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

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

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Book Details

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

Book Blurb 

Ireland 1846 

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

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

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

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

His Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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Giveaway

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

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

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

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

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

Author Links

Webpage:  https://eileenofinlan.com/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tour Participants:

May 21 – My Devotional Thoughts – REVIEW

May 22 – Baroness’ Book Trove – SPOTLIGHT

May 23 – eBook Addicts – SPOTLIGHT

May 24 – Literary Gold – EXCERPT

May 25 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

May 26 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

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

May 27 – Jane Reads – GUEST POST

May 28 – Gimme The Scoop Reviews – EXCERPT

May 29 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT

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

May 30 – StoreyBook Reviews – CHARACTER GUEST POST

May 30 – fundinmental – SPOTLIGHT Great Escapes Book Tours

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

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Book Blitz – Speakeasy by A M Dunnewin for RABT Book Tours and PR

Suspense Thriller / Historical
Date Published: 12/21/2011
Publisher:  Dark Hour Press, LLC
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The novella is centered on Eddie Durante, owner of a speakeasy who’s supported by his mobster uncle—the boss of the Durante family. Eddie is a young widower after his family’s rival, the Caprice family, murdered his wife over a territory dispute. After devising a plan that retaliated against four of the rivaling capos, Eddie is left with the daunting task to try and move on. That is, until he’s notified that the Caprices have put a hit man in the speakeasy—and Eddie’s name is on the list. But things take an unexpected turn when Eddie instead starts to find the dead bodies of his relatives, the ones who had helped in the retaliation.

Behind the backdrop of jazz music and glistening flappers, murder after murder begins to unravel as revenge takes center stage, and Eddie soon learns that some secrets can’t be taken to the grave.

Excerpt

Once the doors were closed, Sal didn’t take long to get right to the point. “They know it was you, Eddie.”
The words slapped him across the face, but Eddie didn’t respond.
“That you were the one who came up with the idea,” Sal continued. “They’re out for retaliation, and it’s rumored that they’ve sent a torpedo into this juice joint of yours. That’s part of the reason why I’m not being too open with the information. Afraid of who might be listening.”
A hit man in his speakeasy. Eddie stared out the windshield, watching Sal begin to light a cigarette out of the corner of his eye. “I had a lot of ideas,” he remarked hoarsely, fear and dread subtly mixing into his thoughts.
“Only took one,” Sal responded as he lit the cigarette. He silently offered one to Eddie, who refused with a shake of his head. “Sorry, kid,” Sal explained as he took a puff. “After what they did to your wife, I wouldn’t have blamed ya.”
Eddie remained silent, his eyes drifting to the bootleggers who were moving the last of the crates. No wonder they weren’t laying their eyes on him. He was a dead target.
Sal took another drag on his cigarette, taking a moment for himself. “Don’t worry, though,” he finally remarked. “Your family’s got your back. My brother-in-law, your dear uncle, has requested that Joe stay by your side until we can square away if there’s a torpedo and who it is.”
“What?” Eddie balked, shattering his calm exterior.
“It’s temporary,” Sal cooed, trying to calm the young man down. “He’s just some extra protection.”
Eddie gawked, unable to believe that they’d send Joe, of all people, to protect him. “He’s crazy,” was all Eddie could summarize when it came to his cousin.
“He’s happy,” Sal tried to smooth over.
“Trigger happy,” Eddie corrected.
Sal shrugged his shoulders. “He gets the job done. And when the boss’ favorite nephew needs protection, the boss will only send the very best.”
“I don’t need protection,” Eddie fought back, trying not to raise his voice to the lunacy. “And even if I did, I have Anthony and Marcus in there—”
“Little orphan Anthony and Baby Marcus?” Sal choked, half laughing, half sputtering on the cigarette smoke. “Marcus is too naive, and Anthony,” but Sal had to chuckle first before he could continue. “Well, ya better just pray your killer isn’t a female.”
“Thanks for warning me,” Eddie begrudgingly admitted as he pulled the door handle…

About the Author

 

A. M. Dunnewin grew up with a taste for mysteries and thrillers, inherited ever so lovingly from her family. An affiliate member of the Horror Writers Association, A. M.’s own stories cover a wide range of genres that tend to take a dark turn when least expected. With a B.A. in Psychology, she’s a gambler of words, obsessed with chai tea, and addicted to books – everything from classical literature to graphic novels. Other hobbies include art, history, music, equestrianism, and a good classic film. She currently dwells in Northern California.
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©2020

An Unequal Defense – David Adams Book 2 by Chad Zunker

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

 Book Blurb:

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

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Book Details:

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

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4-stars

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

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

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars Five Stars 

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

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

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

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

His Review:

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Yes Please by Amy Poehler – An #Audiobook Review

GRAMMY NOMINEEAudie Award, Humor, 2015

Book Blurb:

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

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

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

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

 My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Book Details:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Blurb:

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

“My eyes narrowed to reptilian slits.”

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

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

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

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

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

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble

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

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

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Book Reviews and Links on Web Directories–Good for SEO or Backlinks?

Backlink checker and DoFollow links that award SEO link juice?

Book Reviews and Links on Web Directories--Good for SEO or Backlinks?

ACK! My head is spinning! I thought it would be simple…I just wanted to work on my page rank, which according to MOZ is 30. I’d bumbled into MOZ looking for my Domain Authority and into Ahref which posted a free backlink checker. Next thing I know, I’m reading articles on Google cautioning contrived backlinks. And then there are DoFollow links that award SEO link juice. Huh? Link juice? Holy cow, do I need a whole new dictionary? (maybe)

Web Directories

My Ezine Articles logo

Before I really got my blog up and running, I began writing for Ezine Articles. Back then it was a way to drive traffic back to my blog. But the web directory market got into some major trouble as Yahoo quickly usurped them with their own masterful web directories and then was swallowed by the Google whale just as easily. Google algorithms do not like duplicate content or contrived backlinks. I didn’t know I was contriving. I’m pleading the ignorance card.

Big fish east little fish

Ezine Articles covered a number of subjects, one of which was book reviews (and are still online).

I wrote a number of reviews including an article on historical fiction. I was still busy marketing my grandfather’s historical fiction books back then. This article was originally published November 9, 2016 and abridged below.

A Peak Inside Their Lives

Historical fiction is pretty much everything from eons ago through the Civil War, WWII, and the Vietnam War era. There is never a lack of stories on any period of time that captures your interest.

There are some differences of opinion regarding the definition of historical fiction, but according to the Providence Public Library, it is generally agreed to be set 50 or more years previous and written from research. There are as many categories and sub-genres as authors (see my article 10 Amazing Sub-Genre’s in Historical Fiction), although the better known are probably the traditional historical novels that accurately follow an historical event. Historical novels may also include mysteries, romances, or adventures.

Vietnam Era stories can fall into the historical realm at this point, and one of the notable authors, a veteran himself, is Bob Meyer. You may have also read a June Collins’ novel called Goodbye, Junie Moon” about the same time period set in Viet Nam and not wholly fiction. The older folks may remember the scandal she stumbled across and wrote about that led to congressional hearings.

The biography “Calvin Many Wolves Potter,” was penned by his great-great-granddaughter, Elaine Brooks Held. The biography, “Charlie Chaplin-A Brief Life,” was authored by Peter Ackroyd. Ackroyd did a splendid job of painting a picture of Charlie the man (with all his warts), Charlie the actor, and Charlie the powerhouse cinema innovator. While most persons over the age of 30 know the name, few of us are familiar with the impact his life had, not only on the US (his adopted nation), but worldwide, early in 20th Century film technology.

Fortunately, in a period of digital as well as audio downloads, you don’t even have to leave your home to secure a good read anymore and many of these are offered free. The popularity of book stores and printed books are enjoying a resurgence. Libraries and book clubs can still pack them in.

Not sure just how many historical fiction categories there are? Log into Providence Public Library at http://www.provlib.org/guide-historical-fiction-lovers to discover all the genres and sub-genres–some of which you’ve never heard of!

(Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Gin_Williams/1397243)

(Yes, I’m aware the intro sentence doesn’t constitute a canonical link. That’s another whole area I’m stumbling across and another reason I severely cut the above article. There is, however, an excellent post about canonical links posted by Melanie Rockett of the Book Reviewers Directory.

Relevance

Speaking of relevant links, the above directory as well as The Book Blogger’s List would be considered (I assume) relevant web directories for a book reviewer and relevance is where it’s at.

And backlinks.

And SEO.

(Isn’t Goodreads a “NoFollow?”) Free blogging directories? Anyone have any experience with Blogarama? It does not provide reciprocal links. (I can find lists, but many [on a page listing 50 blog directories!] no longer exist.) 

Conclusion

While I remain severely confused over backlinks, SEO, and unsure how to proceed, it would appear that while, yes, those old web directories do not provide the backlinks you are seeking and could actually earn you a Google face slap for duplicating content. The point is relevancy and there are some much newer web directories that if appropriate for your blog, may still be of benefit to link. Are you listed on either of the two noted above? Perhaps you have additional **permanent** blogger directories you’d like to share?

I certainly welcome your ideas and suggestions!

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Info Source: Cognitive SEO

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

Rosepoint Publishing: Five of Five Stars Five Stars

A Vicarious Blogger review of a military thriller

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

His Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

Add to Goodreads 

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

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams

V Williams

Photo attribution Cobra by Public Domain Pictures.net

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

celebrity book clubs

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

Oprah Winfrey

May pick – Hidden Valley Road

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

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

Reese Witherspoon

May pick – The Henna Artist

The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi

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

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

Emma Roberts

May pick – The Book of V

The Book of V by Anna Solomon

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

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

Jenna Bush Hager

May pick – All Adults Here 

All Adults Here by Emma Straub

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

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

⇒⇒⇓

Andrew Luck - retired Colts quarter-backAndrew Luck

May picks:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Additional info or photo attributes: Eonline.com news

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

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint Publishing: Four of Five Stars 4-stars

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

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

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

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

Book Blurb:

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

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

His Review:

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

Add to Goodreads

 Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4-stars

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

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

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

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

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

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

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars Five Stars

Audiobook - Where the Crawdads Sing

 Book Blurb:

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Hangover

Book Details:

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

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

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

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

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

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

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

May NetGalley Books

(Goodreads links of the above:)

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

May audiobooks, author requests, and Blog Tours

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

Author Requests:

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

Curse of the Ninth

Blog Tours:

Kelegeen (Great Escapes)

Killing Time (NetGalley-Great Escapes)

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

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

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

Rosepoint Reviews - April Recap

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

Stay Smart, Safe, Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

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

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars Five Stars

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

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Hangover

His thoughts:

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

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

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

Add to Goodreads 

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

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

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

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

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

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

Shared review with the Vicarious Blogger

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

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

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

His Thoughts

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

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

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

Book Details:

Genre: Legal Thrillers, Vigilante Justice
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
ASIN: B07TMN6WR8
Print Length: 416 pages
Publication Date: April 21, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Final Judgment (Amazon)
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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4-stars

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

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

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

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

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

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

His Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

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

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

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

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

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

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

Book Blurb:

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

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

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

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

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

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

Watching Glass Shatter by James J Cudney

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

 My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five Stars 4.5-stars

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

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

List of Books

Watching Glass Shatter (October 2017)

Father Figure (April 2018)

Braxton Campus Mysteries

Academic Curveball – #1 (October 2018)

Broken Heart Attack – #2 (November 2018)

Flower Power Trip – #3 (March 2019)

Mistaken Identity Crisis – #4 (June 2019)

Haunted House Ghost – #5 (October 2019)

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

Websites & Blog

Websitehttps://jamesjcudney.com/

Blog: https://thisismytruthnow.com

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

Social Media Links

Amazon: http://bit.ly/JJCIVBooks

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jamescudney4

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

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

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

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

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

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

Purchase Links – Amazon 

The Narrator: Nikki Zakocs

©2020 V Williams V Williams

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

Rosepoint Reviews-March recap

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

Stay: Smart, Safe, Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Small CoVid19 graphic attribute: semiwiki.com

The Wolf in Winter: A Charlie Parker Thriller Book 12 by John Connolly – a #BookReview #readingirelandmonth20

Ah, my second John Connolly book for the #begorrathon20

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars Five Stars

The Wolf in Winter by John Connolly

Happy St Patrick’s Day! St Patty's Day Hat

(No parades this year due to Corona Virus)

Book Blurb:

New York Times bestselling author John Connolly is a master of the supernatural thriller—“a genre of one” (Bookreporter)—whose eerie and electrifying Charlie Parker mystery turns a small town in Maine into an unforgettable character that threatens to destroy the brooding private investigator.

The isolated community of Prosperous, Maine, has always thrived. While others suffered, the people there have remained fortunate, wealthy, secure, and insular throughout the centuries.

Miles to the south, in Portland, a homeless man dies, and the disturbing manner of his death brings Prosperous to the attention of the private investigator Charlie Parker. He is a dangerous man, driven by compassion, rage, and the desire for vengeance. Prosperous and its townsfolk recognize that he poses a threat to their security that runs deeper than any in their long history.

But this community has its own way of protecting itself, and its sheltered residents have marked Charlie for death so that Prosperous may survive. Prosperous, and the secret that is buried beneath it…

My Review:

What have I gotten myself into THIS time?! Yes, this was one of the authors I included for Reading Ireland Month last year. But, in my defense, it was my co-reviewer who read the second book of the Charlie Parker series and I have to admit, now I’m sorry I couldn’t squeeze it in. This is #12 and I read as a standalone, however, I thought an unusual branch of the supernatural genre. Light horror? Or supernatural noir. Dark paranormal? Malevolent thriller? “Folk horror”

The Wolf in Winter by John ConnollyIt’s Parker’s POV, first person and the hook reels you in pretty quickly. Charlie Parker is a private detective visited by ghosts of his own tragic past. The loss of his wife and first-born daughter.

“He was trying to put loss into words, but loss is absence, and will always defy expression.”

The experience has rocketed him into an endless quest against the dark side. The evil manifests early though lightly and gradually ramps up following his investigation into the suicide of a homeless person, well known in the homeless community, who knew he would NOT commit suicide. The suicide coincides with the disappearance of the man’s daughter and sends Parker on the quest to discover why.

On the surface, it appears to be a routine mystery. Until he hits Prosperous, Maine. Then all bets are off. There is something dark being cloaked in this little tightly-knit enclave built around an ancient church. The church history is chilling, each piece having been brought over from the north of England which displays foliate sculpture. But it is the particular sect he discovers behind the church that prompts deeper research. They are heretical, powerful, and dangerous. Familists.

There are droll remarks, bordering on sharp-witted and sarcastic. More than once LOL humorous; humor mixed with prose. The pace is frightening, barely ending one hair-raising, thought-provoking scene before it careens into the next. Deadly characters, apparently some familiar from previous series entries, The Collector and Cambion, make cameo appearances.  But my favorites, Angel and Louis, set a layer of pancaked evil with the good–they owe Parker–and they’re in payback mode. Omnipotent. Effective. The author has fun with these characters, coating each with a deposit of darkness, tension, and intense attitude.

In the meantime, the central board of Prosperous views his intrusion with a deepening impression of threat and they act to stop the threat. It is when Parker’s old friend Ronald Straydeer witnesses a terrifying event that the story goes from paranormal to horror. The storyline hits hard on religion, but also describes the challenge of the homeless, army veterans (and their K-9 companions), as well as the dark underbelly of the world. Most of which you’d prefer not to know.

I received this digital download from my local fully-stocked library and totally appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Totally recommended! This author will go right on the top of my currently accumulating and rapidly expanding list of favorite series that I plan to dazzle you with later. I know you’ve probably read a number of the Charlie Parker series. So, what do you suggest I start next? Which was your favorite?

Rosepoint recommended

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Book Details:

Genre: Paranormal Suspense, Private Investigator Mysteries
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books; Reprint edition

  • ISBN-10:1501122703
  • ISBN-13:978-1501122705
  • ASIN: B00DPM7Y9A

Print Length: 433 pages
Publication Date: October 28, 2014
Source: Local Library Digital Loans
Title Link: The Wolf in Winter

John Connolly - authorThe Author: [John Connolly] I was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1968 and have, at various points in his life, worked as a journalist, a barman, a local government official, a waiter and a “gofer” at Harrods department store in London. I studied English in Trinity College, Dublin and journalism at Dublin City University, subsequently spending five years working as a freelance journalist for The Irish Times newspaper, to which I continue to contribute, although not as often as I would like. I still try to interview a few authors every year, mainly writers whose work I like, although I’ve occasionally interviewed people for the paper simply because I thought they might be quirky or interesting. All of those interviews have been posted to my website, http://www.johnconnollybooks.com.

 

I was working as a journalist when I began work on my first novel. Like a lot of journalists, I think I entered the trade because I loved to write, and it was one of the few ways I thought I could be paid to do what I loved. But there is a difference between being a writer and a journalist, and I was certainly a poorer journalist than I am a writer (and I make no great claims for myself in either field.) I got quite frustrated with journalism, which probably gave me the impetus to start work on the novel. That book, Every Dead Thing, took about five years to write and was eventually published in 1999. It introduced the character of Charlie Parker, a former policeman hunting the killer of his wife and daughter. Dark Hollow, the second Parker novel, followed in 2000. The third Parker novel, The Killing Kind, was published in 2001, with The White Road following in 2002. In 2003, I published my fifth novel – and first stand-alone book – Bad Men. In 2004, Nocturnes, a collection of novellas and short stories, was added to the list, and 2005 marked the publication of the fifth Charlie Parker novel, The Black Angel. In 2006, The Book of Lost Things, my first non-mystery novel, was published.

Charlie Parker has since appeared in five additional novels: The Unquiet, The Reapers (where he plays a secondary role to his associates, Louis and Angel), The Lovers, The Whisperers, and The Burning Soul. The eleventh Charlie Parker novel, The Wrath of Angels, will be available in the UK in August 2012 and in the US in January 2013.

The Gates launched the Samuel Johnson series for younger readers in 2009, followed by Hell’s Bells (UK)/The Infernals (US) in 2011. A third Samuel Johnson novel should be finished in 2013.

I am also the co-editor, with fellow author Declan Burke, of Books to Die For, an anthology of essays from the world’s top crime writers in response to the question, “Which book should all lovers of crime fiction read before they die?” Books to Die For is available in the UK as of August 2012, and will be available in the US in October 2012.

I am based in Dublin but divide my time between my native city and the United States, where each of my novels has been set.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Murder in an Irish Cottage (An Irish Village Mystery Book 5) by Carlene O’Connor

Yes! This cozy mystery kicks off the first of my Reading Ireland Month reviews for 2020.

March!

Book Blurb:

In a remote—and superstitious—village in County Cork, Ireland, Garda Siobhán O’Sullivan must solve a murder where the prime suspects are fairies . . .

Murder in an Irish Cottage by Carlene O'ConnorFamily is everything to Siobhán: her five siblings; her dear departed mother for whom the family business, Naomi’s Bistro, is named; and now her fiancé, Macdara Flannery. So precious is her engagement that Siobhán wants to keep it just between the two of them for a little longer.

But Macdara is her family, which is why when his cousin Jane frantically calls for his help, Siobhán is at his side as the two garda rush from Kilbane to the rural village where Jane and her mother have recently moved. Unfortunately, tragedy awaits them. They find Jane, who is blind, outside the cottage, in a state. Inside, Aunt Ellen lies on her bed in a fancy red dress, no longer breathing. A pillow on the floor and a nearby teacup suggest the mode of death to their trained eyes: the woman has been poisoned and smothered. Someone wanted to make sure she was dead. But who?

Devout believers in Irish folklore, the villagers insist the cottage is cursed—built on a fairy path. It turns out Ellen Delaney was not the first to die mysteriously in this cottage. Although the townsfolk blame malevolent fairies, Siobhán and Macdara must follow the path of a murderer all too human—but just as evil . . .

My Review:

Totally on accident, I swear, but Book 4 in the Irish Village Mystery series, Murder in an Irish Pub, kicked off my Reading Ireland Month last year as well. I really do enjoy this series, the total immersion into Irish culture, lore, unpronounceable names…and the mysteries are interesting too!

Murder in an Irish Cottage by Carlene O'ConnorSt Patty's Day HatBook 5 has the reader thoroughly enthralled with all things fairies–the little people themselves, fairy rings, fairy trees (Hawthorne tree), and all the lore, fables, tales, and ballyhoo that goes with those unique legends in the Emerald Isle.

Siobhán O’Sullivan is now Garda O’Sullivan, engaged to fellow Garda Macdara Flannery (Dara). Siobhán (shi-vawn) has been a major caregiver for her younger siblings since they were orphaned, now known as the O’Sullivan Six. She and her siblings have managed Naomi’s Bistro since the death of their parents, Siobhán arriving early each morning to bake the cafe’s signature brown bread. Looking forward to some private time with Dara, however, is interrupted when he informs her plans have changed as he got an urgent call from his cousin Jane in Ballysiogdun regarding his aunt. Jane is blind and although an adult was living with her mother. She arrived home from being out of town and quickly realizes her mother is deceased. But it doesn’t “look” natural. Unfortunately, as their district is in Kilbane (County Cork), they can’t officially work the case.

Having no shortage of people who actively disliked his aunt Ellen, it appears the local garda want to zero in on Jane being the most obvious–she can’t, and won’t produce evidence of her whereabouts for time in question. Ellen was extremely abrasive though and they begin to discover some of the reasons she was estranged from Dara’s mother. In this tiny but quaint, quintessential Irish village, the superstitions run rampant. It’s not the first time this cottage has been the location of mysterious deaths–all attributed to it’s being in a fairy path between two fairy rings. So much shared folklore here, fascinating history dating centuries, and attributable supernatural events.

I love the short chapters that allow you to burn through the pages, easily getting in just ONE more chapter before you have to start dinner. The author has a beautiful writing style invoking unusual descriptions (“…shards of sunlight…”) and an easy swing into the next tidbit or clue that naturally leads to the next revelation. Garda O’Sullivan is a pitbull who latches on and won’t let go and she’s smart. It may not be her district, but she eases into the investigation, gradually penetrating guarded secrets.

There is enough here to delight most cozy readers: a great mystery, a touch of romance, family relationships, intelligent dialogue. The well-plotted storyline eases into a conclusion that neatly satisfies the loose threads. While I suspected the perp (and was correct), there was more to the ending than I expected and, in the meantime, provided a delightful literary romp.

I received this digital ebook download from the publisher through NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. A series I look forward to giving me the Irish experience albeit vicariously. Highly recommended.

Book Details:

Genre: International Mystery and Crime
Publisher: Kensington Books

  • ISBN-10:1496719050
  • ISBN-13:978-1496719058
  • ASIN: B07R7RXMKQ
  • Print Length: 304 pages

Publication Date: February 25, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Murder in an Irish Cottage

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

Carlene O'Connor - authorThe Author: Carlene O’Connor comes from a long line of Irish storytellers. Her great-grandmother emigrated from Ireland to America during the Troubles, and the stories have been flowing ever since. Of all the places across the pond she’s wandered, she fell most in love with a walled town in County Limerick and was inspired to create the town of Kilbane, County Cork. Carlene currently divides her time between New York and the Emerald Isle.

http://www.carleneoconnor.com

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Reading Ireland Month 2020 – My List and Cathy’s Not-to-Miss All Things Irish Celebration!

I’m participating in #readingirelandmonth2020 this year (as I did last) and have put together a list of the books I’ll be reviewing along with their links to Amazon.

Reading Ireland 2020

The books may be about Ireland, have an Irish protagonist, or be written either by an Irish author or author with Irish roots. Most books on my list have already been released. We in the States celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with parades, pub specials, and corned beef and cabbage. In “Chicago-land” (of which we are a part), they literally turn the Chicago River green.

Chicago River

Cathy at 746 Books is hosting again this year and you may want to check her website to see her theme schedule. Additionally, she’ll be hosting a giveaway each week and sharing posts on her Facebook page. She has a monster list of 100 books you can peruse and a collection of recommendations. Be sure to use her hashtags #readingirelandmonth20 and #begorrathon20.

Reading Ireland Month

I’ll add in a poem written by my grandfather, Patrick J Rose (aka Stanley McShane) who (as far as we can tell) hailed from Cork along with a link to my favorite Irish podcaster, the Celtfather. So here is my schedule of books so far:

1.      Murder in an Irish Cottage (An Irish Village Mystery Book 5) by Carlene O’Connor – Fairy tale fantasy to be reviewed on Friday, March 6

2.      Sockeye by Michael F Tevlin Literary Fiction will be reviewed on March 8 by the CE.

3.      Irish Car Bomb by Steven Henry (An Erin O’Reilly K-9 Mysteries Book 2) Police Procedurals Review by the CE and me on March 10

4.      When All is Said by Anne Griffin British and Irish Contemporary Fiction Review on Friday, March 13

5.      A Week in Winter by Anne Binchy British and Irish Contemporary Fiction Review on March 15

6.      The Wolf in Winter: A Charlie Parker Thriller by John Connolly Private Investigator Mystery Review on March 17

I’m excited about the books again this year that includes new authors (to me), as well as two I reviewed last year ( Carlene O’Connor and John Connolly).

Have you read any of the above? Which ones? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Chicago River Photo Attribute: NBC Chicago

Treading the Uneven Road by L. M. Brown – a #BookReview

It’s March and I’m participating in the Reading Ireland Month for 2019. This one is a literary fiction by author L M Brown. It is an anthology, short stories of ’80s and ’90s Ireland, Treading the Uneven Road

March!

Treading the Uneven Road by L M BrownTitle: Treading the Uneven Road by L. M. Brown

Genre: Short Stories and Anthologies, Literary Fiction

Publisher: Fomite

  • ISBN-10:194438880X
  • ISBN-13:978-1944388805

Print Length: 208 pages

Publication Date: Happy Release Day! March 15, 2019

Source: Direct author request

Title Link: Treading the Uneven Road

Book Blurb:

The stories in this collection are set 1980’s and 90’s Ireland. A by-pass around a small village has rid the residents of their once busy traffic. They feel forgotten by the world. The need to reach out and be heard is explored in every story, from the young woman who starts to have phone conversations with her husband’s gay lover, to the dyslexic man who confronts his cruel teacher years later and the woman whose dreams are shattered because of a married lover. Treading the Uneven Road introduces us to a society that is unraveling and we cannot help feel for Brown’s characters who need to make a choice on how to carry on. Continue reading “Treading the Uneven Road by L. M. Brown – a #BookReview”