Leap by Michael C Grumley (Breakthrough Book2) – A #BookReview #technothriller

Book Blurb:

ONE OF THE GREATEST BREAKTHROUGHS IN HUMAN HISTORY.
AN ACHIEVEMENT THAT STUNNED THE ENTIRE WORLD.
AND IT WAS ONLY THE BEGINNING.

Leap by Michael C GrumleyFacing the cold, clear glass, Alison Shaw stared nervously into the giant seawater tank.
It was just one year ago that she and her team of marine biologists had stunned the world with their incredible breakthrough. And now, they were about to do it again.

But an ocean away, something strange was unfolding. Along a lonely coast in South America, an experimental Russian submarine, long thought to have been dismantled, has suddenly resurfaced. And the U.S. Navy has taken notice, sending officers John Clay and Steve Caesare to investigate.

The sub has been studying a group of unmarked soldiers. Disappearing into the jungle each night beneath the cover of darkness. Something has been discovered…something big.

And it’s about to fall into the wrong hands. Unless Alison Shaw and her team can find something that no one else can.

His Review:

Search for the Fountain of Youth meets interspecies communications. Michael Grumley mixes scientific speculation with current world reality. Many years ago my communications class explained that we transmit information 60% by facial expression and 40% by words. As with most academia this was abridged to be 55/38/7. That is 55% of our communications is body language, 38% voice tone and 7% actual words. This was postulated by Mr. Mehrabian in 1967. I find that if anything can be confused, the academic world will do it.

Leap by Michael C GrumleyThis book is very entertaining when using the above ratios and consider inter-species communications. What if you cannot see the animal before it charges or leaps or is trying to warn you? A rattlesnake shaking its’ tail is a complete communication without necessarily a visual component, but I digress. One main feature in this tale is a new communications device called IMIS. Dolphins communicate with various sounds and clicks and this IMIS system when aimed directly at the creatures translates these sounds into a kind of abbreviated language like pig-Latin. The complete sentences are not there and yet the researchers and the animals communicate.

A concurrent plot is a Chinese war ship parked in the harbor of Georgetown, Guyana. A US Naval research ship and the dolphins are sent to investigate. Under the cover of darkness, the Chinese are harvesting something from the jungles of Guyana. A very rich man wants to find out why one of the monkeys in his “nature retreat to protect animals” has lived to be nearly one hundred years old. The animal is observed trying to untie the netting in the forest compound to free his fellow animals. When they try to capture the animal, he escapes and the team, including IMIS, are hired to help find him. He is a Capuchin Monkey and the “humanitarian” wants to find out how he is living so long.

When arriving near the Georgetown harbor an old Russian submarine is detected. There is some very innovative equipment on the sub which seems to eliminate its’ navigational footprint. Putting these factors together, the US Navy becomes involved in trying to figure out what is happening. Why would a Chinese naval warship be in Caribbean waters? Both questions became a part of a very entertaining plot.

CE WilliamsThe outcome is surprising and also very entertaining. A modicum of science fiction adds to the overall plot and the ending is satisfying. This accomplished author includes a gateway to another segment and an additional novel. The villain is really just a man getting older and is too rich to want to leave this life. He theorizes there must be a genetic anomaly that will lead from his drinking of the fountain of youth. With enough money to make his dream a possible reality he sets out to find the secret. Read the book and see if he was successful. 4.5/5 stars CE Williams

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author through BookBub. These are my honest thoughts.

Book Details:

Genre: Sea Adventures, Techno-thrillers

ASIN : B00LXRJICK
Print Length: 486 pagesPublication Date: July 14, 2014
Source: BookBub
Title Link: Leap

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

Michael C Grumley - authorThe Author: For years, Michael Grumley dreamed of writing thrillers the way he thought they should be written; complex, multi-genre stories with unique plots that ‘move’. Enter BREAKTHROUGH, AMID THE SHADOWS, and THROUGH THE FOG: all deeply human stories with endings you will never see coming.

Michael C. Grumley lives in Northern California with his two young daughters. He’s an avid reader, runner and most of all father. He dotes on his girls every chance he gets. His website is http://www.michaelgrumley.com and his email address is michael@michaelgrumley.com

He is currently working on the next Breakthrough story.

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Deadly Weapon (Jake Wolfe Book 5) by Mark Nolan – a #BookReview #thrillerbooks

“I am not what happened to me. I am what I choose to become.”—Carl Jung

Book Blurb:

Deadly WeaponIn Alaska, a lethal threat is unearthed from the frozen ground. Near Maui, a shipwrecked submarine holds a frightening secret, and on the California coast, war veteran Jake Wolfe races against time to uncover a conspiracy.

When a master plan emerges that has the potential not only to threaten Jake’s city, but to kill off targeted populations around the world, Jake embarks on a desperate search-and-destroy mission in order to protect the lives of everyone he knows and cares for. His target? A group of rogue operatives planning mass murder.

With assassins on his trail, and the clock ticking, Jake must trace the path that will finally bring him face-to-face with the psychopathic genius who wants to remake the world.

Deadly Weapon is part of a series, but may be read as a stand-alone novel.

My Thoughts

This is Book 5 of the Jake Wolfe series and how many have I read? ALL OF THEM. I just love the duo of Jake and Cody—well, Cody maybe a little more—but these two are beyond engaging. Intelligent, fast, cunning, capable, but tender and hot at the same time—and that’s just the dog! There is something overwhelming in the attraction of Jake—perhaps that “animal magnetism.” (snicker, snicker)

In this series entry, Jake’s Alaskan holiday is interrupted by a call to action and he’s swept up and away to a mission not wholly successful…it will continue back home in the Bay Area of California. He is living gratis in Sausalito on the yacht Far Niente thanks to a buddy across the pond for a year. Damn, I get such pangs when he gets to describing the Pacific, that wonderful all pervading salt water open ocean air atmosphere. “He felt the need for some vitamin sea.”

Anyway, it’s a nasty consortium of people (working towards a one-world totalitarian oligarachy) bent on eliminating certain populations around the globe. The mission will be undertaken in fits and starts as they gain intel. Jake (Jukebox) is a Marine combat veteran, but not out of the “above top secret” classification that has pulled him in before on classified missions. Highly trained, athletic, weapons ready, and deadly, he takes Cody without question of his orders.

“Sometimes I think the hardest part of war is coming home.”

So much intelligence here, both in weapons, locations, and personnel, it’s scary—hard to separate fact from fiction except that this narrative barrels through heart-stopping action (okay—some over-the-top action even) that has you groaning at the odds and cheering at the accomplishments. (Reference to the U-505 submarine on display at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago—I’ve seen it—OMG!) Page-turning, non-stop action that includes many of his previous Marine buddies (also back to civilian life), including his best buddy Terrell Hayes (Grinds), SFPD Homicide Detective. This plot is just a little close to current global events and difficult to put down.

Deadly WeaponThe author’s writing style has evolved, relaxed a bit in Book 5, becoming more graphic, letting that ole testosterone fly, and having Jake speaking more brazenly—irreverent—and I blinked several times, but even so, the well-plotted novel is descriptive, immersive, and prose laden. There is the thread of a romance between Jake and Sarah, a veterinarian, but it weaves that thread carefully through the outline, allows the plot to naturally progress to a conclusion that has you craving Book 6.

Yes, it’s a series, and you don’t have to start at Book 1, this can work as a standalone, but you’d be missing out on a lot of fun. You’ll have no problem getting to know these series characters and fall in love with that dog as well. Full of suspense, take your blood pressure medication, as this action-thriller will have you hanging by a nail. Wildly entertaining, tales with fascinating bits of information slipped in before you realize you are learning something, wonderful strong studly characters (man and dog). This one is for you and it’s out now.

(Links to my reviews for series books 1-4 below in the author bio.) 

FTC Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from the author. These are my honest thoughts.

His Thoughts

Clandestine operations are not for the faint of heart. Jake Wolfe is never really on vacation. His summer getaway is interrupted by a frantic call and a helicopter taking him to a remote Inuit village. Salmon fishing and an escape with his wartime K-9 survivor dog Cody, is curtailed. Can they stop a diabolical group of billionaires from getting their hands on an active strain of the deadly 1918-19 flu virus? They have dug up a body containing the virus buried in an old Inuit graveyard.

Controlling the world population through germ warfare has been attempted throughout history. The number of potential fatalities from this flu strain is staggering to consider. Can the perpetrators be stopped before developing a massive biological weapon? Mark Nolan examines this issue with his usual masterful storytelling capability. I would never want to be in Jakes’ or his dogs’ shoes.

Cody, a decorated war dog and hero, accompanies Jake on most elements of the case. His tracking and identification capabilities are integral to solving most cases. Time is always a key factor in stopping those who would do great harm to our nation. Cody has the rank of sergeant in the Marine Corp while Jake is a corporal. Cody will warm up to anyone given instructions to do so. Casual petting without being invited to do so can result in loss of body parts.

This is my second book by Mark Nolan and I enjoy his writing style, although he portrays the world as a place with few hidden safe spots. Jake continually looks for reasons why the Feds and his handler can locate him so quickly, which adds spice to the stories. CE Williams

I find the use of some of the weapons to be extremely graphic and frightening. As a normal citizen I’d rather not know some of these facts. I find the stories engaging, although I lost a little sleep over this novel. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys Action-Thrillers. 5 stars CE Williams

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5 stars

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Book Details:

Genre: Medical Thrillers, Financial Thrillers, Sea Adventures Fiction
ASIN : B08BFCV7GR
Print Length: 308 pages
Publication Date: August 31, 2020
Source: Author Request

Title Link: Amazon

Mark Nolan - authorThe Author: Mark Nolan was born near the sea shore and has enjoyed boating, fishing, scuba diving and exploring in Florida, Mexico, California, Hawaii, etc. If you like dogs, boats, ocean beaches, and action movies … you’ll probably enjoy reading Mark’s books.

Mark’s books in order: 1. Dead Lawyers Don’t Lie. 2. Vigilante Assassin. 3. Killer Lawyer. 4. San Diego Dead. 5. Deadly Weapon. 6. Key West Dead.

Subscribe to Mark Nolan’s reader newsletter for updates, specials, and to be notified when a new book is available. Please visit marknolan.com.

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

HIDING CRACKED GLASS BY JAMES J. CUDNEY – a #BookReview @jamescudney4 – @Shalini_G26

Hiding Cracked Glass by James J Cudney

Series Name: Perceptions of Glass
Genre: Family Life Fiction, Suspense
Publisher: Magnum Opus – A Next Chapter Imprint; 1st Edition (October 8, 2020)
ASIN : B08F3YWTYX
Print Length: 286 pages
Publication Date: October 8, 2020
Source: Blog Tour
Title Link: Hiding Cracked Glass [Amazon]

About the Book

An ominous blackmail letter appears at an inopportune moment. The recipient’s name is accidentally blurred out upon arrival. Which member of the Glass family is the ruthless missive meant for?

In the powerful sequel to Watching Glass Shatter, Olivia is the first to read the nasty threat and assumes it’s meant for her. When the mysterious letter falls into the wrong hands and is read aloud, it throws the entire Glass family into an inescapable trajectory of self-question. Across the span of eight hours, Olivia and her sons contemplate whether to confess their hidden secrets or find a way to bury them forever. Some failed to learn an important lesson last time. Will they determine how to save themselves before it’s too late?

Each chapter’s focus alternates between the various family members and introduces several new and familiar faces with a vested interest in the outcome. As each hour ticks by, the remaining siblings and their mother gradually reveal what’s happened to them in the preceding months, and when the blackmailer makes an appearance at Olivia’s birthday party, the truth brilliantly comes to light.

Although everyone seemed to embrace the healing process at the end of Watching Glass Shatter, there were hidden cracks in the Glass family that couldn’t be mended. Their lives are about to shatter into pieces once again, but this time, the stakes are even higher. Someone wants to teach them a permanent lesson and refuses to stop until success is achieved. 

My Thoughts

If it seemed that circumstances had evolved to a resolution of the issues visited by the shocking revelations in Watching Glass Shatter, the hushed euphoria quietly evaporated in this instalment of the Perceptions of Glass series.

Hiding-Cracked-Glass-Promo-PaperbackA strong reminder that people are people whether rich or poor, they face the same dilemmas and crises of the lesser privileged and are no less damaging. Olivia is back, now with her remaining four sons after having a retreat to Italy after the loss of both her husband and youngest son. There were life-altering secrets revealed in that earlier narrative, many shared; some not.

Olivia is going to celebrate a birthday and having returned to the family fold happy to be back until she received a blackmail letter. Unfortunately, several events occurred prior to her seeing the letter, which she immediately assumed should have been directed to her. And wasn’t. Unfortunately, the way it is revealed has the rest of the family reeling with assurance that perhaps it was not intended for Olivia, but for them.

There are the men and their mates, along with relatively unknown faces, and Diane, Olivia’s sister—aunt to the boys—more mother than aunt. In the ensuing hours, the POV is switched from brother to brother, as well as Olivia, along with flashbacks that fill in the backstory to bring the current scene up to date.

Each of the offspring has their own foibles and are working on those as well as the relationship with their remaining brothers. Olivia tends to remain emotionally elusive, continuing to hold back valuable information that should be shared and isn’t, unfortunately, until it’s too late. The characters are well developed and as monied privilege tend to exhibit narcissistic tendencies and I had difficulty with all of them. My heart went out to Emma and I was busy rooting for her. She and Diane are most sympathetic, but the mantra continues to hammer family…familyfamily. Even with the level of dysfunction, the theme doesn’t relax.

As each member is dissected as possibly being the blackmail target, more secrets are laid open, exposed. A classic example that money can’t buy you everything. Can these family members ever find peace?

The well-plotted novel navigates through several twists and pulls into a tragic conclusion that has your heart sinking into the depths. NOOOooooo. A story of family dramas, secrets, misguided intentions, selected equitable solutions.

“Children aren’t an opportunity to fix your past. They’re a chance to improve the world’s future.”

I was gifted a digital copy for the occasion of the blog tour and these are my unbiased opinions.

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About the Author

Background

James J Cudney - authorJames is my given name, but most folks call me Jay. I live in New York City, grew up on Long Island, and graduated from Moravian College, an historic but small liberal arts school in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with a degree in English literature and minors in Education, Business and Spanish. After college, I accepted a technical writing position for a telecommunications company during Y2K and spent the last ~20 years building a career in technology & business operations in the retail, sports, media and entertainment industries. Throughout those years, I wrote some short stories, poems and various beginnings to the “Great American Novel,” but I was so focused on my career in technology and business that writing became a hobby. In 2016, I refocused some of my energies toward reinvigorating a second career in reading, writing and publishing.

Author

Writing has been a part of my life as much as my heart, my mind and my body. At some points, it was just a few poems or short stories; at others, it was full length novels and stories. My current focus is family drama fiction, cozy mystery novels and suspense thrillers. I think of characters and plots that I feel must be unwound. I think of situations people find themselves in and feel compelled to tell the story. It’s usually a convoluted plot with many surprise twists and turns. I feel it necessary to take that ride all over the course. My character is easily pictured in my head. I know what he is going to encounter or what she will feel. But I need to use the right words to make it clear.

Reader & Reviewer

Reading has also never left my side. Whether it was children’s books, young adult novels, college textbooks, biographies or my ultimate love, fiction, it’s ever present in my day. I read 2 books per week and I’m on a quest to update every book I’ve ever read on Goodreads, write up a review and post it on all my sites and platforms.

Blogger & Thinker

I have combined my passions into a single platform where I share reviews, write a blog and publish tons of content: TRUTH. I started my 365 Daily Challenge, where I post about a word that has some meaning to me and converse with everyone about life. There is humor, tears, love, friendship, advice and bloopers. Lots of bloopers where I poke fun at myself all the time. Even my dogs have had weekly segments called “Ryder’s Rants” or “Baxter’s Barks” where they complain about me. All these things make up who I am; none of them are very fancy or magnanimous, but they are real. And that’s why they are me.

Genealogist & Researcher

I love history and research, finding myself often reaching back into the past to understand why someone made the choice he or she did and what were the subsequent consequences. I enjoy studying the activities and culture from hundreds of years ago to trace the roots and find the puzzle of my own history. I wish I could watch my ancestors from a secret place to learn how they interacted with others; and maybe I’ll comprehend why I do things the way I do.

Author Links

Website: https://jamesjcudney.com/

Blog: https://thisismytruthnow.com

Amazon: http://bit.ly/JJCIVBooks

Next Chapter Pub: https://www.nextchapter.pub/authors/james-j-cudney

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/james-j-cudney

Social Media

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jamescudney4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Genres, Formats & Languages

I write in the family drama and mystery genres. My first two books are Watching Glass Shatter (2017) and Father Figure (2018). Both are contemporary fiction and focus on the dynamics between parents and children and between siblings. I’m currently writing the sequel to Watching Glass Shatter. I also have a light mystery series called the Braxton Campus Mysteries with six books available.

All my books come in multiple formats (Kindle, physical print, large print paperback, and audiobook) and some are also translated into foreign languages such as Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and German.

Goodreads Book Links

Watching Glass Shatter (October 2017)

Father Figure (April 2018)

Braxton Campus Mysteries

Thank you to Digital Reads Blog Tours for the invitation to this tour.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

The Darkest Evening: A Vera Stanhope Novel: Vera Stanhope Book 9 by Ann Cleeves – An #Audiobook Review – #policeprocedural

“From Ann Cleeves – New York Times best-selling and award-winning author of the Vera and Shetland series, both of which are hit TV shows – comes the stunning new Vera Stanhope novel, The Darkest Evening.” 

The Darkest Evening by Ann Cleeves

Book Blurb:

On the first snowy night of winter, Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope sets off for her home in the hills. Though the road is familiar, she misses a turning and soon becomes lost and disorientated. A car has skidded off the narrow road in front of her, its door left open, and she stops to help. There is no driver to be seen, so Vera assumes that the owner has gone to find help. But a cry calls her back: a toddler is strapped in the back seat.

Vera takes the child and, driving on, she arrives at a place she knows well. Brockburn is a large, grand house in the wilds of Northumberland, now a little shabby and run down. It’s also where her father, Hector, grew up. Inside, there’s a party in full swing: music, Christmas lights, and laughter. Outside, unbeknownst to the revelers, a woman lies dead in the snow.

As the blizzard traps the group deep in the freezing Northumberland countryside, Brockburn begins to give up its secrets, and as Vera digs deeper into her investigation, she also begins to uncover her family’s complicated past.

My Review:

Ugh! I really hate it when I discover a new author (to me) and then realize I had no clue just how well established or far-reaching the author is—apparently to the rest of the world. Why am I always the last to know?

So, my first experience with the author, much less the character of Vera, a DCI in Northumberland. She is a what? Gasp! Not just a woman—also a “mature” woman.  Well, not so sold or engaged in probably the first quarter of the book—not like there was a lot of backstory going on. After the initial scene—that of Vera discovering a car off the road in a snowstorm…with the doors open…with a baby strapped inside—things tend to bog down just a tad.

The Darkest Evening by Ann CleevesIt’s the estate of distant relatives, aristocrats with which her family was estranged, and they are having a party in the country house. No cell service, she slogs to the house with the toddler to notify her office and get some help finding the person who abandoned the car. Who would seek help but leave a baby with the doors open? They do find the mother’s body, but she didn’t freeze to death. Lorna Falstone had a history of mental health issues, including anorexia, and was a single mother.

It’s a small, tight-knit community with the haves and have-nots and few secrets—except perhaps for the identity of the baby’s father. Character-driven, a study in the dysfunction of the well-to-do as well as those working their land.

I was sympathetically engaged with Vera—she was fighting an uphill battle in her position—but now add her age to that and she sees her share of discrimination. She is supported by a team, that of DS Joe Ashworth (not so supportive) and DC Holly Jackman (guardedly supportive and) smart enough to watch the master at work and learn. Vera is often the target of Joe’s wife who says he works too hard and too many hours. I appreciated the character of Holly—she is content being unconsciously mentored by Vera—and she’s a sponge. There is a grudging and growing respect between both of them. Holly often sees the path Vera is taking—anticipating the path—and providing timely support.

As Vera continues to interview and investigate, gradually gleaning clues and pursuing leads, little secrets and family dynamics are peeled back and exposed. Vera leads with a strong protagonist, no-nonsense, take no prisoners attitude.

The well-plotted storyline leads inexorably to the perpetrator with one further casualty into the investigation and a thrilling heart-stopping conclusion. Janine Birkett does an admirable job as narrator, quietly adding emotion and tension. The atmospheric woodsy setting, dark and cold, hand-warming tea cups and biscuits or brandy paints a quiet, rural, but deadly setting and adds to the creepiness of the scenes bringing to the forefront the poem by Robert Frost:

“…The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”

And I didn’t even know I was a (Robert Frost) Ann Cleeves fan. But I do now. And I’ll be looking for more of her books (and probably the TV series as well).

Book Details:

Genre: International Mystery & Crime, Women Sleuth Mysteries, Police Procedural Mysteries
Publisher:  A Macmillan Audio production from Minotaur Books

  • ISBN-10:
  • ISBN-13:

ASIN: B084D6ZP74
 Print Length: 379 pages
Listening Length: 11 hrs, 16 mins.
Narrator: Janine Birkett
Publication Date: September 8, 2020
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Darkest Evening

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

Ann Cleeves - authorThe Author: Ann [Cleeves] is the author of the books behind ITV’s VERA, now in it’s third series, and the BBC’s SHETLAND, which will be aired in December 2012. Ann’s DI Vera Stanhope series of books is set in Northumberland and features the well loved detective along with her partner Joe Ashworth. Ann’s Shetland series bring us DI Jimmy Perez, investigating in the mysterious, dark, and beautiful Shetland Islands…

Ann grew up in the country, first in Herefordshire, then in North Devon. Her father was a village school teacher. After dropping out of university she took a number of temporary jobs – child care officer, women’s refuge leader, bird observatory cook, auxiliary coastguard – before going back to college and training to be a probation officer.

While she was cooking in the Bird Observatory on Fair Isle, she met her husband Tim, a visiting ornithologist. She was attracted less by the ornithology than the bottle of malt whisky she saw in his rucksack when she showed him his room. Soon after they married, Tim was appointed as warden of Hilbre, a tiny tidal island nature reserve in the Dee Estuary. They were the only residents, there was no mains electricity or water and access to the mainland was at low tide across the shore. If a person’s not heavily into birds – and Ann isn’t – there’s not much to do on Hilbre and that was when she started writing. Her first series of crime novels features the elderly naturalist, George Palmer-Jones. A couple of these books are seriously dreadful.

In 1987 Tim, Ann and their two daughters moved to Northumberland and the north east provides the inspiration for many of her subsequent titles. The girls have both taken up with Geordie lads. In the autumn of 2006, Ann and Tim finally achieved their ambition of moving back to the North East.

For the National Year of Reading, Ann was made reader-in-residence for three library authorities. It came as a revelation that it was possible to get paid for talking to readers about books! She went on to set up reading groups in prisons as part of the Inside Books project, became Cheltenham Literature Festival’s first reader-in-residence and still enjoys working with libraries.
Ann Cleeves on stage at the Duncan Lawrie Dagger awards ceremony

Ann’s short film for Border TV, Catching Birds, won a Royal Television Society Award. She has twice been short listed for a CWA Dagger Award – once for her short story The Plater, and the following year for the Dagger in the Library award.

In 2006 Ann Cleeves was the first winner of the prestigious Duncan Lawrie Dagger Award of the Crime Writers’ Association for Raven Black, the first volume of her Shetland Quartet. The Duncan Lawrie Dagger replaces the CWA’s Gold Dagger award, and the winner receives £20,000, making it the world’s largest award for crime fiction.

Ann’s success was announced at the 2006 Dagger Awards ceremony at the Waldorf Hilton, in London’s Aldwych, on Thursday 29 June 2006. She said: “I have never won anything before in my life, so it was a complete shock – but lovely of course.. The evening was relatively relaxing because I’d lost my voice and knew that even if the unexpected happened there was physically no way I could utter a word. So I wouldn’t have to give a speech. My editor was deputed to do it!”

The judging panel consisted of Geoff Bradley (non-voting Chair), Lyn Brown MP (a committee member on the London Libraries service), Frances Gray (an academic who writes about and teaches courses on modern crime fiction), Heather O’Donoghue (academic, linguist, crime fiction reviewer for The Times Literary Supplement, and keen reader of all crime fiction) and Barry Forshaw (reviewer and editor of Crime Time magazine).

Ann’s books have been translated into sixteen languages. She’s a bestseller in Scandinavia and Germany. Her novels sell widely and to critical acclaim in the United States. Raven Black was shortlisted for the Martin Beck award for best translated crime novel in Sweden in 200.
Bio and photo from Goodreads.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Reference and partial quote in the book from the poem Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost (1874-1963)

Without a Brew: A Sloan Krause Mystery Book 4) by Ellie Alexander – a #BookReview #cozymystery

“Life is what happens between coffee and beer.”

Book Blurb:

Amateur sleuth Sloan Krause delves into a murderous winter wonderland in another delightful mystery from cozy writer Ellie Alexander, Without a Brew.

It’s winter in the Bavarian village of Leavenworth, Washington, which for local brewmaster Sloan Krause means lots of layers, pine and citrus-flavored craft beers, and getting the new guest rooms at Nitro into pristine condition before visitors flood in for IceFest—a local tradition filled with fireworks, ice carving, and winter games of all varieties. But Sloan and her boss Garrett quickly learn that being brewkeepers turned innkeepers may not be as idyllic as it sounded.

While one couple staying with them seems completely smitten, a flashy group arrives in the evening demanding rooms. Sloan and Garrett are less than impressed, but agree to rent to them anyway. The night takes a turn when brewery patron Liv Paxton finishes her frothy pint and, with no previous plan for an overnight stay in Leavenworth, eagerly takes Sloan up on the offer of sanctuary from the snow—until she has a strange run in with some locals and the other guests. Sloan could be imagining things, but when Liv’s room is found trashed the next morning, a hateful message painted on her car, and Liv herself is nowhere to be found, Sloan is convinced another mystery is brewing. With many of the potential suspects hunkering down under Nitro’s roof, she knows her co-workers and friends won’t be safe until she serves up the killer a hoppy pint of justice.

My Review:

I really enjoying tearing into this series as soon as the next book is available. Not a beer drinker, but this series is written so well I’m almost ready to try–it’s right there with soliloquies about wine. Such an art—I’ll bet you never knew!

“The beer thief, or sample thief, as they were sometimes called, was a long plastic device with a gravity valve on the base.” Hmmm…okay.

Sloan Krause is the product of the foster care system, but has found a strong family and idyllic home in Leavenworth, Washington, where she has joined Garrett in crafting unusual beers made from specialty hops and crops unique to the area and the season. They’ve gradually added more services, light snacks and soups and are now looking forward to opening rooms above Nitro as a limited B&B. Her ex is from a strong German family where she honed the knowledge of her craft and learned to love the family she never had. She also has a teenage son, Alex.

In this episode, they are gearing up for IceFest and testing their B&B quarters which has resulted in an eclectic group of guests—opposites on the social pole with one group downright obnoxious, as well as a couple celebrating an anniversary, and a single woman stranded for the night.

So many strong layers here to enjoy: the description of the delightful Bavarian style town nestled in the high mountains of Washington state and the citizens, the information regarding the art of brewing, the equipment, the nuances, ingredients and recipes, Sloan’s mysterious background coming to the fore and its possible connection to her (soon-to-be ex) in-laws, and the mystery itself expertly woven smoothly together. It’s okay that it’s Book 4, the author easily adds bits of pertinent data (no info dump), although these are fun enough to go back and start with Book 1.

The protagonist herself, Sloan, is not an in-your-face amateur sleuth. She doesn’t generally put herself at risk. She is good with people, quietly putting them at ease, and usually gets the clues she’s looking for without their being any the wiser. Also, she works well with local police Chief Meyers, herself an intelligent woman, effective, exchanging hints.

The mystery rides the tide with Sloan’s personal life growth and that of the service industry and occasionally slips in a quick recipe explanation or two. The mystery is not without twists or red herrings. Not like you won’t get a sense of the perp (although once again, not one I wanted it to be). The author builds her characters so three-dimensionally, the reader becomes engaged and except for the rude and crude one, not easy to assign guilt.

Fully invested and rolling in all the layers, the conclusion comes whether or not you’re ready. The storyline has resolved several issues, set up for the next book, and fully cemented you in the series. The only issue I had was of “the sharp edge of the shovel.” Just not sure that’s one you’d walk away from.

I missed the first, but have read and thoroughly enjoyed Books 2 and 3. You should check out this atmospheric and character-driven series. On pre-order now, this one releases in November.  

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley. These are my unbiased thoughts.

Rosepoint Publishing: Four point Five of Five Stars

4 1/2 stars

Add to Goodreads

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Culinary Mystery, Amateur Sleuths

Publisher: Minotaur Books

ASIN : B084M1SDGK

Print Length: 304 pages

Publication Date: November 10, 2020

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

About The Author:

ELLIE ALEXANDER is a Pacific Northwest native who spends ample time testing pastry recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouses and breweries nearby. When she’s not coated in flour, you’ll find her outside exploring hiking trails of Southern Oregon and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of research. She is the author of the Bakeshop Mystery Series and the Sloan Krause Mysteries. Follow her on social media to learn more about her books, see her recipe videos, and participate in fun giveaways!

Find out more about Ellie and her books by visiting her here:
Website: https://www.elliealexander.co/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ellie_alexander
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/elliealexanderauthor
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elliealexanderauthor
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/BakeshopMystery
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/elliealexander

(C) 2020 V Williams

V Williams

Mordecai’s Ashes (Larsson Investigations Book 1) by Alana Crane – a #BookReview

Your next PI/Crime Fiction–#mustread

Book Blurb:

Karl Larsson is an out of work roughneck, home from the oil fields of Alberta and back on the coast for the first time in years. His wife has left him and his future looks bleak. Becoming a detective is the last thing on his mind, but when Karl learns that he has inherited his estranged grandfather’s agency he decides to take a chance.

He doesn’t expect much action in a city as small as Victoria, BC, but Karl soon finds that Victoria is only the base of operations. His grandfather’s business took him across the length and breadth of Vancouver Island, and the Island is a world unto itself, with a culture all its own.

When a reporter from a national news agency asks him to investigate a drug running operation on the Island, Karl is drawn into a dangerous game. Finding the truth sounds simple in theory, but as Karl delves deeper he begins to realize that more than his life may be at stake.

My Review:

You’ll excuse me if I’m at a loss for words—still sniggering, shaking my head, totally but happily surprised with that little twist at the end of the book and enjoying that afterglow of a hoot of a book that has me amazed this is a debut author.

Karl Larsson is the youngest of his siblings and at the moment out of a job, out of a marriage, and out of luck. He’s currently shuffling aimless when he gets a call from his sister that his aunt Matilda passed away and she’d appreciate it if he would help his mother clear her rental. Following the funeral and reading of her will, he is dumbfounded to discover he has inherited his grandfather’s (Mordecai’s) building and detective agency in Victoria, BC.

He’s young. What does he know? He’s naïve, lacks a lot of street knowledge, but the building and the agency gives him a direction. No license? No prob. What he is is a sympathetic protagonist, an underdog you’ll root for immediately. His head is on straight—he’s a good kid just trying to get along in this world. You can’t help but love him.

Then comes his cousin, Kelsey—she’s only 19—smart as a whip, intuitive, ingenious. She is clever, resourceful, and enormously engaging. You might have grudging respect for her, but she earns it—time and again when she proves an invaluable resource for Karl. You can’t help but love her.

The light-sided search and serve side of the detective agency moves along until a journalist (a former client of Mordecai) comes with a very serious investigation and soon Karl is heavy into the case with the initial support of Kelsey, which quickly turns grim.

The author carefully introduces the circumstances building her characters background, her main characters, and a well-plotted drug running operation into a fast-paced and immersive storyline. I enjoyed the description of the island and the little coastal BC communities. She builds sympathy for Karl; he’s naïve and a quick study, but the reader becomes fearful for him as he succeeds getting deeper into a situation that will not be easy getting out of. Kelsey speaks her mind with knee-jerk reaction and the reader is quickly drawn to her creativity and smarts. She is a strong co-protagonist. Can Karl keep Kelsey safe, much less himself?

The narrative cruises into the conclusion and the dust settles quietly, until little plot points, threads, begin tying off. There were questions, issues to be resolved (after all, this is Book 1) and the reveal at the end is one that will elicit a chuckle. My only problem is the edit misses—but the story and characters really win the day. Brilliant twist. Master storyteller. I’m so looking forward to Book 2!

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. These are my honest thoughts—loved it.

Rosepoint Publishing: Just Shy of Five 

Add to Goodreads

Book Details:

Publisher: Big Tree Press

Genre: Private Investor Mysteries, Crime Fiction

ASIN : B089LG7BB9

Print Length: 260 pages

Publication Date: June 1, 2020

Source: Publisher and author request

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

Arlana Crane - author

The Author: Arlana Crane is a fourth generation Vancouver Islander, currently living in Calgary, Alberta with her husband James. She loves to read, write, knit, play the ukulele and attend the theatre. Summer vacations will find her back on her beloved Island, enjoying the ocean and spoiling her niece and nephews. For more information please visit arlanawrites.com.

(C)2020 V Williams

V Williams

Your next crime fiction.

Back Bay Blues (An Andy Roark Mystery Book 2) by Peter Holt – a #BookReview – Hard-Boiled Mystery

Happy Publishing Day!

‘“…we gotta di di mau. Come on, bud, we gotta go.”… He was right. We had places to go. Things to do. Our war wasn’t over yet.’

 Book Blurb:

Theft, greed, and corruption collide in Peter Colt’s hard-edged new mystery featuring Vietnam veteran turned Boston P.I. Andy Roark.
 
Back Bay Blues by Peter Colt1985, Boston. In Vietnam, Andy Roark witnessed death and horrifying destruction. But for the soldiers who made it back alive, there are other casualties of war—the loss of tenderness, trust, and connection. Still feeling adrift and unsettled, Andy has struck up a welcome friendship with Nguyen, a Vietnamese restaurant owner. Sipping beer and trading memories after the restaurant shutters, Andy gradually learns of the extraordinary lengths Nguyen took to flee Saigon shortly after its fall.

Andy’s latest case, too, has ties to Vietnam. His new client, a beautiful and enigmatic young Vietnamese woman, hires him to investigate her uncle’s murder. Andy discovers a connection to a group of refugees determined to overthrow the communist government. Led by the sinister Colonel Tran, the Committee is extorting local business owners to raise funds. The search for more answers takes Andy from Boston to Washington D.C. to San Francisco, and deep into a web of political and personal betrayal.

Somewhere near the heart of this mystery is a connection to Nguyen’s daring escape from Saigon. Decades may have passed, but sometimes the price of freedom twists allies into enemies, loyalties into betrayals, and truth into a web of lies . . .

My Review:

Yes, of course this premise would appeal to me and the CE (who has not yet read it), as we were married when the CE joined the Navy. So while he did not set foot on the soil of Viet Nam certainly was embroiled in a support effort. (I remember the Bob Hope tour that came to Taiwan when we were there.) Anyway…

Back Bay Blues by Peter ColtThe protagonist, Andy Roark is a Vietnam veteran of the Special Forces, Recon. He was perfect in his role and good at what he did. He was a survivor. The problem was, he saw a lot of his buddies die and ended with survivor’s guilt as well as a good bit of PTSD.

Arriving back home, no real family to speak of, he worked a short time in the Boston PD and decided it was worse than the Army. So he became a private investigator and no one to tell him what to do. It’s been sufficient for him until he is hired by a young Vietnamese American woman to find out who killed her uncle.

His first look into the matter discovers there was a journalist in Boston killed within two days of her uncle. There is a locally strong Vietnamese community apparently strongly divided politically and problems have festered between the two factions.

The deeper he gets into the investigation, the more serious attempt on his life, but at this point, the pit bull in him comes out and he will NOT drop it until he knows the whole story. The corruption appears to spread fingers beyond the community.

It is a complex and well-plotted narrative, fast-paced. I enjoyed the author’s sense of humor, which intermittently pulled at the seriousness of the storyline. There was a lot of knowledge and expertise expressed, explanation of materiels. Remember, this is back in 1985—ten years after the fall of Saigon. Feelings of the unpopular conflict raw. There was no “thank you for your service” back then.

Amazingly enough, there are little pops of dishes of which I almost expected the recipes to be found at the end of the book.

Andy is damaged, scarred, aware of his aloneness. Not lonely. Alone. He is a sympathic character, an underdog to root for. The author has a unique writing style that I appreciated and kept me engaged. The conclusion was very satisfying.

My first novel with this author and this series, but I found no problem jumping right into Book 2 (and will be looking forward to Book 3, should there be one). This is releasing today. Looking for something different? Entertaining, unique? Totally recommended, buy from your favorite outlet; links noted below.

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley. These are my honest thoughts.

Add to Goodreads

Book Details:

Genre: Hard-Boiled Mystery, Hard-Boiled Mysteries, Cozy Culinary Mystery
Publisher: Kensington

  • ASIN : B082WS2YXC
  • Print Length: 208 pages

Publication Date: Happy Release Day! September 29. 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

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

Peter Colt - author
Peter Colt – author

The Author: I am currently a police officer in a small New England city where I have worked since 2007. I spent over twenty years in the Army reserve and was deployed to Kosovo in 2000, where I was attached to the Russian Army. I deployed to Iraq in 2003 and again in 2008. I was fortunate to get to know many Vietnam vets and U.S. Army Special forces soldiers. I lived on Nantucket Island from 1973‑1986. He’s currently working on the next Andy Roark mystery.

I write because I enjoy it. I hope to tell the types of stories that I like to read but inform them with my experiences. I enjoy interacting with readers who get something from the book or the characters. Or if some aspect of the books resonate with the readers. That is the cool part of this whole thing.

I was probably one of the few people in the U.S. Army to ride on top of a Russian Army Armored Personnel Carrier (APC), in this case a BTR-80, with Russian soldiers, going jointly to a riot. Good times!

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Finding Home by Corinne Joy Brown and Ginny McDonald – #BookTour – #BookReview for iRead Book Tours #Giveaway

I am so thrilled to be part of the book tour for Finding Home by Corinne Joy Brown and Ginny McDonald. This is a delightful and beautifully illustrated book for young and old alike. Do you like horses? You will love this book!

Join us for this tour from August 3 to August 21, 2020!Book Details:

Book Title:  FINDING HOME by Corinne Joy Brown and Ginny McDonald

Category:  Middle-Grade Fiction (Ages 8-12),  130 pages

Genre: General Fiction

Publisher:  Loose Cayuse Productions

Release date:   June 2019

Content Rating:  G. There are no expletives, sex scenes or bad language anywhere.

“Born in the flatlands of Rock Springs, Wyoming, newborn mustang Pahaska
tells the heart-wrenching story of her separation from her mother and
the wild horse herd she was born into. Captured by strangers, her entire
world has disintegrated. Penned in the filthy, manure-filled confines
of a horse hauler’s trailer, her life is changed forever. Finding Home, a
2020 Spur Finalist for Juvenile Fiction, is a brilliantly written story
about the adoption of the mustang “Curly Girl” by a teen who has always
dreamed of having her own horse. Ginny McDonald’s illustrations convey
fine detail and emotion in the images of the horses, bringing each one
to life. This heart-warming tale will appeal to those with a love for
animals.” – Joni Franks, RoundUp Magazine, Western Writers of America“This beautifully written and illustrated book will appeal to any animal
loving young reader. Differences (equine and otherwise) are applauded,
working through complicated human relationships, a philosophical, well
balanced approach to difficult issues (wild horse roundups), and
positive animal training techniques are included in this educational,
riveting new book!” – Nancy Sachs, Director Platte Valley Pony Club

“To see the world through the eyes of a newborn filly as she grows into
adulthood, or an excited young girl in search of her first horse, is a
treasure found in Corinne Joy Brown’s novel Finding Home, a
story of loss and recovery told in a brilliant way. The illustrations by
Ginny McDonald help to refine the wonderful writing which places the
reader squarely in the experience of Curly Girl and Jesse, her adopter. Finding Home
is a wonderful story for our time, in consideration of the wild horses
whose freedom is threatened across the West and the people who adopt the
captured ones into loving homes.” – James A. Holmes CEO and Executive Director, Cherokee Ranch and Castle Foundation

Book Description:

 

For every girl or boy who owns a horse, or wished they did, Finding
Home brings all the drama and beauty of America’s wild horses to the
middle-grade reader.A coming-of-age story and a tale about friendship, trust and
understanding, both horse and owner have powerful lessons to learn.
Together, young Jesse Nolan from Colorado and her wild mustang, Curly
Girl, rounded up in Wyoming, discover what it means to rely on oneself,
as well as those who love you most.

My Thoughts:

This is such a sweet story of the strong love of horses and the dedication that it takes to actually owning and caring for a young animal with a mind of it’s own. Told through the POV of Jesse Nolan as well as the thoughts of Curly Girl, a young mare with unusually curly hair and mane, she is one of the wild Mustangs of Wyoming. Both have a lot to learn, although Jesse shows remarkable dedication and maturity for a young teen. It’s a heavy responsibility for one so young.

The story includes information about the wild horses that particularly roam the northwestern region of the US, including the Mustangs. It brought to mind one of the rides we took the year we decided to head north into Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado. On a lonely ribbon of road out in nowhere, we became aware of a group of horses riding parallel with us on the other side of the road. Fascinated, we pulled over to watch them and discovered to our delight the herd, as a unit, also stopped to watch us. When we resumed out ride, so did they. So beautiful.

Jesse and her estranged family work out the care for the little filly, realizing the loneliness and fear she is experiencing having been separated from her mother and wild herd. It’s not easy and there’s a learning curve on both sides, human and equine, but not just for Jesse—her family as well. It’s a lovely tale of friendship and trust, learning to accept and work together, love and family.

A sweet story and the illustrations are just wonderful: emotional, loving, and lend sooo much to the story. It is easy to see the love and dedication of these magnificent animals.

I received this beautiful book for the book tour and so appreciate the opportunity to read and review. Wholly recommended for the young set as well as the young in heart.

Buy the Book:

Finding Home

Amazon ~ B&N

Meet the Authors:

Ginny McDonald is an award-winning, professional Colorado
illustrator and a longtime advocate for wild horses. She is the adopter
of an American Curly mare, and more recently, a second mustang named
“Lil Bit”. Ginny’s skill in the use of Prismacolor pencils brings this
story to life with rich detail and heartfelt emotion.

  
Denver native Corinne Joy Brown is a multi-published,
award-winning Colorado author, magazine editor and freelance writer
focused on the West .” Recent publications include “Young Rider”,
“Cowboys & Indians,” and “Working Ranch.” She’s also been a horse
owner most of her life. Corinne is committed to teaching the next
generation about the power of horses to teach and heal. “Finding Home”
is her eighth book.Connect with the author: Website ~ Facebook 

 
Tour Schedule:Aug 3 – Locks, Hooks and Books – book review / giveaway

Aug 3 – Corinne Rodrigues | Booksnista – book spotlight / giveaway

Aug 4 – fundinmental – book spotlight / giveaway

Aug 4 – Splashes of Joy – book review / guest post / author interview / giveaway

Aug 5 – Rockin’ Book Reviews – book review / guest post / giveaway

Aug 5 – My Journey Back – book review / author interview / giveaway

Aug 6 – I’d Rather Be At The Beach – book review

Aug 7 –T’s Stuff – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway

Aug 7 – Books for Books – book spotlight

Aug 10 – Reading Authors Nework – book review / giveaway

Aug 11 – Jazzy Book Reviews – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway

Aug 11 – Priya’s Lit Blog – book review / giveaway

Aug 12 – Older & Smarter? – book review

Aug 12 – Read and Review – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway

Aug 13 – A Mama’s Corner Of the World – book review / giveaway

Aug 13 – Stephanie Jane – book spotlight / giveaway

Aug 14 – Rosepoint Publishing – book review / giveaway

Aug 14 – Writer with Wanderlust – book review / guest post / giveaway

Aug 17 – authors.ace – book review

Aug 18 – Bound 4 Escape – book review / giveaway

Aug 18 – Sefina Hawke’s Books – book spotlight

Aug 19 – Krisha’s Cozy Corner – book review / guest post / giveaway

Aug 19 – Library of Clean Reads – book review / giveaway

Aug 20 – My Reading Journey – book review / guest post / giveaway

Aug 20 – Pen Possessed – book review / giveaway

Aug 21 – Svetlanas reads and views – book review

 

Enter the Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

©2020 VWilliams V Williams

Out of Her Mind (Sawyer Brooks Book 2) by T R Ragan – a #BookReview – #psychologicalthriller

Book Blurb:

Out of Her Mind by T R RaganA string of copycat crimes leads a reporter down a terrifying path in a heart-stopping thriller by New York Times bestselling author T.R. Ragan.

Crime reporter Sawyer Brooks still grieves for the family she and her two sisters never had. Raised in a house of horrors, they continue to fight through the trauma—releasing their rage by seeking justice for those who are just as vulnerable as they were.

When a little girl’s bones are unearthed in Sacramento’s Land Park and twelve-year-old Riley Addison disappears, solving these cases becomes an obsession for Sawyer—one that puts her job at risk. Yet she can’t turn back, and the deeper Sawyer’s investigation goes, the darker it gets. A psychopath is on the loose and has been trolling Sacramento for years—hiding in plain sight behind a motherly facade.

The more Sawyer persists, the closer she gets to a disturbing place reminiscent of her own terrorized childhood. With time running out, Sawyer will risk anything to save Riley from the dark. But the killer will do anything to keep her there.

My Review:

Out of Her Mind by T R RaganSawyer Brooks is one of three sisters, all of whom had a singularly abusive childhood. She is still dealing with touch issues among others, but has made a reputation for herself as being a focused investigative crime reporter for the Sacramento Independent. In this issue, her sister Aria joins in the investigation of a missing girl from the area, which they quickly ascertain is one of several over the years. Riley Addison is around eleven and not a runaway.

In a sub-plot apparently brought forward from Book 1, there is a female vigilante group dubbed the “Black Wigs” operating in the Sacramento area caught on video. The group is targeting men accused of sexual crimes. Unfortunately, they’ve had a few problems executing their plans that would appear is beginning to cause a serious rift between the five members. Nevertheless, they proceed with the next target.

Dialogue is taut and leading. Forget trying to solve it yourself. Just enjoy the storyline and let it take you where you need to go–with a few little twists along the way. Sawyer is a damaged protagonist. She has depth, a pit bull when she’s doggedly trying to uncover the story, but she has additional issues. She can be impatient and compulsive. It’s good she has a supportive boss because the local police detective can’t work on hunches. He wants proof and is increasingly tired of her unsolicited input.

Short chapters, each of which ramps up the tension until it becomes stressful. You can’t put it down NOW! Can she find the little girl before it’s too late? The antagonist is certifiable. The loose threads she holds are becoming frayed with the little girl’s attitude.

I have to admit–I didn’t catch Book 1 of this series. (I know you’re surprised to see that.) I have, however, read two of her Jessie Cole series. (See links below.) Of course, I recognized the author, but was also attracted by this book’s locale–we lived there over forty years. The author’s dark writing style will get into your head and twist. Her novels are compelling, tight, well-plotted, and fast-paced. I love strong, independent, and intelligent female protagonists and if I had a quibble, it would be the (trigger warning) abusive background. Again. Still, it’s a narrative that doesn’t slow, doesn’t disappoint, and sets you up for Book 3 of a scheduled trilogy. I must know how those two themes being forwarded will pan out.

Add to Goodreads

Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Thriller, Vigilante Justice, Women Sleuths
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
ISBN: 1542093902
ASIN: B084FVY89J
Print Length: 285 pages
Publication Date: November 22, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble

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

T R Ragan - authorThe Author: T.R. Ragan (Theresa Ragan) has sold over three million books and is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestselling mystery and thriller author.

Readers interested in signing up for a monthly newsletter or getting their name in a TR RAGAN book should check out her website at http://www.trragan.com

Facebook * Twitter * Instagram: @trraganauthor

LIZZY GARDNER SERIES
Abducted
Dead Weight
A Dark Mind
Obsessed
Almost Dead
Evil Never Dies

FAITH MCMANN TRILOGY
Furious
Outrage
Wrath

JESSIE COLE SERIES
Her Last Day (My 4.5 star review here)
Deadly Recall
Deranged
Buried Deep (My 5 star review here)

SAWYER BROOKS SERIES
Don’t Make a Sound – 6/20
Out of Her Mind – 11/20

©2020 V Williams V Williams

In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree by Michael McLellan – a #BookReview

A Review by the CE of this gripping and powerfully written historical novel.

In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree by Michael A McLellanBook Blurb:

Born into slavery, Henry’s young life is spent working in tobacco drying sheds on Missouri plantations. Freed at the onset of the Civil War, he’s alone, starving, and on the run from Confederate militiamen.

Five years later, Clara Hanfield, the daughter of a powerful New York shipping magnate, escapes her tyrannical father and travels west in pursuit of John Elliot, the man she loves. John, a U.S. Army lieutenant, was sent to the Dakota Territory where he discovers a government conspiracy to incite an all-out war with the Indians; a war meant to finally eliminate them as an obstacle to the westward expansion.

Henry finds himself caught in the middle.

Aided by Clara, John, and his native ally, Standing Elk, Henry must battle hatred, greed, and the ghosts of his past during this turbulent and troubling time in American history.

His Review:

In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree by Michael A McLellanBeing awarded your freedom papers did not make you free!  Marauders often caught young freed slaves, destroyed their papers and sold them back into slavery. The culprits were depraved and vicious in the treatment of the liberated.

Henry is born into slavery but given his freedom by his former master. He is not illiterate and some of his crimes include being able to read and write. His childhood sweetheart is attempting to escape with him but is caught and ultimately killed by the marauders. Heartbroken, Henry continues to head north in an attempt to escape their net.

The Native Americans of the Dakota territories are portrayed much more humane and sympathetic than the post Civil War population of middle America. Henry’s life is saved by these people and ultimately learns their language and ways of life. He becomes a scout for the US Army because of his ability to liaison and speak many languages.

Clara Hanfield and John Elliot, are a young couple in love trying to create a life together in the wild west. He has been shipped off, however, by Clara’s father from the military academy at West Point to Fort Laramie. Money and power have always separated lovers as well as the classes. Clara’s father is despotic and determined that his daughter not continue a relationship with John and seeks to destroy the relationship. Her father tries to send her to Pennsylvania. She convinces her escort instead to take her to out west to find John.

Eventually, all paths cross and John takes a sympathetic tack for the Indians he has comes to respect. Henry is intelligent and educated and is immensely empathetic. The storyline is immersive, capturing the emotions and ramping up the tension to the heartrending and poignant conclusion. CE Williams

We received this beautiful book from the author with the expectation of a review and these are my own opinions. I would read another by this author and this one is highly recommended. 5/5 Stars CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Fiction, African Historical Fiction, War and Military Action Historical  Fiction

  • ISBN-10:1096423510
  • ISBN-13:978-1096423515
  • ASIN: B07RB7RHJW

Print Length: 269 pages
Publication Date: April 29, 2019
Source: Direct Author Request
Title Link: In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree
+Add to Goodreads 

Rosepoint Publishing: Five of Five Stars 5-stars

Michael A McLellan - authorThe Author: Michael‘s love of books began with Beverly Cleary’s The Mouse and the Motorcycle when he was seven-years-old. Later influenced by the works of John Steinbeck, Harper Lee, Stephen King, James Baldwin, and Cormac McCarthy, Michael developed his style of storytelling. A self-proclaimed blue-collar writer, he draws on his experiences and observations to bring relevant and compelling topics to life.

Michael lives in Northern California and when he’s not writing, he can usually be found wandering around the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges.

His body of work includes the 2014 novel After and Again, the 2015 novel American Flowers, and the 2017 novel, In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree, as well as various shorts and essays.

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Statue of Limitations (A Goddess of Green St. Mystery Book 1) by Kate Collins #BlogTour #BookReview #Giveaway

Statue of Limitations by Kate Collins

What a fun, fast, and delightful read and I am so excited today to provide reviews for you at my blog stop for Statue of Limitations by Kate Collins on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. Scroll down to enter your chance to win the Giveaway!

Book Details

Statue of Limitations (A Goddess of Greene St. Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Publisher: Kensington (January 28, 2020)
Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
ISBN-10: 149672433X
ISBN-13: 978-1496724335
Digital ASIN: B07R8QWPTN

Book Blurb

In this delightful new series by the New York Times bestselling author of the Flower Shop Mysteries, Athena Spencer comes back home to work with her crazy big Greek family at their garden center. But she never expected a return to her roots would mean protecting her family from murder . . .

After her divorce, Athena has returned to coastal Michigan to work in her family’s garden center and raise her son, while also caring for a mischievous wild raccoon and fending off her family’s annoying talent for nagging. Working alone at the garden center one night, Athena is startled by a handsome stranger who claims to be the rightful owner of a valuable statue her grandfather purchased at a recent estate sale.

But she has even bigger problems on her plate. The powerful Talbot family from whom her pappoús bought the statue is threatening to raze the shops on Greene Street’s “Little Greece” to make way for a condo. The recent death of the family’s patriarch already seemed suspicious, but now it’s clear that a murderer is in their midst. Athena will have to live up to her warrior goddess namesake to protect her family from a killer and save their community from ruin . . .

My Thoughts

Statue of Limitations by Kate CollinsWhat a delightful romp into the outrageous tumult of a strongly knit family tightly bound by their Greek enclave in this touristy coastal village of Sequoia, Michigan. Divorcee Athena Spencer has returned home with her son to the welcoming arms of her parents who own Spencer’s Garden Center in the heart of “Little Greece.”

To save a little of her sanity, Athena (Thenie) has created a blog she calls “It’s All Greek to Me” by Goddess Anon in which she vents some of her frustration from time to time. Tidbits of comedy. The rest of the family has no idea she is writing it and they love to read and comment.

She is writing on her blog one night at the garden center after it’s closed when she confronts an intruder–not Oscar the raccoon–it’s Case Donnelly and he’s come to claim the statue that her grandfather had purchased in an auction from the local money mogul Talbot Sr. Receipt and all.  All legal, fair and square.

The Talbots (senior and junior) want to raze Little Greece to build a condo, but senior changes his mind. The problem is, he died in a suspicious accident about the same time as his signed document disappeared. It’s not long before an additional death occurs, but caught on home security video is Case Connelly.

…Uh oh…

This is an amusing and immersive start to a new series. Momma is the epitome of a matchmaker and Athena also contends with her three sisters, aunts and uncles, the food, customs, and the language (which she steadfastly refused to learn). Strongly character-driven while hatching red herrings, twists, and some amazingly bizarre scenarios. She and Case (now Dimitri) are full-on trying to keep him out of jail while getting to the bottom of the whodunit.

Well, of course, we know whodunit, but not all the reasons why or how. Enter more absurd characters. (Sometimes I almost expected to hear a laugh-track.) When Athena makes another remarkably dumb decision that then forces her to just dig in deeper, she still manages to make the best of it.

So, can they expose the real perp, save Little Greece, and manage to keep their beloved, but very valuable, statue? I thoroughly enjoyed the narrative right through the conclusion and the climax definitely heated up pretty good. (I love a good damsel in distress scene.)

V WilliamsWe received this digital download by the publisher through NetGalley for this blog tour and really appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Light, fun, hoot of an entertaining read and I’m looking forward to the second in the series. Highly recommended.

His Thoughts

A Greek statue and a mysterious stranger poking around grabbed my imagination. This book does not disappoint. Add in a bit of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”, and you get a flavor of this quick read. My being a romantic certainly added to the enjoyment of this romp.

Protagonist Athena is a young woman who has tried to escape the bonds of her family. Not an easy task when your family is Greek and they are very possessive of each other. As the plot develops you begin to realize that being in a large Greek family has some serious pitfalls.

A number of nosy siblings salt and pepper the plot with aggravating interference. The locale is a small coastal town and the antagonist is a super spoiled rich brat who cannot wait to get his hands on the family fortune. The small Greek enclave is being threatened with possible total destruction and the loss of their community and livelihood. People wind up in the morgue and the police have jumped to conclusions without really following the evidence.

CE WilliamsI enjoyed the repartee between the heroine and her motivator. Kate Collins adds a bit of sexual tension in her novels and I cannot wonder if this is a mirror of her life.  Beyond that, I really enjoy her writing and would recommend it to anyone who is looking for happy escapism. 5 stars CE Willliams

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Giveaway

Sign up for your chance to win one of three (3) Print Books of the Statue of Limitations (A Goddess of Greene St. Mystery) by Kate Collins (U.S. ONLY) in this Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author

Kate Collins - authorKate Collins is the New York Times bestselling author of the Flower Shop Mystery series. After publishing numerous historical romances, Kate penned the long-running mystery series, three books of which were made into Hallmark movies starring Brooke Shields. An Indiana native, Kate graduated from Purdue University with a master’s degree in education. When not growing roots at her computer, Kate loves to garden. Other passions include yoga, reading, spending time with family and friends, sampling great wines and fine dark chocolate, and enjoying every moment of life. Kate lives in Northwest Indiana and Key West, Florida. Visit her online at KateCollinsBooks.com.

Author Links

Website http://www.katecollinsbooks.com/

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kate-Collins/49648459004

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

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

Tour Participants:

January 28 – The Power of Words – REVIEW
January 28 – Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT
January 28 – Diane Reviews Books – SPOTLIGHT
January 29 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
January 29 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW
January 29 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT
January 30 – View from the Birdhouse – SPOTLIGHT
January 30 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT
January 30 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW, EXCERPT
January 31 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – REVIEW
January 31 – TBR Book Blog – REVIEW
January 31 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW
February 1 – Gimme The Scoop Reviews – REVIEW
February 1 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT
February 1 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW
February 2 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT
February 2 – A Blue Million Books – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
February 2 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT
February 3 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW, EXCERPT
February 3 – Literary Gold – CHARACTER GUEST POST
February 3 – My Reading Journey – SPOTLIGHT
February 4 – Rosepoint Publications – REVIEW
February 4 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW
February 4 – Devilishly Delicious Book Reviews – REVIEW
February 4 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW
February 5 – Socrates Book Reviews – REVIEW
February 5 – A Wytch’s Book Review Blog – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
February 5 – This Is My Truth Now – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
February 6 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW
February 6 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT
February 6 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT Great Escapes Book Tours

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

©2020 V Williams

Release Blitz – A Drummer in Red (Young America Book 1) by Gordon Saunders – @RABTBookTours #yahistoricalfiction

YA Historical Fiction
Published Date: 1-8-20
Publisher: INtense Publications LLC
 photo add-to-goodreads-button_zpsc7b3c634.png
Lewis Elliot and his mother, Stella, are forced to flee their Baltimore home for the modest farm of their cousins in Gloucester County, Virginia. They arrive just as the feared Lord Cornwallis and the hated Colonel Banastre Carleton take up residence in Gloucester Point and across the York River in Yorktown. The war heats up as Cornwallis fortifies Yorktown and Carleton begins foraging raids in Gloucester County.
Then, while Lewis and his cousins, Lloyd and Tetty, are off to Gloucester Courthouse to try to sell enough tobacco to provide for the family, Carleton raids the farm and Stella receives a life-threatening injury.
Through battle, betrayal, unexpected alliances, and, apparently, the Hand ofGod, Lewis and his cousins and friends take a role in the events leading to Cornwallis’s surrender on October 19, 1781, after the last major battle of the Revolutionary War.

My Review

What a delightful way to get in some history of the last vestiges of the war that marked our independence. A credible story of the time in this coming of age saga of the youngsters in the Revolutionary War of Gloucester County, Virginia.

Lewis Elliott is forced to join his cousins as Cornwallis takes up a position in Yorktown. Lewis’ older cousin Lloyd is eager to join the battle with his dad, while Tetty works with his Aunt Virginia to feed and care for their now extended family.

Lewis begins to assert himself in providing services where he can and meets a young French chef’s assistant. Together they go to gather crabs for the soldiers when a storm hits. Lewis has a better command of the French language than does Gilly. Together they are introduced later to Crispin, but who do you trust when there are spies and Loyalists?

Interesting lesson of the men as painted by the author, both good men and bad, a British officer counseling Lewis when Lewis acts out possibly endangering not only himself but others, “It’s not your private war.” But there are many lessons to be learned here, not just the history of the time and area, but that of trust, betrayal, love, death, friendship and survival. Lewis matures beyond his years and views his relatives and finally his dad with understanding, love, and forgiveness.

I can see a tremendous amount of research here, history in very palatable, relatable,  and suspenseful fashion and enjoyed the information of the culture of tobacco as well as the oft-spoken French.

And the drummer. “The drummer means a parley,”…I didn’t know that!

I was given this digital download by the publisher and RABT Book Tours and appreciated the opportunity to read and review. An interesting read for any young adult.

About the Author

Growing up in Boston, and living in four countries in Europe over 25 years, gave Dr. Saunders a desire to know and share the history that’s shaped the world we live in today.

Contact Links
Publisher Links
RABT Book Tours & PR

 

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

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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

Janis: Her Life and Music by Holly George-Warren – a #BookReview

Warning: This book contains offensive language, sexual references and phrases, drug references and aberrant behavior.

Book Blurb:

Janis: Her Life and Music by Jolly George-WarrenLonglisted for the 2020 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence

This blazingly intimate biography of Janis Joplin establishes the Queen of Rock & Roll as the rule-breaking musical trailblazer and complicated, gender-bending rebel she was.

Janis Joplin’s first transgressive act was to be a white girl who gained an early sense of the power of the blues, music you could only find on obscure records and in roadhouses along the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast. But even before that, she stood out in her conservative oil town. She was a tomboy who was also intellectually curious and artistic. By the time she reached high school, she had drawn the scorn of her peers for her embrace of the Beats and her racially progressive views. Her parents doted on her in many ways, but were ultimately put off by her repeated acts of defiance.

Janis Joplin has passed into legend as a brash, impassioned soul doomed by the pain that produced one of the most extraordinary voices in rock history. But in these pages, Holly George-Warren provides a revelatory and deeply satisfying portrait of a woman who wasn’t all about suffering. Janis was a perfectionist: a passionate, erudite musician who was born with talent but also worked exceptionally hard to develop it. She was a woman who pushed the boundaries of gender and sexuality long before it was socially acceptable. She was a sensitive seeker who wanted to marry and settle down—but couldn’t, or wouldn’t. She was a Texan who yearned to flee Texas but could never quite get away—even after becoming a countercultural icon in San Francisco.

Written by one of the most highly regarded chroniclers of American music history, and based on unprecedented access to Janis Joplin’s family, friends, band mates, archives, and long-lost interviews, Janis is a complex, rewarding portrait of a remarkable artist finally getting her due.

My Review:

Janis by Holly George-Warren

I wonder how many decades back you’d have to go to find someone who doesn’t recognize the music or the name of Janis Joplin.

The “beatnik from Port Arthur, Texas” set a new high bar for uninhibited powerful, emotional singing by a woman in the mid-to-late sixties. Unleashing raw talent on a still poodle-skirted US exploring rock and roll, Joplin went “Full Tilt Boogie” with a full repertoire of blues, folk, and R&B following her rocky start in San Francisco in the hippie neighborhood of Haight-Ashbury. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll. For all that wildly barely contained talent, Joplin was a fiercely conflicted young woman, dying at the age of twenty-seven of a heroin overdose; China white.

The author begins the biography with a quick history of Seth and Dorothy Joplin, the singer’s parents and the “triangle” in Texas she haunted as a rebellious girl, always seeking her mother’s approval and her father’s love. School was not kind to Janis, deeply wounding her and sealing that mutinous daughter apart seeking her own persona. She was always different, more one of the boys than friends with her peers. Easy for her to discover an escape into music…and booze…and drugs…and sex.

It was a long, hard climb from the hard-scrabble life in San Francisco to fame around the world, with countless musicians and bands, unsustainable love, the search for success and fame. The author did an amazing job with researching, interviewing and tracing letters home that provide the rocky road on which Janis traveled. The extreme highs and lows. George-Warren relates the anguish with which she desperately clung to threads of approval and drowned disappointment.

It was after the Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967, that she could become a national star. During the short period of her major celebrity, Janis managed to turn out myriad hits and set iconic records. Among her best known, “Cry Baby,” “Summertime (a personal favorite),” “Ball and Chain,” “Piece of My Heart,” and “Me and Bobby McGee.”

She was indeed rude, crude, and (for the most part) socially unacceptable, but man could she set an audience on fire with that voice, jumping to their feet and stomping to the music with as much wild abandon as the person on stage. No silver linings here–we all know the story and it doesn’t end well. Janis herself philosophized her life in bits noted at chapter beginnings, many of which I found profound:

“Don’t compromise yourself. It’s all You’ve got.”
“I would never be young again. I’d have to cry all over.”
“You shouldn’t have to be young until you’re old enough to cope with it.”
“What if they find out I’m only Janis?”
“Onstage I make love to twenty-five thousand people, then I go home alone.”

Janis’s last album, “Pearl” was released three months after her passing in January 1971.

If you’ve ever heard that plaintive wail and wondered about the woman behind the voice, you must read this biography. No gloss-over here, just a well laid out chronology of the tragic path another of our singing icons took and the legacy left for aging hippies and the younger generations hooked by those bluesy ballads.

I received this digital download from the publisher (thank you!) and NetGalley and totally appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended to anyone who enjoys well-researched celebrity biographies and well-written histories–get to know Janis–the person and the singer. That was, at times, two different people.

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Book Details:

Genre: Biographies of Composers & Musicians, Biographies of Actors & Entertainers, R&B Artist Biographies
Publisher: Simon and Schuster

  • ISBN-10:1476793107
  • ISBN-13:978-1476793108
  • ASIN: B07P5GD3SZ

Print Length: 337 pages
Publication Date: To be released October 22, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Janis

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

Holly George-Warren - authorThe Author: Holly George-Warren is an award-winning writer, editor, producer, and music consultant. She has contributed to more than two dozen books about rock and roll, including The New Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll, The Rolling Stone Book of Women in Rock, and The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll. She’s also written for the New York Times, the Village Voice, the Journal of Country Music, and Rolling Stone. Ms. George-Warren lives in upstate New York with her family.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Here Comes Santa Paws (A Melanie Travis Mystery Book 24) by Laurien Berenson – a #BookReview

Enjoying the Christmas Spirit with a light-hearted Christmas Season mystery.

Here Comes Santa Paws by Laurien Berenson

Book Blurb:

It’s the most wonderful time of the year in Connecticut, but Melanie Travis finds surviving this December may take a real Christmas miracle when a yuletide murderer comes to town . . .  

As Melanie attempts to deck the halls in a house overrun by pampered Poodles, her event planner friend, Claire, is busy playing Santa—beard and belly not included—for the wealthiest clientele on Connecticut’s Gold Coast. A personal shopper gig in the affluent town of New Canaan seems like business as usual. Except Claire’s stylish stint comes at a higher price than she bargains for when she stumbles over her newest customer’s dead body on the job. Named a prime suspect for murder, she begs for Melanie’s help, then vanishes like cookies and milk on Christmas Eve . . .

Determined to track down Claire, Melanie, and her nosy Aunt Peg dash into a dizzying investigation that leads to even more questions. Why was homicide victim Lila Moran, a secretive woman with an untraceable past, permitted to live on a well-known socialite-turned-recluse’s private estate, and is Claire keeping her own incriminating secrets under wraps? Now, with a grinchy New Canaan detective on their case and disturbing clues piling up like presents beneath the tree, the crime-solving duo must rein in a sinister Kris Kringle before they’re the next ones on someone’s deadly wish list . . .

My Review:

It’s looking like Christmas in New Canaan,  a haven for some of Connecticut’s wealthiest and lucky Claire is in the cat-bird seat having created a personal shopper clientele list. Claire is the wife of Melanie’s ex and they’ve managed to forge a friendship in spite (or maybe because) of their shared history. When Claire calls Melanie for help in a panic, Melanie doesn’t hesitate to run to her aid.

Here Comes Santa Paws by Laurien BerensonDelivering her client’s packages, Claire has stumbled on the body of Lila Moran in her client’s gatehouse on the property of a reclusive and wealthy socialite. It doesn’t take long before the police suspect Claire and Melanie, as well as her feisty Aunt Peg, are compelled to investigate the murder on their own. Melanie has a full house with a husband, two sons, five Standard Poodles and an irascible spotted rescue mutt.

It isn’t long before instigator Claire helps get Melanie in trouble with Detective Hronis and told to leave the detecting to the detectors. That isn’t going to happen with Aunt Peg either and together they begin the process of scenting out clues and interviewing. It’s an easy-going, well-plotted mystery and includes a number of well-developed characters as well as support characters.

Twists and red herrings are introduced, but each interview leads inexorably to the antagonist, whom you might have guessed. I suspected, but enjoyed the ride through the process with that light and fun writing style. While the dogs do not figure prominently, they do create asides and help break the tension with common doggy antics and support.

I started early in the series with a free offering from BookBub and then haven’t seen another until this one. Obviously, Melanie has evolved and the author’s biting sense of humor has bloomed and matured within her narratives. It’s easy to get involved with this protagonist and quickly run through the fun and fast book.

I was given this digital download by the publisher and NetGalley and sincerely appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for those who enjoy a light mystery with lovable canines and empathetic main characters.

Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuth Mystery, Cozy Animal Mystery, Private Investigator Mystery
Publisher: Kensington Books

    • ISBN-10:1496718453
    • ISBN-13:978-1496718457
    • ASIN: B07MB475ZK

Print Length: 208 pages
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Here Comes Santa Paws
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Laurien Berenson - authorThe Author: I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing something. I always wanted to tell stories and I’m incredibly grateful that now there are people who want to read them. I think of the Melanie Travis mystery series as the saga of a woman’s life–with complications. And dogs. And love. And lots of laughter. We should all be so lucky.

Laurien Berenson is an Agatha and Macavity Award nominee, winner of the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, and a four-time winner of the Maxwell Award, presented by the Dog Writers Association of America. She and her husband live on a farm in Kentucky surrounded by dogs and horses. She can be reached at her website: http://www.laurienberenson.com

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Yellowhead Blues: A Hunter Rayne Highway Mystery Book 5 by R. E. Donald – a #BookReview

I saw this series and enjoyed it and recommended to my associate reviewer, the CE, who was still driving truck at the time and thought he’d enjoy. He did. The following is his review.

Book Blurb:

Yellowhead Blues by R E DonaldJust west of the Rocky Mountains, a frightened horse with a bloody saddle is found running loose on the Yellowhead highway. Former RCMP investigator Hunter Rayne is on the road in his eighteen-wheeler when he’s flagged down to help calm the horse and find its missing rider.

The horse with the bloody saddle leads Hunter and a good-natured French Canadian cowboy into a complicated murder mystery. The police are none too happy with his interference, but Hunter strongly believes the RCMP has arrested the wrong man and sets out to uncover who stood to gain from the death of a wealthy ranch owner.

His belief in the suspect’s innocence is shared by a rookie female RCMP constable who joins him in the search for the truth. She befriends the dead man’s young fiancé in an effort to get answers, and discovers that the vulnerable Texas beauty is not who the victim’s family believes her to be.

This is the fifth novel in a unique mystery series set on the highways of North America.

His Review:

A flag-down on a remote Canadian highway thrusts Hunter into another mystery/adventure. This author skillfully twists this ex-Canadian Mounted Policeman into twisted intrigue. A burly French-Canadian flags him down to help with a spooked horse.  Leon Rousseau is a good Samaritan trying to save the animal’s life! Hunter gives him a hand.

Yellowhead Blues by R E DonaldA blood trail leads back to the horse’s former rider and Leon’s dog Blue leads the way. Ms. Donald has put together a great read including a grifter, a manipulated young lady and a ranch owner. The tale will mesmerize you as you try to figure out exactly what happened! Was it a hunting accident?

Leon, the good Samaritan, is arrested for the murder. Hunter takes care of Leon’s dog Blue while trying to solve the crime. He juggles the investigation with his current job of long- haul trucker.

The characters involve the reader immediately in a drama of love, greed and a young female Mounty, Bianca Morrison; trying to establish herself in the remote Canadian setting. This book is fun, engrossing and hard to put down. I was certainly not disappointed with this entry to the series and this may be her best of the series so far. The novel would work fine as a standalone, the characters are immersive, the setting atmospheric.  She spins a terrific yarn!

We received this digital download from the publisher and NetGalley and really appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Totally recommended for anyone who enjoys a well-plotted mystery with a unique and beautiful setting. You won’t be disappointed either. C. E. Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Mysteries, Crime Thriller, Crime Fiction
Publisher: Proud Horse Publishing

  • ISBN-10:0994076258
  • ISBN-13:978-0994076250

ASIN: B07TDQ9RB2
Print Length: 315 pages
Publication Date: July 21, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Yellowhead Blues

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5-stars

R E Donald - authorThe Author: R.E. Donald is the author of the Hunter Rayne Highway Mysteries series. Ruth worked in the transportation industry in various capacities for 25 years and draws on her experience in creating realistic characters and situations in her novels.

Ruth attended the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, B.C., where she studied languages and creative writing to obtain a Bachelor of Arts degree.

She currently lives on a ranch in the South Cariboo region of B.C., where she and her partner, Gilbert Roy, enjoy their Canadian Horses (Le Cheval Canadien) and other animals.

©2019 C E Williams

Associate Reviewer - C E Williams

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?

+Add to Goodreads

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

Dachshund Through The Snow: An Andy Carpenter Mystery by David Rosenfelt – a #BookReview #Mystery #rosepointpub

NOooo, this says Book 20 of 20. Say it isn’t so! I’ve only caught one previous (Bark of Night, Book 19) and I’m feeling abused. I may have to resort to trying the library–but I will find some more. In the meantime, you might want to grab this one while you can. These are too much fun to miss.

Five Stars 5-stars

Dachshund Through the Snow by David RosenfeltBook Blurb:

This Christmas, lawyer Andy Carpenter and his golden retriever, Tara, can’t say no to helping young Danny and his dachshund, Murphy.

Lawyer Andy Carpenter and his wife, Laurie, have started a new Christmas tradition. Their local pet store has a Christmas tree, where instead of ornaments there are wishes from those in need. One poignant wish leads Andy to a child named Danny, whose selfless plea strikes a chord. Danny asked Santa for a coat for his mother, a sweater for his dachshund, Murphy, and for the safe return of his missing father.

It turns out Danny’s father doesn’t want to be found, he’s on the run after just being arrested for a murder that took place fourteen years ago – a murder that Danny’s mother swears he didn’t commit.

With his trademark humor and larger-than-life characters – including a police officer and his K-9 partner, Simon – Rosenfelt never fails to deliver as Andy and his eccentric crew dash to reunite a family in time for Christmas. 

Dachshund Through the Snow by David RosenfeltMy Review:

If you love dogs (and even if you don’t but love a good mystery), you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of David Rosenfelt’s Andy Carpenter mystery series. I discovered this author plying the pages of the audiobooks in my local technically advanced library. They have all those things–audiobooks, movies, books! (See my review for Bark of Night here.) Well, I loved that audiobook so much I went searching for the author on NetGalley and found this one. I was thrilled when they accepted my request. I knew it’d be good. Some, you just request, or order, just because you know. Right?

Well, I was. Right, that is. Loved this novel! I love a good book with a sense of humor. No, it’s not a cozy and doesn’t get that idea. These are serious mystery books, well-structured plots, fully engaging from page one. Interviews, investigation, legal maneuvering, filing of all manner of papers, as well as courtroom capers. It’s that writer’s style, you know. He has a way with his snarky lawyerly attitude that tells you maybe being an attorney was not what he really wanted to do. And it wasn’t. Luckily for him (we should all be so lucky), he inherited beaucoup bucks. Now he can do want he wants and he loves dogs. In fact, he created an animal rescue and would love nothing more than to spend his time there, because lawyering, as you might know from the fees they routinely collect, takes mountains of time. He’d rather not. He’s early retired. Or supposed to be.

This narrative begins simply enough with a Christmas request and devolves into a full-fledged, multi-level whodunit. A young boy asked that his dad be brought home from jail and a murder he didn’t commit fourteen years ago. Yeah, yeah, yeah. They are all innocent. And this one has his DNA thanks to the strangled eighteen-year old’s fingernails. But as Andy gets deeper into the case, he begins to believe he is–innocent–that is. Now: How to prove it.

Parallel with the main plot premise is a retiring cop who’d love to have his beautiful K-9 service dog retire with him. But Simon is nine. They don’t retire service dogs until they are ten. Here’s the bad news (okay, more bad news): Simon is beginning to exhibit signs of arthritis. Remember, German Shepherds tend to have hip problems. So Andy sues for species discrimination.

Dialogue between Andy and his wife, (former) policewoman Laurie is intelligent and realistic. He has a cadre of unusual support staff, including Marcus (the silent muscle), a computer technie-hacker, and an office manager who also rather not work and usually doesn’t. Despite his irreverent attitude, he can be quite self-deprecating when called upon to do any hero stuff. But don’t ever sell him short. He’s known for his brain, not brawn, and his courtroom triumphs would bear that out.

Talk about hitting all the right buttons. Intelligent mystery, dialogue, twists, red-herrings, and dogs. How deep does this fourteen-year-old murder mystery go? How can you get past DNA evidence after all this time? I love the complications and finally decided I knew the ultimate culprit (it goes up the chain). But the twist at the end totally throws a monkey-wrench into that theory.

I received this book from the publisher and NetGalley and totally appreciate the opportunity to read and review. (THANK YOU Minotaur!) And this book and this series is highly recommended. I’ll continue to follow this author, even if he’s leaving Andy behind.

+Add to Goodreads

Book Details:

Genre: Holiday Fiction, Animal Fiction, Traditional Detective Series
Publisher: St Martin’s Press and Minotaur Books

  • ISBN-10:1250237688
  • ISBN-13:978-1250237682
  • ASIN: B07P9LQ99N

 Print Length: 313 pages
Publication Date: October 1, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Dachshund Through the Snow
David Rosenfelt - authorThe Author: 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.

©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

+Add to Goodreads 

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

Fatal Cajun Festival by Ellen Byron – a #BookReview #cozy

Love that sound, love that food, and the Mardi Gras atmosphere.

Fatal Cajun Festival by Ellen Byron

Fatal Cajun Festival: A Cajun Country Mystery by Ellen Byron

Book Blurb:

USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Ellen Byron cranks it up to eleven in the fifth fast and funny Cajun Country mystery.

Louisiana B&B owner Maggie Crozat kicks up her heels at a country music festival–but she’ll have one foot in the grave if she can’t bring the killer of a diva’s hanger-on to heel.

Grab your tickets for Cajun Country Live!, the pickers’ and crooners’ answer to the legendary New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Maggie Crozat, proprietor of the Crozat Plantation B&B, plans to be in the cheering section when her friend Gaynell Bourgeois takes the stage with her band, Gaynell and the Gator Girls.

The festival’s headliner, native daughter Tammy Barker, rocketed to stardom on a TV singing competition. She has the voice of an angel…and the personality of a devilish diva. But Maggie learns that this tiny terror carries a grudge against Gaynell. She’s already sabotaged the Gator Girls’ JazzFest audition. When a member of Tammy’s entourage is murdered at the festival, Tammy makes sure Gaynell is number one on the suspect list.

Gaynell has plenty of company on that list–including every one of Tammy’s musicians. Posing as a groupie, Maggie infiltrates Tammy’s band and will have to hit all the right notes to clear her friend’s name.

My Review:

Fatal Cajun Festival by Ellen ByronA cozy mystery with recipes, my first with the author and the series, and you know what? I really enjoyed it! I know what you’re thinking–Rosepoint Pub has had one too many and who is covering for her? Au Contraire, lovely readers, and I appreciate your concern!

First, you are wondering, “yeah, but it’s number five of the series” (with an adorable cover). Take heart. Although I’m sure you’d enjoy reading 1-4, this one functioned fine for me as a standalone for several reasons: (1) Locale driven but enough info about the main and support characters without doing a complete backstory, and (2) multi-layered and complex storyline that kept your attention. (Oh, and I might mention a complete listing of characters appears at the beginning and if I didn’t get lost, you shouldn’t.)

(Magnolia) Maggie Crozat is proprietor of the Crozat Plantation B&B in Pelican, Louisana. Her fiancé is Bo, Detective Bo Durand. And then there is Gaynell Bourgeois, Maggie’s best friend and soon to be person of interest. Lest I am to blame for confusing you, I’ll only further mention Tammy Barker, the local girl country star gone big time come back to gloat.

It is Maggie’s Grand-mère (Charlotte Crozat) who suggests the little town have a Cajun Country Live! Festival to catch music fans on their way to the larger fest in New Orleans. In the meantime, widow Grand-mère is off on a “death cleaning” and discovers something in the process she can’t ignore. Maggie must gear up her booth with Pelican Pralines as well as offer her paintings. (She also holds a new position as Doucet’s art collection specialist.)

Being a headliner, Tammy arrives amid huge pomp with her entourage, totally over-shadowing another local (lesser successful but talented) musician, Gaynell. Well, you know how musicians are. There is bound to be a clash and Gaynell and her Gator Girls land in the middle. Tammy’s manager is soon discovered in some bushes. Dead. Before Tammy’s group moves on to the Jazz Festival, Maggie will have to move fast to clear Gaynell’s name.

Boy, I do love the music, and add Cajun or Zydeco to the mix is probably the only place left where an accordion sounds GOOOOD with a washboard! Grab some crawdads, shrimp, and Cajun spice and you have a festival! This book just exudes that enthusiastic feel-good time. And then there is the mystery–mercy that gets complicated–but then you’re immersed in the whole atmosphere of the Louisiana Cajun Country. (Also, there is the Reader’s Digest explanation of Cajun vs Creole.) This is fascinating stuff, people!

Zydeco musicians at the Cajun Zydeco Festival
Photo Attribute: Cajun Zydeco Festival photo by Cheryl Gerber

The dialogue is peppered with a mix of French and Cajun patois. Maggie is interesting, but it is the history and tidbits of the area that I most appreciated and invested. It is well-paced and I must admit I didn’t guess either the perp or the reason, which provides a fascinating twist, even entirely plausible. There are bits of humor along the way; one of my favorites describing a cluster of teens.

“A giggle,” Maggie said. “I think you’d call it a giggle of girls.” (Yup!)

The conclusion came on the heels of another of Maggie’s open mouth, insert foot moments. She did annoy me a couple times. Also, I stumbled over Gaynell’s name more than once, wishing it were something else; Jane even, but Gaynell(?). Still, her character was fully engaging. I loved the recipes (and you remember I don’t usually look at them). They seemed geared to feed the entire southern militia, but that won’t stop me from trying a couple and the ingredients are already on my shopping list!

I received this digital ebook from the publisher and NetGalley and was thoroughly entertained, grateful to have the opportunity to read and review. I’m totally onboard for Book 6! Recommended to those mystery fans who don’t always get a culinary cozy and to anyone looking for an entertaining read. (Eat first.)

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Culinary Mystery, Cozy Craft and Hobby Mystery
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
ISBN: 1643851292

  • ASIN: B07NKW8WMY

 Print Length: 298 pages
Publication Date: Happy Publication Day! September 10, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Fatal Cajun Festival 

+Add to Goodreads

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

Ellen Byron - authorThe Author: Author of MARDI GRAS MURDER, the 2018 AGATHA AWARD winner for Best Contemporary Novel.

Ellen Byron writes the USA Today bestselling Cajun Country Mysteries. MARDI GRAS MURDER won the Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel and was nominated for a Best Humorous Mystery Lefty Award by Left Coast Crime. A CAJUN CHRISTMAS KILLING and BODY ON THE BAYOU, both won the Lefty Award for Best Humorous Mystery, and were nominated for Agatha Awards in the category of Best Contemporary Novel. PLANTATION SHUDDERS, the first book in the series, was nominated for Agatha, Lefty, and Daphne awards. Cajun Country Mysteries offer “everything a cozy reader could want,” according to Publishers Weekly, while Library Journal says, “Diane Mott Davidson and Lou Jane Temple fans will line up for this series.” HERE COMES THE BODY, the first book in her Catering Hall Mysteries will launch in March 2020 under the name Maria DiRico.

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

©2019 V 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

Hot Shot by Fern Michaels – a #BookReview

Hot Shot (The Men of the Sisterhood Book 5) by Fern Michaels

Hot Shot by Fern MichaelsBook Blurb:

Loyalty is a way of life for the Sisterhood and their significant others. When lawyer Lizzie Fox’s husband, Cosmo Cricket, is left critically injured after being shot by an unknown assailant, the men of BOLO Consultants head straight for Las Vegas to comfort Lizzie—and to uncover a dangerous enemy in the City of Sin.

As head of Nevada’s Gaming Commission, Cosmo has powerful enemies. Yet the shooting seems to be related to one of his private projects. Built in the desert outside Las Vegas, Happy Village is a flourishing community for seniors who have lost a spouse. Cosmo’s widowed father found new purpose in running the venture. But the neighborhood that’s now home to Happy Village was once run by rival gangs, a complicated past that has come to haunt the place. Jack, Harry, and the rest of the crew need to remove the threat, risking everything to take on a vicious and mysterious gang leader known only as Hot Shot. And while the men of the Sisterhood fight for justice for their friend, Cosmo is fighting for his life—and the stakes have never been higher . . .

My Review:

Loved the cover, the blurb sounded interesting. Then what? Perhaps you have to have read the first four of the series, or the Women of the Sisterhood first. Either way, I was totally missing something with this book. My first experience with the series and the author; perhaps mea culpa.

Hot Shot by Fern MichaelsThe narrative starts slow, stays slow, and turned into a snoozer for me. A large list of characters, I guess Jack Emery is the protagonist. He’s the one with the large shepherd, Cyrus, and you know I’m a sucker for a book with a dog. But this one? Not so much. I’d read books that anthropomorphize the canine-human relationship, but this one is a bit over the top (even for me). I couldn’t warm up to Jack, Harry, or any of the crew, though really they were not that well-developed in this entry.

Then there is Happy Village, a senior facility now overseen by a rich and powerful half-partner, Cosmo Cricket who is gunned down early in the book and his wife Lizzie Fox, pretty powerful in her own right, sends out the missive for help. Cosmo left in place after he rehabbed the complex a gang to protect the Village from a rival gang that previously ruled the area in a seedy part of Las Vegas. I’m not a fan of Las Vegas, so references to the boiling desert heat hit a nerve reminding me of the two weeks we spent stranded after our vehicle quit. (The repair dealer is as big a rip-off as are the casinos.)

As the plot moves into ever more characters and them into the dark web, things proceed from slow to nasty. Jack and his cronies set up a plan of action to look into what is going on with the shooting of Cosmo, resident disappearances at Happy Village, and the person controlling the gang of despots. The antagonist(s) is no surprise. Difficult to become engaged with characters you can’t identify with, nor have empathy or interest.

The conclusion rolled into a climax that becomes horrific. I actually had to slow down and read that part to really understand they were doing what I thought they were doing. There were edit misses along the way and words together with no space and words separated by a space (i.e., Cy – rus, ada – mant). A reference to the biker gang having nine or ten Har leys (sic) which “translates to nineteen or twenty gang members” was almost funny. (Not unless nine or ten Harley-riding gang members were riding “bitch.” (Or “two-up” And I don’t see that happening.)

I had a few other nit-picky issues, but you get the idea. I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley. Sad to say, it just didn’t work for me.

Book Details:

Genre: Sisters Fiction, Crime Fiction
Publisher: Zebra

  • ISBN-10:1420146025
  • ISBN-13:978-1420146028
  • ASIN: B07L2GKGCL

Print Length: 336 pages
Publication Date: (Reissue edition) August 27, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Hot Shot

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Two-point Five of Five Stars Two point Five of Five Stars

Fern Michaels - authorThe Author: Fern Michaels is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the successful Sisterhood series and the Men of the Sisterhood series and dozens of other novels and novellas. There are over 150 best-selling books with 110 million copies in print. Fern Michaels has built and funded several large day-care centers in her hometown, and is a passionate animal lover who has outfitted police dogs across the country with special bulletproof vests. She shares her home in South Carolina with her four dogs and a resident ghost named Mary Margaret.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Thicker Than Water by Johnny Worthen – a #BookReview

Thicker Than Water: A Tony Flaner Mystery by Johnny Worthen

Thicker Than Water by Johnny WorthenBook Blurb:

Tony Flaner, sarcastic, slacking, sleuth from, THE FINGER TRAP, has given up being a good detective. Now he babysits a pampered dog for a high-strung family and of course that dog is kidnapped right under his nose. He tries to care, really he does, but he can’t. He couldn’t even if he weren’t otherwise distracted by the sudden death of his neglected aunt Vicky hundreds of miles away in scenic Moab, Utah.

To solve her murder, Tony wades into tourist town politics and nagging guilt to unravel hot plots and cold cases. He must learn the secret ways of Nordic Indians, elves and goblins, motorcycle maniacs, tabloid slanderers, yapping dogs, hated rivals, and old loves to find out what’s THICKER THAN WATER.

My Review:

What DO I get myself into? This one is totally off the wall–in a good way! Tony Flaner is a sorta detective of indeterminate age. He must be somewhere close mid-to-late thirties, after all, he has a fifteen-year-old son and an ex with whom he is great friends. He should be, she gave him a generous settlement in the divorce. He is one of these guys who doesn’t know what he wants to be when he grows up and he still hasn’t (grown up).

In this first-person narrative, he is reduced to taking on the care of a spoiled dog after deciding being a PI isn’t what it was cracked up to be. He is tired of taking pictures of wayward spouses. Then he gets a call from a childhood friend in a town he’d pushed to the back of his memory. His aunt Vicky has been murdered and the local police are writing it off. He can’t have that, it was his aunt Vicky who took him in at the age of ten and loved and nurtured him as her own. Her own son, Rick, was about his age. He spends some time reflecting on Rick, called “Thick” by everyone except Tony (and he’ll explain why.) He’ll return to Moab, Utah to look into it using his amazing detective powers.

Admittedly, here is a main character that is rather unlikable. He’s irreverent, snarky, and fails badly at being a focused adult. Then the next page he reflects on how much he owes his aunt and exudes guilt over his lack of attention and communication. He could have, would have, should have exhibited a great deal more respect, honor, and gratitude. He reconnects with the girl who had his attention in Moab and begins his investigation.

Thicker Than Water by Johnnyy WorthenWhile the story begins just a tad slow, I think it’s intentional to fix this protagonist’s mindset to you. He’s flippant. But he’s serious about his aunt. Moab, not so much, and there are plenty of jabs at poor Moab as a small Utah town that leaves no doubt in your mind as to the character of the inhabitants or the tourists who swarm yearly to enjoy the local recreation. Mountain biking (bicycles), rock climbing, and scenic orange-hued arches. (We rode into Moab one evening looking for a motel during our southwest national park ride one year and woke the next morning to find ashes covering our motorcycles. There was a huge forest fire in the hills and we were diverted from our original route.)

The author then takes you on a mad romp in some kind of bad trip with a constant barrage of charming analogies or bits of Tony wisdom:

“Utah’s gets its official state flower, the Orange Traffic Pylon, from I-15.”
“…Hike Three Days Through Cactus To See This Lame Hole in the Rock Arch…”
“It’s easier to teach a cat to come on command than it is to evict a tenant.”
“He knitted his forehead like a lemur taking a trig quiz.”
“…Moab’s primary export was its children.”
“When I started seeing noises…”

Maybe you have to be on something to completely get all the dialogue. It comes at you in snappy patterns, switching references briefly in mid-conversation to a wholly unrelated conversation. But you read it. Did you pay attention? Remember it? This is a frustrated stand-up comedian, reminding me just a little of Rodney Dangerfield. (He got no respect either.)

The author may not describe in detail what each support character looked like, but you definitely got to know them. I really enjoyed both his ex-wife and Allie. And Rick, poor slow Rick, is sympathetic albeit shocking at times.

Did I figure out the antagonist? Yes, although in true Agatha Christie style, he deftly laid it out following a conclusion you’d better keep up with–it came in stages throughout the last quarter of the book. The plot is unique, well-paced, and even at 582 pages didn’t take long to fly through. Fascinating train wreck and an author writing style that may grow on you too. My only problem was the occasional objectionable language and the edit misses. Still, the crazy thing is nothing if not entertaining and wraps in a satisfying conclusion, a grin on your face, and a chuckle in your heart.

I was given this digital download by the publisher through NetGalley and appreciated the new perspective on a PI mystery novel. Recommended for those who enjoy a distinctive MC and plot and scenic locale.

Book Details:

Genre: General Humorous Fiction, Private Investigator Mysteries
Publisher: Dandelion Ink LLC

  • ISBN-10:1733107231
  • ISBN-13:978-1733107235
  • ASIN: B07W418BVW

Print Length: 582 pages
Publication Date: August 22, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Thicker Than Water

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

Johnny Worthen - authorThe Author: JOHNNY WORTHEN grew up in the high desert snows and warm summer winds of the Wasatch Mountains. He graduated with a B.A. in English, minor in Classics and a Master’s in American Studies from the University of Utah. After a series of businesses and adventures, including years abroad and running his own bakery, Johnny found himself drawn to the only thing he ever wanted to do — write. And write he does. Well versed in modern literary criticism and cultural studies, Johnny writes upmarket multi-genre fiction – thriller, horror, young adult, comedy and mystery so far. “I write what I like to read,” he says. “That guarantees me at least one fan and a hectic job for my publicist.”

When not pounding on his keyboard, teaching the craft, attending conferences and conventions, Johnny Worthen can be found with his wife and boys in Sandy, Utah.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Grateful American by Gary Sinise – a #BookReview

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

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

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

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

Grateful American by Gary SiniseMy Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gary Sinise - author

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

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

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

©2019 V Williams V Williams

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

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

5-stars

Bark of Night by David Rosenfelt

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

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

Bark of Night by David RosenfeltMy Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details

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

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

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

  • ASIN: B07J4VJL3C

Genre: Traditional Detective Mystery
Title Link: Bark of Night

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2019 V Williams V Williams

In the Line of Fire by R J Noonan – a #BookReview

In the Line of Fire by R J NoonanTitle: In the Line of Fire: A Laura Mori Mystery by R J Noonan

Genre: Crime Thrillers, Police Procedurals

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

  • ISBN-10:1643850156
  • ISBN-13:978-1643850153
  • ASIN: B07M9LHFZY

Print Length: 297 pages

Publication Date: Happy Release Day! August 13, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: In the Line of Fire

Book Blurb:

When secrets are too big to buy, it’s worth killing to bury them.

Growing up, Laura Mori was constantly overshadowed by her far more successful siblings. She had a tough time appeasing her parents, and now that she’s a police officer, recently promoted to detective, they still seem less than fazed. Everyone knows a cop’s salary—it’s meager, to say the least. But Laura has found her calling—she was born to be a detective and is determined to prove it, if not to her parents, then at least to the boys club that is Sunrise Lake PD. She sticks out like a sore thumb as the only young female minority, but she has resolved to at least seem like an unshakeable thumb.

The next case file on her desk turns out to be a bank heist and it should be easy enough, but what starts off as a one-and-done job quickly begins to seem too by-the-book and oddly like a notorious series of deadly bank hits from years past dubbed Twilight. But it’s a dead end—Twilight is only ever mentioned in hushed tones, and there’s little to no history on it in the department. And then she receives her first sign, of many more to come, that her investigation is not welcome. Alongside her partner Z and stunningly attractive FBI agent Nick Derringer, she begins to pull on the frayed thread, and that’s when she sees the bloody writing on the wall: the only other young female cop on the force was KIA during Twilight.

With too much on the line to lose, including her own life, Laura must get to the bottom of the case and fast, or she, too, will become history.

In the Line of Fire by R J NoonanMy Review:

Only the second in the series, this narrative can function well as a standalone. There are only a few references to the previous book, a case that Laura Mori solved which propelled her into detective grade with the Sunrise Lake PD, a small town in the Pacific NW.

She is a natural with her investigative calling and as a Japanese American with successful siblings has something to prove to her parents as well as the men of the department as she whittles away at a firm position within the force. She has been partnered with Zion “Z” Frazier. He and his former partner were on a call when she was killed in the last of the Twilight robberies and the memory of the brutal loss still shakes him.

When what looks like a copy cat bank heist of the Twilight robberies that led to the officer fatality occurs, Laura is given lead into the investigation and is soon joined by FBI agent Nick Derringer (enter the romance). She is quickly told not to tie in the three-year-old investigation but the more she learns about that one the more she realizes there is a connection.

The well-paced and plotted mystery is multi-layered with her partner Z concentrating on petty theft at a local assisted living facility while she gleans information on the cold case file as well as the recent bank heist. She is met with derision from the good ole boy network but doggedly pursues leads and questions witnesses of both crimes. Then she receives threats to leave the Twilight investigation alone.

This one may have been a bit ambitious with layers connecting to the next offense, or corruption, and infused with well-worn tropes. While Laura is smart and effective at gleaning information from her interrogations, she’s still busy vying for her parental approval and fighting the guys at work. (And as a detective, I’m still trying to figure out why she is wearing a uniform or she and Z drive a police cruiser.) Laura is fairly well-fleshed, as is Z, not so much the heart-throb. The perp is rather one-dimensional and easy to figure out, a bit too obvious.

The author is, however, building an interesting group of characters and it will be interesting to see how they grow and Laura mature. I’m not sure she needs a long-distance romance, cute or not,  and you’ll have to stifle some disbelief with this one. The conclusion ramps up the tension and neatly closes the book.

I received this ebook download from the publisher and NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review. These are my own opinions. Recommended for mystery fans of light police procedurals.

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

R J Noonan - authorThe Author: (From Goodreads) Rosalind Noonan is a New York Times bestselling author of women’s fiction and domestic suspense novels and is a graduate of Wagner College. She lives in the Pacific Northwest, where she writes in the shade of some towering two-hundred-year-old Douglas fir trees. This is her first mystery under the name R. J. Noonan.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

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

The Plain of Jars by N. Lombardi Jr.

Five of Five Stars Five stars

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

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

Publisher: Roundfire Books

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

 Print Length: 670 pages

Publication Date: (Reprint edition) May 31, 2013

Source: Author request

Title Link: The Plain of Jars

Book Blurb:

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

The Plain of Jars by N. Lombardi JrMy Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nick now lives in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

©2019 C.E.Williams

The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs by Katherine Howe #BlogTour #BookReview #Giveaway

I am so delighted today to provide a review for you on National Book Lovers Day (I think you’re gonna love this one!) at my blog stop for The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs (The Physick Book 2) by Katherine Howe on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours. Scroll down to enter your chance to win the Giveaway!

The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs by Katherine Howe

Book Details

The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs: A Novel
Occult Fiction
Henry Holt and Co. (June 25, 2019)
Hardcover: 352 pages
ISBN-10: 1250304865
ISBN-13: 978-1250304865
Kindle ASIN: B07HF3MDDH

Book Blurb

New York Times bestselling author Katherine Howe returns to the world of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane with a bewitching story of a New England history professor who must race against time to free her family from a curse.

Connie Goodwin is an expert on America’s fractured past with witchcraft. A young, tenure-track professor in Boston, she’s earned career success by studying the history of magic in colonial America—especially women’s home recipes and medicines—and by exposing society’s threats against women fluent in those skills. But beyond her studies, Connie harbors a secret: She is the direct descendant of a woman tried as a witch in Salem, an ancestor whose abilities were far more magical than the historical record shows.

When a hint from her mother and clues from her research lead Connie to the shocking realization that her partner’s life is in danger, she must race to solve the mystery behind a hundreds’-years-long deadly curse.

Flashing back through American history to the lives of certain supernaturally gifted women, The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs affectingly reveals not only the special bond that unites one particular matriarchal line, but also explores the many challenges to women’s survival across the decades—and the risks some women are forced to take to protect what they love most.

My Review

The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs by Katherine HoweIf I see a book regarding the historic trials of Salem, witch lore, or the study thereof, I’m there and this book went beyond just a simple fiction novel of the impression of witches. I’ve always found the subject fascinating, because…there is so much we don’t know that we don’t know and fortunately, this book sheds the light on many of those nuances.

Connie Goodwin is deeply embroiled in her role as a tenure-track professor at Northeastern University. She is so close, but she must, absolutely MUST, finish the book that she has under contract. She’s getting there. But there are her students and mid-terms to think about, one of whom Esperanza Molina (Zazi for short) has secured her special interest. At home is Sam Hartley, with whom she has apparently lived for ten years (as this is the second in the Physick series, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane debuting some time ago). I did not read the first but had no problem getting right into this one, dazzled by the world of academia and the crunch for advancement. Connie is thirty-four and trying to forestall everything else until she attains her tenure when she discovers she is pregnant.

She may have been so fully embroiled in her life at the university that she missed all the signs, but her mother picks it up instantly and throws a real wrinkle in her plans. She is aware she is a descendant of a witch tried in Salem (and found guilty) and her mother begins a campaign to safeguard her grandchild. Connie must choose between her child or Sam and she begins a manic journey to uncover the secret of the curse and find a way to stave off the centuries-old curse in a lengthy and detailed dive into family history.

I loved the accounts of the dissertation struggles and the history of the evolution of white magic, particularly in colonial New England, the research into her lineage using old, old records as well as a thoughtful dissection of the changes resulting from the Reformation of the Catholic church.

I enjoyed the Interludes that take us back to Easthorpe (Essex, England) in 1661 through the family fleeing to America and several succeeding generations. As Connie begins to unearth her history and narrow down her matriarchal ties, she finds an extremely important clue left behind by one and the race to the finish begins, introducing “recipes” with mysterious ingredients and incantations.

There are many points of interest that would make for a lively book club discussion and further research and kept an engaging set to the well-plotted novel. The author has an entertaining writing style and the postlude provides a notable postscript.

I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley for this blog tour and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review.

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Giveaway

Sign up for your chance to win One of (3) Print Copies of The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs: A Novel by Katherine Howe U.S. only in this Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author

Katherine Howe is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane and The House of Velvet and Glass, as well as the young adult novels, Conversion and The Appearance of Annie van Sinderen. She served as editor of The Penguin Book of Witches and her fiction has been translated into over twenty languages. Descended from three women who were tried for witchcraft in Salem, she and her family live in New England and New York City, where she is at work on her next novel.

Twitter: @katherinebhowe

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

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

Purchase Links

Amazon   B&N   Kobo  Google Play   IndieBound

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

Tour Participants:

August 1 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW

August 1 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

August 2 – The Book Diva’s Reads – REVIEW*

August 2 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

August 3 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

August 3 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT  

August 4 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW

August 4 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT

August 5 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW

August 6 – Elizabeth McKenna – Author – SPOTLIGHT

August 6 – Ascroft, eh? – REVIEW

August 7 – The Haunted Reading Room – REVIEW

August 7 – Books Direct – SPOTLIGHT

August 8 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT

August 8 – Reading Reality – REVIEW

August 9 – eBook Addicts – REVIEW

August 9 – Rosepoint Reviews – REVIEW

August 10 – T’s Stuff – SPOTLIGHT Great Escapes Book Tours

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

©2019 V Williams Blog author

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

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

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

Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press

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

Print Length: 352 pages

Publication Date: Happy Release Day! August 6, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: The Turn of the Key

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

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

It was everything.

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

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

The Turn of the Key by Ruth WareMy Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2019 V Williams Blog author

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

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

Genre: Holiday Fiction, Holiday Romance

Publisher: One More Chapter

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

 Print Length: 400 pages

Publication Date: July 19, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: The Secret Cove in Croatia

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Medellin: Acapulco Cold by Bill Fortin – a #BookTour #BookReview

Book Tour-Medellin Acapulco Cold

I am so delighted today to provide a review for you at our blog stop for Medellín Acapulco Cold (A Cold War Adventure with Rick Fontain Book 3) by Bill Fortin on the Virtual Author Book Tours and reviewed by my associate.

Book Details

Title: Melellín Acapulco Cold by Bill Fortin

Genre: War and Military Action

Publisher: Cold War Publications

Publication Date: May 20, 2019

Print Length: 354 pages

  • ISBN-10:099647868X
  • ISBN-13:978-0996478687
  • ASIN: B07Q89YD2G

Book Blurb 

In March 1987, the CIA’s Operation Acapulco Cold took on the Medellín cartel. The journey would be dangerous. The alternative for not recovering the nuke would be too horrible to imagine. 
A theft occurs as a result of President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev’s treaty agreement in January 1986. Russian SS-20 medium-range missiles were removed from Eastern Europe and their nuclear MIRV packages removed. A shadow group inside the failing Russian government steals three of the nose-cone assembles.
A Russian named Geonov is charged with selling one of these devices to the Medellin cartel. The asking price was $40 million dollars in cash. Pablo Escobar did not even blink when he was offered one. Operation Acapulco Cold is the detailed action taken by the CIA to address this life-altering situation.

His Review

Medellin Acapulco Cold by Bill FortinCould a nuclear catastrophe of epic proportions result from the “War on Drugs?” Bill Fortin explores this in the third book of his Rick Fontain series. The drug war seems to be one way with the United States taking the lead on stopping this social blight. The cartels do not take interference lightly.

A former KGB operative develops a way to smuggle a multiple-warhead device which is slated for destruction out of a former Soviet Bloc country and into cartel control. Payback will be immense when the device is placed in a largely populated area. A crater 150 kilometers wide and 10 meters deep would completely destroy one of the largest population centers on the planet.

Rick Fontain and a group of highly dedicated black-op agents working in a number of countries must stop the placement of the weapon. Multiple agencies track the path of the device and the people paid to deliver the payload. The group is a seasoned element of protection and exude confidence and skill while working with meticulous timing.

Well researched perspective often includes historical bits and pieces. This well-plotted novel tasks the group with finding the warheads and neutralizing the threat delivered during the Reagan administration. The first task is to find the weapon.  People die in the transporting of the weapon because of the improper shielding of the device.  Will the weapon be delivered by land, sea, or air?

Bill Fortin writes this novel with military precision and the participants go all the way to the White House with President Ronald Reagan. Will the group be able to stop the impending assault? They must! But along the way will be obstacles and twists that keep the complex page-turning storyline moving.

Associate Reviewer - C E WilliamsThis is a fast-moving, well-developed plot put together with military procedure protocols. Having read Book 2 of this series, I knew what to expect from detail-oriented Bill Fortin and each book works well as a standalone. He packs in a wallop to get your attention and never flags after that.  It is hard to put the book down and I read it in two days. I shudder to think of the probability of something like this really happening.  A five-star thriller guaranteed to keep you up at night. C.E. Williams

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars Five stars

Bill Fortin - authorAbout The Author: Maryland author Bill Fortin worked for Bell Labs and is the former CEO of Integrated Building Solutions, INC. Today, he leads the newly established self-publishing group Cold War Publications. A Master’s in the Management Sciences from University of Baltimore qualified him to address a wide-range of audiences on the international stage. As a Bell Labs subject matter expert for Intelligent Building technologies he was asked to consult on projects in 37 countries.

A native of Westminster, Maryland Bill is an active member of Rotary and retains membership in the Association of the 3AD. He is married to Judy and is surrounded by a host of 4-legged children (Border Collies). Virtual Author Book Tours.com

 Thanks to Virtual Author Book Tours.com for the opportunity to read and review this topical thriller!

©2019 CE Williams