Welcome 2020 (Good Riddance 2019) and Happy New Year to You All!

Welcome 2020

I am so thrilled you are here to celebrate the beginning of a new year with me and hoping yours gets off to a wonderful start with exciting events in your future. I am not sorry to see 2019 gone (or the decade), which was one of turmoil for us. I’m sure twenty-twenty will kick off better times, a fresh start, hopeful beginnings. For you too!

My December, as yours, was fast and furious! But I did manage thirteen reviews among a spotlight and related posts.

Rosepoint Reviews for December

If you missed any of my full reviews, just click the link below. I reviewed twelve books in December, two were audiobooks (from my library via OverDrive), some are part of a series, many of those from NetGalley.

A Cold Trail by Robert Dugoni
Verse and Vengeance by Amanda Flower
No Man’s Land by Sara Driscoll
The Other People by C J Tudor
Two Good Dogs by Susan Wilson (audiobook)
Christmas on the Home Front by Roland Moore (TV series Land Girls)
Hands Up by Stephen Clark (author request)
Bookmarked for Murder by V M Burns
The Dog on the Acropolis by Mark Tedesco
The Ghost of Christmas Past by Angie Fox
Sealed Off by Barbara Ross
The Twelve Dogs of Christmas by David Rosenfelt (audiobook)
Shattered Justice by Susan Furlong (posted December 31st)

Since I’ve bumped up against a number of series now that I can’t wait to get back to, I’ve determined to look for additional books (also from my library) in either digital or print form, and I’m planning on a later post to delineate my favorites, a few of which turned out to on NetFlix. How great is that?

Challenges!

Are y’all into challenges? I’ve normally participated in three: the Goodreads Challenge, the NetGalley Challenge, and the Alphabet Challenge. This year I apparently lost all sense of reality and signed up for five (or not):

Audiobook – I’m signing up for Stenographer level–10-15 (Got my cheapy earbuds all charged.)
Goodreads – I’ll be staying with 170
Historical Fiction – I should be comfortable with 10 books–Renaissance Reader
NetGalley  – I’ll be going for Gold-50. (I attained my 200 [reviews] badge!) 
Reading Ireland – 10 (Links to 2019 challenge)
and Bingo (one card?) This is the Murder Mystery Bingo Reading Challenge

Bingo? Really? Is that the equivalent of the Alphabet Challenge (where I always missed Q, X, and Z)? Still, this is the time of year to start looking around to join the challenge of your choice and there are some very fun challenges out there! Most reading challenges run from Jan 1 – Dec 31. Lynne at Fictionophile posted a master list of challenges. You might want to check it out here.

Goodreads Year in BooksHere are a few results from my 2019 Goodreads Challenge:

I read 49,236 pages across 171 books

AVERAGE LENGTH
287 pages

MOST POPULAR64,261
people also readThe Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware
The Turn of the Key
by Ruth Ware


Across the River by Richard Bruce Snodgrass
LEAST POPULAR
0 people also read
Across the River by Richard Bruce Snodgrass

 

 

clink glassesHere is hoping all who read this has a happy and healthy New Year! And, as always, thank you! I appreciate your follows and comments!

V Williams    martini glass

©2020

 

Shattered Justice (A Bone Gap Travellers Novel Book 3) by Susan Furlong – a #BookReview #thriller

Gritty, raw, and unrelenting but war-damaged ex-Marine Irish Traveller. Where is the justice?

Shattered Justice by Susan FurlongBook Blurb:

In the Appalachian town of Bone Gap, Tennessee, backwoods justice is more than just blind. It’s swift, silent, and shockingly personal. Especially for Irish Traveller turned deputy sheriff Brynn Callahan . . .
 
“Hear No Evil.”

The first message is found in a playground. A few feet away, a  pair of human ears hang from the monkey bars. Deputy sheriff Brynn Callahan isn’t sure what to make of this grisly scene. Do the ears belong to a murder victim? And if so, where is the body? One thing Brynn is sure of: the earring on one of the earlobes belongs to a man she met at a party the previous night.  . .
 
“Speak No Evil.”

The second message is discovered next to a human tongue on a park pavilion. Once again, no body is found. Brynn can’t help but wonder if the crimes are rooted in the town’s long-simmering tensions between Bone Gap locals and the barely tolerated Travellers who’ve settled there.
 
“See No Evil.”

For Brynn, the investigation hits too close to home—forcing her to confront the demons of her own past. But time is running out. Brynn has to track down the culprit before a third message is delivered—and a third victim is claimed. Rich, atmospheric, and brilliantly chilling, Shattered Justice is the third Bone Gap Travellers novel from the acclaimed author of Splintered Silence and Fractured Truth.

My Thoughts

Shattered Justice by Susan FurlongAnother intense, book-hooking entry to the Bone Gap Travellers series that has you alternately cringing and then reading faster. Ex-Marine Brynn Callahan returned to her family home after an IED ended both her tours and that of her cadaver dog, Wilco. But it wasn’t easy to return to the Appalachians with her Irish Travellers (or Pavees) and assume a job with local law enforcement (the “settled”), straddling both sides from a community that keeps to themselves and wields their own sense of law enforcement.

Brynn is still suffering from PTSD, as is her dog, and daily struggles with staying clean of the relief she found in dealing with the pain and trauma of those horrific scars. Her first-person dialogue plops you squarely in her head and the fight is unrelenting. Brynn languishes on the fringe between the settled, answering to Pusser who directs her investigations as she deals at home with her own tight-knit neighbors.

Obviously, this novel sets the old saying on edge as ears are found followed by a severed tongue, but the plot won’t be that simple and soon revisits the closely held secret of her beloved Gran setting a strong distraction.  There must be two bodies, but they are missing. Are they connected to the Pavee brought in, Mo’s husband?

The author has an amazing writing style, often producing quotable moments, “…gray, that undefined color in between black and white, the color of limbo, the zone between life and death,” and

“Did you learn anything from your slip, Brynn?” My eyes snapped back to Margaret…Why, yes, Margaret, I learned that Black Label whiskey is worth every damn penny…”

“And when they surface, we suddenly know: we are all victims of our past and vulnerable in our present.”

Brynn is intelligent, flawed, and damaged but between her investigation and Wilco’s help, she’ll ferret out the truth, as deeply buried as it is. The well-developed support characters provide a graphic mindset along with descriptions of the deeply wooded mountains, foreboding and sinister, hides more than the Travellers. A profoundly disturbing depiction moves forefront along with some stomach-turning descriptions. The dialogue is brutal, many times raw, threatening, and the tension builds to a massively intricate conclusion and one you won’t guess. Actually, it could be assumed you stopped trying and just raced through to the heart-stopping climax.

I was given a digital download by the publisher and NetGalley and am extremely grateful for the opportunity to read and review my third book in this series–and looking forward to Book 4. Recommended to any looking for a unique premise and genuinely engaging mystery. This might standalone, but you’ll miss a lot of backstory if you don’t start at the beginning. 4.5/5 stars

His Thoughts

Justice in the backwoods of Tennessee. Can there be such a thing? Ms. Furlong writes a compelling novel about just such a query. This novel is fast moving and at times graphically gruesome. Add a war broken detective and a three-legged dog and you have a read hard to put down!

Brynn is the detective who is scarred from three tours with the US Marines. She has internal demons as well as the perpetrators she is working to bring to justice. She and her dog are both victims of an IED (improvised explosive device). Pain pills and other drugs as well as alcohol are also demons that must be defeated by our detective.

The perpetrators are a related family of women who work to bring justice to their part of the world. A moral code inherent in this society of misfits called Travellers or Pavees cloud the investigation. The women show extraordinary abilities to evade their pursuers.

The layout of the book and the end result left a little to be desired. The reason for the violence is a thread throughout the book which seems apparent. One suicide which was not a suicide, inept police work and inter-clan justice and you have a web full of holes.

Following the clues to the killer or killers is not easy. Ms. Furlong throws in the struggles that many returning military face trying to meld back into society. I found some of them to be red herrings that tended to leave my crime-solving forensic training yelling “WHAT?!”

As with many cozy type mysteries, I find the denigration of the males in the police force a little tedious. Certainly one would expect clashes between the male and female detectives, but not to the extent posed by Ms. Furlong and Harris. It is a common perception by society and the interaction of men and women in the work force. However, this seems a little gratuitous. As society evolves, the movement to have total equality in all areas seems contrived. The issue is well developed in Ms. Furlong’s plot.

The ending of the book is why I did not give it five stars. Out of nowhere another antagonist emerges. Again, a female who seems to be as bent on justice as the primary villain. This is a serious blindsiding in the development of the plot and its’ conclusion. The gruesome crimes seemed overdone and the end story left me asking the question, WHY? Associate Reviewer - C E Williams

Ms. Furlong’s discussion narrative at the end of the novel is a good planning tool. It certainly helps to develop the overall novel in the reader’s mind. I can see where a group discussion may very well lead to a better understanding of the issues and problems faced by veterans in general. My hat is off to her as a very good writer and an understanding human being. 4/5 stars CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Thrillers, Women Sleuths
Publisher: Kensington Books

  • ISBN-10:1496711726
  • ISBN-13:978-1496711724
  • ASIN: B07NX1X3HP

Print Length: 304 pages
Publication Date: Happy Publication Day! December 31, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Shattered Justice

+Add to Goodreads 

Susan Furlong - authorThe Author: Susan Furlong the author of several mystery series including the acclaimed Bone Gap Travellers series. She also contributes to the New York Times bestselling Novel Idea Mysteries under the pen name Lucy Arlington. She has worked as a freelance writer, academic writer, ghost writer, translator, high-school language arts teacher, and martial arts instructor. She and her family live in central Illinois. Visit her on Facebook or at http://www.susanfurlong.com.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

The Twelve Dogs of Christmas (An Andy Carpenter Mystery Book 15) by David Rosenfelt – a #BookReview #Audiobook

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5-stars

The Twelve Dogs of Christmas by David Rosenfelt

 Book Blurb:

Defense lawyer Andy Carpenter usually tries to avoid taking on new cases at all costs. But this time, he’s happy – eager, even – to take the case that’s just come his way. Andy’s long-time friend Martha “Pups” Boyer takes in stray puppies that the local dog rescue center can’t handle, raises them until they’re old enough to adopt, and then finds good homes for them. Not everyone admires the work Pups does as much as Andy does, however.

With Christmas just around the corner, one of Pups’s neighbors has just reported Pups to the city for having more than the legal number of pets in her home under the local zoning laws. Andy happily takes Pups’s case, and he feels confident in a positive outcome. Who could punish someone for rescuing puppies, after all, especially at Christmastime? But things get a lot more complicated when Randy Hennessey, the neighbor who registered the complaint against Pups, turns up dead. Pups had loudly and publicly threatened Hennessey after he filed his complaint, and Pups was also the one to find his body. All the evidence seems to point to Pups as the killer, and suddenly Andy has a murder case on his hands. He doesn’t believe Pups could be guilty, but as he starts digging deeper into the truth behind Hennessey’s murder, Andy may find himself facing a killer more dangerous than he ever imagined.

With his trademark wit, larger-than-life characters, and clever plotting, David Rosenfelt delivers another gripping mystery.

My Review:

As you can see, I’ve burned through five of the Andy Carpenter series of twenty books. Loved them all, four of which were audiobooks. While I greatly enjoyed Dachshund Through the Snow (the digital download I received from NetGalley), I’ve really become a solid fan of the audiobooks narrated by Grover Cleveland. Cleveland is the definitive voice of attorney Andy Carpenter–the defense attorney who would rather not take on any cases. The cases, however, seem to find him.

Three of these entries to the series were aimed at the Christmas season, a wonderful excuse for unapologetically grabbing as many as I could. This one concerns twelve puppies brought to Tara’s Foundation by Andy as the woman who had rescued them was charged with the murder of a neighbor. He had filed a complaint with the local zoning board about the number of pets she had in her home and then turned up dead.

The Twelve Dogs of Christmas by David Rosenfelt

The timing is unfortunate, as Martha has been doing this for years, but now she is facing mortality and would prefer not to spend the time she has left behind bars. Her hubby passed a few years ago leaving her with land located in assorted states, eventually for the purpose of the canine (or animal) rescue mission they both embraced.

The characters have been carefully gathered and create a variety of eclectic support for Andy, as well as his wife, Laura, a former policewoman. Andy keeps up a steady mind dialogue that is frank and often humorous. His snarky attitude is not lost on his colleagues and the time he’s spent in court has given him a well-deserved reputation. Like a pit bull that he might have rescued, once he’s onto something he’ll concentrate through the red herrings and twists to get to the real perp, tweaking by a la Perry Mason where it counts.

The narrative includes his family, son Ricky, and common familial situations, drawing you into Andy’s life as well as his legal expertise. These books are engaging with complex, well-drawn plots that are fully investing. While it’s character-driven, the author’s deprecating but intelligent writing style keeps you immersed. This one is full of the Christmas season, puppies, and witty and entertaining storyline.

I received this audiobook from my local library (thank you!) and was thoroughly entertained and invested. Grover Gardner does an incredible job of interpreting the very excellent novel penned by David Rosenfelt. In a spin-off from his Andy Carpenter series, author Rosenfelt has started a new series he is calling The K-Team “about a dynamic new investigative team featuring a determined former cop and his loyal German Shepherd.” YES! Book 1 of The K-Team will be released March 24, 2020, currently available via NetGalley. Now is your chance to grab #1 in a new series, Shalini. Your welcome.

This one is still totally recommended for anyone looking for an unpredictable and amusing hoot. Whether audio or digital, either way, you’re in for a real treat.

Book Details:

Narrator: Grover Gardner
Genre: Animal Fiction, Traditional Detective Mysteries, Legal Thriller
Publisher: Macmillian Audio
ASIN: B01LZAPOAO
Listening Length: 6 hrs 17 mins
Publication Date: October 18, 2016
Source: Local Library audiobooks
Title Link: The Twelve Dogs of Christmas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Sealed Off (A Maine Clambake Mystery Book 8) by Barbara Ross – a #BookReview #cozymystery

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5-stars

Sealed Off by Barbara Ross

Book Blurb:

Early October is “winding down” time in Busman’s Harbor, Maine, but there’s nothing relaxing about it for Julia Snowden. Between busloads of weekend leaf peepers at the Snowden Family Clambake and a gut renovation of the old mansion on Morrow Island, she’s keeping it all together with a potentially volatile skeleton crew—until one of them turns up dead under the firewood.

When the Russian demo team clearing out the mansion discovers a room that’s been sealed off for decades, Julia’s baffled as to its purpose and what secrets it might have held. Tensions are already simmering with the crew, but when one of the workers is found murdered, things come to a boil. With the discovery of another body—and a mysterious diary with Cyrillic text in the hidden room—the pressure’s on Julia to dig up a real killer fast. But she’ll have to sort through a pile of suspects, including ex-spouses, a spurned lover, and a recently released prisoner, to fish out one clammed-up killer.

My Review:

I so enjoy the stories of the Snowden Family Clambakes on Busman’s Harbor, Maine. The family built a large mansion and completed the Morrow Island clambake business with fire pits, picnic tables, and covered pavilion to lend the perfect Maine lobster experience to the tourists. Unfortunately, the old mansion was left empty and in a sad state of deterioration after 1929 suffered a devastating fire a couple years ago. They are now in the process of a complete renovation.

Sealed Off by Barbara RossArriving on the island to complete prep for one of the last days’ clambakes of the season, Julia Snowden discovers a body underneath the woodpile.

But there’s more…

A dual plot pops up when the demolition crew at the mansion opens a room that had been totally enclosed with the inhabitant’s personal effects still in the wardrobe and drawers. OMG! I got totally sucked into the interior room next to the nursery, sealed off and hidden. I love story ARC twists like this! Even more delicious, a diary is discovered in the underwear drawer dating 1898.

Now you know Julia is going to have to work on the murder cause the main and most obvious suspect is her boyfriend’s brother, an ex-con. Oops! Forget thinking this will be a simple mystery. There are twists and obvious suspects, ticked off the list one by one. Still, I had suspicions, but wasn’t sure right up until the reveal. Then, oh yeah, we knew this wouldn’t be an easy solve and it involved an unpleasant trope.

Then the governess who wrote the diary–what in the world happened to her? It’s totally engaging with deep plunges into genealogy and web searches, gleaning names one by one.

As always with the Maine Clambake series, it’s easy to invest in the narrative and the delightful small fishing village, the lobstermen jargon, boating terms, and perspectives on weather and waves. You can smell the salt air and crave those fresh dishes. (YES! Fresh is a whole different kettle of fish! One of our fond memories is the breakdown of the old VW bus we had full of Pacific crab. What could we do? Waiting for help, we gorged on fresh crab!) Anyway, the Snowden family has such a history and calls on one of their oldest for this one, sharing memories of the mansion, delightful foods (recipes at the end of the book) and descriptions of the colorful northern state.

The conclusion draws both plots to a satisfying close, neatly tying loose ends, except one: Julia’s boyfriend…stay tuned.

I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley and was thrilled to get another Maine Clambake mystery to read and review. Recommended for any who enjoy an immersive location, interesting characters, and complex but satisfying plots.

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Culinary Mystery, Amateur Sleuth
Publisher: Kensington Books

  • ISBN-10:1496717953
  • ISBN-13:978-1496717955
  • ASIN: B07Q7X57MG

Print Length: 256 pages
Publication Date: December 31, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Sealed Off+Add to Goodreads
Barbara Ross - authorThe Author: Barbara Ross is the author of the Maine Clambake Mysteries and the Jane Darrowfield Mysteries. Her books have been nominated for multiple Agatha Awards for Best Contemporary Novel and have won the Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction. Barbara’s Maine Clambake novellas are included along with stories by Leslie Meier and Lee Hollis in three holiday anthologies from Kensington Publishing. Barbara and her husband live in Portland, Maine.

[Goodreads] Barbara Ross is the author of seven Maine Clambake Mysteries. The eighth, Sealed Off, will be released in December 2019. Her novellas featuring Julia Snowden are included along with stories by Leslie Meier and Lee Hollis in the anthologies Eggnog MurderYule Log Murder and Haunted House Murder.

Jane Darrowfield, Professional Busybody, the first book in a new mystery series, was released in June 2019.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

The Ghost of Christmas Past Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries (Book 8.5) by Angie Fox – a #BookReview #Paranormal #cozy

[Amazon] “*A ‘between the books’ holiday story you don’t want to miss!”

The Ghost of Christmas Past

Book Blurb:

Southern girl Verity Long needs a Christmas miracle…

Verity is ready to deck the halls, jingle some bells, and maybe, just maybe have a merry Christmas with her boyfriend’s stuffy family. Truly, if she doesn’t extend the proverbial olive branch to the overbearing Wydells, she’s afraid she’ll hit them over the head with it.

But when her boyfriend’s mother pulls a shocking stunt, Verity finds herself with a big decision to make. And if that’s not enough, there’s an unexpected guest at her door. It’s the ghost of the woman who helped rescue Verity’s pet skunk three years ago that very night. And now she’s there to change Verity’s life as well.

My Review

Definitely wasn’t prepared for this one, borrowed heavily from one of our favorite Christmas classics. I was into the ghost of Christmas present before it hit my forehead with an ah ha moment. Oh, DUH! I get it!

The Ghost of Christmas Past by Angie FoxVerity Long discovered she set off a force by accident that has introduced her to the shadow world through Frankie, now her resident ghost. She is getting pretty good with this ghost stuff, but can’t predict their visits or needs. This last one helped rescue an animal that Verity is still caring for and requests help with another animal in serious danger. She reluctantly agrees as she’s already had a day of it.

Getting ready for a Christmas party at her boyfriend’s house, Verity receives a rather shocking gift. The Wydell’s have been a long-established family in the area and she’s sweet on the middle child Ellis now but feels it’s time to draw a line with his mother. Hopefully, it’s not the equivalent of burning the bridge to her sweety, but that’s the rub, huh?

Perhaps having it out with Virginia Wydell was not the best way to handle the situation on Christmas Eve and she opts out of the party. She’ll go instead to rescue the endangered animal. It’s there she gets another shocker that’ll force her to rethink her handling of the former situation.

I really enjoyed the way in which the situation was handled, making for a sweet resolution. This is a shorty, meant to augment between full novels and is simple and easy enough to read as a standalone. Fast, fun delightful read for the season with the theme of friendship, family, reconciliation, and that touch of romance. Frankie, as a former ghost, is a great support character, and Virginia, the bitter, nasty, crotchety antagonist is appropriately hateful.

I was given this digital download by the publisher through NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended to any who enjoys a modern take on a beloved classic.

His Review

Dickens meets the Ghost Whisperer in this Christmas frolic! Verity is a young lady saddled with the ability to communicate with the dead while having a potential future mother-in-law from hell. She is also an animal lover at heart and puts up with a spirit named Frankie who uses her for his own ends.

Add in a potential future husband who is totally controlled by a very vengeful mother and you have the basis of a story. Verity being able to communicate with the spirit world is called upon by many of the “disturbed or incomplete spirits” who want favors from her for their relatives.

A surprise gift from her potential mother-in-law adds fuel to the situation. I found the young lady both strong of spirit and short on will power. The combination makes for an entertaining short read that I could recommend to anyone who wants to retreat from reality. Associate Reviewer - C E Williams

The book is easy to read and entertaining. I would suggest it for young ladies or brides to be. 4.5/5 stars CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Mystery, Paranormal, Ghost Stories
Publisher: Moose Island Books

  • ISBN-10:1939661617
  • ISBN-13:978-1939661616
  • ASIN: B07XPGBZ1L

Print Length: 152 pages
Publication Date: November 29, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Ghost of Christmas Past

+Add to Goodreads
Angie Fox - authorThe Author: New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Angie Fox writes sweet, fun, action-packed mysteries. Her characters are clever and fearless, but in real life, Angie is afraid of basements, bees, and going upstairs when it is dark behind her. Let’s face it. Angie wouldn’t last five minutes in one of her books.

Angie is best known for her SOUTHERN SPIRITS™ mysteries, and for her ACCIDENTAL DEMON SLAYER books. Visit her at http://www.angiefox.com.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Bookmarked for Murder (Mystery Bookshop Book 5) by V M Burns – a #BookReview #cozymystery

Bookshop owner with aspirations to becoming a writer–clever plot manipulation.

Bookmarked for Murder by V M BurnsBook Blurb:

Amateur sleuth Samantha Washington’s shopping trip to Chicago takes a deadly detour when a man is murdered on her bus . . .
 
After some post-Christmas retail therapy in the Windy City, mystery bookshop owner and historical whodunit novelist Sam Washington is returning home to North Harbor, Michigan, on a chartered bus. With Nana Jo and her gal pals Irma, Dorothy, and Ruby Mae from Shady Acres Retirement Village along for the ride, it’s a lively trip. But one passenger is not so lively—a gentleman Irma befriended is found dead in his seat after an unscheduled stop. The ladies immediately shift gears to find out who punched his ticket, while Sam slips into the driver’s seat to make sure Nana Jo and her crew steer clear of fatal conclusions . . .

My Review:

Samantha (Sam) Washington is returning to North Harbor, Michigan with her Nana Jo and her cadre of Shady Acres Retirement Village characters after a lovely post-Christmas excursion to Chicago. Unfortunately, the man who decided to come along with Irma and the others is found murdered following a rest stop on the way.

Bookmarked for Murder by V M BurnsSam, the mystery bookshop owner, is also an aspiring writer and she often slips into author mode to continue her London-based historical mystery manuscript. I’d forgotten that these narratives involved a mystery within a mystery, but quickly became acclimated to the “heads up” signal and it proves to be a fun little ditty within the main whodunit. Sam is seeing Frank Patterson, a budding romance, and evolving in an unhurried way. She has two small poodles at home beginning to show signs of aging.

Sam is really coming along in development. I enjoyed her more in this particular entry to the series, although I wondered a number of times how she could be gone from her bookshop so much. Nana Jo is a major support character, frequently stealing the show, but is a great strong and independent representative of her generation. The rest of the Shady Acres crew range in age, all seniors who exhibit a wide spread in life experiences and capabilities and all contribute to solving the crime.

The antagonist is not too difficult to guess, although the motive would remain elusive. Sam’s historical mystery manages to reach a conclusion shortly before the main storyline draws to a close. The main storyline is peppered with humorous bits and observations. The author includes the best definition I’ve read of exactly what comprises a cozy mystery, which I found enlightening. The only problem I had was how the local officer in charge of investigation was painted.

I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley and enjoyed the read and review in return. Book 5 would function fine as a standalone and I believe my favorite so far. Recommended for any who enjoy a fast-paced, cleverly laid out, cozy

Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuth, Cozy Crafts and Hobbies, Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Kensington Books

  • ISBN-10:1496718313
  • ISBN-13:978-1496718310
  • ASIN: B07P9MR138

Print Length: 256 pages
Publication Date: November 26, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Bookmarked for Murder

+Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint Publishing: Four of Five Stars 4-stars

V M Burns - authorThe Author: V.M. Burns was born and raised in the Midwestern United States. She received a Bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University, a Master’s degree from the University of Notre Dame and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Seton Hill University. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Dog Writers Association of America, Thriller Writers International and a lifetime member of Sisters in Crime. She is the secretary of her local chapter of Sisters in Crime (The East Tennessee Smoking Guns) and the Education Grants Coordinator for the national Sisters in Crime. She currently resides in the warmer area of the U.S. with her two poodles. Readers can visit her website at http://www.vmburns.com

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Hands Up by Stephen Clark – a #BookReview #crime #policeprocedural

Hands Up by Stephen ClarkBook Blurb:

Officer Ryan Quinn, a rookie raised in a family of cops, is on the fast track to detective until he shoots an unarmed black male. Now, with his career, reputation and freedom on the line, he embarks on a quest for redemption that forces him to confront his fears and biases and choose between conscience or silence.

Jade Wakefield is an emotionally damaged college student living in one of Philadelphia’s worst neighborhoods. She knows the chances of getting an indictment against the cop who killed her brother are slim. When she learns there’s more to the story than the official police account, Jade is determined, even desperate, to find out what really happened. She plans to get revenge by any means necessary.

Kelly Randolph, who returns to Philadelphia broke and broken after abandoning his family ten years earlier, seeks forgiveness while mourning the death of his son. But after he’s thrust into the spotlight as the face of the protest movement, his disavowed criminal past resurfaces and threatens to derail the family’s pursuit of justice.

Ryan, Jade, and Kelly–three people from different worlds—are on a collision course after the shooting, as their lives interconnect and then spiral into chaos.

My Review:

In his sophomore novel, Clark’s protagonist Ryan Quinn proclaims “I’m not a murderer. I’m not a murderer. I’m. Not. A. Murderer. It’s a great hook and a promise that this novel won’t leave you sagging in the middle. And it doesn’t. Ryan, a rookie in Philly has killed an unarmed black male. He was on a patrol with his partner, Sgt. Greg Byrnes. It was Byrnes who pulled the young man over–he likes to do that. Sometimes for no reason–other than their color.

Hands Up by Stephen ClarkAuthor Clark doesn’t blanch when he tackles an extremely sensitive subject. Ripped from the headlines, a terrible scene occurring in most large cities, the perceived indictment of “blue on black.” There were times when I found some scenes difficult to read as I know they occur and it’s sad, challenging, begs deniability.

But the author doesn’t stop there. There are several other issues here that are fed the public, not the least of which is social media and the sensationalist news bombarding us each night. Perhaps the naive public would prefer to believe the old saying, “Believe nothing you hear, and only one half that you see.” (Yes, that wasn’t Mark Twain, that was Edgar Allen Poe.)

The family of the young man figures prominently as Jade (Tyrell’s sister) and Kelly (his father) wade through grief, anger, and heartbreak. Kelly has returned to mourn the death of his son after an absence of ten years and experiences alienation from his family owing to his abandonment. Jade is bent on revenge and blinded by anger. Ryan can’t come to terms with what happened, something in his backstory, and it’s his therapist who advises he should live where he works.

The POV trades chapters with Jade and Kelly in third person. They are as well developed as Ryan, who has a fiancé in the wings. The storyline extends through activism, gang control of hoods, racism, and complex family ties. There are intimate glimpses into each family, creating an emotional tie and investment in each camp. A view to both sides.

Kelly gradually wheedles his way back into the family with the exception of Jade. Jade, meanwhile, has met and developed a plan of revenge against Ryan. But something goes haywire–and I found myself disbelieving what would happen next. Just not going to happen. It wouldn’t.

While I couldn’t exactly get into Kelly’s shoes, neither did I empathize so much with Ryan--the man just shouldn’t have tried to follow in his father’s footsteps–a cop he’s not. Regina, Tyrell’s mother, is engaging and a grief-stricken, believable character while chaos is swirling around her.

There is a thoughtful suggestion to solving the larger problem–that of getting to know each other and times when the author presented arguments such as “our young black men are much more likely to die at the hands of another black man than a cop.” Or, “turn your frustration into legislation.”

There are a couple of twists you didn’t see coming and, whether or not likely, dropped your heart and gave you a “no way out” feel. This can’t end well. While we get both sides of the coin periodically, it’s a contention too complicated to solve easily in a hard-hitting novel of the topic and the conclusion probably ends the only way it could. The book is one that should be widely read, particularly in our volatile climate.

I remember participation in our local gospel choirs (including the MLK Celebration Choir), the admonition to wear “stained glass colors.” The music was joyous, the musicians gifted, and my soprano buddy, Linda, beautiful (she still is). It was, indeed, a celebration, but in more ways than one.

I received this digital download from the author in exchange for a review. This pounds out a message more should read. It’s fast-paced and shocking. It’s gritty and hard to read and that’s why more people should.

Book Details:

Genre: African American Urban Fiction, Urban Fiction
Publisher: WiDo Publisher

  • ISBN-10:1947966200
  • ISBN-13:978-1947966208
  • ASIN: B07X36LH8Z

Print Length: 300 pages
Publication Date: September 10, 2019
Source: Direct Author Request
Title Link: Hands Up
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The Author: [Goodreads] Stephen Clark is a former award-winning journalist who served as a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times and as a politics editor for the Washington, D.C. bureau of FoxNews.com. Stephen grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and now lives in North Jersey with his wife and son. He has a bachelor’s degree in communications from Arcadia University and a master’s degree in journalism from Syracuse University. Find Stephen at:

Website

https://www.stephenclarkbooks.com/

Twitter

https://twitter.com/StephCWrites

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Christmas on the Home Front (Land Girls #3) by Roland Moore – a #BookReview #historicalfiction

Another that my associate reviewer and I enjoyed, particularly as we binged on the Netflix series.

The Land Girls - Netflix

Book Blurb:

It’s the last Christmas of the war but will things ever be the same again?

Christmas 1944

Despite the food rationing and the bitterly cold weather, the land girls of Pasture Farm, Connie Carter, Joyce Fisher and Esther Reeves, are determined to celebrate this Christmas in style.  The fighting might still be raging, but they all hope this could be the last Christmas of this dreaded war.

But as the day approaches, word spreads in sleepy Helmstead that two German Airmen are on the run.  With everyone on high alert, the mood is tense and the women take no chances.  Until the German airmen find them…

Trapped at Pasture Farm with the enemy, the women are determined to find a way to freedom and overpower the airmen.  But it means risking everything…including their lives.

My Review

In checking out this book as my next possible read, I discovered that the storyline was actually a successful BBC series, The Land Girls. We were able to view on Netflix and were hooked. The novel doesn’t disappoint, and happily, though the series and author were new to me, #3 read just fine as a standalone. And, BONUS, it was fun to put a face (that of the actors in the series) to the characters in the book, Joyce, Connie, Esther, Iris, and Finch.

The Land Girls by Roland MooreWhile the main character is Joyce Fisher, there are a number of well-developed support characters that comprise the Woman’s Land Army stationed at Pasture Farm. It doesn’t take long before you get to know each, their strengths and weaknesses, and the particular position they hold at the farm. The Land Girls have been created to supplement the loss of farm support and help provide food supplies. They have learned to manage with shortages and been creative in continuing the work necessary to aid in the war effort.

This entry to the series has the reader looking at Christmas 1944 and the witness of a German plane shot down not far from the farm. Too close, in fact. Joyce and Esther have been left at the farm during the Christmas countdown, the others scattered, and find themselves face-to-face with two desperate German airmen. The tension ramps up quickly as the men try to connect with sympathizers to collect and get them back home.

The farm is near Lady Hoxley’s Estate, where she is housing an American Army unit and an interim hospital in a branch of her mansion. I believe the farm is on her land, with perhaps Finch providing management, but not completely clear if he doesn’t own the farm. Still, Lady Hoxley keeps tab on the girls and lends support where she can.

The story jumps timelines, backtracking to an appropriately revealing scene with that point of view and then skips back, perhaps with a different character and replaying the scene to bring the two back to the same point in time. It can be just a bit confusing at first but serves to provide a full picture.

I was given this digital download by the publisher through NetGalley and was totally thrilled to have the opportunity to read and review. I thoroughly enjoyed the book (as well as the TV series) and heartily recommend to all who enjoy historical fiction. Whether it’s fiction or not, there is still so much to be learned from the “greatest generation.”

His Review

Christmas on the Home Front by Roland MooreThe scene is World War II and Britain is in its’ darkest hours. Everyone in the country pitches in for the war effort. City girls retreat to the farms to replace young men and boys sent off to war and assist in planting and harvesting.

Mr. Moore develops the characters as delightful, energetic and hard-working farm hands. Add to that the always present small-town gossips and busy-bodies and you have a very entertaining mix. Enemy aviators downed in the English countryside add danger and flavor to this tale.

Collaborators during WW II were present in France as the French underground. English helping the Germans were quite unusual and unexpected. Add foreign troops assisting the British from many different countries and you have a complete montage of love, heartbreak, intrigue and despair wrapped up in a daily struggle.

The young women are very naïve and vulnerable. Mix in lonesome foreign troops and escaping foreign airmen and you have a very volatile mix. Moore continually weaves humanity into his story. One almost had sympathy for the downed enemy airmen. However, their duty to escape and get back to their units made them less than sympathetic characters. Associate Reviewer - C E Williams

These books have been made into a TV series and I enjoyed them. But reading the book gives one a much broader appreciation for the trials suffered by all those involved in the WWII conflict. Set aside time, you will not want to put the book down. 5/5 CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: 20th Century Historical Romance, Small Town & Rural Fiction, War Fiction, TV Movie & Game Tie-In Fiction, Family Saga
Publisher: One More Chapter

  • ISBN-10:0008204454
  • ISBN-13:978-0008204457

ASIN: B07S47KQNV
Print Length: 273 pages
Publication Date: November 14, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Christmas on the Home Front
+Add to Goodreads 

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4.5-stars

The Author: Roland Moore is an award-winning series creator and scriptwriter working in a wide range of genres for film and television in the UK, America, and China.

He created the BBC1 returning period drama series, LAND GIRLS and he was recently the Head Writer on HUMANS for Endemol Shine China and Croton Media. HUMANS is the first sci-fi drama for Chinese television. Roland storylined the series (based on the AMC/C4 series), wrote six episodes and managed a team of UK writers through various drafts.

His children’s feature film 2:HRS recently received its theatrical premiere in the UK. He has also been commissioned to write a wartime spy drama for Jack Huston and his dystopian police series, THE LAST COP, has been optioned by Black Box Media.

He has written extensively for Big Finish writing original audio dramas for their DOCTOR WHO and SURVIVORS ranges. Other credits include SUMMER CAN WAIT (feature), RASTAMOUSE, SMACK THE PONY, DOCTORS, MAN STROKE WOMAN and PETER RABBIT. Find Roland Moore at the following links:

Twitter: @RolandMooreTV
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/landgirlstvbook
http://www.rolandmoore.tv

©2019 V Williams V Williams

The Land Girls photo attribute: Netflix

Two Good Dogs: A Novel by Susan Wilson Audiobook Review

What a beautiful and thoughtfully written novel of the power that connects human and canine and to their shared people.

Two Good Dogs by Susan Wilson

Book Blurb:

Susan Wilson, the best-selling author of One Good Dog, delivers another powerful audiobook of loyalty and love.

Single mom Skye Mitchell has sunk her last dime into a dream, owning the venerable, if run-down, LakeView Hotel in the Berkshire Hills. It’s here where she believes she’ll give her 14-year-old daughter, Cody, a better life. But being an innkeeper is more challenging than she imagined, and Cody still manages to fall in with the wrong crowd. In addition, Cody is keeping an earth-shattering secret that she’s terrified to reveal. The once loving, open girl has now become completely withdrawn, and Skye is both desperate and helpless to reach her.

When Adam March and his pit bull, Chance, check in to the hotel, it becomes the first of many visits. Here in these peaceful mountains he finds an unexpected relief from his recent bereavement. He and the beleaguered innkeeper form a tentative friendship. Adam knows the struggles of raising a difficult teenager, and Skye understands loneliness.

And then there is Mingo, a street kid with a pit bull dog of his own. When Cody discovers an overdosed Mingo, Adam takes the boy’s dog not just for safekeeping but to foster and then rehome. But the dog isn’t the only one who needs saving. A makeshift family begins to form as four lost people learn to trust and rely on each other, with the help of two good dogs.

My Review:

Okay, busted! Here I am with another doggie book, and what an exceptionally fine book it was. Of course, I was able to secure the audiobook, which places you square in the middle of the characters, the scene, and the joyous relationship with the dogs.

Two Good Dogs by Susan WilsonSkye Mitchell is escaping her own tragedies and thinking she’d offer herself and her daughter a whole new, hopefully peaceful, life, she purchased the LakeView Hotel and moved. But Cody is fourteen, a typical sullen, uncommunicative teen lost in her own world turned upside down and now with no familiar school or friends. But in addition, Cody knows something her mother would never suspect and which Cody is desperate to conceal.

Adam March recently lost his wife and the life he’d known, his job losing its previous overwhelming focus, and the only thing keeping him in touch with the here and now is his pit bull, Chance, a rescue. Chance is intuitive, sympathetic, and has a POV of his own–one you swear is visible in his eyes. He often imparts just the touch of grounding that prevents Adam from being inconsolable.

And Mingo, a street kid, left to his own, and his own hasn’t been easy. He’s found the wrong gang, the drugs, and the activities to pay for the habit. But one activity has gone too far for him and there is a depth to Mingo that his homeboys has failed to perceive. He has adopted a pit bull of his own–one he saved despite the odds. And Dawg will repay the kindness.

There are multiple POVs, all that allows the reader inside the head of the characters until you know them so well that you rail against poor decisions or cheer with the better ones. Mingo, I loved him. My heart went out to him, several times, in virtual hugs. What a kid! He wasn’t taught right and wrong–it was instinctive.

There were a number of times I wanted to slap Skye upside the head. Fortunately, she doesn’t really qualify as an antagonist, there are a couple others who fulfill that slot. I did like Adam, he functions as an unbiased therapist between mother and daughter, often quietly covering Cody’s back. The antagonist functions as a creepy ugghy guy, made more repulsive by the narrator and raising the hairs on the back of your neck.

A strong character-driven novel completely hooks you and doesn’t let go. Either way, whether you listen to this audiobook or read it, you’ll be drawn into the thoroughly engaging story and so invested you’re forced to see how the author will play this one out. My only negative (and it’s a small one) is the way Skye was narrated.

I loved this narrative and whether or not you enjoy a book with our canine partners, I’ll bet you’ll love the compelling and unique storyline and characters. Masterfully written, a novel worthy of a book hangover. (I grabbed this one because I’d read The Dog I Loved. See that review here.)

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

Book Details:

Genre: Animal Fiction
Publisher:  Macmillan Audio (Publisher)
ASIN: B06W539DF8
Listening Length: 11 hours and 51 minutes
Publisher: St Martin’s Press
ASIN: B01KFX665O
Print Length: 351 pages
Publication Date: March 7, 2017
Source: Merrillville Public Library – Audiobooks
Title Link: Two Good Dogs
 

+Add to Goodreads

Susan Wilson - authorThe Author: SUSAN WILSON is the author of ten novels, including the New York Times bestselling One Good Dog. In her most recent novel, TWO GOOD DOGS, the two main characters from One Good Dog, Adam March and his rescued pit bull Chance, make a return. She lives on Martha’s Vineyard. Visit her online at http://www.susanwilsonwrites.com

The Narrators: Christina Delaine (Narrator), Fred Berman (Narrator), Rick Adamson (Narrator)

©2019 V Williams V Williams

The Other People: A Novel by C J Tudor – a #BookReview #Thriller

English author has hit another out of the ballpark ” from the acclaimed author of The Chalk Man and The Hiding Place.”

The Other People by C J TudorBook Blurb:

 [from Goodreads] She sleeps, a pale girl in a white room . . .

Three years ago, Gabe saw his daughter taken. In the back of a rusty old car, covered in bumper stickers. He was driving behind the car. He watched her disappear. But no one believes him. Most people believe that his daughter and wife are dead. For a while, people believed that Gabe was responsible.

Three years later and Gabe cannot give up hope. Even though he has given up everything else. His home, his job, his old life. He spends his days and nights traveling up and down the motorway, sleeping in his camper van in service stations, searching for the car that took her. Searching for his daughter.

Katie spends a lot of her life in service stations, working as a waitress. She often sees Gabriel, or ‘the thin man’ as she has nicknamed him. She knows his story. She feels for him because Katie understands what it’s like to lose a loved one. Nine years ago, her father was murdered. It broke her family apart. She hasn’t seen her oldest sister since the day of the funeral; the day she did something terrible.

Fran and her daughter, Alice, put in a lot of miles on the motorway. Not searching. But running. Trying to keep one step ahead of the people that want to hurt them. Because Fran knows the truth. She knows what really happened to Gabe’s daughter. She knows who is responsible. And she knows that if they ever find them, they’re dead.

My Review:

When I see as much buzz as I saw for the previous two C J Tudor books and noticed this one available for request on NetGalley, you know I had to bite. Really? This is only her third book? Each a standalone? This is one seriously chilling novel with a prologue that has your teeth jangling almost immediately.

Where do I start?

The Other People by C J TudorIs it a thriller? A mystery? Vigilante Justice? An eye for an eye. Bible: Chapter and Verse. But wait–isn’t there a touch of the supernatural? Whatever it is, it’s a stunning, exciting, blast of a read and once started very difficult to put down. Start with a cuppa–you’ll need the edge.

There are several threads, the main one being protagonist Gabe. This man is so well developed you want to get out your army boots and give him a swift kick. But then, he’s been through the worst that life can offer, the savage death of his wife Jenny and daughter, Izzy. Then why does he insist Izzy is alive? He has been searching for her ever since that night. His grief is palpable, all-consuming.

And there is Katie, a waitress. She can sympathize with Gabe as she too has experienced the horrible, senseless death–that of her beloved father. And the inevitable breakdown of her family. Kate is an empathetic support character, struggling as she is to care for her two children, solving a childcare problem by working graveyard. It is at her service station restaurant where she often sees Gabe, a motorist stopping weekly on his daughter-seeking mission.

Fran and her daughter Alice are running. It’s a frantic existence, one she is aware that is wringing on Alice. It’s not fair–Alice is so young. She’s been traumatized and exhibits anxious and unusual behavior.

And lastly, there is this other girl, quiet, kept in perpetuity in a sterile white room with the machines and the nurse.

As the author spoon-feeds you little bits and the storyline begins to build and coagulate, it also builds a dread, a heart-thumping rise in blood pressure. The scenarios switch from POV to POV, each creating another building block exposing again a raw truth. A lie by the sin of omission? Secrets held tight–they all have them–loathe to expose any to light.

The reader is led helplessly through each thread looking for the one that pulls them all together. Who are The Other People. Can they be exposed? Is there any way Gabe will find his daughter or peace? The sheer complexity begins to wear on you. The confusion released with each new revelation, blinding twists, becomes absolutely gripping, page-turning entertainment.

The frenetic conclusion, while satisfying, introduced another shocking revelation–but the full reveal bordered on TMI, mildly gratuitous. Otherwise, the whole ride through this book was one very exciting charge into a stunning third effort. I can’t compare this to the others as this was my first experience with the author, but I can assure you, most be my last.

I was given this digital download by the publisher through NetGalley and was thrilled to have the opportunity to read and review. Wholeheartedly recommended for any who loves an engaging well-plotted thriller.

Book Details:

Genre: Domestic Thrillers, Kidnapping Thrillers
Publisher: Ballantine Books

  • ISBN-10:059315343X
  • ISBN-13:978-0593153437
  • ASIN: B07R6J4N96

Print Length: 288 pages
Publication Date: January 28, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Other People

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everyone calls her Caz.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

No Man’s Land (An FBI K-9 Novel Book 4) by Sara Driscoll – a #BookReview

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5-stars 

I love it when I learn something new and this was an eye-opener! A shared review, my associate and I agreed on this one!

No Man's Land by Sara DriscollBook Blurb:

Special Agent Meg Jennings and her search-and-rescue dog are on the trail of a killer hiding where others fear to tread…

For Meg Jennings and her K-9 companion, Hawk, exploring the ruins of a deserted building is an exciting way to sharpen their skills without the life-or-death stakes they face as part of the FBI’s Human Scent Evidence Team. But deep in the echoing rooms of an abandoned asylum, Hawk finds the body of an elderly woman. The victim couldn’t have made her way into the derelict building on her own. Before forty-eight hours pass, Meg learns of more cases of elders found dead in neglected urban structures.

There’s not enough evidence to link the deaths—yet. But Meg scents a pattern, and when she gets word of another senior gone missing, she and Hawk don’t hesitate. Meg is sure a murderer is hunting the elderly, and she can prove it if she can just find a connection. It will take the expert coordination of her whole team, along with help from Clay McCord and Todd Webb, to uncover the means, let alone a motive. And to stop someone who has operated in the dark for so long, Meg will need to risk more than she has to give . . .

My Review

No Man's Land by Sara DriscollI was definitely due to having a major, knock-my-socks off novel and this one rang all the bells. A new author and series for me, Book 4 won’t be the last. Love it when I can learn something new and No Man’s Land teaches while it winds a heart-racing mystery around a service animal, search and rescue mystery. Is it Hawk’s story (a black lab) or is it Meg Jennings, part of the FBI’s Human Scent Evidence Team that takes center stage? She is larger than life–and she goes where few men venture.

Meg is off on a weekend, looking to expand Hawk’s skills in a new and exciting hobby; exploring the ruins of abandoned buildings, long since deserted, left to decay and crumble into life-threatening ruins. Who does that? When we were in Goodyear (Arizona), there was an abandoned structure that absolutely haunted your vision. The Phoenix Trotting Park, short-lived, and deserted for fifty-one years was finally demolished in 2017. I found it endlessly fascinating, but would never have attempted to explore it. (I noted it in my Freaky Friday post in 2016.)

Goodyear Phoenix Trotting Park

Apparently, it’s a thing though. Who Knew? Urbex. That is, urban explorers. The more massive, the better, I guess. Industrial, medical, commercial. And Meg’s exploration is cut short when Hawk alerts to a (deceased) human presence. Whaaa??

I loved the way the author intertwines fact with fiction, weaving little details not only about the buildings and the people who do that sort of thing, but filling the fast-moving novel with obvious technical expertise, extensive research, and a wonderful cast of characters. Meg is well-developed and the support characters all mesh together in a practical and methodical exercise of search and rescue, containment of the scene.

The mystery of the killings goes deeper, much much deeper, and introduces you to a whole new subject. There are some things you wish you didn’t know but learn you did and in quick immersive fashion.

The novel hooks you immediately and gathers speed in an impossible to put down race to the conclusion–and a heart-stopping climax. This can be read as a standalone but I’m seriously sorry I missed the first three and I’ll look forward to the next one out.

I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley and thrilled to have the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for any who enjoy a gasp-producing thriller. This is one you must not miss! Trust me.

His Review

There are many reasons for murder. This author has coupled FBI profiling with urban exploring. Add search dogs and this is a novel not to be put down. Search and rescue added to the mix and then an obscure reason for the crime.

The heroine, Meg Jennings is an associate with the Federal Bureau of Investigation who stumbles across a body on a weekend adventure with an experienced urban explorer.  She and her dog Hawk are up to their necks in this mystery. I appreciate how the author develops the plot as the novel matures. Associate Reviewer - C E Williams

It always comes down to money, doesn’t it. Trying to make a shortcut in life’s journey trips him up. Enjoy the ride as this author takes you on a serious journey through the conclusion. She does not disappoint. 5/5 stars CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Serial Killer, Cozy Animal, Police Procedurals
Publisher: Kensington Books

  • ISBN-10:1496722477
  • ISBN-13:978-1496722478
  • ASIN: B07P9MMX96

Print Length: 304 pages
Publication Date: November 26, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: No Man’s Land
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Sara Driscoll - authorThe Author: Sara Driscoll is the pen name of Jen J. Danna and Ann Vanderlaan, authors of the Abbott and Lowell Forensic Mysteries. Jen is an infectious disease researcher at a cutting edge Canadian university near Toronto, but loves to spend her free time writing the thrilling and mysterious. Ann lives in central Texas with five rescued pit bulls, including Kane, now a certified therapy dog. She also trains with Kane for competitive nose work. You can follow the latest news on the FBI K-9 Mysteries at saradriscollauthor.com

Phoenix Trotting Park attribution: Wikipedia

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Verse and Vengeance: A Magical Bookshop Mystery by Amanda Flower – a #BookReview

Wouldn’t you love to visit this most unusual bookshop!

Verse and Vengeance by Amanda FlowerBook Blurb:

With the help of Walt Whitman’s works, magical bookshop owner Violet Waverly puts her pedal to the metal to sleuth a bicycle-race murder that tests her mettle.

A bicycle race is not Charming Books proprietor Violet Waverly’s idea of a pleasant pastime. But police chief David Rainwater wheelie wants them to enter the Tour de Cascade as a couple, so she reluctantly consents.

The Tour de Cascade is the brainchild of Violet’s Grandma Daisy. The race is a fundraiser to build the Cascade Springs Underground Railroad Museum. But not everyone in this Niagara Region village supports the race. As if the bike race weren’t tiring enough, pesky private investigator Joel Redding is snooping around Charming Books. It takes all of Violet’s and Grandma Daisy’s ingenuity to keep Redding from discovering the shop’s magical essence–which communicates with Violet through books.

When Redding perishes in an accident during the race, David discovers that the brake line of the private eye’s bike was cut. Worse, Violet tops his list of suspects. As Emerson the tuxedo cat and resident crow Faulkner look on, Charming Books steers Violet to the works of Walt Whitman to solve the crime. But no other names ring a bell as culprits, and as David’s investigation picks up speed, Violet will have to get in gear to clear her name.

My Review:

Verse and Vengeance by Amanda FlowerProtagonist Violet Waverly is “Caretaker” of the magical birch tree located inside the Charming Books bookshop. Her grandmother, Daisy, also works in the bookshop when she is not fulfilling her duties as the new mayor of Cascade Springs. She has begun a project to provide an Underground Railroad Museum in the village hall. Also prominently featured are Faulkner the resident talking crow who lives in the branches of the tree and Emerson, the black and white tuxedo cat. The fourth in the series and my second, I’ve had no problem reading each entry as a standalone.

Grandma Daisy has urged both Violet and her boyfriend, police chief, David Rainwater, to ride in the Tour de Cascade, a major event meant to provide construction funds for her project, but before the ride is completed, Violet comes upon the fatal accident of private investigator Joel Redding. The shop’s magical “essence,” quietly deposits hints to her about the murder in the works by Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass.

Violet is still not completely confident of David and won’t divulge her secrets re the bookshop. There is one major perp which Violet steadfastly refuses to believe and works to get to the bottom of who and why. She is a no-nonsense, direct question type of amateur sleuth and there are twists and turns in this well-plotted mystery. The narrative proceeds at an even pace and the fictitious setting of the small tourist town near Niagara Falls is descriptive and inviting. Also, I enjoyed little bits of humor, i.e. “I swear the man could wax on about dryer lint.”

Birch tree However, poetry quotes from Whitman (not one of my favs) on a cell phone Kindle app are difficult to read and interrupt the flow. I’m still having difficulty imagining the interior with the tree (aka The Goddess Tree) and spiral staircase to a second-floor apartment. It’s a paranormal–must swallow some disbelief. There are elements that are not wholly explained in the surprising conclusion and as an ARC edit misses and a few detail contradictions.

I was granted this ebook download by the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read for my unbiased review. I am looking forward to Book 5 and recommend to all who enjoy an easy, fast cozy read with a touch of paranormal and romance.

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Animal Mysteries, Ghost Mysteries
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

  • ISBN-10:1643851519
  • ISBN-13:978-1643851518
  • ASIN: B07NTYQQM4

Print Length: 260 pages
Publication Date: To be released December 10, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Verse and Vengeance
 

+Add to Goodreads

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

Amanda Flower - authorThe Author: Amanda Flower, a USA Today bestselling and Agatha Award-winning mystery author, started her writing career in elementary school when she read a story she wrote to her sixth grade class and had the class in stitches with her description of being stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel. She knew at that moment she’d found her calling of making people laugh with her words. Her debut mystery, Maid of Murder, was an Agatha Award Nominee for Best First Novel and her children’s mysteries, Andi Unexpected and Andi Under Pressure, were an Agatha Award Nominees for Best Children’s/YA Novel. Andi Unstoppable won the Agatha Award for Best Children’s/YA Novel 2015. Amanda is a former librarian living in northeast Ohio. Visit her at http://www.amandaflower.com

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Birch Tree Attribution: The Goddess Tree

My Reviews Have Gone to the Dogs – #dogsworld

Well, perhaps not literally, but seems an unusual number of reviews lately have either used a doggy protagonist or figured prominently in the storyline. October seems to have started it with four, Dogs Don’t Lie, Tracking Game, Here Comes Santa Paws, and Rescued.

And November? November went whole dog again (well, almost) with five and for the most part, I loved them all. Two got my coveted five stars. And while some were more anthropomorphic than others, they all presented excellent POVs that you’d swear were directly interpreted.

 

Since we seem to be in dog-loving mode lately, thought if you missed one of these, you might like to check it out. (Links to my reviews in the titles below.)

Scarlet Fever

The well-plotted mystery moves you through the end of the fox-hunting season. I particularly enjoyed the conversation between the animals, not just between the dogs, but species to species.

Paw of the Jungle

The series has built an engaging set of characters you can’t help investing in. Entertaining atmospheric setting coupled with an intelligent and anthropomorphic glimpse into the psyche of a magnificent, intelligent canine partner.

From Wild to Mild – 5 stars

Beautifully well written, well-plotted, with fully developed human as well as canine personalities. (I loved the little goat!) The story is engaging from the beginning, fast-paced, with a very satisfying conclusion sure to elicit a few tears with happy smiles. Short and very sweet, this is a #mustread for anyone who enjoys a literary animal adventure.

The Dog I Loved – 5 stars

Author Susan Wilson has penned a masterful tale weaving modern-day storyline with a discovered journal of the remote area she is overseeing. All the characters are so fully engaging, including the fully-fleshed dogs, that the reader easily invests in each as well as the well-plotted and engaging narrative. Gripping and emotive, the book hits so many tough subjects from women in prison to wounded warriors, PTSD, dysfunctional families, estrangement, and friendship. Unique plot–totally immersive.

San Diego Dead

a smorgasbord of mystery, action, adventure, murderous assassins, terrorists, kidnapping and general mayhem. The fast-paced, well-plotted thriller moves through twists and turns. Jake is well-developed as is Cody and there is a perspective from Cody as he observes his human. (I wouldn’t exactly term him a master–handler would be more appropriate.)

You might be a kitty person or a horse lover and a few of these novels included those animals as well as foxes (the latter). We do love our animals, don’t we? They present an endless fascination. Dogs posited most often as service dogs–those stout-hearted, intelligent, well-trained animals who use their native sensitivities for human benefit.

Have to read any of the above? Did you agree with my assessment? Want equal time with your favorite feline? Tell me about it.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers and if you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving where you are–have a super Thursday!

Happy Thursday

Happy Thanksgiving

©2019 V Williams V Williams

 

Paw of the Jungle (A Paw Enforcement Novel Book 8) by Diane Kelly – a #BookReview #cozydog

Enjoy this K-9 service dog, police procedural, cozy animal mystery series.

Paw of the Jungle by Diane KellyBook Blurb:

Police officer Megan Luz and her K-9 partner in crime, Brigit, are on all fours as they try to solve their latest Lone Star mystery.

AT THE ZOO
The weather is beautiful, work is slow, and her canine colleague could use a walk. What better day for Megan to take Brigit to the Fort Worth Zoo, where they can let loose and witness the law and order of nature unfold? But what begins as a fun field trip turns serious when a pair of rare hyacinth macaws named Fabiana and Fernando goes missing. Is the new custodian, a gentle soul who happens to be an ex-convict, to blame? Or is something far more sinister afoot?

AND ON THE HUNT
The birds are worth thousands of dollars, and the list of people on the premises who might have stolen them is long. Soon other animals start disappearing. . .and Megan and Brigit have their hands and paws full of suspects. But when a rare black rhino is taken from the zoo, presumably for its black-market-friendly horn, time is of the essence. Can Megan and Brigit find out who’s behind the mystery—before they too become prey?

My Review:

I was introduced to this author and series last year when I was lucky enough to receive The Long Paw of the Law (see my review here). Fort Worth Texas officer, Megan Luz is back with her K-9 service dog, Brigit. Her favorite guy, Seth, also has a service dog, a yellow Lab named Blast. Seth is a bomb squad technician and firefighter.

Paw of the Jungle by Diane KellyOnce again, the story is told in multiple POVs, one being protagonist Megan, along with Brigit, and the antagonist, dubbed The Poacher, whose elevator never reaches the top floor. There are a number of great support characters, along with Derek, the “Big Dick” Mackey (“The donkey wasn’t the only jackass here.”), and Detective Bustamente. There is a little romance, the (male) Lab adores Brigit, and the romance between Seth and Megan doesn’t over-power the well-plotted mystery.

In this series entry, a number of valuable rings go missing about the same time as a pair of Hyacinth macaws go missing from the zoo. It is nearing Christmas and the mall is full, people in a rush and Megan isn’t sure that the ring owners haven’t just misplaced them. But the birds? No way could the regular zoo staff have allowed them to escape. Unfortunately, it’s not long before a member of the antelope family similarly goes missing. And then it just gets worse.

In the meantime, the reader is treated to a wealth of information regarding laws of hunting in Texas, game ranches and animal poachers, as well as ex-con recidivism rates depending on available prison rehab classes. I love the chapters devoted to Brigit and her take on humans, as well as the little hints of reading dog body language. (In 2015, law enforcement officers in Texas began receiving training in canine encounters, reducing the number of unnecessary canine deaths.) And always, the author’s sense of humor shines through, often injecting thought-provoking LOL moments.

In regard to using online tutorials to learn welding: “I’d used online tutorials myself. But despite watching three makeup lessons, I’d yet to master the smoky eye.”

The narrative grabs your attention immediately and keeps a fairly steady pace with the exception of explanatory bits noted above. Megan is working hard to test for detective grade and in the meantime the series has built an engaging set of characters you can’t help investing in. Entertaining atmospheric setting coupled with an intelligent and anthropomorphic glimpse into the psyche of a magnificent, intelligent canine partner.

I was given this digital download by the publisher and NetGalley and was thrilled to have the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for any who enjoy K-9 associated books, police procedurals, suspense, and sweet and easy pseudo cozy. Looking forward to Book 9!

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Dog Mysteries, Police Procedurals
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
ISBN: 1250197376
ASIN: B07P9LPNHB
Print Length: 365 pages
Publication Date: To be released November 26, 2019
strong>Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Paw of the Jungle
+Add to Goodreads 

[Rosepoint Publishing: 4.5 of Five Stars 4.5-stars

Diane Kelly - authorThe Author: A former tax advisor, Diane Kelly inadvertently worked with white-collar criminals on multiple occasions. Not surprisingly, Diane decided self-employment would be a good idea. Her fingers hit the keyboard and thus began her Death and Taxes romantic mystery series. A graduate of her hometown’s Citizen Police Academy, Diane Kelly also writes the hilarious K-9 cop Paw Enforcement series and the new House Flipper cozy mystery series.

Diane’s books have been awarded the prestigious Romance Writers of America Golden Heart® Award and a Reviewers Choice Award.

Try a sample of Diane’s work, along with works by other cozy mystery authors, by checking out “Cozy Case Files” for free on Amazon Kindle.

Be the first to receive book news by signing up for Diane’s newsletter at http://www.dianekelly.com/ “Like” Diane on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/dianekellybooks. Follow her on Instagram at dianekellybooks and on Twitter @dianekellybooks.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

The Fever Cabinet (Professor Molly Mysteries Book 9) by Frankie Bow #BlogTour #BookBlast #BookReview #Giveaway

I am delighted today to provide a review for you at my blog stop for The Fever Cabinet by Frankie Bow on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. Scroll down to enter your chance to win the Giveaway!

The Fever Cabinet by Frankie Bow

Book Details

The Fever Cabinet (Professor Molly Mysteries)
Cozy Mystery
9th in Series
Hawaiian Heritage Press (August 20, 2019)
(November 20, 2019, all formats)
Print Length: 209 pages
ASIN: B07VFD3D26

Book Blurb

An abandoned hospital, an antique contrivance, and a very modern murder . . .

All Professor Molly wanted to do was teach literature. Instead she’s just been named chair of her department at Mahina State University, and her department has been relocated to a run-down former asylum. She’s buried in paperwork and her dean has assigned her to mentor the department’s new “star”, the prickly Fiona Spencer.

Fiona Spencer had her own reasons for relocating from Oxford to join the faculty at remote Mahina State University. She is willing to put up with the broken air conditioning and constant construction noise in the College of Commerce building (formerly the Territorial Inebriates’ Asylum). She can even tolerate her annoying department head, Molly Barda. But when she finds a body in her office, clamped into an antique medical device, it’s all a bit much. Especially when she becomes a murder suspect.

Now Fiona and Molly have to work together to find a solution. And the answer won’t be found in the back of the textbook.

My Review

I requested Book 9 as an introduction to the Professor Molly Mysteries which is sited in Hawaii at a small college undergoing construction while wrestling with financial constraints. Indeed, as department head of Mahina State University, Molly has been deemed the person to make sure their new star professor from Oxford University, Dr. Fiona Spencer, is happy. Pretty hard to accomplish as the good doctor quickly discovers a small college strangled in short funds and her office moved to a run-down former asylum with construction debris around her.

the fever cabinetWritten in first person, the protagonist Molly switches POV with Fiona while Fiona’s current state of marriage is briefly outlined in disturbing terms. She relocated to Hawaii to be with her husband, Elliott, but things don’t go quite as she’d planned.

Elliott is Head Master at a boys academy and not everyone at that school is thrilled with him.

The chapters switch between POV’s where there is some overlap picking up where the other left off. But the narrative does begin rather slowly while introducing support characters and developing background information. I loved the location of Mahina and the fragrant descriptive flavor of the islands, along with occasional pidgin adding authenticity. Professor Molly is balancing academic life with her baby and home life.

“Only a baby could make complete self-centeredness look so adorable.”

She is not a barn-burning sleuth out to interview every possible suspect after a body is found in a Victorian fever cabinet in the construction debris of Fiona’s office.

I enjoyed the author’s humorous writing style, invoking numerous satirical analogies. The setting of a struggling university is atmospheric with the classic political turmoil and contradicting rules and regs. The character of Fiona’s mother, Harriet Holmes was fantastic, loved her, even if I disagreed with her choice of bike. (Note to Ms. Bow–bikers ride off–not drive.)

This well-plotted mystery comes to an easy conclusion with the author wrapping up all possible loose threads and no big surprises under the circumstances. I received the digital download from the author and publisher for the blog tour and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for those readers who enjoy a leisurely but entertaining pace in their cozy mysteries.

+Add to Goodreads

Giveaway

Sign up for your chance to win one (1) Winner’s Choice, either print or digital of A Professor Molly Mystery (print open to U.S. only) of this Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author

Frankie Bow - authorLike Professor Molly, Frankie Bow teaches at a public university. Unlike her protagonist, she is blessed with delightful students, sane colleagues, and a perfectly nice office chair. She believes if life isn’t fair, at least it can be entertaining. In addition to writing murder mysteries, she publishes in scholarly journals under her real name. Her experience with academic publishing has taught her to take nothing personally.

 

Author Links

Twitter https://twitter.com/Frankie_Bow

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7809288.Frankie_Bow

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

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/frankie.bow.1

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

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

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

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

Tour Participants:

November 20

I Read What You Write – REVIEW

StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

The Book Diva’s Reads – SPOTLIGHT

Literary Gold  – SPOTLIGHT

Books a Plenty Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

November 21

Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT

Mysteries with Character – REVIEW

Baroness’ Book Trove – SPOTLIGHT

Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT

November 22

The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – SPOTLIGHT

Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

Laura’s Interests – REVIEW Great Escapes Book Tours

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

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Mercy Road by Ann Howard Creel – a #BookReview World War I #HistoricalFiction

I love books based on true stories–most especially about brave and trail-blazing women in our history.

Mercy Road by Ann Howard CreelBook Blurb:

Inspired by the true story of the World War I American Women’s Hospital, Mercy Road is a novel about love, courage, and a female ambulance driver who risks everything.

In 1917, after Arlene Favier’s home burns to the ground, taking her father with it, she must find a way to support her mother and younger brother. If she doesn’t succeed, they will all be impoverished. Job opportunities are scarce, but then a daring possibility arises: the American Women’s Hospital needs ambulance drivers to join a trailblazing, all-female team of doctors and nurses bound for war-torn France.

On the front lines, Arlene and her fellow ambulance drivers work day and night to aid injured soldiers and civilians. In between dangerous ambulance runs, Arlene reunites with a childhood friend, Jimmy Tucker, now a soldier, who opens her heart like no one before. But she has also caught the attention of Felix Brohammer, a charismatic army captain who harbors a dark, treacherous secret.

To expose Brohammer means risking her family’s future and the promise of love. Arlene must make a choice: stay in the safety of silence or take the greatest chance of her life.

My Review:

Mercy Road by Ann Howard CreelThe beautiful opening paragraphs of this novel grabs your attention with the fleet-footed and magnificent Tornado, the Favier Farms prized breeding stallion. The small privately-owned ranch had a reputation built for race-winning Thoroughbreds and the French-born master of the manor a special knack for finding the best. Unfortunately, the fire that ensues levels the house he and his wife lovingly built and where Arlene and her brother Luc were raised. It is after the devastating fire that also kills her father that they discover the truth of the finances.

Desperate for employment to keep family and farm together, Arlene discovers an unusual opportunity for a woman in 1918. Owing to her father teaching her French and how to drive (GASP! In 1918?), Arlene will ship over to the last vestiges of the war in France to drive an ambulance for the American Women’s Hospital Services (an amazing story in itself).

American Women's Hospital Services
Two uniformed women with American Women’s Hospitals Services, ca 1919. (Courtesy of Drexel University, College of Medicine, Archives & Special Collections) as posted on the Women’s Voices for Change

What follows is a narrative into the war-torn country now covered with destruction and desolation, ashes and shell-pocked country roads. The group Arlene arrives with gradually begin the acclimation into the effort but it takes a huge toll on the women–warned but still not prepared for just how bad it would be.

Arlene is fairly well developed, although not all support characters are. She is quickly pursued by a US officer and rejects his advances according to rules, but he is having none of that. In the meantime, she discovers a childhood acquaintance likewise driving an ambulance, but he for the Army. A reigniting proceeds between herself and Jimmy and the ensuing romance pops back and forth into the storyline.

Written in first person through Arlene, the story is well-plotted and the pace even albeit slowed by the irrational interest of the narcissistic officer and the romance with Jimmy. I enjoyed the informational bits of the ambulance, the countryside, the people of France and her connection through her father, as well as the description of the many rescues. Also, the reader is reminded of the catastrophic flu that swept the globe as well as the rampant diseases brought about by such savage conditions. There was a rather obvious but surprising note regarding another of the crew and the climax came with sinking heart. Still, the author manages to weave a plausible concluding scenario with most loose threads neatly tied.

I received this ARC from the publisher through NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. It’s gratifying that the contribution of women’s war efforts are beginning to come to light. And BTW, I absolutely love that cover! Recommended for any who enjoy historical fiction, WWI narratives, and positive achievements by women.

Book Details:

Genre: World War I Historical Fiction, Historical European Fiction
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

  • ISBN-10:1542041988
  • ISBN-13:978-1542041980
  • ASIN: B07PWF72XG

Print Length: 278 pages
Publication Date: Happy Publication Day, November 19, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Mercy Road+Add to Goodreads

Ann Howard Creel - authorThe Author: Ann Howard Creel was born to write. By the age of ten she was writing daily in a diary, and by the age of twelve she had written an entire novel on a typewriter her father was getting ready to throw away. She worked for many years as a Registered Nurse, but the urge to write never left her. So after work and tending to children’s needs, she began to write again. During that time, she could have been found helping with math homework, making spaghetti, and writing a very drafty chapter all in the same night.

After first writing for children, she turned her attention to Historical Fiction. Her first novel for adults, THE MAGIC OF ORDINARY DAYS, was made into a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie on CBS. Her recent titles have been Kindle bestsellers and include WHILE YOU WERE MINE, THE WHISKEY SEA, THE UNCERTAIN SEASON, and her latest, THE RIVER WIDOW.

She now writes full-time. Ann’s main characters are always strong women facing high-stakes situations and having to make life-changing decisions. Her historical settings have ranged from Victorian-era Galveston to World War II in New York City. Her next novel, MERCY ROAD, to be published in 2019, takes readers to World War I France.

Besides writing, Ann loves old houses, new yoga routines, and all things cat. Contact her via her website http://www.annhowardcreel.com or oonnect on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authorannhowardcreel or Instagram: @annhowardcreel.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Storm of Secrets: A Haunted Bluffs Mystery by Loretta Marion #BlogTour #BookReview #Giveaway

Storm of Secrets

I am so delighted today to provide a review for you at my blog stop from both myself and my associate for Storm of Secrets by Loretta Marion on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. Scroll down to enter your chance to win the Giveaway!

Book Details

Storm of Secrets: A Haunted Bluffs Mystery
Paranormal Mystery
2nd in Series
Crooked Lane Books (November 12, 2019)
Hardcover – 327 Pages
ISBN-10: 1643851756
ISBN-13: 978-1643851754
Digital ASIN: B07NTY8L1N

Book Blurb

A deadly storm, a missing three-year-old child, a suspicious death, and the eerie presence of the spirits of the dead set the stage for the second mesmerizing installment of Loretta Marion’s paranormal suspense series.

A powerful storm descends upon Cape Cod’s Whale Rock at the peak of tourist season–and the weekend Cassandra Mitchell’s and Daniel Benjamin’s wedding is set to take place at The Bluffs, the magnificent Victorian mansion Cassie inherited from her family. In the wake of the storm’s destruction, three-year-old Lucas Kleister goes missing–and the body of small-time drug dealer Lee Chambers is found in a restaurant dumpster. Now, the WRPD are faced with a murder to solve, a missing child to find, and the aftermath of one of the worst storms in recent memory.

While aiding with the clean-up and helping the displaced, Cassie has been receiving cryptic messages from the spirits of her great-grandparents, Percy and Celeste Mitchell, the original residents of The Bluffs. At first, the messages are benign, but soon, they begin to point to something more sinister. As Cassie works to decipher their meaning, the specter of a mysterious local legend surfaces. The tale of Barnacle Boy–and what happened to him during another destructive storm decades earlier–will weave through the desperate search to find Lucas and the identity of a killer.

My Review

Storm of SecretsThe second installment of this series continues to build on the mystery of the paranormal circumstances enveloping the mansion at The Bluffs that protagonist Cassie Mitchell has inherited, saved, and refurbished along with an adjacent rental/studio in the Carriage House. Along with her fiancé Daniel, a former FBI agent, the town dives into prep for the massive storm that canceled their wedding and Cassie discovers a body in the dumpster behind one of the merchants downtown.

Daniel is enlisted in the search for the missing three-year-old, Lucas, as well as gleaning clues regarding the identity of the man in the dumpster. Daniel and she work unofficially with the Whale Rock Police Department, sussing clues and trading information.

This supernatural thriller introduces a fascinating sub-plot beneath the main plot using current and historical timeline filler to add background to the mysterious Christopher Savage, a displaced person staying temporarily at the Carriage House. The extra layer adds a depth of complexity to the storyline that interspersed with the frantic search for the boy and investigation into the dumpster body keeps the intensity at high level.

I enjoyed the paranormal aspect of the narrative, her great-grandparents often confusing Cassie with messages she is unable to immediately interpret. The relationship between she and Daniel is painted romantically as an ordinary middle-age couple and her relationship with estranged sister, Zoe, fitful. The author weaves a fascinating correlation between that of Cassie and her family with that of Christopher and his and gradually more secrets find their way to the surface.

I was given this digital download by the publisher through NetGalley for this blog tour and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. I’ve enjoyed both books in this series and would welcome the chance to read the third. This entry could read fine as a standalone, but you may wish to begin with Book 1 to get a full explanation of the paranormal nuance. Recommended for any who enjoy a little supernatural vibe to their mysteries.

His Review

Missing children at sea are never happy circumstances. Add to that a search during a violent storm and the setting of “Storm of Secrets” is launched. Whale Rock Village in Massachusetts is in the track of the storm when a bright object catches Cassie Mitchell’s eye, leading to the discovery of a body hidden in the nearby dumpster.

Barnacle Boy was the first child lost and washed up on the beach years earlier. Buried in the Mitchell family graveyard his identity is still unknown. Who is this boy and why was a three-year-old child left to play on the beach with his older brother?

Merging family history with current missing persons adds a savage twist to this tale. Can local police and gossips help to solve this mystery? Each clue seems to lead further from a happy ending. The lost boy Lucas should have never been out playing with his older brother, Nicholas, with an impending storm. Six years old does not make a mature baby sitter. Associate Reviewer - C E Williams

This book is both engrossing and unnerving. At times it appears there will be no satisfactory conclusion. Read the book and enjoy the masterful conclusion! CE Williams

+Add to Goodreads

 

Giveaway

Sign up for your chance to win a Grand Prize bag filled with goodies in this  Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author

Loretta Marion - authorA true bibliophile, Loretta Marion‘s affection for the written word began in childhood and followed her like a shadow throughout her life as she crafted award-winning marketing and advertising copy and educational brochures. She then applied her writing skills as a volunteer, establishing a Legacy Story program for hospice patients, which inspired her to create her own fictional stories. Her debut novel, The Fool’s Truth, is a twisty mystery set in Maine. Her Haunted Bluffs Mystery Series is set on Cape Cod and was introduced by Crooked Lane Books in 2018 beginning with HOUSE OF ASHES. Her newest release, STORM OF SECRETS, is the second book of the series.

When not whipping out words on her laptop, she is traveling, enjoying outdoor pursuits, or is curled up with a delicious new book. Loretta lives in Rhode Island with her husband, Geoffrey.

Author Links – 

Website:  https://www.LorettaMarion.com

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

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15863622.Loretta_Marion

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

Purchase Links

Amazon     Barnes and Noble   Penguin Random House    Indiebound   Kobo

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

Tour Participants:

November 8 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

November 8 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW

November 9 – Elizabeth McKenna – Author – SPOTLIGHT

November 9 – StoreyBook Reviews– GUEST POST

November 10 – Diane Reviews Books – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW

November 11 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW

November 11 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

November 12 – I Read What You Write – GUEST POST

November 13 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

November 13 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

November 14 – Cozy Up With Kathy – GUEST POST

November 15 – That’s What She’s Reading – REVIEW, EXCERPT

November 16 – MJB Reviewers – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

November 16 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

November 17 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

November 18 – eBook Addicts – REVIEW

November 19 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

November 19 – Mysteries with Character – AUTHOR INTERVIEW Great Escapes Book Tours

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

©2019 V Williams V Williams

From Wild to Mild – A Dog in Two Worlds – a #BookReview #blogtour @iReadBookTours #Giveaway

From the Pups & Purrs Press comes this entry to the Pups & Purrs Series, From Wild to Mild by Sunny Weber. Middle-grade children’s (teachable moment) book just as delightful for adults who love animals.

From Wild to MIld by Sunny WeberBook Details
Book TitleFrom Wild to Mild: A Dog in Two Worlds by Sunny Weber
Category: Middle-Grade Fiction (Ages 8-12), 196 pages
Genre:  Animals/pets
Publisher Pups & Purrs Press
Release date:   August 23, 2019

Book Blurb

Eight-week-old Australian Shepherd Kaya is kidnapped by a nasty coyote to be food for his mate and puppies. Instead, the loving mother raises Kaya with her own pups. But as hard as she tries, Kaya can’t completely fit in—she can’t kill prey or stay awake for night hunts.

Why can’t she make herself a true coyote? Constantly criticized by her coyote father,

Kaya finds support in her new mother and siblings. She also figures out
how to contribute through teamwork with her brother and sister.
Trapped by a dog rescue, Kaya re-enters the human world and learns the differences between how dogs and coyotes live. When freed to roam again, does she return to her forest freedom—or remain with her farm family?
Can Kaya forever straddle between the Wild and the Mild?

My Review

So glad I was introduced to this book as it is one that grips very quickly with the abduction of an eight-week-old pup by a nasty coyote, Maka. The protagonist and POV is an Australian Shepherd, adorable, but confused by his introduction to the den, scared that she’d become dinner for Taina and the coyote pups, Gopher and Flower, who would become his adopted sister and brother. Taina gathered the strange little pup into the fold and loved, sheltered, and fed Kaya as her own.

From Wild to Mild by Sunny WeberBut Maka was not so easily swayed by the puppy and found her difficult to teach. Kaya has a whole different set of instincts, circadian rhythms, and was often corrected when she didn’t fit the coyote criteria. Indeed, she’d rather sleep at night than hunt and discovered she would greatly prefer to coordinate hunting with her sister and brother so that she would not have to kill to eat making Maka increasingly short-tempered about sharing food she had not acquired herself.

It’s so easy to see so many common human conundrums in the storyline–that of the individual marching to her own drum–hearing the music the others didn’t hear–not appreciated for her own gifts that didn’t conform to the norm.

Perfect for those teachable moments with children old enough to grasp the nuances! If shared with an adult, so much the better, but definitely open to thoughtful discussion whether child or adult.

As with a human child, Kaya would find it necessary to rebel. She began to observe the canine/human connections with the local townspeople. They looked to be happy. The dogs obviously were well-loved, cared for, performed their jobs seriously and were rewarded for effort. The problem was in the conversion from wild back to mild–that of a dog integrated into a human pack. It took love and patience.

But then Maka is not through. His territory, his rules, and the conflict between protecting Kaya’s new family and her coyote family must be resolved–one way or the other.

This beautifully illustrated novel is well written, well-plotted, with fully developed human as well as canine personalities. (I loved the little goat!) The story is engaging from the beginning, fast-paced, with a very satisfying conclusion sure to elicit a few tears with happy smiles. Short and very sweet, this is a must-read for anyone who enjoys a literary animal adventure.

This blog tour is being combined with two additional books in the series, Hurricane Dog: A Tale of Betrayal, Redemption and Change, and The Dog at the Gate: How a Throw-Away Dog Becomes Special. Click on the participating links below to check out all three books!

Buy this Book:

Amazon.com

Add to Goodreads

 

Sunny Weber - authorAbout the Author: Sunny Weber has over 25 years of experience in animal welfare advocacy. She is a professional humane educator and believes compelling storytelling reflects her passion for seeing the world through the eyes of the animals she teaches about.

Real stories are Sunny’s key to making deep impressions on young minds, for the future of animal welfare lies in sensitive people who will have the power to alter the negative impacts of previous generations and bring about positive change for all inhabitants of our planet.

Sunny has developed educational programs regarding compassion, respect, and care of domestic and wild animals. She writes extensively on animal issues in fiction, non-fiction, and blogs.

Sunny lives in Colorado with dogs and cats. Their yard is a Certified
Backyard Habitat for birds, squirrels, rabbits, pollinators, and any
other creature with fur or feathers who wanders in.

Connect with the author:    Website Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Linked-In

Book Tour Schedule:

Nov 11 – ROCKIN’ Book Reviews – book review From Wild to Mild / guest post / giveaway

Nov 12 –  My Journey Back – book review The Dog at the Gate / giveaway

Nov 13 – Locks, Hooks, and Books – book review The Dog at the Gate / giveaway

Nov 13 – Blooming with Books – book review Hurricane Dog / giveaway

Nov 14 – Book Corner News and Reviews – book review of From Wild to Mild / giveaway

Nov 15 – Svetlana’s reads and views – book review From Wild to Mild

Nov 15 – Rosepoint Publishing – book review From Wild to Mild / giveaway

Nov 15 – Jypsylynn – book review The Dog at the Gate

Nov 18 – My Journey Back – book review Hurricane Dog / giveaway

Nov 18 – ROCKIN’ Book Reviews – book review Hurricane Dog / giveaway

Nov 19 – FUONLYKNEW – book review The Dog at the Gate / giveaway

Nov 19 – Blooming with Books – book review From Wild to Mild / guest post / giveaway

Nov 20 – Locks, Hooks, and Books – book review Hurricane Dog / giveaway

Nov 20 – ROCKIN’ Book Reviews – book review The Dog at the Gate / giveaway

Nov 21 – Book Corner News and Reviews – book review of The Dog at the Gate / giveaway

Nov 21 – Svetlana’s reads and views – book review Hurricane Dog

Nov 21 – Books for Books – book review The Dog at the Gate

Nov 22 – Jypsylynn – book review of Hurricane Dog

Nov 22 – FUONLYKNEW – book review of Hurricane Dog / giveaway

Nov 25 – Book Corner News and Reviews – book review of Hurricane Dog / giveaway

Nov 25 – Blooming with Books – book review The Dog at the Gate / giveaway

Nov 26 – FUONLYKNEW – book review of From Wild to Mild / giveaway

Nov 26 – Books for Books – book review Hurricane Dog

Nov 27 – Locks, Hooks, and Books – book review From Wild to Mild / giveaway

Nov 27 – Svetlana’s reads and views – book review The Dog at the Gate

Nov 28 – My Journey Back – book review From Wild to Mild / giveaway

Nov 29 – Jypsylynn – book review of From Wild to Mild

Dec 2 – Books for Books – book review From Wild to Mild

Dec 2 – Mystery Suspense Reviews – book review of From Wild to Mild

Enter the Giveaway:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you to Lauren at iRead Book Tours for the digital download of this book for a read and review. I really appreciated the opportunity to read this lovely book and heartily recommend to any that enjoys animal adventure books.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

The Dog I Loved: A Novel by Susan Wilson – a #BookReview

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5-stars

Brilliant, immersive, totally absorbing fiction reads like a true story.

(So good I couldn’t keep it to myself and I’m sharing this review with my associate, the CE.)

Book Blurb:

The Dog I Loved by Susan WilsonAfter spending years in prison for a crime she didn’t intend to commit, Rose Collins is suddenly free. Someone who knows about the good work she has done—training therapy dogs while serving time—has arranged for her early release. This mysterious benefactor has even set her up with a job in the coastal Massachusetts community of Gloucester, on the edge of Dogtown, a place of legend and, for the first time since Rosie’s whole world came crashing down, hope. There she works to rebuild her life with the help of Shadow, a stray dog who appears one rainy night and refuses to leave Rose’s side.

Meghan Custer is a wheelchair-bound war veteran who used to be hopeless, too. Living at home with her devoted but stifling parents felt a lot like being in prison, in fact. But ever since she was matched with a service dog named Shark, who was trained in a puppy-to-prisoner rehabilitation program, Meghan has a brand new outlook. Finally, she can live on her own. Go to work. And maybe, with Shark by her side, even find love again.

Two strong women on a journey toward independence whose paths collide in extraordinary ways. Two dogs who somehow manage to save them both. A tale of survival and a testament to the human spirit, The Dog I Loved is an emotional and inspiring novel that no reader will soon forget.

My Thoughts

This novel seizes you from the beginning and does not let go until you’ve read the last word of the last page and in between unfolds an amazingly written story that reads so realistic, so full of drama, it’s hard to believe this is fiction.

The Dog I Loved by Susan WilsonRosie experienced limited freedom when she left her family to live with Charles Foster in New York. He comes from old money, position, and education and almost from the beginning begins to separate Rosie from her family and friends. It quickly becomes obvious he can be demeaning and cruel. But his death is truly an accident, Rosie trying to prevent an accident, and through Charles’ mother’s contacts and her own incompetent PD, enters prison with a long sentence.

Before her horrific service-connected injury leaving her a paraplegic, Meghan was known as Captain Meghan “Buster” (though her real name is Custer). She is struggling with the loss of independence and over-protective and smothering parents until she learns of the service dog program trained by prisoners. She will meet Shark, the first dog trained by Rosie and during the orientation, the two damaged women bond.

When Rosie is suddenly exonerated and released after six years, she is also plunked into the position of overseer of a complete renovation of an early American property. The house is just outside Gloucester, a coastal city on Cape Ann, Massachusetts, at the remains of “DogTown,” a “village lost in time.” In the meantime, an unusually large and mysterious dog has entered Rosie’s life and she quickly bonds with the perceptive animal she names Shadow.

Author Susan Wilson has penned a masterful tale weaving modern-day storyline with that of an historical account of the enigmatic but remote area she is overseeing. There are several POV’s and all the characters are so fully engaging, including the fully-fleshed dogs, that the reader easily invests in each as well as the well-plotted and engaging narrative. You MUST know how this will turn out!

This absolutely amazing book hits so many tough subjects from women in prison to wounded warriors, PTSD, dysfunctional families, estrangement, and friendship. Unique plot–totally immersive. My first experience with this author won’t be the last and I’m off to see what else I can find written by this author. You owe it to yourself to grab this book releasing TODAY! Trust me, you’ll be glad you did–and you’re welcome!

His Thoughts

Can dogs really read minds, or is it their desire to please that makes them so responsive? Susan Wilson has combined a historical fiction format into a prisoner training dog scenario. An Irish lass, the only daughter in a family with five other siblings, Mary Rose Collins (Rosie)  is controlled and sheltered. Enter a spoiled rich kid of an entirely different social status and you have gas on water.

Rosie is dominated by older brothers and controlling parents. Her way out seems to be Charles Montgomery Foster who courts her but hides her because of her “poor side of the tracks” background. Gifts are given with obvious hooks and his mother disdains her.

Then a tragic accident kills Charles and his mother pushes stiff prosecution of Rosie. Her next twenty years will be in a correctional institution. A “prisoner training program” allows her to become involved with something other than the daily drudgery of prison life. She is tasked with training a Service Dog named Shark.

Meghan is a wounded warrior with a future in a wheelchair and only partial use of her body. The dog is a life-saver to both ladies. Two weeks together with the dog and the two women bond with each other as well as the dog.

Then Rosie’s prison sentence is suddenly vacated and she receives a job helping restore a centuries-old house.

Associate Reviewer - C E WilliamsSusan Wilson combines the history of the Massachusetts seashore with a love of dogs and has woven a fantastic tale. She adds another dog “Shadow” who comes into Rosie’s life when she needs him most. Overall the story is both heartwarming and complete in its amazing emotional development of the plot and characters.

I cannot endorse this book enough. Give yourself time because you will want to complete the book in a single setting. Thank you for the experience, Susan! 5/5 stars CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Animal Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Literary Fiction, Women’s Friendship Fiction
Publisher: St Martin’s Press

  • ISBN-10:1250078148
  • ISBN-13:978-1250078148
  • ASIN: B07PBNB7YJ

Print Length: 368 pages
Publication Date: Happy Publication Day, November 12, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Dog I Loved
I was granted a download of this uncorrected digital galley by the publisher through NetGalley and was totally thrilled with this novel. It is one that will resonate for some time to come. Thank you St Martin’s Press! It’s officially a book hangover.

Book Handover

+Add to Goodreads

Susan Wilson - authorThe Author: SUSAN WILSON is the author of ten novels, including the New York Times bestselling One Good Dog. In her most recent novel, TWO GOOD DOGS, the two main characters from One Good Dog, Adam March and his rescued pit bull Chance, make a return. She lives on Martha’s Vineyard. Visit her online at http://www.susanwilsonwrites.com

©2019 V Williams V Williams

The Angels’ Share: A Wine Country Mystery Book 10 by Ellen Crosby – a #BookReview #historymystery

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5-stars

“The angels’ share was the amount of alcohol or spirits lost to evaporation…anything that aged in barrels or casks.”

The Angels' Share by Ellen CrosbyBook Blurb:

Ellen Crosby pours up another corking mystery with The Angels’ Share, an intriguing blend of secret societies, Prohibition bootleg wine, and potentially scandalous documents hidden by the Founding Fathers, all of which yield a vintage murder.

When Lucie Montgomery attends a Thanksgiving weekend party for friends and neighbors at Hawthorne Castle, an honest-to-goodness castle owned by the Avery family, the last great newspaper dynasty in America and owner of the Washington Tribune, she doesn’t expect the festive occasion to end in death.

During the party, Prescott Avery, the 95-year old family patriarch, invites Lucie to his fabulous wine cellar where he offers to pay any price for a cache of 200-year-old Madeira that her great-great-uncle, a Prohibition bootlegger, discovered hidden in the US Capitol in the 1920s. Lucie knows nothing about the valuable wine, believing her late father, a notorious gambler and spendthrift, probably sold or drank it. By the end of the party Lucie and her fiancé, winemaker Quinn Santori, discover Prescott’s body lying in his wine cellar. Is one of the guests a murderer?

As Lucie searches for the lost Madeira, which she believes links Prescott’s death to a cryptic letter her father owned, she learns about Prescott’s affiliation with the Freemasons. More investigating hints at a mysterious vault supposedly containing documents hidden by the Founding Fathers and a possible tie to William Shakespeare. If Lucie finds the long-lost documents, the explosive revelations could change history. But will she uncover a three hundred-year-old secret before a determined killer finds her?

 My Review:

Yes, thrilled that I was given a download for The Angels’ s Share as I’d come late to the party (again) getting in at Book 9, Harvest of Secrets last November. (See that review here.) It was my first introduction to the wine country of Virginia. I still have a soft spot in my heart for the wine country of Napa, California, but this series has given me a burning desire to beat a hasty exit from Indiana to experience that special area around Jamestown. Mercy, the history!

The Angels' Share by Ellen CrosbyInterest was hooked immediately and, although a series, can work well as a standalone. So easy to become engaged with the characters, the locale, and the description of the wine. Protagonist Lucie Montgomery and fiancé Quinn Santori go back to the plush wine cellar to retrieve the cell phone left after a private discussion with Prescott Avery. There they discover the 95-year old patriarch and owner of Hawthorne Castle dead. His death is not the result of age or a fall, however, and the discussion she and Prescott held in private quickly sends her on a quest for three-hundred-year-old Madeira, possibly hidden in her own winery.

The Madeira though is only the top layer of the complex well-drawn plot, delving into the history of the area and the local Freemasons including their connection with the Founding Fathers. Lucie begins to notice the subtle hints of Shakespearean phrase referenced to centuries old documents and artifacts. In order to find the precious wine, she’ll have to correctly interpret the materials left in her father’s secret safety deposit box.

Concentrating on the mystery of the documents, the reader is immersed in fascinating and detailed early American history of the Jamestown triangle. I love the way the author ties ancient mythology to her stories, and indeed, this entry to the series had a great deal more to do with the history mystery than that of the winery getting ready for Christmas.

So much intriguing information, aways a lot going on, the storyline never slows and keeps the reader flipping pages, each one leaving another lesson or plot point in one of the layers. It is an immersive book you don’t want to put down and delivers the implied promise of the cover. Perhaps Shakespeare didn’t write his own plays? There is so much you don’t know that you don’t know.

I‘m looking forward to visiting again soon and heartily recommend this entry in the well-developed series to anyone who enjoys a high-speed romp into one of our country’s most beautiful and history-laden areas. I received this uncorrected digital galley from the publisher (thank you, Minotaur!!) and NetGalley and appreciate the opportunity to read and review.

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Culinary Mystery, Amateur Sleuths
Publisher: Minotaur Books

  • ISBN-10:1250164850
  • ISBN-13:978-1250164858
  • ASIN: B07PBP8BVX

Print Length: 362 pages
Publication Date: Happy Publication Day November 5, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Angels’ Share
+Add to Goodreads 

Ellen Crosby - authorThe Author: Ellen Crosby is the author of the Virginia wine country mysteries and two mysteries featuring international photojournalist Sophie Medina. In 2019, Minotaur Books will publish THE ANGELS’ SHARE, the 10th wine country mystery. Before writing fiction, Crosby worked as a freelance reporter for The Washington Post, an economist at the US Senate, and Moscow reporter for ABC Radio News. Visit her website at http://www.ellencrosby.com and follow her on Facebook at EllenCrosbyBooks, Twitter at @ellencrosby & Instagram at ellencrosbyauthor.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

San Diego Dead: An Action Thriller (Jake Wolfe Book 4) by Mark Nolan – a #BookReview #thriller

You can’t beat ex-Marine Jake and his ex-war dog Cody for an entertaining fast-moving thriller.

San Diego Dead by Mark NolanBook Blurb:

Danger awaits Marine-turned-lawyer Jake Wolfe on his vacation to sunny San Diego and Cabo San Lucas. There he finds sugary white sand beaches, warm turquoise water, boat trips among gray whales, and … cold blooded murder.

It was meant to be a relaxing holiday for Jake and his adopted war dog, Cody, but violence erupts when he crosses paths with a criminal cartel urgently seeking to reclaim a deadly package.

Jake learns the missing item is a threat to US citizens and vows to stop the cartel from possessing it, no matter what vigilante justice actions he might have to take.

Time is running out and thousands of innocent lives are at risk. Will the two combat veterans be able to retrieve the dangerous item before the killers do? The clock is ticking, but Jake hopes that if anybody can help find the package, it has to be his highly-trained and ultra-intelligent dog, Cody.

Find out what happens next. Start reading the latest Jake and Cody thriller right now and enjoy another fast-paced stand-alone story by author Mark Nolan.

My Review:

The fourth in this series and I’ve read them all. (Believe it–unusual, I know.) Just when Jake thinks he can relax a bit in Cabo, frolic in the sun, play with the fishies and his best girl, Sarah Chance, the cartel interrupts the fun with business of their own and it’s back to the states and the business of U.S. security.

San Diego Dead by Mark NolanCody was his buddy’s war dog. His dog survived, his buddy did not, and as he’d lost his own war dog, adopted the dog known to be a maverick with a case of PTSD. Well-trained, scary intelligent, and an asset, both Jake and Cody are called back to service in top-secret missions, diverting him from his lawyery office and Sarah to distraction.

Sarah continues to wrestle with her strong feelings for Jake, but can’t reconcile his sudden life-and-death departures, this one to find and destroy the package the cartel wants so badly. She is a vet with a business of her own and probably understands Cody as much or more than Jake.

What follows is a smorgasbord of mystery, action, adventure, murderous assassins, terrorists, kidnapping and general mayhem. The fast-paced, well-plotted thriller moves through twists and turns. Jake is well-developed as is Cody and there is a partial perspective from Cody as he observes his human.

While Jake can be deadly on his own, he had multiple sources of help this time, most characters previously introduced, including his link to Secret Service Agent Shannon McKay who points and authorizes his direction. Each entry to the series works well as a standalone with individual stories. The dynamic between Jake and Cody steals the show although this one pushed the boundaries of anthropomorphizing. Cody still huffs out his “ha, ha, ha” and if you’ve owned a dog likely have seen the same.

The last third of the book settled “on plane” and felt like the Nolan writing style I remembered gathering speed into the disquieting conclusion. (Jake is still grateful for the opportunity to live on, and sail, the Far Niente.) I enjoyed the descriptions of hacker practices and depth of cartel infiltration to the U.S., as well as the explanations for readers at the end, and the occasional reference to military jargon.

“..what we’d say the word Marine stands for?…Marines Always Ride in Navy Equipment.”

Still, while the storyline hooks you immediately, I felt a difference in about the first two-thirds of the book. There seemed to be a different writing style than I was previously used to and discovered several anomalies as well, including contradictions and repeats. Otherwise, it’s a swiftly moving read and one you’ll enjoy.

I received this digital download from the author for the opportunity to read and sincerely appreciated the opportunity to review. (Thank you, Mark!) These are my own unbiased opinions.

Book Details:

Genre: Financial Thrillers, Crime Thrillers

  • ISBN-10:1687417261
  • ISBN-13:978-1687417268
  • ASIN: B07TP7RSTX

Print Length: 346 pages
Publication Date: August 31, 2019
Source: Author request
Title Link: San Diego Dead

+Add to Goodreads 

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4-stars

Mark Nolan - authorThe Author: Subscribe to Mark Nolan‘s reader newsletter for updates, specials, and to be notified when a new book is available. (Links to my reviews)

Mark Nolan’s books in order:

1. Dead Lawyers Don’t Lie
2. Vigilante Assassin
3. Killer Lawyer
4. San Diego Dead

He is currently hard at work on his next novel.

Mark also tries to make time every day to answer emails from readers. You can get in touch with him at marknolan.com.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

October Reviews Recap–HELLO November!! – What? Noooo #rosepointpub #bookreviewers

Holy Moses, another very fast year and I assume if October was my daughter’s birthday and Halloween yesterday, then Thanksgiving will steamroller right over us and we’re staring at Christmas and New Year’s. Already? YES! And I’m excited for 2020. It’s got to be good!

Rosepoint Reviews-October Recap

We were thrilled to host our ole Navy buddies who rode out on their trike to North Carolina for a rally, thence to Pennsylvania from whence they originally hailed to visit relatives and friends–and then to Indiana for a very welcome visit to us. SOO good to see them again, doing well, enjoying retirement, and riding that beautiful trike…but uh…gulp…in October in Chicagoland?

Studebaker Museum, South Bend, Indiana
Thanks to Kitra for her artistic rendering of the pic taken of us in a Studebaker Commander at the Studebaker Museum in South Bend, Indiana.

We had a great time before they felt the weather pressure to push on back home to Texas, where they were still enjoying 70+-degree weather. (And I must say, they did indeed time it right, as it turned ugly shortly after they left. Yes, Halloween snow!)

Still managed some book reviews while they were here, though woefully slow responding to your likes, comments, and new blog posts and I apologize for that. I did manage (between myself and the CE) to produce eleven reviews, several a collaborative effort. The list below the pic links to our reviews.

Portal to Murder by Alison Lingwood – (won a print copy!)
Haunted House Ghost by James J Cudney
Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing by Heather Day Gilbert
Yellowhead Blues by R E Donald (a CE review)
Here Comes Santa Paws by Laurien Berenson
Janis by Holly George Warren
Molded 4 Murder by J C Eaton (reviewed by myself and the CE)
Rescued by David Rosenfelt (audiobook)
Tracking Game by Margaret Mizushima
Dogs Don’t Lie by Lisa Shay (reviewed by myself and the CE)
Bad Memory by Lisa Gray

Obviously, I had way too much fun with my gardens this summer, as I over-goaled myself and calculating, realized I wasn’t going to make the 200 earlier set with Goodreads. That was an off-the-wall guestimate assuming the CE’s additional reviews. But that didn’t happen when he started reading the same books! So I’ve had to cut that back, revised to 175. Of that, so far, 143 read for 82%. Thinking that is doable (it’d better be). The Alphabet Challenge–no. Always stuck for the same letters, I believe this will be my last Alphabet Challenge. The NetGalley Challenge, hmmm. I struggled last year to achieve the 75 goal and set the same goal for this year. So far, my count shows 64 as I stopped concentrating on NetGalley books, reviewing with a couple new blog tours.

I’m looking forward to some great books in November and I’ll be providing a sneak peek into those shortly. Also, it’s time I started tackling favorites, looking at 4.5-5 stars to whittle down my ten favs for the year. I found that very difficult to do last year and don’t expect less this year. Do you keep a tally during the year? Already know which ones will hit the top of your list?

Once again, I appreciate each and every one of you for the new follows and those who continue to look in on my post efforts and if you have book suggestions or post ideas for me, I’d love to hear them!

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Dogs Don’t Lie: A Kallie Collins Cozy Mystery by Lisa Shay – a #BookReview

One book, two opinions. Do they agree or disagree? The CE and I weigh in on a new cozy mystery.

Dogs Don't Lie by Lisa ShayBook Blurb:

On call at Crater Emergency Animal Hospital, I, Doctor Kallie Collins, receive a curious request from the sheriff’s department. I’m to meet with a detective at a small ranch outside of town.
You see, there’s this dog with a bone he’s not willing to part with.
On scene, the dog tells me the bone is human. Actually, he shows me the location of the body, complete with a human skull, through an animal-communication technique I learned a couple years ago. Now I have to explain how this works to the detective, convincing him I’m not the murderer.
Who knew a simple farm visit would put me in the middle of a murder investigation? Well, I did kinda jump into this mess. I had to. I know what happened. The two four-legged witnesses to the murder told me.
And I’m the only one listening.

My Thoughts

Dogs Don't Lie by Lisa ShayIt didn’t take long before I realized I’d bumbled into YA fantasy turned cozy. And I must admit, the cover and the blurb got me.  While I might not be the target audience for this particular genre, I was intrigued by the unusual concept of Dr. Kallie Collins, veterinarian, being able to communicate with animals. In this case, most specifically a dog and cat. Notice I didn’t say talk, although certainly she did that. The communication took a different form. Kallie is young, unmarried, and recently out of vet school, but she’s making (air) waves right into notoriety.

The characters, beyond protagonist Kallie, are all very engaging and very well fleshed. She has two close friends, Gracie Parker and Samantha Griffin (Sam), who are quick (well, mostly, sorta) supportive of her swiftly escalating escapades. While once again, the author drops the name Nancy Drew, Kallie prefers being known as Kinsey Millhone (a reference to the fictional character created by Sue Grafton in her Alphabet series).

Kallie meets the probable love interest, Detective Ben Jacobson, when she is called out to investigate a dog that won’t relinquish her bone. She found it–it was hers! The problem was that it was a human bone and it doesn’t take long for Kallie to exhibit her dog whispering talents and create converts.

Kallie seems to be a great deal more adventurous than cautious and it doesn’t take long before she is deep into the mystery, part of which was also a new plot concept (to me anyway). Then come red herrings, lots of giggles, food (especially cupcakes and burgers), and her mother’s trying to match her up with a nice young man. (I must confess there are several eye-rolling passages.) A few edit misses and could have used an expanded explanation to account for the passage of time or change of scene.

But…you know what? It’s cute. And it works. The venue is the gorgeous Pacific Northwest (or as my motobuddy used to call it, the Great “Northwet”). The characters are engaging, the well-plotted concept unique, and the interaction with the animals investing and I’m quite sure anyone a monster fan of Star Wars would love it. (Her ringtone was The Imperial March, for heaven’s sake.) You will enjoy getting to know these solid characters and now is the time to get in on the first of what looks to be the first of a sweet new series. 4/5 stars

His Thoughts

A very astute veterinarian oversees an unlikely adventure with the help of two animal friends. Communicating telepathically with a dog and cat, Kallie Collins is thrust into an investigation of mysterious events including fraud against senior citizens.

This author writes an entertaining tale that kept me turning pages. At times I wondered why the heroine kept investigating when very real threats were made on her life. Twists and turns lead to the intriguing climax with a little potential romance brewing with an attractive sheriff’s deputy detective named Ben Jacobson.

Associate Reviewer - C E WilliamsKallie’s strong female character with the help of two friends, brings the story along smartly. Of course, her mother is attempting to find a suitor for her unmarried daughter. A younger crowd will find this read very entertaining. C E Williams – 5/5 stars

I received this digital download from the publisher and NetGalley and shared with the CE who also greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Totally recommended as a fast, fun romp in a cozy mystery.

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Animal Mystery, Amateur Sleuth
Publisher: Indie

  • ISBN-10:1686589409
  • ISBN-13:978-1686589409

ASIN: B07XJTNPPC
      Print Length: 191 pages
Publication Date: September 30, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Dogs Don’t Lie

+Add to Goodreads 

Rosepoint Publishing:  4.5 Stars of Five Stars 4.5-stars

Lisa Shay - authorThe Author: Yes. Lisa Shay is my pen name.
But it’s still me. R E Sheahan. Since I write YA Science Fiction/Fantasy, it seemed a good choice to go with a pen name for the cozy mysteries.
I live on the coast in the Pacific Northwest.
I read. A lot. Pretty much any genre.
I love animals. A bonus since the cozy mysteries are about a veterinarian who can communicate with animals.
I’m crazy over anything Star Wars, Star Trek, Marvel, LOTR, Dr. Who, and, well all of them.
Yes. I’m a geek.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Tracking Game – A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery Book 5 by Margaret Mizushima – a #BookReview

One of my favorite series, the Timber Creek K-9 mysteries, is back with Tracking Game. While Mattie is interesting, it’s her relationship to Robo that’s the fascination behind these emotive narratives.

Tracking Game by Margaret MizushimaBook Blurb:

Two brutal murders, a menacing band of poachers, and a fearsome creature on the loose in the mountains plunge Mattie Cobb and her K-9 partner Robo into a sinister vortex.

An explosion outside a community dance sends Mattie Cobb and Cole Walker reeling into the night, where they discover a burning van and beside it the body of outfitter Nate Fletcher. But the explosion didn’t kill Nate–it was two gunshots to the heart.

The investigation leads them to the home of rancher Doyle Redman, whose daughter is Nate’s widow, and the object of one of their suspect’s affection. But before they can make an arrest, they receive an emergency call from a man who’s been shot in the mountains. Mattie and Robo rush to the scene, only to be confronted by the ominous growl of a wild predator.

As new players emerge on the scene, Mattie begins to understand the true danger that’s enveloping Timber Creek. They journey into the cold, misty mountains to track the animal–but discover something even more deadly in Tracking Game, the fifth installment in Margaret Mizushima’s Timber Creek K-9 mysteries.

My Review:

I do so enjoy these mysteries, set in Timber Creek Colorado, the venue beautifully described and compelling. More so, the human-canine relationship between Mattie and her highly trained and gorgeous, head-turning German shepherd Robo. Smart as a whip and intuitive, Robo and Mattie share a strong working and personal bond few professed dog lovers possess.

Tracking Game by Margaret MizushimaAlso greatly appreciated are the tidbits of doggie handler wisdom shared by Mizushima woven in her well-plotted narratives so that you glean as much appreciation for “man’s best friend” as the author obviously enjoys, including commands and (prey drive) triggers. Info such as the scent exuded by a fugitive in stress is often called “endocrine sweat,” easy for a dog to pick up.

In Book 5, the start of the book begins somewhat hesitantly, with protagonist Deputy Mattie Cobb and her love interest Cole Walker (a veterinarian) at a dance. There is a short rehash of their history, including Mattie’s damaged childhood leading to her intense fears with allowing herself to trust or love. Then the phone call that interrupts their evening and begins the page-turning mystery that once again weaves powerfully between her and her K-9 partner. Definitely where she feels most comfortable and confident. And it seems Cole brings baggage of his own to the match.

The intriguing storyline has Mattie and Robo involved in a homicide at the scene of a burning van. The area is populated by ranches and the man is the husband of the daughter of one of the old established area ranches. As Robo tracks down bits of clues and Mattie works with the department on the investigation, several suspects turn up. Unfortunately, one of these is later found–also murdered–and his body scavenged leading them to suspect there might be more than two legs in the woods with deadly intent.

A new support character is introduced, wildlife manager, Glenna Dalton, who handles a Rhodesian ridgeback, trained for wildlife tracking purposes. There are some serious twists in the plot you would not have guessed, and the well-developed characters set off for the high mountains and their target(s). It’s a fast-pace to the satisfying conclusion.

I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. These can all be read as a standalone, they are independent stories. I’m looking forward to Mattie gaining greater independence from her past. I’ve read two others in the series, Burning Ridge and Hunting Hour and highly recommend them all.

Book Details:

Genre: Traditional Detective Stories, Cozy Animal Mysteries
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

  • ISBN-10:1643851357
  • ISBN-13:978-1643851358

ASIN: B07NKR63LP
Publication Date: To be released November 12, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Tracking Game

 +Add to Goodreads

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

Margaret Mizushima - authorThe Author: Margaret Mizushima is the author of the award-winning and internationally published Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries. Active within the writing community, Margaret serves on the board for the Rocky Mountain chapter of Mystery Writers of America and was elected the 2019-2020 Writer of the Year by Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. She lives in Colorado on a small ranch with her veterinarian husband where they raised two daughters and a multitude of animals. She can be found on Facebook/AuthorMargaretMizushima, on Twitter @margmizu, on Instagram at margmizu, and on her website at www.margaretmizushima.com.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Rosepoint #BookReviews – September Recap Wrap-Up – #rosepointpub

Oh groan, summer is gone and while I know many of you expressed the thought that this is your favorite time of year, I’m sad to see summer and warm temps giving way to cool mornings and unpredictable weather patterns. (Okay, more unpredictable than usual.)

Rosepoint Reviews - September Recap

We had enough T-storms and rain to flood my fairy slash swamp garden and everything is still pretty soggy albeit back to 80+ degree temps. That won’t last long.

Swamp garden boat

Decanted Truths by Melanie FordeSeems I’m still struggling to keep up and most of the time lag behind getting reviews, posts, and social media out. I was shocked yesterday to discover that Melanie Forde who wrote Decanted Truths republished her cover with a quote from my review posted May 24. What a thrill and honor and I sincerely hope she does well as it was one I heartily recommended and enjoyed so much. If you missed the review, you can read it here.

I went hunting for blog hosts I could work with and signed up with several. Having noted those genres I will not read or review, was then rather surprised to find notices for those anyway. I’ve had to cut severely the number of author requests–most don’t check my submission page and likewise send requests for books not on my accepted lists.

Along with book blasts and a review by my intrepid associate, the CE, I reviewed ten in September. Nor do I expect that to increase much in October as our old Navy buddies will be stopping to visit from Texas doing a general friends and family tour. I’ve been getting the house ready and doing some spring cleaning (I told you I was slow and yes, I warned them about the weather in Indiana in October.) Really though, some great September books as noted below.

Life and Other Inconveniences by Kristan Higgins

29 Seconds by T M Logan

Fatal Cajun Festival by Ellen Bryon

The House of Five Fortunes by Amanda Hughes (5 Stars)

Dachshund Through the Snow by David Rosenfelt (5 star audiobook–and a new favorite)

Good Morning, Bellingham by Marina Raydun

Beyond a Reasonable Stout by Ellie Alexander (5 Stars)

The Garden Club Murder by Amy Patricia Meade

Christmas Cow Bells by Mollie Cox Bryan (Book 1-new series)

Trials and Tribulations by Jean Grainger ) 5 Stars)

Noting several 5 star books there, I know what you’re thinking–the ole girl’s gettin’ easy. Nope! Just that several of my favorites came up and they never let me down. I still have another audiobook to review from David Rosenfelt–the Andy Carpenter series narrated by Grover Gardner is just outstanding.

Because I’ve been recommending some of my reads to the CE, he is not reading as many BookBub books and his count is down, so my Goodreads Challenge has some significant catching up to do. I have some super books coming up in October, including book tours and blitzes. Really looking forward to the Tracking Game by Margaret Mizushima. Love her Timber Creek K-9 series!

And, some of you may have noticed I was nearing the 2,000 mark of blog followers. Before I could acknowledge 1,999, however, I awoke to the following total of 2,052, give or take. I’m waiting now to see how much is the “take.” In the meantime, however, I’ll celebrate 2,000+ followers and gratefully thank each of you for the new follows and those who continue to look in on my post and review efforts. If you have book suggestions or ideas for me, I’d love to hear them!

2000+ Followers!

Thank you!

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Trials and Tribulations – The Robinswood Story Book 3 by Jean Grainger – a #BookReview

This is me–a blubbering mess–and you know I don’t easily admit to tears from reading a book.

Five of Five Stars 5-stars

Book Blurb:

Trials and Tribulations by Jean GraingerRobinswood Estate, County Waterford, 1950

Three sisters, the three men that love them, and a house that could consume them all.

Assuming their roles as the new Lord and Lady Kenefick and returning to Robinswood with the plan to drag it back from the brink of dereliction, is taking its toll on Kate and Sam. With a young family to raise, a very limited budget and only Kate’s parents to help, the task seems insurmountable.

Kate’s eldest sister Eve and her husband Bartley have found happiness in each other after some dark years, but when a face from the past appears, it seems that everything they have worked so hard to create is threatened.

Aisling, the middle sister, is being evasive and the family suspect something is very wrong. On the face of it, she has it all, a lovely husband, a comfortable house and a supportive family, but she is in deep trouble, and nobody can even guess at the real reason why. 

Meanwhile Lady Lillian, Sam’s sister, is useless and arrogant, refusing to accept that things have changed and that her title is not going to get her what she wants, least of all from her husband Beau.

In the midst of it all Dermot and Isabella Murphy try their best to maintain a life and a home for their family, but the trials and tribulations of life at Robinswood might just tear them all apart. .

My Review:

Ms. Grainger has exceeded herself as the supreme storyteller of the Irish, whether or not she’s ever kissed the Blarney Stone, which btw, as I understand it, is not all that far from Cork, from whence she hails. This book grabs you from the beginning and takes you through highs and lows ending in a thrilling conclusion containing not one but two twists that take your breath away.

Trials and Tribulations by Jean GraingerIt’s easy to love these characters, all hard-working, driven, and pulling together to make a success of Robinswood. What’s not to love? The writing style is easy, descriptive, and sensitive, wrenching from even the hardened reviewer emotive sighs. The continuation of the story of the Kenefick and Murphy families (and their reversal of roles) drives this well-plotted domestic drama.

There is a lot going on in this one and I wish I could skim without spoilers, but this is one you have to read for yourself to appreciate. Kate (the wife of Sam), while the youngest of the three (Murphy) sisters, seem to have taken on the job of coordinating the management and has fallen severely short of manpower with the illness of her mother that also affects her dad. She is at her wits end, needs help, and sending up distress signals hasn’t seemed to work. Lady Lillian (and the former lady of the manor), is still more liability than asset. “Lillian was as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike…”

Outhouse There are guests to attend, meals to prepare, fields, animals, and outhouses to convert to much-needed labor housing. (In America we use that term for a structure meant to describe a relief station with no plumbing.) Eve’s husband Bartley, who is a seventh son of a seventh son and a former traveller (or tinker) is working with Beau (Lillian’s husband), and Mark (Aisley’s husband). There is a complex layer of little side dramas, pregnancies, and conflicts. One of the conflicts becomes deadly and leads to another whole drama affecting the entire tribe.

Character and locale driven, this storyline is immersive, including engaging characters you come to care about, whether empathetic or annoying. You might well wish to begin with the first in this series to fully understand where this book begins. The narrative can function fine as a standalone with simple references to a previous relationship. Grainger invokes some fine Irish humor and the dialogue is natural. The evolution of Lillian was one I didn’t expect, and I LOVED the conclusion. While I had a suspicion of the final twist, it was the journey to that moment that had you holding your breath in disbelief. Okay, Ms. Grainger, you put one over on us and I know you are very busy snickering about it. I loved the new character Hannah, my heart ached for Bartley, and soared with Beau.

I was given this digital download as an advance to those special few in hopes of a review and these are my own opinions. This is the best one yet; could also have been titled tragedy and triumph. Highly recommended. You can’t go wrong here, folks. Trust me.

Book Details:

Genre: 20th Century Historical Romance, Historical Fiction, Historical Irish Fiction

  • ASIN: B07XGFMB15

Print Length: 331 pages
Publication Date: To be released October 1, 2019
Source: Author Request
Title Link: Trials and Tribulations

+Add to Goodreads

Jean Grainger - authorThe Author: JEAN GRAINGER, USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR

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

WINNER OF THE 2016 AUTHOR’S CIRCLE HISTORICAL NOVEL OF EXCELLENCE

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

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

My experiences leading groups, mainly from the United States, led me to write my first novel, ‘The Tour’. My observances of the often funny, sometimes sad but always interesting events on tours fascinated me. People really did confide the most extraordinary things, the safety of strangers I suppose…The fourth Conor O’Shea book is called The Homecoming of Bubbles O’Leary and features a group of friends taking their friend Bubbles home to Ireland from New York, on last time.

My first World War 2 novel, ‘So Much Owed’ is a family saga based in Ireland following the Buckley family of Dunderrig House. The story opens in the trenches of WW1 at the end of the war and moves to tranquil West Cork. As the next generation of the Buckley family find themselves embroiled once again in war, the action moves from Ireland to wartime Belfast, from occupied France to the inner sanctum of German society in neutral Dublin. The history of the period was my academic specialty so I’m delighted to be able to use it in a work of fiction.

I released a second WW2 book, called ‘What Once Was True’ earlier this year and so far people seem to really like it. Its set in a big old house, and based on the lives of the two families that live there, The Keneficks that own it and the Murphys that work for them.

Shadow of a Century, is set in New York in 2015 as well as in Dublin during the events of Easter Week 1916, where Irish men and women fought valiantly to rid our island of British Imperialism. While not my academic specialty, I loved researching this book. My husband, most fortunately for me is an expert on this era and so I didn’t have to go too far for assistance. The story features three very strong women, united through a battered old flag. Its essentially a love story, but with a bit of intrigue thrown in for good measure.

Under Heaven’s Shining Stars, was published in 2016 and is set in my home city of Cork. My next book, What Once Was True, tells the story of a big old house in Co Waterford during WW2. Two families live there, the impoverished Keneficks who own it and the hard-working Murphys who work for them. Life has remained unchanged for centuries but when war comes, it means everything changes and people have to question what once was true. This book was selected by Bookbub readers as in the top 19 Historical Fiction books of 2018. The sequel to this, Return to Robinswood, continues the story. (See my review here.)

My latest book, The Star and the Shamrock is about two little German Jewish children who find themselves on the Kindertransport out of Berlin. They end up in Northern Ireland and it was a real labour of love. The research was harrowing at times, but I hope I’ve done justice to the stories of so many children who escaped the Nazi terror, often never again to see their parents. This is a book of hope in dark times, of the enduring power of love and the incredible resilience of the human spirit.

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

***Truncated in the interest of space–please see her entire bio here.

Cartoon outhouse attribution: clipartmag.com (Thank you)

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Christmas Cow Bells (A Buttermilk Creek Mystery) by Mollie Cox Bryan – a #BookReview #cozy

Yahoo! I’m starting this series and new author (to me) with Book 1!

Christmas Cow Bells by Mollie Cox BryanBook Blurb:

The first novel in Mollie Cox Bryan’s brand new mystery series, set in the Blue Ridge Mountains, will keep you guessing until the cows come home . . .
Christmas is a time for new beginnings, so after her big breakup, Brynn MacAlister takes the gouda with the bad. With her three Red Devon cows, she settles in bucolic Shenandoah Springs, eager for a new life as an organic micro-dairy farmer and cheese-maker. Then her dear cow Petunia’s bellows set the whole town on edge. But it isn’t until Brynn’s neighbor, Nancy, dies in a mysterious fire that her feelings about small town life begin to curdle . . .

It seems some folks were not happy with Nancy’s plan to renovate the Old Glebe Church. But is a fear of change a motivation for murder? As a newcomer, Brynn can’t ignore the strange events happening just on the other side of her frosty pasture—and soon on her very own farm. Suddenly Christmas doesn’t feel so festive as everyone demands she muzzle sweet Petunia, and Brynn is wondering if someone wants to silence her—for good . .

My Review:

Protagonist Brynn MacAlister has ended up in bucolic Shenandoah Springs on a small micro-dairy farm with emphasis on artisanal cheeses without the fiancé planned with the move. (He turned out to be a two-timing jerk.) Her grandmother had passed away giving her the wherewithal to purchase the property complete with main house (formerly a B&B), guest house, and barn. She has brought with her three Red Devon dairy cows, Petunia, Marigold, and Buttercup. Unfortunately, Petunia gave birth to a stillborn calf and is in severe mourning.

Brynn is getting to know the people of the tiny town in Virginia and as always, some are more friendly than others. She wants to network as she’ll be trying to sell her cheese locally, but it is with her close neighbor, Nancy, with whom she finds the most common interests. Nancy is also a recent transplant and wants to rehab the other side of the field, formerly a church. Unfortunately, there is a fire and Nancy succumbs to smoke inhalation and the injuries suffered. It is part of Nancy’s family that includes two boys who will stay in Brynn’s guest home, helping with chores as they are on Christmas break.

Christmas Cow Bells by Mollie Cox BryanThe two outstanding support characters, Schuyler and Willow, are great and I’d love to see their characters grow within the series. And Wes sounds like he’ll be a great asset, young, smart, enthusiastic, and media capable. The descriptions of the area make it sound so beautiful, although I can imagine the bone-chilling cold during the Christmas season and the thought of going out to milk Petunia, get them fed, muck the barn, and provide some kind of heating system doesn’t get me enthused enough to move.

Also greatly appreciated getting to know more about the cheese-making process and the artisan varieties–who doesn’t love cheese? As always, with any of these crafts, there are definitions of the industry language with cleanliness standards high on the list. I can remember being invited to the home of a couple also in the Jazz Mass Choir during rehearsals for a European choir tour wherein her dessert was a plate of special cheeses, including Brie, crackers, and grapes, and I’ve never been able to find a Brie that could equal. (Believe me, I’ve looked.)

So with only the whispered words from Nancy prior to her death to go on, Brynn begins to investigate. But that seems to start a round of warnings and things get creepy. She does attain a dog, Freckles, although Freckles seems to be just a tad hit and miss on the watchdog thing.

The well-plotted and atmospheric storyline moves at a fairly decent pace, although there is more than sufficient repeats of main points that will not let you forget exactly why she was there trying to do this alone (perhaps it was a mistake), who was trying to get her to move, and why. Brynn waffles, although under the circumstances, probably anyone would. Still, it sounded like the idyllic setting. There are red herrings, yes, but more than ample hints of the who, whether or not we understood the why until the conclusion.

I love it when I get to start a promising new series with Book 1 and this one appears to be off and running with a strong debut. I’m looking forward to more fleshing in Brynn, but love the support characters, human as well as animal. 

I was granted this digital download by the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for cozy mystery fans, particularly of the culinary sort. I suspect a few of the ingredients will grace your shopping list (as it will mine).

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Culinary Mystery, Cozy Animal Mystery, Amateur Sleuth
Publisher: Kensington

  • ISBN-10:1496721322
  • ISBN-13:978-1496721327
  • ASIN: B07MH9XYHY

Print Length: 336 pages
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Christmas Cow Bells
+Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4-stars

Mollie Cox Bryan - authorThe Author: Mollie Cox Bryan writes cozy mysteries with edge and romances with slow, sweet burn. The first book in her new mystery series, “Cora Crafts Mysteries.” is DEATH AMONG THE DOILIES, which was selected as “Fresh Fiction Not to Miss” and is a 2017 Finalist for the Daphne du Maurier Award. The second book, NO CHARM INTENDED, was named a Summer 2017 Top 10 Beach Read by Woman’s World. She also wrote the Agatha-award nominated Cumberland Creek Mysteries. Several of the books in that series were short-listed for the Virginia Library People’s Choice Award. She’s also penned a historical fiction: MEMORY OF LIGHT: AN AFTERMATH OF GETTYSBURG and historical romance: TEMPTING WILL MCGLASHEN. She makes her home at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Shenandoah Valley, Va.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

The Assignments by PT Dawkins – #Book Blitz – #Excerpt – #thriller

 

I am so excited to provide a Book Blitz for you on my stop for #RABTBookTours

 photo The Assignments_zpsmuchiha2.jpg

Thriller, Financial Thriller
Published: June 2019
Publisher: Booklocker
 photo add-to-goodreads-button_zpsc7b3c634.png
Jonathan Black, the notorious Wall Street equity trader, runs his desk with an iron fist. Without warning, unpredictable events turn his world upside down. Following a “friendly” corporate merger, Blackie learns the desk he used to run is gone forever. The job he cherishes has yielded to computerized, algorithmic formulas. Adding salt to the wound, he must defend himself against charges of felony insider-trading, having made $2.5 million using non-public information. He is on the street, without a job and under the gun.
Agent Margaret Stark of the FBI’s white-collar crimes unit, known for her “take no prisoners” approach, investigates Blackie. Maggie is certain that, after many frustrating months trying to unlock an insider-trading ring, she has found the key. Blackie had the means, motive and opportunity to commit the crime. The reader learns of deep personal reasons fueling her desire to take him, and all like him, down.
A direct attempt, forcing him to come clean is a complete failure. Maggie must accept that Blackie is no ordinary felon. She adopts a more subtle approach. On the surface, she will offer him a chance to clear his name by working several stings, including insider trading, mortgage fraud, jury tampering and a Ponzi scheme, where Blackie is the bait. She calls them Assignments. In reality, she designs her projects to give her adversary the maximum opportunity to trip up. When Blackie initially resists the deal, Maggie uses a carrot and stick. She argues a court would look kindly on his cooperation. On the other hand, if he refuses, she vows to continue to use all her resources to take him down.
As the assignments progress, Maggie learns there is far more to this man than his hostile trading-desk persona. While searching for clues about the illegal trade, she discovers that he is hiding his past and leading a secret, second life, including an insatiable and unexplained need for money. The mystery of the man only intensifies her desire to uncover the truth. Concurrently, the target criminals behind each assignment grow progressively ruthless. The stings are thus, increasingly dangerous. Lives, including Blackie’s are at risk.
 photo The Assignments with store buttons_zpsl84uvjz4.jpg
 Excerpt
Chapter 1
I grimace when I see her anywhere near my trading desk.
“Good morning Blackie, how was your weekend?”
Deidra’s voice is pure as if she’s never screamed-out a single word in her life. She sashays across the room in
a blue business-like skirt with a white blouse and a scarf, as if ready to pose for one of those model magazines. Her
dark red nails match her lipstick. She must use a tanning machine. I can’t imagine how much time she spends on that
big jet-black hair. Most female traders I know put their hair in a ponytail at work.
That’s my point, she glams-up every day. It’s all wrong. Why spruce yourself to mud-wrestle? The traders sit
at identical, adjacent workstations. There is little space and no walls. Soon after the market opens at 9:30 a.m., it’s a
scene of messy hair, rolled-up sleeves and undone collars. No one gives a shit how you look. They all understand,
once they put their headset on and their butt in a chair they are to produce trades. When an order comes in, they
shout out the name and the size. By the end of a busy day, half of them are hoarse. There’s the constant hum and
heat from the equipment and the smell of too many bodies close together. After a while, they stand up to stretch; the
chairs kill your back. Don’t you dare miss a trade while you’re in the can. Somebody comes by with coffee and the
lunch cart.
I’m studying the three large LED monitors, each flashing arrows, symbols and headlines in white, red, green
and yellow, giving me valuable market insight.
That’s the only reason any of us are here.
She’s waiting for my response. I don’t acknowledge her. I’ll never understand why some people can’t figure
out what’s important. If this woman replaced her hair dryer with a computer screen and studied the overnight news
instead of filing her nails, she could get a jump on the competition. I wonder how many times I’ve told her that–
enough so I won’t again. That she’s standing next to me wasting time is a clear sign she’s out of touch.
I suspect Deidra and I are close to the same age. I’m thirty-two. Over the years, I’ve picked up wrinkles and
extra belly roll, because I sit all day. Yes, there are things called gyms. Once the market closes, I’ve no energy for
that; I am done like dinner, put a fork in me.
“Blackie?”
Does she think I didn’t hear her? She should know better than to come between my screens and me as I
prepare for the market opening.
I scowl at her.
“Deidra, one of us is working. See if you can figure out which one.”
My voice sounds like sandpaper compared to hers. She makes a feeble gasping noise and shuffles over to her
workstation, where she should have gone. Now, just because she’s a woman, don’t jump to conclusions. I will work
with anybody: female, male, white, black, if you’re green and from Mars, it’s the same. But, if you want to talk
when I’m on the desk it better be about a trade. Besides, I’m not a person you can just walk up to and flap your
gums for no reason. Don’t bother me with the weather, politics or what an over-paid professional athlete did or
didn’t do. I couldn’t care less how your night was or whether you got laid.
Understand this. We sit on a trading desk not at a birthday party. We’re here to help our clients buy and sell
stocks. What we do is cutthroat; the rest of Wall Street does the same thing. We fight for every single transaction.
When you miss one, that commission goes into someone else’s pocket. You can never get it back.
My former boss hired and trained me. Then, without warning, at forty-four years old he keeled over. This
business can take its toll. It sucked, but it got me promoted. He was a weak manager anyway and didn’t run the ship
as tight as he could. Soon after I was in charge, I fired two deadbeats and with Deidra, I’d have had a hat trick, but I
can’t touch the beauty queen. Every time I try, the Human Resources department–HR–says I have to train her and
give her a fair chance. I keep saying, “Impossible. You can’t teach a sense of urgency. We’d be doing her and us a
favor.” They keep saying, “Do it.”
The job requires you to read people, listen between the lines. When I speak with a customer, my view on the
market’s direction, a news flash, or the president’s latest tweet isn’t important. Only the client’s opinion is. I hear
their tone of voice. Do they sound unsure? I try to figure out which way they are leaning, never forgetting they are
all, always motivated by greed or fear. You can’t believe everything they say, because there’s more bullshit on Wall
Street than on a farm. Sometimes the customer is trying to screw you into doing a losing trade at the wrong price,
maybe to cover a mistake he made. If he has paid us lots of commissions, you let him.
Trading takes backbone. When the shit hits the fan, it’s more-often-than-not pointing at you.
My team doesn’t like me. Ask out of my earshot, and stand back. They will call me every name in the book,
which is fine. We aren’t here to make friends. They should thank me; I trained them. They’re now in a league with
the best traders on Wall Street.
My phone bank contains sixty clear plastic buttons, all direct lines. One lights; it’s our biggest client. It’s only
9:15 a.m., which is odd since trading hasn’t started yet. I punch it.
“Blackie here.”
“Blackie, it’s Rocky. We have a huge stock holding for sale. I wanted to show it to you first.”
The Assignments by P T Dawkins
About the Author

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While P.T. Dawkins writes about “crimes of deception,” his primary goal is to create characters the reader will remember long after the book is finished. He studied English at Dartmouth College, and is an active post-graduate learner including MBA and CFA degrees and creative writing training from acclaimed authors.
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The Garden Club Murder by Amy Patricia Meade #BlogTour #BookReview #Giveaway

I am so delighted today to provide a review for you at my blog stop for The Garden Club Murder by Amy Patricia Meade on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. Scroll down to enter your chance to win the Giveaway!

The Garden Club Murder by Amy Patricia Meade

Book Details

The Garden Club Murder (A Tish Tarragon Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Severn House Publishers (September 1, 2019)
Hardcover: 208 pages
ISBN-10: 0727889443
ISBN-13: 978-0727889447
Digital ASIN: B07TXLVLPP

Book Blurb

Literary caterer Letitia ‘Tish’ Tarragon is preparing her English Secret Garden-themed luncheon for Coleton Creek’s annual garden club awards, but when she is taken on a tour of some of the top contenders with the garden club’s president, Jim Ainsley, Tish is surprised at how seriously the residents take the awards – and how desperate they are to win.

Wealthy, retired businessman Sloane Shackleford has won the coveted best garden category five years in a row, but he and his Bichon Frise, Biscuit, are universally despised. When Sloane’s bludgeoned body is discovered in his pristine garden, Tish soon learns that he was disliked for reasons that go beyond his green fingers. Have the hotly contested awards brought out a competitive and murderous streak in one of the residents?

My Review:

Another new author and series for me, this one a “literary” caterer Tish Tarragon, owner of Cookin’ the Books Café and Catering. The author may be having a little fun with us, naming his protagonist tarragon, but we get it, and it’s not the first of the humorous little zingers you’ll encounter. Tish has a helper who performs the bakery type chores, while her good buddy and old friend, the local weatherman, Julian (Jules) Jefferson Davis loves to help with bartending type duties.

The Garden Club Murder by Amy Patricia MeadeTish has been hired by a local senior community to cater their luncheon for the annual garden club awards. She is met by the club’s president, Jim Ainsley, and on a tour of the facilities and the gardens discovers the body of Sloane Shackleford bludgeoned to death in his award-winning garden. Shackleford owns a Bichon Frise named Biscuit, which is, of course, the reason I was attracted to the cover.

In southern style cozy fashion, we are introduced to the many residents and their support roles and it doesn’t take long before they are clamoring for her to investigate. It seems she’s in the position to do so–receiving gossip and real information with little prodding from the residents. Most are empathetic and all have their stories, some eighty years worth, while Tish is wrestling with her English Secret Garden theme menu, decorating the center patio, coordinating with Sheriff Clemson Reade, fostering the Bichon, taking in her devastated best friend Mary Jo and her two children after her husband divulges he’s in love with his twenty-something assistant and balancing her relationship with lawyer Schuyler Thompson.

With a few turn of phrases, I wondered several times if I was reading an English author (and I guess now that’s true), although the story takes place in Virginia. There were some humorous observations, comments, and the dialogue is generally on the lighter side as the venue could have gotten a bit heavy given the community and the murder. Included were a number of punny analogies, “Doesn’t he realize he’s about as welcome as a porcupine in a nudist colony?”

I couldn’t really get into the character of Tish, who was oblivious to a second romantic interest or her investigative style, but did enjoy the mystery, admitting I couldn’t figure out the perp, then got gob-smacked with the confession and the big reveal. While there was virtually no one who liked the man and many who might have done the deed, I definitely could not pick out the one who did, although I was a little sad at the turn it presented.

I was given this digital download by the publisher through NetGalley for this blog tour and appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for those who enjoy a cozy in which you can’t guess whodunnit. If you could, and did, write me–okay?

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Giveaway

Sign up for your chance to win (1) Print Copy – The Garden Club Murder (A Tish Tarragon Mystery) by Amy Patricia Meade (U.S. Only) in this Rafflecopter giveaway 

About the Author

Amy Patricia Meade - authorAuthor of the critically acclaimed Marjorie McClelland Mysteries, Amy Patricia Meade is a native of Long Island, NY where she cut her teeth on classic films and books featuring Nancy Drew and Encyclopedia Brown.

After stints as an Operations Manager for a document imaging company and a freelance technical writer, Amy left the bright lights of New York City and headed north to pursue her creative writing career amidst the idyllic beauty of Vermont’s Green Mountains.

Now residing in Bristol, England, Amy spends her time writing mysteries with a humorous or historical bent.  When not writing, Amy enjoys traveling, testing out new recipes, classic films, and exploring her new home.

Author Links:

Webpage: https://amypatriciameade.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/amy.patriciameade/

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/amypmeade

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/174006.Amy_Patricia_Meade

Purchase Links  – Amazon – B&N – AbeBooks

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

Tour Participants:

September 16 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT WITH RECIPE

September 17 – I’m All About Books – CHARACTER GUEST POST

September 17 – LibriAmoriMiei – REVIEW

September 18 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

September 18 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT

September 19 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

September 20 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

September 20 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW

September 21 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW

September 22 – I Read What You Write – SPOTLIGHT

September 23 – Reading Is My SuperPower – GUEST POST

September 24 – Mysteries with Character – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

September 24 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

September 25 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

September 26 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW

September 26 – Cozy Up With Kathy – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

September 27 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

September 27 – A Blue Million Books – GUEST POST

September 28 – Literary Gold – CHARACTER GUEST POST

September 28 – Diane Reviews Books – REVIEW

September 29 –Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

September 29 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW Great Escapes Book Tours

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

©2019 V Williams V Williams

The House of Five Fortunes by Amanda Hughes – a #BookReview #rosepointpub

You know I’m a huge fan of author Amanda Hughes and her Bold Women Series. She writes her historical novels with such sensitivity and emotion. If you are not familiar with this author, your time has come.

5-stars

The House of Five Fortunes by Amanda HughesThe House of Five Fortunes (Bold Women of the 19th Century Series Book 3) by Amanda Hughes

Book Blurb:

While Xiu peddled pipe dreams, a nightmare was waiting.
Sensual and exotic, San Francisco’s Chinatown in the 1870’s was filled with temptation and greed. Raised in this quagmire of vice, Xiu Jung caters to wealthy thrill-seekers with her elegant opium den, The House of Five Fortunes. With the help of Madison Hayes, the illustrious actor, she makes it the most fashionable salon on the West Coast. But a string of murders is sweeping the city, coming closer and closer to Xiu. Madison said he would protect her, but could this mysterious outsider be trusted?
From Chinatown to Deadwood, Amanda Hughes once again takes you on a page-turning adventure of a lifetime.

My Review

I can’t imagine the time this author spends in her research of these time periods and specifically the people of this 1867-1876 narrative regarding the Chinese community in San Francisco. The eldest of the three children of foster parents Day, Xiu (she-you) was often called upon to help with her two younger siblings, her own sister Lei, and Peter, an issue of both the pastor and Dolly Day.

Her mother had set up a thriving business and when Xiu lost both foster parents, took over raising her sister and brother as well as work in the House. Later with successful but mysterious actor Madison Hayes who financially backs a remodel, they create an exclusive and fashionable salon. Unfortunately, as her siblings’ age, they each become problems about the same time anti-Chinese sentiment begins to manifest in overt hostilities.

The author weaves such a dramatic tale of the old west, San Francisco in the height of the Barbary Coast days (from which many a sailor was shanghaied), when brothels, gambling dens, opium houses, and saloons went wild with sailors disembarking in search of good times and the gold strikes burgeoned the city with a population ill-prepared to handle the growth. Chinatown had long looked to protection from the two major tongs in power. Fashions evolved, hotels built with opulence in mind catered to the wealthy, and commerce was exploding. The atmosphere of the city is laid open, raw with the sights, smells, and the cacophony of development.

A crisis with Peter forces a change in direction from which recovery may not be capable, but evolves the relationship with Michael–another very dangerous development. The reader is immersed with the engaging and well-developed characters, both main and support characters, the strongly atmospheric tale swirling in your head, creates the mind-movie. It’s easy to become so involved, you are holding your breath. Dialogue pulses with accent nuance and the reader becomes totally invested. A favorite quote said by her father to Xiu:

“I’m not in charge of the light inside you, Xiu. You are. Don’t wait for someone else to come along and light your lamp.”

I received this well-plotted and fast-paced ebook download from the author with no expectation of a review, although it’s a book I thoroughly enjoyed and wanted to share. In fact, I also shared it with my associate reviewer and the CE loved it as well. Now it’s up to you.

His Review

The House of Five FortunesTranscontinental railroad work attracted immigrants from many parts of the world. Pastor and Dolly Day were a couple who followed the construction and proselytized to the construction crews. Our protagonist, a Chinese immigrant child and her sister were adopted by the Days after a tragic fire killed their parents. The world was a wide-open cold mountainous area for the children.

Xiu as well as all of the associated characters in this novel are well developed and loved and admired or despised and castigated. The strength and fortitude of character is beautiful to behold. Recognition of the characters and their attraction brings to light the pathos of the situation.

Going from “end of the rails towns” up the western side of the Sierra Nevada the foster children stayed with their parents. Dolly Day had learned how to run a business as a madam and was very good at it. The plight of the Chinese immigrants as the tunnels were carved in the Sierra Nevada mountains was a terrifying and dangerous life. Blasters were lowered on ropes from the higher areas and drilled holes and then filled them with black powder prior to signaling to be pulled up. Sometimes the crew pulling them up was not quick enough and the explosion would kill the blast workers.

Prejudice was rampant and marrying between whites and Asians was strictly forbidden. The Chinese could not mix with the whites and had to eat and sleep in separate quarters. After the completion of the railroad, the Chinese workers were not even allowed to ride the trains home they had helped build, and many areas in San Francisco forbid the Chinese immigrants from entering.

Amanda Hughes paints a very enlightening picture of the turmoil and struggles of these Chinese adopted children in the California frontier. The few Chinese women in California were relegated to whore houses or areas strictly segregated with Chinese. This book is a treasure of enlightened understanding of the early years in California and the hatred and prejudice toward the Chinese.

The House of Five Fortunes is an opium den where Dolly Day is able to establish a thriving business. The girls learn to read and write English and are not familiar with their native language. Many twists and difficult times face these young girls. They are treated with respect by the Chinese but segregated from the white population who would rather they went back to China. Associate Reviewer - C E Williams

This book is an excellent example of the trials that were endured by many groups; Irish, Italians, Germans and of course the Chinese. The humanity that Amanda writes into her historical novel puts this tale into a class of history which every schoolchild should read. I came away with a feeling of sorrow and amazement at the resilience of these early ethnic groups. This five-star read has a terrific moral! 5/5 stars C.E. Williams 

Book Details:

Genre: Multicultural and Interracial Romance, Asian American Literature and Fiction
Publisher: Lillis and Jaymes

  • ISBN-10:1535367385
  • ISBN-13:978-1535367387
  • ASIN: B01L7BW79M

Print Length: 325 pages
Publication Date: August 28, 2016
Source: Author request
Title Link: The House of Five Fortunes

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Amanda Hughes authorThe Author: Bestselling and award-winning author, Amanda Hughes is a “Walter Mitty”, spending more time in heroic daydreams than the real world. At last, she found an outlet writing adventures about bold women through the centuries. Well known for her genre-busting books, she is the winner of the Gems National Medal for Writing, featured in USA Today and is nominated for the 2017 Minnesota Book Award. Amanda is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, and when she isn’t off tilting windmills, she lives and writes in Minnesota. Don’t miss these page-turning novels for readers who like historical fiction with a just bit of a love story. All of her books are stand-alone and can be read in any order.

The Bold Women of the 17th Century: The Firefly Witch Book 1

The Bold Women Series of the 18th Century: Beyond the Cliffs of Kerry Book 1 The Pride of the King Book 2 The Sword of the Banshee Book 3

The Bold Women Series of the 19th Century: The Grand Masquerade Book 1 Vagabond Wind Book 2 The House of Five Fortunes Book 3

The Bold Women Series of the 20th Century: The Looking Glass Goddess Book 1

Interested in her new books or a free novelette? Go to http://www.amandahughesauthor.com

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

Twitter: @amandahughesauthor

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Never Ever by Willow Rose – a #BookReview

A new review from my Associate reviewer. The CE discovers author Willow Rose.

Never Ever by Willow RoseNever Ever (Eva Rae Thomas Mystery Book 3) by Willow Rose

Book Blurb:

Former FBI profiler Eva Rae Thomas returns in Willow Rose’s most nail-biting thriller yet.

Ex-agent Eva Rae Thomas is on the run. The past month she has done things she never knew she was capable of while hunting for her kidnapped daughter.

Eva Rae has risked everything,

-her career,

-her newfound love,

-her freedom.

She’s looking for the man they call the Iron Fist. The trail has led her to Miami.

Meanwhile, Miami is under attack. Hundreds of passengers in the Metrorail are exposed to a deathly nerve gas on a peaceful Monday morning. When Eva Rae Thomas sees her daughter on the surveillance footage from the attack, she knows it is no coincidence. But by the time she uncovers the chilling truth of how it is all connected, it might be too late.

NEVER EVER is the third book in the Eva Rae Thomas Mystery Series and can be read as a standalone.

His Review

My first experience with this author and series, but I feel it works well as a standalone. The characters are well-developed and believable.

Never Ever by Willow RoseHuman trafficking in young girls is big business in South Florida. When Olivia, the teenage daughter of former (protagonist) FBI profiler Eva Rae Thomas is abducted, a frantic hunt begins. Meanwhile, a Seren gas attack on a subway causes panic in the Miami area and hinders the search.  Unidentified young girls are among the victims on the train.

A second attack occurs at a Roman Catholic Church and surveillance footage shows Olivia!

This book is fast-moving and at times aggravating in the near misses in finding and recovering Olivia. Dialogue is intelligent and the well-plotted mystery moves at a fast pace but I did not fully understand how her daughter came to be vulnerable to kidnap, only that she had.

Associate Reviewer - C E WilliamsA twist at the conclusion dispels illusions and preconceptions of the actual organization.  A roller-coaster read with many tosses and turns. The ending is totally unexpected.

This ebook was downloaded free from BookBub with no expectation of a review and this is my honest opinion. 4.5/5 Stars  CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Romantic Suspense, Police Procedurals, Mystery Romance

Publisher: BUOY MEDIA

  • ISBN-10:1071411705
  • ISBN-13:978-1071411704
  • ASIN: B07SNQNGQH

Print Length: 357 pages

Publication Date: August 25, 2019

Source: Publisher and BookBub

Title Link: Never Ever

+Add to Goodreads 

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

Willow Rose - authorThe Author: *NEW RELEASES*:
☞ – Don’t Lie To Me (Eva Rae Thomas Mystery-series #1) Just released!
☞ – What You Did (Eva Rae Thomas Mystery-series #2) – Just released!
☞ – Never Ever (Eva Rae Thomas #3) – Just released!
☞ – Say You Love Me (Eva Rae Thomas #4) – preorder today!

Willow Rose is a multi-million-copy best-selling Author and an Amazon ALL-star Author of more than 70 novels. Her books are sold all over the world.

She writes Mystery, Thriller, Paranormal, Romance, Suspense, Horror, Supernatural thrillers, and Fantasy.

Willow’s books are fast-paced, nail-biting page-turners with twists you won’t see coming. That’s why her fans call her The Queen of Scream.

Several of her books have reached the Kindle top 10 of ALL books in the US, UK, and Canada. She has sold more than three million books all over the world.

Willow lives on Florida’s Space Coast with her husband and two daughters. When she is not writing or reading, you will find her surfing and watch the dolphins play in the waves of the Atlantic Ocean.

Connect with Willow online:

http://www.facebook.com/willowredrose

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4804769.Willow_Rose
https://www.bookbub.com/authors/willow-rose

Sign up for Willow’s VIP email list, and you’ll automatically be notified as soon as her next book is released: http://www.willow-rose.net

Inbox already stuffed? Send the word: “ebooks” to 31996 to get a text alert with news about new releases, giveaways, and bargains from Willow.

Books by WILLOW ROSE:

Say You Love Me by Willow RoseEva Rae Thomas Mystery Series:
– Don’t Lie To Me (Eva Rae Thomas Mystery Book 1)
– What You Did (Eva Rae Thomas Mystery Book 2)
Never Ever (Eva Rae Thomas Mystery Book 3)
Say You Love Me (Eva Rae Thomas Mystery Book 4 will be released Sept 30, 2019)

She also wrote 4 in the Mary Mills Mystery Series, 7 in the Jack Ryder series, 10 in the Rebekka Franck Mystery Series (of which I read two), and 12 in the Emma Frost Mystery Series.

©2019 CE Williams/V Williams

#ThrowbackThursday – Situation Room (A Luke Stone Thriller Book 3) by Jack Mars

Hello my good and faithful readers! I’m getting this out while it’s still Thursday–my projects definitely messed with my schedule this week and I’m falling behind–again! I’ve reached back into my Goodreads reviews–this one from Jan of 2017.

#ThrowbackThursday 

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

This week I am highlighting Jack Mars, another terrific, prolific author who wrote Situation Room, which I reviewed on Goodreads. This novel was released on June 27, 2016. It is classified as a mystery series, political thriller, and terrorism thriller. At 300 pages a fast and fun read. Mars released Agent Zero (book 1) of his new Agent Zero series on June 28, 2019.

ISBN: 163291607X
ASIN: B01D0QYPC4

Book Blurb:

A cyberattack on an obscure U.S. dam leaves thousands dead and the government wondering who attacked it, and why. When they realize it is just the tip of the iceberg—and that the safety of all of America is at stake—the President has no choice but to call in Luke Stone.

Head of an elite, disbanded FBI team, Luke does not want the job. But with new enemies—foreign and domestic—closing in on her from all sides, the President can only trust him. What follows is an action-packed international roller-coaster, as Luke learns that the terrorists are more sophisticated than anyone realizes, that the target is more extensive than anyone could image—and that there is very little time left to save America.

A political thriller with non-stop action, dramatic international settings, unexpected twists and heart-pounding suspense, SITUATION ROOM is book #3 in the Luke Stone series, an explosive new series that will leave you turning pages late into the night. 

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My Review:

Situation Room by Jack MarsLuke Stone, the protagonist in this para-military thriller is divided between his perceived ability to save the current situation and that of his family. He is separated from his wife, but would dearly love to spend more time with his son, Gunner, possibly save his marriage. Still, following a call from the newly installed first female president of the US, who is still sifting through the good ole boys in the “Situation Room” of the interim White House, he is back in the thick of the action. The good ole boys would prefer “just a woman” be out of there, but she is steadfastly sorting her loyal following–beginning with special project renegade Luke.

Dastardly events are befalling easily compromised areas of the US all pointing to terrorist conspiracies messing with outdated electronic infrastructure. After Luke reassembles his team, he begins all all-out effort to discern the end bad guy and the timeline under which they are operating. No problem–he can pull out all the stops.

The plot moves along with a good rate of speed; no time to beat dead horses here. Though this is designated the 3rd in the Luke Stone Thriller Series, characters are fleshed out well enough not to require back-reading and can work well as a standalone. Stone continues to carry forth some humanity and mourns his losses.

The president manages to grow stronger and wields sufficient savvy in the political arena to fully seat her power position. There are several edit misses, but once again, would rightly deserve a 4.5 star rating.

I downloaded this free book from BookBub–and it was absolutely a winner– highly recommended. Mars writes some riveting political thrillers. Are you a fan?

Jack Mars - authorAbout the Author: Jack Mars is the USA Today bestselling author of the LUKE STONE thriller series, which includes seven books. He is also the author of the new FORGING OF LUKE STONE prequel series, and of the AGENT ZERO spy thriller series.

ANY MEANS NECESSARY (book #1), which has over 800 five star reviews, is available as a free download on Amazon!

Jack loves to hear from you, so please feel free to visit http://www.Jackmarsauthor.com to join the email list, receive a free book, receive free giveaways, connect on Facebook and Twitter, and stay in touch!

More Throwback Thursday Blogs

Renee at Its Book Talk
Jill at Jill’s Book Cafe
Rebecca at The Book Whisperer
Lynne at Fictionophile
Sam at Clues and Reviews
Holly B at Dressedtoread
Deanna at DeesRadReads and Reviews
Amanda at Literary Weaponry
Annie at The Misstery
Mischenko at Read Rant Rock and Roll
Laurie at Cozy Nook Books
Ann Marie at LItWitWineDine
Susan at Susan Loves Books
Cathy at What Cathy Read Next
Cathy at Between the Lines
Amy at Novel Gossip
Diana at A Haven for Booklovers

©2019 V Williams V Williams