
  3. Anything you’ve ever wanted to know about writing (not just fantasy).
  4. Rich resources
  5. Tons and tons of plot ideas, character ideas including physiology, sociology, and psychology, conflicted morals. (He even cites the anti-hero Walter White from Breaking Bad. That seals it–this is a winner!)
  6. Use of animals to gain empathy, sympathy (or kick the dog and create a nasty antagonist).
  7. Definitions of plot, theme, or premise. World building.
  8. Tense, POV. But he doesn’t just describe a first or third person tense–no, it’s broken down into specifics I’ve never heard of before–third person omniscient; third person limited…huh?
  9. Creating tension, but not over the top kill your reader tension. Just enough to keep said reader suspended in suspense.
  10. Building in emotions. Conflict.
  11. Dialogue
  12. The no-no’s of info-dumping. Getting into the show; not tell right. The “most-hated writing rules” some of which are changing. And, really, now I can start a new sentence with a conjunction without violating anything? (Good! Cause I was doing it anyway!)
  13. Out with the passive voice!! But, wait, there ARE a few instances where passive voice is the voice of choice. AND, author Billing quotes ample example.
  14. Definitions of story lengths, as few as this or as much as that.
  15. Editing–brace yourself–hold your nose–and forge on, get’er done.
  16. Blogging–nice to see that validation–one I continue to work on. It’s another outlet of creativity. (I gave up trying to paint a long time ago.)
  17. Social media–choose what is right and works for you.
  18. Formatting: Another new one for me, the Shunn style. Is this something you are familiar with? If you are writing novels, quite possibly so as it is apparently becoming the industry standard. Yeah, I know about Times New Roman, but have always shunned it. (tee hee)

The author doesn’t stop there, however, and here is where his book specifically cites fantasy publishers–so many resources. Garth Wright, you gotta check out this stuff, man, and then exchange some of your own great ideas with Richie.

Did I have any niggles (forget it was geared for fantasy writers), yes. This is a young man in Liverpool. He is speaking to other young people, or at least not as old as myself, and occasionally dips into the words more commonly associated with younger generations. No doubt you’ll enjoy and be amazed at his extremely comprehensive personal instructional text. I don’t think there is anything he’s forgotten, left out, or hasn’t covered in minute detail. If there is, I’m sure he’d be glad to hear about it!

I received this ebook download as a result of the author’s direct request for a read and review and these are my own independent opinions. This is an awesome resource you’ll be sure to use frequently regardless your genre. Check it out and let me know what you think!

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

Richie Billing - author [Goodreads] The Author: [Richie Billing] My middle name is Edward, so my name is also Dick Ed, though I much prefer Richie (although Dick Ed is sometimes warranted). I’m from a city called Liverpool, known for football and The Beatles. I like Neil Young, The Allman Bros, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Tess Parks and more, and most nights I’m up till the wee hours either scribbling away or watching the NBA.

Website

https://richiebilling.com/

Twitter

Magpie_Richie

©2019 V Williams Blog author

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The Image Seeker by Amanda Hughes – a #BookReview #bestselling author

Five Stars Five stars

The Image Seeker by Amanda HughesTitle: The Image Seeker (Bold Women of the 20th Century Book 2) by Amanda Hughes

Genre: US Historical Fiction, Cultural Heritage Fiction

  • ASIN: B07SQ5GGDQ

Print Length: 328 pages

Publication Date: HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY-June 20, 2019!

Source: Author request

Title Link: The Image Seeker

Book Blurb:

The Dust Bowl 1936-Battered and near death, Billie Bassett gazes up at the stars from the door of a boxcar wondering if she can go on. Yet, in spite of the violence and privation riding the rails, she endures and becomes one of the finest photojournalists in the nation.
From humble beginnings in an Indian boarding school in Minnesota to high society in New York City, Billie experiences it all. Her pioneering camera work attracts the attention of a group of elite New York journalists who catapult Billie to fame and fortune, but it comes at a price. Her talents are required in the war effort, and she must travel undercover, deep into Nazi Germany as a courier. By her side is the charismatic and acclaimed journalist, Max Rothman, Billie’s harshest critic and dearest friend. But Max does not reveal to her his own clandestine and dangerous agenda.
The Image Seeker is a tale of lost youth, strength, and rebirth set in one of our country’s most tragic eras, The Great Depression and in the cauldron of hatred that was Nazi Germany.

My Review:

The Image Seeker by Amanda HughesRest assured, you need look no further than author Amanda Hughes for an authentic, historically accurate, and poignant historical fiction novel. They consistently touch all the right buttons!

The female protagonists in the Bold Women series do not try to project a super-hero feminist. They are vulnerable but persevering, subtle but daring, quiet but strong, using their native intelligence and quick-witted response to the given situation. I love that they could also be you–or me. This is the second in the Twentieth Century series, but each of these books can be read as a standalone.

Billie Bassett is separated from her family in Minnesota at age 5 and sent to an Indian boarding school to integrate her into (white) society. Not allowed to speak her native language, she is fed, sheltered, and educated–until a tragic occurrence forces her decision to escape. She has been lucky in that during several summers she was welcomed into a German farm family exchanging domestic help for another kind of education. And something else–love and support. It is through the encouragement and generosity of this couple she will further her new and growing interest in photography.

The storyline grips from the first page, grabs your attention, and does not let go. Much of what I thought I knew of this period in our history is opened up, laid out, examined in intensity I’d yet to visualize. Billie is instructed in the ways of life on the rails–teaching her the signs and symbols of hobo communication, the “jungles,” protection, hunger. It’s an amazing lesson and combined with the languages she’s learned by immersion, invaluable.

But there are always forks in the road and each that the talented Billie has boldly chosen or fought for has led inexorably to the path that would lead to achievement, independence, even a wealth of sorts–dollars no less than those of connections. The connections lead to a dangerous mission for her country at the 1936 Games of the XI Olympiad in Berlin, witnessing the rise of Nazi Germany, and while she steadfastly refuses romance in her life, it finds her, unbidden.

The well-plotted narrative builds upon itself, leading you to cringe more than once over what will happen next, and scared that you think you might know. Dialogue is natural and the storyline easy to follow, though trust me that there will be a few unexpected twists along the way. The conclusion is carefully drawn pulling in threads after a harrowing escape, smoothing out the ripples, allowing the adrenaline to settle back down.

I received the ebook download from the author for a read and review and the review is my own and independent opinion. I’m a big fan of this award-winning and bestselling author. (Read my interview with Amanda here.) I thoroughly enjoyed The Image Seeker and found SOO many parallels in my life–as well as I’m quite sure you might as well. (My paternal grandmother born on a Chippewa reservation and maternal grandmother in Minnesota.) The Depression generation suffered through some horrible deprivation and saw many of those ingrained habits handed down to succeeding generations. (Save everything! Rugs out of old nylons–oh yeah.) Many rode the rails and we have a legacy of country/folk music to prove it. Trains have always held a fascination hard to deny–the power of the behemoths–and the legacy they spin. So many stories. Whether or not you are a historical fiction buff, you’ll love this fascinating narrative. Highly recommended!

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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

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Across the River by Richard Snodgrass – a #BookReview

Across the River by Richard SnodgrassTitle: Across the River (Books of Furnass Book 4) by Richard Snodgrass

Genre: Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction

Publisher: Calling Cow Press

  • ISBN-10:099976991X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0999769911
  • ASIN: B07SS5J113

Print Length: 340 pages

Publication Date: December 26, 2018

Source: Publicist and NetGalley

Title Link: Across the River

Book Blurb:

In the summer of 1863, Judson Walker, a captain of Morgan’s Raiders, and Jonathan Reid, a young engineer, come to Furnass to appropriate two of Colin Lyles’ steam-powered road engines. The purpose is to outfit the engines with iron plate and the newly developed Gatlin Guns, and, with Morgan, deliver the war engines to General Lee’s army in Central Pennsylvania. Amid Walker’s growing involvement with Lyle’s wife Libby, deserting soldiers, and Reid’s own agenda, Walker learns Morgan isn’t coming. The novel reaches its climax with Lyle trying to sabotage the war engines. Walker must decide between Libby and duty toward his men, the war and individual human values.

My Review:

Across the River by Richard SnodgrassMost of you are aware I enjoy a good historical fiction yarn and I’ve certainly read a number of novels of the Civil War. Most deal with the horrific battles.

This one is different.

Two men from the Confederate calvary in a group known as Morgan’s Raiders have entered a small village in Pennsylvania on a secret mission. Captain Judson Walker is accompanied by pseudo-engineer Jonathan Reid on a secret mission in which a local has been perfecting what he calls a “road engine.” They are befriended by the owner of Steamworks and invited to stay with him as Reid studies his machine to test the feasibility of combining it with a new invention that will replace hundreds of men at the front line and hopefully swing the war to the Confederate side.

From the beginning, you get this isn’t a normal military operation, nor the home of Colin Lyle a normal marriage. In a skirmish prior to arrival, Walker is wounded and taken under the wing of Lyle’s wife, Libby. She is a woman born about four generations before her time, a transplanted southerner who immediately gleans that despite the Union uniforms, these two may not be northerners. She’s an enigma, outspoken, intelligent, and insists Walker be checked out by their village doctor with whom it would appear she may have a relationship other than doctor/patient. The little village has not seen the conflict first hand, but residents are kept fairly up to date of the progress and properly suspicious of anyone new to the area.

The storyline is well-plotted, but grows and flows rather languidly, shifting first and third persons (putting you in the head of one and his thoughts, particularly Walker as he relives scenes of his skirmishes with Morgan), as well as the other main characters. Walker is smart, deeply distrustful of Reid, and exhibits battle fatigue. Reid, although he’d like to think is the smarter of the two, has no military mind and the two often clash. Reid is interested in the glory he’s sure he’ll receive from producing a successful war machine. Lyle is just grateful that someone at long last has seen fit to investigate his contraption.

There is much philosophical consideration and reflection, Reid’s arrogance makes him an unsympathetic character, Libby gets weird and also unsympathetic, and Walker flashes back to his “one that got away” comparing her with Libby. References to the couple’s children–but where were they? The rest of Walker’s troop arrives, several in need of medical attention. The dialogue reads realistic for the time and the description of the big house dark and uninviting. Difficult to determine how this will all work out, the author does a fine job of wrapping up a satisfying conclusion, but leaves out a few minor details.

I was contacted by the publicist for the author and offered a free copy through NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review. There were some format problems. Very different view of the civil war and the individual personalities involved make it a compelling, unique read.

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

The Author: No author info, page, or links

©2019 V Williams Blog author

 

When Sally Comes Marching Home by Richard Milton – a #BookReview

When Sally Comes Marching Home by Richard MiltonTitle: When Sally Comes Marching Home (a Sally Honeychurch spy thriller) by Richard Milton

Genre: Espionage Thrillers

Publisher: Bowater Books

  • ISBN-10:1790392268
  • ISBN-13:978-1790392261
  • ASIN: B07R897F32

 Print Length: 350 pages

Publication Date: April 19, 2019

Source: Direct author request

Title Link: When Sally Comes Marching Home

Book Blurb:

In 1945, World War II is ending. For Major Sally Honeychurch the war is just beginning.

Major Sally Honeychurch has spent two years as an agent behind enemy lines. Now the war is over, the women who risked their lives are no longer needed. Sally is back in civvy street, haunted by the French Resistance lover who died in her arms.
When terrorists smuggle an atomic bomb into London, The Head of MI6 urgently summons her for one more mission. Sally has inside knowledge few possess. She was there when the first atom bomb was assembled and detonated.
Sally is the only woman among hundreds of soldiers and intelligence agents hunting the terrorists. And she uncovers a clue to their identity that will rock the establishment to its foundations. To save London, she must not only track down the conspirators, she must also battle the prejudices of the men in charge.

My Review:

When Sally Comes Marching Home by Richard MiltonYou don’t have to read a horror story to be scared out of your wits by a book because there is nothing scarier out there than the possible annihilation of humankind or the destruction of the planet. Just how close we’ve come, earlier than you might have guessed, more seriously than you thought possible, and more non-fiction than you’d have ever been afraid to consider.

Thank you, Nina, of The Cozy Pages for your referral of author Richard Milton to me, thinking it might be something I’d consider reading and reviewing. It would appear I’ve been hitting historical fiction lately, many of World War II. Reading books into which so much research has been dedicated is eye-opening and as the author of my last historical fiction, Mary Lawrence, posed in her book, “…historical fiction must first be grounded in reality, then allowed room for creative interpretation.” Gees, Nina, this one scared the socks off me!

Having parachuted down behind enemy lines in France, Major Sally Honeychurch is no novice in espionage and trained in combat is more than capable of taking care of herself. She spent two years under the crushing tension of possibly being exposed and arrested by the Gestapo. Sally is also experienced driving in extreme conditions, successfully so, and as a result is invited to drive to and witness the first atomic bomb explosion dubbed Trinity in New Mexico. While she has an amazing file and important contacts, still faces extreme gender prejudice in any military circumstances.

Following the end of the war, most men in her position are recruited into the secret service, while the women were relieved of duty and sent home. Sally is teaching when she receives a call that compels her return. Statuesque at 5’11”, blond, and light eyes she commands attention, but not usually of the respectful variety. Still, she’s intelligent and a self-starter and when the investigation begins swings into her intelligence persona to ferret out the terrorists.

The well-plotted storyline moves at an even pace, gradually increasing the tension over the chapters as it introduces the support characters, Mac Mackenzie, her old buddy now a Scotland Yard Police Inspector, being one. Sally is well-developed, lesser so the support characters, though it is Sally as the main character that is the driving force behind the plot-driven novel. She’s been through enough of the prejudiced male reaction to her station to know how to neutralize her response.

Intelligence has determined the materials for an atomic bomb have been delivered to London and they must figure out who is behind, find, and defuse the bomb in a race against time. The author carefully ramps up the characters and their roles in supplying the bits and pieces Sally uses to determine the source and location. Who is behind the plot flies in the face of their theories and she must battle them as well.

Successful infiltration may be just the beginning when confronting a fanatical Nazi supporter. So many historical details shared here regarding the theories, beliefs, doctrines of Hitler himself that permeated those around him, infesting them with the dogma and runes commonly worn by the SS and polluted the people with Nazi ideology and mysticism.

Scary? Oh yeah! Terrifying? Oh yeah! Sometimes the line blurred between that of fiction and non-fiction making it all the more horrifying. You don’t need zombies or vampires, sometimes reality is more petrifying. The build-up is worth the tailspin and the conclusion comes as a huge relief allowing you to breathe again.

The dialogue certainly harkened back to post WWII and scenes of military and the London streets rang some bells. Sally is a realistic WWII female spy hero (as many unsung women were) and the Nazi antagonist detestable. Teddy Buckingham was properly charismatic. Historic notes following the conclusion is enlightening and corroborative.

Did I have niggles, other than the chills and goosebumps? Actually, a few minor details–like (I’m sure a typo) describing a rifle that didn’t exist in 1945, a driving scene with Miss Sally (I’m sure wouldn’t have bothered anyone else), and just a little disbelief in her tenacity in the face of pain (but a little adrenalin will go a long way in keeping you going), and this thoroughly engaging book keeps you flipping pages.

I was given this ebook download in response to acceptance of the referral and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review this remarkable historical fiction slash espionage novel. Highly recommended.

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

Richard Milton - authorThe Author: (Amazon) Richard Milton is a British writer, journalist and broadcaster. He currently freelances for The Daily Telegraph and other newspapers. He is the author of a dozen books – both fiction and non-fiction – all now available on Kindle as well as in book form.

Read his blog and latest book news at – http://bit.ly/1Bm0twR

His non-fiction books are highly controversial. “Bad Company”, which The Sunday Times chose as its Business Book of the Week, sets out to explain why large corporations sometimes behave in self-defeating and even insane ways. Richard Milton - author

His equally controversial “Shattering the myths of Darwinism” caused some members of the scientific establishment to start chewing the carpet and foaming at the mouth, by daring to demand real empirical evidence in support of Darwinian beliefs, in place of conjecture and pseudoscience. “Alternative Science” (also published as “Forbidden Science”) examines how and why good science is sometimes thrown out with the bad for purely ideological reasons.

His book “Best of Enemies” looks at Anglo-German relations through two world wars and charts the origins of modern propaganda. The book is currently the subject of a TV film of the same name to be broadcast on German and British TV later in 2015.

His latest non-fiction book, “The Ministry of Spin”, reveals for the first time the story of how the post-war Labour government secretly held onto the wartime Ministry Of Information: how they buried this powerful propaganda machine deep in Whitehall: and how they turned its wartime propaganda powers on the British Parliament, media and people in order to push through their peacetime political programme.

In fiction, he has published three mystery thrillers and a book of short stories.

“Dead Secret” is a paranormal mystery thriller. Investigative journalist Tony Gabriel stumbles onto his biggest ever story when he inherits the papers of a long-dead historian – and finds himself the target of an ancient secret society. Are they just rich, powerful people playing an elaborate game, or have they truly gained paranormal powers to see into the future?

“The Glass Harmonica” is a mystery thriller. Concert pianist Julia Franklin is heir to an inheritance worth a billion dollars – enough to bankrupt America’s oldest bank when the trust matures. Miles Bartholemew, of Bartholemew Equity and Trust, has to find the heirs of the Franklin trust and deal with them permanently, before his family’s bank is ruined.

“Conjuring For Beginners” is a crime thriller. When legendary con-artist Ferdy Daniels dies alone and penniless, his daughter, Rosa, inherits his victims, who are convinced she was his partner in crime. To keep one jump ahead of them – and stay alive – Rosa must unravel Ferdy’s web of deceits. But to re-trace her father’s footsteps, she must learn to become as quick-witted and cunning as Ferdy, the master magician.

“True Stories: Mysteries of Crime and Punishment” is a collection of short stories with a difference. Every story in the book is true – except one. Some tell of crimes that have gone unpunished by the law. Some are crimes against laws that are unwritten. And some are crimes that exist only in the mind.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

The Star and the Shamrock by Jean Grainger – a #BookReview

The Star and the Shamrock by Jean GraingerTitle: The Star and the Shamrock

Genre: Historical Irish Fiction

  • ASIN: B07SFGLDJH

Print Length: 288 pages

Publication Date: May 28, 2019

Source: Direct Author Request

Title Link: The Star and the Shamrock

Book Blurb:

Ariella Bannon has no choice: she must put her precious children, Liesl and Erich, on that train or allow them to become prey for the Nazis. 

 

Berlin 1939. 

When her husband doesn’t come home one day, Ariella realises that the only way she can ensure her children’s safety is to avail of the Kindertransport, but can she bear to let them go?

A thousand miles away, Elizabeth Klein has closed herself off from the world. Losing her husband on the last day of the Great War, and her child months later, she cannot, will not, love again. It hurts too much.

But she is all Liesl and Erich Bannon have.

Thrown together in the wild countryside of Northern Ireland, Elizabeth and the Bannon children discover that life in the country is anything but tranquil. Danger and intrigue lurk everywhere, and some people are not what they seem.

My Review:

The Star and the Shamrock by Jean GraingerIt is a testament to just how well the author spins a story as each has such charm, is independent, and brings to the forefront information you may never have been aware of that spans humanity with a direct impact.

In The Star and the Shamrock, we are privy to the story of Elizabeth Klein, living in London, who defied her Catholic mother to marry a Jewish man who was shortly killed in the Great War. With her grief, she also lost their child shortly thereafter. It is to the credit of a sympathetic nun that it was recommended she get her teaching credential. She never returned to the beautiful Irish countryside of Northern Ireland or to her mother or the home she grew up in.

Living in London with everyone facing yet another war, she receives a plea from a distant cousin’s wife in Europe, begging her to receive their two children. Ariella Bannon’s husband disappeared after coming to the aid of a Jewish woman and she realized will likely never come home. She is desperate to get her children to safety and successfully navigated the channels to get her children on the Kindertransport–but hopes a relative can receive them.

It is not long after they are safely delivered to her home in London that the city is being bombed, including her home and the school where she taught. Her mother had passed away the previous year, leaving her childhood home her own recourse and it is in Ballycregggan, County Down, where she opens her spacious and comfortable childhood home to Liesl and Erich Bannon. Elizabeth shortly realizes there is a “farm” where many other Jewish Kindertransport children have been sent and they have need of a teacher. It is there she meets many support characters, all of whom are well-fleshed and most sympathetic. She also meets Daniel Lieber, a mechanical engineer, also a Jewish refugee, taking on odd mechanical jobs at the school to help keep it running.

The well-plotted storyline takes on a number of issues, particularly describing a war-time existence, suspicion, love and support or distrust. Elizabeth is thrilled to be a “mother” and does an admirable job at the Farm, gradually learning that children are underestimated in their understanding of a situation. It’s a dark time in our history, but love trumps race or language barriers and there are times when people rally together for the good of all.

As always, Ms. Grainger plucks at your heartstrings with lovingly developed opposing characters, believable dialogue, and tension that pulls you toward what could be a tragic conclusion or the happy ever after. Still, this is war–and you never know.

I was allowed an advance reader copy by the author for a read and review and was absolutely delighted to be counted among those so privileged. How do people survive in these circumstances? The human spirit is amazing! Recommended for any who enjoy good literary fiction, historical fiction, and those behind the front line war scenes that should also be acknowledged for their heroics.

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Jean Grainger - authorThe Author: JEAN GRAINGER

USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR

SELECTED BY BOOKBUB READERS IN TOP 19 OF HISTORICAL FICTION BOOKS.

(Grainger's) Author's Circle - Novel of ExcellenceWINNER OF THE 2016 AUTHOR’S CIRCLE HISTORICAL NOVEL OF EXCELLENCE

Hello and thanks for taking time out to check out my page. If you’re wondering what you’re getting with my books then think of the late great Maeve Binchy but sometimes with a historical twist. I was born in Cork, Ireland in 1971 and I come from a large family of storytellers, so much so that we had to have ‘The Talking Spoon’, only the person holding the spoon could talk!

I have worked as a history lecturer at University, a teacher of English, History and Drama in secondary school, a playwright, and a tour guide of my beloved Ireland. I am married to the lovely Diarmuid and we have four children. We live in a 150 year old stone cottage in Mid-Cork with my family and the world’s smallest dog, a chi-chon called Scrappy-Do.

My experiences leading groups, mainly from the United States, led me to write my first novel, ‘The Tour’….The sequel to The Tour, called Safe at the Edge of the World, follows Conor O’Shea once again as he takes another motley crew on a tour of Ireland…The third Tour book in that series is called The Story of Grenville King and in it Conor gets an opportunity to renovate and run an old castle as a five star resort, but something isn’t quite right, and the castle has many secrets…The fourth Conor O’Shea book is called The Homecoming of Bubbles O’Leary and features a group of friends taking their friend Bubbles home to Ireland from New York, on last time.

My first World War 2 novel, ‘So Much Owed’ is a family saga based in Ireland following the Buckley family of Dunderrig House…The history of the period was my academic specialty so I’m delighted to be able to use it in a work of fiction. I released a second WW2 book, called ‘What Once Was True’ earlier this year and so far people seem to really like it.

Shadow of a Century, is set in New York in 2015 as well as in Dublin during the events of Easter Week 1916…The story features three very strong women, united through a battered old flag. Its essentially a love story, but with a bit of intrigue thrown in for good measure.

Under Heaven’s Shining Stars, was published in 2016 and is set in my home city of Cork.

My next book, What Once Was True, tells the story of a big old house in Co Waterford during WW2. Two families live there, the impoverished Keneficks who own it and the hard-working Murphys who work for them. Life has remained unchanged for centuries but when war comes, it means everything changes and people have to question what once was true. This book was selected by Bookbub readers as in the top 19 Historical Fiction books of 2018. The sequel to this, Return to Robinswood, continues the story.

Many of the people who have reviewed my books have said that you get to know the characters and really become attached to them, that’s wonderful for me to hear because that’s how I feel about them too. I grew up on Maeve Binchy and Deirdre Purcell and I aspired to being like them. If you buy one of my books I’m very grateful and I really hope you enjoy it. If you do, or even if you don’t, please take the time to post a review. Writing is a source of constant contentment to me and I am so fortunate to have the time and the inclination to do it, but to read a review written by a reader really does make my day. {Note: Bio truncated in the interest of space. See her full bio here.]

©2019 V Williams Blog author

The Lost Road to Key West by Michael Reisig – a #BookReview

The Lost Road to Key West by Michael ReisigTitle: The Lost Road to Key West (Book 10) by Michael Reisig

Genre: Men’s Adventures, Action-Adventure, Travel Adventure

Publisher: Clear Creek Press

ASIN: B07RV2KFZT

Print Length: 230 pages

Publication Date: May 13, 2019

Source: Author request

Title Link: The Lost Road to Key West

Book Blurb:

The novel you’re about to read is a work of fiction. But the premise of this story is true – it actually happened. If you enjoy tales of lost treasures, wild adventures, ancient civilizations, and governments that sometimes bury truths, you’re going to like this one.
M.R.
In one of the most incredible plots Michael Reisig has ever created, he blends modern history and an ancient Egyptian chronicle to forge a story that is based on actual, but nearly unbelievable facts. What if, at the turn of the 20th century, two intrepid explorers actually discovered the ruins of an ancient Egyptian city inside the towering walls of the Grand Canyon? What if those explorers were killed, their discovery hidden, and the artifacts they unearthed (along with the chronicles of one of the most remarkable sea-faring, and culture-founding accounts in history) were stolen, and hidden in the basement of one of America’s major historical institutions? 
If you’re looking for a white-knuckle adventure of courage, extraordinary friendships, and “complicated” love affairs, all woven around contemporary and ancient historical accounts, this is the book! So, put on your boots, buckle up, and follow Kansas Stamps and Will Bell into the adventure of a lifetime, or two. 

My Review:                                                                                                     

The Lost Road to Key West by Michael ReisigI always love the outlandish sense of adventure of these two guys, long time buddies, Kansas Stamps and Will Bell. If they can’t find it, you know it will find them and you can bet your book that with a new episode you will have something even more wild and crazy than before. The entertainment comes in the way that author Michael Reisig weaves the adventure where truth lies–then he has a little fun with it. Somewhere, somehow, Reisig finds (for the most part) completely unknown myths or fables and wraps his artistic fiction around it. So let the fun begin.

The Key West series Book 10 actually keeps us within the United States and within our own Grand Canyon. And it is grand–immense actually–with a river 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and a mile deep it is mind-boggling beautiful, mysterious, and treacherous. Rather than Key West, Mexico, or South America, the author has found another astounding legend to key on. Or is this merely a legend? Don’t all legends begin with some truth, some kernel that is handed down through time?

Was it just a way to sell newspapers, or did the April 5, 1909 edition of the Arizona Gazette recount the actual discovery of a monstrous city-sized cavern that contained artifacts of…Egypt? Nah, couldn’t be. Right? But there were two men who disappeared shortly after relaying their story to the paper that killed evidence of it almost immediately. And the Smithsonian denied ever having had anything to do with Professor S. A. Jordan and G. E. Kinkaid. True, the entrance to the cavern would have changed a great deal in the several millennia following the initial settlement. The entry to the cave system is now 1500 feet down the side of the shear cliff into the canyon wall. Speculation was that it would have originally been river level. But don’t take my word for it. This is fascinating stuff, folks!

Here are the boys with Crazy Eddie and Tax and Jing. We’ve come to love the two offspring of Kansas and Will and in this installment Jing has saved the life of a baby Osprey who she has undertaken to tame and train and will become as valuable as the canines. Kansas still has his beloved dog, Shadow, and they’ve run across Dax, another old buddy who has his canine companion, Smoke. Dax **knew** a guy and he told his story to Kansas and Will. Uh oh.

The guys go into this one light, leaving the Hole in the Coral Wall Gang to their current endeavors. The author always throws in remarkable support characters to augment our main characters and this time it is Connor O’Connor. (If you couldn’t guess, an Irishman.) He has also been hunting for the entrance to the cavern and together they pool info and resources. O’Connor has a monkey and a donkey. Even with the circus, they are a formidable group against the baddies.

Reisig waxes poetic as he recounts sayings of their favorite rastamon, Rufus, and the narrative moves between disbelief and “what ifs.” Three things more or less real (you decide): (1) The Hopi insist they evolved from the “Inner World,” (2) we know that the Cherokee have DNA markers associated with the Berbers (native Egyptians), and (3) many of the areas around the north side of the canyon have Egyptian names, i.e., Isis Temple, Tower of Set, Tower of Ra. Well, it certainly opens the door for some lively discussion, huh?

This installment doesn’t come to a screeching halt like the others sliding in sideways in a haze of dust, sweat, and tears. The conclusion was quiet and somewhat reflective. The series is escapist amusement; sexist, engaging, entertaining, and always a celebration of that exuberant free-wheeling post-Vietnam era, music, booze, and adrenalin. (Ever heard the term “Go fly a bike?” The flyboys returning home had to have another outlet…) But his novels never fail to leave you with fascinating venues or myths to research. This one was a mind-blowing douzy that I (obviously) had a lot of fun with!

While this is Book 10 of The Road to Key West series, each book can be read as a standalone. I received this ebook as a beta-read and later an ARC from the author in hopes of a read and review and these are my own opinions. Recommended as men’s adventures, buddy adventures, and travel adventures full of laugh and scratch.

Rosepoint Recommended

Four point Five of Five Stars Four point Five of Five Stars

 

Michael Reisig - authorThe Author: Michael Reisig has been writing professionally for 20 years. He is a former Caribbean adventurer turned newspaper editor, award-winning columnist, and best-selling novelist. After high school and college in Florida, he relocated to the Florida Keys. He established a commercial diving business, got his pilot’s license, and traveled extensively throughout the southern hemisphere, diving, treasure hunting, and adventuring.

Reisig claims he has been thrown out of more countries in the Caribbean Basin that most people ever visit, and he admits that a great many of the situations and the characters in his novels are authentic – but nothing makes a great read like experience…

He now lives in the mountains of Arkansas, where he hunts and fishes, and writes, but he still escapes to the Caribbean for an occasional adventure.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

 

The Night Window by Dean Koontz -a #BookReview

The Night Window by Dean KoontzFive Stars Five stars

Title: The Night Window (Jane Hawk Book 5) by Dean Koontz

Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller

Publisher: Bantam

  • ISBN-10:0525484701
  • ISBN-13:978-0525484707
  • ASIN: B07GMS9JXT

Print Length: 432 pages

Publication Date: May 14, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: The Night Window

Book Blurb:

A visionary young filmmaker hunted for sport across a vast Colorado ranch by the celebrated billionaire at the heart of a monstrous cabal . . .

A brilliant computer hacker slipping through top-secret databases a whisper ahead of security trackers, gathering the facts to fight the all-powerful perpetrators of mass murder . . .

A pair of brutal operators, methodically shadowing their targets with every cutting-edge tool in the arsenal of today’s surveillance state . . .

A sequence of quiet heroes—everyday citizens—stepping up, stepping forward, intent on countering the advancing darkness . . .

A Vegas mob boss teamed with a homicidal sociopath, circling a beloved boy and his protectors, aiming to secure him as leverage against his fugitive mother . . .

And that fugitive mother herself, ex-agent Jane Hawk, closing in on the malevolent architects of ruin she has stalked as they stalk her, prepared to sacrifice herself to finally bring them down.

These are the people and circumstances of The Night Window, the thrilling new novel in Dean Koontz’s acclaimed Jane Hawk series. Replete—and then some—with the ingenious twists, the spellbinding action, the resonant themes, the sheer heart that has characterized Jane’s journey from the start, The Night Window follows its extraordinary heroine to her long-sought objective, in a stunning, unforgettable finale.

The Night Window by Dean KoontzMy Review:

What a stunner of a finale! Book 5, the conclusion in the Jane Hawk series was inarguably the best. Don’t get me wrong–I really enjoyed the previous installments–and couldn’t wait for the next. This doesn’t disappoint. It leaves you breathless, spent, with a major book hangover.

Book Handover

Yes, that is a real condition: Book Hangover (book hang-oh-ver) n. The struggle of trying to reconnect with reality after finishing a really amazing book.

If you started this series from Book 1, kudos! But even if you didn’t, this would still function well as a standalone. Just that you get all that backstory with the first 4. Jane Hawk is an amazing young woman, cunning, intelligent, and capable who had a spectacular career in the FBI. But something went wrong, criminally wrong, and she left and went rogue after the death of her beloved husband. Now she is desperately trying to save her son as well as expose the Techno-Arcadians whose nano-technology mission is to contain and control the population. They have a good running start.

The author has a way of painting the good people very good. You love them. You could hug them–you know them. They are real, enormously empathetic, and you’d love to meet them in real life. Most especially this time ex-FBI guy Vikram Rangnekar. What a brilliant sweety! He is a white hat genius hacker. Then the other side, darker than dark, evil ego-maniac billionaire Wainwright Warwick Hollister. I love the way Koontz gives you a baddy such as Hollister and pits him against sweet, naive Tom Buckle. You begin rooting for Tom immediately, heart in your throat, he’s an innocent for heaven’s sake!

The chapters skip between scenarios, Hollister, Weatherwax, Jane and then Vikram. In her mad dash to reveal and destroy the Arcadians, Jane had garnered somewhat of a sympathetic, independent following who are distrusting and disbelieving of the vile assassination of her character on the social media. And always, there is the uncanny connection of mother to son. Then there are Mustafa al-Yamani and Charles Douglas Weatherwax doggedly tracking Jane while Mustafa is being counseled by Weatherwax on the proper and stylish dress and manner of the population of Long Island. Brooding about the proper after-shave fragrance or man purses among other upper-crust conundrums adds a bit of humor and comical spice that cuts somewhat the horror of these two agents. Koontz balances the hate with love, the evil with good and all the while discussing technology fascinatingly sinister while mind-blowingly mesmerizing. It can sound all too real!

Shocking discovery--What!?? And then the shocking conclusion, the only way Jane could see to expose something this massive, this evil. But I couldn’t believe what I was reading! Really though, it was incredible. How else could this have been handled? It was brilliant and devastating. Koontz is the man. The master storyteller. Loved this series! It moves at a remarkable pace. I’m a grateful recipient of an uncorrected digital ebook download and loved the opportunity to read and review. Totally recommended.

Did you read this book? Let’s talk about it!

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Dean Koontz - authorThe Author: Dean Koontz, the author of many #1 New York Times bestsellers, lives in Southern California with his wife, Gerda, their golden retriever, Elsa, and the enduring spirits of their goldens, Trixie and Anna.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Prologue to Murder by Lauren Elliott – a #BookReview

Prologue to Murder by Lauren ElliottTitle: Prologue to Murder (Bookstore Mystery) by Lauren Elliott

Genre: Cozy Mystery, Amateur Sleuths

Publisher: Kenginston

  • ISBN-10:1496720202
  • ISBN-13:978-1496720207
  • ASIN: B07G6S6B1Q

 Print Length: 304 pages

Publication Date: April 30, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Prologue to Murder

Book Blurb:

After a career working with rare books at the Boston Public Library, Addie Greyborne is back in her seaside New England hometown—where unfortunately, murder is not so rare . . .
 
Gossip columnists love a bold-faced name—but “Miss Newsy” at Greyborne Harbor’s local paper seems to specialize in bald-faced lies. She’s pointed a finger of suspicion at Addie after librarian June Winslow never makes it home from a book club meeting. And when June’s found at the bottom of a steep flight of stairs, Addie’s not only dealing with a busybody, but a dead body.

It’s a good thing the guy she’s dating is the police chief. But both the case and her love life get more complicated when a lanky blonde reporter from Los Angeles shows up. She’s trying her hardest to drive a wedge between the couple . . . as if Addie doesn’t have enough problems dealing with angry townspeople. Despite all the rumors, Addie doesn’t know a thing about the murder—but she plans to find out. And the key may lie in a book about pirate legends that June published. Now she just has to hunt down the clues before she becomes a buried treasure herself . . .

My Review:

Prologue to Murder by Lauren ElliottAddie Greyborne has returned to her roots in coastal New England. She has inherited the rare book and curio shop and employs Paige. Her BFF is Serena and she has begun a relationship with the town Police Chief, Marc. Great, great, great, Greyborne is a founding father but unfortunately she has not successfully been enfolded back in the loving arms of the townsfolk. She’d cleared her name and solved the last murder and now the librarian is missing, eventually found deceased and Addie has taken it upon herself to clear her name once again after “Miss Newsy” published a nasty rumor about Addie possibly being behind both.

June, the librarian was found in an underground tunnel that history of the town proves an integral part of pirate lore, hidden treasure, and family feuds. The mystery creates an interesting premise and Addie begins sifting the clues, chasing down her aunt’s old books in the attic as well as haunting museums and other bookstores and pirate shops for details on the intricate set of tunnels, closed by the town council for being unsafe. Few are privy to those tunnel plans, but Addie begins to wonder about pirate treasure being a motive for the murder of June, who’d possibly found more in her research than the city fathers were comfortable with.

Well, all that part is fun. The twists are fun. That whole area of the New England coast is rife with pirate lore, rich with pirate enclaves, and many of the most successful hid vast treasures in hurricane safe havens, most never again found. What I had a problem with were the introduction of so many new characters, and Simon–another possible love interest. (Oh, no, not the dreaded love triangle!) The protagonist herself was less than a reliable narrator, caught in contradictions and fabrications, and few of the support characters fared any better. Marc comes off as being wishy-washy, warning her with one breath of leaving the investigating to him while asking for her thoughts and help with the next. Huh? Lacy is just plain nasty. Dialogue runs snarky and at times rather juvenile.

Bottom Line: While the mystery is a good plot device, the pace is too slow for this reader, and I could not find any of the characters worth investing in. The history is engaging but the narrative falls flat. The antagonist as revealed in the conclusion is not wholly unexpected, although I did like that little bit that Addie does with the pirate shop operator at the end.

This is the second in the series and might well be read as a standalone. I received this ebook download from the publisher and NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review.

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Lauren Elliott - authorThe Author: Lauren Elliott grew up devouring the entire Nancy Drew series and then graduated to Victoria Holt, Agatha Christie, Barbara Erskine, Lynn Kurland, and Michael Crichton to name a few of her favorite authors. When it came time for post-secondary education, journalism seemed like the logical choice as she had written for as long as she could remember. Soon after graduation, while working for a small publication, she discovered that reporting wasn’t what fueled her writing passions. As someone with an additionally strong background in professional theater who had the love of storytelling and captivating and holding an audience, her fiction-writing career began to take center stage.

Lauren Elliott’s new Beyond the Page Bookstore Mystery series promises to keep readers guessing right up until the last chapter. Plot twists and an array of colorful characters make for page turning, whodunit adventures filled with suspense, mystery, murder and just a touch of romance.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Lance: A Spirit Unbroken by Walter Stoffel – a #BookReview

Lance: A Spirit Unbroken by Walter StoffelTitle: Lance: A Spirit Unbroken by Walter Stoffel

Genre: Dog Care, Pet Dogs (Doggy Memoir)

Publisher: Diamond Publishing International

  • ISBN-10:0986150002
  • ISBN-13:978-0986150005
  • ASIN: B01LZWMUF2

Print Length: 244 pages

Publication Date: August 19, 2016

Source: Direct author request

Title Link: Lance: A Spirit Unbroken

Book Blurb:

Marley meets… Cujo ?

What would you do if there was a dog in your neighborhood forced to live outside day in/day out, at the mercy of abusers, wild animals and brutal weather?

Walter does nothing—at first. Then, an accidental meeting with Lance, a Border Collie, sets the wheels in motion for a down-to-the-wire, life-saving rescue and a disappointing discovery: Lance turns out to be a threat to anyone he can get his teeth on—including his rescuers!

Their lives turned upside down by this semi-feral “pet”, Walter and his wife Clara are forced to answer a painful question: do they euthanize the dog they rescued?

Making their life-or-death choice even more difficult is Lance’s hilarious quirkiness; when not threatening, he’s incredibly entertaining—though a State Trooper, the local drug dealer, and a Megan’s Law parolee, among many others, would beg to differ.

This rollicking, thought-provoking, and—at times—heart-wrenching true-life account of the unorthodox rescue of an unorthodox dog is guaranteed to captivate:
-Dog lovers
-Recovering addicts (there are numerous passages that the 12-step community will relate to)
-Survivors of child abuse (the author reveals his own poignant connection with Lance)
-Any reader who can laugh, cry, or enjoy having her/his faith in humanity restored.

(Note: This book was noted in my associate’s book list and he couldn’t resist also reading. His review follows mine.)

My Review:

Lance: A Spirit Unbroken by Walter StoffelThis dog should never have lived the ten long years chained in the yard subject to extreme abuse when he wasn’t either starving, freezing, or both. And unfortunately, living through the abuse, the spirit in this animal that absolutely would NOT give up is discovered (after Walter and Clara adopt him) to carry mountains of baggage. Walter had seen the dog on his walks in the neighborhood before but most likely had no clue of the extreme cruelty he was being subjected to. It is after he begins a dialogue with Anna, a neighbor who has befriended the dog, cleaned his space and provided fresh water, food, and an occasional neighborhood walk that he begins to get the picture of a dog desperately in search of rescue.

His previous owners have left him with an extreme case of PTSD; he is psychotic, schizophrenic. Is he salvageable? Probably not. Yet, there is an intangible something there. A highly intelligent Border Collie who has managed to survive will have many cards hidden under his paws. Absolutely unpredictable behavior, the only thing for sure they can count on, is not being able to pet their new rescue.

So what drives a person, or couple, to take on this challenge? Could it ever be worth the sacrifice–and heaven knows they’ll make many of those. First, Walter was probably the only one in a jillion who could begin to glean some understanding of just how traumatic this dog’s life had been–and sympathize–no wonder he reacted like he did!

The conundrum here is not so much Lance as Walter. His canine experience either totally lacking or his confidence in turning the dog around grew to extremes in lack of common sense (something he freely admits) when dealing with a highly intelligent Border Collie. Knowing the dog was a biter and lacked any kind of predictable behavior, he walked with the dog unleashed into the woods. Huh? Talk about a train wreck!

Cats, kids? No problem. Completely unpredictable for a normal dog, this dog seemed to have no problem being around children. How many times did this dog rescue his rescuers? He could show compassion, sympathy, and there were times he had them totally entertained, mesmerized with his antics.

Bottom Line: Loved the book, cringe-worthy as much of it was. Yes, I can think of even worse canine abuse, but you have to give this duo some kudos for fortitude. Still, what bothered me was the seven years of shocking trials of off-leash stories, car rides (a serious threat to not only themselves but to anyone else on the road), and the continued abuse of new animals by the previous owners with no one stopping those idiots getting a new dog. Also, I must note the amount of redundancy, although some of which did introduce new arguments for or against. The conclusion, though expected, is hard to take. Thrilled, and terrified at the same time, that the dog could actually get those years to get out and run like the wind, bound over rocks, trees, and into ponds like a normal dog.

I received a request from the author for an honest opinion of his memoir of Lance in exchange for a free copy. Hard to put this book down, the storytelling is compelling. I did so enjoy the story and appreciate the opportunity to read and review.  Recommended for any fan of dogs or pets. Research the breed–all canines are not born equal–but they all get into your hearts.

“Some of our greatest…treasures we place in museums; others, we take for walks.” Roger Caras, wildlife preservationist.

Associate Reviewer - C E Williams

His Review:

A highly intelligent Border Collie abused for the first ten years of his life! This book shows a love and fortitude seldom seen. I was extremely moved by this lovingly crafted account. Bravo to the author! CE Williams free from the author for an honest opinion.

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

Walter Stoffel - authorThe Author: Walter Stoffel is a freelance writer and publisher who specializes in human interest memoir and fiction. Though having previously participated in multiple dog and cat rescues, nothing prepared him for his life with the title character in Lance: A Spirit Unbroken. The author has a rich work history that currently includes teaching GED and counseling inmates at local correctional facilities. He also has experience as a certified mental health screener. For many years, he lived and worked in various South American countries. Most unique occupation: chipping excess concrete off the undersides of bridges in Virginia. All his coworkers were wearing prison stripes. Mr. Stoffel is a member of the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group, Pennwriters and Barbara’s Writing Group, a critiquing association. When not writing, he loves to read, travel, work out, and watch bad movies. The author has a B.A. in psychology and is a credentialed alcoholism and drug counselor. He lives in Canadensis, PA with his wife Clara, their dog Buddy (a rescue) and their cat Winky (another rescue). Personal accomplishment: after having hip replacement surgery, Walter entered a marathon and finished it – dead last. Extra special personal accomplishment: surviving seven years living with the devil dog (Lance). Please visit Walter at http://www.Lance: A Spirit Unbroken.com, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

The Family Lie by Jake Cross – a #BookReview

The Family Lie by Jake CrossTitle: The Family Lie by Jake Cross

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Publisher: Bookouture

  • ASIN: B07N8VVHGF

Print Length: 305 pages

Publication Date: April 23, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: The Family Lie

Book Blurb:

You whispered goodnight to your daughter. You didn’t know that would be your last goodbye.

You wake up in the middle of the night.

Your five-year-old daughter is gone.

Your husband is nowhere to be seen.

Your family think he took her.

The police believe he’s guilty.

But he wouldn’t do that, would he?

He’s a loving father. A loving husband. Isn’t he?

My Review:

The Family Lie by Jake Cross

No, no, no! I definitely broke my own rules with this one. I saw the blurb, noted the cover. Would not usually entertain reading a book about a kidnapped child. But I did. And I’ll revert back to my own (personal) rules.

This novel sets a stage that looks promising. Hooks you in, gets you reading, but soon goes into left-center field. What happened?

Five-year-old Josie is kidnapped from her bedroom in the middle of the night. Main character Anna wakes to find rain pelting the window, husband missing, patio door open and floor soaked as well as in Josie’s bedroom–open window–rain blowing in. But no Josie and no Nick. It doesn’t take long before she’s called in the police, but almost immediately they suspect something other than a kidnapping. For one, the husband is gone as well. Isn’t it more likely he took off with his child?

Now begins a long and tedious search, which goes on, and on, throughout which we are introduced to secondary characters, police, detectives, investigators, condescending and suspicious. And here’s where a few of my problems enter. I really don’t like any of them. Particularly the one who refers to Anna as “dear.” ARGH! Anna’s constant referral to her daughter as “my little lady.” (No clue why that annoyed me so much. Munchkin, I could understand, or??? We certainly had nicknames for our own.) And then they find Nick, apparently knocked over the head, drugged, and dragged along for the ride. But then, where was Josie?

The narrative begins introducing twists that throw you off the original scent, scatters the few ideas you might have held for the antagonist(s). And as the storyline plods along, gets further afield. Here are circumstances the reader could not have known about. Although I can appreciate that the parents might veer in the opposite direction in their effort to get to Josie, Nick comes off weak and largely ineffectual. Anna is unsympathetic, who later bemoans the fact that she hasn’t called her daughter by her name. Seems neither police nor parents make informed decisions.

The writing seems a bit awkward at times, the dialogue gawky, some of the scenes inappropriate (come on–he put his hands between her legs? And she accepted it? Not!) Must admit, this novel was not for me, although you may enjoy it. I received this ebook download from the publisher and NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review.

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Three of Five Stars Three Stars of Five

Jake Cross - authorThe Author: Jake Cross lives in England and is the author of the standalone thrillers The Family Lie, now on preorder, and The Choice, which hit the top 5 in Australia and was a bestseller in the UK and Canada. And on Kobo, but we don’t talk about that here. He’s on Twitter as @JakeCrossAuthor, if you want to say hello. ©2019 V Williams

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Doublespeak by Alisa Smith – a #BookReview

Doublespeak by Alisa SmithTitle: Doublespeak (Lena Stillman series Book 2) by Alisa Smith

Genre: Historical WW2 Fiction (Thriller)

Publisher: St Martin’s Press

  • ISBN-10:1250097851
  • ISBN-13:978-1250097859
  • ASIN: B07D2C1GQR

 Print Length: 260 pages

Publication Date: April 16, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Doublespeak: A Novel

Book Blurb:

Lieutenant Lena Stillman has been left, nearly alone, on her code-breaking mission in remote Alaska. World War II has been over for a month, but due to crimes committed a lifetime ago, Lena is still under the control of the powerful Miss Maggie.

Shaken by her role in the disappearance of Corporal Link Hughes—and by her own misjudgment of his character—Lena yearns for an opportunity to redeem them both. Then she receives a shocking message containing Link’s potential location: Siam. Embarking on a clandestine rescue mission to Bangkok, Lena is reunited with shadows from her past—including loyal friend Byron who is eager to escape his safe, dull life and the attractive yet dangerous “William Yardly.” As personal and political allegiances shift in the postwar maelstrom, it seems impossible to know who is good or bad, innocent or culpable and whether they are motivated by love or revenge.

Overlaying rich historic detail and an intricate plot, Doublespeak is an entrancing sequel to Alisa Smith’s first novel Speakeasy, which received the honor of being a Walter Scott Prize Academy recommended book of 2018.

My Review:

Doublespeak by Alisa SmiithThis is written in noir style, dark, and intriguing using multiple first persons. Lieutenant Lena Stillman is an ex-bank robber, all-around scroundrel when she is incorporated into the WW2 effort as a code breaker ending up in Shemya,  Alaska. But at the end of the war, when it was assumed all would go home, she is one of the few remaining females, let alone code-breakers to remain. She doesn’t, and never has, break code of the Japanese. Hers is breaking ground of a whole new scenario in the aftermath of the war.

Years before, Lena was part of a criminal element that was called the Clockwork Gang. There were four in the gang. Besides herself there is Bill Bagley, Byron Godfrey, and Link Hughes. Bill was the brains. He managed to settle in Siam and secure a lucrative enterprise. He still has far-reaching contacts, most of whom cannot deny his call. Lena feels responsible for what happened to Link during the war. And now, years after they were scattered by happenstance, she receives an astounding message from Bill regarding Link. Regardless of her feelings for Bill, she absolutely MUST travel to Siam to see Link and square herself with him. And she is not the only one of the old gang receiving an urgent message.

First, I enjoyed the author’s sagacity when it came to matters of spying, foreign lands, pre, during, and post-war politics, and being “the criminal used for good” (they have the expertise a by-the-book grunt wouldn’t.) I had not read Book 1, but felt it could function as a standalone as we certainly get the person that is Bill/William, as well as the other characters. The people, the smells, the overcrowded and unhealthy conditions brought forth an unwelcome conjuring of sights you couldn’t unsee. The storyline is well-plotted and builds tension as the dialogue from the individuals each share their perspective and pressure escalates. And still, it takes a while before the entire mission becomes clear.

Several chapters evolve before you begin to get a sense of who is speaking and then you must discern if they are a reliable narrator. The timeline is not a lengthy one, but there is a lot to take in. The dialogue between main characters and those they are dealing with are natural, remembering this is a whole new mindset.

I received this ebook from the publisher and NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review. While this novel may not be for everyone, if you are looking for something different, enjoy historical novels,  and action-adventure, particularly with a single-minded capable female protagonist, you’ll enjoy this one.

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The Author: Alisa Smith, a Vancouver-based freelance writer who has been nominated for a National Magazine Award, has been published in Outside, Explore, Canadian Geographic, Reader’s Digest, Utne, and many other periodicals. The books Way Out There and Liberalized feature her work.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Darwin’s Cipher by M A Rothman – a #BookReview

Darwin's Cipher by M. A. Rothman

Five Stars Five stars

Title: Darwin’s Cipher by M. A. Rothman

Genre: Medical Thriller, Hard Science Fiction, Technothriller

  • ISBN-10:1790271231
  • ISBN-13:978-1790271238
  • ASIN:B07KTFX1N2

Print Length: 354 pages

Publication Date: February 15, 2019

Source: Direct author request

Title Link: Darwin’s Cipher

Book Blurb:

Juan Gutierrez, a cancer researcher, has spent years studying the genome of animals that exhibit immunity to some types of cancer. Over the course of his study, Juan discovers a pattern that allows him to predict the course of a species’ evolution across thousands of generations. 

Using the algorithm he’s developed from the pattern, Juan uncovers what he believes to be the key to conquering humanity’s susceptibility to cancer.

Others are interested in using what Juan has dubbed “Darwin’s Cipher,” however, instead of cancer research, they see very different applications for the new genetic algorithm.

Nate Carrington, an FBI forensic analyst has been struggling with several cold cases when he’s alerted to an incident at a nearby ranch. It’s a case of a newborn calf who is found in the middle of a herd of dead cattle. It provides a single link to Nate’s other cold cases: the DNA analysis of the calf doesn’t match anything in the FBI’s database.

Somewhere in a rural hospital in West Virginia, four hospital workers are dead and a newborn child has been transported to the NIH’s level-4 bio-containment unit.

It’s only when the NIH sends out an alert to all hospitals and law enforcement agencies that the world realizes the danger that faces them.

My Review:

Darwin's Cipher by M.A. RothmanDo yourself a favor and go grab this techno-thriller by USA Bestselling author M. A. Rothman. The man knows his science and this intelligent, highly engaging medical thriller will hook you immediately and then hold you fully engaged until you read the last word in the highly satisfying conclusion. But–the dog? OMG. Nooo….(But if the last little ditty about Jasper is the hook for Book 2, count me in!)

Two main characters here working in tandem, Juan Gutierrez, a cancer researcher and Special Agent Nathaniel Carrington, an FBI forensic analyst. Gutierrez is a researcher working for AgriMed closing in on a mutating algorithm in DNA. Wait! Does this sound like a SciFi? Well, maybe you’d think so. But this is chocked full of so much biological technology that you’ll find more fact than fiction. And fascinating study it is. Thank you Kindle for including that instant dictionary or search component so I can clarify what some of these terms were; not familiar with all of them. No, not unless I had an advanced degree. But does that slow you down? NO. Because there is so much to be learned here, not the least of which a strong GMO component study (and you’ll get both sides of that argument).

I loved these guys! But more than that, Rothman throws in some ordinary folk, like empathetic Frank O’Reilly and his wife and their cattle ranch and their daughter. Their daughter, Kathy, is not ignorant of AgriMed. Cancer research gone awry–with disastrous results sometimes resulting in collateral damage. Gutierrez explains his DNA manipulations and eventually I was beginning to understand it–that in itself pushes fearful tension. The science (“which is not just an ingredient of the story, but a key part of it…”), the art of discovery, the race to solution in this well-plotted thriller will have you burning the midnight oil and flipping pages.

“When the virus invades, the pieces of DNA that it carries merge with the DNA in that cell. The cell isn’t otherwise damaged, it’s modified. What you end up with is essentially an updated version of the cell.”

This is an alternately chilling and intriguing story as it weaves through a fascinating story of the science of discovery. The dialogue is clever and natural, the characters compelling, and the tension-building scenes deliver an impact. Unique plot, slightly outside of my normal genre–and found it absolutely refreshing, honest, and unputdownable. Even if you don’t think this is your genre, you’ll discover the gritty subject will pull you in. I was contacted directly by the author for an honest opinion of his book in exchange for a free eBook. You will be thrilled with this unusual book. Go look for it and get your copy. Thank you, Mr. Rothman! Contact me again for your next book (please).

His Review:

Associate Reviewer - C E Williams
C E Williams

Gene therapy thriller!
Is there a way to lengthen life or cure incurable diseases? Explore exciting scientific studies within a real-life setting. This novel will scare and excite you. 5 Stars

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M. A. Rothman - authorThe Author: USA TODAY bestselling author, M.A. Rothman, is one of the most unlikely novelists you’ll ever meet. He’s an engineer first and foremost, with a background in the sciences, and somehow or another, this writing habit of his has turned into a bit more than just a run-of-the-mill hobby.

He primarily writes stories that focus on two things: technology and international intrigue. This writing tends to span the genres of science fiction, techno-thriller, and mainstream thrillers.

When not writing, he enjoys cooking, learning about new technology, travel, and spending time with his family.

Find him at Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/MichaelARothman and Twitter – @MichaelARothman

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Magickal Mystery Lore by Sharon Pape – a #BookReview

Magickal Mystery Lore by Sharon PapeTitle: Magickal Mystery Lore by Sharon Pape (An Abracadabra Mystery Book 4)

Genre: Women Sleuths (Paranormal, Cozy, Witches and Spells)

Publisher: Lyrical Underground

  • ISBN-10:1516108736
  • ISBN-13:978-1516108732
  • ASIN:B07FS2GCW3

 Print Length: 246 pages

Publication Date: April 16, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Magickal Mystery Lore

Book Blurb:

This spells trouble . . .
 
The New Camel Day Fair is a fun-filled event for residents of this upstate New York town. Kailyn Wilde, a modern-day witch of ancient lineage, leaves her potion shop, Abracadabra—and her feline familiar, Sashkatu—to attend with her fortune-telling Aunt Tilly. Joining them is legendary wizard Merlin, who’s discovering new pleasures of time-traveling to the modern world, including curly fries and kettle corn—but the appeal of the Tilt-a-Wheel is beyond his mystical imagination.

The real wild ride begins later, when neighboring sweet shop owner Lolly rushes into Abracadabra with news about a dead body. The victim has one of Lolly’s fudge knives stuck in her back, but in spite of the sticky evidence, Lolly is only one of several suspects with ample motive and opportunity. Meanwhile, Merlin’s research into old family scrolls and electromagnetic ley lines is causing some unusual mix-ups. As the two investigations collide, Kailyn will have to do everything in her power to prevent disaster…

My Review:

Magickal Mystery Lore by Sharon PapeI do love getting into a book, cozy mystery or not, that is quite a bit different than what I usually get with the genre. And genre? This one is pegged as “women sleuths.” Nah…the main character is a witch–still discovering her full potential (powers). She has, also, quite the number of spells in her repertoire. Kailyn Wilde is a contemporary witch but her lineage goes way back. She owns an old family potion shop called Abracadabra (potions and creams of which she infuses with spells from time to time). Her aunt Tilly has a tea and fortune-telling business nearby. Together, they’ve been invaded by Merlin, the magician of ancient times, who got stuck in one of Kailyn’s spells gone awry and was pulled into the Wilde’s world. He is still working on figuring out why, but at the same time discovering all the gleeful treats in today’s world has him lingering just a bit.

This is the fourth in the series and it seems coming in to this author and series at this point I’ve missed a number of major plot-building threads, one being just how Merlin is pulled into the here and now. So no, I wouldn’t say it could function as a standalone, and there is a decided lack of fleshing in the protagonist as well as her sweetie, Travis, a news reporter. He tends to participate with her in the sleuthing activities and is aware of her paranormal capabilities. However, there is enough going on with this well-plotted, unique storyline, and support characters to keep the reader engaged and turning pages.

The whole premise of magic and the inclusion of Merlin just adds a completely comical element to the story as he is living with aunt Tilly and keeps her exhausted with his searches, discoveries, and disheveled appearance. (She works on that.) His appetite and sweet tooth know no boundaries. AND, so many new terms I’ve learned, i.e., ley lines, familiars. That cat? Sashkatu is perfect. Just look at the cover!

Okay, I’ve gotten ahead of myself. New Camel (upstate New York) is holding their annual festival and both Kailyn and her aunt normally have a booth as well as the merchants in her small enclave of touristy shops. Unfortunately, one of their own, Lolly, a close friend and shop owner comes home to discover a body in her backyard. Of course, she’ll be number one on the local police persons-of-interest and Kailyn and Travis will work to discover the whodunit.

I thoroughly enjoyed the author’s obvious sense of humor, observations, and pokes of fun at things that can go wrong with magic and relationships including the appearances of her mother and grandmother who had passed on (crossed the veil). Nothing is ever simple and the murder mystery twists and turns in the wind with new discoveries and begins to reach further afield. Most threads are pulled in to a rather convoluted conclusion and one that left me somewhat frustrated–the ending leaving you scratching your head.

Still, I enjoyed the well enough to look for Book 5. I received this ebook download from the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended to all who enjoy a different kind of cozy with a decidedly distinctive appeal.

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars Four stars

Sharon Pape - authorThe Author: [Sharon Pape] I started writing stories as soon as I learned how to put letters together to form words. From that day forward, writing has been a part of my life whether it was my first attempt at a novel in seventh grade or the little plays I wrote for my friends to perform for neighbors and family. After college, when I was busy teaching French and Spanish to high school students, I was also writing poetry — often in French.

After several years, I left teaching to be a full time mom, and when my two children started school, I went back to writing. To my delight I found that the muse was still there, still waiting patiently for me to come around. My first novel, Ghostfire, was published at that time. It went on to be condensed in Redbook magazine (the first paperback original the magazine had ever condensed.) Then came The God Children and The Portal. Redbook also published my first short story, which was subsequently sold to several foreign magazines. With two great kids, a golden retriever and a loving, supportive husband (whom I’d met at the beach when I was fourteen — but that’s a story for another day), I felt like I was exactly where I was meant to be in my life. But fate had another plan for me, and it went by the name of “breast cancer.”

Looking back, I realize how fortunate I was that the cancer was discovered at such an early stage, but at the time it was all very overwhelming. Once I was back on my feet, I wanted to help other women who were newly diagnosed, worried and afraid. I became a Reach to Recovery volunteer for the American Cancer Society and went on to run the program for Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. A number of years later, with the help of my surgical oncologist and two other volunteers, I started Lean On Me, a nonprofit organization that provides peer support and information to breast cancer patients. When Lean On Me celebrated its tenth anniversary it no longer required as much of my time, and I once again found myself free to pursue my first love — writing.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Buried Deep by T R Ragan – a #BookReview

Buried Deep by T. R. Ragan

Five Stars Five stars

Title: Buried Deep (Jessie Cole Book 4) by T R Ragan

Genre: Private Investigator Mysteries, Vigilante Thrillers

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

  • ISBN-10:1542091489
  • ISBN-13:978-1542091480
  • ASIN: B07GDH8F26

Print Length: 283 pages

Publication Date: To be released April 16, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Buried Deep

Book Blurb:

Two missing persons. One apparent suicide. Three cases pushing PI Jessie Cole and crime reporter Ben Morrison closer to the edge.

Lacey Geiger could be a very rich woman. If Jessie Cole can find her. The beneficiary of a sizable estate, Lacey vanished years ago after escaping an abusive childhood and is veiled now behind a new identity. Jessie has two weeks to find her. It’s enough time to discover that Lacey is hiding from so much more than anyone realized. But she isn’t the only one with secrets. And Jessie’s not the only one searching for the truth.

A concerned daughter has asked for help finding her mother—a woman said to have been murdered thirty years ago. And Jessie’s colleague Ben, an amnesiac still struggling with the bloody memories of a shattered life, is nearer to piecing together a very dark picture. Especially when someone he detests is found dead, hanging from a tree by a riverbank.

Now as the mysteries, puzzles, and lies of three investigations are unearthed, Jessie and Ben will risk everything to bring all that is hidden into the light.

My Review:

Buried Deep by T. R. RaganThrilling ride into one of a human being’s major fears–that of being buried alive. This thriller, however, doesn’t delve into just one engaging storyline, but three. PI Jessie Cole suddenly has more work than she can handle. Lacey’s disappearance is on a short fuse with a potential bonus if she can find her within two weeks. She and her husband disappeared a week ago and it’s discovered Lacey’s worst half had more enemies than she could count. Her office has also been put on the pursuit of a mother (Arlene) who also disappeared, but thirty years ago, and the daughter (Penny) is sure she is alive although her father spent ten years in prison as a result of his being charged with her murder. Zee, a major support character with schizophrenia, will be tackling the latter case, her first.

Ben, an amnesiac colleague linked to Jessie through her sister, is struggling with trying to piece together the bits of flashbacks that might reveal to him who he was prior to the deadly automobile accident he was in with Jessie’s sister. He is a newspaper investigative reporter who sees more than he wants to know and is currently involved in a case with a pedophile who later shows up a questionable suicide.

I loved the way the author weaves these three storylines into and through the narrative keeping you on the edge of your seat, heart-thumping. It would be unputdownable except that eventually you have to have a relief break, even if you don’t stop to eat. The cast of both main and support characters work very well, including more involvement with both Colin (Jessie’s main man) and Zee (Jessie’s right-hand woman).

Zee works very hard to prove to Jessie she can solve the case and has a continual battle with those three voices in her head, who take it a step further and at times fight with each other. Jessie’s niece plays more prominently as well and they all appear to be creating a very solid, satisfying unit. Ben confronts a discovery readers have long suspected. Dialogue is taut and leading. Definitely more development with several of the secondary characters this time, although for a complete picture you may wish to begin with Book 1, Her Last Day (I did). Still, if you love thrillers, you’ll love this one.

So did Book 4 feel like it might be the last in the series? (Say it isn’t so!) Issues that may have been a continuing thread in previous series entries seem to be resolved. The action-packed climax neatly wraps most loose ends leading me to wonder where the author may take this next. Talk about intense! I absolutely plowed through these pages almost non-stop looking for a gratifying finish. Ooh, how I do love happy endings! Well, at least for a couple of them anyway!

I was thrilled to receive this ebook download from the publisher and NetGalley and totally appreciate the opportunity to read and review. Ragan’s writing will get into your head. She has a masterful style that keeps you glued. I’m looking for Book 5!

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T. R. Ragan - authorThe Author: T.R. Ragan (Theresa Ragan) is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestselling mystery and thriller author.

Readers interested in signing up for a monthly newsletter or getting their name in a TR RAGAN book should check out her website at http://www.trragan.com

Facebook * Twitter * Instagram: @trraganauthor

LIZZY GARDNER SERIES
Abducted
Dead Weight
A Dark
Obsessed
Almost Dead
Evil Never Dies

FAITH MCMANN TRILOGY
Furious
Outrage
Wrath

JESSIE COLE SERIES
Her Last Day
Deadly Recall
Deranged
Buried Deep – 4/16/19

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Restaurant Weeks Are Murder by Libby Klein – a #BookReview

Restaurant Weeks Are Murder by Libby KleinTitle: Restaurant Weeks Are Murder by Libby Klein

Genre: Cozy Culinary Mystery, Amateur Sleuths, Cozy Animal Mysteries

Publisher: Kensington

  • ISBN-10:1496713079
  • ISBN-13:978-1496713070
  • ASIN: B07DBQBVYJ

 Print Length: 304 pages

Publication Date: February 26, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Restaurant Weeks Are Murder (A Poppy McAllister Mystery Book 3)

Book Blurb:

Cape May, New Jersey, is the site of a big culinary competition—and the knives are out . . .

Poppy McAllister is happy about opening a Jersey Shore B&B—but working in a professional kitchen has always been her real dream. Now it’s coming true, at least briefly, as she teams up with her former fiancée, Tim—and his condescending partner, Gigi—during the high-profile Restaurant Week challenge. Poppy’s specialty is pastries, despite her devotion to a Paleo diet. But if anyone can make glorious gluten-free goodies, it’s Poppy.

Things get heated quickly—especially when some ingredients get switched and Tim’s accused of sabotage. Relatively harmless pranks soon escalate into real hazards, including an exploding deep fryer. And now one of the judges has died after taking a bite of Poppy’s cannoli—making her the chef suspect . . .

Includes Seven Recipes from Poppy’s Kitchen!

My Review:

Restaurant Weeks Are Murder by Libby KleinMs. Klein has ramped up her cooking expertise in Book 3 of her Poppy McAllister series. Poppy and her Aunt Ginny are finishing up the touches on their Butterfly Wings Bed and Breakfast. Tim, Poppy’s one-time fiancé, has asked her to team with him and Gigi in the Restaurant Week Challenge where she will create her specialty desserts and pastries. The competition of seven days comprises three stages that include a “mystery basket” of ingredients and is judged by well-known celebrities, if possibly questionable, local judges and is to be recorded to show on Jersey area daytime TV.

One of the six teams is comprised of Gia, a steamy, mcDreamy Italian for whom Poppy has been supplying some of her pastries for him and his mother’s Italian restaurant. Teams include a head chef, a sous chef, and a pastry chef per each restaurant team. It’s obvious from the beginning that this is a serious competition, each vying for the prize of $10,000 as well as the notoriety, air time, and press. Unfortunately, few of the team members get along with each other and the judges are brutal. So, this being a cozy is not too difficult to guess who will be the victim.

Before the mics are on and the cameras are rolling, there is sabotage (changing labels of food ingredients), bickering, materials are disappearing, and a fight breaking out between two of the competing chefs. You can almost visualize Chef Ramsey delivering a scathing review to one of the dishes as the 10-year-old looks on teary-eyed.

The author’s wicked sense of humor sparks off the characters, including her Aunt Ginny who is up to her usual antics and her naughty kitty Figaro who figures out which judge housed in their B&B is allergic to felines and does his best to make sure she is sneezing and miserable. The dialogue ranges between snarky, hilarious, and believable in an honest conversational tone. The secondary characters work well with the main characters and protagonist providing that tension in a real kitchen competition atmosphere, scrambling to the pantry for their ingredients only to have another chef snatch it out from under them.

The characters have been developed in previous series entries and there is little further fleshing here, although with the plot focus on food could still work as a stand alone. It is a very well paced plot, albeit slow to deliver a victim as the focus is the restaurant challenge and all the outrageous events happening while trying to film each day’s segment concluding with judging scores. Red herrings, twists, and new discoveries every chapter lead to a conclusion you may have guessed, but it’s been fun.

I had two problems, and yes, it is acknowledged that her aunt is an active, saucy octogenarian, but she and her friends were referred to constantly as the “biddies and cronies.” (Ouch) And, the dreaded romantic triangle. (I’m so over it–can we move on now?). Also the judge, “Stormin’ Norman,” weatherman. (Perhaps Ms. Klein is unaware of the scandal that took place in the 80s out west and it did give me icky pause.)

I received this ebook download from the publisher and NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review. The author has a writing style I enjoy, characters that engage, and I’m looking forward to Book 4.

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

Libby Klein - authorThe Author: Libby Klein graduated Lower Cape May Regional High School sometime in the ’80s. Her classes revolved mostly around the culinary sciences and theater, with the occasional nap in Chemistry. She loves to drink coffee, bake gluten free goodies, and befriend random fluffy cats. She writes from her Northern Virginia office while trying to keep her cat Figaro off her keyboard. Most of her hobbies revolve around eating, and travel, and eating while traveling.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

The Eighth Sister by Robert Dugoni – a #BookReview

The Eighth Sister by Robert Dugoni

Five Stars Five stars

Title: The Eighth Sister (Charles Jenkins Book 1) by Robert Dugoni

Genre: Espionage Thriller, Murder, Thriller

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

  • ISBN-10:1503903311
  • ISBN-13:978-1503903319
  • ASIN: B07D6PZ6P1

Print Length: 477 pages

Publication Date: April 9, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: The Eighth Sister

Congratulations to Robert Dugoni today on his book launch of The Eighth Sister, Book 1 of the Charles Jenkins series. (Now’s your chance, people, it’s Book ONE!)

Book Blurb:

A pulse-pounding thriller of espionage, spy games, and treachery by the New York Times bestselling author of the Tracy Crosswhite Series.

Former CIA case officer Charles Jenkins is a man at a crossroads: in his early sixties, he has a family, a new baby on the way, and a security consulting business on the brink of bankruptcy. Then his former bureau chief shows up at his house with a risky new assignment: travel undercover to Moscow and locate a Russian agent believed to be killing members of a clandestine US spy cell known as the seven sisters.

Desperate for money, Jenkins agrees to the mission and heads to the Russian capital. But when he finds the mastermind agent behind the assassinations—the so-called eighth sister—she is not who or what he was led to believe. Then again, neither is anyone else in this deadly game of cat and mouse.

Pursued by a dogged Russian intelligence officer, Jenkins executes a daring escape across the Black Sea, only to find himself abandoned by the agency he serves. With his family and freedom at risk, Jenkins is in the fight of his life—against his own country.

My Review:

The Eighth Sister by Robert DugoniMasterful storyteller Dugoni has done it again and I swear this is his best. Absolutely riveting. This has to be my favorite book by Robert Dugoni and I’ve read several. This one? Gripping from page one which starts with a prologue in Moscow. Once the author ramps up the bone-chilling scenario of a Moscow winter with a vulnerable, feminine spy, you’re hooked.

Sixty-something Charles Jenkins, ex CIA, has become desperate for money. His security firm (which has offices abroad–including Moscow) has been shorted a number of payments and forced his own debts delinquent, teetering on bankruptcy. He is married and has a nine-year-old son…his much younger wife Alex is pregnant with their second child. Her pregnancy isn’t going smoothly and she has had to step back from her duties at their business.

He is surprised by an unannounced visit from his former case manager in Mexico City who has a proposal he cannot refuse. Jenkins had left disillusioned abruptly after the last CIA mission in Mexico went sideways almost forty years ago. This mission involves contact in Moscow to try and filter out the Russian agent who is believed responsible for killing members of a US spy circle known as the seven sisters. He knows two have already died and asserts that Jenkins is the best man for the job with a great undercover story, speaks fluent Russian, and is familiar with CIA operations. One minor hitch–he’s a 6’5″ black man and may stand out just a tad in Russia.

Almost from the beginning, just when you think you understand where this is going to go, the storyline takes a 90-degree turn. You are introduced to “family man” Viktor of the FSB (formerly KGB) and Paulina, both of whom become empathetic, and earn tons of respect. Okay, yes, Viktor is FSB. He isn’t going to be a good guy (and there were times I visualized Putin). And then the battle when this went sideways as well, the flee for his life.

But then, what? Home, but not safe. Just when you thought the desperate effort to survive was over, the desperation simply takes on a new direction. We are reintroduced to David Sloan (an early Dugoni series protagonist), Jenkins attorney. Sloan may have aged a bit as well, but he’s still AI smart. And he knows the law, the ins and outs of the court system. I thoroughly enjoyed the courtroom drama and the manipulation of information.

Dialogue is intelligent, sometimes sparring (particularly between him and Viktor, and often incorporates the language of the country he is in (or fleeing). Jenkins is a winner and I was often reminded of Clint Eastwood; aging but still very effective. Paulina is immensely appealing. The well-plotted narrative never lets you relax or take a breath. It’s easy to feel the teeth-chattering cold, the terror of escaping by inches. And, as “they” say, sixty-four “is the new forty.”

I was thrilled to get this ebook download from the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read one of my favorite author’s new books. I’ve read two in his Tracy Crosswhite series, A Steep Price and Close to Home and enjoyed both. His writing style always sets you up for a satisfying journey through the pages. Can’t wait for book 2! Highly recommended.

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Robert Dugoni - authorThe Author: Robert Dugoni is the New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and #1 Amazon Internationally Bestselling Author of the Tracy Crosswhite Series : My Sister’s Grave (2014), Her Final Breath (2015), In the Clearing (2015), The Trapped Girl (2016), Close to Home (2017) and A Steep Price (2018).

Dugoni’s espionage novel, The Eighth Sister, inspired by real events, arrives April 2019.

His critically acclaimed literary novel, The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell (2018) won Suspense Magazine’s Crimson Scribe Award as The Best Book of 2018 and has drawn comparison’s to novelist John Irving’s work. Dugoni also won a Golden Microphone for his narration that novel. Connect with him on Facebook @AuthorRobertDugoni, on Twitter @robertdugoni, and on Instagram, robertdugoni, author

Dugoni is also the author of the David Sloane series: The Jury Master, Wrongful Death, Bodily Harm, Murder One and The Conviction.

Dugoni is the winner of the 2015 Nancy Pearl Award for Fiction, has twice been a finalist for the Harper Lee Award for Legal Fiction, twice been a finalist for the Silver Falchion award for his mysteries, was a 2015 and 2017 International Thriller Writer’s finalist for thriller of the year, and a 2017 Mystery Writers of America Edgar Finalist for his stand alone novel, The Seventh Canon. His books are sold world-wide in more than 30 countries and have been translated into dozens of languages including French, German, Italian and Spanish.

Dugoni’s first in the Tracy Crosswhite series, My Sister’s Grave (Nov. 2014), became a months-long #1 Amazon Bestseller in the United States, France, Italy, Germany and in the UK, as well as a New York Times and Wall Street Journal Best Seller and won the 2014 Nancy Pearl Award for fiction. Library Journal gave it a Starred Review and said it “Combines the best of a police procedural with a legal thriller, and the end result is outstanding…Dugoni continues to deliver emotional and gut-wrenching, character-driven suspense stories that will resonate with any fan of the thriller genre.”

The sequel, Her Final Breath, also became an Amazon top 10 bestseller, as did In the Clearing. The Trapped Girl was a #1 Amazon and #1 Wall Street Journal best-seller that Kirkus and Booklist are calling his best book to date. Close to Home debuted at #2 on the Wall Street Journal Best Seller list.

For more on Robert Dugoni and his novels, visit his website at http://www.robertdugoni.com

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Murder in Tranquility Park by J D Griffo #BlogTour #BookReview #Giveaway

Murder in Tranquility Park

I am so delighted today to provide a review for you at my blog stop for Murder in Tranquility Park (A Ferrara Family Mystery-Book 2) by J D Griffo on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. Scroll down to enter your chance to win the Giveaway!

Book Details

Murder in Tranquility Park (A Ferrara Family Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Kensington (March 26, 2019)
Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
ISBN-10: 1496713966
ISBN-13: 978-1496713964
Digital ASIN: B07F5XG3CQ

Book Blurb

Alberta Scaglione and her twentysomething granddaughter, Jinx, love to spend time—and solve crime—together . . .

Ever since Alberta Scaglione inherited her spinster aunt’s Cape Cod cottage, she’s been enjoying the good life in Tranquility, New Jersey, with her black cat, Lola. But since things are mostly quiet in this town, she finds other things to do—like joining Jinx for morning jogs in Tranquility Park. She has to do something to stay healthy, as long as it doesn’t involve Jinx’s healthful tofu sausages and gluten-free pasta. But when they stumble across a treehouse hidden in the trees, and a dead body underneath it, they take a detour into solving a murder. Now the Ferrara ladies will have to exercise extreme caution to avoid a permanent decline in their health . . .

Includes Italian recipes from Alberta’s kitchen!

My Review

Murder in Tranquility Park by J D GriffoCozy mystery with a slightly different premise in that it is not one female protagonist but a family combining skills from the 65-year-old grandmother, Alberta, to 25-year-old granddaughter Jinx. In between are a sister (ex-nun Helen) and sister-in-law (Joyce). Vinny, now police chief for whom Alberta babysat and Nola, Zinx’s roomy are also featured a second time. Yes, she is a recent transplant, which delightfully has put her in close proximity to family members in Tranquility, New Jersey. Jinx is working on becoming an investigative reporter for the local newspaper and has a boyfriend, Freddy.

Jinx has convinced Alberta that she needs some exercise to keep those old bones running smoothly and she and Gram begin by jogging very early in the morning only to discover a huge tree house neither had previously noticed in the small town park. On their way back they run to the tree house to further check it out and discover the body of well-known life-long occupant, Jonas.

The characters are very well developed (could function as a standalone) and each exhibit a whole host of personalities, from sweet and naive to biting but all work to create a well-paced narrative. Alberta is hardcore Sicilian Catholic and each chapter heading is infused with hints of the new chapter in beautiful Italian. Alberta is brought up old-school Victorian and is somewhat shocked from time to time with her sister’s and granddaughter’s view of sexuality invoking a smattering of easy religious thought. Dialogue often bordering on humorous with some innuendo is enough to be fun and keep things light, sometimes peppered with “Holy Marcello Mastroianni”–or enter your own Italian movie star…).

Lots of twists, turns, red herrings, but really you have your suspicions early on and it’s a matter of just enjoying how the author lays out the investigation, the role the sisters play, and mastering the shouting match when they all get together which brings to mind “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.”

It’s a fun, fast character-driven cozy mystery where the mystery is not forgotten and the family value theme recurs often. I had a small problem with the conclusion when Alberta and Jinx went off to confront their number one perp without back-up who at this point is a double murderer. A couple of last twists into the climax you didn’t see coming, so you can’t guess it all (and pushing disbelief with a gas pipe in a furnace room–uh, no…just, no).

I was given this ebook download by the publisher and NetGalley for this blog tour and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Easy to push right through this one and look for another. Recommended for cozy mystery fans looking for a slightly different, but very pleasant character.

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Giveaway

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About the Author

J D Griffo - authorItalian by birth, Jersey by upbringing, J. D. Griffo is an award-winning playwright and author who has written ten novels, over twenty plays, and a handful of screenplays that have yet to see the light of day.

Griffo studied Journalism and Marketing at New York University, graduating magna cum laude many, many years ago, as well as Creative Writing at the New School and Gotham Writer’s Workshop.

And the J. D. stands for the author’s mother – Jean Dolores – who absolutely loved to read and tell stories.

Author Links

Website – https://michaelgriffo.com/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/Michael2264

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/j.d.griffo/

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

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

Tour Participants:

April 1 – Cozy Up With Kathy – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

April 1 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT

April 2 – Here’s How It Happened – SPOTLIGHT, RECIPE

April 2 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT

April 3 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW, RECIPE

April 3 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

April 4 – I’m all About Books – SPOTLIGHT

April 4 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

April 5 – A Wytch’s Book Review Blog – REVIEW

April 5 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

April 6 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT, RECIPE

April 7 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

April 7 – 4covert2overt  A Place In The Spotlight  – GUEST POST

April 8 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT, RECIPE

April 8 – Sneaky the Library Cat’s Blog – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

April 8 – Books Direct – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

April 9 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

April 9 – Reading Is My SuperPower – CHARACTER GUEST POST

April 10 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

April 10 – A Blue Million Books – GUEST POST

April 10 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT Great Escapes Book Tours

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

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Lessons from Lucy: The Simple Joys of an Old, Happy Dog by Dave Barry – a #BookReview

Lessons from Lucy by Dave Barry

Five Stars  Five stars

Title: Lessons from Lucy: The Simple Joys of an Old, Happy Dog by Dave Barry

Genre: #1 United States Literary Criticism, #2 in Cat, Dog, and Animal Humor

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

  • ASIN: B07CL5PVDB
  •  ISBN-10: 1501161156
  • ISBN-13: 978-1501161155

      Print Length: 241 pages

Publication Date: Happy Release Date! April 2, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Lessons from Lucy

Book Blurb:

Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and bestselling author of Dave Barry Turns 40 now shows how to age gracefully, taking cues from his beloved and highly intelligent dog, Lucy.

Faced with the obstacles and challenges of life after middle age, Dave Barry turns to his best dog, Lucy, to learn how to live his best life. From “Make New Friends” (an unfortunate fail when he can’t overcome his dislike for mankind) to “Don’t Stop Having Fun” (validating his longtime membership in a marching unit that performs in parades—and even Obama’s inauguration), Dave navigates his later years with good humor and grace. Lucy teaches Dave how to live in the present, how to let go of daily grievances, and how to feel good in your own skin. The lessons are drawn from Dave’s routine humiliations and stream-of-consciousness accounts of the absurdities of daily life, which will leave you heaving with laughter and recognition.

Laugh-out-loud hilarious, whether he’s trying to “Pay Attention to the People You Love” (even when your brain is not listening) or deciding to “Let Go of Your Anger,” Dave Barry’s Lessons From Lucy is a witty and wise guide to joyous living.

#1 New Release in Mid-Life Management

My Review:

Lessons from Lucy by Dave BarrySoon as I saw a book offered in NetGalley from Dave Barry, I jumped on the request. And a book about his dog, Lucy? YES, please! I have long been a fan of this author’s columns and would catch it in whatever vehicle I had that ran it. Paper? Sure before they gave way the same as eight-tracks. His columns never failed to provide a knowing nod, a chuckle, or laugh out loud moments. And while I don’t agree with all of Mr. Barry’s philosophy, I certainly agree that the man can find humor in just about anything and this book highlights that ability.

While the narrative doesn’t open new doors in wisdom, create new cosmic thought on life with dogs (or life itself), it is certainly written in an entertaining and satisfying manner. The author points out seven major lessons bestowed on Dave and his family by Lucy, their ten-year-old mixed-breed rescue. Dave’s keen wit and inspired observations of human behavior, metaphors for dog behavior, generally hit just where you’ve been. He sums up each lesson:

Lesson 1: Make New Friends, (And Keep The Ones You Have) Just don’t try to find them in a bar amazing them with your ability to smell asparagus metabolite.

Lesson 2: Have Some Fun Getting old sucks. (Or is that AARP?) Join something like the (World Famous) Lawn Rangers (yes, they use a broom and a lawn mower and perform in parades). Or as Barry did, join the Rock Bottom Remainders termed by Roy Blount as “Hard Listening,” composed of famous authors such as Stephen King and Amy Tan (but I doubt you’d recognize her), among others.

Rock Bottom Remainders on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson

Lesson 3: Pay Attention to the People You Love (Not Later, Right Now) Please, don’t ask him about “diversity training” as opposed to “mindfulness training.”

Lesson 4: Let Go Of Your Anger, Unless It’s About Something Really Important, Which It Almost Never Is. Among his list of top five things he is exceptionally good at, besides sarcasm and ridicule (that’s just too easy cause you already knew that!), is his knack for developing an instantaneous hatred for people he doesn’t know. (That would definitely include the cable TV company, “Bomcast”)

Lesson 5: Try Not To Judge People By Their Looks, And Don’t Obsess Over Your Own. (…a book by its cover.)

Lesson 6: Don’t Let Your Happiness Depend On Things; They Don’t Make You Truly Happy, And You’ll Never Have Enough Anyway. Learn the definition of GAS – “Gear Acquisition Syndrome” and the necessity of storing lentils.

Lesson 7: Don’t Lie Unless You Have A Really Good Reason, Which You Probably Don’t. Two reasons not to lie: (1) It’s wrong, and (2) It’s stupid. Be like Lucy, “if you mess up, fess up.” A dog can look amazingly guilty, whether or not they are, but they usually know when they are.

This is a pseudo-self-help book from a skeptical self-help book hypocrite. He doesn’t ascribe to them. Even he can’t believe he wrote it. Normally, he is a snarky, cynical Pulitzer prize-winning columnist and bestselling author. It was intended to be a book about dogs. But there were so many parallels he could draw from his reflections.

It’s honest, sincere, and authentic. Also humorous, appealing, and a feel-good novel about dogs. As the author says, every dog he has ever owned has been THE BEST DOG EVER. It is a great read that I wholeheartedly recommend. I received the ebook download from the publisher and NetGalley. I so appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Thank you!

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Dave Barry - authorThe Author: The New York Times has pronounced Dave Barry “the funniest man in America.” But of course that could have been on a slow news day when there wasn’t much else fit to print. True, his bestselling collections of columns are legendary, but it is his wholly original books that reveal him as an American icon. Dave Barry Slept Here was his version of American history. Dave Barry Does Japan was a contribution to international peace and understanding from which Japan has not yet fully recovered. Dave Barry’s Complete Guide to Guys is among the best-read volumes in rehab centers and prisons. Raised in a suburb of New York, educated in a suburb of Philadelphia, he lives now in a suburb of Miami. He is not, as he often puts it so poetically, making this up. Find Dave Barry at http://www.davebarry.com/

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Widow Creek by Sarah Margolis Pearce – a #BlogTour #BookReview

I am so delighted today to provide a review for you at my blog stop for Widow Creek by Sarah Margolis Pearce on Sage’s Blog Tours.

Widow Creek by Sarah Margolis Pearce

Book Details

Title: Widow Creek by Sarah Margolis Pearce

Genre: Historical Mystery, Historical Romances
Publisher:
Lucky Bat Books

Print Length: 274 pages

Publish Date: October 7, 2018

  • ASIN: B07J4S5LRQ
  • ISBN-10: 1943588775
  • ISBN-13: 978-1943588770

Book Blurb

Widow Creek is an incredible story of bravery and adventure as a daring woman takes on the wild frontier of California by herself in 1849. In 2015, historical sleuths try to find a link between the riveting tale of this undaunted woman and three weather-worn boulders on a remote hillside below Hasten Peak. Hidden for nearly 170 years, Mariah’s journal is uncovered. From its pages, the story of Mariah begins to unfold about her days at Widow Creek and the adventure she was determined to take. Intrigued, the modern-day sleuths try to piece together what happened to her after the journal ends. Through the story, they come to know Mariah Hardwick Penngrove, who arrives in a wagon train in Remington River, California, in 1849 with grief and daring in her heart. Newly widowed, she lost a husband on the trail but developed a backbone. Refusing to return to the safety of her parents, she instead forges on to her goal of reaching “the beyond” described by Meriwether Lewis, holding tight to her mother’s copy of The Journals of Lewis and Clark, for comfort and inspiration. One look at Hasten Peak, snow-capped and dominating the landscape, tells Mariah she has found her “beyond.” However, Mariah’s notion of the wilderness and untouched horizons is turned upside down when she becomes embroiled in a land dispute between the bandit, Pajaro Mendonca, and Po Fong, Chinatown madam and leader of a notorious tong. Entrenched in a conflict she never wanted and in a wilderness unknown, Mariah finds that decisions are not so straightforward and trust is a shadowy business.

My Review

Widow Creek by Sarah Margolis PearceIt’s that undeniable call to the west that Mariah Hardwick can no longer ignore when the opportunity arises for her to see “the Beyond.” What is beyond those fields she gazes at every day from their small piece of earth in St. Louis, Missouri. The siren call comes from unlikely suitor-then-husband Earl Penngrove, who succumbs to his own wretched scheme before the adventure west is half completed. She and her mother had long desired to see what lay beyond the horizon and often turned to the well-worn journal of Lewis and Clark for inspiration, to glean information, and to gain wisdom regarding their journey to the west coast.

Carefully keeping her own journal of the harsh trail with the wagon train they’ve set off on, she tells the tale of continuing without him, settling instead of San Francisco (the original destination), to that of Remington River in northern California where she meets the Old Mandarin…and Pajaro Mendonca.

The hills promised gold after discovery of the element in Sutter Creek near Coloma, California in 1848 and the territory was in a contentious battle between Californios (a Hispanic person who is genetically or culturally descended from the Spanish-speaking community) and land-grabbing newcomers. (California became a state in 1850.) The author has faithfully described the area’s majestic mountains, peaks, and rivers with powerful prose that includes the legend of Pajaro Mendonca, possibly said to be the origin of the tale of Zorro.

Mariah becomes entangled in the intrigue and conspiracies of land grants and titles and her journal ends.

In 2015, hikers discover three large inscribed stones. Pictures of the site are brought to the attention of those who are best equipped to search records, archives, and the history of the area and Mariah’s journal is discovered to be an integral part. Mariah’s unfolding story is mesmerizing, offering a brutal but triumphant tale to be pieced together closing the span of time.

It is somewhat of a romantic tale, although this is not a romance novel per se, but that of the beauty of the west, travel and destination, the land and the people that comprised early California. Mariah is an educated, first-person narrator with whom you quickly become invested. She is complex and naive but strong, intelligent, and beautifully independent. The passages from the Lewis and Clark journals lend such an eerie bite back, as both returned successfully, only to have Lewis die mysteriously three years later.

I was given this ebook download by the author and Sage’s Blog tours and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for those who enjoy a well-plotted, deeply absorbing and engaging historical action-adventure brought to life and time in the present and these opinions are my own.

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

About the Author

Sarah Margolis Pearce - author

Sarah lives and works in San Francisco. Her writing has been published by online literary sites such as WritersType and Midlife Collage. As part of the 2013 San Francisco cast of Listen to Your Mother, she performed her hilarious, spoken word piece, Goodbye, Kimmie.

I have a special interest in the history of Northern California. Specifically, the mid-1800s shortly before California was granted statehood. My Remington River series [beginning with The Promise of Fate] is set in the Golden State around the time of the Gold Rush.

My writing is not limited to historical fiction. My favorite author is Flannery 0’Connor. My short stories have been compared to hers as I explore the strange situations simple folks get themselves into.

Visit my website: http://www.sarahmargolispearce.com

Sage's Blog ToursThank you for visiting my stop on the tour and please enjoy this beautifully crafted novel. 

Thanks to Sage’s Book Tours for the opportunity to read and review this historical mystery!

©2019 V Williams Blog author

The Secret Place by Tana French – a #BookReview

It’s March and I’m participating in the Reading Ireland Month for 2019. This one is a police procedural/crime fiction by Irish author Tana French. I was not prepared and it knocked my socks off! What did I get myself into?

March!

The Secret Place by Tana FrenchTitle: The Secret Place: (Dublin Murder Squad Series, Book 5) by Tana French

Genre: Thriller & Suspense, Mystery, Police Procedural

Publisher: Penguin Books

Print Length: 480 pages

Publication Date: Reprint edition August 4, 2015

  • ASIN: B00IOE4JXS
  • ISBN-10:0143127519
  • ISBN-13:978-0143127512

Source: Reading Ireland 2019 list 746 Books

Title Link: The Secret Place

Book Blurb:

A year ago a boy was found murdered at a girlsʼ boarding school, and the case was never solved. Detective Stephen Moran has been waiting for his chance to join Dublin’s Murder Squad when sixteen-year-old Holly Mackey arrives in his office with a photo of the boy with the caption: “I KNOW WHO KILLED HIM.” Stephen joins with Detective Antoinette Conway to reopen the case—beneath the watchful eye of Holly’s father, fellow detective Frank Mackey. With the clues leading back to Holly’s close-knit group of friends, to their rival clique, and to the tangle of relationships that bound them all to the murdered boy, the private underworld of teenage girls turns out to be more mysterious and more dangerous than the detectives imagined. Continue reading “The Secret Place by Tana French – a #BookReview”

Dark Hollow by John Connolly – a #BookReview

It’s March and I’m participating in the Reading Ireland Month for 2019. This one is a crime fiction by Dublin born Irish author John Connolly. Because of the length of this and another that we borrowed from our local library, my associate reviewer read Dark Hollow and the following is his review.

March!

 

Dark Hollow by John ConnollyTitle: Dark Hollow: A Charlie Parker Thriller (Book 2) by John Connolly

Genre: Mystery, Thrillers and Suspense, Supernatural, Ghosts, Serial Killers

Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books

Print Length: 432 pages

Publication Date: Reprint edition (June 16, 2015)

  • ASIN: B002OK2OQM
  • ISBN-10: 1501122630
  • ISBN-13:978-1501122637

Source: Irish Authors by 746Books

Title Link: Dark Hollow

Book Blurb:

The second thriller in John Connolly’s bestselling, chilling series featuring haunted private investigator Charlie Parker.

Charlier Parker, a former New York City detective with a haunted past, befriends a down-and-out mother with a small child. When she turns up dead, Charlie’s first suspect is her estranged husband. Charlie follows the man’s trail to Maine and there he becomes entangled in a series of strange occurrences which all seem to harken back to a string of unsolved murders that took place generations before. The murders were never solved and now Charlie must hunt for a killer and the connection between two crimes that span a century.

Dark Hollow by John ConnollyHis Review:

Extremely dark crime noir may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Charlie Parker is a former police officer turned private detective haunted by the death of his wife and daughter. The overall plot moves slowly, developing into a harsh reality of Charlie’s life. Overall the book is well written and keeps engagement but is brutal in the reality of catching the killer.

Subplots of harrowing psychological events imposed upon the reader by a mother who basically hated her husband and her child results in diabolical events. Add the mob on a ruthless quest to recover two million dollars and nobody is safe. Brutality at every turn left me wishing for a little peace in detective Parker’s life.

I felt the book could have matriculated quicker with less exposure to a ruthless killer of young women. It quelled my thirst to visit the far corners of Maine. Two generations of Parkers finally solve the mystery but at a horrendous price. Part of a series but could function as a standalone. Well-plotted but a little slow and long for me. C.E. Williams 4/5 stars

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John Connolly - authorThe Author: [John Connolly] I was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1968 and have, at various points in his life, worked as a journalist, a barman, a local government official, a waiter and a “gofer” at Harrods department store in London. I studied English in Trinity College, Dublin and journalism at Dublin City University, subsequently spending five years working as a freelance journalist for The Irish Times newspaper, to which I continue to contribute, although not as often as I would like. I still try to interview a few authors every year, mainly writers whose work I like, although I’ve occasionally interviewed people for the paper simply because I thought they might be quirky or interesting. All of those interviews have been posted to my website, http://www.johnconnollybooks.com.

I was working as a journalist when I began work on my first novel. Like a lot of journalists, I think I entered the trade because I loved to write, and it was one of the few ways I thought I could be paid to do what I loved. But there is a difference between being a writer and a journalist, and I was certainly a poorer journalist than I am a writer (and I make no great claims for myself in either field.) I got quite frustrated with journalism, which probably gave me the impetus to start work on the novel. That book, Every Dead Thing, took about five years to write and was eventually published in 1999. It introduced the character of Charlie Parker, a former policeman hunting the killer of his wife and daughter. Dark Hollow, the second Parker novel, followed in 2000. The third Parker novel, The Killing Kind, was published in 2001, with The White Road following in 2002. In 2003, I published my fifth novel – and first stand-alone book – Bad Men. In 2004, Nocturnes, a collection of novellas and short stories, was added to the list, and 2005 marked the publication of the fifth Charlie Parker novel, The Black Angel. In 2006, The Book of Lost Things, my first non-mystery novel, was published.

Charlie Parker has since appeared in five additional novels: The Unquiet, The Reapers (where he plays a secondary role to his associates, Louis and Angel), The Lovers, The Whisperers, and The Burning Soul. The eleventh Charlie Parker novel, The Wrath of Angels, will be available in the UK in August 2012 and in the US in January 2013.

The Gates launched the Samuel Johnson series for younger readers in 2009, followed by Hell’s Bells (UK)/The Infernals (US) in 2011. A third Samuel Johnson novel should be finished in 2013.

I am also the co-editor, with fellow author Declan Burke, of Books to Die For, an anthology of essays from the world’s top crime writers in response to the question, “Which book should all lovers of crime fiction read before they die?” Books to Die For is available in the UK as of August 2012, and will be available in the US in October 2012.

I am based in Dublin but divide my time between my native city and the United States, where each of my novels has been set.

©2019

Associate Reviewer - C E Williams
C E Williams

Treading the Uneven Road by L. M. Brown – a #BookReview

It’s March and I’m participating in the Reading Ireland Month for 2019. This one is a literary fiction by author L M Brown. It is an anthology, short stories of ’80s and ’90s Ireland, Treading the Uneven Road

March!

Treading the Uneven Road by L M BrownTitle: Treading the Uneven Road by L. M. Brown

Genre: Short Stories and Anthologies, Literary Fiction

Publisher: Fomite

  • ISBN-10:194438880X
  • ISBN-13:978-1944388805

Print Length: 208 pages

Publication Date: Happy Release Day! March 15, 2019

Source: Direct author request

Title Link: Treading the Uneven Road

Book Blurb:

The stories in this collection are set 1980’s and 90’s Ireland. A by-pass around a small village has rid the residents of their once busy traffic. They feel forgotten by the world. The need to reach out and be heard is explored in every story, from the young woman who starts to have phone conversations with her husband’s gay lover, to the dyslexic man who confronts his cruel teacher years later and the woman whose dreams are shattered because of a married lover. Treading the Uneven Road introduces us to a society that is unraveling and we cannot help feel for Brown’s characters who need to make a choice on how to carry on. Continue reading “Treading the Uneven Road by L. M. Brown – a #BookReview”

Return to Robinswood by Jean Grainger – a #BookReview

It’s March and I’m participating in the Reading Ireland Month for 2019. This one is historical fiction by popularly acclaimed author Jean Grainger. Jean is a USA Today Bestselling Author and was selected by BookBub readers in the top 19 of historical fiction books AND is the winner of the 2016 Author’s Circle Historical Novel of Excellence.

March!

Return to Robinswood by Jean GraingerTitle: Return to Robinswood: An Irish family saga. (The Robinswood Story Book 2) by Jean Grainger

Genre: Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction, British and Irish

Print Length: 289 pages

Publication Date: February 19, 2019

  • ISBN-10:1797471155
  • ISBN-13:978-1797471150
  • ASIN: B07NVN3G7L

Source: Direct author request

Title Link: Return to Robinswood

Book Blurb:

One Irish house, two very different families, and a war that changed everything.

Robinswood Estate, County Waterford, Ireland. 1946.

Years of neglect and abandonment have left the family seat of the Keneficks almost derelict, but the new Lord Kenefick and his charming young wife Kate, are determined to breathe life into the old house once more.

The war is over and they have survived, so now they must set about making a bright future for themselves and their family. But the shadows of the past are ever lurking, and there are many who are not willing to see the new Lady Kenefick as anything more than the housekeeper’s daughter.

Kate’s family, the Murphys, find themselves once more, inextricably entwined with both the Keneficks and Robinswood, but this time everything is different. Or at least they hope it is.

The legacy of the war cannot be erased, and the events of those fateful years will not be forgotten. Can Robinswood provide a haven for those who need it, or are the scars of the past too deep? Continue reading “Return to Robinswood by Jean Grainger – a #BookReview”

Murder in an Irish Pub by Carlene O’Connor – a #BookReview

It’s March and I’ll be participating in the Reading Ireland Month for 2019, this cozy mystery being the first.

March! 

Murder in an Irish Pub by Carlene O'ConnorTitle: Murder in  an Irish Pub (An Irish Village Mystery Book 4) by Carlene O’Connor

Genre: Cozy Mystery, Crafts and Hobbies

Publisher: Kensington

Print Length: 304 pages

Publication Date: February 26, 2019

  • ISBN-10:1496719042
  • ISBN-13:978-1496719041
  • ASIN: B07DBQB82Z

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title and Cover: Murder in an Irish Pub – Compelling cover depiction

Book Blurb:

When competing card sharps stir up Siobhán O’Sullivan’s quiet Irish village, a poker tournament turns into a game of Hangman . . .

In the small village of Kilbane in County Cork, for a cuppa tea or a slice of brown bread, you go to Naomi’s Bistro, managed by the many siblings of the lively O’Sullivan brood. For a pint or a game of darts—or for the poker tournament that’s just come to town—it’s the pub you want.

One player’s reputation precedes him: Eamon Foley, a tinker out of Dublin, called the Octopus for playing like he has eight hands under the table. But when Foley is found at the end of a rope, swinging from the rafters of Rory Mack’s pub, it’s time for the garda to take matters into their own hands. Macdara Flannery would lay odds it’s a simple suicide—after all, there’s a note and the room was locked. But Siobhán suspects foul play, as does Foley’s very pregnant widow. Perhaps one of Foley’s fellow finalists just raised the stakes to life and death.

With conflicting theories on the crime—not to mention the possibility of a proposal—tensions are running high between Siobhán and Macdara. Soon it’s up to Siobhán to call a killer’s bluff, but if she doesn’t play her cards right, she may be the next one taken out of the game . . . Continue reading “Murder in an Irish Pub by Carlene O’Connor – a #BookReview”

Final Exam by Carol J Perry – a #BookReview

Final Exam by Carol J PerryTitle: Final Exam (A Witch City Mystery Book 8) by Carol J Perry

Genre: Cozy Mystery, Supernatural, Psychics, Animals, Amateur Sleuth

Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corp.

  • ISBN-10:1496714601
  • ISBN-13:978-1496714602
  • ASIN: B07DBQQRHF

Print Length: 368 pages

Publication Date: February 26, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title and Cover: Final ExamNeat cozy cover

Book Blurb:

A cold case update in Salem, Massachusetts . . .  

Life at the house on Winter Street is abuzz with preparations for Aunt Ibby’s 45th high school reunion, and Lee Barrett is happy to pitch in, tracking down addresses and licking envelopes. But as a field reporter for Salem’s WICH-TV, her priority is to be on top of the town’s latest news before anyone else.
 
When the local police dredge up a vintage sports car containing human remains, Lee is thrilled to be the first reporter on the scene. Once she learns the car is connected to the cold case her boyfriend Pete happens to be working on, her powers of investigation are quickly alerted. But it’s her Aunt Ibby’s emotional reaction to Lee’s TV report that puts her on the case. With the help of O’Ryan, her psychic feline sidekick, she’ll have to unravel a tangled past of secrets and promises to stop a killer from making history again . . .  
Continue reading “Final Exam by Carol J Perry – a #BookReview”