Malice at the Manor – a #BookReview

Malice at the Manor by J Marshall GordonTitle: Malice at the Manor (Penny Summers Mystery Book 2) by J. Marshall Gordon

Genre: Mystery, Women’s Fiction, Woman Sleuth, Private Investigations

Publisher: Taylor & Seale Publishing

Publication Date: April 27, 2018

Source: Happy Book Reviews and author

Title and Cover: Malice at the Manor – Beautiful cover conveys subject background

Book Blurb: Penny Summers bones up on Renaissance garden design until she finds a dead docent and finds herself up to her tramp stamp unraveling a Civil War battle flag scam.

In North Carolina where “The Recent Unpleasantness” between the North and the South is still romanticized, the problem of a dead docent in a famous garden leads ex-Navy public affairs officer Penny Summers to a Civil War battle flag scam, a deadly reenactment, and a search for a man in black. With the help of Kalea, an eleven-year-old C.S.I.-wannabe, and Aaron, her handsome Navy friend working undercover, Penny discovers more than she bargained for. She thinks if she had studied psychology, it might have turned out differently. Probably not.

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(This was a publicist request that I thought both the C.E. and I might enjoy and review together–you’ll note the CE often holds a different opinion although many times generously so.)

My Review:

I must confess that this is the first quasi-cozy whose protagonist is a Master Gardener/landscape designer. Ex-Navy Penny Summers enrolls in Madison Lerrimore’s residential design course in Maryland which leads to a visit with the instructor to North Carolina.

The author does a masterful job of interlacing fact with fiction, the names in our recent history, and fascinating locations in this country’s civil war including the little-known site of a short skirmish in Asheville, NC. I must say, it incites interest in visiting civil war sites and some of these gorgeous old southern mansions and their gardens. This one, whether or not fictional, sounded fascinating enough to warrant a closer inspection (especially if the bridges where the public would be allowed are unsafe).

This is actually the second in the series. Among the recurring major characters are her Aunt Zelma and Navy sweetie, Aaron Hunt. In this narrative, Penny gets to know her instructor on a personal level, including Madison’s daughter, Kalea, a precocious eleven-year-old and Madison’s partner. The author includes a touch of paranormal with his first-person Penny who often hears her “Grandpa Jack” making comments in her ear, and her great-aunt Zelma is said to have “second sight.” Additionally, backstory is added to Penny’s own childhood that appears to have some impact on current events.

It doesn’t take long before Penny is stumbling across a docent face down in a creek bed who turns out to be a relative of Madison which unintentionally opens a can of worms. The multi-layered plot forks off with absorbing peek into history, Madison’s twisted tale, and Aunt Zelma’s hosting prowess with food and the ever-present chardonnay. And there is always “money” as motive in civil war memorabilia. Penny concocts an idea to wheedle out the antagonist using her sweetie, soon to be lover, and manages to pull off a coup at the conclusion with the help of local law enforcement and Henderson County detective, Coleen Jackson.

The description of the gardens and associated local plant species was interesting, the civil war history interesting, and the sights and flavors of the south interesting. However, there were times when Kalea appeared to be smarter than the adults who were supervising her, and the growing romance between Penny and Aaron was just annoying unnecessary. The characters were not wholly engaging although the narrative moved at a nice pace, and the dialogue (except for exaggerated southern drawl) believable.

On the whole, a relatively quiet conclusion, albeit without a complete resolution to all questions. The antagonist seems apparent and as they note, “Maybe the how will suggest the why. And then the who will become obvious.” 4/5 stars [V Williams] V Williams Continue reading “Malice at the Manor – a #BookReview”

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#ThrowbackThursday – Deer Season (Ray Elkins Thriller series) by Aaron Standler

#ThrowbackThursday-Deer Season

Renee began the #ThrowbackThursday meme on her blog, It’s Book Talk to share some of her old favorites as well as sharing books published over a year ago. Hopefully, you’ll find either a story or author that interests you and you’ll check them out. And, if you’d like to join the fun, you’re welcome to use Renee’s pic from her website. Just provide the link back to her please).

This week I am highlighting Aaron Standler, another prolific author who wrote Deer Season #3 in his Ray Elkins Thriller series. (He has written other series as well.) This novel was published by Writers and Editors LLC on July 1, 2009. He consistently runs approximately 3.5-4 stars for any of his books sold on Amazon.

I posted a review of Shelf Ice by this author in January 2014. Shelf Ice is #4 in the series. See that review here. That was back when I was gleaning free books from BookBub and also downloaded Deer Season as my hubby was a hunter and thought he’d enjoy. Apparently, the author has written nine in the series. The C.E. read this book and his review follows. Winter is knocking on our doors, changing the direction of the wind, and the smell of dry leaves permeate the air perhaps earlier in Michigan and parts of the north than the midwest and sunny south and west. Are you ready for some cooler temps?

Book Blurb:

It’s late November along the shores of northern Lake Michigan. Deer season has been open for a few days and Thanksgiving is just around the corner. A local TV anchorwomen is returning home from an early morning yoga class with her young twin daughters. She stops at the end of her drive and climbs out of her car to collect the mail from the box. As she turns back toward her vehicle, the bullet from a high caliber weapon tears through her chest. In this third book in this series, Sheriff Ray Elkins confronts both the dark history of his own department and powerful and wealthy adversaries who try to control the direction and reach of his investigation.

 Add to Goodreads Continue reading “#ThrowbackThursday – Deer Season (Ray Elkins Thriller series) by Aaron Standler”

Series Sampler-What’s Your Pleasure? Crime Thriller or Sci-Fi-Fantasy

#AmReading - series

OMG, it’s not often I get in depth in a single series, let alone two!

This time, however, I began The Afton Morrison series with #1 and glad I did! This one is just plain hardcore.  I am now reading #2, See You Soon, Afton by Brent Jones. While there are some series in which the individual novels could function as a standalone, these two series, as widely different as they are, should both begin with numero uno, number one. Fortunately, it’s not too late into this series to start reading number one as the author plans to release number two August 7, 2018.

See You Soon, Afton #2 Afton Morrison series

I will be presenting my review of See You Soon, Afton on Friday, July 27, 2018, and I’ll warn you up front, this series is not for the faint of heart, tender ears, or PG eyes–it is definitely “R” rated. Amazon classifies as mystery, thriller, and suspense. The thing about Brent’s books–despite the delayed gratification is that there is generally a surprising, often shocking, moral to the story–and the reading is worth it. If you missed my review of Go Home, Afton, number one in the series, you can find it here, or see it on Amazon here.

See You Soon, Afton – Book Blurb:

Somebody is watching. Somebody is always watching.

A teenage girl in Wakefield has been abducted, and tracking her down not only tests Afton’s moral limits, but threatens her freedom and her life.

Suspected of murder by local police, and under the watch of a menacing figure in the shadows, Afton’s search and rescue effort unravels dark secrets from her own past. Familial secrets her mother took to the grave, more than a decade ago.

See You Soon, Afton is the second of four parts in a new serial thriller by author Brent Jones. Packed with grit and action, The Afton Morrison Series delves into a world of moral ambiguity, delivering audiences an unlikely heroine in the form of a disturbed vigilante murderess.

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Thank heavens I had a little help with this one–the C.E. taking the helm at the sci-fi police procedural techno-thriller, The Invisible Mind – Murder by Munchausen #3 by M.T. Bass . OOH! That’s a mouthful, huh? Seems I have a habit of coming into a series at #3 or even #7–it’s happened before. Amazon classifies it as sci-fi-fantasy and cyberpunk, and I’ll just mention here that it is definitely some hardcore science. Electron Alley plans to release the novel on August 25, 2018.

The Invisible Mind-Murder by Munchausen #3

The C.E. was asked as a condition of the book review for Sage’s Blog Tours that he read number one and two prior to reading number three, which is the subject of the book tour. That was quite the undertaking! I will be presenting the C.E.’s review of The Invisible Mind on Sunday, July 29, 2018.

The Invisible Mind – Book Blurb:

A police procedural thriller ripped from future headlines!

Now unleashed, the “Baron” is resurrecting history’s notorious serial killers, giving them a second life in the bodies of hacked and reprogrammed Personal Assistant Androids, then turning them loose to terrorize the city.  While detectives Jake and Maddie of the police department’s Artificial Crimes Unit scramble to stop the carnage with the Baron’s arrest, the cyberpunk head of the Counter IT Section, Q, struggles to de-encrypt his mad scheme to infect world data centers with a virus that represents a collective consciousness of evil.

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I’ve argued the whole series or standalone novels before, and will just point out that the Afton Morrison series are novellas. You can whip through them–just possibly not late at night, alone, quiet. Or maybe quiet is good–you’ll want to be able to hear.

Tired of reading your same-o-same-o? Look into one of these. They are not one of your average cozy mysteries. You’ll thank me (or not).

©2018 V Williams V Williams

The Perfect Friend – a #BookReview

The Perfect Friend by Barbara CopperthwaiteTitle:  The Perfect Friend by Barbara Copperthwaite

Genre: Currently #185 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank in Kindle eBooks, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Suspense, Psychological

Publisher: Bookouture

Publication Date: July 5, 2018, Happy Release Day!

Source:  Publisher and NetGalley

Title and Cover: The Perfect FriendNot a real fan of the (yellow) cover

“…Still, I’m trying to decide how much truth to tell. This started as little white lies…”

Barbara Copperthwaite is a master of the psychological thriller model. The problem is, if you are like most people, you take on face value what you are told, and the narration is so simple, so natural, you don’t suspect anything is awry. But you’ve been set up immediately with a narrator who tells you up front she is a liar. Continue reading “The Perfect Friend – a #BookReview”

Ray vs the Meaning of Life – a #BookReview

Ray vs the Meaning of LifeTitle: Ray vs the Meaning of Life by Michael F. Stewart

Genre: Currently # 147 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank in Kindle eBooks, Literature & Fiction, Genre Fiction, Metaphysical

Publisher: The Publishing House

Publication Date: May 15, 2018

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title and Cover: Ray vs the Meaning of Life – Fantastic cover–totally gets the subject

When I read the review by Nicole over at The BookWorm Drinketh for Ray vs the Meaning of Life, I knew I had to get my hands on a copy. (TY, Nicole, you nailed it!) Fortunately, it was still available (now archived) on NetGalley, though it was termed Humor, Teens, and YA. What?! Heaven knows I’ve violated several of my rules recently, why not this one? Well, I’m so glad, once again, that I stepped beyond my own comfortable genres to sample this “YA” novel. But really, YA? Amazon classifies the genre as Metaphysical and Visionary (oh, and Coming of Age).

Too bad.

It should have just stopped at Brilliant Literature. Continue reading “Ray vs the Meaning of Life – a #BookReview”

Bloggers Bash Award Nominations

Bloggers Bash Award Categories

When the “happiness engineers” at WP announced that the problems with the reblog button were resolved, they’d yet to deal with my blog. Neither that nor the like buttons have reappeared, so I’ll include here a shortened description of the announcement of the Bloggers Bash Awards, now in its fourth year.

Nina at The Cozy Pages sent me the notice (thank you Nina!) that she had reblogged from Shelley Wilson author, who is apparently on the committee. You can see the full and complete announcement on Ms. Wilson’s website for all the rules and regs, so, from Ms. Wilson, the following:

The Annual Bloggers Bash returns bigger and better than ever. (The venue is booked.)…

The nominations will open soon but we wanted to share the award categories with you to give everyone plenty of time to think about who they feel deserves a nomination...Nominations will open on March 6th 2018.

Award Categories for the 2018 Bloggers Bash Awards Continue reading “Bloggers Bash Award Nominations”

#GristMillRoad – a #BookReview

Grist Mill Road by Christopher J YatesTitle: Grist Mill Road by Christopher J Yates

Genre: Currently #188 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank in Kindle eBooks, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Thrillers, Crime

Publisher: Picador

Publication Date: To be released January 9, 2018

Source: Picador and NetGalley

Title and Cover: Grist Mill RoadCover has an obvious tie to plot

No, you can’t shift into neutral and let your eyes drift over these pages because they caught your attention immediately. This is no simple plot and not easily told–it requires a reader to fully engage–absorb the flashbacks so you can understand what is happening (and more importantly why) in the present (which is 2008). The setting is the beautiful Swangum Mountains, trails, trees, and rocks. But a brutal act in a clearing in the forest sears forever the three kids involved. In a way, each was blinded by their own perception of the event, remember it differently, but only one lost an eye. Continue reading “#GristMillRoad – a #BookReview”

#BlogTour – How I’m Spending My Afterlife by Spencer Fleury

Blog Tour - How I'm Spending My AfterlifeHappy publication day and congratulations to Spencer Fleury on his new novel How I’m Spending My Afterlife! I am excited to be the blog tour stop on your release day and happy to present my review of your edgy and gripping book, but first this simple preliminary.

Book Blurb: Alton Carver has a problem. A cocky lawyer in his mid-30s, he’s under federal investigation for embezzling and securities fraud. Instead of spending the next three to five years behind bars, he’s got a plan: stage his own death, take the money he stole and light out for Central America, leaving behind wife Nicole and daughter Clara. But when he sticks around town long enough to watch his own funeral, he makes the unpleasant discovery that the life he’s leaving behind isn’t the life he thought he had. When he overhears the way his former colleagues talk about him now that he’s “gone,” Alton is forced to reconsider his self-image as a respected and admired pillar of the legal community. Then the shock of seeing Nicole in the arms of another man leads Alton to postpone his plan to run for the border. What comes next is a slow-burn train wreck, a tale of self-deception, revenge, and bad decisions.

Continue reading “#BlogTour – How I’m Spending My Afterlife by Spencer Fleury”

Hello Again – a Book Review

Hello Again by Brenda NovakTitle: Hello Again (Dr. Evelyn Talbot Novels)

Genre: Currently #639 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank for Books, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Mystery, Women Sleuths

Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks

Publication Date: To be released October 3, 2017

Source: St Martin’s Paperbacks and NetGalley

Title and Cover: Hello Again Nice cover, not sure it conveys the location or the genre

Apparently there is nowhere you can hide if someone really wants to find you. This book is textbook serial killer, psychological profiling at it’s best. Continue reading “Hello Again – a Book Review”

Sea of Doubt – The Greatest Story Ever Sold – a Book Review

Sea of Doubt: The Greatest Story Ever Sold by Jeremy D. HoldenTitle: Sea of Doubt: The Greatest Story Ever Sold

Publisher: Clean Publishing

Publication Date: To be released October 3, 2017

Source: Clean Publishing and NetGalley

Title and Author: Sea of Doubt: The Greatest Story Ever Sold by Jeremy D. Holden

You know by the title that you are in for a super tongue-in-cheek, intelligent, and socially unacceptable ride and after the hook at the beginning, that’s how this book proceeds with barely a hitch in the giddy-up in the middle.

His former partner suddenly calls in Mal Thomas, who’s sworn off the old high drama, blood pressure raising profession of the marketing world, for a special project. He’s been enjoying the sweet life with his beloved wife in the hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and really doesn’t need the aggravation. In the world of high market accounts and powerful men and immense holdings, how can you turn down the plea of one who will willingly back, no matter the cost, the announcement to the world of the Second Coming? Continue reading “Sea of Doubt – The Greatest Story Ever Sold – a Book Review”

Trace – a Book Review

Trace by Archer MayorTitle: Trace (Joe Gunther Series #28) by Archer Mayor

Genre: Currently #95 on Amazon Author Rank for Kindle eBooks, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Mystery, Police Procedurals

Publisher: Minotaur Books

Publication Date: To be released September 26, 2017

Source: Minotaur Books (St. Martin’s Press) and NetGalley

Title and Cover: Trace – Cover reflects a piece of the plot

Oh man–not again?! Here I am reading #28 of the Joe Gunther series, Trace. When I accepted the book didn’t realize there were 27 others in the same series out there. But, no problem! It is very likely that the protagonist, Joe Gunther, has been very well fleshed out in prior units. In this novel, we get just a snippet of Joe, and even that much makes him a person of empathetic character. You can tell he’s a good man. Continue reading “Trace – a Book Review”

Infographic for Click to Tweet Guidelines for WordPress

How to Add a Click to Tweet LinkMea culpa, and by the way, that is directly from the Oxford Dictionaries that I was so busy posting about on my blog Friday. Yes, I was trying something new, and as always with this old dog, graphic tricks don’t come easy. So apologies to all who received multiple updates as I doggedly tried again to create a “Click to Tweet” to my post. This is a free basic plan–there are paid upgrades (aren’t there always?). You’d think these things would be easier than they are, but apparently everything has to be tantamount to learning Photoshop. I seem to be the last one to figure these things out–or maybe not–if you haven’t tried it lately, perhaps this could help?

Just in case you could use a short Infographic on the whole Click to Tweet thing, I created this one and hope that it helps sufficiently that you will try it, if you aren’t indeed way ahead of me already. Click to Tweet

Continue reading “Infographic for Click to Tweet Guidelines for WordPress”