Rosepoint November Reviews Recap—Thanksgiving with Covid—I’d Rather Have Family

Rosepoint Publishing November Review Recap

Certainly was a quiet Thanksgiving this year! Almost nothing traditional about it, as just for the two of us, no sense in trying to have a turkey (or ham—not good for him). I must admit to getting very tired of turkey, turkey sandwiches, turkey salad and turkey soup. I do enjoy the cranberry, however, and that’s where the CE balks. So we opted instead for coconut shrimp and scallops and fruit salad with French fries—something we both agree on! But anytime is good for shrimp and scallops.

I usually use the long weekend following Thanksgiving to start decorating for Christmas. Well, that will be delayed this year as I’m not crazy about bringing out the same old tired decorations. Needed something a little more festive to fill the void this year.

Santa with maskLooking over decorations, it would appear Covid has played a large part in new and unique Christmas decoration ideas, with Santa wearing a face mask to ornaments with face masks and rolls of toilet paper. Oh, so, crafty. A not-so-subtle tongue-in-the cheek remembrance of Christmas 2020. Perhaps you’ve also noticed some VERY unusual tree ornaments this year?

So yes, December is upon us and I must admit to being one of those who never thought we’d still be fighting the pandemic at this time of year. Much less phase two or three. I’m doing a lot of shopping online this year and it’s actually fun getting packages. Our TV hit its designed obsolescence and out it went, so we ended up doing a Black Friday thing for a new one. Something in which we’ve not participated since 2004. Technology in a new TV now requires an engineering or programming degree to fully install.

There was a mix of sixteen books reviewed, blitzed, or toured in November, shared between the CE and I. If you missed any reviews, just click on the links below the graphic.

The Secret of Rosalita Flats by Tim W Jackson Parabellum by Greg Hickey Puzzling Ink by Becky Clark

Wine Tastings Are Murder by Libby KleinLeave No Trace by Sara Driscoll Hideaway by Nora Roberts

A Big Fat Greek Murder by Kate CollinsIn Her Tracks by Robert DugoniBig Kibble by Shawn Buckley

House of Correction by Nicci FrenchThe Sky Worshipers by FM DeemyadMystery at the Old Mill by Clare Chase

 

Ink and Shadows by Ellery AdamsHunting Season by Nevada BarrAnd the Devil Walks Away by Kevin R DoyleIrish Parade Murder by Leslie Meier

  1. The Secret of Rosalita Flats by Tim W Jackson (5 stars)
  2. Parabellum by Greg Hickey (CE review)
  3. Puzzling Ink by Becky Clark
  4. Wine Tastings are Murder by Libby Klein
  5. Leave No Trace by Sara Driscoll (5 stars)
  6. Hideaway by Nora Roberts (Audiobook)
  7. A Big Fat Greek Murder by Kate Collins
  8. Big Kibble by Shawn Buckley and Dr Oscar Chavez (CE review-5 stars)
  9. In Her Tracks by Robert Dugoni
  10. House of Correction by Nicci French (Audiobook)
  11. The Sky Worshipers by F M Deemyad (CE review-5 stars)
  12. Mystery at the Old Mill by Clare Chase
  13. Ink and Shadows by Ellery Adams (5 stars)
  14. Hunting Season by Nevada Barr (Audiobook)
  15. And the Devil Walks Away by Kevin R Doyle (CE review)
  16. Irish Parade Murder by Leslie Meier

Challenges:

Audiobooks – 23 of 10-15 challenge Achieved
Goodreads! 156 of 160—only four more. I’ve (we’ve) got this!
Historial Fiction: 13 of a goal of 10 Achieved
NetGalley: 79 of 75 review goal Achieved  

Once again, struggling with the block editor interfering with the update to my (classic editored) Challenge page. If it looks weird—it is—and I’ve no clue how to fix. Still, you can check the page to see those challenges achieved.

In the meantime, lovely readers, followers, and authors, take care, stay safe. I do so appreciate your continued support.

©2020 V Williams

Graphic attributions: Santa mask by Amazon

Irish Parade Murder (A Lucy Stone Murder Book 27) by Leslie Meier – a #BookReview – #cozymystery

“’If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit by me.’ Alice Roosevelt Longworth, (Teddy’s daughter)”

Book Blurb:

Lucy Stone’s late-winter blues usually vanish by the time Tinker’s Cove goes green for its annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration. There’s just one wee problem that not even the luck of the Irish can fix—murder!

Irish Parade Murder by Leslie MeierAfter returning from her father-in-law’s funeral in Florida, Lucy can almost hear the death knell of her part-time reporter job the instant she meets new hire Rob Callahan. He’s young, ambitious, and positioning himself to become the Pennysaver’s next star reporter. Adding insult to injury, Lucy only gets assigned the local St. Patrick’s Day parade once Rob passes on the story. But before beer flows and bagpipes sound, Rob becomes suspected of destroying more than other people’s careers . . .

It’s a shock when Rob is suddenly charged with sending a corrections officer from town to a fiery death. Contrary to the evidence, Lucy seriously doubts her office rival committed murder, and she’s willing to follow that nagging hunch into the darkest corners of the community if it means shedding light on the truth . . .

As an unnerving mystery unfolds, a strange woman reveals news that could change everything for Lucy and her family. Troubles in her personal and professional life are colliding, and Lucy comes to realize that she’ll sooner discover a four-leaf clover than confront a killer with the gift of the gab and live to tell about it . . .

My Review:

Yikes! There have already been twenty-six books in this series, and this is my first experience with either the author or the series. Well, I know you’ve heard that before, not often I have the chance to start a series with Book 1.

Irish Parade Murder by Leslie MeierThis one, however, regards a small town journalist with the local weekly. Just when the few others in the office assume the owner is going to throw in the towel, they are astounded to learn the owner has partnered with the adjacent town’s paper and they will now cover twice the territory. And, icing on the cake, the owner has brought in a whiz-bang kid to really “get the story.”

And, somehow, I thought the novel would be about Lucy writing her stories, discovering a murder victim and she would go investigating.

Nope.

This cozy mystery centers on family. Protagonist Lucy Stone is married (also unusual for a cozy mystery) with four children. Two events occur about the same time—her father-in-law has passed away and Grandma Edna will come to live with them (her husband being an only child). About the same time, they get a letter proclaiming shared DNA by a woman they know nothing about.

St. Patrick’s Day is coming and Tinkers Cove is gearing up for their big annual parade followed by a newly instituted festival in adjacent Gilead. AND, Lucy is assigned to getting the school budget and parade master stories. In the meantime, she is fielding family matters, including her daughter’s “step-dancing” with which history I found interesting.

It’s not until about 50% into the book that an accident occurs deemed not to be an accident, and not unusually, the new kid on the paper is blamed for the murder. This sets off an interesting search into the possible corruption of the local sheriff’s department.       

I don’t know whether it was because I was coming into the series at Book 27 and finding more of a family drama than a cozy that was off-putting, but I had a problem becoming engaged in the narrative and couldn’t connect with the characters—which, at this point, character development has pretty much ended. Her husband Bill is wonderfully supportive, but the storyline just dragged for me. I didn’t really care what the school board was going to vote for or against. The conclusion only mildly increased attention—at that point, just happy for the conclusion. More focus on the murder investigation, contact with more appropriate individuals, interviews, something…would have added some tension. On pre-order now.

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

Rosepoint Rating: Three of Five Stars three stars

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Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Mystery, Amateur Sleuth
Publisher: Kensington Books

  • ASIN : B087YSPKVC

Print Length: 283 pages
Publication Date: To be released January 26, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley 

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

Leslie Meier - authorThe Author: [Leslie Meier] I started writing in the late ’80s when I was attending graduate classes at Bridgewater State College. I wanted to become certified to teach high school English and one of the required courses was Writing and the Teaching of Writing. My professor suggested that one of the papers I wrote for that course was good enough to be published and I sent it off to Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine’s Department of First Stories. I got $100 for the story and I’ve been writing ever since. The teaching, however, didn’t work out.

My books draw heavily on my experience as a mother of three and my work as a reporter for various weekly newspapers on Cape Cod. My heroine, Lucy Stone, is a reporter in the fictional town of Tinker’s Cove, Maine, where she lives in an old farmhouse (quite similar to mine on Cape Cod!) with her restoration carpenter husband Bill and four children. As the series has progressed the kids have grown older, roughly paralleling my own family. We seem to have reached a point beyond which Lucy cannot age — my editor seems to want her to remain forty-something forever — though I have to admit I am dying to write “Menopause is Murder”!

I usually write one Lucy Stone mystery every year and as you can see, my editor likes me to feature the holidays in my books. Of course Christmas is one of my favorite times of year and my newest mystery {released September 2013} is called “Christmas Carol Murder.” I have always loved the Alistair Sims movie version of Charles Dicken’s ,”The Christmas Carol,” so I was excited to be able to have Lucy encounter some modern day versions of Dicken’s classic characters. In addition to the recent holiday mysteries I have written such as “Chocolate Covered Murder” {Valentine’s Day} and “Easter Bunny Murder”, I have written one travel mystery in which Lucy and her friends ,travel to London,”English Tea Murder”. Since I love to travel I can only hope that Lucy will be able to solve some mysteries in some other cities and countries also. My husband and I did stay in an apartment in Paris this past year {big hint!}

My books are classified as cozies but a good friend insists they are really “comedies of manners” and I do enjoy expressing my view of contemporary American life.

Now that the kids are grown — I now have four grandchildren — my husband and I are enjoying our empty nest on Cape Cod which we share with our new very frisky kitty, Sylvester. I am busy writing the next Lucy Stone Mystery which is due out this Spring. I do hope you will enjoy it!

©2020 V Williams V Williams

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

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

Hunting Season by Nevada Barr

Book Blurb:

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

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 Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4 stars

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

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

Barbara Rosenblat - narratorThe Narrator:

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

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

– The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman

– The Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters

©020 V Williams V Williams

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

A Witty and Page-Turning Southern Cozy Mystery

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

Rosepoint Rating: Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuth, Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Kensington Books

  • ASIN : B087YR9M54

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

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

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

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

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

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

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

Rosepoint Rating: Five Stars 5 stars

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

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Book Details:

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

  • ASIN : B087Q1QNTL

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

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble 

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

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

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

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

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

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

Rosepoint Publishing: Five Stars5 stars

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

Book Blurb:

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

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

My Review:

Book 5 of the FBI K-9 mystery Leave No Trace will be coming out late December and I couldn’t resist getting a jump of one of my favorite series about the awesome dogs and their handlers who work so effectively with law enforcement.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Book Details:

Genre: Pet Dogs, Animal Fiction
Publisher: Kensington Books

  • ASIN : B086R8ZHBQ

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

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

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

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

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

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

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

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

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Rosepoint Publishing: Four of Five Stars 4 stars

Book Details:

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

  • ASIN : B085LTRQ3P

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

Title Link(s):

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

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

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

Book Blurb:

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuth, Cozy Mysteries
Publisher: Lyrical Press

  • ASIN : B085LTVY49

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

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

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

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

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

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

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

©2929 V Williams V Williams

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

Rosepoint Publishing: Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Book Details:

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

  • ASIN : B08BQCH6TJ

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

Title Link(s):

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

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

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Photo attribution: Euler angles-courtesy Wikipedia

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

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

Book Blurb:

Mainely Power by Matt Cost

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

My Review:

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

Mainely Power by Matt Cost

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Book Details:

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

  • ASIN : B08FMXQFNV

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

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

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

Wolf Pack vs The Bitterroots - #audiobooks

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

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

big sky country

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

Wolf Pack-Book Blurb:

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

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

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

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

Wolf Pack Review:

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

Genre: Murder Thrillers, Suspense
Publisher:  Recorded Books

  • ASIN: B07JGB5PG9

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

Add to Goodreads4.39 average of 1,044 reviews

The Bitterroots-BookBlurb:

2019 Kirkus Reviews Best Books of the Year

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

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

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

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

The Bitterroots Review:

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

  • ASIN: B07ND36RSR

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

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4.02 average rating of 729 reviews

Overall Impression:

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

C J Box - author

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

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

–from the author’s website

©2020 V Williams V Williams

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

Happy Publication Day!

Book Blurb:

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

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

His Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

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

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

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

Barnes and Noble | Kobo

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5 stars

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

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

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Silent Bite: An Andy Carpenter Mystery Book 22 by David Rosenfelt – a #BookReview – Traditional Detective Mysteries

Book Blurb:

Silent Bite by David RosenfeltAndy Carpenter and his golden retriever, Tara, are finding that all is not calm or bright in Silent Bite, the latest Christmas mystery in this heartwarming series from bestselling author David Rosenfelt.

Lawyer Andy Carpenter can finally take a breath; he’s back on dry land after a family Caribbean cruise forced on him by his wife, Laurie, to get into the Christmas spirit. Of course the family’s first stop is to the Tara Foundation, the dog rescue organization that has always been Andy’s true passion.

But when Andy arrives, his partner, Willie Miller, needs his help. Willie’s old cellmate, Tony Birch, has been arrested for murder. Andy doesn’t necessarily believe in Tony, but Willie does. And Andy believes in Willie, which is why Andy decides to take the case.

Once again David Rosenfelt puts readers in the Christmas spirit in a tale that is equal parts mystery and holiday cheer.

My Review:

Guess this would constitute my second Christmas read of the upcoming season and it’s one of my very fave’s—written by David Rosenfelt—an Andy Carpenter Mystery, Silent Bite. As you all no doubt know by now, I prefer my Andy Carpenter books in audio, but every now and then I find an ARC out on NetGalley and can’t resist. After all, it’s my favorite main character, that irreverent, snarky attorney who is forever hoping to actually 100% retire and stay that way. Not going to happen, ole buddy!

Silent Bite by David RosenfeltThe funny part is that Andy is married to Laurie (ex-cop) who celebrates the Christmas season three to four months and between home and those non-stop carols wherever he goes, he has to walk the dogs to the park to get any peace. His dogs are Tara and Sebastian, the latter a basset hound who’d prefer to sleep. Andy created the Tara Foundation, a dog rescue with Willie, also a dog lover and between them have saved many, many dogs. But it is Willie this novel that brings Andy out of retirement—again. His friend and old cell-mate is in jail. For a crime he didn’t commit. Uh huh…

All the gang are back—not that gang—the associates behind Andy, including Marcus, and Laurie’s new crew.  Andy starts his investigation aided by the colleagues he usually calls on until he calls Hike and discovers he won’t be back. But Hike recommends another attorney who he is sure will work well with Andy. What is not to love? The man is an ex-football player and he is nothing if not sports savvy.

Two things: First, the dogs slip back stage a bit and second, the wise-cracking, snappy patter from Andy is not quite up to the usual level of pummeled prose. AND, I figured out the antagonist early on. STILL, it’s a complex, deeply involved mystery, love the characters, and especially when Andy gets the case into court—that’s where the man shines. That experienced courtroom expertise, and it always, ALWAYS, reminds me of that Richard Gere scene in Chicago where he taps to the building of his case—craftily pushing, pulling, manipulating, maneuvering all the players right where he wants them. THAT’S my boy!!

I’ve read and reviewed on this blog eight books by Rosenfelt, others prior to the blog, which includes this series and two of his others. But it’s this series that I keep coming back to. Whether or not it’s one that fails to produce a book hangover, it is still fun, engaging, entertaining and well worth reading. Always recommended!

Thank you Minotaur Books and NetGalley for my ARC review copy. These are (always) my own opinions.

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

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Book Details:

Genre: Animal Fiction, Traditional Detective Mysteries
Publisher: Minotaur Books
ISBN : 125025714X
ASIN : B084M1ZNNJ
Print Length: 299 pages
Publication Date: October 13, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Leap by Michael C Grumley (Breakthrough Book2) – A #BookReview #technothriller

Book Blurb:

ONE OF THE GREATEST BREAKTHROUGHS IN HUMAN HISTORY.
AN ACHIEVEMENT THAT STUNNED THE ENTIRE WORLD.
AND IT WAS ONLY THE BEGINNING.

Leap by Michael C GrumleyFacing the cold, clear glass, Alison Shaw stared nervously into the giant seawater tank.
It was just one year ago that she and her team of marine biologists had stunned the world with their incredible breakthrough. And now, they were about to do it again.

But an ocean away, something strange was unfolding. Along a lonely coast in South America, an experimental Russian submarine, long thought to have been dismantled, has suddenly resurfaced. And the U.S. Navy has taken notice, sending officers John Clay and Steve Caesare to investigate.

The sub has been studying a group of unmarked soldiers. Disappearing into the jungle each night beneath the cover of darkness. Something has been discovered…something big.

And it’s about to fall into the wrong hands. Unless Alison Shaw and her team can find something that no one else can.

His Review:

Search for the Fountain of Youth meets interspecies communications. Michael Grumley mixes scientific speculation with current world reality. Many years ago my communications class explained that we transmit information 60% by facial expression and 40% by words. As with most academia this was abridged to be 55/38/7. That is 55% of our communications is body language, 38% voice tone and 7% actual words. This was postulated by Mr. Mehrabian in 1967. I find that if anything can be confused, the academic world will do it.

Leap by Michael C GrumleyThis book is very entertaining when using the above ratios and consider inter-species communications. What if you cannot see the animal before it charges or leaps or is trying to warn you? A rattlesnake shaking its’ tail is a complete communication without necessarily a visual component, but I digress. One main feature in this tale is a new communications device called IMIS. Dolphins communicate with various sounds and clicks and this IMIS system when aimed directly at the creatures translates these sounds into a kind of abbreviated language like pig-Latin. The complete sentences are not there and yet the researchers and the animals communicate.

A concurrent plot is a Chinese war ship parked in the harbor of Georgetown, Guyana. A US Naval research ship and the dolphins are sent to investigate. Under the cover of darkness, the Chinese are harvesting something from the jungles of Guyana. A very rich man wants to find out why one of the monkeys in his “nature retreat to protect animals” has lived to be nearly one hundred years old. The animal is observed trying to untie the netting in the forest compound to free his fellow animals. When they try to capture the animal, he escapes and the team, including IMIS, are hired to help find him. He is a Capuchin Monkey and the “humanitarian” wants to find out how he is living so long.

When arriving near the Georgetown harbor an old Russian submarine is detected. There is some very innovative equipment on the sub which seems to eliminate its’ navigational footprint. Putting these factors together, the US Navy becomes involved in trying to figure out what is happening. Why would a Chinese naval warship be in Caribbean waters? Both questions became a part of a very entertaining plot.

CE WilliamsThe outcome is surprising and also very entertaining. A modicum of science fiction adds to the overall plot and the ending is satisfying. This accomplished author includes a gateway to another segment and an additional novel. The villain is really just a man getting older and is too rich to want to leave this life. He theorizes there must be a genetic anomaly that will lead from his drinking of the fountain of youth. With enough money to make his dream a possible reality he sets out to find the secret. Read the book and see if he was successful. 4.5/5 stars CE Williams

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

Book Details:

Genre: Sea Adventures, Techno-thrillers

ASIN : B00LXRJICK
Print Length: 486 pagesPublication Date: July 14, 2014
Source: BookBub
Title Link: Leap

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

Michael C Grumley - authorThe Author: For years, Michael Grumley dreamed of writing thrillers the way he thought they should be written; complex, multi-genre stories with unique plots that ‘move’. Enter BREAKTHROUGH, AMID THE SHADOWS, and THROUGH THE FOG: all deeply human stories with endings you will never see coming.

Michael C. Grumley lives in Northern California with his two young daughters. He’s an avid reader, runner and most of all father. He dotes on his girls every chance he gets. His website is http://www.michaelgrumley.com and his email address is michael@michaelgrumley.com

He is currently working on the next Breakthrough story.

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Murder at an Irish Christmas (An Irish Village Mystery Book 6) by Carlene O’Connor

“She only speaks music.”

Book Blurb:

Murder at an Irish Christmas by Carlene O'Connor

Garda Siobhán O’Sullivan’s holiday plans hit a sour note when murder rearranges the yuletide carols into unexpected eulogies . . .
 
This December in Kilbane, if you’re planning to warm up with a cuppa tea at Naomi’s Bistro, you may have a bit of a wait—the entire O’Sullivan brood has gone off to West Cork to spend the holidays with brother James’s fiancée Elise’s family, including her grandfather, the famous orchestral conductor Enda Elliot. Siobhán is so happy for James and Elise but also quietly disappointed that she must put her own wedding to fellow garda Macdara Flannery on hold. Mac will have to join them later, so he can spend part of the holidays with his mam.
 
When the O’Sullivans learn everyone will choose a name from a hat to buy a music-related Christmas gift for someone else at the gathering, it seems like their greatest concern—until the cantankerous conductor is discovered crushed under a ninety-pound harp in a local concert hall.
 
With the extended family—including Enda’s much-younger new wife Leah, a virtuoso violinist—suspected in his murder, it’s up to Siobhán to ensure the guilty party faces the music. But as a snowstorm strands both families in a lavish farmhouse on a cliff, Siobhán had better pick up the tempo—before the killer orchestrates another untimely demise . . .

Book Review:

Oh my stars is this novel packed with characters! Normally, that overwhelms me, but not this time—these are large families—but not like we’ll get to know them all.

In this entry to the series, protagonist and Guarda Siobhán O’Sullivan is out of her element as well as district when she puts her own wedding aside to join brother James and his fiancé Elise at her family’s estate in West Cork for the Christmas holiday celebration.It’s not just a full house, but the cottages as well as they begin the task of creating their own Christmas decorations while they join with Elise in her family’s Christmas traditions, which includes a “secret Santa” style of gift-giving. Her extended family includes her grandfather, a famous orchestral conductor as well as his much young wife. His orchestra is poised to present an outstanding concert and all the members are present. Unfortunately, it is he who is picked off shortly after the O’Sullivans get settled.

Murder at an Irish Christmas by Carlene 'Connor

I enjoy this series, the female Guarda O’Sullivan, even if she is tall, red-haired, and pretty. Her own fiancé, Macdara Flannery, is no slouch. Despite trying to stay out of the murder investigation, you know that won’t happen and sooner or later Dara joins her. Then it’s a long list of suspects between the family drama, the mystery, and the orchestra members.

I always enjoy the immersion into Irish culture, lore, food, unpronounceable names…and descriptions of the countryside. (If you missed my review of Book 4, read it here, Book 5 here.) The well-plotted narrative is an easy pace and often punctuated with that great Irish sense of humor I’ve come to expect from the author and the enlivening and perceptive dialogue. There are an abundance of red herrings and twists, and the conclusion may surprise the reader. It’s been fun and I’m looking forward to Book 7.

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

Rosepoint Publishing: Four point Five of Five Stars

4 1/2 stars

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Book Details:

Genre: International Mystery and Crime, Cozy Mystery

Publisher: Kensington Books

ASIN : B085LT73HG

Print Length: 252 pages

Publication Date: to be released October 27, 2020

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Links:

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

Carlene O'Connor - author

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

http://www.carleneoconnor.com

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Watch Her Vanish: (Redux of the) Rockwell and Decker Book 1 by Ellery A Kane  – A #BookReview  – #policeprocedural

OOPS! The CE finished the book, gave me his review and I published it on September 27. See that review here. However, we were invited by Gail Torr as part of Galaxy Media USA to participate in the book tour currently unfolding. Mia culpa—in the meantime—I’ll repeat his review and please enjoy the tour!

Watch Her Vanish by Ellery Kane

 

Readers love Watch Her Vanish:

PERFECTION! Be prepared to skirt your responsibilities because you won’t want to put this book down… keeps you guessing until the end. I cannot wait for the next installment!’ NetGalley reviewer, 5 stars

A taut fast-paced thriller in every sense of the word. Dark and oozing with suspense. Well plotted and stunningly written. Loved it!’ Kelly Russo Reviews, 5 stars

WOWZA!!!… I cannot wait to get my hands on the next installment in this series!’ NetGalley reviewer, 5 stars

Absolutely fantastic… I couldn’t put it down once I started.’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

A scream!…  Grabs a hold of you and keeps you reading till the end!’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

Loved!! Everything about this book was spot-on!…  I was pulled in from the beginning and it didn’t let up once! Can’t wait for book 2.’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

‘A fantastic book. Like wow! I really got into this read This book will draw you in and you won’t be able to stop.’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

Grabs you by the heart, then grabs you by the throat and shakes up all your cells.’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

Book Blurb:

The beam from the lighthouse slices through the dawn sky as she runs down the rocky stairway to the beach. She tries to take it all inthe waves crashing against the cliffs, the whip of salt grass in the windbefore finally dragging her eyes down to the innocent girl’s blonde hair, strewn across the bottom step like seaweed…

Returning home to Fog Harbor, California, to be closer to her little sister, Olivia Rockwell is struggling to adjust to life in a town so small she can hardly breathe. That is, until the sound of a scream leads her to the body of a local teacher in the shallows nearby. All the evidence points to Olivia’s most threatening criminal psychology patient, Drake, who is safely locked up behind bars…

Convinced of Drake’s innocence—and desperate to believe in the system that’s keeping her murderer father in prison and away from her sister—Olivia gets to work on her own suspect list. All her life she’s run towards trouble, but this time she’s treading on the toes of Detective Will Decker, whose past mistakes mean this case is his last chance to make amends.

Then a second woman’s body is discovered, strangled while out on an evening jog. The strip of blue material used to choke her implicates Drake once again, forcing Will to admit he needs Olivia’s special talent for understanding the minds of killers. It’s clear more innocent women will die if they don’t get one step ahead of the murders, and Olivia knows she will need her estranged father’s help to get close to Drake.

But when Olivia’s profile leads them to believe Drake could be masterminding murders from within the prison walls, a message written on a scrap of paper found in the latest victim’s car leads them to a terrifying realization: Olivia’s little sister will be next…

An addictive and unputdownable crime thriller that will keep you up all night. Perfect for fans of Melinda Leigh, Kendra Elliot and Mary Burton.

His Review:

Watch Her Vanish by Ellery KaneMurder intricately designed in a maximum-security prison. Ms. Kane has developed characters that are both engaging and exasperating. Heap that on a prison system with type A personalities and both officers and inmates jostling for position and control and the plot develops. Both the men and women charged with rehabilitating the criminals and the criminals themselves seem hell-bent on controlling the entire system.

Olivia Rockwell is a Doctor of Psychology who strives to rehabilitate these hardened convicts. A mysterious murder of one of the workers at the prison opens the narrative. She and her younger sister Emily are working at the prison and trying to make the prisoners lives better and more productive. But at what personal psychological costs do these prison workers pay for their attempts at helping? Law enforcement and the wardens at times seem to be on the opposite end of this rehabilitation tug-of-war.

Crescent Bay State Prison set in northern California’s north coast is the place where dangerous killers and hardened career criminals reside. The other residences are career prison workers who have been washed out of other California prisons. They are all very smart and crafty and have been trained by the hard knocks of the California Penal System. Add to this the dregs of Bay Area gangs like The Oaktown Boys who wield tremendous influence in all prisons and the plot matures.

I found myself wondering why seemingly intelligent and highly trained women would devolve into situations which led them to being at risk. The further into the narrative I got, the more I began to wonder; can these people be so naïve and stupid? After a couple of similar killings, I would have expected the characters to wise up and not put themselves in threatening and exposed positions. Foggy and cold nights on the northern California coast are not really inviting times to be on the backroads at night, especially knowing there have been some gruesome killings.

Will Decker is a career law enforcement officer who is attracted to Olivia and is charged with finding the killer or killers. The prime suspect is a career criminal who has written a best-selling novel. He is closely watched by everyone and held in maximum security and yet appears to get out and commit the crimes.

The twist at the end of the book caught me unprepared. I recalled dealing in psych wards with people who seemed very normal and suddenly turned into psychiatric basket cases. I did not expect this to happen with people who had so much education and training. My kudos to the author for delving into that aspect. I also appreciated the lack of gratuitous hot sex scenes. Rather, this author made the characters more believable by pointing out their insecurities. CE Williams

I recommend you set aside a good time period to read this tale, as it really isn’t one you can take all at once—at times moving at a rather slow pace. I had a few problems with the protagonist and Detective Decker is a bit cliché. Be aware of the cliffhanger ending. A good pot of coffee or a glass of wine will help. CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Police Procedural, Serial Killer Thriller, Organized Crime Thriller
Publisher: Bookouture

  • ASIN : B08D3X8Y2X

Print Length: 441 pages
Publication Date: October 9, 2020
Title Link: Watch Her Vanish [Amazon]

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Ellery A Kane - authorThe Author: Forensic psychologist by day, novelist by night, Ellery Kane has been writing–professionally and creatively–for as long as she can remember. Just like many of her main characters, Ellery loves to ask why, which is the reason she became a psychologist in the first place. Real life really is stranger than fiction, and Ellery’s writing is often inspired by her day job. Evaluating violent criminals and treating trauma victims, she has gained a unique perspective on the past and its indelible influence on the individual. And she’s heard her fair share of real life thrillers.

Ellery lives in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, a picturesque setting that provides the backdrop for many of her novels. If you don’t find Ellery interviewing murderers behind prison walls or pecking away at her latest novel, she is probably at the gym landing a solid jab-cross to a punching bag; riding bicycles with her special someone; or enjoying a movie the old-fashioned way–at the theater with popcorn and Milk Duds.

Ellery was previously selected as one of ten semifinalists in the MasterClass James Patterson Co-Author Competition, and she recently signed a three book deal with Bookouture for her new Rockwell and Decker mystery thriller series. The first book is scheduled for release in 2020.

If you’d like to receive a notification when new books are released, please sign up for Ellery’s newsletter at ellerykane.com. Ellery also signs e-books on authorgraph.com.

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

HIDING CRACKED GLASS BY JAMES J. CUDNEY – a #BookReview @jamescudney4 – @Shalini_G26

Hiding Cracked Glass by James J Cudney

Series Name: Perceptions of Glass
Genre: Family Life Fiction, Suspense
Publisher: Magnum Opus – A Next Chapter Imprint; 1st Edition (October 8, 2020)
ASIN : B08F3YWTYX
Print Length: 286 pages
Publication Date: October 8, 2020
Source: Blog Tour
Title Link: Hiding Cracked Glass [Amazon]

About the Book

An ominous blackmail letter appears at an inopportune moment. The recipient’s name is accidentally blurred out upon arrival. Which member of the Glass family is the ruthless missive meant for?

In the powerful sequel to Watching Glass Shatter, Olivia is the first to read the nasty threat and assumes it’s meant for her. When the mysterious letter falls into the wrong hands and is read aloud, it throws the entire Glass family into an inescapable trajectory of self-question. Across the span of eight hours, Olivia and her sons contemplate whether to confess their hidden secrets or find a way to bury them forever. Some failed to learn an important lesson last time. Will they determine how to save themselves before it’s too late?

Each chapter’s focus alternates between the various family members and introduces several new and familiar faces with a vested interest in the outcome. As each hour ticks by, the remaining siblings and their mother gradually reveal what’s happened to them in the preceding months, and when the blackmailer makes an appearance at Olivia’s birthday party, the truth brilliantly comes to light.

Although everyone seemed to embrace the healing process at the end of Watching Glass Shatter, there were hidden cracks in the Glass family that couldn’t be mended. Their lives are about to shatter into pieces once again, but this time, the stakes are even higher. Someone wants to teach them a permanent lesson and refuses to stop until success is achieved. 

My Thoughts

If it seemed that circumstances had evolved to a resolution of the issues visited by the shocking revelations in Watching Glass Shatter, the hushed euphoria quietly evaporated in this instalment of the Perceptions of Glass series.

Hiding-Cracked-Glass-Promo-PaperbackA strong reminder that people are people whether rich or poor, they face the same dilemmas and crises of the lesser privileged and are no less damaging. Olivia is back, now with her remaining four sons after having a retreat to Italy after the loss of both her husband and youngest son. There were life-altering secrets revealed in that earlier narrative, many shared; some not.

Olivia is going to celebrate a birthday and having returned to the family fold happy to be back until she received a blackmail letter. Unfortunately, several events occurred prior to her seeing the letter, which she immediately assumed should have been directed to her. And wasn’t. Unfortunately, the way it is revealed has the rest of the family reeling with assurance that perhaps it was not intended for Olivia, but for them.

There are the men and their mates, along with relatively unknown faces, and Diane, Olivia’s sister—aunt to the boys—more mother than aunt. In the ensuing hours, the POV is switched from brother to brother, as well as Olivia, along with flashbacks that fill in the backstory to bring the current scene up to date.

Each of the offspring has their own foibles and are working on those as well as the relationship with their remaining brothers. Olivia tends to remain emotionally elusive, continuing to hold back valuable information that should be shared and isn’t, unfortunately, until it’s too late. The characters are well developed and as monied privilege tend to exhibit narcissistic tendencies and I had difficulty with all of them. My heart went out to Emma and I was busy rooting for her. She and Diane are most sympathetic, but the mantra continues to hammer family…familyfamily. Even with the level of dysfunction, the theme doesn’t relax.

As each member is dissected as possibly being the blackmail target, more secrets are laid open, exposed. A classic example that money can’t buy you everything. Can these family members ever find peace?

The well-plotted novel navigates through several twists and pulls into a tragic conclusion that has your heart sinking into the depths. NOOOooooo. A story of family dramas, secrets, misguided intentions, selected equitable solutions.

“Children aren’t an opportunity to fix your past. They’re a chance to improve the world’s future.”

I was gifted a digital copy for the occasion of the blog tour and these are my unbiased opinions.

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About the Author

Background

James J Cudney - authorJames is my given name, but most folks call me Jay. I live in New York City, grew up on Long Island, and graduated from Moravian College, an historic but small liberal arts school in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with a degree in English literature and minors in Education, Business and Spanish. After college, I accepted a technical writing position for a telecommunications company during Y2K and spent the last ~20 years building a career in technology & business operations in the retail, sports, media and entertainment industries. Throughout those years, I wrote some short stories, poems and various beginnings to the “Great American Novel,” but I was so focused on my career in technology and business that writing became a hobby. In 2016, I refocused some of my energies toward reinvigorating a second career in reading, writing and publishing.

Author

Writing has been a part of my life as much as my heart, my mind and my body. At some points, it was just a few poems or short stories; at others, it was full length novels and stories. My current focus is family drama fiction, cozy mystery novels and suspense thrillers. I think of characters and plots that I feel must be unwound. I think of situations people find themselves in and feel compelled to tell the story. It’s usually a convoluted plot with many surprise twists and turns. I feel it necessary to take that ride all over the course. My character is easily pictured in my head. I know what he is going to encounter or what she will feel. But I need to use the right words to make it clear.

Reader & Reviewer

Reading has also never left my side. Whether it was children’s books, young adult novels, college textbooks, biographies or my ultimate love, fiction, it’s ever present in my day. I read 2 books per week and I’m on a quest to update every book I’ve ever read on Goodreads, write up a review and post it on all my sites and platforms.

Blogger & Thinker

I have combined my passions into a single platform where I share reviews, write a blog and publish tons of content: TRUTH. I started my 365 Daily Challenge, where I post about a word that has some meaning to me and converse with everyone about life. There is humor, tears, love, friendship, advice and bloopers. Lots of bloopers where I poke fun at myself all the time. Even my dogs have had weekly segments called “Ryder’s Rants” or “Baxter’s Barks” where they complain about me. All these things make up who I am; none of them are very fancy or magnanimous, but they are real. And that’s why they are me.

Genealogist & Researcher

I love history and research, finding myself often reaching back into the past to understand why someone made the choice he or she did and what were the subsequent consequences. I enjoy studying the activities and culture from hundreds of years ago to trace the roots and find the puzzle of my own history. I wish I could watch my ancestors from a secret place to learn how they interacted with others; and maybe I’ll comprehend why I do things the way I do.

Author Links

Website: https://jamesjcudney.com/

Blog: https://thisismytruthnow.com

Amazon: http://bit.ly/JJCIVBooks

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

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/james-j-cudney

Social Media

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jamescudney4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Genres, Formats & Languages

I write in the family drama and mystery genres. My first two books are Watching Glass Shatter (2017) and Father Figure (2018). Both are contemporary fiction and focus on the dynamics between parents and children and between siblings. I’m currently writing the sequel to Watching Glass Shatter. I also have a light mystery series called the Braxton Campus Mysteries with six books available.

All my books come in multiple formats (Kindle, physical print, large print paperback, and audiobook) and some are also translated into foreign languages such as Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and German.

Goodreads Book Links

Watching Glass Shatter (October 2017)

Father Figure (April 2018)

Braxton Campus Mysteries

Thank you to Digital Reads Blog Tours for the invitation to this tour.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

The Darkest Evening: A Vera Stanhope Novel: Vera Stanhope Book 9 by Ann Cleeves – An #Audiobook Review – #policeprocedural

“From Ann Cleeves – New York Times best-selling and award-winning author of the Vera and Shetland series, both of which are hit TV shows – comes the stunning new Vera Stanhope novel, The Darkest Evening.” 

The Darkest Evening by Ann Cleeves

Book Blurb:

On the first snowy night of winter, Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope sets off for her home in the hills. Though the road is familiar, she misses a turning and soon becomes lost and disorientated. A car has skidded off the narrow road in front of her, its door left open, and she stops to help. There is no driver to be seen, so Vera assumes that the owner has gone to find help. But a cry calls her back: a toddler is strapped in the back seat.

Vera takes the child and, driving on, she arrives at a place she knows well. Brockburn is a large, grand house in the wilds of Northumberland, now a little shabby and run down. It’s also where her father, Hector, grew up. Inside, there’s a party in full swing: music, Christmas lights, and laughter. Outside, unbeknownst to the revelers, a woman lies dead in the snow.

As the blizzard traps the group deep in the freezing Northumberland countryside, Brockburn begins to give up its secrets, and as Vera digs deeper into her investigation, she also begins to uncover her family’s complicated past.

My Review:

Ugh! I really hate it when I discover a new author (to me) and then realize I had no clue just how well established or far-reaching the author is—apparently to the rest of the world. Why am I always the last to know?

So, my first experience with the author, much less the character of Vera, a DCI in Northumberland. She is a what? Gasp! Not just a woman—also a “mature” woman.  Well, not so sold or engaged in probably the first quarter of the book—not like there was a lot of backstory going on. After the initial scene—that of Vera discovering a car off the road in a snowstorm…with the doors open…with a baby strapped inside—things tend to bog down just a tad.

The Darkest Evening by Ann CleevesIt’s the estate of distant relatives, aristocrats with which her family was estranged, and they are having a party in the country house. No cell service, she slogs to the house with the toddler to notify her office and get some help finding the person who abandoned the car. Who would seek help but leave a baby with the doors open? They do find the mother’s body, but she didn’t freeze to death. Lorna Falstone had a history of mental health issues, including anorexia, and was a single mother.

It’s a small, tight-knit community with the haves and have-nots and few secrets—except perhaps for the identity of the baby’s father. Character-driven, a study in the dysfunction of the well-to-do as well as those working their land.

I was sympathetically engaged with Vera—she was fighting an uphill battle in her position—but now add her age to that and she sees her share of discrimination. She is supported by a team, that of DS Joe Ashworth (not so supportive) and DC Holly Jackman (guardedly supportive and) smart enough to watch the master at work and learn. Vera is often the target of Joe’s wife who says he works too hard and too many hours. I appreciated the character of Holly—she is content being unconsciously mentored by Vera—and she’s a sponge. There is a grudging and growing respect between both of them. Holly often sees the path Vera is taking—anticipating the path—and providing timely support.

As Vera continues to interview and investigate, gradually gleaning clues and pursuing leads, little secrets and family dynamics are peeled back and exposed. Vera leads with a strong protagonist, no-nonsense, take no prisoners attitude.

The well-plotted storyline leads inexorably to the perpetrator with one further casualty into the investigation and a thrilling heart-stopping conclusion. Janine Birkett does an admirable job as narrator, quietly adding emotion and tension. The atmospheric woodsy setting, dark and cold, hand-warming tea cups and biscuits or brandy paints a quiet, rural, but deadly setting and adds to the creepiness of the scenes bringing to the forefront the poem by Robert Frost:

“…The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”

And I didn’t even know I was a (Robert Frost) Ann Cleeves fan. But I do now. And I’ll be looking for more of her books (and probably the TV series as well).

Book Details:

Genre: International Mystery & Crime, Women Sleuth Mysteries, Police Procedural Mysteries
Publisher:  A Macmillan Audio production from Minotaur Books

  • ISBN-10:
  • ISBN-13:

ASIN: B084D6ZP74
 Print Length: 379 pages
Listening Length: 11 hrs, 16 mins.
Narrator: Janine Birkett
Publication Date: September 8, 2020
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Darkest Evening

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

Ann Cleeves - authorThe Author: Ann [Cleeves] is the author of the books behind ITV’s VERA, now in it’s third series, and the BBC’s SHETLAND, which will be aired in December 2012. Ann’s DI Vera Stanhope series of books is set in Northumberland and features the well loved detective along with her partner Joe Ashworth. Ann’s Shetland series bring us DI Jimmy Perez, investigating in the mysterious, dark, and beautiful Shetland Islands…

Ann grew up in the country, first in Herefordshire, then in North Devon. Her father was a village school teacher. After dropping out of university she took a number of temporary jobs – child care officer, women’s refuge leader, bird observatory cook, auxiliary coastguard – before going back to college and training to be a probation officer.

While she was cooking in the Bird Observatory on Fair Isle, she met her husband Tim, a visiting ornithologist. She was attracted less by the ornithology than the bottle of malt whisky she saw in his rucksack when she showed him his room. Soon after they married, Tim was appointed as warden of Hilbre, a tiny tidal island nature reserve in the Dee Estuary. They were the only residents, there was no mains electricity or water and access to the mainland was at low tide across the shore. If a person’s not heavily into birds – and Ann isn’t – there’s not much to do on Hilbre and that was when she started writing. Her first series of crime novels features the elderly naturalist, George Palmer-Jones. A couple of these books are seriously dreadful.

In 1987 Tim, Ann and their two daughters moved to Northumberland and the north east provides the inspiration for many of her subsequent titles. The girls have both taken up with Geordie lads. In the autumn of 2006, Ann and Tim finally achieved their ambition of moving back to the North East.

For the National Year of Reading, Ann was made reader-in-residence for three library authorities. It came as a revelation that it was possible to get paid for talking to readers about books! She went on to set up reading groups in prisons as part of the Inside Books project, became Cheltenham Literature Festival’s first reader-in-residence and still enjoys working with libraries.
Ann Cleeves on stage at the Duncan Lawrie Dagger awards ceremony

Ann’s short film for Border TV, Catching Birds, won a Royal Television Society Award. She has twice been short listed for a CWA Dagger Award – once for her short story The Plater, and the following year for the Dagger in the Library award.

In 2006 Ann Cleeves was the first winner of the prestigious Duncan Lawrie Dagger Award of the Crime Writers’ Association for Raven Black, the first volume of her Shetland Quartet. The Duncan Lawrie Dagger replaces the CWA’s Gold Dagger award, and the winner receives £20,000, making it the world’s largest award for crime fiction.

Ann’s success was announced at the 2006 Dagger Awards ceremony at the Waldorf Hilton, in London’s Aldwych, on Thursday 29 June 2006. She said: “I have never won anything before in my life, so it was a complete shock – but lovely of course.. The evening was relatively relaxing because I’d lost my voice and knew that even if the unexpected happened there was physically no way I could utter a word. So I wouldn’t have to give a speech. My editor was deputed to do it!”

The judging panel consisted of Geoff Bradley (non-voting Chair), Lyn Brown MP (a committee member on the London Libraries service), Frances Gray (an academic who writes about and teaches courses on modern crime fiction), Heather O’Donoghue (academic, linguist, crime fiction reviewer for The Times Literary Supplement, and keen reader of all crime fiction) and Barry Forshaw (reviewer and editor of Crime Time magazine).

Ann’s books have been translated into sixteen languages. She’s a bestseller in Scandinavia and Germany. Her novels sell widely and to critical acclaim in the United States. Raven Black was shortlisted for the Martin Beck award for best translated crime novel in Sweden in 200.
Bio and photo from Goodreads.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Reference and partial quote in the book from the poem Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost (1874-1963)

Without a Brew: A Sloan Krause Mystery Book 4) by Ellie Alexander – a #BookReview #cozymystery

“Life is what happens between coffee and beer.”

Book Blurb:

Amateur sleuth Sloan Krause delves into a murderous winter wonderland in another delightful mystery from cozy writer Ellie Alexander, Without a Brew.

It’s winter in the Bavarian village of Leavenworth, Washington, which for local brewmaster Sloan Krause means lots of layers, pine and citrus-flavored craft beers, and getting the new guest rooms at Nitro into pristine condition before visitors flood in for IceFest—a local tradition filled with fireworks, ice carving, and winter games of all varieties. But Sloan and her boss Garrett quickly learn that being brewkeepers turned innkeepers may not be as idyllic as it sounded.

While one couple staying with them seems completely smitten, a flashy group arrives in the evening demanding rooms. Sloan and Garrett are less than impressed, but agree to rent to them anyway. The night takes a turn when brewery patron Liv Paxton finishes her frothy pint and, with no previous plan for an overnight stay in Leavenworth, eagerly takes Sloan up on the offer of sanctuary from the snow—until she has a strange run in with some locals and the other guests. Sloan could be imagining things, but when Liv’s room is found trashed the next morning, a hateful message painted on her car, and Liv herself is nowhere to be found, Sloan is convinced another mystery is brewing. With many of the potential suspects hunkering down under Nitro’s roof, she knows her co-workers and friends won’t be safe until she serves up the killer a hoppy pint of justice.

My Review:

I really enjoying tearing into this series as soon as the next book is available. Not a beer drinker, but this series is written so well I’m almost ready to try–it’s right there with soliloquies about wine. Such an art—I’ll bet you never knew!

“The beer thief, or sample thief, as they were sometimes called, was a long plastic device with a gravity valve on the base.” Hmmm…okay.

Sloan Krause is the product of the foster care system, but has found a strong family and idyllic home in Leavenworth, Washington, where she has joined Garrett in crafting unusual beers made from specialty hops and crops unique to the area and the season. They’ve gradually added more services, light snacks and soups and are now looking forward to opening rooms above Nitro as a limited B&B. Her ex is from a strong German family where she honed the knowledge of her craft and learned to love the family she never had. She also has a teenage son, Alex.

In this episode, they are gearing up for IceFest and testing their B&B quarters which has resulted in an eclectic group of guests—opposites on the social pole with one group downright obnoxious, as well as a couple celebrating an anniversary, and a single woman stranded for the night.

So many strong layers here to enjoy: the description of the delightful Bavarian style town nestled in the high mountains of Washington state and the citizens, the information regarding the art of brewing, the equipment, the nuances, ingredients and recipes, Sloan’s mysterious background coming to the fore and its possible connection to her (soon-to-be ex) in-laws, and the mystery itself expertly woven smoothly together. It’s okay that it’s Book 4, the author easily adds bits of pertinent data (no info dump), although these are fun enough to go back and start with Book 1.

The protagonist herself, Sloan, is not an in-your-face amateur sleuth. She doesn’t generally put herself at risk. She is good with people, quietly putting them at ease, and usually gets the clues she’s looking for without their being any the wiser. Also, she works well with local police Chief Meyers, herself an intelligent woman, effective, exchanging hints.

The mystery rides the tide with Sloan’s personal life growth and that of the service industry and occasionally slips in a quick recipe explanation or two. The mystery is not without twists or red herrings. Not like you won’t get a sense of the perp (although once again, not one I wanted it to be). The author builds her characters so three-dimensionally, the reader becomes engaged and except for the rude and crude one, not easy to assign guilt.

Fully invested and rolling in all the layers, the conclusion comes whether or not you’re ready. The storyline has resolved several issues, set up for the next book, and fully cemented you in the series. The only issue I had was of “the sharp edge of the shovel.” Just not sure that’s one you’d walk away from.

I missed the first, but have read and thoroughly enjoyed Books 2 and 3. You should check out this atmospheric and character-driven series. On pre-order now, this one releases in November.  

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley. These are my unbiased thoughts.

Rosepoint Publishing: Four point Five of Five Stars

4 1/2 stars

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Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Culinary Mystery, Amateur Sleuths

Publisher: Minotaur Books

ASIN : B084M1SDGK

Print Length: 304 pages

Publication Date: November 10, 2020

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

About The Author:

ELLIE ALEXANDER is a Pacific Northwest native who spends ample time testing pastry recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouses and breweries nearby. When she’s not coated in flour, you’ll find her outside exploring hiking trails of Southern Oregon and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of research. She is the author of the Bakeshop Mystery Series and the Sloan Krause Mysteries. Follow her on social media to learn more about her books, see her recipe videos, and participate in fun giveaways!

Find out more about Ellie and her books by visiting her here:
Website: https://www.elliealexander.co/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ellie_alexander
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/elliealexanderauthor
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elliealexanderauthor
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/BakeshopMystery
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/elliealexander

(C) 2020 V Williams

V Williams

Back Bay Blues (An Andy Roark Mystery Book 2) by Peter Holt – a #BookReview – Hard-Boiled Mystery

Happy Publishing Day!

‘“…we gotta di di mau. Come on, bud, we gotta go.”… He was right. We had places to go. Things to do. Our war wasn’t over yet.’

 Book Blurb:

Theft, greed, and corruption collide in Peter Colt’s hard-edged new mystery featuring Vietnam veteran turned Boston P.I. Andy Roark.
 
Back Bay Blues by Peter Colt1985, Boston. In Vietnam, Andy Roark witnessed death and horrifying destruction. But for the soldiers who made it back alive, there are other casualties of war—the loss of tenderness, trust, and connection. Still feeling adrift and unsettled, Andy has struck up a welcome friendship with Nguyen, a Vietnamese restaurant owner. Sipping beer and trading memories after the restaurant shutters, Andy gradually learns of the extraordinary lengths Nguyen took to flee Saigon shortly after its fall.

Andy’s latest case, too, has ties to Vietnam. His new client, a beautiful and enigmatic young Vietnamese woman, hires him to investigate her uncle’s murder. Andy discovers a connection to a group of refugees determined to overthrow the communist government. Led by the sinister Colonel Tran, the Committee is extorting local business owners to raise funds. The search for more answers takes Andy from Boston to Washington D.C. to San Francisco, and deep into a web of political and personal betrayal.

Somewhere near the heart of this mystery is a connection to Nguyen’s daring escape from Saigon. Decades may have passed, but sometimes the price of freedom twists allies into enemies, loyalties into betrayals, and truth into a web of lies . . .

My Review:

Yes, of course this premise would appeal to me and the CE (who has not yet read it), as we were married when the CE joined the Navy. So while he did not set foot on the soil of Viet Nam certainly was embroiled in a support effort. (I remember the Bob Hope tour that came to Taiwan when we were there.) Anyway…

Back Bay Blues by Peter ColtThe protagonist, Andy Roark is a Vietnam veteran of the Special Forces, Recon. He was perfect in his role and good at what he did. He was a survivor. The problem was, he saw a lot of his buddies die and ended with survivor’s guilt as well as a good bit of PTSD.

Arriving back home, no real family to speak of, he worked a short time in the Boston PD and decided it was worse than the Army. So he became a private investigator and no one to tell him what to do. It’s been sufficient for him until he is hired by a young Vietnamese American woman to find out who killed her uncle.

His first look into the matter discovers there was a journalist in Boston killed within two days of her uncle. There is a locally strong Vietnamese community apparently strongly divided politically and problems have festered between the two factions.

The deeper he gets into the investigation, the more serious attempt on his life, but at this point, the pit bull in him comes out and he will NOT drop it until he knows the whole story. The corruption appears to spread fingers beyond the community.

It is a complex and well-plotted narrative, fast-paced. I enjoyed the author’s sense of humor, which intermittently pulled at the seriousness of the storyline. There was a lot of knowledge and expertise expressed, explanation of materiels. Remember, this is back in 1985—ten years after the fall of Saigon. Feelings of the unpopular conflict raw. There was no “thank you for your service” back then.

Amazingly enough, there are little pops of dishes of which I almost expected the recipes to be found at the end of the book.

Andy is damaged, scarred, aware of his aloneness. Not lonely. Alone. He is a sympathic character, an underdog to root for. The author has a unique writing style that I appreciated and kept me engaged. The conclusion was very satisfying.

My first novel with this author and this series, but I found no problem jumping right into Book 2 (and will be looking forward to Book 3, should there be one). This is releasing today. Looking for something different? Entertaining, unique? Totally recommended, buy from your favorite outlet; links noted below.

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

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Book Details:

Genre: Hard-Boiled Mystery, Hard-Boiled Mysteries, Cozy Culinary Mystery
Publisher: Kensington

  • ASIN : B082WS2YXC
  • Print Length: 208 pages

Publication Date: Happy Release Day! September 29. 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

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

Peter Colt - author
Peter Colt – author

The Author: I am currently a police officer in a small New England city where I have worked since 2007. I spent over twenty years in the Army reserve and was deployed to Kosovo in 2000, where I was attached to the Russian Army. I deployed to Iraq in 2003 and again in 2008. I was fortunate to get to know many Vietnam vets and U.S. Army Special forces soldiers. I lived on Nantucket Island from 1973‑1986. He’s currently working on the next Andy Roark mystery.

I write because I enjoy it. I hope to tell the types of stories that I like to read but inform them with my experiences. I enjoy interacting with readers who get something from the book or the characters. Or if some aspect of the books resonate with the readers. That is the cool part of this whole thing.

I was probably one of the few people in the U.S. Army to ride on top of a Russian Army Armored Personnel Carrier (APC), in this case a BTR-80, with Russian soldiers, going jointly to a riot. Good times!

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Watch Her Vanish: An absolutely gripping mystery thriller (Rockwell and Decker Book 1) by Ellery A Kane – A #BookReview – #policeprocedural

A CE Review

Book Blurb:

The beam from the lighthouse slices through the dawn sky as she runs down the rocky stairway to the beach. She tries to take it all inthe waves crashing against the cliffs, the whip of salt grass in the windbefore finally dragging her eyes down to the innocent girl’s blonde hair, strewn across the bottom step like seaweed…

Watch Her Vanish by Ellery A KaneReturning home to Fog Harbor, California, to be closer to her little sister, Olivia Rockwell is struggling to adjust to life in a town so small she can hardly breathe. That is, until the sound of a scream leads her to the body of a local teacher in the shallows nearby. All the evidence points to Olivia’s most threatening criminal psychology patient, Drake, who is safely locked up behind bars…

Convinced of Drake’s innocence—and desperate to believe in the system that’s keeping her murderer father in prison and away from her sister—Olivia gets to work on her own suspect list. All her life she’s run towards trouble, but this time she’s treading on the toes of Detective Will Decker, whose past mistakes mean this case is his last chance to make amends.

Then a second woman’s body is discovered, strangled while out on an evening jog. The strip of blue material used to choke her implicates Drake once again, forcing Will to admit he needs Olivia’s special talent for understanding the minds of killers. It’s clear more innocent women will die if they don’t get one step ahead of the murders, and Olivia knows she will need her estranged father’s help to get close to Drake.

But when Olivia’s profile leads them to believe Drake could be masterminding murders from within the prison walls, a message written on a scrap of paper found in the latest victim’s car leads them to a terrifying realization: Olivia’s little sister will be next…

An addictive and unputdownable crime thriller that will keep you up all night. Perfect for fans of Melinda Leigh, Kendra Elliot and Mary Burton.

His Review:

Murder intricately designed in a maximum-security prison. Ms. Kane has developed characters that are both engaging and exasperating. Heap that on a prison system with type A personalities and both officers and inmates jostling for position and control and the plot develops. Both the men and women charged with rehabilitating the criminals and the criminals themselves seem hell-bent on controlling the entire system.

Watch Her Vanish by Ellery A KaneOlivia Rockwell is a Doctor of Psychology who strives to rehabilitate these hardened convicts. A mysterious murder of one of the workers at the prison opens the narrative. She and her younger sister Emily are working at the prison and trying to make the prisoners lives better and more productive. But at what personal psychological costs do these prison workers pay for their attempts at helping? Law enforcement and the wardens at times seem to be on the opposite end of this rehabilitation tug-of-war.

Crescent Bay State Prison set in northern California’s north coast is the place where dangerous killers and hardened career criminals reside. The other residences are career prison workers who have been washed out of other California prisons. They are all very smart and crafty and have been trained by the hard knocks of the California Penal System. Add to this the dregs of Bay Area gangs like The Oaktown Boys who wield tremendous influence in all prisons and the plot matures.

I found myself wondering why seemingly intelligent and highly trained women would devolve into situations which led them to being at risk. The further into the narrative I got, the more I began to wonder; can these people be so naïve and stupid? After a couple of similar killings, I would have expected the characters to wise up and not put themselves in threatening and exposed positions. Foggy and cold nights on the northern California coast are not really inviting times to be on the backroads at night, especially knowing there have been some gruesome killings.

Will Decker is a career law enforcement officer who is attracted to Olivia and is charged with finding the killer or killers. The prime suspect is a career criminal who has written a best-selling novel. He is closely watched by everyone and held in maximum security and yet appears to get out and commit the crimes.

The twist at the end of the book caught me unprepared. I recalled dealing in psych wards with people who seemed very normal and suddenly turned into psychiatric basket cases. I did not expect this to happen with people who had so much education and training. My kudos to the author for delving into that aspect. I also appreciated the lack of gratuitous hot sex scenes. Rather, this author made the characters more believable by pointing out their insecurities.

CE WilliamsI recommend you set aside a good time period to read this tale, as it really isn’t one you can take all at once—at times moving at a rather slow pace. I had a few problems with the protagonist and Detective Decker is a bit cliché. Be aware of the cliffhanger ending. A good pot of coffee or a glass of wine will help.

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley. These are my honest thoughts. 4 stars –  CE Williams 

Book Details:

Genre: Police Procedural, Serial Killer Thriller, Organized Crime Thriller
Publisher: Bookouture
ASIN : B08D3X8Y2X
Print Length: 441 pages
Publication Date: October 9, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Watch Her Vanish [Amazon]
Find the book at these locations:
Barnes and Noble
Kobo

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4 stars

Ellery A Kane - authorThe Author: Forensic psychologist by day, novelist by night, Ellery Kane has been writing–professionally and creatively–for as long as she can remember. Just like many of her main characters, Ellery loves to ask why, which is the reason she became a psychologist in the first place. Real life really is stranger than fiction, and Ellery’s writing is often inspired by her day job. Evaluating violent criminals and treating trauma victims, she has gained a unique perspective on the past and its indelible influence on the individual. And she’s heard her fair share of real life thrillers.

Ellery lives in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, a picturesque setting that provides the backdrop for many of her novels. If you don’t find Ellery interviewing murderers behind prison walls or pecking away at her latest novel, she is probably at the gym landing a solid jab-cross to a punching bag; riding bicycles with her special someone; or enjoying a movie the old-fashioned way–at the theater with popcorn and Milk Duds.

Ellery was previously selected as one of ten semifinalists in the MasterClass James Patterson Co-Author Competition, and she recently signed a three book deal with Bookouture for her new Rockwell and Decker mystery thriller series. The first book is scheduled for release in 2020.

If you’d like to receive a notification when new books are released, please sign up for Ellery’s newsletter at ellerykane.com. Ellery also signs e-books on authorgraph.com.

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Mistletoe, Moussaka, and Murder (A Kebab Kitchen Mystery Book 5) by Tina Kashian – a #BookReview – #cozymystery

Book Blurb:

Not even her impending nuptials can keep Lucy Berberian, manager of her family-owned Kebab Kitchen, from the Jersey Shore’s annual Polar Bear Plunge. But her dive into the icy ocean is especially chilling when she finds a fellow swimmer doing the dead man’s float—for real . . .
 
Who would kill a man in cold blood during Ocean Crest, New Jersey’s most popular winter event? When Lucy learns the victim is Deacon Spooner, the reception hall owner who turned up his nose—and his price—at her wedding plans, she can’t help wondering who 
wouldn’t kill the pompous caterer . . .

Perhaps the culprit is the wedding cake baker whose career Deacon nearly destroyed? Or the angry bride whose reception he ruined? With her maid of honor, Katie, busily planning Lucy’s wedding without her, Lucy will have to get to the bottom of this cold-hearted business in time for Kebab Kitchen’s mouthwatering Christmas celebration—and before her hometown’s holiday spirit washes out to sea . . .

My Review:

Not my first go-round with this author and series, and while it would function just fine as a standalone, I started remembering Lucy the protagonist and her support characters. My favorite is always Katie, her BFF, and in this entry to the series pushing Lucy to proceed with her engagement and wedding plans. Lucy has obstinately dug in and refused to budge.

Visiting a possible venue, the owner is seriously rude (to potential clients??!) that she crosses that one off immediately. However, as she’s embroiled in the Polar Bear Plunge, she and Katie brave their way in and leaving the water discover said nasty venue owner on the sand and not moving. She’s not been the only person he was rude to and universally disliked. (Beyond me how he could stay in business.)

One of the universally abused is her friend Susan, owner of the bakery Susie’s Cuties. Having had a run-in or two with the deceased and also in the same frigid water at the same time, the local detective has decided she’s numero uno suspect. You know the drill.

While the quest to clear her friend becomes a driving force, Katie is still busy pushing the wedding bell blues; venue, cake, dress, food, music, photographer…although I must hand it to Katie, she is up front with helping Lucy in her pursuit of the real killer (yes, shh! he was held underwater).

It is a well-plotted book but I had a difficult time getting into the mystery when it slogged along just under the wedding plans and her reticence of making the engagement announcement or wrestling with her qualms of marriage to Azad. He seems like a nice enough guy, hard worker, successful chef in her parents restaurant. Personally, I think that’s a done deal.

The parents and their loving bickering is par for the course. The kitty is a personality as well as her rather nosy landlady. There is naturally a lot of foodie talk—most of it sounded yummy. I was sorry to see revealed in the conclusion the one I suspected but hoped it wasn’t. Also chagrined to see the reason behind the mayhem. Really? I also read One Feta in the Grave but think I actually enjoyed it more.

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

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

Book Details:

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

  • ASIN : B082WR6DMT

Print Length: 293 pages
Publication Date: To be released September 29, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

Tina Kashian - authorThe Author: Tina Kashian, previously published as Tina Gabrielle, is an Amazon bestselling author, an attorney, and a former mechanical engineer whose love of reading for pleasure helped her get through years of academia. Tina spent her childhood summers at the Jersey shore building sandcastles, boogie boarding, and riding the boardwalk Ferris wheel. She also grew up in the restaurant business, as her Armenian parents owned a restaurant for thirty years. Tina’s books have been Barnes & Noble top picks and on the B&N bestseller’s list. Please visit her website at http://www.tinakashian.com to join her newsletter, receive delicious recipes, enter free contests, and more!

You can also find Tina at:
Facebook: facebook.com/TinaKashianAuthor
Instagram: instagram.com/tinakashian
Twitter: @TinaKashian1
Website: http://www.tinakashian.com

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Act of Revenge: A Medial Thriller (A Doc Brady Mystery) by John Bishop MD – a #BookReview #medicalthriller

I have a question for you: Can you really enjoy reading a medical thriller? The CE and I read this one.

 Book Blurb:

Act of Revenge by John Bishop MDPlastic surgeon Lou Edwards’s life is complicated by two major issues.

One, his wife has lupus, possibly due to leaking silicone from breast implants Edwards himself inserted. And two, his malpractice insurance has been canceled, as it has been for many other plastic surgeons, due to the burgeoning breast implant problem.

But it gets worse.

Shortly after Edwards threatens an insurance company president on national TV, the president is found murdered in his penthouse.

Dr. Jim Bob Brady once again finds himself doing a bit of investigating, this time on behalf of a colleague. But how well does he know this colleague? Is the investigation worth the threat to Jim Bob’s own life? Will he discover that it was a burglary gone bad? A lover’s quarrel? Or is this an act of revenge?

My Review:

Oh yes, refreshing as it is with down home Dr. Jim Bob Brady. Yeah—Jim Bob. From Texas. He’s an orthopedic surgeon, who, at the age of 51 has decided he’s paid his dues and slacked back a bit from the grind. He has to put in continuing education time for his license—why not a conference in Snowmass, Colorado for a little bit of February skiing?

“He had a full head of thick black curly hair and was ruggedly handsome. I disliked him immediately.”

Act of Revenge by John Bishop MDIf you’ve ever snow skied, you know it’s that last run of the day when your legs feel like jelly but you JUST don’t want to give it up that accidents are most likely to happen. And it does. Doc Brady plows into a lesser skier who turned into his path. And wouldn’t you know? He’s another doctor from his own area of Houston.

No, Jim Bob won’t do the surgery but they do get him back home and one of Brady’s colleagues does the surgery. Dr. Brady and his wife, Mary Louise keeps up on his progress while Mary Louise befriends Lou Edward’s wife. She has lupus and is in ill health due to breast implants Edwards himself insisted she undergo. Of course that opens the disclosure that Dr. Edwards, a plastic surgeon, having been sued in regard to related silicone breast plant injuries, had his malpractice insurance cancelled. Come to find out, so has many other plastic surgeons with the same kind of practice. Their insurance based right in the Houston area.

Hooboy, you do get some medical jargon, but it’s fascinating stuff and really doesn’t slow the well-plotted storyline. I really enjoy that personable Dr. Brady and his family, his friends, the local police with whom he’s worked before. This is Book 3 of the series, but even if you’d not started with Book 1, this would work just fine for you. The characters all work well and it doesn’t take long before you become engaged. So medical malpractice insurance and breast augmentation discussion and can be interesting.

An entertaining medical thriller mystery with a protagonist full of wit and charm, that oozes a sense of humor that’s contagious. (I also enjoyed Book 2, Act of Deception, also an easy read.) It’s a writing style full of tenderness and affection.  The author keeps it on the lighter side. He’s a doctor who is brilliant at what he does and he does enjoy getting into an investigation, even when it appears to be getting dangerous. The 1990s setting puts the reader in an era of medical discovery and technology. The conclusion comes about as easy and satisfying as the rest of the narrative without extended blow-by-blow discussion that extends the page count another twenty. Very entertaining. Trust me.

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher NetGalley. These are my honest thoughts. Book 4, please.

His Review:

Could some people need to be dispatched? I nominate Paul Thompson, the head of a malpractice insurance firm, as a possible candidate. He is a bully, rude and despicable to say the least. Doctor Jim Bob Brady, Orthopedic Surgeon, should refrain from investigating. But his friend, Dr. Lou Edwards is missing and presumed to be the villain.

The writer, John Bishop MD, seems to have a lot of time on his hands. He is a practicing physician but still has time to concoct tales of a surgeon who solves crimes in his spare time. Dr. Bishop is good at his hobby! This book is suspenseful and engrossing. I can understand Jim Bob’s attempt to save his friend’s life and reputation but at what cost? Engaged by the Houston Police Department, he investigates the crime while trying to exonerate his associate. They met during a ski accident at Snowmass in Aspen, Colorado. This is a novel way to get new patients.

The locales are colorfully described, particularly the hospital and medical school in Houston. Dr. Bishop also develops his characters with an eye to beauty and detail. The ladies are all beautiful and well educated. Mr. Thompsons’ office has four dedicated and lovely ladies who handle the books and do the daily work as well as the financial tasks.

Self-centered and egotistical Paul pushes everyone around with no care but for himself. As the novel develops his character turns into a despicable victim. Any sympathy for the victim evaporates as you progress through the novel. The drama is captivating and spell-binding. The climax is a surprise and I did not suspect or see it coming.

CE WilliamsI suggest a block of time be set aside to read this tale. Mary Louise, Dr. Jim Bob’s wife, is an empathetic character who would be a jewel for any man. She supports her would be detective husband and the other doctor’s wife throughout the story. The Houston police department accepts the novice’s assistance in solving the crime because of his association with the suspect. A really fun twist to the story. I had trouble sleeping until I finished the book. 5 stars – CE Williams

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Book Details:

Genre: Medical Fiction, Medical Thrillers, Amateur Sleuth
Publisher: Mantid Press

    • ISBN-13 : 978-1734251142
      • ASIN : B08F11BVVW

Print Length: 256 pages
Publication Date: September 10, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble

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

John Bishop - author
John Bishop MD

The Author: Lost for over 20 years, Act of Murder is the first rediscovered novel in a new medical thriller series set in the changing environment of medicine in the mid-1990s. Bishop’s sense of humor and surprising wit create a story of medical miscreants capable of murder, mayhem, and greed. His 30 years as a practicing orthopedic surgeon give the reader a unique glimpse into the medical world with all its problems, intricacies and complexities, while at the same time revealing the compassion and dedication of most health care professionals.

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

One by One by Ruth Ware – a #BookReview – Thriller & Suspense

“Her scent trails after her like an oil slick.” 

Book Blurb:

One by One by Ruth WareGetting snowed in at a luxurious, rustic ski chalet high in the French Alps doesn’t sound like the worst problem in the world. Especially when there’s a breathtaking vista, a full-service chef and housekeeper, a cozy fire to keep you warm, and others to keep you company. Unless that company happens to be eight coworkers…each with something to gain, something to lose, and something to hide.

When the cofounder of Snoop, a trendy London-based tech startup, organizes a weeklong trip for the team in the French Alps, it starts out as a corporate retreat like any other: PowerPoint presentations and strategy sessions broken up by mandatory bonding on the slopes. But as soon as one shareholder upends the agenda by pushing a lucrative but contentious buyout offer, tensions simmer and loyalties are tested. The storm brewing inside the chalet is no match for the one outside, however, and a devastating avalanche leaves the group cut off from all access to the outside world. Even worse, one Snooper hadn’t made it back from the slopes when the avalanche hit.

As each hour passes without any sign of rescue, panic mounts, the chalet grows colder, and the group dwindles further…one by one.

My Review:

Faithful to the end, when I reviewed The Turn of the Key I promised to read another of Ms Ware’s books. She is currently running #2 in the hit parade for psychological literary fiction on Amazon. She is an international bestselling author. I feel like a spawning salmon who’s decided she’s had enough of jumping fish ladders and wants to retreat back to the Pacific.

One by One by Ruth WareI’ve read perhaps three other novels recently with roughly the same premise, albeit slightly different settings. In One by One, a group of tech execs arrive at an exclusive French Ski Chalet to do a little bonding, some brainstorming, and decision-making on company direction. Of course it’s roughly divided equally with the tipping vote in the hands of a former employee, Liz, a mousy little thing who becomes one of the two POVs.

They are to go skiing, even in the face of a very nasty French winter snowstorm, and it sounds very Squaw Valley worthy. The tension is palpable. When the avalanche occurs, it’s a douzy, wreaking havoc on the chalet, cutting them off from services and utilities. And when they count noses, realize one of them didn’t make it down the mountain back to the chalet in time.

There are two resort workers, the chef Danny, and Erin the other POV who is the resort guest interface. Each chapter is headed according to their Snoop stats, but I’ve yet to discern a real value gleaned from those facts. Certainly sounds like a more invasive personal information source than Facebook but I’m still scratching my head over why I’d care what anyone else is currently listening to.

The tech company personnel are mainly entitled brats of wealthy families who turn demeaning eyes to both Danny and Erin. No way you’d really care what happens to them and when nine becomes eight becomes seven—do you really care? For that matter, I couldn’t rustle up a sympathetic bone for Liz the mouse either. Erin is okay and I’d extend her a hearty hoo rah, but I won’t be shedding a sympathetic tear. And the language? The novel would be half as long if it weren’t for four letter words.

The narrations of Liz and Erin tend to overlap just a tad where one leaves off and the other takes up the storyline. The killer becomes a bit obvious. The conclusion ramps up the tension but adds disbelief to the superhuman feats of Erin. Whoa! She did what with what? And then the novel inexplicably continues. I thought it finished! Wasn’t that the end? It was for me.

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary advance, uncorrected reader’s proof of this book from publisher and NetGalley. These are my honest thoughts.

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Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Literary Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Literary Fiction, Psychological Thrillers
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press

  • ASIN : B084G9Z5C3

Print Length: 383 pages
Publication Date: September 8, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

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

Ruth Ware - authorThe Author: Ruth Ware is an international number one bestseller. Her thrillers In a Dark, Dark Wood, The Woman in Cabin 10, The Lying Game and The Death of Mrs Westaway have appeared on bestseller lists around the world, including the Sunday Times and New York Times, and she is published in more than 40 languages. She lives on the south coast of England, with her family.

Visit http://www.ruthware.com to find out more, or find her on facebook or twitter as @RuthWareWriter

©2020 V Williams V Williams

The House of the Setting Son: A Misty Dawn Mystery (Misty Dawn Mysteries Book 3) by Nancy Cole Silverman – a #BookReview – #ghostmysteries

“…the former “Hollywood Psychic to the Stars”… 

Book Blurb:

The House of the Setting SonWhen Misty Dawn, the former “Hollywood Psychic to the Stars,” receives a phone call in the middle of the night, she knows it can’t be good news. Dorine Witherspoon, an actress and former client is in town for the opening of her touring musical and tells Misty the show’s leading lady, Cassie Marx, has disappeared, and the understudy had to go on for her on Opening Night! Misty immediately suspects foul play and when she and Wilson, Misty’s psychic shade, arrive at the theater the next morning, they discover LAPD’s Detective Cesar Romero meeting with the cast and crew. Events on both sides of the veil take a dark turn when Romero asks Misty off the case, and Wilson appears out of his depth with ghosts who want nothing to do with him. Death, close calls, and forces on both sides of the veil threaten to undo Misty and destroy her relationship with Wilson unless she can find Cassie and restore order to the show.

My Review:

Wow, I loved and cover and really wanted to love the book as I enjoy psychic ghost stories. You know I do. But I must have some level of veracity and this falls short.

The House of the Setting Son by Nancy Cole SilvermanMy first experience with the author and the series and I’m still getting used to some of the terminology used for ghosty or psychic stories. I think this is the first time I’ve ran across the term “shade” as it is used for a ghost who is caught behind the veil but not allowed to cross over. In this instance, that’s Wilson. Wilson is just a little TOO over-the-top handy on this side of the veil if he is capable of driving a car. Uh huh…

I like the location of LA/Hollywood and the premise of the old theatre that is going to celebrate one last hurrah—the run of My Fair Lady. Unfortunately, the aging star is murdered and the younger sister—far the better woman for the part—is missing and assumed the perpetrator. A little too obvious, that one. The theatre, with it’s old history, has it’s own ghosts and Wilson manages to get into a hassle with the theatre’s resident ghost.

I also like that Misty, the co-(living)protagonist is a mature person with a plausible history of being a psychic to the stars—and there is some name-dropping here with a well-known politician’s wife who did indeed engage her own. While she coordinates with the LA police, they are reluctant to return the favor.

There is a number of possible perps, some interesting support characters, and the buzz and excitement of the lights and cast, but the thought of the car winding it’s way through LA without a visible driver is just a bit much for me. The conclusion is not really a surprise, and this one may have resolved Wilson’s cross-over. Of course, this is rumored the last in the series, although there is now the specter of a romance between Misty and an ex.

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

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Book Details:

Genre: Psychic Mysteries, Ghost Mysteries, Cozy Mystery

  • ASIN : B08F65LCBJ

Print Length: 305 pages
Publication Date: September 4, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

 Rosepoint Publishing: Three of Five Stars three stars

Nancy Cole Silverman - author
Nancy Cole Silverman

The Author: After twenty-five years in news and talk radio, Silverman retired to write fiction. In addition to her short stories, Silverman has two series with Henery Press, THE CAROL CHILDS MYSTERIES, featuring a single-mom whose day-job as a radio reporter often leads to long nights as a crime-solver, and the MISTY DAWN MYSTERIES, centered on an aging Hollywood Psychic to the Stars, who supplements her readings working as a consultant to LAPD and the FBI. Silverman lives in Los Angeles with her husband and a thoroughly pampered standard poodle.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Final Second: A completely unputdownable action thriller (A Grant Fletcher Thriller Book 2) by John Ryder – a #BookReview Suspense Action Fiction

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

Sometimes it takes a stranger to find a killer…

Final Second by John RyderIn a small farming town in rural Wisconsin—where generations of families have lived in peace for decades—no one expects trouble to come calling.

But then a farmer’s beautiful young wife is found brutally murdered, with a chilling calling card that suggests she’s just the first victim of a serial killer. And the FBI elect not to send one of their own. Instead they send a stranger to town—former Royal Marine turned mercenary, Grant Fletcher. And they’re giving him no choice. Find the killer. Because we know what you’ve done.

With the threat of the executioner’s chair hanging over him, Fletcher finds himself in an impossible situation—and a race against time. Catch a murderer whose killings are escalating with every day that passes. Or face certain death…

His Review:

Action packed suspense thriller centered around remote dairy ranches. working independently, Grant Fletcher is called in to help identify the killer of a FBI agents’ childhood friend. The agent is involved in a major case and cannot be directly involved at the onset. The killer is flaunting his kills by numbering each one. Her friend is #1.

Final Second by John RyderGrant is on a short leash from the police on a possible murder charge himself. A mysterious person far above the FBI agents’ paygrade is pulling the strings. The local police department is poorly staffed and it is doubtful  they will be able to find the killer. Grant has the specter of a trial over his head and going to prison, so he is given little support from the FBI while dodging the local police department.

The author, John Ryder, skillfully builds suspense while throwing in a few red herrings to salt the suspense. Aggravatingly, the local police department keeps getting in the well. An inkling of the reason for the murders begins to become apparent but the suspense builds after each new murder. Can Grant Fletcher find the killer before he is charged and arrested in his separate case? By number five, Grant’s time is running out and is looking at a deadline of next Monday.

The killings are centered in a particular area. His friend, Special Agent Zoey Quadrado, joins him near the end of the book as he narrows in on the killer. The killer has become brazen and does not care about the age of his targets, just the outcome. Hunting this killer becomes extremely dangerous as both Grant and Zoey become targets. CE Williams

The tale is fast moving and readers will need to set aside time to complete the book. It can cause insomnia! 5 stars-CE Williams

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

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense Action Fiction, Crime Action Fiction, Crime Action & Adventure
Publisher: Bookouture

  • ASIN : B08B8ZRJ92

Print Length: 341 pages
Publication Date: October 5, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Final Second [Amazon]

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©2020 C E Williams – V Williams V Williams

Murder Ballad Blues: A Mystery (Appalachian Mountain Mysteries Book 4) by Lynda McDaniel – a #BookReview #thriller #tuesdaybookblog

Rosepoint Publishing: Five of Five Stars Five Stars

This is the fourth novel—a standalone novel—in the Appalachian Mountain Mysteries series. 

Book Blurb:

Murder Ballad Blues by Lynda McDanielLaurel Falls, N.C. 2005  A mysterious death in the North Carolina mountains. Then a second. By the third, the FBI finally gets involved. Trouble is, they’re looking in all the wrong places.

Abit Bradshaw has a theory, but of course the FBI doesn’t take him seriously. When he teams up with musicologist Wallis Harding, bluegrass music becomes more than something to practice and perform. It’s key to finding the serial killer.

Della Kincaid, a former crime reporter in Washington, D.C., can’t seem to escape her past. Now living in the small town of Laurel Falls, she’s busy investigating a fraud case that gets darker at every turn. She’s about to give up when a secretive whistleblower pulls her in again—and back to D.C.

Abit and Della team up once again to convince the FBI to help them with both their crime investigations.

Will Abit and Wallis discover the killer’s pattern … before he strikes again?

Can Della make sense of the whistleblower’s clues before the fraud case is closed for good?

You’ll love this suspenseful mystery because everyone longs to find justice in this crazy world. 

My Review:

Murder Ballad Blues by Lynda McDanielYou know I don’t often read a book straight through, but this one wouldn’t allow a lot of interruptions. Once again I was drawn into the characters, so richly described and developed. The main character is Abit Bradshaw, his POV, until we begin to alternate between his and that of Della Kinkaid, her POV. My heart aches for Abit, now a man—married to Fiona, “queen of the Irish gypsies” with a boy of their own. But he will fortunately never receive the sole-crushing emotional (and physical) abuse his own father meted out to him. He was “a bit slow” and that stuck at his school, his family, the town. And his name became Abit.

The mountains of North Carolina and the Appalachians have a reputation for being an enclave unto itself. Tight, suspicious. Abit was taken under wing, however, by those who saw more in him–a school more appropriate. It was discovered he had beautiful latent talents all his own. For one, he and his wife now play prominently in a bluegrass band they call the Rollin’ Ramblers.

Della is an ex-DC journalist, now writing a small column with a pen name and can’t help but notice the thread to a crime taking place under their noses. Additionally, their little corner of the world has recently experienced two murders and Abit begins to notice something. These things nagging at him, refuses to let go until he is totally, thoroughly wrapped up in what appears a diabolical serial killer. A lot of the music of the Appalachians came from Scotland and Ireland and one such became bluegrass. Tying the mystery to old folk ballads and numerology is brilliant.

The author skillfully assumes the dialect of the area, that particular form of speech, and seamlessly added the Cockney of a visiting Englishman. Dastardly things are afoot. The well-plotted storyline never misses a beat between the POVs and the active investigations, raising the blood pressure, tension, and urge to help. It’s immersive, engaging and leads to a satisfying conclusion without pages of explanation.

I previously read A Life for a Life and was hooked by these characters, most especially Abit—completely sympathetic. As an ARC member, I received an early copy for my honest review. I thoroughly enjoy this series, the author’s sense of humor, prose, and little pieces of fascinating locale and premise trivia. Unique and wholly recommended.

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Book Details:

Genre: Serial Killer Thrillers, Murder Thrillers, Women Sleuths
Publisher: Lynda McDaniel Books

  • ASIN : B08BG61CVC

Print Length: 336 pages
Publication Date: To be released September 15, 2020
Source: Publisher and Author Request

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

 

Lynda McDaniel - author
Lynda McDaniel

The Author: [Lynda McDaniel] I love writing page-turners–both fiction and nonfiction. And I love helping others to do the same, living into their dreams of writing books. I believe my success comes down to a respect for my readers and clients. I know I’m easily bored, so I work hard to engage and inspire my readers.

After all, we’re all busy these days, and I want to deliver value–whether that’s a gripping mystery filled with memorable characters or books on writing that give you the tools to write your own fiction and nonfiction. Both make me happy.

I got my start as a writer in the most unlikely place–a town of 200 people in the mountains of North Carolina. But living there changed my life in so many positive ways. Decades later, I realized that everything I value today, I was introduced to there. My Appalachian Mountain Mysteries–“A Life for a Life,” “The Roads to Damascus,” “Welcome the Little Children”–pay homage to the people of Appalachia who taught me so much. And to Mollie the Wonder Dog, who plays a role in both “The Roads to Damascus” (aka Millie) and in “Welcome the Little Children (as Millie and Mollie).

To keep up to date with Abit, Della, and the gang (and receive a free novelette that pulls back the curtain on Abit’s and Della’s lives before they met in Laurel Falls), head over to http://www.LyndaMcDanielBooks.com. No spam, no pestering, just the free novelette, a 12-part serialized preview of my upcoming Book Four (via my blog), and special offers/updates.

Over the years, I’ve written more than 1,200 articles for major magazines, hundreds of newsletters and blogs. I’m proudest of the 18 books I’ve written. My nonfiction books include “Words at Work,” which I wrote straight from my heart, a much-needed response to all the questions and concerns people have about writing today. (It won top honors from the National Best Books Awards.) I’ve also written two Amazon Bestselling Books: “How Not to Sound Stupid When You Write” and “Write Your Book Now!” (with Virginia McCullough).

I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, but I’ve lived all over this country–from the Midwest to the Deep South to Appalachia to the Mid-Atlantic to the Pacific Northwest. Whew! I finally settled in Santa Rosa, California, a place that reflects the values I learned while living in the mountains of North Carolina, all those years ago.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

The German Client: A Bacci Pagano Investigation #6 by Bruno Morchio – a #BookReview – International Mystery & Crime

Bestselling Italian author Bruno Morchio releases his debut for English readers. 

Book Blurb:

The German ClientPrivate investigator Bacci Pagano can’t resist taking the bait when his new client dangles a check with too many zeros. He should have known that where there’s bait, there’s always a hook. 

In a hospital corridor, private investigator Bacci Pagano is keeping watch over Jasmìne Kilamba. If she lives, her testimony will shatter a  notorious human trafficking ring. Seemingly out of nowhere, he is approached by an elderly German named Kurt Hessen who is searching for his Italian half-brother. Despite his better judgment, Pagano accepts the job.  So many things, good and evil, happened when the Nazis occupied Genoa in 1944, what did it matter now? But it matters very much to someone and Pagano finds himself plunged into a world of old secrets and new lies in this wartime thriller where the bill for the sins of the past has come due . . . with interest. 

Originally published in Italian as Rossoamaro, The German Client elegantly intertwines a wartime thriller about Nazi-occupied Genoa with the gritty realism of Pagano’s current investigation in what La Repubblica called “a masterful tale.”

Nominated for a National Book Award, The German Client spent five weeks on the Corriere della Sera best seller list and won the Azzeccagarbugli Prize for Best Mystery. 

His Review:

A WWII mystery wrapped up in a modern-day saga. Italy is in the latter days of the war and has been demoted from a German Ally to an occupied country with the Germans refusing to withdraw. Italy and its’ people are forced to assist the Third Reich in any way they can. The characters are well developed and the collaborators are feared and hated by the average populace. Check-points are manned with German military who have very itchy trigger fingers.

The German client by Bruno MarchioKurt Hessen is a late war baby who is suffering from a terminal disease. He is looking for a brother he did not know he had. Detective Pagano is hired by Kurt to find this long-lost brother. Apparently, there is a sizable family inheritance that should go to the only surviving son of Mr. Hessen. Should the brother not be found, the money will go back to the state.

The author skillfully weaves the story through two time periods. It is masterfully done and I found myself appreciating the drama between a young Italian girl and an older German officer. Weaving the nearly 65 year split between the end of the war and current day adds to the mystery. The topper is the fact that the last name of the young girl is not known to the detective. Detective Pagano refuses the assignment outright but the dying man is insistent. He grudgingly takes on the task.

A real eye-opener is the continued mistrust of the protagonists and the former members of the resistance. In 1944 the war for Italy was coming to an end. The Germans were not going to retreat quietly. Secrets of the resistance and the partisans are raw wounds that carry forth to this day. Because of the animosity there is no real assistance from the population to help solve the mystery. Every bit of information is dragged out from those that remember. Many simply refuse to discuss the case or the time period.

The ending is a surprise that I did not see coming! The flow of the story reminds me of a taffy pull. Just when you think you have an inkling of an outcome the author skillfully changes direction. The ending is totally unexpected. The destruction of cities and industries by the Allied bombing made me sympathetic to the plight of the Italians.

CE WilliamsThe only quibble I had was the continuous use of places existing during WWII with no map or way to identify the locality.  I suggest that anyone with a desire to learn history and feel the pain of war on the civilian population read this book. It is emotive and you will not be disappointed. Thanks to Chiara from Kazabo Publishing for my complementary copy. These are my honest and unbiased opinions. 4.5 stars – CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: International Mystery & Crime, War Fiction, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Kazabo Publishing

  • ASIN : B082LZL7WG

Print Length: 204 pages
Publication Date: February 17, 2020
Source: Publisher request
Title Links: The German Client [Amazon]

Also find the book at these locations:

Barnes and Noble
Kobo

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

Bruno Marchio - authorThe Author: Bacci Pagano, “the noir detective with the heart of gold,” is Bruno’s signature creation. Bacci is an Italian institution. Featured in over 15 novels, Vanity Fair called Pagano, “one of Italy’s most beloved characters.” In the words of one major Italian newspaper, “Bacci Pagano is a fixture in the Italian imagination. One grows fond of Bacci. After reading a few of these novels, you find you can no longer do without him.”

Bruno Morchio lives in Genoa, Italy, where he worked as a psychologist. He has won two literary prizes for the mystery genre, the Azzeccagarbugli and the Lomellina in Giallo Prizes, and was a finalist for the Bancarella, the Scerbanenco and the Romiti Prizes.

FACEBOOKhttps://www.facebook.com/bruno.morchio

AUTHOR WEBSITEwww.brunomorchio.com

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Song for a Lost Kingdom The Prequel: A Kingdom is Lost, a Song is Born by Steve Moretti – #BookReview @Shalini_G26 @morettisteve

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

The Prequel to a time-travel historical fantasy series powered by a mysterious 18th century cello that bridges the divide of time between two passionate women who live for their music and find their lives and loves forever intertwined.

A kingdom is lost. A song is born.

Song for a Lost Kingdom by Steve MorettiWhen the Union with England is accepted by the Scottish Parliament on 16 January 1707, many swear they will never accept the loss of their fiercely independent nation. The ones who seek to preserve a lost kingdom divide families and destroy lives in the process.

The consequences ripple through time until a generation later, Katharine Carnegie is lost for words to complete her symphonic masterpiece in 1745. The Jacobite rebellion is sweeping across Scotland, pitting her two brothers against each other, with her caught between them.

Meanwhile in 2003, Adeena Stuart, a rebellious teenage cellist and composer in Canada, is frightened by the visions of her visiting grandmother from Scotland. Somehow they connect Adeena to Katharine’s uncompleted song from the 18th century.

In the Prequel to the highly acclaimed Song for a Lost Kingdom novel and audiobook series, the origins of the story and the characters unfold in dramatic fashion. The prequel also includes the first two chapters of SFLK Book I, Music is Not Bound by Time.

Get swept away by this time slip adventure powered by music.

 His Review:

Song for a Lost Kingdom by Steve MorettiCould music be a generational tether for future generations? This Prequal explores that question with tantalizing clarity. The early 18th century is embroiled in conflict between England and Scotland. The Scots do not want to become part of the British Empire but some opportunists see it as a way to grab lands and property. Included in those is Katharine’s older brother who is made a member of Parliament and becomes the owner of the family castle and grounds called Kinnaird. He is also made a Captain in the British army and fights his own countrymen to cement his future.

Chased from her childhood home her only thread is her music. Katharine is drawn by the notes and scores and feels safest when she is playing or composing. As she leaves her childhood behind, she is drawn deeper into the mystic of the music and its’ connection to the strife gripping her country. Siding with her older brother slips her into complicity with England and abandons her own needs and desires. She is more loyal to Scotland and loses herself in composing.

Three centuries later another young lady named Margaret after her aunt is struggling with music and her future in composing. She too plays the cello and finds comfort in the chords and compositions. At times she is in a world of her own as she plays. Auditioning with a major orchestra is a tentative step to a new career. Can she accomplish her life’s goal and wish?

CE WilliamsThe juxtaposition of the two celloists is not lost but is the spice that pulls the story together. Remember this is a “Prequal” and is only an appetizer to the complete novel. Yes, I admit to being hooked. I would like to read the whole story and see how the connection is completed between the two family members!

The musical thread is enticing in its’ simplicity. Without actually meeting and speaking with each other can the two women cement a generational bond? 5 stars – CE Williams

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Steve Moretti - author
Steve Moretti

The Author: I have always been drawn to passion and creativity in all its forms. I am equally fascinated by the mechanics of the universe and the characters of history. I have a special affection for the power of music which I believe is the universal language of human emotion.My writing journey started in journalism, public relations and advertising then continued into software development (yes that involves writing)! Now am I a full-time author, finishing up Book III in my Song for a Lost Kingdom trilogy, which also includes a novella Prequel.

Audiobook versions of all the books in this series are on the way, including the Prequel which is now available.

I grew up in London, Ontario (Canada) and also lived in Pompano Beach, Florida as a teenager. I moved to Ottawa and attended Carleton University many years ago and now live just south of the city with my wife, daughter and four dogs with attitude.

I look forward to your feedback. Visit my website stevemoretti.ca for the latest news, or email me at steve@stevemoretti.ca anytime!

BOOK DETAILS

Genre: Time Travel Science Fiction, Historical Fantasy, Fantasy Short Reads
Publisher: DWA Media

  • ASIN : B07YLBG1RM

 Print Length: 65 pages
Publication Date: September 29, 2019
Source: Book Tour @DigitalReads

SOCIAL MEDIA DETAILS

Website: http://www.stevemoretti.ca
FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/stevemoretti.ca/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/moretti.steven/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/morettisteve
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/steve-moretti
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/steve-moretti-61884ab/
Medium: https://medium.com/@stevenmoretti
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18201107.Steve_Moretti
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Steve-Moretti/e/B07DX4H6Z3

BOOK LINKS

Amazon USA: https://www.amazon.com/Song-Lost-Kingdom-Book-III-ebook/dp/B08BR2S6N9/
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Song-Lost-Kingdom-Book-III-ebook/dp/B08BR2S6N9/

We posted a Book Blitz for Book 3 (The Heart Beats in Time)  in August here but this prequel will give you a good jump start to the series if you didn’t start with #3. In any case, you’ll find this an intriguing and compelling read. Enjoy! Digital Reads Blog Tour of The Defense of Exeter Station

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Digital Reads Blog Tours. These are my honest thoughts.

©CE Williams – 2020 V Williams V Williams

Penned In (A Farm-to-Fork Mystery) by Lynn Cahoon a #BookReview #cozymystery

“’Should we wake up the others?’ Felicia glanced around the table. The remaining guards looked shell shocked.”

Book Blurb:

Angie Turner, chef at Idaho’s finest farm-to-table restaurant, has organized a team-building event at a haunted prison, only to find a real-life murderer in their midst. . . .
 
Contented employees make for a successful restaurant, which is why the County Seat’s crew goes on a quarterly out-of-office meeting. This time, the location is the Old Idaho Penitentiary near the Boise Foothills, a prison brimming with ghostly lore. The lock-in features actors role-playing as guards, fascinating prison stories . . . and an unscripted murder.
 
Who sentenced one of the faux guards to a very authentic death? Angie, her boyfriend, and the County Seat gang are locked in with a killer—excellent motivation for a little sleuthing. Between ghostly apparitions and flesh-and-blood suspects, Angie’s plate is full, but will her luck, and her life, hold out until the gates reopen at dawn?

My Review:

Yes, I love when a book location is one of my old stomping grounds and in particular this spine-chilling old penitentiary in the foothills of Boise. My WOW® motobuddies and I took the years’ ride-in-mascot to the prison for some very special shots of the facility with the mascot (and us in prison stripes).

In this Halloween themed novella, Angie Turner and her County Seat restaurant crew have scheduled a 24 hr stay in the haunted prison as a team-building exercise. (Sorry—no way would I want to be locked in that place overnight, particularly with no cell phone. So many stories about that place and it does give off creepy vibes.)

Anyway, in addition to the team, there are four “guards” (actors) as well as other guests. Angie is allowed to include Dom, her trusty St Bernard. It’s a cozy. Someone is gonna die. And it’s a prison after all…

I’m not sure how much team building actually got done, although we got to be privy to some support character personalities and their work together as they solved the whodunit. The fun part (for me) was the paranormal element—that of the story of a female ghost (so many stories there). The ghost and Angie communed and Angie (with the help of her crew) followed the clues. There can’t be that many suspects—right? But it won’t be as easy as you think to solve.

This is a great setting for a Halloween mystery. It’s has some interesting characters and the mystery moves along. A fast read and fun cozy.

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

Book Details:

Genre: Two-Hour Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Short Reads, Fiction Short Reads

Publisher: Lyrical Press

ASIN: B07ZPKM799

Print Length: 92 pages

Publication Date: August 4, 2020

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

Rosepoint Publishing: Four of Five Stars

The Author: Get a free story at http://www.lynncahoon.com.

Lynn Cahoon is the author of the NYT and USA Today best-selling Tourist Trap cozy mystery series. She also pens the Cat Latimer series available in mass https://www.amazon.com/Lynn-Cahoon/e/B0082PWOAO/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0market paperback. And, because she can’t help telling stories, she also writes the Farm to Fork series. Romance novels are published under the pen name, Lynn Collins. She lives in a small town like the ones she loves to write about with her husband and three fur kids. Sign up for her newsletter at http://www.lynncahoon.com

(C) 2020 V Williams

NB: This is the first post using WP’s new block editor. I voted it down last time. Apparently, I do not have that choice this time. So, it being rather crude, it’s obvious there’s a learning curve and not easy for this old dog. Please forgive.

TV Netflix Series vs Audiobook – Walt Longmire Mysteries – by Craig Johnson

“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact”
Sherlock Holmes

Longmire audiobook vs Netflix blog banner

Wahoo! One of my favorite Netflix series and lots of audiobooks (as well as ebooks) at my local well stocked library. We binged right through the Longmire series, even trying to discipline ourselves to three episodes per night, so of course when I discovered the audiobooks at my library I grabbed the first that wasn’t on a waiting list. And whadda know, it’s about bike week—Sturgis! (which, coincidentally, was last week). I doubt there is few around the globe that hasn’t heard of Sturgis, and no, that’s one rally I didn’t go to (just a little too nutsy for me), although that is me on my Kawi in the background of the blog banner getting ready to pull off the road.

An Obvious Fact-Book Blurb:

In the 12th novel in the New York Times best-selling Longmire series, Walt, Henry, and Vic discover much more than they bargained for when they are called in to investigate a hit-and-run accident near Devils Tower involving a young motorcyclist.

In the midst of the largest motorcycle rally in the world, a young biker is run off the road and ends up in critical condition. When Sheriff Walt Longmire and his good friend, Henry Standing Bear, are called to Hulett, Wyoming – the nearest town to America’s first national monument, Devils Tower – to investigate, things start getting complicated. As competing biker gangs; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; a military-grade vehicle donated to the tiny local police force by a wealthy entrepreneur; and Lola, the real-life femme fatale and namesake for Henry’s ’59 Thunderbird (and, by extension, Walt’s granddaughter) come into play, it rapidly becomes clear that there is more to get to the bottom of at this year’s Sturgis Motorcycle Rally than a bike accident. After all, in the words of Arthur Conan Doyle, whose Adventures of Sherlock Holmes the Bear won’t stop quoting, “There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact”.

Audiobook

An Obvious Fact by Craig Johnson a Longmire Mystery

This is Book 12, so while the protagonist or his major support characters are not wholly fleshed, they don’t need to be—they are whittled out of casual remarks, innuendo, description. Walt Longmire is the sheriff of Absaroka County, Wyoming. The wild west. Two other main characters, Henry Standing Bear (Native American) and Vic (Victoria Moretti), his (female) deputy—a Philadelphia transplant. Walt is often accompanied by Dog, (of dubious parentage) who needs no further description. Walt’s daughter is not notably featured in this episode.

Walt received a call from another county about a motorcyclist run off the road near Devil’s Tower and his mother shows up to ask again for Walt’s help. The mother is Lola, the mother for whom Henry named his classic T-Bird. Yes, it’s “the” Lola.

Unsurprisingly, it won’t be a simple hit-and-run and while the young man languishes in the hospital not expected to recover, Walt soon discovers bad-ass motorcycle gangs and multitudes of despicable conspiracies.

I love the scenes, so beautifully laid out you can smell the landscape, and the banter between Walt and (Henry Standing) Bear and his undersheriff, who by the way, is a great deal more profane than she appears on Netflix. Also appreciated the motorcycle lingo; been awhile since I’ve participated. Almost non-stop action, the multi-plotted storyline getting more complex with fast-turning pages. I love the tidbits of knowledge about the area, the people and culture and in this case, of course, motorcycles.

The narrator, George Guidall, did one heckava outstanding job creating a down-to-earth narrative and understated conversational quality to the written words. He wasn’t just reading it. He made it come alive. It’s drugs, money, and mayhem and I can’t wait to tear into the next episode that becomes available. 4.5/5 stars

Netflix Longmire Series

Walt Longmire of the Netflix series by Craig JohnsonI loved this series of the modern Western crime scene. The TV drama series began on A&E but was picked up by Netflix and developed by John Coveny and Hunt Baldwin somewhere around the fourth season. It ran for six seasons and is still streaming on Netflix after the sixth season ended in 2017. Popular? Oh, yes…what is not to love?

Despite amazing viewership numbers, A&E felt that the demographic was primarily older Americans—the horror of it all! Thanks to a huge fan uproar (think Star Wars), it was picked up by Netflix.

The cast is perfect: Australian Robert Taylor as Walt, Katee Sackhoff as Vic, and American Filipino Lou Diamond Phillips as Henry. Also, it was filmed in New Mexico (not Wyoming). While it doesn’t follow each book of Johnson’s series per se, there is crime fiction we’ve come to expect including bank robberies, murder investigations, and prominently featured conflicts with the local Cheyenne Indian reservation.

The series became so popular they began a yearly July festival in Buffalo (WY). (Absaroka County is fictional), according to Wide Open Country.

If there was a revival, Season 7, I’d be tuning in. Hollywood version Americana but well written and immensely engaging and entertaining. 5 enthusiastic stars

Overall Impression

I don’t think you can go wrong with either the Netflix series and that outstanding cast, gripping installments, and immersive episodes or the books. (Of course, I’m among that older demographic that had A&E dumping it.) While the audiobooks, the character Vic being more profane, might alienate a few of that older demographic, the descriptive storyline, natural and often humorous dialogue, and the narrator’s excellent delivery make it a winner. I’m a solid fan looking for my next audiobook. Wholly recommended.

Rosepoint Publishing recommended

Book Details:

Genre: Native American Literature, Western Fiction
Publisher: Recorded Books
ASIN: B01K23ZXCE
Listening Length: 7 hrs 50 min
Narrator: George Guidall
Publication Date: September 13, 2016
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: An Obvious Fact [Amazon]
 

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Craig Johnson - authorThe Author: Craig Johnson is the New York Times bestselling author of twelve Walt Longmire mystery novels, which are the basis for Longmire, the hit Netflix original drama. The Cold Dish won Le Prix du Polar Nouvel Observateur/Bibliobs. Death Without Company, the Wyoming Historical Association’s Book of the Year, won France’s Le Prix 813, and Another Man’s Moccasins was the Western Writers of America’s Spur Award Winner and the Mountains & Plains Book of the Year. The Dark Horse, the fifth in the series, was a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year and Junkyard Dogs won The Watson Award for a mystery novel with the best sidekick. Hell Is Empty, selected by Library Journal as the Best Mystery of the Year, was a New York Times best seller, as was As the Crow Flies, which won the Rocky for the best crime novel typifying the western United States. A Serpent’s Tooth opened as a New York Times bestseller as did Any Other Name and Wait for Signs, Johnson’s collection of short stories. Spirit of Steamboat was selected by the State Library as the inaugural One Book Wyoming and included visits to sixty-three libraries. Johnson lives in Ucross, Wyoming, population twenty-five.

George Guidall - audiobook narratorThe Narrator: George Guidall is a prolific audiobook narrator and theatre actor. As of November 2014, he had recorded over 1,270 audiobooks, which was believed to be the record at the time. Wikipedia

©2020 V Williams V Williams