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]
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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

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

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

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

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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]

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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

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.

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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!

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

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

Open for Murder (A Happy Camper Mystery Book 1) by Mary Angela #BlogTour #BookReview #Giveaway

I am so delighted today to provide a review for you at my blog stop for Open for Murder by Mary Angela on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. Scroll down to enter your chance to win the Giveaway!

Open for Murder by Mary Angela blog tour

Book Details

Open for Murder (A Happy Camper Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Publisher: Lyrical Press (November 24, 2020)
Paperback: 207 pages
ISBN-10: 1516110722
ISBN-13: 978-1516110728
Digital ASIN: B085LTP1XH

Book Blurb

Deep in the heart of touristy small-town Spirit Canyon, South Dakota, former journalist Zo Jones runs the Happy Camper gift shop, where she sells everything from locally made souvenirs to memorabilia. She even rents out mountain bikes, and dabbles in the adventure industry—and sleuthing . . . 

It’s Memorial Day weekend in Spirit Canyon, and for Zo that means the return of summer shoppers. It also means the return of her good friend Beth, who’s moved back to the area to reopen her family’s premier hotel, Spirit Canyon Lodge. Beth and Zo spent many childhood summers there and Zo can’t wait to reconnect and celebrate the Grand Opening. But the festivities go from bad to worse when a power outage knocks out the lights—and morning reveals a competitor’s dead body found on the premises . . . 

Soon enough, Beth is the prime suspect in the suspicious death. Fortunately, Zo isn’t afraid to put her investigative skills to work and prove her friend’s innocence. To start digging for information, she appeals to Max Harrington, a local Forest Ranger and unlikely ally. Though they’ve argued about Happy Camper’s tours, in this case they agree on one thing: Beth isn’t a murderer. Stranger things have happened than their collaboration. After all, this is Spirit Canyon. But as the list of suspects grows, Zo will have to keep her guard up if she doesn’t want to be the next lodge guest to check out . . .

 

My Thoughts

Memorial Day weekend in Spirit Canyon, deep in the heart of South Dakota, state of Mt. Rushmore National Memorial. Zo Jones owns a small touristy gift shop she named the Happy Camper and, being one very smart cookie, sells everything a tourist might want from souvenirs to memorabilia. She also rents out mountain bikes and hosts an occasional hike.

Open for Murder by Mary AngelaThis year, her childhood friend Beth is returning to help her celebrate her opening celebration of the Spirit Canyon Lodge. Unfortunately, the old crone who owns a spa and another lodge isn’t happy to see any competition and generally makes that publicly clear. It’s Beth who will eventually be numero uno suspect when she is found murdered in the morning.

I really enjoyed the atmospheric aura the author sets up for the area—so much history—so much beauty—small town, limited year-round residents. You can smell the pine, see the beauty and OMG, I WANT that deck! I could so appreciate that warming retreat, mountain air, and TDC (that darned cat), the Maine Coon. (You gotta get him neutered, Zo!)

Knowing her old friend could NOT have killed the old viper, she enlists some help from a local studly forest ranger who feels the same way. Zo is a very subtle investigator, however, and in the meantime, she describes her little(?) gift shop and her adjacent residence to a tee. (If it weren’t for those deadly winters—yes—even worse than where I live, I’d be moving.) And, the ideas she has for decorating, promoting her shop—amazing. If she weren’t relying on tourist money three months out of the year to sustain her the other nine, she’d be rich. Sweet, unique ideas.

I enjoyed the characters, Zo has the beginning of being a well developed personality, the support characters will need to be filled in. It was well-plotted and paced. The romance angle is introduced and usually I’d balk but I liked this guy, so let’s see where that one goes. Zo has a Kawi (Kawasaki motorcycle—that has to be good—love riding), and a helmet, but I’d love to know more about her riding (not driving). “…the motorcycle ride made her long for a road trip.” (Yes, they do that.)

AND, lastly, I loved the way Ms. Angela slips in bits of information unique to the state (besides the monument) like Black Hills Gold (totally unique and gorgeous) and that the “most complete T-rex ever found” was discovered on a ranch within the state and later named Sue.

I received this fun and distinctive book as part of the book tour. It’s a great start for a new series and I’m looking forward to seeing where the author will take us next.

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Giveaway

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About the Author

Mary Angela is the author of the Professor Prather and Happy Camper cozy mystery series. When Mary isn’t penning heartwarming whodunits, she’s teaching, reading, traveling, or spending time with her family. She lives in South Dakota with her husband, daughters, and spoiled pets. You can find out more about her loves, including her writing, at MaryAngelaBooks.com.

Author Links

Websitewww.maryangelabooks.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/maryangelabooks

Twitter: @maryangelabooks

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15342425.Mary_Angela

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

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

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

Tour Participants:

November 24 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT
November 24 – I Read What You Write – GUEST POST
November 25 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW
November 25 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
November 26 – U.S. Thanksgiving
November 27 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW
November 27 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT
November 28 – Elizabeth McKenna – Author Blog – SPOTLIGHT
November 28 – Author Elena Taylor’s Blog – SPOTLIGHT
November 29 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT
November 29 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT
November 30 – Diane Reviews Books – REVIEW
November 30 – Moonlight Rendezvous – REVIEW  
December 1 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
December 1 – Reading, Writing & Stitch-Metic – SPOTLIGHT
December 2 – Cassidy’s Bookshelves – SPOTLIGHT
December 2 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
December 3 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW
December 3 – Sneaky the Library Cat’s Blog – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
December 4 – The Editing Pen – REVIEW
December 4 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT
December 5 – Brooke Blogs – REVIEW
December 5 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW
December 6 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW
December 7 – This Is My Truth Now – CHARACTER GUEST POST Great Escapes Book Tours

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

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]

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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

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

#BookBlitz – Lily Fairchild by Don Gutteridge – #historicalfiction – @RABTBookTours

Yes! You know I’m always happy to host a Book Blitz post for a historical fiction novel (being one of my favorite genres), this one called Lily Fairchild by Don Gutteridge. “Lily Fairchild is a novel about a remarkable woman, born in the backwoods of Lambton County, Ontario in 1840.”

 

 

Historical Fiction

 

Lily Fairchild follows the life of a pioneer woman on the Canadian frontier over 77 years of her long life. She is witness to and a pawn of the great historical events of that period: the Underground Railroad, the clearing of the forest, the coming of the railroads, the discovery of oil, the two Riel Rebellions in the West and the flu pandemic of 1918. A story of love and survival.

 

KIRKUS REVIEW

Long-haul, multigenerational historical fiction such as this is often a victim of skewed perspective, as authors, deeply ensconced in often years of research, often overestimate how much detail their readers will want to endure. Gutteridge’s narrative is prodigiously researched (and includes a bibliography), but he never overloads his audience; instead, he seamlessly works the historical grounding into what is, first and foremost, an intensely personal story. The book’s large and varied cast is uniformly well drawn, but Lily towers over the rest; from her earliest scenes, she’s by far the most compelling figure in the narrative. Gutteridge believably and effectively captures her youthful exuberance, as well as her resilience, even in the face of a heartbreaking tragedy in the book’s final pages. He combines his character study with beautifully evocative prose; at one point, for instance, after sunset, “Lily was sure she could hear the River tuning up for its nightsong”; at another, a character’s skin is described as having “the pallor and touch of gray-white mushrooms too long in the rain.” Overall, the author does an excellent job of giving his narrative the feel of a life as it is lived. Readers of such books as Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove (1985) or Anna Waldo’s Sacajawea (1978) will see a similar kind of storytelling here; it’s a difficult feat to manage, but Gutteridge does so. A long but intensely involving tale of a tempestuous life.

 

About the Author

Don Gutteridge is the author of 71 books, including 22 novels and 39 books of poetry. He is a graduate of Western University, where he is currently Professor Emeritus. He lives in London, Ontario.

Contact Links

Website

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Purchase Links

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(Brought to you by me and thee.)

 

RABT Book Tours & PR

Hunting Season: An Anna Pigeon Novel by Nevada Barr – An #Audiobook Review – #crimethriller – #TBT

“What’s the use of a load of manure if you can’t spread it around.” 

Hunting Season by Nevada Barr

Book Blurb:

When Anna answers a call to historic Mt. Locust, once a producing plantation and inn on Mississippi’s Natchez Trace Parkway and now a tourist spot, the last thing she expects to encounter is murder. But the man Anna finds in the stand’s old bedroom is no tourist in distress. He’s nearly naked, and very dead, his body bearing marks consistent with an S & M ritual gone awry. On a writing table nearby is an open Bible, ominous passages circled in red. It seems the deceased is the brother of Raymond Barnette, local undertaker and a candidate for sheriff, who wants to keep any hint of kinkiness out of the minds of the God-fearing populace. Ray may be hiding a house full of secrets in the old family homestead, but before Anna can start her investigation, she’s waylaid by malevolent poachers, peevish coworkers, and a suddenly turbulent romantic life. And when hidden agendas and old allegiances are revealed, it’s suddenly Anna’s life on the line.

My Review:

My introduction to the Anna Pigeon series, this audiobook also introduced me to the Mississippi Natchez Trace. Yes, of course, most of those in the US have heard of the Trace, the lush landscape of the south as well as the racial history, but like me—really don’t know the exact location, what it is (literally an early Native American trail)—fascinating as it is.

Hunting Season by Nevada BarrThis series started way back in 1993 and ended in 2016 after 19 in the series. Few garnered at least four stars but appear to have remained popular. In Book 10, protagonist Park Ranger Anna Pigeon is called to the circumstances of a deceased, oversized man left in a compromising position but the circumstances don’t make sense with the way he died. And, perhaps separately, or maybe not, poaching has become serious. When she has a deadly encounter on her way home and her vehicle is demolished, she steps up her investigation.

An additional problem is that her management position here was unexpected and the male co-workers are a bit disgruntled. And then there is her involvement with Paul Davidson, separated for some time from his wife who won’t grant a divorce. Perhaps she should take a more jaundiced eye to that situation. (Deep and heavy sigh…life is never simple…)

Okay, first, I must admit that so many times, it’s the narrator who makes or breaks an audiobook for me. And this narrator hooks you in and, I suspect, keeps the listener interested where a reader’s interest might wane a bit through the middle minutia weeding out the details of whose land is whose.

Intense investigation, witticisms, Southern mores, and history mingle to lull you into story listening mode, digesting the further development of Anna and particularly her main support deputy Barth—a character I really found engaging. Of course, Anna is engaging as well, an effective strong female in a male dominated position.

The pieces of the puzzle get scattered until finally drawn together in a heart-pounding conclusion. I have to admit, however, to having correctly guessed the perp, although it made perfect sense unless it was going to be one of those barely mentioned names in an off-hand remark as sometimes happens. Not this one, but the trip up the Trace is worth the time and I was thoroughly entertained and will look for another—probably closer to the end of the series this time. I listened as a standalone and at Book 10 gleaned sufficient information to progress toward Book 19. Recommended. 

Book Details:

Genre: Crime Thrillers, Women Sleuths, Suspense
Publisher:  Recorded Books
ASIN: B0002QUWR8
Listening Length: 10 hrs., 57 mins.
Print Length: 348 pages
Narrator: Barbara Rosenblat
Publication Date: July 22, 2004
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Hunting Season [Amazon]

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 Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4 stars

Nevada Barr - authorThe Author: Nevada [Barr] was born in the small western town of Yerington, Nevada and raised on a mountain airport in the Sierras. Both her parents were pilots and mechanics and her sister, Molly, continued the tradition by becoming a pilot for USAir.
Pushed out of the nest, Nevada fell into the theatre, receiving her BA in speech and drama and her MFA in Acting before making the pilgrimage to New York City, then Minneapolis, MN. For eighteen years she worked on stage, in commercials, industrial training films and did voice-overs for radio. During this time she became interested in the environmental movement and began working in the National Parks during the summers — Isle Royale in Michigan, Guadalupe Mountains in Texas, Mesa Verde in Colorado, and then on the Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi.

Woven throughout these seemingly disparate careers was the written word. Nevada wrote and presented campfire stories, taught storytelling and was a travel writer and restaurant critic. Her first novel, Bitterweet was published in 1983. The Anna Pigeon series, featuring a female park ranger as the protagonist, started when she married her love of writing with her love of the wilderness, the summer she worked in west Texas. The first book, Track of the Cat, was brought to light in 1993 and won both the Agatha and Anthony awards for best first mystery. The series was well received and A Superior Death, loosely based on Nevada’s experiences as a boat patrol ranger on Isle Royale in Lake Superior, was published in 1994. In 1995 Ill Wind came out. It was set in Mesa Verde, Colorado where Nevada worked as a law enforcement ranger for two seasons.
The rest is, shall we say, HISTORY! Nevada’s books and accomplishments have become numerous and the presses continue to roll, so in the interest of NOT having to update this page, books, awards, status on the New York Times Best Seller List — and more — will be enumerated with the relevant books else where on this website.

Barbara Rosenblat - narratorThe Narrator:

Barbara Rosenblat has been narrating for more than 20 years, and even had the honor of performing the first book ever recorded at Audible in 1999.

She has also appeared on screen such as in the Netflix original series Orange Is the New Black as Miss Rosa. Rosenblat was born in London, England and raised in New York City. Upon returning to the US, she read books to the blind for four years at the Library of Congress.[2] On Broadway she appeared in The Secret Garden and Talk Radio. Barbara Rosenblat has narrated more than 400 audiobooks including:

– The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman

– The Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters

©020 V Williams V Williams

Ink and Shadows (A Secret, Book, and Scone Society Novel Book 4) by Ellery Adams – a #BookReview – #cozymystery – #TuesdayBookBlog

A Witty and Page-Turning Southern Cozy Mystery

New York Times bestselling author Ellery Adams is back with the latest in her acclaimed Secret, Book, and Scone Society series.”

Rosepoint Rating: Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

Ink and Shadows by Ellery AdamsLocal bookstore owner Nora Pennington is back on the case in Miracle Springs, North Carolina when an accidental death turns out to be something much more sinister…
 
Nora Pennington is known for her window displays, and as Halloween approaches, she decides to showcase fictional heroines like Roald Dahl’s Matilda and Madeline Miller’s Circe. A family-values group disapproves of the magical themes, though, and wastes no time launching a modern-day witch hunt. Suddenly, former friends and customers are targeting not only Nora and Miracle Books, but a new shopkeeper, Celeste, who’s been selling CBD oil products.

Nora and her friends in the Secret, Book, and Scone Society are doing their best to put an end to the strife—but then someone puts an end to a life. Though the death is declared an accident, the ruling can’t explain the old book page covered with strange symbols and disturbing drawings left under Nora’s doormat, a postcard from an anonymous stalker, or multiple cases of vandalism.

The only hope is that Nora can be a heroine herself and lead the Secret, Book, and Scone Society in a successful investigation—before more bodies turn up and the secrets from Celeste’s past come back to haunt them all . . .

My Review:

My first entry into the series and it’s an amazing introduction to Nora Pennington and her shop, Miracle Books, in Miracle Springs, North Carolina. Either the author has an amazing and thorough history with books or spent months in research as this novel was a treasure trove of titles for all occasions.

Ink and Shadows by Ellery AdamsFirst, protagonist Nora is part of the Secret, Book, and Scone Society, she and three other women—close friends, confidants, and co-conspirators—they contribute to the investigations. Nora runs a themed showcase but this year her fictional heroines (powerful women display) runs amok of a group of ladies who decide the books pose a dangerous theme for young, impressionable minds.

In the meantime, a new shopkeeper has popped up, selling CBD oil products along with natural remedies, scents, soaps, and gift baskets. It is her daughter that raises a number of red flags and finding a private moment with the girl offers her help. It isn’t long before the girl is found deceased in Nora’s backyard.

Before I get caught up describing the well-plotted and paced mystery, I must say the support characters in this book add such a dimension to the narrative you want to sit in on their book nights and share a glass of wine with them. And Sheldon, her assistant—wonderful. Later in the book, an old college roommate comes back into her life and wouldn’t we all have loved to known anyone like Bobbie!

If you never had a love for books before, this book should build the flame in your heart that has you running to your closest library. There to smell the pages, inhale the scent of hardbacks filled with knowledge and adventure, or coax out beautiful poems, prose, and memorable thoughts by the authors who shared. There is a reverence in the collection of good books.

Surely there is a category level above cozy (intellectual cozy?) that includes the emotion, experience, and gravitas imparted in these pages. From beautiful prose to too many quotables to list here, and in between, the subtle investigation, the gentle gleaning of leads that weaves in through the lives of the characters, their way of life, and their individual concerns.

An unusual cozy mystery in that the victim(s) are not hateful people and no love lost. The antagonist only gradually prodded out after one of few red herrings or twists. Unusual number of references to particular names or events only an older generation might recognize and an interesting tidbit of information regarding CBD oil—COA—Certificate of Analysis (…”document from a lab that shows the exact number of various cannabinoids in a CBD product…customers know that they’re buying products containing no THC.”)

I might have missed the explanation of “ticket agent’s office,” and “book pockets” by reading this as my first entry to the series. Still, this novel served quite well as a fascinating standalone for me. I read one of the author’s books in the Book Retreat Mystery series, Murder in the Reading Room and enjoyed. This one opened a whole new realm of cozy for me. Highly recommended.

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

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Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuth, Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Kensington Books

  • ASIN : B087YR9M54

Print Length: 304 pages
Publication Date: To be released January 26, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley 

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

Ellery Adams - authorThe Author: Ellery Adams, a USA Today and New York Times bestselling author, has written dozens of mystery novels. She shares her North Carolina home with her husband, two trolls, and three keyboard-hogging felines. Ellery loves reading, coffee, bubbly, jigsaw puzzles, baking, volunteering at her local animal shelter, and rearranging her bookshelves.

Her traditionally published series include The Secret, Book, and Scone Society Mysteries, The Book Retreat Mysteries, The Books By the Bay Mysteries, and The Charmed Pie Shoppe Mysteries.

Her Indie series include The Supper Club Series, The Hope Street Series, and The Molly Appleby Collectible Series.

For book club discussion questions, lists of Nora Pennington’s bibliotherapy titles, and more, visit http://www.elleryadamsmysteries.com

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Mystery at the Old Mill (An Eve Mallow Mystery Book 4) by Clare Chase – a #BookReview – #cozy mystery

“…a huge flock of widgeon rose to the sky, changing its shape like a dense collection of iron filings pulled by a magnet.” 

Book Blurb:

When the calm of Saxford St Peter is disrupted by a deadly fire at the Old Mill, amateur sleuth Eve Mallow finds herself investigating a most surprising mystery!

Mystery at the Old Mill by Clare ChaseEveryone in Saxford St Peter is desperate to know more about Harry Tennant, the newcomer who owns the Old Mill. He usually keeps himself to himself, but he’s finally invited the villagers round for drinks, and Eve Mallow isn’t the only one looking forward to having some questions answered.

But two days before the party, a terrible fire sweeps through the mill, and Harry is found dead. When Eve passes the burned remains of his beautiful house, she can’t resist the call to investigate. Especially when it turns out quiet, charming Harry was living a double life as the famous advice writer Pippa Longford. Eve has to wonder what revelations were contained in the letters he received… and whether one of them was worth killing for.

Accompanied by her reliable dachshund sidekick Gus, Eve starts digging. She soon realises Harry was at the centre of a web of lives – and lies. There’s an uncle desperate to inherit, two women who thought they were his one and only, not to mention everyone who shared their darkest secrets with him. Was one of those strangers much closer to home than Harry knew? And can Eve untangle the truth before she finds herself face to face with a killer?

My Review:

My second excursion into an Eve Mallow mystery. I did enjoy Book 1, Mystery on Hidden Lane, which as the first of the series developed the character of Eve apparently as by Book 4, there is little further fleshing of Eve as there is of Gus, her companion Dachshund.

I was intrigued in Book 1 by the idea of a freelance obituary writer, an easy cover for her sleuthing activities when something happens. In this entry to the series—the death of a man living in the Old Mill in Saxton St Peter, Suffolk village.

Mystery at the Old Mill by Clare ChaseThe victim, Harry Tennant, is an “agony aunt,” that is, an advice columnist. Unfortunately, he is passed off as a woman, and very few knew that he is actually Pippy Longford. And fewer still that the local citizens of the community were writing to someone right there in their midst. Interesting premise!

Harry is not a nice man. (“He’d fought bullying by becoming a bully”…and it worked for him.) Heaven knows he has lots of advice—for everyone—about everything. His columns are not always helpful—but, hey, that’s what sells. When his old mill burns down with him in it, it is established that it wasn’t accidental.

I’m not quite sure what to think about Book 4. Obviously, I missed Books 2 and 3, but Book 4 does not redux the character of Eve sufficiently, other than she is still working with her BFF, Viv in her tea shop. Eve takes to discussing the threads of the case with Gus, who eyes her appropriately depending whether or not he gets to go on her interviews.

I had difficulty getting into the rather drawn out plot, well-plotted though it was, just a bit slow for me and my attention lagged more than once. Who knew Tennant’s alter-ego and who was it who might have been harmed by a juicy tidbit he was set to announce at the open house he’d planned to reveal the night following his death?

His isn’t the only body to fall by the wayside in the ensuing investigation and there are a number of red herrings. Eve had a way of seriously ticking off her interviewees, curtailing any further discussion. Several possible perps rise to the top of the list and the atmosphere becomes tense.

Seems the more obvious suspects are too obvious and in the end, the conclusion is enlightening as well as surprising. In the meantime, I enjoyed the little tidbits about the frigid location by the North Sea and the country lanes with their very colorful names: i.e., Blind Eye Lane, Haunted Lane, Old Yard Lane. If you are a fan of the author, I’d suggest you begin this series with Book 1, as I felt a bit lost in Book 4. Must have missed something and perhaps would not function as a standalone.

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

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

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Book Details:

Genre: Women’s Detective Fiction, Cozy Mystery, Christian Suspense
Publisher: Bookouture

  • ASIN : B08CBHCRSG

Print Length: 317 pages
Publication Date: To be released December 7, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley 

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble

Clare Chase - authorThe Author: Clare Chase writes classic mysteries. Her aim is to take readers away from it all via some armchair sleuthing in atmospheric locations.

Her debut novel was shortlisted for Novelicious’s Undiscovered Award, as well as an EPIC award post-publication, and was chosen as a Debut of the Month by LoveReading. Murder on the Marshes (Tara Thorpe 1) was shortlisted for an International Thriller Writers award.

Like her heroines, Clare is fascinated by people and what makes them tick. Before becoming a full-time writer, she worked in settings as diverse as Littlehey Prison and the University of Cambridge, in her home city. She’s lived everywhere from the house of a lord to a slug-infested flat and finds the mid-terrace she currently occupies a good happy medium.

As well as writing, Clare loves family time, art and architecture, cooking, and of course, reading other people’s books.

You can find Clare’s website and blog at http://www.clarechase.com

©2020 V Williams V Williams

The Sky Worshipers by F M Deemyad – A #BookReview – #historicalfiction

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5 stars 

a CE review

Book Blurb:

In the year 1398 A.D., Lady Goharshad and her husband, King Shahrokh, come across an ancient manuscript in the ruins of Karakorum, the Mongol capital. The manuscript chronicles the era of Mongol invasions with entries by three princesses from China, Persia, and Poland who are captured and brought to the Mongol court. 

The Sky Worshipers by FM DeemyadAfter being stolen from her family at the Tangut Emperor’s coronation, Princess Chaka, the Emperor’s youngest daughter is left with no choice but to marry Genghis Khan. Thus, the Tangut join Genghis as allies. She is the first to secretly chronicle the historical events of her time, and in doing so she has the help of an African eunuch by the name of Baako who brings her news from the war front.

Princess Reyhan is the witty granddaughter of the last Seljuk King in Persia. She is kidnapped by Ogodei, Genghis’s son and heir, who falls in love with her. The romance does not last long, however, since a Mongol beauty wins Ogodei’s heart, and Reyhan is sidelined. Reyhan continues the tradition of recording the events in secret, turning her entries into tales.

During the Mongol invasion of Poland and Hungary, Princess Krisztina, niece to Henry the Pious, is taken as a prisoner of war by the Mongols. Reyhan learns about Krisztina’s predicament through Baako and asks Hulagu, Genghis’s grandson, to help free her. Krisztina has a difficult time adjusting to life in Mongolia, and at one point she attempts to run away but is unsuccessful. When the child she is bearing is stillborn, the Mongol court shuns her. She is able to return to her homeland in old age but comes back to Karakorum and writes her final entry in the journal.

Through beautiful language and powerful storytelling, this fact-based historical novel lays bare the once far-reaching and uncompromising Mongol empire. It shows readers the hidden perspectives of the captive, conquered, and voiceless. It brings to light the tremendous but forgotten influence of Genghis Khan and his progeny, while asking readers to reconsider the destruction and suffering of the past on which the future is built.

 His Review:

(A novel of Mongol Conquest)

Expansion of the Mongol Empire as told through the eyes of a hopeless romantic! (me) My reading of this tale reminded me of Arabian Nights and Alibaba and the Forty Thieves. Ms. Deemyad sees this period through the eyes of the women who were married to Genghis Kahn and his offspring. Told from a woman’s point of view makes the overall tale a tender and heart-breaking story of the time.

The Sky Worshipers by F M DeemyadGreed and the desire to improve the lives of his people was one of the hallmarks of Genghis Kahn’s military exploits. Europe during the 12th to 14th centuries was a contrast in those that had and those that were destitute–the majority of the population falling into the latter category. It is postulated that 10% of the people of this planet can trace genes back to Genghis Kahn and his offspring.

Sky worship was the primary belief system of the Mongols. Lightning storms and frequent rains were the norm in the areas they controlled. However, Genghis Kahn showed real compassion towards other cultures by not forcing his religion upon the lands he conquered. Certainly, this is not the case with most of the other cultures in the world. Muslims having anger towards Christians who have fostered a hate of the Jews because of the death of Christ are but a few examples.

The building of large mosques and cathedrals are examples of the tolerance shown by the Mongols to their conquered lands. Today’s inter-religious conflicts could learn from this example. The laws imposed by the Mongols on the conquered are another story. Talking back or having a different point of view or suggestion for an upcoming campaign could result in the death of the person bold enough to suggest an opinion other than that of the current ruler.

This book and its’ writer immerse the reader in the culture and events of the time. Hoping that some of the more compassionate characters will survive leads to disappointment. The strongest in the Mongolian culture were the survivors. Young ladies of privilege and comfort stolen from their families and forced to marry warlords were the norm. Yet some of them came to know and respect the kidnappers that changed their lives forever.

CE WilliamsWrapping the book up in the mystique of a secret historical document chronicled by these very abductees added credence to the overall dynamic. I can whole heartedly recommend this book to anyone who wants to follow the exploits of the Mongols in both Asia and Europe. It’s a well-plotted, paced narrative with sympathetic characters. Currently on pre-order. 5 stars – C.E. Williams 

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from NetGalley through Colin Mustful at History Through Fiction. These are my honest thoughts. 

Book Details:

Genre: Military Historical Fiction, War Fiction
Publisher: History Through Fiction

  • ASIN : B08K3LXPPV

Print Length: 332 pages
Publication Date: To be released March 2, 2021
Source: Publisher through NetGalley
Title Link: The Sky Worshipers [Amazon]
Find the book at these locations:
Barnes and Noble
Kobo

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F M Deemyad - authorThe Author: [F M Deemyad] Author of Historical Novels/Short Story Writer/Memoir Writer/Johns Hopkins Graduate/MFA in Writing/Maryland Writers’ Association + Authors Guild Member. (The Sky Worshipers is her debut novel.) Find her on twitter.

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

House of Correction by Nicci French – An #Audiobook Review – #crimethrillers

House of Correction by Nicci French

Book Blurb:

In this heart-pounding stand-alone thriller from best-selling author Nicci French, a woman accused of murder attempts to solve her own case from the confines of prison – but as she unravels the truth, everything is called into question, including her own certainty that she is innocent.

Tabitha is not a murderer.

When a body is discovered in Okeham, England, Tabitha is shocked to find herself being placed in handcuffs. It must be a mistake. She’d only recently moved back to her childhood hometown, not even getting a chance to reacquaint herself with the neighbors. How could she possibly be a murder suspect?

She knows she’s not.

As Tabitha is shepherded through the system, her entire life is picked apart and scrutinized – her history of depression and medications, her decision to move back to a town she supposedly hated…and of course, her past relationship with the victim, her former teacher. But most unsettling, Tabitha’s own memories of that day are a complete blur.

She thinks she’s not.

From the isolation of the correctional facility, Tabitha dissects every piece of evidence, every testimony she can get her hands on, matching them against her own recollections. But as dark, long-buried memories from her childhood come to light, Tabatha begins to question if she knows what kind of person she is after all. The world is convinced she’s a killer. Tabatha needs to prove them all wrong.

But what if she’s only lying to herself?   

My Review:

Tabitha Hardy returned to her childhood home in Okeham to renovate a property after she inherited some money and used it to buy a cottage. She has a history of being a loner, of having depression, eccentricities, and rudeness and hasn’t exactly ingratiated herself with the home town people. She wakes one day to send her handyman off as she didn’t wish to deal with repairs or work that day and he discovers a body in her outhouse.

Oops!

House of Correction by Nicci FrenchThis can’t end well. And doesn’t. After she is arrested for the man’s murder, it is discovered he was her math teacher when she was 15 and it is revealed was abused by him. Uh oh, means, motive, and opportunity.

And the problem is that she can’t remember the day—anything about it—but she is pretty sure she couldn’t have murdered him. The attorney assigned to her simply suggests she should plead guilty—too much evidence against her—and hope for a short sentence. Tabitha fires her and now she’s up the creek without a paddle as she knows nothing about the law, about the procedure, or even how to go about defending herself if she can’t remember what happened that day. There are times she doubts herself.

Could she have done it?

Tabitha may have gotten lucky, however, in the initial cellmate she is given, Michaela (released early), ends up supporting Tabitha right into the courtroom. Perhaps the first third to a half of the narrative is Tabitha’s assumption it’s all a mistake and she’ll be found not culpable and sent home. Doesn’t happen. The second half of the book is her courtroom fight. While it quite accurately shows her lack of expertise, ignorance, and egregious mistakes, it also paints the picture of an overly tolerant judge, allowing a large degree of latitude where I doubt would realistically happen.

Tabitha is not a protagonist to love—she is difficult, foul-mouthed, and short tempered. Once she digs in, however, she does appear to be making some headway into her case, challenging witnesses and discrediting her share of them. There are periods where she waxes philosophical and you get a glimpse of the woman she might have become were it not for those crippling teen experiences. I really appreciated the character of Michaela—smart, loyal, empathetic. The authors draw the prosecutorial team as you might expect, overly confident, competent, and theatrical.

My introduction to the husband/wife team that is Nicci French in a narrative that captures attention immediately, draws you in, and keeps a fast-paced, well plotted storyline. Not part of a series and out now, get the audiobook as I did enjoying a particularly fine narrator or the format of your choice. I think you’ll find this thriller worth the read and I’ll be looking for more. Recommended.

Book Details:

Genre: Crime Thrillers, Psychological Thrillers, Suspense
Publisher:  Harper Collins Publishers

  • ISBN-10:1471179281

ASIN: B083WPBQ84
Print Length: 487 pages
Listening Length: 11 hrs., 19 mins.
Narrator: Michelle Ford
Publication Date: October 27, 2020
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: House of Correction (Amazon)

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

Nicci FrenchThe Author: Nicci French is the pseudonym of English husband-and-wife team Nicci Gerrard and Sean French, who write psychological thrillers together.
Bio from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Photo by Apdency (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons.

(Goodreads—Truncated) Note: (Nicci Gerrard and Sean French also write separately.)
Nicci Gerrard was born in June 1958 in Worcestershire. After graduating with a first class honours degree in English Literature from Oxford University, she began her first job, working with emotionally disturbed children in Sheffield. In that same year she married journalist Colin Hughes.

In the early eighties she taught English Literature in Sheffield, London and Los Angeles, but moved into publishing in 1985 with the launch of Women’s Review, a magazine for women on art, literature and female issues.

In 1987 Nicci had a son, Edgar, followed by a daughter, Anna, in 1988, but a year later her marriage to Colin Hughes broke down.

In 1989 she became acting literary editor at the New Statesman, before moving to the Observer, where she was deputy literary editor for five years, and then a feature writer and executive editor.

It was while she was at the New Statesman that she met Sean French.

Sean French was born in May 1959 in Bristol, to a British father and Swedish mother. He too studied English Literature at Oxford University at the same time as Nicci, also graduating with a first class degree, but their paths didn’t cross until 1990. In 1981 he won Vogue magazine’s Writing Talent Contest, and from 1981 to 1986 he was their theatre critic. During that time he also worked at the Sunday Times as deputy literary editor and television critic, and was the film critic for Marie Claire and deputy editor of New Society.

Sean and Nicci were married in Hackney in October 1990. Their daughters, Hadley and Molly, were born in 1991 and 1993.

By the mid-nineties Sean had had two novels published, The Imaginary Monkey and The Dreamer of Dreams, as well as numerous non-fiction books, including biographies of Jane Fonda and Brigitte Bardot.

In 1995 Nicci and Sean began work on their first joint novel and adopted the pseudonym of Nicci French…Nicci and Sean also continue to write separately. Nicci still works as a journalist for the Observer, covering high-profile trials including those of Fred and Rose West, and Ian Huntley and Maxine Carr…

Michelle FordThe Narrator:  Michelle Ford is a native Brit and professional voice actor. Having moved “across the pond” six years ago, Michelle now lives just outside New York and still gets a buzz when driving into the city and seeing the Manhattan skyline. Michelle has a proven track record in long narration, with over twenty titles in published audiobooks covering contemporary fiction, historical romance, mythical/paranormal fiction, biographies, children’s stories, short stories, science fiction, and business, and she is never happier than when she is in flipflops and behind a mic.

In addition, Michelle is experienced in voicing e-learning (she’s worked with many blue-chip pharmaceutical, medical, and technical clients), animation voice-over, corporate messages, Web sites, characters, children’s stories, film narration, podcasts, industrial projects, on-camera, tv, and radio commercials. She has worked for clients in fourteen countries, from Brazil to South Africa, and the Middle East to Australia. (Courtesy Tantor Media)

©2020 V Williams V Williams

 

 

In Her Tracks (Tracy Crosswhite Book 8) by Robert Dugoni – a #BookReview – #kidnappingthriller – #TuesdayBookBlog

Rosepoint Rating: Five Stars 5 stars

“…certified tracker, often referred to as a sign-cutter.”

Book Blurb:

What family secrets are behind two disappearances? Seattle detective Tracy Crosswhite is determined to uncover the truth in the latest installment of New York Times bestselling author Robert Dugoni’s heart-stopping series.

In Her Tracks by Robert DugoniReturning from an extended leave in her hometown of Cedar Grove, Detective Tracy Crosswhite finds herself reassigned to the Seattle PD’s cold case unit. As the protective mother of an infant daughter, Tracy is immediately drawn to her first file: the abduction of a five-year-old girl whose parents, embattled in a poisonous divorce, were once prime suspects.

While reconstructing the days leading up to the girl’s disappearance, Tracy is brought into an active investigation with former partner Kinsington Rowe. A young woman has vanished on an isolated jogging trail in North Seattle. Divided between two critical cases, Tracy has little to go on except the treacherous deceptions behind a broken marriage—and now, the secrets hiding behind the closed doors of a deceptively quiet middle-class neighborhood.

To find two missing persons, Tracy will have to follow more than clues, which are both long cold and unsettlingly fresh. Given her own traumatic past, Tracy must also follow her instincts—to whatever dark and dangerous places they may lead.

My Review:

I was thrilled when Thomas & Mercer granted me this advance copy through NetGalley as I’ve become a solid fan of the Tracy Crosswhite series.

In Her Tracks by Robert DugoniSeattle detective Crosswhite has had a bit of a transition recently following maternity leave, expecting to return to her position as part of the Violent Crimes Unit and finding herself instead in Cold Cases. The retiring detective of Cold Cases left a couple of awesome, caring shoes to fill as well as credible stats. Violent Crimes partner Kins, however, taps her for just a bit of help in his active kidnapping case and as Crosswhite begins her journey into Cold Cases finds a thread that might provide a crossover.

Big hook at the beginning gets the ball rolling into her cold case while Kins’ investigation adds dimension to the active case. Crosswhite still struggles with some of her history and the kidnapping cases heap on the anxiety and apprehension.

The author does an amazing job of gradually upping the tension (the pacing is perfect) with Kins’ active missing person case as well as Crosswhite’s Cold Case, slipping into the house as a fly on the wall of three brothers living in their parents old home, persons of interest in the missing person’s case. Dugoni has a way of eeking out the most sinister despots, highlighting all the warts, the character development coursing seamlessly between Crosswhite’s team, their investigation, and the scheming predators.

Crosswhite is relentless, focused. The well-plotted storyline just flows, grabs and holds attention as it builds toward a pulsing, overwhelming sense of urgency—so close…hurry!! And so satisfying. Should I mention the little red herrings and one devil of a shocker near the end I NEVER saw coming in Kins’ case (while I’d correctly guessed the resolution to Crosswhite’s Cold Case).

I’ve read a number of Dugoni’s books, including a couple from the Charles Jenkins series, as well as three others in the Crosswhite series, Close to Home, A Steep Price, and A Cold Trail. This one, however, may be my favorite, until another comes out, that is. Highly recommend this thriller and the series, though this could work as a standalone if this one is your introduction to the series. (Trust me, you’ll catch up quickly.) On pre-order now.

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

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Book Details:

Genre: Kidnapping Crime Fiction, Kidnapping Thrillers, Murder
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

  • ASIN : B087Q1QNTL

Print Length: 340 pages
Publication Date: April 20, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley 

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble 

Robert Dugoni - authorThe Author: Robert Dugoni is the critically acclaimed New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and #1 Amazon bestselling author of the Tracy Crosswhite police detective series set in Seattle, which has sold more than 7 million books worldwide. He is also the author of The Charles Jenkins espionage series, and the David Sloane legal thriller series.

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

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

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

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

A Big Fat Greek Murder (A Goddess of Greene St Mystery Book 2 of 2) by Kate Collins – a #BookReview – #cozymystery

Book Blurb:

A Big Fat Greek Murder by Kate CollinsSingle mom Athena Spencer is back in Michigan working at her family’s garden center, raising a pet racoon, and digging up clues in the smart new mystery series by the New York Times bestselling author of the Flower Shop Mysteries . . .

The entire family has been put to work when a big fat Greek wedding rehearsal is booked at the Parthenon. All hands are needed for rolling grape leaves, layering moussaka, and keeping the bride calm. But then the groom goes MIA and there’s far more to worry about then just whether Yiayia’s lemon rice soup has gone cold.

No matter how tangy the tzatziki, everyone’s appetite is ruined when the groom is found dead, a pair of scissors planted in his back. When the bride accuses Athena’s sister Selene, a hairstylist, of seducing and stabbing her fiancé, it’s all-out war—and it’s up to Athena to dig up the dirt on the suspects and nip these suspicions in the bud . . .

My Review:

The second in the Goddess of Greene St Mysteries and another fast, fun cozy. There is that strong family theme with the Greek families’ enclave in Sequoia, Michigan, and the tie to the nursery family business and the little mascot that comes to get his peanuts. The family also has a restaurant, the Parthenon, which was to be graced by the Athena statue her grandfather found and brought in. Too large, it ended up at the garden center. But it was a way to introduce Case to Book 1 who plays a very prominent part in Book 2.

A Big Fat Greek Murder by Kate CollinsIn this installment, the restaurant is hosting a rehearsal dinner for Mandy Black and Brady Rogers. Protagonists’ Athena’s sister was to be one of the bridesmaids, but when the groom doesn’t show up, he is later found murdered. Uh oh. The police will point to the one obviously set up person who wouldn’t have done it, her sister, so Athena will get involved, along with Case, who helped her solve the mystery in Book 1 to clear her sister.

A little side tongue-in-cheek gig that slides just under the main storyline is Athena’s blog—unknown to her family (mostly)—known as “Goddess Anon.” Fun little snipes regarding what is going on in her family, the joys of a large family with all the drama, relationships, and idiosyncrasies of the individuals—i.e., her mother will feed anyone—including the people at the jail.

She and Case have a direct prosecutorial courtroom style of questioning; double-teaming those on their interview list until the list gets bullied down to three possible perps. Of course, it’s not terribly difficult to figure out who is the culprit and in the meantime I enjoy the steps they take to each new clue. Athena is smart, if not wholly open to a relationship—and you know that’s brewing between she and Case. The bits with the family are always entertaining, and the side trips to the Goddess blog fun.

You might wish to begin this series with Book 1, Statue of Limitations, to get more background. Could be read as a standalone, however, as there are bits of background info snuck in. The conclusion is satisfying and a wrap-up of details, which we’ve pretty much sussed out at this point. Engaging characters, descriptive locale, and entertaining storyline. However, there is a monkey-wrench thrown in at the end which worries me about a possible partner in Book 3? Say it isn’t so…and I’ll be watching for it.

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

Rosepoint Rating: Four Point Five of Five 4 1/2 stars

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Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuths, Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Kensington Books

  • ASIN : B085LTLH4P

Print Length: 258 pages
Publication Date: December 1, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

 Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

Kate Collins - authorThe Author: Kate Collins is the author of the best-selling Flower Shop Mystery series. Her books have made the New York Times Bestseller list, the Barnes & Noble mass market mystery best-sellers’ lists, the Independent Booksellers’ best-seller’s lists, as well as booksellers’ lists in the U.K. and Australia. All Flower Shop Mysteries are available in paperback, hardback and large print editions. The first three books in the FSM series are now available on audiobook.

In January of 2016, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel aired the first Flower Shop Mystery series movie, MUM’S THE WORD, followed by SLAY IT WITH FLOWERS and DEARLY DEPOTTED later that year. The movies star Brooke Shields, Brennan Elliott, Beau Bridges and Kate Drummond.

In December of 2017, a Christmas novella featuring the whole cast from the Flower Shop Mystery series was released in e-book format. MISSING UNDER THE MISTLETOE is the first mystery to be released digitally, with plans for many more stories to come.

Kate started her career writing children’s stories for magazines and eventually published historical romantic suspense novels under the pen name Linda Eberhardt and Linda O’brien.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Hideway by Nora Roberts – An #Audiobook Review – #romanticsuspense

Editors’ Pick for Best Romance 

Book Blurb:

A family ranch in Big Sur country and a legacy of Hollywood royalty set the stage for Nora Roberts’ emotional new suspense novel, Hideaway.

Hideaway by Nora RobertsCaitlyn Sullivan had come from a long line of Hollywood royalty, stretching back to her Irish immigrant great-grandfather. At nine, she was already a star – yet still an innocent child who loved to play hide-and-seek with her cousins at the family home in Big Sur. It was during one of those games that she disappeared.

Some may have considered her a pampered princess, but Cate was in fact a smart, scrappy fighter, and she managed to escape her abductors. Dillon Cooper was shocked to find the bloodied, exhausted girl huddled in his house – but when the teenager and his family heard her story, they provided refuge, reuniting her with her loved ones.

Cate’s ordeal, though, was far from over. First came the discovery of a shocking betrayal that would send someone she’d trusted to prison. Then there were years spent away in Western Ireland, peaceful and protected but with restlessness growing in her soul.

Finally, she would return to Los Angeles, gathering the courage to act again and get past the trauma that had derailed her life. What she didn’t yet know was that two seeds had been planted that long-ago night – one of a great love, and one of a terrible vengeance….

My Review:

Caitlyn Sullivan has a long, strong legacy of Hollywood royalty going way back so I guess it isn’t a surprise that she’d become a star already in her childhood. She’s experiencing one of many large family gatherings at her grandfather’s home in Big Sur at age ten when she is kidnapped.

Hideaway by Nora RobertsShe’s smart, however, level headed and brave and she manages an escape. In the process, she meets a ranching family that includes a young boy. Uh oh. Did I miss that this was going to be a romance? I saw Nora Roberts and thought I’d bite, but what did I get myself into?

This is one of those slow moving, although the first few chapters certainly set the hook quickly enough, romance that takes (predictably) years. Eventually, you just give up and think, “Come all, already. We know where this is going.”

In the meantime, we get all the middle story about her horrible mother, the slimeballs who kidnapped her, her foray into romance with guys from New York, her induction into her life’s work—which I gotta say sounded wonderful. I did get tired of the Sullivan dynasty money, the privileges, the estates, and the showers of love and support, rinse, repeat.

To sprinkle in some suspense—it is after all called a romantic suspense—she gets weird calls, veiled threats over the years. Not difficult to find her after she moves home. Heavily themed with family, love, and connection, there is also those darker issues of betrayal and vengeance. (And talk about patience…sheesh)

Glad I got to listen to it when I gardened, cooked, and cleaned. Not sure I could have stuck through all that middle minutia if I were reading it. My introduction to Nora Roberts and I’m sure her fans will appreciate this one. I enjoyed the multi-lingual narrator, January LaVoy (see her short video below–she’s lovely).

Book Details:

Genre: Domestic Thrillers, Romantic Suspense
Publisher:  Macmillan Audio
ASIN: B07YBJG9CL
Listening Length: 15 hrs and 45 min
Narrator: January LaVoy
Publication Date: Audible.com release May 26, 2020
Source: Local Library (Audiobook selections)

Title Link: Hideaway [Amazon]

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

Nora Roberts - authorThe Author: Nora Roberts is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than 200 novels, including Hideaway, Under Currents, Come Sundown and coming in November 2020 — The Awakening — the first book in The Dragon Heart Legacy. She is also the author of the futuristic suspense In Death series written under the pen name J.D. Robb. There are more than 500 million copies of her books in print.

The Narrator: January LaVoy

©2020 V Williams V Williams

 

Leave No Trace (An FBI K-9 Novel Book 5) by Sara Driscoll, Jen J Danna – a #BookReview – #animalfiction – #TuesdayBookBlog

Rosepoint Publishing: Five Stars5 stars

The “Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians are descendants of those resisters” (who refused to go on the Trail of Tears).

Book Blurb:

Leave No Trace by Sara DriscollOne arrow through the heart could be a tragic hunting accident. A second one, within days, looks more like a crime. That’s when Meg Jennings and Brian Foster of the FBI’s Forensic Canine Unit head to Georgia to investigate. With their dogs Hawk and Lacey, Meg and Brian are enlisted to follow the scent of a killer. At first, nothing seems to connect the two victims–a county commissioner and State Patrol officer.  But the blood sport around the southern town of Blue Ridge is just beginning.

As the body count rises, the compound bow killer becomes even more elusive, appearing and vanishing like a ghost. However, with each new slaying Meg is beginning to suspect the grim design that’s escalating in the shadows. At its heart, a tragic event that reaches back nearly two centuries in Georgia’s history is now turning Blue Ridge into a hunting ground. But as Meg gets closer to solving the puzzle, the closer she is to stepping into the crosshairs of an elusive murderer with deadly aim, and motives as deep and dark as the woods . . .

My Review:

Book 5 of the FBI K-9 mystery Leave No Trace will be coming out late December and 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.

Leave No Trace by Sara DriscollThe author manages to craft a remarkable canine-human story, but teach as well. In this case McCord is back and his character weaves in some amazing history, heading each chapter with points of interest in the early US Native American account of the Cherokee, one of the five Eastern tribes later known as the “Five Civilized Tribes” or providing a heads up for what’s coming. But more than that—the background of early Georgia–some really remarkable and little known history of the development of hydroelectric power in that area.

Protagonist Meg Jennings is back with her black Lab, Hawk. Her partner is Brian, whose dog is a German Shepherd, Lacey. They’ve been called in to track a killer using a compound bow that quickly escalates into a series of murders. Tracking high in the Appalachians is not easy. But it not only the expert bow hunter that’s deadly—so are those mountains.

Meg and Brian go from one peril to another, often caught in deadly situations that only the young and extremely fit could survive. It’s action packed, bringing training into the fore when called on.

The well-plotted and fast paced narrative grabs the reader in scenes of extreme danger and pushes the pulse-pounding experience to start flipping pages faster. Lots of drama here: critical information regarding bows, survival techniques, doses of fascinating history, police procedures and communication, and in between the larger picture, the personal issues confronting those prominent in the immediate team, including Meg’s guy.

I also read two others in the series, No Man’s Land and Storm Rising, and the CE read one in her new series NYPD Negotiators, Exit Strategy, and loved them all. Of course I love the interaction between dog and handler. The conclusion answers the whodunit, but not all the questions, issues, things you might have wanted to know. Still, the ride has been non-stop and immersive, the characters engaging, and the narrative wholly entertaining and thought-provoking. Totally recommended.

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

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Book Details:

Genre: Pet Dogs, Animal Fiction
Publisher: Kensington Books

  • ASIN : B086R8ZHBQ

Print Length: 336 pages
Publication Date: Available now on pre-order. Releases December 29, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

Jen J Danna - authorThe Author: A scientist specializing in infectious diseases, Jen J. Danna works as part of a dynamic research group at a cutting-edge Canadian university. However, her true passion lies in indulging her love of the mysterious through her writing.

With Ann Vanderlaan, she writes two series. Under Danna and Vanderlaan, they craft suspenseful crime fiction with a realistic scientific edge. Their five Abbott and Lowell Forensic Mysteries include DEAD, WITHOUT A STONE TO TELL IT; NO ONE SEES ME ‘TILL I FALL; A FLAME IN THE WIND OF DEATH; TWO PARTS BLOODY MURDER; and LAMENT THE COMMON BONES.

Under the joint pseudonym of Sara Driscoll, they write the FBI K-9s mysteries series, starring search-and-rescue team Meg Jennings and her black lab, Hawk. The series includes LONE WOLF, BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE, and STORM RISING. The fourth book in the series, NO MAN’S LAND, will release in December 2019.

Jen is also the author of the upcoming NYPD Negotiators thriller series, with the first book, EXIT STRATEGY, releasing in August 2020.

Jen lives near Toronto, Ontario with her husband, two daughters, and three rescued cats, and is a member of the Crime Writers of Canada. You can reach her through the contact page on her website or by email at jenjdanna@gmail.com.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Wine Tastings are Murder (A Poppy McAllister Mystery Book 5) by Libby Klein – a #BookReview – #cozymystery

Book Blurb:

Wine Tastings Are Murder by Libby KleinIt’s vintage Poppy when the gluten-free baker and B&B owner tries to solve a murder at a Cape May winery in Libby Klein’s fifth deliciously witty, paleo-themed Poppy McAllister Mystery.

When Poppy and Aunt Ginny agreed to host a Wine and Cheese Happy Hour for a tour group at their Butterfly House Bed and Breakfast on the Jersey Shore, they never anticipated such a sour bunch. Grumpy guest Vince Baker should be in a better mood–he’s filthy rich and on his honeymoon with his much younger wife Sunny, who seems to dote on him almost as much as her high-spirited teacup Pomeranian, Tammy Faye Baker.

But the honeymoon is over when Vince drops dead the next day touring the Laughing Gull Winery. Turns out he’s been poisoned, and it seems like everybody on the tour is hiding something. Now Poppy has to put her gluten-free baking on the back burner and bottle up her feelings for the two men in her life while she charges after a bitter killer with a lethal case of sour grapes…

My Review:

Book 5 of the author’s special writing style and that outrageous sense of humor has us wondering if the dreaded triangle will finally be over. More on that later. I started on the series in 2018 with Book 3 and 2019 with Book 4.

“Miss Thing mooned a grin at Gia like he was the last piece of chocolate cake on a PMS cruise.”

Wine Tastings Are Murder by Libby KleinIn this installment, protagonist Poppy McAllister will host a small happy hour of guests that will join a larger group tour of the Laughing Gull Winery, including a May-December couple, a couple on a “babymoon,” a single lady who arrives late, and a couple without reservations that apparently decided to follow the daughter’s powerful CEO daddy in the aforementioned marriage. Of course, those two ladies will clash from the beginning and continue throughout the narrative.

Poppy hosts her B&B along with her octogenarian Aunt Ginny who has obviously reverted—WAYYY back. She has a pack of cronies often referred to as “the biddies” that sets my teeth jangling every time I read it. Poppy has a kitty she calls Figaro who instantly takes a dislike to the pampered Pomeranian brought by the May side of the May-December marriage. In the meantime, her aunt is interviewing for a new chambermaid and hires Victoryna Rostyslavivna Yevtushenko—let’s go with Victoria. Victoria, it turns out has narcolepsy. Perhaps you are getting now that the narratives are loaded with unique and crisis-instigating support characters.

“He was stuck to him like the IRS on a small business.” (Boy, can we identify with THAT!)

Of course, there is a body, although it doesn’t occur until almost 28% into the novel. There are ample descriptions of cat-dog squabbles, broken china, stolen food. Red herrings are liberally scattered throughout. And the inevitable comparisons of the two men in the triangle, Gia or Tim, neither of whom I felt an appropriate match…the music swells…the dreaminess scenes begin…which one, which one? (I don’t care! Sorry, not sorry, I was over that in Book 3.)

By Book 5 you won’t have a lot of character development—lots of focus on food, most of which sounds delightful (and there are recipes at the back of the book). It’s fairly well paced, if not constantly interrupted, chaos, outrageous, slow to pull out the perp. The conclusion was somewhat a surprise—which was gratifying and not guessed correctly. And while it appears the eenie, meenie, minee, mo had been determined, the rug was then pulled out from under the reader. GEES! The obvious gotcha for Book 6. I’ll read it, NOT for the romance, but because the humor in the book is a hoot and I read it for the grins.

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

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Rosepoint Publishing: Four of Five Stars 4 stars

Book Details:

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

  • ASIN : B085LTRQ3P

Print Length: 311 pages
Publication Date: December 1, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

Libby Klein - authorThe Author: Libby Klein graduated Lower Cape May Regional High School sometime in the ’80s. Her classes revolved mostly around the culinary sciences and theater, with the occasional nap in Chemistry. She loves to drink coffee, bake gluten free goodies, and befriend random fluffy cats. She writes from her Northern Virginia office while trying to keep her cat Figaro off her keyboard. Most of her hobbies revolve around eating, and travel, and eating while traveling.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Puzzling Ink (A Crossword Puzzle Mystery Book 1) by Becky Clark – a #BookReview – #cozymystery

“She wanted her words to come out standard Times New Roman, but was pretty sure they ended up being Comic Sans.” 

Book Blurb:

1 DOWN: DEATH BY HOMICIDE
 
Puzzling Ink by Becky ClarkQuinn Carr wishes her life could be more like a crossword puzzle: neat, orderly, and perfectly arranged. At least her passion for puzzles, flair for words—and mild case of OCD—have landed her a gig creating crosswords for the local paper. But if she ever hopes to move out of her parents’ house, she can’t give up her day job as a waitress. She needs the tips. But when a customer ends up dead at her table—face down in biscuits and gravy—Quinn needs to get a clue to find whodunit . . .
 
6 LETTERS, STARTS WITH “M”
 
It turns out that solving a murder is a lot harder than a creating a crossword. Quinn has plenty of suspects—up, down, and across.  One of them is her boss, the owner of the diner who shares a culinary past with the victim. Two of them are ex-wives, her boss’s and the victim’s. A third complication is the Chief of Police who refuses to allow much investigation, preferring the pretense their town has no crime. To solve this mystery, Quinn has to think outside the boxes—before the killer gets the last word . . .

My Review:

Hmmm, okay. Puzzling Ink starts a new series for Becky Clark and it still has me trying to decide what to think about it. Not my first novel by Becky Clark and I usually enjoy her wry, witty writing style.

Puzzling Ink by Becky ClarkProtagonist Quinn Carr has returned home to Chestnut Station after she failed to progress in a police academy in Denver. She has been diagnosed with a mild case of OCD (and associated depression), but holy moly—if this is mild I hate to think what full blown obsessive-compulsive disorder is like. She has recently began waitressing at a diner and on the side creates crossword puzzles for the local paper. Her best friend from childhood, Rico, apparently encouraged her to try for the academy, but I can’t imagine a more unsuitable candidate. The author has given the MC several interesting support characters along with parents who are quirky and endearing.

Unfortunately, on a night when she find herself alone in the diner (the boss man off on a fundraising catering job), one of two remaining customers is discovered dead. Jake, owner of the diner ends up in jail for his murder. This is the first where I have difficulty—she’s crazy over the top to support him and prove him innocent, taking on single-handedly the cooking and waitressing of the diner. She’s worried about his wrath when he discovers she’s not doing well in the diner (huh?) and scared she’ll lose the job (double huh?).

The reader is introduced to her OCD side almost immediately, and that theme repeats—not just in nervous gestures or activities—but constantly reminded of being OCD. It’s a serious disorder. It is some time into the book before the reader is treated to the mechanics of creating a crossword puzzle and some time after that that she actually uses the device to promote a theory. And I must admit—the mechanics of the crossword puzzle is amazing (professional cruciverbalists)—I had no idea…it’s no simple process. (But did you know there’s an app for that?)

In her investigation and interviews, she tends to be a bit scattered. Definitely a real novice amateur sleuth. Quinn is fleshed to the degree of her OCD symptoms—lining up objects squarely, color coding. The mystery takes a back seat to the quandary of the anxiety disorder. Although well-plotted, the pacing was a bit erratic and Quinn not a protagonist with whom I could connect. The conclusion sorta snuck in and was not one that could have been guessed.

I read and enjoyed Fiction Can Be Murder back in March, 2018 and for the most part enjoyed this one to the extent I’ll read the second. Recommended for crossword puzzle fans and cozy mystery fans.

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

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Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuth, Cozy Mysteries
Publisher: Lyrical Press

  • ASIN : B085LTVY49

Print Length: 227 pages
Publication Date: November
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

Becky Clark - authorThe Author: Becky Clark is the seventh of eight kids, which explains both her insatiable need for attention and her atrocious table manners. She likes to read funny books so it felt natural to write them too. She surrounds herself with quirky people and pets who end up as characters in her books. Her stout-hearted dog keeps her safe from menacing squirrels, leaves, and deer, but not plastic bags. Those things are terrifying.

Readers say her books are “fast and thoroughly entertaining” with “witty humor and tight writing” and “humor laced with engaging characters” so you should “grab a cocktail and enjoy the ride.” They also say “Warning: You will laugh out loud. I’m not kidding,” and “If you like Janet Evanovich, you will like Becky Clark.”

Visit http://www.BeckyClarkBooks.com for all kinds of fun. While you’re there, be sure to subscribe to her “So Seldom It’s Shameful” newsletter. You’ll hear about new releases, get the chance to win fabulous prizes, find out about book promotions from her and others, read interviews from new-to-you authors, and more. (As you might have gleaned from the title, she won’t inundate your inbox, either.)

If you want to connect more often, join Becky’s Book Buddies at Facebook … https://www.facebook.com/groups/beckysbookbuddies/

Follow Becky Clark here on Amazon, on BookBub, and at Goodreads. If you enjoy her books, she’d swoon if you left a review. Yes, swoon.

©2929 V Williams V Williams

The Secret of Rosalita Flats by Tom W Jackson – a #BookReview – #International Mystery and Crime – #TuesdayBookBlog

Rosepoint Publishing: Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

The Secret of Rosalita Flats by Tim W JacksonMost people dream of being stuck on a tropical island, but Cal Batten just wants to sell his dad’s ramshackle, football-shaped house, fly home and pay off his creditors. Problem is, his dad’s will’s gone missing, what passes for an attorney has his own agenda and the wacky locals may tear the house apart to get at the gold and jewels they reckon are hidden inside. There’s also his childhood former-best friend, now a beautiful scuba instructor, who just might drown him out of spite. Cal has to dodge sharks–on land and under water–if he’s to unload the house and escape the crazy little rock.

The Secret of Rosalita Flats is a smart, funny tropical misadventure for anyone who’s ever dreamed of chucking it all and running off to the Caribbean. From the author of Blacktip Island.

My Review:

If there was ever an island that would convince you not to run off to the Caribbean, this would be it. Although fictitious, I get the sense it’s not all that big, but it seems to be populated with all the crazies the other islands couldn’t tolerate. But that’s where protagonist Cal Batten travels to settle the estate of his late father, Rhodes, whom he had not seen since the age of twelve.

The Secret of Rosalita Flats by Tim W JacksonThe author paints Blacktip Island in some amazing visuals, from the ironshore surface with death-defying cliffs and gumbo-limbo trees and cactus, to the mosquitoes, merquatches, duppies, and boojums. Sounds fun, huh? But all Cal wants to do is sell and settle the place and head home to his little shop in Naperville, IL.

Unfortunately, what he finds is a confusing mess of a shack shaped like a football and a housekeeper that refuses to quit, showing up whether fired or not, to clean what is no longer cleanable. And then there are those who show up to buy the place, junk and all, as is, au naturale, immediately so he could be on his way. There are scraping sounds that wake him nightly along with the warnings to leave. Problem is—he can’t. He must have the paperwork—the deed, the will, the legal conveyances of which he can’t find in all the mess—though he’s certainly caught the housekeeper searching for it. And when he leaves, comes home to find the place tossed.

Cal remembers many of the island’s citizens and one would reintroduce him to scuba diving if he can get over his manic fear of sharks. They were friends when children but she doesn’t seem to know much more about his dad than he. The rest of the population has his dad pegged at weird and reclusive more than friendly but they all suspect he was hiding—what and how much—they are not sure.

Euler anglesInteresting tidbits about diving, Fibonacci number sequence, and Euler angles—remote stuff I love to learn and won’t remember two days from now—unless perhaps someone mentions it. Okay—that’s not going to happen, huh, unless you’re familiar with Euler angles.

As Cal digs deeper into the mystery, the gentle re-acquaintance with Marina begins to develop as the tension tightens into the who and why. Above and underwater scenes prove an exciting push into the conclusion which gradually settles the waters and works things out very satisfactorily.

I read Blacktip Island back in 2016 and thoroughly enjoyed the author’s tongue-in-cheek humorous writing style brought forward here (the stench from the booby pond), while working tangible bits of information into a plausible scenario. It’s a Blacktip Island novel, perhaps classified as Book 2, but certainly a standalone. Only the island is the constant. It’s a lingering build of conflict coupled with twists and red herrings that keep the pages turning. You may not always identify with the characters, but they are thoroughly entertaining and the storyline amusing—comical at times. A lovely get-a-way when we all need one. Recommended and looking forward to Book 3.

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

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Book Details:

Genre: General Caribbean Travel Guides, Travel, International Mystery & Crime
Publisher: Devonshire House Press

  • ASIN : B08BQCH6TJ

Print Length: 211 pages
Publication Date: September 18, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

Tim W Jackson - authorThe Author: Tim W. Jackson‘s first taste of scuba diving came at the age of six when he sneaked breaths off his dad’s double-hose regulator in the deep end of the pool. Later, as an ex-journalist armed with a newly-minted master’s degree in English, he discovered he was qualified to be a bartender, a waiter or a PhD student. Instead he chose Secret Option D: run off to the Cayman Islands to work as a scuba instructor and boat captain by day and write fiction at night. Two decades later, he still wishes that was half as interesting as it sounds. Or even a quarter . . .

Jackson is the award-winning author of the comic Caribbean novels Blacktip Island and The Secret of Rosalita Flats, as well as The Blacktip Times humor blog. His “Tales from Blacktip Island” short stories have been published in literary journals worldwide. He is currently concocting his next Blacktip Island novel and still enjoys scuba diving with his dad’s old double-hose reg.

For more insider info, visit his website, http://www.timwjackson.com, the Blacktip Times (www.blacktipisland.com) or follow him on Facebook (Tim W. Jackson) and Twitter (@timwjax).

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Photo attribution: Euler angles-courtesy Wikipedia

Mainely Power (A Goff Langdon Mainely Mystery Book 1) by Matt Cost – a #BookReview – Private Investigator Mysteries

“…Do you know that in olden times the newspapers would send people to the taverns to find stories to write? When the news was slow, they’d send a man down, tell him to ‘go sip a beer’ and keep his ears open. Over time, this got shortened to gossip.”

Book Blurb:

Mainely Power by Matt Cost

Was Harold Dumphy killed to cover up something at the nuclear power plant where he was the head of security?
This is what Harold’s widow asks Goff Langdon, private detective, to find out. Langdon is a laid back, slacker detective, happy with his work, friends, and way of life in the town of Brunswick, Maine. To compliment his income in small town Maine’s scarce private detective market, Langdon also owns and operates a mystery bookstore named after his trusted companion, Coffee Dog.
Does Langdon stand a chance against corrupt cops, crooked politicians, greedy millionaires, radical environmentalists, and a deadly assassin named Shakespeare?
With the help of Bart, the bear of a cop; Jimmy 4 by Four, the hippie lawyer; the immigrants Jewell and Richam; and his true desire and employee, Chabal—Langdon sets out to do just that. And then he is framed for not one, but two murders, and events become very complicated.
Follow Langdon and his band of friends as they attempt to untangle the web of intrigue and return Brunswick to “the way life should be.”

My Review:

The author has created the first installment in his Goff Langdon Mainely Mystery series and kicked it off with some memorable characters with such names as (attorney) 4 by Four and Peppermint Patti. And his dog? That’s Coffee Dog. You know I’m a sucker for a story with a dog in it, but a little disappointed this one didn’t get more press time. Still, I enjoyed the back story of 4 by Four.

Mainely Power by Matt Cost

Protagonist Goff Langdon is a twenty-something mystery bookstore owner and a (I’m guessing) newly minted part-time private detective in Brunswick, Maine.  His wife up and split with their precocious three year old, Missouri (I told you he chose some unusual names).

I’m not sure if the town is just that small or if there are no other PI’s out there, but he is approached by a voluptuous lady to look into the death of her husband, an apparent suicide. (After all, there is a life insurance policy to consider.) He was head of security at DownEast Power, an aging nuclear power plant.

He has an interesting cadre of support, from his twin brothers, to Bart, a local cop and Chabal, his young assistant at the book store. They hold a confab after Goff and his little girl are threatened to back off and they divvy up the investigation issues. The immediate antagonist, Lawrence Shakespeare, drops the crux of the whole thing and at that point it’s a matter of staying alive long enough to get the guy giving orders to Shakespeare.

In the meantime, there is a lot of hanky-panky, an additional victim, suspense, blackmail, and less than stellar decisions on how to proceed. There are red herrings and rehashing of the salient points, but they do manage to wheedle out the perp, although that is not a revelation more than a confirmation of the reader’s suspicions.

The protagonist is not wholly fleshed, no doubt more on him in Book 2. The women enjoy a dalliance or two (or more) as well as the appreciative looks by the men. An occasional profane word or two are sprinkled in as well as implied sexual content.

A well-plotted, albeit not unique, plot well paced. A character-driven narrative that has you shaking your head more than once—the protagonist is not a Mensa candidate, but he loves his daughter—and dog.

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

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Book Details:

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

  • ASIN : B08FMXQFNV

Print Length: 304 pages
Publication Date: September 18, 2020
Source: Direct author request

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble

Matt Cost - authorThe Author: Matthew Langdon Cost has wanted to be a writer since age eight. “I Am Cuba” is his first traditionally published novel. He has also self-published another work of historical fiction, “Joshua Chamberlain and the Civil War: At Every Hazard”. Encircle Publications will be publishing his Mainely Mystery trilogy over the course of the next year: “Mainely Power” is due out in September, “Mainely Fear” in December, and “Mainely Blackmail” in May of 2021. Over the years, Cost has owned a video store, a mystery bookstore, and a gym. He has also taught history and coached just about every sport imaginable. He now lives in Brunswick, Maine, with his wife, Harper. There are four grown children: Brittany, Pearson, Miranda, and Ryan. A chocolate lab and a basset hound round out the mix. He now spends his days at the computer, writing. You can keep up with Matt by visiting facebook.com/matt.cost.3, http://www.mattcost.net, and on Twitter, @MattCost8.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Wolf Pack (A Joe Pickett Novel Book 19) vs The Bitterroots (Cassie Dewell Book 5) by C J Box – #Audiobook Reviews #crimethrillers

Wolf Pack vs The Bitterroots - #audiobooks

I’ve tried a couple times to get an ARC from the publisher (through NetGalley) for one of this author’s Joe Pickett books. No, they said. Nuh uh. Nada. And then I discovered the series, or most of them, at my local library audiobook section and while some are on a waiting list, I managed to snag these two—back-to-back. Wow—same author, huh? But then I realized these aren’t the same series—not nearly (or the same narrator). And these two are apples and oranges—

Wyoming–the Cowboy State, Equality State and Montana–Big Sky Country

big sky country

Mountains and treacherous terrain, wild animals, desolation, and weather that can turn on a dime and leave you stranded. Common to both states. So, yes, I loved the descriptions of the locale, especially in Montana, having ridden my motorcycle through Lolo Pass—FUN road! It’s gorgeous up there. And frighteningly isolated. This my introduction to the author, plunked into the middle of both series, found either would work as a standalone as there is enough backstory slipped in to bring you quickly up to speed. However, as with all series, sometimes you can watch the evolution of the character(s) if you go back and start with the first.

Wolf Pack-Book Blurb:

Wolf Pack by C J BoxWyoming game warden Joe Pickett encounters bad behavior on his own turf–only to have the FBI and the DOJ ask him to stand down–in the thrilling new novel from #1 New York Times-bestselling author C.J. Box.

The good news is that Joe Pickett has his job back, after his last adventure in The Disappeared. The bad news is that he’s come to learn that a drone is killing wildlife–and the drone belongs to a mysterious and wealthy man whose son is dating Joe’s own daughter, Lucy.

When Joe tries to lay down the rules for the drone operator, he’s asked by the FBI and the DOJ to stand down, which only makes him more suspicious. Meanwhile, bodies are piling up in and around Joe’s district in shocking numbers. He begins to fear that a pack of four vicious killers working on behalf of the Sinaloa cartel known as the Wolf Pack has arrived. Their target seems to be the mystery man and everyone–including Joe, Nate, and others–who is associated with him.

Teaming up with a female game warden (based on a real person, one of the few female game wardens at work in Wyoming today) to confront these assassins, Joe finds himself in the most violent and dangerous predicament he’s ever faced.

Wolf Pack Review:

Joe Pickett is a Wyoming state game warden and he has his hands full dealing with unmonitored animal traps and drones driving herds of deer and elk to exhaustion, some to death.

Wolf Pack by C J BoxIn this case, the leg traps have initials on them—duh. Not too difficult then to find the owner and then discovers the drone’s owner as well. Joe has three daughters, the last of which is dating the grandson of the drone’s owner living out on a well fortified and secluded acreage compound.

One of the series main characters, Nate Romanowski is an experienced falconer and it doesn’t take much for the bird to bring down the drone—which doesn’t sit well with the owner. It’s not a pleasant confrontation and when he and Kate (another series regular) tries to corral his activities is brought up short by the FBI. Huh?

You know when the FBI gets involves, the case will go sideways, and it does. When bodies begin to show up, the case goes well beyond animal protection. The Wolf Pack is a far more serious threat than the four-footed fur-bearing animals and it’ll take some work to track them down. Can they really be more cunning than the wolves? Certainly more deadly!

It’s a dark and profane narrative, graphic at times, in a well-plotted novel, fast moving story on a collision course with an explosive conclusion. I won’t even mention the epilogue. I’m not sure I needed that. On the whole, a shocking introduction to the author’s writing style—glad I listened to this audiobook second!

Book Details:

Genre: Murder Thrillers, Suspense
Publisher:  Recorded Books

  • ASIN: B07JGB5PG9

Print Length: 381 pages
Listening Length: 9 hrs, 51 mins
Narrator: David Chandler
Publication Date: March 12, 2019
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Wolf Pack

Add to Goodreads4.39 average of 1,044 reviews

The Bitterroots-BookBlurb:

2019 Kirkus Reviews Best Books of the Year

The Bitterroots by C J BoxA riveting new audiobook from New York Times best-selling and Edgar Award-winning author C. J. Box.

Former police officer Cassie Dewell is trying to start over with her own private investigation firm. Guilty about not seeing her son and exhausted by the nights on stakeout, Cassie is nonetheless managing…until an old friend calls in a favor: She wants Cassie to help exonerate a man accused of assaulting a young girl from an influential family.

Against her own better judgment, Cassie agrees. But out in the Big Sky Country of Montana, twisted family loyalty runs as deep as the ties to the land, and there’s always something more to the story. As Cassie attempts to uncover the truth, she must fight against the ghosts of her own past that threaten to pull her back under.

With The Bitterroots, master storyteller C. J. Box delivers another audiobook featuring fan favorite Cassie Dewell from the Highway Quartet series.

The Bitterroots Review:

My first introduction to this author and the series, Cassie Dewell has separated herself from the police department, going out on her own as a private investigator. She is thinking this will give her some more latitude with her time as Ben, her son, and her hippie mother lives with her in Bozeman, Montana.

The Bitterroots by C J BoxHer last case left her with no small amount of PTSD and she still cringes whenever an eighteen-wheeler dusts her doors. She owes one to an attorney friend, so when she calls to pull in the favor, Cassie will grudgingly oblige—against every fiber in her being—the investigation into the rape of a fifteen year old. The attorney is playing defense and wants to know how strong the prosecution’s case is. Of course her client asserts his innocence. A quick perusal of the file has her convinced of his guilt—after all, look at all the evidence!!

But off she goes to Lochsa County to talk to his family and those officials connected with the case. The family appears to have a strangle-hold on their ranch and the area around them, including the officials. I got a strong sense of the more well known male dominated clans—and must say the mother of the girl is one hell of a character. No one wants to talk with her and she’s warned out of there.

In the meantime, her life continues to remain involved in her son’s activities as she continually referees issues between her mother and Ben. And then there is the big black semi who keeps showing up—to just sit and watch. Okay, he’s a creep.

After awhile, I had some sympathetic pangs for the accused and sorry that did not end well. I had a problem with the narrator, more than once, as she attempted different voices—the attorney in particular. And the mother of the victim…the way she handled the voice of the mother going into the conclusion was priceless. Did not see that coming!

Book Details:

Genre: Private Investigator Mysteries, Crime Thrillers, Police Procedurals, Women Sleuths
Publisher:  Macmillan Audio

  • ASIN: B07ND36RSR

 Print Length: 307 pages
Listening Length: 9 hrs, 49 mins
Narrator: Christine Delaine
Publication Date: August 13, 2019
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Bitterroots –
Cassie Dewell #4
The Highway Quartet #5

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4.02 average rating of 729 reviews

Overall Impression:

These will continue to be similar/dissimilar. While one is a great deal more established, i.e., long term main characters, locale-driven plots, atmospheric fast-paced and graphic (Joe Pickett), the other will build a strong female protagonist, character-driven plots, toned down language (somewhat) and exhibit more feminine issues and concerns. I didn’t care for the epilogue in the Wolf Pack but that same little ploy in The Bitterroots was a classic feminine “gotcha.” Oh, yes, that brought a smile to my face. But you know what? If I get a chance for another audiobook in either series, I’ll grab it.

C J Box - author

The Author: C. J. Box is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of 24 novels including the Joe Pickett series. He won the Edgar Alan Poe Award for Best Novel (Blue Heaven, 2009) as well as the Anthony Award, Prix Calibre 38 (France), the Macavity Award, the Gumshoe Award, two Barry Awards, and the 2010 Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association Award for fiction. He was recently awarded the 2016 Western Heritage Award for Literature by the National Cowboy Museum as well as the Spur Award for Best Contemporary Novel by the Western Writers of America in 2017. The novels have been translated into 27 languages.

Box is a Wyoming native and has worked as a ranch hand, surveyor, fishing guide, a small town newspaper reporter and editor, and he co-owns an international tourism marketing firm with his wife Laurie. They have three daughters. An avid outdoorsman, Box has hunted, fished, hiked, ridden, and skied throughout Wyoming and the Mountain West. He served on the Board of Directors for the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo. Box lives in Wyoming.

–from the author’s website

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Bending the Paw (A Paw Enforcement Novel Book 9) by Diane Kelly – A #BookReview – #cozymystery – #TuesdayBookBlog

Happy Publication Day!

Book Blurb:

A MURDER WITHOUT A BODY IS LIKE A DOG WITHOUT A BONE
Bending the Paw by Diane KellyA bloodbath is a shocking new challenge for Megan and Brigit when Detective Audrey Jackson calls them to the scene of what could only be a brutal murder. But the one thing the nightmarish scene is missing is a victim. The frantic homeowner’s husband is gone, seemingly without a trace—and so is the money he was holding. Has a vicious killer committed what might just be the perfect crime?

Meanwhile, it’s hailing cats and dogs all over Fort Worth, and roofing contractors have descended on the city in droves. With plenty of damage and continuing storms, work delays are building up like so much runoff, but Megan is suspicious that one roofer may be a scam artist. Determined to leash every lawbreaker she and her K-9 partner find, Megan is building a case for prosecution, all while Brigit has her nose to the ground for a murderer…

His Review:

Can a person live with a loss of over 2 quarts of blood? Diane Kelly has written a very interesting novel around this question. Medical science explains that a person will expire with this amount of blood loss. Megan Luz and her K-9 partner are called to a grizzly scene where there is blood everywhere but no body present! The K-9 partners’ name is Bridgit and she begins to examine the scene to see if she can identify where the victim could possibly be.

Bending the Paw by Diane KellyDiane Kelly has presented this tale from three and sometimes 4 perspectives, the perpetrator, the detective, the dog and the aspiring detective, Megan Luz. The trail ends near the garage where the body was supposedly loaded into the back of a car for disposal. Switch to the perpetrator and his attempts to hide the body and evidence and the plot thickens.

Very little evidence is available as to what type of weapon was used to slash the victim and cause all of the blood loss. With very little evidence to go on the case stands on the brink of being put into an unsolved cubbyhole. Meanwhile other crimes in the Fort Worth area are happening which keep our beat K-9 duo occupied. Weather related storm damage and the need for repair acts as a magnet for all unscrupulous individuals to harvest money from other peoples misfortune.

Megan responds quickly to the needs of the lead detective, Ms. Jackson, whenever called. Most crimes can be solved with the assistance of a highly trained police dog. Diane Kelly writes from the perspective of the dog and at times it is very enlightening. Working on one case confuses the animal who recognizes a possible scent of the criminal in the other crime. Yes, the answer can be as plain as the nose on your face, particularly if you are a dog!

CE WilliamsThe conclusion is very entertaining and I did not expect it. Dogged police work (pun intended) helped to solve the case. Again, the actual ending was totally unexpected. I highly recommend this book to those who would like to learn some interesting police procedures while being totally entertained. 5 stars – CE Williams

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Sara Beth Haring of St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley. These are my honest thoughts.

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Animal Mysteries, Police Procedurals
Publisher: St Martin’s Paperbacks

    • ISBN-10 : 1250197392
    • ISBN-13 : 978-1250197399
    • ASIN : B084M1NGYF

Print Length: 320 pages
Publication Date: Happy Release Day! October 27, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Bending the Paw [Amazon]
Also find the book at these locations:

Barnes and Noble | Kobo

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5 stars

Diane Kelly - authorThe Author: A former tax advisor, Diane Kelly inadvertently worked with white-collar criminals. Not surprisingly, Diane decided self-employment would be a good idea. Her fingers hit the keyboard and thus began her Death and Taxes romantic mystery series. A graduate of her hometown’s Citizen Police Academy, Diane Kelly also writes the hilarious K-9 cop Paw Enforcement series and the new House Flipper cozy mystery series. Look for her moonshine series debut in June 2021!

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

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams