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

Come Marching Home by Hazel West – #fantasy #giveaway – #bookreview

Come Marching Home Blog Tour

Synopsis:

After being away for over a year, Alfonse Keller has returned from the trenches on Teuton’s western front, fighting in the war that’s broken out against the Steppes. He should feel relieved now that’s he’s back in his own village in the care of his brother Ernst, but he’s not. It seems like nothing has changed except for him, like he’s a traveler from a different world.

When Alfonse left to join the army, he was a natural magician making a name for himself, but after a tragic incident resulting in the death of his friend, and his own crippling injury, he no longer has the ability to use magic.

Suffering from constant nightmares and revisited trauma, Alfonse can’t get the trenches out of his head. Ernst tries to help, but he doesn’t really understand either. How can he, when Alfonse doesn’t really understand himself? He feels like a phantom, standing on the outskirts of a life he’ll never live again.

As Ernst tries to do everything he can for his brother, he can’t help but feel like Alfonse is slipping away, that maybe part of him never left the trenches at all. But how can he save his brother when Alf refuses to let anyone in?

My Thoughts

come-marching-homeI definitely went into this one without remembering that it is a fantasy-history fantasy. Sergeant Major Alphonse Keller has returned to Coldbrooke from the Teutonic-Steppes war a different man than the boy who left home and his older brother, Ernst, a healer. It was deemed that Ernst was of more service in the little village than at the western front.

It’s a bewildering and confusing time and Alfonse has returned with a horrendous case of PTSD before it was truly given a name and understood and guilt over having lived (albeit with serious injuries of his own) when his childhood friend and war buddy died.  

He is still beset with ugly nightmares, terrors, and sweats and is a greater problem to heal than his brother has confronted prior. Ernst cannot get a handle on how to treat him, care for him, or get him over this to once again return to a normal, or near normal, life. Alphonse rescues a dog, more savagely wounded than he, and he finds a temporary respite in caring for the dog.

Alphonse used to be a magician and he wielded his magic against his enemies until that fateful skirmish in the tunnel. Even after a truce is declared and the remaining men of the village return, it seems Alphonse continues to revisit the trenches and the tunnel incident that sent him home. Each man has compartmentalized their experience in their own way–some better–several as bad. 

Regardless the age, the country, or the century, war is hell. And war, no matter when, exacts the same terrible price on those who would fight. Has Alphonse forever lost his way back to his brother and those who would heal him? 

Pre-Order Info

If you pre-order Come Marching Home or just order a copy of it by the end of October (extending because the paperback won’t be available for preorder) You can email the receipt of your purchase to sirwilliamssquire@gmail.com with your address and Hazel will send you a goodie pack!

Link to Amazon 

Goodies

-A bookmark
-A sticker with art by H.S.J. Williams @h.s.j._williams
-A playlist curated by Hazel
-And if you order the paperback, you will get a signed bookplate

Social Links

Blog: http://hazelwest.blogspot.com
Come Marching Home on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54493656-come-marching-home
Goodreads Author page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5289626.Hazel_B_West
Twitter: https://twitter.com/artfulscribbler
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/modern_bard67/
Ko-fi: https://ko-fi.com/hazelwest

Purchase links

Smashwords
Kindle 

Giveaway

Click for your chance to win one of two signed copies of the book plus swag packs in this Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Details

Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fantasy
Publisher:

  • ASIN : B08K8SNKD8

Print Length: 279 pages
Publication Date: October 13, 2020

About the Author

Hazel West - authorHazel B. West is the author of several novels including historical titles like On a Foreign FieldBy Blood or By BondWolfsblood, a book about werewolves in Roman Britain and the Modern Tales of Na Fianna series, which feature modern Irish warriors with swords and fast sports cars and lots of faeries.

Hailing from Purgatory (aka, Florida) Hazel is an indie author, book wyrm, and coffee connoisseur. She typically enjoys writing books with an unconventional flair, probably with a bit of folklore and mythology, most definitely with a lot of siblings or brothers-in-arms. When she’s not writing, she manages an Etsy shop, drinks a lot of coffee, listens to music, haunts conventions, or just holes up like an eldritch horror and binges her favorite shows—for inspiration. If you meet this rare creature on the street, she has been known to respond to the offer of coffee and old bookstores. But it’s probably best you try to contact her online first. 

©2020 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

The Body from the Past (A Jazzi Zanders Mystery Book 5) by Judi Lynn – a #BookReview – #cozymystery #TuesdayBookBlog

Happy Publication Day!

 Book Blurb:

The Body from the Past by Judi LynnA closed room in her newest fixer-upper leads Indiana house-flipper Jazzi Zanders to reopen a chilling cold case involving a high school girl . . .

Jazzi, her cousin Jerod, and her husband Ansel are preparing to renovate a charming house that reminds her of an English manor. Before purchasing it, they had inspected the house for structural issues, but now when they do a more thorough walk-through, they discover a teenage girl’s bedroom that clearly hasn’t been touched in years. Dust covers the pink canopy bed, clothes still hang in the closet, and a hope chest remains full of journals and memorabilia. They’ve stumbled on a shrine to a dead girl.

They learn Jessica was killed in the middle of her high school graduation party. The murderer was never identified, but the brother-in-law of Jazzi’s friend, who went to school with Jessica, was suspected and never lived it down. He implores Jazzi to review the cold case and finally prove him innocent. Now it’s up to the house-flipper to nail a killer who will do anything to close the door on the past . ..

My Review:

Can’t believe we are already at Book 5 of this series from this prolific writer. This entry to the series veers off just a tad from previous plot lines in that they don’t discover a body in their newest fixer—they discover a locked room that had been the bedroom of the deceased. It’s still the open case of a murder.

The Body from the Past by Judi LynnJazzi, her hubby Ansel, and cousin Jerod are working on another flipper, this time in the little town of Merlot. The room they discover locked was actually that way when the last owner bought and not needing the room simply left it as is. The house has been sold with furnishings and the room in particular left just as the teenager had prior to her untimely death.

They don’t get too deeply into the project before Jazzi is asked to dig into the cold case as the girl’s boyfriend was the prime suspect but never arrested or charged. Still, he is left with the stigma and would like to be cleared, once and for all.

Ah, youthful energy!! Jazzi balances her full on rehab work with the boys as she also prepares their lunches and snacks, meets the girls for their weekly gab fest, and provides a big family dinner every Sunday, as has been her routine now for some time. They have a pug, George, and two kitties that they tend. In between, she begins to read the journal left by the young graduating high schooler. It’s enlightening, but not wholly revealing.

Then a body is found obviously connected to the case which involves Gaff, their local police connection who manages to show up for a lot of lunches (just to exchange information, of course). Now she’ll ramp up her efforts and begin systematic interviews with all involved.

The narrative is well-plotted, the mystery just under the surface, as the three work through their plan for renovation, choosing colors, textures, materials, appliances, and equipment. Having also worked on rehabbing old houses for years, I’m always fascinated with the description of what and how they go about it. Of course, styles and colors have changed a LOT since we worked nights and weekends on our projects while working full-time.

I enjoy the characters and having read several of the books now (including The Body in the Attic and The Body in the Apartment), see a subtle change in dynamics of the main characters. The pacing is just right, working on the mystery, working on the house, working on the family relationships, and working on some pretty interesting food dishes (several included at the back). An easy-in conclusion and the promise of Book 6 and I’m a happy reader.

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

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Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuth Mysteries, Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Lyrical Underground

  • ASIN : B082WRCXS3

Print Length: 204 pages
Publication Date: September 22, 2020

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

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

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

Connect with Judi on Facebook and her blog at Judi Lynn Writes

©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

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 Spiritual Adventures of Russell the Dog by Trisha Watson – #BookTour @iReadBookTours #Giveaway

Today I am thrilled to participate in the book Tour for The Spiritual Adventures of Russell the Dog by Trisha Watson, a unique, powerful expression of reincarnation, karma, grace, & forgiveness. 

Join us for this tour from August 24 to September 4, 2020!
 

Book Details:

Book Title:  The Spiritual Adventures of Russell the Dog – A Blend of Truth, Fiction and Inspiration from the Other Side by Trisha Watson
Category:  Adult Fiction (18 +),  284 pages
Genre:  Dog Story, Inspirational
Publisher:  Stone & Light Publishing
Release date:   January 20, 2020
Content Rating:  G for General Audiences

 

Book Description:

By reading this newly released book for the dog lover’s soul, you
are about to take a remarkable journey through the eyes of Russell the
dog. At times you will find that reading about his spiritual adventures
takes an open mind, and a willingness to laugh and cry. By choice,
Russell has come into this life with a unique dual purpose: to
experience his present lifetime as a dog and to review his previous
lifetime as a man. His journey is multidimensional; taking him through
numerous challenges triggering a spectrum of emotions which he resists.
One of his special abilities is to telepathically hear and communicate
with other animals, his Spirit Guides, and even people when necessary
for his growth. In the process, Russell learns about reincarnation,
karma, grace, unlimited thinking, and forgiveness – all from a dog’s
point of view and that of a soul who has had many previous human
lifetimes.

My Review:

You’ve heard that many times, but canines have such an impact on our lives and such a strong attachment to the human spirit, it’s almost easy to see Russell as the spiritual journey he is intended to be in this strong metaphysical romp.

Russell is a medium sized scruffy dog of interesting heritage. But Russell is not just a dog. He’s a conduit for the soul through which he’s been transformed into the physical and it’s his turn to finally and resolutely seek answers. While Russell the dog may not have been here before, his soul certainly has, and it is this journey for which you’ll become embroiled.

The engaging story of a puppy born into “the Pit,” as he describes it, is  fraught with stories of hunger and constantly being on guard. The dangers are many. Becoming a rescue and finding a forever home, he begins the excursion into a succession of reincarnations. Each story may help explain the who and why of his soul, dissecting fears, confronting failures and learning to forgive himself and others, and finally love. All is directed toward growth.

The storyline is told in an easy, informative way, that quickly and totally immerses the reader in the philosophy, regardless the perspective from which you begin. Amazingly, it all begins to make sense. Russell’s spirit guides are familiar, patient, loving, and kind as they casually direct him to his next revelation and ease him from pain to enlightenment.

Flashbacks to Paul Coelho’s book The Alchemist but this gentle tale seems so much easier to swallow, digest, understand, and champion. And so many beautiful passages of prose…

“If he doesn’t succeed in reviewing his previous life, he will likely choose to return to a suspended state, leaving his soul’s growth stifled…”

“You did not fail but only revealed what you had not yet mastered.”

What is revealed in conclusion may come as a surprise to some readers, but with the strong mantra of connectedness, not unexpected. Powerful, immersive, and thought-provoking on many levels. Totally recommended.

Buy the Book:
Amazon
Add to Goodreads
 

Author Trisha Watson

About the Author

Trisha Watson has a reverence for life, nature, and compassion for those
in need, including, and especially animals. Of course, that encompasses
pets too, and thus all her dogs and cats over the years were rescues or
strays. Because of her passion, a portion of the proceeds from the sale
of each book is donated to different animal rescue organizations.
Twenty years of self-employment helped her develop a can-do attitude.
When asked about the process of writing a book she said, “This story
wouldn’t leave me alone, much of it flowed easily. Some of it I don’t
remember writing, which at first was spooky, but later made complete
sense as the story revealed itself. My intention with this book is to
perhaps provide a source of inspiration and healing for those who read
it.” At sixteen, Trisha began her spiritual journey. Over the years she
has delved into many facets always with an open mind and a dash of
healthy skepticism. Never looking back, she keeps moving forward in her
own spiritual adventure, seeking to learn and share her experiences with
others. Trisha was born in Rhode Island. A few years later her family
moved to the “Mile High City” Denver, Colorado where she grew up. As an
adult she was drawn to the mountains eventually settling in Evergreen, a
small mountain town outside of Denver. It is there she’s built a life
with her husband Mark and their two dogs, Maggie and Cooper.

Connect with the Author:  website  ~ twitter  ~ facebook instagram  ~ goodreads  

Tour Schedule:
Aug 24 – Rockin’ Book Reviews – book review / guest post / giveaway
Aug 25 – Splashes of Joy – book review / author interview / guest post / giveaway
Aug 25 – Rosepoint Publishing – book review / giveaway
Aug 26 – Leels Loves Books – book review / giveaway
Aug 27 –Books for Books – book review
Aug 28 – Corinne Rodrigues – book review / giveaway
Aug 30 – Book World Reviews – book review
Aug 31 – Book Corner News and Reviews – book review / giveaway
Sep 1 – Locks, Hooks and Books – book review / giveaway
Sep 2 –Reading Authors Network – book review / giveaway
Sep 3 –Sefina Hawke’s Books – book review
Sep 4 – Svetlanas reads and views – book review

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©2020 V Williams

Paw and Order (A Dog Club Mystery Book 4) by V M Burns – a #BookReview #cozymystery

Book Blurb:

Dog-loving divorcée and amateur sleuth Lilly Echosby is not the only one who wants her new foster poodle. Some are willing to kill to have him . . .
Paws and Order by V M Burns
Lilly’s best pal Scarlett “Dixie” Jefferson has done it again! She’s convinced eccentric poodle-loving billionaire Archibald Lowry to sponsor a grand fundraiser for the Eastern Tennessee Poodle Rescue. Tragically, it’s too late to rescue Lowry, who is murdered at the event. His pet poodle is now orphaned, so Dixie begs Lilly to foster the adorable pup. Of course, she already has a poodle—her beloved Aggie, named after Agatha Christie. Fortunately, Aggie seems to like the new addition to the family, whom Lilly renames Rex, after her second favorite mystery author, Rex Stout.

But she’s barely welcomed Rex into her home when there’s an attempted poodle-nabbing, foiled with Aggie’s help. As desperate characters try to get their hands on the canine cutie, Lilly turns to Dixie’s dog training class to help her sort through a litter of suspects. Ultimately, she may have to unleash Rex as bait to collar the killer . . .

My Review:

Paws and Order by V M BurnsLillie Ann Echosby moved from Indiana to a new life in Chattanooga,TN. She became involved in a local poodle rescue having one of her own she calls Aggie (after Agatha Christie). She’s a little thing but feisty and full of heart and personality. Lillie is thrilled to be hosting an event for the local poodle rescue at the museum where she’s employed when a tiny poodle shuts down the event after he leads the curious back to his murdered owner, who it turns out is the billionaire sponsor for the event. Lillie is asked to foster the little thing until they can square away the details of the deceased. Of course, Lillie falls in love with him and promptly renames him Rex (after Rex Stout).

The two canines get along just fine but there are ensuing attempts to dognap Rex. In the meantime, Lillie’s daughter Stephanie comes for an impromptu visit. Lillie has a cadre of great friends and support that lend a sleuthing effort to solve the canine caper, and the reader is introduced to both Stephanie and Lillie’s romantic interest, Joe and Red, both in law enforcement.

Lillie is a great character surrounded by additional strong support characters, including Dixie, dog show judge and trainer and owner of a dog castle RV, and there are interesting tidbits of dog speak, which I always enjoy.

My first experience with this series, albeit not the author, and the storyline moves at a cozy pace while including the mystery with the appealing friend associates. There are details that bother me, including whipping around  in an RV for errands (at 6-7 mpg) and the conclusion that I found a bit contrived wrapping up a few loose threads but not all.

Receiving this digital ARC download from the publisher and NetGalley did not affect my opinion of the book or the content and this is my honest opinion. Recommended for all who enjoy cozy mysteries, especially including dogs.

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Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Culinary, Cozy Craft and Hobby Mysteries
Publisher: Lyrical Press
ASIN: B07ZPK3DCJ
Print Length: 225 pages
Publication Date: To be released August 11, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo 

Rosepoint Publishing: Four of Five Stars 4 stars

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Night Shift (A Helping Hands Mystery Book 2) by Annelise Ryan – a #BookReview

“The awesome and mighty power of dog love at work.”

Book Blurb:

Night Shift by Annelise RyanWhen social worker Hildy Schneider commits to an after-hours side job, she finds herself drawn into the darker side of small-town Sorenson, Wisconsin—and the twisted mind of an unnamed killer . . .   Strange things have been happening since Hildy started moonlighting with local police, but a desperate late-night call involving a former patient from Sorenson General Hospital tops the list. Although Danny Hildebrand has been tormented by hallucinations for years, he swears he’s being haunted for real by the victim of a grisly murder . . .   The rambling ghost story seems like another delusion. But after a body turns up in a neglected farmhouse crawling with secrets, Hildy and the magnetic Detective Bob Richmond rush to explain Danny’s knowledge of the incident. As the crime-solving partners unwittingly grow closer while examining a series of eerie leads, they realize that surviving past sunrise means shedding light on a criminal willing to do whatever it takes to stay in the shadows . . . 

My Review:

I do appreciate humor included in a novel, especially a cozy, where no one should take too seriously the serious stuff. It’s not meant to be dark and this narrative stays rather on the light side due in part to MC Hildy Schneider. She’s a social worker newly committing to a second job (maybe I missed why, but the usual is m o n e y) with the Sorenson Police Department. At any rate, there were several details missed in her job description when she signed on, one of which is that as a trial program with the police called Helping Hands, she’ll ride along with the night shift cop.

This could be a good thing using golden retriever Roscoe, a trained therapy dog, and her general experience with the hospital where she’s based as the social worker.

Night Shift by Annelise RyanHer first night sees a homicide victim that manages to tie into one of her patients with schizophrenia who is obviously off his meds. Something is really wrong here–she knows he wouldn’t have done the deed–meds or no.

The author has peppered in a variety of damaged and unusual support characters along with the usual–one of my favs is PJ, the (autistic) teen who walks Roscoe. I’m still trying to make heads or tails of Detective Bob Richmond, but that’s a thread that will be further explored in the next series entry. The sense of humor manifests with some weirdly funny analogies producing a soft chuckle or two.

“…his room has all the ambience of a medieval dungeon and one neon yellow pillow isn’t going to fix that. That pillow is like a random piece of corn in the middle of a giant turd.”

WHOA!

“He might be a cam bolt shy of being fully assembled.”

The mystery is not that difficult and the perp is rather obvious early on with the motive by mid-book. Some twists meant to throw the reader off-track, don’t. The storyline is easy to follow and the characters add depth and a little fun to the narrative.

However, another damaged protagonist, while quite engaging is getting tiresome. There are repeats of conversations (wait…didn’t I just read that?) and commonly repeated descriptions.

The very real problem of a possible conflict of interest pops up that might lead to an in-depth discussion of which job comes first, takes precedent, and where should her allegiance lie? A situation that will surely force a resolution.

I’ve read this author before in one of her other series (Dead Ringer review here), thought I’d try this one. I tripped over a few quibbles, but basically enjoyed a well-plotted and easy-paced cozy read with characters I grew to invest in. Recommended.

Receiving this digital download free from the publisher and NetGalley did not affect my opinion of the book or the content and this is my honest opinion.

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Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuth Mysteries, Medical Thrillers
Publisher: Kensington Books
ASIN: B07ZPLB14V
Print Length: 266 pages
Publication Date: July 28, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

 Rosepoint Publishing: Four of Five Stars 4-stars

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

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Hanging Falls: A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery by Margaret Mizushima – a #BookReview

Rosepoint Publishing: Five of Five Stars Five Stars

Book Blurb:

Hanging Falls by Margaret MizushimaMurder stalks the rugged Colorado high country–and sends Mattie Cobb on a quest to uncover the darkest secrets from her past in the sixth gripping installment of Margaret Mizushima’s Timber Creek K-9 mysteries

A deluge has flooded the high ground near Hanging Falls–but heavy rains aren’t the only menace descending on Timber Creek. While on a scouting mission to pinpoint trail damage, officer Mattie Cobb and her K-9 partner Robo stumble upon a body floating at the edge of a lake. Robo catches human scent, which leads to an enigmatic forest-dweller who quickly becomes suspect number one.

With help from veterinarian Cole Walker, Mattie identifies the victim, and discovers an odd religious cult whose dress and manners harken back to the 19th century. As the list of suspects grows, an unexpected visit from members of Mattie’s long-lost family sheds new light on her childhood as they help Mattie piece together details of the fateful night when she was abducted at age two.

The tangled threads of the investigation and family dynamics begin to intertwine–but darkness threatens to claim a new victim before Mattie and Robo can track down the killers.

My Review:

Not content to wait closer to release, I had to jump to my new Mizushima book. I am always so delighted by each in the wonderful series that features the awesome GSD Robo, a well-trained service dog. Always a late bloomer, I discovered the series at Book 3, read each since, and really enjoyed them all.

Hanging Falls by Margaret MizushimaThe K-9 series features Robo as a brilliantly, intuitive service animal–the stories do not breach anthropomorphic levels–they stay authentic. Robo is a large powerful animal and is treated with respect while carefully kept to his manners. His handler, Mattie Cobb works with local law enforcement and in this narrative finds a DB (dead body) washed downstream and caught in a tree snag off the trail in the flood of the high country she and wildlife manager, Glenna Dalton, are scouting. The wild mountains of Colorado and Timber Creek are dangerous and unpredictable, but this is obviously a homicide.

Mizushima’s books always run a strong sub-plot and this story dealing with the issue of family pushes her backstory to the foreground. Her own family was torn apart resulting in an abusive childhood and many unanswered questions. She is carefully cultivating a relationship with the local veterinarian, Cole Walker, and his family that appears to be progressing.

Investigating the death of the young man on the mountain, they discover a new “family” that has moved to their area, a cult. There is a subsequent death which Mattie and Robo also discover and all leads continue to swerve back to the cult where there appears to harbor a smoldering discontent. Cole is introduced to the members through a visit to investigate a split hoof on one of their farm animals where he notes a girl about his oldest child’s age with her own beautiful GSD.

While the team continues to investigate the two deaths, obviously related at this point, they begin to ferret out more and more details and discover a new vet in the area tied to a pharmaceutical rep adding an additional layer to the mystery.

In the meantime, Mattie has been contacted by her long-lost sister and nervously awaits a visit by Julia and her grandmother. As she was raised in the foster care system, she is hoping to finally answer questions about her abduction and the disappearance of her mother. Oh, yes, this is a thread that will weigh heavily in the next episode.

Meanwhile, the duo-protagonists, Mattie and Robo, bring the mystery to a successful but nail-biting conclusion. I love that dog. My review of Hunting Hour here, Burning Ridge here, and Tracking Game here. Each can work as a standalone, but you might wish to catch up on this remarkable series and go back to Book 1. Which one did I love best? The one I was then reading.

Receiving this digital download free from the publisher and NetGalley did not affect my opinion of the book and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to read and review. Anyone who enjoys a good mystery with an immersive, atmospheric setting, impressive animals, and their skillful handlers will find this series fully engaging and entertaining.

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Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuth, Traditional Detective Fiction
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
ASIN: B082H2KD9H
Print Length: 288 pages
Publication Date: To be released September 8, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Pre-Order Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

Margaret Mizushima - authorThe Author: Margaret Mizushima is the author of the award-winning and internationally published Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries. Active within the writing community, Margaret serves as president for the Rocky Mountain Chapter of Mystery Writers of America, was elected the 2019-2020 Writer of the Year by Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and is also a member of Northern Colorado Writers and Sisters in Crime. She lives in Colorado on a small ranch with her veterinarian husband where they raised two daughters and a multitude of animals. She can be found on Facebook/AuthorMargaretMizushima, Twitter @margmizu, Instagram at margmizu, and her website at http://www.margaretmizushima.com.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Storm Rising (An F.B.I. K-9 Novel Book 3) by Sara Driscoll – a #BookReview #animalfiction

A shared review with the CE.

Book Blurb:

Storm Rising by Sara DriscollFBI Special Agent Meg Jennings and her search-and-rescue K-9 companion confront the fury of nature—and the more dangerous nature of man . . .

In the wake of a devastating hurricane, Special Agent Meg Jennings and her Labrador, Hawk—invaluable members of the FBI’s Human Scent Evidence Team—have been deployed to Virginia Beach. Amid debris and the buried cries for help, the most alarming discovery is yet to come—a teenage girl hiding in the Great Dismal Swamp.

Her name is Emma—a disheveled runaway lost to the sordid underbelly of a Virginia sex-trafficking ring. Its leader has disappeared in the chaos—along with other victims. Meg joins forces with Special Agent Walter Van Cleave and uncovers a vast network of abuse rooted in some of the most influential powers in Virginia. Now as Meg’s investigation digs deeper, she’s making some very dangerous enemies. And one by one, they’re coming out of the storm to stop her.  

My Thoughts

I really enjoy the relationship that the author of this series has created for her protagonist Meg and her K-9 Search and Rescue black lab, Hawk and while Meg has a human male in her life, she has a story to tell with her searches. In Book 3, Hurricane Cole has barreled down on Virginia Beach and there has been the usual number of persons refusing to leave, thinking they can weather the storm.

The setting is chaotic with the coastal town a shambles, too many buildings at waters edge, and the storm surge stories high. They are sent in to find persons stranded or hidden in debris and as luck would have it, her favorite firefighter/paramedic, Todd, is also being sent in to supplement the personnel already in place but over-extended. They do what they can, but in a matter of a few days the mission goes from search for life to recovery of bodies–difficult for a search and rescue animal.

It is when Meg and Todd are driving toward the largest navy base in the world that Todd spots a van, half-hidden in water, muck, mud, and ravaged bushes and trees.   Apparently, there were survivors from the van–but where are they now? Hawk finds one girl, badly injured and left, however, it is obvious she didn’t get there on her own. Hawk continues the search until he finds a young woman and the team discovers the purpose of the van and the focus of the mission suddenly changes.

As always, there are teachable moments, which for me adds fascinating information regarding the terrain and training of these magnificent canines and their handlers. There are also descriptions of the Great Dismal Swamp, a huge retreat left natural with no lack of some serious wildlife, including alligators.

The dialogue is so natural, you can hear the teenager’s refusal dripping with contempt rather than trust anyone, especially an adult, but specifically men who have thus far only exploited and kept her captive. The human/dog connection, however, is palpable and becomes the necessary tool that Meg can use to reach her.

The K-9 stories always catch my eye. I read and reviewed No Man’s Land late last year (Sara Driscoll) and Exit Strategy (Jen J Danna) last month, the first of a new series. The author has a riveting writing style that hooks from the beginning and builds tension through the satisfying conclusion. The only quibble I had with this novel was that the dog wasn’t used through the climax. These stories, however, are fast-paced, well-plotted and atmospheric. Regardless of which pen name she uses, you can’t go wrong. 4.5 stars/5

I received this digital download through Amazon’s digital book loans with no expectation of a review. These are our honest opinions. Highly recommended!

His Thoughts 

Storm Rising by Sara DriscollWhat secrets does the aftermath of a hurricane hold? Sara Driscoll explores the saga of Meg Jennings and her partner Hawk. Entering the hardest hit areas of devastation they look for possible survivors. Entwined in the search are the reasons why some people do not evacuate as required by law enforcement. Some people stay behind to burglarize homes and businesses left unprotected during the evacuation.

A chance sighting of a stranded vehicle leads to a second expose of crime during the storm. Hawk and Meg assist a fire and rescue team member in exploring the vehicle. Evidence of some who were able to get out of the vehicle leads to a very interesting part of this novel.

Sara’s storytelling is always first-rate and shows the depth of her abilities in her craft. Attention to detail and explanation as to how and why some of the procedures are followed is woven into the narrative. After a few hours, the “rescue” efforts become “retrieval” and identification efforts.

The mental toll that this sort of effort requires is evident on both Meg and her K-9 partner Hawk. The reward of finding someone alive in those situations is energizing for both the handler and the dog. The depth of training and trust between the handler and the animal is mesmerizing! Sara handles it with authenticity and faithfulness.

As the story develops a different area of discovery ensues. From a simple search and rescue operation, we are thrust into a whole other world. I found this both enlightening and disturbing. Following Meg into the entire enterprise left me enlightened and angry. The world exposed was cruel and disgusting.

CE WilliamsIt is not the journey through life that is the sum and substance of our existence but rather the end result. Some people seem to feel that there will be no repercussions of a heinous life and go about their business amassing a fortune on the backs of the innocent. The author shows that those people need to be stopped because the resultant greed can lead to great suffering. 5 stars – CE Williams

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Book Details:

Genre: Conspiracy Thrillers, Animal Fiction, Political Thrillers & Suspense
Publisher: Pinnacle Books
ASIN: B07WXJNH3B
ISBN: 1496704452
Print Length: 306 pages
Publication Date: August 17, 2019
Source: Publisher and Amazon Book Loans

Title Link(s):
Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

Rosepoint Publishing: 4.75 stars of Five Four and three-quarters stars of five

Jen J Danna - authorThe Author: [Sara Driscoll] 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 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Goodnight Moo (A Buttermilk Creek Mystery Book 2) by Mollie Cox Bryan – a #BookReview – #cozymystery

“… when a mysterious tractor accident looks suspiciously like murder, Brynn suspects someone is up to no-gouda.”

Book Blurb:

Goodnight Moo by Mollie Cox BryanWelcome to Shenandoah Springs, Virginia, the bucolic small town where Brynn MacAlister keeps cows, churns cheeses—and is sharper than the ripest cheddar when it comes to solving mysteries . . .   With a foster cow in her corral and a new calf on the way, Brynn MacAlister has a lot on her plate. Especially since her micro-dairy farm is hosting the first annual cheesemakers contest at this year’s summer fair. A relative newcomer, Brynn’s hoping the contest becomes a tradition, bonding her even more strongly to the community. But when a mysterious tractor accident looks suspiciously like murder, Brynn suspects someone is up to no-gouda . . .   Some folks say the lead suspect was just defending his underage daughter from a suitor more mature than a vintage provolone, but Brynn isn’t buying it. Especially when another dead body turns up and Brynn’s top cheesemaker falls under suspicion. It’s enough to make a girl bluer than her best Stilton. But not enough to stop Brynn from getting to the bottom of things. What she discovers is the small town harbors some pretty unsavory characters. And the closer Brynn gets to the killer, the deeper she gets into danger . .

My Review:

Having read Book 1 of the series, I snatched this one up when it became available as an ARC as I really enjoyed the rural farm setting and the animals. In Book 1, protagonist Brynn MacAlister moved to the bucolic Shenandoah Springs property with funds from her grandmother’s passing. Buttermilk Creek Farm includes the main house, guest house, and barns with three resident Red Devon dairy cows, Petunia, Marigold, and Buttercup. Unfortunately, Petunia gave birth to a stillborn calf and went into an extended mourning period. Now one of the other cows is pregnant.

Goodnight Moo by Mollie Cox BryanWes stayed to live with her in the guest house after his grandmother died in a fire in an adjacent property and brought with him youthful skills and enthusiasm as well as being media savvy. There is a resident kitty in the main house and Freckles, the dog, was a rescue from one of the main support characters, the local vet, Schuyler. This time Schuyler arrives with a Highland cow, orphaned when his elderly owner passed away. Brynn promises to “foster” the cow until the vet can find a forever home, but you know what will happen with that one.

They are excited about the county fair in which Brynn has organized a cheese competition until an accident on a local farm turns out to be one of murder. The owner’s tractor went all AI on him and it ran over a summer worker. He is the first person of interest but then Wes takes the honor when it appears his gun is involved in a second murder. Now it gets nasty, with Wes being Pakistani, taking on racist overtones. Ransom ware begins to hit after Brynn has a severe accident of her own and the cheese competition turns real blue.

Brynn’s sister, Becky comes to help her after she’s out of the hospital and there is strong support to help with the cows. But what is going on in the community? Small town, southern attitudes harbor sides she hadn’t previously seen and she’s determined to clear Wes even as his father and brother come to his aid as well. She and Becky have a loving, supportive relationship, and Jewel the Highland cow while terribly shy is slowly becoming acclimated.

Sifting through the twists and red herrings, it’s still hard to grapple with who might be behind all the mayhem. Is it all even connected? While they keep negating the role that Chelsea plays as a sixteen-year-old, she certainly isn’t an innocent. And while she presents one major theme, the racist theme falls heavily throughout the narrative.

“There was nothing worse than the disappointment in people who turned out not to be who you thought they were.”

I really enjoy Brynn, the support characters, and the appealing locale. Brynn is compassionate and fiercely loyal. She has an affinity for the animals that is a delight and her passionate approach to artisan cheeses and the farm to table movement is inspiring. My quibble would be the rehashing and overhashing of the major plot points. There is a darker overtone to this well-plotted novel with topical arguments behind the main plot (mostly resolved in conclusion) that I found a bit disturbing. And, of course, there are a number of recipes which have appeal. A strong mystery, engaging characters, and only periodic sagging in pace, recommended as a fun, cozy mystery. Looking forward to Book 3.

Add to Goodreads Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuth, Cozy Animal Mysteries
Publisher: Kensington Books
ASIN: B082WRM3L6
Print Length: 290 pages
Publication Date: To be released August 25, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

 Rosepoint Publishing: Four of Five Stars 4-stars

Mollie Cox Bryan - authorThe Author: Mollie Cox Bryan writes cozy mysteries with edge and romances with slow, sweet burn. The first book in her new mystery series, “Cora Crafts Mysteries.” is DEATH AMONG THE DOILIES, which was selected as “Fresh Fiction Not to Miss” and is a 2017 Finalist for the Daphne du Maurier Award. The second book, NO CHARM INTENDED, was named a Summer 2017 Top 10 Beach Read by Woman’s World. She also wrote the Agatha-award nominated Cumberland Creek Mysteries. Several of the books in that series were short-listed for the Virginia Library People’s Choice Award. She’s also penned a historical fiction: MEMORY OF LIGHT: AN AFTERMATH OF GETTYSBURG and historical romance: TEMPTING WILL MCGLASHEN. She makes her home at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Shenandoah Valley, Va.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Muzzled (An Andy Carpenter Book 21) by David Rosenfelt – a #BookReview – #TuesdayBookBlog

Andy rescues dogs–and people.

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars Five Stars

Book Blurb:

Muzzled by David RosenfeltIn David Rosenfelt’s Andy Carpenter mystery, Muzzled, Andy and his beloved golden retriever, Tara, are back on the case as a favor to a friend.

Andy Carpenter is a lawyer who would rather not practice law. He’d rather spend his time working with the Tara Foundation, his dog rescue organization, and being with his family and his two dogs, Tara and Sebastian. But when a friend asks him for a favor that involves both dogs and his lawyerly expertise, he can’t say no.

Andy’s friend Beth has found a stray that seems to have belonged to a murder victim–in fact, the man and two of his colleagues died in an explosion a few weeks ago. But when the murdered man contacts Beth, asking for his dog back, Andy knows there must be more to the story. The man claims his life is in danger, and that’s why he disappeared. As much as Andy doesn’t want to get involved–anything to avoid a new case–he can’t help but come to the rescue of a man who’d risk everything, even his life, to reunite with his dog.

My Review:

I just love it when another Andy Carpenter book comes out! I know it’ll be a novel I can get into immediately, keep my attention, and divert my interest blissfully away from the world’s current situation to a well-plotted and critically thinking topical issue. Well, close anyway.

Muzzled by David RosenfeltAs you know if you’ve seen any of my previous reviews of this series, Andy Carpenter is a retired (unless he gets a new client he can’t refuse), defense attorney. In this case, he answered a call from his friend Beth. He has worked with Beth previously, helping to rescue and reunite strays with their owners. In this case, not a stray, but an owner reported killed in a horrific boating explosion who now wants his dog back. Oops.

As you’ll also remember, Andy’s first love is his dog rescue, the Tara Foundation, that he founded with Willie Miller and wife. Pete Stanton, his beer and burgers buddy also happens to be captain of the Homicide Division of the Paterson Police Department and has picked up on the not-so-dead-guy, Alex Vogel. Seems two of his partners were killed in the explosion that he somehow survived. It’s not looking good for Alex.

All the members of the K Team are involved, of course, one being his wife, Laurie (an ex-cop), our favorite Lurch character Marcus, along with Corey and his K-9,  Simon Garfunkel. Other favorites are involved as well as and soon they are embroiled in a complicated narrative of start-ups, super-bugs, pharmaceuticals, IPOs, and mafia types. Is this truly a vaccine that will neutralize a super-bug?

There is generally a good portion of the book devoted to interviews, investigations, and Sam’s deep dives into the ether world where most shouldn’t go. Shhh! The courtroom scenes are as gripping as the investigation leading to a conclusion surprising in the face of most Andy Carpenter books–a little dismaying even. There is some of the usual work and play with the doggies missing from the storyline as well and that definitely threw a curve in what I was expecting. I’ve come to anticipate a particular formula much of which is devoted to snappy dialogue back and forth between Andy and Laurie and those he works with. There is a sarcastic but loving edge to discussions, easy humor-punctuated banter consistent in each book. While it certainly wasn’t missing, this plot skewed just a bit unsettling this reader.

I’ve burned through a mix of uncorrected digital galleys from NetGalley (including this one), ebooks and audiobooks from the library, and have a particular affinity for the audiobooks narrated by Grover Cleveland. He so totally sells Andy Carpenter that even if I’m reading the book, hear his voice. I got in on The K Team (Book 1 of the new series) and two Doug Brock books (narrated by Fred Berman); a great deal more serious than that special Andy Carpenter sense of humor and razor wit. Obviously, I missed many at the beginning of the series, but did catch The Twelve Dogs of Christmas Book 15, Collared Book 16 (no review), Rescued Book 17, Bark of Night Book 19, and Dachshund Through the Snow Book 20. Yes, I missed Book 18 Deck the Hounds (planned on doing that one for Christmas books this year as well as the new one coming out in October, Silent Bite). Looking back, I see I gave a consistent five stars for each of the Carpenter books. (Above links are to my blog reviews.)

So Rosenfelt mixed up his modus operandi just a bit this time. I still found it to be filled with great characters, engaging plot, sarcastic but witty and fun, intelligent and complex with dogs counted among support characters. For me, it’s a win-win. Totally recommended.

Add to Goodreads

 Book Details:

Genre: Traditional Detective Mysteries, Animal Fiction
Publisher: Minotaur Books
ISBN: 1250257115
ASIN: B0818NPRRF
Print Length: 261 pages
Publication Date: To be released >BIG>July 7, 2020 – Happy Release Day!
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

The Finders: A Mystery (Mace Reid K-9 Mystery Book 1) by Jeffrey B Burton – a #BookReview – #TuesdayBookBlog

Check off all your mystery boxes with this doggy treat.

The Finders by Jeffrey B Burton

Book Blurb:

Jeffrey B. Burton’s The Finders marks the beginning of a fast-paced new mystery series featuring a heroic golden retriever cadaver dog named Vira and her handler, Mason Reid.

Mason “Mace” Reid lives on the outskirts of Chicago and specializes in human remains detection. He trains dogs to hunt for the dead. Reid’s coming off a taxing year—mourning the death of a beloved springer spaniel as well as the dissolution of his marriage. He adopts a rescue dog with a mysterious past—a golden retriever named Vira. And when Reid begins training Vira as a cadaver dog, he comes to realize just how special the newest addition to his family truly is…

Suddenly, Reid and his prize pupil find themselves hurled into a taxing murder case, which will push them to their very limits. Paired with determined Chicago Police Officer Kippy Gimm, Mace must put all his trust in Vira’s abilities to thwart a serial killer who has now set his sights on Mace himself.

My Review:

Yes, okay…okay. It had a dog on the cover. And aren’t I lucky that the cover delivered!

My first experience with the author and this his first in a new series, the Mace Reid K-9 Mysteries, I can’t help it. I’m a new solid fan. The protagonist Mason “Mace” Reid is adorable–not as cute as his dogs, mind you, but there is a vulnerability about him that makes him massively approachable. (Unhappily divorced, he’s still going through the awkward stage. “And, just for the record, Heartache never flushes.”) He does love dogs. He trains them–it’s a side job–obedience, search, and HRD (human remains detection). It’s that latter niché that has him on the local police payroll, called from time to time to search for cadavers. Well, that’s gross but necessary, after all, he lives in Lansing but is frequently called to Chicago.

The Finders by Jeffrey B BurtonHe keeps two canine sisters that have that twin thing going for them, Delta Dawn and Maggie May and a boy named Sue (are you getting it yet?). So when Elvira (Vira) is rescued from a near-death experience, the golden retriever quickly assumes family alpha. That might NOT have gone over so well with the GSD Sue, but he’s aloof and still in recovery from having saved Mace’s life.

There is something special about Vira. Officer Kippy Gimm, who found Vira at a crime scene thought so too. Kippy is partnered with Dave “Wabs” Wabiszewski (see why they call him Wabs?) and she soon seeks out Mace to see about possibly joining forces on a missing persons file she and her partner are working. It doesn’t take long, however, before Mace and his sensitive nose-sniffing dog catches the villain’s attention and ooh is he bad.

The author has given as much personality to Mace’s dogs as to Mace and Kippy comes in a very close second. She and Mace seem to click and it doesn’t take long before the cheerleading squad is chanting romance…okay…not romance. Interest? The usual fast-pace slacks just a tad when they get their heads together to bounce off perp and profiling ideas, but otherwise, this storyline just drives the well-plotted novel with humor, human interest, snappy dialogue, and canine info (feeds my endless fascination with their abilities), along with some nasty side-stuff from the bad guy. Who doesn’t enjoy the perfect mix of K-9 antics with engaging MC (human and canine) personalities, mystery, and Chicago area location details you can visualize?

You’ve seen my interest and appreciation in the David Rosenfelt books and this might be most closely compared to his humor with the serious plot points of the Andy Carpenter books. This is a wonderful start to what promises to be a wholly entertaining series. I read a lot of doggy stories. I may be an expert on dog stories. And I happily recommend this novel and new series. Must Love Dogs? Nah, this is fun whether you do or don’t.

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

Add to GoodreadsBook Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuth, Cozy Animal Mystery, Cozy Animal Mysteries
Publisher: Minotaur Books
ASIN: B0818NVFT7
Print Length: 288 pages
Publication Date: Released June 30, 2020 – Happy Publication Day!
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Kobo

Jeffrey B Burton - authorThe Author: Jeffrey B. Burton was born in Long Beach, California, grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota, and received his BA in Journalism at the University of Minnesota. THE FINDERS, the first in Burton’s K-9 mystery series, will be coming out in June of 2020 (St. Martin’s Publishing Group). Novels in his Agent Drew Cady mystery series include THE CHESSMAN (MacAdam/Cage, 2012; paperback Harlequin Suspense, 2015), THE LYNCHPIN (MP Publishing, 2015), and THE EULOGIST (The Permanent Press, 2017). His short stories have appeared in dozens of magazines. Jeff is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and the Horror Writers Association. Jeff lives in St. Paul with his wife, daughter, an irate Pomeranian named Lucy, and a goofball/sweetheart of a Beagle named Milo.

This roller coaster of a thriller has some luscious ingredients: moneyed surroundings, including billion-dollar mansions and the boardroom of a bloodsucking pharmaceutical company; some lengthy and artfully described fights and chases; and a killer-for-hire who, intentionally or not, runs off with the whole show. – Booklist on THE EULOGIST

An action-packed thriller with a high body count . . . The plot grabs readers from the start, twists abound, and good triumphs–mostly. – Library Journal on THE EULOGIST

Burton delivers an outstanding serial killer thriller that will impress even seasoned practitioners of this subgenre.
–Publishers Weekly (A Starred Review) on THE CHESSMAN

Jeffrey Burton’s terrific mystery, ‘The Chessman,’ is made up of a lot of moving parts the author brings together masterfully.
–St. Paul Pioneer Press on THE CHESSMAN

Visit http://www.jeffreybburton.com to see more about Jeff’s novels and short stories.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

The Secret of Dunhaven Castle (A Cate Kensie Mystery Book 1) by Nellie H Steele – a #BookReview #mystery

“A new spin on the classic ghost story”

A shared review with the CE.

Book Blurb:

A heartwarming journey of discovery

The Secret of Dunhaven Castle by Nellie H SteeleStill reeling after the sudden death of her parents, Dr. Catherine Kensie is struggling to pursue her career as a history professor at a small, midwestern college. With no known family, other than her beloved dog, Riley, Cate is astonished when a stranger appears on her doorstep to tell her that she has inherited a castle in Scotland and an antique gold watch accompanied by a mysterious note from a distant relative. When the will stipulates that she must live on the estate, Cate finds the promise of exploring her past impossible to decline. With nothing to hold her back and a desperate desire to surround herself with a familial connection, Cate and Riley say goodbye to their hometown and make the trek across the pond to their new Scottish home.

Soon after arriving, Cate finds castle life to be less than a fairy tale, suspecting something may be amiss in her new home. Between strange events and peculiar manifestations, Cate begins to question her own sanity when it appears that she is the only one experiencing these bizarre incidents. She attempts to make sense of what is happening as she struggles to explain the increasingly unexplainable. With a shroud of mystery enveloping her and Riley, will Cate discover the secret of Dunhaven Castle? 

My Thoughts

Nothing stirs the imagination like a centuries-old castle, wherever it is. In this case, I just know that the castle is old enough to be through generations of the MacKenzies and located in Scotland.

Dr. Catherine Kensie (Cate) is still struggling for tenure having been teaching at a small midwestern college in Aberdeen for several years. But about the time she is denied, again, she is introduced to an attorney who claims she has inherited a castle in Dunhaven, being the only remaining relative of the castle’s owner. She will inherit the title of the Countess of Dunhavenshire. Yahoo!

It’s a no-brainer. She’ll close out her apartment, box up what she’ll move, prepare her little dog, Riley, and fly across the pond to claim her inheritance. The castle is as presented in the pictures. It’s huge, gorgeous, and comes with perks–including a special watch, only bequeathed in person with instruction–and quirky manifestations.

This narrative becomes quite the enjoyable little romp into the Scottish countryside along with a storyline that builds the suspense and a protagonist that must have inherited that Scottish stubborn streak as she’s like a dog with a bone. Cate just keeps picking at it until she begins to unravel the mystery. She is young and energetic and the historian in her is bound to discover the truth and expose the story–all of them. From the beginning, she feels an affinity for the castle–like she belongs there–she’s part of it. I’m sure the reader will continue to see her develop as this series grows.

There are only a few characters so they are easy to keep track of and they all lend interest, even while not yet fully fleshed. I’m reserving judgment of Jack. He’s…okay, but not terribly adventurous.  The well-plotted and easy-paced storyline keeps interest and engagement through the conclusion. The reveal, however, is correctly guessed long before the climax, but still comes with a satisfied grin and interest in seeing where the author will take this one next.

The author has a simple writing style, at times overly minute to minute descriptive. It’s tell not show, but a fun premise and entertaining. Book One, now is your chance to get in on the beginning of what promises to be a fun series. Book 2 Murder at Dunhaven Castle just released and I suspect will ramp up the thriller-suspense aspect considerably.

I was contacted by the author with a request for review in exchange of a gifted copy of Book One and can recommend as the beginning of a promising series. 4/5 stars

His Thoughts

The Secret of Dunhaven Castle by Nellie H SteeleWill a Doctorate in History guarantee a good future and life result? Cate Kensie is teaching in a small-town college with all of the drama of a small town. Tenured professors play games with new hires and throw them the dregs and bones of the teaching year. The future is not guaranteed and Cate is a slave to the whims of her superiors. Her pay is low and her workload high. The coveted letter of a tenure track is nothing more than another setback. Maybe next year they will consider giving her the opening she desires.

An unusual visit from a British solicitor presents Cate with a dilemma. Should she stick with her dream or follow the foreign path to her future. She has no family to talk to, her parents having died in a tragic accident.  Should she abandon her dream and embark on a totally different path in a foreign country. The tenure rejection that is another slap in the face helps her decision.

She has no idea why the solicitor has ferreted her out. She has never known anyone in Scotland and certainly cannot understand why they would have even considered her. She and her small dog Riley will be uprooted if she accepts the offer. Firstly, she has to have a DNA test to prove that she is even related to the person who has identified her as a possible relative. She submits to the test and is found to be a direct relative of the person, Lady Gertrude MacKenzie, who has named her in her will.

The estate she inherits is large and well maintained. Scotland is an entirely different environment for a young American lady and her dog. Her future is set in a rather remote location. This is often a dream for some young and poor people as they grow up: What if I were royalty, how would my future be?

The story shifts to a lonely life in a Scottish castle near the town of Dunhaven. She is the only heir to the fortune and she is given an old timepiece with the strange inscription “Always keep an eye on your time.”

Getting used to a large castle and grounds takes more than a little time. Included in the inheritance is a family of caretakers and groundskeepers. Weeks follow to discover all that the inheritance entails. It is a fun read to accompany Cate on her adventure. I enjoyed seeing the Scottish countryside and lochs from her point of view. As she engages in the search for her roots you begin to enjoy her youthful optimism.

This whole story is well-plotted and pushes your imagination as you read. As I child I dreamed of such an event, but reality was always at the back of my mind. It is fun to relive that fantasy through this authors’ eyes. It is a great escapist novel. 4.5/5 stars – CE Williams

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 Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Animal Mysteries, Supernatural Mysteries
Publisher: A Novel Idea Publishing LLC
ISBN: 1951582020
ASIN: B07Z9HS887
Print Length: 316 pages
Publication Date: November 26, 2019
Source: Direct Author Request
Title Purchase Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

 Rosepoint Publishing: 4.25 of Five Stars Four and One Quarter Stars

Nellie H Steele - authorThe Author: Nellie H. Steele lives in the South Hills of Pittsburgh with her family and her many fur-babies. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys teaching Statistics at a local university or watching her dogs and cats play in the yard.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

The Nutcracker Conspiracy (A Thorny Rose Mystery #4) by Lauren Carr – #Audiobook Tour – #Giveaway

Exciting audiobook thriller series, conspiracy, mystery, and police procedural.

I’m thrilled today to provide a book review at my blog stop for this thriller audiobook tour by bestselling mystery author Lauren Carr for iRead Book Tours.

“Wow – this is one INCREDIBLE novel that I could not put down.
It had me  on the edge of my seat and I can honestly say that I never
saw the end coming. It was full of suspense, action but also humour
(done in a way  that only Lauren can accomplish).”
5-Star Review of THE NUTCRACKER CONSPIRACY by Working Mommy Journal

Join Us for This Audiobook Tour from June 8 to June 26, 2020!

Book Details:

Book TitleThe Nutcracker Conspiracy (A Thorny Rose Mystery #4) by Lauren Carr
Category:  Adult Fiction (18 +),  388 pages
Genre:  Mystery
Publisher:  Acorn Book Services
Release date:   January 30, 2020
Content Rating:  PG-13 (Lauren Carr’s books are murder mysteries,
so there are murders involved. Occasionally, a murder will happen on
stage. There is sexual content, but always behind closed doors. Some
mild swearing (a hell or a damn few and far between). No F-bombs!

Book Description:

Three years ago, the nation gasped in horror when the President of the
United States barely escaped an assassination attempt that left two
dead—the vice president’s wife and the attempted assassin.  Even after
numerous investigations proved otherwise, conspiracy theorists argue
that the assassin was acting on orders from the CIA, FBI, and every
federal agency within a hundred miles of the capital.

Aspiring Author Dean Conway is the last person Lieutenant Commander
Murphy Thornton wants to spend his Saturday afternoon when they end up
at the same wedding reception table. While their wives tend to
bridesmaid duties, Murphy is trapped listening to Dean’s latest
work-in-project—completing the manuscript of an investigative journalist
who’d disappeared months earlier.

“She was number twelve,” Dean says.

“Twelve?” Murphy asks.

“Twelve witnesses connected to or investigating The Nutcracker shooting have died either in an accident or suicide.”

Two days later, Dean dies suddenly―but not before sending a text message to Murphy:

“13”

My Review:

Love all the characters in Ms Carr’s series that include canine characters and their varied personalities, always sure to provide lively entertainment. There are several, but my favorite is Gnarly (a German Shepherd), more human than canine and smarter than most. Murphy definitely has his hands full.

An assassination attempt of the president went awry several years ago, but since then, more than twelve other people have ended up dead in what was supposed to look like suicide or accidents. But no one believes in coincidence and it doesn’t apply here particularly after Dean Conway started spouting off about a book he was going to publish he called the Nutcracker Conspiracy and then was blown up. (That’ll shut him up!)

A compelling and complex well-plotted suspense mystery. A clever twisty narrative full of misinformation nuggets. How wide did the whole conspiracy theory reach? Washington DC? The FBI, CIA? Stolen documents and spies. Sensitive research projects in the hands of China?

Standalone worthy, Murphy and his wife Jessica Faraday, wrap up another twisty intrigue and then surprise, surprise!  and Gotcha!  Mike Algar, narrator, performs a heroic effort to cover all the characters. Recommended!

Buy the Book:

Amazon ~ Audible

BookBub ~ Add to Goodreads

Meet the Author:

Lauren Carr is the international
best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, Chris Matheson
Cold Case, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty-five titles across
three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Book reviewers and readers alike
rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include
mystery, suspense, crime fiction, police procedurals, romance, and
humor.

A popular speaker, Lauren is also
the owner of Acorn Book Service, the umbrella under which falls iRead
Book Tours. She lives with her husband and two spoiled rotten German
Shepherds on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Connect with the author: Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~  Instagram

Tour Schedule:

June 8 – She Just Loves Books – audiobook review / giveaway

June 9 – Mystery Suspense Reviews – audiobook review / author interview / giveaway

June 10 – Rockin’ Book Reviews – audiobook review / guest post / giveaway

June 10 – T’s Stuff – audiobook review / guest post / giveaway

June 11 – Sefina Hawke’s Books – audiobook review

June 11 – Bound 4 Escape – audiobook review / giveaway

June 12 – Splashes of Joy – book spotlight / guest post / author interview / giveaway

June 12 – Nighttime Reading Center – book spotlight / giveaway

June 12 – Locks, Hooks and Books – audiobook review / guest post / giveaway

June 15 – Rosepoint Publishing – audiobook review / giveaway

June 16 – Dab of Darkness Audiobook Reviews – audiobook review /giveaway

June 17 – Jazzy Book Reviews – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway

June 17 – Blooming with Books – audiobook review / giveaway

June 19 – Stephanie Jane – book spotlight / giveaway

June 22 – Hall Ways Blog – audiobook review / giveaway

June 23 – Books for Books – audiobook review

June 24 – JBronder Book Reviews – audiobook review / guest post / giveaway

June 25 – Thoughts in Progress – audiobook review / giveaway

Enter the Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

©2020 V Williams

January River by Bernard Jan – a #BookReview

Five friends. One dog. One river carrying a secret.

A shared review experience with the CE.

Book Blurb:

January RiverWhen one of their friends goes missing, everything comes crashing down for the small group of childhood friends in the small town of Greenfield. Ethan takes it hard. Then he loses his dog, his only consolation.

Hoping to start anew, Ethan leaves Greenfield and moves to New York City. Far from the ghosts of his childhood and the river that gives and takes life. There he finds his one true love and builds a career as a bestselling author.

But how long will Ethan’s happiness last as doubts creep back into him and shatter his reality? And will his reconciliation with the past come at too great a price?

All rivers carry their secrets, but not every river keeps its secret forever.

My Review:

Growing up in a 70s rural town in the panhandle of Nebraska, Ethan, his brother Will, and their friends enjoy a languid summer, playing in the river and dreaming of crafting a raft. It was an innocent time of fields and farms, bucolic setting, pines, and exchanges of goals and secrets. When Ethan finds a golden retriever, near death, he enlists the help of his buddy’s dad, a vet, and helps to ensure the beautiful animal escape death. There are obvious indications of abuse.

January River by Bernard JanYears later, there are tragic occurrences that drive Ethan to New York to join his brother where he naively discovers a wildly different type of life. But Will is a nomad who loves the ocean and leaves his apartment in the care of Ethan. Ethan gains a job and begins to cement a future, working, writing, and meeting a woman who will become his wife.

A storyteller, Jan fills his literary fiction with deeply felt philosophical prose while continuing to try to come to terms with his past. Reconciliation in the present, while seeking relief of the grief from his past and the beautiful community in which he spent a carefree boyhood until that disastrous summer.

There are themes of heartbreak, love, evil, redemption, and finally, reconciliation. Jan steps up his details but misses a few threads that the reader might have wanted to know whether resolved. There were occasional song titles that fit with the melancholy and the timeline of the narrative covered some twenty-five years. While the author did a heroic job of translating from Croatian to English, there were a few missed edits (was it adopted–or stepson?) and simple contradictions.

We were contacted directly by the author requesting an honest review in exchange for a gift copy of his novel and we appreciated the opportunity which in no way swayed our opinions. Recommended to those who enjoy a circumspect peek in mid-west America 70s to 90s, the love of dogs, and the literary drama of life. 4 stars

His review:

This coming of age novel is staged around a western Nebraska town. The author captures the essence of being a young boy in a farm community. Being the “little brother” Ethan is following an older brother in a bucolic setting of rivers and grain fields and quiet summer days. He gets to explore life and nature. He finds a near-death dog that he rescues and nurtures back to health. Their bond becomes inseparable.

Losing one member of his childhood gang haunts him throughout the book. His older brother is a beacon to him throughout life without being a guide. The relationship of the boys and parents is well developed and appreciated. The family has a well-developed business and an opportunity for either or both boys to inherit a profitable business.

Life has many twists and turns and Bernard Jan has captured the emotional essence. Many parents have witnessed the castle of their expectations for their offspring evaporate when the child develops his own interests. Peppered within life are many divergent trails and opportunities. The author captured the feel of those forks in the road.

Ethan follows his older brother Willy to New York. The serendipitous change of environment is indeed a path that draws Ethan from his youth. He works as a waiter in a restaurant and gets to be a key part of the business. He tends to be a recluse but is drawn out by a love interest. His dynamic of life changes. CE Williams

I was amazed at the awesome translation of this book from Croatian into other languages including English. I am grateful for the excellent work the team of editors accomplished. I highly recommend this book to animal lovers and those who appreciate a good “coming of age” novel. True to life the road is curving and bumpy and an excellent escape. 4 stars – CE Williams

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 Book Details:

Genre: Pet Dogs, Friendship Fiction, Family Relationship, Animal Fiction, City Life Fiction

  • ISBN-10:9535958151
  • ISBN-13:978-9535958154
  • ASIN: B086LJJC8V

Print Length: 235 pages
Publication Date: April 3, 2020
Source: Direct author request
Title Link(s): January River

Amazon   |   Barnes and Noble

 Rosepoint Publishing: Four of Five Stars 4-stars

Bernard Jan - authorThe Author: “There is no greater joy than to share what you love with those who appreciate it.”–Bernard Jan

My pen name is Bernard Jan. I am a novelist and a poet from Croatia, and I have released three books in English.

“A World Without Color” is a true story of the last three days I spent with my cat, while “Look for Me Under the Rainbow” in a unique and gentle way sheds light on the plight of harp seal pups in Canada. It warms the heart of all readers concerned about our planet and its treasures. “January River” is a heartwarming cross-genre novel about five friends, one dog, and one river carrying a secret.

My first two books were written at the beginning of the war in Croatia in 1991 amidst air alerts and illusory attempts when I wanted to believe and think that life is normal, that everything is all right with the world. I have published five novels, two novellas, and one book of poems in Croatian. Four of my books, including the book of poems, were translated into English.

My passion for music and entertainment resulted in my becoming a partner of Tom’s Music Place, which was established in 2009 by my friend Thomas Carley Jr., whose objective was to raise the respect of music.

My desire to help others came to the fore during my years advocating environmental protection and advocacy of animal rights. I did volunteering work for the refugees, because suffering does not know any borders. When it comes within your reach in your home, you simply have to do something. As part of my animal advocacy activities, it has been a great honor and pleasure to translate “Eternal Treblinka: Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust” by Charles Patterson into Croatian.

For more information, visit my website https://www.bernardjan.com.

Twitter https://twitter.com/BernardJanWorld
BookBub https://www.bookbub.com/profile/bernard-jan
Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1028921.Bernard_Jan
LinkedIn https://hr.linkedin.com/in/bernard-jan-197a50112
AllAuthor https://allauthor.com/author/bernardjan/
AUTHORSdb https://authorsdb.com/community/17089-bernard-jan
Steemit https://steemit.com/@bernardjan
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Biopage https://www.biopage.com/public/bernardjan
YouTube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Snowed Under (A Maggie McDonald Mystery Book 6) by Mary Feliz – a #BookReview – #cozymystery

Happy Release Day!

Book Blurb:

Snowed Under by Mary FelizWhen professional organizer Maggie McDonald finds a body in a snowdrift outside her friend’s ski cabin, she must plow through the clues to find a cold-blooded killer . . .

Lake Tahoe in February is beautiful, but Maggie can’t see a thing as she drives through a blinding blizzard with her friend Tess Olmos and their dogs, golden retriever Belle and German shepherd Mozart.Maggie has offered her professional decluttering skills to help Tess tidy up her late husband’s cabin in preparation to sell. She also plans to get in some skiing when her husband Max and their boys join them later in the week.

What she doesn’t plan on is finding a boot in a snowdrift attached to a corpse. The frozen stiff turns out to be Tess’s neighbor, Dev Bailey, who disappeared two months ago. His widow Leslie expresses grief, but Maggie can’t help but wonder if it’s a snow job. As more suspects start to pile up, things go downhill fast, and Maggie must keep her cool to solve the murder before the killer takes a powder . .

My Review:

My first experience with the author and the series included dogs (and if you follow my blog, you know I can’t resist a book with doggy characters) and gorgeous Lake Tahoe–such a soft spot in my heart for Lake Tahoe–so many happy memories there. But winter in Tahoe? Oh yes, can be extremely treacherous.

Snowed Under by Mary FelizThis entry to the series has protagonist Maggie making a trip to Tahoe with her good friend Tess Olmos in February as Maggie will take on years of accumulation in Tess’s family cabin in preparation for a future sale to finance Tess’s son’s college expenses and her change of profession. Maggie is a professional organizer and this will be a getaway trip for her with her family following later for a ski vacation. Should be perfect! But, oops! The weather can turn on a dime in the High Sierras. The blizzard from hell hits them on their way over Donner Summit (no doubt you’ve heard that well-know story before–the Donner Party?) and it’s all they can do to make it to the cabin safely.

Leaving the car where it doesn’t belong in the turnaround, the first trip out of the cabin in the morning to trek back to the car has Maggie discovering a DB (that’s dead body in cop-speak). Unfortunately, the husband of one of Tess’s neighbors took his dog out just after Christmas and never returned. It sends Tess reeling as she lost her husband just 18 months previous and is part of the reason she’s selling. Between the weather and the unnerving discovery, organizing, cleaning, and clearing gets put on the back burner.

Maggie begins to meet the neighbors from the cul-de-sac snoop to the family of the deceased, all just struggling to survive the latest spate of storms crippling the mountains and their lives. The conditions are extreme, between the loss of power and heat, high winds, and plummeting temperatures, everyone hunkers down. Descriptions of the mountains and hillside homes create an appropriate frigid scene. Maggie’s dog, Belle, and Tess’s dog, Mozart, along with neighbors dogs lend added dimension to the cozy, if not freezing atmosphere.

Perhaps this is one of those series in which you should have started with Book 1. I found myself lost, especially in the first third of the book understanding the characters. There seemed contradictions in description, causing a stumble, awkward scenes, and dialogue. Maggie begins her surreptitious interviews of the neighbors and discovers there may have been more than one possible suspect. Chief Quinn Petit seems to welcome the help even as the plot takes some twists which will have you suspending disbelief. Visit from friends back home (under extreme conditions?) and a sudden introduction to the perp in the conclusion was rather contrived and somewhat a disappointment for me.

I received this digital download from the publisher and NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read for a review. If you’ve followed the series, you may very well appreciate this entry, enjoy the cozy mystery.

Add to Goodreads

Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuth Mysteries, Cozy Animal Mysteries
Publisher: Lyrical Press

  • ISBN-10:1516105311
  • ISBN-13:978-1516105311
  • ASIN: B07WBY669T

Print Length: 227 pages
Publication Date: June 9, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link(s): Snowed Under

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

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

Mary Feliz - authorThe Author: Mary Feliz writes the Maggie McDonald Mysteries featuring a Silicon Valley professional organizer and her sidekick golden retriever. She attends organizing conferences in her character’s stead, but Maggie’s skills leave her in the dust. Her first book, ADDRESS TO DIE FOR, received a Kirkus Star and was named a Best Book of 2017 by Kirkus Reviews. Suspense Magazine selected CLIFF HANGER as a Best Book of 2019. A Certified California Naturalist, Mary enjoys sharing the beauty of her state’s natural world with readers.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Black Velvet (The Erin O’Reilly K-9 Mysteries Book 1) by Steven Henry – a #BookReview #cozyanimalmystery

“USA TODAY Bestselling Book 1 in the Erin O’Reilly Mysteries series.” A shared review with the Vicarious Blogger.

Book Blurb:

Black Velvet by Steven HenryErin learned a lot from her partner: stay alert, follow your nose, and once you’ve got your teeth in them, never let go.

It’s tough working nights with the NYPD. The crime rate is high, the hours are terrible, and forget about a personal life. So when Officer O’Reilly and her K-9 Rolf switch over to the day shift, things are looking up. She’s even able to find time for a new boyfriend.

But when the theft of a priceless painting from the Queens Museum leaves a fellow police officer dead, Erin and her four-legged partner find themselves dealing with dangerous criminals, sleazy art dealers, and obstructive detectives in a race to capture the killers…and just maybe bring closure to a 75-year-old crime.

My Thoughts

Being the sucker that I am for a K-9 book and having found this series for Reading Ireland Month 2020, I went back and bought (gasp! How unusual is that!!) Book 1 of the series. There are currently seven in the series and I’m determined to progress to the rest.

Erin O’Reilly is a patrol officer for the NYPD with K-9 partner Rolf. She has been on the job for eleven years, ready for a change and has her eyes set on detective. She is second generation NYPD and proud of it, strong, confident, and dedicated.

A date at a major art gala runs awry when men dressed as part of the security team grabs an extremely valuable painting. The painting has yet to be authenticated, leading to insufficient security and they do a grab and run. Unfortunately, a patrolman gets caught in the crossfire. In formal attire and without her normal gear, she does her best with the downed officer’s gun, calling in the theft, backup, and a bus for the casualty.

Erin recognizes the uniform theft from a call she’d previously had and begins her investigation. Unfortunately, as the officer dies, the case has now gone to the detectives in her precinct and they tell her to back off. Of course, now fully involved, not likely she’ll do that.

Erin comes off a bit gruff, rude, sharp, and almost hostile at times. She has difficulty reining in that Irish temper and becomes offensive with the date who is trying to help her. After all, he is the art expert who invited her to the exclusive exhibit where he was known and connected. He is able to reliably give her a couple leads that sets her investigation.

I enjoyed the interaction with her K-9 partner and her work with him, his well-trained commands in German. She exhibits some training of her own, remembering lessons when the need arises. The well-plotted and paced police procedural moves along at a good clip, reminding you that it really isn’t over until it’s over. The conclusion was sweet, the transfer to detective in the new unit being formed in Manhattan.

Since I’ve already read Book 2, I can see where the author pulled back on the wholly bad-ass female officer to a slightly more mellow detective. There are compelling characters and she is given more dimension–after all–this was Book 1. This book is a fast read, not terribly difficult to figure the culprit, but the climax satisfying. I already see the growth that happens in the newly minted detective of Book 2–a new challenge for her, not quite so sure of herself but with enough background she’s no green-horn either and can hold her own. Engaging and entertaining. 4 stars

Book Titles are the go-to drink for the series entry. Recipe included and they mysteriously include Guinness! Book 3 of the series is entitled White Russian. Wanna make any bets on the drink?

His Thoughts

Black Velvet by Steven HenryIf crime doesn’t pay, why is there so much of it? Erin O’Reilly is a beat cop in New York who answers the call and puzzles over the answer. Her partner is Rolf, a German Shepherd with an unending loyalty and a nose for perps. A minor burglary turns major.

Steven Henry spins his tales with a master’s touch. This small-time burglary turns into a major art theft and the death of one of New York’s finest. The problem is an underlying disdain for beat cops by major crime detectives. Many times Erin appears to be one step ahead of the detectives despite their telling her to butt out of their case.

The minor burglary includes four uniforms taken and the cash register unopened. One of the criminals is caught by Rolf and Erin, but he is a minnow in the pond later the theft of a priceless painting. The plot thickens as the detectives’ order Erin to butt out and let them solve the case.

The dialog in Mr. Henry’s books make it difficult to put down. There are no idle moments in this tale. The action is very fast and would make a good television mini-series. As the plot thickens, the crime shifts to the death of the cop in the commission of the major art theft.

CE WilliamsIt is a delight to read Mr. Henry’s books and engage with his characters. Sleepless nights are rewarded with an exciting and ongoing plot. Erin’s character is a no-nonsense second-generation cop in Queens. She is portrayed as a small dynamo of a cop. She is much bigger with her partner Rolf. Criminals would certainly like to do her physical harm but a 96 pound German Shepherd is not to be trifled with.

Try the book, you will enjoy the characters and the repartee. 5 stars CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Animal Mysteries, Women Sleuths
Publisher: Clickworks Press
ASIN: B077LT86SM
Print Length: 244 pages
Publication Date: November 17, 2017
Source: Purchased Direct from Publisher
Title Link: Black Velvet(Amazon)
Barnes and Noble
Kobo

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

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

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Murder in the Bayou Boneyard: A Cajun Country Mystery by Ellen Byron – a #BookReview Cozy Culinary Mystery

RosepointPub Crawl I thoroughly enjoy the sense of humor this author brings to her storytelling…with fully developed characters alive with Southern hospitality personality.

Rosepoint Publishing: Five StarsFive Stars

 Book Blurb:

Murder in the Bayou Boneyard by Ellen ByronMaggie Crozat, proprietor of a historic Cajun Country B&B, prefers to let the good times roll. But hard times rock her hostelry when a new cell phone app makes it easy for locals to rent their spare rooms to tourists. With October–and Halloween–approaching, she conjures up a witch-crafty marketing scheme to draw visitors to Pelican, Louisiana.

Five local plantation B&Bs host “Pelican’s Spooky Past” packages, featuring regional crafts, unique menus, and a pet costume parade. Topping it off, the derelict Dupois cemetery is the suitably sepulchral setting for the spine-chilling play Resurrection of a Spirit. But all the witchcraft has inevitably conjured something: her B&B guests are being terrified out of town by sightings of the legendary rougarou, a cross between a werewolf and vampire.

When, in the Dupois cemetery, someone costumed as a rougarou stumbles onstage during the play–and promptly gives up the ghost, the rougarou mask having been poisoned with strychnine, Maggie is on the case. But as more murders stack up, Maggie fears that Pelican’s spooky past has nothing on its bloodcurdling present.

My Review:

It’s nearing Halloween and Maggie Crozat and her parents, owner of the Cajun Country B&B, are gearing up along with the other B&Bs in Pelican, Louisiana to provide holiday specials along with festivities appropriate to the spooky, ghouly, and darker time of year. Maggie and the B&B community is working hard against Gavin Grody, better known for an agenda he calls, “Rent My Digs” as his endeavor has impacted their normally successful seasons, being one hour from New Orleans.

Murder in the Bayou Boneyard by Ellen ByronThey are promoting all manner of activities, including a play they are holding in an ancient graveyard, Cajun food in typical Louisiana amenities, and a pet parade. They will also have readings from a local VooDoo priestess, Helene, and Maggie has created a spa on her premises that she is hoping will be a major draw along with the masseuse she is bringing in–a remotely related cousin she has never met.

Her cousin, Susannah, brings her husband Doug and his twins. She outfitted her art studio in the old schoolhouse for the family and began to set appointments. Unfortunately, sightings been made of a rougarou, an old Cajun creature legend. Susannah announces her land runs through the schoolhouse making Maggie and the Crozat’s the obvious suspects of what is quickly assessed a murder.

Of course, her own Pelican PD doesn’t believe they would be involved. It is the neighboring jurisdiction that smells an easy solve and the murder happened there, so Maggie and clan will have to go looking to find the killer. In the meantime, her Grandmeré is becoming a bridezilla as she is planning a wedding with Maggie and her beau, Detective Bo Durand of their precinct. He has a young son, Xander who is looking forward to Halloween and planning his costume with the same fervor as her Gran the wedding.

I thoroughly enjoy the sense of humor this author brings to her storytelling, which is always well-plotted and easy paced, with fully developed characters alive with Southern hospitality personality. One of her guests has a parrot that often enlivens and entertains the others. The family melds easily as an enviable tight, happy clan, the occasion is atmospheric, and there are always tidbits of Louisiana Cajun folklore and culture, foods, descriptions of the land and people.

“In Louisiana…We only follow the rules we like.”

If I didn’t remember that humidity and those bugs so well, I’d be packing to head south.

The casual road to the conclusion sneaks up on you, as do the perps in the final reveal. I had my eye on one or two others, but was wrong and that doesn’t often happen. There is an explanation of particular custom or word origins and then the recipes. If I remember right it was after I read Fatal Cajun Festival that I ran out and bought ingredients for a Jambalaya. (I do love shrimp.) This novel includes more than one I’ll try (if I’m ever allowed to go grocery shopping again).

I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley and totally appreciated the opportunity to read and review Book 6. Engaging and entertaining, I greatly enjoy this author’s writing style, both this series and her new one, Catering Hall Mysteries (Here Comes the Body by Maria DiRico). If you haven’t yet discovered her books, now is the time. Highly recommended!

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Culinary Mysteries, Cozy Craft and Hobby Mysteries
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
ASIN: B082H3BT6F
Print Length: 304 pages
Publication Date: September 8, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Murder in the Bayou Boneyard (Amazon)
Barnes and Noble
Kobo

+Add to Goodreads 

Rosepoint recommended

Maria DiRico - authorThe Author: [Ellen Byron] Author of MARDI GRAS MURDER, the 2018 AGATHA AWARD winner for Best Contemporary Novel. Also writes the Catering Hall Mysteries (HERE COMES THE BODY, #1) as Maria DiRico.

Ellen writes the USA Today bestselling Cajun Country Mysteries. MARDI GRAS MURDER won the Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel and was nominated for a Best Humorous Mystery Lefty Award by Left Coast Crime. A CAJUN CHRISTMAS KILLING and BODY ON THE BAYOU, both won the Lefty Award for Best Humorous Mystery, and were nominated for Agatha Awards in the category of Best Contemporary Novel. PLANTATION SHUDDERS, the first book in the series, was nominated for Agatha, Lefty, and Daphne awards. Cajun Country Mysteries offer “everything a cozy reader could want,” according to Publishers Weekly, while Library Journal says, “Diane Mott Davidson and Lou Jane Temple fans will line up for this series.” HERE COMES THE BODY, the first book in her Catering Hall Mysteries, debuted under her pen name, Maria DiRico.

Ellen’s TV credits include Wings and Just Shoot Me; she’s written over 200 magazine articles; her published plays include the award-winning Graceland and Asleep on the Wind. She is a native New Yorker who lives in Los Angeles and attributes her fascination with Louisiana to her college years at New Orleans’ Tulane University. She also worked as a cater-waiter for Martha Stewart, a credit she never tires of sharing. Have an early copy of Martha’s first book, ENTERTAINING? Ellen’s standing right next to her in the group shot.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

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

Rosepoint Reviews-March recap

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

Stay: Smart, Safe, Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Small CoVid19 graphic attribute: semiwiki.com

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

One Good Dog by Susan Wilson - audiobook

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

One Good Dog by Susan Wilson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

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

Susan Wilson - authorThe Author: (From Amazon and Goodreads Author pages) SUSAN WILSON is the author of ten novels (one in progress), including the New York Times bestselling One Good Dog. In her most recent novel, TWO GOOD DOGS, the two main characters from One Good Dog, Adam March and his rescued pit bull Chance, make a return.

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

The Narrators:

Fred Berman - author
Fred Berman

Rick Adamson - narrator
Rick Adamson

©2020 V Williams V Williams

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

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars Five Stars

I just found a new favorite series!

March!

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

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

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

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

The K Team by David Rosenfelt – A #BookReview #TuesdayBookBlog

Book 1 in a new series spin-off from the best selling Andy Carpenter mysteries.

Book Blurb:

The K Team by David RosenfeltFrom bestselling mystery author David Rosenfelt comes a new series – a spinoff of the much beloved Andy Carpenter mysteries – about a dynamic new investigative team featuring a determined former cop and his loyal German Shepherd.

Corey Douglas and his K-9 partner, Simon Garfunkel, have recently retired from the police force. Not ready to give up the life yet, they come up with a proposal for fellow former cop, Laurie Carpenter, and her investigating partner, Marcus. Laurie and Marcus – who help out Laurie’s lawyer husband Andy on cases – have been chafing to jump back into investigating on their own, so they are in.

They call themselves the K Team, in honor of Simon. Their first job as private investigators comes to them from Judge Henry Henderson, who’s known as a very tough but fair judge, and they’ve all come up against him in court at one time or another. Though it’s hard to believe, Judge Henderson is being blackmailed and extorted, and he doesn’t want to involve the police–he needs the K Team to figure out why.

My Review:

To those of you spoiled by the Andy Carpenter legal thriller series, the good news is that there are most of the characters you’ve come to love. The author has even thrown in Andy Carpenter himself in a much lesser, support-type role, but I must admit, though skeptical at first, think I may come to love Corey Douglas almost as much. An ex-cop with his K-9 partner, GSD (German Shepherd Dog) Simon Garfunkel, Corey has teamed with Laurie, Andy’s wife, and Marcus (also of the Carpenter fame), along with occasional Super-Hacker Sam.

The K Team by David RosenfeltCorey retired but still can’t stop being a cop–it’s part of his psyche–and he’s happy, albeit reticent about partners Laurie and Marcus. Corey won’t have to go to the dark side, but it won’t be easy to separate himself from the sanctioned law he is used to wielding. There might now be a gray area where there was previously only black and white.

The team’s first client, a judge known quietly behind his back as “Hatchet” has them looking into a possible blackmail/extortion attempt until suddenly they are left without the client but still have a case. And the case quickly escalates. The well-plotted action becomes complex and while you don’t have to be a day-trader, it might help to possess some slight knowledge of the stock market. Even if you don’t, this becomes a good primer.

This man is not your average vision of a tough guy–and he has woman issues, although his latest, Dani, has yet to find and push those buttons that always spelled doom for the budding friendship/romance before, it hasn’t yet happened. He knows there’s bound to be a problem–he just hasn’t found it yet. Corey will be acting protagonist this series in first person. He is less sarcastic than Andy and we’ve yet to really see a full fleshing. And Dani? She’s a great support character and fits in beautifully with Laurie. Marcus–you don’t mess with Marcus. The Seal Team wouldn’t mess with Marcus.

Book 1 doesn’t include Simon so much, so we don’t get a super feel for him other than that he is a former well-trained, capable service K-9 and fiercely protective and loyal. He does, however, play well with Tara and Sebastian, Andy and Laurie’s two dogs. That is, when Sebastian deigns to play. Once again, Rosenfelt is a master at developing that fine working chemistry between his characters.

As the first book in a new series, there is going to be some time spent in “getting to know” the new guy and a bit of redux for Laurie and Marcus. There is name dropping of a few other support players from the Andy Carpenter series, so it’s a comfortable intro. Once we are past the preliminaries, the novel begins to gather speed and has the reader burning through the remaining chapters. You just have to get used to Corey being numero uno. While he doesn’t have the biting wit of Andy Carpenter (and really, how could he?), it still moves at a fast pace, keeping the characters involved, dodging red herrings, kicking ass and taking names. Okay, may the former part is more Marcus’ domain, while the taking names part is Corey’s.

“…investigations create their own paths to follow. One thing leads obviously to the next;…”

I was thrilled to receive this digital ARC from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for a review. This is a great start to the new series and I’m already looking forward to Book 2. Recommended for any who enjoy an action and crime thriller, animal fiction, mystery. Great characters, complex plots, well-written and entertaining.

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Animal Mysteries, Animal Fiction
Publisher:  Minotaur Books

  • ISBN-10:1250257190
  • ISBN-13:978-1250257192
  • ASIN: B07S7L676S

Print Length: 304 pages
Publication Date: March 24, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The K Team
+Add to Goodreads 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

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

Audiobooks by David Rosenfelt

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

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

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

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4-stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Rosepoint January Reviews Recap–HELLO February!!

Rosepoint Reviews-January Recap

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

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

January Book Reviews

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

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

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

Goodbye January, welcome February

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Goodbye January gif courtesy of PixMix

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

Gabby by Barby KeelBook Blurb:

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

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

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

+Add to Goodreads 

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

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

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Logo Attribution: Barby Keel Animal Sanctuary website

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

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

Audiobook-The Dog Who Danced

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

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

Susan Wilson - author

The Author: (From Amazon and Goodreads Author pages) SUSAN WILSON is the author of ten novels (one in progress), including the New York Times bestselling One Good Dog. In her most recent novel, TWO GOOD DOGS, the two main characters from One Good Dog, Adam March and his rescued pit bull Chance, make a return.

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

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

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

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

Shattered Justice by Susan FurlongBook Blurb:

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

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

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

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

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

His Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Thrillers, Women Sleuths
Publisher: Kensington Books

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

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

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

©2019 V Williams V Williams

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

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5-stars

The Twelve Dogs of Christmas by David Rosenfelt

 Book Blurb:

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

The Twelve Dogs of Christmas by David Rosenfelt

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Twelve Five Star Books You Don’t Want to Miss

Twelve Five Star Books You Don't Want to Miss

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

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

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

Fractured Truth by Susan Furlong

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

The Beantown Girls by Jane Healey

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

The Eighth Sister by Robert Dugoni

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

Buried Deep by T. R. Ragan

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

Decanted Truths: An Irish-American Novel by Melanie Forde

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

The Plain of Jars by N. Lombardi Jr

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

The Image Seeker by Amanda Hughes

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

Rewind by Catherine Ryan Howard

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

Trials and Tribulations by Jean Grainger

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

Rescued by David Rosenfelt

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

The Dog I Loved

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

No Man's Land by Sara Driscoll

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

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

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

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

©2019 V Williams V Williams

The Dog on the Acropolis by Mark Tedesco – a #BookReview – #timetravel

The Dog on the Acropolis by Mark TedescoBook Blurb:

A family living in Greece at the time of the construction of the Parthenon and another family, thousands of years later, eking out a living at the base of the Acropolis.

The repercussions of the meeting of man and dog would unfold in unforeseen ways that would impact the lives around them.

The narrative takes the reader to Greece’s Golden Age, in which one dog, Daria, would scamper up the hill to keep up with Adelino, a stonecutter working on the new temple, and his son Tiro. The lives of Pheidias, the architect of the Parthenon, Adelino and Diana his wife, as well as Tiro their son, would intersect in unexpected ways.

The story brings then brings the reader back into the present where past and present eventually coincide, transforming the lives of both canines and humans.

My Review:

As most who read my blog know I’m a sucker for a dog story and this one taps into that mysterious corner of the dog’s mind that we would all love to tap. We know there must be more in there than, “ball, ball, throw the ball,” or “food, food, I’m hungry.” In this book, we get the full chimichanga–a dog that taps into his very, very early ancestor. Here in his present day, he dreams of the experiences of the Golden Age of Greece that now drive his life and his mood.

The Dog on the Acropolis by Mark TedescoDraco is a stray (black lab) that lives at the Acropolis present day. He sleeps on the steps of the Parthenon, running down into the village during the day to make his rounds. Each of the humans he seeks fulfills a need, from food, to water, to bathing (of which he seems to get more than his share), and companionship and protection.

The Plaka is a tourist area bustling with cafes and all manner of touristy shops, most owned by generations of shopkeepers. High on Draco’s list of generous shopowners are Akil, Alexander, and Cynarra. Akil is a baker struggling with his son until his son Jason notices the dog that has adopted his dad.

But Draco is a stray and he cherishes his freedom. He has a job to do and he takes it very seriously. He guides tourists up the hill to the Acropolis. His dreams recall his ancestor Daria, a small female, who befriends Adelino, a stonecutter. He has a twelve year old that would love to work with his father and is thrust into the position of breadwinner when Adelino befalls a horrific accident and is bedridden for some time. Tiro willingly finds a position with Pheidias, the architect of the Parthenon, which will house a monstrous statue of the goddess Athena.

While the dogs are centuries apart, they both create a bond with their humans and the shared bond extends through their human base of friends–bringing them all closer together. I enjoyed the canine characteristics that lovingly enlarge the circle of companions. The things we love about dogs don’t appear to change over the centuries. They are still sensitive to human needs and nuances, providing the touch of calm understanding that their human counterparts appear to crave.

The premise is a good one but hampered a bit by the daily routine which varies little and soon becomes oft-repeated slowing the storyline. The chapters regarding the stonecutter and his family open another time and existence enlightening the human struggle for survival at the time. The dialogue is fairly simplistic and several times bounce between the present and the ancient creating momentary confusion. While there is a passage of time, little changes other than the children are getting older and Cynarra manages to break from her parent’s flower shop to go to a UK university. (She was expected to take over the shop while her brothers went their separate ways.) There are a few inconsistencies, making me wonder if I’d remembered something incorrectly last scene. Draco seemed to subsist on hand-outs of bread and cheese, only getting a mention of dry dog food near the end.

The conclusion, while sad, reinforces the theme of love, devotion, loyalty, and compassion and pointedly noted the inadvertent gift of canine to humans. A unique and well-plotted narrative, I appreciated receiving a copy in expectation of a review. These are my own opinions.

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Academia Publications

  • ISBN-10:0578214369
  • ISBN-13:978-0578214368
  • ASIN: B07T24YHSL

Print Length: 199 pages
Publication Date: June 11, 2019
Source: Direct author request
Title Link: The Dog on the Acropolis

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Mark Tedesco - authorThe Author: Mark Tedesco is a published author and history teacher in Los Angeles. He was born in California but lived for many years in Europe. There he developed a unique perspective which is apparent in his teaching and writing.

His first book “That Undeniable Longing – My Road to and from the Priesthood” is a memoir of his sojourn in Rome in a Vatican seminary leading to ordination. Readers have been taken aback by his honesty and integrity in recounting his journey. His account continues as he eventually decided to leave the priesthood in order to be “true to himself”.

His second book is “Loving Hoping Believing – Poetry to Live By”. Poetry comes alive here as the words express the love possible between two persons, the joy of being united, the anguish of loss and the hope of fulfillment.

After eight years of research, Mark’s work of historical fiction draws the reader into an experience of Ancient Rome. “I am John, I am Paul: A Story of Two Soldiers in Ancient Rome.” The mysterious bond between the two soldiers is intertwined with the historical events of the 4th century.

“Lessons and Beliefs: Searching for Love in the Gay World”: Since wisdom is born of reflection on experience, Mark Tedesco takes the reader on a journey as he contemplates the quest for fulfilling relationships with others and with himself.” Lessons and Beliefs: Searching for Love in the Gay World” is both self-help and memoir, giving a riveting account of love and relationships in the gay world.

Besides writing, Mark’s passions run the gamut from archeology to sports and fitness. His colleagues consider to him to be somewhat of a Renaissance man. He enjoys imparting to his students his thirst for life and happiness. This thirst, or quest, is apparent in every work Mark devotes himself to.

[Goodreads] If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future?

I would travel to the ancient world, to Rome, Greece and Egypt. If I could avoid getting the Plague or dying in battle, I would enjoy the grandeur and drama of ancient civilizations and travel to see the wonders of that world. I would wander the streets of Rome and gaze up at the temples and painted statues and walk through the bazaars of Alexandria while listening to the many languages of visitors and residents. Yes, the ancient world would be where I would time travel.

©2019 V Williams V Williams