The Night Window by Dean Koontz -a #BookReview

The Night Window by Dean KoontzFive Stars Five stars

Title: The Night Window (Jane Hawk Book 5) by Dean Koontz

Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller

Publisher: Bantam

  • ISBN-10:0525484701
  • ISBN-13:978-0525484707
  • ASIN: B07GMS9JXT

Print Length: 432 pages

Publication Date: May 14, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: The Night Window

Book Blurb:

A visionary young filmmaker hunted for sport across a vast Colorado ranch by the celebrated billionaire at the heart of a monstrous cabal . . .

A brilliant computer hacker slipping through top-secret databases a whisper ahead of security trackers, gathering the facts to fight the all-powerful perpetrators of mass murder . . .

A pair of brutal operators, methodically shadowing their targets with every cutting-edge tool in the arsenal of today’s surveillance state . . .

A sequence of quiet heroes—everyday citizens—stepping up, stepping forward, intent on countering the advancing darkness . . .

A Vegas mob boss teamed with a homicidal sociopath, circling a beloved boy and his protectors, aiming to secure him as leverage against his fugitive mother . . .

And that fugitive mother herself, ex-agent Jane Hawk, closing in on the malevolent architects of ruin she has stalked as they stalk her, prepared to sacrifice herself to finally bring them down.

These are the people and circumstances of The Night Window, the thrilling new novel in Dean Koontz’s acclaimed Jane Hawk series. Replete—and then some—with the ingenious twists, the spellbinding action, the resonant themes, the sheer heart that has characterized Jane’s journey from the start, The Night Window follows its extraordinary heroine to her long-sought objective, in a stunning, unforgettable finale.

The Night Window by Dean KoontzMy Review:

What a stunner of a finale! Book 5, the conclusion in the Jane Hawk series was inarguably the best. Don’t get me wrong–I really enjoyed the previous installments–and couldn’t wait for the next. This doesn’t disappoint. It leaves you breathless, spent, with a major book hangover.

Book Handover

Yes, that is a real condition: Book Hangover (book hang-oh-ver) n. The struggle of trying to reconnect with reality after finishing a really amazing book.

If you started this series from Book 1, kudos! But even if you didn’t, this would still function well as a standalone. Just that you get all that backstory with the first 4. Jane Hawk is an amazing young woman, cunning, intelligent, and capable who had a spectacular career in the FBI. But something went wrong, criminally wrong, and she left and went rogue after the death of her beloved husband. Now she is desperately trying to save her son as well as expose the Techno-Arcadians whose nano-technology mission is to contain and control the population. They have a good running start.

The author has a way of painting the good people very good. You love them. You could hug them–you know them. They are real, enormously empathetic, and you’d love to meet them in real life. Most especially this time ex-FBI guy Vikram Rangnekar. What a brilliant sweety! He is a white hat genius hacker. Then the other side, darker than dark, evil ego-maniac billionaire Wainwright Warwick Hollister. I love the way Koontz gives you a baddy such as Hollister and pits him against sweet, naive Tom Buckle. You begin rooting for Tom immediately, heart in your throat, he’s an innocent for heaven’s sake!

The chapters skip between scenarios, Hollister, Weatherwax, Jane and then Vikram. In her mad dash to reveal and destroy the Arcadians, Jane had garnered somewhat of a sympathetic, independent following who are distrusting and disbelieving of the vile assassination of her character on the social media. And always, there is the uncanny connection of mother to son. Then there are Mustafa al-Yamani and Charles Douglas Weatherwax doggedly tracking Jane while Mustafa is being counseled by Weatherwax on the proper and stylish dress and manner of the population of Long Island. Brooding about the proper after-shave fragrance or man purses among other upper-crust conundrums adds a bit of humor and comical spice that cuts somewhat the horror of these two agents. Koontz balances the hate with love, the evil with good and all the while discussing technology fascinatingly sinister while mind-blowingly mesmerizing. It can sound all too real!

Shocking discovery--What!?? And then the shocking conclusion, the only way Jane could see to expose something this massive, this evil. But I couldn’t believe what I was reading! Really though, it was incredible. How else could this have been handled? It was brilliant and devastating. Koontz is the man. The master storyteller. Loved this series! It moves at a remarkable pace. I’m a grateful recipient of an uncorrected digital ebook download and loved the opportunity to read and review. Totally recommended.

Did you read this book? Let’s talk about it!

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Dean Koontz - authorThe Author: Dean Koontz, the author of many #1 New York Times bestsellers, lives in Southern California with his wife, Gerda, their golden retriever, Elsa, and the enduring spirits of their goldens, Trixie and Anna.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

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Book Beginnings and The Friday 56–HELLO Friday!

Book Beginnings-The Friday 56

Every Friday you have the opportunity to share the first sentence of the book you are currently reading. Starting last October I participated in Book Beginnings who is hosted by Gillian at Rose City Readers. You can too! Just include the title of the book and the author’s name. You may wish to share your impression of the book to date as well. Also please share your post with Mister Linky on her blog site. This week I am spotlighting The Night Window by Dean Koontz.

“The triple-pane floor-to-ceiling windows of Hollister’s study frame the rising plain to the west, the foothills, and the distant Rocky Mountains that were long ago born from the earth in cataclysm, now dark and majestic against a sullen sky.”

(And because there is a natural tie-in to The Friday 56, it is common to combine the two.)

The only rules are for participation in The Friday 56 is to grab a book, any book or the one you are #currentlyreading, turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader, and find a sentence (or a few, but don’t spoil it!), post it, and then add your post URL to the Linky on the host site Freda’s Voice – there yah go! How’s that for easy!

Book Beginnings and The Friday 56--The Night Window by Dean Koontz

Friday 56:

“He’s been drunk on money for so many years, he needs that high no less than a heroin addict needs his next injection. He can’t live happily without it. Another man in such a condition might seek purpose in philanthropy, but Wainwright Hollister is no more likely to give away his fortune than he is to donate his eyes to a blind man…Although buying things no longer gives him a money high, he still has one source of inebriation: wielding power over others.”

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So what am I thinking?

Wow.

Just wow.

While I missed the first in this series, I’ve read from Book 2 and I must say, I enjoyed each book more than the last. But this one–this one has to be the best. And this one will also be the last in the series. So far, it’s been electrifying and unputdownable. I can’t wait to see how Koontz will bring this climax to a satisfying close, but I know it will be good. Beyond good–fabulous! The man is an expert storyteller and the way he builds his characters, his scenes, and plots the course is amazing. Waxing prose with intelligence, science, and technology. It’s a rewarding time well spent. (I got my uncorrected proof from NetGalley.) Start with book 1 if you must, but do not miss this explosive conclusion.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Prologue to Murder by Lauren Elliott – a #BookReview

Prologue to Murder by Lauren ElliottTitle: Prologue to Murder (Bookstore Mystery) by Lauren Elliott

Genre: Cozy Mystery, Amateur Sleuths

Publisher: Kenginston

  • ISBN-10:1496720202
  • ISBN-13:978-1496720207
  • ASIN: B07G6S6B1Q

 Print Length: 304 pages

Publication Date: April 30, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Prologue to Murder

Book Blurb:

After a career working with rare books at the Boston Public Library, Addie Greyborne is back in her seaside New England hometown—where unfortunately, murder is not so rare . . .
 
Gossip columnists love a bold-faced name—but “Miss Newsy” at Greyborne Harbor’s local paper seems to specialize in bald-faced lies. She’s pointed a finger of suspicion at Addie after librarian June Winslow never makes it home from a book club meeting. And when June’s found at the bottom of a steep flight of stairs, Addie’s not only dealing with a busybody, but a dead body.

It’s a good thing the guy she’s dating is the police chief. But both the case and her love life get more complicated when a lanky blonde reporter from Los Angeles shows up. She’s trying her hardest to drive a wedge between the couple . . . as if Addie doesn’t have enough problems dealing with angry townspeople. Despite all the rumors, Addie doesn’t know a thing about the murder—but she plans to find out. And the key may lie in a book about pirate legends that June published. Now she just has to hunt down the clues before she becomes a buried treasure herself . . .

My Review:

Prologue to Murder by Lauren ElliottAddie Greyborne has returned to her roots in coastal New England. She has inherited the rare book and curio shop and employs Paige. Her BFF is Serena and she has begun a relationship with the town Police Chief, Marc. Great, great, great, Greyborne is a founding father but unfortunately she has not successfully been enfolded back in the loving arms of the townsfolk. She’d cleared her name and solved the last murder and now the librarian is missing, eventually found deceased and Addie has taken it upon herself to clear her name once again after “Miss Newsy” published a nasty rumor about Addie possibly being behind both.

June, the librarian was found in an underground tunnel that history of the town proves an integral part of pirate lore, hidden treasure, and family feuds. The mystery creates an interesting premise and Addie begins sifting the clues, chasing down her aunt’s old books in the attic as well as haunting museums and other bookstores and pirate shops for details on the intricate set of tunnels, closed by the town council for being unsafe. Few are privy to those tunnel plans, but Addie begins to wonder about pirate treasure being a motive for the murder of June, who’d possibly found more in her research than the city fathers were comfortable with.

Well, all that part is fun. The twists are fun. That whole area of the New England coast is rife with pirate lore, rich with pirate enclaves, and many of the most successful hid vast treasures in hurricane safe havens, most never again found. What I had a problem with were the introduction of so many new characters, and Simon–another possible love interest. (Oh, no, not the dreaded love triangle!) The protagonist herself was less than a reliable narrator, caught in contradictions and fabrications, and few of the support characters fared any better. Marc comes off as being wishy-washy, warning her with one breath of leaving the investigating to him while asking for her thoughts and help with the next. Huh? Lacy is just plain nasty. Dialogue runs snarky and at times rather juvenile.

Bottom Line: While the mystery is a good plot device, the pace is too slow for this reader, and I could not find any of the characters worth investing in. The history is engaging but the narrative falls flat. The antagonist as revealed in the conclusion is not wholly unexpected, although I did like that little bit that Addie does with the pirate shop operator at the end.

This is the second in the series and might well be read as a standalone. I received this ebook download from the publisher and NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review.

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Lauren Elliott - authorThe Author: Lauren Elliott grew up devouring the entire Nancy Drew series and then graduated to Victoria Holt, Agatha Christie, Barbara Erskine, Lynn Kurland, and Michael Crichton to name a few of her favorite authors. When it came time for post-secondary education, journalism seemed like the logical choice as she had written for as long as she could remember. Soon after graduation, while working for a small publication, she discovered that reporting wasn’t what fueled her writing passions. As someone with an additionally strong background in professional theater who had the love of storytelling and captivating and holding an audience, her fiction-writing career began to take center stage.

Lauren Elliott’s new Beyond the Page Bookstore Mystery series promises to keep readers guessing right up until the last chapter. Plot twists and an array of colorful characters make for page turning, whodunit adventures filled with suspense, mystery, murder and just a touch of romance.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Like Lions by Brian Panowich

Five Stars Five stars

Like Lions by Brian PanowichTitle: Like Lions: A Novel  by Brian Panowich

Genre: Small Town and Rural Fiction, Police Procedurals, Crime Thrillers

Publisher: Minotaur Books

  • ISBN-10:1784082716
  • ISBN-13:978-1784082710
  • ASIN: B07J4WBB81

 Print Length: 293 pages

Publication Date: April 30, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Like Lions

Book Blurb:

Clayton Burroughs is a small-town Georgia sheriff, a new father, and, improbably, the heir apparent of Bull Mountain’s most notorious criminal family.

As he tries to juggle fatherhood, his job and his recovery from being shot in the confrontation that killed his two criminally-inclined brothers last year, he’s doing all he can just to survive. Yet after years of carefully toeing the line between his life in law enforcement and his family, he finally has to make a choice.

When a rival organization makes a first foray into Burroughs territory, leaving a trail of bodies and a whiff of fear in its wake, Clayton is pulled back into the life he so desperately wants to leave behind. Revenge is a powerful force, and the vacuum left by his brothers’ deaths has left them all vulnerable. With his wife and child in danger, and the way of life in Bull Mountain under siege for everyone, Clayton will need to find a way to bury the bloody legacy of his past once and for all.

My Review:

Like LionsWell, phooey, a new author to me and this a sequel to Bull Mountain (2015) before it, prize-winning graphic grit-lit. So I can’t gauge whether this is better or as good as the first. I will say, however, that I read as a standalone and, believe me, you have no problem picking up very quickly on just who these hillbilly, backwoods, and heinous people can be. (N.B. Skip if you don’t want a personal aside: One time when my motorcycle buddy, Noni, and I were riding through West Virginia we stopped at a large pull-out area to scour maps for directions thinking we might be lost. The narrow, darkened two-lane road, often broken out by heavy summer rains just seemed to go through this tree and vine-covered valley forever. The area was eerily quiet, no sounds–deserted. We peered through the grime-covered window into the barn and got the creeps. Noni said to me, “Do you want to be someone’s barefoot mama?” I said “NO!” and flipping the face shield of my flip-up helmet down we jumped back on our bikes and took off. There are some mountains and hollers out there that simply do NOT invite visitors. Ever heard of the Hatfields and McCoys?)

It didn’t take me long in this book to get those same prickly apprehensive vibes and the tension stayed elevated throughout the narrative which begins with a chilling and compelling prologue hook.

Clayton Burroughs, county sheriff of this small north Georgia location, is still recovering from the major, near-death injuries of a year ago. But his family and the legacy left by his father and brothers is never far under the tumultuous crime-ridden surface. It’s Burroughs territory and they reined heavily until that confrontation. Their deaths and his lack of desire to take over the helm of the dynasty has begun to open the door for new and even darker gangs or clans and the paths forged by his recently deceased brother, Hal. Clayton and his wife, Kate, have been struggling to keep their marriage together despite his slow recovery, pain, and guilt-ridden attitude.

Oh. My. God. You don’t even want to have to stop for gas here. There are forces unseen and powerful building a dreadful foreboding of the war to come. These factions play for keeps and when moonshine took a back seat to the drug trade, millions of dollars, as well as the territory, went up for grabs. Ever played around in the mountains over forest service roads only to confront a big-assed pickup truck with a gun rack in the rear window? (We have.) And that’s your sign.

“What doesn’t kill you, makes you numb, was truer to the point.”

“He was a cereal-box preacher–all sugar and tooth decay, dressed up to look wholesome and good for you.”

“Pride will kill you faster than a bullet.”

This is a gritty, southern lit, hick lit, hillbilly noir or whatever you want to call it and I’ll warn you, it’s rude, crude, and socially unaccepted. From the language to the graphic scenes, it surpasses “Breaking Bad” for pulling no punches. The characters are raw, open, and vicious. Scary real. Kate is wonderful, strong, decent. She loves her man. But the man is damaged and he’s drinking. He has a number of “family” who will cover his back–well, most that–because this is also a story of loyalty and betrayal. His office gal slash dispatcher, Cricket, is a great support character, and he has a number of them “on his side.” The characters have names like Scabby Mike and Nails McKenna, JoJo and Coot Viner. You’d expect that…

As for the fun they were throwing at Coot for his Tracker, I have to say they are a great little car (cheap-Jeep) for climbing those northern Georgia hills–or off-road into the deserts of Arizona!

The conflict and turmoil have you reeling from the punches and flipping pages, unsure what will happen next, except that it is probably not something good. The plot moves with gathering speed until the climax and then like a pebble in a pond, the rivulets begin to slow. Wow, is this guy a storyteller or what?

And then, BAM! just when you think everyone is safe, the epilogue. NOOO! 

I can’t stand it–I may have to part with my milk money and get Bull Mountain. I received this ebook download from the publisher and NetGalley and totally, absolutely, irrefutably found it electrifying; it’s a train wreck, a shock of a book that you can’t put down. Totally recommended for all you thriller fans; deep, dark, noir fans. Do you have the stomach for it?

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The Author: *Brian Panowich feels a bit strange writing about himself in the third person but he will do his best. Brian started out as a firefighter that wrote stories and morphed into a writer that fights fire. He has written three novels, a boatload of short stories, and maintains a monthly column called Scattered & Covered for Augusta Magazine. He lives in East Georgia with four children who are more beautiful and more talented than anyone else’s. He also might be biased.Brian Panowich - author

Brian’s first novel, BULL MOUNTAIN, topped the best thriller list on Apple iBooks, placed in the top twenty best books on Amazon, and went on to win the International Thriller Writers Award for Best First Novel, as well as the Southern Book Prize for Best Mystery. The book was also nominated for the Barry Award, the Anthony Award, The Georgia Townsend Book Prize, and was a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize. BULL MOUNTAIN was also selected for the coveted BOOKS ALL GEORGIANS SHOULD READ list by the Georgia Center of the Book, and has been the recipient of several foreign press awards. Brian’s latest novel, LIKE LIONS, isn’t due out until April, but Daniel Woodrell and CJ Box really liked it, so Brian is pretty happy. Oh, and YEAR OF THE ROOSTER will be out next year. (2020)

Brian Panowich burst onto the crime fiction scene in 2015, winning awards and accolades from readers and critics alike for his smoldering debut, Bull Mountain. Now with Like Lions, he cements his place as one of the outstanding new voices in crime fiction.

Note: That Tracker was ours. ©2019 V Williams Blog author

Murder in the Reading Room by Ellery Adams – a #BookReview

Murder in the Reading Room by Ellery AdamsTitle: Murder in the Reading Room (A Book Retreat Mystery Book 5) by Ellery Adams

Genre: Amateur Sleuths, Cozy Mystery

Publisher: Kensington

  • ISBN-10:1496715659
  • ISBN-13:978-1496715654
  • ASIN: B07G6NJK5W

Print Length: 320 pages

Publication Date: Released April 30, 2019-Happy Publication Day!

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Murder in the Reading Room

Book Blurb:

Storyton Hall, Virginia, is a paradise for book lovers who come from all over for literary getaways. But manager Jane Steward is temporarily leaving for another renowned resort—in hopes of solving a twist-filled mystery . . .

Jane’s boyfriend is missing, and she thinks she may find him at North Carolina’s historic Biltmore Estate. Officially, she’s there to learn about luxury hotel management, but she’s also prowling around the breathtaking buildings and grounds looking for secret passageways and clues. One of the staff gardeners promises to be helpful . . . that is, until his body turns up in the reading room of his cottage, a book on his lap.

When she finally locates the kidnapped Edwin, his captor insists that she lead him back to Storyton Hall, convinced that it houses Ernest Hemingway’s lost suitcase, stolen from a Paris train station in 1922. But before they can turn up the treasure, the bell may toll for another victim . . .

My Review:

Murder in the Reading Room by Ellery AdamsDefinitely a book lovers paradise, the author knows her books and has created a beautiful picturesque setting in Storyton Hall, aptly named for it’s multiple private, cozy settings.

This being the fifth in the series and yes, of course, my first with the author and the series, I seem to have missed a well-developed fleshing of the protagonist and the storyline leading to this last(?) of the series. This is one series where you might do well to begin with number one. I greatly enjoyed the author’s writing style, very subtle, full of prose, and so descriptive of the idyllic venue that you want to start packing for your bags.

Apparently in the Book 4, Jane Steward’s boyfriend went missing. Jane is a widow with two young precocious boys. She is the manager of Storyton Hall, a pseudo-resort, with a strong literary style that includes a number of themed rooms/ libraries; i.e., Henry James Library, Daphne du Maurier Morning Room, and William Faulkner Conference Room. In her role as manager, she has joined a luxury hotel management seminar that is taking place at North Carolina’s historic Biltmore Estate–specifically because she believes that is where her Edwin Alcott is being hidden. The seminar will give her access sufficient to haunt the halls and grounds in an effort to find Edwin. The first, very shocking problem, however, manifests when she and Landon successfully discover him–and confront despot rogue Templar Ramsey Parrish as well.

Storyton itself has been in the Steward family for generations and is home to a wide variety of beautiful arts and treasures, not the least of which is possibly the Secret Library which may hide a suitcase stolen from Ernest Hemingway, lost in 1922. With the rumor that the Stewards are holding the suitcase and its priceless content comes many a problem, including the one that is currently the target of the Templar Ramsey, current manager of the behemoth Biltmore Estate. He will apparently stop at nothing to get to the secret library and the suitcase, including kidnapping. Jane’s own Landon Lachlan (head of Storyton Hall’s Recreation Department), is part of an elite group called “the Fins” also their first line of defense. In addition, she has a ladies group called “the Cover Girls” a literature club. Eloise is her best buddy, sister of Edwin. (She might have gone too far, however, when she named her boys Fitzgerald and Hemingway.)

The characters are all complex, literate, and deep in the bookish world, upper-class society, and southern history with associated activities. More twists are incorporated into the well-plotted mystery, dripping with charm, nostalgic quotes from many famous and classic authors. (Test yourself on how many you recognize!)

There are just too many secrets associated with the theme resort, hidden society, however, and push come to shove, Jane is tired. While there are casualties, they happen “off page.” I really enjoyed the wide variety of support characters, so appropriately named, the location so visual, the atmosphere cerebral. The pace works well right into a downplayed climax almost smoothed over in the blurred conclusion which forms part of the reason for the epilogue.

I was given this ebook download by the publisher and NetGalley and totally appreciated the opportunity to read and review this unique and captivating novel. Recommended for any bibliophile who can quote from the classics or book lovers in general, as well as cozy mystery lovers. There is something here for everyone–including that touch of romance!

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five of Five Stars Four point Five of Five Stars

Ellery Adams - authorThe Author: Ellery Adams, a USA Today and New York Times bestselling author, has written over thirty-five mystery novels. She shares her North Carolina home with her husband, two trolls, and three keyboard-hogging felines. Ellery loves coffee, bubbly, boxing, jigsaw puzzles, baking, and black jelly beans.

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

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

For discussion questions and more, visit http://www.elleryadamsmysteries.com

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Lance: A Spirit Unbroken by Walter Stoffel – a #BookReview

Lance: A Spirit Unbroken by Walter StoffelTitle: Lance: A Spirit Unbroken by Walter Stoffel

Genre: Dog Care, Pet Dogs (Doggy Memoir)

Publisher: Diamond Publishing International

  • ISBN-10:0986150002
  • ISBN-13:978-0986150005
  • ASIN: B01LZWMUF2

Print Length: 244 pages

Publication Date: August 19, 2016

Source: Direct author request

Title Link: Lance: A Spirit Unbroken

Book Blurb:

Marley meets… Cujo ?

What would you do if there was a dog in your neighborhood forced to live outside day in/day out, at the mercy of abusers, wild animals and brutal weather?

Walter does nothing—at first. Then, an accidental meeting with Lance, a Border Collie, sets the wheels in motion for a down-to-the-wire, life-saving rescue and a disappointing discovery: Lance turns out to be a threat to anyone he can get his teeth on—including his rescuers!

Their lives turned upside down by this semi-feral “pet”, Walter and his wife Clara are forced to answer a painful question: do they euthanize the dog they rescued?

Making their life-or-death choice even more difficult is Lance’s hilarious quirkiness; when not threatening, he’s incredibly entertaining—though a State Trooper, the local drug dealer, and a Megan’s Law parolee, among many others, would beg to differ.

This rollicking, thought-provoking, and—at times—heart-wrenching true-life account of the unorthodox rescue of an unorthodox dog is guaranteed to captivate:
-Dog lovers
-Recovering addicts (there are numerous passages that the 12-step community will relate to)
-Survivors of child abuse (the author reveals his own poignant connection with Lance)
-Any reader who can laugh, cry, or enjoy having her/his faith in humanity restored.

(Note: This book was noted in my associate’s book list and he couldn’t resist also reading. His review follows mine.)

My Review:

Lance: A Spirit Unbroken by Walter StoffelThis dog should never have lived the ten long years chained in the yard subject to extreme abuse when he wasn’t either starving, freezing, or both. And unfortunately, living through the abuse, the spirit in this animal that absolutely would NOT give up is discovered (after Walter and Clara adopt him) to carry mountains of baggage. Walter had seen the dog on his walks in the neighborhood before but most likely had no clue of the extreme cruelty he was being subjected to. It is after he begins a dialogue with Anna, a neighbor who has befriended the dog, cleaned his space and provided fresh water, food, and an occasional neighborhood walk that he begins to get the picture of a dog desperately in search of rescue.

His previous owners have left him with an extreme case of PTSD; he is psychotic, schizophrenic. Is he salvageable? Probably not. Yet, there is an intangible something there. A highly intelligent Border Collie who has managed to survive will have many cards hidden under his paws. Absolutely unpredictable behavior, the only thing for sure they can count on, is not being able to pet their new rescue.

So what drives a person, or couple, to take on this challenge? Could it ever be worth the sacrifice–and heaven knows they’ll make many of those. First, Walter was probably the only one in a jillion who could begin to glean some understanding of just how traumatic this dog’s life had been–and sympathize–no wonder he reacted like he did!

The conundrum here is not so much Lance as Walter. His canine experience either totally lacking or his confidence in turning the dog around grew to extremes in lack of common sense (something he freely admits) when dealing with a highly intelligent Border Collie. Knowing the dog was a biter and lacked any kind of predictable behavior, he walked with the dog unleashed into the woods. Huh? Talk about a train wreck!

Cats, kids? No problem. Completely unpredictable for a normal dog, this dog seemed to have no problem being around children. How many times did this dog rescue his rescuers? He could show compassion, sympathy, and there were times he had them totally entertained, mesmerized with his antics.

Bottom Line: Loved the book, cringe-worthy as much of it was. Yes, I can think of even worse canine abuse, but you have to give this duo some kudos for fortitude. Still, what bothered me was the seven years of shocking trials of off-leash stories, car rides (a serious threat to not only themselves but to anyone else on the road), and the continued abuse of new animals by the previous owners with no one stopping those idiots getting a new dog. Also, I must note the amount of redundancy, although some of which did introduce new arguments for or against. The conclusion, though expected, is hard to take. Thrilled, and terrified at the same time, that the dog could actually get those years to get out and run like the wind, bound over rocks, trees, and into ponds like a normal dog.

I received a request from the author for an honest opinion of his memoir of Lance in exchange for a free copy. Hard to put this book down, the storytelling is compelling. I did so enjoy the story and appreciate the opportunity to read and review.  Recommended for any fan of dogs or pets. Research the breed–all canines are not born equal–but they all get into your hearts.

“Some of our greatest…treasures we place in museums; others, we take for walks.” Roger Caras, wildlife preservationist.

Associate Reviewer - C E Williams

His Review:

A highly intelligent Border Collie abused for the first ten years of his life! This book shows a love and fortitude seldom seen. I was extremely moved by this lovingly crafted account. Bravo to the author! CE Williams free from the author for an honest opinion.

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five of Five Stars Four point Five of Five Stars

Walter Stoffel - authorThe Author: Walter Stoffel is a freelance writer and publisher who specializes in human interest memoir and fiction. Though having previously participated in multiple dog and cat rescues, nothing prepared him for his life with the title character in Lance: A Spirit Unbroken. The author has a rich work history that currently includes teaching GED and counseling inmates at local correctional facilities. He also has experience as a certified mental health screener. For many years, he lived and worked in various South American countries. Most unique occupation: chipping excess concrete off the undersides of bridges in Virginia. All his coworkers were wearing prison stripes. Mr. Stoffel is a member of the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group, Pennwriters and Barbara’s Writing Group, a critiquing association. When not writing, he loves to read, travel, work out, and watch bad movies. The author has a B.A. in psychology and is a credentialed alcoholism and drug counselor. He lives in Canadensis, PA with his wife Clara, their dog Buddy (a rescue) and their cat Winky (another rescue). Personal accomplishment: after having hip replacement surgery, Walter entered a marathon and finished it – dead last. Extra special personal accomplishment: surviving seven years living with the devil dog (Lance). Please visit Walter at http://www.Lance: A Spirit Unbroken.com, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

The Body in the Wetlands by Judi Lynn – a #BookReview

The Body in the Wetlands by Judi LynnTitle: The Body in the Wetlands (A Jazzi Zanders Mystery Book 2) by Judi Lynn

Genre: Cozy Mystery, Women Sleuths

Publisher: Lyrical Underground

  • ISBN-10:151610840X
  • ISBN-13:978-1516108404
  • ASIN: B07FZN7CVT

Print Length: 268 pages

Publication Date: April 23, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: The Body in the Wetlands

Book Blurb:

High summer in River Bluffs, Indiana, is always sweltering and sweet. But the heat is really on when a decidedly dead body turns up in the neighborhood.

When established house flippers Jazzi Zanders and her cousin Jerod donate a week’s worth of remodeling work to Jazzi’s sister Olivia, they’re expecting nothing more than back-breaking roofing work and cold beers at the end of each long, hot day. With Jazzi’s live-in boyfriend and partner Ansel on the team, it promises to be a quick break before starting their next big project—until Leo, an elderly neighbor of Olivia’s, unexpectedly goes missing.

When the friendly senior’s dog tugs Jazzi and the guys toward the wetlands beyond Olivia’s neighborhood, they stumble across a decomposing corpse—and a lot of questions. With Jazzi’s pal Detective Gaff along to investigate, Jazzi finds her hands full of a whole new mystery instead of the usual hammer and nails. And this time it will take some sophisticated sleuthing to track down the culprit of the deadly crime—before the killer turns on her next . . .

My Review:

The Body in the Wetlands by Judi LynnMy second book with the series and author and must admit it’s one of the few books I’ve read with a location in Indiana–and flippin’ houses? Oh, yes! Hubby and I tried that for many years, though heaven knows not so easily, quickly, or successfully as this series would imply. We worked nights (after work), weekends (for years), and spent every dime we made on repairs. Old houses mean old electrical, pipes, floors, and cabinets–don’t get me started with the rest. Heaven help you if you had to open a wall.

At any rate, this narrative again picks up with Jazzi working with her cousin Jerod and newly moved in boyfriend Ansel–her Viking God. Tall and gorgeous, you’ll hear more about him and often. Jerod is a happily married family man. This house again has those “good bones,” so much of the work will be cosmetic as opposed to the sledgehammer they took to the walls of the last house. Still, besides painting, they were redoing floors and gutting bathrooms and the kitchen. In the middle of the remodeling, Ansel is called back to the old family farm to help with their repair problems and her cousin comes down with the flu his little ones bring home from school. (THAT sounds normal, huh?)

Guess that’s a good thing, as Jazzi and the neighbor’s dog find (not one, but) two bodies near their flipper.  With Jerod sick, Jazzi is free to flit with Detective Gaff, whom she got to know very well last episode. Detective Gaff, it would appear, loves to invite her along on his interviews. And, unfortunately, that is not the end of finding bodies.

I did love the cover and there are two wildly different dogs appearing as support characters. Jazzi still has the whole family over every Sunday (mercy!) and Ansel really enjoys the family time, but most especially her cooking. The mystery moves at cozy pace with snippets of remodeling interwoven with new red herrings and twists. The characters take the spotlight. I’m still not overly thrilled with Jazzi as protagonist and neither she nor Ansel seemed really trusting at being apart for the two weeks he’d be at the farm. Two weeks? Really? And the romance, both prior to his leaving and after he got back? Didn’t need it.

Bottom Line: I do enjoy this series, the setting and characters become engaging, and I will continue to look for the next one. The pacing is even and well-plotted into a downplayed, almost anticlimactic conclusion. While dialogue is clean and for the most part natural, I still felt some relationship problems between she and Ansel. There is more fleshing on Ansel and some quirks that didn’t set well, as well as the explanation of Jazzi’s reticence due to previous relationship difficulties. The antagonist began to materialize as a bit obvious rather soon after he was introduced. So, my problems: (1) Disbelief in the speed and description of the rehabbing process, (2) too much romance in the cozy mystery, and (3) support role with the detective–unrealistic.

I received this ebook download from the publisher and NetGalley in return for an honest opinion and appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for those who enjoy a different type of backdrop in a cozy with some romance.

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

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

©2019 V Williams Blog author

The Family Lie by Jake Cross – a #BookReview

The Family Lie by Jake CrossTitle: The Family Lie by Jake Cross

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Publisher: Bookouture

  • ASIN: B07N8VVHGF

Print Length: 305 pages

Publication Date: April 23, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: The Family Lie

Book Blurb:

You whispered goodnight to your daughter. You didn’t know that would be your last goodbye.

You wake up in the middle of the night.

Your five-year-old daughter is gone.

Your husband is nowhere to be seen.

Your family think he took her.

The police believe he’s guilty.

But he wouldn’t do that, would he?

He’s a loving father. A loving husband. Isn’t he?

My Review:

The Family Lie by Jake Cross

No, no, no! I definitely broke my own rules with this one. I saw the blurb, noted the cover. Would not usually entertain reading a book about a kidnapped child. But I did. And I’ll revert back to my own (personal) rules.

This novel sets a stage that looks promising. Hooks you in, gets you reading, but soon goes into left-center field. What happened?

Five-year-old Josie is kidnapped from her bedroom in the middle of the night. Main character Anna wakes to find rain pelting the window, husband missing, patio door open and floor soaked as well as in Josie’s bedroom–open window–rain blowing in. But no Josie and no Nick. It doesn’t take long before she’s called in the police, but almost immediately they suspect something other than a kidnapping. For one, the husband is gone as well. Isn’t it more likely he took off with his child?

Now begins a long and tedious search, which goes on, and on, throughout which we are introduced to secondary characters, police, detectives, investigators, condescending and suspicious. And here’s where a few of my problems enter. I really don’t like any of them. Particularly the one who refers to Anna as “dear.” ARGH! Anna’s constant referral to her daughter as “my little lady.” (No clue why that annoyed me so much. Munchkin, I could understand, or??? We certainly had nicknames for our own.) And then they find Nick, apparently knocked over the head, drugged, and dragged along for the ride. But then, where was Josie?

The narrative begins introducing twists that throw you off the original scent, scatters the few ideas you might have held for the antagonist(s). And as the storyline plods along, gets further afield. Here are circumstances the reader could not have known about. Although I can appreciate that the parents might veer in the opposite direction in their effort to get to Josie, Nick comes off weak and largely ineffectual. Anna is unsympathetic, who later bemoans the fact that she hasn’t called her daughter by her name. Seems neither police nor parents make informed decisions.

The writing seems a bit awkward at times, the dialogue gawky, some of the scenes inappropriate (come on–he put his hands between her legs? And she accepted it? Not!) Must admit, this novel was not for me, although you may enjoy it. I received this ebook download from the publisher and NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review.

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Three of Five Stars Three Stars of Five

Jake Cross - authorThe Author: Jake Cross lives in England and is the author of the standalone thrillers The Family Lie, now on preorder, and The Choice, which hit the top 5 in Australia and was a bestseller in the UK and Canada. And on Kobo, but we don’t talk about that here. He’s on Twitter as @JakeCrossAuthor, if you want to say hello. ©2019 V Williams

Blog author

Doublespeak by Alisa Smith – a #BookReview

Doublespeak by Alisa SmithTitle: Doublespeak (Lena Stillman series Book 2) by Alisa Smith

Genre: Historical WW2 Fiction (Thriller)

Publisher: St Martin’s Press

  • ISBN-10:1250097851
  • ISBN-13:978-1250097859
  • ASIN: B07D2C1GQR

 Print Length: 260 pages

Publication Date: April 16, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Doublespeak: A Novel

Book Blurb:

Lieutenant Lena Stillman has been left, nearly alone, on her code-breaking mission in remote Alaska. World War II has been over for a month, but due to crimes committed a lifetime ago, Lena is still under the control of the powerful Miss Maggie.

Shaken by her role in the disappearance of Corporal Link Hughes—and by her own misjudgment of his character—Lena yearns for an opportunity to redeem them both. Then she receives a shocking message containing Link’s potential location: Siam. Embarking on a clandestine rescue mission to Bangkok, Lena is reunited with shadows from her past—including loyal friend Byron who is eager to escape his safe, dull life and the attractive yet dangerous “William Yardly.” As personal and political allegiances shift in the postwar maelstrom, it seems impossible to know who is good or bad, innocent or culpable and whether they are motivated by love or revenge.

Overlaying rich historic detail and an intricate plot, Doublespeak is an entrancing sequel to Alisa Smith’s first novel Speakeasy, which received the honor of being a Walter Scott Prize Academy recommended book of 2018.

My Review:

Doublespeak by Alisa SmiithThis is written in noir style, dark, and intriguing using multiple first persons. Lieutenant Lena Stillman is an ex-bank robber, all-around scroundrel when she is incorporated into the WW2 effort as a code breaker ending up in Shemya,  Alaska. But at the end of the war, when it was assumed all would go home, she is one of the few remaining females, let alone code-breakers to remain. She doesn’t, and never has, break code of the Japanese. Hers is breaking ground of a whole new scenario in the aftermath of the war.

Years before, Lena was part of a criminal element that was called the Clockwork Gang. There were four in the gang. Besides herself there is Bill Bagley, Byron Godfrey, and Link Hughes. Bill was the brains. He managed to settle in Siam and secure a lucrative enterprise. He still has far-reaching contacts, most of whom cannot deny his call. Lena feels responsible for what happened to Link during the war. And now, years after they were scattered by happenstance, she receives an astounding message from Bill regarding Link. Regardless of her feelings for Bill, she absolutely MUST travel to Siam to see Link and square herself with him. And she is not the only one of the old gang receiving an urgent message.

First, I enjoyed the author’s sagacity when it came to matters of spying, foreign lands, pre, during, and post-war politics, and being “the criminal used for good” (they have the expertise a by-the-book grunt wouldn’t.) I had not read Book 1, but felt it could function as a standalone as we certainly get the person that is Bill/William, as well as the other characters. The people, the smells, the overcrowded and unhealthy conditions brought forth an unwelcome conjuring of sights you couldn’t unsee. The storyline is well-plotted and builds tension as the dialogue from the individuals each share their perspective and pressure escalates. And still, it takes a while before the entire mission becomes clear.

Several chapters evolve before you begin to get a sense of who is speaking and then you must discern if they are a reliable narrator. The timeline is not a lengthy one, but there is a lot to take in. The dialogue between main characters and those they are dealing with are natural, remembering this is a whole new mindset.

I received this ebook from the publisher and NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review. While this novel may not be for everyone, if you are looking for something different, enjoy historical novels,  and action-adventure, particularly with a single-minded capable female protagonist, you’ll enjoy this one.

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The Author: Alisa Smith, a Vancouver-based freelance writer who has been nominated for a National Magazine Award, has been published in Outside, Explore, Canadian Geographic, Reader’s Digest, Utne, and many other periodicals. The books Way Out There and Liberalized feature her work.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Darwin’s Cipher by M A Rothman – a #BookReview

Darwin's Cipher by M. A. Rothman

Five Stars Five stars

Title: Darwin’s Cipher by M. A. Rothman

Genre: Medical Thriller, Hard Science Fiction, Technothriller

  • ISBN-10:1790271231
  • ISBN-13:978-1790271238
  • ASIN:B07KTFX1N2

Print Length: 354 pages

Publication Date: February 15, 2019

Source: Direct author request

Title Link: Darwin’s Cipher

Book Blurb:

Juan Gutierrez, a cancer researcher, has spent years studying the genome of animals that exhibit immunity to some types of cancer. Over the course of his study, Juan discovers a pattern that allows him to predict the course of a species’ evolution across thousands of generations. 

Using the algorithm he’s developed from the pattern, Juan uncovers what he believes to be the key to conquering humanity’s susceptibility to cancer.

Others are interested in using what Juan has dubbed “Darwin’s Cipher,” however, instead of cancer research, they see very different applications for the new genetic algorithm.

Nate Carrington, an FBI forensic analyst has been struggling with several cold cases when he’s alerted to an incident at a nearby ranch. It’s a case of a newborn calf who is found in the middle of a herd of dead cattle. It provides a single link to Nate’s other cold cases: the DNA analysis of the calf doesn’t match anything in the FBI’s database.

Somewhere in a rural hospital in West Virginia, four hospital workers are dead and a newborn child has been transported to the NIH’s level-4 bio-containment unit.

It’s only when the NIH sends out an alert to all hospitals and law enforcement agencies that the world realizes the danger that faces them.

My Review:

Darwin's Cipher by M.A. RothmanDo yourself a favor and go grab this techno-thriller by USA Bestselling author M. A. Rothman. The man knows his science and this intelligent, highly engaging medical thriller will hook you immediately and then hold you fully engaged until you read the last word in the highly satisfying conclusion. But–the dog? OMG. Nooo….(But if the last little ditty about Jasper is the hook for Book 2, count me in!)

Two main characters here working in tandem, Juan Gutierrez, a cancer researcher and Special Agent Nathaniel Carrington, an FBI forensic analyst. Gutierrez is a researcher working for AgriMed closing in on a mutating algorithm in DNA. Wait! Does this sound like a SciFi? Well, maybe you’d think so. But this is chocked full of so much biological technology that you’ll find more fact than fiction. And fascinating study it is. Thank you Kindle for including that instant dictionary or search component so I can clarify what some of these terms were; not familiar with all of them. No, not unless I had an advanced degree. But does that slow you down? NO. Because there is so much to be learned here, not the least of which a strong GMO component study (and you’ll get both sides of that argument).

I loved these guys! But more than that, Rothman throws in some ordinary folk, like empathetic Frank O’Reilly and his wife and their cattle ranch and their daughter. Their daughter, Kathy, is not ignorant of AgriMed. Cancer research gone awry–with disastrous results sometimes resulting in collateral damage. Gutierrez explains his DNA manipulations and eventually I was beginning to understand it–that in itself pushes fearful tension. The science (“which is not just an ingredient of the story, but a key part of it…”), the art of discovery, the race to solution in this well-plotted thriller will have you burning the midnight oil and flipping pages.

“When the virus invades, the pieces of DNA that it carries merge with the DNA in that cell. The cell isn’t otherwise damaged, it’s modified. What you end up with is essentially an updated version of the cell.”

This is an alternately chilling and intriguing story as it weaves through a fascinating story of the science of discovery. The dialogue is clever and natural, the characters compelling, and the tension-building scenes deliver an impact. Unique plot, slightly outside of my normal genre–and found it absolutely refreshing, honest, and unputdownable. Even if you don’t think this is your genre, you’ll discover the gritty subject will pull you in. I was contacted directly by the author for an honest opinion of his book in exchange for a free eBook. You will be thrilled with this unusual book. Go look for it and get your copy. Thank you, Mr. Rothman! Contact me again for your next book (please).

His Review:

Associate Reviewer - C E Williams
C E Williams

Gene therapy thriller!
Is there a way to lengthen life or cure incurable diseases? Explore exciting scientific studies within a real-life setting. This novel will scare and excite you. 5 Stars

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M. A. Rothman - authorThe Author: USA TODAY bestselling author, M.A. Rothman, is one of the most unlikely novelists you’ll ever meet. He’s an engineer first and foremost, with a background in the sciences, and somehow or another, this writing habit of his has turned into a bit more than just a run-of-the-mill hobby.

He primarily writes stories that focus on two things: technology and international intrigue. This writing tends to span the genres of science fiction, techno-thriller, and mainstream thrillers.

When not writing, he enjoys cooking, learning about new technology, travel, and spending time with his family.

Find him at Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/MichaelARothman and Twitter – @MichaelARothman

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Magickal Mystery Lore by Sharon Pape – a #BookReview

Magickal Mystery Lore by Sharon PapeTitle: Magickal Mystery Lore by Sharon Pape (An Abracadabra Mystery Book 4)

Genre: Women Sleuths (Paranormal, Cozy, Witches and Spells)

Publisher: Lyrical Underground

  • ISBN-10:1516108736
  • ISBN-13:978-1516108732
  • ASIN:B07FS2GCW3

 Print Length: 246 pages

Publication Date: April 16, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Magickal Mystery Lore

Book Blurb:

This spells trouble . . .
 
The New Camel Day Fair is a fun-filled event for residents of this upstate New York town. Kailyn Wilde, a modern-day witch of ancient lineage, leaves her potion shop, Abracadabra—and her feline familiar, Sashkatu—to attend with her fortune-telling Aunt Tilly. Joining them is legendary wizard Merlin, who’s discovering new pleasures of time-traveling to the modern world, including curly fries and kettle corn—but the appeal of the Tilt-a-Wheel is beyond his mystical imagination.

The real wild ride begins later, when neighboring sweet shop owner Lolly rushes into Abracadabra with news about a dead body. The victim has one of Lolly’s fudge knives stuck in her back, but in spite of the sticky evidence, Lolly is only one of several suspects with ample motive and opportunity. Meanwhile, Merlin’s research into old family scrolls and electromagnetic ley lines is causing some unusual mix-ups. As the two investigations collide, Kailyn will have to do everything in her power to prevent disaster…

My Review:

Magickal Mystery Lore by Sharon PapeI do love getting into a book, cozy mystery or not, that is quite a bit different than what I usually get with the genre. And genre? This one is pegged as “women sleuths.” Nah…the main character is a witch–still discovering her full potential (powers). She has, also, quite the number of spells in her repertoire. Kailyn Wilde is a contemporary witch but her lineage goes way back. She owns an old family potion shop called Abracadabra (potions and creams of which she infuses with spells from time to time). Her aunt Tilly has a tea and fortune-telling business nearby. Together, they’ve been invaded by Merlin, the magician of ancient times, who got stuck in one of Kailyn’s spells gone awry and was pulled into the Wilde’s world. He is still working on figuring out why, but at the same time discovering all the gleeful treats in today’s world has him lingering just a bit.

This is the fourth in the series and it seems coming in to this author and series at this point I’ve missed a number of major plot-building threads, one being just how Merlin is pulled into the here and now. So no, I wouldn’t say it could function as a standalone, and there is a decided lack of fleshing in the protagonist as well as her sweetie, Travis, a news reporter. He tends to participate with her in the sleuthing activities and is aware of her paranormal capabilities. However, there is enough going on with this well-plotted, unique storyline, and support characters to keep the reader engaged and turning pages.

The whole premise of magic and the inclusion of Merlin just adds a completely comical element to the story as he is living with aunt Tilly and keeps her exhausted with his searches, discoveries, and disheveled appearance. (She works on that.) His appetite and sweet tooth know no boundaries. AND, so many new terms I’ve learned, i.e., ley lines, familiars. That cat? Sashkatu is perfect. Just look at the cover!

Okay, I’ve gotten ahead of myself. New Camel (upstate New York) is holding their annual festival and both Kailyn and her aunt normally have a booth as well as the merchants in her small enclave of touristy shops. Unfortunately, one of their own, Lolly, a close friend and shop owner comes home to discover a body in her backyard. Of course, she’ll be number one on the local police persons-of-interest and Kailyn and Travis will work to discover the whodunit.

I thoroughly enjoyed the author’s obvious sense of humor, observations, and pokes of fun at things that can go wrong with magic and relationships including the appearances of her mother and grandmother who had passed on (crossed the veil). Nothing is ever simple and the murder mystery twists and turns in the wind with new discoveries and begins to reach further afield. Most threads are pulled in to a rather convoluted conclusion and one that left me somewhat frustrated–the ending leaving you scratching your head.

Still, I enjoyed the well enough to look for Book 5. I received this ebook download from the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended to all who enjoy a different kind of cozy with a decidedly distinctive appeal.

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars Four stars

Sharon Pape - authorThe Author: [Sharon Pape] I started writing stories as soon as I learned how to put letters together to form words. From that day forward, writing has been a part of my life whether it was my first attempt at a novel in seventh grade or the little plays I wrote for my friends to perform for neighbors and family. After college, when I was busy teaching French and Spanish to high school students, I was also writing poetry — often in French.

After several years, I left teaching to be a full time mom, and when my two children started school, I went back to writing. To my delight I found that the muse was still there, still waiting patiently for me to come around. My first novel, Ghostfire, was published at that time. It went on to be condensed in Redbook magazine (the first paperback original the magazine had ever condensed.) Then came The God Children and The Portal. Redbook also published my first short story, which was subsequently sold to several foreign magazines. With two great kids, a golden retriever and a loving, supportive husband (whom I’d met at the beach when I was fourteen — but that’s a story for another day), I felt like I was exactly where I was meant to be in my life. But fate had another plan for me, and it went by the name of “breast cancer.”

Looking back, I realize how fortunate I was that the cancer was discovered at such an early stage, but at the time it was all very overwhelming. Once I was back on my feet, I wanted to help other women who were newly diagnosed, worried and afraid. I became a Reach to Recovery volunteer for the American Cancer Society and went on to run the program for Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. A number of years later, with the help of my surgical oncologist and two other volunteers, I started Lean On Me, a nonprofit organization that provides peer support and information to breast cancer patients. When Lean On Me celebrated its tenth anniversary it no longer required as much of my time, and I once again found myself free to pursue my first love — writing.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Murder at the Marina by Janet Finsilver #BlogTour #BookReview

I am so delighted today to provide a review for you at my blog stop for Murder at the Marina by Janet Finsilver on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour.

Murder at the Marina

Book Details

Murder at the Marina (A Kelly Jackson Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
5th in Series
Lyrical Underground (April 2, 2019)
Print Length: ~200 Pages
ASIN: B07FC2C3BH

Book Blurb

She’s got to solve this—or her friends are sunk . . .

Kelly Jackson, manager of the Redwood Cove Bed and Breakfast, is fond of the Doblinsky brothers, Ivan and Rudy, members of the Silver Sentinels, a crew of crime-solving senior citizens in their Northern California seaside hamlet. After she discovers a jewel-encrusted dagger—with what appears to be dried blood on the blade—on their fishing boat, they share their family history with Kelly, and she learns that the knife may be part of a set from their long-ago childhood in Russia. Its sudden reappearance is eerie, but the mystery grows much more serious when a body is found on the boat. The victim was staying at Kelly’s inn, in town for a Russian Heritage Festival, and some of the organizers were clearly harboring some bitterness. But the story behind this murder seems as layered as a nesting doll—and Kelly’s feeling completely at sea . . .

My Review

Murder at the Marina by Janet FinsilverThe fifth installment in the Kelly Jackson mystery series brings back Kelly Jackson, new manager and new to the area in Redwood Cove at her bed and breakfast. (Isn’t that a gorgeous Victorian on the cover?) Returning secondary characters include the Silver Sentinels, who have become instrumental in providing support for Kelly in her sleuthing missions in the remote northern California area. She and Helen, her main staff member providing meals and snacks, are preparing for the Russian Heritage Festival. Ivan and Rudy, two of her Silver Sentinels, are part of the local Russian community. They have been trying to get Kelly down to the marina to see their fishing vessel but when she arrives before they do, she notices something inside the galley that appears to be a bloodied jewel-encrusted dagger.

After bringing in her burgeoning romantic interest, the local deputy sheriff Bill Stanton, events begin to escalate and soon a body is found on the boat as well, leading suspicions to the boat owners, the Russian brothers. Apparently, the brothers have quite the history of fleeing Russian with what treasures they could grab on the run and the large (aristocratic) family splits, hoping to reconnect after arriving in San Francisco. The knife is part of a set, and two other members each hold one, but the dagger found on their boat is not from their holdings, which is obviously larger than the invaluable daggers.

With two of their own under suspicion, the crime-solving seniors, along with Kelly will proceed to investigate and discover a wealth of Russian history, valuables, and links back to San Francisco. Helen takes up the slack and fills in with foods, snacks, and desserts as they meet at the Redwood Cove B&B to lay out their groundwork. Thank heaven, as Kelly can’t boil water, though Scott would love to teach her.

“I figured al dente was a fancy phrase for chewy and not completely cooked.”

I really enjoyed the Russian history as well as the festival highlights, foods (baklava–yum!), dancing, and the Cossack riding team, imagining their magnificent costumes and precision equestrian presentation. The author has a good knowledge base as well as an affinity for horses and dogs!

This is a fun well-paced cozy, with compelling characters, and the scenic location of northern California. I was given the ebook download by the publisher and NetGalley for this blog tour and appreciate the opportunity to read and review.

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About the Author

Janet Finsilver - authorJanet Finsilver is the USA TODAY bestselling author of the Kelly Jackson mystery series. She worked in education for many years as a teacher, a program administrator, and a workshop presenter. Janet majored in English and earned a Master’s Degree in Education. She loves animals and has two dogs–Kylie and Ellie. Janet has ridden western style since she was a child and was a member of the National Ski Patrol. One of the highlights of her life was touching whales in the San Ignacio Lagoon. MURDER AT REDWOOD COVE, her debut mystery, was released on October 13, 2015. Her second book, MURDER AT THE MANSION, was released on June 7, 2016. Book 3, MURDER AT THE FORTUNE TELLER’S TABLE was released on March 14, 2017.

Author Links

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/janetfinsilverauthor/?fref=ts

Twitter – https://twitter.com/JanetFinsilver

Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/janetfinsilver/

Web – http://janetfinsilver.com/

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

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

Tour Participants:

April 9 – The Montana Bookaholic – REVIEW

April 9 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

April 9 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT

April 10 – I’m All About Books – GUEST POST

April 10 – A Wytch’s Book Review Blog – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW

April 10 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT

April 11 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

April 11 – Reading Is My SuperPower – CHARACTER GUEST POST

April 11 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW  

April 12 – View from the Birdhouse – SPOTLIGHT

April 12 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

April 12 – MJB Reviewers – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

April 13 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST

April 13 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

April 13 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

April 14 – Cozy Up With Kathy – CHARACTER GUEST POST

April 14 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

April 15 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW

April 15 – Books Direct – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

April 16 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

April 16 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT

April 16 – Defining Ways – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

April 17 – Ascroft, eh? – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

April 17 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW, EXCERPT

April 18 – A Blue Million Books – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

April 18 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW, GUEST POST Great Escapes Book Tours

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

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Buried Deep by T R Ragan – a #BookReview

Buried Deep by T. R. Ragan

Five Stars Five stars

Title: Buried Deep (Jessie Cole Book 4) by T R Ragan

Genre: Private Investigator Mysteries, Vigilante Thrillers

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

  • ISBN-10:1542091489
  • ISBN-13:978-1542091480
  • ASIN: B07GDH8F26

Print Length: 283 pages

Publication Date: To be released April 16, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Buried Deep

Book Blurb:

Two missing persons. One apparent suicide. Three cases pushing PI Jessie Cole and crime reporter Ben Morrison closer to the edge.

Lacey Geiger could be a very rich woman. If Jessie Cole can find her. The beneficiary of a sizable estate, Lacey vanished years ago after escaping an abusive childhood and is veiled now behind a new identity. Jessie has two weeks to find her. It’s enough time to discover that Lacey is hiding from so much more than anyone realized. But she isn’t the only one with secrets. And Jessie’s not the only one searching for the truth.

A concerned daughter has asked for help finding her mother—a woman said to have been murdered thirty years ago. And Jessie’s colleague Ben, an amnesiac still struggling with the bloody memories of a shattered life, is nearer to piecing together a very dark picture. Especially when someone he detests is found dead, hanging from a tree by a riverbank.

Now as the mysteries, puzzles, and lies of three investigations are unearthed, Jessie and Ben will risk everything to bring all that is hidden into the light.

My Review:

Buried Deep by T. R. RaganThrilling ride into one of a human being’s major fears–that of being buried alive. This thriller, however, doesn’t delve into just one engaging storyline, but three. PI Jessie Cole suddenly has more work than she can handle. Lacey’s disappearance is on a short fuse with a potential bonus if she can find her within two weeks. She and her husband disappeared a week ago and it’s discovered Lacey’s worst half had more enemies than she could count. Her office has also been put on the pursuit of a mother (Arlene) who also disappeared, but thirty years ago, and the daughter (Penny) is sure she is alive although her father spent ten years in prison as a result of his being charged with her murder. Zee, a major support character with schizophrenia, will be tackling the latter case, her first.

Ben, an amnesiac colleague linked to Jessie through her sister, is struggling with trying to piece together the bits of flashbacks that might reveal to him who he was prior to the deadly automobile accident he was in with Jessie’s sister. He is a newspaper investigative reporter who sees more than he wants to know and is currently involved in a case with a pedophile who later shows up a questionable suicide.

I loved the way the author weaves these three storylines into and through the narrative keeping you on the edge of your seat, heart-thumping. It would be unputdownable except that eventually you have to have a relief break, even if you don’t stop to eat. The cast of both main and support characters work very well, including more involvement with both Colin (Jessie’s main man) and Zee (Jessie’s right-hand woman).

Zee works very hard to prove to Jessie she can solve the case and has a continual battle with those three voices in her head, who take it a step further and at times fight with each other. Jessie’s niece plays more prominently as well and they all appear to be creating a very solid, satisfying unit. Ben confronts a discovery readers have long suspected. Dialogue is taut and leading. Definitely more development with several of the secondary characters this time, although for a complete picture you may wish to begin with Book 1, Her Last Day (I did). Still, if you love thrillers, you’ll love this one.

So did Book 4 feel like it might be the last in the series? (Say it isn’t so!) Issues that may have been a continuing thread in previous series entries seem to be resolved. The action-packed climax neatly wraps most loose ends leading me to wonder where the author may take this next. Talk about intense! I absolutely plowed through these pages almost non-stop looking for a gratifying finish. Ooh, how I do love happy endings! Well, at least for a couple of them anyway!

I was thrilled to receive this ebook download from the publisher and NetGalley and totally appreciate the opportunity to read and review. Ragan’s writing will get into your head. She has a masterful style that keeps you glued. I’m looking for Book 5!

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

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

Facebook * Twitter * Instagram: @trraganauthor

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

FAITH MCMANN TRILOGY
Furious
Outrage
Wrath

JESSIE COLE SERIES
Her Last Day
Deadly Recall
Deranged
Buried Deep – 4/16/19

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Restaurant Weeks Are Murder by Libby Klein – a #BookReview

Restaurant Weeks Are Murder by Libby KleinTitle: Restaurant Weeks Are Murder by Libby Klein

Genre: Cozy Culinary Mystery, Amateur Sleuths, Cozy Animal Mysteries

Publisher: Kensington

  • ISBN-10:1496713079
  • ISBN-13:978-1496713070
  • ASIN: B07DBQBVYJ

 Print Length: 304 pages

Publication Date: February 26, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Restaurant Weeks Are Murder (A Poppy McAllister Mystery Book 3)

Book Blurb:

Cape May, New Jersey, is the site of a big culinary competition—and the knives are out . . .

Poppy McAllister is happy about opening a Jersey Shore B&B—but working in a professional kitchen has always been her real dream. Now it’s coming true, at least briefly, as she teams up with her former fiancée, Tim—and his condescending partner, Gigi—during the high-profile Restaurant Week challenge. Poppy’s specialty is pastries, despite her devotion to a Paleo diet. But if anyone can make glorious gluten-free goodies, it’s Poppy.

Things get heated quickly—especially when some ingredients get switched and Tim’s accused of sabotage. Relatively harmless pranks soon escalate into real hazards, including an exploding deep fryer. And now one of the judges has died after taking a bite of Poppy’s cannoli—making her the chef suspect . . .

Includes Seven Recipes from Poppy’s Kitchen!

My Review:

Restaurant Weeks Are Murder by Libby KleinMs. Klein has ramped up her cooking expertise in Book 3 of her Poppy McAllister series. Poppy and her Aunt Ginny are finishing up the touches on their Butterfly Wings Bed and Breakfast. Tim, Poppy’s one-time fiancé, has asked her to team with him and Gigi in the Restaurant Week Challenge where she will create her specialty desserts and pastries. The competition of seven days comprises three stages that include a “mystery basket” of ingredients and is judged by well-known celebrities, if possibly questionable, local judges and is to be recorded to show on Jersey area daytime TV.

One of the six teams is comprised of Gia, a steamy, mcDreamy Italian for whom Poppy has been supplying some of her pastries for him and his mother’s Italian restaurant. Teams include a head chef, a sous chef, and a pastry chef per each restaurant team. It’s obvious from the beginning that this is a serious competition, each vying for the prize of $10,000 as well as the notoriety, air time, and press. Unfortunately, few of the team members get along with each other and the judges are brutal. So, this being a cozy is not too difficult to guess who will be the victim.

Before the mics are on and the cameras are rolling, there is sabotage (changing labels of food ingredients), bickering, materials are disappearing, and a fight breaking out between two of the competing chefs. You can almost visualize Chef Ramsey delivering a scathing review to one of the dishes as the 10-year-old looks on teary-eyed.

The author’s wicked sense of humor sparks off the characters, including her Aunt Ginny who is up to her usual antics and her naughty kitty Figaro who figures out which judge housed in their B&B is allergic to felines and does his best to make sure she is sneezing and miserable. The dialogue ranges between snarky, hilarious, and believable in an honest conversational tone. The secondary characters work well with the main characters and protagonist providing that tension in a real kitchen competition atmosphere, scrambling to the pantry for their ingredients only to have another chef snatch it out from under them.

The characters have been developed in previous series entries and there is little further fleshing here, although with the plot focus on food could still work as a stand alone. It is a very well paced plot, albeit slow to deliver a victim as the focus is the restaurant challenge and all the outrageous events happening while trying to film each day’s segment concluding with judging scores. Red herrings, twists, and new discoveries every chapter lead to a conclusion you may have guessed, but it’s been fun.

I had two problems, and yes, it is acknowledged that her aunt is an active, saucy octogenarian, but she and her friends were referred to constantly as the “biddies and cronies.” (Ouch) And, the dreaded romantic triangle. (I’m so over it–can we move on now?). Also the judge, “Stormin’ Norman,” weatherman. (Perhaps Ms. Klein is unaware of the scandal that took place in the 80s out west and it did give me icky pause.)

I received this ebook download from the publisher and NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review. The author has a writing style I enjoy, characters that engage, and I’m looking forward to Book 4.

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five of Five Stars Four point Five of Five Stars

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

©2019 V Williams Blog author

The Eighth Sister by Robert Dugoni – a #BookReview

The Eighth Sister by Robert Dugoni

Five Stars Five stars

Title: The Eighth Sister (Charles Jenkins Book 1) by Robert Dugoni

Genre: Espionage Thriller, Murder, Thriller

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

  • ISBN-10:1503903311
  • ISBN-13:978-1503903319
  • ASIN: B07D6PZ6P1

Print Length: 477 pages

Publication Date: April 9, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: The Eighth Sister

Congratulations to Robert Dugoni today on his book launch of The Eighth Sister, Book 1 of the Charles Jenkins series. (Now’s your chance, people, it’s Book ONE!)

Book Blurb:

A pulse-pounding thriller of espionage, spy games, and treachery by the New York Times bestselling author of the Tracy Crosswhite Series.

Former CIA case officer Charles Jenkins is a man at a crossroads: in his early sixties, he has a family, a new baby on the way, and a security consulting business on the brink of bankruptcy. Then his former bureau chief shows up at his house with a risky new assignment: travel undercover to Moscow and locate a Russian agent believed to be killing members of a clandestine US spy cell known as the seven sisters.

Desperate for money, Jenkins agrees to the mission and heads to the Russian capital. But when he finds the mastermind agent behind the assassinations—the so-called eighth sister—she is not who or what he was led to believe. Then again, neither is anyone else in this deadly game of cat and mouse.

Pursued by a dogged Russian intelligence officer, Jenkins executes a daring escape across the Black Sea, only to find himself abandoned by the agency he serves. With his family and freedom at risk, Jenkins is in the fight of his life—against his own country.

My Review:

The Eighth Sister by Robert DugoniMasterful storyteller Dugoni has done it again and I swear this is his best. Absolutely riveting. This has to be my favorite book by Robert Dugoni and I’ve read several. This one? Gripping from page one which starts with a prologue in Moscow. Once the author ramps up the bone-chilling scenario of a Moscow winter with a vulnerable, feminine spy, you’re hooked.

Sixty-something Charles Jenkins, ex CIA, has become desperate for money. His security firm (which has offices abroad–including Moscow) has been shorted a number of payments and forced his own debts delinquent, teetering on bankruptcy. He is married and has a nine-year-old son…his much younger wife Alex is pregnant with their second child. Her pregnancy isn’t going smoothly and she has had to step back from her duties at their business.

He is surprised by an unannounced visit from his former case manager in Mexico City who has a proposal he cannot refuse. Jenkins had left disillusioned abruptly after the last CIA mission in Mexico went sideways almost forty years ago. This mission involves contact in Moscow to try and filter out the Russian agent who is believed responsible for killing members of a US spy circle known as the seven sisters. He knows two have already died and asserts that Jenkins is the best man for the job with a great undercover story, speaks fluent Russian, and is familiar with CIA operations. One minor hitch–he’s a 6’5″ black man and may stand out just a tad in Russia.

Almost from the beginning, just when you think you understand where this is going to go, the storyline takes a 90-degree turn. You are introduced to “family man” Viktor of the FSB (formerly KGB) and Paulina, both of whom become empathetic, and earn tons of respect. Okay, yes, Viktor is FSB. He isn’t going to be a good guy (and there were times I visualized Putin). And then the battle when this went sideways as well, the flee for his life.

But then, what? Home, but not safe. Just when you thought the desperate effort to survive was over, the desperation simply takes on a new direction. We are reintroduced to David Sloan (an early Dugoni series protagonist), Jenkins attorney. Sloan may have aged a bit as well, but he’s still AI smart. And he knows the law, the ins and outs of the court system. I thoroughly enjoyed the courtroom drama and the manipulation of information.

Dialogue is intelligent, sometimes sparring (particularly between him and Viktor, and often incorporates the language of the country he is in (or fleeing). Jenkins is a winner and I was often reminded of Clint Eastwood; aging but still very effective. Paulina is immensely appealing. The well-plotted narrative never lets you relax or take a breath. It’s easy to feel the teeth-chattering cold, the terror of escaping by inches. And, as “they” say, sixty-four “is the new forty.”

I was thrilled to get this ebook download from the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read one of my favorite author’s new books. I’ve read two in his Tracy Crosswhite series, A Steep Price and Close to Home and enjoyed both. His writing style always sets you up for a satisfying journey through the pages. Can’t wait for book 2! Highly recommended.

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Robert Dugoni - authorThe Author: Robert Dugoni is the New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and #1 Amazon Internationally Bestselling Author of the Tracy Crosswhite Series : My Sister’s Grave (2014), Her Final Breath (2015), In the Clearing (2015), The Trapped Girl (2016), Close to Home (2017) and A Steep Price (2018).

Dugoni’s espionage novel, The Eighth Sister, inspired by real events, arrives April 2019.

His critically acclaimed literary novel, The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell (2018) won Suspense Magazine’s Crimson Scribe Award as The Best Book of 2018 and has drawn comparison’s to novelist John Irving’s work. Dugoni also won a Golden Microphone for his narration that novel. Connect with him on Facebook @AuthorRobertDugoni, on Twitter @robertdugoni, and on Instagram, robertdugoni, author

Dugoni is also the author of the David Sloane series: The Jury Master, Wrongful Death, Bodily Harm, Murder One and The Conviction.

Dugoni is the winner of the 2015 Nancy Pearl Award for Fiction, has twice been a finalist for the Harper Lee Award for Legal Fiction, twice been a finalist for the Silver Falchion award for his mysteries, was a 2015 and 2017 International Thriller Writer’s finalist for thriller of the year, and a 2017 Mystery Writers of America Edgar Finalist for his stand alone novel, The Seventh Canon. His books are sold world-wide in more than 30 countries and have been translated into dozens of languages including French, German, Italian and Spanish.

Dugoni’s first in the Tracy Crosswhite series, My Sister’s Grave (Nov. 2014), became a months-long #1 Amazon Bestseller in the United States, France, Italy, Germany and in the UK, as well as a New York Times and Wall Street Journal Best Seller and won the 2014 Nancy Pearl Award for fiction. Library Journal gave it a Starred Review and said it “Combines the best of a police procedural with a legal thriller, and the end result is outstanding…Dugoni continues to deliver emotional and gut-wrenching, character-driven suspense stories that will resonate with any fan of the thriller genre.”

The sequel, Her Final Breath, also became an Amazon top 10 bestseller, as did In the Clearing. The Trapped Girl was a #1 Amazon and #1 Wall Street Journal best-seller that Kirkus and Booklist are calling his best book to date. Close to Home debuted at #2 on the Wall Street Journal Best Seller list.

For more on Robert Dugoni and his novels, visit his website at http://www.robertdugoni.com

©2019 V Williams Blog author

In Pieces by Sally Field – a #BookReview

In Pieces by Sally FieldTitle: In Pieces by Sally Field

Genre: Mid Atlantic S. Biographies, Television Performer Biographies

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

  • ISBN-10:1538763028
  • ISBN-13:978-1538763025
  • ASIN: B079L57W1M

      Print Length: 416 pages

Publication Date: September 18, 2018

Source: New Books from the Library

Title Link: In Pieces

#1 Best Seller

Book Blurb:

In this intimate, haunting literary memoir and New York Times Notable Book of the year, an American icon tells her own story for the first time — about a challenging and lonely childhood, the craft that helped her find her voice, and a powerful emotional legacy that shaped her journey as a daughter and a mother.

One of the most celebrated, beloved, and enduring actors of our time, Sally Field has an infectious charm that has captivated the nation for more than five decades, beginning with her first TV role at the age of seventeen. From Gidget’s sweet-faced “girl next door” to the dazzling complexity of Sybil to the Academy Award-worthy ferocity and depth of Norma Rae and Mary Todd Lincoln, Field has stunned audiences time and time again with her artistic range and emotional acuity. Yet there is one character who always remained hidden: the shy and anxious little girl within.

With raw honesty and the fresh, pitch-perfect prose of a natural-born writer, and with all the humility and authenticity her fans have come to expect, Field brings readers behind-the-scenes for not only the highs and lows of her star-studded early career in Hollywood, but deep into the truth of her lifelong relationships–including her complicated love for her own mother. Powerful and unforgettable, In Pieces is an inspiring and important account of life as a woman in the second half of the twentieth century.

My Review:

In Pieces by Sally Field - Front coverIt’s called a memoir. Perhaps more honestly, an exposé. But certainly not what you’d expect. If you are looking for the inside scoop about Tom Hanks or Robin Williams, you won’t get it here. This is pure Sally at age 72 (born in 1946), raw, open, vulnerable, naive, and damaged. She is a product of sexual abuse, a beautiful mother fighting deniability, torn, and numbing her own culpability with alcohol. In spite of the family back story, her step-father introduces her into the world of acting. On stage, she can be outside herself. The problem is off stage.

You may be too young to remember Gidget, it only lasted a year, or The Flying Nun, which she did NOT want to do and ended up saddled with the silly persona that took years to overcome. Beginning in 1977, however, she accumulated a long list of awards. But you should remember that she was a two time Academy Award winner.  Norma Rae in 1980 and Places in the Heart in 1985 wherein receipt of her Oscar often resulted in misquotes of her famous “you love me” acceptance speech. Additional works ranging from serious to comedy included Sybil, Steel Magnolias, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Forrest Gump.

Still, this memoir has little to expand on the movies and all to do with how she got there and the ongoing conflict with family, particularly her mother and step-father. Sally expands on her commitment to be a serious actress, working with the Actors Studio and many very talented people. She painfully speaks of an abortion and reveals the circumstances of her marriages as well as the birth of her three boys.

Sally Field - author - back coverProfoundly personal, open, and many times humiliating, she discusses her life, warts and all. She is alternately sad, even bitter, but relates all in beautifully written prose, describing scenes that put you in the middle. Necessary to scrutinize the details of her life in the effort to find reconciliation with all that she struggled, the seven years it took to write her memoir has possibly given her peace.

“Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their environment and especially on their children than the unlived life of the parent.”

The narrative examines her sexuality, or the insecurity thereof, and the timbre of the times regarding sexual harassment. Fortunately, much of that behavior has changed. Field doggedly pursues her acting goal and manages to succeed. I was not totally surprised by the Hollywood couch mentality–that seems to have been a recurring story. Still, talk about dedication!

Hubby brought home this large print (thank you!) hardcover “new” library book and I couldn’t wait for him to finish. This is a novel written for herself as much as for us, articulate, profound, and I think you’ll find it hard to put down. I sincerely appreciated her candid and genuine story. Wholeheartedly recommended.

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five of Five Stars Four point Five of Five Stars

Sally Field - authorThe Author: Sally Field is a two-time Academy Award and three-time Emmy Award-winning actor who has portrayed dozens of iconic roles on both the large and small screens. In 2012, she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 2015 she was honored by President Obama with the National Medal of Arts. She has served on the Board of Directors of Vital Voices since 2002 and also served on the Board of The Sundance Institute from 1994 to 2010. She has three sons and five grandchildren.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Lessons from Lucy: The Simple Joys of an Old, Happy Dog by Dave Barry – a #BookReview

Lessons from Lucy by Dave Barry

Five Stars  Five stars

Title: Lessons from Lucy: The Simple Joys of an Old, Happy Dog by Dave Barry

Genre: #1 United States Literary Criticism, #2 in Cat, Dog, and Animal Humor

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

  • ASIN: B07CL5PVDB
  •  ISBN-10: 1501161156
  • ISBN-13: 978-1501161155

      Print Length: 241 pages

Publication Date: Happy Release Date! April 2, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Lessons from Lucy

Book Blurb:

Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and bestselling author of Dave Barry Turns 40 now shows how to age gracefully, taking cues from his beloved and highly intelligent dog, Lucy.

Faced with the obstacles and challenges of life after middle age, Dave Barry turns to his best dog, Lucy, to learn how to live his best life. From “Make New Friends” (an unfortunate fail when he can’t overcome his dislike for mankind) to “Don’t Stop Having Fun” (validating his longtime membership in a marching unit that performs in parades—and even Obama’s inauguration), Dave navigates his later years with good humor and grace. Lucy teaches Dave how to live in the present, how to let go of daily grievances, and how to feel good in your own skin. The lessons are drawn from Dave’s routine humiliations and stream-of-consciousness accounts of the absurdities of daily life, which will leave you heaving with laughter and recognition.

Laugh-out-loud hilarious, whether he’s trying to “Pay Attention to the People You Love” (even when your brain is not listening) or deciding to “Let Go of Your Anger,” Dave Barry’s Lessons From Lucy is a witty and wise guide to joyous living.

#1 New Release in Mid-Life Management

My Review:

Lessons from Lucy by Dave BarrySoon as I saw a book offered in NetGalley from Dave Barry, I jumped on the request. And a book about his dog, Lucy? YES, please! I have long been a fan of this author’s columns and would catch it in whatever vehicle I had that ran it. Paper? Sure before they gave way the same as eight-tracks. His columns never failed to provide a knowing nod, a chuckle, or laugh out loud moments. And while I don’t agree with all of Mr. Barry’s philosophy, I certainly agree that the man can find humor in just about anything and this book highlights that ability.

While the narrative doesn’t open new doors in wisdom, create new cosmic thought on life with dogs (or life itself), it is certainly written in an entertaining and satisfying manner. The author points out seven major lessons bestowed on Dave and his family by Lucy, their ten-year-old mixed-breed rescue. Dave’s keen wit and inspired observations of human behavior, metaphors for dog behavior, generally hit just where you’ve been. He sums up each lesson:

Lesson 1: Make New Friends, (And Keep The Ones You Have) Just don’t try to find them in a bar amazing them with your ability to smell asparagus metabolite.

Lesson 2: Have Some Fun Getting old sucks. (Or is that AARP?) Join something like the (World Famous) Lawn Rangers (yes, they use a broom and a lawn mower and perform in parades). Or as Barry did, join the Rock Bottom Remainders termed by Roy Blount as “Hard Listening,” composed of famous authors such as Stephen King and Amy Tan (but I doubt you’d recognize her), among others.

Rock Bottom Remainders on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson

Lesson 3: Pay Attention to the People You Love (Not Later, Right Now) Please, don’t ask him about “diversity training” as opposed to “mindfulness training.”

Lesson 4: Let Go Of Your Anger, Unless It’s About Something Really Important, Which It Almost Never Is. Among his list of top five things he is exceptionally good at, besides sarcasm and ridicule (that’s just too easy cause you already knew that!), is his knack for developing an instantaneous hatred for people he doesn’t know. (That would definitely include the cable TV company, “Bomcast”)

Lesson 5: Try Not To Judge People By Their Looks, And Don’t Obsess Over Your Own. (…a book by its cover.)

Lesson 6: Don’t Let Your Happiness Depend On Things; They Don’t Make You Truly Happy, And You’ll Never Have Enough Anyway. Learn the definition of GAS – “Gear Acquisition Syndrome” and the necessity of storing lentils.

Lesson 7: Don’t Lie Unless You Have A Really Good Reason, Which You Probably Don’t. Two reasons not to lie: (1) It’s wrong, and (2) It’s stupid. Be like Lucy, “if you mess up, fess up.” A dog can look amazingly guilty, whether or not they are, but they usually know when they are.

This is a pseudo-self-help book from a skeptical self-help book hypocrite. He doesn’t ascribe to them. Even he can’t believe he wrote it. Normally, he is a snarky, cynical Pulitzer prize-winning columnist and bestselling author. It was intended to be a book about dogs. But there were so many parallels he could draw from his reflections.

It’s honest, sincere, and authentic. Also humorous, appealing, and a feel-good novel about dogs. As the author says, every dog he has ever owned has been THE BEST DOG EVER. It is a great read that I wholeheartedly recommend. I received the ebook download from the publisher and NetGalley. I so appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Thank you!

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Dave Barry - authorThe Author: The New York Times has pronounced Dave Barry “the funniest man in America.” But of course that could have been on a slow news day when there wasn’t much else fit to print. True, his bestselling collections of columns are legendary, but it is his wholly original books that reveal him as an American icon. Dave Barry Slept Here was his version of American history. Dave Barry Does Japan was a contribution to international peace and understanding from which Japan has not yet fully recovered. Dave Barry’s Complete Guide to Guys is among the best-read volumes in rehab centers and prisons. Raised in a suburb of New York, educated in a suburb of Philadelphia, he lives now in a suburb of Miami. He is not, as he often puts it so poetically, making this up. Find Dave Barry at http://www.davebarry.com/

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Rosepoint #BookReviews – March Recap

Rosepoint Reviews - March Recap

No Fooling–It’s Already April!

My Aunt Margaret said,Struggling with technology is one of the running jokes foisted on seniors and it would appear, based on some truth. Change is not easy for us! Just beginning to get fairly capable with the “classic” format on WordPress, accidentally bumbled into the new and (ahem!!) improved “block” style format. It looks like a blank page and for the life of me could not figure out where my usual toolbar options were now located. Trying to beat a deadline for a blog tour, I was stuck, messing with blocks and no clue how to proceed.

WordPress used to have online help, those savvy sisters that would pop up in a chat box (remember that?) and ask how they could help–and they always did! Now it “flies” through the great blue sky and you’re lucky to get help in two or three days (one request for help took a week and I no longer cared). But is this rant really over? No. I’d love to know how many others using WP really use or like the new block system. Is it truly just me or did it just add additional steps to a formerly easy format? Okay, now I’m off the soapbox–temporarily, at least.

March…well, March as you know was (for me) Reading Ireland Month and I did have a good time with that (using the old, classic format, of course.)

I found some amazing books and one very eye-opening hard-core Irish slang that definitely forced my tolerance level for F-words, sexual innuendo, and dialogue that previously would have had me saying, out loud, “nanny, nanny, nanny” through the naughty parts. That book was so full of them, I’d have been hoarse and had to be content with just thinking it. Gees–but it was a good book–how does that compute? I’d read another, revving up my nanny, nanny, nanny ahead of time, now that I know what I’m in for.

Of the eleven reviews, seven were Irish authors and/or stories, as well as the interview with author Amanda Hughes (sweet lady). These included a couple of cozy mysteries, historical fiction, literary fiction, as well as police procedural noted above.

 

Murder in an Irish Pub by Carlene O’Connor

One Feta in the Grave by Tina Kashian

Reinventing Hillwilla by Melanie Forde

Return to Robinswood by Jean Grainer

Treading the Uneven Road by L M Brown

Interview with author Amanda Hughes

The Secret Place by Tana French

Cocos Island Treasure by Stanley McShane

The Bones She Buried by Lisa Regan

Widow Creek by Sarah Margolis Pearce

Pinot Red or Dead by J C Eaton

2019 Goodreads Reading ChallengeI added to my challenges, but as always finding it difficult to discover book titles that don’t start with the same letters used many times before. At 53 of 200, it would appear my Goodreads Challenge is just about on target. More cozy mysteries coming up as well as literary fiction and thrillers. Working on another beta read for one of my favorite authors and trying to expand my graphics crops for Instagram, on which I’m still devoting too much time.

Anyone else doing the WP block battle? As always, please share with me your recommendations for great reads and thank you so much for taking the time to post your likes and comments. They are SOOO appreciated!

©2019 V Williams Blog author

The Bones She Buried by Lisa Regan – a #BookReview

The Bones She Buried by Lisa ReganTitle: The Bones She Buried (Detective Josie Quinn Book 5) by Lisa Regan

Genre: Police Procedurals, Crime Thrillers, Serial Killers, Women Sleuths

Publisher: Bookouture

  • ASIN: B07MNV2ZKN
  • ISBN-10: 1786816407
  • ISBN-13: 978-1786816405

Publication Date: HAPPY RELEASE DATE! March 27, 2019

Print Length: 342 pages

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: The Bones She Buried

Book Blurb:

Josie works until her arms ache, until the paramedics arrive and pull her gently away from the woman’s cold, fragile body. Noah’s voice cracks beside her as he calls the time of death for his own, beloved mother.

Arriving with her partner Noah for dinner at his family’s immaculate countryside home, Detective Josie Quinn is devastated to find Noah’s mother, Colette, lying lifeless in the back garden, her mouth clogged with soil.

Searching the house for answers, Josie’s team don’t know what to make of the rosary beads buried in the dirt near the body, or the hidden file labelled “Drew Pratt”, the small town of Denton’s most famous missing person.

As she delves deeper into Pratt’s case, Josie quickly discovers he had a brother whose body mysteriously washed up on the banks of a river. There’s also a diary entry suggesting that Collette may have met him on the last day he was seen alive. Can Josie believe the unthinkable, that a kind old soul like Collette might have been involved in their murders? And, will Josie’s new relationship with Noah survive the accusation?

Josie’s only hope lies in tracking down Pratt’s daughter. But when she arrives at her home to find she’s been murdered just minutes before, Josie knows the real killer is one step ahead and won’t stop until Colette’s secret is buried forever. With many more innocent lives on the line, how deep is Josie prepared dig to reach the truth? Continue reading “The Bones She Buried by Lisa Regan – a #BookReview”

Alzheimer’s Trippin’ with George by Susan Straley – #BlogBlitz #Spotlight

Today I am delighted to provide a spotlight for you at my blog blitz stop for Alzeimer’s Trippin’ with George: Diagnosis to Discovery in 10,000 Miles by Susan Straley on Sage’s Blog Tours.

#Spotlight - Alzheimer's Trippin' with George

Book Details:

Title: Alzheimer’s Trippin’ with George (Book 1) by Susan Straley

Genre: Senior Travel, Senior Travel Guides, Budget Travel, Dementia, Alzheimer’s

  • ASIN: B07MZKZMWY
  • ISBN-10: 1733546502
  • ISBN-13: 978-1733546508
  • Print Length: 633 pages

Publication Date: March 19, 2019

Source: Sage’s Blog Tours

This is a #1 New Release in Senior Travel

Alzheimer's Trippin' with George - Diagnosis to Discovery in 10,000 Miles

Book Blurb:

What would you do if you learned that your spouse or partner has progressive dementia, possibly Alzheimer’s disease?  This is the brutally honest journal of one spouse and reluctant caregiver that “ran for the hills.” Of course she took her husband George along. 

What challenges did Susan encounter?  How can she enjoy the present — a journey across the U.S.A. –  while worrying about the future?  How do she and George deal with his increasing dementia symptoms?

And the biggest question of all, after 40 years together, can they remain married and loving through it all?  Travel along with George and Susan.  You will learn, you will laugh and maybe shed a tear as you too go Alzheimer’s Trippin’ with George.

A portion of the author’s proceeds for each sale (paperback or ebook) will be donated to Alzheimer’s Research and/or Caregiver Assistance.

Don’t let the number of pages scare you.  There are LOTS of pictures to help tell the story.  The Kindle version shows the pictures in color on your tablet or phone. 

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Susan Straley - authorAbout the Author: Susan Straley lived in Rockford, Illinois and Waukesha, Wisconsin before moving to Inverness, Florida in 2008.

She started to journal at age 16.

Susan Straley - authorIn 2008 Susan and George traveled by trike around Wisconsin and she wrote about their travels on Crazyguyonabike.com. The journal with details and humor quickly gained a following, especially among those who also rode recumbent tricycle. Her first on-line journal has received over 120,000 hits. She and George have since gone on several other tricycle tours on which Sue recorded the joys and challenges with pictures.

Her first book, Alzheimer’s Trippin’ with George is available in Kindle and Paperback. It continues to demonstrate her passion for openness, humor, honesty, and sharing what she learns along the way. It also demonstrates that life still holds joy amid challenges.

Her second book, Alzheimer’s Trippin’ with George – The Journey Continues is scheduled for release in 2019. As George’s dementia continues they still enjoy riding with friends on the trail. And the community of friends, family, and beyond step in to hold them up. This truly is a positive story of how the love and support of family, friends, and community can make the days of the dementia journey and the caregiving journey flow.

Susan resides in Inverness, FL and still enjoys riding tricycle on the Withlacoochee Trail and dining with friends in and around Citrus County, Florida. Sage's Blog Tours

Thank you for visiting my stop on the tour and thanks to Sage’s Blog Tours for the opportunity to help promote this beautifully designed and thoughtful book!

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Cocos Island Treasure by Stanley McShane – a #BookReview

It’s March and I’m participating in the Reading Ireland Month for 2019. This one is an action-adventure fiction by Irish author and artist Stanley McShane. He was my grandfather and you can read about the discovery of his manuscripts, paintings, and poems in my “About Us” page here.

March!

 Title: Cocos Island Treasure by Stanley McShane

Genre: Sea Adventures, Historical Fiction

Publisher: Rosepoint Publishing

  • ASIN: B007D58KZC
  • ISBN-10: 1468177338
  • ISBN-13: 978-1468177336
  • Print Length: 204 pages

Publication Date: October 8, 2012

Title Link: Cocos Island Treasure

Book Blurb:

Cocos Island Treasure by Stanley McShaneWhere did those rasty, barbaric theft-driven pirates bury their treasures in the 17th and 18th Centuries? Perhaps just a little south of the main South Sea shipping lane in a secluded harbor where a short paddle through shark-infested waters to the steamy, fetid jungle island could yield fresh water, food, and gold! Turn-of-the-20th Century fortune hunters from the schooner, Bessie, hunt where only ghosts inhabit–or are they all merely apparitions? Captain Dan was ready to retire until he gained access to a secret cipher–one that he felt sure was authentic enough to reap him millions and willing to risk one more salty adventure to seek the insanely rich treasures of Cocos Island.

Editorial Reviews:

“This book has it all, adventure, mystery and a touch of romance.” – Catmarie

“Cocos Island Treasure is an old school nautical adventure. This work is a window into the by-gone era where maps that detailed the bounty of famous pirate treasure was indeed plausable.” – S Mellen

“Not my usual subject of interest, but a recent documentary on Blackbeard peaked my interest. The author really seems to know his stuff about the subject, and the island itself.” – mpytlikhusb

“I haven’t read a good pirate novel since I read the Sea Wolf as a teenager. Cocos Island Treasure was even more interesting because it is a true story.” – Terry W Sprouse

“It was quite a trip to go back in time, not only considering the setting of the story, but the book’s birth three decades ago. A cross between Stevenson’s Treasure Island…full of the language of the day.” – N Lombardi Jr. author Justice Gone

My Review:

My grandfather wrote this book back in the late 1920s. My mother can remember him tapping out the manuscript with his two index fingers on an old Underwood–older, I’m sure, than the one I use for my logo. While I may be a bit prejudiced, I rated it a five star because I know he was there, walked that beach (Chatham Bay), climbed through those jungles and did his best not to disappear in the many bogs and crevices. (He later noted in a letter what a fun little trip it was!)

The author described this island down to the gnat’s eyeball. Since I’ve researched the island, I’ve found descriptions echoing his down to the wild pigs that were brought to the island and allowed to go feral. He wrote the manuscript over 90 years ago, turning his sailing adventure into a novel affirming the well-known rumors or stories of all the pirate treasures buried on the island, including the “Loot of Lima.” The treasure stolen by Captain William Thompson, commander of the Mary Dear, was purportedly the largest treasure ever hidden by pirates. So many stories abound regarding the captain and whether or not he survived. More stories published regarding whether or not the treasure was found. That treasure, however, was not the only one to be buried on the island by pirates. (The island is now closed to tourists or treasure hunters.)

It’s a fun, quick read and takes you back almost a century to sail on the schooner, Bessie. The book was written using sailing jargon and colloquialisms of the day and was kept faithful to his original manuscript. The narrative, however, remembers another famous pirate, Edward Davis. (It is said that he was one of the earliest buccaneers to have buried treasure on Cocos Island where he anchored in Chatham Bay as well. Cocos Island is approximately 340 miles southwest of Costa Rica.)

There were two additional sea adventures published, one describing the gruesome art of whaling in Lucky Joe and another after his year-long fishing experience out of Grimsby, England he called Sons of the Sea.

It is the anthology published in 2015, Sole Survivor, in which I pulled together several of his short stories, introduction to Lucky Joe, paintings, and poems. With the possible exception of Cocos Island Treasure, all are available in both paperback and ebook, now for free through Kindle Unlimited. (Busters of Bitter River is available only in ebook form.)

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Patrick John (Stanley McShane) Rose

See the amazing story of the painting that provides an updated cover version of Sole Survivor here. (Three of the above covers were provided by his paintings.)

The Author: Stanley McShane is the pen name of Patrick John Rose and the author of one novel published during his lifetime in 1936, “Bitter River Ranch” by Phoenix Press. Patrick was born in 1872 aboard his father’s vessel, the Marguerite, and was the sole survivor when she sank. He sailed as a captain aboard his own ship until some time after the turn of the 20th century, whereupon he caught Alaskan gold fever and ventured north. It was in the late 1920’s/early 30’s that he eventually settled down to write about all of his adventures–both land and sea. “Cocos Island Treasure,” “Sons of the Sea,” “Lucky Joe,” and “Hot Air Promotions” were published posthumously through Rosepoint Publishing by his granddaughter. An eBook historical western novella was published in May, 2014 called “Busters of Bitter River.” McShane’s short stories, poems, and paintings were gathered in a fiction adventure anthology called “Sole Survivor” in 2015.

The vocal music background on the book trailer is provided by Marc Gunn, self-proclaimed Irish and Celtic Music celtfather. In addition to his albums, he offers a delightful podcast which was available for download on iTunes. Otherwise, check him out here.

My grandfather had an unusual writing style, often filled with slang, sailing terms, and sensitivities (or lack thereof) of his day. Have you attempted to publish one of your ancestor’s manuscripts? I’d love to hear about your journey!

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Dark Hollow by John Connolly – a #BookReview

It’s March and I’m participating in the Reading Ireland Month for 2019. This one is a crime fiction by Dublin born Irish author John Connolly. Because of the length of this and another that we borrowed from our local library, my associate reviewer read Dark Hollow and the following is his review.

March!

 

Dark Hollow by John ConnollyTitle: Dark Hollow: A Charlie Parker Thriller (Book 2) by John Connolly

Genre: Mystery, Thrillers and Suspense, Supernatural, Ghosts, Serial Killers

Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books

Print Length: 432 pages

Publication Date: Reprint edition (June 16, 2015)

  • ASIN: B002OK2OQM
  • ISBN-10: 1501122630
  • ISBN-13:978-1501122637

Source: Irish Authors by 746Books

Title Link: Dark Hollow

Book Blurb:

The second thriller in John Connolly’s bestselling, chilling series featuring haunted private investigator Charlie Parker.

Charlier Parker, a former New York City detective with a haunted past, befriends a down-and-out mother with a small child. When she turns up dead, Charlie’s first suspect is her estranged husband. Charlie follows the man’s trail to Maine and there he becomes entangled in a series of strange occurrences which all seem to harken back to a string of unsolved murders that took place generations before. The murders were never solved and now Charlie must hunt for a killer and the connection between two crimes that span a century.

Dark Hollow by John ConnollyHis Review:

Extremely dark crime noir may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Charlie Parker is a former police officer turned private detective haunted by the death of his wife and daughter. The overall plot moves slowly, developing into a harsh reality of Charlie’s life. Overall the book is well written and keeps engagement but is brutal in the reality of catching the killer.

Subplots of harrowing psychological events imposed upon the reader by a mother who basically hated her husband and her child results in diabolical events. Add the mob on a ruthless quest to recover two million dollars and nobody is safe. Brutality at every turn left me wishing for a little peace in detective Parker’s life.

I felt the book could have matriculated quicker with less exposure to a ruthless killer of young women. It quelled my thirst to visit the far corners of Maine. Two generations of Parkers finally solve the mystery but at a horrendous price. Part of a series but could function as a standalone. Well-plotted but a little slow and long for me. C.E. Williams 4/5 stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2019

Associate Reviewer - C E Williams
C E Williams

Reading Ireland – Author Amanda Hughes Interview

Author Amanda Hughes Interview

I am thrilled today to present an interview with author Amanda Hughes who has written edge-of-your-seat adventures about bold women of the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th Centuries.

The Bold Women Series

To highlight the March, Reading Ireland theme, I just want to mention that one of my favorites from the 18th Century Series, Beyond the Cliffs of Kerry, is set, in part, in Ireland, as is The Sword of the Banshee.

This theme, Bold Women, is so timely. While the stories include just a touch of romance, the women are no shrinking violets. They are strong, independent, and capable main characters that hold your interest and quickly get you invested.

Thank you, so much, Amanda, for joining me today! Let’s talk about your Bold Women Series to begin:

You began your Bold Women Series with the Bold Women of the 18th Century and wrote three in the series, three in the 19th Century, one in the 17th Century, and one in the 20th Century in April of 2017. I get the feeling we are due another shortly for the 20th Century. Can you tell us about it?

You are so right. I am just completing Book Two in the “Bold Women of the 20th Century Series”. After listening to my father’s stories about riding the rails during the Great Depression, I decided to write a book about a bold woman who rides the rails in the 1930s. Her adventures take her back and forth across the country and eventually she becomes an accomplished photojournalist. The book culminates in Berlin when she has to smuggle a renowned scientist out of Nazi Germany.

WOW! That does sound exciting and I’m looking forward to the release already, apparently scheduled for April. We’ll be looking for it!

Do you have any plans for writing a standalone?

All the books in the Bold Women Series are standalones. Each one is set in a different time period and about a different woman. Sometimes readers ask me if I am interested in writing a series about men. So far, I have had no wish to write about men’s adventures. It has been done to death! We need books about audacious women.

Do you dream about your characters or see them in a scene you can use?

Yes! Sometimes I do dream about my characters, but so far they have been in those odd, surrealistic settings. Unfortunately, there has been nothing I can use in my books. But I do know that my best writing happens in the morning right after I wake up. Maybe my brain is still in creative overdrive.

The “Bold Women” series is compelling and an empowering and topical theme. How did the distinctive sub-title come about?

It was not something I set out to do. It sort of evolved as a promotional tool. Knowing that readers love a series, I decided to pull my first three or four books together in some way. I had to find a common theme, and it was easy to identify. First, my novels were always about women in a historical setting and second these women were plucky, fearless, and often reckless survivors. They were bold women.

Do you carefully lay out an outline to follow or let it flow and see where it goes?

I know many writers follow an outline, and that it works well for them, but I do not. I have no idea where my book is going. My characters whisper their stories in my ear, and I write them down—rather like that classic movie, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. The book is as much of a surprise for me as it is for the reader.

Do you research popular female and male names for the century of the book? How do you create your character’s names?

That is such a fun question! No one has ever asked me that before. A lot of research going into the creation of my main character’s name. And yes, I try to keep the name within the historical context. I also want the name to reflect my protagonist’s character. In my most recent book, my main character goes on to work as a photojournalist, so I wanted her name to sound like a reporter, short and snappy. I named her Billie Bassett. The name of the love interest in the book is equally important. I research baby names popular in that particular portion of the century, and then I run my choices past my daughters for final approval. They never mince words and have no problem telling me if it is a dumb name.

Do you look for real characters in the century that you can loosely base your novel on? Which book closely follows a real story?

So far I have not based, even loosely, any of my “Bold Women” on anyone who actually lived. My secondary characters though are sometimes real people. Frances Marion, also named “The Swamp Fox,” shows up in The Sword of the Banshee, and the villain in The Looking Glass Goddess is based on Kid Cann, a notorious mobster in Minnesota.

Once begun, how long does it generally take to write your books?

Always around a year.

Do you shoot for a total word count in your novels?

I try to keep it under 100,000 words, but I am not always successful. Much over that is overwhelming for a reader. I know it is for me!

Do you set a daily word count goal or is there an average?

No, whatever I do in a day, I do in a day.

The Looking Glass Goddess by Amanda HughesWhat kind of awards have you received?

The Looking Glass Goddess was nominated for The Minnesota Book Award in 2017 which made me very happy, and I was awarded the Gems National Award for Writing.

It appears you’ve had more than one designer create your covers. Who are you currently using and do they receive a synopsis of the book in order to more creatively fit the cover? 

Most of my book covers have been designed by The Killion Group. They have a detailed questionnaire for writers to fill out before the design process begins and then Kim (the cover designer) works directly with you to make sure your vision for the cover matches hers.

And now personally, Amanda, have you been able to retire and write full time?

I write full time and love every minute of it.

What did you do before discovering your writing talent?

I have a degree in Therapeutic Recreation and for many years I worked in mental health settings, from locked units in psychiatric hospitals to group homes with developmentally disabled people. You can see these themes again and again in my books and in my choice of characters especially in The Pride of the King.

Family? Children and/or grandchildren?

I have three children who are now grown and my first grandchild just came along five months ago—a little girl. It is as much fun as everyone says it is.

Where are you currently living?

I live in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Do you read all your reviews?

I try to read every one, and I really appreciate them.

Where can we easily find you? Your own website and social media?

I LOVE hearing from my readers. I will always respond to you if you write a note. I am at www.amandahughesauthor.com and you can find me on Facebook as well at https://www.facebook.com/amanda.hermannhughes

I can’t thank you enough for inviting me to your blog. What great questions. I hope it was as much fun to read as it was to write!

It certainly has been for me! It has been my absolute pleasure and I so appreciate the time you took to be with us today. To my faithful readers and followers, please check out the Bold Women Series by Amanda Hughes and enjoy a woman protagonist who can hold her own against the world. Click the link on one of the books noted above or view her Amazon author page to see all her books. We would both love to hear your thoughts!

About the Author

Amanda Hughes authorBestselling and award-winning author, Amanda Hughes is a “Walter Mitty”, spending more time in heroic daydreams than the real world. At last, she found an outlet writing adventures about bold women through the centuries. Well known for her genre-busting books, she is the winner of the Gems National Medal for Writing, featured in USA Today and is nominated for the 2017 Minnesota Book Award. Amanda is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, and when she isn’t off tilting windmills, she lives and writes in Minnesota. Don’t miss these page-turning novels for readers who like historical fiction with a just bit of a love story. All of her books are stand-alone and can be read in any order.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

 

Return to Robinswood by Jean Grainger – a #BookReview

It’s March and I’m participating in the Reading Ireland Month for 2019. This one is historical fiction by popularly acclaimed author Jean Grainger. Jean is a USA Today Bestselling Author and was selected by BookBub readers in the top 19 of historical fiction books AND is the winner of the 2016 Author’s Circle Historical Novel of Excellence.

March!

Return to Robinswood by Jean GraingerTitle: Return to Robinswood: An Irish family saga. (The Robinswood Story Book 2) by Jean Grainger

Genre: Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction, British and Irish

Print Length: 289 pages

Publication Date: February 19, 2019

  • ISBN-10:1797471155
  • ISBN-13:978-1797471150
  • ASIN: B07NVN3G7L

Source: Direct author request

Title Link: Return to Robinswood

Book Blurb:

One Irish house, two very different families, and a war that changed everything.

Robinswood Estate, County Waterford, Ireland. 1946.

Years of neglect and abandonment have left the family seat of the Keneficks almost derelict, but the new Lord Kenefick and his charming young wife Kate, are determined to breathe life into the old house once more.

The war is over and they have survived, so now they must set about making a bright future for themselves and their family. But the shadows of the past are ever lurking, and there are many who are not willing to see the new Lady Kenefick as anything more than the housekeeper’s daughter.

Kate’s family, the Murphys, find themselves once more, inextricably entwined with both the Keneficks and Robinswood, but this time everything is different. Or at least they hope it is.

The legacy of the war cannot be erased, and the events of those fateful years will not be forgotten. Can Robinswood provide a haven for those who need it, or are the scars of the past too deep? Continue reading “Return to Robinswood by Jean Grainger – a #BookReview”

Reinventing Hillwilla by Melanie Forde – a #BookTour #BookReview #Irelandmonth

It’s March and I’m participating in the Reading Ireland Month for 2019, this beautiful literary fiction being the second. I will post a complete list of my reads for Reading Ireland on Sunday, March 10. Stay tuned!

Reinventing Hillwilla 

I am absolutely delighted today to provide a review for you at my blog stop for Reinventing Hillwilla by Melanie Forde on Sage’s Blog Tours.

Book Details: Five stars

Title: Reinventing Hillwilla: A Novel by Melanie Forde

Genre: Literary Fiction, Romance, Animals

Publisher: D Street Books, a division of Mountain Lake Press

Print Length: 339 pages

Publication Date: November 4, 2018

  • ISBN-10:1730785492
  • ISBN-13:978-1730785498

ASIN: B07K6TQC3R

Source: Publisher and Sage’s Book Tours

Title and Cover: Reinventing Hillwilla – Cover depicts farm overseer, Ralph

Book Blurb:

Life on a llama farm, set in remote “Seneca County,” West Virginia, transitions from contented to chaotic in this final novel in the Hillwilla trilogy — all under the watchful eye of canine guardian Ralph. Five years after we first met northern urban transplant Beatrice Desmond, she is finally adapting to her mountain hollow among the wary “born-heres” and is more open to the blessings in her life. She has developed a rewarding mother-daughter relationship with troubled local teenager Clara Buckhalter and is inching toward marriage with dashing, but complicated entrepreneur Tanner Fordyce. Meanwhile, Clara sets off on a productive new path, one that would have been unthinkable had Beatrice never come into her life. All of that progress is suddenly jeopardized by Clara’s scheming mother Charyce. Ultimately, the upheaval touched off by Charyce’s schemes serves as the catalyst for new beginnings for the Seneca County misfits (even Ralph).

My Review:

Reinventing Hillwilla by Melanie FordeOh, Mercy! Sucked in immediately in the prologue when you realize you are reading the POV of an English setter, beloved dog, and pack leader of the llamas (Ralph’s Pack) gracing this farm, it’s impossible not to continue reading. Then I was devastated when I realized that Ralph had passed away. NOOO…

Still, protagonist Beatrice Desmond is such a powerful, torn, and emotive character that the pages turns themselves as you become totally lost in the hollow in Seneca County, West Virginia. There is a divide in West Virginia. Between the “born-heres” and the “come-heres.” Beatrice falls in the latter and tends her animals. Clara Buckhalter, at thirteen and a product of a destructive family life, connected however remotely to Beatrice, had come to live with Beatrice temporarily. As these things sometimes evolve, temporary becomes permanent with Beatrice taking full charge of loving mother duties, something Clara had not received from her own mother. Now Clara is at Beatrice’s alma mater on a scholarship. Beatrice is thrilled and proud, but lonely.

In the meantime, Beatrice continues to wrestle with the proposal of marriage from globe-trotting Tanner Fordyce, off on yet another mission while Beatrice works out of her home office telecommuting as a translator and editor. Unfortunately, her old boss is gone and the new one isn’t working out–for Beatrice. Tanner, like Beatrice, had experienced a less than stellar childhood of Irish roots, Beatrice’s family from Boston. Tanner often harkens to the ancient Irish endearment “mo mhuirnin” (my darling) when signing off on his long distance calls.

The author weaves in the artful and knowledgeable handling of the llamas as Beatrice begins to experience strange happenings around the farm. She desperately misses Ralph, who would have alerted her to anyone on her property, but she does take security measures.

Clara’s mother is written as a despot; beyond comprehension how she could treat her daughter as she does, and creates a tension building conflict when Clara is left on the farm alone. (Beatrice has had to leave temporarily.) Clara is young, naive, and sure her own mother could not willfully scheme against her or Beatrice, although it’s difficult to imagine how she could not knowing her mother’s past deeds. The character produces a glut of protracted revulsion and sets the reader on edge, anxious to perceive how the author will produce a satisfactory remedy. In the meantime, it’s easy to get incredibly angry with Clara for not understanding Beatrice is the “real” mother here, protecting her even against her wishes.

The well-paced, well-plotted story creates that bond with characters struggling through discordance with others, the loneliness, catastrophic illness, coming of age, long-distance romance, and the struggles of survival in harsh, bitter winter conditions. The dialogue is natural and believable, the characters fleshed so well, you cheer for the little triumphs and wish Clara were close enough to slap her up long-side the head. She’s eighteen now! Get a grip! And Ralph, even I missed him. Or maybe not–didn’t we see him–once or twice?

A unique story for me! The animals are sweet. Then the plummet and anger, followed by a glimmer of hope. Emotions pulling one way, then the other. And always, always, wondering when or how is she going to get another dog? (You can’t replace a Ralph. Hubby and I also had one–a yellow lab–too smart for us but we loved him.) The author has an intelligent, articulate writing style that pops with little glimmers of Irish humor. The satisfying conclusion closes the trilogy. This is the first I’d read of the trilogy, but had no problem reading as a standalone. Sage's Blog Tours

I was given this ebook download by the author through Sage’s Blog Tours for a read and review and absolutely loved the book! It’s an amazing read–totally recommended.

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars Five stars

Melanie Forde - authorThe Author: For most of her writing career, Melanie Forde ghosted on international security issues. She published her first novel, Hillwilla, in 2014, followed by On the Hillwilla Road in 2015. Her West Virginia trilogy culminates in Reinventing Hillwilla, 2018. Twenty years in the making, her Irish-American family saga, Decanted Truths, was also released in 2018.

©2019 V Williams V Williams