Grateful American by Gary Sinise – a #BookReview

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

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

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

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

Grateful American by Gary SiniseMy Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gary Sinise - author

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

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

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

©2019 V Williams V Williams

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

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

5-stars

Bark of Night by David Rosenfelt

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

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

Bark of Night by David RosenfeltMy Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details

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

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

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

  • ASIN: B07J4VJL3C

Genre: Traditional Detective Mystery
Title Link: Bark of Night

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2019 V Williams V Williams

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

The Plain of Jars by N. Lombardi Jr.

Five of Five Stars Five stars

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

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

Publisher: Roundfire Books

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

 Print Length: 670 pages

Publication Date: (Reprint edition) May 31, 2013

Source: Author request

Title Link: The Plain of Jars

Book Blurb:

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

The Plain of Jars by N. Lombardi JrMy Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nick now lives in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

©2019 C.E.Williams

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

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

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

Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press

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

Print Length: 352 pages

Publication Date: Happy Release Day! August 6, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: The Turn of the Key

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

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

It was everything.

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

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

The Turn of the Key by Ruth WareMy Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2019 V Williams Blog author

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

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

Genre: Historical Mysteries, World War I Historical Fiction

Publisher: Severn House Publishers

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

 Print Length: 288 pages

Publication Date: June 1, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: The White Feather Killer

Book Blurb:

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

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

The White Feather Killer by R N MorrisMy Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2019 V Williams

Blog author

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

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

Genre: Holiday Fiction, Holiday Romance

Publisher: One More Chapter

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

 Print Length: 400 pages

Publication Date: July 19, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: The Secret Cove in Croatia

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Let’s Fake a Deal by Sherry Harris – a #BookReview

Let's Fake a Deal by Sherry HarrisTitle: Let’s Fake a Deal (A Sarah W Garage Sale Mystery Book 7 by Sherry Harris

Genre: Amateur Sleuth, Cozy Craft and Hobby, Cozy Animal Mysteries

Publisher: Kensington

  • ISBN-10:1496716981
  • ISBN-13:978-1496716989
  • ASIN: B07K5ZMBZB

      Print Length: 304 pages

Publication Date: To be released July 30, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Let’s Fake a Deal

Book Blurb:

SHE’S GOT THE GOODS . . .
As a former military spouse, Sarah Winston’s learned a little about organizing, packing, and moving. Her latest project sounds promising: a couple of tech-industry hipsters, newly arrived in her Massachusetts town, who need to downsize. Unfortunately, when Sarah tries to sell their stuff, she discovers it’s all stolen—and she’s the unwitting fence.

BUT SARAH’S PROBLEMS ARE JUST BEGINNING
Michelle, an old friend of Sarah’s from the Air Force base, is in line for a promotion—but not everyone is happy about it, and she’s been hit with an anonymous discrimination complaint. When one of the men she suspects is behind the accusations turns up dead in Michelle’s car, Sarah needs to clear Michelle’s name—as well as her own for selling hot merchandise. And she’ll have to do it while also organizing a cat lady’s gigantic collection of feline memorabilia, or they’ll be making room for Sarah in a jail cell . . .

My Review:

Let's Fake a Deal by Sherry HarrisYes, Book 7 of the series and I read Book 6! Has to be a record, huh? Our favorite garage sale guru protagonist, Sarah Winston is back. Her friends and acquaintances from the local air force base stemming from her marriage to military man CJ, now an ex, are also featured, including Seth, who has already uttered the “L” word. Once again, I appreciated the short explanation of military acronyms (it’s been a long time since my man was in the Navy) and general description of the military community as well.

Sarah really seems to know her business and can identify a valuable piece when she sees it. She is busy working a garage sale when the police show up, shut it down, and arrest her for receiving and selling stolen goods. About the same time, her enlisted friend, Michelle from the base is front and center person of interest when a body is found in her trunk. She has a complaint lodged against her and suspects it was the deceased.

Sarah begins wrestling with both issues as she takes on a new client, one that will take a great deal of time sifting through boxes of old treasures in the basement, finding and separating the more valuable and setting prices for all of the cat-related items from jewelry to paintings. The cat lady herself is pretty eccentric, making for a fun interlude between her running down leads and interviewing persons who might help with either her own arrest or the pending arrest of Michelle.

Dialogue is exchanged easily and believably between her friends, Seth, and her brother Luke, often punctuated with her own comical comebacks in self-talk. I like the way she thinks and it adds a humorous hue to the well-plotted, easy-going storyline. Since she’s been on her own, created and managed a business, Sarah has definitely gained in her ability to handle people. I particularly enjoyed her retort after a veiled threat from a ranking officer, “You may outrank him,” I tipped my head toward James, “but you hold no sway over me.” Bravo! And with that said, I believe you’d get a good idea about her character, whether the others are all well-fleshed in this series entry or not. Most receive sufficient general description to visualize the individual. I think each book could function well as a standalone within the series.

My problem was with the usual bull-headed police officer arresting or immediately jumping to conclusions regarding guilt with little regard to investigating the crime and leaving the leg work to an amateur sleuth. Still, the novel was engaging and easily invested in reading through to conclusion, solving both issues, neatly buttoned up.

I received this ebook download from the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. I really enjoy the Sarah Winston character and look forward to the next in the series. Recommended for those who enjoy a cozy mystery out of the food loop.

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars Four stars

Sherry Harris - authorThe Author: Agatha award-nominated author, Sherry Harris, started bargain hunting in second grade at her best friend’s yard sale. She honed her bartering skills as she moved around the country while her husband served in the Air Force. Sherry uses her love of garage sales, her life as a military spouse, and her time living in Massachusetts as inspiration for the Sarah Winston Garage Sale series.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

 

Rewind by Catherine Ryan Howard – a #BookReview

Rewind by Catherine Ryan HowardTitle: Rewind by Catherine Ryan Howard

Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense Thriller

Publisher: Blackstone Publishing

  • ISBN-10:1538519704
  • ISBN-13:978-1538519707
  • ASIN: B07P925NB9

Print Length: 300 pages

Publication Date: September 3, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Rewind

Book Blurb:

From the bestselling, Edgar-nominated novelist Catherine Ryan Howard comes an explosive story about a twisted voyeur and a terrible crime …

PLAY

Andrew, the manager of Shanamore Holiday Cottages, watches his only guest via a hidden camera in her room. One night the unthinkable happens: a shadowy figure emerges on-screen, kills her, and destroys the camera. But who is the murderer? How did they know about the camera? And how will Andrew live with himself?

PAUSE

Natalie wishes she’d stayed at home as soon as she arrives in the wintry isolation of Shanamore. There’s something creepy about the manager. She wants to leave, but she can’t—not until she’s found what she’s looking for …

REWIND

Psycho meets Fatal Attraction in this explosive story about a murder caught on camera. You’ve already missed the start. To get the full picture you must rewind the tape and play it through to the end, no matter how shocking …

My Review:

Rewind by Catherine Ryan HowardTaking a page from a couple of classic thrillers (see blurb), this one begins violently and was almost too graphic for this gentle bedtime reader. Still, intrigued, I proceeded.

Then the well-plotted thriller settles into another classic well-known timeline switchback, this one called play, pause, rewind, or fast forward, a play on words given the plot gimmick. Usually, that meant delving into the backstory of another of the main characters. That also means a switch of POV and really the storyline carries no major protagonist. The characters are well-developed, giving us more clues each switch back to the individual. The victim Natalie O’Connor becomes more sympathetic, and the Anthony (Psycho) character, Andrew more loathsome, creepy, and leaves you cringing, waiting for the shower scene. Audrey Coughlan is struggling to find a niché and determines that this is it. Sean, the newly installed, unseasoned garda of the village is appealing.

Indeed, the little Irish village outside of Cork becomes a character itself; dark, cold, the people tight and mistrusting, unwilling to share a pint but more than willing to share the latest gossip. Everyone knows everyone else, their history, their business, their secrets. Or, most of them. What they don’t know, they suspect. Andrew, the manager of Shanamore Holiday Villages, a failed development of exclusively odd cottages; Icky Dickie, who should have moved on–but is protecting his secret as well–better to be in tiny, quiet, frigid seaside Shanamore, especially during the off-tourist season than risk detection.

Natalie is a major Irish Instagram personality and she has disappeared. Audrey is working it–looking for the story and finds herself in the same unit as Natalie. Working through the timeline, the reader is gradually caught up to present day and conclusion, which has snuck in quietly and without a whimper. We knew who it was all along but needed the full explanation and reveal. And it was necessary to wait for Audrey and the police to ferret out the truth, dropping crumbs and red herrings along the way, to finally give a name to the heinous antagonist(s).

It’s a tale about the privacy given away, truth bent for stats, perhaps too freely in social media, and the following the media attracts. It is an intense and engaging, fast-paced suspense-filled thriller that gives the voyeur a peek into another world you may not have wanted to know.

I was given the ARC download by the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for any who enjoy a disturbing thriller. Breathe–you are safe now.

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

Catherine Ryan Howard - authorThe Author: CATHERINE RYAN HOWARD was born in Cork, Ireland, in 1982. Her debut thriller, DISTRESS SIGNALS, was an Irish Times and USA Today bestseller, and was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey/New Blood Dagger 2017. Before writing full-time, she was a campsite courier in France, a travel administrator in the Netherlands and a front desk agent at a hotel in Walt Disney World, Florida. She is currently studying English at Trinity College Dublin and wants to be a NASA astronaut when she grows up. Her second thriller, THE LIAR’S GIRL, will be published in March 2018.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Digging Up History by Sheila Connelly – a #BookRevieew

Digging Up History by Sheila ConnollyTitle: Digging Up History (A Museum Mystery) by Sheila Connelly

Genre: Cozy Mystery, Women Sleuths

Publisher: Beyond the Page

  • ISBN-10:1950461157
  • ISBN-13:978-1950461158
  • ASIN: B07T85Q684

 Print Length: 221 pages

Publication Date: June 25, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Digging Up History

Book Blurb:

When a summer intern at the Preservation Society discovers an aged document hidden in the binding of an antique book, Society president Nell Pratt is intrigued by the possibilities: is it a valuable historic document or just a useless scrap of paper? When analysis reveals that it’s a hand-drawn map of one of Philadelphia’s oldest neighborhoods, Nell learns that the area is being excavated for a new real estate development and may hold long-buried secrets from the city’s historic heyday.

Determined to get to the bottom of the map’s origin and what it might tell her about the mysterious plot of land, Nell will have to contend with a construction company owner who disappears, a former Society board member who’s harbored a dark secret her entire life, and a remarkable discovery that may have the dead turning over in their graves . . .

My Review:

Digging Up History by Sheila ConnollyWell, isn’t this a cozy of a different color! The blurb piqued my interest and I always enjoy reading historical tidbits, this one taking place in Philadelphia. Yes, the eighth in the series and my first, although I’d read one other in a different series by the same author.

The protagonist is Nell Pratt, the president of the Society for the Preservation of Pennsylvania Antiquities. The society has recently been bequeathed a collection of books from Harriet Featherstone, a long time resident of the city and a former active member. It is from this collection that intern Dylan discovers a map hidden between the old, disintegrated cover and the new cover of a book that starts them on a journey of discovery.

Nell discusses the find with her significant other, James, an FBI agent, who informs her they can actually glean an image and the words from the faded map. When the map appears of historic interest, Nell contacts Marty Terwilliger, a former board member. Marty confesses to a grisly discovery she made decades ago at the location and together they set out to see what, if anything still exists. Across the street, however, a construction project has stalled due to the discovery of hundreds of skeletons that had been buried under a parking lot. Are the two related? Or even of the same time period?

While Nell proceeds with the investigation, bringing into the mystery the police as well as additional historic experts, they discover deeper secrets that turn darker with each new development. I didn’t find Nell fully fleshed as she was probably well developed in previous series entries. She did, however, manage to form more theories, ideas, and arguments for what might have happened than I ever could have imagined.

Two main mysteries to solve, not the least of which is first to determine the event century given the obvious deterioration of the remains. Century resolved, now to investigate deeds and records that could possibly shed some light on who, why, what, and when. The where they’ve got. Not all characters are well developed or engaging.

Interesting possible scenario in the shocking discovery presents thought-provoking visions during an era of extreme turmoil in our country–the city among the forefront of the turbulence. The author, however, repeats the discovered facts numerous times and then proceeds with additional theories. The skeletons are referred to as bodies, but given how old the remains, really couldn’t have much flesh left. Twists are confronted, but not all add significance to the outcome and the conclusion clouds a bit having already been deduced.

I was given this ebook download by the publisher and NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for those with a penchant for early American history and a clean, victim-free cozy.

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

Sheila Connolly - authorThe Author: After collecting too many degrees and exploring careers ranging from art historian to investment banker to professional genealogist, Sheila Connolly began writing in 2001, and has now published over thirty traditional mysteries, including several New York Times bestsellers.

Her series include the Orchard Mysteries (Berkley Prime Crime), the Museum Mysteries (Berkley Prime Crime), The County Cork Mysteries (Crooked Lane Books), the Relatively Dead Mysteries (Beyond the Page Press), and beginning in 2018, The Victorian Village Mysteries from St. Martin’s Press.

Her first full-length, standalone ebook, Once She Knew, was published in October 2012.

Connolly has also published a variety of short stories: “Size Matters” appeared in the 2010 Level Best Anthology, Thin Ice; “Called Home,” a short prequel to the Orchard series, was published by Beyond the Page in 2011; and “Dead Letters,” an e-story featuring the main characters from the Museum series, will be published by Berkley Prime Crime in February 2012. Beyond the Page also published “The Rising of the Moon,” and another Level Best anthology includes “Kept in the Dark,” which was nominated for both an Agatha award and an Anthony award for 2013.

She is passionate about genealogy, both American and Irish, and is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Society of Mayflower Descendants. She is also an Irish citizen and owns a cottage in West Cork.

She lives in a too-big Victorian in southeastern Massachusetts with her husband and three cats. Find out more about her at her website, http://www.sheilaconnolly.com

#audiobook The Hiding Place by C J Tudor – a #BookReview

Title: The Hiding Place by CJ Tudor

Narrator: Richard Armitage

Genre: British Detectives, Supernatural Thrillers

  • Audible Audiobook
  • Listening Length: 10 hours and 43 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Random House Audio
  • Audible.com Release Date: February 5, 2019
  • Whispersync for Voice: Ready
  • Language: English, English
  • ASIN: B07K8XYSVJ

Print Length: 281 pages

Source: Request audiobook from local library

Title Link: The Hiding Place

audiobook-The Hiding Place

Book Blurb:

The thrilling second novel from the author of The Chalk Man, about a teacher with a hidden agenda who returns to settle scores at a school he once attended, only to uncover a darker secret than he could have imagined.

Joe never wanted to come back to Arnhill. After the way things ended with his old gang – the betrayal, the suicide, the murder – and after what happened when his sister went missing, the last thing he wanted to do was return to his hometown. But Joe doesn’t have a choice. Because judging by what was done to that poor Morton kid, what happened all those years ago to Joe’s sister is happening again. And only Joe knows who is really at fault.

Lying his way into a teaching job at his former high school is the easy part. Facing off with former friends who are none too happy to have him back in town – while avoiding the enemies he’s made in the years since – is tougher. But the hardest part of all will be returning to that abandoned mine where it all went wrong and his life changed forever and finally confronting the shocking, horrifying truth about Arnhill, his sister, and himself. Because for Joe, the worst moment of his life wasn’t the day his sister went missing.

It was the day she came back.

With the same virtuosic command of character and pacing she displayed in The Chalk Man, C. J. Tudor has once again crafted an extraordinary novel that brilliantly blends harrowing psychological suspense, a devilishly puzzling mystery, and enough shocks and thrills to satisfy even the most seasoned listener. 

My Review:

Audible - The Hiding PlaceAH! Not my first venture into an audiobook, but certainly the first I’ve borrowed from my local handy-handy library with the intention of using for an audible review. I’m usually very careful about committing to a book without investigating the blurb, the genre, and the reviews. But I had seen this author’s name bandied about among my review blogger buddies and bit when I saw it available at the library. If I were more technologically inclined, I’d have had half this book notated (I can do that on my cell phone with a Kindle book). But this book–so many quotables–lost to me.

It is definitely noir–very dark–supernatural bordering on horror. (And if you’ve followed me for a while, you’ll remember I don’t do horror. Okay–VERY occasionally and depends…(for instance, I like Dean Koontz.) First, I experienced some difficulty in separating the storyline, the author’s writing style (which is very distinctive), from the narrator’s masterful interpretation of the words and proper inflection. No denying, for me, the narrator did a smashing job of providing a creepy, eerie voice to the tale, but the author certainly knew which bits and pieces of the dark history of the protagonist to release at precisely the appropriate time.

The protagonist, Joe Thorne, is a middle-aged teacher summoned to return to his boyhood home of Arnhill. No love lost there. But worst, dark history he needs to confront and finally put to rest. He has taken both the teaching position of the former teacher who killed her son and herself, as well as the cottage where the tragedy occurred. Arnhill is a former colliery town, now closed, though really the town was there before the mine. He’s not exactly taken the world by storm and no one is happy to see him back, most especially those boys with whom he misspent his youth. He is not a protagonist designed to garner your empathy–you can’t walk in his shoes–he’s not very likable.

It is flashbacks to those youthful years with the present that gradually lays out the story of which a great deal revolves around his eight-year-old sister (at his 15 yrs) and her beloved doll, Annie Eyes. He loved her. And she followed him everywhere–which turned out–was not a good thing. When she inexplicably returns after a brief 48-hour disappearance, she is not the same and both she and his father are killed a short time later. He has blanks in his memory, but lives with the legacy of a mangled leg, the result of the fatal auto crash.

The novel carries a sub-plot revolving around Joe’s unfortunate vice, as well as several themes, not the least of which are the trauma teens are capable of, domestic noir, bullying, extreme grief and guilt and just how the baggage we carry shapes our lives going into adulthood.

The dialogue is clipped but engaging and it’s easy to become quickly invested in the well-plotted noir, pseudo-supernatural (though I wasn’t sure it needed that element) underlayment. Twists and turns left you unable to guess how this would ultimately end, though when it did, the conclusion gripped you in one more horrific surprise.

I was allowed this audible download from my local accommodating library and would totally recommend the audiobook narrated by Richard Armitage. (And I’ll be looking for other audiobooks narrated by him as well.)

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars Four stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everyone calls her Caz.

The Narrator: Richard Armitage Not a stranger to narrating audiobooks, including widely acclaimed The Tattooist of Auschwitz.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Mistaken Identity Crisis by James J Cudney #BlogTour #BookReview #Giveaway

I am delighted today to provide a review for you at my blog stop for Mistaken Identity Crisis by James J Cudney on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. Scroll down to enter your chance to win the Giveaway!

Mistaken Identity Crisis by James J Cudney

Book Details

Mistaken Identity Crisis (Braxton Campus Mysteries)
Cozy Mystery
4th in Series
Creativia (June 30, 2019)
Digital Edition, 260 pages
ASIN: B07Q6YSTPN

Book Blurb 

A clever thief with a sinister calling card has invaded Braxton campus. A string of jewelry thefts continues to puzzle the sheriff, given they’re remarkably similar to an unsolved eight-year-old case, back when Gabriel vanished one stormy night.

When a missing ruby, and a body, are discovered at the campus, Kellan must investigate the killer’s motive to protect his brother. As if the latest murder isn’t enough to keep him busy, Kellan partners with April to end the Castigliano and Vargas crime family feud. What really happened to Francesca while all those postcards showed up in Braxton?

The mafia world is more calculating than Kellan realized. If he wants to move forward, he’ll have to make a few ruthless sacrifices. And as the summer heat begins to settle in Wharton County, a couple more surprises are also in store.

My Review

Mistaken Identity Crisis by James J CudneyAgain, a new author and series for me and one with a campus setting in Braxton, a small village in north-central Pennsylvania. The protagonist is Kellan Ayrwick, an assistant professor with his PhD in communications and film. He’s done his thing in Hollywood and is back home where he grew up.

Kellan married Francesca and they have a young daughter, Emma, but his wife has been among the missing and he’d understood he was a widow, until now. Here’s where the plot gets complex and multi-layered. His wife is the daughter of a wicked mafia family and apparently there is a war brewing.

About the same time, there is a number of high profile robberies of prominent local families that suspiciously mimic robberies eight years previous about the time his younger brother Gabriel disappeared. Now Gabriel’s back and robberies have resumed in the same MO as before. There is an apparent murder of the technician working on the cable car that connects the north and south campus. This, however, is not Kellan’s first rodeo. Since his return, he’s been instrumental in helping to solve several murders and while he and April, the sheriff, have clashed before are now beginning to work in collaboration. Also, he is pretty positive his brother could not be involved in a murder.

This is the fourth in the series and now that his Nana D has won her mayoral election will take a forward spotlight as a strong support character. She is well-fleshed and we are getting to know April personally as well. Connor, a detective, also figures in the investigation.

The well-plotted and complicated mystery keeps a steady pace and provides red herrings and twists, turning the focus on one then another of the many characters involved in the storyline.

I was given this ebook download by the author, publisher, and Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours and appreciated the opportunity to read and review an intelligent, unusual cozy heist and organized crime thriller.

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Giveaway

Sign up for your chance to win One (1) Print Copy – Mistaken Identity Crisis (Braxton Campus Mysteries) by James J. Cudney (U.S. Only) in this  Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author

James J Cudney - authorJames is my given name, but most folks call me Jay. I live in New York City, grew up on Long Island, and graduated from Moravian College. I spent fifteen years building a technology career in the retail, sports, media, and entertainment industries. I enjoyed my job, but a passion for books and stories had been missing for far too long. I’m a voracious reader in my favorite genres (thriller, suspense, contemporary, mystery, and historical fiction), as books transport me to a different world where I can immerse myself in so many fantastic cultures and places. I’m an avid genealogist who hopes to visit all the German, Scottish, Irish, and British villages my ancestors emigrated from in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Writing has been a part of my life as much as my heart, my mind, and my body. I decided to pursue my passion by dusting off the creativity inside my head and drafting outlines for several novels. I quickly realized I was back in my element growing happier and more excited with life each day. My goal in writing is to connect with readers who want to be part of great stories and who enjoy interacting with authors. To get a strong picture of who I am, check out my author website or my blog. It’s full of humor and eccentricity, sharing connections with everyone I follow—all in the hope of building a network of friends across the world.

When I completed the first book, Watching Glass Shatter, I knew I’d stumbled upon my passion again, suddenly dreaming up characters, plots, and settings all day long. I chose my second novel, Father Figure, through a poll on my blog where I let everyone vote for their favorite plot and character summaries. It is with my third book, Academic Curveball, the first in the Braxton Campus Mysteries, where I immersed myself in a college campus full of so much activity, I could hardly stop thinking about new murder scenes or character relationships to finish writing the current story. Come join in the fun!

List of Books
Watching Glass Shatter (October 2017)
Father Figure (April 2018)
Braxton Campus Mysteries
Academic Curveball – #1 (October 2018)
Broken Heart Attack – #2 (November 2018)
Flower Power Trip – #3 (March 2019)
MistakenIdentity Crisis – #4 (June 2019)
 
Websites & Blog
Websitehttps://jamesjcudney.com/
Blog: https://thisismytruthnow.com
 
Social Media Links
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/James-J.-Cudney/e/B076B6PB3M/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jamescudney4
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JamesJCudneyIVAuthor/
Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/BraxtonCampusMysteries/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jamescudney4/
Instagramhttps://www.instagram.com/jamescudney4/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/jamescudney4
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamescudney4

Purchase Links – Amazon 

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

Tour Participants:

June 21 – Mallory Heart’s Cozies – REVIEW

June 22 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

June 22 – LibriAmoriMiei – REVIEW

June 23 – A Wytch’s Book Review Blog – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

June 24 – Books Direct – MAP & CHARACTER LIST POST

June 25 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

June 25 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – SPOTLIGHT

June 26 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

June 27 – Jane Reads – REVIEW

June 28 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT

June 29 – Bibliophile Reviews – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

June 30 – A Blue Million Books – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

July 1 – Carla Loves To Read – REVIEW

July 2 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

July 2 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

July 3 – Island Confidential – GUEST POST Great Escapes Book Tours

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

©2019 V Williams Blog author

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

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