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

Janis: Her Life and Music by Holly George-Warren – a #BookReview

Warning: This book contains offensive language, sexual references and phrases, drug references and aberrant behavior.

Book Blurb:

Janis: Her Life and Music by Jolly George-WarrenLonglisted for the 2020 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence

This blazingly intimate biography of Janis Joplin establishes the Queen of Rock & Roll as the rule-breaking musical trailblazer and complicated, gender-bending rebel she was.

Janis Joplin’s first transgressive act was to be a white girl who gained an early sense of the power of the blues, music you could only find on obscure records and in roadhouses along the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast. But even before that, she stood out in her conservative oil town. She was a tomboy who was also intellectually curious and artistic. By the time she reached high school, she had drawn the scorn of her peers for her embrace of the Beats and her racially progressive views. Her parents doted on her in many ways, but were ultimately put off by her repeated acts of defiance.

Janis Joplin has passed into legend as a brash, impassioned soul doomed by the pain that produced one of the most extraordinary voices in rock history. But in these pages, Holly George-Warren provides a revelatory and deeply satisfying portrait of a woman who wasn’t all about suffering. Janis was a perfectionist: a passionate, erudite musician who was born with talent but also worked exceptionally hard to develop it. She was a woman who pushed the boundaries of gender and sexuality long before it was socially acceptable. She was a sensitive seeker who wanted to marry and settle down—but couldn’t, or wouldn’t. She was a Texan who yearned to flee Texas but could never quite get away—even after becoming a countercultural icon in San Francisco.

Written by one of the most highly regarded chroniclers of American music history, and based on unprecedented access to Janis Joplin’s family, friends, band mates, archives, and long-lost interviews, Janis is a complex, rewarding portrait of a remarkable artist finally getting her due.

My Review:

Janis by Holly George-Warren

I wonder how many decades back you’d have to go to find someone who doesn’t recognize the music or the name of Janis Joplin.

The “beatnik from Port Arthur, Texas” set a new high bar for uninhibited powerful, emotional singing by a woman in the mid-to-late sixties. Unleashing raw talent on a still poodle-skirted US exploring rock and roll, Joplin went “Full Tilt Boogie” with a full repertoire of blues, folk, and R&B following her rocky start in San Francisco in the hippie neighborhood of Haight-Ashbury. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll. For all that wildly barely contained talent, Joplin was a fiercely conflicted young woman, dying at the age of twenty-seven of a heroin overdose; China white.

The author begins the biography with a quick history of Seth and Dorothy Joplin, the singer’s parents and the “triangle” in Texas she haunted as a rebellious girl, always seeking her mother’s approval and her father’s love. School was not kind to Janis, deeply wounding her and sealing that mutinous daughter apart seeking her own persona. She was always different, more one of the boys than friends with her peers. Easy for her to discover an escape into music…and booze…and drugs…and sex.

It was a long, hard climb from the hard-scrabble life in San Francisco to fame around the world, with countless musicians and bands, unsustainable love, the search for success and fame. The author did an amazing job with researching, interviewing and tracing letters home that provide the rocky road on which Janis traveled. The extreme highs and lows. George-Warren relates the anguish with which she desperately clung to threads of approval and drowned disappointment.

It was after the Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967, that she could become a national star. During the short period of her major celebrity, Janis managed to turn out myriad hits and set iconic records. Among her best known, “Cry Baby,” “Summertime (a personal favorite),” “Ball and Chain,” “Piece of My Heart,” and “Me and Bobby McGee.”

She was indeed rude, crude, and (for the most part) socially unacceptable, but man could she set an audience on fire with that voice, jumping to their feet and stomping to the music with as much wild abandon as the person on stage. No silver linings here–we all know the story and it doesn’t end well. Janis herself philosophized her life in bits noted at chapter beginnings, many of which I found profound:

“Don’t compromise yourself. It’s all You’ve got.”
“I would never be young again. I’d have to cry all over.”
“You shouldn’t have to be young until you’re old enough to cope with it.”
“What if they find out I’m only Janis?”
“Onstage I make love to twenty-five thousand people, then I go home alone.”

Janis’s last album, “Pearl” was released three months after her passing in January 1971.

If you’ve ever heard that plaintive wail and wondered about the woman behind the voice, you must read this biography. No gloss-over here, just a well laid out chronology of the tragic path another of our singing icons took and the legacy left for aging hippies and the younger generations hooked by those bluesy ballads.

I received this digital download from the publisher (thank you!) and NetGalley and totally appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended to anyone who enjoys well-researched celebrity biographies and well-written histories–get to know Janis–the person and the singer. That was, at times, two different people.

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Book Details:

Genre: Biographies of Composers & Musicians, Biographies of Actors & Entertainers, R&B Artist Biographies
Publisher: Simon and Schuster

  • ISBN-10:1476793107
  • ISBN-13:978-1476793108
  • ASIN: B07P5GD3SZ

Print Length: 337 pages
Publication Date: To be released October 22, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Janis

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

Holly George-Warren - authorThe Author: Holly George-Warren is an award-winning writer, editor, producer, and music consultant. She has contributed to more than two dozen books about rock and roll, including The New Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll, The Rolling Stone Book of Women in Rock, and The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll. She’s also written for the New York Times, the Village Voice, the Journal of Country Music, and Rolling Stone. Ms. George-Warren lives in upstate New York with her family.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Trials and Tribulations – The Robinswood Story Book 3 by Jean Grainger – a #BookReview

This is me–a blubbering mess–and you know I don’t easily admit to tears from reading a book.

Five of Five Stars 5-stars

Book Blurb:

Trials and Tribulations by Jean GraingerRobinswood Estate, County Waterford, 1950

Three sisters, the three men that love them, and a house that could consume them all.

Assuming their roles as the new Lord and Lady Kenefick and returning to Robinswood with the plan to drag it back from the brink of dereliction, is taking its toll on Kate and Sam. With a young family to raise, a very limited budget and only Kate’s parents to help, the task seems insurmountable.

Kate’s eldest sister Eve and her husband Bartley have found happiness in each other after some dark years, but when a face from the past appears, it seems that everything they have worked so hard to create is threatened.

Aisling, the middle sister, is being evasive and the family suspect something is very wrong. On the face of it, she has it all, a lovely husband, a comfortable house and a supportive family, but she is in deep trouble, and nobody can even guess at the real reason why. 

Meanwhile Lady Lillian, Sam’s sister, is useless and arrogant, refusing to accept that things have changed and that her title is not going to get her what she wants, least of all from her husband Beau.

In the midst of it all Dermot and Isabella Murphy try their best to maintain a life and a home for their family, but the trials and tribulations of life at Robinswood might just tear them all apart. .

My Review:

Ms. Grainger has exceeded herself as the supreme storyteller of the Irish, whether or not she’s ever kissed the Blarney Stone, which btw, as I understand it, is not all that far from Cork, from whence she hails. This book grabs you from the beginning and takes you through highs and lows ending in a thrilling conclusion containing not one but two twists that take your breath away.

Trials and Tribulations by Jean GraingerIt’s easy to love these characters, all hard-working, driven, and pulling together to make a success of Robinswood. What’s not to love? The writing style is easy, descriptive, and sensitive, wrenching from even the hardened reviewer emotive sighs. The continuation of the story of the Kenefick and Murphy families (and their reversal of roles) drives this well-plotted domestic drama.

There is a lot going on in this one and I wish I could skim without spoilers, but this is one you have to read for yourself to appreciate. Kate (the wife of Sam), while the youngest of the three (Murphy) sisters, seem to have taken on the job of coordinating the management and has fallen severely short of manpower with the illness of her mother that also affects her dad. She is at her wits end, needs help, and sending up distress signals hasn’t seemed to work. Lady Lillian (and the former lady of the manor), is still more liability than asset. “Lillian was as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike…”

Outhouse There are guests to attend, meals to prepare, fields, animals, and outhouses to convert to much-needed labor housing. (In America we use that term for a structure meant to describe a relief station with no plumbing.) Eve’s husband Bartley, who is a seventh son of a seventh son and a former traveller (or tinker) is working with Beau (Lillian’s husband), and Mark (Aisley’s husband). There is a complex layer of little side dramas, pregnancies, and conflicts. One of the conflicts becomes deadly and leads to another whole drama affecting the entire tribe.

Character and locale driven, this storyline is immersive, including engaging characters you come to care about, whether empathetic or annoying. You might well wish to begin with the first in this series to fully understand where this book begins. The narrative can function fine as a standalone with simple references to a previous relationship. Grainger invokes some fine Irish humor and the dialogue is natural. The evolution of Lillian was one I didn’t expect, and I LOVED the conclusion. While I had a suspicion of the final twist, it was the journey to that moment that had you holding your breath in disbelief. Okay, Ms. Grainger, you put one over on us and I know you are very busy snickering about it. I loved the new character Hannah, my heart ached for Bartley, and soared with Beau.

I was given this digital download as an advance to those special few in hopes of a review and these are my own opinions. This is the best one yet; could also have been titled tragedy and triumph. Highly recommended. You can’t go wrong here, folks. Trust me.

Book Details:

Genre: 20th Century Historical Romance, Historical Fiction, Historical Irish Fiction

  • ASIN: B07XGFMB15

Print Length: 331 pages
Publication Date: To be released October 1, 2019
Source: Author Request
Title Link: Trials and Tribulations

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Jean Grainger - authorThe Author: JEAN GRAINGER, USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR

SELECTED BY BOOKBUB READERS IN TOP 19 OF HISTORICAL FICTION BOOKS.

WINNER OF THE 2016 AUTHOR’S CIRCLE HISTORICAL NOVEL OF EXCELLENCE

Hello and thanks for taking time out to check out my page. If you’re wondering what you’re getting with my books then think of the late great Maeve Binchy but sometimes with a historical twist. I was born in Cork, Ireland in 1971 and I come from a large family of storytellers, so much so that we had to have ‘The Talking Spoon’, only the person holding the spoon could talk!

I have worked as a history lecturer at University, a teacher of English, History and Drama in secondary school, a playwright, and a tour guide of my beloved Ireland. I am married to the lovely Diarmuid and we have four children. We live in a 150 year old stone cottage in Mid-Cork with my family and the world’s smallest dog, a chi-chon called Scrappy-Do.

My experiences leading groups, mainly from the United States, led me to write my first novel, ‘The Tour’. My observances of the often funny, sometimes sad but always interesting events on tours fascinated me. People really did confide the most extraordinary things, the safety of strangers I suppose…The fourth Conor O’Shea book is called The Homecoming of Bubbles O’Leary and features a group of friends taking their friend Bubbles home to Ireland from New York, on last time.

My first World War 2 novel, ‘So Much Owed’ is a family saga based in Ireland following the Buckley family of Dunderrig House. The story opens in the trenches of WW1 at the end of the war and moves to tranquil West Cork. As the next generation of the Buckley family find themselves embroiled once again in war, the action moves from Ireland to wartime Belfast, from occupied France to the inner sanctum of German society in neutral Dublin. The history of the period was my academic specialty so I’m delighted to be able to use it in a work of fiction.

I released a second WW2 book, called ‘What Once Was True’ earlier this year and so far people seem to really like it. Its set in a big old house, and based on the lives of the two families that live there, The Keneficks that own it and the Murphys that work for them.

Shadow of a Century, is set in New York in 2015 as well as in Dublin during the events of Easter Week 1916, where Irish men and women fought valiantly to rid our island of British Imperialism. While not my academic specialty, I loved researching this book. My husband, most fortunately for me is an expert on this era and so I didn’t have to go too far for assistance. The story features three very strong women, united through a battered old flag. Its essentially a love story, but with a bit of intrigue thrown in for good measure.

Under Heaven’s Shining Stars, was published in 2016 and is set in my home city of Cork. My next book, What Once Was True, tells the story of a big old house in Co Waterford during WW2. Two families live there, the impoverished Keneficks who own it and the hard-working Murphys who work for them. Life has remained unchanged for centuries but when war comes, it means everything changes and people have to question what once was true. This book was selected by Bookbub readers as in the top 19 Historical Fiction books of 2018. The sequel to this, Return to Robinswood, continues the story. (See my review here.)

My latest book, The Star and the Shamrock is about two little German Jewish children who find themselves on the Kindertransport out of Berlin. They end up in Northern Ireland and it was a real labour of love. The research was harrowing at times, but I hope I’ve done justice to the stories of so many children who escaped the Nazi terror, often never again to see their parents. This is a book of hope in dark times, of the enduring power of love and the incredible resilience of the human spirit.

Many of the people who have reviewed my books have said that you get to know the characters and really become attached to them, that’s wonderful for me to hear because that’s how I feel about them too. I grew up on Maeve Binchy and Deirdre Purcell and I aspired to being like them. If you buy one of my books I’m very grateful and I really hope you enjoy it. If you do, or even if you don’t, please take the time to post a review. Writing is a source of constant contentment to me and I am so fortunate to have the time and the inclination to do it, but to read a review written by a reader really does make my day.

***Truncated in the interest of space–please see her entire bio here.

Cartoon outhouse attribution: clipartmag.com (Thank you)

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Fatal Cajun Festival by Ellen Byron – a #BookReview #cozy

Love that sound, love that food, and the Mardi Gras atmosphere.

Fatal Cajun Festival by Ellen Byron

Fatal Cajun Festival: A Cajun Country Mystery by Ellen Byron

Book Blurb:

USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Ellen Byron cranks it up to eleven in the fifth fast and funny Cajun Country mystery.

Louisiana B&B owner Maggie Crozat kicks up her heels at a country music festival–but she’ll have one foot in the grave if she can’t bring the killer of a diva’s hanger-on to heel.

Grab your tickets for Cajun Country Live!, the pickers’ and crooners’ answer to the legendary New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Maggie Crozat, proprietor of the Crozat Plantation B&B, plans to be in the cheering section when her friend Gaynell Bourgeois takes the stage with her band, Gaynell and the Gator Girls.

The festival’s headliner, native daughter Tammy Barker, rocketed to stardom on a TV singing competition. She has the voice of an angel…and the personality of a devilish diva. But Maggie learns that this tiny terror carries a grudge against Gaynell. She’s already sabotaged the Gator Girls’ JazzFest audition. When a member of Tammy’s entourage is murdered at the festival, Tammy makes sure Gaynell is number one on the suspect list.

Gaynell has plenty of company on that list–including every one of Tammy’s musicians. Posing as a groupie, Maggie infiltrates Tammy’s band and will have to hit all the right notes to clear her friend’s name.

My Review:

Fatal Cajun Festival by Ellen ByronA cozy mystery with recipes, my first with the author and the series, and you know what? I really enjoyed it! I know what you’re thinking–Rosepoint Pub has had one too many and who is covering for her? Au Contraire, lovely readers, and I appreciate your concern!

First, you are wondering, “yeah, but it’s number five of the series” (with an adorable cover). Take heart. Although I’m sure you’d enjoy reading 1-4, this one functioned fine for me as a standalone for several reasons: (1) Locale driven but enough info about the main and support characters without doing a complete backstory, and (2) multi-layered and complex storyline that kept your attention. (Oh, and I might mention a complete listing of characters appears at the beginning and if I didn’t get lost, you shouldn’t.)

(Magnolia) Maggie Crozat is proprietor of the Crozat Plantation B&B in Pelican, Louisana. Her fiancé is Bo, Detective Bo Durand. And then there is Gaynell Bourgeois, Maggie’s best friend and soon to be person of interest. Lest I am to blame for confusing you, I’ll only further mention Tammy Barker, the local girl country star gone big time come back to gloat.

It is Maggie’s Grand-mère (Charlotte Crozat) who suggests the little town have a Cajun Country Live! Festival to catch music fans on their way to the larger fest in New Orleans. In the meantime, widow Grand-mère is off on a “death cleaning” and discovers something in the process she can’t ignore. Maggie must gear up her booth with Pelican Pralines as well as offer her paintings. (She also holds a new position as Doucet’s art collection specialist.)

Being a headliner, Tammy arrives amid huge pomp with her entourage, totally over-shadowing another local (lesser successful but talented) musician, Gaynell. Well, you know how musicians are. There is bound to be a clash and Gaynell and her Gator Girls land in the middle. Tammy’s manager is soon discovered in some bushes. Dead. Before Tammy’s group moves on to the Jazz Festival, Maggie will have to move fast to clear Gaynell’s name.

Boy, I do love the music, and add Cajun or Zydeco to the mix is probably the only place left where an accordion sounds GOOOOD with a washboard! Grab some crawdads, shrimp, and Cajun spice and you have a festival! This book just exudes that enthusiastic feel-good time. And then there is the mystery–mercy that gets complicated–but then you’re immersed in the whole atmosphere of the Louisiana Cajun Country. (Also, there is the Reader’s Digest explanation of Cajun vs Creole.) This is fascinating stuff, people!

Zydeco musicians at the Cajun Zydeco Festival
Photo Attribute: Cajun Zydeco Festival photo by Cheryl Gerber

The dialogue is peppered with a mix of French and Cajun patois. Maggie is interesting, but it is the history and tidbits of the area that I most appreciated and invested. It is well-paced and I must admit I didn’t guess either the perp or the reason, which provides a fascinating twist, even entirely plausible. There are bits of humor along the way; one of my favorites describing a cluster of teens.

“A giggle,” Maggie said. “I think you’d call it a giggle of girls.” (Yup!)

The conclusion came on the heels of another of Maggie’s open mouth, insert foot moments. She did annoy me a couple times. Also, I stumbled over Gaynell’s name more than once, wishing it were something else; Jane even, but Gaynell(?). Still, her character was fully engaging. I loved the recipes (and you remember I don’t usually look at them). They seemed geared to feed the entire southern militia, but that won’t stop me from trying a couple and the ingredients are already on my shopping list!

I received this digital ebook from the publisher and NetGalley and was thoroughly entertained, grateful to have the opportunity to read and review. I’m totally onboard for Book 6! Recommended to those mystery fans who don’t always get a culinary cozy and to anyone looking for an entertaining read. (Eat first.)

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Culinary Mystery, Cozy Craft and Hobby Mystery
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
ISBN: 1643851292

  • ASIN: B07NKW8WMY

 Print Length: 298 pages
Publication Date: Happy Publication Day! September 10, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Fatal Cajun Festival 

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

Ellen Byron - authorThe Author: Author of MARDI GRAS MURDER, the 2018 AGATHA AWARD winner for Best Contemporary Novel.

Ellen Byron 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 will launch in March 2020 under the 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.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

The Firefly Witch by Amanda Hughes – a #BookReview

The Firefly Witch (Bold Women of the 17th Century Series Book 1) by Amanda Hughes

The Firefly Witch by Amanda HughesBook Blurb:

For readers who like historical fiction with a bit of a love story and fantasy.
It is a life of enchantment in a world gone mad with hatred. The daughter of Puritans in 17th Century Massachusetts, Circe Swinburne must hide her pagan dreams and strong ties to Mother Earth or be banished forever. Fortunately, she finds solace in the serenity and magic of the Great Marsh near her home. But visions of fireflies soon begin to haunt her, flooding her with riddles. At last, the tiny creatures guide her to a group of people living in secret, practicing the ancient ways of the Celts in the backwoods of the colony. She lives in peace with them until one day a mysterious man appears with an unusual map. Circe is increasingly drawn to this dark and enigmatic Spaniard, and together they fight against the malicious witch hunters who are determined to execute her new family and destroy her way of life forever.

“Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere may be happy.”

–H.L. Mencken

My Review:

Azubah Craft, 12-year-old daughter of Puritan millers of Ipswich, Plum River, Massachusetts Bay Colony, has very strange dreams as well as disembodied messages delivered to her ears along with apparitions, but she is careful not to share. She is part of a strict Puritan family that fled the UK to avoid religious persecution and they are extremely careful to observe their spiritual tenets. So she is not allowed to exhibit happiness, laugh, skip, play like a child. Further, she has flaming red hair that sets her apart. Her grandfather lovingly calls her Firefly.

The Firefly Witch by Amanda HughesBut in 1662, she should be serious, pious, and obedient. She does, however, have another extraordinary gift that is well known–she can weave gorgeous fabrics, working her loom, and her eye for embroidery is unmatched. She longs to create brilliantly colored fabrics but is not allowed, forced instead to stay with the earthen brown tones of the community cloaks.

She has an aunt and uncle nearby, as well as the waterwheel directed by her beloved grandfather for use of the local farmers. Life in the colony is a day to day struggle against weather, disease, and Indians and her friend, Bullfrog, lost his parents to the latter. He now survives on his own in the marshes, but is said supported with food from time to time by some they call The Hooded Ones.

After the village is again attacked by Indians, Azubah flees into the marshes but is hit by an arrow. She wakes in the home of her real father, part of The Hooded Ones, who has been watching her for some time. Azubah is Circe Swinbaine, part of the Derwydds–Celtic people who also fled persecution. They have changed somewhat their practices of the old country and are vigilant in their seclusion. The author is careful to include background and fascinating information, much of whose worship is dominated by a goddess and a totally different ideology (and loving) lifestyle, including a short explanation of the “handfasting ceremony” (wedding).

Circe is welcomed into the Derwydd village and is set to work under the tutelage of the weaver as apprentice and time passes. Conflict and turmoil begin to increase, however, with the news of a witch hunter who has steadily been working his way through the colonies causing fear and forces a plan of action where Circe will be set in Boston to help conduct arrivals safely to seclusion in the New World. In the turmoil that follows, Circe will get to know the man who’ll steal her heart.

I love that the author creates such an authentic and unique storyline, putting you in the century with period names, costumes, language, food, and customs. And so much information about the dark period surrounding the hunt for witches and origins. Dialogue seems so faithful to the time and the well-plotted storyline lends an insecure tension–where to flee next?

I was given a copy of this ebook download by the author in exchange for a read and review. These are my unbiased opinions. Recommended to any who enjoy historical fiction, fantasy, stories of the Celts, the flight from religious persecution, and magical manifestations.

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Book Details:

Genre: Historical Fantasy
Publisher: Lillis and Jaymes

  • ISBN-10:1987462629
  • ISBN-13:978-1987462623
  • ASIN: B07CMHCNZS

Print Length: 291 pages
Publication Date: April 23, 2018
Source: Author Request

Title Link: The Firefly WitchThe Firefly Witch

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

The Bold Women of the 17th Century: The Firefly Witch Book 1

The Bold Women Series of the 18th Century: Beyond the Cliffs of Kerry Book 1 The Pride of the King Book 2 The Sword of the Banshee Book 3

The Bold Women Series of the 19th Century: The Grand Masquerade Book 1 Vagabond Wind Book 2 The House of Five Fortunes Book 3

The Bold Women Series of the 20th Century: The Looking Glass Goddess Book 1

Interested in her new books or a free novelette? Go to http://www.amandahughesauthor.com

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Grateful American by Gary Sinise – a #BookReview

Gary Sinise recently published Grateful American: A Journey from Self to Service and I’m thrilled to present his book to you today. This heartfelt, emotional narrative has become a NYTimes bestseller.

Grateful American: A Journey from Self to Service by Gary Sinise

Book Blurb:

As a kid in suburban Chicago, Gary Sinise was more interested in sports and rock ‘n’ roll than reading or schoolwork. But when he impulsively auditioned for a school production of West Side Story, he found his purpose–or so it seemed. 

Within a few years Gary and a handful of friends created what became one of the most exciting and important new theater companies in America. From its humble beginnings in a suburban Chicago church basement and eventual move into the city, the Steppenwolf Theatre Company launched a series of groundbreaking productions, igniting Gary’s career along with those of John Malkovich, Joan Allen, Gary Cole, Laurie Metcalf, Jeff Perry, John Mahoney, and others. Television and film came calling soon after, and Gary starred in Of Mice and Men (which he also directed) and The Stand before taking the role that would change his life in unforeseeable ways: Lieutenant Dan in the Academy Award–winning Forrest Gump.

The military community’s embrace of the character of the disabled veteran was matched only by the depth of Gary’s realization that America’s defenders had not received all the honor, respect, and gratitude their sacrifices deserve. In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, this became Gary’s mission. While starring in hits like Apollo 13, Ransom, Truman, George Wallace, CSI:NY, and Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, Gary has worked tirelessly on behalf of those who serve this country, entertaining more than a half million troops around the world playing bass guitar with his Lt. Dan Band, raising funds on behalf of veterans, and eventually founding the Gary Sinise Foundation with a mission to serve and honor America’s defenders, veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need.

Grateful American is the moving, entertaining, profoundly gripping story of how one man found his calling: to see that those who defend this country and its freedoms are never forgotten.

Grateful American by Gary SiniseMy Review:

Mr. Sinise sub-titled his work A Journey from Self to Service. I’d be more inclined to say from self to self-less. The actor begins very honestly, painting his childhood years in a happy middle-class American home in the southside of Chicago with loving, supportive parents. These days he might have been classified as dyslexic–back then–he was left to struggle in school, barely gathered D grades but advanced to the next level despite his lack of reading or writing skills. By the time he was in high school, he skipped more classes than attended until a teacher discovered his gang look band with his buddies and advised they audition for the upcoming school play, West Side Story. The rest is, as they say, history…although there were many years of paying dues in between, each test or challenge met and surmounted.

Some time following his delayed graduation, he eventually organized a young theatre company he and several of his friends called Steppenwolf in 1974. They located in the Unitarian Church in Deerfield, now located in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. What followed is a combination of luck, grace, guidance, and perseverance. Within the theatre community, he is surrounded by a core group of friends, drinking buddies, drugs (it’s the 70s), talent, and growth–slow–but growth. He also meets the woman who will become his wife, Moira.

Years pass, decisions made, regretted and backpeddled, but gradually, Sinise gains more and more attention going forward leading to his breakthrough part in Forrest Gump (1994 – twenty-five years). Gary Sinise as Lt. Dan in Forest Gump

(Who hasn’t seen Forrest Gump at least three times?) Sinise loves acting but never forgets his love of music, fueled by his bass guitar. Having married into a family of veterans, including Viet Nam, he decides he wants to get his young adult band back and do a show for vets and that’s the beginning of the Lt. Dan Band, but only the tip of the iceberg that will become his work with recognizing the sacrifice of the military and acknowledging all the work that needs to be done in support of those who continue to fight for our freedom.

Most of the book is dedicated to his life experiences and movies that eventually turned into the opportunity to do the TV drama spinoff, CSI: NY. During those years, he and his wife had three children and there are health issues with Moira and other family and friends. He relates their commitment to church and their faith. And Sinise never shies away from describing the cost to the men and women of the military that continue to defend and buttress our freedoms.

Then Sinise widens his outreach to those first responders, fire, police, firefighters, and rescue. Nine-eleven burned into his conscience the need to do more. And there is always more. The children of the casualties also became beneficiaries of his constant search to discover what else he could do, including working with the USO stateside and abroad. He formed the Gary Sinise Foundation and continues to shower gratitude and to remind them they are not forgotten nor taken for granted. He never wants a returning hero to receive the treatment experienced by those returning from duty during the Viet Nam conflict. He also writes of the many awards received for all the good work he has initiated.

I really enjoyed the book, have long been a Gary Sinise fan, and hold him in high regard acknowledging all he has accomplished. I requested and was granted the digital download by the publisher through NetGalley and was absolutely thrilled to receive for a read and review and these are my own opinions. I only had two problems: The format of the ebook received (an early eARC?)  had missing words, lots of edit misses, with “DO NOT COPY” and “material copyrighted” or “do not duplicate” sprinkled throughout the text. Also, the author didn’t lay out a chronological narrative, but tended to bounce backward or forward as thoughts hit him as an explanation for how or why events occurred. Otherwise, I’m sure the format has been perfected in the new releases and heartily recommend the very genuine and powerful Grateful American.

Title Link: Grateful American: A Journey from Self to Service
Genre: Biographies of Actors and Actresses, Television Performer Biographies, Rock Band Biographies
Publisher: Thomas Nelson

  • ISBN-10:1400208122
  • ISBN-13:978-1400208128
  • ASIN: B07DT4GBKJ

Print Length: 288 pages
Publication Date: February 12, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

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

The Author: (Amazon) Gary Sinise is an Oscar-nominated actor and winner of an Emmy, a Golden Globe, and two Screen Actors Guild awards, and has been honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, all while advocating for America’s veterans for nearly forty years.  For his service work, Gary has been presented with numerous humanitarian awards including the Bob Hope Award for Excellence in Entertainment from the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, the George Catlett Marshall Medal from the Association of the US Army, and the Spirit of Hope Award by the Department of Defense. He was named an honorary Chief Petty Officer by the United States Navy, was pinned as an honorary Marine, and received the Sylvanus Thayer Award at West Point, given to a civilian “whose character, service, and achievements reflect the ideals prized by the U.S. Military Academy.” He’s also the recipient of the Presidential Citizens Medal, the second-highest civilian honor awarded by the President of the United States to citizens for “exemplary deeds performed in service of the nation. ”

Gary Sinise - author

(Goodreads) Gary Sinise is an American actor, director and musician. Among other awards, he has won an Emmy Award, a Golden Globe Award and was nominated for an Academy Award for one of his most memorable roles as Lieutenant Dan Taylor in Forrest Gump. Another notable role was as Detective Mac Taylor in the CBS series CSI: NY (2004–13).

In 2011 Sinise established the Gary Sinise Foundation. The foundation’s mission is to serve and honor our nation’s defenders, veterans, first responders, and their families. His “Lt. Dan Band” performs for military bases, charities and fundraisers supporting wounded heroes, Gold Star families, veterans and troops around the world.

Lt Dan Pic Attribute: Wikipedia
YouTube video: US Army at Fort Huachuca in AZ with the Lt Dan Band

©2019 V Williams V Williams

The Hallows by Victor Methos – a #BookReview

The Hallows by Victor MethosTitle: The Hallows by Victor Methos

Genre: Kidnapping Crime Fiction, Legal Thriller, Political Thriller & Suspense

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

  • ISBN-10:1542042720
  • ISBN-13:978-1542042727
  • ASIN:B07GVLW3D7

Print Length: 346 pages

Publication Date: July 1, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: The Hallows

Book Blurb:

A ruthless lawyer cross-examines his life after a guilty client walks free in this sharp legal thriller from the bestselling author of The Neon Lawyer.

Ruthless defense attorney Tatum Graham has been living large in Miami, but when his recently acquitted client claims another victim, Tatum has a crisis of conscience. Disillusioned, he heads to his small Utah hometown for a simpler life…but that’s not what he finds.

Soon after he arrives, Tatum’s childhood crush offers him a job at the county attorney’s office and assigns him a murder case. The victim is a teenage girl not unlike the victim in the last case he tried. Now a prosecutor, Tatum sees a chance for redemption, but politics, corruption, and a killer defense threaten to thwart justice.

To complicate matters, Tatum’s estranged father has terminal cancer, and the time to reconcile is running out. Tatum moved to Utah to find clarity, but his thoughts swirl with old feelings and present dangers. As the case heats up, so does the risk, threatening to adjourn Tatum’s new life before it begins.

 My Review:

The Hallows by Victor MethosI do love a good legal thriller and this one hooks you in quickly and works that legal magic, but beware the trope of a rich defense attorney with an over-the-top inflated ego, so full of himself that even as the protagonist, is easy to dislike. Tatum Graham is super alpha male, easily destroying the opposition with his keen intellect, experience, and a win at all cost attitude. He knows he has the answers to a strong victorious practice and is writing a book using the principals he’s gleaned from years of an extremely financially rewarding practice.

But here’s the conundrum: the last client he got acquitted of murder has just killed again–using the same MO. He is SO disgusted and crushed he quits the law firm of Gordon & Graham, gives away his house and its contents and loads his car to head west. All the bluster is gone–and the façade with it–until he arrives at his old home town.

Arriving at River Falls, Utah (just over the Nevada line), he discovers little has changed. Not the town. Not the people. His father is still there and he discovers he has cancer and is refusing treatment. It isn’t long before he sees a former teenage sweetheart. Gates Barnes is now the elected county attorney. All the old movers and shakers are still there.

Unfortunately, there has been a recent murder of a seventeen-year-old and Gates manages to get him to switch sides (defense to prosecutor) as they feel they have the perp(s) in jail, but one is a rich kid’s son and his dad has hired the other best lawyer in the nation. Gates doesn’t want the kid to walk. Tatum gets entangled in the case whether or not he wants to and is introduced to two fresh young deputy county attorneys. Yes! One, Jia, is smart, heads-up and will be a brilliant attorney one day.

Tatum looks at the case, the file, the pictures and is positive he’ll have no problem properly handling the case. He enlists the help of the deputy attorneys, Jia and Will, and with his direction all proceed with investigation, interviews, and legal maneuvering. But the deeper he gets into the investigation, the more complex it becomes. Maybe it’s the kid…or maybe not. Ack! Is it or isn’t it?

Red herrings send the reader in another direction, misdirection, along with twists that further develop the characters, both main and support. Almost from the get-go, surprises pop up that widen the chasm between what is truth and what isn’t. Who is telling the real story and who isn’t? And in court, it’s worse. He’s waylaid big time.

He’s ready to crumble. What, again?

So is he Macho Tatum or not? He is dealing with his father’s advancing illness and his case is falling apart and the good-old-boy network seems to have it handled. OH NO! He might loose! But I still don’t like him. And the underlying layer of reawakening romance with Gates…I can’t figure out how she can stand him and except for Gates and Jia, maybe Will, these characters don’t invite a lot of investing.

Still, it’s a well-plotted legal thriller. Maybe you don’t have to invest in the main character to enjoy the storyline. It is engaging and holds your interest. Courtroom scenes make you feel you are in the spectator section watching the drama unfold before your eyes. The opposing counsel, by the way, is as obnoxious as Tatum, but dialogue, given their images, feel natural.

This looks to me like a series in the making. An attorney you love to hate because he has some intricate cases and the plot MOVES. Oh, and he wins. Always.

I received this digital download from the publisher and NetGalley and fully enjoyed the fast-moving novel. I’ll be looking forward to another.

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars Four stars

Victor Methos - authorThe Author: Victor Methos knew he would be a lawyer at the age of 13, when his best friend was interrogated by the police for over eight hours and gave a confession to a crime he didn’t commit. From that time forward, criminal law was in Methos’s sights.

After abandoning a doctorate in philosophy to pursue his childhood dream of becoming a defense lawyer, Methos graduated from the University of Utah School of Law. After graduation, wanting to learn the true practice of law rather than what the law schools taught, he worked for a special kind of lawyer, the kind with neon signs up front that did anything and everything to win for their clients. Afterward, he sharpened his teeth as a prosecutor for Salt Lake City before founding a law firm that would become the most successful criminal defense firm in Utah.

In ten years, Methos conducted over 100 trials, with only two losses under his belt in that time. One particular case of a father who shot his daughter’s rapists stuck with him, and he knew he had to write the story. It became the basis for his first major bestseller, The Neon Lawyer. Since that time, Methos has focused his work on legal thrillers and mysteries and produced two books per year. He currently splits his time between Salt Lake City and Las Vegas, and continues to defend the poor and the weak against the strong and the powerful.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

The Unlucky Ones by Kerry Wilkinson – a #BookReview #Bookouture

The Unlucky Ones by Kerry WilkinsonTitle: The Unlucky Ones (Detective Jessica Daniel thriller series Book 14) by Kerry Wilkinson

Genre: Serial killer thrillers, police procedurals, organized crime thrillers

Publisher: Bookouture

  • ASIN: B07RJZBD6M

Print Length: 333 pages

Publication Date: Happy Publication Day! July 9, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: The Unlucky Ones

Book Blurb:

In the latest heartpounding crime thriller from bestselling author Kerry Wilkinson, Detective Jessica Daniel must find a twisted killer who forces innocent people to relive harrowing near-death experiences one final, fatal time…

A young man is killed by a car, right in front of his distraught fiancé. A missing person is pulled from the canal, only identifiable by his dental records. A troubled young woman takes a deadly leap from the top story of a car park. What could link these three bodies?

To the police, these are tragic but everyday occurrences in their line of work. But when Detective Jessica Daniel discovers that each death is connected to an incident in the victims’ pasts, she knows there’s a dangerous killer at large.

Her investigation leads to a man living on the edge of town, new to the area. A man who receives mysterious visitors at all hours of the night, and who the neighbours refuse to talk about. After staking out his apartment, Jessica receives a message from her superiors: Do not investigate this man.

Ignoring the warning, Jessica is determined to find out how he is involved in the murder of three innocent people. But when she and her colleague are attacked one night, it’s clear that the closer she gets to the truth, the more danger she’s in… can Jessica stop the killer before they get the chance to strike again?

An absolutely unputdownable thriller, packed with twists and turns. Fans of Robert Dugoni, Rachel Caine and Robert Bryndza will be totally gripped by Kerry Wilkinson’s Detective Jessica Daniel crime series.

My Review:

The Unlucky Ones by Kerry WilkinsonMy only experience with this author was a standalone (thriller) that I read early in 2018. I greatly enjoyed that book and remembered the name of the author, so requested this one as soon as I saw it. Of course, it would have to be book 14 in the series, but I can honestly say I enjoyed it regardless. Heaven only knows what I missed in the first thirteen, but I suspect it was some protagonist development as well as team development with whom she normally works. DI Jessica Daniel is a great detective and certainly has the years of experience to know her way around the department.

While she and her partner, Detective Constable Archie Davey (who is driving), are returning from an estate pondering the unusually low stats in a previously high crime area, she glances–JUST FOR A SECOND–to her cell phone and that’s when their marked vehicle hits a pedestrian. He doesn’t survive. Jessica will have the possible help of a sub while Archie is out, but during the course of the investigation of the estate, she also begins to see a potential link to another crime that may have something in common with the pedestrian fatality.

I like Jessica. She is real. She has her foibles, wins and losses, and she has a lot going on in her life and a great deal of history. She has a droll sense of humor which provides a lighter touch to an otherwise sensitive issue. While Jessica is generally low key, she has a wicked sense of people and can pick up nuances. She manages to glean leads that are overlooked by others.

The clever well-plotted storyline begins at an easy pace, bringing in main characters introduced in previous series entries. The dialogue includes a lot of banter between characters that add an aura of real-life and the discussion of Jesus on Saturday was a classic I’m quite sure has more than a few pondering. The real-life scenes add a great deal to life in Manchester for us in the colonies and I must admit to becoming used to (and appreciating) the colloquialisms, slang, and common English terms.

The thriller progressed to additional deaths, all by victims of a previous near-death experience with Jessica connecting the dots amid a heart-pounding climax. As the conclusion solved the serial killer’s identity and segued into the estate puzzle, money goes missing but it is instantly obvious who that culprit is. The conclusion winds down with more of a sigh than a whimper.

The novel is for me character-driven and even in this first, short introduction to the protagonist, I’ve become a solid fan. I was given this ebook download by the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. A different slant on a serial killer thriller and recommended to all who enjoy a crime thriller.

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars Four stars

Kerry Wilkinson - authorThe Author: Kerry Wilkinson has had No.1 crime bestsellers in the UK, Australia, Canada, South Africa and Singapore. He has also written two top-20 thrillers in the United States. His book, Ten Birthdays, won the RNA award for Young Adult Novel of the Year in 2018.

As well as his million-selling Jessica Daniel series, Kerry has written the Silver Blackthorn trilogy – a fantasy-adventure serial for young adults – a second crime series featuring private investigator Andrew Hunter, plus numerous standalone novels. He has been published around the world in more than a dozen languages.

Originally from the county of Somerset, Kerry has spent far too long living in the north of England, picking up words like ‘barm’ and ‘ginnel’.

When he’s short of ideas, he rides his bike or bakes cakes. When he’s not, he writes it all down.

Recent & Upcoming US releases:
Silent Suspect (Jessica Daniel 13): 14 January 2019
Something Buried (Andrew Hunter 3): 7 March 2019
A Face In The Crowd: 6 June 2019
The Unlucky Ones (Jessica Daniel 14): 9 July 2019

Find out more at: http://kerrywilkinson.com or http://facebook.com/KerryWilkinsonBooks

©2019 V Williams Blog author

When Sally Comes Marching Home by Richard Milton – a #BookReview

When Sally Comes Marching Home by Richard MiltonTitle: When Sally Comes Marching Home (a Sally Honeychurch spy thriller) by Richard Milton

Genre: Espionage Thrillers

Publisher: Bowater Books

  • ISBN-10:1790392268
  • ISBN-13:978-1790392261
  • ASIN: B07R897F32

 Print Length: 350 pages

Publication Date: April 19, 2019

Source: Direct author request

Title Link: When Sally Comes Marching Home

Book Blurb:

In 1945, World War II is ending. For Major Sally Honeychurch the war is just beginning.

Major Sally Honeychurch has spent two years as an agent behind enemy lines. Now the war is over, the women who risked their lives are no longer needed. Sally is back in civvy street, haunted by the French Resistance lover who died in her arms.
When terrorists smuggle an atomic bomb into London, The Head of MI6 urgently summons her for one more mission. Sally has inside knowledge few possess. She was there when the first atom bomb was assembled and detonated.
Sally is the only woman among hundreds of soldiers and intelligence agents hunting the terrorists. And she uncovers a clue to their identity that will rock the establishment to its foundations. To save London, she must not only track down the conspirators, she must also battle the prejudices of the men in charge.

My Review:

When Sally Comes Marching Home by Richard MiltonYou don’t have to read a horror story to be scared out of your wits by a book because there is nothing scarier out there than the possible annihilation of humankind or the destruction of the planet. Just how close we’ve come, earlier than you might have guessed, more seriously than you thought possible, and more non-fiction than you’d have ever been afraid to consider.

Thank you, Nina, of The Cozy Pages for your referral of author Richard Milton to me, thinking it might be something I’d consider reading and reviewing. It would appear I’ve been hitting historical fiction lately, many of World War II. Reading books into which so much research has been dedicated is eye-opening and as the author of my last historical fiction, Mary Lawrence, posed in her book, “…historical fiction must first be grounded in reality, then allowed room for creative interpretation.” Gees, Nina, this one scared the socks off me!

Having parachuted down behind enemy lines in France, Major Sally Honeychurch is no novice in espionage and trained in combat is more than capable of taking care of herself. She spent two years under the crushing tension of possibly being exposed and arrested by the Gestapo. Sally is also experienced driving in extreme conditions, successfully so, and as a result is invited to drive to and witness the first atomic bomb explosion dubbed Trinity in New Mexico. While she has an amazing file and important contacts, still faces extreme gender prejudice in any military circumstances.

Following the end of the war, most men in her position are recruited into the secret service, while the women were relieved of duty and sent home. Sally is teaching when she receives a call that compels her return. Statuesque at 5’11”, blond, and light eyes she commands attention, but not usually of the respectful variety. Still, she’s intelligent and a self-starter and when the investigation begins swings into her intelligence persona to ferret out the terrorists.

The well-plotted storyline moves at an even pace, gradually increasing the tension over the chapters as it introduces the support characters, Mac Mackenzie, her old buddy now a Scotland Yard Police Inspector, being one. Sally is well-developed, lesser so the support characters, though it is Sally as the main character that is the driving force behind the plot-driven novel. She’s been through enough of the prejudiced male reaction to her station to know how to neutralize her response.

Intelligence has determined the materials for an atomic bomb have been delivered to London and they must figure out who is behind, find, and defuse the bomb in a race against time. The author carefully ramps up the characters and their roles in supplying the bits and pieces Sally uses to determine the source and location. Who is behind the plot flies in the face of their theories and she must battle them as well.

Successful infiltration may be just the beginning when confronting a fanatical Nazi supporter. So many historical details shared here regarding the theories, beliefs, doctrines of Hitler himself that permeated those around him, infesting them with the dogma and runes commonly worn by the SS and polluted the people with Nazi ideology and mysticism.

Scary? Oh yeah! Terrifying? Oh yeah! Sometimes the line blurred between that of fiction and non-fiction making it all the more horrifying. You don’t need zombies or vampires, sometimes reality is more petrifying. The build-up is worth the tailspin and the conclusion comes as a huge relief allowing you to breathe again.

The dialogue certainly harkened back to post WWII and scenes of military and the London streets rang some bells. Sally is a realistic WWII female spy hero (as many unsung women were) and the Nazi antagonist detestable. Teddy Buckingham was properly charismatic. Historic notes following the conclusion is enlightening and corroborative.

Did I have niggles, other than the chills and goosebumps? Actually, a few minor details–like (I’m sure a typo) describing a rifle that didn’t exist in 1945, a driving scene with Miss Sally (I’m sure wouldn’t have bothered anyone else), and just a little disbelief in her tenacity in the face of pain (but a little adrenalin will go a long way in keeping you going), and this thoroughly engaging book keeps you flipping pages.

I was given this ebook download in response to acceptance of the referral and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review this remarkable historical fiction slash espionage novel. Highly recommended.

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

Richard Milton - authorThe Author: (Amazon) Richard Milton is a British writer, journalist and broadcaster. He currently freelances for The Daily Telegraph and other newspapers. He is the author of a dozen books – both fiction and non-fiction – all now available on Kindle as well as in book form.

Read his blog and latest book news at – http://bit.ly/1Bm0twR

His non-fiction books are highly controversial. “Bad Company”, which The Sunday Times chose as its Business Book of the Week, sets out to explain why large corporations sometimes behave in self-defeating and even insane ways. Richard Milton - author

His equally controversial “Shattering the myths of Darwinism” caused some members of the scientific establishment to start chewing the carpet and foaming at the mouth, by daring to demand real empirical evidence in support of Darwinian beliefs, in place of conjecture and pseudoscience. “Alternative Science” (also published as “Forbidden Science”) examines how and why good science is sometimes thrown out with the bad for purely ideological reasons.

His book “Best of Enemies” looks at Anglo-German relations through two world wars and charts the origins of modern propaganda. The book is currently the subject of a TV film of the same name to be broadcast on German and British TV later in 2015.

His latest non-fiction book, “The Ministry of Spin”, reveals for the first time the story of how the post-war Labour government secretly held onto the wartime Ministry Of Information: how they buried this powerful propaganda machine deep in Whitehall: and how they turned its wartime propaganda powers on the British Parliament, media and people in order to push through their peacetime political programme.

In fiction, he has published three mystery thrillers and a book of short stories.

“Dead Secret” is a paranormal mystery thriller. Investigative journalist Tony Gabriel stumbles onto his biggest ever story when he inherits the papers of a long-dead historian – and finds himself the target of an ancient secret society. Are they just rich, powerful people playing an elaborate game, or have they truly gained paranormal powers to see into the future?

“The Glass Harmonica” is a mystery thriller. Concert pianist Julia Franklin is heir to an inheritance worth a billion dollars – enough to bankrupt America’s oldest bank when the trust matures. Miles Bartholemew, of Bartholemew Equity and Trust, has to find the heirs of the Franklin trust and deal with them permanently, before his family’s bank is ruined.

“Conjuring For Beginners” is a crime thriller. When legendary con-artist Ferdy Daniels dies alone and penniless, his daughter, Rosa, inherits his victims, who are convinced she was his partner in crime. To keep one jump ahead of them – and stay alive – Rosa must unravel Ferdy’s web of deceits. But to re-trace her father’s footsteps, she must learn to become as quick-witted and cunning as Ferdy, the master magician.

“True Stories: Mysteries of Crime and Punishment” is a collection of short stories with a difference. Every story in the book is true – except one. Some tell of crimes that have gone unpunished by the law. Some are crimes against laws that are unwritten. And some are crimes that exist only in the mind.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

See You Soon, Afton – a #BookReview

See You Soon, Afton by Brent JonesTitle: See You Soon, Afton (Afton Morrison Book 2) by Brent Jones

Genre: Currently #3787 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank in Kindle eBooks, Literature & Fiction, Action & Adventure, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Suspense

Publication Date: August 7, 2018

Source: Direct author request

Title and Cover: See You Soon, AftonAfton Morrison, Book 2 (The Afton Morrison Series) by Brent Jones

Holy smokes! Book 2 literally sets the plot on fire with the dark and desperate attempt by Afton to find and save little Kim. The despot in Afton takes a back seat as she must act on that soft spot for the sweet and innocent volunteer library assistant who looks on her as a mentor. After all, she has yet to prove her psychopathic vigilante assassin status! If Afton ravaged your senses in Book 1 with her first-person account of her twisted, deep vigilante desires and her comprehensive search for the perfect victim to stem the Animus within her, Book 2 slams what you thought you knew about where this was going against a very hot, blackened wall. Continue reading “See You Soon, Afton – a #BookReview”

There is a Difference Between 5 Stars on Amazon vs Goodreads

Goodreads vs Amazon Stars

Back in April 2017, I originally wrote this post regarding the difference in star rating definitions between Goodreads and Amazon. Perhaps little has changed.

There is certainly a difference between most of the major book retailers (and I’ve since taken note of the star rating definitions in Barnes & Noble as well as Kobo). As I’m sure you’ve no doubt noticed if you’ve ever moused over the stars on Amazon and Goodreads–there is a difference in the star ratings between the two. Are you one who thinks the star rating is equivalent to personal perception? Or have you read and understood the star definitions of both? I’ve run up against this before, debating what to do; set my star ratings the same on both websites–or change to more closely indicate my objective opinion on each.

A Goodreads five star indicates you thought the book “amazing.” I don’t consider that the same as, “I love it.” So what is the difference between the two? Note the graphic above.

Goodreads

Star Rating

1  Did not like it

2  It was okay

3  I liked it

4  I really liked it

5  It was amazing

Amazon

Star Rating

1  I hate it

2  I don’t like it

3  It’s okay

4  I like it

5  I love it

Really, neither of the two asks your opinion regarding the plotting, dialogue, characterization, grammar, or level of typos. It’s a matter of how much you liked the book–what did you like–what did you dislike. Perhaps that makes sense considering the reading levels of the average reader.

Does the average reviewer actually use the website assigned stars or simply judge based on the use of their own system?

In a 2015 study by McGill University, it was found that Amazon has higher average ratings compared to Goodreads and Goodreads users gave four stars more often than Amazon users (36.26%). That translation bears exactly how I would interpret the meaning behind the stars of those two websites as well. How many times does a conscientious book reviewer look for a compromise and assign a half point–4.5 stars, but are then forced to round up or down–well, THAT’s subjective then, not objective!

They maintain, therefore, that the Goodreads ratings fall in the range of 3 to 4 stars while Amazon ratings fall between 4 and 5 stars. Their argument extends to a higher average for some genres (i.e., biographies) on Amazon than are found on Goodreads. Makes sense if you consider Goodreads basically shifts one point lower, making only one a negative, one a neutral, and three more positive. That makes your four-star rating on Goodreads equivalent to Amazon five.

Their additional argument extends further in the propensity of Amazon reviewers to help “sell” the book, whereon Goodreads tends to more journalistic attributes, concentrating on the book’s content.

Also surprising, the study found that Amazon reviews tend to be a greater length, which flies in the face of that which I was taught–keep it short on Amazon–expand on the description on Goodreads–and just have fun with it on your own website. Indeed, I’ve been asked to keep my reviews short on Amazon to allow for more visible reviews on the landing page.

Kristen Twardowski in her recent WordPress post, “What to do with Goodreads,” says “Goodreads is the largest book review website on the internet.” She goes on to cite April 2017 statistics that show over 55 million members wrote an astounding 50 million reviews.  (And you thought your book was being buried on Amazon!) A quick search on Amazon shows print title totals vary, although if we use Amazon best sellers rank numbers, there are over 13 million–and over 800,000 ebook titles.

Amazon gobbled up Goodreads in March 2013. There have been a number of arguments regarding the star ratings disparity since then. Wikipedia noted, “Some authors, however, believe the purchase means that the “best place to discuss books is joining up with the best place to buy books.”

The updates to the Kindle app requesting a star rating at the end of the book you are reading begs an additional argument. If you hit the star rating link without consideration of the rating definition differences and the site links to Amazon as well as Goodreads, in my mind, the ratings become skewed.

I like the breakdown that Greg Zimmerman showed on his blog post appearing in June 2011 in which he whittled it down further: 4 and 5 stars==liked it, 3 stars=neutral, and 1 and 2 stars=don’t like it. He then compares Amazon stats to Goodreads stats and in the end concluded there’s a good reason for Goodreads reviews being lower. There continues to be skepticism for Amazon reviews on many of the forums, which agrees with my own perception and that I posted here. Two of my favorite reads this year (reviewed on this blog) with 15 or more ratings in GR’s also reflect McGill’s consensus.

The Fifteenth of JuneThe Fifteenth of June

Amazon – 15 ratings (average 4.7) 94% 4 stars or better

Goodreads – 24 ratings (average 4.0) 80% 4 stars or better

So Much Owed-#1 Amazon BestsellerSo Much Owed

Amazon – 268 ratings (average 4.7) – 94% 4 stars or better

Goodreads – 616 ratings (average 4.29) 86% 4 stars or better

There is credibility with Goodreads reviews. As a reader, have you performed review searches on Goodreads? Did you find they closely followed your own opinions? Did you compare the two? Judging by the number of review requests I receive, it would appear authors are still seeking strong Amazon authentication. I get it–lots of five stars on your Amazon book helps to spread the word (not so much the algorithm, which is based on sales). I hope you feel good about your Goodreads reviews and continue to press for Amazon reviews as well. Do you search for reviews before you purchase?

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