Molded 4 Murder (Sophie Kimball Mystery #5) by J C Eaton #BlogTour #BookReview #Giveaway

I am so delighted today to provide a review for you at my blog stop for Molded 4 Murder by J C Eaton on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. I will be sharing the review with my associate, the CE. Scroll down to enter your chance to win the Giveaway!

Molded 4 Murder by J C Eaton

Book Details

Molded 4 Murder (Sophie Kimball Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
5th in Series
Kensington (August 27, 2019)
Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
ISBN-10: 1496719905
ISBN-13: 978-1496719904
Digital ASIN: B07L2FJ1PN

Book Blurb

A view to a kiln …

Sophie “Phee” Kimball enjoys working as a bookkeeper for a private investigator. If only her mother Harriet could enjoy her retirement at Sun City West in Arizona—instead of constantly getting involved with retirees being prematurely put out to pasture. This time Quentin Dussler, a prominent member of the clay sculpting club, was found dead, clutching a piece of paper scrawled with Phee’s mother’s name.

Terrified she’s been targeted by assassins, Harriet begs Phee to investigate. What Phee uncovers is a complicated scheme that only the most diabolical of murderers would ever devise. And as she chisels away at confusing clues and potential suspects, Phee unearths something far more precious and valuable than she could imagine. Eager for answers, she takes a bold step—placing herself in the crosshairs of a stonefaced killer …

My Review

Molded 4 Murder by J C EatonThis is one of those sweet cozy mystery series that grow on you. The characters, the locale, and the well-plotted mystery.

Sophie “Phee” Kimball works as a bookkeeper for a private investigator who hires Marshall, the perfect co-investigator and romantic interest. Her mother Harriet is close by and fully involved in her life as is her aunt Ina. There is a marvelous group of support characters and in this series offering, the beautiful desert retirement community at Sun City West in Arizona. (I know that area–it’s beautiful and begs a whole nother lifestyle.) This entry to the series reads fine as a standalone, although reading from the beginning of the series always gives you a more fully developing protagonist witness to their growth.

It starts simply enough, with little things missing from the residents, and before you know it branches into a complex well-drawn plot beyond what you might have guessed for a cozy mystery. Phee works quietly and methodically, working with the residents of the complex confronting twists and red herrings meant to help the reader solve the who and why. It’s deliciously deceptive.

I was given this digital download by the publisher and NetGalley (and discovered the CE had jumped on it) and we greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for mystery readers who enjoy a unique locale and engaging characters.

His Review

Associate Reviewer - C E WilliamsHow could it happen in such a tranquil environment? The victim is found with a paper in his hand with two names! Mom and Auntie, how could that be? This well-plotted narrative leads you into the high desert of Southern Arizona north of Sun City West. The bookkeeper of a local investigation agency slips from gossip to intrigue and is a complicated plot that will lead you to a surprising finish. This page-turner left me guessing at every turn. I suspected some of the culprits at the end, but certainly was surprised how diabolical the ending was! A finely developed fun read. C E Williams

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Giveaway

Sign up for your chance to win one of three (3) print copies of Molded 4 Murder (a Sophie Kimball Mystery) by J C Eaton (US only) in this Rafflecopter giveaway.

About the Author

Ann I. Goldfarb

New York native Ann I. Goldfarb spent most of her life in education, first as a classroom teacher and later as a middle school principal and professional staff developer. Writing as J. C. Eaton, along with her husband, James Clapp, she has authored the Sophie Kimball Mysteries (Kensington) was released in June 2017. In addition, Ann has nine published YA time travel mysteries under her own name. Visit the websites at www.jceatonauthor.com and www.timetravelmysteries.com

James E. Clapp

When James E. Clapp retired as the tasting room manager for a large upstate New York winery, he never imagined he’d be co-authoring cozy mysteries with his wife, Ann I. Goldfarb. His first novel, Booked 4 Murder (Kensington) was released in June 2017. Non-fiction in the form of informational brochures and workshop materials treating the winery industry were his forte along with an extensive background and experience in construction that started with his service in the U.S. Navy and included vocational school classroom teaching.

Visit their website at www.jceatonauthor.com and Like and Follow on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/JCEatonauthor/

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

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

Tour Participants:

October 15 – I Read What You Write – CHARACTER GUEST POST

October 15 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – SPOTLIGHT

October 16 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

October 16 – Reading Is My SuperPower – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

October 16 – A Wytch’s Book Review Blog – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

October 16 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT

October 17 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW

October 17 – Books, Movies, Reviews. Oh my! – GUEST POST

October 18 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

October 18 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

October 18 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW, GUEST POST

October 19 – Diane Reviews Books – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW 

October 19 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT

October 19 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

October 20 – A Blue Million Books – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

October 20 – Laura’s Interests – SPOTLIGHT

October 20 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

October 21 – Diary of a Book Fiend – REVIEW

October 21 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

October 22 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

October 22 – Cozy Up With Kathy – CHARACTER GUEST POST

October 22 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT Great Escapes Book Tours

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

©2019  V Williams V Williams

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Yellowhead Blues: A Hunter Rayne Highway Mystery Book 5 by R. E. Donald – a #BookReview

I saw this series and enjoyed it and recommended to my associate reviewer, the CE, who was still driving truck at the time and thought he’d enjoy. He did. The following is his review.

Book Blurb:

Yellowhead Blues by R E DonaldJust west of the Rocky Mountains, a frightened horse with a bloody saddle is found running loose on the Yellowhead highway. Former RCMP investigator Hunter Rayne is on the road in his eighteen-wheeler when he’s flagged down to help calm the horse and find its missing rider.

The horse with the bloody saddle leads Hunter and a good-natured French Canadian cowboy into a complicated murder mystery. The police are none too happy with his interference, but Hunter strongly believes the RCMP has arrested the wrong man and sets out to uncover who stood to gain from the death of a wealthy ranch owner.

His belief in the suspect’s innocence is shared by a rookie female RCMP constable who joins him in the search for the truth. She befriends the dead man’s young fiancé in an effort to get answers, and discovers that the vulnerable Texas beauty is not who the victim’s family believes her to be.

This is the fifth novel in a unique mystery series set on the highways of North America.

His Review:

A flag-down on a remote Canadian highway thrusts Hunter into another mystery/adventure. This author skillfully twists this ex-Canadian Mounted Policeman into twisted intrigue. A burly French-Canadian flags him down to help with a spooked horse.  Leon Rousseau is a good Samaritan trying to save the animal’s life! Hunter gives him a hand.

Yellowhead Blues by R E DonaldA blood trail leads back to the horse’s former rider and Leon’s dog Blue leads the way. Ms. Donald has put together a great read including a grifter, a manipulated young lady and a ranch owner. The tale will mesmerize you as you try to figure out exactly what happened! Was it a hunting accident?

Leon, the good Samaritan, is arrested for the murder. Hunter takes care of Leon’s dog Blue while trying to solve the crime. He juggles the investigation with his current job of long- haul trucker.

The characters involve the reader immediately in a drama of love, greed and a young female Mounty, Bianca Morrison; trying to establish herself in the remote Canadian setting. This book is fun, engrossing and hard to put down. I was certainly not disappointed with this entry to the series and this may be her best of the series so far. The novel would work fine as a standalone, the characters are immersive, the setting atmospheric.  She spins a terrific yarn!

We received this digital download from the publisher and NetGalley and really appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Totally recommended for anyone who enjoys a well-plotted mystery with a unique and beautiful setting. You won’t be disappointed either. C. E. Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Mysteries, Crime Thriller, Crime Fiction
Publisher: Proud Horse Publishing

  • ISBN-10:0994076258
  • ISBN-13:978-0994076250

ASIN: B07TDQ9RB2
Print Length: 315 pages
Publication Date: July 21, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Yellowhead Blues

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5-stars

R E Donald - authorThe Author: R.E. Donald is the author of the Hunter Rayne Highway Mysteries series. Ruth worked in the transportation industry in various capacities for 25 years and draws on her experience in creating realistic characters and situations in her novels.

Ruth attended the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, B.C., where she studied languages and creative writing to obtain a Bachelor of Arts degree.

She currently lives on a ranch in the South Cariboo region of B.C., where she and her partner, Gilbert Roy, enjoy their Canadian Horses (Le Cheval Canadien) and other animals.

©2019 C E Williams

Associate Reviewer - C E Williams

Christmas Cow Bells (A Buttermilk Creek Mystery) by Mollie Cox Bryan – a #BookReview #cozy

Yahoo! I’m starting this series and new author (to me) with Book 1!

Christmas Cow Bells by Mollie Cox BryanBook Blurb:

The first novel in Mollie Cox Bryan’s brand new mystery series, set in the Blue Ridge Mountains, will keep you guessing until the cows come home . . .
Christmas is a time for new beginnings, so after her big breakup, Brynn MacAlister takes the gouda with the bad. With her three Red Devon cows, she settles in bucolic Shenandoah Springs, eager for a new life as an organic micro-dairy farmer and cheese-maker. Then her dear cow Petunia’s bellows set the whole town on edge. But it isn’t until Brynn’s neighbor, Nancy, dies in a mysterious fire that her feelings about small town life begin to curdle . . .

It seems some folks were not happy with Nancy’s plan to renovate the Old Glebe Church. But is a fear of change a motivation for murder? As a newcomer, Brynn can’t ignore the strange events happening just on the other side of her frosty pasture—and soon on her very own farm. Suddenly Christmas doesn’t feel so festive as everyone demands she muzzle sweet Petunia, and Brynn is wondering if someone wants to silence her—for good . .

My Review:

Protagonist Brynn MacAlister has ended up in bucolic Shenandoah Springs on a small micro-dairy farm with emphasis on artisanal cheeses without the fiancé planned with the move. (He turned out to be a two-timing jerk.) Her grandmother had passed away giving her the wherewithal to purchase the property complete with main house (formerly a B&B), guest house, and barn. She has brought with her three Red Devon dairy cows, Petunia, Marigold, and Buttercup. Unfortunately, Petunia gave birth to a stillborn calf and is in severe mourning.

Brynn is getting to know the people of the tiny town in Virginia and as always, some are more friendly than others. She wants to network as she’ll be trying to sell her cheese locally, but it is with her close neighbor, Nancy, with whom she finds the most common interests. Nancy is also a recent transplant and wants to rehab the other side of the field, formerly a church. Unfortunately, there is a fire and Nancy succumbs to smoke inhalation and the injuries suffered. It is part of Nancy’s family that includes two boys who will stay in Brynn’s guest home, helping with chores as they are on Christmas break.

Christmas Cow Bells by Mollie Cox BryanThe two outstanding support characters, Schuyler and Willow, are great and I’d love to see their characters grow within the series. And Wes sounds like he’ll be a great asset, young, smart, enthusiastic, and media capable. The descriptions of the area make it sound so beautiful, although I can imagine the bone-chilling cold during the Christmas season and the thought of going out to milk Petunia, get them fed, muck the barn, and provide some kind of heating system doesn’t get me enthused enough to move.

Also greatly appreciated getting to know more about the cheese-making process and the artisan varieties–who doesn’t love cheese? As always, with any of these crafts, there are definitions of the industry language with cleanliness standards high on the list. I can remember being invited to the home of a couple also in the Jazz Mass Choir during rehearsals for a European choir tour wherein her dessert was a plate of special cheeses, including Brie, crackers, and grapes, and I’ve never been able to find a Brie that could equal. (Believe me, I’ve looked.)

So with only the whispered words from Nancy prior to her death to go on, Brynn begins to investigate. But that seems to start a round of warnings and things get creepy. She does attain a dog, Freckles, although Freckles seems to be just a tad hit and miss on the watchdog thing.

The well-plotted and atmospheric storyline moves at a fairly decent pace, although there is more than sufficient repeats of main points that will not let you forget exactly why she was there trying to do this alone (perhaps it was a mistake), who was trying to get her to move, and why. Brynn waffles, although under the circumstances, probably anyone would. Still, it sounded like the idyllic setting. There are red herrings, yes, but more than ample hints of the who, whether or not we understood the why until the conclusion.

I love it when I get to start a promising new series with Book 1 and this one appears to be off and running with a strong debut. I’m looking forward to more fleshing in Brynn, but love the support characters, human as well as animal. 

I was granted this digital download by the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for cozy mystery fans, particularly of the culinary sort. I suspect a few of the ingredients will grace your shopping list (as it will mine).

Book Details:

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

  • ISBN-10:1496721322
  • ISBN-13:978-1496721327
  • ASIN: B07MH9XYHY

Print Length: 336 pages
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Christmas Cow Bells
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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.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Beyond a Reasonable Stout: A Sloan Krause Mystery Book 3 by Ellie Alexander

This may yet get me to try a craft beer. Although I’d be happier checking out this beautiful little Washington state village.

Five of Five Stars 5-stars

Beyond a Reasonable Stout by Ellie AlexanderBook Blurb:

Amateur sleuth Sloan Krause delves into the murderous political world in another delightful mystery from popular cozy writer Ellie Alexander.

It’s the dead season in Leavenworth, Washington. The throngs of Oktoberfest crowds have headed home, and the charming Bavarian streets are quiet and calm—momentarily. Villagers use the reprieve to drink in the crisp fall mountain air and prepare for the upcoming winter light festival. Soon the German-inspired shops and restaurants will be aglow with thousands of twinkling lights. Visitors will return to the northern Cascades to drink warm mulled cider and peruse the holiday markets. Brewer, Sloan Krause and her partner in crime Garrett Strong are using the slowdown to stock up on a new line of their signature craft beers at Nitro. They’re experimenting with a hoppy holiday pine and a chocolate hazelnut stout. The small brewery is alive with delicious scents and bubbling batches of brew.

Sloan is in her element. She loves the creativity and lowkey atmosphere at Nitro. Only that is soon threatened by the incumbent city councilmember Kristopher Cooper. Kristopher is running for re-election on a platform of making Leavenworth dry. Everyone in beertopia is fuming. Leavenworth’s economy relies on keeping the kegs flowing. Kristopher wants to banish beer, a policy that might just bankrupt the entire village. However, Kristopher turns up dead days before election night. Sloan quickly realizes that his murder isn’t the work of a stranger. Friends, family, and every other business owner had a motive to kill him, including none other than April Ablin, Leavenworth’s self-described ambassador of all things German. Sloan finds herself defending April and trying to sleuth out a killer amongst a group of familiar faces.

My Review:

No I don’t drink beer and at my age can barely tolerate a small glass of white wine before I’m running for an antacid, but for some reason, this little series set a spark that has caught my attention.

Beyond a Reasonable Stout by Ellie AlexanderProtagonist Sloan Krause has the nose and the taste buds for the business. She’s smart, inventive, and original. Having grown up the hard way through a series of foster homes, she thought she’d found a family when she married Mac and became part of his family’s Der Keller Brewery in the quaint mountainous Bavarian styled village of  Leavenworth. They had a son, Alex, but Mac soon acquired a wandering eye.

All was not lost when she discovered a start-up brewery run by Garrett at close by at Nitro. He is an ex-Seattle chemist. He is easy and laid back, detailed oriented and intelligent. They hired Kat, a young woman who needed a job and a roof over her head and acquired both with Nitro.

Book three has the village facing a city council election whose incumbent has decided Leavenworth should be alcohol-free–which, of course, would kill most of the town’s livelihoods. Following a nasty confrontation following a rally for his opponent, he is found murdered and it’s the town’s self-proclaimed “ambassador” April, who is #1 person of interest.

Running parallel in an undercurrent left from Book 2, Sloan again confronts her past and seeks answers regarding her parents and the resulting abandonment.

Once again, the compelling and well-developed support characters from the previous novel are back and are readily familiar, although you could easily read this as a standalone. There is a lot of industry-standard vocabulary, as well as Sloan’s tasty ideas for the upcoming season. Details of brewing are shared in an off-hand way that doesn’t interrupt the story, merely adds credence and understanding to the craft art.

As Oktoberfest is history, the village has a slight lull prior to Thanksgiving, the tree lighting ceremonies, the opening of ski season and winter activities, so they have the opportunity to work on projects and taste test. The weather is turning cold and the beauty of their village, their little valley, and the mountains take on a whole new perspective. The author imparts her love of the Pacific Northwest in her descriptive prose and once again creates a travel lust. I loved the descriptions of the various beers and exactly how they are classified, reminding me a little of the tour we took in Japan of the Kirin (Ichiban) Brewery in Yokohama. (Yes, I tasted it…how can you not?)

There continues to be some growth in the relationship between her and Garrett, although Mac is trying to come back and I’m discerning just a slight bit of emotional confusion. The antagonist was no real surprise, although there were a few twists and red herrings to throw you off. And I appreciated the way April returned the favor–and excited to see that idea going forward. But then, what?? A cliffhanger?!! Gees, I hate cliffhangers. I read Book 2, The Pint of No Return last year and loved it. (See that review here.) Now I have to wait another year??

“Beer Cures What Ales You.”

“Every loaf of bread is a tragic story of grains that could have become beer but didn’t.”

I received this uncorrected digital galley from the publisher and NetGalley and loved the opportunity to read and review. I am really looking forward to following this series and will be watching for Book 4! Recommended for any who enjoy a fun, fast-paced cozy mystery or any well-crafted novel with wonderful fully-developed characters in a unique and gorgeous setting.

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Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Culinary Mystery
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press and Minotaur Books

  • ISBN-10:1250205751
  • ISBN-13:978-1250205759
  • ASIN: B07P7BXXHZ

Print Length: 284 pages
Publication Date: To be released October 1, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Beyond a Reasonable Stout

Kate Dyer-Seeley - authorThe Author: Ellie Alexander, author of the Bakeshop Mystery Series and the Sloan Krause Mysteries (St. Martin’s Press), is a Pacific Northwest native who spends ample time testing recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouses nearby. When she’s not coated in flour, you’ll find her outside exploring hiking trails and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of research.

Find out more about Ellie and her books by visiting her here:
web: http://https://www.elliealexander.co/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ellie_alexander
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwd80ruKbz98VZQGT2I23-Q/featured
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elliealexanderauthor
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/BakeshopMystery

©2019 V Williams V Williams

The Great American Cheese War by Paul Flower – a #BookReview

The Great American Cheese War by Paul FlowerTitle: The Great American Cheese War by Paul Flower

Genre: Terrorism Thriller, Vigilante Justice Thriller, Satire, Humor

Publisher: Farrago

  • ISBN-10:1788421574
  • ISBN-13:978-1788421577
  • ASIN:  B07R1S25SG

Print Length: 320 pages

Publication Date: June 27, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: The Great American Cheese War

Book Blurb:

Governor Bill Hoeksma of Michigan is a simple, gun-loving son of a billionaire who idolises George W. Bush.

When a mysterious illness afflicts members of his inner circle, his conspiring advisors point to a rumoured viral weapons attack – via monkeypox-carrying prairie dogs – launched by the Wisconsin government. Governor Bill decides the Michigan militia should lead the military response, chaos ensues, and he falls unwittingly into a scheme of his powerful father’s making. That scheme begins with cheese research and a Hollywood movie star. How it will end all depends on two unlikely heroes: an aging lesbian state senator, and a high-school teacher born and raised in the Michigan militia.

When the conspiracy runs out of road, and guns are drawn in a showdown outside a Cracker Barrel, will anyone emerge victorious from the Great American Cheese War?

My Review:

The Great American Cheese War by Paul FlowerYou might guess from the title (which is what got me), that this might be a seriously tongue-in-cheek book and if you are looking for something to read today that will have you laughing, shaking your head in disbelief, or rolling your eyes at the author’s targeted jabs and hilarious prose, you are in for a considerable treat.

The author has a difficult time reigning in his politically incorrect thoughts and no one is safe from that jaundiced but critical eye. Governor Hoeksma of Michigan is a gun-toting son of a billionaire eight cents short of a dime and he’s just the beginning.

“Bill wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer but neither was he the dimmest bulb in the lamp.”

He is easily manipulated, which is exactly why his billionaire dad put him in the office. The governor is convinced of the conspiracy theory that has ostensibly been launched against Michigan stemming from cheese research, quietly called the Cheesus program. (No, I’m not kidding–Cheesus.)

The governor deciding on the Michigan militia opens a whole new door to a passel of new characters that are as crazy, off-key, and ludicrous as those who argue over the possibility of a monkeypox-carrying prairie dog, except, of course, that there are no prairie dogs in Michigan (or Wisconsin for that matter). The militia is populated by caricatures of what everyone’s concept might be–and then some. The author artfully switches dialogue between an 83-year-old and his political buddy lesbian state senator as easily as he does between members of the militia. Chewing tobacco, beer, open or concealed carry, gun shows, target practice, and militia maneuver practice. One of those, born to it so to speak, is Miky, unwitting protagonist, or she is possibly one of a couple and very empathetic. On the other hand, the antagonists-politicians are as despicable as Francis in The House of Cards. The main characters were all well-developed enough to either like or dislike them.

The satire runs rampant into the conclusion, which turns a semi-serious cheek. A five-star book, my only problem, if there was one, was of the occasional four-letter language. This is a well-plotted can’t put down book in a farcical satire completely unique to the genre. As for the Michigan vs Wisconsin cheese–which is better? Hard to beat California cheese!

I was granted this ebook download by the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. An absolute hoot of a novel and highly recommended.

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

Paul Flower - authorThe Author: No bio listed.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

The Alchemist of Lost Souls by Mary Lawrence #BlogTour #BookReview #Giveaway

I am so delighted today to provide a review for you at my blog stop for The Alchemist of Lost Souls by Mary Lawrence on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. Scroll down to enter your chance to win the Giveaway!

The Alchemist of Lost Souls by Mary Lawrence

Book Details

The Alchemist of Lost Souls (A Bianca Goddard Mystery)
Historical Mystery
4th in Series
Kensington (April 30, 2019)
ISBN-10: 1496715314
ISBN-13: 978-1496715319
Digital ASIN: B07G6R99SR

Book Blurb

A dangerous element discovered by Bianca Goddard’s father falls into the wrong hands . . . leading to a chain of multiple murders.

Spring 1544: Now that she is with child, Bianca is more determined than ever to distance herself from her unstable father. Desperate to win back the favor of King Henry VIII, disgraced alchemist Albern Goddard plans to reveal a powerful new element he’s discovered–one with deadly potential. But when the substance is stolen, he is panicked and expects his daughter to help.

Soon after, a woman’s body is found behind the Dim Dragon Inn, an eerie green vapor rising from her breathless mouth. To her grave concern, Bianca has reason to suspect her own mother may be involved in the theft and the murder. As her husband John is conscripted into King Henry’s army to subdue Scottish resistance, Bianca must navigate a twisted and treacherous path among alchemists, apothecaries, chandlers, and scoundrels–to find out who among them is willing to kill to possess the element known as lapis mortem, the stone of death . . .

My Review

The Alchemist of Lost Souls by Mary LawrenceBoy I love it when I discover a new author and a historical series I can really get into! True to my series record, of course, a new author and the Bianca Goddard mystery is her fourth in the series. (I’m batting a thousand.) And perhaps I’d have understood a bit more of the characters if I’d read the first three, but still, I absolutely devoured this book as if it were the first of a remarkable premise and a standalone.

Set in Elizabethan London, Bianca Goddard is a wife to John and recently discovered she is pregnant. Her mother Melva is a white witch, her father the alchemist, albeit a disgraced alchemist having fallen out of favor with the king for whom he is manic to regain his former position. To that end, he has made a remarkable discovery. Unfortunately, his sample has disappeared and he politely (not) requests that his daughter ascertain whether or not his wife was responsible.

Bianca has her own concerns. John has flunked his archery test and is being conscripted to the king’s army to march on the border of Scotland as a pikesman. (Good luck) She is an herbalist with a growing list of clients, one of whom, Meddybemps, is a street peddler and an old friend.

Meddybemps, however, is just one of a number of support characters that catapults you back to sixteenth-century London. Another character, otherworldly Rat Man, lives under the bridge and sees and knows all. Sometimes he has a hand in divining the direction of human endeavor or their evil deeds.

The sights, sounds, and smells (nasty odors) emanate from the pages. You are there. It’s wet…and chilly. Rainy streets slick with all manner of human detritus combine with the cooking odors. The inns with their serving maids run to deliver a Southwark version of ale–drank morning, noon, and night (in place of fetid water).

The well-plotted storyline flows quite naturally given the female gender of the protagonist and the times. So much fun reading about the herbs, common and otherwise and their application.

Her father’s breakthrough element quickly ends up in the hands of an unscrupulous couple. The death of the wife puts her in touch with Constable Patch, with whom she has had dealings in prior series entries. Constable Patch is not a terribly gifted sleuth and it’s good he’s not generally armed. But that’s not the end of it. Those elements will change hands more than once, resulting in another couple very unusual, unique but not wholly undeserved deaths.

The conclusion came following the climax of a harrowing scene pitting Bianca and her very capable inn wench friend, Cammy, against the antagonist. Is Bianca able to retrieve the elements? Or if so, at what cost? If I had any niggles at all, it would be the conclusion. Damn…I’ll be thinking that one over for awhile.

I was given this eBook download by the publisher and NetGalley for this blog tour and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. What an exciting book! The author took great pains to deliver authentic dialect and syntax, words I was looking up, Latin or French phrases, descriptions of costume and dress. This would make such a fantastic TV series. If I can’t watch it, I’ll wait (im)patiently for the next book.

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Giveaway

Sign up for your chance to win one of two (2) Signed Copy The Alchemist of Lost Souls (A Bianca Goddard Mystery) by Mary Lawrence Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author

Mary Lawrence - authorMary Lawrence lives and farms in Maine and worked in the medical field for over twenty-five years before publishing her debut mystery, The Alchemist’s Daughter (Kensington, 2015). The book was named by Suspense Magazine as a “Best Book of 2015” in the historical mystery category. Her articles have appeared in several publications most notably the national news blog, The Daily Beast. The Bianca Goddard Mystery series also includes Death of an AlchemistDeath at St. Vedast, The Alchemist of Lost Souls, and the fifth title for 2020.

Website: www.marylawrencebooks.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/marylawrence.author/

Twitter:  @mel59lawrence

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/84420.Mary_Lawrence

Purchase links: Amazon  Barnes & Noble

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

Tour Participants:

June 3 – I’m All About Books – GUEST POST

June 3 – Reading Reality – REVIEW

June 4 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

June 4 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT with EXCERPT

June 5 – The Editing Pen – REVIEW

June 5 – The Book’s the Thing– SPOTLIGHT with EXCERPT

June 6 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

June 6 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT with EXCERPT

June 7 – A Blue Million Books – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

June 7 – Kelly P’s Blog – SPOTLIGHT

June 8 – Readeropolis – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

June 9 – Cozy Up With Kathy – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

June 9 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

June 10 – LibriAmoriMiei – REVIEW

June 10 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

June 11 – A Chick Who Reads – REVIEW

June 11 – Elizabeth McKenna – Author – SPOTLIGHT

June 12 – fundinmental – SPOTLIGHT

June 12 – Ebook Addicts – REVIEW Great Escapes Book Tours

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

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Doublespeak by Alisa Smith – a #BookReview

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

Genre: Historical WW2 Fiction (Thriller)

Publisher: St Martin’s Press

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

 Print Length: 260 pages

Publication Date: April 16, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Doublespeak: A Novel

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Restaurant Weeks Are Murder by Libby Klein – a #BookReview

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

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

Publisher: Kensington

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

 Print Length: 304 pages

Publication Date: February 26, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

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

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

Includes Seven Recipes from Poppy’s Kitchen!

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Final Exam by Carol J Perry – a #BookReview

Final Exam by Carol J PerryTitle: Final Exam (A Witch City Mystery Book 8) by Carol J Perry

Genre: Cozy Mystery, Supernatural, Psychics, Animals, Amateur Sleuth

Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corp.

  • ISBN-10:1496714601
  • ISBN-13:978-1496714602
  • ASIN: B07DBQQRHF

Print Length: 368 pages

Publication Date: February 26, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title and Cover: Final ExamNeat cozy cover

Book Blurb:

A cold case update in Salem, Massachusetts . . .  

Life at the house on Winter Street is abuzz with preparations for Aunt Ibby’s 45th high school reunion, and Lee Barrett is happy to pitch in, tracking down addresses and licking envelopes. But as a field reporter for Salem’s WICH-TV, her priority is to be on top of the town’s latest news before anyone else.
 
When the local police dredge up a vintage sports car containing human remains, Lee is thrilled to be the first reporter on the scene. Once she learns the car is connected to the cold case her boyfriend Pete happens to be working on, her powers of investigation are quickly alerted. But it’s her Aunt Ibby’s emotional reaction to Lee’s TV report that puts her on the case. With the help of O’Ryan, her psychic feline sidekick, she’ll have to unravel a tangled past of secrets and promises to stop a killer from making history again . . .  
Continue reading “Final Exam by Carol J Perry – a #BookReview”

The Second Wife by Sheryl Browne – a #BookReview

#Five Stars

The Second Wife by Sheryl BrowneTitle: The Second Wife by Sheryl Browne

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Publisher: Bookouture

Publication Date: January 29, 2019

Print Length: 349 pages

ASIN: B07KD6YS3R

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title and Cover: The Second WifeSimple cover

Book Blurb:

She made her bed. You’ll lie in it.

Rebecca only wanted to help out – to be kind. Richard seemed so alone after his wife, Nicole, died, and Rebecca wanted to make sure he knew he had someone to rely on.

But now she’s in Nicole’s immaculate house. Drinking from her favourite crystal wine glass. Keeping shoes in her orderly closet. Comforting her sweet and grieving step-daughter. It feels like Rebecca is living another woman’s life.

And as she gets to know the neighbours, Rebecca hears stories that make her wonder: was free-spirited Nicole happy in this perfect life, or did she feel trapped? Did she feel, as Rebecca is beginning to, that something wasn’t quite right?

The book everyone’s talking about! If you loved The Girl on the Train, The Wife Between Us and The Girl Before, you’ll be totally gripped and unable to put down this twisty page-turning psychological thriller. Continue reading “The Second Wife by Sheryl Browne – a #BookReview”

The Absolute Definitive List of the Top Ten Best Selling Genres

Popularity of Historical Novel by CenturyApparently, it is impossible to find one absolute definitive list of the top ten best selling genres anywhere–but can you find a list with 150? Yes, if you know where to look!

There are SOOO many variables out there from website to website. What is the focus? Is it hardback fiction, hardback non-fiction, paperback, or ebook? Are you asking the New York Times, USA Today, or Amazon? I recently wrote an article regarding Historical Fiction, and alluded to that genre’s sub-genres. This week I went looking for where the Historical Fiction genre related to all the others. See below for the breakdown. Continue reading “The Absolute Definitive List of the Top Ten Best Selling Genres”

Books Are Books?

Books Are Books?

DAY 20 PROMPT: Did you publish your book as a traditionally printed book, an eBook, an audiobook, or all three? How did you come to your decision?

When I worked in graphics creating flyers for gospel concerts, I had a boss whose mantra was “they don’t know what they are doing.” That went for some of the most successful acts he engaged as well as anyone in his band who displeased him in rehearsal and upon occasion included myself (still don’t).

I certainly had my share of bluffing my way into jobs or events, his position being one, but probably the biggest and most recent was the publishing of my grandfathers manuscripts. Talk about clueless….

It wasn’t like I came to a decision whether or not to create a printed book, eBook, or audiobook as much as I was steered into making a simple stock print book, soft cover, 6 x 9. Biggest decision there was glossy or matt cover. It was only with the fifth book that I chose not to do a print book as the total word count created a novella and I saw no reason to go to the expense of creating a formally printed book.

Also, having no other experience than the one NaNoWriMo steered me into–CreateSpace–I came to appreciate the quality of their binding, if not the cover paper (which tends to curl at the corner slightly) and the speed with which they completed orders. CreateSpace also steers you into distribution, so there again it’s not as if you are making a big decision.

After having created those print books, it was (again) a natural progression to find the road into “Kindle” and from there eBook formatting, becoming ever more complicated entering the world of Smashwords. While it was felt Smashwords gave me a far greater reach for the eBook version than did Kindle, I’ve yet to see a big sales advantage.Large Print Book

One of the first notices I had of the choice of eBooks over print books is that I’d used the stock format for CreateSpace which used a font less friendly to older folks. The common complaint until I got that first book into the second edition with larger print was that the font was too small and difficult to read. I suspect as we see the progression of the aging population the push to eBooks will become ever more popular as they discover the option to make the print as large as needed for comfortable reading.eBook Storage Rather than getting bigger and better bookcases, we’ll be looking for ever larger eBook storage capacity or flash storage. Perhaps the bookcases will hold thousands of books–but on Kindles, Cruzer’s or SanDisks?

                    Virginia Williams

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