#AmReading – The Crooked Staircase by Dean Koontz

#AmReading The Crooked Staircase by Dean Koontz

Welcome to my #AmReading feature! I am highlighting an author and their book currently visible in the “Fair Weather” widget celebrating blue skies, following seas, and my Goodreads (currently reading) list.

This week I am presenting Dean Koontz and his book The Crooked Staircase: A Jane Hawk Novel (this is the third in the series). I received a digital download via Random House Publishing-Ballantine and NetGalley. The book will be released on May 8, 2018. Amazon classifies the novel as a mystery, thriller & suspense, and is 512 mostly hair-raising pages.

I will be presenting my review on Tuesday, April 24, 2018.

Book Blurb:

Jane Hawk knows she may be living on borrowed time. But as long as she’s breathing, she’ll never cease her one-woman war against the terrifying conspiracy that threatens the freedom—and free will—of millions. Battling the strange epidemic of murder-suicides that claimed Jane’s husband, and is escalating across the country, has made the rogue FBI agent a wanted fugitive, relentlessly hunted not only by the government but by the secret cabal behind the plot. Deploying every resource their malign nexus of power and technology commands, Jane’s enemies are determined to see her dead . . . or make her wish she was.

Jane’s ruthless pursuers can’t stop her from drawing a bead on her prey: a cunning man with connections in high places, a twisted soul of unspeakable depths with an army of professional killers on call. Propelled by her righteous fury and implacable insistence on justice, Jane will make her way from southern Southern California to the snow-swept slopes of Lake Tahoe to confront head-on the lethal forces arrayed against her. But nothing can prepare her for the chilling truth that awaits when she descends the crooked staircase to the dark and dreadful place where her long nightmare was born.

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About the Author

(From Amazon Author page, but there is much more on Goodreads)

Dean Koontz - authorDean 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. ©2018 V Williams V Williams

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#ThrowbackThursday – Blackout – Tom Barber

#ThrowbackThursday

Renee began the Throwback Thursday meme on her blog, It’s Book Talk to share some of her old favorites as well as sharing books published over a year ago. Sounded like a good reason to join! I’ll be going back over my favorite authors and stories you might not have previously experienced. Most of these early reviews were books gleaned from a freebie on BookBub and this was no exception. If you’d like to join the meme, you’re welcome to use Renee’s pic from her website. Just provide the link back to her please).

Blackout by Tom BarberThis week I am highlighting Tom Barber, another terrific, prolific author who wrote Blackout (Sam Archer book #3), which I reviewed on Goodreads. He has actually written nine in this series–I read the first three. This novel was published on January 16, 2014, as a thriller-suspense. He consistently runs approximately four stars plus for any of his books sold on Amazon.

Originally posted March 26, 2015

Book Blurb:

Young counter-terrorist cop Sam Archer arrives for work at the Armed Response Unit expecting a quiet day. But unbeknownst to him, a storm is coming. 

Three men have already been killed that morning. One committed suicide by the River Thames. Another was strangled in his car in Washington D.C. And the third was shot in the face in his high-rise New York apartment as he slept. The deaths seem random, thousands of miles apart. But they are all connected. By a shocking event fifteen years ago. And this is only the beginning.

Archer, Chalky and the rest of the Unit suddenly find themselves plunged into a ferocious and violent confrontation, fighting for their lives. The enemy they are up against are brutal, highly trained, well-armed and anonymous. No one knows where they have come from. No one seems to know who they are. But they have a vendetta. They will never forgive or forget, or show mercy. And for some reason, they’re hell-bent on killing ten specific people before the end of the day.

As the Unit tries to find out who these killers are and locate the remaining targets so they can protect them, it becomes a race against time to see who can get there first. As the counter-terrorist unit and the vengeful enemy come up against each other all over the city, Archer and the team soon realise two things.

This enemy is more proficient and deadly than any they’ve ever encountered. And one of their own ARU men is on the extermination list. Continue reading “#ThrowbackThursday – Blackout – Tom Barber”

Murder at the Mushroom Festival – a #BookReview

Murder at the Mushroom Festival by Janet FinsilverTitle: Murder at the Mushroom Festival (A Kelly Jackson Mystery) by Janet Finsilver

Genre: Currently #4576 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank in Kindle eBooks, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Mystery, Cozy

Publisher: Kensington Publishing/Lyrical

Publication Date: To be released April 17, 2018 – Happy publication day!

Source: Kensington Publishing/Lyrical and NetGalley

Title and Cover: Murder at the Mushroom Festival – Cute cozy cover

Murder at the Mushroom Festival is the fourth in the Kelly Jackson series and my first experience with the series or the author. In this installment, Kelly Jackson has been named permanent manager of the Redwood Cove B&B and is gearing up for the festivities by bringing in Elise Jenkins to host a cooking class featuring mushrooms. Continue reading “Murder at the Mushroom Festival – a #BookReview”

I’m Not Ignoring You–Is it WP or the 1200 lb Gorilla?

I'm Not Ignoring You

Spoiler Alert: Anyone else experiencing these issues?

Many of you know that my blog stats suddenly dropped 107 followers the end of March. I’m not ignoring you–honest! I wrote the Happiness Engineers at WordPress regarding the drop as well as the increase in “followers” from Outlook email accounts. Eventually, I got a canned response that didn’t address the issues (either one, but directed me to check my listed follower status).

I wrote again, unhappy with the result of my inquiry, and finally got a response from Damianne who wrote, “Your followers are from social media as well as WordPress. We can’t manage followers from social media, so we don’t have any information about those changes.” That’s true, as my followers are made up of more than 750 social followers, 250+ WP followers, with the balance made up of email followers (no Outlook followers).

She went on to note that “Followers from outlook.com may be spammers and we are looking into the issue generally, and have already implemented some fixes. The follows in themselves are not an actual threat…so really all they’re achieving is to annoy people. We’re working on our end to get these follows blocked, and we’re also removing fake follows as we detect them. On your end, just ignore them for now.”

Wait, What? “Fake follows.” Are you considered a fake follow? Did you get unfollowed?

It wasn’t until later that I realized I was no longer getting notifications from my most active blogging buddies. That’s you! So I apologize–it wasn’t me–it was…WordPress?

I know you are not fake follows, so what happened? Damianne suggested my notifications may be going to my spam folder as a result of my email provider. They are not.

Dot Com vs Dot Org

As a dot com (not a dot org), I do not have the ability to download and use all those wonderful plug-ins that would give me some additional insight into the dynamics of my website. So frustrating! But trying to research what may be happening, I see one overwhelming theme–speed–and mobile technology. 

WordPress-Plugins vs Widgets from My Theme Shop

We know WordPress changed their algorithms this year, but I didn’t realize it would affect my little contribution to the blogosphere. Why? Because nothing stays the same–remember that old adage? People change. Technology advances to keep up with wants and needs. At the forefront of change is Google who has issued five (yes, FIVE, and they all have names) major algorithm updates recently, forcing search engines to change.

I’ve written before about some techniques to avoid being blacklisted such as keyword stuffing (I wouldn’t know how) or avoiding black-hat SEO techniques. Web gurus talk about the need to blog at least once a week (yes, okay) resulting in a “freshen” score, with posts of 2,000 words (fail). Then what?

Mobile First

Apparently, there is a shift for Google to “move their entire search index to mobile-first.” It’s called the Progressive Web App (PWA). Currently, there are two search indexes, mobile and desktop. BUT, these are going to be combined. And then they will crawl the mobile version first–that means “the mobile version of your site will be the one crawled, not desktop.”

It’s all about page speed then? Has my site been penalized because it’s slow? I don’t know–I can’t use a plug-in to check that and I can’t add any “code markups” to speed it up.

The 1200 lb Gorilla

Google has been rewarding publishers that have objectively delivered better mobile experiences to visitors for a while. It should come as no surprise that Google is talking even more about page speed. They are actually going to include it as a mobile ranking signal this year.

Angry woman shooting computer

One of the patterns I routinely follow before scheduling a book review or post is to check to see what it is supposed to look like on a tablet or a mobile device and correct accordingly. Maybe it’s not working.

I will try to “catch up” with some of your posts in the coming week, hopefully to re-establish the connection. In the meantime, I’m always grateful for the likes and comments, especially from Nina at Cozy Pages, Nicole at thebookwormdrinketh, FictionFan, Lynne at Fictionophile, and Cathy at Between the Lines. I’ll be looking to see what you’ve posted recently. I’ve really missed seeing the new posts from all my blogging buddies!

In the meantime, please let me know if you are experiencing somewhat the same with your stats too. Or perhaps you have a suggestion for me? I’d love to hear it! ©2018 V Williams V Williams

#ThrowbackThursday – Sign Off – Patricia McLinn

#ThrowbackThursday

Renee began the Throwback Thursday meme on her blog, It’s Book Talk to share some of her old favorites including books published over a year ago. Sounded like a good reason to join! Hopefully, you’ll find either a story or author that interests you and you’ll check them out. (And, if you’d like to join the fun, you’re welcome to use Renee’s pic from her website. Just provide the link back to her please).

Sign Off - Caught Dead in Wyoming Book 1 by Patricia McLinnThis week I am highlighting Patricia McLinn, another terrific, prolific author who wrote Sign Off, which I reviewed on Goodreads. She has actually written six in this series. This novel was published by Craig Place Books on July 3, 2015. She consistently runs approximately 4+ stars for any of her books sold on Amazon.

Originally posted March 6, 2016.

Book Blurb:

Divorce a husband, lose a career … grapple with a murder. TV journalist Elizabeth “E.M.” Danniher will tell you she committed two sins — she didn’t stay young, and she made an enemy of a powerful news executive — her ex. She used to break national news. Now her top story as the Helping Out! reporter at dinky KWMT-TV in Sherman, Wyoming is getting a refund for a defective toaster. Tough, funny and determined, Elizabeth wrestles with isolation, keeping a professional edge, and an evolving self-image. Is Wyoming — the land of cattle, cowboys and tumbleweeds — her new home or a road to permanent obscurity? Soon she’s in a battle of wills with ex-football player turned journalist Mike Paycik, who sees her as a handy rung on his career ladder. And there’s the matter of a deputy sheriff—missing or murdered? Elizabeth finds herself investigating at the insistence of a girl who’s set on proving her father’s innocence. Not that enigmatic rancher Tom Burrell makes investigating easy. But Elizabeth won’t fade to black without a fight, no matter how final some might want to make her Sign Off.

My Review:

Sign Off, the first in the Caught Dead in Wyoming series by Patricia McLinn involves E. M. (Elizabeth) Danniher, who is a well-known news reporter from the east. She has been banished by a bitter ex who is a powerful NY TV producer to a small town in Wyoming to be their “Helping Out” reporter for the duration of her contract.

Few at her new station are thrilled she has been plunked into the middle of them and become guarded of their own positions. Feeling impotent to do more than report on defective toasters, she is confronted by a little girl regarding her dad, unfairly accused of murder in the disappearance of a deputy, and inadvertently becomes involves in the investigation.

Among the many characters interacting with her at the station are Mike, a sportscaster, and Diane, camera lady. Elizabeth Danniher butts up against the sheriff almost immediately and manages to lose more support than she gains as she interviews elected officials of the rural town and Mike’s inside contact. Warned off the case by the accused himself, the missing person turns up dead in his truck following the spring thaw obviously the victim of foul play. As events turn deadly, Elizabeth studies the clues and uncovers motives.

There are some interesting insights into the inner workings of a small town TV station, local colorful characters, and small town western US flavor. The antagonist is not one you suspect, and Mike becomes quite the (possibly romantic) attractive ally. The dialogue is clean and believable. The plot moves along at a fairly good clip and I enjoyed the little sub-storyline involving Shadow. All in all, it is engaging and will hold your interest. I received this download from BookBub as a free offering and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review.

Add to Goodreads

About the Author

Patricia McLinn - authorPatricia McLinn’s books have put her name on bestseller lists and her journalism career took her to the Washington Post for 20-mumble-mumble years. But it all started with secrets.

She learned to read at a tender age as a matter of self-preservation because older siblings spelled words to keep secrets from her. Once Patricia discovered that the magic of written words allowed her to know people she hadn’t met and experience places she hadn’t visited, she was hooked.

She wanted to be a novelist from then on, though there was a detour. She received a BA in English Composition from Northwestern University. (Have you ever seen a job posting for an English Composition major? No. And you never will.) With her parents holding out for more practical pursuits, she added a masters in journalism from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism in her fourth year. (Two degrees for the price of one! It was the precursor of a career in coupon-clipping.)

(From Goodreads author page) USA Today bestselling author Patricia McLinn’s novels—cited by reviewers for warmth, wit, and vivid characterization – have won numerous regional and national awards and been on national bestseller lists.

In addition to her romance and women’s fiction books, Patricia is the author of the Caught Dead in Wyoming mystery series, which adds a touch of humor and romance to figuring out whodunit.

Patricia received BA and MSJ degrees from Northwestern University. She was a sports writer (Rockford, Ill.), assistant sports editor (Charlotte, N.C.) and—for 20-plus years—an editor at the Washington Post.

She has spoken about writing from Melbourne, Australia to Washington, D.C., including being a guest speaker at the Smithsonian Institution. She is now living in northern Kentucky and writing full-time. Patricia loves to hear from readers through her website, Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter.

More Throwback Thursday Blogs

Renee at Its Book Talk

Jill at Jill’s Book Cafe

Rebecca at The Book Whisperer

Lynne at Fictionophile

Sam at Clues and Reviews

Holly B at Dressedtoread

Deanna at DeesRadReads and Reviews

Amanda at Literary Weaponry

Annie at The Misstery

Mischenko at Read Rant Rock and Roll

Laurie at Cozy Nook Books

Ann Marie at LItWitWineDine

©2018 V Williams V Williams

Claws for Concern – a #BookReview

Claws for Concern - a Cat in the Stacks Mystery - by Miranda JamesTitle: Claws for Concern (Cat in the Stacks Mystery)

Genre: Currently # 594 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank in Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Mystery, Cozy, Animals

Publisher: Berkley

Publication Date: February 20, 2018

Source: Berkley and Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book

Title and Cover: Claws for Concern – Cover is way too cute cozy typical

OMG, just to look at that beautiful cover you know it’s going to be a cat-lovers kind of novel. Well, I’ve mentioned before that I do love both cats and dogs, though as most of you know, since I have a pretty-extraordinary (cat-sized) dog in the house, my heart is with my adorable puppy.

Still if you lean at all feline, that cover got you. It got me too. And this is the ninth of the series, so you know there are a lot of kitty fans out there, not to mention a NY Times best-selling author. There’s obviously a lot of history here with protagonist Charlie and Diesel, although I’m not sure that the 40 pound Maine Coon isn’t the protagonist. There is definitely some over-the-top anthropomorphizing going on here. A Maine Coon owned my mother and I must admit the cat was definitely a one of a kind kitty. That said… Continue reading “Claws for Concern – a #BookReview”

If Family Noir is In, I Want Out

If Family Noir is In, I Want Out

Remember back in December 2015 when I investigated all these new-to-me genres? Nano-punk, nano-technology, or cyber-punk?

Well, it’s happened again. A number of bloggers I follow have reviewed stories recently they’ve categorized as “Noir.” If it sounds French, it is, and means “dark” or “of the night.” It is usually a genre that deals with violence or sex, but definitely corruption in some manner. (BTW, noire is just feminine for noir, but you knew that, huh.)

Postwar film noir - Humphrey BogartYes, I remember film noir, but “classic” (or roman) noir is considered a “hardboiled” genre that usually includes a self-destructive protagonist. I’m not writing the rules here, only relaying what I found in research–and it’s not pretty folks. Although I must say, we’ve definitely done a number on the original noir fiction spawned from Dashiell Hammett ( 1894-1961) “the dean of the… ‘hardboiled’ school of detective fiction.” The protagonist is not a rumpled, raincoat cloaked, cigar-chomping thoughtful-hearted protagonist, but rather a perpetrator. Forget Columbo! Think Humphrey Bogart. No, much worse. Think Kevin Spacey in LA Confidential. But there is a huge difference in the definition of “noir” and what we are calling forms of noir today.

Harking back to the Huff Post updated in December 2017 by Otto Penzler who didn’t mince words when he described the genre, “noir is about losers,” not private detectives. This is the down and dirty–doesn’t do well and never will. The protagonist in a noir story is driven by just about everything bad a human can exhibit: greed, lust, jealousy. They aren’t ever going to triumph. They can’t! (It’s noir.) And this is what separates the private detective or family noir from noir fiction–the moral ground.

The problem then, as Noir Fiction has splintered off as many sub-genres as the previously discussed fiction novels, is the evolution. Here are just a few:

Classic noir (Hollywood crime dramas emphasizing derisive attitudes and/or sexual motivations)

Family noir (domestic noir)

Film noir

Neo-noir

Photo noir

Pulp noir (classic noir with urban influences)

Scandinavian noir (Scandi noir)

Tech noir

I think it was the Scandinavian noir that set me to scratching my head. A Scandi noir? Certainly, it was the film industry that influenced the change of the hardboiled nuance into a neo-noir flavor. Definitely a contemporary or more modern version of film noir, the term neo-noir was popularized by two French critics back in 1955. It appears these were retro-actively applied to much earlier crime movies including the 1940s as well as the 1950s in the U.S. (Think Bogey)

Farewell My Lovely by Raymond ChandlerSo I jumped on Goodreads again, my go-to of all things bookish, and noted that on their (current) favorite noir list the first six of nine is divided between Raymond Chandler at number one (Farewell, My Lovely (Philip Marlowe, #2)  and two and Dashiell Hammett at number three (The Glass Key).

It was Hammett who created Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon after a character he knew living in San Francisco. His authentic period dialogue was included in the movie famously played by Humphrey Bogart.

 

Black Mask Magazine featuring The Maltese Falcon by Dashell Hammett
Cover courtesy Wikipedia

Raymond Chandler? Really? Because if you were surprised by Hammett’s life dates, Chandler is right there, born in 1888 and died in 1959. Wikipedia notes he began writing after losing his job as an oil company executive. He published a short story in Black Mask Magazine, a pulp magazine in 1933. (First issue April 1920-final issue 1987) Along with Dashiell Hammett and other Black Mask writers, he is considered to be a founder of the hardboiled detective fiction. Philip Marlowe, his protagonist, was also played by the quintessential Humphrey Bogart. He said of the hardboiled detective, “he is the white knight who walks the mean streets, but is not himself mean.”

 

 

Point Blank film noir 1967 starring Lee Marvin
Neo-noir film Point Blank directed by John Boorman, 1967, starring Lee Marvin.

 

Cinematically, Lee Marvin cemented the neo-noir style of film when he starred in Point Blank (1967), introducing a new level of violence in film and established the foundation for later escalation of ferocity and brutality.

I suspect there would be some argument over whether the film Pulp Fiction is actually pulp noir or film noir. Jessica Jones – pulp noir? Where would you classify any of the dark noir books (Gone Girl) (or movies) that you’ve read (seen) lately?

But really, a family noir? OMG–it’s gotta be sad, depressing, and can never be made right.

It’s doomed.

I don’t need it.

I want peaceful.

I want happy–if not happily ever after–a light at the end of the tunnel. Some small promise it’ll be okay.

And hopefully soon.

©2018 V Williams V Williams

Stinger: Operation Cyclone – a #BookReview

Stinger: Operation Cyclone by Bill FortinTitle: Stinger: Operation Cyclone (A Rick Fontain Novel Book 2) by Bill Fortin

Genre: Currently #2811 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank in Kindle eBooks, Literature & Fiction, Genre Fiction, War

Publisher: Cold War Publications

Publication Date: February 12, 2018

Source: Direct author request

Title and Cover: Stinger: Operation Cyclone – Obvious military action

It is shortly after the election of Ronald Regan in 1979 that the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, but it was not until 1982 that POTUS set in motion Operation Cyclone.

The wheels of government and governmental agencies move very slowly. The Afghani people are locked in a desperate attempt to avoid total annihilation by an occupying Russian force. Severely out-gunned and with very limited resources they are resisting one of the strongest armies in the world.  Several covert governmental agencies are trying, albeit slowly, to assist. Continue reading “Stinger: Operation Cyclone – a #BookReview”

#ThrowbackThursday – Drifter by M. L. Gardner

#ThrowbackThursday

Renee began the #ThrowbackThursday meme on her blog, It’s Book Talk to share some of her old favorites as well as sharing books published over a year ago. Sounded like a good reason to join! I’ll be looking back at my favorite authors and stories you might not have previously experienced. Hopefully, you’ll find either a story or author that interests you and you’ll check them out. And, if you’d like to join the fun, you’re welcome to use Renee’s pic from her website. Just provide the link back to her please).

Drifter by M. L. GardnerThis week I am highlighting M. L. Gardner, another terrific, prolific author who wrote Drifter, which I reviewed on Goodreads. She has actually written ten novels, including two series, short stories, and a novella. This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services LLC on January 11, 2014. She consistently runs approximately 4+ stars for any of her books sold on Amazon.

Originally posted January 26, 2015

Book Blurb:

In this fourth book of The 1929 Series, we are led into the world of Richard Sloan, a Massachusetts missing person’s detective who seems to be losing his touch. After six months he hasn’t found anyone alive and becomes desperate to redeem his reputation.

Aryl Sullivan, who suffered amnesia in a boating accident, finds himself caught up in a series of events that land him in London. While in the hands of Gina, a secretive and controlling woman, and her boss, Mickey, Aryl is forever changed as he does what he has to in order to survive.

Following leads on a serial cop killer terrorizing Boston, Detective Sloan unwittingly stumbles on information that leads him to Aryl Sullivan, a man everyone in Rockport thinks is dead.

My Review:

It’s amazing who you can become–given the right–or wrong circumstances. Sometimes, you can’t imagine how you’ve ever become this person. And having become a person you revile, can you ever quit and so back? Can you ever really “go home”? Would you want to?

This is the fourth in the 1929 series; the third I’ve read and this is definitely my favorite. Aryl is “found” by Richard Sloan, a missing persons cop who lucks onto Aryl looking for a serial cop killer. Sloan is a disgruntled, discontented Boston P.D. detective with a marriage teetering on the edge for a reason both partners are impotent to remedy. His record hasn’t been that good of late, finding more “missings” dead than alive; a day late, handing the file to homicide. He desperately hoped his last case, a 16-year-old, would be the reverse to the pattern. It wasn’t. Dejected, depressed, he decided he’d concentrate on the serial killer and counted on it to be his saving grace.

In the third of the 1929 series, Aryl Sullivan has been in a horrific explosion aboard his fishing vessel and barely survives with his body intact, never mind his mind. He has sustained major lacerations to his back which leaves him in severe pain in this installment. Unfortunately, he has no recollection what happened–only that he has been rescued and handed off eventually to land in London where he is then rescued by Gina who introduces him to Mickey. His injuries have left him dependent upon Gina who dishes him an elixir that quickly gets him hooked and leaves him no where to turn. Under his newly acquired circumstances, he becomes a man totally alien to his former self–capable of the unimaginable.

The tale unfolds after Sloan has picked him up from the French police where they both board a ship for the states. Together over the course of the cruise, each unloads his personal story as Aryl has slowly regained his memory and narrates the events of his past year. Aryl faces a shaky return. The experience has been life-changing for Sloan, however, and he makes several decisions both affecting his job and his marriage.

While the storyline borders on unique, there are edit problems that should have been addressed and it was a bit difficult to keep up with who was doing the current narrative since it switched back and forth between Sloan and Aryl. However, both have compelling histories or stories to tell (and they share with each other) and unfortunately for Aryl a long row to hoe before he can fully be brought back into the fold or the family. You have to swallow a few inaccuracies but on the whole, an interesting read and you do become sufficiently engaged in the characters to pursue the outcome.

This book was downloaded as a freebie by BookBub. Different in concept, the switch between the narrations garnered my imagination. Recommended reading–embrace the uncommon style.

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About the Author

M. L. Gardner M. L. Gardner is the bestselling author of the 1929 series. Gardner is frugal to a fault, preserving the old ways of living by canning, cooking from scratch, and woodworking. Nostalgic stories from her grandmother’s life during the Great Depression inspired Gardner to write the 1929 series–as well as her own research into the Roarin’ Twenties. She also wrote the Purling Road series and a cookbook. Gardner is married with three kids and four cats. She resides in western Montana. http://www.mlgardnerbooks.com

More Throwback Thursday Blogs

Renee at Its Book Talk

Jill at Jill’s Book Cafe

Rebecca at The Book Whisperer

Lynne at Fictionophile

Sam at Clues and Reviews

Holly B at Dressedtoread

Deanna at DeesRadReads and Reviews

Amanda at Literary Weaponry

Annie at The Misstery

Mischenko at Read Rant Rock and Roll

Laurie at Cozy Nook Books

Ann Marie at LItWitWineDine

©2018 V Williams V Williams

The Advice Column Murders – a #BookReview

The Advice Column Murders by Leslie NagelTitle: The Advice Column Murders: The Oakwood Mystery Series by Leslie Nagel

Genre: Currently # 235 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank in Kindle eBooks, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Mystery, Traditional Detectives

Publisher: Alibi

Publication Date: To be released April 3, 2018 – Happy Publication Day! Clink cocktail glasses

Source: Random House Publishing Group-Alibi and NetGalley

Title and Cover: The Advice Column Murders – Attractive, compelling cozy mystery cover

My first introduction to this series, I found the novel on the more serious side of a cozy mystery. As the third in the series, the protagonist is Charley Carpenter who is the owner of a vintage shop she calls Old Hat Vintage Fashions. This is apparently meant to be a standalone, though characters are brought forward from the first two in the series, including the situation with her shop which is now undergoing a major renovation that she will call Old Hat New Beginnings. (This is also my third book in a row in which the female protagonist is a Charley, Charlie, or Charlee–it must be getting popular to call a female protagonist Charley!) Continue reading “The Advice Column Murders – a #BookReview”

Hatshepsut: The Pharaoh Queen of Egypt – a #BookReview

Hatshepsut: The Pharaoh-Queen of Egypt by in60LearningTitle: Hatshepsut: The Pharaoh Queen of Egypt

Genre: Currently #22 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank in Kindle eBooks, Biographies & Memoirs, Historical, Middle East (One hour, 58 pages)

Publisher: in60Learning

Publication Date: February 3, 2018

Source: Amazon Digital Services and Direct Request by Tyler of in60Learning

Title and Cover: Hatshepsut: The Pharaoh Queen of Egypt – Cover conveys non-fiction material

We were contacted by Tyler of in60Learning with an inquiry regarding reading and reviewing their new concept non-fiction short stories in a quick and easy read 60-minute format. On their “title listing” page, they appear to have twenty-four titles, three of which are audio, the balance in a mix of Kindle and paperbook format. The titles run from biographies to histories with titles releasing from the middle of January 2018 through March. Many more are expected.

Titles include Marilyn Monroe: The Defiant Broad Disguised as a Dumb Blond (BiographyIn60, six reviews at 4.5 average stars) to Alexander the Great: Student of Aristotle, Descendent of Heroes (BiographyIn60 nineteen reviews at 4.5 average stars). The C.E. chose this one as well as Illinois Native Americans: A 9,000 Year Civilization. See that review here.

In60Learning introduces themselves thusly:

“Get Smarter in just 60  minutes with in60Learning. Concise and elegantly written non-fiction books and audiobooks help you learn the core subject matter in 20% of the time that it takes to read a typical book. Life is short, so explore a multitude of fascinating historical, biographical, scientific, political, and financial topics in only an hour each.”

Book Blurb:

When Pharaoh Thutmose II died, he left an heir far too young to rule Egypt. His widow Hatshepsut stepped up to take his place. For at least the next 20 years, Hatshepsut ruled as Pharaoh King of Egypt in an era of prosperous growth and peace. When she died, her nephew Thutmose III attempted to smear her good name and wipe her memory from history. However, despite his efforts, his aunt Hatshepsut holds the title of most famous native Egyptian woman to ever rule as pharaoh; she also retains a legacy as one of the most successful female leaders in early history. Continue reading “Hatshepsut: The Pharaoh Queen of Egypt – a #BookReview”

Rosepoint #Reviews – March Recap

Yes, we have zinged right into April with Easter Sunday! A beautiful beginning to the month.

Fairy Garden - Easter TimeIf the ground is no longer frozen, you know I’ll be grabbing my shovel and turning some dirt in the hope I can get my garden in before the end of April. I already have a few little seeds sprouting in my indoor starter tray. Hopefully, these will do better than last year. And last year? Remember I started the Fairy Garden that we alternatively call (depending on weather) “the Swamp.” I am currently waiting to see what survived and my heart is beginning to sink–I don’t think any of the ferns or Lilly of the Valley made it through the winter. Butterfly bush? History. But I’ve attained some satisfaction in digging out more reeds, snags, and trunks making way for slightly larger bushes than those $5 budget plants. If it’s sunny, I’ll probably be outdoors, at least until all plants are established.

I’ve confessed before to being a stats watcher (as I’ve set several goals) and was thrilled to announce the coming of my first 1,000th follower. I’ve been steadily building on that number and by Wednesday, the 28th of March had attained 1106 followers, looking forward to 1200. Then Thursday, the big crash happened and now the view counter is showing 999. How do you lose 107 followers overnight? But wait! There’s more..no really! Looking at my monthly totals, the blog achieved 1.0k views for the month of March. Hazzah! In fact, the first quarter of 2018 showed a significant jump in views. So I’m at a loss for the loss.

My February Recap noted that I was going to participate in Cathy‘s “Reading Ireland” Challenge. They were Shadow of a Century by Jean Grainger, Irish author, and another titled For the Love of Ireland by Judy Leslie and you’ll find both of those in the linked list below.

Eight new titles read and reviewed in March:

Deja Moo – a #BookReview

If I Live – a #BookReview

For the Love of Ireland – #BookReview

The True Tales of the Road to Key West – a #BookReview

Shadow of a Century – a #BookReview

Last Night – a #BookReview

Fiction Can Be Murder – a #BookReview

Dark Territory – a #BookReview

That intrepid associate reviewer, the CE, reviewed three titles for me in March.

The Telltale Tattoo – a #BookReview

The Tortilla Curtain by T. C. Boyle – a #BookReview

Illinois Native Americans – a #BookReview

#TBR - Easter

Check out my Easter week #TBR, cozy mysteries. In the meantime, I’ve added a book tour from Sage’s Blog Tours, an author request, and I won a beautiful hardback book titled Claws for Concern by Miranda James from Lori at Escape With Dollycas. Boy does it seem strange to hold a “real” book again! Thank you, Lori!

I so enjoy and appreciate my new followers and the ones who continue to read and comment! ©2018 V Williams V Williams

Illinois Native Americans – a #BookReview

Illinois Native Americans - A 9,000 Year CivilizationTitle: Illinois Native Americans: A 9,000 Year Civilization

Genre: Currently #14 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank in Kindle Short Reads, One hour (33-43 pages), History

Publisher: in60Learning

Publication Date: February 3, 2018

Source: Amazon Digital Services and Direct Request by publisher

Title and Cover: Illinois Native Americans – Cover denotes non-fiction material (uh oh–are you up for that?)

We were contacted by Tyler of in60Learning with an inquiry regarding reading and reviewing their new concept non-fiction novels in a down and dirty read and learn in a 60 minutes format. On their “title listing” page, they appear to have twenty-four titles, three of which are audio, the balance in Kindle format. The titles run from biographies to histories with titles releasing from the middle of January 2018 through March

Titles include Alexander the Great: Student of Aristotle, Descendant of Heroes (with 19 reviews and 4.5 average stars and apparently contains footnotes) to The Mexican-American War: A Divisive Expansion (with six reviews and 4.4 average stars). The C.E. chose this one as well as Hatshepsut The Pharaoh Queen of Egypt, which will be reviewed tomorrow.

In60Learning introduces themselves thusly:

“Get Smarter in just 60  minutes with in60Learning. Concise and elegantly written non-fiction books and audiobooks help you learn the core subject matter in 20% of the time that it takes to read a typical book. Life is short, so explore a multitude of fascinating historical, biographical, scientific, political, and financial topics in only an hour each.” Continue reading “Illinois Native Americans – a #BookReview”

#ThrowbackThursday – Maids of Misfortune by M. Louisa Locke

#ThrowbackThursday

Renee began the Throwback Thursday meme on her blog, It’s Book Talk to share some of her old favorites as well as sharing books published over a year ago. Sounded like a good reason to join! I’ve gathered up some old reads and reviews from Goodreads to share with you–but a good book never gets old. Hopefully, you’ll find either a story or author that interests you and you’ll check them out. And, if you’d like to join the fun, you’re welcome to use Renee’s pic from her website. Just provide the link back to her please).

Maids of Misfortune by M. Louisa LockeThis week I am highlighting M. Louisa Locke, another terrific, prolific author who wrote Maids of Misfortune (A Victorian San Francisco Mystery). She has actually written five in the series with novellas in between. This novel was published by CreateSpace on December 3, 2009. She consistently runs approximately 4.0/5 stars for any of her books sold on Amazon.

Originally posted January 20, 2015

Book Blurb:

It’s the summer of 1879, and Annie Fuller, a young San Francisco widow, is in trouble. Annie’s husband squandered her fortune before committing suicide five years earlier…Annie Fuller also has a secret. She supplements her income by giving domestic and business advice as Madam Sibyl, one of San Francisco’s most exclusive clairvoyants, and one of Madam Sibyl’s clients, Matthew Voss, has died…Nate Dawson has a problem. As the Voss family lawyer, he would love to believe that Matthew Voss didn’t leave his grieving family destitute. But that would mean working with Annie Fuller, a woman who alternatively attracts and infuriates him as she shatters every notion he ever had of proper ladylike behavior…Sparks fly as Anne and Nate pursue the truth about the murder of Matthew Voss in this light-hearted, cozy historical mystery set in the foggy gas-lit world of Victorian San Francisco. 
Continue reading “#ThrowbackThursday – Maids of Misfortune by M. Louisa Locke”

Five Reasons Why Books Release on Tuesday–Does That Include Indie Authors?

Five Reasons Why Books Release on Tuesday

Because it’s always been done this way. (?)

Oh really?! Why? Retailers call it Super Tuesday.

But Tuesday…Maybe it is just not as hectic as the first day of the week. Nor is it Friday when everyone is ready to flee to weekend outings. Tuesday is not yet Hump Day, not generally a payday, and very rarely a holiday. So why is it that I started having a problem with overlapping release dates–Tuesday–after I started receiving books from NetGalley?

Most sources, including Bob Mayer (one of my favorite authors), speculated it might be (1) because of the NY Times best-seller lists (and this seems to be a generally accepted opinion). “The NYT bestseller list is based on sales from Tuesday to Monday, tallied on Wednesday. The list for the following Sunday is actually compiled by the prior Wednesday evening.”

So what else are we looking at? Spy icon by Colourbox Continue reading “Five Reasons Why Books Release on Tuesday–Does That Include Indie Authors?”

The True Tales of the Road to Key West – a #BookReview

The True Tales of the Road to Key West by Michael ReisigTitle: The True Tales Of The Road To Key West by Michael Reisig

Genre: Currently #266 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank in Kindle eBooks, Literature & Fiction, Travel, and #272 Genre Fiction, Satire

Publisher: Clear Creek Press

Publication Date: March 10, 2018

Source: Beta request from author

Title and Cover: The True Tales of the Road to Key WestLove all his covers

I am among the privileged few to beta read for Michael Reisig. The author radiates compassionate humanity and this composite puts you squarely in his treasured guest category of close friends. You can’t read his books without nodding your head in knowing acceptance that these were deeply personal revelations about his amazing survival and how these books came to be written. Continue reading “The True Tales of the Road to Key West – a #BookReview”

#AmReading – For the Love of Ireland by Judy Leslie

#AmReading - for The Love of Ireland by Judy Leslie

Welcome to my #AmReading feature! I am highlighting an author and their book currently visible in the “Fair Weather” widget celebrating blue skies, following seas, and my Goodreads (currently reading) list.

This week I am presenting Judy Leslie and her book For the Love of Ireland. I received a free download. The book was released on April 2, 2013, by CreateSpace. Amazon classifies the novel as literature and fiction, historical fiction, Irish and is 318 pages.

I will be presenting my review on Sunday,  March 11, 2018, and can tell you that so far I’m finding this historical fiction (about a real turn-of-the-century Chicago couple) eye-opening and compelling. In the meantime (from Amazon), here is the

Book Blurb:

Margaret Sullivan dines with politicians, rebels, and spies. She is an admired journalist with the Chicago Tribune publishing under a male nom de plume. Her unscrupulous husband is a prominent attorney and power broker with aspirations of his own. They are well-connected members of Chicago’s 1880’s Irish elite.

On her trip to Ireland to do research for a book she is writing, Margaret meets a charming one-armed Irish rebel named Michael and finds herself attracted to him and his ideas for liberating Ireland.

While traveling through the stone-walled back roads of the island, Margaret sees for herself how the poor are treated. She breaks her vow never to get involved, and soon questions if she can ever go back to her old superficial life in Chicago again. Overcome with her new found emotions and strong desire to help, Margaret finds herself easily convinced by Mrs. Delia Parnell that women can be just as crucial in the fight for Ireland’s independence as men.

Back home in Chicago Margaret publishes articles hoping to gain support in America for Michael’s cause. That is until he is arrested. Desperate, she turns to her jealous, devious husband for help…but he has a hidden agenda of his own.

Torn between her career as a journalist and compassion for those overseas, she finds herself trapped by her own aspirations. Soon things spin out of control both at home and abroad, and Margaret has to decide how much she is willing to sacrifice for Michael and her love for Ireland.

For The Love of Ireland is a historical novel of love and loyalty, deception and honesty. It is about women fighting against traditional roles and gender discrimination during the 1880s. For The Love of Ireland is a work of fiction woven around actual events of the Irish Land League, a Chicago couple and the covert activities of the Clan na Gael.

About the Author

Judy Leslie - author (Judy Leslie from Amazon Author Page)When I walked into the Antique shop in the historic town of Bellingham, Washington at the age of 21, I had no idea that I would soon become its owner and would be surrounded by things I knew nothing about. I researched everything from grandma’s collectibles to old tables and chairs. I quickly learned that there was a story attached to every object no matter how trivial it may seem to the average person. Old wedding gifts, items saved and sacrificed for, mementos, useful and frivolous objects, all filled my shelves.

I lived in the back of the shop with my cat Betty and cooked on an old wood stove that I fed with Presto Logs. In the evenings, I would sit in a creaky painted rocker, and scavenge through old black and white photographs and letters, pondering the lives of these long gone relatives. Did they know someday a stranger would be pawing their personal belongings, I wondered? I tried piecing an image together of what life must have been like when these items were new. Were these people happy back then? Had life turned out for them as planned?

When people came into my shop we would swap stories about old uncle’s Joe’s or aunt Gertrude’s hand-me-down trinkets and what they might be worth to someone that wanted that ‘junk’. Then I would remind them that perhaps they held some value that couldn’t be bought. Like a child’s first pair of ice skates or a set of hand embroidered tea towels made as a gift by a spinster losing her sight. Once I stirred their imagination they looked around my shop with fresh eyes and became curious about the objects surrounding them.

I would share what I had learned about whatever they were attracted to and soon they would be walking out the door with their new treasure. It was the story they bought, the article was just evidence of the legend. So, it only made sense that someday I would become a historical fiction writer.

Now, many years later with the shop long gone and countless writing classes under my belt, I’m researching the internet and locating out-of-print publications to find secrets about the past. Instead of antiques, I collect fragments of news articles about the lives of real people most have forgotten. I love doing the detective work and unwinding the threads of these various characters from long ago and weaving them back together again in a new version of their story.

My novel, For the Love of Ireland, evolved from information I discovered about a Chicago couple and their connection to Ireland’s Land League, and the secret activities of the Irish-American organization the Clan na Gael. If you would like to know more about my novel For The Love of Ireland, please go to http://www.for-the-love-of-ireland.com. There you can read about the real people my story characters are based on. ©2018 V Williams V Williams

If I Live – a #BookReview

If I live by Terri BlackstockTitle: If I Live (If I Run series) by Terri Blackstock

Genre: Currently #6 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank Kindle eBooks, Literature & Fiction, Religious & Inspirational Fiction, Christian, Romance, Mystery & Suspense

Publisher: Zondervan

Publication Date: To be released March 6, 2018 Happy Publication Day!!

Source: Zondervan and NetGalley

Title and Cover: If I LiveNot sure how the cover conveys subject but links the trilogy with the other two covers

Protagonist Casey Cox is on the run, still, and doing a darned good job at evading capture. She has been doing this for awhile and is quite good at it, but she does have a person she can trust–if she can just connect with him. She has been accused of a murder she didn’t commit.  Private Investigator Dylan Roberts, hired by Brent’s family to find the killer, has tried to connect with her. He has new information. POV switches first person from Casey to Dylan to antagonist dirty cop Keegan. Not just dirty–sociopathic scary icky.

Casey is in Memphis and desperate for money takes a job with slightly shady attorney Barbero. Dylan has investigated all the circumstances and comes to believe in her innocence and is working toward getting her to go safely back to Shreveport to clear her name. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to know who they can trust. Together, she and Dylan decide to take the evidence gathered to the DA. Dylan arrives at his office to present the case but dumbs down a bit and things go south. Just how deep is the Keegan quagmire? Continue reading “If I Live – a #BookReview”

#ThrowbackThursday – Irreparable Harm by Melissa F Miller

#ThrowbackThursday

Renee began the Throwback Thursday meme on her blog, It’s Book Talk to share some of her old favorites as well as sharing books published over a year ago. Sounded like a good reason to join! I’ll be going back over my favorite authors and stories you might not have previously experienced. Hopefully, you’ll find either a story or author that interests you and you’ll check them out. And, if you’d like to join the fun, you’re welcome to use Renee’s pic from her website. Just provide the link back to her, please.

Irreparable Harm by Melissa F MillerThis week I am highlighting Melissa F Miller, another terrific, prolific author who has written Irreparable Harm, which I reviewed on Goodreads. She has actually written more than two dozen books and this represents her first in the Sasha McCandless Legal Thriller series. This novel was published by Brown Street Books on April 18, 2011. She consistently runs approximately 4.0+ stars for any of Her books sold on Amazon. I received my eBook through a free offering on BookBub. In the meantime, covers have evolved…

Originally posted June 29, 2014

Book Blurb:

Attorney Sasha McCandless is closing in on the prize after eight long years: she’s months away from being made partner at a prestigious law firm. All she has to do is keep her head down and her billable hours up.

Then a plane operated by her client slams into the side of a mountain, killing everyone aboard. Sasha gears up to prepare a defense to the inevitable civil lawsuits. She quickly realizes the crash was no accident: a developer has created an application that can control a commercial plane’s onboard computer from a smartphone. Now it’s for sale to the highest bidder.

Sasha joins forces with a federal air marshal who’s investigating the crash. As they race to prevent another airline disaster, people close to the matter start turning up dead. Sasha must rely on both her legal skills and her Krav Maga training to stop the madman before he kills her. Sasha will need to rely on her legal training and her Krav Maga training in equal measure to find and stop a madman before he strikes again. Continue reading “#ThrowbackThursday – Irreparable Harm by Melissa F Miller”

Unique Blogger Award

The Unique Blogger Award

I am thrilled to be nominated for a second award by Nina over at The Cozy Pages and so appreciate the shout out. Nina never fails to like and comment on posts, though I’ve no clue where she gets the time–she is a very busy mother of three and a professional outside her home. She posts very insightful and detailed reviews and always balances her posts with what she found that was good and what didn’t work so well. If you haven’t already, check out her blog, please.

The rules for accepting this award are as follows:

The Rules:

  • Share the link of the blogger who has shown love to you by nominating you.
  • Answer the questions.
  • In the spirit of sharing love and solidarity with our blogging family, nominate 8-12 people for the same award.
  • Ask them 3 questions.

Nina’s Questions:

1) You are in the bookstore and you see someone walking around for an hour looking at all the books looking lost. Finally, you decide to ask them if they need help. They admit they have no idea what book to read next, what book would you recommend?

Book tastes vary so greatly from person to person and age to age, it’s fortunate we have so many to choose from!

  1. Orangutan by Rita GoldnerFor a very small child, any book that offers large, colorful pictures and very short, simple descriptions that can be shared, such as my Phoenix author buddy Rita Goldner’s book Orangutan.
  2. My generation grew up on Nancy Drew for tweens and teens. Clean, imaginative, and resourceful, but these days the go-to book is Harry Potter.
  3. Adults: Anything from cozy mysteries to tear-jerking literary classics such as from author John Steinbeck. I’ve not yet begun to compile a “favorites” list this year, but if I knew a person’s taste, I might refer to the variety of great books from my 2017 list. These include a range of genres from historical fiction (Stone Song by Win Blevins), a travelogue (Dining and Driving with Cats by Pat Patterson), an anthropomorphic tale (Telemachus), to legal thrillers and men’s adventures (anything by Michael Reisig), even the enigmatic Dean Koontz (The Whispering Room).

2) Imagine you get the opportunity to go back in time, maybe a mad scientist has figured out the technology, who knows? Anyway, the only thing is you need to feed the contraption a classic book and you travel to the time that it was written. What book would you feed that machine?

Rosemary's Baby by Ira LevinThat’s a pretty funny question since I just finished a book about that very thing (time travel), Valley of Time by Jeremy D Holden. But no, I don’t want to go back to 1974. I would feed the contraption Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin, 1967. Rosemary’s Baby came out after we were married and possibly thinking about a family. It scared me to death.

3.) You are in the library and you see someone reading at a table. Then you see the worst thing imaginable…. they are doing your bookish pet-peeve. What are they doing to that poor book?!

I have seen people dog-ear or fold the page in half–(even ripping a page out–but no–the worst? Writing in the margins.

My questions for you:

1.      When was the last time you bought or borrowed an audiobook, what was it, and was it as rewarding as reading would have been?

2.      The beginning of the year, there are myriad lists of reading challenges. Do you add challenges, find they increase your reading, or diversify your reading choices? Or not.

3.      It’s easy to come across little sayings in each book we read, something memorable. Have you begun to collect quotes, and if so when was your last, and what was the book and author?

Disclaimer: I’d love it if you would respond to this tag with your answers, but we are all busy. If you do, however, please link back to share your answers.

My Nominations:

CathyRy

Yesha

Kerry

Alysha

Jessica

Nicole

Cathy

Have a super week everyone! I Love Likes and Comments--Please Share!