The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner – #AudiobookReview – #TBT

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

 

Goodreads Choice Award nominee 

Book Blurb:

A forgotten history. A secret network of women. A legacy of poison and revenge. Welcome to The Lost Apothecary….

Hidden in the depths of 18th-century London, a secret apothecary shop caters to an unusual kind of clientele. Women across the city whisper of a mysterious figure named Nella who sells well-disguised poisons to use against the oppressive men in their lives. But the apothecary’s fate is jeopardized when her newest patron, a precocious 12-year-old, makes a fatal mistake, sparking a string of consequences that echo through the centuries.

Meanwhile in present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, running from her own demons. When she stumbles upon a clue to the unsolved apothecary murders that haunted London 200 years ago, her life collides with the apothecary’s in a stunning twist of fate – and not everyone will survive.

With crackling suspense, unforgettable characters, and searing insight, The Lost Apothecary is a subversive and intoxicating debut novel of secrets, vengeance, and the remarkable ways women can save each other despite the barrier of time. 

My Review:

I have to admit, half the fun of this book is reading the reviews. Everyone has an opinion and they literally run from one star to five, more than a few quite vehemently.

Okay, so it isn’t the 2021 great American novel. I borrowed an audiobook from my lovely local library for the purpose of participating in their virtual book club choice for the quarter. (Yes, quarter—nothing is read in a month—or an audiobook listened in a week.) Obviously, a babe in the woods, I had no idea the controversy this title generated after its release of a much anticipated fantasy thriller-mystery. Well, picky, picky, picky.

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah PennerIt does actually start off with a hook, Nella (more than one POV, btw), is a late eighteenth-century apothecarist dispensing poisons to women seeking relief from abusive, explosive relationships. No simple divorce remedies back then. Eliza, however, (another POV) is only twelve sent to retrieve the potion for her mistress. Eliza is smart, manipulative, and brilliantly maneuvering herself into a position from which Nella may end up paying the price.

Okay, now switch to Caroline, an eccentric American in London using reservations previously meant to celebrate her wedding anniversary. Unfortunately, prior to leaving on the vacation, his affair is disclosed which pretty much puts the kibosh on any celebration. Yes, she goes anyway, sans said husband. She’s different, you see.

On a little tour of the mud from the river Thames, she discovers a little bottle—cue Gaynor the local library historian. But at least solving the burning question of the bottle takes her mind off her cheating husband and what?? She thinks she might be pregnant? Uh oh. That could be a sticky wicket!

So, are we having fun yet? Ah, come on—it’s magical realism—fantasy. I say, just go for it!

So flipping back to 1791, things are getting mighty dark for Nella and Eliza is a quick study. It doesn’t look like this can end well though—and doesn’t—Eliza lacking the experience. Phooey. And I preferred that timeline.

The storyline with Nella and Eliza can be pretty intense, while the timeline with Caroline packs in a little filler. Some of Caroline’s motives are muddled and you might be scratching your head, wondering where this is going. Or, is it going at all? Yeah, but not real fast.

This is a narrative that you are not to supposed to over think. So much to stop and contemplate, totally dismiss. In consideration, was it engaging or entertaining—sufficiently so that you finished the book? I zipped right through the audiobook—waiting—I’m not sure for what. Forget magical realism. Fantasy takes a hit as disbelief can’t be stretched far enough to think you could survive jumping very far into an icy river and surviving. Okay, I’m taking it too literally again. No over thinking.

While the conclusion seemed a bit abrupt and left more than a few shakes of the head, it was a bit farcical, remember? Just go with it and if this is a genre you enjoy, you’ll no doubt enjoy this novel. The narrators did a good job, too, you might enjoy that even more.

Rosepoint Rating: Three-point Five Stars 3 1/2 stars

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Book Details:

Genre: Magical Realism, Historical Fantasy Fiction, Literary Fiction
Publisher: Harlequin Audio
ASIN: B08BXB3JVY
Listening Length: 10 hrs 18 mins
Narrators: Lorna BennettLauren AnthonyLauren Irwin
Publication Date: March 2, 2021
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo

 

Sarah Penner - authorThe Author: Sarah Penner is the New York Times bestselling author of THE LOST APOTHECARY (Park Row Books/HarperCollins), available now wherever books are sold. THE LOST APOTHECARY will be translated into two dozen languages worldwide. Sarah and her husband live in St. Petersburg, Florida with their miniature dachshund, Zoe. To learn more, visit SarahPenner.com.

©2022 V Williams V Williams

#throwbackthursday

The Last Paladin (P T Deutermann WWII Novels) by P T Deutermann – #BookReview – #historicalfiction

The Last Paladin by P T Deutermann

Rosepoint Publishing: Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

A gripping tale of anti-submarine warfare in the World War II Pacific Theater, by a master of military adventure fiction.

The Last Paladin by P.T. Deutermann is based on the true story of the USS Holland (DE-24), a World War II Atlantic Fleet destroyer escort which has spent the past two years in the unforgiving battle for survival against the German U-boats of the North Atlantic.

The Last Paladin by P T DeutermannSummoned to relieve destroyers that are bogged down by escort duty in the escalating Pacific Theater, the Holland is met with a rather cold reception. In the eyes of Pacific Fleet sailors, North Atlantic convoy duty pales in comparison to the bloody, carrier-sinking battles of Savo Island and Guadalcanal. However, Atlantic Fleet ships have had to specialize in one thing: anti-submarine warfare.

The Holland is sent off into remote South Pacific operating areas with orders to find and destroy Japanese submarines—but with little expectation of success. Her commanders take the mission literally; using radio intercepts that are being ignored at higher levels, they determine that the Japanese have set up a 1000-mile-long picket line of six submarines, an entire squadron’s worth, to act as a moveable barrier against the expected American advance into the next set of islands. These submarines are poised to sink every American aircraft carrier and destroyer and to change the course of the war.

What happens next is one of the legendary stories of the US Navy. The Last Paladin is high stakes naval warfare at its best, told with utter authenticity and a former ship captain’s understanding of dramatic, intense combat. P. T. Deutermann continues his acclaimed series of WWII thrillers in this unforgettable novel.

His Review:

The war in the Pacific Theater is at its’ zenith. The USS Holland has been in the Atlantic working with the British and has been re-outfitted and sent to the Pacific to aid in the fight against Japanese submarines. The Pacific fleet commanders are less than cordial with the arrival of one of the Atlantic fleets’ destroyer escorts. The ship receives a less than tepid welcome and is assigned a backwater near the Solomon Islands to patrol.

The Last Paladin by P T DeutermannThis saga is told from both the ships’ captains’ point of view and the second in command. The story is fictional and covers the sinking of six Japanese submarines during the war. A picket line of Japanese subs is set up to warn the Imperial Navy of ship movements toward the Marianas and Solomon Islands. The crew of the USS Holland discover the submarines and set out to eliminate the threat. The purpose of the Japanese picket line of submarines was to give advance warning of U.S. Naval Fleet movements.

Some of the history disclosed is very interesting. I found the push and pull between Admirals Spruance and Halsey to be particularly interesting. The story points out the tremendous pressure both of these fine admirals were under. The lives of countless sailors, ships and marines and army were in the balance.

The maintenance of secrecy and the health of the sailors aboard the ship is well defined. Hunting submarines during the war was a duty fraught with danger. Using such tools as sonar and radar often alerted the submarines that the ship was in the area. These tools for discovery were often as valuable to the enemy sailors as to the personnel aboard the Holland.

CE WilliamsThe story is fictional but alludes to the exploits of an actual ship the USS England (DE 635). I could not verify this ship or information because the construction of a ship with this name was not completed because of the wars’ end. However the tension and dynamics of this story kept me involved and reading during every free moment. Enjoy the ride! 5 stars – CE Williams

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with the opportunity to read and review this book.

Book Details:

Genre: Historical World War II Fiction, World War II Historical Fiction, War Fiction
Publisher: St Martin’s Press
ASIN: B09CNFWMX9
Print Length: 288 pages
Publication Date: July 19, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Last Paladin [Amazon]

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P T Deutermann - authorThe Author: Peter Deutermann was born in Boston in 1941. His father was in the Navy, so he subsequently lived all over the United States and also in Argentina. He graduated from the naval academy in 1963 and served in the navy for 26 years, rising to the rank of Captain. While in the navy, he published one textbook on naval operations and several professional articles in navy-oriented journals. He held three commands: a Swiftboat in the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam, a guided missile destroyer in the Atlantic Fleet, and a destroyer squadron based in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. His last tour of duty was as the division director for chemical, biological, and radiological weapons arms control negotiations on the staff of the Joint Chiefs in Washington, DC.

He retired from active duty in 1989 and began his fiction-writing career. He has published twenty novels since 1992, all with St. Martins Press, including the just-released World War II navy novel, entitled The Commodore, and the Washington thriller, The Red Swan. He has completed his 21st novel, entitled The Iceman, a World War II navy submarine story, scheduled for publication in August, 2018. See all the books on his website at http://www.ptdeutermann.com

In addition to a BS in naval engineering, Mr. Deutermann holds an MA in public administration from the University of Washington in Seattle, WA. He is also a Member of the Royal College of Defence Studies in London. He is married and has two children. Mr. Deutermann and his wife of 50 years live in Rockingham County, in the Piedmont of North Carolina, on their family pony farm.

©2022 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Chill--It's Sunday

Souvenirs from Kyiv: Unforgettable stories based on the heartbreaking experiences of Ukrainian families during WW2 by Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger – #BookReview – #historicalfiction

Souvenirs from Kyiv by Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger

Rosepoint Publishing: Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

‘Russia has been trying to wipe Ukraine off the world map for thousands of years. They haven’t succeeded yet. Now, I’m picking up my stone and throwing it at Goliath. I want people to understand. I want to save this country.’ Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger, March 2022

Souvenirs from Kyiv by Chrystyna Lucyk-BergerLarissa is a renowned embroiderer, surviving in occupied Ukraine during World War II as a seamstress in her ruin of a workshop. Surrounded by enemies, she expresses her defiance by threading history into her garments. But at what cost?

Mykhailo is a soldier on leave, returning to Ukraine from the front on Christmas Eve. As he travels through his country, he is confronted by the hardship the war has brought to his fellow countrymen. Will what he sees this Christmas change the course of his life forever?

Marusia and her family are woken early one morning by the arrival of the Nazis, who have come to search for her partisan brother. As the soldiers move through their house, her family has just moments to make choices that will determine their survival.

Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger’s stories bring to life the true history of her Ukrainian family who fought to survive World War II. Laced with hope,Souvenirs from Kyiv celebrates the endurance and resilience of the human spirit.

Souvenirs from Kyiv was awarded 2nd Place in the 2014 HNS International Short Story Award and the collection won the silver medal in the IPPY Book Awards 2020 for Military and Wartime fiction.

His Review:

As the current attack by the Russians upon Ukraine continues, Souvenirs From Kyiv illuminates the continuing hazard in that part of the world. This country has been in the path of battles and armies since recorded history. The Russians have attempted to draw them into their country for centuries. The citizens of Ukraine have suffered continually.

Souvenirs from Kyiv by Chrystyna Lucyk-BergerWorld War II found their male citizens being conscripted into the Nazi war machine. If they were unable to serve, they were kidnapped and forced to work on war materiel including bombs and bullets. The women were helping in the munitions factories as well and also conscripted to sew uniforms and other outfits including snow warfare camouflage gear.

Hiding some of the young men became the work of families. They would go to the forests and be part of the resistance. Families would take them in at very great risk to themselves. Should they be caught harboring these men, the whole family would wind up being shot. The Ukrainians also helped hide and protect large numbers of Jews. Harboring Jews was also a crime punishable by death.

Those members of the resistance saved many American and English pilots forced down in the fighting. The Ukrainians and Yugoslavian citizens helped to rescue the pilots as well as set up an underground system to spirit the pilots back to the west. Avoiding serving and being caught usually resulted in an immediate deployment to the Russian front.

The Ukrainians are not fond of the Russians. They hoped that the American forces would release their villages. The Russian troops had a reputation for gang raping the women and taking everything of value. The maturation of the war found the Ukrainian people praying the Allies would prevail and liberate their communities from the Nazis.

CE WilliamsStarvation was a major weapon of the Third Reich. The cities were blockaded and farmers and foodstuffs were taken by the German soldiers for the Fatherland or to feed the troops in the area. Small barley or wheat soup was the staple diet for the average citizen during the war. 5 stars – CE Williams

We received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author and publisher through NetGalley that in no way influenced this review. These are his honest opinions.

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Fiction Short Stories, Historical Russian Fiction
Publisher: Bookouture
ASIN: B09WF1MQ8K
Print Length: 159 pages
Publication Date: April 22, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Souvenirs from Kyiv [Amazon]
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Kobo

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Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger - authorThe Author: IPPY Book Award 2020 silver medal winner for SOUVENIRS FROM KYIV.

Long-listed in the Flash500 Novel Competition 2017 for No Man’s Land/The Breach.

Winner of the Flash500 Short Story Competition with an extract from Bolzano.

Winner of the Coffee Pot Book Club Book Award Box and Box Set of the Year 2019 for the Reschen Valley Box Set.

A Discovered Diamond, shortlisted for Book of the Month July 2019, Reschen Valley Box Set

Reader’s Favorite 5-star reviews for Bolzano, The Smuggler of Reschen Pass, and Magda’s Mark (featured in The Road to Liberation Collection).

HNS International Short Story 2nd Place Winner 2014 for Souvenirs from Kyiv (short story in the Souvenirs from Kyiv collection)

Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger was born in Minnesota in 1969 and grew up in the culture-rich neighborhood of “Nordeast” Minneapolis. She started her writing career with short stories, travel narratives, worked as a journalist and then as a managing editor for a magazine publisher before jumping the editor’s desk and pursuing her dreams of writing and traveling. In 2000, she moved to western Austria and established her own communications training company. She has won several awards for her short stories and novels and now primarily writes historical fiction. During a trip into northern Italy over the Reschen Pass, she stood on the edge of Reschen Lake and desperately wanted to understand how a 15th-century church tower ended up sticking out of the water. What stories were lying beneath? Some eight years later, she launched the “Reschen Valley” series with five books and a novella releasing between 2018 and 2021, in parallel to her WW2 novels and short story collections.

For more on Chrystyna, dive in at inktreks(dot)com.

©2022 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

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Mining for Murder (A Happy Camper Mystery Book 3) by Mary Angela #BlogTour #BookReview #Giveaway

Mining for Murder by Mary Angela

It is my privilege to provide a review for you today at the blog stop for Mining for Murder by Mary Angela on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour.

Scroll down to enter your chance to win the Giveaway!

“Underestimate me. That will be fun.”

Book Details

Mining for Murder (A Happy Camper Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Setting – South Dakota
Lyrical Press (April 5, 2022)
Print length ‏ : ‎ 275 pages
Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0992TPJ24

Book Blurb

Zo Jones is enjoying the sunny season at her Happy Camper gift shop in Spirit Canyon, South Dakota—when a murder reminds her all that glitters isn’t gold. . 

The South Dakota Gold Rush might be long over, but Zo Jones feels like she’s hit the mother lode when she and her friends browse an estate sale, where a rare old book about the history of Spirit Canyon is causing quite a commotion. In addition to local stories and secrets, the book may even contain the location of a famous stash of gold—a treasure worth killing for.

Zo’s friend Maynard Cline wins the bid on the book, to the chagrin of many interested parties, including the historical society and college history department. But when Zo and Hattie head to Maynard’s mansion to borrow the book for a library event, the only thing they find is Maynard—at the bottom of the mountain. The valuable book is gone. Zo knows this must be murder because there’s no way a germophobe like Maynard would have voluntarily dived into a pile of dirt. Now she’ll have to dig into a new case, and go prospecting for a perpetrator . . .

My Review

The third in the series Mining for Murder continues the saga of the Happy Camper mysteries which takes place in mystical Spirit Canyon in the Black Hills and Badlands of South Dakota. The area is a tourist mecca in the summer central to major attractions such as Mount Rushmore.

Mining for Murder by Mary AngelaThis is where Zo Jones set up her Happy Camper gift shop. She offers everything from souvenirs to memorabilia. Her unique ideas for decoration and promotion keep her shop lively and sustainable through the long non-tourist months.

Jules, a (spirit) shop owner herself, plays a strong supportive role and Max, a forest service ranger, is back as the growing love interest.

When a long time resident with a substantial collection passes away, a valuable book on the history of the area goes missing about the time the man who outbid those who should have received the book is found dead. Zo would like to find the book as she is sure it will contain a possible clue to her birth mother—as well as help to find the perp.

But the missing book may contain more than the hint of her origins—it may also include information on The Theon Stone and clues to gold mines long rumored about the explosive gold mining era—riches hidden just waiting to be discovered.

There are a number of support characters that build interest in the population of the little town, including law enforcement who’s had to warn Zo before to let him do his job while she tends her shop.

I greatly enjoyed the first book in the series, Open for Murder, and looked forward to a well-plotted and fast-paced book with well-drawn characters. Also appreciated are the descriptions of the area, the topography, quirky weather, and wildlife. As with the previous entry, there is strong dialogue patterns that sound natural and personal growth in the protagonist.

“The past is never really the past, is it?”

I love reading about the history of these areas, steeped in folklore, indigenous peoples, and wild west experiences. I had a few problems, however, with her descriptions of riding (her Kawi motorcycle—perhaps she doesn’t ride?) and the reveal in the conclusion.

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Giveaway

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About the Author

Mary Angela is the author of the Happy Camper cozy mystery series, the Professor Prather academic mystery series, and several short stories. When Mary isn’t penning heartwarming whodunits, she’s teaching, reading, traveling, or spending time with her family. She lives in South Dakota with her husband, daughters, and spoiled pets. You can find out more about her loves, including her writing, at MaryAngelaBooks.com.

Author Links

Website: www.maryangelabooks.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/maryangelabooks

Twitter: @maryangelabooks

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15342425.Mary_Angela

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

Purchase Links – Amazon – B&N – Apple – Google Books – Kobo

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

Tour Participants:

April 5 – Elizabeth McKenna – Author – SPOTLIGHT

April 5 – Mysteries with Character – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

April 6 – I Read What You Write – SPOTLIGHT

April 6 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT

April 7 – Baroness Book Trove – SPOTLIGHT

April 7 – Ascroft, eh? – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

April 8 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT

April 8 – Reading, Writing & Stitch-Metic – SPOTLIGHT

April 9 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

April 9 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

April 10 – Books Blog – SPOTLIGHT

April 10 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

April 11 – fundinmental – SPOTLIGHT

April 11 – Lady Hawkeye – SPOTLIGHT

April 12 – The Mystery Section – SPOTLIGHT

April 12 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

April 12 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

April 13 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

April 13 – Rebecca M. Douglass, Author – REVIEW

April 14 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – SPOTLIGHT

April 14 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

April 15 – Nellie’s Book Nook – REVIEW

April 15 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog – SPOTLIGHT

April 16 – This Is My Truth Now – REVIEW

April 16 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT

April 17 – Author Elena Taylor’s Blog – REVIEW

April 17 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

April 18 – BookishKelly2020 – SPOTLIGHT  

April 18 – Diane Reviews Books – REVIEW Great Escapes Book Tours

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

©2022 V Williams V Williams

The Promise of the Pelican by Roy Hoffman – #BookReview – #TuesdayBookBlog

The Promise of the Pelican by Roy Hoffman

Book Blurb:

The Promise of the Pelican by Roy HoffmanAt once a literary crime novel and an intergenerational family drama, The Promise of the Pelican is set in the multicultural South, where justice might depend on the color of your skin and your immigration status. Hank Weinberg is a modern day Atticus Finch, recently retired as a defense attorney in Mobile, Alabama, and a Holocaust survivor, who fled the Nazis as a young child. With his daughter in rehab, he’s now taking care of his special needs grandson. Mourning his dead wife, spending mornings fishing on the pier with other octogenarians, he passes the rest of his days watching over his sweet grandson with the help of Lupita, a young Honduran babysitter. When her brother Julio, an undocumented immigrant, is accused of murder, Hank must return to the courtroom to defend him while also trying to save his daughter and grandson’s life from spinning out of control. The Promise of the Pelican takes its title from the legend that a pelican will pierce its own breast for blood to feed its starving chicks, a metaphor for one old man who risks all to save the vulnerable.

In a crisp prose style Harper Lee called “lean and clean,” Hoffman writes from an enormous well of compassion. He fills his new novel with a cast of finely drawn characters of all ages and abilities facing life’s harshest challenges and rising to meet them with dignity.

For fans of Harper Lee and Rita Mae Brown, Roy Hoffman’s new novel is steeped in a sense of place–coastal Alabama–with its rich tapestry of characters caught in a web of justice not for all.

His Review:

The Promise of the Pelican by  Roy HoffmanLife is a series of conflicts for most individuals. Struggling against drug use is a rabbit hole difficult to get extricated from. Helping someone who has been stabbed can be a very dangerous undertaking. These are but a few of the trials these main characters face. Society and especially law enforcement espouse innocent until proven guilty. However, it is hard to prove innocence from inside a prison cell.

Escaping alcoholism is also very trying and at times a seemingly impossible endeavor. Family will be supportive for awhile but finally even the ones who love you abandon the quest to get you healed. This book explores some of these afflictions with painful clarity! Children are often caught in the middle, with grandparents or other family members taking up the mantle of guardianship.

CE WilliamsThe author helped me to realize that my own childhood was a cakewalk compared to some of the trials faced by others. Drug use is particularly egregious and there must be a way that society can educate the young to avoid this calamity at all costs. The problem is that some of the richest get their fortunes from this very malady. They are the ones that should face legal action and prison. Regrettably, they can afford the dealers and lawyers to keep their hands clean. I found myself trying to figure out the cure for this national affliction. Read and see if you agree. 4.5 stars – CE Williams

Rosepoint Publishing: Four point Five Stars 4 1/2 stars

Book Details:

Genre: Jewish Literature, Southern United States Fiction, Southern Fiction
Publisher: Arcade Crimewise
ISBN-10: ‎ 1950994341
ISBN-13: ‎ 978-1950994342
ASIN: B09MV544WS
Print Length: 297 pages
Publication Date: March 15, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Promise of the Pelican [Amazon] 
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Roy Hoffman - authorThe Author: Roy Hoffman is author of the novels, “The Promise of the Pelican,” (2022), a literary crime novel of social justice in the Deep South, “Come Landfall,” a story of hurricanes and war, “Chicken Dreaming Corn,” endorsed by Harper Lee, about Romanian Jewish immigrants to the Deep South, and “Almost Family,” in a 35th Anniversary Edition, about a Black family and a Jewish family in Alabama. He’s author of two nonfiction books: “Back Home,” and “Alabama Afternoons.” A native of Mobile, Ala., Roy worked as a writer in New York for 20 years before returning south. He’s written for the New York Times, Wall St. Journal and Washington Post, covered features for the Mobile newspaper, and received the Lillian Smith Award in fiction and Clarence Cason Award in nonfiction. A graduate of Tulane, he teaches fiction and nonfiction in Spalding University’s Naslund-Mann Graduate School of Writing. http://www.royhoffmanwriter.com, @roybhoffman, http://www.facebook.com/royhoffmanwriter

©2022 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

#TuesdayBookBlog

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek: A Novel by Kim Michele Richardson – A #BookReview #historicalfiction

A book club of the month selection. But do I agree with their assessment?

Do I agree with the Book Club?

Book Blurb:

The New York Times and USA Today bestseller!

“…a hauntingly atmospheric love letter to the first mobile library in Kentucky and the fierce, brave packhorse librarians who wove their way from shack to shack dispensing literacy, hope, and — just as importantly — a compassionate human connection.”—Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants

The hardscrabble folks of Troublesome Creek have to scrap for everything—everything except books, that is. Thanks to Roosevelt’s Kentucky Pack Horse Library Project, Troublesome’s got its very own traveling librarian, Cussy Mary Carter.

Cussy’s not only a book woman, however, she’s also the last of her kind, her skin a shade of blue unlike most anyone else. Not everyone is keen on Cussy’s family or the Library Project, and a Blue is often blamed for any whiff of trouble. If Cussy wants to bring the joy of books to the hill folks, she’s going to have to confront prejudice as old as the Appalachias and suspicion as deep as the holler.

Inspired by the true blue-skinned people of Kentucky and the brave and dedicated Kentucky Pack Horse library service of the 1930s, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a story of raw courage, fierce strength, and one woman’s belief that books can carry us anywhere—even back home.

My Review:

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

In an effort to find a local book club that I could actually attend (preferably during daylight hours), I went back to the one that sets out a book of the month that everyone would read and then hold a discussion. The February read was The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson, released May of last year. The popular book club has met for twenty years.

This was a doozy of a book for my introduction to a live book group. I love it when I learn new things, and this a story in my own country and a state I know little about, except for riding through a portion of it in 2004. Add to boot, a historical fiction–and you know I love those–about the WPA project endorsed by Roosevelt during the depression. The Pack Horse Library Project delivered books to families in the remote areas of the Appalachians between 1935 and 1943, mostly by women. It was isolating and dangerous.

Closed off, desperately poor, with little hope for better times, the families welcomed even the normally shunned blue-skinned Pack House Librarian receiving books, magazines, and old newspapers that had been donated and brought to a central location there to be redistributed among those on her routes, sometimes covering as much as twenty miles. Cussy lived with her father, a miner, with black lung disease. There were many times, failing a family member who could read, she stayed to read to them.

A strongly patriarchal society, her father didn’t like her working, but beginning to fail himself and both of them starving, grudgingly allowed her the job. The book in first person tells the story of herself as well as those on her routes, desperate for any news and help. Those who could, contributed recipes or patterns, items that were added to scrapbooks divided into areas of interest–gardening, maintenance, quilting, etc. Mountain, home-grown remedies. These were extremely remote areas and winter only added to the burden.

So many issues in this book besides prejudice, illiteracy, backwoods justice, starvation, abuse, folklore, and illness. It’s a different culture steeped in tradition. The vernacular puts you on the mule behind Cussy as she winds through narrow canyon trails and heavily wooded landscapes to visit her patrons. There are politics and societal issues and the author deals with many of these through the experience of her own harsh childhood. Her prose strikes more than one cord, “…wailing for Henry and all the Henrys in these dark hollows who’d never be a common grown-up. Stuck forever as Peter Pans.”

“You tell a horse and ask a donkey.”

The conclusion comes rather abruptly after suffering some heartbreaking and brutal scenes, failing to explain a few threads, things I didn’t understand and would have loved an explanation. Extremely well researched, there are scenes drawn in a raw and descriptive manner and I can heartily recommend this unique, compelling novel.

There appears to be an interesting schedule on tap at this location into July and I will be returning in March to share Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan. If you’ve read that, I’d love a heads up on your view. In the meantime, I found another group just starting this month in my area, also an afternoon meeting and I’m currently reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Bet you haven’t read that one either! What have I gotten myself into? I’ll be reviewing that book on Thursday, February 27.

Book Details:

Genre: Southern Fiction, Small Town and Rural Fiction, US Historical Fiction
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
ISBN: 1492671525
ASIN: B07LGD67ZZ
Print Length: 322 pages
Publication Date: May 7, 2019
Source: Third Monday Book Club, Crown Point IN
Title Link: The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
 
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Book Club Rating-Rosepoint Rating

Kim Michele Richardson - authorThe Author: Kim Michele Richardson lives in Kentucky and resides part-time in Western North Carolina. She has volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, building houses, and is an advocate for the prevention of child abuse and domestic violence, partnering with the U.S. Navy globally to bring awareness and education to the prevention of domestic violence. She is the author of the bestselling memoir The Unbreakable Child, and a book critic for the New York Journal of Books. Her novels include, Liar’s Bench, GodPretty in the Tobacco Field and The Sisters of Glass Ferry. Kim Michele currently finished her fourth novel, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek about the fierce and brave Kentucky Packhorse librarians. Coming Spring, 2019.

You can visit her websites and learn more at: http://www.kimmichelerichardson.com

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Photo attributions: Picture backgrounds and open book Canva.com
Book Trailer: YouTube

Black and Blue by David Rosenfelt (Author) Fred Berman (Narrator) – An #Audiobook Review #crimethriller

As promised, Book 3 in the Doug Brock Thriller series. (Hope you didn’t miss my review for number two: Fade to Black!)

Black and Blue by David Rosenfelt

Book Blurb:

Doug Brock hasn’t had it easy since his getting shot in the line of duty as a New Jersey state police officer. Between the amnesia and having to solve two murder cases, it hasn’t been the most restful recovery. 

Now, the cold-case department is checking evidence from a murder case Doug was investigating before the accident, but the DNA points to a man Doug eliminated as a suspect…and he remembers none of it. 

Doug begins to reinvestigate what turns out to be a series of unsolved killings and must retrace his steps to discover why he would have let the suspect go free. What he uncovers may be more dangerous than any case he’s faced yet. 

With Black and Blue, nationally best-selling author David Rosenfelt continues his thrilling new series featuring Doug Brock.

My Review:

As mentioned at my review of Book 2, Fade to Black, here is  #3 of the Doug Brock series, my sampling of a David Rosenfelt series outside of the Andy Carpenter series (which I totally fell in love with and you’ll get many more of those reviews). Doug Brock, a New Jersey state police lieutenant who was shot in the line of duty has returned to work, albeit missing ten years of his memory. He has gotten back together with his former fiancé, Jessie.

Black and Blue by David RosenfeltThis series is more serious in nature and, as I noted before, there were times I didn’t really care for protagonist Brock, although his fiancé, Jessie, is interesting, intelligent, tolerant, and patient. She owns a mountain of a dog named BoBo. Doug and BoBo have a kind of détente. He also is back with partner Nate Alvarez (a mountain of a man), and he and Nate seem to work effectively together, trading barbs from time to time.

Being a serious fan of Andy Carpenter, it was fun that he was incorporated into this storyline (although I wasn’t so thrilled with the person who did the narration for Andy–just not the same beloved voice).

Currently, Doug and Nate are working on a cold case. A dead body, shot through the heart by a high powered rifle. Not the first time this happened since there were more than one and ballistics confirm with the same gun. He was involved with the old case, although with his current condition cannot remember the details and has to go through the files. This isn’t the only problem they’ll have now though as Doug suspicions he may have interviewed him before and let him go.

I really like the series, but let’s face it, I’ve been spoiled by Andy Carpenter. This protagonist is not wholly sympathetic, although I can certainly connect with the support characters and if you aren’t used to the machine-gun hyperbole and tongue-in-cheek humor of that series, would probably find this one quite satisfying–enough male guffawing, sarcastic barbs, back-slapping, and beer to grease the plotline. The well-plotted mystery presents twists, turns, and red herrings, but it’s the characters that keep you reading and David Rosenfelt is great at developing good chemistry in his characters.

The conclusion ties frayed ends together very neatly. This novel could function quite well as a standalone as there are sufficient references to history to fill in the blanks. In any case, I’ll be tuning in to Doug Brock 4. Also, as mentioned before, I was approved by NetGalley for The K Team, Book 1, of a new spinoff series from Andy Carpenter featuring most of my favorite characters. (If you haven’t grabbed that one yet, better hurry.)

I received this audiobook download from my local library audio selection with no expectation of a review. But, you know I’m going to do it anyway.

Book Details:

Genre: Police Procedural Mysteries, Crime Thriller, Serial Killer
Publisher:  Macmillan Audio, Minotaur Books 

  • ISBN-10:1250133149
  • ISBN-13:978-1250133144
  • ASIN: B07KRGLYZJ 

Print Length: 304 pages
Listening Length: 6 hrs 22 mins
Narrator: Fred Berman
Publication Date: March 26, 2019
Source: Local (Audiobook Selections) Library
Title Link: Black and Blue
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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point five of Five Stars 4.5-stars

David Rosenfelt - authorThe Author: [David Rosenfelt-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.

Fred Berman - authorThe Narrator: [Fred Berman-Goodreads author page] Age & Hometown: 39 (“but in meerkat years, that’s 25!”); Manhasset, Long Island

Current Role: Entertaining Broadway audiences as the hysterical meerkat Timon in Disney’s long-running hit The Lion King.

A Familiar Voice: An accomplished voiceover actor on more than 50 audiobooks, Berman says the key is not to impersonate or put on voices. “I cast the book in my mind,” he explains. “I say, ‘Who is this person?’ So, in my head, Judi Dench is playing this role. I don’t want to do an impersonation of Judi Dench, but I am channeling her in that moment. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.” Berman’s audio work ranges from children’s books to what he calls “fantasy romance novels”—and sometimes both in the same day. “One time, I went from the most ridiculously depressing book, The Painted Bird, about a kid wandering through the forests of Poland after World War II, to a romance book where I voiced the sexiest Greek man alive who always wears leather pants and no shirt in softcore porn scenes.”

The Dangers of Timon: Berman was initially cautious about taking his Lion King gig. “I have never gone into a long-running show, and I knew I couldn’t do [Nathan Lane, who created the role onscreen]. I wasn’t sure how much of it was going to be ‘This is a machine and you need to do it this way.’” Berman’s doubts subsided when he was given freedom to interpret the role his own way—though he still has one fear. “I tend to gravitate toward blue humor, so I always get nervous when I have to improvise,” he says. “Having kids [he has two] makes you check yourself more.” Instead, he says his mantra is, “Play the positive; play the love!”

Let’s Rock!: Though acting pays the bills, Berman’s true passion is music. The son of a bandleader, he began playing piano at age five and discovered the drums, which would become his main instrument, in fifth grade. “Until I got into The Lion King, I was playing in bands my whole life,” he says. His musical influences range from fellow Long Island native Billy Joel to Led Zeppelin. “I have a tattoo of [late Led Zeppelin drummer] John Bonham’s symbol on my left arm!” When pressed to choose between acting and music, Berman responds, “I love them both, but I have to be honest: There is nothing in the world like playing drums in a rock-and-roll band at a live concert. That’s what I thought.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

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