Snow on the Range: A Red Hart Ranch Christmas Novel: a Montana Cowboy Holiday Romance by Sofia Aves – a #BookReview – #holidayfiction

Why aren’t these novels rated X if they contain explicit sex scenes?

 Book Blurb:

Snow on the Range by Sofia AvesEvery Christmas, Red Hart Ranch opens their doors, and Montana provides the perfect backdrop for good company and better food. But this year, the table won’t be as full.

Eve Beaumont is a twin heir to Red Hart Ranch. She loves the land, loves the people, and will do anything for them. Christmas sees most of the ranch hands return to their own homes to celebrate. Only a few long term cowboys remain with the family.

When Eve and her brother Trav go into town to collect supplies, they each bring home a drifter for Christmas. Rhys Archer and Simon Haldon are as different as two cowpokes can be. One rough edged who can work the land and animals with a firm hand; the other a smooth talker with a devilish charm. Eve finds both men attractive against her better judgement, but when tragedy hits the ranch, romance is the last thing on her mind.

Vandalisms happen around the ranch, and Eve isn’t sure who she can trust. She knows neither man is who he pretends to be — but when no one listens to her, she has to prove her suspicions on her own.

My Review:

Still wish there was some kind of content rating for books as there are for movies. I may be among the minority when I say this book was WAY over my censor level for sexual content. I’m not a fan of strong adult or language content and whatever possessed me to download a book in a romance genre is beyond me.

Snow on the Range by Sofia AvesThe blurb tells you there is a plot—but no mystery here—it can’t be more obvious. The main character, Eve, is twenty-five and horny. It’s nearing Christmas and one of the two drifters (not Montana cowboys) they’ve taken in for the holidays is yanking her chain. The other would like to. Ugh.

There are so many contradictions, omissions, edit misses and plot holes, I was constantly trying to “fix” as I went along. Eve is one of a fraternal twin, immature, obnoxious, and did I mention horny? They have a deer ranch—and bison. Huh? And wait—hoping for a white Christmas? The white can happen prior to Halloween up there.

Some of the descriptions of the area pull you in, then throw you right back out with another inconsistency. (“He picked leaves out of my hair.” Yeah, leaves. In December. In Montana.) It’s a tell not show and dialogue is weak. Eve is petulant, scattered, and clumsy. Most characters are one-dimensional, the ranch hands thrown in for elusive background.

The conclusion makes as little sense as most of the rest of the narrative, (it appears to be a vehicle for the graphic sex scene). The whole thing would have benefited from several more editors.

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. These are my honest thoughts. I won’t be reading another.

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Book Details:

Genre: Holiday Fiction, Western Romance
Publisher: Little Quail Press

  • ASIN : B08CVFJZ4Q

Print Length: 212 pages
Publication Date: December 1, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Snow on the Range [Amazon]

Sofia Aves - authorThe Author: Sofia is a romantic suspense author from Brisbane, Australia. She started writing romance when she couldn’t find the books she wanted on the shelves in her local bookstore and became addicted to story telling. She exists on a diet of coffee and champagne and routinely kills her collection of orchids. sofiaaves.com

©2021 V Williams

Mainely Fear (A Goff Langdon Mainely Mystery Book 2) by Matt Cost – A #BookReview – Private Investigator Mysteries

Book Blurb:

“I want you to find out who is responsible for ruining his life and I want them to pay for it.”
Mainely Fear by Matt CostThis is the desire of Latricia Jones as she hires Goff Langdon to investigate her son’s arrest for burglary, vandalism, and possibly hate crimes.
Langdon is a laid back, slacker detective, happy with his work, friends, and way of life in the town of Brunswick, Maine. To complement his income in Brunswick’s scarce private detective market, Langdon also owns and operates a mystery bookstore named after his trusted companion, Coffee Dog.
He was on the fast track to success. And then something happened.
Jamal Jones is an eighteen-year-old rising star attending a post-grad prep school in central Maine to bring his grades up so he can play college basketball at the D1 level. Then he is arrested for crimes that his mother knows he committed, but not why. She’s sure someone has put him up to it, the behavior so unlike him as to be unthinkable, especially since Jamal was on the verge of beginning a better life. Latricia wants Langdon to track down those responsible for her son’s sudden turn from grace, and she wants them to pay.

His Review:

Can a frantic mother get justice and help for her son? A promising basketball career hangs in the balance. But the wisdom of the streets is: keep you mouth shut! Goff Langdon is engaged to “see what you can do for my son.” Always easier when the person you are trying to help actually wants the help.

Mainely Fear by Matt CostCentered in the middle of a Maine ice-storm, Jamal and two of his fellow students are captured with a van full of loot from burgled and vandalized houses. At six feet seven inches his mother can no longer put her son over her knee. This single mother has been working two jobs to keep him in a good prep school and a roof over their heads.

Latricia Jones is at her wits end. All that she had dreamed of, hoped for and worked for was going up in smoke. Can Goff Langdon help her? Why are the burglars being so destructive? Langdon with his group of crony detectives sets out to solve these questions.

Coffee dog is a comic relief character who is everywhere in the story. He will beg or steal from anyone not paying attention. He is also very friendly and engages everyone with a sawmill tail and doleful eyes. The rest of Langdon’s cadre are a very eclectic group of characters. A subplot takes a tragic turn.

Home is not a happy place for Langdon and his wife nor his right-hand person Chabal and her husband. The Langdon family has a young daughter who is the apple of everyone’s eye. This makes for a very difficult decision looming on the horizon.

This story is gripping, has a number of many interesting turns and is a pleasure to read.  I found the book engaging and entertaining. 4.5/5 stars CE Williams (Author request)

Book 3, Mainely Money, is set to release March 2021. Book 1, Mainely Power was reviewed in October of 2020. FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author that in no way influenced this review. These are my honest opinions.

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

Book Details:

Genre: Private Investigator Mysteries, Cozy Animal Mysteries
Publisher: Encircle Publications
ISBN : 1645990966

ASIN : B08KY6KJG2

Print Length: 302 pages
Publication Date: December 4, 2020
Source: Direct author request
Title Link: Mainely Fear [Amazon]
Barnes and Noble

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Matt Cost - author

 

 

The Author: Matt Cost–I write. That’s what I do.

 

 

©2021 CE Williams – V Williams

Tell No One by Harlan Coben – An #Audiobook Review #suspense #TBT

Tell No One by Harlan Coven

Book Blurb:

Critically acclaimed, best-selling author Harlan Coben has won the Shamus, Anthony, and Edgar Awards during his impressive career.

Tell No One by Harlan CobenTell No One is an irresistibly suspenseful thriller infused with nail-biting tension and packed with shocking plot twists. It has been eight years since Dr. David Beck’s wife, Elizabeth, was murdered by a serial killer. When Beck receives a message containing a phrase only Elizabeth should know, he is tormented to tears. Either someone is playing a sick joke, or the wife he’s never stopped loving is still alive. He’s been warned to tell no one, and as the desperation of his search for the truth intensifies, he heads straight toward a deadly secret.

Coben tempers the drama with dashes of sly humor and a cast of unforgettable characters, including a bare-hands assassin, a glamorous plus-size model and a drug dealer with a soft spot for Dr. Beck. Listeners will relish Ed Sala’s exhilarating narration. 

My Review:

Tell No One by Harlan CobenNo, I hadn’t read everything the author has turned out and sure if I did it was years ago—before I started reviewing—but thumbing through the Netflix offerings came across The Stranger his ebook originally published in 2015. Admittedly, I couldn’t find the audiobook in my local well-stocked library, but here was Tell No One (originally published in 2009) and I must say—close enough. There’s a mild case of déjà vu lurking there.

Okay, yes, there is quite the hook and the premise gets you to reading. The novel is fast-paced and the prose engaging. I couldn’t quite get into any of the characters—main (i.e. Dr. David Beck) or the support characters who were all over the place from medical colleagues to partner of his sister to the street thug who rescues him. I must admit, however, to rooting for the street thug to split—while he had the chance.

I don’t know. What was I expecting?

The narrative gets to spinning when Dr. Beck receives an email that almost convinces him that the wife he thought he’d lost eight years ago is still alive. No, he’d never found a replacement, isn’t married, still pining over the soul mate with whom he’d carved momentous occasions on a pine tree. Also, nature being what it is, has unearthed two bodies at the site where the kidnapping and his attack took place and a whole new scenario opens. Hmmm…

Coben heaps it on, adding twists, adding bits of clues concealed as info, adding more characters, explosive scenes, and enough tender scenes between he and Elizabeth that even the most romance addicted YA would begin to gag. There are more questions, but suddenly Beck himself appears to be a POI in his wife’s kidnapping and death. Wait. Is she really dead?

He’s on the lam and amazingly with the help of his street thug buddy evades the dragnet. Oh, I’m telling you, this will get quite a bit more complex and convoluted, stretching into disbelieving territory before it all winds up in conclusion. Even then, this is a tough act to sell and I’m not wholly buying. Yes, lots of suspense building and at this point I was just curious to see how the author was going to pull it all together, but then he didn’t. Not for me. I was kinda bummed.

The Stranger by Harlan CobenSo, now let’s see—The Stranger (Netflix series) has the same kind of harried husband, discovers a devastating secret about his wife, wife disappears; unlikable, unrelatable main and support characters. Unfathomable conclusion leaves you somewhat flat. What? is written across your forehead. Maybe just mine, but I downloaded the ebook and I’ll report back.

Book Details:

Genre: Mysteries, Suspense Thrillers, Kidnapping Thrillers, Serial Killer Thrillers, Murder Thrillers
Publisher:  Recorded Books
Print Length: 396 pages
ASIN: B002SXIF4A
Listening Length: 10 hrs 36 mins
ASIN: B0078IX10I
Narrator: Ed Sala
Audible Release Date: February 13, 2012
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Tell No One [Amazon]

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4 stars

Harlan Coben - authorThe Author: With over 70 million books in print worldwide, Harlan Coben is the #1 New York Times author of thirty one novels including RUN AWAY, FOOL ME ONCE, TELL NO ONE, NO SECOND CHANCE and the renowned Myron Bolitar series. His books are published in 43 languages around the globe.

Harlan is the creator and executive producer for the Netflix television dramas SAFE starring Michael C. Hall, Audrey Fleurot and Amanda Abbington, and THE FIVE starring Tom Cullen and OT Fagbenle. He is currently filming THE STRANGER, based on his novel, for Netflix starring Richard Armitage, Siobhan Finneran, Jennifer Saunders and Stephen Rea. Harlan was also showrunner and executive producer for two French TV mini-series, UNE CHANCE DE TROP (NO SECOND CHANCE) with Alexandra Lamy and JUST UN REGARD (JUST ONE LOOK) with Virginie Ledoyen. KEINE ZWEIT CHANCE, also based on Harlan’s novel, aired in Germany on Sat1.

Harlan’s novel TELL NO ONE (NE LE DIS A PERSONNE) was turned into the renowned French film, directed by Guillaume Canet and starring Francois Cluzet. The movie was the top box office foreign-language film of the year in USA, won the Lumiere (French Golden Globe) for best picture and was nominated for nine Cesars (French Oscar) and won four, including best actor, best director and best music. The movie with subtitles is now available on Netflix, Amazon Prime and DVD/Blu-Ray.

Winner of the Edgar Award, Shamus Award and Anthony Award – the first author to win all three – international bestselling author Harlan Coben’s critically-acclaimed novels have been called “ingenious” (New York Times), “poignant and insightful” (Los Angeles Times), “consistently entertaining” (Houston Chronicle), “superb” (Chicago Tribune) and “must reading” (Philadelphia Inquirer).

In his first books, Coben immersed himself in the exploits of sports agent Myron Bolitar. Critics loved the series, saying, “You race to turn pages…both suspenseful and often surprisingly funny” (People). After seven books Coben wanted to try something different. “I came up with a great idea that simply would not work for Myron,” says Coben. The result was the critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller TELL NO ONE, which became the most decorated thriller of the year. Two books later, Bookspan, recognizing Coben’s broad international appeal, named NO SECOND CHANCE its first ever International Book of the Month in 2003 – the Main Selection in 15 different countries.

Harlan was the first writer in more than a decade to be invited to write fiction for the NEW YORK TIMES op-ed page. His Father’s Day short story, THE KEY TO MY FATHER, appeared June 15, 2003. His essays and columns have appeared in many top publications including the New York Times, Parade Magazine and Bloomberg Views.

Harlan has received an eclectic variety of honors from all over the world. In Paris, he was awarded the prestigious Vermeil Medal of Honor for contributions to culture and society by the Mayor of Paris. He was won the El Premio del Novela Negra RBA in Spain, the Grand Prix de Lectrices in France, and the CWA/ITV3 Bestseller Dagger for favorite crime novelist in England. On the other end of the spectrum, Little League Baseball inducted Harlan into their Hall of Excellence in 2013, and Harlan is also a member of the New England Basketball Hall of Fame from his playing days at Amherst College.

Harlan was born in Newark, New Jersey. He still lives in New Jersey with his wife, Anne Armstrong-Coben MD, a pediatrician, and their four children.

The Narrator: Ed Sala received a master’s degree in playwriting from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va. He’s lived his life primarily as an actor, appearing on and off Broadway, at Carnegie Hall and in movies and episodic television. His plays have been produced from New York City to Melbourne, Australia. He considers himself very lucky to live a life in this business.

©2021 V Williams

Shucked Apart (A Maine Clambake Mystery Book 9) by Barbara Ross – a #BookReview – #cozyculinary mystery #TuesdayBookBlog

Rosepoint Rating: Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

Shucked Apart by Barbara RossThe Snowden Family Clambake Company has a beloved reputation in Busman’s Harbor, Maine. Almost as famous is the sleuthing ability of proprietor Julia Snowden, which is why an oyster farmer seeks her out when she’s in trouble.

When Andie Greatorex is robbed of two buckets of oyster seed worth $35,000, she wonders if somebody’s trying to mussel her out of business. Could it be a rival oyster farmer, a steamed former employee, or a snooty summer resident who objects to her unsightly oyster cages floating on the beautiful Damariscotta River? There’s also a lobsterman who’s worried the farm’s expanding lease will encroach on his territory and Andie’s ex-partner, who may come to regret their split. Before Julia can make much headway in the investigation, Andie turns up dead, stabbed by a shucking knife. Now it’s up to Julia to set a trap for a cold and clammy killer . . .

My Review:

If I can’t be on the left coast for some sumptuous fresh and sweet crab and clams, I’ll tap into the latest novel in the Maine Clambake Mystery series by Barbara Ross and join her on the right coast for some of their world-renown seafood—including oysters and lobsters. YUM! The subject of Book 9. Maybe you aren’t currently an oyster fan, but by the end of this cozy culinary, you’ll be searching for the fastest route to the Damariscotta River and Busman’s Harbor, Maine.

Shucked Apart by Barbara RossThe Snowden Family Clambake Company is gearing up for opening season, and Julie is responsible for finding appropriate seasonal staff when her boyfriend Chris asks her help for a poker buddy who was recently assaulted and her pails of oyster spat (baby oysters) stolen. Yes, it was reported to the police, but they are taking it as an assault and robbery and Andie knows it’s much more than that. First, Julia is a little put off that Chris has not been forthcoming regarding his “poker buddies” but on speaking with Andie, however, she sees a serious oyster farmer who has made for herself a respectable name and reputation as producing quality product.

Whether or not you’re interested in the farming of oysters, this is fascinating stuff and amazing how Ms. Ross weaves in information in Julia’s investigation to pique your interest not only in aquaculture but the history of the area and it’s evolution. And then there is the death of Andie (no accident there). Andie’s expansion plans may have spurred some backlash and there is some competition between the oyster and lobster farmers.

The author describes the area so beautifully, the fishermen so completely, the sights, sounds, and fragrant air plunks you into the middle of her scene. The well-developed characters make you wish you could sit at their table, reliving those fish stories or the best way to care for the upwellers.

In the meantime, the mystery is progressing through red herrings (chuckle) and twists, some too obvious not to be dismissed. Easy to have your own suspicions and the well-plotted and paced narrative progresses without repeated rehashing of salient suspicions.

I’ve had the opportunity of receiving two others in this series, Sealed Off and Stowed Away, both of which I enjoyed, and really these can be read as a standalone, but now I’m off to see if I can find an audiobook. These are atmospheric, engaging, and entertaining and I never come away without learning something.

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. These are my honest opinions. Releasing in February, this one is on pre-order now at your favorite retailer.

Rosepoint Recommended

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Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Craft & Hobby Mysteries, Cozy Culinary Mystery
Publisher: Kensington Books

  • ASIN : B089N3KK89

Print Length: 189 pages
Publication Date: February 23, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

Barbara Ross - authorThe Author:  Barbara Ross is the author of the Maine Clambake Mysteries and the Jane Darrowfield Mysteries. Her books have been nominated for multiple Agatha Awards for Best Contemporary Novel and have won the Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction. She lives in Portland, Maine. Readers can visit her website at http://www.barbararossauthor.com

©2021 V Williams

Cover Reveal for A Side of Murder (A Cape Cod Foodie Mystery) by Amy Pershing #coverreveal #cozymystery


A Side of Murder (A Cape Cod Foodie Mystery)
by Amy Pershing

COMING FEBRUARY 23, 2021

READY . . . 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SET . . . 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

REVEAL . . . 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


A Side of Murder (A Cape Cod Foodie Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Publisher: Berkley (February 23, 2021)
Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
ISBN-10: 0593199146
ISBN-13: 978-0593199145
Digital ASIN: B087PL9HHF

Beautiful Cape Cod, Massachusetts, is known for seafood, sand, surf, and, now…murder.

Samantha Barnes was always a foodie. And when the CIA (that’s the Culinary Institute of America) came calling, she happily traded in Cape Cod for the Big Apple. But then the rising young chef’s clash with another chef (her ex!) boils over and goes viral. So when Sam inherits a house on the Cape and lands a job writing restaurant reviews, it seems like the perfect pairing. What could go wrong? Well, as it turns out, a lot.

The dilapidated house comes with an enormous puppy. Her new boss is, well, bossy. And the town’s harbormaster is none other than her first love. Nonetheless, Sam’s looking forward to reviewing the Bayview Grill—and indeed the seafood chowder is divine. But the body in the pond outside the eatery was not on the menu. Sam is certain this is murder. But as she begins to stir the pot, is she creating a recipe for her own untimely demise?

Pre-order Your Copy Today! 

AmazonB&NKoboGoogle PlayIndieBound

About Amy Pershing 

Amy Pershing is a lifelong mystery lover and wordsmith. She was an editor, a restaurant reviewer, and a journalist before leading employee communications at a global bank. A few years ago (with the final college tuition bill paid), she waved goodbye to Wall Street to write full time (and spend more time sailing on the Cape!). A Side of Murder, the first of the Cape Cod Foodie mysteries, is her debut novel.

 

A SIDE OF MURDER COVER REVEAL PARTICIPANTS

January 18, 2021

Reading Is My SuperPower

Author Elena Taylor’s Blog

The Ninja Librarian

Maureen’s Musings

Moonlight Rendezvous

Christy’s Cozy Corners

Reading, Writing & Stitch-Metic

My Reading Journeys

Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews

Socrates Book Reviews

FUONLYKNEW

Celticlady’s Reviews

I Read What You Write

Rosepoint Publishing

Cozy Up WIth Kathy

Brooke Blogs

The Book’s the Thing

Melina’s Book Blog

Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book

Sapphyria’s Book Reviews

2021 V Williams

The Girl in the Missing Poster by Barbara Copperthwaite – A #BookReview – #psychologicalthriller

Book Blurb:

MISSING – Have you seen this girl? Nineteen-year-old Leila Hawkins was last seen on 24 June, 1994, when she left her parents’ anniversary party early and ran into the stormy night wearing her twin sister Stella’s long red coat. She was never seen again.

The Girl in the Missing Poster by Barbara CopperthwaiteI wrap my arms around the tree trunk, pressing my cheek against it until the bark digs in and the missing poster is finally secured. I try not to look at the photograph on it. At the features so similar to mine. Perhaps this will be the year someone comes forward.

Were crucial mistakes made by detectives from the very beginning?

Could the pressure of living two lives have led my sister to run away – or even end it?

Or did someone in her tight circle of friends and family have reason to want her gone?

Someone out there must know something.

But the last thing I ever expect is a direct response from the person who took Leila. Wracked with guilt and completely alone in the world without the other half of me, I have no choice but to agree to his strange request: private, intimate details of my life in return for answers.

As the final moments of my sister’s life play out before me, I feel closer to her than I ever dreamed I’d be again. So close, it could almost be happening to me. But when I finally realise who is behind this terrifying tragedy, will I make it out alive?

From the bestselling author of The Perfect Friend, this absolutely gripping psychological thriller will keep you up all night and leave you sleeping with the light on. If you loved Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train and The Wife Between Us this book is for you!

His Review:

The Girl in the Missing Poster by Barbara CopperthwaiteHer identical twin sister is missing! The police have investigated for twenty-five years and are no closer to solving the crime than when it first occurred. The younger twin (8 minutes) continues to search for answers. Can the often-touted genetic connection between identical twins help solve the case?

Barbara Copperthwaite weaves a very interesting intrigue involving a young dog whisperer and her male suitors. The ardent attention of the television production companies’ owner as well as her past romances keeps this novel fresh. Suspicion of the various suitors kept me projecting and guessing. Great tactic Ms. Copperthwaite! The ending was certainly not expected although in retrospect it made perfect sense.

I suggest this thriller to everyone who enjoys noir mysteries. The suspense grows at a quick pace only to be exposed as not possible near the end of the chapter. The ending of the book wraps the suspense in a very logical bow. 4 stars – CE Williams

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from publisher through NetGalley. These are my honest opinions.

(Editor’s Note: I previously read two of the author’s works: The Perfect Friend and Her Last Secret. Her novels dip into deep psychological noir, validating the “psychological thriller” definition. They are gripping, immersive, and thoroughly engaging.)

Rosepoint Publishing: Four of Five Stars 4 stars

Book Details:

Genre: Kidnapping Crime Fiction, Women’s Psychological Fiction, Psychological Fiction
Publisher: Bookouture

  • ASIN : B088F26YSF

Print Length: 360 pages
Publication Date: February 23, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Girl in the Missing Poster [Amazon]
Also find the book at these locations:
Barnes and Noble
Kobo
 

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Barbara Copperthwaite - authorThe Author: Barbara [Copperthwaite] is the Amazon, Kobo and USA Today bestselling author of psychological thrillers INVISIBLE, FLOWERS FOR THE DEAD, THE DARKEST LIES, HER LAST SECRET and THE PERFECT FRIEND. Her new book THE GIRL IN THE MISSING POSTER is out on February 23, 2021 – but is available for preorder now!

Her writing career started in journalism, writing for national newspapers and magazines. During a career spanning over twenty years Barbara interviewed the real victims of crime – and also those who have carried those crimes out. She is fascinated by creating realistic, complex characters, and taking them apart before the readers’ eyes in order to discover just how much it takes to push a person over a line.

Her first book, Invisible, was ‘totally gripping, and scarily believable’ according to Bella magazine. Its success was followed by Flowers For The Dead, which was the Sunday Mirror’s Choice Read, beating Lee Child’s latest offering. ‘Will have you looking over your shoulder and under your bed… Original, gripping, with a deep psychological impact,’ their review read.

The Darkest Lies came next, published by Bookouture, and became a USA Today bestseller. The follow-up, Her Last Secret, hit the Number 1 spot on Kobo. The Perfect Friend is a No 1 Kobo and Amazon best seller.

When not writing feverishly at her home in Birmingham, Barbara is often found walking her two dogs, Scamp and Buddy, or hiding behind a camera to take wildlife photographs.

To find out more about Barbara’s novels, go to:
Website: http://www.barbaracopperthwaite.com
Blog: http://www.barbaracopperthwaite.wordpress.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorBarbaraCopperthwaite
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/BCopperthwait
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/barbaracopperthwaite

2021 CE Williams – V Williams

Audiobook Reviews by Bestselling Authors #jdrobb #davidrosenfelt

Audiobooks by bestselling authors

Gotta temper the heavy with the light audiobooks and last week I enjoyed both. Here is a quick summary of Outfoxed released in 2016 by David Rosenfelt and Golden in Death released last February (2020) by JD Robb.

Book Blurb: Golden in Death An Eve Dallas Novel (In Death, Book 50) by JD Robb – In the latest thriller in the number-one New York Times best-selling series, homicide detective Eve Dallas investigates a murder with a mysterious motive – and a terrifying weapon.

Pediatrician Kent Abner received the package on a beautiful April morning. Inside was a cheap trinket, a golden egg that could be opened into two halves. When he pried it apart, highly toxic airborne fumes entered his body – and killed him.

After Eve Dallas calls the hazmat team – and undergoes testing to reassure both her and her husband that she hasn’t been exposed – it’s time to look into Dr. Abner’s past and relationships. Not every victim Eve encounters is an angel, but it seems that Abner came pretty close – though he did ruffle some feathers over the years by taking stands for the weak and defenseless.

While the lab tries to identify the deadly toxin, Eve hunts for the sender. But when someone else dies in the same grisly manner, it becomes clear that she’s dealing with either a madman – or someone who has a hidden and elusive connection to both victims.

My Review:

My first experience with this series and it was an eye-opener. I was astounded to realize this is Book 50. ACK! Fifty of these? Starting in 1995? And this is supposed to take place in 2061? Really! Somehow, I totally missed that.

Golden in Death by JD RobbI love getting into a unique premise and, for me, it was unique and well-plotted and I kept either my earbud or the wifi speaker handy. I can’t speak, obviously, to Eve’s evolving dynamics—her relationship with slobber-worthy Roarke.

You may remember I read Hideaway by Nora Roberts (I’m not sure which is the alter-ego) and found it a little syrupy. This series (and J.D.) alternates between offering slightly lighter scenes of banter or situation to downright serious and deadly scenes punctuated with profanity. While the other, of course, is a romance novel, this one would be classified as a near future police procedural. (Damn—I really never got that they’d progressed much further than they are today.)

The body count begins to escalate while the interviews become more intensive lending a stark tension to the narrative. Eve and her partner Detective Delia Peabody pursue leads, hit a brick wall, go around it, and find another lead. There are twists. It’s complex, compelling, and entertaining. Narration kept interest. The conclusion satisfying.

Recording Details:

Genre: Romantic Suspense, Police Procedural
Publisher:  Macmillan Audio
ASIN: B07QQZW5JL
Listening Length: 13 hrs 50 mins
Narrator: Susan Ericksen
Publication Date: Feb 4, 2020
Source: Local Library
Title Link: Golden in Death [Amazon]
 

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J D Robb - authorThe Author: J.D. ROBB is the pseudonym for #1 New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts. She is the author of over 200 novels, including the futuristic suspense In Death series. There are more than 500 million copies of her books in print.

♥ ♥♥♥♥

 

Book Blurb: Outfoxed by David RosenfeltDefense lawyer Andy Carpenter spends as much time as he can working on his true passion – the Tara Foundation, the dog rescue organization he runs. Lately Andy has been especially involved in a county prison program where inmates help train dogs the Tara Foundation has rescued to make them more adoptable, benefiting both the dogs and the prisoners.

One of the prisoners Andy has been working with is Brian Atkins, who has 18 months left on a five-year term for fraud. Brian has been helping to train Boomer, an adorable fox terrier the Tara Foundation rescued from a neglectful owner. Brian and Boomer are clearly a terrific match. In fact Andy hopes that Brian will adopt Boomer himself, once his sentence is up.

But one day Andy arrives at the prison to discover that Brian has used Boomer to make an ingenious escape, and man and dog are both in the wind. The next day the man on whose testimony Brian was convicted is found murdered. Brian is caught and arrested for the crime, though he forcefully asserts his innocence.

Suddenly Andy finds himself with a new client in Brian and a new dog in Boomer. And as he starts to dig deeper into the murder and the events leading up to it, Andy realizes he might be putting them all in far more danger than anyone had realized.

My Review:

Outfoxed by David RosenfeltNo, I don’t wish to hammer you over the head with books by David Rosenfelt. Really, my major go-to by him is the Andy Carpenter book series.

I have read a number of his other books, but for fun, fast, and fascinating legal two-step courtroom drama, I return to the Andy Carpenter series. They are clean and comfortable with a cast of support characters that seldom vary with the exception of the reason for the current mystery.

Andy is a well to do attorney (not all of it money from his cases), his wife Laurie, son Ricky, Willie, Marcus, and Hike. Each a force of their own. It’s a familiar and winning formula. Andy doesn’t want the case but feels the guy (or gal) is innocent.

Proceed with investigation,

Enter chuckle-producing snarky dialogue,

Continue with investigation,

Get dangerously close to be taken out (enter bad guys),

Continue with LOL moments, snarky dialogue, tongue-in-cheek observations,

Continue to courtroom drama, wring hands over witnesses, documents,

Add sarcastic quips,

Win case, go celebrate. Andy pays.

Did I leave something out? Yes, usually the beginning sets the stage for the plot which always sets a hook, grabs your interest and promises to be highly entertaining. And, of yes, he begins with those same self-deprecating remarks and cheerful scenes to the setting, players, and his two dogs, Tara and Sebastian. It’s not a K-9 series per se—it’s a legal thriller mystery series with a snarky attorney who loves dogs enough to set up a rescue with Willie (see above). The narrator, Grover Gardner, btw, is absolutely perfect. Nails it!

And I never fail to enjoy each and every one, a few of which are listed here: Silent Bite, Muzzled, The Twelve Dogs of Christmas, Rescued.

Recording Details:

Genre: Animal Fiction, Traditional Detective Mysteries
Publisher:  Macmillan Audio
ASIN: B01H5U6F5Q
Listening Length: 7 hrs 18 mins
Narrator:  Grover Gardner
Publication Date: July 19, 2016
Source: Local Library
Title Link: Outfoxed [Amazon]

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

Are you a JD Robb fan? Rosenfelt fan? (I prefer the JD Robb books to the Nora Roberts books—not a romance fan.)

©2021 V Williams

Hunting the Hangman by Howard Linskey – A #BookReview – #warfiction – #TBT

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

Hunting the Hangman by Howard LinskeyWith a plot that echoes The Day of the Jackal and The Eagle Has Landed, Hunting the Hangman is a thrilling tale of courage, resilience and betrayal that reads like a classic World War II thriller. In 1942 two men, trained by the British SOE, parachuted back into their native Czechoslovakia with one sole objective: to kill the man ruling their homeland. Jan Kubis and Josef Gabcik risked everything for their country. Their attempt on Reinhard Heydrich’s life was one of the single most dramatic events of World War II, and had horrific consequences for thousands of innocent people. Heydrich was a man so evil even fellow SS officers referred to him as the “Blond Beast.” In Prague, he was known as the Hangman. Hitler, who dubbed him “The Man with the Iron Heart,” considered Heydrich his heir, and entrusted him with the implementation of the “Final Solution” to the Jewish “problem:” the systematic murder of 11 million people.

His Review:

The Third Reich is in control of the majority of Europe. Nazi general Reinhard Heydrich is the Reich’s Protector of Prague and all of Czechoslovakia; a cold -blooded killer who considers every Czech to be a sub-human. He is considered directly in line to govern if Hitler is killed.

Members of the Czech army in exile, Josef Gabcik and Jan Kubis are being trained to go back into their country and wipe out this menace. Early in 1942 this is a very dangerous mission and is calculated to be almost a suicide endeavor. The odds of returning from the mission are extremely low. These brave men volunteer to give something back to their home country.

Hunting the Hangman by Howard LinskeyThis book shows the efficiency of the German SS and security forces.  The killing and destruction of entire villages is one of their fear tactics. Adapted from some of the tactics of the Romans, the object is to completely remove the village leaving no stone or brick upon another. Follow this up with plowing and removing any detritus and the end result is a bare field where once a thriving village stood.

Training Strategic Operation agents was a brutal and unforgiving exercise. The object was to create someone who would accomplish his/her mission or die trying. There is no excuse when the price of failure is complete physical suffering and then death. Many of the captured were so savagely mutilated that their identity was difficult to establish.

General Heydrich was a methodical, sadistic and egocentric commander. He had no patience for those who could not complete his commands. When Germans were killed by foreign operatives the retribution was sometimes a hundred to one. In some areas entire villages were taken out and killed; men, women and children! No one was left to relate the reason for the entire destruction of the village!

The arrogance and personal feeling of invincibility of General Heydrich was his ultimate undoing. But can the SOE assassins complete the mission and survive? This author has done an excellent job of supplying the answer. The weakest link in any capture of a clandestine operator will often become the undoing of the entire group. This superbly written novel shows the lengths that patriots will go to in order to help attain freedom for their countrymen. I couldn’t stop reading! 5 stars – CE Willliams

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

Book Details:

Genre: Military Historical Fiction, War Fiction
Publisher: No Exit; First Edition
ISBN : 1843449501
ASIN : B088F26YSF
Print Length: 321 pages
Publication Date: May 25, 2017
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Hunting the Hangman [Amazon]

Also find the book at these locations:

Barnes and Noble
Kobo

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Howard Linskey - authorThe Author: [Howard Linskey-Goodreads] A bit about me and my books. I am an author with Penguin Random House. My latest book, ‘Alice Teale Is Missing’ features detectives Beth Winter and Lucas Black, as they work together to investigate the mysterious disappearance of seventeen-year-old-Alice.

I am also the author of a series of books set in the north east of England, featuring journalists Tom Carney & Helen Norton with detective Ian Bradshaw, who all appear in ‘The Chosen Ones’, ‘The Search’, ‘Behind Dead Eyes’ and ‘No Name Lane’.

I don’t only write crime fiction though. My two historical novels are set in WW2. ‘Hunting the Hangman’ tells the true story of the assassination of Nazi General, Reinhard Heydrich, and ‘Ungentlemanly Warfare’ is a novel featuring SOE agents, Harry Walsh and Emma Stirling and OSS agent, Sam Cooper. They are published in the UK (No Exit) and are coming to the US thanks to Kensington Books.

My earlier novels, the David Blake books, have been optioned for TV by Harry Potter producer, David Barron. The Times newspaper voted ‘The Drop’ one of its Top Five Thrillers of the Year and ‘The Damage’ one of its Top Summer Reads. Both books broke into the top five Amazon Kindle chart.

I’m honoured to be the ghost writer of ‘Surviving Hell’ which tells the true story of former Para, Nick Dunn, one of the Chennai Six, who were wrongfully imprisoned in India for years, having committed no crime.

On a far lighter note, I am also the writer behind ‘The Little Book Of Pintfulness’ a mindfulness spoof, which comprehensively proves that life is just better with beer. Please read responsibly.

Prior to becoming a full-time author, I led a series of different lives with a number of jobs, including barman, journalist, catering manager and marketing manager for a celebrity chef, as well as in a variety of sales and account management roles. I can confirm that writing books definitely beats working for a living.

I started writing many moons ago and was first published in the Newcastle United football fanzine, ‘The Mag’. I then became a journalist and wrote for regional newspapers. I have also written for magazines and web sites and was once the English Premier League football correspondent for a Malaysian magazine. I’ve stopped all of that nonsense now, preferring to make up stuff instead and call myself an author.

I’m originally from Ferryhill in County Durham but, like most of the people I grew up with, I left the north east in search of work and never quite made it back. I am now settled in Hertfordshire with my lovely wife Alison and wonderful daughter Erin.

I’m still a long-suffering Newcastle United fan and can only assume that Mike Ashley is a punishment inflicted upon us for all of the crimes we committed in our past lives.

I am represented by the best Literary Agent in the UK, Phil Patterson at Marjacq. Sandra Sawicka looks after my foreign rights there. If you are Brad Pitt and you wish to play David Blake in a movie then Leah Middleton takes care of Film and TV rights:

Marjacq Scripts Ltd
The Space
235 High Holborn
London WC1V 7LE

+44 (0) 20 7935 9499
F +44 (0) 20 7935 9115
enquiries@marjacq.com

©2021 CE Williams – V Williams the CE and I

Silent Voices (Detective Lottie Parker Book 9) by Patricia Gibney – a #BookReview – #policeprocedurals

Book Blurb:

The words blurred as she read the note from the killer. She could feel her blood turning to ice. Shivers ran up and down her spine. ‘Before you make the biggest mistake of your life, meet me. If you don’t, her blood will be on your hands. She is with me. You know where to find us’.

Silent Voices by Patricia GibneyWhen twenty-five-year-old Beth Mullen returns home, expecting to find her twin Rachel waiting for her, the silent house sends a shiver down her spine. She races upstairs to find her beautiful beloved sister cold in her childhood bed, her sparkling blue eyes closed forever, the morning after attending a glittering party…

Newly engaged Detective Lottie Parker knows that Rachel has been murdered the minute she enters the bedroom. Rachel’s neck is bruised and a shard of glass placed in her throat. Confronted with such a horrifying killing, Lottie wastes no time in pursuing every clue.

While interviewing the partygoers, Lottie discovers that Rachel’s handbag and keys are nowhere to be found. But as she is searching for them, a brilliant young doctor is found murdered with glass in her throat. The doctor was nowhere near the party and Lottie is forced to question everything. Two beautiful young women with the world at their feet have been brutally silenced. Why did the killer need them to die?

Desperate to find proof of what really happened to Rachel that night, Lottie gets close to the hostess of the party, whose two daughters were friends with Rachel. But Lottie’s hunt for the truth is getting under the killer’s skin, and when Lottie’s fiancé Boyd goes missing, will she be able to find him before it’s too late? Or will he too be silenced forever?

My Review:

Book 9 finds DI Lottie Parker looking forward to her marriage to DS Mark Boyd in less than a week about the same time as she becomes embroiled in the murder of Rachel Mullen—the victim of rat poison. Rachel had attended a glittering private party in which she’d hoped to network.

Silent Voices by Patricia GibneyIt’s not long after the first that another is murdered with the same horrifying MO. But before the dust really settles, a third victim is found. The investigation launches into extended interviews and an ever-widening pool of possibles. In the meantime, she runs the gamut of both ends of the spectrum of the human experience from the very entitled wealthy to kids living in tenements trying to fend for themselves and whose mother is—somewhere.

The Flemings figure prominently, from the two venomous sisters and their mother who have parted from the mother’s soon to be ex, to Mattie and Ellen found to have a possible link with the murdered women.

The author casts a wide net and varies her chapter focus on the various support characters, alternately developing the young girl as a sympathetic child caught in a miserable home situation to disagreeable Annie Fleming the entitled mother whose only focus is the empire she is busy trying to build. Background has Lottie alternately trying to coordinate with her daughter the wedding plans scheduled for Saturday and apparently nothing from weather to her current cases will cooperate.

Well, okay, once again I’ve jumped in up to my hips of a well established series, this being Book 9 and my first experience with either the series or the author. My initial impression was that it seemed to belabor a few of the characters while continuing to introduce more, muddying the water more than once. I found it to be well-plotted but the premise was pushing the line and I wondered how it was all to be gathered in one net.

Two quibbles—first the conclusion and the detailed discussion how it all laid out. Was the perp suspected? Yes, but too obvious and dismissed. It became so complex as to press into disbelief. Granted—they were damaged…but. Oh, and the use of “they” when it meant an individual. I kept wondering if it were really the two? Currently on pre-order.

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. These are my honest opinions.

Rosepoint Rating: Four Stars 4 stars

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Book Details:

Genre: Serial Killer Thrillers, Police Procedurals, Crime Thrillers
Publisher: Bookouture

  • ASIN : B08KT53KGV

Print Length: 460 pages
Publication Date: To be released February 5, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley 

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

Patricia Gibney - authorThe Author: Patricia [Gibney] lives in the midlands of Ireland. She is an avid crime reader so naturally she found herself writing in the crime genre. A life changing experience in 2009, with the death of her 49 year old husband, meant she had to give up her career, and over the following few years, she rekindled her love of art and writing.

Initially Patricia wrote and illustrated a children’s book, but her real ambition was to write a novel. And she did!

In January 2016, she joined with Ger Nichol of The Book Bureau Literary Agency. In July 2016, Patricia signed with Bookouture for four DI Lottie Parker crime novels.

The Missing Ones (Book 1) published in March 2017 and to date has reached a high of number 2 in Amazon UK Kindle charts and number 6 in the US. It also achieved number 1 in all its categories. It is a bestseller in UK, US, Canada and Australia.

Book 2 in the series, The Stolen Girls, published on July 6th, 2017.
Book 3 in the series, The Lost Child, publishes on October 27th 2017.

©2021 V Williams

Unnatural (Erica Rosen MD Trilogy Book 1) by Deven Greene – A #BookReview – #medicalthriller

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

Unnatural by Deven GreeneDr. Erica Rosen is perplexed when she sees a young Chinese girl with blue eyes in her San Francisco pediatrics clinic. The girl’s mother, Ting, is secretive, and Erica suspects she has entered the country illegally. Later, Erica encounters Ting’s son and discovers he has an unusual mutation. Erica learns that Ting’s children underwent embryonic stem cell gene editing as part of a secret Chinese government-run program.

The Chinese government wants to murder Ting’s son to prevent others from learning about his unusual mutation and the secret gene-editing program. At Ting’s urging, Erica heads to China to expose the program and rescue the infant Ting was forced to leave behind, all while attempting to evade the watchful eye of the Chinese government. 

His Review:

Could world sports dominance be an offshoot of gene manipulation? Deven Greene explores the concept in this spell-binding tale of international intrigue and romance! This book sweeps you away into a world of excessive national pride and the attempt at world domination in the sports’ world. Adolph Hitlers’ attempts at creating world class athletes to dominate the Olympics were tame compared to this tale.

Unnatural by Deven GreeneTing, a diminutive Asian female and her son/daughter Wing Shu are in the room for a physical exam for kindergarten. Dr. Erica Rosen is struck by the impossible; this Chinese child has blue eyes! This is genetically impossible! A lack of any health history or history of vaccinations begins a very engaging tale of genetics, gene manipulation and seemingly science fictional intrigue. Read the first chapter and you are hooked by this book.

Deven has simplified some of the scientific jargon to make it understandable for someone who has not had genetics classes. Gene splicing and correction of DNA (Desoxyribonucleic Acid) family traits that cause diseases or maladies in later life are replaced with gene sequences that do not have these traits! Imagine the way a child would look with more muscle mass, stronger bones, perfect complexion and optimum height and weight. Add a body extremely adept at utilizing oxygen and nutrients. The ability to run long distances without fatigue! The possibilities are endless and mind-blowing!

China is a country with a large system of facial recognition cameras in most major cities and a cadre of police and governmental officials tasked with controlling the population and eliminating dissidents. With technology utilized throughout the country to control the population and their opportunities for advancement, how can a foreigner get into the country and explore the newest technology. A very difficult task indeed for a non-native visitor.

Dr. Rosen undertakes the task of visiting China to find a missing child and unravel the ongoing research into gene technology. Once in country she learns quickly that you cannot trust anyone. People loyal to the communist regime will go to any lengths to protect the technology and states’ secrets. Can a lost child be rescued and the state secrets be unraveled? This read demands time set aside as the action is fast paced, well plotted and very engaging. 5 Stars – CE Williams

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

Book Details:

Genre: Medical Thrillers, Crime Thrillers, Suspense Thrillers, Genetic Engineering Science Fiction eBooks

  • ISBN-10 : 1684336082
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1684336081
  • ASIN : B08Q35H24G

Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Print Length: 292 pages
Publication Date: January 7, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Unnatural [Amazon]
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The Author: Fiction writer Deven Greene lives in the San Francisco Bay area. Ever since childhood, the author has been interested in science. After working as a biochemist, Deven went back to school and became a pathologist. When writing fiction, the author usually incorporates elements of medicine or science. Deven has penned several short stories. Unnatural, Erica Rosen MD Trilogy Book 1 is the first novel the author has published. The two sequels are in the works.

©2021 CE Williams – V Williams the CE and I

The Darkest Thread (The Flint K-9 Search and Rescue Mysteries Book 1) by Jen Blood – a #BookReview – #animalfiction

A buddy read with the CE—do we agree?

Book Blurb:

The Darkest Thread by Jen BloodFor fans of John Connolly, Nevada Barr, and dogs of all shape and size, the first novel in the new Flint K-9 Search and Rescue Mysteries, from the author of the bestselling Erin Solomon Mysteries!

When teenage sisters go missing in the mysterious “Bennington Triangle” of Vermont, an area renowned for its disappearances and strange occurrences over the past hundred years, FBI agent Jack Juarez brings K-9 handler Jamie Flint and her dog Phantom in to assist with the search. When Jack realizes the case shares haunting similarities with the murders of the missing girls’ aunts ten years before, it becomes clear that he and Jamie are dealing with much more than two girls who simply wandered off the beaten path.

My Review:

So enthused to find another good K-9 story, a search and rescue team in Jamie Flint, her GSD Phantom, her son Bear, and his rescue pit bull Casper. The hook at the beginning has them doing a training run in Maine and definitely got my attention and elevated expectations.

Then, she gets a call to travel to Vermont to search the Bennington Triangle for two missing teenage girls. Her son will accompany her along with his young Nigerian immigrant friend Ren and her dog as well as assorted FBI agents, local police and search and rescue. And, for me, at this point, the story goes wonky.

First, a strong paranormal element is introduced—that of her son—and to a lesser degree Jamie, disappointing for me as I thought it was to be a K-9 narrative, telling and teaching about the abilities of our canine partners and their wonderful work. Once they get to Vermont, the storyline brings in the Redfield family. Mercy! That whole family, their history, and the inter-relationships with the FBI launches some hefty disbelief.

There is backstory we’re missing and backstory we get that doesn’t jive with what is going on. Bear is shot and he and Ren taken hostage by Dean Redfield following discovery of the body of one of the girls. It just keeps getting further and further from the K-9 thing with Jamie bull-headedly pushing forward while the dogs are resting. Lots of weirded out characters, ghosts, graphic descriptions of torture, twists and turns.

While it is fairly fast paced, it ventures too far into the supernatural for me in a K-9 story. The lively conclusion pulls most threads together, but still leaves me feeling just a little disappointed. 3.0 Stars – V Williams

His Review:

The Darkest Thread by Jen BloodJen Blood creates engaging mysteries. This one touches on the paranormal and is situated in the mountains of Vermont. The narrative suggests that the mountain folk in Vermont share many traits with the mountain folk of West Virginia.

Jamie Flint has her own search and rescue service in Maine that includes her young son, Bear, and his female companion. The request for their services is on Glastenbury Mountain in Vermont. Two girls who went out for an early morning walk have gone missing. Because of the wild and rugged area on the mountain Jamie and her group have been called in.

The family the girls are related to are not strangers to some of their women going missing. This has been happening since the middle 1940’s. This is where the story gets a little difficult for me to believe.

Jamie and her son have been visited by spirits asking for their help. Because of the events going back generations, this is where the plot darkens. Can the spirits get closure from the services provided by Jamie and her son Bear? More importantly, why haven’t some of the disappearances been solved?

The story includes some interesting historical information about the topography and area around Glastenbury mountain. Seems the native Americans in the area had made some rather interesting cairns lined with limestone rocks. These cairns are not simply water wells, mounds, or monuments. Pre-European settlement makes this fact particularly strange. Many questions arise as to why these people would create the cairns.

The author includes many descriptions of tracking with dogs and the challenges faced by the handlers and the animals. As you read this book, you become very involved in the relationship of the handlers to the dogs. The symbiosis between the two is part of the endearing relationship of dogs to humans.

The FBI and some governmental law enforcement agencies are pointed out as not always the white hat hero types. One of their own is thrown into prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Circumstantial evidence and a questionable judge painted him into a prison cell! The inter-relationship and family ties to the law and the investigation team is also rather strange.

The ending is a bit surprising and again caused me to question the timeline of the entire story. It is well written and entertaining. 3.5 Stars – CE Williams

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

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Book Details:

Genre: Crafts, Hobbies & Home, Pet Dogs, Dog Care
Publisher: Adian Press 
Print Length: 353 pages
Publication Date: October 20, 2016
Title Link(s):  The Darkest Thread [Amazon]

Jen Blood - authorThe Author: Jen Blood is the USA Today-bestselling author of two critically acclaimed, action-packed mystery series: The Erin Solomon Mysteries and the Flint K-9 Search and Rescue Mysteries. Both series feature strong, independent women who dominate in their chosen fields (Erin Solomon as an investigative reporter intent on learning the truth about her own past; Jamie Flint as a single mom, small business owner, and K-9 search and rescue trainer and handler).

In addition to her career as an author, Jen is also a freelance writer and certified dog trainer. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing/Popular Fiction from the University of Southern Maine, is a regular blogger with Maine Crime Writers, and leads workshops throughout New England on writing, editing, and independent publishing.

Jen taps into a background in freelance journalism in the heart of Midcoast Maine to write mysteries rich with atmosphere and action, with great characters, a hint of romance, and plots that will keep you guessing until the last page is turned. Her series has been hailed by critics and readers alike for its sharp wit and well-drawn characters. For more information and to get your free copy of the Jen Blood Starter Library, visit Jen’s website at jenblood.com.

©2021 CE Williams – V Williams the CE and I

TV Netflix Series When Calls the Heart vs Audiobook (Women of the West series Book 11) by Janette Oke #historicalfiction

TV Netflix Series vs Audiobook

The reason you should never say never is because you’ll invariably end up doing it.

You can usually tell (sight unseen) a Hallmark production by the music and the fairytale romance following. I’m not the Hallmark watcher in this family—it’s the CE—and Netflix knows his Hallmark proclivity from the stats that apparently note his selections pretty closely. But this one caught my attention, too, and we’ve been binge-watching again. When I saw that it was originally a Canadian author’s western historical series, I had to go looking for it at my local library to see what they had. They had one audiobook (!!) as well as a number of ebooks and you know I will choose the audiobook. What I discovered was a TV Netflix series loosely based on a bestselling series originally written by author Janette Oke as western religious fiction. 

Netflix Series

Season 2-When Calls the HeartWhen Calls the Heart is a Canadian-American television drama series, one of many we’ve watched and enjoyed lately. It was inspired by Janette Oke’s book from her Canadian West series. Developed by Michael Landon Jr, the series began on the Hallmark Channel in the US on January 11, 2014.

Elizabeth Thatcher (Erin Krakow) is a young teacher from a wealthy family anxious to follow the calling of her heart to teach. She finds herself in a classroom in Coal Valley, a coal-mining town in Western Canada.

The life is tough enough without the mine-disaster that kills Abigail Stanton’s (Lori Loughlin) husband and her only son, along with 45 other miners in an explosion. Trying to get on with their lives, they rename the town Hope Valley. (As most know, Loughlin was involved in the 2019 college admissions bribery scandal and sentenced to two months, her husband five. She was removed from the series in Season 6.)

Universally appealing, gorgeous costumes, themes of loss, love, and growth, redemption. Was supposed to be filmed in Colorado but moved instead to Vancouver, BC. The program creator, Michael Landon Jr does a superior job with his storytelling, pushing engagement.

The series became available internationally on Netflix in August 2017 but will be removed January 24, 2021.

Audiobook-Original Print Series

A Gown of Spanish Lace by Janette OkeA Gown of Spanish Lace: Women of the West, Book 11 (Abridged)
Ariana loves her life as a schoolteacher in a little frontier town. But one evening after classes are done and she prepares to hurry home, her life changes in an instant when a band of rough outlaws abduct her and take her far away from all she has ever known. Trapped in a small shack, Ariana prays and waits, her emotions swinging between terror and boredom as days stretch into weeks. Still, the outlaws refuse to tell her why they’ve taken her or what they plan to do.

Then the boss’ son appears in the doorway of her cabin. He seems different from the others, but can she trust him? Will she ever again see her mother and father, the couple who lovingly adopted her and raised her as their own? Will she ever wear the beautiful wedding dress so carefully saved for her – her one remaining link to her birth parents?

My Thoughts

First, I was unhappy the audiobook was an abridged version. Elizabeth is a schoolteacher in the northwestern territories and in a rather weak plot device to explain her kidnapping, is abducted and taken far away. She is treated as a hostage which gradually relaxes weeks later when the “boss’ son” suddenly takes over her care. In the backstory, it is explained she was adopted after her birth parents were killed in a wagon train raid. Her one remaining link to her birth mother—a wedding dress.

Okay, the son of outlaws—the one who “didn’t fit” (not a beautiful Canadian Monty, resplendent in his iconic uniform). Ariana is deeply religious, praying heavily first to live, then to see her adopted parents, home, and school again. She gradually appears to have feelings for Laramie as he tends to loosen the bonds.

Actually a pretty tame bunch of outlaws, almost caricatures (at least around Ariana—could have been MUCH worse) and having raised Laramie that he could be so different.

It could happen.

There was a heavily religious theme and that of Ariana gradually pulling Laramie into Christianity, amid themes of faith, trust, and forgiveness. Maybe because I had the abridged version, so much detail was missing. The plot line progressed at a nice pace (abridged…remember?), but there were elements of implausibility. Otherwise, very sweet, very clean. Not sure I could start back at Seasons of the Heart, Book 1 though.

Overall Impression

Mercy! At least this one isn’t the shocker that Virgin River turned out to be for me. If anything, it swung in the reverse, a squeaky clean version of western frontier life. But I must vote for the Hallmark version. I love the Mounties (and Jack—why did he have to leave?) Oh…and Elizabeth. Actually, I much prefer the characters in the Hallmark version. Elizabeth (Ariana) is a level-headed intelligent woman extolling moral lessons on her students (Christian principles from the Oke published series without being preachy).

There are two or three “bad” guys who gradually turn to the “good” side. The mining town cleans up to become a lumber (sawmill) town, and as always, there are the busy-body citizens—who can sometimes do good as well.

The storyline is engaging and entertaining, although I’ve noticed a slight change from possible realistic period costumes and hairstyles to dresses of décolleté and hair worn down in curls. (Difficult without a curling iron.) It is a time of change, the turn of the Century, and the Industrial Revolution. Perhaps also a time of some societal confusion, women just beginning to become a force of nature, as well as nurture.

The first seven seasons on Netflix will go bye-bye in January. Season 8 debuts in February on…yeah, the Hallmark Channel. We’ll wait until it hits Netflix.

Book Details

Genre: Western Religious Fiction, Religious Historical Fiction, Christian Westerns
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
ASIN: B005E87WUY
Print Length: 260 pages
Listening Length: 3 hrs 13 mins (Abridged version)
Narrator: Aimee Lilly
Audible Release: April 15, 2016
Publication Date: August 1, 2006
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: A Gown of Spanish Lace [Amazon]

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Janette Oke - authorThe Author: Janette Oke (née Steeves) was born on February 18, 1935 to Fred and Amy Steeves in the family’s log house near Champion, Alberta. Janette Oke pioneered inspirational fiction and is the leading author in the category today. She received the 1992 President’s Award from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association for her significant contribution to Christian fiction, and has been awarded the coveted Gold Medallion Award for fiction. Janette and her husband, Edward, have four grown children and nine grandchildren and make their home in Canada. Most lately she has collaborated on a series with her daughter Laurel Oke Logan. Bethany Fellowship Inc. (now Bethany House) has been Oke’s benefactor and says of Oke, “Oke’s pioneering influence on Christian historical fiction, and Christian fiction as a whole, has lifted her to near-legendary status.”

The Narrator: Aimee Lilly has narrated over 200 audiobooks in a wide variety of genres, most of them for Oasis Audio, including 100 books in the Boxcar Children series. An Earphones Award winner, she has also been nominated for an Audie Award, an Independent Audiobook Award, and a Voice Arts Award.

©2021 V Williams

Info sources: Wikipedia, Hallmark Channel

No Going Back (Sawyer Brooks Book 3) by T R Ragan – A #BookReview – Vigilante Justice Thriller

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5 stars

 Book Blurb:

No Going Back by T R RaganThe biggest story of a crime reporter’s career could be her last as fury, vengeance, and justice collide in this breathtaking thriller by New York Times bestselling author T.R. Ragan.

Some call it murder. Others, karma. The female vigilantes dubbed The Black Wigs call it justice. The victims? Sexual predators who never paid for their sins. For three months, The Black Wigs byline has belonged to Sawyer Brooks, a crime reporter still struggling with her own demons. But for Sawyer, there’s suddenly more to the story than just catching the dark web avengers.

Copycat vigilantes are cornering the unchecked abusers of Sacramento and uploading the men’s abject fear to social media. The trending insanity isn’t making Sawyer’s job any easier. Neither is a new murder—another predator, but one who doesn’t fit so neatly into The Black Wigs’ agenda. Something even more sinister is at play.

As she follows every lead, someone with the answer is following her, determined to bring Sawyer to her knees. Because soon enough, for both Sawyer and a killer, the truth she’s been looking for will be a punishing revelation. 

His Review:

An orphanage with a troubled past and a history of raising unwanted children. Sounds boring unless you remember the bullies in your youth! If so, this book should fill a void in the revenge you wanted as a child. Too small to protect yourself, you were tied up, beaten, abused and there was no one to turn to! T. R. Ragan paints this backdrop with vivid colors and bitter memories.

No Going Back by T R RaganOccasionally girls and ladies will get together to seek revenge for the cruelties foisted on them as young girls. This is one of those tales. Warnings of avoiding fraternity parties and places where young girls are left alone is the backdrop of this saga. Does the end justify the previous crimes committed on these young women? I found myself lacking in sympathy for the perpetrators.

Rape and molestation are often adjudicated by the courts in favor of the rapists. “The girl was asking for it.” However, if the victim is a ten year-old girl and the thugs are teenagers, this is obviously not the case. Four guys lying about the circumstances and a good defense attorney and the crime is thrown out of court.

A group called the “Black Wigs” undertake to right these wrongs. Sawyer Brooks is a reporter for the Sacramento Independent that is an investigative reporter trying to find out who is doing these crimes. She and another reporter are trying to get to the bottom of the case. Bodies are found in old warehouses and other locations in the Sacramento, CA area and a bizarre series of crimes are set into motion.

This well-developed narrative is satisfying in its’ conclusion and tragic in the outcome. I was hoping the police department would solve the murders but had my fingers crossed that the women seeking justice would not get caught. Definitely a near dual personality read. Enjoy this tale and hurrah for the author!

Previously read were two in the Jessie Cole series and Book 2 in this series by the other half. She rated four and one-half stars and five. The link to those reviews indicated by bold below. A solid thriller author we both appreciate and recommend! Currently on pre-order. 5 Stars-CE Williams

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

Book Details:

Genre: Vigilante Justice Thrillers, Psychological Thrillers, Women Sleuths
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

  • ASIN : B088F26YSF

Print Length: 283 pages
Publication Date: To be released May 4, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: No Going Back [Amazon]
Also find the book at this location:
Barnes and Noble

Add to Goodreads 

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

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

Facebook * Twitter * Instagram: @trraganauthor

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

FAITH MCMANN TRILOGY
Furious
Outrage
Wrath

JESSIE COLE SERIES
Her Last Day
Deadly Recall
Deranged
Buried Deep

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

©CE Williams – V Williams the CE and I

The Little Grave: A Completely heart-stopping crime thriller by Carolyn Arnold (Book 1) – a #BookReview – #policeprocedural

Book Blurb:

The Little Grave by Carolyn ArnoldDetective Amanda Steele stops just inside the doorway, recognizing the victim’s face instantly. He seems so vulnerable in death; soft, human, even harmless. But she can never forget the evil he has inflicted. Her heart is hammering as she remembers her precious daughter, with her red curls and infectious laugh, and how she was lowered into that little grave…

It’s been five years since Detective Amanda Steele’s life was derailed in the path of an oncoming drunk driver. The small community of Dumfries, Virginia, may have moved on from the tragic deaths of her husband and daughter, but Amanda cannot. When the driver who killed her family is found murdered in a motel room, she can’t keep away from the case.

Fighting her sergeant to be allowed to work an investigation with such a personal connection to her, Amanda is in a race to prove that she can uncover the truth. But the more she digs into the past of the man who destroyed her future, the more shocking discoveries she makes. And when Amanda finds the link between a silver bracelet in his possession and the brutal unsolved murder of a young exotic dancer, she realizes she’s caught up in something darker than she ever imagined and suspects that more girls could be in danger.

But as Amanda edges toward the truth, she gets closer to a secret as personal as it is deadly. Amanda has stumbled upon a dangerous killer, and she must face some terrible truths in order to catch this killer – and save his next victim as she couldn’t save her own daughter…

A gripping, page-turning thriller full of mystery and suspense. Perfect for fans of Rachel Caine, Lisa Regan and Robert Dugoni.

My Review:

The Little Grave by Carolyn ArnoldFive and one-half years ago, Amanda Steele and her family were in a horrendous auto accident that left her husband and young daughter dead. But her survival left her empty and she distanced herself from her family; any joy (or interest for that matter), in her job as local detective gone. So when she is notified of the discovery of his body in a motel a few days following his release from prison, she feels nothing. Numb. His death won’t bring back her family.

Amanda is a severely damaged protagonist and the book swings heavily in emotion, pounding out the depth of her loss, the long-lasting affects of their demise. Five and one-half years may as well be yesterday—the pain is still raw.

In the meantime, she has learned to satisfy certain basic needs, one of which she’ll now need as her alibi in his obvious murder. The conflict of interest would eliminate her from any investigation, but she is given a satellite cold case and soon the plot spins into a far more complex plot than the murder of the drunk driver who wiped out her family.

Holy Moses, does this thing get complicated! It’s Book 1 and what we know about Amanda is that she is hurting—there is a lot of development yet to happen in what is a promising protagonist with a rookie partner she doesn’t want. He’ll also need fleshing out—Trent’s character appealing from the beginning. The thought processes behind the investigation, interviews, and extended research lightens the atmosphere of a dark plot.

The storyline is well-plotted and paced, but the rehashing of Amanda’s pain demanding constant attention slows the development somewhat, derails the gleaning of new leads, and the narrative repeatedly mires in melancholy.

A good, solid start to a new series that will benefit by additional character building as well as a complete picture of the setting. Not my first experience with the author—having read Past Deeds from another of her series. The author’s writing style is frank, unapologetic, and serious. I’m quite sure Arnold fans will enjoy this new series.

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. These are my honest opinions.

Rosepoint Rating: Three point Five of Five 3 1/2 stars

+Add to Goodreads
Book Details:

Genre: Organized Crime Thrillers, Serial Killer Thrillers, Police Procedurals
Publisher: Bookouture
• ASIN : B08LHBX81D
Print Length: 339 pages
Publication Date: To be released January 11, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Carolyn Arnold - authorThe Author: CAROLYN ARNOLD is an international bestselling and award-winning author, as well as a speaker, teacher, and inspirational mentor. She has several continuing fiction series and has nearly thirty published books. Her genre diversity offers her readers everything from cozy to hard-boiled mysteries, and thrillers to action adventures. Her crime fiction series have been praised by those in law enforcement as being accurate and entertaining. This led to her adopting the trademark: POLICE PROCEDURALS RESPECTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT™.

Carolyn was born in a small town and enjoys spending time outdoors, but she also loves the lights of a big city. Grounded by her roots and lifted by her dreams, her overactive imagination insists that she tell her stories. Her intention is to touch the hearts of millions with her books, to entertain, inspire, and empower.

She currently lives near London, Ontario, Canada with her husband and two beagles.

©2021 V Williams V Williams

Welcome 2021 and Happy New Year to You All! My December Reviews Recap

I am thrilled you are here to celebrate the beginning of a new year and hoping we’ll all see a healthier, virus free-2021.

Good grief but it was a highly unusual year and another fast one (trust me, they do get faster as you get older). I did manage, however, fifteen reviews. If you missed my full review, the links are listed below the pictures.

My book reviews for December:

December Reviews-DecemberThe Giver of Stars

What a Dog Knows

Open for Murder

Hadley and Grace

Fatal Divisions

Fortune and Glory

Runaway Justice

The Highwayman

The Burning Girls

The Keepers

A Tip for the Hangman

The Law of Innocence

A Sugar Plum Christmas

Lie If You Can

Blue Moon

Most of the December reviews were from NetGalley, several audiobooks, and one direct author request. I continue to grab favorites from series—as well as the occasional sample of a standalone. We binge-watched the Netflix series of books written by the author from which the TV series spawned. One of those, the books written by Robyn Carr, The Virgin River series, turned out to be a major shock and I wrote about my discovery, apparently well timed, as it spiked my views over 1,700 one day and almost 1,900 the next. Residual interest in the post has pushed my December views to just over 15.1k. And no one more surprised than I. Apparently the traffic caught the attention of the WordPress people as I now have bunches of little advertisements cropping up everywhere.

Book Review Bloggers

Book Promotion Directory-2021The new issue of the Book Promotion Directory – 2021 Edition – is available now on Amazon. I am included (on page 152) along with 180 amazing book bloggers and 40 book promotion companies in a comprehensive 8 ½ x 11 printed format as well as digital. Check it out at BookBuilders.design.

 

Challenges!

Have I learned my lesson yet? Oh yeah…I’ve dropped a couple and will still go with my favs: Audiobook, Goodreads, Historical Fiction, and NetGalley. I’ll add Reading Ireland as we push closer to March 2021. Several of last year’s hosts are handing off host duties. I’ve added the new graphics for 2021 for Audiobooks and I’ll be adding the 2021 graphics and links as they become available or I can get my act together with Mr. Linky. He and I weren’t on speaking terms for one of the challenges in 2020. Since I pretty much maxed out on Challenges, I’m staying with most challenge levels except for Audiobooks. (Love those.)

AudiobooksGoal achieved. Going for over 20—Binge Listener (The Caffeinated Review has a new co-host and is ready for you to select your goal level and sign up.)

GoodreadsGoal achieved and I’ll be staying with 170.

Historical FictionGoal achieved–staying with 10 books–Renaissance Reader

NetGalley  – Goal achieved—staying with 75. (Now hosted by Socrates’ Book Reviews and we appreciate her taking the helm.) Select your goal level and sign up.

Most reading challenges run from Jan 1 – Dec 31. You can check out my progress by clicking on my Reading Challenges page. Note that I’ve ended up with a cross between the old Classic editor and the new Block editor. Page needs a complete redo—I’ll get to it—some time.

Hoping all my readers have a happy and healthy New Year! And, as always, thank you! I appreciate your follows and comments!

©2021 V Williams

Welcome 2021-Happy New Year

Blue Moon: Jack Reacher, Book 24 by Lee Child – An #Audiobook Review – Thriller & Suspense – #TBT

 

Blue Moon by Lee Child

 

Rosepoint Pub CrawlEditors' pick for Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense 

Book Blurb:

Number one New York Times best seller

Jack Reacher comes to the aid of an elderly couple…and confronts his most dangerous opponents yet.

“Jack Reacher is today’s James Bond, a thriller hero we can’t get enough of.” (Ken Follett)

“This is a random universe”, Reacher says. “Once in a blue moon things turn out just right.”

This isn’t one of those times.

Reacher is on a Greyhound bus, minding his own business, with no particular place to go and all the time in the world to get there. Then, he steps off the bus to help an old man who is obviously just a victim waiting to happen. But you know what they say about good deeds. Now, Reacher wants to make it right.

An elderly couple have made a few well-meaning mistakes, and now they owe big money to some very bad people. One brazen move leads to another, and suddenly Reacher finds himself a wanted man in the middle of a brutal turf war between rival Ukrainian and Albanian gangs.

Reacher has to stay one step ahead of the loan sharks, the thugs, and the assassins. He teams up with a fed-up waitress who knows a little more than she’s letting on, and sets out to take down the powerful and make the greedy pay. It’s a long shot. The odds are against him. But Reacher believes in a certain kind of justice…the kind that comes along once in a blue moon. 

Named one of the Best Books of the Year by Evening Standard 

My Review:

Well, I’ve certainly been here before—swimming upstream. How is this an Editor’s Pick? My first encounter with Child and Jack Reacher.

Blue Moon by Lee ChildWhat I found was that the beginning of the narrative begins with a rather gratifying example of an ex-badass who noted something imminently obvious that he felt needed his intervention.

But then the plot goes totally off the rails. Absolutely no backstory, the old guy, and the reason for Reacher’s intervention, refused to tell him the whole story, which when revealed was, like, uh huh, heard that one before.

In the meantime, Reacher subjects an old couple and a waitress to outrageous danger with the heavy-handed threat of the Ukrainians and Albanians and any other “ians” he can pull out of the hat.

Suddenly, Reacher’s gone extreme quasi-military, vigilante, kill’em all. Didn’t like the answer? Kill’em. Take no prisoners. These are all nasty gang members anyway, huh?

I know little about Reacher and if I had any warm and fuzzies immediately it was just as quickly swept away. All this murder, mayhem, violence, and high body count—I’ve almost forgotten the original reason he wouldn’t just say buh-bye. No developed characters, a blurry undefined town—somewhere—slow pace…step over the body and proceed to the next. Destruction everywhere.

Wait—let’s go back. He was on a Greyhound bus and noted a possible mugging going to happen. Then he continued to pursue the old guy after his rescue. Ad nauseum. Violence for shock value. The plot is lost. The characters lost. The time listening lost.

I know there is a conclusion—I think it is after everyone died—but at some point, and particularly being an audiobook, I could just “turn off” (*click*) the narrative—skip over the ucky parts. I think somewhere in the past Reacher might have been a good guy, an admirable protagonist—that Reacher didn’t make it to Book 24.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery Action Fiction, Action Thriller & Suspense Fiction, Mystery Action and Adventure, Men’s Adventure, War & Military Action Fiction
Publisher:  Random House Audio
ASIN: B07QYWMKVJ
ASIN : B07NCNVZ5P
Print Length: 377 pages
Listening Length: 11 hrs 21 mins
Narrator: Scott Brick
Publication Date: October 29, 2019
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Blue Moon [Amazon]

Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint Publishing:  Two point Five of Five Stars Two and one-half Stars

Lee Child - authorThe Author: Lee Child is one of the world’s leading thriller writers. He was born in Coventry, raised in Birmingham, and now lives in New York. It is said one of his novels featuring his hero Jack Reacher is sold somewhere in the world every nine seconds. His books consistently achieve the number-one slot on bestseller lists around the world and have sold over one hundred million copies. Two blockbusting Jack Reacher movies have been made so far. He is the recipient of many awards, most recently Author of the Year at the 2019 British Book Awards. He was appointed CBE in the 2019 Queen’s Birthday Honours.

The Narrator: In 1999, (Scott) Brick began narrating audiobooks and found himself a popular choice for top publishers and authors. After recording some 250 titles in five years, AudioFile magazine named Brick “one of the fastest-rising stars in the audiobook galaxy”, and proclaimed him a “Golden Voice”, a reputation solidified by a November 2004 article on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. Publishers Weekly then went on to honor Brick as Narrator of the Year in 2007 and 2011. To date, he has won over 50 Earphone Awards, two Audie Awards and a nomination for a Grammy Award.

©2020 V Williams V Williams-Christmas hat

Welcome 2021

My Twelve (Twenty) 5 Star Books of 2020 – Including Your Favorite!

My Twelve (Twenty) 5 Star  Books of 2020

It’s been an incredible year for some great books, both mine and the CE’s. However, since he tends to be a bit heavy in stars, the following will be a short compilation of my favorite five star rated books, admittedly a few authors more than once. While any book four stars or more are recommend worthy, I am going for those I feel the wider audience would truly enjoy—and it was impossible difficult to narrow the list down to only those books that stand out.

The range of genre covers fiction in categories from action adventures and cozy mysteries to family drama, historical, suspense, and thrillers in audiobooks and digital formats.

These are the big twelve out of the twenty most memorable with a shout out going to The Bookwoman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson because while I loved the book, had a few quibbles that knocked it off the top rung. These are listed in no particular order and linked to my review. 

The Lost Boys of London by Mary LawrenceThe Lost Boys of London by Mary Lawrence – This narrative retains that high standard of Renaissance fascination with the waning days of King Henry VIII and the upheaval in the deeply dividing controversy of church and state.

The Wolf in Winter by John ConnollyThe Wolf in Winter by John Connolly – One of the Charlie Parker series, the pace is frightening, barely ending one hair-raising, thought-provoking scene before it careens into the next.

Murder in the Bayou Boneyard by Ellen ByronMurder in the Bayou Boneyard by Ellen Byron –I thoroughly enjoy the sense of humor this author brings to her storytelling…with fully developed characters alive with Southern hospitality personality.

The Last Agent by Robert DugoniThe Last Agent by Robert Dugoni – Put it down? NOPE! The Last Agent is absolutely riveting from mesmerizing beginning to jaw-dropping conclusion. Brilliant!

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia OwensWhere the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owen – 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. The shocking conclusion caused a bonafide Book Hangover. For me, some five star rated books can cause that malady, while others may still qualify five stars without the accompanying downtime.)

Beneath a Blazing Sky by Amanda HughesBeneath a Blazing Sky by Amanda Hughes – I’ve followed the Bold Women series for some time and am always astonished at the unsung women and stories the author manages to pull together to create her strong female protagonists…Ms Hughes is an amazing storyteller with an easy emotive writing style…

The Incredible Key West-Caribbean Race by Michael Reisig - The Ultimate Scavenger HuntThe Incredible Key West-Caribbean Race by Michael Reisig – Another of my favorite authors who outdid himself thistime with a completely unique Key West-Caribbean action-adventure. Riveting and unputdownable!

 

Muzzled by David RosenfeltMuzzled by David Rosenfelt – Part of the Andy Carpenter series, Andy’s first love is his dog rescue, the Tara Foundation. I’ve burned through a mix of uncorrected digital galleys from NetGalley (including this one), ebooks and audiobooks from the library, and have a particular affinity for the audiobooks narrated by Grover Cleveland. Always terrific. 

Murder Ballad Blues - a Mystery Novel - Lynda McDanielMurder Ballad Blues by Lynda McDaniel –The author skillfully assumes the dialect of the Appalachians, that particular form of speech, and seamlessly added the Cockney of a visiting Englishman.

 

Leave No Trace by Sara DriscollLeave No Trace by Sara Driscoll – Releasing late December, I couldn’t resist getting a jump of one of my favorite series about the awesome dogs and their handlers who work so effectively with law enforcement.

 

What a Dog Knows by Susan WilsonWhat a Dog Knows by Susan Wilson – The storyline grows in complexity as it does in emotion, wisdom, and tension. The harder her resistance, the easier to break—now she has too much in to walk away and all roads seem to lead back.

 

Hadley & Grace by Suzanne RedfearnHadley and Grace by Suzanne Redfearn*The characters are so well developed. Concern grows for each of them with every page turn. Your heart sinks with each new development and the pages are now turning themselves.

 

Irish Car Bomb by Steven Henry

In An Instant by Suzanne Redfearn

Hawthorn Woods by Patrick Canning

The Secret of Rosalita Flats by Tim Jackson

In Her Tracks by Robert Dugoni*

The Pearl of York, Treason and Plot by Tony Morgan

Hanging Falls by Margaret Mizushima

The Highwayman by Craig Johnson (or anything in the Longmire series) – The TV Netflix version with the Longmire books by Craig Johnson here

I’ve continued to whittle away at some of my favorite series, many times choosing an audiobook.

Did I turn you on to a new author? Which ones have you read? Did you love it?  I’d love your comments!

* Represents a second book by the same author in the same year.

©2020 V Williams V Williams-Christmas hat

Lie If You Can: A Mystery of the Mind Novel by Greg Peterson – A #BookReview – Neuroscience

Book Blurb:

Lie If You Can by Greg PetersonJulie Swanson is a single, hardworking professor, admired by her University of Minnesota students. She awakes in a hospital following a brutal beating and begins to experience strange déjà vu-like sensations. She seeks answers from renown neuroscientist Karl Undset who compares her unusual episodes to a well-established scientific condition known as dual processing. Her injury has resulted in a new ability to sense elevated autonomic indicators present in certain voice patterns, those that change under stress. She’s processing these indicators in the same way a polygraph detects elevated levels of blood pressure, skin conductivity, and heart rate. Julie, in effect, has become a lie detector. She and her brain surgeon become romantically involved and together they devise a plan to use her ‘sixth sense’ to find her attacker.

His Review:

Julie returns home from teaching her class at the university. Bending into her car she grabs for her purse and tennis racket. That is the last thing she can recall before waking in a hospital room. Doctor Art Tyler is asking how she feels. The answer is evident by the terrible bruising and abrasions on her head and face. She has no idea how it happened.

A good Samaritan neighbor called the ambulance which rushed Julie to the hospital. Without the call it would have become a murder investigation instead of a follow-up to a brutal mugging. Police get involved and are helpful but their case load is heavy and an assault is not highest on their priority list. As the investigation proceeds the case quickly is relegated to a back burner. The prospect for a satisfactory outcome looks dim.

Lie If You Can by Greg PetersonThis is how Greg Peterson opens this novel. Muggings and brutal attacks often come out of the blue with no warning. One does not usually expect this in your own driveway. Trauma often causes amnesia and Julie is its’ victim. Trying to expose the reason takes an extreme effort, but the loss of her memory is not the only change, and both she and Dr. Tyler gradually become aware of another interesting neuro-change.

Julie and Dr. Tyler have an attractive chemistry but having a doctor/patient relationship keeps the relationship at arms’ length. The author does an admirable job of building the sexual tension between the two. During the investigation there is also a continuing angst that is fun to follow.

The investigation itself is a great parallel plot in this story. The doctor and patient take some of the investigation into their own hands. A drug dealer enters the picture and begins to look like a very viable suspect. Can the duo get to the bottom of a very brutal attack in Julie’s own drive-way?

The relationship grows between the doctor and Julie as the two work together and the sexual tension between the two increases. The doctor moves in slow motion despite the fact there is obviously an attraction between them. As a reader I wanted to be able to step up and slap him alongside the head. Wake-up doc! However, I do not want to give a spoiler to this well-crafted novel.

The novel reached a mid-point but not a full conclusion. I hoped their relationship would continue to grow satisfactorily, but it seems this may have ended rather abruptly. The outcome is satisfying and aggravating at the same time. I previously read Newgate’s Knocker, the author’s debut novel. While well-plotted and paced, his sophomore novel didn’t quite complete the storyline for me. 4.5/5 stars – CE Williams

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

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

Book Details:

Genre: Neuroscience, Occult Unexplained Mysteries
ASIN : B08QLXLZML
Print Length: 219 pages
Publication Date: December 13, 2020
Source: Direct author request
Title Link: Lie If You Can [Amazon]

 

Add to Goodreads

 

Greg W Peterson - author - Newgate's KnockerThe Author: Greg Peterson is a prior naval aviator, commercial airline pilot, and air traffic control specialist. He holds nearly every fixed wing flight certificate available and is a certified ground and instrument instructor. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering Technology from St. Cloud State University in Minnesota.

Although Mr. Peterson has been published in a number of professional magazines. “Newgate’s Knocker” is his first full-length novel. The story is fictional, however you may find it interesting that the historical background of the main character, Mac Macintyre is based on Mr. Peterson’s real life, and most of the aviation sequences are also taken from his flying experiences.

Greg Peterson is certified in seven different categories by the International Code Council and has owned and operated a professional residential home inspection company since 1999. His home inspection report supplement provides a comprehensive explanation of many common concerns reported in most home inspections. His home inspection supplement, “Your Home Inspected-An Addendum For Residential Home Inspection Reports” can be purchased in Kindle, paperback or CD form. He can be contacted by email at: gregpeterson@comcast.net

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams-Christmas hat

A Sugar Plum Christmas by Susan Hatler – a #BookReview – Christmas Mountain Clean Romance Book 8

A Sugar Plum Christmas by Susan Hatler

Book Blurb:

City girl and former foster child Lacey Lane arrives in Christmas Mountain to do research for a hit reality dating show she produces. If the location gets approved for filming then she’ll receive a bonus that will allow her to buy her own house–a forever home after a lifetime of moving from place to place.

Jacob Curtis is a small-town guy who doesn’t want his hometown exploited for ratings. Lacey might think he’s her tour guide, showing her all the best places to film her show, but he has a different agenda: show her all the reasons the town wouldn’t appeal to her TV audience.

Lacey catches on quickly to Jacob’s goal to undermine her research and soon they’re engaging in a dance that takes them from one end of Christmas Mountain to the other. Before long, she’s charmed by the town and its people, including Jacob, who is funny, heartfelt, and honest. For once in her life, she’s slowing down long enough to focus on things other than her career.

But when it’s clear Lacey and Jacob have developed feelings for one another, Lacey is torn. Regardless of where the show is filmed, will she return to the city to buy her dream house? Or will she stay in Christmas Mountain and make a home with the man of her dreams?

My Review:

Looking for a quick little Christmas read, I stumbled upon this holiday romance, rom-com. Before you start rolling your eyes at me, no, I didn’t realize it would be quite so saccharine, but there is a plot and all the cliques you’d expect.

A Sugar Plum Christmas by Susan HatlerPopular right now to introduce the main character as a foster child, fiercely independent, unattached and staying that way. She is excited about her scouting trip to beautiful little Christmas Mountain to find the sites and scene settings for their fourth season of her reality romance TV show series.

Descriptions of the little town and the friendly people certainly bring that small home town nostalgia to focus, imagining the little shops, their decorations, and lights. Meeting the townspeople, contending with the temperatures and snow and learning about their traditions is sweet.

Of course it wouldn’t be complete unless she stumbled, literally, into the fella who’ll become the romantic interest. And actually, seems she stumbles quite often. Clumsy. He’s gorgeous, unattached, and talented with his wooden projects, loves his family and his small town.

Totally enjoyed the interruption to the love fest when the boss from New York showed up. All right! A little conflict! (As if a cross country romance isn’t conflict enough.)

My first romp with the series and the author. Those who are fans of small town romances will greatly enjoy and those like myself will have no problem reading as a standalone.

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

Add to Goodreads

Book Details:

Genre: Fiction Classics, Holiday Fiction, Holiday Romance
Publisher: Hatco Publishing

  • ASIN : B07XYK2HS1

Print Length: 210 pages
Publication Date: December 14, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link(s): A Sugar Plum Christmas [Amazon]

Susan Hatler - authorThe Author: SUSAN HATLER is a New York Times and USA TODAY Bestselling Author, who writes humorous and emotional contemporary romance and young adult novels. Many of Susan’s books have been translated into German, Spanish, French, and Italian. A natural optimist, she believes life is amazing, people are fascinating, and imagination is endless. She loves spending time with her characters and hopes you do, too.

***** To receive a FREE BOOK, click the following link now to sign up for Susan’s Newsletter: http://susanhatler.com/newsletter *****

You can reach Susan here:

Facebook: http://facebook.com/authorsusanhatler
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/susanhatler
Twitter: http://twitter.com/susanhatler
Website: http://susanhatler.com
Blog: http://susanhatler.com/category/susans-blog

©2020 V Williams V Williams-Christmas hat

Merry Christmas and Thank You!

The Law of Innocence by Michael Connelly – A Lincoln Lawyer Novel – An #Audiobook Review – #legalthrillers – (Mickey Haller #6)

The Law of Innocence by Michael Connelly

Book Blurb:

Lincoln Lawyer Mickey Haller must defend himself against murder charges in the heartstopping new thriller from number one New York Times best-selling author Michael Connelly.

Defense attorney Mickey Haller is pulled over by police, who find the body of a client in the trunk of his Lincoln. Haller is charged with murder and can’t make the exorbitant $5 million bail slapped on him by a vindictive judge. 

Mickey elects to defend himself and must strategize and build his defense from his jail cell in the Twin Towers Correctional Center in downtown Los Angeles, all the while looking over his shoulder – as an officer of the court he is an instant target. 

Mickey knows he’s been framed. Now, with the help of his trusted team, he has to figure out who has plotted to destroy his life and why. Then he has to go before a judge and jury and prove his innocence.

In his highest stakes case yet, Mickey Haller fights for his life and shows why he is “a worthy colleague of Atticus Finch…in the front of the pack in the legal thriller game” (Los Angeles Times).

My Review:

Uh…ok. This is me, being at a loss for words. It happens.

This is an author I’ve heard or read about for some time and noting the audiobook available thought finally I’d have the opportunity to discover what the fuss was about. Maybe I picked the wrong one.

The Law of Innocence by Michael ConnellyI do enjoy legal thrillers and this had no small amount of legal battle both in and out of the courtroom. The maneuvering, crafting, and animosity between legal teams and judges eye-opening and about as fair as I’ve long thought it to be.

In this entry to the series, Mickey Haller is picked up after leaving a celebration with his defense team. The body in the trunk of his Lincoln means he won’t make it home that night or many nights that follow. He’s charged with murder—yeah—he didn’t do it.

He’s an attorney of no small reputation and he’ll defend himself, but it would appear the prosecutor has an air-tight case. (Come on—did that really make sense? Not to me.) Still he has a considerable team behind him, including his half-brother Harry Bosch of the Bosch series fame (of whom I’m also ignorant), Cisco, Jennifer (who splits half-way into it), Lorna and Maggie. My first venture into a Connelly book.

Of course, he’s in lock up, which means he really needs to watch his back and procure “protection.” How to prepare for trial in lock-up? And I must admit that if I were on the jury, I’d take an instant dislike to him—at least then I wouldn’t have to be there long. I found him arrogant and narcissistic. A people user. (Kindle was fun for awhile, but Maggie is the real deal.) The speedy trial thing—big debate. The plot gets ever more complex the deeper they get into the investigation. If he’s to be declared innocent—they’ll have to find the one who is guilty. But that doesn’t happen.

“…to prove true innocence, the guilty man must be found and exposed to the world…”

So, if it’s obvious he was framed, who is behind it? Guess we’ll never know. I also had a few other problems. The motive is pretty thin.  A successful and well to do attorney killing for a $75k legal debt then driving around in the car in which he dumped the body? Not buying it.

What in the world was with the prosecutor? Always dripping animosity.

And all that work, all that investigation, taking two steps forward and one back, then one forward and two back—no head way. Even when he was trying to thank those who wanted to help, he came off as insincere.

The narrative in first person started following the CoVid flight into the country and then Connelly got all political, naming names with his opinions—wha??? And the Feds got involved and suddenly they are willing to drop the charges and the whole thing goes bye-bye. Huh? Did I miss something? What just happened?

The courtroom scenes? Yeah, I do love me some good courtroom drama. It’s that little courtroom dance I’ve alluded to previously thinking of Richard Gere in “Chicago.” And most of those scenes kept me engaged. It’s entertaining when it isn’t annoying. Otherwise, if you can point out a Connelly book that better exemplifies the author or this series, I’ll hear your recommendations. Have you read/listened to this one?

The Law of Innocence by Michael Connelly

Book Details:

Genre: City Life Fiction, Urban Fiction, Legal Thrillers
Publisher:  Little, Brown & Company
ASIN: B088KQXXDL
Print Length: 433 pages

  • ASIN : B0852ZXJSD

Listening Length: 12 hrs 27 mins
Narrator: Peter Giles
Publication Date: November 10, 2020
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Law of Innocence [Amazon]

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Michael Connelly - authorThe Author: Michael Connelly is the bestselling author of over thirty novels and one work of nonfiction. With over eighty million copies of his books sold worldwide and translated into forty foreign languages, he is one of the most successful writers working today. A former newspaper reporter who worked the crime beat at the Los Angeles Times and the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, Connelly has won numerous awards for his journalism and his fiction. His very first novel, The Black Echo, won the prestigious Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award for Best First Novel in 1992. In 2002, Clint Eastwood directed and starred in the movie adaptation of Connelly’s 1998 novel, Blood Work. In March 2011, the movie adaptation of his #1 bestselling novel, The Lincoln Lawyer, hit theaters worldwide starring Matthew McConaughey as Mickey Haller. His most recent New York Times bestsellers include Fair Warning, The Night Fire, Dark Sacred Night, The Late Show, Two Kinds Of Truth, The Late Show, The Wrong Side Of Goodbye, The Crossing, The Burning Room, The Gods of Guilt, The Black Box, and The Drop. Michael is the executive producer of BOSCH, an Amazon Studios original drama series based on his bestselling character Harry Bosch, starring Titus Welliver and streaming on Amazon Prime. He is also the executive producer of the documentary films, SOUND OF REDEMPTION: The Frank Morgan Story and Tales Of the American. He spends his time in California and Florida.

The Narrator: Peter Giles is an actor and voice-over artist originally from Vancouver, Canada. His credits as an actor include The Life & Times of Tim, Portlandia, and Man Seeking Woman. Jack McEvoy is at the end of the line as a crime reporter.

©2020 V Williams V Williams-Christmas hat

A Tip for the Hangman: a Novel by Allison Epstein – A #BookReview – Assassination Thrillers

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5 stars 

Book Blurb:

Christopher Marlowe, a brilliant aspiring playwright, is pulled into the duplicitous world of international espionage on behalf of Queen Elizabeth I. A many-layered historical thriller combining state secrets, intrigue, and romance.

A Trip for the Hangman by Allison EpsteinEngland, 1585. In Kit Marlowe’s last year at Cambridge, he receives an unexpected visitor: Queen Elizabeth’s spymaster, who has come with an unorthodox career opportunity. Her Majesty’s spies are in need of new recruits, and Kit’s flexible moral compass has drawn their attention. Kit, a scholarship student without money or prospects, accepts the offer, and after his training the game is on. Kit is dispatched to the chilly manor where Mary, Queen of Scots is under house arrest, to act as a servant in her household and keep his ear to the ground for a Catholic plot to put Mary on the throne.

While observing Mary, Kit learns more than he bargained for. The ripple effects of his service to the Crown are far-reaching and leave Kit a changed man. But there are benefits as well. The salary he earns through his spywork allows him to mount his first play, and over the following years, he becomes the toast of London’s raucous theater scene. But when Kit finds himself reluctantly drawn back into the uncertain world of espionage, conspiracy, and high treason, he realizes everything he’s worked so hard to attain–including the trust of the man he loves–could vanish before his very eyes.

Pairing modern language with period detail, Allison Epstein brings Elizabeth’s privy council, Marlowe’s lovable theater troupe, and the squalor of sixteenth-century London to vivid, teeming life as Kit wends his way behind the scenes of some of Tudor history’s most memorable moments. At the center of the action is Kit himself–an irrepressible, irreverent force of nature. Thrillingly written, full of poetry and danger, A Tip for the Hangman brings an unforgettable protagonist to new life, and makes a centuries-old story feel utterly contemporary.

His Review:

Christopher (Kit) Marlowe lived in a time of great intrigue and strife. The throne of England was contested by Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth the First. These cousins both had genealogical claims to the throne. A cobblers’ son attending Cambridge irritated those of means. Intelligence should have not have been the sole criterion for admittance to this austere college and certainly not with a scholarship to afford the tuition.

A Tip for the Hangman by Allison EpsteinKit had another problem, a lack of total subservience to the aristocracy. His humble beginnings were always a thorn of contention and a spear of disdain. As Kit is finishing his Masters’ he is approached by one of the heads of Queen Elizabeth’s spy service. His task was to unravel an intricate series of messages between Mary Queen of Scots and her supporters. Kit had shown himself very adept at breaking foreign syphers.

Christopher Marlowe is also a very prolific playwright. He is thrust into the under-belly of London society to uncover plots against the Queen. Tangled webs of deceit and subterfuge complicate his life and endanger him wherever he goes. Forces beyond his control continue to press him to decipher and expose the potential usurper to the throne. Getting into the good graces and trust of Queen Mary is one of his assignments. He succeeds and Mary is exposed and beheaded.

Kit’s life is complicated by his love for another man, Tom Watson. Love like most other vices tends to skew a persons’ logic. Rather than escape a very dangerous situation love draws them back like a moth to a flame. Others within the Queen’s cadre of spies all vie for the control and top of the heap. Poisonings and daggers in the middle of the night are often the reward for hard and diligent work.

This author has pulled together a very believable narrative with predictable ends. Caring for Kit and his relationships are destroyed by the expectation of the outcome of his labors. The beheading of Mary Queen of Scots and the deaths of many of the spymasters begin to point towards a tragic conclusion. Once one begins to read the book you must see it through to its’ conclusion.

I recommend this book to any history buff. The narrative paints a very pathetic picture of England during the latter part of the sixteenth century. The smells and the religious turmoil caused by a king who wanted to divorce his wife are sad. Beheadings are a common occurrence and hanging is rampant. It is textbook for reasons that people immigrated from the old world to the new world. Enjoy! 5 stars – C.E. Williams

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from NetGalley. These are my honest thoughts. Currently on pre-order.

Book Details:

Genre: Assassination Thrillers, Historical Thrillers
Publisher: Doubleday

  • ASIN : B088F26YSF

Print Length: 384 pages
Publication Date: To be released February 9, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: A Tip for the Hangman
Also find the book at these locations:
Barnes and Noble
Kobo

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Allison Epstein - authorThe Author: Allison Epstein is a Michigan native, current Chicagoan, and hopefully someday the owner of a New England lighthouse. She holds an MFA in fiction from Northwestern University and a BA in creative writing from the University of Michigan. Allison works as a marketing copywriter at an agency serving not-for-profit clients. Two of her greatest joys in life are Broadway musicals and puns that get her thrown out of the group chat.

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams-Christmas hat

The Keepers: A Mystery (Mace Reid K-9 Mystery Book 2) by Jeffrey B Burton – a #BookReview – #animalfiction

“I love a dog. He does nothing for political reasons.” – Will Rogers

Book Blurb:

The Keepers by Jeffrey B BurtonJeffrey B. Burton’s The Keepers is the next installment of the Mace Reid K9 series, featuring golden retriever cadaver dog Vira and her handler, Mason Reid.

Mason “Mace” Reid lives on the outskirts of Chicago and specializes in human remains detection—that is, he trains dogs to hunt for dead bodies. He calls his pack of cadaver dogs The Finders, and his prize pupil is a golden retriever named Vira.

When Mace Reid and Vira are called in to search Washington Park at three o’clock in the morning, what they find has them running for their very lives. The trail of murder and mayhem Mace and CPD Officer Kippy Gimm have been following leads them to uncover treachery and corruption at the highest level, and their discoveries do not bode well for them . . . nor for the Windy City itself.

The Keepers is an exciting, fast-paced mystery filled with courageous dogs you’ll want to root for.

My Review:

Progagonist Mace Reid lives near Chicago and specializes in training cadaver dogs. Human Remains Detection. His alpha right now is a golden retriever he named Elvira—Vira for short. He is often called to Chicago for searches and that is what brought him to Washington Park in the middle of the night. (Living near Chicago and still finding it a fascinating city with such a reputation for dishonest government, and finding these books are loaded with smart, intuitive dogs pulls me in. This series doesn’t disappoint.)

“Many question whether ours is a city that can be saved. Others question whether it deserves to be.”

“…you either run Chicago…or Chicago runs you.”

I actually got to start with Book 1, The Finders, and was hooked immediately. Main characters and support characters alike, including the canine variety, all have well developed three-dimensional personalities. I love Vira, but still feel bad about Sam (Samantha—a GSD) from Book 1, now recuperating from injuries. And, by-the-way, this could function fine as a standalone, you’ll get info along the way that will catch you up if you missed Book 1.

The Keepers by Jeffrey B BurtonNot too much “cozy” (in the classic genre sense) about this cozy animal mystery—it’s a solid, hard-hitting action thriller from the first chapter. These are well-plotted and fast-paced narratives. Mace is not your ideal hero—he’s divorced, drinks some, swears, and tends to vomit when extremely scared. Not damaged—just not Superman material—but he loves his dogs. Five of them. Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, “Must love dogs.” His new “just friends only” girl is CPD officer Kippy Gimm.

“There is honor in being a dog.” – Aristotle

The thing is, Vira is “gifted.” Or perhaps Mace is just so well tuned in to his alpha now, he knows when she is signaling more than just a dead body. Vira is also very protective. Which is good, because Mace and Kippy quickly get in well over their heads in this one with the systemic corruption of the government providing a powerful catalyst to flee the Windy City. NOW!

A complex two-level plot, the first of which is put to bed fairly easily while the second simmers into an explosive boil. I like that the dogs aren’t just background—their training and senses are explored and explained. Their specialized talents clarified and they have jobs to do and do them.  

This entry to the series is hard-hitting, serious, and at times raw, profane, with eye-popping comprehension. There are murders, description of torture, and language. There is some weakness in Mace this time that I don’t remember in the first book. He is now more likely “every” man—real, sometimes self-deprecating, sometimes exhibiting a sense of humor. But he is definitely emerging as a real person. Sometimes I like him—sometimes I don’t. But I do love those dogs and my heart lurched at Maggie’s injury.

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary uncorrected digital galley of this book from the author. These are my honest thoughts. This book will be released next year. You can get place a pre-order now through your favorite retailer.

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

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Book Details:

Genre: Animal Fiction, Amateur Sleuth Mysteries, Cozy Animal Mysteries
Publisher: Minotaur Books

  • ASIN : B08FZB2D45

Print Length: 288 pages
Publication Date: To be released June 29, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

Jeffrey B Burton - authorThe Author: Jeffrey B. Burton was born in Long Beach, California, grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota, and received his BA in Journalism at the University of Minnesota. THE FINDERS, the first in Burton’s K-9 mystery series, came out in June of 2020 (St. Martin’s Press). THE KEEPERS, the second in his K-9 series, comes out in June of 2021.

Novels in Burton’s Agent Drew Cady mystery series include: THE CHESSMAN (MacAdam/Cage, 2012; paperback Harlequin Suspense, 2015), THE LYNCHPIN (MP Publishing, 2015), and THE EULOGIST (The Permanent Press, 2017). His short stories have appeared in dozens of magazines.

Jeff is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and the Horror Writers Association. He lives in St. Paul with his wife, daughter, an irate Pomeranian named Lucy, and a goofball/sweetheart of a Beagle named Milo.

Visit http://www.jeffreybburton.com to see more about Jeff’s novels and short stories.

©2020 V Williams V Williams-Christmas hat

The Burning Girls: A Novel by C J Tudor – A #BookReview – British Horror Fiction

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5 stars 

Book Blurb:

The Burning Girls by C J TudorAn unconventional vicar must exorcise the dark past of a remote village haunted by death and disappearances in this explosive and unsettling thriller from the acclaimed author of The Chalk Man.

A dark history lingers in Chapel Croft. Five hundred years ago, Protestant martyrs were betrayed—then burned. Thirty years ago, two teenage girls disappeared without a trace. And a few weeks ago, the vicar of the local parish hanged himself in the nave of the church.

Reverend Jack Brooks, a single parent with a fourteen-year-old daughter and a heavy conscience, arrives in the village hoping for a fresh start. Instead, Jack finds a town rife with conspiracies and secrets, and is greeted with a strange welcome package: an exorcism kit and a note that warns, “But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed and hidden that will not be known.”

The more Jack and daughter, Flo, explore the town and get to know its strange denizens, the deeper they are drawn into the age-old rifts, mysteries, and suspicions. And when Flo begins to see specters of girls ablaze, it becomes apparent there are ghosts here that refuse to be laid to rest.

Uncovering the truth can be deadly in a village with a bloody past, where everyone has something to hide and no one trusts an outsider.

His Review:

A nice safe position to be placed in for a young priest, a vicar in a small hamlet outside of Nottingham. You would think so but this turns out to not be the case. Jack (Jacqueline) Brooks has been sent to Castle Croft to replace a former priest. She was moved from Nottingham under suspicious circumstances.

The Burning Girls by C J TudorOnce a year, the hamlet celebrates a special day to honor the memory of eight missing women burned at the stake during Queen Mary’s purge of Protestants from 1553 to 1558.  The martyrs are represented by twig figures which are set ablaze during the celebration.

May 24, 1990 (two) fifteen year-old girls disappear from the area. Half-hearted searches turn up nothing and the community considers them runaways. The mystery continues but the search ceases. Legends abound and this close-knit community goes on with its’ business. Tough place to become the new Vicar, particularly for a female priest.

The characters are well developed and believable. Jack has been blessed with a fifteen year old daughter named Flo. Mother and daughter have a tumultuous relationship very much like many teenage girls and their parents today. Flo is a fairly free spirit and is not the least bit happy with coming to this hamlet from Nottingham and leaving all of her friends.

Integrating into a small close- knit hamlet is a struggle at best! Jack has a very difficult integration because of her sex and the cloistered community. The paupers’ wage of a vicar certainly does not help. The town folk are not impressed by the new vicar and throw at her problems and roadblocks at every turn. Set in their ways they are not amenable to change and a new spiritual leader.

There is no part of this book that moves slow! I am reminded of the young girls who go into the barn in the “Chainsaw Massacre.” You would think they would learn from some of the gruesome stories and tales of killings in those places. And the grave yard outside of the chapel at Chapel Croft adds the macabre to the setting. A rational person would avoid the location like a plague. The locals guard all of the towns’ secrets jealously. A dark and chilling suspense thriller nee horror. Can the vicar solve the mystery of the disappearance of the girls? 5 stars – CE Williams

My other half read or listened to The Other People and The Hiding Place. It was my turn at a Tudor book. Currently on pre-order. FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Kathleen Quinlan of Ballantine Books-Random House through NetGalley. These are my honest thoughts.

Book Details:

Genre: British Horror Fiction, Ghost Suspense, Horror Suspense
Publisher: Ballantine Books

  • ASIN : B087PMPD5S

Print Length: 352 pages
Publication Date: February 9, 2021
Source: Publisher and Netgalley
Title Link: The Burning Girls [Amazon]
Also find the book at these locations:
Barnes and Noble
Kobo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everyone calls her Caz.

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams-Christmas hat

The Highwayman (Book 11.5 of the Walt Longmire series) by Craig Johnson – An #Audiobook Review – #westernfiction – #throwbackthursday

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five Stars 5 stars

Audiobook-The Highwayman by Craig Johnson

Book Blurb:

Sheriff Walt Longmire and Henry Standing Bear embark on their latest adventure in this novella set in the world of Craig Johnson’s New York Times best-selling Longmire series – the basis for the hit drama Longmire, now on Netflix.

When Wyoming highway patrolman Rosey Wayman is transferred to the beautiful and imposing landscape of the Wind River Canyon, an area the troopers refer to as no-man’s-land because of the lack of radio communication, she starts receiving “officer needs assistance” calls. The problem? They’re coming from Bobby Womack, a legendary Arapaho patrolman who met a fiery death in the canyon almost a half-century ago.

With an investigation that spans this world and the next, Sheriff Walt Longmire and Henry Standing Bear take on a case that pits them against a legend: The Highwayman. 

My Review:

At the risk of sounding like a broken record—have you tried one of the Craig Johnson, Walt Longmire series of books yet? I continue to go through the vast audiobook collection of the Longmire series at my local library and stumbled on this novella length audiobook released back in 2016. Gees, I love these books!

I introduced my readers to our binge of the series when I compared the TV Netflix version with the Longmire books by Craig Johnson here. AND, I was delighted to hear beautifully executed audiobooks of the series by narrator George Guidall. OMG—he does such a wonderful baritone of narration—his inflection, tone, and pace perfect!

The Highwayman by Craig JohnsonCraig Johnson has an exquisite way with words—his descriptions conjuring the visual, the scent of the scene, the chill or heat of the air, and the tension of the characters. The characters? Wonderful! Longmire has had enough time and experience under his badge to handle just about any scenario you can throw at him. The dialogue, particularly between he and Standing Bear (Henry) of the Cheyenne Nation, full of respect, honor, emotion. Their banter can argue philosophical or devolve into the humorous. Dialogue is so natural—you can hear the affection—it’s genuine.

In this short but well-packed and plotted narrative, there is a call from Rosie, a newly transferred Wyoming HP who is receiving radio calls at the same time of night from Bobby Womack. Can’t be, however, as he is an Arapaho patrolman who died in a fiery collision 50 years ago in the Wind River Tunnel. Others have investigated but no one—NO ONE—is picking up Bobby Womack besides Rosie.

I love the folklore of the local Arapaho, Shoshone, and Cherokee and the delightful dip into the paranormal. If Womack is a ghost come back to Rosie—what is he trying to tell her? The conclusion calms the waters, but not before it was one heckava level five ride over the rapids.

Absolutely riveting, page-turning, spellbinding storytelling. You don’t have to read the first eleven to enjoy this short read. You’ll love the characters, the setting, the pace. Don’t like western fiction? What about literary fiction level fleshed dynamic characters and prose that’ll keep the light burning late? Don’t let the genre labels fool you. Trust me.

Rosepoint recommended
Book Details:

Genre: Western Fiction, Mysteries, Ghost Suspense, Ghost Mysteries
Publisher:  Recorded Books
ASIN: B01EM8BSRY
 Print Length: 190 pages
Listening Length: 3 hrs 43 mins
Narrator: George Guidall
Publication Date: May 17, 2016
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Highwayman [Amazon]

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Craig Johnson - authorThe Author: Craig Johnson is the New York Times bestselling author of twelve Walt Longmire mystery novels, which are the basis for Longmire, the hit Netflix original drama. The Cold Dish won Le Prix du Polar Nouvel Observateur/Bibliobs. Death Without Company, the Wyoming Historical Association’s Book of the Year, won France’s Le Prix 813, and Another Man’s Moccasins was the Western Writers of America’s Spur Award Winner and the Mountains & Plains Book of the Year. The Dark Horse, the fifth in the series, was a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year and Junkyard Dogs won The Watson Award for a mystery novel with the best sidekick. Hell Is Empty, selected by Library Journal as the Best Mystery of the Year, was a New York Times best seller, as was As the Crow Flies, which won the Rocky for the best crime novel typifying the western United States. A Serpent’s Tooth opened as a New York Times bestseller as did Any Other Name and Wait for Signs, Johnson’s collection of short stories. Spirit of Steamboat was selected by the State Library as the inaugural One Book Wyoming and included visits to sixty-three libraries. Johnson lives in Ucross, Wyoming, population twenty-five.

George Guidall - audiobook narratorThe Narrator: Widely recognized as the world’s most acclaimed and most prolific narrator of audiobooks, George Guidall has brought a consistent artistry to his readings, delighting listeners for over 20 years. His narrations of classics like Crime and PunishmentFrankensteinThe IliadDon Quixote, and Les Miserables, along with many popular best sellers, have set a standard for excellence recognized throughout the audiobook industry.  His recordings have garnered uniformly excellent reviews from AudiofileKliattLibrary JournalPublisher’s WeeklyThe New York Times, and a variety of national newspapers and magazines.   He has also received  several Audie Awards—the industry’s equivalent of an Oscar— and holds the record for receiving the most Earphone Awards for excellence in narration given by Audiofile Magazine which has named him one of the original “Golden Voices” in the audiobook industry. He has been  honored by the Audio Publishers Association with a life-time achievement award for his record of more than 1,300 unabridged narrations.

Along with his award-winning work as an audiobook narrator, Guidall has also enjoyed a career in the theatre, including starring roles on Broadway, an Obie award for best performance Off-Broadway, and has shared the stage at the New York Shakespeare Festival with Kevin Kline, Morgan Freeman, and Meryl Streep. In addition to TV dramas such as Law & Order, he has appeared on most of the daytime television series.

©2020 V Williams V Williams-Christmas hat

Happy Thursday

Photo background attribution of the Wind River Tunnel: Our Empty Nest

The War Widow (A Billie Walker Novel) by Tara Moss – A #BookReview – #historicalfiction – #TuesdayBookBlog

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

The War Widow by Tara MossThe war may be officially over, but journalist Billie Walker’s search for a missing young immigrant man will plunge her right back into the danger and drama she thought she’d left behind in Europe in this thrilling tale of courage and secrets set in glamorous postwar Sydney.

Sydney, 1946. Though war correspondent Billie Walker is happy to finally be home, for her the heady postwar days are tarnished by the loss of her father and the disappearance in Europe of her husband, Jack. To make matters worse, now that the war is over, the newspapers are sidelining her reporting talents to prioritize jobs for returning soldiers. But Billie is a survivor and she’s determined to take control of her own future. So she reopens her late father’s business, a private investigation agency, and, slowly, the women of Sydney come knocking.

At first, Billie’s bread and butter is tailing cheating husbands. Then, a young man, the son of European immigrants, goes missing, and Billie finds herself on a dangerous new trail that will lead up into the highest levels of Sydney society and down into its underworld. What is the young man’s connection to an exclusive dance club and a high class auction house? When the people Billie questions about the young man start to turn up dead, Billie is thrown into the path of Detective Inspector Hank Cooper. Will he take her seriously or will he just get in her way? As the danger mounts and Billie realizes that much more than one young man’s life is at stake, it becomes clear that though the war was won, it is far from over.

His Review:

Post WWII was a turbulent time everywhere. Germany was in ruins, much like the millions of lives it had ruined attempting global domination. Our protagonist is a former war correspondent returning home to find work for women very scarce. She took over a Detective Agency after her father died and is working in Sydney.

The War Widow by Tara MossLike so many women after WWII she has lost the love of her life. Where could Ryan be? He disappeared somewhere in Austria. Not knowing the fate of your loved one is a cruel cross to bear and then a woman enters the detective agency and asks if she can locate her son. He is 17 and just disappeared one afternoon.

Tara weaves a very entertaining tale of mystery and intrigue in the Sydney area. The job won’t pay much but Billie needs to keep working to continue to pay her “Secretary” Sam Beaker. The trail leads to many interesting places in and around Sydney. I never knew the underbelly of Australia could be so seedy.

Taking the assignment and trying to locate the lost teenager takes many twists and both Billie and Sam are attacked many times. It is a real pleasure to read about the defensive tactics Billie employs. Never underestimate a woman with a well placed hatpin!

Australia like most countries post WWII is recovering from economic restrictions and rationing is still in place. Gas coupons are still necessary because the worlds’ fuel supplies are still being sorted out. Silk stockings and fine clothing were at a premium and Billie bemoans the loss of some of her finer things. It is hard or impossible to replace them.

This entire book kept me spell bound and very entertained. I even fell in love with the heroine although she would be my mothers’ age. I could see the rakish hats and Mode O Day dresses as she stepped out into the Sydney night life. These mental visuals so well presented by Tara entertained and satisfied my mentally visual sequence of events. It is an immersive and entertaining look back in time. Read and see for yourself. 5 stars – CE Williams

Thank you to Emily Canders, Senior Publicity Manager of Dutton & Plume for my complimentary review copy of this book. These are my unbiased thoughts. 

Book Details:

Genre: Historical World War II Fiction, Women Sleuths
Publisher: Dutton
Print Length: 351
Publication Date: December 29, 2020
Source: Publisher through Net Galley
Title Link: The War Widow [Amazon] On Pre-Order Now
Also find the book at these locations:
Barnes and Noble
Kobo

Add to Goodreads 

Tara Moss - authorThe Author: Since 1999 Tara Moss has written 13 bestselling books, published in 19 countries and 13 languages. Her latest is the internationally bestselling historical crime novel The War Widow published with with HarperCanada, HarperCollins Australia, and launching in Dec 2020 with Dutton Books at Penguin Randomhouse US, and translated to German in Jan 2021 with AufBau as Die Jägerin.

Her first non-fiction book, the critically acclaimed The Fictional Woman became a number one national non-fiction bestseller in 2014, and her iconic cover design, featuring her face labeled with ‘fictions’ or stereotypes about women won Best Non-Fiction Book Design in 2015.

An experienced documentary host and interviewer with a passion for research and human stories, Moss has hosted the true crime documentary series Tough Nuts – Australia’s Hardest Criminals on the Crime & Investigation Network and Amazon Prime, Tara Moss Investigates on the National Geographic Channel and the author interview show Tara in Conversation on 13th Street Universal. In 2018 she hosted The Craft Of Writing series on RN (Radio National) Australia. She was also the host, co-executive producer and co-writer of Cyberhate with Tara Moss on Australia’s ABC, examining the phenomenon of online abuse, and she gave her address to the nation, ‘Cyberhate and Beyond’, at the National Press Club in 2017, putting the phenomenon of extreme online abuse and harassment on the national agenda.

Moss is an outspoken advocate for human rights and the rights of women, children and people with disabilities, has been a UNICEF Australia Goodwill Ambassador since 2007 and since 2013 has been UNICEF Australia’s National Ambassador for Child Survival, and has visited Australian hospitals, maternity wards, refuges and schools as well as Syrian refugee camps in her UNICEF role. In 2014 she was recognised for Outstanding Advocacy for her blog Manus Island: An insider’s report, which helped to break information to the public about the alleged murder of Reza Barati inside the Australian-run Manus Island Immigration Detention Centre. In the media and through her page Tara and Wolfie, she brings advocacy and visibility to issues of disability and chronic pain, and the need to normalize mobility aids.

In 2015 Moss received an Edna Ryan Award for her significant contribution to feminist debate, speaking out for women and children and inspiring others to challenge the status quo, and in 2017 she was recognised as one of the Global Top 50 Diversity Figures in Public Life, for using her position in public life to make a positive impact in diversity, alongside Malala Yousufzai, Angelina Jolie, His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama of Tibet and more.

Her in-depth novel research has seen her tour the FBI Academy at Quantico, spend time in squad cars, morgues, prisons, the Hare Psychopathy Lab, the Supreme Court and criminology conferences, take polygraph tests, shoot weapons, conduct surveillance, pass the Firearms Training Simulator (FATSII) with the LAPD, pull 4.2 G’s doing loops over the Sydney Opera House flying with the RAAF, and acquire her CAMS race driver licence. She is a PhD Candidate at the University of Sydney, and has earned her private investigator credentials (Cert III) from the Australian Security Academy.

She is a mother, a wife and a dual Canadian/Australian citizen, and currently resides with her family in Vancouver, BC. She is a new signing with Aevitas Literary Management in New York. Visit her at taramoss.com

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams-Christmas hat

Runaway Justice (David Adams Book 3) by Chad Zunker – a #BookReview – #legalthrillers

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

 Book Blurb:

Runaway Justice by Chad ZunkerAttorney David Adams is the last hope for an adolescent runaway being targeted by an assassin and sought by the FBI in a breath-catching novel by the Amazon Charts bestselling author of An Unequal Defense.

Having abandoned corporate law, David Adams is now the voice of justice for the city of Austin’s vulnerable outcasts. His new client is Parker Barnes, a trembling twelve-year-old runaway and foster-care poster boy arrested for petty theft. Dealt a rough hand in life, he reminds David of his own childhood. This should be a simple, if heartbreakingly familiar, case. Until the FBI muscles in.

Parker is also a suspect in the murder of a federal witness. No matter how desperate Parker’s denial, David fears there’s so much more to the kid’s hard-luck story than he’s letting on. Especially when a hit man sends the boy running to the only safe place he knows: the streets.

With both the feds and a killer on Parker’s trail, the hunt is on. Teaming up with a pro bono investigator and utilizing his reliable band of street-savvy friends, David must find Parker first if he’s to save the boy from an undeserved fate. And maybe even save himself. 

My Review:

The author is a guy who “walks the walk and talks the talk.” He’s living with it, works with it, has the experiences from which he pulls the emotional plots for his books, my second, having read An Unequal Defense, which I also enjoyed.

The well-paced mystery is deceptively simple reading while wielding a hard social commentary—the homeless, the less fortunate, those whose luck has run out many times through no fault of their own—as with the plot of this luckless twelve year old. He lost both parents and had no extended family who would take him in, landing him into “the system.” And then the system wasn’t kind either and he ran.

Attorney David Adams caught the case when the kid is arrested for purse-snatching. Oh, were it that simple! Parker Barnes, however, has a secret he will trust to no one and in getting the kid out of juvie and into a home shelter, David discovers the kid has run—again—after his own confrontation with the FBI regarding the kid he is trying to protect.

Runaway Justice by Chad ZunkerAbout the same time as he’s picking up this case, he has also been sent by the court a woman who is to provide 40 hours pro-bono for her own infraction. Fortunately, she is a private investigator, an extremely effective one, and Jess knows how to research.

Now Parker is being sought by both the FBI, persons he witnessed performing a felony, and David himself after his promise to the judge to contain him has failed. Parker is very adept at running and hiding.

Through investigation, research, and interviews, Jess and David has formed a solid, plausible theory, perps they are chasing down, and gained new insight on the psyche of the boy, both working hard to find and gain his trust.

I like the character of David; honest, reliable, kind and (usually) very effective as his job. Jess is empathetic, adept, competent, and smart. They make a good team and work well together. It’s an easy, fast read with an important message, empathetic characters with whom you’ll invest. The conclusion ramps up the tension and raises the hair on your neck.

While this is Book 3 of the series, it can be read as a standalone, as there are new characters and few characters from previous books. You won’t have a problem figuring out where David is coming from and the mystery and suspense are engaging.

 FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. These are my honest thoughts. The book won’t disappoint and is now on pre-order.

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

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Book Details:

Genre: Legal Thrillers, Political Thrillers
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
ISBN : 1542025524
ASIN : B0868WMW2M
Print Length: 230 pages
Publication Date: To be released February 23, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble

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-Christmas hat

Fatal Divisions (A Hank Worth Mystery Book 4) by Claire Booth – A #BookReview – #policeprocedural

Book Blurb:

Family secrets and internal police politics cause trouble for Sheriff Hank Worth and his Chief Deputy Sheila Turley in this compelling mystery.

Fatal Divisions by Claire BoothHank Worth has always been committed to his job as Branson sheriff, so getting him to take a break is difficult. But to everyone’s surprise he agrees to take time off after a grueling case and visit a friend in Columbia, Missouri, leaving Chief Deputy Sheila Turley in charge. She quickly launches reforms that create an uproar, and things deteriorate even further when an elderly man is found brutally murdered in his home.

As Sheila struggles for control of the investigation and her insubordinate deputies, Hank is not relaxing as promised. His Aunt Fin is worried her husband is responsible for the disappearance of one of his employees, and Hank agrees to investigate.

The search for the missing woman leads to a tangle of deceit that Hank is determined to unravel . . . no matter the impact on his family.

His Review:

Sheriff Hank Worth was past exhausted. His wife was trying to get the old work horse to take a break. His department was way over budget and the county commissioners were complaining. His second in command was a no-nonsense female who was trying to develop a better work schedule and eliminate large cost overruns. The rest of the department hated her guts!

Fatal Divisions by Claire BoothFinally, Hank is maneuvered into a weeks’ getaway with an old college buddy. Everyone breathes a sigh of relief. But the buddy has a case he is working on as well and there is no rest for Hank. Meanwhile Sheila, his second in command, was going to fix all of the budgetary problems caused by sandbagging employees. Predictable of course the old timers rebelled and a sickout begins.

Mail mounting up in a mailbox causes the postman to call a deputy to check on one of his postal customers. Upon entering the house, a grizzly murder is discovered. The first suspect is the mans’ estranged sun. Dual plots spin from there. Claire Booth crafts this yarn with the best of them.

She is very adept at keeping the reader off balance with dual plots clouding the development of the investigations. Strong women are replete throughout the tale and men seem to be cast as the weaker sex. A fun approach to the investigations but also a bit unsettling. The ending justifies the means, however, and a surprise leads to a totally unlikely perpetrator. Then the development of the characters becomes crystal clear.

Pick up this book and enjoy a ride with Claire Booth available now. She doesn’t disappoint in her development of a tale. 4.5/5 stars – CE Williams

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from NetGalley. These are my honest and unbiased opinions.

Book Details:

Genre: Small Town & Rural Fiction, Police Procedurals
Publisher: Severn House Publishers; Main edition

  • ASIN : B08MQ61BH2

Print Length: 240 pages
Publication Date: December 1, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Fatal Divisions [Amazon]
Also find the book at these locations:
Barnes and Noble
Kobo

Add to Goodreads

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

Claire Booth - authorThe Author: Claire Booth spent more than a decade as a daily newspaper reporter, much of it covering crimes so convoluted and strange they seemed more like fiction than reality. Eventually, she had enough of the real world and decided to write novels instead. Her Sheriff Hank Worth mystery series takes place in Branson, Missouri, where small-town Ozark politics and big-city country music tourism clash in, yes, strange and convoluted ways. Her latest, A Deadly Turn, is available now.

For more about Claire, her books, and some of the true crimes she’s covered, please visit http://www.clairebooth.com.

©CE Williams – V Williams V Williams-Christmas hat

Fortune and Glory (A Stephanie Plum Novel Book 27) by Janet Evanovich – An #Audiobook Review – Crime Thriller

Editors' pick Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

audiobook-Fortune and Glory by Janet Evanovich

Book Blurb:

The twenty-seventh entry in the #1 New York Times bestselling series isn’t just the biggest case of Stephanie Plum’s career. It’s the adventure of a lifetime.

When Stephanie’s beloved Grandma Mazur’s new husband died on their wedding night, the only thing he left her was a beat-up old easy chair…and the keys to a life-changing fortune.

But as Stephanie and Grandma Mazur search for Jimmy Rosolli’s treasure, they discover that they’re not the only ones on the hunt. Two dangerous enemies from the past stand in their way—along with a new adversary who’s even more formidable: Gabriela Rose, a dark-eyed beauty from Little Havana with a taste for designer clothes. She’s also a soldier of fortune, a gourmet cook, an expert in firearms and mixed martial arts—and someone who’s about to give Stephanie a real run for her money.

Stephanie may be in over her head, but she’s got two things that Gabriela doesn’t: an unbreakable bond with her family and a stubborn streak that will never let her quit.

She’ll need both to survive because this search for “fortune and glory” will turn into a desperate race against time with more on the line than ever before. Because even as she searches for the treasure and fights to protect her Grandma Mazur, her own deepest feelings will be tested—as Stephanie could finally be forced to choose between Joe Morelli and Ranger.

My Review:

Cripes! What happened and where did the other Janet Evanovich go? Years ago, and I mean well before I even started reviewing, the CE and I used to listen to her audiobooks on our many trips. They made crossing the desert go faster, mountain ranges less hairy. So I was pretty shocked at this latest audiobook, and less you really have to ask—no, I  have neither read nor listened to others in this series. I just saw “Evanovich” and remembered the “old times.”

Fortune and Glory by Janet EvanovichWell, groan. Despite the amazing narration of Lorelei King using many voices and New Jersey accent, the protagonist left me a bit flat. Stephanie is a mess. She’s not terribly good at what she does, nor terribly smart. What she is—according to new character Gabriela Rose, is lucky.

Stephanie apparently is one third of the dreaded triangle (Ranger—fabulously rich and great in bed, and Morelli—Jersey cop). Lula is a strong “partner” in the bond business, and then there is Grandma Mazur, who is just plain obnoxious. It’s her recently widowed grandmother that has set her on the latest adventure—finding a fabulous treasure, joined by Potts (who is well past annoying into egregiously obnoxious).

If you can get past both grandma and Potts, there is a mystery that does hold interest and adventure as they tick off each of the nine(?) hints to the treasure held by members of the mob apparently known to good ole grandma. (Thank heaven mine stuck closer to gardening.)

Heavy into the New Jersey mob scene, the accents, food, and back alley streets definitely spun atmospheric illusions. The mysterious Gabriela held my interest as well and will apparently spin off on a series of her own. Thinking I might try that one but reading any of the previous 26 of this series? I don’t think so.

Book Details:

Genre: Women Sleuths, Organized Crime Thriller, General Humorous Fiction, Crime Thrillers
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster Audio

  • ASIN: B085DQTY3P

Print Length: 318 pages
Listening Length: 7 hrs 13 mins
Narrator: Lorelei King
Publication Date: November 3, 2020
Source: Local (Audiobook Selections) Library
Title Link: Fortune and Glory [Amazon]

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Three point Five of Five Stars 3 1/2 stars

Janet EvanovichThe Author: Janet Evanovich is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Stephanie Plum series, the co-authored Fox and O’Hare series, the Knight and Moon series, and the Lizzy and Diesel series as well as twelve romance novels, the Alexandra Barnaby novels, Troublemaker graphic novel, and How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author.

 

Lorelei KingThe Narrator: Lorelei [King] is a multi-award-winning narrator of audiobooks, recording the works of best-selling authors Janet Evanovich, Darynda Jones and Patricia Briggs, among others. She is one of the first inductees into the Audible Narrator Hall of Fame.

©2020 V Williams V Williams-Christmas hat

What a Dog Knows: A Novel by Susan Wilson – a #BookReview – #animalfiction

Rosepoint Rating: Five Stars 5 stars

“I do not think anymore about what was. Only about what is.”

Book Blurb:

From New York Times bestselling author Susan Wilson comes What a Dog Knows, another heartwarming novel about humans and the dogs that change our lives.

What a Dog Knows by Susan WilsonRuby Heartwood has always lived a life on the move. As a traveling psychic, she makes her living working at carnivals and festivals and circuses around New England. It’s a life Ruby has made peace with—settling in one place has never been for her. She needs no one, and no one needs her.

Until one night, when she is camped by the side of the road in her trusty Volkswagon “Westie” van, a fierce thunder and lightning storm erupts. In the middle of the downpour, she hears a distinct voice telling her to “let me in.” In jumps a little black and white dog, and to Ruby’s astonishment, she can hear the dog’s thoughts. Has she been struck by lightning? Did the storm do this? Is she losing her mind?

It turns out, Ruby can hear many dogs’ thoughts. She decides to set up semi-permanent residency in the town of Harmony Farms, until she can sort out what is going on, and who the little dog, Hitch, belongs to. But some people in Harmony Farms don’t want her there. And it seems that events keep preventing Ruby from leaving. What secrets is this town keeping? Why was she meant to find this dog? And what has Ruby really been running from, all these years?

My Review:

Protagonist Ruby Heartwood is a traveling fortune teller, psychic, seer who reads tarot cards and tea leaves in her conical tent that she can easily disassemble, load, and leave in her little VW Westphalia when the festival or carnival is over. And she’ll soon be on her way except for the fierce storm that blew in and demanded she find shelter. During the storm, she hears a voice and opening the door discovers a little black and white dog with light brown “caterpillar” eyebrows. The distinct voice, or picture—images—is the beginning of her ability to “hear” the dogs thoughts.

What a Dog Knows by Susan WilsonIt doesn’t take long then that she is aware this dog, the one she’s named “the Hitchhiker” who will become her familiar, partners with her in helping to provide answers to other canine, and soon equine, dilemmas.

As luck would have it, a series of events occur to keep Ruby in Harmony Farms, first the Farmers’ Market and Makers Faire and then a succession of good links to further business, now sporting the new title of “animal communicator.” She’s been having increasing dreams of her mother, however, and she starts to seek answers, beginning to gather clues to the woman who left her in an orphanage in Ottawa as an infant. But the admonition to “find me, find you” keeps getting side-tracked.

If she has a good day, something like the Westie quitting strands her again. She is beginning to meet people, make contacts. Unfortunately, Polly is the local animal officer and her office has gotten a call regarding a show dog of the Hitchhiker’s description. Something else to keep her there until she can get that sorted out.

In the meantime, the reader is privy to a warm-hearted narrative with amazing characters, so well developed, all of whom you come to invest in. It’s easy to get caught up in Ruby’s search for her mother, the relationship with her daughter, the oft POV of the dog, his thoughts and feelings—so simple but so profound. No one writes dog like Susan Wilson. So much to identify with. The dog is a brilliant tricolor Cavalier King Charles spaniel.

The storyline grows in complexity as it does in emotion, wisdom, and tension. The harder her resistance, the easier to break—now she has too much in to walk away and all roads seem to lead back. I loved the character of Sabine, her daughter, Bull, Ravi and his Dew Drop Inn. Polly is special. It’s a lesson in confronting old trauma and hate, releasing the hurt.

The author has a beautiful, artful hand in setting up human to canine dialogue—you can believe it—the prose and the sensitivity so strong.

“Good news will keep, and bad news won’t go away?”

I have lapped up everything I could get my hands on since the first book I read by this author, including One Good Dog, Two Good Dogs, The Dog I Loved, and The Dog Who Danced, three of those as an audiobook. I believe, however, this might be her very best yet.

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley and am so grateful! These are my honest thoughts. Highly recommended! This book is currently on pre-order and I urge you to order your copy now at your favorite retailer.

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Book Details:

Genre: Animal Fiction, Women’s Romance Fiction, Women’s Literature & Fiction
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

  • ASIN : B08FZ94VJ7

Print Length: 368 pages
Publication Date: To be released Jun 22, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley 

Rosepoint recommended

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

 

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes – An #Audiobook Review – #historicalfiction

The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes

Book Blurb:

Alice Wright marries handsome American Bennett Van Cleve hoping to escape her stifling life in England. But small-town Kentucky quickly proves equally claustrophobic, especially living alongside her overbearing father-in-law. So, when a call goes out for a team of women to deliver books as part of Eleanor Roosevelt’s new traveling library, Alice signs on enthusiastically. 

The leader, and soon Alice’s greatest ally, is Margery, a smart-talking, self-sufficient woman who’s never asked a man’s permission for anything. They will be joined by three other singular women who become known as the Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky.

What happens to them – and to the men they love – becomes an unforgettable drama of loyalty, justice, humanity, and passion. These heroic women refuse to be cowed by men or by convention. And though they face all kinds of dangers in a landscape that is at times breathtakingly beautiful, at others brutal, they’re committed to their job: Bringing books to people who have never had any, arming them with facts that will change their lives.

Based on a true story rooted in America’s past, The Giver of Stars is unparalleled in its scope and epic in its storytelling. Funny, heartbreaking, enthralling, it is destined to become a modern classic – a richly rewarding novel of women’s friendship, of true love, and of what happens when we reach beyond our grasp for the great beyond.

My Review:

Well, add me to the list of those who read The Bookwoman of Troublesome Creek (by Kim Michele Richardson) prior to The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes. Richardson’s book was first. Jojo Moyes is a NY Times bestselling author and a Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine Book Club (of the month) pick. It was also chosen to be one of “USA Today’s top 100 books to read while stuck at home social distancing.” A London author of this magnitude would not have to plagiarize anything, but that’s been the controversy since the Moyes book was published…and now set to be a major motion picture. ?!

I wrote my review of The Bookwoman of Troublesome Creek after I tried to join a local library book club in February, 2020. They discussed many of the similarities during the meeting. When I saw this audiobook become available, I had to check it out.

I loved that first book for several reasons:

  1. It was my introduction to the 1930’s Pack Horse Library Project in Kentucky and as such a historical fiction—you know I have an affinity for those.
  2. It introduced me to the “Blue-skinned people” of Kentucky and that was quite the revelation.
  3. Intensely immersive into the times, the people, and the mountains of Kentucky.
  4. The hopeless stories of the desperately poverty-stricken (Depression era) people, living so isolated the only people they might see was the pack horse librarian.
  5. They received old newspapers, magazines, outdated books from other libraries, and homemade journals gleaned from other mountain folk of recipes, patterns, hints, and wise sayings or poems.
  6. A coal mining state, many miners died of black lung disease and the despairing living conditions of their families, lack of sanitary conditions, health care, and food.
  7. Heavily character-driven storyline.
  8. Many issues including political, societal, religious, domestic abuse, women working (gasp!) outside of the home (which really doesn’t widely occur in this country until WWII), and racism.

The main character of Troublesome Creek is Cussy (a blue-skinned woman). One of the two main characters of The Giver of Stars is an English woman, Alice Wright, crazy to leave her London home and stifling parents for an exciting new life. But the new life in the backwoods of Kentucky is not the life she imagined, and her groom, not the man. In fact, it is her father-in-law who is head-of-household and he’s old school in a staunchly patriarchal society. In an effort to make contact with the other women of the area, she jumps at the chance to become a part of the pack horse program. There, she meets the co-protagonist, independent minded and outspoken Margery O’Hare.

The men (and many of the women) are against the program, thinking it’ll put thoughts in the heads of the women, up until now kept “barefoot and pregnant” as they used to say. Also being in the Bible Belt of America, strict religious tenets played a strong part in defining a woman’s role and the participants distributing books were thought scandalous.

Am I largely repeating my review of The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek? Yes, and it would appear to a large extent the storyline of this book as well. Most of the above are included albeit rewritten to more closely match the author’s writing style. The shunned blue woman now the shunned English woman. But fans and readers of author Jojo Moyes (there must be some romance) will find their expectation granted. This book, however, doesn’t describe the recipients of the program and their circumstances to the extent of the former, which I missed.

The Giver of Stars by Jojo MoyesBefore you start throwing rocks, there were also several things I liked about this book:

  1. A greater explanation of the “company store” and the castigation of the owners.
  2. The unfortunate division of the races, their roles, and living circumstances.
  3. The sisterhood of the widely differing women of the pack horse program.
  4. Descriptions of the mountains and remarkable heroism.
  5. The murder, jail account, and courtroom drama.
  6. Nicely done conclusion pulling not one but two rabbits out of the hat. Loved the first; not crazy about the second although at that point you had to figure it would happen.

Does all the drama over-shadow the story of the pack horse librarians? To a large extent, it does, and many of the support characters remain one-dimensional. Yes, I enjoyed a second take of the story of those courageous women, this one done in a strongly Jojo-esque style of drama and romance. But I still prefer the emotional impact, the prose, and the immediately engaging narrative written by author Kim Michele Richardson.

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction
Publisher:  Penguin Audio
ASIN: B07QQ3J91J
Listening Length: 13 hrs., 52 mins.
Narrator: Julia Whelan
Publication Date: October 8, 2019
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Giver of Stars [Amazon]

Add to Goodreads 

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4 stars

Jojo Moyes - authorThe Author: Jojo Moyes is a British novelist.

Moyes studied at Royal Holloway, University of London. She won a bursary financed by The Independent newspaper to study journalism at City University and subsequently worked for The Independent for 10 years. In 2001 she became a full time novelist.

Moyes’ novel Foreign Fruit won the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) Romantic Novel of the Year in 2004.

She is married to journalist Charles Arthur and has three children.
Bio from Goodreads.

 

Julia Whelan -authorThe Narrator: Julia Whelan is an actor, writer, and narrator of over 400 audiobooks. Recently named one of AudioFile magazine’s Golden Voices, she has won numerous other awards, including the 2019 Best Female Narrator Audie for Tara Westover’s Educated and a SOVAS for the performance of her own novel, My Oxford Year. She is also a Grammy-nominated audiobook director as well as a certified tea sommelier. [Penguin Random House Audiobooks]

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Rosepoint November Reviews Recap—Thanksgiving with Covid—I’d Rather Have Family

Rosepoint Publishing November Review Recap

Certainly was a quiet Thanksgiving this year! Almost nothing traditional about it, as just for the two of us, no sense in trying to have a turkey (or ham—not good for him). I must admit to getting very tired of turkey, turkey sandwiches, turkey salad and turkey soup. I do enjoy the cranberry, however, and that’s where the CE balks. So we opted instead for coconut shrimp and scallops and fruit salad with French fries—something we both agree on! But anytime is good for shrimp and scallops.

I usually use the long weekend following Thanksgiving to start decorating for Christmas. Well, that will be delayed this year as I’m not crazy about bringing out the same old tired decorations. Needed something a little more festive to fill the void this year.

Santa with maskLooking over decorations, it would appear Covid has played a large part in new and unique Christmas decoration ideas, with Santa wearing a face mask to ornaments with face masks and rolls of toilet paper. Oh, so, crafty. A not-so-subtle tongue-in-the cheek remembrance of Christmas 2020. Perhaps you’ve also noticed some VERY unusual tree ornaments this year?

So yes, December is upon us and I must admit to being one of those who never thought we’d still be fighting the pandemic at this time of year. Much less phase two or three. I’m doing a lot of shopping online this year and it’s actually fun getting packages. Our TV hit its designed obsolescence and out it went, so we ended up doing a Black Friday thing for a new one. Something in which we’ve not participated since 2004. Technology in a new TV now requires an engineering or programming degree to fully install.

There was a mix of sixteen books reviewed, blitzed, or toured in November, shared between the CE and I. If you missed any reviews, just click on the links below the graphic.

The Secret of Rosalita Flats by Tim W Jackson Parabellum by Greg Hickey Puzzling Ink by Becky Clark

Wine Tastings Are Murder by Libby KleinLeave No Trace by Sara Driscoll Hideaway by Nora Roberts

A Big Fat Greek Murder by Kate CollinsIn Her Tracks by Robert DugoniBig Kibble by Shawn Buckley

House of Correction by Nicci FrenchThe Sky Worshipers by FM DeemyadMystery at the Old Mill by Clare Chase

 

Ink and Shadows by Ellery AdamsHunting Season by Nevada BarrAnd the Devil Walks Away by Kevin R DoyleIrish Parade Murder by Leslie Meier

  1. The Secret of Rosalita Flats by Tim W Jackson (5 stars)
  2. Parabellum by Greg Hickey (CE review)
  3. Puzzling Ink by Becky Clark
  4. Wine Tastings are Murder by Libby Klein
  5. Leave No Trace by Sara Driscoll (5 stars)
  6. Hideaway by Nora Roberts (Audiobook)
  7. A Big Fat Greek Murder by Kate Collins
  8. Big Kibble by Shawn Buckley and Dr Oscar Chavez (CE review-5 stars)
  9. In Her Tracks by Robert Dugoni
  10. House of Correction by Nicci French (Audiobook)
  11. The Sky Worshipers by F M Deemyad (CE review-5 stars)
  12. Mystery at the Old Mill by Clare Chase
  13. Ink and Shadows by Ellery Adams (5 stars)
  14. Hunting Season by Nevada Barr (Audiobook)
  15. And the Devil Walks Away by Kevin R Doyle (CE review)
  16. Irish Parade Murder by Leslie Meier

Challenges:

Audiobooks – 23 of 10-15 challenge Achieved
Goodreads! 156 of 160—only four more. I’ve (we’ve) got this!
Historial Fiction: 13 of a goal of 10 Achieved
NetGalley: 79 of 75 review goal Achieved  

Once again, struggling with the block editor interfering with the update to my (classic editored) Challenge page. If it looks weird—it is—and I’ve no clue how to fix. Still, you can check the page to see those challenges achieved.

In the meantime, lovely readers, followers, and authors, take care, stay safe. I do so appreciate your continued support.

©2020 V Williams

Graphic attributions: Santa mask by Amazon

Irish Parade Murder (A Lucy Stone Murder Book 27) by Leslie Meier – a #BookReview – #cozymystery

“’If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit by me.’ Alice Roosevelt Longworth, (Teddy’s daughter)”

Book Blurb:

Lucy Stone’s late-winter blues usually vanish by the time Tinker’s Cove goes green for its annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration. There’s just one wee problem that not even the luck of the Irish can fix—murder!

Irish Parade Murder by Leslie MeierAfter returning from her father-in-law’s funeral in Florida, Lucy can almost hear the death knell of her part-time reporter job the instant she meets new hire Rob Callahan. He’s young, ambitious, and positioning himself to become the Pennysaver’s next star reporter. Adding insult to injury, Lucy only gets assigned the local St. Patrick’s Day parade once Rob passes on the story. But before beer flows and bagpipes sound, Rob becomes suspected of destroying more than other people’s careers . . .

It’s a shock when Rob is suddenly charged with sending a corrections officer from town to a fiery death. Contrary to the evidence, Lucy seriously doubts her office rival committed murder, and she’s willing to follow that nagging hunch into the darkest corners of the community if it means shedding light on the truth . . .

As an unnerving mystery unfolds, a strange woman reveals news that could change everything for Lucy and her family. Troubles in her personal and professional life are colliding, and Lucy comes to realize that she’ll sooner discover a four-leaf clover than confront a killer with the gift of the gab and live to tell about it . . .

My Review:

Yikes! There have already been twenty-six books in this series, and this is my first experience with either the author or the series. Well, I know you’ve heard that before, not often I have the chance to start a series with Book 1.

Irish Parade Murder by Leslie MeierThis one, however, regards a small town journalist with the local weekly. Just when the few others in the office assume the owner is going to throw in the towel, they are astounded to learn the owner has partnered with the adjacent town’s paper and they will now cover twice the territory. And, icing on the cake, the owner has brought in a whiz-bang kid to really “get the story.”

And, somehow, I thought the novel would be about Lucy writing her stories, discovering a murder victim and she would go investigating.

Nope.

This cozy mystery centers on family. Protagonist Lucy Stone is married (also unusual for a cozy mystery) with four children. Two events occur about the same time—her father-in-law has passed away and Grandma Edna will come to live with them (her husband being an only child). About the same time, they get a letter proclaiming shared DNA by a woman they know nothing about.

St. Patrick’s Day is coming and Tinkers Cove is gearing up for their big annual parade followed by a newly instituted festival in adjacent Gilead. AND, Lucy is assigned to getting the school budget and parade master stories. In the meantime, she is fielding family matters, including her daughter’s “step-dancing” with which history I found interesting.

It’s not until about 50% into the book that an accident occurs deemed not to be an accident, and not unusually, the new kid on the paper is blamed for the murder. This sets off an interesting search into the possible corruption of the local sheriff’s department.       

I don’t know whether it was because I was coming into the series at Book 27 and finding more of a family drama than a cozy that was off-putting, but I had a problem becoming engaged in the narrative and couldn’t connect with the characters—which, at this point, character development has pretty much ended. Her husband Bill is wonderfully supportive, but the storyline just dragged for me. I didn’t really care what the school board was going to vote for or against. The conclusion only mildly increased attention—at that point, just happy for the conclusion. More focus on the murder investigation, contact with more appropriate individuals, interviews, something…would have added some tension. On pre-order now.

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

Rosepoint Rating: Three of Five Stars three stars

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Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Mystery, Amateur Sleuth
Publisher: Kensington Books

  • ASIN : B087YSPKVC

Print Length: 283 pages
Publication Date: To be released January 26, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley 

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

Leslie Meier - authorThe Author: [Leslie Meier] I started writing in the late ’80s when I was attending graduate classes at Bridgewater State College. I wanted to become certified to teach high school English and one of the required courses was Writing and the Teaching of Writing. My professor suggested that one of the papers I wrote for that course was good enough to be published and I sent it off to Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine’s Department of First Stories. I got $100 for the story and I’ve been writing ever since. The teaching, however, didn’t work out.

My books draw heavily on my experience as a mother of three and my work as a reporter for various weekly newspapers on Cape Cod. My heroine, Lucy Stone, is a reporter in the fictional town of Tinker’s Cove, Maine, where she lives in an old farmhouse (quite similar to mine on Cape Cod!) with her restoration carpenter husband Bill and four children. As the series has progressed the kids have grown older, roughly paralleling my own family. We seem to have reached a point beyond which Lucy cannot age — my editor seems to want her to remain forty-something forever — though I have to admit I am dying to write “Menopause is Murder”!

I usually write one Lucy Stone mystery every year and as you can see, my editor likes me to feature the holidays in my books. Of course Christmas is one of my favorite times of year and my newest mystery {released September 2013} is called “Christmas Carol Murder.” I have always loved the Alistair Sims movie version of Charles Dicken’s ,”The Christmas Carol,” so I was excited to be able to have Lucy encounter some modern day versions of Dicken’s classic characters. In addition to the recent holiday mysteries I have written such as “Chocolate Covered Murder” {Valentine’s Day} and “Easter Bunny Murder”, I have written one travel mystery in which Lucy and her friends ,travel to London,”English Tea Murder”. Since I love to travel I can only hope that Lucy will be able to solve some mysteries in some other cities and countries also. My husband and I did stay in an apartment in Paris this past year {big hint!}

My books are classified as cozies but a good friend insists they are really “comedies of manners” and I do enjoy expressing my view of contemporary American life.

Now that the kids are grown — I now have four grandchildren — my husband and I are enjoying our empty nest on Cape Cod which we share with our new very frisky kitty, Sylvester. I am busy writing the next Lucy Stone Mystery which is due out this Spring. I do hope you will enjoy it!

©2020 V Williams V Williams