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

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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 

+Add to Goodreads

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
 
+Add to Goodreads

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
+Add to Goodreads 

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
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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

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

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

My Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the Author

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

Contact Links
Publisher Links
RABT Book Tours & PR

 

The Poison of War by Jennifer Leeper – a CE #BookReview – Two-Hour #mysterythriller

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5-stars

The Poison of War by Jennifer LeeperBook Blurb:

Two Mexican drug smugglers are murdered on Native American soil and the only clues left behind are two single arrowheads in this compelling page-turner of tribal secrets and distrust at the border.

When detective Frank Silva of the Tohono O’odham Nation arrived at the scene of the crime he immediately feared his investigation would require him to turn inward—to his own people—in search of the killer.

A complex web of lies, love and intrigue in the heart of the reservation pulls readers into a place and time in limbo straddling the U.S.-Mexican border which is struggling to retain its heritage and independence.

Two maverick detectives form an intriguing team trusting each other with not only their lives, but with the fate of the Tohono O’odham Nation in the crime mystery.

The Poison of War, from award-winning author Jennifer Leeper, highlights the Tohono O’odham reservation’s evolving struggle against Mexican cartels and their friction with border agents who hold the line stretching across the middle of the reservation.

The novella’s setting of the American Southwest, particularly on a Native American reservation, and the style and cultural background of the detective protagonist draw resemblances to Tony Hillerman’s works including Dance Hall of the Dead and The Blessing Way.

For fans of Leeper’s work and fortuitous newcomers, The Poison of War is a stunning tale that highlights timely issues of the U.S.-Mexico border, immigration, drug trafficking and the reservation culture of the Tohono O’odham tribe.

His Review:

The Poison of War by Jennifer LeeperSolving two murders with old technology in the desert southwest is not easy. The native people in this area have lived here for centuries. There were no borders that defined their nation until recently. Jennifer pulls together the problem of drug running across native ancestral lands with no regard to the culture and the people who live there.

Frank Silva is a half-breed who is charged with protecting the land and solving a double murder.
A defunct “Indian Casino” is a beacon for the transfer of illegal drugs. The drug runners are ruthless.

In a land of cacti and wildflowers where does the detective begin? Jennifer pulls the narrative together in a very exciting way. Even footprints do not show up in this desolate landscape. And yet the crime has to be solved.
The result is a masterfully devised series of steps taken to finally find the killer. The narrative is fast-moving and never drags. It is a mystery lovers’ handbook for solving crime in the most desolate areas in the Southwest United States.

We received this digital download from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I can heartily recommend.

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Book Details:

Genre: Native American Literature, Two-Hour Mystery-Thriller-Suspense, Vigilante Justice
Publisher: Prensa Press

  • ISBN-10:1733240209
  • ISBN-13:978-1733240208
  • ASIN: B081BB1HRK

Print Length: 67 pages
Publication Date: November 19, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Poison of War

Jennifer Leeper - authorThe Author: Jennifer Leeper is an award-winning fiction author whose previous or forthcoming publications credits include Independent Ink Magazine, The Stone Hobo, Poiesis, Every Day Fiction, Aphelion Webzine, Heater Magazine, Cowboy Jamboree, The New Engagement, Alaska Quarterly Review, Falling Star Magazine and The Liguorian. She has had works published by J. Burrage Publications, Hen House Press, Inwood Indiana Press, Alternating Current Press, Barking Rain Press, Whispering Prairie Press, and Spider Road Press.
Ms. Leeper’s novella, The Poison of War, published through Prensa Press, spotlights the landscape of the American Southwest and Native American culture through this murder mystery that brings to the fore timely issues of the U.S.-Mexico border, immigration, drug trafficking and the reservation culture of the Tohono O’odham tribe of southern Arizona. The region carries special meaning for Ms. Leeper as she lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico as a child and even though she currently lives in Kansas City, the spirit of the Southwest region continues to shape her writing.

CE Williams - co-reviewer

Audiobook – The Dog Who Danced by Susan Wilson – a #BookReview Narrated by Fred Berman and Christina Delaine

Ever heard of Canine Freestyle (Doggie Dancing)? If you haven’t, now is the time to Google it.

Audiobook-The Dog Who Danced

Book Blurb:

From the New York Times best-selling author of One Good Dog comes a novel about a woman’s cross-country journey to find her lost dog and discover herself.

If there’s been a theme in Justine Meade’s life, it’s loss. Her mother, her home, even her son. The one bright spot in her loss-filled life, the partner she could always count on, has always been Mack, her gray and black Sheltie – that is, until she is summoned back to her childhood home after more than 20 years away.

Ed and Alice Parmalee are mourning a loss of their own. Seven years after their daughter was taken from them, they’re living separate lives together – dancing around each other, and their unspeakable heartbreak, unable to bridge the chasm left between them.

Fiercely loyal, acutely perceptive and guided by a herd dog’s instinct, Mack has a way of bringing out the best in his humans. Whether it’s a canine freestyle competition or just the ebb and flow of a family’s rhythms, it’s as though the little Shetland sheepdog was born to bring people together. The Dog Who Danced is his story, one that will surely dance its way into your heart.

My Review:

Now, now, don’t go groaning on me, and yes, it’s another dog book. If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know I have my favorite dog book authors, this being one of my new, but very devoted ones, Susan Wilson. She really does crawl inside those canine heads and wrenches out the voice you’ve been sure you spotted on your own version of a dog. (My version, as mentioned before is Frosty, a Bichon Frise.)

The Dog Who Danced by Susan WilsonAt any rate, this entry to her very popular series has Justine Meade, on her way to the right coast from the left where she’s been warned by her erstwhile step-mother that her dad is dying. Justine gets by with wits and wile and this time has hitched a ride with trucker Artie. But Artie has a schedule, a load to deliver, and is already tired of extra potty breaks that come with hauling a woman and her dog named Mack, a grey and black Blue Merle and Sheltie with one blue and one brown eye.

Justine, however after being warned about dawdling, is slow getting out of the trucker’s stop shower and discovers good ole Artie has driven off, unaware that the dog is burrowed in the blankets in the sleeping berth, or, he just plane wigged out forgetting about the dog who only knows Artie from his nasty temperament and tendency to smoke up the cab. When Mack finally does make himself known (after all, there are break times to observe), one being potty at the very least, Artie determines the next handy stop will be Mack’s exit–permanently–and literally kicks him to the curb (and down the hill).

In the meantime, Justine, frantic, has exhausted any other possibilities and has accepted a ride on the back of a Harley by one-legged Mitch. He’ll try to catch the truck as Artie has refused all Justine’s calls. Mitch is a great character and is well-fleshed and empathetic. Justine can get on your nerves. She’s so jaded by what she views as a rejected and unloved childhood that she tends to sound petulant and self-absorbed. She feels betrayed by her dad and it colored her life for the next twenty years.

The well-plotted storyline folds out in two POVs, that of Justine and that of Mack. I really loved when Mack expressed his thoughts–seemed so genuine and believable. Justine is–just annoying, although having discovered her history with the dog who has a natural and show-winning aptitude for freestyle dancing, you can believe she’d be beyond frantic. She’s weighing it–find her dog–or get to her dad’s side. (I love videos of dancing dogs, and although there are many much newer ones, including 2019 from Crufts, my favorite and definitely the best is this one.)

In the meantime, an older couple with quite a tragic history of their own has discovered Mack, taken him in, cared for him. Mack gradually trains them–and unintentionally brings them back together–estrangement stemming from the sudden, unexpected death of their daughter.

In essence, a strong story about the lasting effects of the lack of communication, family drama, grief, and reconciliation. The story of the couple is heart-wrenching and emotional. Justine’s step-mother and step-brother are easy to dislike, as is Artie. But the closing brings out truths that either Justine failed to see or couldn’t, wouldn’t acknowledge and the twist brings a bit of satisfaction to the conclusion. Perhaps you could close that one with a dry eye. I couldn’t.

The two narrators were perfect! Narrators can so often make or break a good book. These two totally sold it. I received this audiobook download from my library using Overdrive and I’m ever so grateful. These are my own opinions and I loved it. You will too. Trust me.

Book Details:

Genre: Animal Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
ASIN: B007JQN2W6
Listening Length: 10 hours 13 mins
Publication Date: March 13, 2012
Source: Local Library Audio Selection (Thank you Lake County Public Library!)
Title Link: The Dog Who Danced
+Add to Goodreads 

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

Susan Wilson - author

The 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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Video Attribution: YouTube – Carolyn Scott & Rookie, Sept 7, 2006, Grease Routine 
There is a wonderful story about Carolyn Scott and Rookie, the Golden Retriever here. Theirs was a fifteen-year sport-winning team and whether Canada and/or the US originated the form of canine competition or not in 1992, it quickly spread around the world.

A Cry in the Night (Detective Jessica Daniel thriller series Book 15 by Kerry Wilkinson – a #BookReview #thriller

A Cry in the Night by Kerry WilkinsonBook Blurb:

‘Mom?’ The word caught in the boy’s throat. She didn’t try to speak, didn’t roll towards him. She didn’t move at all.

In the middle of the night, fourteen-year-old Samuel is woken by the sound of a terrified scream from the kitchen of his home on a quiet street. The police – finding him sobbing on the kitchen floor, cradling his mother’s lifeless body – hit a dead end before the investigation has even begun: because although he witnessed the murder, Samuel is blind.

But when Detective Jessica Daniel meets the boy, the way he uses just his sense of sound to accurately locate her hand to shake it convinces her that this clever young teenager could hold the key to the entire case. Her team disagrees, but Jessica will do whatever it takes to get justice for the innocent.

Samuel’s description of an intruder he heard walking with a limp leads Jessica to an isolated seaside town, where a well-liked local man has been missing for days. Breaking into his house, Jessica finds him lying flat on the bed, a bullet wound under his chin.

Digging into the victim’s work records, Jessica uncovers a secret he shared with Samuel’s mother, and it’s clear she was terrified for her son’s safety. As Jessica pushes the boundaries to get closer to the truth, her most trusted colleague warns that she needs to watch her step… but Jessica won’t stop until she’s found the killer. Her career may be on the line, but so is Samuel’s life.

An absolutely unputdownable thriller, packed with twists and turns, perfect for fans of Robert Dugoni, Rachel Caine and Kendra Elliot. A Cry in the Night is just one of the many page-turning reads in the Jessica Daniel series. Each can be read as a standalone.

My Review:

I really like Jessica Daniel. She feels genuine. She pushes boundaries, has her gains and losses, but is generally an efficient detective inspector who gets her man (or woman, as the case may be). She reminds me somewhat of the character Danny in Blue Bloods–edgy but effective. It may be her droll sense of humor, that biting wit, that lightens the sensitive issues, but she can usually detect the line drawn that shouldn’t be crossed.

A Cry in the Night by Kerry WilkinsonIn Book 15, there is a blind fourteen-year old who “witnesses” the violent death of his mother. He is a keen observant who uses echolocation that helps him share the scene with the police. While Jessica had not actually seen the phenomenon before and has some misgivings as to how accurately his descriptions are, she is nonetheless impressed.

There is also something else, unrelated to the cases she and partner Detective Constable Archie Davey are handling. Archie is acting weird, causing tension between the two of them, blowing hot and cold. What is going on with him?!

Author Wilkinson weaves a clever, suspense-driven and well-plotted storyline focusing on Jessica and investigation progress, but again, for me, it’s the characters and the free and easy prose-filled descriptions given to them as well as the people of Manchester that drive the story. The banter between characters lends the authentic feeling of overhearing their actual dialogue. The depiction of Grimsby is priceless. (My grandfather spent a year fishing with the men there and dedicated his book Sons of the Sea to them.)

The conclusion results in a mixed bag of explanations, anxiety, and strongly hints at the story arc for Book 16, along with cliffhanging situations that resulted in my going back to see if I’d missed a page, that last one being so abrupt. The cliffhanger is a douzy and while this one may function fine as a standalone, you may wish to get this one for sure so you will be ready for Book 16.

I was given this digital download by the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. I really enjoy this series, love these characters, and now anxiously looking forward to Book 16…what happens??!

Book Details:

Genre: Financial Thrillers, Heist Thrillers, Crime Thrillers
Publisher: Bookouture
ASIN: B081753ZP4
Print Length: 356 pages
Publication Date: To be released January 15, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: A Cry in the Night

+Add to Goodreads
 Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five of Five Stars 4.5-stars

Kerry Wilkinson - authorThe Author: Kerry Wilkinson has had No.1 crime bestsellers in the UK, Australia, Canada, South Africa and Singapore. He has also written two top-20 thrillers in the United States. His book, Ten Birthdays, won the RNA award for Young Adult Novel of the Year in 2018.

As well as his million-selling Jessica Daniel series, Kerry has written the Silver Blackthorn trilogy – a fantasy-adventure serial for young adults – a second crime series featuring private investigator Andrew Hunter, plus numerous standalone novels. He has been published around the world in more than a dozen languages.

Originally from the county of Somerset, Kerry has spent far too long living in the north of England, picking up words like ‘barm’ and ‘ginnel’.

When he’s short of ideas, he rides his bike, hikes up something, or bakes cakes. When he’s not, he writes it all down.

Recent and upcoming UK releases:
The Unlucky Ones (Jessica Daniel 14): 9 July 2019
Close To You: 17 October 2019
A Cry In The Night (Jessica Daniel 15): 15 Jan 2020

Find out more at: http://kerrywilkinson.com or http://facebook.com/KerryWilkinsonBooks

©2020 V Williams V Williams

A Criminal Justice (Philadelphia Legal) by William L Myers Jr. a #BookReview #legalthriller

A Criminal Justice by William L Myers JrBook Blurb:

A man in prison for murder. One woman wants him freed. One woman wants him dead.

Mick McFarland is stunned when he’s arrested for murdering business tycoon Edwin Hanson, brother to David Hanson—one of Mick’s former clients. Mick is even more shocked when he’s confronted with the incriminating evidence: surveillance footage of him stalking the victim and pulling the trigger.

As Mick’s legal team fights against windmills trying to beat the prosecution in court, his wife, Piper, journeys across the country, trying to win her husband’s freedom by going after the man she is convinced is out to destroy Mick and David both. What she doesn’t anticipate is that David’s wife, Marcie, is on a similar mission to shelter her own husband. And the two women may not be on the same side.

Piper has it all right…and all wrong. And her time is running out. Will she be able to save her husband from conviction and clear his name?

My Review:

Well, shucks, this being my third book of the series of four, I missed the first and perhaps that was where all the original backstories were harbored. This entry to the series brings back a few of the support characters from previous books, including Piper (Mick’s wife) Vaughn and Susan (firm associate and partner), and kept in the background, the crime family Nunzio (this time Catherine). Mick McFarland is the one on trial this time…but, he didn’t do it, you know.

A Criminal Justice by William L Myers JrIn addition to protagonist McFarland, there is a large cast of characters. This narrative hones in on his brother Tommy and old nemesis Detective John Tredesco, along with Tredesco’s newish partner, delicious red-headed Murphy. Tredesco is pretty delighted with his collar of McFarland, as I said, no love lost there, and after the search and seizure of incriminating evidence feels the case is locked. Murphy is not so sure. I liked Tommy and Murphy as both had a rough background, hers being ex-military with conflict experience. You knew, despite the age difference, sparks would eventually fly.

The well-plotted book, however, won’t focus with blinders on Mick’s innocence and in a wild effort to divert attention is caught up in a complex conspiracy that is a great deal more far-reaching, involving computer geniuses and a multi-billion dollar tech company. The victim is Edwin Hanson, the brother of David Hanson, with whom McFarland had previous legal court proceedings. That trial regarding the killing of a reporter has come back to haunt Mick and the firm.

While McFarland languishes in the slammer with a Ukrainian of dubious distinction, Piper is out beating every red herring she confronts leaving Susan floundering on defense strategy. Tommy and Murphy are trying to run down a possible witness and get to know each other better. Other characters, all too happy to see Mick cooling his heels behind bars are thrown in the mix and the plot gets more and more complicated.

My favorite part is the court scenes and the dialogue, although it isn’t until near the end that Mick takes over his own defense (usually a capital mistake–see how I did that? pun intended). Then that strategy and brilliant cunning begin to form and it’s easy to see Richard Gere (from the musical Chicago) in your minds’ eye, tap-dancing to the course he sets. And I did certainly enjoy the short treatise on CGI (computer-generated image).

My lesser favorite part of this trip was the length of the dance. Rather slow to start and then repetition of facts and theories with little progress forward. Rather like a tangle of rattlesnakes, there is love and hate from one group or another, greed, revenge, overwhelming guilt, and resolution. The conclusion winds down with the same pace but leaves a kind of bewildering…huh…

I received this digital download from the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read Book 4 of the series. Recommended for those who enjoy complex, well-drawn, and unique legal thrillers and I’d certainly welcome another.

Book Details:

Genre: Crime Thrillers, Legal Thrillers, Organized Crime Thrillers
Publisher: Thomas and Mercer

  • ISBN-10:1542005531
  • ISBN-13:978-1542005531
  • ASIN: B07M9KDSL8

Print Length: 391 pages
Publication Date: March 17, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: A Criminal Justice

+Add to Goodreads
 Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4-stars

William L Myers Jr - authorThe Author: William L. Myers, Jr. is the No. 6 best-selling author for Amazon Kindle in 2017 for his debut novel, A Criminal Defense. That was the first in what has become the Philadelphia Legal Series. The third book in that series, A Killers Alibi debuts February 19, 2019. A Killer’s Alibi has had rave early reviews including New York Times Bestselling author, Bill Lasher–

“William Myers’ riveting new novel is not just a crackerjack legal thriller, it is a wrenching portrayal of a whole range of farther-daughter relations, showing how they can damage, how they can nourish, how they go dangerously off track. A story not to be missed.”

Born in 1958 into a blue-collar family, Mr. Myers inherited a work-ethic that propelled him through college and into the Ivy League at The University of Pennsylvania School of Law. From there, Mr. Myers started his legal career in a Philadelphia-based mega defense firm. After ten years defending corporate America, he realized his heart wasn’t in it. So, with his career on the fast track to success–he gave it all up and started his own firm. It was time to start fighting for the common guy.

That was twenty-five years ago and since then, he has focused on representing railroad employees and other honest, hard-working people who have been injured by others. He has represented thousands of clients in his tenure and has become a highly-regarded litigation attorney up and down the Eastern Seaboard.

For more information visit his author website at: http://www.williamlmyersjr.com

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Release Blitz for A Drummer in Red by Gordon Saunders for @RABTBookTours

I am thrilled to be a participant today in this #releaseblitz for A Drummer in Red, a YA Historical Fiction, Young America series Book 1. 

YA Historical Fiction
Published Date: 1-8-20
Publisher: INtense Publications LLC
 photo add-to-goodreads-button_zpsc7b3c634.png

Lewis Elliot and his mother, Stella, are forced to flee their Baltimore home for the modest farm of their cousins in Gloucester County, Virginia. They arrive just as the feared Lord Cornwallis and the hated Colonel Banastre Carleton take up residence in Gloucester Point and across the York River in Yorktown. The war heats up as Cornwallis fortifies Yorktown and Carleton begins foraging raids in Gloucester County.

Then, while Lewis and his cousins, Lloyd and Tetty, are off to Gloucester Courthouse to try to sell enough tobacco to provide for the family, Carleton raids the farm and Stella receives a life-threatening injury.
Through battle, betrayal, unexpected alliances, and, apparently, the Hand ofGod, Lewis and his cousins and friends take a role in the events leading to Cornwallis’s surrender on October 19, 1781, after the last major battle of the Revolutionary War.
About the Author

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

Contact Links
Publisher Links
RABT Book Tours & PR

 

Bitter Falls (Stillhouse Lake Book 4) by Rachel Caine – a BookReview

Bitter Falls by Rachel CaineBook Blurb:

She’s investigating a cold case no one else could—by going places no else would dare.

In spite of a harrowing past still haunting her, Gwen Proctor is trying to move forward. Until a new assignment gives her purpose: the cold-case disappearance of a young man in Tennessee. Three years missing, no clues. Just Ruth Landry, a tortured mother in limbo. Gwen understands what it’s like to worry about your children.

Gwen’s investigation unearths new suspects…and victims. As she follows each sinister lead, the implications of the mystery grow more disturbing. Because the closer Gwen gets, the closer she is to a threat that looms back home.

In a town that’s closed its ranks against Gwen; her partner, Sam; and her kids, there’s no bolder enemy than the Belldene family—paramilitary, criminal, powerful, and vengeful. As personal vendettas collide with Gwen’s investigation, she’s prepared to fight both battles. But is she prepared for the toll it could take on everyone she loves?

My Review:

As if Gwen Proctor didn’t have enough problems with her own history and the tortured life she’s doggedly tried to leave behind, she accepts a cold case assignment regarding a young college man who disappeared without a trace.

Bitter Falls by Rachel CaineA new author and series to me, Gwen is apparently partnered with Sam (the two of them have a rather unbelievable history, and there is Gwen’s two kids, Lanny and Connor. These two kids might need more than a therapist to get them through life after understanding the PTSD inducing family history. The POVs alternate between the four, with protagonist Gwen spearheading her investigation and getting the whole family into one heckofa pickle.

While Gwen is a licensed concealed weapon carry, kick-ass PI, she tends to be just a little slow on the uptake a few times. And Sam might be just a tad too good to be true. The well-plotted thriller starts with a deadly hook after which you are sunk (read it–you’ll understand that double-entendre) and you must keep reading. It drives tension, pushes disbelief, but doesn’t drop the ball or slow the fast-moving storyline.

There is no love lost in the town nor the people who comprise her neighbors and most would just prefer that she leave. There is the backwoods mafia who could spearhead the move but hold to their code when push comes to shove and the deeper the investigation, the deeper the threat to Gwen’s family. It would seem she continues to be proclaimed guilty by association of the former glaring headlines while inviting further castigation with the present situation.

I had so many questions regarding Gwen and was never able to fully invest in her–she kept me off balance, never knowing which way she was going to flip. The kids didn’t help the situation any and the Sam/Gwen relationship didn’t feel plausible. Vi, where did she come from? Trust is spent. There is more than one unreliable narrator here, methinks, and I couldn’t invest in any.

I received this download from the publisher and NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review. I read as a standalone, but there is obviously a lot of backstory here missed in coming in at Book 4. Recommended for those familiar with the series and author and any seeking a fast-paced action-packed and entertaining thriller.

Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Thriller
Publisher: Thomas and Mercer

  • ISBN-10:154204233X
  • ISBN-13:978-1542042338
  • ASIN: B07NQDQ8JV

Print Length: 335 pages
Publication Date: To be released January 21, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Bitter Falls 

+Add to Goodreads

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

Rachel Caine - authorThe Author: Rachel Caine is the New York Times, USA Today, and #1 internationally bestselling author of more than fifty novels, including the #1 smash hit bestselling thriller Stillhouse Lake, the internationally bestselling Morganville Vampires series, the Great Library series, the Weather Warden series, the Outcast Season series, the Revivalist series, and the acclaimed YA novel Prince of Shadows.

The pilot for the crowdfunded show MORGANVILLE is now available on Amazon Prime as streaming video.

Rachel is very pleased to have participated in DEAD AIR, a new combined project from acclaimed producer/publisher Serial Box, cowriting episodes with Gwenda Bond and Carrie Ryan. The project launches in August 2018.

She was born at White Sands Missile Range, which people who know her say explains a lot. She has been an accountant, a professional musician, and an insurance investigator, and ultimately a corporate management executive before leaving to write full time. She and her husband, comic historian/actor/artist R. Cat Conrad, live in Texas.

WWW.RACHELCAINE.COM

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Welcome 2020 (Good Riddance 2019) and Happy New Year to You All!

Welcome 2020

I am so thrilled you are here to celebrate the beginning of a new year with me and hoping yours gets off to a wonderful start with exciting events in your future. I am not sorry to see 2019 gone (or the decade), which was one of turmoil for us. I’m sure twenty-twenty will kick off better times, a fresh start, hopeful beginnings. For you too!

My December, as yours, was fast and furious! But I did manage thirteen reviews among a spotlight and related posts.

Rosepoint Reviews for December

If you missed any of my full reviews, just click the link below. I reviewed twelve books in December, two were audiobooks (from my library via OverDrive), some are part of a series, many of those from NetGalley.

A Cold Trail by Robert Dugoni
Verse and Vengeance by Amanda Flower
No Man’s Land by Sara Driscoll
The Other People by C J Tudor
Two Good Dogs by Susan Wilson (audiobook)
Christmas on the Home Front by Roland Moore (TV series Land Girls)
Hands Up by Stephen Clark (author request)
Bookmarked for Murder by V M Burns
The Dog on the Acropolis by Mark Tedesco
The Ghost of Christmas Past by Angie Fox
Sealed Off by Barbara Ross
The Twelve Dogs of Christmas by David Rosenfelt (audiobook)
Shattered Justice by Susan Furlong (posted December 31st)

Since I’ve bumped up against a number of series now that I can’t wait to get back to, I’ve determined to look for additional books (also from my library) in either digital or print form, and I’m planning on a later post to delineate my favorites, a few of which turned out to on NetFlix. How great is that?

Challenges!

Are y’all into challenges? I’ve normally participated in three: the Goodreads Challenge, the NetGalley Challenge, and the Alphabet Challenge. This year I apparently lost all sense of reality and signed up for five (or not):

Audiobook – I’m signing up for Stenographer level–10-15 (Got my cheapy earbuds all charged.)
Goodreads – I’ll be staying with 170
Historical Fiction – I should be comfortable with 10 books–Renaissance Reader
NetGalley  – I’ll be going for Gold-50. (I attained my 200 [reviews] badge!) 
Reading Ireland – 10 (Links to 2019 challenge)
and Bingo (one card?) This is the Murder Mystery Bingo Reading Challenge

Bingo? Really? Is that the equivalent of the Alphabet Challenge (where I always missed Q, X, and Z)? Still, this is the time of year to start looking around to join the challenge of your choice and there are some very fun challenges out there! Most reading challenges run from Jan 1 – Dec 31. Lynne at Fictionophile posted a master list of challenges. You might want to check it out here.

Goodreads Year in BooksHere are a few results from my 2019 Goodreads Challenge:

I read 49,236 pages across 171 books

AVERAGE LENGTH
287 pages

MOST POPULAR64,261
people also readThe Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware
The Turn of the Key
by Ruth Ware


Across the River by Richard Bruce Snodgrass
LEAST POPULAR
0 people also read
Across the River by Richard Bruce Snodgrass

 

 

clink glassesHere is hoping all who read this has a happy and healthy New Year! And, as always, thank you! I appreciate your follows and comments!

V Williams    martini glass

©2020

 

Shattered Justice (A Bone Gap Travellers Novel Book 3) by Susan Furlong – a #BookReview #thriller

Gritty, raw, and unrelenting but war-damaged ex-Marine Irish Traveller. Where is the justice?

Shattered Justice by Susan FurlongBook Blurb:

In the Appalachian town of Bone Gap, Tennessee, backwoods justice is more than just blind. It’s swift, silent, and shockingly personal. Especially for Irish Traveller turned deputy sheriff Brynn Callahan . . .
 
“Hear No Evil.”

The first message is found in a playground. A few feet away, a  pair of human ears hang from the monkey bars. Deputy sheriff Brynn Callahan isn’t sure what to make of this grisly scene. Do the ears belong to a murder victim? And if so, where is the body? One thing Brynn is sure of: the earring on one of the earlobes belongs to a man she met at a party the previous night.  . .
 
“Speak No Evil.”

The second message is discovered next to a human tongue on a park pavilion. Once again, no body is found. Brynn can’t help but wonder if the crimes are rooted in the town’s long-simmering tensions between Bone Gap locals and the barely tolerated Travellers who’ve settled there.
 
“See No Evil.”

For Brynn, the investigation hits too close to home—forcing her to confront the demons of her own past. But time is running out. Brynn has to track down the culprit before a third message is delivered—and a third victim is claimed. Rich, atmospheric, and brilliantly chilling, Shattered Justice is the third Bone Gap Travellers novel from the acclaimed author of Splintered Silence and Fractured Truth.

My Thoughts

Shattered Justice by Susan FurlongAnother intense, book-hooking entry to the Bone Gap Travellers series that has you alternately cringing and then reading faster. Ex-Marine Brynn Callahan returned to her family home after an IED ended both her tours and that of her cadaver dog, Wilco. But it wasn’t easy to return to the Appalachians with her Irish Travellers (or Pavees) and assume a job with local law enforcement (the “settled”), straddling both sides from a community that keeps to themselves and wields their own sense of law enforcement.

Brynn is still suffering from PTSD, as is her dog, and daily struggles with staying clean of the relief she found in dealing with the pain and trauma of those horrific scars. Her first-person dialogue plops you squarely in her head and the fight is unrelenting. Brynn languishes on the fringe between the settled, answering to Pusser who directs her investigations as she deals at home with her own tight-knit neighbors.

Obviously, this novel sets the old saying on edge as ears are found followed by a severed tongue, but the plot won’t be that simple and soon revisits the closely held secret of her beloved Gran setting a strong distraction.  There must be two bodies, but they are missing. Are they connected to the Pavee brought in, Mo’s husband?

The author has an amazing writing style, often producing quotable moments, “…gray, that undefined color in between black and white, the color of limbo, the zone between life and death,” and

“Did you learn anything from your slip, Brynn?” My eyes snapped back to Margaret…Why, yes, Margaret, I learned that Black Label whiskey is worth every damn penny…”

“And when they surface, we suddenly know: we are all victims of our past and vulnerable in our present.”

Brynn is intelligent, flawed, and damaged but between her investigation and Wilco’s help, she’ll ferret out the truth, as deeply buried as it is. The well-developed support characters provide a graphic mindset along with descriptions of the deeply wooded mountains, foreboding and sinister, hides more than the Travellers. A profoundly disturbing depiction moves forefront along with some stomach-turning descriptions. The dialogue is brutal, many times raw, threatening, and the tension builds to a massively intricate conclusion and one you won’t guess. Actually, it could be assumed you stopped trying and just raced through to the heart-stopping climax.

I was given a digital download by the publisher and NetGalley and am extremely grateful for the opportunity to read and review my third book in this series–and looking forward to Book 4. Recommended to any looking for a unique premise and genuinely engaging mystery. This might standalone, but you’ll miss a lot of backstory if you don’t start at the beginning. 4.5/5 stars

His Thoughts

Justice in the backwoods of Tennessee. Can there be such a thing? Ms. Furlong writes a compelling novel about just such a query. This novel is fast moving and at times graphically gruesome. Add a war broken detective and a three-legged dog and you have a read hard to put down!

Brynn is the detective who is scarred from three tours with the US Marines. She has internal demons as well as the perpetrators she is working to bring to justice. She and her dog are both victims of an IED (improvised explosive device). Pain pills and other drugs as well as alcohol are also demons that must be defeated by our detective.

The perpetrators are a related family of women who work to bring justice to their part of the world. A moral code inherent in this society of misfits called Travellers or Pavees cloud the investigation. The women show extraordinary abilities to evade their pursuers.

The layout of the book and the end result left a little to be desired. The reason for the violence is a thread throughout the book which seems apparent. One suicide which was not a suicide, inept police work and inter-clan justice and you have a web full of holes.

Following the clues to the killer or killers is not easy. Ms. Furlong throws in the struggles that many returning military face trying to meld back into society. I found some of them to be red herrings that tended to leave my crime-solving forensic training yelling “WHAT?!”

As with many cozy type mysteries, I find the denigration of the males in the police force a little tedious. Certainly one would expect clashes between the male and female detectives, but not to the extent posed by Ms. Furlong and Harris. It is a common perception by society and the interaction of men and women in the work force. However, this seems a little gratuitous. As society evolves, the movement to have total equality in all areas seems contrived. The issue is well developed in Ms. Furlong’s plot.

The ending of the book is why I did not give it five stars. Out of nowhere another antagonist emerges. Again, a female who seems to be as bent on justice as the primary villain. This is a serious blindsiding in the development of the plot and its’ conclusion. The gruesome crimes seemed overdone and the end story left me asking the question, WHY? Associate Reviewer - C E Williams

Ms. Furlong’s discussion narrative at the end of the novel is a good planning tool. It certainly helps to develop the overall novel in the reader’s mind. I can see where a group discussion may very well lead to a better understanding of the issues and problems faced by veterans in general. My hat is off to her as a very good writer and an understanding human being. 4/5 stars CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Thrillers, Women Sleuths
Publisher: Kensington Books

  • ISBN-10:1496711726
  • ISBN-13:978-1496711724
  • ASIN: B07NX1X3HP

Print Length: 304 pages
Publication Date: Happy Publication Day! December 31, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Shattered Justice

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Susan Furlong - authorThe Author: Susan Furlong the author of several mystery series including the acclaimed Bone Gap Travellers series. She also contributes to the New York Times bestselling Novel Idea Mysteries under the pen name Lucy Arlington. She has worked as a freelance writer, academic writer, ghost writer, translator, high-school language arts teacher, and martial arts instructor. She and her family live in central Illinois. Visit her on Facebook or at http://www.susanfurlong.com.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

The Twelve Dogs of Christmas (An Andy Carpenter Mystery Book 15) by David Rosenfelt – a #BookReview #Audiobook

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5-stars

The Twelve Dogs of Christmas by David Rosenfelt

 Book Blurb:

Defense lawyer Andy Carpenter usually tries to avoid taking on new cases at all costs. But this time, he’s happy – eager, even – to take the case that’s just come his way. Andy’s long-time friend Martha “Pups” Boyer takes in stray puppies that the local dog rescue center can’t handle, raises them until they’re old enough to adopt, and then finds good homes for them. Not everyone admires the work Pups does as much as Andy does, however.

With Christmas just around the corner, one of Pups’s neighbors has just reported Pups to the city for having more than the legal number of pets in her home under the local zoning laws. Andy happily takes Pups’s case, and he feels confident in a positive outcome. Who could punish someone for rescuing puppies, after all, especially at Christmastime? But things get a lot more complicated when Randy Hennessey, the neighbor who registered the complaint against Pups, turns up dead. Pups had loudly and publicly threatened Hennessey after he filed his complaint, and Pups was also the one to find his body. All the evidence seems to point to Pups as the killer, and suddenly Andy has a murder case on his hands. He doesn’t believe Pups could be guilty, but as he starts digging deeper into the truth behind Hennessey’s murder, Andy may find himself facing a killer more dangerous than he ever imagined.

With his trademark wit, larger-than-life characters, and clever plotting, David Rosenfelt delivers another gripping mystery.

My Review:

As you can see, I’ve burned through five of the Andy Carpenter series of twenty books. Loved them all, four of which were audiobooks. While I greatly enjoyed Dachshund Through the Snow (the digital download I received from NetGalley), I’ve really become a solid fan of the audiobooks narrated by Grover Cleveland. Cleveland is the definitive voice of attorney Andy Carpenter–the defense attorney who would rather not take on any cases. The cases, however, seem to find him.

Three of these entries to the series were aimed at the Christmas season, a wonderful excuse for unapologetically grabbing as many as I could. This one concerns twelve puppies brought to Tara’s Foundation by Andy as the woman who had rescued them was charged with the murder of a neighbor. He had filed a complaint with the local zoning board about the number of pets she had in her home and then turned up dead.

The Twelve Dogs of Christmas by David Rosenfelt

The timing is unfortunate, as Martha has been doing this for years, but now she is facing mortality and would prefer not to spend the time she has left behind bars. Her hubby passed a few years ago leaving her with land located in assorted states, eventually for the purpose of the canine (or animal) rescue mission they both embraced.

The characters have been carefully gathered and create a variety of eclectic support for Andy, as well as his wife, Laura, a former policewoman. Andy keeps up a steady mind dialogue that is frank and often humorous. His snarky attitude is not lost on his colleagues and the time he’s spent in court has given him a well-deserved reputation. Like a pit bull that he might have rescued, once he’s onto something he’ll concentrate through the red herrings and twists to get to the real perp, tweaking by a la Perry Mason where it counts.

The narrative includes his family, son Ricky, and common familial situations, drawing you into Andy’s life as well as his legal expertise. These books are engaging with complex, well-drawn plots that are fully investing. While it’s character-driven, the author’s deprecating but intelligent writing style keeps you immersed. This one is full of the Christmas season, puppies, and witty and entertaining storyline.

I received this audiobook from my local library (thank you!) and was thoroughly entertained and invested. Grover Gardner does an incredible job of interpreting the very excellent novel penned by David Rosenfelt. In a spin-off from his Andy Carpenter series, author Rosenfelt has started a new series he is calling The K-Team “about a dynamic new investigative team featuring a determined former cop and his loyal German Shepherd.” YES! Book 1 of The K-Team will be released March 24, 2020, currently available via NetGalley. Now is your chance to grab #1 in a new series, Shalini. Your welcome.

This one is still totally recommended for anyone looking for an unpredictable and amusing hoot. Whether audio or digital, either way, you’re in for a real treat.

Book Details:

Narrator: Grover Gardner
Genre: Animal Fiction, Traditional Detective Mysteries, Legal Thriller
Publisher: Macmillian Audio
ASIN: B01LZAPOAO
Listening Length: 6 hrs 17 mins
Publication Date: October 18, 2016
Source: Local Library audiobooks
Title Link: The Twelve Dogs of Christmas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Twelve Five Star Books You Don’t Want to Miss

Twelve Five Star Books You Don't Want to Miss

It’s been a banner year for some great books and I’ve tried hard to discern those books between a 4.5 level and a subjective but totally awesome (what I consider a) five-star novel. While any book four stars or more are recommend worthy, I am going for those I feel the wider audience would truly enjoy. And many are so close that it is extremely difficult to narrow the list down to only those books that stand out.

The range of genres covers biographies and autobiographies and fiction in categories from action adventures and cozy mysteries to family drama, historical and suspense, thrillers in audiobooks, print, and digital formats. I noted an average of three five star reviews a month totaling forty-two books for the year between 4.5 and 5 stars.

These are the twelve (because I can’t seem to get it down to ten) amazing books that stood out for me in no particular order along with the link to my review.

Fractured Truth by Susan Furlong

Fractured Truth* by Susan Furlong – This author writes about “the Travellers” in this country as if she was one. Ex-Marine and her cadaver dog. He’s awesome, she’s badass.

The Beantown Girls by Jane Healey

The Beantown Girls by Jane Healey – I loved this historical fiction account of the WWII girls who went overseas as “donut dollies.”

The Eighth Sister by Robert Dugoni

The Eighth Sister by Robert Dugoni – Multiple award winner, best-selling author, book ONE in his new espionage series.

Buried Deep by T. R. Ragan

Buried Deep by T R Ragan – Intense thriller, #4 in the Jessie Cole series by this best-selling author.

Decanted Truths: An Irish-American Novel by Melanie Forde

Decanted Truths* by Melanie Forde – A Waterford decanter is bestowed to the family by the boy who immigrated to America in the bowels of the ship.

The Plain of Jars by N. Lombardi Jr

The Plain of Jars by N Lombardi Jr – Intrigue, conspiracy, military history, emotional turmoil and redemption from a Viet Nam conflict survivor. (Reviewed by the CE.)

The Image Seeker by Amanda Hughes

The Image Seeker* by Amanda Hughes – Best-selling author does some deep-diving research immersing you in pre-WWII America.

Rewind by Catherine Ryan Howard

Rewind by Catherine Ryan Howard – Psychological thriller by another best-selling author. Get your “Psycho” shower scene on…

Trials and Tribulations by Jean Grainger

Trials and Tribulations* by Jean Grainger – Best-selling author this one of 20th Century Irish Romance, the Robinswood series.

Rescued by David Rosenfelt

Rescued* by David Rosenfelt – Complex legal thriller – snarky audiobook narrated by Grover Gardner. The Andy Carpenter series is special as an audiobook!

The Dog I Loved

The Dog I Loved* Susan Wilson – A tale of PTSD, dysfunctional families, estrangement, friendship, and the love of a canine.

No Man's Land by Sara Driscoll

No Man’s Land by Sara Driscoll – Special Agent Meg Jennings and her K-9 companion, Hawk, search the ruins for life.

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

Because I’ve found so many in a series in which I’ve become invested, I’m going to be listing those later with the intention of linking those already read along with a pledge to read the rest in the series. Yes, I’m hooked on more than one series (haven’t done that since Nancy Drew), so this could end up being problematic, but I will also continue to seek new authors.

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

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Sealed Off (A Maine Clambake Mystery Book 8) by Barbara Ross – a #BookReview #cozymystery

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5-stars

Sealed Off by Barbara Ross

Book Blurb:

Early October is “winding down” time in Busman’s Harbor, Maine, but there’s nothing relaxing about it for Julia Snowden. Between busloads of weekend leaf peepers at the Snowden Family Clambake and a gut renovation of the old mansion on Morrow Island, she’s keeping it all together with a potentially volatile skeleton crew—until one of them turns up dead under the firewood.

When the Russian demo team clearing out the mansion discovers a room that’s been sealed off for decades, Julia’s baffled as to its purpose and what secrets it might have held. Tensions are already simmering with the crew, but when one of the workers is found murdered, things come to a boil. With the discovery of another body—and a mysterious diary with Cyrillic text in the hidden room—the pressure’s on Julia to dig up a real killer fast. But she’ll have to sort through a pile of suspects, including ex-spouses, a spurned lover, and a recently released prisoner, to fish out one clammed-up killer.

My Review:

I so enjoy the stories of the Snowden Family Clambakes on Busman’s Harbor, Maine. The family built a large mansion and completed the Morrow Island clambake business with fire pits, picnic tables, and covered pavilion to lend the perfect Maine lobster experience to the tourists. Unfortunately, the old mansion was left empty and in a sad state of deterioration after 1929 suffered a devastating fire a couple years ago. They are now in the process of a complete renovation.

Sealed Off by Barbara RossArriving on the island to complete prep for one of the last days’ clambakes of the season, Julia Snowden discovers a body underneath the woodpile.

But there’s more…

A dual plot pops up when the demolition crew at the mansion opens a room that had been totally enclosed with the inhabitant’s personal effects still in the wardrobe and drawers. OMG! I got totally sucked into the interior room next to the nursery, sealed off and hidden. I love story ARC twists like this! Even more delicious, a diary is discovered in the underwear drawer dating 1898.

Now you know Julia is going to have to work on the murder cause the main and most obvious suspect is her boyfriend’s brother, an ex-con. Oops! Forget thinking this will be a simple mystery. There are twists and obvious suspects, ticked off the list one by one. Still, I had suspicions, but wasn’t sure right up until the reveal. Then, oh yeah, we knew this wouldn’t be an easy solve and it involved an unpleasant trope.

Then the governess who wrote the diary–what in the world happened to her? It’s totally engaging with deep plunges into genealogy and web searches, gleaning names one by one.

As always with the Maine Clambake series, it’s easy to invest in the narrative and the delightful small fishing village, the lobstermen jargon, boating terms, and perspectives on weather and waves. You can smell the salt air and crave those fresh dishes. (YES! Fresh is a whole different kettle of fish! One of our fond memories is the breakdown of the old VW bus we had full of Pacific crab. What could we do? Waiting for help, we gorged on fresh crab!) Anyway, the Snowden family has such a history and calls on one of their oldest for this one, sharing memories of the mansion, delightful foods (recipes at the end of the book) and descriptions of the colorful northern state.

The conclusion draws both plots to a satisfying close, neatly tying loose ends, except one: Julia’s boyfriend…stay tuned.

I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley and was thrilled to get another Maine Clambake mystery to read and review. Recommended for any who enjoy an immersive location, interesting characters, and complex but satisfying plots.

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Culinary Mystery, Amateur Sleuth
Publisher: Kensington Books

  • ISBN-10:1496717953
  • ISBN-13:978-1496717955
  • ASIN: B07Q7X57MG

Print Length: 256 pages
Publication Date: December 31, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Sealed Off+Add to Goodreads
Barbara Ross - authorThe Author: Barbara Ross is the author of the Maine Clambake Mysteries and the Jane Darrowfield Mysteries. Her books have been nominated for multiple Agatha Awards for Best Contemporary Novel and have won the Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction. Barbara’s Maine Clambake novellas are included along with stories by Leslie Meier and Lee Hollis in three holiday anthologies from Kensington Publishing. Barbara and her husband live in Portland, Maine.

[Goodreads] Barbara Ross is the author of seven Maine Clambake Mysteries. The eighth, Sealed Off, will be released in December 2019. Her novellas featuring Julia Snowden are included along with stories by Leslie Meier and Lee Hollis in the anthologies Eggnog MurderYule Log Murder and Haunted House Murder.

Jane Darrowfield, Professional Busybody, the first book in a new mystery series, was released in June 2019.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

The Ghost of Christmas Past Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries (Book 8.5) by Angie Fox – a #BookReview #Paranormal #cozy

[Amazon] “*A ‘between the books’ holiday story you don’t want to miss!”

The Ghost of Christmas Past

Book Blurb:

Southern girl Verity Long needs a Christmas miracle…

Verity is ready to deck the halls, jingle some bells, and maybe, just maybe have a merry Christmas with her boyfriend’s stuffy family. Truly, if she doesn’t extend the proverbial olive branch to the overbearing Wydells, she’s afraid she’ll hit them over the head with it.

But when her boyfriend’s mother pulls a shocking stunt, Verity finds herself with a big decision to make. And if that’s not enough, there’s an unexpected guest at her door. It’s the ghost of the woman who helped rescue Verity’s pet skunk three years ago that very night. And now she’s there to change Verity’s life as well.

My Review

Definitely wasn’t prepared for this one, borrowed heavily from one of our favorite Christmas classics. I was into the ghost of Christmas present before it hit my forehead with an ah ha moment. Oh, DUH! I get it!

The Ghost of Christmas Past by Angie FoxVerity Long discovered she set off a force by accident that has introduced her to the shadow world through Frankie, now her resident ghost. She is getting pretty good with this ghost stuff, but can’t predict their visits or needs. This last one helped rescue an animal that Verity is still caring for and requests help with another animal in serious danger. She reluctantly agrees as she’s already had a day of it.

Getting ready for a Christmas party at her boyfriend’s house, Verity receives a rather shocking gift. The Wydell’s have been a long-established family in the area and she’s sweet on the middle child Ellis now but feels it’s time to draw a line with his mother. Hopefully, it’s not the equivalent of burning the bridge to her sweety, but that’s the rub, huh?

Perhaps having it out with Virginia Wydell was not the best way to handle the situation on Christmas Eve and she opts out of the party. She’ll go instead to rescue the endangered animal. It’s there she gets another shocker that’ll force her to rethink her handling of the former situation.

I really enjoyed the way in which the situation was handled, making for a sweet resolution. This is a shorty, meant to augment between full novels and is simple and easy enough to read as a standalone. Fast, fun delightful read for the season with the theme of friendship, family, reconciliation, and that touch of romance. Frankie, as a former ghost, is a great support character, and Virginia, the bitter, nasty, crotchety antagonist is appropriately hateful.

I was given this digital download by the publisher through NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended to any who enjoys a modern take on a beloved classic.

His Review

Dickens meets the Ghost Whisperer in this Christmas frolic! Verity is a young lady saddled with the ability to communicate with the dead while having a potential future mother-in-law from hell. She is also an animal lover at heart and puts up with a spirit named Frankie who uses her for his own ends.

Add in a potential future husband who is totally controlled by a very vengeful mother and you have the basis of a story. Verity being able to communicate with the spirit world is called upon by many of the “disturbed or incomplete spirits” who want favors from her for their relatives.

A surprise gift from her potential mother-in-law adds fuel to the situation. I found the young lady both strong of spirit and short on will power. The combination makes for an entertaining short read that I could recommend to anyone who wants to retreat from reality. Associate Reviewer - C E Williams

The book is easy to read and entertaining. I would suggest it for young ladies or brides to be. 4.5/5 stars CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Mystery, Paranormal, Ghost Stories
Publisher: Moose Island Books

  • ISBN-10:1939661617
  • ISBN-13:978-1939661616
  • ASIN: B07XPGBZ1L

Print Length: 152 pages
Publication Date: November 29, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Ghost of Christmas Past

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Angie Fox - authorThe Author: New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Angie Fox writes sweet, fun, action-packed mysteries. Her characters are clever and fearless, but in real life, Angie is afraid of basements, bees, and going upstairs when it is dark behind her. Let’s face it. Angie wouldn’t last five minutes in one of her books.

Angie is best known for her SOUTHERN SPIRITS™ mysteries, and for her ACCIDENTAL DEMON SLAYER books. Visit her at http://www.angiefox.com.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Bookmarked for Murder (Mystery Bookshop Book 5) by V M Burns – a #BookReview #cozymystery

Bookshop owner with aspirations to becoming a writer–clever plot manipulation.

Bookmarked for Murder by V M BurnsBook Blurb:

Amateur sleuth Samantha Washington’s shopping trip to Chicago takes a deadly detour when a man is murdered on her bus . . .
 
After some post-Christmas retail therapy in the Windy City, mystery bookshop owner and historical whodunit novelist Sam Washington is returning home to North Harbor, Michigan, on a chartered bus. With Nana Jo and her gal pals Irma, Dorothy, and Ruby Mae from Shady Acres Retirement Village along for the ride, it’s a lively trip. But one passenger is not so lively—a gentleman Irma befriended is found dead in his seat after an unscheduled stop. The ladies immediately shift gears to find out who punched his ticket, while Sam slips into the driver’s seat to make sure Nana Jo and her crew steer clear of fatal conclusions . . .

My Review:

Samantha (Sam) Washington is returning to North Harbor, Michigan with her Nana Jo and her cadre of Shady Acres Retirement Village characters after a lovely post-Christmas excursion to Chicago. Unfortunately, the man who decided to come along with Irma and the others is found murdered following a rest stop on the way.

Bookmarked for Murder by V M BurnsSam, the mystery bookshop owner, is also an aspiring writer and she often slips into author mode to continue her London-based historical mystery manuscript. I’d forgotten that these narratives involved a mystery within a mystery, but quickly became acclimated to the “heads up” signal and it proves to be a fun little ditty within the main whodunit. Sam is seeing Frank Patterson, a budding romance, and evolving in an unhurried way. She has two small poodles at home beginning to show signs of aging.

Sam is really coming along in development. I enjoyed her more in this particular entry to the series, although I wondered a number of times how she could be gone from her bookshop so much. Nana Jo is a major support character, frequently stealing the show, but is a great strong and independent representative of her generation. The rest of the Shady Acres crew range in age, all seniors who exhibit a wide spread in life experiences and capabilities and all contribute to solving the crime.

The antagonist is not too difficult to guess, although the motive would remain elusive. Sam’s historical mystery manages to reach a conclusion shortly before the main storyline draws to a close. The main storyline is peppered with humorous bits and observations. The author includes the best definition I’ve read of exactly what comprises a cozy mystery, which I found enlightening. The only problem I had was how the local officer in charge of investigation was painted.

I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley and enjoyed the read and review in return. Book 5 would function fine as a standalone and I believe my favorite so far. Recommended for any who enjoy a fast-paced, cleverly laid out, cozy

Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuth, Cozy Crafts and Hobbies, Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Kensington Books

  • ISBN-10:1496718313
  • ISBN-13:978-1496718310
  • ASIN: B07P9MR138

Print Length: 256 pages
Publication Date: November 26, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Bookmarked for Murder

+Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint Publishing: Four of Five Stars 4-stars

V M Burns - authorThe Author: V.M. Burns was born and raised in the Midwestern United States. She received a Bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University, a Master’s degree from the University of Notre Dame and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Seton Hill University. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Dog Writers Association of America, Thriller Writers International and a lifetime member of Sisters in Crime. She is the secretary of her local chapter of Sisters in Crime (The East Tennessee Smoking Guns) and the Education Grants Coordinator for the national Sisters in Crime. She currently resides in the warmer area of the U.S. with her two poodles. Readers can visit her website at http://www.vmburns.com

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Hands Up by Stephen Clark – a #BookReview #crime #policeprocedural

Hands Up by Stephen ClarkBook Blurb:

Officer Ryan Quinn, a rookie raised in a family of cops, is on the fast track to detective until he shoots an unarmed black male. Now, with his career, reputation and freedom on the line, he embarks on a quest for redemption that forces him to confront his fears and biases and choose between conscience or silence.

Jade Wakefield is an emotionally damaged college student living in one of Philadelphia’s worst neighborhoods. She knows the chances of getting an indictment against the cop who killed her brother are slim. When she learns there’s more to the story than the official police account, Jade is determined, even desperate, to find out what really happened. She plans to get revenge by any means necessary.

Kelly Randolph, who returns to Philadelphia broke and broken after abandoning his family ten years earlier, seeks forgiveness while mourning the death of his son. But after he’s thrust into the spotlight as the face of the protest movement, his disavowed criminal past resurfaces and threatens to derail the family’s pursuit of justice.

Ryan, Jade, and Kelly–three people from different worlds—are on a collision course after the shooting, as their lives interconnect and then spiral into chaos.

My Review:

In his sophomore novel, Clark’s protagonist Ryan Quinn proclaims “I’m not a murderer. I’m not a murderer. I’m. Not. A. Murderer. It’s a great hook and a promise that this novel won’t leave you sagging in the middle. And it doesn’t. Ryan, a rookie in Philly has killed an unarmed black male. He was on a patrol with his partner, Sgt. Greg Byrnes. It was Byrnes who pulled the young man over–he likes to do that. Sometimes for no reason–other than their color.

Hands Up by Stephen ClarkAuthor Clark doesn’t blanch when he tackles an extremely sensitive subject. Ripped from the headlines, a terrible scene occurring in most large cities, the perceived indictment of “blue on black.” There were times when I found some scenes difficult to read as I know they occur and it’s sad, challenging, begs deniability.

But the author doesn’t stop there. There are several other issues here that are fed the public, not the least of which is social media and the sensationalist news bombarding us each night. Perhaps the naive public would prefer to believe the old saying, “Believe nothing you hear, and only one half that you see.” (Yes, that wasn’t Mark Twain, that was Edgar Allen Poe.)

The family of the young man figures prominently as Jade (Tyrell’s sister) and Kelly (his father) wade through grief, anger, and heartbreak. Kelly has returned to mourn the death of his son after an absence of ten years and experiences alienation from his family owing to his abandonment. Jade is bent on revenge and blinded by anger. Ryan can’t come to terms with what happened, something in his backstory, and it’s his therapist who advises he should live where he works.

The POV trades chapters with Jade and Kelly in third person. They are as well developed as Ryan, who has a fiancé in the wings. The storyline extends through activism, gang control of hoods, racism, and complex family ties. There are intimate glimpses into each family, creating an emotional tie and investment in each camp. A view to both sides.

Kelly gradually wheedles his way back into the family with the exception of Jade. Jade, meanwhile, has met and developed a plan of revenge against Ryan. But something goes haywire–and I found myself disbelieving what would happen next. Just not going to happen. It wouldn’t.

While I couldn’t exactly get into Kelly’s shoes, neither did I empathize so much with Ryan--the man just shouldn’t have tried to follow in his father’s footsteps–a cop he’s not. Regina, Tyrell’s mother, is engaging and a grief-stricken, believable character while chaos is swirling around her.

There is a thoughtful suggestion to solving the larger problem–that of getting to know each other and times when the author presented arguments such as “our young black men are much more likely to die at the hands of another black man than a cop.” Or, “turn your frustration into legislation.”

There are a couple of twists you didn’t see coming and, whether or not likely, dropped your heart and gave you a “no way out” feel. This can’t end well. While we get both sides of the coin periodically, it’s a contention too complicated to solve easily in a hard-hitting novel of the topic and the conclusion probably ends the only way it could. The book is one that should be widely read, particularly in our volatile climate.

I remember participation in our local gospel choirs (including the MLK Celebration Choir), the admonition to wear “stained glass colors.” The music was joyous, the musicians gifted, and my soprano buddy, Linda, beautiful (she still is). It was, indeed, a celebration, but in more ways than one.

I received this digital download from the author in exchange for a review. This pounds out a message more should read. It’s fast-paced and shocking. It’s gritty and hard to read and that’s why more people should.

Book Details:

Genre: African American Urban Fiction, Urban Fiction
Publisher: WiDo Publisher

  • ISBN-10:1947966200
  • ISBN-13:978-1947966208
  • ASIN: B07X36LH8Z

Print Length: 300 pages
Publication Date: September 10, 2019
Source: Direct Author Request
Title Link: Hands Up
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The Author: [Goodreads] Stephen Clark is a former award-winning journalist who served as a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times and as a politics editor for the Washington, D.C. bureau of FoxNews.com. Stephen grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and now lives in North Jersey with his wife and son. He has a bachelor’s degree in communications from Arcadia University and a master’s degree in journalism from Syracuse University. Find Stephen at:

Website

https://www.stephenclarkbooks.com/

Twitter

https://twitter.com/StephCWrites

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