The Age of Witches: A Novel by Louisa Morgan – a #BookReview #TuesdayBookBlog

Historical Fantasy Fiction

Book Blurb:

The Age of Witches by Louisa MorganIn Gilded Age New York, a centuries-long clash between two magical families ignites when a young witch must choose between love and loyalty, power and ambition, in this magical novel by Louisa Morgan.
In 1692, Bridget Bishop was hanged as a witch. Two hundred years later, her legacy lives on in the scions of two very different lines: one dedicated to using their powers to heal and help women in need; the other, determined to grasp power for themselves by whatever means necessary.
This clash will play out in the fate of Annis, a young woman in Gilded Age New York who finds herself a pawn in the family struggle for supremacy. She’ll need to claim her own power to save herself-and resist succumbing to the darkness that threatens to overcome them all.

My Review:

Having descended from Bridget Byshop who was hanged in 1692 for being a witch, Harriet Bishop is still being very careful about her abilities beyond the herbal concoctions she creates to heal. She is one of two sisters from Bridget’s line. The sisters, however, did not choose the same path to magic–one chose healing and the other dark power to ruthlessly gain her desired outcome. Their grandmother Beryl tried her best to pass on the legacy, but Harriet and Frances grew up in different circumstances and Frances was determined she’d rise above the squalid memories of her childhood.

The Age of Witches by Louisa MorganNew York City during the Gilded Age was a magical community, thriving, discovering modern conveniences. Frances’s goal was to be accepted into the Four Hundred–the entitled old money rich of the city. Frances is an early Eliza Doolittle, willing to do anything to rise to the level of the successful, tasteful aristocracy. She would do that by forcing her seventeen-year-old step-daughter to marry into the nobility of England and arranges a trip with Annis to find a suitable prize. Annis Allington has her own ideas, however. She adores her thoroughbred stallion, Black Satin (Bits), and her goal is to create a fine bloodline of thoroughbreds. But back then, who would purchase on the “expertise” of a woman breeder. Annis has no ideas of marriage and certainly not to a stuffy British nobleman. She is determined that no one will tell her what she can or can’t do.

The narrative conjures visions of magic spells, amulets, cantrips, and herbal concoctions. The herbal blends are devised by mortar and pestle, each recipe’s ingredient carefully chosen for the desired outcome. The incantations are poetic.

While Annis would be considered the main character, there are four POV’s, that of Annis, Harriet, Frances, and later James. You can almost visualize Frances as the evil witch, complete with long and crooked nose and pointy hat. Harriet, always the peace-maker, soft-spoken carries the big stick, and wide-eyed novice Annis uncovering the new world of sorcery. Both the good and bad.

The author has done an admiral job of the verbiage, invoking so much knowledge to herbal ingredients and remedies that it doesn’t seem possible you could write with that much confidence and not be involved in the practice up to the eyeballs. The narrative follows Annis on her steadfast course to be true to herself. Harriet toils toward the empowerment of women–quietly but naturally–as a benevolent mentor and realizes she must intervene in Frances’ plan.  Annis is young and idealistic, but wholly empathetic, and I loved the strong connection to her horse. James is an innocent pawn, naive, in a scheme gone mad and Frances…poor Frances will pay a heavy price for her dark plot.

Witch should be a beautiful word, signifying wisdom and knowledge and discipline, but it isn’t used that way. It’s been made an insult, implying evil, causing fear. The word has been perverted.” –Harriet Bishop, 1890

The storyline wrestles with the effects of a maleficia gone awry, finding the path between the two young persons, and the struggle of good versus evil. When is two wrongs the better choice? And can it possibly be used to make right?

Why didn’t I go whole hog five stars is a quibble I had similar to the one I experienced with A Secret History of Witches (which I avidly followed with the exception of the story of Veronica during WWII). This time, I stumbled over the relationship of Annis to Harriet and Frances.

I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I enjoyed that first book so much I couldn’t wait to tear into this ARC. The author writes with engaging authority, slipping the prose easily between tidbits of ancient technology and entertaining but subtle differences between American and British society. Totally recommended.

Book Details:

Genre: American Historical Romance, Historical Fantasy Fiction
Publisher: Redhook

  • ISBN-10:0316419540
  • ISBN-13:978-0316419543
  • ASIN: B07VZFWVYR

Print Length: 448 pages
Publication Date: Happy Release Day! April 7, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Age of Witches (Amazon)
Barnes and Noble
Kobo

+Add to Goodreads 

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

Louisa Morgan - authorThe Author: Louisa Morgan lives and writes and rambles with her familiar, Oscar the Border Terrier, on the beautiful Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. A musician and a yogini, she finds inspiration in the artistic environment where she makes her home.

Under the name Louise Marley, she has written a number of other historical fiction novels, as well as fantasy and science fiction. Please visit http://www.louisemarley.com for more information, and to learn more about Oscar!

©2020 V Williams V Williams

A Reasonable Doubt: A Robin Lockwood Novel by Phillip Margolin – a #BookReview #legalthriller

A Robin Lockwood Novel Book 3

Book Blurb:

A Reasonable Doubt-Phillip MargolinA magician linked to three murders and suspicious deaths years ago disappears in the middle of his new act in New York Times bestseller Phillip Margolin’s latest thriller featuring Robin Lockwood

Robin Lockwood is a young criminal defense attorney and partner in a prominent law firm in Portland, Oregon. A former MMA fighter and Yale Law graduate, she joined the firm of legal legend Regina Barrister not long before Regina was forced into retirement by early onset Alzheimer’s.

One of Regina’s former clients, Robert Chesterfield, shows up in the law office with an odd request—he’s seeking help from his old attorney in acquiring patent protection for an illusion. Chesterfield is a professional magician of some reknown and he has a major new trick he’s about to debut. This is out of the scope of the law firm’s expertise, but when Robin Lockwood looks into his previous relationship with the firm, she learns that twenty years ago he was arrested for two murders, one attempted murder, and was involved in the potentially suspicious death of his very rich wife. At the time, Regina Barrister defended him with ease, after which he resumed his career as a magician in Las Vegas.

Now, decades later, he debuts his new trick—only to disappear at the end. He’s a man with more than one dark past and many enemies—is his disappearance tied to one of the many people who have good reason to hate him? Was he killed and his body disposed of, or did he use his considerable skills to engineer his own disappearance?

Robin Lockwood must unravel the tangled skein of murder and bloody mischief to learn how it all ties together.

My Review:

I came into Book 3 not having read the previous two. (No surprise there, huh?) While I read as a standalone, I suspect the first two dealt more with character Regina Barrister than Robin Lockwood, who appears to have taken over her spot in the Portland law firm. Not easy to live up to the legend known as ” the Sorceress,” Robin is quickly making a name for herself as the rising criminal defense attorney of the firm.

A Reasonable Doubt by Phillip MargolinWhen magician Robert Chesterfield appears at the offices looking for Regina, he is told she retired and is directed to Robin. But his is an unusual request and she is not the proper attorney. She investigates his question and says buh-bye, especially after she checks with Regina regarding her former client and discovers he was charged with two murders and an attempted murder. Regina takes us back twenty years (a couple times) to the case and introduces us to a number of new characters.

Back to Robin’s reign, an invitation to appear for a special, private showing of Chesterfield’s show-stopping trick does just that with his untimely death. More characters are introduced. That death seems to set off a spate of deaths, tied to the much earlier case, along with an attempted murder. Now Robin does more investigating and coordinates with all the local detectives, along with Jeff and an infamous ADA Peter Ragland, relegated to the smaller office after his humiliating defeat by Regina.

Now we get to know a little more about Chesterfield (the sleaze), not exactly a character you’ll come to love and no one else did either including his present wife, about Robin’s early experience with the MMA while attending Yale Law School, and about her new co-occupant with privileges, investigator boyfriend Jeff Hodges. The storyline goes a bit off-track, becoming somewhat convoluted, with attempts at throwing in some red herrings.

First, I couldn’t get into Robin’s shoes and Jeff left me a bit cold. He didn’t just take a backseat, he wasn’t in the same vehicle. As Barbara noted in her review recently at Flippin’ Pages Book Reviews, “I’m not sure why, but so many authors who want to write strong, independent female characters think that they have to make them angry, acerbic, domineering, selfish, etc. and that they have to pair them with milksop male characters.”


Thank you! I find that so often as well and while I really enjoy a strong female protagonist, they don’t all have to box or be a black belt in an obscure ancient Asian martial art form. While Jeff wasn’t exactly milksop, he easily slept through Robin’s prep to go out in the middle of the night to confront the antagonist. I know, I know… She is smart, strong, independent. But he was right there–couldn’t she have used a backup?

Another of my pet peeves: characters that start with the same letter. Why? Regina, Robin. I see this so often and, for me, sometimes gets confusing. (Maybe it’s just my age.) The plot didn’t move with quite enough speed for me, slowing in the middle, losing my interest. While I do enjoy a legal thriller and certainly a mystery, this one doesn’t really pull off the latter since it was guessed correctly pretty early on. The conclusion wraps most loose threads but really at this point rather anti-climatic.

I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read. This author has quite a track record and following and it’s quite possible this might have been a bit under his usual standards. You may very well enjoy the novel and remember these are my honest and unbiased opinions. You are free to differ with me. Up for a discussion?

Book Details:

Genre: Legal Thrillers, Women Sleuths
Publisher: Minotaur Books

  • ISBN-10:1250117542
  • ISBN-13:978-1250117540
  • ASIN: B07S8K7J4Q

Print Length: 289 pages
Publication Date: March 10, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: A Reasonable Doubt (Amazon)
Barnes and Noble
Kobo

+Add to Goodreads 

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

Phillip Margolin - authorThe Author: [Phillip Margolin] I grew up in New York City and Levittown, New York. In 1965, I graduated from the American University in Washington, D.C., with a bachelor’s degree in government. I spent 1965 to 1967 in Liberia, West Africa, as a Peace Corps volunteer, graduated from New York University School of Law in 1970 as a night student. I went nights and worked as a junior high teacher in the South Bronx to support myself. My first job following law school was a clerkship with Herbert M. Schwab, the chief judge of the Oregon Court of Appeals, and from 1972 until 1996, I was in private practice, specializing in criminal defense at the trial and appellate levels. As an appellate attorney I have appeared before the United States Supreme Court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the Oregon Supreme Court, and the Oregon Court of Appeals. As a trial attorney, I handled all sorts of criminal cases in state and federal court, and have represented approximately thirty people charged with homicide, several of whom faced the death penalty. I was the first Oregon attorney to use battered women’s syndrome to defend a woman accused of murdering her spouse.

Since 1996, I have been writing full-time. All of my novels have been bestsellers. Heartstone, my first novel, was nominated by the Mystery Writers of America for an Edgar for best original paperback mystery of 1978. My second novel, The Last Innocent Man, was made into an HBO movie. Gone, But Not Forgotten has been sold to more than twenty-five foreign publishers and was made into a miniseries starring Brooke Shields. It was also the Main Selection of the Literary Guild. After Dark was a Book of the Month Club selection. The Burning Man, my fifth novel, published in August 1996, was the Main Selection of the Literary Guild and a Reader’s Digest condensed book. My sixth novel, The Undertaker’s Widow, was published in 1998 and was a Book of the Month Club selection. Wild Justice (HarperCollins, September 2000) was a Main Selection of the Literary Guild, a selection of the Book of the Month Club, and was nominated for an Oregon Book Award. The Associate was published by HarperCollins in August 2001, and Ties that Bind was published by HarperCollins in March 2003. My tenth novel, Sleeping Beauty, was published by HarperCollins on March 23, 2004. Lost Lake was published by HarperCollins in March 2005 and was nominated for an Oregon Book Award. Proof Positive was published by HarperCollins in July 2006. Executive Privilege was published by HarperCollins in May 2008 and in 2009 was given the Spotted Owl Award for the Best Northwest Mystery. Fugitive was published by HarperCollins on June 2, 2009. Willamette Writers gave me the 2009 Distinguished Northwest Writers Award. My latest novel, Supreme Justice, was published by HarperCollins in May 2010. My next novel, Capitol Murder, will come out in April 2012.

On October 11, 2011, HarperCollins will publish Vanishing Acts, my first Young Adult novel, which I wrote with my daughter, Ami Margolin Rome. Also in October, the short story “The Case of the Purloined Paget,” which I wrote with my brother, Jerry, will be published by Random House in the anthology A Study in Sherlock.

In addition to my novels, I have published short stories and nonfiction articles in magazines and law journals. My short story “The Jailhouse Lawyer” was selected for the anthology The Best American Mystery Stories 1999. The House on Pine Terrace was selected for the anthology The Best American Mystery Stories 2010.

From 1996 to 2009 I was the president and chairman of the Board of Chess for Success. I am still heavily involved in the program, and returned to the board after a one-year absence in 2010. Chess for Success is a nonprofit charity that uses chess to teach study skills to elementary- and middle-school children in Title I schools . From 2007 to the present, I have been on the Board of Literary Arts, which sponsors the Oregon Book Awards, the Writers in the Schools program, and Portland Arts and Lectures.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

 

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

Rosepoint Reviews-March recap

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

Stay: Smart, Safe, Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Small CoVid19 graphic attribute: semiwiki.com

The Body in the Apartment (A Zazzi Zanders Mystery Book 4) by Judi Lynn – a #BookReview #TuesdayBookBlog

Book Blurb:

The Body In the Apartment by Judi LynnThe charming homes of River Bluffs, Indiana, make perfect projects for house-flipper Jazzi Zanders. Less charming is her hothead brother-in-law, who’s a bit of a fixer-upper himself.
But could he also be a murderer?

Jazzi married her gorgeous contractor Ansel—not his family. But somehow she keeps living with them. So she’s delighted to help Ansel’s brother Radley move out of their home and into his own place, in the same building as his work supervisor, Donovan. But when Donovan is shot and his apartment ransacked following an argument with Ansel and Radley’s older brother Bain, their sibling becomes a suspect—especially after his missing gun turns up as the murder weapon.

Told not to leave town by Detective Gaff, big brother moves in with . . . Jazzi and Ansel. Now Jazzi needs to prove Bain’s no killer, not only to keep him out of jail—but to get him out of their house. What was the killer looking for in Donovan’s apartment? And what will happen to the next person who gets in the way?

My Review:

Book 4 has Jazzi and Ansel happily married and seeing Radley, Ansel’s brother, moving to an apartment of his own. Unfortunately, Bain, their oldest brother comes to River Bluffs at the same time to retrieve Radley and drag him (kicking and screaming) back to the old farm. Having once fled, no way he’ll go back and he’s moving to the same complex where his co-worker Donovan lives. Unfortunately, Bain and Donovan quarrel and when Donovan is shot, and Bain’s gun is inexplicably missing, guess who looks like suspect numero uno? Of course, they know he didn’t do it, but can’t leave now.

The Body in the Apartment by Judi LynnSo now that they’ve inherited the temporary responsibility for Bain, he’s taking Radley’s bedroom but boredom overtakes and he asks to be included in the current house-flipping project, a Victorian somewhere between them and Jerod, Jazzi’s cousin and a big third of their rehabbing efforts. Jerod’s wife is soon to have their third baby, so an extra hand couldn’t hurt.

With the death of Donovan, Detective Gaff  (is the author having a little fun with the reader choosing that name?) once again calls upon Jazzi to help with his interviews and investigations gleaning leads where he can’t. (Where did he get his badge?)

In the meantime, her hands are full with helping on the fixer-upper, coordinating food and accommodations (their own home–rehabbed to allow for guests and parties) for her sister’s wedding, their usual Sunday dinners with the family, the extended family, and anyone else who wants an easy Sunday with great food. I’ve read three of the four in the series and always wonder where Jazzi gets the time to do any of the extensive food prep and cooking described, why they aren’t waiting for housing inspectors to pass their rehab work, or how long it took them to get the permit approvals to do some of the extensive removal of walls). Her gorgeous 6’5″ Viking, Ansel, is the General Contractor, if I remember correctly, but he has few subs. Okay, I’m still over-thinking it all and this is a cozy mystery.

And it is one low-key and well-plotted, easy-paced mystery. It’s not out to build tension, but tell a story. The main plot is cleverly tucked betwixt and between Jazzi’s life. She fits in a few interviews of her own and passes her intelligence to Gaff who in turn relays his discoveries back to her and between them, formulate theories. The perp isn’t hard to figure–pretty obvious early on.

So what is it that’s so compelling about the series? The characters, the location (Indiana, for heaven’s sake, and the reason we took a quick trip down to Logansport to check out the Trail–nice– but short), and the whole unique staging of house-flippers. Bain gradually goes from unlikeable character to one with new familial possibilities, extending Ansel’s side.

Yes! A series that I started with Book 1 (and thought I’d read them all–apparently not.) Still, although it might fill in a few blanks, this entry could very well act as a standalone if you haven’t read them all. The conclusion escalates into a gritty, heart-pounding climax. Then, as with any good cozy, soothes the heart rate, and dissolves all loose threads, quietly setting the stage for Book 5. And I’ll be looking forward to it.

I received this digital download from the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review (HOW’D I miss Book 3?). Recommended as a culinary cozy, but you know I don’t read these for the recipes…although one does look interesting.)

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Crafts and Hobbies Mystery, Cozy Culinary Mystery
Publisher: Lyrical Press

  • ISBN-10:1516110234
  • ISBN-13:978-1516110230
  • ASIN: B07TT2RWQ5

Print Length: 204 pages
Publication Date: March 17, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Body in the Apartment (Amazon) 

+Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4-stars

Judi Lynn - authorThe Author: [Judi Lynn] USA Today Best-selling author for The Body in the Attic.
When I started self-publishing, I wrote urban fantasy as Judith Post. Then my wonderful agent, Lauren Abramo, suggested I try to find a publisher by writing romance, and she was right. I sold my Mill Pond romances to Kensington’s Lyrical Press. After six romances, my equally wonderful editor, John Scognamiglio, asked if I’d like to try to write a mystery. Ironic, because I started writing–forever ago–by writing mystery short stories and selling them. I decided to write about a fixer-upper because my husband and I bought a 1920s small bungalow when we got married, and it needed lots of work. We’re still working on it. And cooking crept into the stories because I LOVE to cook and have friends over to eat supper with us. A lot of my passions have ended up in my books:)

[Goodreads] Judi Lynn received a Master’s Degree from Indiana University as an elementary school teacher after attending the IPFW campus. She taught 1st, 2nd, and 4th grades for six years before having her two daughters. She loves gardening, cooking and trying new recipes.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Beyond the Moon: A Haunting Debut Novel of Time Travel and WW1 by Catherine Taylor – A #BookReview #timetravel

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars Five Stars

The CE read this one and loved it.

Book Blurb:

Beyond the Moon by Catherine TaylorOutlander meets Birdsong in this haunting literary timeslip novel, where a strange twist of fate connects a British soldier fighting in the First World War with a young woman living in modern-day England a century later.

*A debut novel shortlisted for the Eharmony/Orion Write Your Own Love Story Prize 2018/19

Part WW1 historical fiction, part timeslip love story – and at the same time a meditation on the themes of war, mental illness, identity and art. An intelligent, captivating read, perfect for book clubs.

His Review:

Louisa Casson has had too much to drink! She is mourning the death of her beloved grandmother and is near a sea cliff. She passes out and wakes up in a dark rainstorm disoriented. The cliff she is near starts to crumble and she goes down with the slide. She is discovered partway down the cliff on a shelf and the doctors determine she must have been attempting suicide.

Beyond the Moon by Catherine TaylorA mental hospital is a place to avoid, but she is placed there for her own safety. She cannot convince the medical staff that she did not commit suicide and is committed. The staff is less than helpful and is all overworked, unsympathetic and working in a place they should never be.

Medicines are administered though not necessary. The results are disorientation and further medications are administered to counter the effects of the first. The setting of the mental institution is horrific and part of the building scheduled for demolishing. The year is 2017.

Smoking is a diversion and she befriends a patient who shows her how to escape the smoking area. She wanders through the older part of the building and hears a voice. “Please help me!” She follows the sound and is transported one hundred years in the past to the building in its prime.

The voice belongs to Lieutenant Robert Lovett who has been injured in WW1 and is afflicted with hysterical blindness. Louisa helps him back into bed and stays and comforts him. A friendship and then love develops. The story is very well constructed and slips between time periods of 1916 and 2017. Louisa seems to be transported through a time loop. 2017 is not a particularly good time period for our heroine.

The writer has developed a keen insight into WW1 and the offsetting culture of 2017. The contrast between the two time periods is masterfully developed and a pleasure to witness. Louisa would like to stay and be with the Lieutenant. How can this be accomplished? As you enjoy the book you develop an affinity for the characters and hope the best for them. Louisa is enormously empathetic, her soldier as much so.

This page-turner will keep you on the edge of your seat. Schedule some time to read, you will not want to put it down. This was an author request, the digital download in anticipation of a review. This is my honest opinion. 5 stars CE Williams

(Amazon: *NB This novel contains graphic descriptions of war violence and injuries, as well as profanity and mild sex.)

Book Details:

Genre: Time Travel Romance, World War I Historical Fiction, British Historical Literature
Publisher: The Cameo Press Ltd.
Print Length: 496 pages
Publication Date: June 25, 2019
Source: Direct author request
Title Link: Beyond the Moon (Amazon)
Barnes and Noble

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Catherine Taylor - authorThe Author: [Catherine Taylor] I was born and grew up on the small island of Guernsey, one of the British Channel Islands in the English Channel.

I’ve been obsessed with words and books since the day I first learned to read, and grew up on classic children’s authors like Enid Blyton and Edith Nesbit. As I got older I began to gravitate towards love stories with gripping plots, devouring novels like Jane Eyre, Rebecca, Katharine, Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice, about clever, independent women caught up in passionate affairs with complex, Byronic men. And equally I loved sweeping epics like The Thorn Birds and Gone With The Wind. I was a keen writer myself from an early age, and am one of those people who’s known since childhood that she wanted to be an author one day.

I’ve been obsessed with history, and particularly with WW1 for a long time – in fact I date my fascination with WW1 to the moment I first read Wilfred Owen’s poem “Strange Meeting” as a child. The literature of the First World War is the most moving I’ve ever read, and I defy anyone to read Vera Brittain’s A Testament Of Youth and not be moved to tears. As well as being a history obsessive, I’ve also always been a hopeless romantic. And I always knew that the novel I one day intended to write would be a historical love story, set during the First World War – one that would be intelligent, well-researched and have a big, emotional heart. Not only that, I always wanted my novel to have a touch of the fantastical about it too. As I child I loved to read books with magic in them, especially timeslips, and as I got older, I wondered why it was that most novels with elements of the paranormal in them were exclusively for children.

And then one night, after reading some WW1 poetry before bed, I had a dream where I wandered into some forgotten room in our house, and came across a young man, who told me that he was a soldier in the Great War. And the idea for Beyond The Moon was born. I often wonder if I dreamt about that soldier because, on some subconscious level, I longed to be able to transport myself back in time to the lost world of 1914-1918.

Of course, it’s not something – sadly – that I could ever do. But a young woman in a slightly different modern-day world could; a world where magic and fate were more powerful than in our own. A sensitive, intelligent and courageous young woman (for she’d need all those qualities), with faith in destiny, a great capacity for love, and a willingness to sacrifice everything for it…

The topic of mental health is one that has always held a huge fascination for me, and from the very beginning I knew that Beyond The Moon would be set partly in a psychiatric hospital. As I began to research people’s experiences in mental hospitals I was shocked to find just how common it is for patients to suffer neglect and abuse in such places. I can understand that modern-day Coldbrook Hall might seem far-fetched to some readers, but I assure you, you don’t have to look far on the internet to find some appalling stories. Just recently the following articles appeared in UK newspapers: ‘Firms cash in on psychiatric care crisis’ in The Times, and ‘Care Quality Commission [the UK regulator] places two Priory Group hospitals in special measures’ in The Guardian. They make shocking and depressing reading. If I, in my very small way through Beyond The Moon, can help shine a light on this modern-day scandal, then I am very glad.

I hope you enjoy Beyond The Moon as much as I loved writing it. I love to hear from readers, so please do get in touch at catherine@catherinetaylor.net. I’m currently working on a second novel set in 1900s Vienna, when the “imperial city” – as it was known – was at the heart of the enormous, cosmopolitan Austro-Hungarian Empire. It’s another smart historical love story, and I’m very excited about it. I can’t wait to try to conjure up that fabulous, forgotten world.

My website is at http://www.catherinetaylor.net, and you can sign up for my mailing list there. I have an author page on Goodreads, too, and you can also follow me on Instagram at @catherine_taylor_author. You can also find me (a bit less often!) on Twitter and Facebook.

I live in West London with my husband, two children, and two very cheeky chinchillas.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Spotlight – Frozen Stiff Drink by James J Cudney #BlogTour #Spotlight #Giveaway

Today I am pleased to provide a spotlight for you at my blog stop for Frozen Stiff Drink: A Kellan Ayrwick Cozy Mystery by James J Cudney on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. Scroll down to enter your chance to win the Giveaway!

Spotlight - Frozen Stiff Drink by James J Cudney

Book Details

Frozen Stiff Drink: A Kellan Ayrwick Cozy Mystery
(Braxton Campus Mysteries)

Cozy Mystery
6th in Series
Publisher: Gumshoe – A Next Chapter(March 18, 2020)
Digital Edition – ~270 Pages
ASIN: B0849MJH6H

About the Book

A winter blizzard barrels toward Wharton County with a vengeance. Madam Zenya predicted the raging storm would change the course of Kellan’s life, but the famed seer never could’ve prepared him for all the collateral damage. Nana D disappears after visiting a patient at Willow Trees, leaving behind a trail of confusion. When the patient turns up dead and a second body is discovered beneath the snowbanks, Kellan must face his worst fears. What tragedy has befallen his beloved grandmother?

Kellan’s brother Hampton learns essential life lessons the hard way after his father-in-law accuses him of embezzlement. While trying to prove his innocence, Hampton digs himself a deeper hole that might lead to prison. Sheriff Montague wants to save him, but she receives the shock of her life as the past hurtles forward and complicates her future.

Between locating Nana D and solving the scandalous murder of another prominent Braxton citizen, Kellan and April’s worlds explode with more turmoil than they can handle. Too bad neither one of them knows what to do about the psychic’s latest premonition. The suspicious deaths happening around town aren’t ending anytime soon.

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Giveaway

Sign up for your chance to win (1) Print Copy – Frozen Stiff Drink: A Kellan Ayrwick Cozy Mystery (Braxton Campus Mysteries) by James J. Cudney (U.S. Only) in this Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author

James is my given name, but most folks call me Jay. I live in New York City, grew up on Long Island, and graduated from Moravian College. I’ve spent twenty years building a technology career in the retail, sports, media, and entertainment industries. I enjoyed my job, but a passion for books and stories had been missing for far too long. I’m a voracious reader in my favorite genres (thriller, suspense, contemporary, mystery, and historical fiction), as books transport me to a different world where I can immerse myself in so many fantastic cultures and places. I’m an avid genealogist who hopes to visit all the German, Scottish, Irish, and British villages my ancestors emigrated from in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Writing has been a part of my life as much as my heart, my mind, and my body. I decided to pursue my passion by dusting off the creativity inside my head and drafting outlines for several novels. I quickly realized I was back in my element growing happier and more excited with life each day. My goal in writing is to connect with readers who want to be part of great stories and who enjoy interacting with authors. To get a strong picture of who I am, check out my author website or my blog. It’s full of humor and eccentricity, sharing connections with everyone I follow—all in the hope of building a network of friends across the world.

When I completed the first book, Watching Glass Shatter, I knew I’d stumbled upon my passion again, suddenly dreaming up characters, plots, and settings all day long. I chose my second novel, Father Figure, through a poll on my blog where I let everyone vote for their favorite plot and character summaries. It is with my third book, Academic Curveball, the first in the Braxton Campus Mysteries, where I immersed myself in a college campus full of so much activity, I could hardly stop thinking about new murder scenes or character relationships to finish writing the current story. I can’t believe I’ve finished writing the sixth book in this series. Come join in the fun…

 Websites & Blog

Website: https://jamesjcudney.com/

Blog: https://thisismytruthnow.com

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

Social Media Links

Amazon: http://bit.ly/JJCIVBooks

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jamescudney4

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

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

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

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

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

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

List of Published Books

Braxton Campus Mysteries – Purchase Links 

Academic Curveball – #1 (October 2018)

Broken Heart Attack – #2 (November 2018)

Flower Power Trip – #3 (March 2019)

Mistaken Identity Crisis – #4 (June 2019)

Haunted House Ghost – #5 (October 2019)

Frozen Stiff Drink – #6 (March 2020)

Author’s Other Books

Watching Glass Shatter (Contemporary Fiction / Family Drama)

The wealthy Glass family lost its patriarch, Benjamin Glass, sooner than expected. Benjamin’s widow, Olivia, and her 5 sons each react to his death in their own way while preparing for the reading of his will. Olivia receives a very unexpected confession from her late husband about one of their sons that could shatter the whole family. Prior to revealing the secret to her children, Olivia must figure out which boy Ben refers to in the confession he left her in his will. While the family attorney searches for the mysterious Rowena Hector whom Ben says holds the answers, Olivia asks her sons to each spend a week with her as she isn’t ready to let go of the past. When Olivia visits her sons, she quickly learns that each one has been keeping his own secret from her. Olivia never expected her remaining years would be so complex and life-altering, but she will not rest until her family is reunited after Ben’s untimely death. We all need family. We all want to fit in. We’re all a mix of quirky personalities. Will Olivia be able to fix them, or will the whole family implode? What will she do when she discovers the son behind Ben’s secret? Check out this ensemble cast where each family member’s perspective is center stage, discovering along the way who might feel the biggest impact from all the secrets. Through various scenes and memories across a six-month period, you’ll get to know everyone, learning how and why they made certain decisions. Welcome to being an honorary member of the Glass family where the flair for over-the-top drama pushes everyone to their limits. Watching Glass Shatter (October 2017)

Father Figure (Contemporary Fiction / Family Drama)

Between the fast-paced New York City, a rural Mississippi town and a charming Pennsylvania college campus filled with secrets, two young girls learn the consequences of growing up too quickly. Amalia Graeme, abused by her mother for most of her life, longs to escape her desolate hometown and fall in love. Contemplating her loss of innocence and conflicting feelings between her boyfriend and the dangerous attraction she’s developed for an older man, Amalia faces life-altering tragedies. Brianna Porter, a sassy, angst-ridden teenager raised in New York City, yearns to find her life’s true purpose, conquer her fear of abandonment, and interpret an intimidating desire for her best friend, Shanelle. Desperate to find the father whom her mother refuses to reveal, Brianna accidentally finds out a shocking truth about her missing parent. Set in alternating chapters two decades apart, the parallels between their lives and the unavoidable collision that is bound to happen are revealed. FATHER FIGURE is an emotional story filled with mystery, romance, and suspense. Father Figure (April 2018)

BRAXTON CAMPUS MYSTERY SERIES

Academic Curveball: Death at the Sports Complex (#1)

When Kellan Ayrwick, a thirty-two-year-old single father, is forced to return home for his father’s retirement from Braxton College, he finds the dead body of a professor in Diamond Hall’s stairwell. Unfortunately, Kellan has a connection to the victim, and so do several members of his family. Could one of them be guilty of murder? Then he finds a second body after discovering mysterious donations to the college’s athletic program, a nasty blog denouncing his father, and a criminal attempting to change student grades so the star baseball pitcher isn’t expelled. Someone is playing games on campus, but none of the facts add up. With the help of his eccentric and trouble-making nana weeding through the clues, Kellan tries to stay out of the sheriff’s way. Fate has other plans. Kellan is close to discovering the killer’s identity just as someone he loves is put in grave danger of becoming victim number three. And if that’s not enough to wreak havoc on his family, everything comes crashing to a halt when his own past comes spiraling back to change his life forever. In this debut novel in the Braxton Campus Mystery Series, readers discover a cozy, secluded Pennsylvania village full of quirky, sarcastic, and nosy residents. Among the daily workings of Braxton College and the charming Ayrwick family, Kellan weighs his investigative talents against an opportunity to achieve a much sought-after dream. When this first book ends, the drama is set for the next adventure in Kellan’s future… and it’s one you won’t want to miss. Academic Curveball – #1 (October 2018)

Broken Heart Attack: Death at the Theater (#2)

When an extra ticket becomes available to attend the dress rehearsal of Braxton’s King Lear production, Kellan tags along with Nana D and her buddies, sisters-in-law Eustacia and Gwendolyn Paddington, to show support for the rest of the Paddington family. When one of them appears to have a heart attack in the middle of the second act, Nana D raises her suspicions and asks Kellan to investigate who killed her friend. Amidst family members suddenly in debt and a secret rendezvous between an unlikely pair, Kellan learns the Paddingtons might not be as clean-cut as everyone thinks. But did one of them commit murder for an inheritance? Kellan is back in his second adventure since returning home to Pennsylvania. With his personal life in upheaval and his new boss, Myriam, making life difficult, will he be able to find a killer, or will he get caught up in his own version of stage fright? Broken Heart Attack – #2 (November 2018)

Flower Power Trip: Death at the Masquerade Ball (#3)

Braxton College is throwing the Heroes & Villains Costume Extravaganza to raise money for renovations to the antiquated Memorial Library. While attending, Kellan stumbles upon a close family friend standing over a dead body that’s dressed as Dr. Evil. Did one of Maggie’s sisters kill an annoying guest at the Roarke and Daughters Inn or does the victim have a more intimate connection to someone else on campus? As Kellan helps the school’s president, Ursula, bury a scandalous secret from her past and unearth the identity of her stalker, he unexpectedly encounters a missing member of his own family who’s reappeared after a lengthy absence. When all the peculiar events around town trace back to the Stoddards, a new family who recently moved to Wharton County, the explosive discovery only offers more confusion. Between the special flower exhibit that’s made an unplanned stop on campus and strange postcards arriving each week from all around the world, Kellan can’t decide which mystery in his life should take priority. Unfortunately, the biggest one of all has yet to arrive at his doorstep. When it does, Kellan won’t know what hit him. Flower Power Trip – #3 (March 2019)

Mistaken Identity Crisis: Death on the Cable Car (#4)

A clever thief with a sinister calling card has invaded Braxton campus. A string of jewelry thefts continues to puzzle the sheriff given they’re remarkably similar to an unsolved eight-year-old case from shortly before Gabriel vanished one stormy night. When a missing ruby is discovered near an electrified dead body during the campus cable car redesign project, Kellan must investigate the real killer to protect his brother. Amidst sorority hazing practices and the victim’s connections to several prominent Wharton County citizens, a malicious motive becomes more obvious and trickier to prove. As if the latest murder isn’t enough to keep him busy, Kellan partners with April to end the Castigliano and Vargas crime family feud. What really happened to Francesca while all those postcards showed up in Braxton? The mafia world is more calculating than Kellan realized, and if he wants to move forward, he must make a few ruthless sacrifices. Election Day is over, and the new mayor takes office. Nana D celebrates her 75th birthday with an adventure. A double wedding occurs at Crilly Lake on Independence Day. And Kellan receives a few more surprises as the summer heat settles in Wharton County. Mistaken Identity Crisis – #4 (June 2019)

Haunted House Ghost: Death at the Fall Festival (#5)

It’s Halloween, and excitement is brewing in Braxton to carve jack-o’-lanterns, go on haunted hayrides, and race through the spooky corn maze at the Fall Festival. Despite the former occupant’s warnings, Kellan renovates and moves into a mysterious old house. When a ruthless ghost promises retribution, our fearless professor turns to the eccentric town historian and an eerie psychic to communicate with the apparition. Meanwhile, construction workers discover a fifty-year-old skeleton after breaking ground on the new Memorial Library wing. While Kellan and April dance around the chemistry sparking between them, a suspicious accident occurs at the Fall Festival. Soon, Kellan discovers the true history and dastardly connections of the Grey family. But can he capture the elusive killer – and placate the revenge-seeking ghost.   Haunted House Ghost – #5 (October 2019)

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

Tour Participants:

March 18 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – SPOTLIGHT

March 18 – A Wytch’s Book Review Blog – CHARACTER GUEST POST

March 19 – Valerie’s Musings – REVIEW

March 19 – Diane Reviews Books – GUEST POST

March 20 – Carla Loves To Read – REVIEW

March 20 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

March 21 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – SPOTLIGHT

March 21 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT

March 22 – Gimme The Scoop Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

March 23 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW

March 23 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

March 23 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW

March 24 – Mysteries with Character – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

March 24 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT

March 25 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

March 25 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

March 26 – eBook addicts – REVIEW

March 26 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

March 27 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

March 27 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT Great Escapes Book Tours

 Thanks to Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours for the opportunity to post a spotlight for this cozy mystery!

©2020 V Williams V Williams

It’s March and We Truly Need a Saint Now – #readingirelandmonth2020

March! Reading Ireland Month

Guess I wasn’t successful trying to fend off the cold the CE got on the shuttle to the VA Hospital in Chicago in early March. While he’s mostly over his, I’ve just begun. (Yes, it’s just a cold.) The Corona Virus did kill St. Patrick’s Day celebrations this year, including the dying green of the Chicago River as well as the parade. And with the CE’s new vegetarian diet, no corned beef and cabbage for us either. The state lockdown has most restaurants closed, and I couldn’t even go out for a birthday dinner. (grumble grumble) Thinking we’ll have to have a make-up bash in June.

But–it is March and I’m participating in the Reading Ireland Month for 2020. I’ve posted a number of book reviews either by Irish authors or those books with an Irish setting. Last year, I spotlighted Stanley McShane’s book Cocos Island Treasure, a fictionalized story of his sailing trip to a favorite pirate haven (tropic island of the Pacific Ocean) of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in an attempt to find the “Loot of Lima.”

In 2016, “two park rangers (off the coast of Costa Rica) were patrolling a national park* after a recent storm when they uncovered five wooden chests, among other treasures.  This find is one of the most extensive in modern times. The treasure consisted of gold and silver coins, ingots, jewelry, candlesticks and religious items.  Historians believe that the entire collection is worth about 200 million dollars.

The vocal music background on the book trailer for Cocos Island Treasure is provided by Marc Gunn, self-proclaimed Irish and Celtic Music celtfather. In addition to his albums, he offers a delightful podcast which was available for download on iTunes. I think, however, my favorite album is “Happy Songs of Death.” Otherwise, check him out here.

I highlight six of the manuscripts I published for Patrick J Rose on the “Books by Stanley McShane page. This year, I thought I’d include a poem from Sole Survivor published in 2017, an anthology, collection of short story adventures and poems. The book also includes the story of the recovery of the painting the author used to illustrate his retelling of the sinking of the Marguerite. His poems include laments to his years of trading penny stocks (another book, Hot Air Promotions) as well as anguished cries of love lost.

In Friendship’s Name

Must we say farewell dear heart?
Must we part in bitter sorrow?
Time alone shall tell dear heart
Of the anguish on the morrow.

Tho’ memory brings to me regret
My love remains the same
And I through life could ne’er forget
If we part in friendship’s name.

Once my world was full of gladness
Life was full of song.
The only joy I’ve known dear heart
I treasured all day long.

Now my world is full of sadness
Life’s no longer sweet!
The only joy I’ve known dear heart
You banish at my feet.

As friends we met, as friends we part
I would have dearer grown
As hand in hand and heart to heart
I would you were my own.

Tho’ memory brings to me regret
My love remains the same
And I through life could ne’er forget
If we part in friendship’s name.

As we globally continue to fight this horrible biological catastrophe, my wish for you and yours is to stay safe. Sláinte!

©2020 V Williams V Williams

*The park was closed to treasure hunting exploration in the 1970s.

Uncharted Waters by Scott MacKenzie – A #BookReview #TuesdayBookBlog

Rosepoint Publishing: Five of Five Stars Five Stars

The CE Loved it! The following is his review.

 Book Blurb:

Uncharted Waters by Scott MacKenzieUSA Today bestselling author Scott Mackenzie takes you on an unforgettable adventure from the Northwest to island paradise, and the dark places that lie beneath in Uncharted Waters.

Vince Stark has writer’s block. His first book was a runaway success, redefining the romance genre from a male perspective, and piling pressure on Vince’s shoulders. Fleeing Seattle to live on a boat in the Caribbean didn’t help. No one can live up to all those awards and accolades, but with the money running out, writing another bestseller will be the only way to keep his life afloat.

His muse shows up in the form of Tenn, a beautiful free spirit aboard a bohemian boat.
He’s inspired again, but he’s also suspicious.
Tenn’s clearly has secrets.

When she asks him to help her sail across the Atlantic, Vince sees his opportunity to both get closer to her and distract himself from the impossible task of writing his sophomore novel. But Vince has a few secrets of his own.

And the sea will expose them, one by one, as they fight to survive.

His Review

Many red-blooded American males dream of buying a boat and sailing to the tropics. They envision fishing, lounging in the sun and sailing to exotic ports. Scott Mac Kenzie has put that dream into a masterful tale. His hero, Vince Stark, is aboard a 55-foot sailing craft called “Tuuli.”  He is at anchor in a beautiful anchorage called Solitude Bay. Small and out of the way, the bay is a pristine sailor’s dream.

Uncharted Waters by Scott MacKenzieVince is licking his wounds from a very caustic marriage. His first wife and her family have emasculated him and destroyed his self-esteem. A solitary writers’ life becomes the dream he is living. His first book was a best-seller which gave him money enough to buy this boat. But is the dream real? Now he’s faced with following that with his sophomore novel and is struggling.

Jolted awake by a bump amidships, he goes on deck to see a decrepit sailboat snarled in his mast. The captain of that scow is Tenn. She is apologizing profusely for the mishap. She has been at sea doing a solitary cruising lifestyle herself.

A very slow budding love affair develops but she has a quest and would like company. The dream of a hermit’s lifestyle at sea begins to change. Our hero’s life begins to look more promising. But wait, every cloud does not have a silver lining and there will be obstacles to overcome! The storyline is immersive in the sea and sailing life and envelopes the reader in the atmosphere of the islands and island life. Well-plotted and entertaining. CE Williams

This book wraps the reader in a dreamy lifestyle with barbs that are present in everyone’s life. You will not be disappointed with this book and it goes quickly. Read it and see if your dream could match Scott MacKenzie’s narrative. 5 stars CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Sea Adventures, Mystery Action and Adventure
ISBN-13: 979-8614695279
ASIN: B083NNHVN4
Print Length: 291 pages
Publication Date: February 18, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Uncharted Waters (Amazon link)

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Scott MacKenzie - authorThe Author: Born in Montreal and raised in rural Ontario, Scott Mackenzie has worn many different hats in his life, from bartending to working as a heavy duty mechanic for the railway, to owning and operating a take-out restaurant. He finally settled down out West, where he lives on an island with his author wife and their dog. Scott can be found exploring the gulf islands on his sailboat, playing and recording music in his studio, or on a hike, thinking about his next book.

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Problem Child: A Jane Doe Thriller by Victoria Helen Stone #BlogTour #BookReview #Giveaway

I am delighted today to provide a review for you at my blog stop for Problem Child by Victoria Helen Stone on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. Scroll down to enter your chance to win the Giveaway!

Problem Child by Victoria Helen Stone

Book Details

Problem Child: A Jane Doe Thriller
Thriller
2nd in Series
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (March 24, 2020)
Paperback: 265 pages
ISBN-10: 1542014395
ISBN-13: 978-1542014397
Digital ASIN: B07SDTRJP9

Book Blurb

She’s cold, calculating, and can deceive with a smile. Jane Doe is back in the Amazon Charts bestselling series—and this time she’s met her match.

After a brutal childhood, Jane Doe has been permanently wired to look after herself and only herself. Now, looking next to normal, Jane has a lover and a job. But she hasn’t lost her edge. It sharpens when she hears from her estranged family.

Jane’s deeply troubled sixteen-year-old niece, Kayla, has vanished, and no one seems to care. Neither does Jane. Until she sees a picture of Kayla and recognizes herself in the young girl’s eyes. It’s the empty stare of a sociopath.

Jane knows what vengeful and desperate things Kayla is capable of. Only Jane can help her—by being drawn into Kayla’s dark world. And no one’s more aware than Jane just how dangerous that can be.

My Thoughts

Sucked into this one by the blurb and the genre (I do love a good thriller), I was an innocent pulled into the world of a true sociopath. (Sociopath: Someone who has antisocial personality disorder, can’t understand others’ feelings and exhibit a lack of conscience.) Told in first person, protagonist Jane Doe has been at her job for a year.

Problem Child by Victoria Helen StoneJane has met a man, also an innocent, who finds her fascinating, titillating, and irresistible. Unfortunately, he is ready to take their relationship to another level. She isn’t. But she is capable of manipulating the men at her law firm and it’s sooo easy to view the glass ceiling. It’s within reach now. Then she gets a call about a niece, Kayla, who she wouldn’t care about at all, except that she is apparently “just like her.” She can’t resist the temptation to find the missing girl and see for herself if that is true.

Jane had a childhood that molded the woman who can take care of herself. She is capable, smart, and became an attorney without help–escaping a desperately miserable family life back home.

I came in to Book 2 as a standalone and must say this one came as a shock. After reading cozies, psychological thrillers, and carefully selecting books with a PG rating, discovered this novel quite a serious departure. There is humor of a dark nature and the storyline involved scenes that might have had me blushing when younger. Jane is a main character with which I’ve had few comparisons–she can be sexually adventurous and foul-mouthed and oh so square how she sees others–but not of herself. She has trust issues, but her cynicism has been a positive and along with her wit kept her (mostly) safe.

When she finds Kayla, she is what you’d expect a sixteen-year-old raised in the same poisonous atmosphere as Jane to be. She’s annoying and also manipulative. The middle block tended to be on the crude side. But like a pimple-faced fourteen-year-old male adolescent viewing a secreted copy of Playboy, difficult to put down. There is a well-plotted story at a fast pace breezing through Jane’s encounters with the population of her hometown, put satisfying in their place now, and I suspect somewhat of a reprise of Book 1. The conclusion appears to suggest a happy solution for both Jane and Kayla, as well as Luke, right up until that last little zinger at the end–a spark for Book 3–and a shocker. I did NOT see that twist coming and it definitely threw me.

I’ll include a few trigger warnings: sexual content, language, drugs and drinking. Interesting to park yourself in the mind of a sociopath, safely, where you could escape back to reality at the end of the novel (but not totally unscathed). I received this uncorrected proof from the publisher through NetGalley for this book tour and appreciated the opportunity to break out of my pleasant, but predictable reads. Will I request Book 3? Yes.

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Giveaway

Sign up for your chance to win one of five (5) print copies of Problem Child: A Jane Doe Thriller by Victoria Helen Stone – U.S. only – in this Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author

Victoria Helen Stone - authorVictoria Helen Stone, formerly writing as USA Today bestselling novelist Victoria Dahl, is originally from the Midwest but now writes from an upstairs office high in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah. After a career in romance that included the American Library Association’s prestigious Reading List Award, she turned toward the darker side of fiction and has written the critically acclaimed novels, Evelyn, AfterHalf Past; and False Step. Her Amazon Charts bestselling thriller Jane Doe has been optioned by Sony Television. For more on the author and her work, visit VictoriaHelenStone.com.  And on Twitter @VictoriaDahl

Purchase Links – Amazon – B&N  

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

Tour Participants:

March 17 – fundinmental – REVIEW

March 17 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

March 17 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

March 18 – The Book Decoder – REVIEW  

March 18 – Elizabeth McKenna – Author – SPOTLIGHT

March 19 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW

March 19 – The Book Diva’s Reads – SPOTLIGHT

March 20 – eBook Addicts – REVIEW

March 20 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

March 21 – Diane Reviews Books – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW

March 21 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT

March 22 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

March 22 – This Is My Truth Now – SPOTLIGHT

March 23 – That’s What She’s Reading – REVIEW

March 23 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT Great Escapes Book Tours

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Past Deeds (Brandon Fisher FBI series Book 8) by Carolyn Arnold – a #BookReview

Book Blurb:

Past Deeds by Carolyn ArnoldThe sun was just coming up, and the sniper’s hands were sweaty as she looked through the rifle’s scope to the streets eight stories below and point eight miles away. In mere minutes, the target would be dead.

A prosecuting attorney is murdered in a sniping that takes place in Arlington, Virginia, less than fifteen minutes from Washington. FBI Agent Brandon Fisher and his team with the Behavioral Analysis Unit are called in to investigate the threat level and to determine if the lawyer was targeted. The FBI hadn’t anticipated previous victims stretching from coast to coast.

The team splits up across the country, but more than jet lag is getting to Brandon. As their profile on the shooter takes shape, their one theory on motive strikes too close to home and has him battling with regret over a past decision. He comes to discover some choices not only haunt us but can have long- and far-reaching repercussions we couldn’t even begin to imagine. Will Brandon be able to set aside his personal issues for long enough to stop a serial killing spree before there’s another victim?

Past Deeds is a gripping psychological crime thriller that will have you flipping the pages as you try to put the clues together faster than the FBI. To stand a chance, you’ll need to unravel the psyche of a killer. This mystery will also make you think and reflect—and you just might wonder if any past decisions you’ve made are stalking you, ready to strike.

My Review:

Special Agent Brandon Fisher and new member Kelly Marsh up from the Miami PD, and Paige Dawson, join Special Agent in Charge Jack Harper of the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) to investigation the sniper shooting of a prominent prosecutor. There are several POVs; Fisher is first person. Brandon is paired with Paige, which brings back painful memories of their short-lived liaison while Brandon was still married. Jack pairs with Kelly and makes sure he’s constantly on her for speaking up or volunteering any opinions. He’s over-the-top rude, cryptic, and short on directions for a newbie, preferring instead just to throw her in the water to see if she can swim with the sharks.

Past Deeds by Carolyn ArnoldThe case proceeds with tiny new crumbs leading to a possible lead and the agents split after they bring in Nadia, the technie, who discovers there were three other identical deaths spread over the US. What follows is SOP for police procedural, interviews, and making connections.

Brandon Fisher and Paige seem to be reverting to he-said/she said to settle the feelings between each other. Jack is just nasty. Kelly fills the insecure newbie role, second-guessing each of her actions and eventually being reticent to promote any new scenario.

My problem was the shifting of POVs, at times leaving me wondering who was speaking, or even what gender the person was. They didn’t feel like a “unit,” more a disjointed group muddling through personal dilemmas. Seems like they would put forth a theory and then rediscover the same possible theory several pages later.

The antagonist is ex-military, obviously suffering PTSD, but loaded with an additional “trigger” mechanism forcing the mission. The conclusion was contrived and a grievous error given the information they had on the unsub. (In the military, they would call it a “CF.)

I did enjoy a couple quotes, “Not his monkeys, not his circus…” and “‘Fortuna favet fortibus!’ Fortune favors the strong.”

My second experience with this author, the first with this series. While there was an interesting storyline, I couldn’t get into the characters and perhaps I’m just not the right person for this author. There are, however, many others who enjoy the writing style–you might be one.

Book Details:

Genre: Serial Killers, Hard-Boiled Mysteries
Publisher: Hibbert and Stiles Publishing Inc

  • ISBN-10:1988353971
  • ISBN-13:978-1988353975
  • ASIN: B07YNWNYT9

Print Length: 378 pages
Publication Date: Feb 18, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Past Deeds (Amazon link) 

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

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 four continuing fiction series–Detective Madison Knight, Brandon Fisher FBI, McKinley Mysteries, and Matthew Connor Adventures–and has written nearly thirty books. Her genre diversity offers her readers everything from cozy to hard-boiled mysteries, and thrillers to action adventures.

Both her female detective and FBI profiler series have been praised by those in law enforcement as being accurate and entertaining, leading her to adopt 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 just west of Toronto with her husband and beagle and is a member of Crime Writers of Canada and Sisters in Crime.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

SPOTLIGHT Tour and GIVEAWAY-The Henrietta and Inspector Howard Mystery Novels by Michelle Cox

Spotlight - Henrietta series

I am thrilled today to present a special Spotlight Tour that includes a VERY unique Giveaway that you will NOT want to miss.

Join Us for this Series Spotlight Tour from Mar 16 to April 3, 2020!

SERIES DETAILS:
Series Title Henrietta and Inspector Howard by Michelle Cox
Category:  Adult Fiction (18+)
Genre Historical Mystery
Publisher She Writes Press
Release dates:   April 2016; April 2017; April 2018; April 2019; April 2020
Tour dates: Mar 16 to April 3, 2020
Content Rating: R:
Books 1-2 do not have any sex scenes,
though there is sexual reference, Books 3-5 do have explicit sex scenes
(tasteful). There is periodic swearing and violence, but not a lot.
There are some dark themes (though not graphic examples) of suicide,
prostitution, mob involvement, rape, drinking, homosexuality.

SERIES DESCRIPTION:
A GIRL LIKE YOU: Beautiful Henrietta Von Harmon works
as a 26 girl at a corner bar, Poor Pete’s, on Chicago’s northwest side.
It’s 1935, but things still aren’t looking up since the big crash and
her father’s subsequent suicide. Left to care for her antagonistic
mother and seven younger siblings, Henrietta is persuaded to take a job
as a taxi dancer at a local dance hall. Henrietta is just beginning to
enjoy herself, dancing with men for ten cents a dance, when the floor
matron suddenly turns up murdered. The aloof Inspector Clive Howard then
appears on the scene, and Henrietta unwittingly finds herself involved
in unraveling the mystery when she agrees to go undercover for him in a
burlesque theater where he believes the killer lurks.

Even as Henrietta is plunged into Chicago’s grittier underworld, she
struggles to still play the mother “hen” to her younger siblings and
even to the pesky neighborhood boy, Stanley, who believes himself in
love with her and continues to pop up in the most unlikely places,
determined, ironically, to keep Henrietta safe, even from the Inspector
if needs be. Despite his efforts, however, and his penchant for messing
up the Inspector’s investigation, the lovely Henrietta and the
impenetrable Inspector find themselves drawn to each other in most
unsuitable ways.

A RING OF TRUTH: In this second book of the series, Henrietta and Clive delightfully rewrite Pride and Prejudice―with a hint of mystery!

Newly engaged, Clive and Henrietta now begin the difficult task of
meeting each other’s family. “Difficult” because Clive has neglected to
tell Henrietta that he is in fact the heir to the Howard estate and
fortune, and Henrietta has just discovered that her mother has been
hiding secrets about her past as well. When Clive brings Henrietta to
the family estate to meet his parents, they are less than enthused about
his impoverished intended. Left alone in this extravagant new world
when Clive returns to the city, Henrietta finds herself more at home
with the servants than his family, much to the disapproval of Mrs.
Howard―and soon gets caught up in the disappearance of an elderly
servant’s ring, not realizing that in doing so she has become part of a
bigger, darker plot.

As Clive and Henrietta attempt to discover the truth in the two very
different worlds unraveling around them, they both begin to wonder: Are
they meant for each other after all?

A PROMISE GIVEN: This third book in the Henrietta and
Inspector Howard series provides a delightful romp through the English
countryside and back.

Anxious to be married, Henrietta and Clive push forward with their
wedding plans despite their family differences, made worse now by
Oldrich Exley’s attempts to control the Von Harmons. When the
long-awaited wedding day arrives, there is more unfolding than just
Clive and Henrietta’s vows of love. Stanley and Elsie’s relationship is
sorely tested by the presence of the dashing Lieutenant Harrison
Barnes-Smith and by Henrietta’s friend Rose―a situation that grows
increasingly dark and confused as time goes on.

As Clive and Henrietta begin their honeymoon at Castle Linley, the
Howards’ ancestral estate in England, they encounter a whole new host of
characters, including the eccentric Lord and Lady Linley and Clive’s
mysterious cousin, Wallace. When a man is murdered in the village on the
night of a house party at the Castle, Wallace comes under suspicion―and
Clive and Henrietta are reluctantly drawn into the case, despite
Clive’s anxiety at involving his new bride and Henrietta’s distracting
news from home.

Delicately attempting to work together for the first time, Clive and
Henrietta set out to prove Wallace’s innocence, uncovering as they do so
some rather shocking truths that will shake the Linley name and estate
forever.

Buy the Book:

Amazon.com~ Barnes & Noble ~ Apple iBooks

IndieBound ~ Kobo ~ Google Store

A VEIL REMOVED: Murder is never far from this sexy couple . . . even during the holidays!

Their honeymoon abruptly ended by the untimely death of Alcott Howard,
Clive and Henrietta return to Highbury, where Clive discovers all is not
as it should be. Increasingly convinced that his father’s death was not
an accident, Clive launches his own investigation, despite his mother’s
belief that he has become “mentally disturbed” with grief. Henrietta
eventually joins forces with Clive on their first real case, which
becomes darker―and deadlier―than they imagined as they get closer to the
truth behind Alcott’s troubled affairs.

Meanwhile, Henrietta’s sister, Elsie, begins, at Henrietta’s
orchestration, to take classes at a women’s college―an attempt to evade
her troubles and prevent any further romantic temptations. When she
meets a bookish German custodian at the school, however, he challenges
her to think for herself . . . even as she discovers some shocking
secrets about his past life.

A CHILD LOST: A spiritualist, an insane asylum, a lost little girl . . .

When Clive, anxious to distract a depressed Henrietta, begs Sergeant
Frank Davis for a case, he is assigned to investigating a seemingly
boring affair: a spiritualist woman operating in an abandoned
schoolhouse on the edge of town who is suspected of robbing people of
their valuables. What begins as an open and shut case becomes more
complicated, however, when Henrietta―much to Clive’s dismay―begins to
believe the spiritualist’s strange ramblings.

Meanwhile, Elsie begs Clive and Henrietta to help her and the object of
her budding love, Gunther, locate the whereabouts of one Liesel
Klinkhammer, the German woman Gunther has traveled to America to find
and the mother of the little girl, Anna, whom he has brought along with
him. The search leads them to Dunning Asylum, where they discover some
terrible truths about Liesel. When the child, Anna, is herself
mistakenly admitted to the asylum after an epileptic fit, Clive and
Henrietta return to Dunning to retrieve her. This time, however,
Henrietta begins to suspect that something darker may be happening. When
Clive doesn’t believe her, she decides to take matters into her own
hands . . . with horrifying results.

Release Date: April 28, 2020!

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Michelle Cox is the author of the multiple award-winning Henrietta and
Inspector Howard series as well as “Novel Notes of Local Lore,” a weekly
blog dedicated to Chicago’s forgotten residents. She suspects she may
have once lived in the 1930s and, having yet to discover a handy time
machine lying around, has resorted to writing about the era as a way of
getting herself back there. Coincidentally, her books have been praised
by Kirkus, Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, Booklist and many others,
so she might be on to something. Unbeknownst to most, Michelle hoards
board games she doesn’t have time to play and is, not surprisingly,
addicted to period dramas and big band music. Also marmalade.

Connect with the Author:

website ~ facebook ~twitter ~ instagram ~ goodreads

TOUR SCHEDULE:

Mar 16 – Working Mommy Journal – series spotlight / giveaway

Mar 16 – Rainy Day Reviews – series spotlight / guest post / giveaway

Mar 16 – Hall Ways Blog – series spotlight / giveaway

Mar 17 – Corinne Rodrigues – series spotlight / giveaway

Mar 18 – I’m Into Books – series spotlight / giveaway

Mar 18 – Mystery Suspense Reviews – series spotlight / guest post

Mar 19 – Rosepoint Publishing – series spotlight / giveaway

Mar 20 – Bookmark and fork – series spotlight / giveaway

Mar 23 – Book Corner News and Reviews – series spotlight / giveaway

Mar 23 – T’s Stuff – series spotlight / author interview / giveaway

Mar 24 – eBook Addicts – series spotlight

Mar 24 – The avid reader – series spotlight / author interview / giveaway

Mar 25 – Locks, Hooks and Books – series spotlight / author interview / giveaway

Mar 26 – Jazzy Book Reviews – series spotlight / guest post / giveaway

Mar 27 – Cheryl’s Book Nook – series spotlight / giveaway

Mar 30 – A Madison Mom – series spotlight / giveaway

Mar 31 – @momfluenster – series spotlight / giveaway

Mar 31 – Dab of Darkness Audiobook Reviews – series spotlight / author interview / giveaway

Apr 1 – StoreyBook Reviews – series spotlight / author interview / giveaway

Apr 1 – 411 on Books, Authors, and Publishing News – series spotlight / author interview / giveaway

Apr 2 – Library of Clean Reads – series spotlight / author interview / giveaway

Apr 3 – fundinmental – series spotlight / giveaway

Apr 3 – My Chaotic Ramblings – series spotlight / author interview / giveaway

Giveaway

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY for a $100 Amazon Gift Card courtesy of Michelle Cox, author of the Henrietta and Inspector Howard Series (ends Apr 10):

a Rafflecopter giveaway

©2020 Spotlight-courtesy of Rosepoint Publishing

 

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

Ah, my second John Connolly book for the #begorrathon20

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars Five Stars

The Wolf in Winter by John Connolly

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

(No parades this year due to Corona Virus)

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rosepoint recommended

+Add to Goodreads

Book Details:

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

One Good Dog by Susan Wilson – An #Audiobook Review – Family Life Fiction

One Good Dog by Susan Wilson - audiobook

Book Blurb:

Adam March is a self-made “Master of the Universe”. He has it all: the beautiful wife, the high-powered job, the glittering circle of friends. But there is a price to be paid for all these trappings, and the pressure is mounting-until the day Adam makes a fatal mistake. His assistant leaves him a message with three words: your sister called. What no one knows is that Adam’s sister has been missing for decades…that she represents the excruciatingly painful past he has left behind…and that her absence has secretly tormented him all these years. When his assistant brushes off his request for an explanation in favor of her more pressing personal call, Adam loses it. And all hell breaks loose.

Adam is escorted from the building. He loses his job. He loses his wife. He loses the life he’s worked so hard to achieve. He doesn’t believe it is possible to sink any lower when he is assigned to work in a soup kitchen as a form of community service.

But unbeknownst to Adam, this is where his life will intersect with Chance. Chance is a mixed breed Pit Bull. He’s been born and raised to fight and seldom leaves the dirty basement where he is kept between fights. But Chance is not a victim or a monster. It is Chance’s unique spirit that helps him escape and puts him in the path of Adam. What transpires is the story of one man, one dog, and how they save each other-in ways they never could have expected.

My Review:

Well, Mercy! I grabbed this book as I’d listened to three other audiobooks by the same author, The Dog I Loved, The Dog Who Danced, and Two Good Dogs. The latter actually introduced Adam March and his dog, Chance. All garnered 4.5 to 5 stars from me.

Adam is rich–he achieved that the hard way. A foster child, he came up rough and determined to succeed and he did. Along the way, he married well and they had a daughter they proceeded to spoil rotten. Adam, in the meantime, enjoyed his posh living to an extent but is not wholly happy. He has too many unresolved issues and when one effectively surfaces through his assistant, she is the target of his knee-jerk reaction.

One Good Dog by Susan Wilson

Rather than landing in the slammer, the judge is astute enough to ascertain with what he is dealing and sentences him to community service at a men’s shelter. In the meantime, he has lost his family and most of his accumulated wealth. Adam is a protagonist not easy to like. He is not engaging but arrogant, spoiled,  and hostile. His thoughts are enough to anger the reader.

But this is a book that switches from Adam’s POV to that of Chance, and his POV is eye-opening as well. I thoroughly enjoyed those chapters devoted to Chance as he escapes his life as a captive dog fighter and progresses through street dog to pet dog. At first, he is determined to run the first chance he gets–away from this person who has accidentally saddled himself with a dog he doesn’t want. Someone who never had one and has no clue how to care for–much less a dog of Chance’s history, a pit bull at that.

The training of the human is not as easy as that of the animal, who intuitively learns how to survive. Adam resists any effort at friendship or camaraderie at the shelter, angers when he realizes the woman at the pet store identifies him as a target of her previous rancor. None of it was his fault–it was all a mistake–that wasn’t who he is…heard that before?

Getting Adam and Chance to meld was difficult. Not an easy transition for either. In the meantime, we learn of his grudging association with the men (both the director and the workers) as well as the men who populate the center and it’s harsh, but he gradually begins to relax. It is because of the association with one that he is compelled to retrieve the pitbull from a kill center. Unfortunately, it’s not the one he was sent to rescue.

Gina, from the pet store, becomes a haven, source of rational thought, and sees the potential in Chance–encourages Adam to keep him. The heart of the storyline, however, is the focus full on Adam, and how the support characters, including Chance molds the man. Adam learns of his father and sister, finds a real relationship with his daughter. It’s a story of loss and forgiveness, trust, humility, and humanity. The story of Chance pulls all the heart-strings and you’ll root for him whether or not Adam. The conclusion is one you want to deny; hope will not happen. Can this have a happy ending?

Apparently, there is a whole range of reviews for this one. Everyone’s an expert on dogs, rescues, or pit bulls. And most seem to have a better grasp of good fiction writing than I. But as the old saying goes, I know what I like. I’m a fan of this author. I really enjoy her books. They are always full of heart with a moral compass…the problem of the plot is getting us through the minutiae of the story to assume the reader will discern the message. It’s fiction–take it at face value and just enjoy it.

I got this audiobook through my well-stocked local library and enjoyed via OverDrive (thank you!) and am more than happy to heartily recommend. (The narrators do an admiral job and greatly lend to the enjoyment of this novel.)

Book Details:

Genre: Family Life Fiction, Animal Life Fiction
Publisher:  Macmillan Audio
ASIN: B003AOVP1Q
 Print Length: 320 pages
Listening Length: 8 hrs 21 min
Narrators: Fred BermanRick Adamson
Audible Release Date: March 2, 2010
Source: Local (Audiobook Selections) Library
Title Link: One Good Dog (Amazon link)

+Add to Goodreads 

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

Susan Wilson - authorThe Author: (From Amazon and Goodreads Author pages) SUSAN WILSON is the author of ten novels (one in progress), 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.

Married, two grown daughters and a granddaughter and two grandsons – plus four-step grands. Lives in Oak Bluffs, MA, on Martha’s Vineyard. Visit her online at http://www.susanwilsonwrites.com

The Narrators:

Fred Berman - author
Fred Berman
Rick Adamson - narrator
Rick Adamson

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Irish Car Bomb (The Erin O’Reilly K-9 Mysteries Book 2) by Steven Henry – a #BookReview #readingirelandmonth20

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars Five Stars

I just found a new favorite series!

March!

Book Blurb:

Irish Car Bomb by Steven HenryIf it weren’t for the Irish, New York wouldn’t have a police force. On the other hand, it might not need one.

Starting a new job is always stressful, even when bombs aren’t involved. NYPD Officer Erin O’Reilly always wanted to be a detective. But on her first day wearing a gold shield, she finds herself investigating the explosive death of a small-time crook. She and her K-9 partner Rolf, together with her new squad of detectives, plunge into a world of gamblers, mobsters, and retired Irish Republican Army soldiers.

It’s an Irish cop against the Irish Mob in an intoxicating cocktail of murder, explosives, and betrayal. Can Erin and Rolf solve the killing before the bomber strikes again?

My Review:

Yahoo! I’ve found another K-9 series to absolutely love! And SurPRISE! The female character, one of New York’s finest, newly installed detective, is not a damaged protagonist. As far as I can tell, she is tough, smart, and a critical thinker. She brings valuable instincts to the job, a logical wit and wisdom inherited by her now retired Irish NY cop dad.

Irish Car Bomb by Steven HenryWhat is not to love here? This cast of characters immediately immerses you in her new unit, co-workers gathered from other areas specifically to work Major Crimes, each with their own specialties. And they are good. The banter is lively as they get the feel for each other and their new team member, Erin O’Reilly. She comes with the 90 lb. GSD specially trained German language K-9–a pussycat or predator and he can go from mild to wildly serious quickly. It doesn’t take long before Erin earns the respect of Lieutenant Webb and her team members and has installed herself as a person who has your back, confronts and subdues effectively.

In this installment, a car bomb has detonated causing a fatality and the team called out. It escalates rather quickly, introducing Erin to the local Irish mob and the pub hangout, the Barley Corner, where she made some major contacts. It is there she is introduced to the “Irish Car Bomb,” a drink that begins with Guinness, of course. (And have you heard of Glen D?)  It’s brilliant and something I’d never attempt. Dialogue hints at the Irish sense of humor as well as the fire.

“Nothing in his life so became him as his taking leave of it.”

A fast-paced, well-plotted mystery doesn’t take away from the characters and there is a pulse-pounding climax in a satisfying conclusion. Oh wait! Did I have any quibbles? Yes!  It’s too short! I’m looking forward to delving deeper into these characters, charismatic, caustic when needed, or just because. Erin is high energy and runs on endorphins. This one will ramp yours up as well.

Rosepoint recommended I bought this one, sold on the cover and blurb, and it did not disappoint. Fast and fun read–totally recommended! Now, I just need the next one!

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Animal Mysteries, Police Procedurals
Publisher: ClickWorks Press

  • ISBN-10:1943383383
  • ISBN-13:978-1943383382
  • ASIN: B07FT1RJG2

Print Length: 164 pages
Publication Date: July 22, 2018
Source: Purchased at Publisher
Title Links: Irish Car Bomb (Amazon link), Barnes and Noble, Kobo

+Add to Goodreads

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

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

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

March!

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

Genre: International Mystery and Crime
Publisher: Kensington Books

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

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

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

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

http://www.carleneoconnor.com

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Dead Ringer (A Mattie Winston Mystery Book 11) by Annelise Ryan – a #BookReview

Book Blurb:

Dead Ringer by Annelise RyanA new murder victim with an old M.O. puts Mattie Winston on the trail of a killer who gives a grim new meaning to flower power . . .
 
Spring is beginning to brighten Sorenson, Wisconsin, for Mattie and Steve Hurley and their family. While their son Matthew may be in his terrible twos and Steve’s daughter Emily a moody teenager, the kids bring light to their lives when their work is dark by its nature—Steve is a homicide detective and Mattie is a medicolegal death investigator, aka medical examiner. They deal in corpses.
 
The latest corpse, a Jane Doe, was clearly an addict, but drugs didn’t kill her, at least not directly. She’s been stabbed multiple times in a pattern that is disturbingly familiar to Mattie. When she discovers flower petals from yellow carnations stuffed into the stab wounds, she recognizes a very specific M.O.—belonging to a convicted serial killer who’s currently serving a life sentence.
 
The details of the flower petals were never made public in the last case, so it can’t be a copycat crime. It looks like the wrong man is in prison, and the murderer is still at large. Now it’s up to Mattie and Steve to get the case reopened—and catch the real carnation killer . . .

My Review:

Dead Ringer by Annelise RyanMattie Winston is a medicolegal investigator (assistant coroner) in small town Sorenson, Wisconsin and along with her husband, Detective Steve Hurley, often work together on cases. Together they have Matthew, a toddler and Steve’s teenage daughter Emily who is looking forward to leaving for college the following year. They’ve recently bought a new home and are trying to meld their chaotic schedules when there is a new homicide found by the side of the road.

This female victim, however, has an obvious MO that Mattie remembers from a conversation at a convention and when the details look to be the same becomes aware the wrong man may be in prison. They are reluctant to charge it to a copy cat since one of the major details was never divulged but is repeated in the latest fatality.

Mattie, is a wife and mother and loves her job but realizes she is pregnant (again) and the hormones are beginning to go wild. And here is where the plot tends to go off the rails. The hormones are jerking her–she’s feeling overworked and underpaid (at home). Steve continues on his merry way with his position while her responsibilities tend to overwhelm her. She and hubby decided together to try for another child, but now that it’s happening, it’s like the whole thing is really not what she wanted and it’s out of her hands. Meanwhile, he’s thrilled.

Shoving all her angst down, ignoring Steve’s obviously touchy reaction to her colleague contact, she proceeds to continue her investigation, handing off Matthew to the sitters (so convenient) or to Steve (whom she always calls Hurley) when he’s available and makes some questionable decisions seemed to alienate her spouse (and the reader). She seems more inclined to duck the issues rather than to confront them and his reaction is rather juvenile.

The forensics were interesting and that is what I expected, rather than the dissolution into a domestic drama. This is my first experience with the author and the series, so I suspect Mattie has been through development in previous issues. There are a number of support characters, but I couldn’t fully engage with them either. And Arnie, what? why?

The conclusion reels everyone back after a harrowing climax and it was one in which I was somewhat dismayed. Okay, I must admit to suspecting one of the slightly zealous support characters, but then it flips entirely.

I received this digital download ARC from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Not exactly a cozy and a bit torn between medical thriller and domestic drama, but the mystery parts, forensics, and medical explanations were appreciated.

Book Details:

Genre: Medical Thrillers
Publisher: Kensington Books

  • ISBN-10:1496722558
  • ISBN-13:978-1496722553
  • ASIN: B07R7S242R

Print Length: 336 pages
Publication Date: February 25, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Dead Ringer

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

Annelise Ryan - authorThe Author: Annelise Ryan is the USA Today bestselling author of the popular Mattie Winston mystery series and a pseudonym for Beth Amos, who also writes the Mack’s Bar Mystery series under the pseudonym Allyson K. Abbott. Beth is a real life emergency room RN living in Wisconsin. She believes laughter is the best medicine, and with the Mattie Winston series she is hoping to “medicate” the masses.

For more Mattie Winston fun and to keep up with the latest news, visit http://www.mattiewinston.com

ABOUT WORKING STIFF: Stephanie Plum with a CSI twist–Annelise Ryan’s new cozy mystery series introduces wisecracking nurse-turned-coroner Mattie Winston and the eccentric inhabitants of her small Wisconsin town.

“Ryan, the pseudonym of a Wisconsin emergency nurse, brings her professional expertise to her crisp debut.” ~Publishers Weekly

“Mattie Winston’s life in small-town Sorenson, Wis., is anything but dull after she takes the job as deputy coroner. Mattie is klutzy and endearing, and there are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments.” ~ Romantic Times

“A recently-divorced OR nurse accepts the job as assistant to the coroner and her first case involves the murder of her ex-husband’s lover, and when her ex becomes the chief suspect, she joins forces with a hunky police detective to find the killer in a debut that is both funny and intricately-plotted.” ~ Clues Unlimited

“Annelise Ryan turns in a spiffy series debut with Working Stiff introducing nurse turned coroner’s assis¬tant Mattie Winston. Her first crime scene is quite a challenge, however, as the prime suspect is her husband, Dr. Wonderful, and the victim is his mistress. Mattie is a wise-cracking guide to the ins-and-outs of autopsy and crime-solving while managing some pithy commentary on the current state of medical practice courtesy of the author’s background as a nurse.” ~ Mystery Lovers Bookshop Fall Coffee and Crime Newsletter

ABOUT SCARED STIFF:

“When shocked trick-or-treaters discover the body of model Shannon Tolliver one Halloween night, Mattie Winston investigates in Ryan’s sharp second mystery to feature the Sorenson City, Wis., deputy coroner (after 2009’s Working Stiff.” Publishers Weekly

“Mattie Winston is a likable, humorous heroine with whom readers will readily identify.” Romantic Times

“This has the makings of an appealing series on multiple fronts: the forensic details will interest Patricia Cornwell readers, though the tone here is lighter, while the often slapstick humor and the blossoming romance between Mattie and Hurley will draw Evanovich fans who don’t object to the cozier mood.” Sue O’Brien, Booklist

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Thief River Falls by Brian Freeman – a #BookReview #psychologicalthriller

Book Blurb:

Thief River Falls by Brian FreemanHarrowing loss, psychological trauma, and a deadly mystery test the human will to survive in this electrifying novel from award-winning author Brian Freeman.

Lisa Power is a tortured ghost of her former self. The author of a bestselling thriller called Thief River Falls, named after her rural Minnesota hometown, Lisa is secluded in her remote house as she struggles with the loss of her entire family: a series of tragedies she calls the “Dark Star.”

Then a nameless runaway boy shows up at her door with a terrifying story: he’s just escaped death after witnessing a brutal murder—a crime the police want to cover up. Obsessed with the boy’s safety, Lisa resolves to expose this crime, but powerful men in Thief River Falls are desperate to get the boy back, and now they want her too.

Lisa and her young visitor have nowhere to go as the trap closes around them. Still under the strange, unforgiving threat of the Dark Star, Lisa must find a way to save them both, or they’ll become the victims of another shocking tragedy she can’t foresee.

My Review:

Holy Moly! What can I say about this book that wouldn’t be an obvious spoiler?

Thief River Falls by Brian FreemanLisa Power is a damaged protagonist, a survivor of horrendous recent family tragedies that left her and her twin brother Noah the survivors of a family of seven. But Noah couldn’t hack it and left her to deal with the fallout. In an effort to change her setting, she leaves her family home and buys a remote farmhouse outside of town, creates a “writer’s cottage” and finishes up a bestseller that puts both she and the little town where she grew up on the map.

But life (and death) isn’t through with her.

Winter is approaching and on a cold, windy night when two policemen come to her door. She doesn’t answer but peeks out the window at them. Later, she finds a child hiding in her outbuilding. He’s scared, dirty, cold, and obviously survived a severe trauma of his own–he has no memory of what happened to land him on her property. Because he can’t remember his name, she names him after a character in her book. Uh oh

It’s a suspense thriller, and really, I thought the gradual build-up, dropping little crumbs here and there, served to start creating tension. The boy would remember little flashes and pieces of his puzzle and they begin to gather into a shape–albeit a very hazy one. There are little things that don’t quite make sense though–something isn’t adding up.

Lisa has a best friend with whom she has been confiding secrets and she asks her to come over. She explains the situation with the boy, whom she’s fed, cleaned up, and made comfortable in a bed. Something about the boy’s story has her afraid to trust anyone and she is already suspicious of the police that came to her door. And the more the boy remembers she realizes the greater his risk and her unreasonable resolve to protect him–at all cost.

At this point, the reader is sucked into the storyline, marveling at the stoic child, recoiling at some of Lisa’s less than stellar decisions on how to proceed. Lisa begins to get out and investigate what might have happened and shows the boy a special place to hide should someone come to the house while she is gone. She is well-known in this little town and everywhere she goes is recognized. But she pulls together more pieces of the puzzle. At this point, the reader might become suspiciously frantic…and there are those few little bits that just don’t seem to make sense.

Enter support characters, some estranged, many who shouldn’t be trusted and Lisa begins to realize the only way out for the boy is to discover exactly the who, what, where, when, and why and then find evidence. She must have evidence. And off she goes again.

As the big reveal comes barreling into a mind-blowing climax, reality swerves head-long into unreality. Difficult to ascertain what is real and what isn’t. WAIT! The reader is plunged…well, I can’t tell you…but I’m beginning to get woozy…it’s the twist. And the twist is a doozy. Now you may have seen this coming. I certainly knew something was wrong but still taken aback in shock. Emotional conclusion. Gulp…just need some time to digest. And then, realized, there were a few holes, tiny things that bugged me and were left unexplained. Ugh…otherwise, it would have hit that 5-star bell ringer. You can’t fault it for suspense and it was certainly entertaining. It is meant to be a standalone.

I received this digital ARC from the publisher through NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. My first book by this author, would definitely read another. Recommended.

Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Thrillers, Suspense Thrillers
Publisher: Thomas and Mercer

  • ISBN-10:1542093384
  • ISBN-13:978-1542093385
  • ASIN: B07MCT1GC3

Print Length: 314 pages
Publication Date: February 1, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Thief River Falls 

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4-stars

Brian Freeman - authorThe Author: Brian Freeman is a New York Times bestselling author of psychological thrillers, including the Jonathan Stride and Frost Easton series. His books have been sold in 46 countries and 22 languages. He is widely acclaimed for his “you are there” settings and his complex, engaging characters and twist-filled plots. Brian has also been selected as the official author to continue Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne series, with a new Bourne novel THE BOURNE EVOLUTION due in 2020.

His novel THE NIGHT BIRD, the first in the Frost Easton series set in San Francisco, was one of the top 20 Kindle bestsellers of 2017. His latest releases include two stand-alones, the #1 Amazon Kindle bestseller THIEF RIVER FALLS and the #1 bestselling Audible Original THE DEEP, DEEP SNOW.

Brian’s seventh novel SPILLED BLOOD won the award for Best Hardcover Novel in the annual Thriller Awards given out by the International Thriller Writers organization, and his fifth novel THE BURYING PLACE was a finalist for the same award. His debut thriller, IMMORAL, won the Macavity Award for Best First Novel and was a nominee for the Edgar, Dagger, Anthony, and Barry Awards. IMMORAL was named an International Book of the Month, a distinction shared with authors such as Harlan Coben and Lisa Unger.

All of Brian’s books are also available in audiobook editions. His novels THE BONE HOUSE and SEASON OF FEAR were both finalists for Best Audiobook of the Year in Thriller/Suspense.

For more information on Brian’s books, visit his web site at bfreemanbooks.com or find him on:

Facebook at facebook.com/bfreemanfans or

Twitter and Instagram (@bfreemanbooks).

©2020 V Williams V Williams

The Alchemist A Fable About Following Your Dream by Paulo Coelho – A #BookReview Mysticism and Spirituality

A book club of the month selection. But do I agree with their assessment?

Do I agree with the book club?

Book Blurb:

Combining magic, mysticism, wisdom and wonder into an inspiring tale of self-discovery, The Alchemist has become a modern classic, selling millions of copies around the world and transforming the lives of countless readers across generations.

Paulo Coelho’s masterpiece tells the mystical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure. His quest will lead him to riches far different—and far more satisfying—than he ever imagined. Santiago’s journey teaches us about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, of recognizing opportunity and learning to read the omens strewn along life’s path, and, most importantly, to follow our dreams.

My Review:

I wrote last Friday regarding my search for a local book club that I could physically attend during daylight hours. In that effort, I went back to the library in Crown Point where their monthly read was The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson.

This week I got to attend a start-up book group closer to my neck of the woods that they named Fiction Addiction. (That was the name of a Meetup I tried a couple years ago but decided against as I wanted to find a group that was BYOB (bring your own book).) For their inaugural meeting, they chose The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

The Alchemist by Paulo CoelhoFirst, let me say that because I could not download a digital copy, I had to pick up a physical copy–old edition, with this cover (l). There is apparently a 25th Anniversary Edition with an updated cover (r). The Alchemist by Paulo CoelhoRemember that old comic who used to squeal out HATED it?” Well…perhaps that might be going a bit too far but it would not be an understatement to say it was all I could do to get through this book. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who felt that way as there were some rather scathing reviews on Goodreads.

Goodreads*
3.86  ·   Rating details ·  1,909,281 ratings  ·  73,509 reviews

Amazon* 4.6 out of 5 stars    14,769 ratings

Guess I’m not exactly a book snob as I could not get into the simplistic writing style, the narcissistic attitude of the main character, Santiago, or the whole quest to follow his dream. The Alchemist is a traveler Santiago met on his journey to find his Personal Legend. (Oh, puleeaze, spare me.) And then there is Melchizedek.

This becomes so deeply philosophical it had my head spinning and spent a great deal of the time muttering wha??? huh?? The author professes to be Catholic but had me SO confused–really? I think somewhere he crossed a few lines, and I don’t mean just across Egypt, Tangier, or the Sahara Desert. Confusion reigned supreme. Mysticism could be one term, but he was talking to his heart and it was answering.

A book of messages, told in fables or parables, targeted those who seek their treasure–their personal legend. (Would be that we all had that luxury? Although wandering through the Sahara with warring factions wouldn’t be my choice for a peaceful existence. I was rather surprised to note that the Englishman he met along the way (also seeking his treasure) spoke Esperanto (among other languages), which I discovered when I dabbled in Gallifreyan.) Then starts dropping some of the buzz words:

The Master Work

(Solid part of the Master Work) Philosopher’s Stone

Soul of the World

Urim and Thummim

(Liquid part of the Master Work) Elixir of Life

Omens

Language of the World

I must admit to believing in the rule of three and I’ve seldom ignored that third nudge. It was this young man’s third dream about his treasure that set his course. He sells his sheep and sets sail (literally) from Andalusia for the Pyramids. It will not be an easy journey and he’s robbed (oops) three times. Perhaps THAT should have been his omen.

I read this library book as an introduction to a new reading group. This is going to be a good group and if you are in the NW Indiana area fourth Tuesday of the month, I recommend. Members consensus of this one below. Have you read this book? Did you like or learn from it? Am I truly out to Lunch? I’d love to hear your opinions!

As to next month, we are looking forward to reading Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan. I plan to rent the DVD and compare the two. You are probably way ahead of me–what did you think?

Book Details:

Genre: Personal Success & Spirituality, Mysticism & Spirituality, Alchemy, Literary Fiction, Religion and Spirituality
Publisher: HarperOne: Anniversary Edition

  • ISBN-10:0062315005
  • ISBN-13:978-0062315007
  • ASIN: B00U6SFUSS       

Print Length: 178 pages
Publication Date: February 24, 2015
Source: Fiction Addiction Book Group NW Indiana Library
Title Link: The Alchemist 

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Book Club rating

Paulo Coelho - authorThe Author: The Brazilian author PAULO COELHO is considered one of the most influential authors of our times. His books have sold more than 165 million copies worldwide, have been released in 170 countries and been translated into 80 languages.

Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1947, he soon discovered his vocation for writing. He worked as a director, theater actor, songwriter and journalist. His collaboration with Brazilian composer and singer Raúl Seixas gave some of the greatest classic rock songs in Brazil. In 1986, a special meeting led him to make the pilgrimage to Saint James Compostela (in Spain). The Road to Santiago was not only a common pilgrimage but a turning point in his existence. A year later, he wrote ‘The Pilgrimage’, an autobiographical novel that is considered the beginning of his career.

In the following year, COELHO published ‘The Alchemist’. Slow initial sales convinced his first publisher to drop the novel, but it went on to become one of the best selling Brazilian books of all time.

Other titles include ‘Brida’ (1990), ‘The Valkyries’ (1992), ‘By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept’ (1994), the collection of his best columns published in the Brazilian newspaper Folha de S. Paulo entitle ‘Maktub’ (1994), the compilation of texts ‘Phrases’ (1995), ‘The Fifth Mountain’ (1996), ‘Manual of a Warrior of Light’ (1997), ‘Veronika decides to die’ (1998), ‘The Devil and Miss Prym’ (2000), the compilation of traditional tales in ‘Stories for parents, children and grandchildren’ (2001), ‘Eleven Minutes’ (2003), ‘The Zahir’ (2005), ‘Like the Flowing River’ (2006), ‘The Witch of Portobello’ (2006), ‘The Winner Stands Alone’ (2008), ‘Aleph’ (2010), ‘Manuscript found in Accra’ (2012) and ‘Adultery’ (2014).

He has received numerous prestigious international awards. He is member of the Academy of Letters of Brazil since 2002 and Messenger of Peace by the United Nations since 2007. In 2009 he received the Guinness World Record for the most translated author for the same book (The Alchemist).

The man behind the author likes to write and practices Kyudo – a meditative archery. He loves reading, walking, football and computers. In that sense, he has always maintained a close contact with his readers but now, and thanks to the new media, he has established an incredible feedback with them. Paulo was the second most influential celebrity on Twitter in 2010 according to Forbes and he is the writer with the highest number of followers in the social media.

In the past years Paulo Coelho has expanded his presence in the internet with his daily blogs in WordPress (http://paulocoelhoblog.com)

Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Paulo-Coelho/11777366210),

Twitter (https://twitter.com/paulocoelho)

Instagram (http://instagram.com/alkmist), among others.

He is equally present in media sharing sites such as Youtube (http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=paulabraconnot) and Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/photos/paulo_coelho/sets), offering on a regular basis not only texts but also videos and pictures to his readers.

*As of February 24, 2020

©2020 V Williams V Williams

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek: A Novel by Kim Michele Richardson – A #BookReview #historicalfiction

A book club of the month selection. But do I agree with their assessment?

Do I agree with the Book Club?

Book Blurb:

The New York Times and USA Today bestseller!

“…a hauntingly atmospheric love letter to the first mobile library in Kentucky and the fierce, brave packhorse librarians who wove their way from shack to shack dispensing literacy, hope, and — just as importantly — a compassionate human connection.”—Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants

The hardscrabble folks of Troublesome Creek have to scrap for everything—everything except books, that is. Thanks to Roosevelt’s Kentucky Pack Horse Library Project, Troublesome’s got its very own traveling librarian, Cussy Mary Carter.

Cussy’s not only a book woman, however, she’s also the last of her kind, her skin a shade of blue unlike most anyone else. Not everyone is keen on Cussy’s family or the Library Project, and a Blue is often blamed for any whiff of trouble. If Cussy wants to bring the joy of books to the hill folks, she’s going to have to confront prejudice as old as the Appalachias and suspicion as deep as the holler.

Inspired by the true blue-skinned people of Kentucky and the brave and dedicated Kentucky Pack Horse library service of the 1930s, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a story of raw courage, fierce strength, and one woman’s belief that books can carry us anywhere—even back home.

My Review:

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

In an effort to find a local book club that I could actually attend (preferably during daylight hours), I went back to the one that sets out a book of the month that everyone would read and then hold a discussion. The February read was The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson, released May of last year. The popular book club has met for twenty years.

This was a doozy of a book for my introduction to a live book group. I love it when I learn new things, and this a story in my own country and a state I know little about, except for riding through a portion of it in 2004. Add to boot, a historical fiction–and you know I love those–about the WPA project endorsed by Roosevelt during the depression. The Pack Horse Library Project delivered books to families in the remote areas of the Appalachians between 1935 and 1943, mostly by women. It was isolating and dangerous.

Closed off, desperately poor, with little hope for better times, the families welcomed even the normally shunned blue-skinned Pack House Librarian receiving books, magazines, and old newspapers that had been donated and brought to a central location there to be redistributed among those on her routes, sometimes covering as much as twenty miles. Cussy lived with her father, a miner, with black lung disease. There were many times, failing a family member who could read, she stayed to read to them.

A strongly patriarchal society, her father didn’t like her working, but beginning to fail himself and both of them starving, grudgingly allowed her the job. The book in first person tells the story of herself as well as those on her routes, desperate for any news and help. Those who could, contributed recipes or patterns, items that were added to scrapbooks divided into areas of interest–gardening, maintenance, quilting, etc. Mountain, home-grown remedies. These were extremely remote areas and winter only added to the burden.

So many issues in this book besides prejudice, illiteracy, backwoods justice, starvation, abuse, folklore, and illness. It’s a different culture steeped in tradition. The vernacular puts you on the mule behind Cussy as she winds through narrow canyon trails and heavily wooded landscapes to visit her patrons. There are politics and societal issues and the author deals with many of these through the experience of her own harsh childhood. Her prose strikes more than one cord, “…wailing for Henry and all the Henrys in these dark hollows who’d never be a common grown-up. Stuck forever as Peter Pans.”

“You tell a horse and ask a donkey.”

The conclusion comes rather abruptly after suffering some heartbreaking and brutal scenes, failing to explain a few threads, things I didn’t understand and would have loved an explanation. Extremely well researched, there are scenes drawn in a raw and descriptive manner and I can heartily recommend this unique, compelling novel.

There appears to be an interesting schedule on tap at this location into July and I will be returning in March to share Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan. If you’ve read that, I’d love a heads up on your view. In the meantime, I found another group just starting this month in my area, also an afternoon meeting and I’m currently reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Bet you haven’t read that one either! What have I gotten myself into? I’ll be reviewing that book on Thursday, February 27.

Book Details:

Genre: Southern Fiction, Small Town and Rural Fiction, US Historical Fiction
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
ISBN: 1492671525
ASIN: B07LGD67ZZ
Print Length: 322 pages
Publication Date: May 7, 2019
Source: Third Monday Book Club, Crown Point IN
Title Link: The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
 
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Book Club Rating-Rosepoint Rating

Kim Michele Richardson - authorThe Author: Kim Michele Richardson lives in Kentucky and resides part-time in Western North Carolina. She has volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, building houses, and is an advocate for the prevention of child abuse and domestic violence, partnering with the U.S. Navy globally to bring awareness and education to the prevention of domestic violence. She is the author of the bestselling memoir The Unbreakable Child, and a book critic for the New York Journal of Books. Her novels include, Liar’s Bench, GodPretty in the Tobacco Field and The Sisters of Glass Ferry. Kim Michele currently finished her fourth novel, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek about the fierce and brave Kentucky Packhorse librarians. Coming Spring, 2019.

You can visit her websites and learn more at: http://www.kimmichelerichardson.com

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Photo attributions: Picture backgrounds and open book Canva.com
Book Trailer: YouTube

Black and Blue by David Rosenfelt (Author) Fred Berman (Narrator) – An #Audiobook Review #crimethriller

As promised, Book 3 in the Doug Brock Thriller series. (Hope you didn’t miss my review for number two: Fade to Black!)

Black and Blue by David Rosenfelt

Book Blurb:

Doug Brock hasn’t had it easy since his getting shot in the line of duty as a New Jersey state police officer. Between the amnesia and having to solve two murder cases, it hasn’t been the most restful recovery. 

Now, the cold-case department is checking evidence from a murder case Doug was investigating before the accident, but the DNA points to a man Doug eliminated as a suspect…and he remembers none of it. 

Doug begins to reinvestigate what turns out to be a series of unsolved killings and must retrace his steps to discover why he would have let the suspect go free. What he uncovers may be more dangerous than any case he’s faced yet. 

With Black and Blue, nationally best-selling author David Rosenfelt continues his thrilling new series featuring Doug Brock.

My Review:

As mentioned at my review of Book 2, Fade to Black, here is  #3 of the Doug Brock series, my sampling of a David Rosenfelt series outside of the Andy Carpenter series (which I totally fell in love with and you’ll get many more of those reviews). Doug Brock, a New Jersey state police lieutenant who was shot in the line of duty has returned to work, albeit missing ten years of his memory. He has gotten back together with his former fiancé, Jessie.

Black and Blue by David RosenfeltThis series is more serious in nature and, as I noted before, there were times I didn’t really care for protagonist Brock, although his fiancé, Jessie, is interesting, intelligent, tolerant, and patient. She owns a mountain of a dog named BoBo. Doug and BoBo have a kind of détente. He also is back with partner Nate Alvarez (a mountain of a man), and he and Nate seem to work effectively together, trading barbs from time to time.

Being a serious fan of Andy Carpenter, it was fun that he was incorporated into this storyline (although I wasn’t so thrilled with the person who did the narration for Andy–just not the same beloved voice).

Currently, Doug and Nate are working on a cold case. A dead body, shot through the heart by a high powered rifle. Not the first time this happened since there were more than one and ballistics confirm with the same gun. He was involved with the old case, although with his current condition cannot remember the details and has to go through the files. This isn’t the only problem they’ll have now though as Doug suspicions he may have interviewed him before and let him go.

I really like the series, but let’s face it, I’ve been spoiled by Andy Carpenter. This protagonist is not wholly sympathetic, although I can certainly connect with the support characters and if you aren’t used to the machine-gun hyperbole and tongue-in-cheek humor of that series, would probably find this one quite satisfying–enough male guffawing, sarcastic barbs, back-slapping, and beer to grease the plotline. The well-plotted mystery presents twists, turns, and red herrings, but it’s the characters that keep you reading and David Rosenfelt is great at developing good chemistry in his characters.

The conclusion ties frayed ends together very neatly. This novel could function quite well as a standalone as there are sufficient references to history to fill in the blanks. In any case, I’ll be tuning in to Doug Brock 4. Also, as mentioned before, I was approved by NetGalley for The K Team, Book 1, of a new spinoff series from Andy Carpenter featuring most of my favorite characters. (If you haven’t grabbed that one yet, better hurry.)

I received this audiobook download from my local library audio selection with no expectation of a review. But, you know I’m going to do it anyway.

Book Details:

Genre: Police Procedural Mysteries, Crime Thriller, Serial Killer
Publisher:  Macmillan Audio, Minotaur Books 

  • ISBN-10:1250133149
  • ISBN-13:978-1250133144
  • ASIN: B07KRGLYZJ 

Print Length: 304 pages
Listening Length: 6 hrs 22 mins
Narrator: Fred Berman
Publication Date: March 26, 2019
Source: Local (Audiobook Selections) Library
Title Link: Black and Blue
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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point five of Five Stars 4.5-stars

David Rosenfelt - authorThe Author: [David Rosenfelt-Goodreads author page] I am a novelist with 27 dogs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fred Berman - authorThe Narrator: [Fred Berman-Goodreads author page] Age & Hometown: 39 (“but in meerkat years, that’s 25!”); Manhasset, Long Island

Current Role: Entertaining Broadway audiences as the hysterical meerkat Timon in Disney’s long-running hit The Lion King.

A Familiar Voice: An accomplished voiceover actor on more than 50 audiobooks, Berman says the key is not to impersonate or put on voices. “I cast the book in my mind,” he explains. “I say, ‘Who is this person?’ So, in my head, Judi Dench is playing this role. I don’t want to do an impersonation of Judi Dench, but I am channeling her in that moment. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.” Berman’s audio work ranges from children’s books to what he calls “fantasy romance novels”—and sometimes both in the same day. “One time, I went from the most ridiculously depressing book, The Painted Bird, about a kid wandering through the forests of Poland after World War II, to a romance book where I voiced the sexiest Greek man alive who always wears leather pants and no shirt in softcore porn scenes.”

The Dangers of Timon: Berman was initially cautious about taking his Lion King gig. “I have never gone into a long-running show, and I knew I couldn’t do [Nathan Lane, who created the role onscreen]. I wasn’t sure how much of it was going to be ‘This is a machine and you need to do it this way.’” Berman’s doubts subsided when he was given freedom to interpret the role his own way—though he still has one fear. “I tend to gravitate toward blue humor, so I always get nervous when I have to improvise,” he says. “Having kids [he has two] makes you check yourself more.” Instead, he says his mantra is, “Play the positive; play the love!”

Let’s Rock!: Though acting pays the bills, Berman’s true passion is music. The son of a bandleader, he began playing piano at age five and discovered the drums, which would become his main instrument, in fifth grade. “Until I got into The Lion King, I was playing in bands my whole life,” he says. His musical influences range from fellow Long Island native Billy Joel to Led Zeppelin. “I have a tattoo of [late Led Zeppelin drummer] John Bonham’s symbol on my left arm!” When pressed to choose between acting and music, Berman responds, “I love them both, but I have to be honest: There is nothing in the world like playing drums in a rock-and-roll band at a live concert. That’s what I thought.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

The Lost Train by Seth Crossman-a Release Blitz and #Giveaway @RABTBookTours

I am thrilled to participate in the #releaseblitz for The Lost Train by Seth Crossman

Happy Publication Day!

Scroll down to enter the Giveaway.

Action Adventure Thriller
Date Published: 2/20/20
Publisher: Golden Acorn Press
 photo add-to-goodreads-button_zpsc7b3c634.png
A former MP, Will Stattin, is called to Europe to investigate the theft of several paintings. He learns that the paintings are part of a series of nine pieces of art, all with a clue that ultimately leads to a train that disappeared from Konigsberg, Germany in late 1944 full of gold, art, and priceless artifacts. He quickly learns that he is not the only one after the paintings. Now it is a race across Europe to find the paintings and the lost train with the help of the beautiful and savvy museum agent, Giovanna Rossi, before the hunt turns even more deadly than it already has.
About the Author

Seth Crossman is a minister, speaker, and writer who lives in Upstate New York. His own adventures have taken him across the globe and stirred his desire to write fast-paced, provocative thrillers that keep readers turning the page. He has three boys that he wants to inspire with a sense of adventure and courage to overcome whatever obstacles get in their way.

Contact Links
RABT Book Tours & PR
2020

The Master’s Apprentice (A Re-Telling of the Faust Legend) by Oliver Pötzsch – a #BookReview #historicalfantasy

A review by the CE of Book 1 in a new series of #renaissancehistoricalfiction

The Master's Apprentice by Oliver PotzschBook Blurb:

A young man’s destined quest becomes a dance with the devil in a mesmerizing retelling of the Faust legend by the bestselling author of the Hangman’s Daughter Tales series.

It’s the fifteenth century and only heretics are curious about the universe.

Germany, 1494. Born under a rare alignment of the stars, Johann Georg Gerlach, “the lucky one” to his mother—is fated for greatness. But Johann’s studies and wonder at the sky have made him suspect. Especially in wake of the child disappearances that have left the God-fearing locals trembling and his one true love trapped in terrified catatonia. Her only words: “I have seen the devil…”

Banished from Knittlingen as cursed, Johann crosses paths with Tonio del Moravia. The traveling fortune-teller and master of the arcane arts recognizes something extraordinary in the wanderer. Taking Johann under his wing, Tonio promises a new world of knowledge and sensations. But with it comes a sinister web of deception and a chilling prophecy.

The stars are set to align again. Now Johann must draw on the skills of his apprenticeship to solve the dark mystery that grips his village in fear and the deepening mystery of his own destiny.

His Review:

The Master's Apprentice by Oliver PotzschJohann Georg was born as a result of a triste between his beautiful mother and a stranger. His father hated him. His mother called him Faustus (the lucky one) born under a lucky star. His father despised him and gave him no fatherly love. At eight years he meets our villain, Tonio, and his life is forever cursed by this devil personified.

Oliver Pötzsch has captured the essence of life in the middle ages and the turmoil that was Europe. His translation of the writing regarding Faust is laudable. His translator, Lisa Reinhardt, makes the German language come to life in English.

Europe is a cesspool of intrigue and disease. How anyone survived is totally a mystery. Devil worship abounds and the church with its’ Inquisitors does it’s best to stamp out any but the “true religion.” Johann is blessed with a great mind and tremendously inquisitive instinct. The devil knows that he will be a great addition to his earthly realm.

CE WilliamsCannibalism and vampires have nothing on this story! Become engrossed in a life of struggle, travel which is near impossible, and villains of the first magnitude. Weep with the characters in this story as they overcome enormous hardships to they struggle through life. Does good always triumph over evil? Dive into this narrative and seek the answer. CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Renaissance Historical Fiction, Historical Fantasy, Historical Mystery
Publisher: Amazon Crossing

  • ISBN-10:1542009987
  • ISBN-13:978-1542009980
  • ASIN: B07WGDKKYC

Print Length: 475+ pages
Publication Date: To be released April 28, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Master’s Apprentice
+Add to Goodreads 

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5-stars

Oliver Potzsch - authorThe Author: (Amazon) Oliver Pötzsch, born in 1970, has worked for years as a scriptwriter for Bavarian television. He himself is a descendant of one of Bavaria’s leading dynasties of executioners. He lives in Munich with his family. Photo © Dominik Parzinger.

(Goodreads) Oliver Pötzsch is a German writer and filmmaker. After high school he attended the German School of Journalism in Munich from 1992 to 1997. He then worked for Radio Bavaria. In addition to his professional activities in radio and television, Pötzsch researched his family history. He is a descendant of the Kuisle, from the 16th to the 19th Century a famous dynasty of executioners in Schongau.

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Fade to Black (A Doug Brock Thriller Book 2) by David Rosenfelt (Author) Fred Berman (Narrator) – An #Audiobook Review #crime

Audiobooks by David Rosenfelt

Book Blurb:

In Fade to Black, the thrilling audiobook sequel to Blackout from David Rosenfelt, policeman Doug Brock helps a fellow victim of amnesia untangle a murder case and discovers he may not be as distant as he thinks.

After getting shot in the line of duty, New Jersey state police officer Doug Brock has been busy rebuilding his life. He’s reunited with his fiancé and started to get some of his memories back. He hopes he can continue to recover with the help of an amnesia support group and that the damage from his past isn’t permanent.

It isn’t until fellow group member Sean Conner approaches him after a meeting that Doug realizes the trouble is just beginning. Sean has discovered in his attic what can only be called a scrapbook of a murder victim, but he has no recollection of the girl’s identity or why he might have gathered this information.

Doug agrees to help and convinces his captain to open what had been a cold case. When he discovers that he had a personal connection to this case, suddenly he’s questioning everything he thought he knew about the case, about Sean, and about his own past.

In the next thrilling audiobook by David Rosenfelt, Doug Brock is back to delight listeners and keep them guessing until the end.

My Review:

No, I’m not deserting the Andy Carpenter series, but as a solid Rosenfelt fan, thought I’d sample one of this slightly newer series–this one being #2 of Doug Brock. (As you can see, I also listened to Book 3, which I’ll review on Thursday, Feb 20th.)

Fade to Black by David RosenfeltThis series revolves around Doug Brock, a New Jersey state police lieutenant who was shot in the line of duty. He recovered, but without ten years of his memory. He remembers little bits and pieces from time to time and has gotten back together with his former fiancé. Also, he is apparently more mature and less fool-hardy–a good thing. In continuing to recover, he joined an amnesia support group. One of the members, however, brings him a private matter which begins to look suspiciously like a miscarriage of justice–involving his former police self.

While I can’t say I like this series as much as the Andy Carpenter series, which is usually pocked with ample doses of tongue-in-cheek humor, it does capture attention and provide entertainment (and stuck on the shuttle to the VA Hospital in Chicago, was very welcome). A great deal more serious in nature, there were times I didn’t really care for protagonist Brock. His fiancé, Jessie, is interesting, intelligent, tolerant, and patient. Also, she possesses a mountain of a dog called BoBo. Doug and BoBo have a kind of détente. He also is back with partner Nate Alvarez, and he and Nate seem to work well together. They convince their captain to open a cold case.

Nothing is simple, it’ll go from a missing person case to possible drug trafficking with mobsters and even worse behind that (WAY worse), but they keep chipping away at little clues and leads.

The narrative is full of characterization and the storyline keeps you pushing to the reveal. There are enough red herrings to keep you off-track, so you won’t be in danger of guessing the antagonist. The conclusion brings all frayed ends together very neatly. In any case, my interest was sufficiently piqued to check out Book 3. (And when will I get back to Andy Carpenter? March. Hey–there are twenty of those with two more coming and I’ve just scratched the surface. AND, I was approved by NetGalley for The K Team, Book 1, of a new spinoff series from Andy Carpenter featuring most of my favorite characters. If you haven’t grabbed that one yet, better hurry.)

Fred Berman provides a very sobering, masculine voice to Brock’s character, at times forceful and then confused (lapse of memory) about his previous stance. A testament to his expertise in a range of voices, he was also a presence in a previous audiobook I reviewed, The Dog Who Danced. See that review here. I received this digital download from my local library audio selection with no expectation for a review. But, hey, that’s what I do.

Book Details:

Genre: Police Procedural, Crime Thriller
Publisher:  Macmillan Audio, Minotaur Books

  • ISBN-10:1250308119
  • ISBN-13:978-1250308115
  • ASIN: B079V728GJ

Print Length: 280 pages
Listening Length: 6 hrs 56 mins
Narrator: Fred Berman
Publication Date: March 13, 2018
Source: Local (Audiobook Selections) Library through Overdrive
Title Link: Fade to Black
+Add to Goodreads 

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4-stars

David Rosenfelt - authorThe Author: [David Rosenfelt-Goodreads author page] I am a novelist with 27 dogs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fred Berman - authorThe Narrator: [Fred Berman-Goodreads author page] Age & Hometown: 39 (“but in meerkat years, that’s 25!”); Manhasset, Long Island

Current Role: Entertaining Broadway audiences as the hysterical meerkat Timon in Disney’s long-running hit The Lion King.

A Familiar Voice: An accomplished voiceover actor on more than 50 audio books, Berman says the key is not to impersonate or put on voices. “I cast the book in my mind,” he explains. “I say, ‘Who is this person?’ So, in my head, Judi Dench is playing this role. I don’t want to do an impersonation of Judi Dench, but I am channeling her in that moment. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.” Berman’s audio work ranges from children’s books to what he calls “fantasy romance novels”—and sometimes both in the same day. “One time, I went from the most ridiculously depressing book, The Painted Bird, about a kid wandering through the forests of Poland after World War II, to a romance book where I voiced the sexiest Greek man alive who always wears leather pants and no shirt in softcore porn scenes.”

The Dangers of Timon: Berman was initially cautious about taking his Lion King gig. “I have never gone into a long-running show, and I knew I couldn’t do [Nathan Lane, who created the role onscreen]. I wasn’t sure how much of it was going to be ‘This is a machine and you need to do it this way.’” Berman’s doubts subsided when he was given freedom to interpret the role his own way—though he still has one fear. “I tend to gravitate toward blue humor, so I always get nervous when I have to improvise,” he says. “Having kids [he has two] makes you check yourself more.” Instead, he says his mantra is, “Play the positive; play the love!”

Let’s Rock!: Though acting pays the bills, Berman’s true passion is music. The son of a bandleader, he began playing piano at age five and discovered the drums, which would become his main instrument, in fifth grade. “Until I got into The Lion King, I was playing in bands my whole life,” he says. His musical influences range from fellow Long Island native Billy Joel to Led Zeppelin. “I have a tattoo of [late Led Zeppelin drummer] John Bonham’s symbol on my left arm!” When pressed to choose between acting and music, Berman responds, “I love them both, but I have to be honest: There is nothing in the world like playing drums in a rock-and-roll band at a live concert. That’s what I thought.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Rosepoint January Reviews Recap–HELLO February!!

Rosepoint Reviews-January Recap

January definitely got off to a rocky start with the hospitalization of the CE (my co-reviewer) for almost a week again in the VA Hospital, Jesse Brown, in Chicago. I must say, they have an extraordinary collection of medical staff, caring and attentive, and he’s home again–safe. Not the first time with this issue has forced me to reassess our diet. I’ve been reducing his meat consumption. Apparently not enough. Old school, I was always taught the plate was divided meat, vegetable, carbohydrate, salad or fruit. Not anymore. I’m learning to cook vegetarian. And it’s not easy. If you have some favorite go-to, possibly easy, quick vegetarian meals, I’d LOVE the suggestions!

Anyway, on the shuttle to the Chicago VA Hospital, I had lots of time to listen to audiobooks! And I listened to several but didn’t have time for reviews (except these two). I’ll spread the rest into February (and beyond–I have lots of them!).

January Book Reviews

Bitter Falls by Rachel Caine
The Lost Treasure by J M Kelly
A Criminal Justice by William L Myers Jr
A Cry in the Night by Kerry Wilkinson
Ice by Kevin Tinto (A CE review)
The Dog Who Danced by Susan Wilson (Audiobook)
The Poison of War by Jennifer Leeper (CE Review–novella)
A Secret History of Witches by Louisa Morgan (Audiobook)
Gabby by Barby Keel
A Field Guide to Homicide by Lynn Cahoon
Mystery on Hidden Lane by Clare Chase

Did you check the Reading Challenges page I updated to include all the 2020 challenges? Of the above, eight were from NetGalley, two audiobooks, one historical fiction. (I also granted two author requests.) Actually, I was able to fill in a couple spots on the Bingo card and I started the other three. At twelve, I’m just a tad behind on my Goodreads challenge–read–haven’t completed the reviews, but I’m still playing catch-up.

 I certainly hope you had a healthy and happy January. Welcome to February!

Goodbye January, welcome February

Thank you as always to those who are new to this site and those who continue to read and support this blog with your comments.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Goodbye January gif courtesy of PixMix

Mystery on Hidden Lane (An Eve Mallow Mystery Book 1) by Clare Chase – a #BookReview #cozymystery

Hurray! Book 1 of a new cozy series. Your chance to get in at the beginning!

Mystery on Hidden Lane by Clare ChaseBook Blurb:

Meet Eve Mallow: an American far from home, a professional busybody… and an amateur detective?

Seasoned obituary writer Eve Mallow has a new assignment: to tell the life story of famed musician Bernard Fitzpatrick. A chance to spend a few days in the sweet little village of Saxford St Peter, walking the country lanes with her beloved dachshund Gus and meeting new people sounds like a dream. But it turns out that Bernard’s life was much less interesting than his death. On the day she arrives, news breaks that the charismatic cellist was the victim of a grisly murder. Could this quaint English village be hiding a dark secret?

As Eve starts to interview Bernard’s friends and colleagues, she finds that he’d ruffled a few feathers. In fact, from the keepers of the Cross Keys Inn to his own staff at High House, there’s barely a person in town who doesn’t have some reason to hate him… is one of the friendly villagers a cold-blooded killer?

Eve hoped Saxford St Peter would be the perfect escape from her busy city life. But there is darkness even in the most sunlit of settings. And when a second body is found, Eve becomes certain that one of the people she’s met must be the murderer. She has never done any detective work before… but is there something in her notes that can crack the case?

An unputdownable page-turner, perfect for fans of Faith Martin, Agatha Christie and Betty Rowlands.

My Review:

Mystery on Hidden Lane by Clare ChaseThrilled to finally get in on #1 of a new book series, I dived into this one about protagonist ex-pat American Eve Mallow in Saxford St Peter, a quaint Suffolk village. Turns out that at age 49 she is divorced and the mother of twins, 25 years old. Eve is all business now, finding her journalistic niche as an obituary writer. She’s rented Elizabeth’s Cottage temporarily while she visits the town to interview anyone associated with deceased musician Bernard Fitzpatrick. Unfortunately, shortly after her arrival, it’s announced his death was not a natural one.

This one pulls you in immediately and then begins to describe the village, her vintage rental, and its history, and the reader is introduced to those main support characters who, I’m sure, will become old friends by the time the conclusion is reached.

Eve has a charming, intelligent personality. She works part-time for a school back in London and provides the obits freelance. She is accompanied by her trusty and free-wheeling dachshund, Gus. The village is described beautifully, depicting the lush greenery, flowering plants, native trees, the estuary, and the sea. (How I miss the smell of the ocean!) Painted delightfully in the mind, get to know pink-haired Viv, owner of a tea/craft shop, who is fairly well-fleshed.

It’s clear she has been introduced to persons of interest, but she’ll have to work to discover the connection, motive, how and why. No problem! She must meet with those close to the victim to get the info for her obit anyway. (What a great cover, huh?) There are a number of possible persons who may have all the above, but how to sift out THE one?

As the reader meets each new contact, it’s fairly easy to add to or subtract from a suspect list. A possible romantic interest is introduced, but probably too soon for that and while I guessed the perp, guessed wrong. Actually, quite disappointed who was discovered in the conclusion–NOooo…. Darn it! A couple mysterious characters will hopefully be given more space next book, further development of Eve as well as Viv, and I’m interested to see how this one will progress. My reticence was the question of Eve behind the conclusion that seemed to me confusing. How will that gorgeous Elizabeth Cottage be resolved?

I received this digital download by the publisher through NetGalley in return for a review and these are my unbiased opinions. This novel gets off to a good start and I’ll be interested in reading the next.

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Animal Mysteries, Amateur Sleuth, Cozy Culinary Mysteries
Publisher: Bookouture

  • ISBN-10:1838885250
  • ISBN-13:978-1838885250
  • ASIN: B07ZVYJ8WJ

Print Length: 296 pages
Publication Date: Just released! January 30, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Mystery on Hidden Lane
+Add to Goodreads 

Rosepoint Publishing: Four of Five Stars 4-stars

Clare Chase - authorThe Author: Clare Chase finds the current state of the world a bit stressful and has resorted to writing classic mysteries as a form of escapism. 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 in 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 but the mid-terrace she currently occupies represents a good happy medium.

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

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Cover Reveal – Frozen Stiff Drink by James J Cudney #CoverReveal #BookBlogger @jamescudney4 @Shalini_G26 @NextChapterPB #NextChapterPub

Today I am thrilled to present the cover reveal for Frozen Stiff Drink by James J Cudney presented by @Shalini at Digital Reads Blog Tours.

What’s it all about?

Book Blurb

A winter blizzard barrels toward Wharton County with a vengeance. Madam Zenya predicted the raging storm would change the course of Kellan’s life, but the famed seer never could’ve prepared him for all the collateral damage. Nana D disappears after visiting a patient at Willow Trees, leaving behind a trail of confusion. When the patient turns up dead, and second body is discovered beneath the snowbanks, Kellan must face his worst fears. What tragedy has befallen his beloved grandmother?

Kellan’s brother Hampton learns essential life lessons the hard way after his father-in-law accuses him of embezzlement. While trying to prove his innocence, Hampton digs himself a deeper hole that might lead to prison. Sheriff Montague wants to save him, but she receives the shock of her life as the past hurtles forward and complicates her future.

Between locating Nana D and solving the scandalous murder of another prominent Braxton citizen, Kellan and April’s worlds explode with more turmoil than they can handle. Too bad neither one of them knows what to do about the psychic’s latest premonition. The suspicious deaths happening around town aren’t ending anytime soon.

****Amazon Link Coming Soon****

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/49989079-frozen-stiff-drink

Kindle Edition, 270 pages

Expected publication: March 18th 2020 by Next Chapter

Frozen Stiff Drink by James J Cudney 

About the Author

James J Cudney - authorJames is my given name, but most folks call me Jay. I live in New York City, grew up on Long Island, and graduated from Moravian College. I spent fifteen years building a technology career in the retail, sports, media, and entertainment industries. I enjoyed my job, but a passion for books and stories had been missing for far too long. I’m a voracious reader in my favorite genres (thriller, suspense, contemporary, mystery, and historical fiction), as books transport me to a different world where I can immerse myself in so many fantastic cultures and places. I’m an avid genealogist who hopes to visit all the German, Scottish, Irish, and British villages my ancestors emigrated from in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Writing has been a part of my life as much as my heart, my mind, and my body. I decided to pursue my passion by dusting off the creativity inside my head and drafting outlines for several novels. I quickly realized I was back in my element growing happier and more excited with life each day. My goal in writing is to connect with readers who want to be part of great stories and who enjoy interacting with authors. To get a strong picture of who I am, check out my author website or my blog. It’s full of humor and eccentricity, sharing connections with everyone I follow—all in the hope of building a network of friends across the world.

When I completed the first book, Watching Glass Shatter, I knew I’d stumbled upon my passion again, suddenly dreaming up characters, plots, and settings all day long. I chose my second novel, Father Figure, through a poll on my blog where I let everyone vote for their favorite plot and character summaries. It is with my third book, Academic Curveball, the first in the Braxton Campus Mysteries, where I immersed myself in a college campus full of so much activity, I could hardly stop thinking about new murder scenes or character relationships to finish writing the current story. Come join in the fun!

Author Links

Website
Blog
Amazon Author Page
Twitter
Facebook
Facebook
Pinterest
Instagram
Goodreads
LinkedIn

LIST OF BOOKS

Watching Glass Shatter (October 2017)
Father Figure (April 2018)
Braxton Campus Mysteries
Academic Curveball – #1 (October 2018)
Broken Heart Attack – #2 (November 2018)
Flower Power Trip – #3 (March 2019)
Mistaken Identity Crisis – #4 (June 2019)
Haunted House Ghost – #5 (October 2019) Digital Reads Blog Tours by @Shalini

This cover reveal brought to you Shalini the Blog Tour Organizer at Digital Reads Blog Tours. Also see Shalini’s Books & Reviews at bookreviewsbyshalini.com

 

 

A Field Guide to Homicide (A Cat Latimer Mystery Book 6) by Lynn Cahoon – a #BookReview #cozymystery

A Field Guide to Homicide by Lynn CahoonBook Blurb:

Cat Latimer and her writer’s retreat group go on a hiking trip—but a murderer has been lurking off the beaten path . . .
 
Cat’s sweetheart, Seth, is going all out on an outing into the local mountains—for the benefit of the writing group Cat’s hosting at her Colorado B&B. But when they try to identify some plant and animal life, they find death instead. The body belongs to a man with a gold claim a few miles away. Instead of striking it rich, he’s been struck down.

To his surprise, Seth recognizes the victim from his military days—and up to now believed he’d already died during his last tour of duty. Now Cat has to solve this mystery before the killer takes a hike . . .

My Review:

Loved the concept of a writer’s retreat for authors, written by an author, about authors learning to be authors. Or readers who enjoy reading about it! It’s bound to be a cozy narrative in a beautiful locale in a small town setting.

Cat (Catherine) Latimer has the perfect location and large home remodeled as a B&B and found her niché, the writer’s retreats. (She is a successful writer, formerly teacher.) Full when she wants, quiet when she needs it to be. Covington College is located within walking distance and accommodates Cat’s guests in the library. She has an amazing best friend, Shauna, a buddy from California who moved back to Colorado to help with the B&B, cook amazing meals, and cleans the rooms. Cat has a boyfriend, Seth, a first love from high school and an uncle who is a police detective.

A Field Guide to Homicide by Lynn CahoonIn Book 6, Seth discovers that the body Cat finds with her group while hiking is a former Army buddy of his. There is only one problem: he was supposed to have been killed while they were still in Germany, and that was ten years ago. Seth had joined the Army thinking they’d wed when he returned. In the meantime, however, Cat marries Michael who was full of surprises. She receives the house after his untimely death.

As a character-driven cozy, the mystery trundles along while Cat discovers her new group is unique–two couples and one college student. The latter doesn’t exactly fit in and almost immediately the two couples click and proceed to produce activity separate from Cat’s usual agenda. There is the hike, but it ended with the discovery of the body. I don’t see her providing guidance in a lot of group discussions or learning moments and it’s handy she has Shauna who handles the bulk of the physical work. But Shauna has a problem of her own, providing a separate little (almost) sub-plot. Then there is the tension between her and Seth and my question, does she really love him or not? Given the little time they have to be together, she doesn’t exactly jump to take advantage of it.

There seemed a few plot holes; missing elements. (Was it because this is my first experience with the author and the series?) Seth didn’t want to introduce his Army buddies to Cat, which I found rather odd, so we don’t know much about them. Cat manages to get a name she can investigate and discovers the deceased had a local girlfriend that she was able to interview. She manages to glean a few tidbits and coordinates with her uncle.

We really don’t get development of the guests with the exception of the college kid and she did impart some wise writerly wisdom to him. (One of the couples takes snide verbal pot-shots at each other.) Uncle Pete plays a large part as does his sweetheart, an ex-cop who flies in to see him but is caught up in his absence with the murder investigation. There are red herrings that have you focusing first on one possible perp, then another, none quite making sense. The why is a biggee: how did he manage to leave Germany, come back to Colorado and be living off grid for so long? Ah, yes, but then we get little off-hand remarks that drop clues like crumbs leading back to the who. Did you pay attention?

I enjoyed the author’s writing style, but not the length of time that it took to lay all the elements to examine. There were quotables and old sayings, “We work in fact here, not maybes.” And “…make sure she knows that no is a complete sentence.” (Loved that one!) “A high tide floats all boats.”

The novel takes some time to get into, moving rather slowly for me and appeared to be one that suggests the reader might be better served to begin with Book 1 of the series. The conclusion wraps up loose ends and confirms the motive, which became obvious earlier, and has Seth taking the next step with Cat. (Perhaps that’s a step he should reconsider.) I received this digital download from the publisher and NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review and these are my own opinions.

Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuth, Cozy Animal Mystery
Publisher: Kensington Books
ISBN: 149671685X
ASIN: B07R9SXCQ8
Print Length: 290 pages
Publication Date: Happy Publication Day! January 28, 2020

Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: A Field Guide to Homicide
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Lynn Cahoon - authorThe Author: Get a free story at http://www.lynncahoon.com.

Lynn Cahoon is the author of the NYT and USA Today best-selling Tourist Trap cozy mystery series. She also pens the Cat Latimer series available in mass market paperback. And, because she can’t help telling stories, she also writes the Farm to Fork series. Romance novels are published under the pen name, Lynn Collins. She lives in a small town like the ones she loves to write about with her husband and three fur kids. Sign up for her newsletter at http://www.lynncahoon.com

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Gabby: The Little Dog That Had to Learn How to Bark (A Foster Tails Story Book 1) by Barby Keel – a #BookReview

Gabby by Barby KeelBook Blurb:

A moving, heartfelt true story that celebrates the way animals and humans rescue one another . . .
Baby seagulls, mischievous ferrets, strutting peacocks…in the decades that Barby Keel has run her animal sanctuary in the English countryside, she has seen all manner of creatures. Thousands of cats and dogs have come through her doors and, with the aid of Barby and her dedicated staff, found loving forever homes. But Gabby, a small terrier with solemn, terrified eyes, is like no case Barby has ever encountered before.

Gabby has spent all eight years of her life indoors. She has no idea how to play with a toy or chew a treat. She has never dug in the dirt or rolled happily in the grass. Strangest of all, Gabby does not know how to bark. Barby can tell that the little golden-haired dog is bright and curious beneath her paralyzing fear, but coaxing out Gabby’s true spirit will be a daunting task.

Yet sometimes, a dog and a human fit together like two puzzle pieces, and so it is with Gabby and Barby. And Barby, who believes passionately in animals’ ability to help and heal those they love, will find her faith in Gabby repaid just when she, and her sanctuary, need it most . . .

My Review:

Gabby by Barby KeelI cannot lie: the cover got me. And I do so love a good doggy book as you all know. This book, while introducing Gabby, however, is a great deal more about the sanctuary located in Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex, England that Barby Keel created out of her love of animals.

After some spotlighting of the origins, growth, size, and population of the Barby Keel Animal Sanctuary, including the fleshing of a number of volunteers–always the lifeblood of the organization–now an official charity, we meet little Gabby, a Lhasa Apso/Yorkshire mix. Too adorable not to love and keep, too traumatized and lost to rehome, Barby keeps her and begins the long arduous task of teaching the dog to be a dog; not the least of which was to merely romp and play with other dogs, much less be house trained, which was a MAJOR accomplishment. This was an eight-year-old dog!

The Barby Keel Animal Sanctuary logoAlong with the slow progress of Gabby was a description of the people who for whatever reason, surrender their animals, abandon, or mistreat them. In addition, there are those wild creatures who have met accidents and most need some veterinary care and meds as well as safe areas, proper food, water, and shelter. An enormous undertaking!

The discovery of Barby’s breast cancer focuses sharply on her chosen path of treatment, the post-surgery depression, and the extended timeline of recovery. The narrative obviously credits the love of the dog and the hope that Barby receives from Gabby’s progress culminating in her final ability to bark as a turning point in Barby’s healing. It seemed to side-track the story of Gabby as it became more biographical in nature.

The book appeals globally for the donations that keep the sanctuary afloat and points out the massive strides in the importance and success of the facility. There were times when I found the dialogue a bit unnatural (yes, we all talk to our animals, but…) and the repetitive theme became a little heavy. We covered that. Then we covered it again.

I received this digital download from the publisher and NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review. See additional information on the sanctuary here (and no, I’m not getting paid per click). Recommended for those interested in animal outreach and rescue.

Book Details:

Genre: Pet Dogs, Dog Care, Animal and Pet Care, Women’s Biographies
Publisher: Citadel

  • ISBN-10:080654032X
  • ISBN-13:978-0806540320
  • ASIN: B07CVR8MGF

Print Length: 256 pages
Publication Date: To be Released January 28, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Gabby

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

Cathryn Kemp - authorThe Author: Sunday Times bestselling ghostwriter and award-winning author, Cathryn Kemp won The Big Red Read Prize for Non-Fiction in 2013.
Her titles include Coming Clean: Diary of a Painkiller Addict (originally titled as Painkiller Addict: From Wreckage To Redemption), Jam Butties and a Pan of Scouse published by Trapeze in December 2016, A Fish Supper and a Chippy Smile and We Ain’t Got No Drink, Pa, both published by Orion in 2015. Cathryn’s recent titles include My Beautiful Struggle, published in 2017 by Trapeze, A Song for Bridget, published by Mirror Books in 2018, and the Foster Tails series, The Street Dog Who Found a Home, Gabby: The Little Dog That Had to Learn to Bark, and Will You Love Me? The Rescue Dog That Rescued Me, published through 2018 by Trapeze.

Previously, Cathryn worked as a news/feature writer across the spectrum of the British press for seven years before leaving to pursue her love of travel. She subsequently wrote several Lonely Planet travel guides and won the Peter Wilson Award for Journalism in 2002.
In 2004 she was struck down with the painful and debilitating illness pancreatitis – the experience of which led to the events described in her incredible memoir Coming Clean: Diary of a Painkiller Addict. She is now forging a career as an inspirational speaker on addiction issues and founded the UK’s first charity dedicated to raising awareness of addiction to prescribed opioids, the Painkiller Addiction Information Network (PAIN). Cathryn is Chief Executive of PAIN and a founding member of the Opioid Painkiller Dependence Alliance (OPDA).
For more information, or to catch up with Cathryn’s news, go to
http://www.painkiller-addict.com, http://www.painkillerfree.co.uk, or follow Cathryn on Twitter @cathrynkemp or on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/painkilleraddic

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Logo Attribution: Barby Keel Animal Sanctuary website

Six Fun, Fast, and Easy Challenges for 2020 (Wink, Wink)

Six Fun, Fast, and Easy Challenges for 2020

(Cause, what, you don’t need more work?)

Yes, I know, I know–late to the party again. And these won’t be anything new for you if you participate in challenges, but after I dropped the Alphabet Challenge, I went a little overboard and signed up with a new one–and then another new one. Last count is six. What have I done?! My white knight, as previously noted, has come to the rescue with a few reads and reviews of his own. Even if the same book, we often have differing opinions.

  1. Let’s start with the Audiobook Challenge since I’m learning to love these for errands, working around the house, and exercising. It would seem there is more time for listening than reading and I’ve apparently hit a slump in reading lately. Easy to sign up, if you haven’t already. Pick your level listener of the eight listed. I chose Stenographer, 10-15.
  2. GoodreadsI know y’all are already doing this one. Watch the Goodreads widget in the right column for progress. (I’ve set the bar at 200 since my associate reviewer is included in this count.)
  3. Historical FictionYou read a few or more historical fiction. Right? Well, here is your chance to post your reads for posterity. Again, choose your level from one of six. I chose Renaissance Reader, 10. Don’t forget to add the tag: #2020HistFicReadingChallenge
  4. Murder Mystery Bingo Reading Challenge -Thinking this would not be a challenge, forgetting I read a wide variety of genres; not just all murder mysteries. My cards are pretty bare but it’s only January. Still, there are four cards: Weapons, Crime Scenes, Clues and Clichés, and Red Herrings. Everybody loves Bingo. Right? Check it out. (I see fellow blogger Tari of Cuddle Up With a Cozy Mystery already has two cards!)
  5. The NGEW2020 Challenge keeps a count of your NetGalley or Edelweiss novels. Go ahead, choose a goal. If you need to, you can always add or subtract. (Life has its little interruptions.) I’m going for 75 again–and that WAS a challenge. Always use the hashtag: #NGEW2020 (and my associate reviewer is included in this count.)
  6. Reading IrelandReading Ireland Month occurs in March (of course), and I won’t have that link or banner until posted this year. Check out my post from last year here.

Several of these include the MrLinky widget to upload your links and keep you honest. Also, I’ve updated my Reading Challenges page (it’s all clean and bright) laying out all the above challenges and adding a few details, but for all the instructions, you may wish to link directly to the challenge. (I’ve also listed these linked challenges in the right-hand widget column.)

Going into the weekend, hope yours is special and IF you have time, look at a few challenges to liven up your reading year! I’d love to hear which ones you are doing or how many of these you are doing. Or drop me a comment with “NONE.”

©2020 V Williams V Williams

A Secret History of Witches by Louisa Morgan – An #Audiobook Review

Audiobook Review

Book Blurb:

A sweeping historical saga that traces five generations of fiercely powerful mothers and daughters — witches whose magical inheritance is both a dangerous threat and an extraordinary gift.
Brittany, 1821.
 After Grand-mère Ursule gives her life to save her family, their magic seems to die with her.
Even so, the Orchires fight to keep the old ways alive, practicing half-remembered spells and arcane rites in hopes of a revival. And when their youngest daughter comes of age, magic flows anew.
The lineage continues, though new generations struggle not only to master their power, but also to keep it hidden.
But when World War II looms on the horizon, magic is needed more urgently than ever – not for simple potions or visions, but to change the entire course of history.

My Review:

A Secret History of Witches by Louisa MorganSwept up in Nanettte’s story, the first of the Orchiére line to relate her story of the traveller or gypsy family of Romani, the tale then progresses through successive daughters and their stories. It is a gift that manifests more in some than others of the line, and while each gift may vary, the necessity of keeping the gift secret does not.

The novel divides into five sections from Nanette to Ursule, Irene, Morwen, and lastly Veronica during WWII.

There is a grimoire and scrying stone handed down to each generation, diligently kept hidden and their secrets only revealed at the time of puberty and sometimes in surprising fashion. There is a marked difference between how a couple of the witches received her powers and how she handled the gift.

Some of the witches were well-developed enough to either earn empathy or apathy. They weren’t bad or wicked, just not as benign as the others merely trying to exist without exposure. It was the story to be told, rather than the description or fleshing of the woman. But, of course, each was to find a mate (whether or not for love), and each of the women was strong-willed and shrewd. Their men either loved and supported them, knew of their powers, or not and several of the male support characters were fleshed sympathetically.

I enjoyed getting to know each of the witches in turn, their time and story in history and the evolution of the line. I was following the fantasy well until it became necessary to push back some hefty disbelief in the final story–that of Veronica during WWII. The storyline, of course, does not disclose a secret history of witchcraft in general, rather than of this particular line.

The conclusion came at a juncture I felt made sense, although left a few issues unresolved and seemed the obvious step into a successive book. I suspect the narrator of this very long audiobook made it a great deal shorter than if I’d read it. She rolled the language beautifully off her tongue and made the whole story dance in the minds’ eye as if it were a kaleidoscope. (I heartily recommend the audiobook version!)

I received this audiobook through my favorite local library and greatly appreciated the opportunity to get to know the author’s style of writing and look forward to delving into another. (I picked this one up specifically because I also requested and received The Age of Witches from NetGalley.) Now I just have to figure out if I’ve ever had a “familiar” but I don’t think so. At least I don’t have to worry about being burned at the stake.

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Italian Fiction, Alternate History Science Fiction, 20th Century Historical Romance, World War II Historical Fiction
Publisher: Hackette Audio

  • ISBN-10:0316508586
  • ISBN-13:978-0316508582

ASIN: B0758FWQKW
Print Length: 496 pages
Listening Length: 17 hrs 33  mins
Narrator: Polly Lee
Publication Date: September 5, 2017
Source: Local (Audiobook Selections) Library
Title Link: A Secret History of Witches

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4-stars

Louisa Morgan - authorThe Author: Louisa Morgan lives and writes and rambles with her familiar, Oscar the Border Terrier, on the beautiful Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. A musician and a yogini, she finds inspiration in the artistic environment where she makes her home.

Under the name Louise Marley, she has written a number of other historical fiction novels, as well as fantasy and science fiction. Please visit http://www.louisemarley.com for more information, and to learn more about Oscar!

©2020 V Williams V Williams