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

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

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Book Details

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

Book Blurb 

Ireland 1846 

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

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

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

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

His Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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Giveaway

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

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

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

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

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

Author Links

Webpage:  https://eileenofinlan.com/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tour Participants:

May 21 – My Devotional Thoughts – REVIEW

May 22 – Baroness’ Book Trove – SPOTLIGHT

May 23 – eBook Addicts – SPOTLIGHT

May 24 – Literary Gold – EXCERPT

May 25 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

May 26 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

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

May 27 – Jane Reads – GUEST POST

May 28 – Gimme The Scoop Reviews – EXCERPT

May 29 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT

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

May 30 – StoreyBook Reviews – CHARACTER GUEST POST

May 30 – fundinmental – SPOTLIGHT Great Escapes Book Tours

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

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

An Unequal Defense – David Adams Book 2 by Chad Zunker

“The single greatest cause of homelessness is a profound, catastrophic loss of family.”

 Book Blurb:

An Unequal Defense by Chad ZunkerA client with delusions of a deadly conspiracy draws attorney David Adams into a darkness where only the paranoid know how to get out alive.

Former up-and-coming hotshot attorney David Adams left his glamorous corporate law firm to fight for the disenfranchised. With a caseload of petty offenses, a meager office in a crumbling building, and little in the way of compensation, David needs a real case.

When he agrees to represent Rebel, David recognizes this will be the biggest challenge of his young legal career. The mentally unstable homeless man has been accused of murder, and the evidence of his guilt seems overwhelming. But it’s the victim who shakes David’s world: a county prosecutor who just happens to be an old law school friend. Rebel’s murky defense: a paranoid insistence on a CIA plot to silence the derelict.

Aided only by a “legal team” of misfit street friends and a fellow counselor lured into this dark web, David will risk everything to defend his client…who may not be nearly as crazy as he seems.

My Review:

The second book in the series and the first I’ve read of this author. David Adams is a great protagonist, almost immediately empathetic. Up to a year ago, the fledgling attorney was a rising star in an aggressive legal firm strongly focused on billable hours and the almighty buck.

An Unequal Defense by Chad ZunkerBut something happened and he and a partner Thomas Gray (his mentor) left to start their own office, one that would take on cases of the disenfranchised–hoping to make a difference to the community. While his partner seems to be doing pretty well, most of David’s cases have successfully closed with him being owed the legal fees. Thomas is getting nervous.

He’s even more nervous when one of David’s friends, an assistant DA, is shot to death in an alley and he’s asked to defend Rebel, the homeless man in custody. It looks like an open and shut case with the homeless man maintaining he didn’t do it, while blathering about the CIA.

David doesn’t get too far with Rebel his first few meetings with him obviously off his meds, but something just seems even more “off” when he’s confronted with a possible witness who quickly fades into the background. Okay, now he has to know what is going on.

I do enjoy a good legal thriller, though this didn’t seem to involve a lot of legal maneuvering in or out of court more than it did investigation. In the meantime, Rebel is attacked in jail and survives but in the hospital, David trying to get any info out of Rebel sends him further over the top. (DAMN! Where are his meds?!)

The well-paced mystery, thriller is a fairly simple read. While the plot might be complex, there are red herrings sufficient to drive interest and gradually expands from unreliable witness to political conspiracy. But wait! How far up the chain does it go? Who can you trust? The author introduces great support characters, including Dana Mitchem and Kate at the appropriate point in time, and while plunking in possible new dodgy motives, adds tension to the ever-widening plot. Dana is…what…a romantic interest? But more than that–feeding him just a tad of insider information. I don’t know if Dana was involved in Book 1, but feel she’ll absolutely be around for Book 3. (Awkward…) There might have been greater fleshing of Dana in the first, as well as Thomas and Doc, but I missed it here.

Easy to follow, short chapters, genuine dialogue, interchange between David and his partner exhibiting an easy familiarity. David comes off as sincere, you’ll root for him as well as Rebel. There is a surprise in the conclusion that left the reader with a knowing chuckle that provided a fast read with a pleasant ending.

I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Fun, fast-paced legal, espionage thriller that’ll interest you in proceeding to Book 3. An Unequal Defense is out now. The timing is perfect.

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Book Details:

Genre: Legal Thrillers, Espionage Thrillers
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
ASIN: B07S7Q1ZGC
Print Length: 247 pages
Publication Date: May 19, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: An Unequal Defense (Amazon)

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4-stars

Chad Zunker - authorThe Author: CHAD ZUNKER is the author of the David Adams legal thriller, An Equal Justice, as well as The Tracker, Shadow Shepherd, and Hunt the Lion in his Sam Callahan series. Chad has worked for some of the country’s most powerful law firms and serves at Community First! Village, a 51-acre master-planned community that provides affordable, permanent housing and a supportive community for men and women coming out of chronic homelessness. He lives in Austin with his wife, Katie, and their three daughters, and is hard at work on his next novel. For more information visit http://www.chadzunker.com.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

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

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars Five Stars 

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

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

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

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

His Review:

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Thrillers, Kidnapping Thrillers
Publisher: Nailhead Publishing
ASIN: B07T1PGV1G
Print Length: 378 pages
Publication Date: July 5, 2019
Source: Publisher and BookBub
Title Link: Bones of the Innocent [Amazon]
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John A Connell - authorThe Author: John A. Connell is a 2016 Barry Award nominee and the author of the Mason Collins series. He was born in Atlanta then grew up in Ohio, New York and Virginia before ending up in Atlanta again at the age of 13. He has a BA in Anthropology, and has been a jazz pianist, a stock boy in a brassiere factory, a machinist, repairer of newspaper racks, and a printing-press operator. He then moved to Los Angeles to work as a motion picture camera operator for film and TV, where he worked on films like Jurassic Park and Thelma and Louise, and on TV shows, including NYPD Blue and The Practice. John and his wife spend their time between the U.S. and France.
He is a member of the International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America.
John loves to hear from readers, so please feel free to contact him at john@johnaconnell.com

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Yes Please by Amy Poehler – An #Audiobook Review

GRAMMY NOMINEEAudie Award, Humor, 2015

Book Blurb:

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Amy Poehler is hosting a dinner party and you’re invited! Welcome to the audiobook edition of Amy Poehler’s Yes Please. The guest list is star-studded with vocal appearances from Carol Burnett, Seth Meyers, Michael Schur, Patrick Stewart, Kathleen Turner, and even Amy’s parents – Yes Please is the ultimate audiobook extravaganza. 

Also included? A one-night-only live performance at Poehler’s Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. Hear Amy read a chapter live in front of a young and attractive Los Angeles audience. 

While listening to Yes Please, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll become convinced that your phone is trying to kill you. Don’t miss this collection of stories, thoughts, ideas, lists, and haikus from the mind of one of our most beloved entertainers. Offering Amy’s thoughts on everything from her “too safe” childhood outside of Boston to her early days in New York City, her ideas about Hollywood and “the biz”, the demon that looks back at all of us in the mirror, and her joy at being told she has a “face for wigs” – Yes Please is chock-full of words, and wisdom, to live by. 

 My Review:

 I guess I can’t think about Amy Poehler without also including Tina Fey, and of course, Tina also wrote a memoir that I am currently listening to and will review next week. I’m not sure what I was expecting when I downloaded this audiobook from my local library. Amy’s book is biting, full of essays, name-dropping, and repeated comments regarding how difficult it is to write a book. That becomes imminently obvious, as she struggled mightily with it.

Yes Please by Amy PoehlerAnd I’m sorry (or maybe not), but I didn’t find it particularly funny. Okay, a comedienne, but this is not a book about comedy. I’m not wholly sure it can be called a memoir either as it skips over parts many people would be interested in, saying, “I also don’t like people knowing my s**t.” Then yah got me stumped. So, then, what is it? Perhaps more of an appreciation card–a thank you to all who helped get her there?

Of course, I’m most interested in her years on SNL–thinking back to some of the hey-dey years of SNL–when they were a little more topical and a little less fart jokes. I never really got into Parks and Recreation, and her description of it sounds like it didn’t garner a lot of awards.

She does mention realizing at an early age that this was what she wanted to do and focused on moving toward that goal, getting into the improv groups, dodging rats in New York and drugs and booze in Chicago, though she expands in further detail drug usage in a later chapter.

Motherhood, definitely waxes poetic, having started her family in her thirties after having enormous amounts of fun playing the single scene and the improv scene through her twenties. In fact, she was pregnant in segments on SNL. I did enjoy some of the anecdotes from her time there, particularly with Tina Fey, but also as she goes into depth about her friendship with Seth Meyers.

In fact, she spends quite a bit of time expounding on various of the characters with whom she played for years. The problem I had was in the lack of cohesiveness. (It was all over the place.) The book doesn’t appear to have been laid out in any one direction. She’ll bounce from kindergarten to SNL and back again to kindergarten and her parents. In fact, they have a segment.

Alternately profane and compassionate, she climbs more than one soapbox to express her concerns for people, how to attain satisfaction in your own life. She teaches kindness. Reads letters that she felt were pivotal points in her treatment of people. Still, she remains closed off, impenetrable. All I really know at this point is that she worked hard at her craft and paid her dues and I think that’s the story of any who finally made it to the top.

I received this audiobook from my local well-stocked library audiobook section and appreciated the opportunity to give a listen. Next week–Tina Fey’s memoir, biography, Bossy Pants. Stay tuned.

 Book Details:

Genre: Biographies of Women, Humor Essays, Biographies of Celebrities & Entertainment Professionals
Publisher: Harper Audio
ASIN: B00MP22QRQ
Print Length:
Listening Length: 7 hrs 31 mins
Narrator: Amy Poehler, Carol Burnett, Seth Meyers, Mike Schur, Eileen Poehler, William Poehler, Patrick Stewart, Kathleen Turner
Publication Date: October 28, 2014
Source: Local (Audiobook Selections) Library
Title Link: Amazon Audible   |   Amazon Paperback   |   Amazon Kindle
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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4-stars

Amy Poehler - author, actress, comedienneThe Author: [from Goodreads]] Amy Meredith Poehler is an American actress, comedian, voice artist, producer and writer. Raised in Burlington, Massachusetts, she graduated from Boston College in 1993 and moved to Chicago, Illinois, to study improv at The Second City and ImprovOlympic. In 1996, she moved to New York City after becoming part of the improvisational comedy troupe Upright Citizens Brigade, which later developed into an eponymous television show that aired on Comedy Central for three seasons. Poehler was also one of the founding members of the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in 1999.

Poehler was a cast member on the NBC television show Saturday Night Live from 2001 to 2008. In 2004, she became the co-anchor of the Weekend Update sketch along with her friend and colleague Tina Fey. Poehler’s work on SNL earned her two Primetime Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. She is known for voicing Bessie Higgenbottom in the 2008–2011 Nickelodeon series, The Mighty B! and Eleanor Miller in the Alvin and the Chipmunks CGI films. Since 2009, she has starred as Leslie Knope in the sitcom Parks and Recreation, and received the 2014 Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Television Musical or Comedy Series. She is also an eight-time Emmy Award nominee.

Poehler is currently starring in the new Swedish-American sitcom Welcome to Sweden along with her brother Greg Poehler.

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

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

Book Blurb:

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

“My eyes narrowed to reptilian slits.”

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

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

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

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

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

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble

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

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

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Curse of the Ninth by Ruthie Marlenée – a #BookReview

“Oranges for health, California for Wealth”

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

My Review:

Uh, okay…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Add to Goodreads

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

Amazon   |   Barnes and Noble

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

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

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

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

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

Rosepoint Publishing: Five of Five Stars Five Stars

A Vicarious Blogger review of a military thriller

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

His Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

Add to Goodreads 

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

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams

V Williams

Photo attribution Cobra by Public Domain Pictures.net

Celebrity Book Clubs – Will One of These (Five) Spark Your Interest?

celebrity book clubs

Book Clubs! In particular, virtual book clubs are gaining in popularity thanks to pioneers of the idea such as Oprah Winfrey who made it smart to read again. Coupled with today’s technology and social media, it’s easy to get a line on your next favorite read. With so many influencers out there, where do you go for suggestions or inspiration? What’s trending?

Oprah Winfrey

May pick – Hidden Valley Road

Hidden Valley Road by Robert KolkerOprah’s Book Club is currently reading Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker. This is the true story of a midcentury American family whose six children out of twelve were diagnosed with schizophrenia leading to in-depth DNA genetic research.

The undisputed original celebrity book club that dominated the idea started when Oprah Winfrey began showcasing her book of the month on her wildly successful Oprah Winfrey Show in 1996. Certainly ahead of her time, Oprah selected more than 70 books before officially naming it in 2012. She introduced the book and then featured an interview with the author, boosting sales and the writing career of many authors. Follow Oprah’s club picks at her Instagram account.
Photo – John Phillips / Getty Images file

Reese Witherspoon

May pick – The Henna Artist

The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi

The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi is a vivid story, “rich and complex.” Read about Lakshmi’s journey from an abusive marriage to popular henna artist in Jaipur.

Rapidly pushing the growing popularity of celebrity book clubs is Reese Witherspoon who started her book club in October of 2015. Reese tends to pick a book with a woman “at the center of the story.” Her book club is active, lively, and begs conversation and participation. She hit social media across Twitter and Instagram, as well as her website, Hello-Sunshine, and has been racking up the fans and followers. I followed.

Emma Roberts

May pick – The Book of V

The Book of V by Anna Solomon

The Book of V by Anna Solomon is also a Good Morning America Book Club pick. (From the Amazon blurb)In Anna Solomon’s The Book of V., three characters’ riveting stories overlap and ultimately collide, illuminating how women’s lives have and have not changed over thousands of years.”

Actress Emma Roberts and her friend Karah Preisss started their book club they called Belletrist. Their book choices are generally written by women and include both fiction and nonfiction choices. They also share photos, videos and interviews with authors. Find Emma Roberts on Instagram.
Photo attribution – Today

Jenna Bush Hager

May pick – All Adults Here 

All Adults Here by Emma Straub

All Adults Here by Emma Straub is also a Today Show #ReadWithJenna Book Club pick. (From the Amazon Blurb) “Emma Straub’s unique alchemy of wisdom, humor, and insight come together in a deeply satisfying story about adult siblings, aging parents, high school boyfriends, middle school mean girls, the lifelong effects of birth order, and all the other things that follow us into adulthood, whether we like them to or not.”

Not an early riser, the Today show is not one I watch. However, the article from NBC.Com notes that Ms. Hager posts videos explaining the book and her reasons for choosing each book of the month. She also posts inspirational quotes from the authors. Catch personable Jenna on Instagram and Twitter. I found this one online at my library. Both ebooks and audiobooks have holds. I’ll take whichever one comes first.
Photo – NBC NewsWire / NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

⇒⇒⇓

Andrew Luck - retired Colts quarter-backAndrew Luck

May picks:

Buford The Little Bighorn by Bill PeetRookie pick – Buford The Little Big Horn by Bill Peet

Buford’s giant horns cause him all sorts of problems and even force him to leave his mountainside home, but eventually they make him a hero on the ski slopes.

Veterans pick – The Last Palace: Europe‘s Turbulent Century in Five Lives and One Legendary House by Norman Eisen (Historical non-fiction) The Last Palace by Norman Eisen

A sweeping yet intimate narrative about the last hundred years of turbulent European history, as seen through one of Mitteleuropa’s greatest houses—and the lives of its occupants.

There are men who host book clubs as well, not all are women, and one is a retired football player.

You might have suspected this is also something I don’t watch. Even so, you might know the name of Andrew Luck, “NFL’s unofficial librarian.” The idea came about after an interview in February 2015. Hosts Roger Bennett and Michael Davies “brought up the idea of the Andrew Luck Book Club.” The Wall Street Journal picked it up and soon his mother noticed the hashtag #ALBookClub. He recommends two books for his team of readers, one for the younger crowd (Rookies) and the other for experienced readers (Veterans). Find Andrew Luck at Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter
Photo attribute: Wikipedia

Fan Girl of a Celebrity? Following a book club I didn’t find?

Of course, the October 23, 2019 article from which much of this information was gleaned also cited a couple other celebrities which, when I tried to follow the link, either said was inactive or that someone else had taken the helm (Sarah Jessica Parker). I can imagine it would not be easy to continue a book club and have a high-powered career at the same time since I’m retired and find the blog consumes much of my waking hours and won’t be walking any red carpets soon. Also, while several of the above have attractive, interactive sites, they have thousands following them and in turn have followed back less than one-half of one percent. Still, it might be fun…

Has this interested you in checking out their May picks? Following? Will you read one of the above recommended books? I liked the looks (and synopsis) of All Adults Here by Emma Straub. Let me know which one you choose!

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Additional info or photo attributes: Eonline.com news

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

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint Publishing: Four of Five Stars 4-stars

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

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

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

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

Book Blurb:

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

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

His Review:

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

Add to Goodreads

 Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4-stars

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

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

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

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

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owen – An #Audiobook Review No. 1 BestSeller

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars Five Stars

Audiobook - Where the Crawdads Sing

 Book Blurb:

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life – until the unthinkable happens.

Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

My Review:

Admittedly, this may be a book you’ll struggle with or wholeheartedly love. I went on the WL side. The story of six-year-old Kya Clark, abandoned by her mother and shortly thereafter by her (much) older siblings is now living in a marsh shack with her despotic father. Kya has to pretty quickly learn to survive on her own near Barkley Cove, North Carolina.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia OwensThe novel is divided by her story that begins with her mother leaving in the early morning hours of 1952 and the discovery of a body in 1969 near the old tower. Kya saw her mother leave–she’d left before following violent outbursts by her father sporting bruises and split lips. He often went into violent rages–and could–with or without the alcohol or moonshine infusion. But she’d always come back–this time she doesn’t. They are living on her father’s disability and at her age, a girl, not like her older siblings taught her much.

The storytelling is so emotionally poignant, the prose flows through beautiful descriptions of the natural setting in the marsh. It’s so easy to smell the decaying vegetation, algae inhabited waterways, spy the marsh inhabitants, amphibians, birds, and insects. Feel and smell the salt air rush inland from the Atlantic as it waves the marsh grasses and reeds. I enjoyed the setting as much as the characters. And the characters are powerful.

The characters are brought vividly to life with the narration, alternately spoken by child or adult, literate or illiterate, as well as the Carolina drawl. More afraid of the occasional human than the critters of the marsh, she becomes adept at hiding and carefully keeps to herself, spying on the few who wander into their area. Once having learned to motor into town on their old marsh fishing boat, she begins to draw the attention of the cashier at the Piggly Wiggly, the African American family, Jumpin’ and Mabel, where she bought the gas, and soon the lady from school, where she was promised a meal–real food–once a day. The problem was the intolerance of the kids, their taunts, sneers, jeers, and humiliation. She never went back. Kya, scrambling to find food, eventually connects with a friend of her brother. Gradually, driven by loneliness, she begins to meet with him and he patiently teaches her to read.

The mystery of the man many years later found just outside of the little village soon becomes a statewide scandal. He’d been a high school football star, son of a well-to-do and well-established family. The “Golden Boy.” And local law enforcement begins to work on tying his murder to Kya, as they’d been spotted together and she an easy target. She is brought up on charges and there are heart-thumping courtroom scenes.

Self-educated, no one knows more about the natural world of the marshlands than Kya. She’s come to be known as the “Marsh Girl.” She’s smart, has gone on to publish books on the wildlife of the marsh. But could it possibly have been she to cause the death of Chase?

The conclusion resolves carefully allowing you long enough for your heart to settle back down when you are knocked off your feet by a shocking revelation you didn’t see coming. It’s a brilliant twist, the well-plotted and written narrative so engrossing, so achingly atmospheric, every sense poised that you are hanging on every word. It’s a serious exploration of not a male coming-of-age this time, but a female left on her own reconciling abandonment, loneliness, hunger, disappointment, and triumph. Completely immersive, so engaging it remains solidly planted long after the end resulting in a tremendous book hangover. I’m going to be awhile getting over this one.

I received this audiobook download from my local library Overdrive offerings. The narrator does an award-winning, stunning job. Heartily recommended now that I have my emotions in check.

Book Hangover

Book Details:

Genre: Romance, Literary Fiction, Women’s Fiction
Publisher:  Penguin Audio
ASIN: B07FSXPMHY
Print Length: 384 pages
Listening Length: 12 hrs 12 mins
Narrator: Cassandra Campbell
Publication Date: August 14, 2018
Source: Local (Audiobook Selections) Library
Title Link: Where the Crawdads Sing (Amazon)
Barnes and Noble
KoboAdd to Goodreads Rosepoint recommended

Delia Owens - authorThe Author: Delia Owens is the co-author of three internationally bestselling nonfiction books about her life as a wildlife scientist in AfricaCry of the Kalahari, The Eye of the Elephant, and Secrets of the Savanna. She has won the John Burroughs Award for Nature Writing and has been published in Nature, The African Journal of Ecology, and International Wildlife, among many others. She currently lives in Idaho, where she continues her support for the people and wildlife of Zambia. Where the Crawdads Sing is her first novel.

You can also connect with Delia on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/authordeliao

The Narrator: Cassandra Campbell is a prolific audiobook narrator with more than 700 titles to date. Winner of four Audie Awards and nominated for a dozen more, she was a 2018 inductee in Audible’s inaugural Narrator Hall of Fame.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

May #TBR – Audiobooks, Indie Authors, Blog Tours, and NetGalley

Is All This Sheltering-in-Place Getting to Me?

I may have gone a bit overboard on scheduling book reviews and failing to leave sufficient time to get my gardens growing. Many of these looked too good to pass up, however, and as always, a wide variety of genres; cozies, literary fiction, legal thrillers, military adventures. I already started the month off with a ghost story, Forgiveness Falls, if you missed it.

May NetGalley Books

(Goodreads links of the above:)

The Secret of Bones
An Unequal Defense
Streel
What You Don’t See
Sucker Punch
Departure (a CE review)
Killing Time

May audiobooks, author requests, and Blog Tours

AudiobooksOMG–have you heard or read about Where the Crawdad’s Sing? This audiobook is phenomenal–beyond gripping. Good thing for earbuds, I listened to it into the night. Absolutely amazing, a #mustread or better yet, the audiobook. The narrator plunks you in the middle of the marsh with Kya. My review tomorrow, Tuesday, May 5th. Audible review of Murder by Perfection by Lauren Carr for iRead Book Tours.

Author Requests:

Out of the Red and into the Black (a CE review)

Curse of the Ninth

Blog Tours:

Kelegeen (Great Escapes)

Killing Time (NetGalley-Great Escapes)

I have high hopes for this schedule. Have you read any of these? Does one of them grab you? Can you guess which one is being made into a movie?

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Forgiveness Falls by Kate James – a #BookReview

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Rosepoint April Reviews Recap–We’re All #InThisTogether–or Maybe Not

A Message of Solidarity–perhaps not for the most vulnerable.

Rosepoint Reviews - April Recap

An unprecedented start to a new decade will be one everyone will remember, now more than sixty thousand deaths in the US alone with one million-plus infected. People are pointing fingers, there are conspiracy theories, false news, and wacky remedies published daily. So many people to be thankful for besides the obvious medical personnel. Bless them for manning the registers at the grocery store and keeping our gas pumps pumping. I’m loving the new and creative ways people are finding alternatives (homemade masks–hopefully with proper filter materials), finding a remedy for shortages, and providing new ideas for keeping some modicum of commerce out there. My fear is that the get-it-now-society is becoming impatient and desperate when we still have some distance to go.

Stay Smart, Safe, Home

April may have heralded spring for the happy folks south, but not here. My impatience tends to push thoughts of gardening, again the flower bed, vegetable garden, and fairy garden. The latter is still a swamp. But early bulbs are bringing some cheerful color to the front yard. Hoping to get a start on the vegetable bed the first week of May with temps in the 50s.

Sixteen reviews this month–not all mine–I’m happy to say, the CE is continuing to provide his thoughts on genres I wouldn’t normally read. This month, I read cozy mysteries, a legal thriller, historical thrillers, a paranormal, and a police procedural. Then Dugoni’s latest, to be released in September. If I get a Robert Dugoni suspense thriller, it tends to land on top of the TBR stack. And this one certainly did not disappoint–may be his best yet!

The Missing Sister by Elle Mar
A Reasonable Doubt by Phillip Margolin
The Age of Witches by Louisa Morgan
A Blind Eye by Jane Gorman (a CE review–a political thriller)
In An Instant by Suzanne Redfearn
Mystery in the Bayou Boneyard by Ellen Byron
Privateers by Charlie Newton
This Magic Marmot by Sharon Pape
Watching Glass Shatter by James J Cudney (Audiobook)
Running Out of Road by Daniel Friedman
Black Velvet by Steven Henry
Final Judgment by Marcia Clark (shared review with the CE)
Winter Takes All by ML Erdahl (Audiobook)
Between the Cracks by Carmela Cattuti
The Dead Don’t Sleep by Steven Max Russo (a CE review-a military thriller)
The Last Agent by Robert Dugoni

I had a wide variety of digital offerings from author requests, NetGalley downloads, my local lending library, and two audiobooks. I just finished Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, narrated by Cassandra Campbell and published by Penguin Audio in 2018. Ms. Campbell is amazing! This was apparently A Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine Book Club Pick and a Number one New York Times Best-Selling Phenomenon. My review on May 5th. It is, indeed, phenomenal.

My challenges continue to fall behind. I’m getting sidetracked with other activities and I continue to play with graphics, learning something new every month both on my (VERY old) limited student edition of Photoshop as well as Canva. While I appreciate the basic (free) range of Canva (the background in the above CoVid19 pic is from Canva.com), there are times when it’s too simple and I finish it up on Photoshop. In any case, I’m always working on the Reading Challenges page, if you’re joyfully tracking my progress.

I seem to be getting into the habit of scheduling on the fly and started penciling books in so that if need be, can be moved around. Generally, I go by publishing or release date, trying to conform to publisher’s requests regarding public reviews more than 30 days in advance of release. Do you schedule according to those approval preferences? I’m still tweaking May, let alone June but I see many NG books are now being offered with release dates in 2021. That’s some serious lead time and I’m not sure how to handle those.

I previously noted the propensity for seeing the same protagonist’s (or main support character’s) name in successive books. This month I had two with the name of “Mo.” I’d have never bet on THAT one! Something else I’ve run up against time and again is the lack of true “trigger warnings” in book blurbs. I want to know about language, gratuitous sex (or otherwise), and graphic violence. I don’t want to “see” it if it turns my stomach. Anyone else have a problem with inadequately described blurbs?

Welcome to those who joined me in April and thank you to my established followers as always. I appreciate your continued support and may you stay safe wherever you are!

©2020 V Williams V Williams

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

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars Five Stars

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

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Hangover

His thoughts:

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

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

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

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

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

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

His Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars Five Stars

Book Details:

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

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

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

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

Between the Cracks Book Tour

Book Details

One woman’s journey from Sicily to America

Historical Fiction

Publisher: HenschelHAUS Publishing

Book Blurb

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

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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Giveaway

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

About the Author

Carmela Cattuti - author

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

Author Links

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

Facebook: www.facebook.com/carmelacattuticreative

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ccattuti

Instagram: www.instagram.com/carmelacattuticreative

Purchase Links

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

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

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

Tour Participants:

April 10 – RABT Book Tours – Kick Off

April 10 – Nana’s Book Reviews – Spotlight

April 11 – Salt and Novels – Excerpt

April 13 – Mythical Books – Guest Post

April 14 – Tea Time and Books – Spotlight

April 15 – Java John Z’s – Excerpt

April 16 – The Sexy Nerd Revue – Spotlight

April 16 – The Avid Reader – Interview

April 17 – Nesie’s Place – Spotlight

April 18 – Sylv.net – Spotlight

April 20 – Historical Graffiti – Guest Post

April 21 – Texas Book Nook – Review

April 22 – Novel News Network – Review

April 23 – Ravenous Reader – Spotlight

April 24 – Rose Point Publishing – Review

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

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Winter Takes All: A Seattle Wilderness Mystery Book 1 by ML Erdahl – An #Audiobook Review

Winter Takes All by ML Erdahl

Book Blurb:

Crystal Rainey is aghast when she realizes her New Year’s resolutions haven’t changed one whit from the previous year. Wanting to escape a future as dreary as a Pacific Northwest winter, she walks out on her dead-end office job, despite her tenuous savings account.

Stumbling across a job opening posted by a wilderness guide outfit, an intrigued Crystal bluffs her way into the position. With her handsome fellow guide, the stalwart Conner Oakes, she leads a corporate retreat on a snowshoe hike to a majestic alpine chalet.

But when the company’s detestable owner turns up dead in the snow, she fears her new life and budding romance slipping away. She finally has something worth fighting for and is determined to solve the murder and grab her chance at happiness before it’s too late.

 My Review:

2020 Winter Games Reader's Choice AwardsThis one throws the cuteness arrow right off the high side of the scale. First, the premise that Crystal Rainey could cut out on her dead-end office job (oh groan–so been there/done that–but never had the guts to do more) and answer an ad for a wilderness guide. In the Great Northwet?? Are you kidding me? (Do you really want to die?) Bears–okay–so they are hibernating in the winter. But the cold? Bone-chilling, popsicle-fingers, breath-freezing air temps…gulp. Yeah, you have to dress for it and if done right, would be impossible to tell if you’re male or female. No problem! She can certainly tell Conner Oaks just by the confident way he handles that white stuff. (Snow, people.)

Winter Takes All by ML ErdahlThank heaven Conner knows what he is doing and is quick to see a green-horn when he sees one, but hey, she has potential in her earnestness and willingness to succeed and she’s adorable. But on the first outing, this corporate retreat snowshoe hike to an alpine chalet might present more than one challenge. What about the owner’s death? True, he was a creep of the first order. Still, his body is out there, frozen. And not an accident. She must solve the murder before this whole dream becomes a nightmare. Go back to that job? 9-5? Oh hell no!

The thing about cozy mysteries, however, is that there is so much plausible deniability you’ve come to expect. Swallow your disbelief that a clerical city employee could bluff her way through the interview, and having been hired by a head-hunter frantically trying to fill a vacancy, would prepare her physically for hiking in sub-zero temps loaded with heavy clothing. Or handling snowshoes. Comely Connor is too free to be and too quickly steps up as romantic interest–how was he not married with six kids already? And that the cops’ lack of serious interest in a remote area murder would have allowed an amateur sleuth to interrogate interview suspects or have the wherewithal to research corporate employees is a bit of a stretch.

N.N. Light Book Award WinnerCrystal is an engaging character with whom it’s easy to follow in her innate fresh naiveté that she has turned into a bulldog. Connor is just who he represents himself to be. Let’s see where these two go in Book 2, which I have on good authority will happen. In the meantime, if you are looking for a cozy with a whole different backdrop, winter mountain activities and engaging characters, Erdahl has captured that with an entertaining book you’ll keep reading just for the sweet factor alone. And it’s a fun and fast mystery.

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Mysteries
Publisher: ML Erdahl
ASIN: B07ZZLNP72
 Print Length: 274 pages
Listening Length: 7 hrs 31 mins.
Narrator: Amy Langdon
Publication Date: November 5, 2019
Source: Free offer direct from the author (Thank you!)
Title Link: Winter Takes All

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4-stars

ML Erdahl - authorThe Author: Award-winning author ML Erdahl lives amidst the trees of the Pacific Northwest, where he pens humorous cozy mystery novels set in the wilderness he has spent his lifetime exploring. The only thing slowing him down is when his adorable rescue dogs, Skip and Daisy, demand to be petted and cuddled on his lap while he types. When he’s not wandering the mountains, you can find him gardening, reading, or searching for the best coffee in Seattle with his wife, Emily. Follow the author on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

The Narrator: Amy Langdon

©2020 V Williams V Williams

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

Shared review with the Vicarious Blogger

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

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

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

His Thoughts

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4-stars

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

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

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

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

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

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

His Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

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

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

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

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

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

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

Book Blurb:

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

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

Print Length: 288 pages
Publication Date: March 24, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Running Out of Road (Amazon)
Barnes and Noble
Kobo
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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five of Five Stars 4.5-stars

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Watching Glass Shatter by James J Cudney – An #Audiobook Review

“After 40 years of marriage, Olivia Glass thought she could handle the unexpected death of her husband. But when Ben’s will reveals a life-altering secret, she suffers a blow no widow should ever experience.” 

Watching Glass Shatter by James J Cudney

Book Blurb:

Olivia learns that she gave birth to a baby who later died in the nursery. Instead of telling his wife what happened, Ben switched the child with another. And as if that’s not enough, Ben’s will doesn’t reveal which of their five sons is truly not hers. 

While an attorney searches for answers, Olivia visits each of her sons to share a final connection before facing the truth that will change their family, and discovers that each of them has been harboring a painful secret, just like their father. 

Olivia challenges herself to re-assemble and save their relationships. But will the secrets destroy their family, or bring them closer together?

 My Review:

Sacrifice. Sometimes it comes in the form of extraordinary benevolence. Or the wish to protect from extreme pain those we love. And that describes this poignant novel.

The James J Cudney debut is emotional and packed with family drama beginning with the death of Olivia’s husband Ben of forty years. But the shock doesn’t end there– when the attorney for his estate hands her a letter, it’s contents shatters everything she had taken for granted with their family. One of her five sons was not the child she brought into the world.

Watching Glass Shatter by James J CudneyOlivia begins a quest to get to really know her five adult sons by a visit to each, one by one, discovering some devastating secrets along the way. She has not opened the final envelope that will reveal the name and as she visits each family, tries to discern if it might be he. In the meantime, her attorney begins to research a name–the person who may quell Olivia’s rising dismay at having to expose one. Her sister Diane becomes a confidant and is discovered to have played a strong maternal role in her son’s lives when Olivia was busy with husband, house, numerous projects, activities, and the money that afforded her just a bit of relief, an arms length, from the day-to-day of raising five boys.

The protagonist and then each of the successive sons were well-drawn and either drew empathy or dismay. So many characters to get to know, but each (as in every family) totally different from one another. And as with most families with multiple children, like ages tend to pair, albeit with the exception of one who separates himself almost entirely from his brothers. Are these lies? Deceptions? Or again the attempt to insulate the others from pain, either inflicted on the others or themselves.

I liked that chapters were divided according to character so the reader always knows who is the POV. The dialogue tends to weigh heavy, stilted, as to push reality between members of family separated by age, marriage, family, and circumstances. Olivia tends to counsel or become verbose, the boys not always receptive. Possibly more real, the main interest of one son in his share of inheritance rather than a post-death visit.

A strong showing for a debut from the author and one with multiple messages and an interesting and unique storyline. I found one quote in particular rather profound, “A day that comes seems as shorter than a year that’s gone.” I rolled that one over in my mind several times.

I actually won this audiobook in a Giveaway by the author–(I KNOW!! I “never” win…) and appreciated the opportunity to get into James’ first novel, the Kindle version published October 8, 2017. However, I won the audio version published 2019 and found the narrator a tad annoying. I have read and enjoyed two ebooks in the author’s Braxton Campus series, Haunted House Ghost and Mistaken Identity Crisis and found each distinctive. Although part of a series, fine as a standalone.

This author spars with unique story ideas and his writer’s style is always intelligent and thoughtful. If you missed this one, now is the time to go back and pick it up. Well-plotted and paced, a welcome addition to emotional literary family drama.

Book Details:

Genre: Literary Fiction for Teens, Teen and Young Adult Literary Fiction, Psychological Fiction
Publisher:  Next Chapter Audio Ltd.
ISBN-13: 978-1978233430
ISBN-10: 1978233434
ASIN: B07X7HD59J
Print Length: 297 pages
Listening Length: 10 hrs 5 mins
Narrator: Nikki Zakocs
Release Date: September 6, 2019
Source: Winner of a Giveaway
Title Link: Watching Glass Shatter 

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five Stars 4.5-stars

James J Cudney - authorThe Author: James is my given name; most call me Jay. I grew up on Long Island and currently live in New York City, but I’ve traveled all across the US (and various parts of the world). After college, I spent 15 years working in technology and business operations in the sports, entertainment and media industries. Although I enjoyed my job, I left in 2016 to focus on my passion: telling stories and connecting people through words. My debut novel is ‘Watching Glass Shatter,’ a contemporary fiction family drama with elements of mystery, suspense, humor and romance. To see samples or receive news from my current and upcoming books, please subscribe with your email address at my website: https://jamesjcudney.com

What do I do outside of writing: I’m an avid genealogist (discovered 2K family members going back about 250 years) and cook (I find it so hard to follow a recipe). I love to read; between Goodreads and my blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, I have over 900 book reviews which will give you a full flavor for my voice and style. On my blog, there is humor, tears, love, friendship, advice and bloopers. Lots of bloopers where I poke fun at myself all the time. Even my dogs have segments where they complain about me. All these things make up who I am; none of them are very fancy or magnanimous, but they are real and show how I live every day.

List of Books

Watching Glass Shatter (October 2017)

Father Figure (April 2018)

Braxton Campus Mysteries

Academic Curveball – #1 (October 2018)

Broken Heart Attack – #2 (November 2018)

Flower Power Trip – #3 (March 2019)

Mistaken Identity Crisis – #4 (June 2019)

Haunted House Ghost – #5 (October 2019)

Frozen Still Drink – #6 (March 18, 2020)

Websites & Blog

Websitehttps://jamesjcudney.com/

Blog: https://thisismytruthnow.com

Next Chapter: https://www.nextchapter.pub/authors/james-j-cudney?rq=cudney

Social Media Links

Amazon: http://bit.ly/JJCIVBooks

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jamescudney4

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JamesJCudneyIVAuthor/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BraxtonCampusMysteries/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jamescudney4/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jamescudney4/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/jamescudney4

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamescudney4

Purchase Links – Amazon 

The Narrator: Nikki Zakocs

©2020 V Williams V Williams

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

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

This Magick Marmot by Sharon Pape

Book Details

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

Book Blurb

A fatal case of school spirit . . .

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

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

My Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Rosepoint recommended

Giveaway

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

About the Author

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

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

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

Author Links

Website – http://sharonpape.com/

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sbpape

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

Purchase Links – Amazon  –  B & N

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

Tour Participants:

April 6 – Elizabeth McKenna – Author – SPOTLIGHT

April 6 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

April 7 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – SPOTLIGHT

April 7 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

April 8 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – GUEST POST

April 8 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

April 9 – MJB Reviewers – REVIEW

April 9 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW

April 10 – Literary Gold – CHARACTER GUEST POST

April 10 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

April 11 – Nadaness In Motion – SPOTLIGHT

April 11 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT

April 12 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW

April 12 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

April 13 – ebook addicts – REVIEW

April 13 – Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

April 14 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

April 14 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW

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

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

April 15 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

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

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Murder in the Bayou Boneyard: A Cajun Country Mystery by Ellen Byron – a #BookReview Cozy Culinary Mystery

RosepointPub Crawl I thoroughly enjoy the sense of humor this author brings to her storytelling…with fully developed characters alive with Southern hospitality personality.

Rosepoint Publishing: Five StarsFive Stars

 Book Blurb:

Murder in the Bayou Boneyard by Ellen ByronMaggie Crozat, proprietor of a historic Cajun Country B&B, prefers to let the good times roll. But hard times rock her hostelry when a new cell phone app makes it easy for locals to rent their spare rooms to tourists. With October–and Halloween–approaching, she conjures up a witch-crafty marketing scheme to draw visitors to Pelican, Louisiana.

Five local plantation B&Bs host “Pelican’s Spooky Past” packages, featuring regional crafts, unique menus, and a pet costume parade. Topping it off, the derelict Dupois cemetery is the suitably sepulchral setting for the spine-chilling play Resurrection of a Spirit. But all the witchcraft has inevitably conjured something: her B&B guests are being terrified out of town by sightings of the legendary rougarou, a cross between a werewolf and vampire.

When, in the Dupois cemetery, someone costumed as a rougarou stumbles onstage during the play–and promptly gives up the ghost, the rougarou mask having been poisoned with strychnine, Maggie is on the case. But as more murders stack up, Maggie fears that Pelican’s spooky past has nothing on its bloodcurdling present.

My Review:

It’s nearing Halloween and Maggie Crozat and her parents, owner of the Cajun Country B&B, are gearing up along with the other B&Bs in Pelican, Louisiana to provide holiday specials along with festivities appropriate to the spooky, ghouly, and darker time of year. Maggie and the B&B community is working hard against Gavin Grody, better known for an agenda he calls, “Rent My Digs” as his endeavor has impacted their normally successful seasons, being one hour from New Orleans.

Murder in the Bayou Boneyard by Ellen ByronThey are promoting all manner of activities, including a play they are holding in an ancient graveyard, Cajun food in typical Louisiana amenities, and a pet parade. They will also have readings from a local VooDoo priestess, Helene, and Maggie has created a spa on her premises that she is hoping will be a major draw along with the masseuse she is bringing in–a remotely related cousin she has never met.

Her cousin, Susannah, brings her husband Doug and his twins. She outfitted her art studio in the old schoolhouse for the family and began to set appointments. Unfortunately, sightings been made of a rougarou, an old Cajun creature legend. Susannah announces her land runs through the schoolhouse making Maggie and the Crozat’s the obvious suspects of what is quickly assessed a murder.

Of course, her own Pelican PD doesn’t believe they would be involved. It is the neighboring jurisdiction that smells an easy solve and the murder happened there, so Maggie and clan will have to go looking to find the killer. In the meantime, her Grandmeré is becoming a bridezilla as she is planning a wedding with Maggie and her beau, Detective Bo Durand of their precinct. He has a young son, Xander who is looking forward to Halloween and planning his costume with the same fervor as her Gran the wedding.

I thoroughly enjoy the sense of humor this author brings to her storytelling, which is always well-plotted and easy paced, with fully developed characters alive with Southern hospitality personality. One of her guests has a parrot that often enlivens and entertains the others. The family melds easily as an enviable tight, happy clan, the occasion is atmospheric, and there are always tidbits of Louisiana Cajun folklore and culture, foods, descriptions of the land and people.

“In Louisiana…We only follow the rules we like.”

If I didn’t remember that humidity and those bugs so well, I’d be packing to head south.

The casual road to the conclusion sneaks up on you, as do the perps in the final reveal. I had my eye on one or two others, but was wrong and that doesn’t often happen. There is an explanation of particular custom or word origins and then the recipes. If I remember right it was after I read Fatal Cajun Festival that I ran out and bought ingredients for a Jambalaya. (I do love shrimp.) This novel includes more than one I’ll try (if I’m ever allowed to go grocery shopping again).

I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley and totally appreciated the opportunity to read and review Book 6. Engaging and entertaining, I greatly enjoy this author’s writing style, both this series and her new one, Catering Hall Mysteries (Here Comes the Body by Maria DiRico). If you haven’t yet discovered her books, now is the time. Highly recommended!

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Culinary Mysteries, Cozy Craft and Hobby Mysteries
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
ASIN: B082H3BT6F
Print Length: 304 pages
Publication Date: September 8, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Murder in the Bayou Boneyard (Amazon)
Barnes and Noble
Kobo

+Add to Goodreads 

Rosepoint recommended

Maria DiRico - authorThe Author: [Ellen Byron] Author of MARDI GRAS MURDER, the 2018 AGATHA AWARD winner for Best Contemporary Novel. Also writes the Catering Hall Mysteries (HERE COMES THE BODY, #1) as Maria DiRico.

Ellen writes the USA Today bestselling Cajun Country Mysteries. MARDI GRAS MURDER won the Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel and was nominated for a Best Humorous Mystery Lefty Award by Left Coast Crime. A CAJUN CHRISTMAS KILLING and BODY ON THE BAYOU, both won the Lefty Award for Best Humorous Mystery, and were nominated for Agatha Awards in the category of Best Contemporary Novel. PLANTATION SHUDDERS, the first book in the series, was nominated for Agatha, Lefty, and Daphne awards. Cajun Country Mysteries offer “everything a cozy reader could want,” according to Publishers Weekly, while Library Journal says, “Diane Mott Davidson and Lou Jane Temple fans will line up for this series.” HERE COMES THE BODY, the first book in her Catering Hall Mysteries, debuted under her pen name, Maria DiRico.

Ellen’s TV credits include Wings and Just Shoot Me; she’s written over 200 magazine articles; her published plays include the award-winning Graceland and Asleep on the Wind. She is a native New Yorker who lives in Los Angeles and attributes her fascination with Louisiana to her college years at New Orleans’ Tulane University. She also worked as a cater-waiter for Martha Stewart, a credit she never tires of sharing. Have an early copy of Martha’s first book, ENTERTAINING? Ellen’s standing right next to her in the group shot.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

In An Instant by Suzanne Redfearn – a #BookReview – #souls

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars Five Stars

Book Blurb:

An Amazon Charts bestseller.

In An Instant by Suzanne RedfearnA deeply moving story of carrying on even when it seems impossible.

Life is over in an instant for sixteen-year-old Finn Miller when a devastating car accident tumbles her and ten others over the side of a mountain. Suspended between worlds, she watches helplessly as those she loves struggle to survive.

Impossible choices are made, decisions that leave the survivors tormented with grief and regret. Unable to let go, Finn keeps vigil as they struggle to reclaim their shattered lives. Jack, her father, who seeks vengeance against the one person he can blame other than himself; her best friend, Mo, who bravely searches for the truth as the story of their survival is rewritten; her sister Chloe, who knows Finn lingers and yearns to join her; and her mother, Ann, who saved them all but is haunted by her decisions. Finn needs to move on, but how can she with her family still in pieces?

Heartrending yet ultimately redemptive, In an Instant is a story about the power of love, the meaning of family, and carrying on…even when it seems impossible.

My Review:

Right from the git-go, you know this trip to Big Bear will not go well. It says so in the blurb.  As Finn Miller turns to gaze at her family, Mo her best friend, sister Choe’s boyfriend Vance, the neighbors and their daughter Natalie, and her brother’s dog Bingo, she realizes she is viewing the scene disconnected. And the scene, and her body, is not pretty.

In an Instant by Suzanne RedfearnThey had gotten to the cabin just fine with only a hint of snow, but had promised Oz, her brother, pancakes for dinner at their favorite resort restaurant and took off again, stopping to pick up a young man at his disabled auto. The snowstorm was becoming dangerous and before they could make the restaurant, circumstances slammed them into a guardrail and over the side of the mountain. It was to have been a long weekend of skiing and snowboarding and instead found them all struggling to survive.

Finn is trapped by the threads of life from everyone aboard, the emotional connection not as quickly severed as her death. Everything Finn has always thought about her family members, the neighbors–best friends of her parents for a long time–begins to twist what her sixteen years had made her believe. Finn can observe, hear, and even discern some of their thoughts and feelings, watching the scene unfold before her eyes as they move to secure her father then go about snugging in the camper van as best they can against the elements of the blizzard. Then they begin to differ on the next step.

Each character handles the trauma differently, Natalie totally detached, Finn’s mother surprisingly rising to the challenge along with Kyle, Mo resourceful. Who made selfless decisions and who abandoned any pretense of sharing or caring for more than their own? Extreme circumstances. Each of the characters are so well-developed you either rooted or loathed them, disbelieving the circumstances surrounding the neurologically handicapped thirteen-year-old Oz could happen. An argument in and of itself.

Underlying the main plot, that of survival under severely shocking conditions and different planes of injury, a sub-plot involving cross characters leads the well-paced storyline through rescue, examining how the characters handle the lingering post-trauma issues. Each character seeing the story through their own eyes, trying to come to an understanding, each playing a blame game. Guilt, loss, regrets. No do-overs.

How would you conduct yourself in similar circumstances? You can’t know until it happens and pray it never does. I’ve been exposed to extreme temps in the mid-west and I can tell you even plunging fingers into water to warm them, heralds some major pain. Freezing to death isn’t painless. Reading the Author’s Note at the end of the book tells her own story of the similar circumstances that formed the idea for her book. The responsibility of your own child can be crushing much less taking on the responsibility of another’s child.

After reading the review for In An Instant on Shalini’s Books & Reviews, I went scrambling to see if I could still get it on NetGalley. I could and did! (Shalini knows a winner when she reads it.) This one totally blew me away–glued and flipping the pages, reaching for tissues, alternately gasping and raging at small tragedies and shouting hoorahs at tiny victories. I am MOST grateful to have been provided this ARC by the publisher in exchange for a review. Totally recommending this heart-stopping narrative of the enduring human spirit and the experiences that shape each individual.

Book Details:

Genre: Coming of Age Fiction, Women’s Friendship Fiction
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

  • ISBN-10:1542006589
  • ISBN-13:978-1542006583
  • ASIN: B07NVD1276

Print Length: 326 pages
Publication Date: March 1, 2020
Source: BookBlogger referral, Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: In An Instant (Amazon)

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Rosepoint recommended

Suzanne Redfearn - authorThe Author: Suzanne is the bestselling author of three novels: In an Instant, No Ordinary Life, and Hush Little Baby.

Born and raised on the east coast, Suzanne moved to California when she was fifteen. She currently lives in Laguna Beach with her husband where they own two restaurants: Lumberyard and Slice Pizza & Beer. In addition to being an author, Suzanne is an architect specializing in residential and commercial design.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

A Blind Eye: The Adam Kaminski Mystery Series Book 1 by Jane Gorman – a #BookReview

The Vicarious Blogger Reviews an Old One on #TBT

Book Blurb:

A Blind Eye by Jane GormanIn this darkly atmospheric suspense, a Philadelphia police detective visiting Poland gets involved when murder is suspected, and the local police turn away. Adam Kaminski, with a delegation to Philadelphia’s sister city, is meant to be a polite observer only. But a good man doesn’t walk away when he sees wrong being done, and he’s not about to start now.

Visiting his family’s homeland, Adam’s been warned by his superiors to be on his best behavior. In a country that has known centuries of wars and occupation, politics are complex and layered with old prejudices and loyalties impossible for foreigners to understand. But when Adam meets a Polish cousin in Warsaw who believes his daughter was murdered, Adam is troubled by the indifference of the police… and by the strange behavior of the delegation’s Polish liaison.

Adam begins uncovering clues that point to the killer, clues that lead him inexorably into an investigation of the intricate web of Polish politics and the legacy of the Secret Police. But the past isn’t always black and white, as Adam is forced to accept as he learns more about the killer and about his own family legacy. Will looking into the murder only beget more murder?

His Review:

A Blind Eye by Jane GormanThe plane touches down at the airport outside of Warsaw, Poland and a trade delegation from Philadelphia debarks. Meanwhile, a beautiful young woman is found floating in a Warsaw river. Adam Kaminski is a last-minute addition to the delegation representing the Philadelphia police department.

Poland experienced a very turbulent 20th century with two world wars and being swept into the Communist Block of countries. The capital was almost totally destroyed in the second world war and every citizen fought the Nazi attack and occupation and subsequent Moscow rule. Surviving in this meat grinder of personal identities required strong personal fortitude and cleverness. The people who survived learned to get ahead any way possible. Tomek Malak is one of those who appear to be rising to become President of the country.

Adam meets a distant cousin, Lukasz Kaminski, as he is drawn to investigate the death of the young lady. Her demise is adjudged a suicide but Adam is skeptical. The investigation is coordinated by Adam and his cousin while being thwarted by local authorities. Aiding in the investigation is Sylvia Stanko, a pretty blue-eyed beauty assigned by Mr. Malak. She assists Adam in getting access to records and government documents not generally available to the public.

His police chief in Philadelphia would rather Adam stick to the trade delegation duties and not try to solve a mystery in a country in which he has no police powers.  Student protests and demonstrations hinder the investigation. Sub-plots abound as the killers thwart the investigation and confound the two investigators. The twists are engaging and encourage reading late into the night.

CE WilliamsThe beauty of the city and the inhabitants is graphically displayed along with the attractiveness of the ladies. Personal attraction makes Adam very concerned about Sylvia’s safety. I appreciated the mental acumen of the writer and her ability to engage the sexual tension between Adam and Sylvia. The seemingly exhaustive attempts of the average citizen to get ahead would leave a less robust peoples grief-stricken and forlorn.

Dive into this tale and shiver with the cold fall in Poland. Marvel at the resilience and ingenuity of the people of this historic country. 4.5/5 stars CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: International Mystery and Crime, Literature and Fiction, Political Thrillers and Suspense
Publisher: Blue Eagles Press
ASIN: B012IVZFXU
Print Length: 318 pages
Publication Date: September 15, 2015
Source: Free from BookBub
Title Link: A Blind Eye

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

Jane Gorman - authorThe Author: Jane Gorman is the author of the Adam Kaminski mystery series. Having worked as an anthropologist, a diplomat and a park ranger, Gorman turned to mysteries as yet another way to visit new worlds and meet new people.

Gorman’s books are informed by her international experiences, both as an anthropologist and through her work with the U.S. State Department. She has previously published in the field of political anthropology, negotiated international instruments on behalf of the U.S. government, and appeared on national television through her efforts to support our nation’s cultural heritage. Her books are each set in a different city or town around the world, building on her eye for detailed settings, appreciation of complex characters, and love of place-based mystery.

She lives in Cherry Hill, NJ, with her husband, who loves traveling even more than she does and has a voracious appetite for life, two cats who are very picky eaters, and a Pointer-Hound mix who wants nothing more out of life than to eat the cats.

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

The Age of Witches: A Novel by Louisa Morgan – a #BookReview #TuesdayBookBlog

Historical Fantasy Fiction

Book Blurb:

The Age of Witches by Louisa MorganIn Gilded Age New York, a centuries-long clash between two magical families ignites when a young witch must choose between love and loyalty, power and ambition, in this magical novel by Louisa Morgan.
In 1692, Bridget Bishop was hanged as a witch. Two hundred years later, her legacy lives on in the scions of two very different lines: one dedicated to using their powers to heal and help women in need; the other, determined to grasp power for themselves by whatever means necessary.
This clash will play out in the fate of Annis, a young woman in Gilded Age New York who finds herself a pawn in the family struggle for supremacy. She’ll need to claim her own power to save herself-and resist succumbing to the darkness that threatens to overcome them all.

My Review:

Having descended from Bridget Byshop who was hanged in 1692 for being a witch, Harriet Bishop is still being very careful about her abilities beyond the herbal concoctions she creates to heal. She is one of two sisters from Bridget’s line. The sisters, however, did not choose the same path to magic–one chose healing and the other dark power to ruthlessly gain her desired outcome. Their grandmother Beryl tried her best to pass on the legacy, but Harriet and Frances grew up in different circumstances and Frances was determined she’d rise above the squalid memories of her childhood.

The Age of Witches by Louisa MorganNew York City during the Gilded Age was a magical community, thriving, discovering modern conveniences. Frances’s goal was to be accepted into the Four Hundred–the entitled old money rich of the city. Frances is an early Eliza Doolittle, willing to do anything to rise to the level of the successful, tasteful aristocracy. She would do that by forcing her seventeen-year-old step-daughter to marry into the nobility of England and arranges a trip with Annis to find a suitable prize. Annis Allington has her own ideas, however. She adores her thoroughbred stallion, Black Satin (Bits), and her goal is to create a fine bloodline of thoroughbreds. But back then, who would purchase on the “expertise” of a woman breeder. Annis has no ideas of marriage and certainly not to a stuffy British nobleman. She is determined that no one will tell her what she can or can’t do.

The narrative conjures visions of magic spells, amulets, cantrips, and herbal concoctions. The herbal blends are devised by mortar and pestle, each recipe’s ingredient carefully chosen for the desired outcome. The incantations are poetic.

While Annis would be considered the main character, there are four POV’s, that of Annis, Harriet, Frances, and later James. You can almost visualize Frances as the evil witch, complete with long and crooked nose and pointy hat. Harriet, always the peace-maker, soft-spoken carries the big stick, and wide-eyed novice Annis uncovering the new world of sorcery. Both the good and bad.

The author has done an admiral job of the verbiage, invoking so much knowledge to herbal ingredients and remedies that it doesn’t seem possible you could write with that much confidence and not be involved in the practice up to the eyeballs. The narrative follows Annis on her steadfast course to be true to herself. Harriet toils toward the empowerment of women–quietly but naturally–as a benevolent mentor and realizes she must intervene in Frances’ plan.  Annis is young and idealistic, but wholly empathetic, and I loved the strong connection to her horse. James is an innocent pawn, naive, in a scheme gone mad and Frances…poor Frances will pay a heavy price for her dark plot.

Witch should be a beautiful word, signifying wisdom and knowledge and discipline, but it isn’t used that way. It’s been made an insult, implying evil, causing fear. The word has been perverted.” –Harriet Bishop, 1890

The storyline wrestles with the effects of a maleficia gone awry, finding the path between the two young persons, and the struggle of good versus evil. When is two wrongs the better choice? And can it possibly be used to make right?

Why didn’t I go whole hog five stars is a quibble I had similar to the one I experienced with A Secret History of Witches (which I avidly followed with the exception of the story of Veronica during WWII). This time, I stumbled over the relationship of Annis to Harriet and Frances.

I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I enjoyed that first book so much I couldn’t wait to tear into this ARC. The author writes with engaging authority, slipping the prose easily between tidbits of ancient technology and entertaining but subtle differences between American and British society. Totally recommended.

Book Details:

Genre: American Historical Romance, Historical Fantasy Fiction
Publisher: Redhook

  • ISBN-10:0316419540
  • ISBN-13:978-0316419543
  • ASIN: B07VZFWVYR

Print Length: 448 pages
Publication Date: Happy Release Day! April 7, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Age of Witches (Amazon)
Barnes and Noble
Kobo

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

Louisa Morgan - authorThe Author: Louisa Morgan lives and writes and rambles with her familiar, Oscar the Border Terrier, on the beautiful Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. A musician and a yogini, she finds inspiration in the artistic environment where she makes her home.

Under the name Louise Marley, she has written a number of other historical fiction novels, as well as fantasy and science fiction. Please visit http://www.louisemarley.com for more information, and to learn more about Oscar!

©2020 V Williams V Williams

A Reasonable Doubt: A Robin Lockwood Novel by Phillip Margolin – a #BookReview #legalthriller

A Robin Lockwood Novel Book 3

Book Blurb:

A Reasonable Doubt-Phillip MargolinA magician linked to three murders and suspicious deaths years ago disappears in the middle of his new act in New York Times bestseller Phillip Margolin’s latest thriller featuring Robin Lockwood

Robin Lockwood is a young criminal defense attorney and partner in a prominent law firm in Portland, Oregon. A former MMA fighter and Yale Law graduate, she joined the firm of legal legend Regina Barrister not long before Regina was forced into retirement by early onset Alzheimer’s.

One of Regina’s former clients, Robert Chesterfield, shows up in the law office with an odd request—he’s seeking help from his old attorney in acquiring patent protection for an illusion. Chesterfield is a professional magician of some reknown and he has a major new trick he’s about to debut. This is out of the scope of the law firm’s expertise, but when Robin Lockwood looks into his previous relationship with the firm, she learns that twenty years ago he was arrested for two murders, one attempted murder, and was involved in the potentially suspicious death of his very rich wife. At the time, Regina Barrister defended him with ease, after which he resumed his career as a magician in Las Vegas.

Now, decades later, he debuts his new trick—only to disappear at the end. He’s a man with more than one dark past and many enemies—is his disappearance tied to one of the many people who have good reason to hate him? Was he killed and his body disposed of, or did he use his considerable skills to engineer his own disappearance?

Robin Lockwood must unravel the tangled skein of murder and bloody mischief to learn how it all ties together.

My Review:

I came into Book 3 not having read the previous two. (No surprise there, huh?) While I read as a standalone, I suspect the first two dealt more with character Regina Barrister than Robin Lockwood, who appears to have taken over her spot in the Portland law firm. Not easy to live up to the legend known as ” the Sorceress,” Robin is quickly making a name for herself as the rising criminal defense attorney of the firm.

A Reasonable Doubt by Phillip MargolinWhen magician Robert Chesterfield appears at the offices looking for Regina, he is told she retired and is directed to Robin. But his is an unusual request and she is not the proper attorney. She investigates his question and says buh-bye, especially after she checks with Regina regarding her former client and discovers he was charged with two murders and an attempted murder. Regina takes us back twenty years (a couple times) to the case and introduces us to a number of new characters.

Back to Robin’s reign, an invitation to appear for a special, private showing of Chesterfield’s show-stopping trick does just that with his untimely death. More characters are introduced. That death seems to set off a spate of deaths, tied to the much earlier case, along with an attempted murder. Now Robin does more investigating and coordinates with all the local detectives, along with Jeff and an infamous ADA Peter Ragland, relegated to the smaller office after his humiliating defeat by Regina.

Now we get to know a little more about Chesterfield (the sleaze), not exactly a character you’ll come to love and no one else did either including his present wife, about Robin’s early experience with the MMA while attending Yale Law School, and about her new co-occupant with privileges, investigator boyfriend Jeff Hodges. The storyline goes a bit off-track, becoming somewhat convoluted, with attempts at throwing in some red herrings.

First, I couldn’t get into Robin’s shoes and Jeff left me a bit cold. He didn’t just take a backseat, he wasn’t in the same vehicle. As Barbara noted in her review recently at Flippin’ Pages Book Reviews, “I’m not sure why, but so many authors who want to write strong, independent female characters think that they have to make them angry, acerbic, domineering, selfish, etc. and that they have to pair them with milksop male characters.”


Thank you! I find that so often as well and while I really enjoy a strong female protagonist, they don’t all have to box or be a black belt in an obscure ancient Asian martial art form. While Jeff wasn’t exactly milksop, he easily slept through Robin’s prep to go out in the middle of the night to confront the antagonist. I know, I know… She is smart, strong, independent. But he was right there–couldn’t she have used a backup?

Another of my pet peeves: characters that start with the same letter. Why? Regina, Robin. I see this so often and, for me, sometimes gets confusing. (Maybe it’s just my age.) The plot didn’t move with quite enough speed for me, slowing in the middle, losing my interest. While I do enjoy a legal thriller and certainly a mystery, this one doesn’t really pull off the latter since it was guessed correctly pretty early on. The conclusion wraps most loose threads but really at this point rather anti-climatic.

I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read. This author has quite a track record and following and it’s quite possible this might have been a bit under his usual standards. You may very well enjoy the novel and remember these are my honest and unbiased opinions. You are free to differ with me. Up for a discussion?

Book Details:

Genre: Legal Thrillers, Women Sleuths
Publisher: Minotaur Books

  • ISBN-10:1250117542
  • ISBN-13:978-1250117540
  • ASIN: B07S8K7J4Q

Print Length: 289 pages
Publication Date: March 10, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: A Reasonable Doubt (Amazon)
Barnes and Noble
Kobo

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

Phillip Margolin - authorThe Author: [Phillip Margolin] I grew up in New York City and Levittown, New York. In 1965, I graduated from the American University in Washington, D.C., with a bachelor’s degree in government. I spent 1965 to 1967 in Liberia, West Africa, as a Peace Corps volunteer, graduated from New York University School of Law in 1970 as a night student. I went nights and worked as a junior high teacher in the South Bronx to support myself. My first job following law school was a clerkship with Herbert M. Schwab, the chief judge of the Oregon Court of Appeals, and from 1972 until 1996, I was in private practice, specializing in criminal defense at the trial and appellate levels. As an appellate attorney I have appeared before the United States Supreme Court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the Oregon Supreme Court, and the Oregon Court of Appeals. As a trial attorney, I handled all sorts of criminal cases in state and federal court, and have represented approximately thirty people charged with homicide, several of whom faced the death penalty. I was the first Oregon attorney to use battered women’s syndrome to defend a woman accused of murdering her spouse.

Since 1996, I have been writing full-time. All of my novels have been bestsellers. Heartstone, my first novel, was nominated by the Mystery Writers of America for an Edgar for best original paperback mystery of 1978. My second novel, The Last Innocent Man, was made into an HBO movie. Gone, But Not Forgotten has been sold to more than twenty-five foreign publishers and was made into a miniseries starring Brooke Shields. It was also the Main Selection of the Literary Guild. After Dark was a Book of the Month Club selection. The Burning Man, my fifth novel, published in August 1996, was the Main Selection of the Literary Guild and a Reader’s Digest condensed book. My sixth novel, The Undertaker’s Widow, was published in 1998 and was a Book of the Month Club selection. Wild Justice (HarperCollins, September 2000) was a Main Selection of the Literary Guild, a selection of the Book of the Month Club, and was nominated for an Oregon Book Award. The Associate was published by HarperCollins in August 2001, and Ties that Bind was published by HarperCollins in March 2003. My tenth novel, Sleeping Beauty, was published by HarperCollins on March 23, 2004. Lost Lake was published by HarperCollins in March 2005 and was nominated for an Oregon Book Award. Proof Positive was published by HarperCollins in July 2006. Executive Privilege was published by HarperCollins in May 2008 and in 2009 was given the Spotted Owl Award for the Best Northwest Mystery. Fugitive was published by HarperCollins on June 2, 2009. Willamette Writers gave me the 2009 Distinguished Northwest Writers Award. My latest novel, Supreme Justice, was published by HarperCollins in May 2010. My next novel, Capitol Murder, will come out in April 2012.

On October 11, 2011, HarperCollins will publish Vanishing Acts, my first Young Adult novel, which I wrote with my daughter, Ami Margolin Rome. Also in October, the short story “The Case of the Purloined Paget,” which I wrote with my brother, Jerry, will be published by Random House in the anthology A Study in Sherlock.

In addition to my novels, I have published short stories and nonfiction articles in magazines and law journals. My short story “The Jailhouse Lawyer” was selected for the anthology The Best American Mystery Stories 1999. The House on Pine Terrace was selected for the anthology The Best American Mystery Stories 2010.

From 1996 to 2009 I was the president and chairman of the Board of Chess for Success. I am still heavily involved in the program, and returned to the board after a one-year absence in 2010. Chess for Success is a nonprofit charity that uses chess to teach study skills to elementary- and middle-school children in Title I schools . From 2007 to the present, I have been on the Board of Literary Arts, which sponsors the Oregon Book Awards, the Writers in the Schools program, and Portland Arts and Lectures.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

 

The Missing Sister by Elle Marr – a #BookReview #thriller

Did CE, the Vicarious Blogger* love this one?

Book Blurb:

An Amazon Charts bestseller.

The Missing Sister by Elle MarrIn Paris, her twin sister has vanished, leaving behind three chilling words: Trust no one.

Shayna Darby is finally coming to terms with her parents’ deaths when she’s delivered another blow. The body of her estranged twin sister, Angela—the possible victim of a serial killer—has been pulled from the Seine. Putting what’s left of her life on hold, Shayna heads to Paris. But while cleaning out Angela’s apartment, Shayna makes a startling discovery: a coded message meant for her alone…

Alive. Trust no one.

Taking the warning to heart, Shayna maintains the lie. She makes a positive ID on the remains and works to find out where—and why—her missing sister is hiding. Shayna retraces her sister’s footsteps, and they lead her down into Paris’s underbelly.

As she gets closer to the truth—and to the killer—Shayna’s own life may now be in the balance…

My Thoughts 

Debut author Elle Marr apparently hits it out of the ballpark with The Missing Sister.

Officially released on April Fool’s Day, she has garnered more than 3,000 ratings on Goodreads but at less than a 3.61 average. At kinder, gentler Amazon, just over 500 ratings (as of April 2) with a 3.9 average rating (one day after release). Someone did one bang-up job of promoting and marketing because it certainly had the buzz before it hit the official board.

The location of Paris is a crucial component of the well-plotted suspense identical twin device. Shayna, the twin purportedly favored by their parents for being the serious goal-driven half, has come to identify and return home with the body of her sister. But the message she finds in Angel’s apartment contradicts that the body they possess at the Paris morgue might be she. Trust no one should mean that…but Shayna is also the damaged twin.

It is Angela that received the wild side, at times pushing her twin well beyond her boundaries. Angela appears to have found a more accepting “family” in the Parisian academic scene, where she was pushing through a doctoral degree. It would seem she had a comfortable safe location close to her studies and specifically the catacombs underneath the city–until she disappeared and “found” days later in the River Seine.

Here is my problem: Shayna has a finite amount of time to either claim the body and return home with it, or, feeling she would have “felt” it if her sister died, has the same short time to find her alive. But why would she be hiding? And the pace slows

Shortly upon her arrival, the reader is introduced to the first of a number of suspicious characters, red herrings, lovely jaunts through the city and atmospheric street-side cafes. (Brought back so many memories, though most of ours consisted of the cathedrals since that was where we were singing.) In between the sojourns, she digs into Angela’s papers, belongings, anything looking for additional twin-type clues. She finds an occasional clue, but they come painfully slow. The process doesn’t get really serious until near the conclusion and Shayna makes some bad choices in between.

There is shared history to examine, the relationship between the twins (as with my own father, the identical twin deemed the bad one), and the secret–that awful secret between them that drives what appears to be a permanent wedge. (In the case of my dad and uncle also a permanent one. I never understood that, until additional information came out long after his death.) In this case, I couldn’t identify with either Shayna nor Angela, and while I enjoyed the travelogue, didn’t the French characters. The big reveal doesn’t exactly come as a shock–you might have guessed it all along–but I did enjoy the hair-raising climax and finally getting the real skinny.

A meaningful effort for a debut and I can see where this author will grow into a compelling storyteller–this was a good start. Just wish it hadn’t been spoon-fed quite so sparingly. This is one you’ll either connect with or won’t, but may provide some entertainment in the meantime. I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a name you’ll see on award lists. 3.5/5 stars

His Thoughts

The Missing Sister by Elle MarrIdentical twins are at times a psychological mystery. Elle has wrapped this up masterfully in this tale of intrigue and suspense involving identical twins. They have many of the characteristics I have read about including developing their own language and calligraphy.

Families always seem to have dominant and recessive individuals within siblings. Our twins, Shayna and Angela, are no exception to the rule. Angela is the strong dominant twin and Shelby is the recessive twin, or is she? A death of both their parents while Angela is completing a Doctorate at the Sorbonne in Paris puts this conjecture to the test.

Angela is missing! Shayna is called to Paris to identify a body in the morgue and possibly send it back to San Diego, California for burial. The morgue is closed for the weekend so Shayna goes to her sister’s apartment to pack her things.

The psychic alarm in Shayna’s head has not gone off! She is certain that were her sister dead she would have felt something in the ether. Thankfully Angela’s boyfriend Sebastian is there to help her pack and go through Angela’s things. A whiteboard in Angela’s apartment has a cryptic message in their personal script, “Alive: Trust No One!”

CE WilliamsOur author, Elle Mann, develops twists and turns more explosive than a roller coaster. Who can she trust to help her solve the mystery of her sister’s disappearance? Skillfully the reader is drawn into intrigues which include over two hundred miles of catacombs under Paris. Read this book and enjoy the intrigue which is “The Missing Sister!” 5 stars CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Kidnapping Thrillers, Women’s Detective Fiction, Women Sleuths
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
ISBN: 1542006058
ASIN: B07QYMXX41
Print Length: 294 pages
Publication Date: April 1, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Missing Sister (Amazon)

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Two Five of Five Stars Four and One Quarter Stars

Elle Marr - authorThe Author: Originally from Sacramento, debut author Elle Marr explored the urban wilderness of Southern California before spending three wine-and-cheese-filled years in France, where she earned a master’s degree from the Sorbonne University in Paris. She now lives and writes outside Portland, Oregon, with her husband, son, and one very demanding feline. Connect with her online at http://www.ellemarr.com, on facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

*As coined by Nina of The Cozy Pages

Rosepoint March Reviews Recap–For Better or Worse–April Is Upon Us

Rosepoint Reviews-March recap

Who could have guessed that in one short month from the February Recap, we’d be in the middle of a global pandemic and the fight for our collective lives? From the end of January to finally assessing the severity of exactly what we in this nation were facing changed the heralding of spring not with trumpets and flower buds but with bagpipes and the strains of Amazing Grace. It’s been a sad month and we are promised worse in April. The sheltering-in-place has reduced commerce to panic purchases and hospitals to erecting temporary tents housing medical equipment with patients in parking lots. It’s sad and beyond frightening.

Stay: Smart, Safe, Home

March started Reading Ireland Month and although all St Patrick’s Day celebrations were canceled, I did manage seven Irish related posts, including Irish authors as well as plot locations in Ireland. Reviews for Rosepoint Pub in March totaled thirteen (as always the links are below the grid):

Dear Ringer by Annelise Ryan
Murder in an Irish Cottage by Carlene O’Connor (a Reading Ireland entry)
Sockeye by Michael F Tevlin (a Reading Ireland entry and CE review)
Irish Car Bomb by Steven Henry (a Reading Ireland entry)
One Good Dog by Susan Wilson (an audiobook)
When All is Said by Anne Griffin (a Reading Ireland entry)
A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy (a Reading Ireland entry)
The Wolf in Winter by John Connolly (a Reading Ireland entry)
Past Deeds by Carolyn Arnold
Problem Child by Victoria Helen Stone
Uncharted Waters by Scott MacKenzie (a CE review)
Beyond the Moon by Catherine Taylor (a CE review)
The Body in the Apartment by Judi Lynn

I had a wide variety of digital offerings from author requests, NetGalley downloads, my local lending library, and two spotlights as well as an audiobook. And I’m proud to say this old dog learned how to download gifted Audible books which I’ll be reviewing in April. I won a Giveaway that James J Cudney of This is My Truth Now ran and he introduced me to the idea. (Thank you, Jay!) I posted a spotlight for him this month here.

Of course, the book club meetings for March were canceled. Also included in the Reading Ireland Month challenge was the recommendation of one of my favorite podcasters, especially for all things Celtic, the Celtfather himself, Marc Gunn.  I hope you’ve had a chance to download and enjoy the amazing variety of artists included in his podcasts.

The CE continues to read and review as well, some as tandem reviews with my own, just as many independently. He has claimed quite a few favorable comments and Nina of The Cozy Pages dubbed him a vicarious blogger. Boy, I loved that, thanked Nina, and asked if I couldn’t use it. Having enthusiastically agreed, we’ll now be calling him CE, The Vicarious Blogger, rather than my associate reviewer. (He likes his new title as well.) Nina writes a delightfully sweet blog, her “homage to cozy mysteries” and if you haven’t discovered her page yet, here’s your chance!

My challenges get ever more challenging, one of which has fallen well behind. I’ve caught up my Reading Challenges page, however, if you’d like to see my progress. Three books behind in Goodreads, generally on target for the rest with the exception of the Murder Mystery Bingo Reading Challenge. NOT easy!

Thank you as always to those who joined me in March as well as my established followers. May you stay safe wherever you are!

©2020 V Williams V Williams

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The Body in the Apartment (A Zazzi Zanders Mystery Book 4) by Judi Lynn – a #BookReview #TuesdayBookBlog

Book Blurb:

The Body In the Apartment by Judi LynnThe charming homes of River Bluffs, Indiana, make perfect projects for house-flipper Jazzi Zanders. Less charming is her hothead brother-in-law, who’s a bit of a fixer-upper himself.
But could he also be a murderer?

Jazzi married her gorgeous contractor Ansel—not his family. But somehow she keeps living with them. So she’s delighted to help Ansel’s brother Radley move out of their home and into his own place, in the same building as his work supervisor, Donovan. But when Donovan is shot and his apartment ransacked following an argument with Ansel and Radley’s older brother Bain, their sibling becomes a suspect—especially after his missing gun turns up as the murder weapon.

Told not to leave town by Detective Gaff, big brother moves in with . . . Jazzi and Ansel. Now Jazzi needs to prove Bain’s no killer, not only to keep him out of jail—but to get him out of their house. What was the killer looking for in Donovan’s apartment? And what will happen to the next person who gets in the way?

My Review:

Book 4 has Jazzi and Ansel happily married and seeing Radley, Ansel’s brother, moving to an apartment of his own. Unfortunately, Bain, their oldest brother comes to River Bluffs at the same time to retrieve Radley and drag him (kicking and screaming) back to the old farm. Having once fled, no way he’ll go back and he’s moving to the same complex where his co-worker Donovan lives. Unfortunately, Bain and Donovan quarrel and when Donovan is shot, and Bain’s gun is inexplicably missing, guess who looks like suspect numero uno? Of course, they know he didn’t do it, but can’t leave now.

The Body in the Apartment by Judi LynnSo now that they’ve inherited the temporary responsibility for Bain, he’s taking Radley’s bedroom but boredom overtakes and he asks to be included in the current house-flipping project, a Victorian somewhere between them and Jerod, Jazzi’s cousin and a big third of their rehabbing efforts. Jerod’s wife is soon to have their third baby, so an extra hand couldn’t hurt.

With the death of Donovan, Detective Gaff  (is the author having a little fun with the reader choosing that name?) once again calls upon Jazzi to help with his interviews and investigations gleaning leads where he can’t. (Where did he get his badge?)

In the meantime, her hands are full with helping on the fixer-upper, coordinating food and accommodations (their own home–rehabbed to allow for guests and parties) for her sister’s wedding, their usual Sunday dinners with the family, the extended family, and anyone else who wants an easy Sunday with great food. I’ve read three of the four in the series and always wonder where Jazzi gets the time to do any of the extensive food prep and cooking described, why they aren’t waiting for housing inspectors to pass their rehab work, or how long it took them to get the permit approvals to do some of the extensive removal of walls). Her gorgeous 6’5″ Viking, Ansel, is the General Contractor, if I remember correctly, but he has few subs. Okay, I’m still over-thinking it all and this is a cozy mystery.

And it is one low-key and well-plotted, easy-paced mystery. It’s not out to build tension, but tell a story. The main plot is cleverly tucked betwixt and between Jazzi’s life. She fits in a few interviews of her own and passes her intelligence to Gaff who in turn relays his discoveries back to her and between them, formulate theories. The perp isn’t hard to figure–pretty obvious early on.

So what is it that’s so compelling about the series? The characters, the location (Indiana, for heaven’s sake, and the reason we took a quick trip down to Logansport to check out the Trail–nice– but short), and the whole unique staging of house-flippers. Bain gradually goes from unlikeable character to one with new familial possibilities, extending Ansel’s side.

Yes! A series that I started with Book 1 (and thought I’d read them all–apparently not.) Still, although it might fill in a few blanks, this entry could very well act as a standalone if you haven’t read them all. The conclusion escalates into a gritty, heart-pounding climax. Then, as with any good cozy, soothes the heart rate, and dissolves all loose threads, quietly setting the stage for Book 5. And I’ll be looking forward to it.

I received this digital download from the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review (HOW’D I miss Book 3?). Recommended as a culinary cozy, but you know I don’t read these for the recipes…although one does look interesting.)

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Crafts and Hobbies Mystery, Cozy Culinary Mystery
Publisher: Lyrical Press

  • ISBN-10:1516110234
  • ISBN-13:978-1516110230
  • ASIN: B07TT2RWQ5

Print Length: 204 pages
Publication Date: March 17, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Body in the Apartment (Amazon) 

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4-stars

Judi Lynn - authorThe Author: [Judi Lynn] USA Today Best-selling author for The Body in the Attic.
When I started self-publishing, I wrote urban fantasy as Judith Post. Then my wonderful agent, Lauren Abramo, suggested I try to find a publisher by writing romance, and she was right. I sold my Mill Pond romances to Kensington’s Lyrical Press. After six romances, my equally wonderful editor, John Scognamiglio, asked if I’d like to try to write a mystery. Ironic, because I started writing–forever ago–by writing mystery short stories and selling them. I decided to write about a fixer-upper because my husband and I bought a 1920s small bungalow when we got married, and it needed lots of work. We’re still working on it. And cooking crept into the stories because I LOVE to cook and have friends over to eat supper with us. A lot of my passions have ended up in my books:)

[Goodreads] Judi Lynn received a Master’s Degree from Indiana University as an elementary school teacher after attending the IPFW campus. She taught 1st, 2nd, and 4th grades for six years before having her two daughters. She loves gardening, cooking and trying new recipes.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Beyond the Moon: A Haunting Debut Novel of Time Travel and WW1 by Catherine Taylor – A #BookReview #timetravel

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars Five Stars

The CE read this one and loved it.

Book Blurb:

Beyond the Moon by Catherine TaylorOutlander meets Birdsong in this haunting literary timeslip novel, where a strange twist of fate connects a British soldier fighting in the First World War with a young woman living in modern-day England a century later.

*A debut novel shortlisted for the Eharmony/Orion Write Your Own Love Story Prize 2018/19

Part WW1 historical fiction, part timeslip love story – and at the same time a meditation on the themes of war, mental illness, identity and art. An intelligent, captivating read, perfect for book clubs.

His Review:

Louisa Casson has had too much to drink! She is mourning the death of her beloved grandmother and is near a sea cliff. She passes out and wakes up in a dark rainstorm disoriented. The cliff she is near starts to crumble and she goes down with the slide. She is discovered partway down the cliff on a shelf and the doctors determine she must have been attempting suicide.

Beyond the Moon by Catherine TaylorA mental hospital is a place to avoid, but she is placed there for her own safety. She cannot convince the medical staff that she did not commit suicide and is committed. The staff is less than helpful and is all overworked, unsympathetic and working in a place they should never be.

Medicines are administered though not necessary. The results are disorientation and further medications are administered to counter the effects of the first. The setting of the mental institution is horrific and part of the building scheduled for demolishing. The year is 2017.

Smoking is a diversion and she befriends a patient who shows her how to escape the smoking area. She wanders through the older part of the building and hears a voice. “Please help me!” She follows the sound and is transported one hundred years in the past to the building in its prime.

The voice belongs to Lieutenant Robert Lovett who has been injured in WW1 and is afflicted with hysterical blindness. Louisa helps him back into bed and stays and comforts him. A friendship and then love develops. The story is very well constructed and slips between time periods of 1916 and 2017. Louisa seems to be transported through a time loop. 2017 is not a particularly good time period for our heroine.

The writer has developed a keen insight into WW1 and the offsetting culture of 2017. The contrast between the two time periods is masterfully developed and a pleasure to witness. Louisa would like to stay and be with the Lieutenant. How can this be accomplished? As you enjoy the book you develop an affinity for the characters and hope the best for them. Louisa is enormously empathetic, her soldier as much so.

This page-turner will keep you on the edge of your seat. Schedule some time to read, you will not want to put it down. This was an author request, the digital download in anticipation of a review. This is my honest opinion. 5 stars CE Williams

(Amazon: *NB This novel contains graphic descriptions of war violence and injuries, as well as profanity and mild sex.)

Book Details:

Genre: Time Travel Romance, World War I Historical Fiction, British Historical Literature
Publisher: The Cameo Press Ltd.
Print Length: 496 pages
Publication Date: June 25, 2019
Source: Direct author request
Title Link: Beyond the Moon (Amazon)
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Catherine Taylor - authorThe Author: [Catherine Taylor] I was born and grew up on the small island of Guernsey, one of the British Channel Islands in the English Channel.

I’ve been obsessed with words and books since the day I first learned to read, and grew up on classic children’s authors like Enid Blyton and Edith Nesbit. As I got older I began to gravitate towards love stories with gripping plots, devouring novels like Jane Eyre, Rebecca, Katharine, Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice, about clever, independent women caught up in passionate affairs with complex, Byronic men. And equally I loved sweeping epics like The Thorn Birds and Gone With The Wind. I was a keen writer myself from an early age, and am one of those people who’s known since childhood that she wanted to be an author one day.

I’ve been obsessed with history, and particularly with WW1 for a long time – in fact I date my fascination with WW1 to the moment I first read Wilfred Owen’s poem “Strange Meeting” as a child. The literature of the First World War is the most moving I’ve ever read, and I defy anyone to read Vera Brittain’s A Testament Of Youth and not be moved to tears. As well as being a history obsessive, I’ve also always been a hopeless romantic. And I always knew that the novel I one day intended to write would be a historical love story, set during the First World War – one that would be intelligent, well-researched and have a big, emotional heart. Not only that, I always wanted my novel to have a touch of the fantastical about it too. As I child I loved to read books with magic in them, especially timeslips, and as I got older, I wondered why it was that most novels with elements of the paranormal in them were exclusively for children.

And then one night, after reading some WW1 poetry before bed, I had a dream where I wandered into some forgotten room in our house, and came across a young man, who told me that he was a soldier in the Great War. And the idea for Beyond The Moon was born. I often wonder if I dreamt about that soldier because, on some subconscious level, I longed to be able to transport myself back in time to the lost world of 1914-1918.

Of course, it’s not something – sadly – that I could ever do. But a young woman in a slightly different modern-day world could; a world where magic and fate were more powerful than in our own. A sensitive, intelligent and courageous young woman (for she’d need all those qualities), with faith in destiny, a great capacity for love, and a willingness to sacrifice everything for it…

The topic of mental health is one that has always held a huge fascination for me, and from the very beginning I knew that Beyond The Moon would be set partly in a psychiatric hospital. As I began to research people’s experiences in mental hospitals I was shocked to find just how common it is for patients to suffer neglect and abuse in such places. I can understand that modern-day Coldbrook Hall might seem far-fetched to some readers, but I assure you, you don’t have to look far on the internet to find some appalling stories. Just recently the following articles appeared in UK newspapers: ‘Firms cash in on psychiatric care crisis’ in The Times, and ‘Care Quality Commission [the UK regulator] places two Priory Group hospitals in special measures’ in The Guardian. They make shocking and depressing reading. If I, in my very small way through Beyond The Moon, can help shine a light on this modern-day scandal, then I am very glad.

I hope you enjoy Beyond The Moon as much as I loved writing it. I love to hear from readers, so please do get in touch at catherine@catherinetaylor.net. I’m currently working on a second novel set in 1900s Vienna, when the “imperial city” – as it was known – was at the heart of the enormous, cosmopolitan Austro-Hungarian Empire. It’s another smart historical love story, and I’m very excited about it. I can’t wait to try to conjure up that fabulous, forgotten world.

My website is at http://www.catherinetaylor.net, and you can sign up for my mailing list there. I have an author page on Goodreads, too, and you can also follow me on Instagram at @catherine_taylor_author. You can also find me (a bit less often!) on Twitter and Facebook.

I live in West London with my husband, two children, and two very cheeky chinchillas.

©2020 V Williams V Williams