Bark of Night by David Rosenfelt – a #BookReview #audiobook

You may have detected that this is actually an audiobook rather than my usual cell phone Kindle app and I’m positive that the narration was part of the reason I found this an absolutely eye-rolling LOL delight. This one goes all the way. 5 stars

5-stars

Bark of Night by David Rosenfelt

Book Blurb:

The next audiobook in David Rosenfelt’s witty, heartfelt mystery series featuring lawyer Andy Carpenter and his faithful golden retriever, Tara.

When defense lawyer Andy Carpenter’s veterinarian asks to speak to him privately at the checkup of his golden retriever, Tara, the last thing Andy expects is Truman. Tiny, healthy French bulldog Truman was dropped off days ago with instructions to be euthanized by a man everyone thought was his owner. But now the owner is nowhere to be found. 

Andy is furious. Who would want to euthanize a perfectly healthy dog with no explanation? He is willing to whisk Truman away to the Tara Foundation, the dog-rescue organization which is Andy’s true passion. They will find a home for Truman. But that’s not all the vet tells Andy. Thanks to Truman’s chip, it’s discovered that the man wasn’t Truman’s owner at all…. Truman’s real owner was murdered. 

It’s now up to Andy – with help from his loyal sidekick Tara, Truman, and the rest of the gang – to solve this case. In the latest in the popular Andy Carpenter mystery series, David Rosenfelt’s charmingly clever wit and love of dogs are back and better than ever.

Bark of Night by David RosenfeltMy Review:

As the nineteenth of this series, I’ve gotta ask myself, “why haven’t I seen this before?” There were eighteen before this one? So does that mean you can’t pick this one up or you have to go back to book one? Nope! This worked very well as a standalone.

Definitely a different take on a legal narrative, not a thriller, not a cozy, just a brilliantly choreographed mystery novel with a defense attorney that forthrightly suggests he’d rather not do legal work anymore. And really, he wouldn’t have to. He was left with a considerable inheritance and although would love to quit work, work continues to find him–at least not at a frenetic pace.

New Jersey lawyer Andy Carpenter is married to former policewoman Laura and still keeps open a small office with an office manager, and an eclectic group in his circle that includes Marcus, the description of which conjures up Lurch from the old Addams Family TV series. He and Laura have adopted a son which fits in well with his canine rescue foundation that includes a LOT of dogs. It was Tara, his beautiful golden retriever, that led him to the vet where he discovers the vet has a quandary–he has a bulldog named Truman that was brought in for euthanasia that he doesn’t want to…uh…execute the order. Carpenter is outraged and takes the dog to the Tara Foundation.

Turns out, the chip identifies the dog’s owner as one who was murdered shortly before he was brought to the vet. Carpenter, of course, will end up defending 20-year-old Joey Gamble brought in for the murder of a documentary filmmaker. He knows his client doesn’t match the vet’s description.

The fast-paced narrative weaves from one twist and clue to another with first-person Carpenter wise-cracking and snarking his way through the investigation with the help of Laura and his computer techie hacker. Thank heaven he has one of those, and although he may have to learn SOME of that stuff some day, this isn’t it.

It isn’t long before the whole case gets deeper and deeper into sparkling blue water–specifically off the Florida coast and the FBI gets involved. Nothing is ever simple, huh? And this isn’t. This went way beyond the murder of the filmmaker and actually has quite the ingenious well-plotted storyline.

This is an absolutely delightful romp full of humor, light-hearted suspense, and an engaging group of characters. I love the self-deprecating Andy Carpenter who often relies on his ex-cop wife to know where to turn next.

I received this audiobook from my local library (thank you!)–they have a remarkable selection–and was thoroughly entertained and invested with this one. Can NOT wait for book 20, which I’ve requested through NetGalley (please, please, please…). Totally recommended for anyone looking for an unpredictable but amusing hoot. It’s good to laugh.

Book Details

Narrator: Grover Gardner
Genre: Animal Fiction, Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Macmillan Audio

  • ASIN: B07ND4GKTJ
  • Listening Length: 6 hours and 52 minutes

Publication Date: July 16, 2019
Source: Local Library Audiobooks
Publisher: Minotaur Books (July 16, 2019)
Print Length:  265 pages
ISBN: 1250133092

  • ASIN: B07J4VJL3C

Genre: Traditional Detective Mystery
Title Link: Bark of Night

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2019 V Williams V Williams

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Desolate Shores by Daryl Wood Gerber – a #BookReview

Title: Desolate Shores (An Aspen Adams Novel of Suspense Book 1) by Daryl Wood Gerber

Desolate Shores by Daryl Wood GerberBook Blurb:

Daryl Wood Gerber, the national bestselling and Agatha Award–winning author of the Cookbook Nook Mysteries, returns with a novel of gripping suspense . . .

A chilling murder, an elusive killer, and a family mystery that hits too close to home . . .

After finding the body of her best friend on the icy shores of Lake Tahoe, Aspen Adams refuses to stand by and watch as the local sheriff’s department begins their search for the killer. Launching her own investigation, she’s soon confronted with a growing array of secrets—both about the friend she thought she knew and about many of the people in her own life. As fragmentary clues and escalating dangers threaten to derail her, she must also cope with the disturbing behavior of her deadbeat sister and troubled teenage niece.

Determined to overcome her personal demons over past failures, Aspen is driven to unravel the conflicting evidence and a shifting range of suspects to bring the killer to justice, even as a family trauma unfolds that threatens to upend her life. And as her investigation inexorably leads her to a shocking discovery and taunts her with a solution that is just out of reach, Aspen realizes that the killer wants nothing more than to see her and her niece dead . . .

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense, Women Sleuths
Publisher: Beyond the Page

  • ISBN-10:1950461203
  • ISBN-13:978-1950461202
  • ASIN: B07V9PP2R4

Print Length: 239 pages
Publication Date: August 13, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Desolate Shores

Desolate Shores by Daryl Wood GerberMy Review:

Aspen Adams fled to the beautiful mountains of Lake Tahoe when her therapy practice crashed in on her. (And I must say, the author had me at Lake Tahoe–love that area, those mountains, the memories, and the cabin we shared a couple blocks from the shore.) Aspen was invited to work with her aunt Max in her detective agency and was hoping to elevate to private investigator. She is thrust into the position when her best friend, Vikki Carmichael, is murdered and she lacks trust in the local sheriff’s department to find and bring her killer to justice.

The author weaves a well-plotted mystery while she extols the beauty, the activities, and the unique location of the premier ski resorts at the California/Nevada border, favoring Alpine Meadows (not my favorite). Her descriptions of the scenes with the protagonist and her aunt, contacts, and Detective Sergeant Nick Shaper put you in the area and bloomed so real, you could smell the pine trees.

Aspen’s sister, unfortunately, has a drug habit that has driven a wedge between them, but she is unable to deny her niece, Candace, a safe haven when her sister unceremoniously dumps her there for the week. It’s not long before a sub-plot develops with juggling the care of her niece with her investigation which moves at a good pace.

The author has infused a wide cadre of characters, including Karen Brandon, a seasoned detective who appears to have an alcohol problem, favorite haunts around the lake, and the bitter cold of winter in the Sierras. Aspen is floored to realize she really didn’t know Vikki as well as she thought. In the meantime, she begins to get flutters when she is in the presence of sexy Detective Shaper.

There is sufficient backstory of Aspen to get a grasp of who and why she is, though is a bit difficult to fully invest. Her niece is woven sympathetically. I liked Gwen at the bar and her aunt and they will prove to be strong support characters in the future but have reservations on the possible romance aspect with Shaper. Ummm, nah.

The author draws a careful and believable conclusion, possibly confirming who you thought was the culprit all along; just not the how or why. If so, you may have missed in the twists the subtle clues to how it would all interlink.

I received this ebook digital download from the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Either as a standalone or as book 1 in a new series, the narrative is off to a terrific start keeping the suspense throughout. Recommended to fans of Ms. Gerber (of cozy fame) and anyone who enjoys a clean, well-paced mystery with sufficient suspense that piques your interest for a second.

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 4.5-stars  

Daryl Wood Gerber - authorThe Author: SIGN UP FOR MY NEWSLETTER, which comes out once a month and with a new release
http://www.darylwoodgerber.com/contact.php#mailing-list

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Tasty, zesty, dangerous!

Agatha Award-winning author Daryl Wood Gerber writes the bestselling COOKBOOK NOOK MYSTERIES and FRENCH BISTRO MYSTERIES. As Avery Aames, she pens the bestselling CHEESE SHOP MYSTERIES. In addition, she writes stand-alone suspense thrillers, including GIRL ON THE RUN and DAY OF SECRETS and DESOLATE SHORES. Fun tidbits: Daryl jumped out of a perfectly good airplane, and she hitchhiked around Ireland by herself. Also, as an actress, Daryl appeared in “Murder, She Wrote.” She loves to read, cook, and golf. She has a frisky Goldendoodle named Sparky who keeps her in line!

Thank you so much for visiting my page. Follow my PROFILE for important updates. And thank you for your reviews!

©2019 V Williams V Williams

In the Line of Fire by R J Noonan – a #BookReview

In the Line of Fire by R J NoonanTitle: In the Line of Fire: A Laura Mori Mystery by R J Noonan

Genre: Crime Thrillers, Police Procedurals

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

  • ISBN-10:1643850156
  • ISBN-13:978-1643850153
  • ASIN: B07M9LHFZY

Print Length: 297 pages

Publication Date: Happy Release Day! August 13, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: In the Line of Fire

Book Blurb:

When secrets are too big to buy, it’s worth killing to bury them.

Growing up, Laura Mori was constantly overshadowed by her far more successful siblings. She had a tough time appeasing her parents, and now that she’s a police officer, recently promoted to detective, they still seem less than fazed. Everyone knows a cop’s salary—it’s meager, to say the least. But Laura has found her calling—she was born to be a detective and is determined to prove it, if not to her parents, then at least to the boys club that is Sunrise Lake PD. She sticks out like a sore thumb as the only young female minority, but she has resolved to at least seem like an unshakeable thumb.

The next case file on her desk turns out to be a bank heist and it should be easy enough, but what starts off as a one-and-done job quickly begins to seem too by-the-book and oddly like a notorious series of deadly bank hits from years past dubbed Twilight. But it’s a dead end—Twilight is only ever mentioned in hushed tones, and there’s little to no history on it in the department. And then she receives her first sign, of many more to come, that her investigation is not welcome. Alongside her partner Z and stunningly attractive FBI agent Nick Derringer, she begins to pull on the frayed thread, and that’s when she sees the bloody writing on the wall: the only other young female cop on the force was KIA during Twilight.

With too much on the line to lose, including her own life, Laura must get to the bottom of the case and fast, or she, too, will become history.

In the Line of Fire by R J NoonanMy Review:

Only the second in the series, this narrative can function well as a standalone. There are only a few references to the previous book, a case that Laura Mori solved which propelled her into detective grade with the Sunrise Lake PD, a small town in the Pacific NW.

She is a natural with her investigative calling and as a Japanese American with successful siblings has something to prove to her parents as well as the men of the department as she whittles away at a firm position within the force. She has been partnered with Zion “Z” Frazier. He and his former partner were on a call when she was killed in the last of the Twilight robberies and the memory of the brutal loss still shakes him.

When what looks like a copy cat bank heist of the Twilight robberies that led to the officer fatality occurs, Laura is given lead into the investigation and is soon joined by FBI agent Nick Derringer (enter the romance). She is quickly told not to tie in the three-year-old investigation but the more she learns about that one the more she realizes there is a connection.

The well-paced and plotted mystery is multi-layered with her partner Z concentrating on petty theft at a local assisted living facility while she gleans information on the cold case file as well as the recent bank heist. She is met with derision from the good ole boy network but doggedly pursues leads and questions witnesses of both crimes. Then she receives threats to leave the Twilight investigation alone.

This one may have been a bit ambitious with layers connecting to the next offense, or corruption, and infused with well-worn tropes. While Laura is smart and effective at gleaning information from her interrogations, she’s still busy vying for her parental approval and fighting the guys at work. (And as a detective, I’m still trying to figure out why she is wearing a uniform or she and Z drive a police cruiser.) Laura is fairly well-fleshed, as is Z, not so much the heart-throb. The perp is rather one-dimensional and easy to figure out, a bit too obvious.

The author is, however, building an interesting group of characters and it will be interesting to see how they grow and Laura mature. I’m not sure she needs a long-distance romance, cute or not,  and you’ll have to stifle some disbelief with this one. The conclusion ramps up the tension and neatly closes the book.

I received this ebook download from the publisher and NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review. These are my own opinions. Recommended for mystery fans of light police procedurals.

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

R J Noonan - authorThe Author: (From Goodreads) Rosalind Noonan is a New York Times bestselling author of women’s fiction and domestic suspense novels and is a graduate of Wagner College. She lives in the Pacific Northwest, where she writes in the shade of some towering two-hundred-year-old Douglas fir trees. This is her first mystery under the name R. J. Noonan.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

The Plain of Jars by N. Lombardi Jr. – a #BookReview

The Plain of Jars by N. Lombardi Jr.

Five of Five Stars Five stars

Title: The Plain of Jars by N. Lombardi Jr.

Genre: Historical Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, US Historical Fiction, Crime Action Fiction

Publisher: Roundfire Books

  • ISBN-10:1780996705
  • ISBN-13:978-1780996707
  • ASIN: B00CPL2P46

 Print Length: 670 pages

Publication Date: (Reprint edition) May 31, 2013

Source: Author request

Title Link: The Plain of Jars

Book Blurb:

What would you do if you found that the bones and ashes you were given by the Air Force were not the remains of your loved one? Dorothy Kozeny, a 64-year-old widow from a small town in Ohio, after getting no answers from the relevant authorities, decides the only thing to do is to go to Laos herself to search for the truth concerning her son’s fate. In 1990, accompanied by a trusted Laotian called Kampeng, Dorothy travels deep into the mountains of rural Laos, attempting to trace her son’s path through inhospitable terrain, an unforgettable trek that provides her with a rewarding, often humorous, and at times frustrating, cross-cultural experience. All clues lead her to a mysterious figure, an alleged CIA operative left over from the war, living in a remote and hostile area deep in the jungle. The second part of the book traces the life of this enigmatic character hiding in Laos, the two main characters linked through Dorothy’s son.

The Plain of Jars by N. Lombardi JrMy Review:

This is an extremely gripping saga about a young lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force, well written, and difficult to put down. Those of us who were drafted during that time can relate to this tale. Why Vietnam? The question was on everyone’s mind at the time of the war and still mystifies me today. What did our country want in Vietnam that over 57,000 U.S. military died and hundreds of thousands were maimed and injured for life?

Hidden in the records of the military are many soldiers who could not return to this country for various infractions against the Uniform Code of Military Justice.  Dropping bombs from 35,000 feet makes the carnage and tedium of war seem far removed from the pilot, but when you are on the ground, the war and the effect of the bombing are all too real.

War was not declared against the Hmong, Laotians, Cambodians or others swept up in the melee. Lt. Andrew Kozeny was shot down in a bombing run in an F105. He experienced first-hand the devastation inflicted on the poor peasants trying to wrestle a living from the humid valleys. A young girl died in his arms, having no idea why the bombs were being dropped on their rural area nor why they were dying. Getting back to his unit he was re-assigned to fly the newer F111. This machine could drop many more bombs and rain destruction where ever it flew, but his memory of the young death was an ever-present confliction in the cockpit.

Lt. Kozeny could not let this vehicle of destruction kill more innocents. He scuttled the jet and wound up hiding in the jungle and evading capture. The Vietnamese would like to capture him but a C.I.A. death squad was sent to eliminate the young airman and his knowledge. This story is all too real and disappointing.

The report of his death was greatly exaggerated and some ashes were delivered home as “his remains.”  However, his mother discovers the ashes are not his and decides to fly to Southeast Asia to find out what happened to her son. This story is the result of that search. The U.S. government and C.I.A. are put into a very different light by this book. One can only be exasperated by the effect of a war none of our generation wanted or embraced. The pain caused thousands to pound home the mantra that “freedom isn’t free.”

Read this book and experience the frustration that affected an entire generation, the mood of the people and plan some time to complete the book because you will not want to put it down. Associate Reviewer - C E Williams

I received this digital download from the author in exchange for an unbiased opinion and in my opinion would garner 6 stars if that were available. Wholly recommended to anyone who enjoys intrigue, secrets, conspiracy, action, military history, emotional tension and turmoil, and redemption. Have I left anything out? C.E. Williams

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N. Lombardi Jr - authorThe Author: N. Lombardi Jr, the N for Nicholas, has spent over half his life in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, working as a groundwater geologist. Nick can speak five languages: Swahili, Thai, Lao, Chinese, and Khmer (Cambodian).

In 1997, while visiting Lao People’s Democratic Republic, he witnessed the remnants of a secret war that had been waged for nine years, among which were children wounded from leftover cluster bombs. Driven by what he saw, he worked on The Plain of Jars for the next eight years.

Nick maintains a website with content that spans most aspects of the novel: The Secret War, Laotian culture, Buddhism etc. http://plainofjars.net

His second novel, Journey Towards a Falling Sun, is set in the wild frontier of northern Kenya.

His latest novel, Justice Gone, was inspired by the fatal beating of a homeless man by police.

Nick now lives in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

©2019 C.E.Williams

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware – a #BookReview

The Turn of the Key by Ruth WareTitle: The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

Genre: British & Irish Literary Fiction, Psychological Literary Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Literary Fiction

Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press

  • ISBN-10:1787300447
  • ISBN-13:978-1787300446
  • ASIN: B07HPCRC7Q

Print Length: 352 pages

Publication Date: Happy Release Day! August 6, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: The Turn of the Key

Book Blurb:

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of In a Dark, Dark WoodThe Woman in Cabin 10The Lying Game, and The Death of Mrs. Westaway comes Ruth Ware’s highly anticipated fifth novel.

When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.

Writing to her lawyer from prison, she struggles to explain the unravelling events that led to her incarceration. It wasn’t just the constant surveillance from the cameras installed around the house, or the malfunctioning technology that woke the household with booming music, or turned the lights off at the worst possible time. It wasn’t just the girls, who turned out to be a far cry from the immaculately behaved model children she met at her interview. It wasn’t even the way she was left alone for weeks at a time, with no adults around apart from the enigmatic handyman, Jack Grant.

It was everything.

She knows she’s made mistakes. She admits that she lied to obtain the post, and that her behavior toward the children wasn’t always ideal. She’s not innocent, by any means. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty—at least not of murder. Which means someone else is.

Full of spellbinding menace and told in Ruth Ware’s signature suspenseful style, The Turn of the Key is an unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.

The Turn of the Key by Ruth WareMy Review:

I was truly excited to be approved for this digital download, with the hype, and what appeared to be an exceptional thriller. But as with many these days, perhaps I’ve been taught to expect knock-down, heart-pounding prose, complete with audible gasps and groans from the reader–me. This one wasn’t it.

The blurb tells most of what you’ll read–Rowan Caine stumbles across a want ad searching for something else and conspires to win the live-in nanny position with well to do architects in the remote Scottish Highlands. They completely rehabbed a Victorian outfitting it as a “smart” home and you know what kind of a technology nightmare that conjures. There are four girls with the oldest, a teen, away at school, and two girls five and eight and a baby (who is apparently not yet walking?) at eighteen months. The parents welcome her into the house, hand her a lengthy digest of instructions and immediately skip off to a big doin’s expecting to be gone at least a week. Hmmm…

Told in first person, Rowan attempts a letter to an attorney she is hoping she can get to defend her (no clue where that money will come from!). She apparently has a court-appointed attorney and you know you get what you pay for. Rowan is in jail on a murder charge and the entire book is supposed to be her letter to the attorney. She says over and over again she didn’t do it. Uh huh.

But Rowan begins to wrestle with the technology immediately, ghost stories, things that go bump in the night, and little things gone missing almost right away. The two middle girls are a nightmare just by themselves. And watch out when the teenager comes home! In the meantime, we are introduced to Jack, the all-around handyman (gotta have the romance touch), and Jean, the erstwhile housekeeper. (NOT a live-in.)

First, I had a problem with Rowan, slinging around words you shouldn’t utter in the presence of those three little ones. She seems to have a short-fuse, lack of sleep, and little patience or aptitude although an experienced nanny. There are interesting tidbits about the smart features, the lack of real landscaping, the poison garden (now THAT’S creepy), and way too many minute details which make up her teeth-grinding life in the Heatherbrae House.

It begins interestingly enough then settles in on a slow account of what happened, or didn’t, that landed her in the slammer. It’s not particularly fast-paced but does present NTK (need to know). So you keep reading. Red herrings slide in, some of which constitute TMI (TOO much information), twists, and fleshing but I really couldn’t invest in Rowan and wasn’t big on Jack. Then the reveals. Oh man…Rowan’s main reveal…it’s a groaner and the last little reveal? (Expected) The conclusion fell short of wrapping up all the questions created to provide tension. I wasn’t thrilled.

I received this digital download through the publisher and NetGalley and appreciate the introduction to this author and her writing style. I’m sure Ruth Ware fans will more fully enjoy and I’ll entertain a second to compare.

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Rosepoint Publishing: Three point Five of Five Stars Three point Five of Five Stars

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

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

©2019 V Williams Blog author

The White Feather Killer by R N Morris – a #BookReview

The White Feather Killer by R N MorrisTitle: The White Feather Killer (A Silas Quinn Mystery Book 5) by R N Morris

Genre: Historical Mysteries, World War I Historical Fiction

Publisher: Severn House Publishers

  • ISBN-10:0727888854
  • ISBN-13:978-0727888853
  • ASIN: B07QFSCCNQ

 Print Length: 288 pages

Publication Date: June 1, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: The White Feather Killer

Book Blurb:

London, 1914. The declaration of war with Germany has made the capital a dark, uncertain place, rife with fear and suspicion. As the pressure on young men to enlist grows stronger, Pastor Cardew holds a rally at his church. Unfortunately, it ends in humiliation for Felix Simpkins when he receives a dreaded white feather – the ultimate sign of cowardice.

Meanwhile, DI Silas Quinn returns to New Scotland Yard after his recent sick leave to find the Special Crimes Department has been closed and his team absorbed into CID. But when a body is discovered in Wormwood Scrubs the day after Cardew’s rally, a white feather placed in its mouth, Quinn finds himself unable to take a back seat in the investigation. Was the murderer really a foreign spy . . . or someone closer to home?

The White Feather Killer by R N MorrisMy Review:

The declaration of war changes London, the country, and the people. The mood has turned dark, distrusting, and suddenly things change between those born in the country and those who immigrated. Men are flocking to enlist and those who do not are beginning to be looked on as cowards (or worse). Many receive the “white feather,” the ultimate, shameful sign that marks the man.

DI Silas Quinn has returned to New Scotland Yard after a sick leave. His Special Crimes Unit has been closed and his former team are now members of the CID, where he’ll also report in a new capacity. When a young girl is discovered murdered and left with a white feather in her mouth, it has to be concluded that she bestowed the feather to a man who took brutal umbrage. But the new head of CID discounts it and decides it must have been a German spy.

In a rather sluggish start, it’s oft-repeated “there’s a war on” and that seems to be the mantra throughout, not to be forgotten that things have changed. There’s a war on. There are a number of characters to be introduced, not the least of which the protagonist, who is slow to develop. There are veiled references to Quinn being in the boobie hatch and that seems to color the relationships of his former co-workers and friends.

So here’s the thing: Guess I didn’t realize this would be on the dark side, almost historical noir in a police setting. It is 1914, so forms of speech would be different and the author stilts the dialogue somewhat to reflect the times. Support characters are fleshed out in rather depressing descriptions and Quinn’s former situation tends to haunt him. The author has a rather unique style of writing that tends to the verbose and he frequently ran to a fascinating turn of phrase. (“…the silent scream of her thoughts…”) Also enjoyed learning some new words, i.e., Antinomianism – that the true believer can do no wrong. Wha???

I enjoyed the easy affectionate familiarity with characters who shared history, the way the dialogue swung to nicknames, giving a light point every now and then to often contentious dialogue. There were red herrings that introduced more possibilities and all along you had your own suspicions and were just waiting for the evidence to be presented.

Then, the final twist. YES! I suspected all along! But in the meantime, a couple even darker incidents, one particularly ugly one that totally aggravated me and wondered why it had to be included. Okay, there was a war on, guess it might have been understandable.

This is book five of the series and doesn’t particularly develop the characters except perhaps for Quinn, but then I had real difficulty with him and couldn’t invest. Possibly would have understood him better had this not been my introduction to the series and the author. The conclusion rolled in on not one, but several reveals, all quietly answering any questions left–and the way it ended? Okay, Interesting… Justice will be done, one way or the other.

I received this ebook download from the publisher and NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review and these are my own opinions. Recommended for those who enjoy a dark, historic police procedural with a damaged protagonist.

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

R N Morris - authorThe Author (from Goodreads): Roger N Morris (born 1960 in Manchester) is an English writer and advertising copywriter. His short fiction has been published in a number of mainstream, genre, and literary publications. One of his short stories, “The Devil’s Drum”, appeared in the horror anthology Darkness Rising, and was subsequently made into an opera performed by the Solaris Musical Theatre Company in the Purcell Room on London’s South Bank.

©2019 V Williams

Blog author

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

Finding Billie Romano by Jean Grainger – a #BookReview

Finding Billie Romano by Jean GraingerFinding Billie Romano (The Tour series Book 5) by Jean Grainger

Genre: Literature and Fiction, Irish Fiction, Family Saga Fiction, Jewish Literature & Fiction

  • ISBN-10: 1082061530
  • ISBN-13: 978-1082061530
  • ASIN: B07VKDMWB7

Print Length: 292 pages

Publication Date: July 21, 2019

Source: Direct Author Request

Title Link: Finding Billie Romano

Book Blurb:

USA Today bestselling author wants to take you to Ireland for a story that will leave you wanting more long after you turn the last page…

Twenty-five year old Billie Romano is struggling. She is grieving the death of her beloved dad and nothing in her life is going right. Her mother has remarried with indecent haste, so when her grandfather presents everyone in the family with a DNA testing kit for fun, Billie couldn’t be less interested in playing happy families.

The test results are shocking, and Billie finds herself caught in a turmoil of emotions as she is faced with a reality she could never have imagined.

Her journey of discovery takes her to Ireland, and to the stunningly beautiful Castle Dysert on the Wild Atlantic Coast, when Conor O’Shea once more steps into the role of fixer of problems and soother of troubled souls. Can Billie make a whole new start or are some cans of worms best left closed? 

My Review:

Finding Billie Romano by Jean GraingerA beautiful entry to The Tour series, each with new support characters but bringing protagonist Conor O’Shea full circle as he had left his tour bus to head the refurbishing of the impressive Castle Dysert. While he is a smaller partner in the facility, it became clear rather quickly that the day-to-day operation of the magnificent hotel would be handled almost solely by Conor. The castle has become an end destination with a whole new experience including fine dining, stables, grounds, and banquet facilities as well as unique and gorgeously appointed suites.

It is no problem then when a very well-to-do American wishes to book rooms for his extended family. There has been a minor behind the scenes shuffle on the receptionist desk owing to unusual circumstances and Conor has plunked Ana, his wife, into the position. Ana had a health issue, which appears to be in remission, and together they have nine-year-old boys. Ana is Ukrainian and immediately identifies with the caller, assuring him his family will be well cared for and that they will even help Billie in her search.

It is Ana who makes the arrangement for the party that would introduce us to Billie Romano and her fascinating link to Ireland. Billie has suffered the loss of her father and is mildly estranged from her mother who recently remarried. There is a tragedy that polarized the family and relationships are strained, but she is bound to follow the lead to Ireland and will do so under conditions not wholly agreeable.

As always with Ms. Grainger’s books, the reader is treated to interesting tidbits regarding Ireland, its people, landscape, and legends. There are always lessons to be learned that seem to satisfy the question in the reader’s mind at the appropriate time.

“All Irish place names make sense if you translate them back to the original language. For example, the prefixes – bally means aile, which is town, kil means church, as in Kilkenny, cloch is a stone, as in Cloughjordan, dun or don is a fort, like Donegal.”

The characters are all richly developed and the descriptions of the countryside so beautiful you’ll be ready to book your airline reservation. You’ll follow the family drama with Billie as she discovers with a shock the family tie that brought her to the Emerald Isle, as well as the drama in the O’Shea home and the possible big marketing-promotion break the castle will receive if a certain rally is booked. There is always so much going on at the Castle Dysert. The conclusion was a perfect resolution on several levels. My only problem is a wealth issue.

I was given an eARC of this novel by the author in the hope of a read and review and was thrilled to receive another. This DNA thing may very well open some chapters people wanted to stay closed or lead to a delightful revelation and this story explores that eventuality. The characters are empathetic and easy to love. Highly recommended.

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

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. It’s a fictional story set on a tour bus but many of the characters are based on people I met over the years.

(…truncated in the interest of space. Please click the author link to see the full range of her published work.)

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.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

The Secret Cove in Croatia by Julie Caplin – a #BookReview

The Secret Cove of Croatia by Julie CaplinTitle: The Secret Cove in Croatia (Romantic Escapes, Book 5) by Julie Caplin

Genre: Holiday Fiction, Holiday Romance

Publisher: One More Chapter

  • ASIN: B07L7Y9LL5
  • ISBN-10: 0008323690
  • ISBN-13: 978-0008323691

 Print Length: 400 pages

Publication Date: July 19, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: The Secret Cove in Croatia

Book Blurb:

Sail away to beautiful Croatia for summer sun, sparkling turquoise seas and a will-they-won’t-they romance you won’t be able to put down!

When no-nonsense, down-to-earth Maddie Wilcox is offered the chance to work on a luxury yacht for the summer, she can’t say no. Yes she’ll be waiting on the posh guests… But island-hopping around the Adriatic sea will more than make up for it – especially when Nick, her best friend Nina’s brother, is one of them.

Sparks fly when they meet on board and Maddie can’t believe self-entitled jerk Nick is really related to Nina. But in a secret, picture-perfect cove, away from the real world, Maddie and Nick discover they might have more in common than they realise…

My Review:

Maddie Wilcox manages to score a summer job on a luxury yacht for the summer sailing the gorgeous turquoise seas of Croatia on the Adriatic. The opening was recommended to Maddie by her best friend, Nina, and Nina’s brother will be among the guests. Nina’s brother Nick Hadley, however, has been brought along on the cruise by Tara, an extremely spoiled (and slack-jawed beautiful) model who needed appropriate eye-candy on her arm. No secret they both turn heads.

Split, CroatiaAs I mentioned before, when I saw Croatia in the title, I jumped on the request as we’d brought over a student for his last year of high school and he stayed (with our help, of course). When we finally took him home to see family years later, his parents went all out to show us their beautiful country, including Split and Dubrovnik. The water is indeed glorious and although we did see one island, certainly weren’t privy to an island-hopping yacht, more appropriately termed a gulet. This novel plants a seed and produces a deep yearning to grab some Dramamine and take off!

The Secret Cove in Croatia by Julie CaplinMaddie’s character is so relatable. She has her degree but what she really wants to do is paint and become an artist. It burns deep inside her. She quickly becomes acclimated to the yacht and her master, but the guests, although few in number are more than a handful, particularly Tara. Douglas is a kind soul, if trying too hard with Tara’s friend, and Siri represents another more respectful person, but the model borders on contemptible and Maddie and Nick clash. (You knew she would.)

In the meantime, the reader is treated to a travelogue producing an ache for the road (on in this case the water), the food and the people paint a picture of its own. Another of the small private party, Simon, makes a strong play for Maddie, which at the outset confuses her mind and creates a hormonal scuffle. The actual scuffle results in an introduction to an extremely rich William Randall, director and producer. Bill and his wife become great support characters and a fun portion of the book, describing the super-yacht in such plush terms you can visualize the richness of the appointments, the spacious comfort.

I was happy thinking the romance part of the book was downplayed a little, but then of course circumstance would throw the two together to realize they weren’t all that far off in their histories to see where each was coming from. Still, the novel is a delightfully easy romcom, well-plotted and fast read that all comes together with satisfying intensity in the conclusion. The author’s writing style is light-hearted, dialogue realistic, and the characters were well-developed. My only negatives would be the over-used clichés of the triangle(s), and the oft-repeated mantra of Maddie’s lack of self-confidence. We get it.

I was given this ebook download by the publisher and NetGalley and thrilled to have the opportunity to read and review. If you are looking for a delightfully refreshing summer read, grab this one. You won’t be disappointed.

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

The Author: (No apparent bio on either Amazon or Goodreads.) From the back of the book: Julie Caplin is addicted to travel and good food. She’s on a constant hunt for the perfect gin and is obsessively picky about glasses, tonic and garnishes. Between regular gin tastings, she’s been writing her debut novel which is set in just one of the many cities she’s explored over the years.

Formerly a PR director, for many years she swanned around Europe taking top food and drink writers on press trips (junkets) sampling the gastronomic delights of various cities in Italy, France, Belgium, Spain, Copenhagen and Switzerland. It was a tough job but someone had to do it. [Those trips provided the inspiration and settings for her trilogy.]

Find Julie on Twitter @JulieCaplin and Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/JulieCaplinAuthor

©2019 V Williams Blog author

A Genuine Fix by JC Kenney – #BlogTour #Spotlight

A Genuine Fix by J C Kenney

I am delighted today to provide a spotlight for you at my blog stop for A Genuine Fix (An Allie Cobb Mystery) by J C Kenney on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour.

Book Details

 A Genuine Fix (An Allie Cobb Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Lyrical Underground (July 16, 2019)
Paperback: 194 pages
ISBN-10: 1516108604
ISBN-13: 978-1516108602
Digital ASIN: B07KDWV2RX

Book Blurb 

A Genuine Fix by J C KenneyMurder takes a page out of a killer’s playbook when literary agent Allie Cobb becomes her Indiana town’s number-one bestselling suspect …

Running the family literary business while preparing for her best friend’s wedding, chairing a park planning committee, and getting her rescue cat to bond with her boyfriend’s golden retriever doesn’t leave Allie Cobb much time for crime-solving. But when the guy who stood her up the night of her high school senior prom is killed and dumped in a pile of mulch, Allie’s suddenly the prime suspect.

It’s insulting enough that gambler, drunk, and all-around lowlife Georgie Alonso was found on the site of the memorial park honoring Allie’s deceased father. Now she’s fighting to clear her name and hold off a rush to judgment. But politics, decades-old secrets, and a slew of high-profile suspects make dangerous bedfellows as the eve of the park’s grand opening draws nearer. She’ll have to nab a killer soon, before her storybook life gets a bad ending …

+Add to GoodreadsAbout the Author

J C Kenney - author

J.C. Kenney grew up in a household filled with books by legends Agatha Christie and Lilian Jackson Braun, among many others, so it was no surprise when he found himself writing mystery stories. When he’s not writing, you can find him following IndyCar racing or listening to music. He lives in Indianapolis with his wife, two sons, and a cat who is the inspiration for Ursula in the Allie Cobb Mysteries.

Author Links

Website – https://www.jckenney.com;

Twitter – https://twitter.com/JCKenney1;

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/JCKenney1;

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/JCKenney;

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/j.c.kenney/

Purchase links – Amazon   – B&N  – Kobo

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

Tour Participants:

July 18 – Brooke Blogs – CHARACTER GUEST POST

July 18 – A Wytch’s Book Review Blog – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW

July 18 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT, INDIVIDUAL GIVEAWAY

July 19 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW, INDIVIDUAL GIVEAWAY

July 19 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

July 19 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT, INDIVIDUAL GIVEAWAY

July 20 – Babs Book Bistro – GUEST POST

July 20 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

July 20 – The Book Diva’s Reads – CHARACTER GUEST POST, INDIVIDUAL GIVEAWAY

July 20 – Bibliophile Reviews – REVIEW

July 21 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT

July 21 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

July 21 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW

July 22 – I’m All About Books – GUEST POST, INDIVIDUAL GIVEAWAY

July 22 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

July 22 – Baroness’ Book Trove – SPOTLIGHT

July 23 – Rosepoint Publishing – SPOTLIGHT

July 23 – Sneaky the Library Cat’s Blog – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

July 23 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW, INDIVIDUAL GIVEAWAY Great Escapes Book Tours

 Thanks to Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours for the opportunity to spotlight this cozy mystery!

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Let’s Fake a Deal by Sherry Harris – a #BookReview

Let's Fake a Deal by Sherry HarrisTitle: Let’s Fake a Deal (A Sarah W Garage Sale Mystery Book 7 by Sherry Harris

Genre: Amateur Sleuth, Cozy Craft and Hobby, Cozy Animal Mysteries

Publisher: Kensington

  • ISBN-10:1496716981
  • ISBN-13:978-1496716989
  • ASIN: B07K5ZMBZB

      Print Length: 304 pages

Publication Date: To be released July 30, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Let’s Fake a Deal

Book Blurb:

SHE’S GOT THE GOODS . . .
As a former military spouse, Sarah Winston’s learned a little about organizing, packing, and moving. Her latest project sounds promising: a couple of tech-industry hipsters, newly arrived in her Massachusetts town, who need to downsize. Unfortunately, when Sarah tries to sell their stuff, she discovers it’s all stolen—and she’s the unwitting fence.

BUT SARAH’S PROBLEMS ARE JUST BEGINNING
Michelle, an old friend of Sarah’s from the Air Force base, is in line for a promotion—but not everyone is happy about it, and she’s been hit with an anonymous discrimination complaint. When one of the men she suspects is behind the accusations turns up dead in Michelle’s car, Sarah needs to clear Michelle’s name—as well as her own for selling hot merchandise. And she’ll have to do it while also organizing a cat lady’s gigantic collection of feline memorabilia, or they’ll be making room for Sarah in a jail cell . . .

My Review:

Let's Fake a Deal by Sherry HarrisYes, Book 7 of the series and I read Book 6! Has to be a record, huh? Our favorite garage sale guru protagonist, Sarah Winston is back. Her friends and acquaintances from the local air force base stemming from her marriage to military man CJ, now an ex, are also featured, including Seth, who has already uttered the “L” word. Once again, I appreciated the short explanation of military acronyms (it’s been a long time since my man was in the Navy) and general description of the military community as well.

Sarah really seems to know her business and can identify a valuable piece when she sees it. She is busy working a garage sale when the police show up, shut it down, and arrest her for receiving and selling stolen goods. About the same time, her enlisted friend, Michelle from the base is front and center person of interest when a body is found in her trunk. She has a complaint lodged against her and suspects it was the deceased.

Sarah begins wrestling with both issues as she takes on a new client, one that will take a great deal of time sifting through boxes of old treasures in the basement, finding and separating the more valuable and setting prices for all of the cat-related items from jewelry to paintings. The cat lady herself is pretty eccentric, making for a fun interlude between her running down leads and interviewing persons who might help with either her own arrest or the pending arrest of Michelle.

Dialogue is exchanged easily and believably between her friends, Seth, and her brother Luke, often punctuated with her own comical comebacks in self-talk. I like the way she thinks and it adds a humorous hue to the well-plotted, easy-going storyline. Since she’s been on her own, created and managed a business, Sarah has definitely gained in her ability to handle people. I particularly enjoyed her retort after a veiled threat from a ranking officer, “You may outrank him,” I tipped my head toward James, “but you hold no sway over me.” Bravo! And with that said, I believe you’d get a good idea about her character, whether the others are all well-fleshed in this series entry or not. Most receive sufficient general description to visualize the individual. I think each book could function well as a standalone within the series.

My problem was with the usual bull-headed police officer arresting or immediately jumping to conclusions regarding guilt with little regard to investigating the crime and leaving the leg work to an amateur sleuth. Still, the novel was engaging and easily invested in reading through to conclusion, solving both issues, neatly buttoned up.

I received this ebook download from the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. I really enjoy the Sarah Winston character and look forward to the next in the series. Recommended for those who enjoy a cozy mystery out of the food loop.

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars Four stars

Sherry Harris - authorThe Author: Agatha award-nominated author, Sherry Harris, started bargain hunting in second grade at her best friend’s yard sale. She honed her bartering skills as she moved around the country while her husband served in the Air Force. Sherry uses her love of garage sales, her life as a military spouse, and her time living in Massachusetts as inspiration for the Sarah Winston Garage Sale series.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

 

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

Rewind by Catherine Ryan Howard – a #BookReview

Rewind by Catherine Ryan HowardTitle: Rewind by Catherine Ryan Howard

Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense Thriller

Publisher: Blackstone Publishing

  • ISBN-10:1538519704
  • ISBN-13:978-1538519707
  • ASIN: B07P925NB9

Print Length: 300 pages

Publication Date: September 3, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Rewind

Book Blurb:

From the bestselling, Edgar-nominated novelist Catherine Ryan Howard comes an explosive story about a twisted voyeur and a terrible crime …

PLAY

Andrew, the manager of Shanamore Holiday Cottages, watches his only guest via a hidden camera in her room. One night the unthinkable happens: a shadowy figure emerges on-screen, kills her, and destroys the camera. But who is the murderer? How did they know about the camera? And how will Andrew live with himself?

PAUSE

Natalie wishes she’d stayed at home as soon as she arrives in the wintry isolation of Shanamore. There’s something creepy about the manager. She wants to leave, but she can’t—not until she’s found what she’s looking for …

REWIND

Psycho meets Fatal Attraction in this explosive story about a murder caught on camera. You’ve already missed the start. To get the full picture you must rewind the tape and play it through to the end, no matter how shocking …

My Review:

Rewind by Catherine Ryan HowardTaking a page from a couple of classic thrillers (see blurb), this one begins violently and was almost too graphic for this gentle bedtime reader. Still, intrigued, I proceeded.

Then the well-plotted thriller settles into another classic well-known timeline switchback, this one called play, pause, rewind, or fast forward, a play on words given the plot gimmick. Usually, that meant delving into the backstory of another of the main characters. That also means a switch of POV and really the storyline carries no major protagonist. The characters are well-developed, giving us more clues each switch back to the individual. The victim Natalie O’Connor becomes more sympathetic, and the Anthony (Psycho) character, Andrew more loathsome, creepy, and leaves you cringing, waiting for the shower scene. Audrey Coughlan is struggling to find a niché and determines that this is it. Sean, the newly installed, unseasoned garda of the village is appealing.

Indeed, the little Irish village outside of Cork becomes a character itself; dark, cold, the people tight and mistrusting, unwilling to share a pint but more than willing to share the latest gossip. Everyone knows everyone else, their history, their business, their secrets. Or, most of them. What they don’t know, they suspect. Andrew, the manager of Shanamore Holiday Villages, a failed development of exclusively odd cottages; Icky Dickie, who should have moved on–but is protecting his secret as well–better to be in tiny, quiet, frigid seaside Shanamore, especially during the off-tourist season than risk detection.

Natalie is a major Irish Instagram personality and she has disappeared. Audrey is working it–looking for the story and finds herself in the same unit as Natalie. Working through the timeline, the reader is gradually caught up to present day and conclusion, which has snuck in quietly and without a whimper. We knew who it was all along but needed the full explanation and reveal. And it was necessary to wait for Audrey and the police to ferret out the truth, dropping crumbs and red herrings along the way, to finally give a name to the heinous antagonist(s).

It’s a tale about the privacy given away, truth bent for stats, perhaps too freely in social media, and the following the media attracts. It is an intense and engaging, fast-paced suspense-filled thriller that gives the voyeur a peek into another world you may not have wanted to know.

I was given the ARC download by the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for any who enjoy a disturbing thriller. Breathe–you are safe now.

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

Catherine Ryan Howard - authorThe Author: CATHERINE RYAN HOWARD was born in Cork, Ireland, in 1982. Her debut thriller, DISTRESS SIGNALS, was an Irish Times and USA Today bestseller, and was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey/New Blood Dagger 2017. Before writing full-time, she was a campsite courier in France, a travel administrator in the Netherlands and a front desk agent at a hotel in Walt Disney World, Florida. She is currently studying English at Trinity College Dublin and wants to be a NASA astronaut when she grows up. Her second thriller, THE LIAR’S GIRL, will be published in March 2018.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Digging Up History by Sheila Connelly – a #BookRevieew

Digging Up History by Sheila ConnollyTitle: Digging Up History (A Museum Mystery) by Sheila Connelly

Genre: Cozy Mystery, Women Sleuths

Publisher: Beyond the Page

  • ISBN-10:1950461157
  • ISBN-13:978-1950461158
  • ASIN: B07T85Q684

 Print Length: 221 pages

Publication Date: June 25, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Digging Up History

Book Blurb:

When a summer intern at the Preservation Society discovers an aged document hidden in the binding of an antique book, Society president Nell Pratt is intrigued by the possibilities: is it a valuable historic document or just a useless scrap of paper? When analysis reveals that it’s a hand-drawn map of one of Philadelphia’s oldest neighborhoods, Nell learns that the area is being excavated for a new real estate development and may hold long-buried secrets from the city’s historic heyday.

Determined to get to the bottom of the map’s origin and what it might tell her about the mysterious plot of land, Nell will have to contend with a construction company owner who disappears, a former Society board member who’s harbored a dark secret her entire life, and a remarkable discovery that may have the dead turning over in their graves . . .

My Review:

Digging Up History by Sheila ConnollyWell, isn’t this a cozy of a different color! The blurb piqued my interest and I always enjoy reading historical tidbits, this one taking place in Philadelphia. Yes, the eighth in the series and my first, although I’d read one other in a different series by the same author.

The protagonist is Nell Pratt, the president of the Society for the Preservation of Pennsylvania Antiquities. The society has recently been bequeathed a collection of books from Harriet Featherstone, a long time resident of the city and a former active member. It is from this collection that intern Dylan discovers a map hidden between the old, disintegrated cover and the new cover of a book that starts them on a journey of discovery.

Nell discusses the find with her significant other, James, an FBI agent, who informs her they can actually glean an image and the words from the faded map. When the map appears of historic interest, Nell contacts Marty Terwilliger, a former board member. Marty confesses to a grisly discovery she made decades ago at the location and together they set out to see what, if anything still exists. Across the street, however, a construction project has stalled due to the discovery of hundreds of skeletons that had been buried under a parking lot. Are the two related? Or even of the same time period?

While Nell proceeds with the investigation, bringing into the mystery the police as well as additional historic experts, they discover deeper secrets that turn darker with each new development. I didn’t find Nell fully fleshed as she was probably well developed in previous series entries. She did, however, manage to form more theories, ideas, and arguments for what might have happened than I ever could have imagined.

Two main mysteries to solve, not the least of which is first to determine the event century given the obvious deterioration of the remains. Century resolved, now to investigate deeds and records that could possibly shed some light on who, why, what, and when. The where they’ve got. Not all characters are well developed or engaging.

Interesting possible scenario in the shocking discovery presents thought-provoking visions during an era of extreme turmoil in our country–the city among the forefront of the turbulence. The author, however, repeats the discovered facts numerous times and then proceeds with additional theories. The skeletons are referred to as bodies, but given how old the remains, really couldn’t have much flesh left. Twists are confronted, but not all add significance to the outcome and the conclusion clouds a bit having already been deduced.

I was given this ebook download by the publisher and NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for those with a penchant for early American history and a clean, victim-free cozy.

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Three point Five of Five Stars Three point Five of Five Stars

Sheila Connolly - authorThe Author: After collecting too many degrees and exploring careers ranging from art historian to investment banker to professional genealogist, Sheila Connolly began writing in 2001, and has now published over thirty traditional mysteries, including several New York Times bestsellers.

Her series include the Orchard Mysteries (Berkley Prime Crime), the Museum Mysteries (Berkley Prime Crime), The County Cork Mysteries (Crooked Lane Books), the Relatively Dead Mysteries (Beyond the Page Press), and beginning in 2018, The Victorian Village Mysteries from St. Martin’s Press.

Her first full-length, standalone ebook, Once She Knew, was published in October 2012.

Connolly has also published a variety of short stories: “Size Matters” appeared in the 2010 Level Best Anthology, Thin Ice; “Called Home,” a short prequel to the Orchard series, was published by Beyond the Page in 2011; and “Dead Letters,” an e-story featuring the main characters from the Museum series, will be published by Berkley Prime Crime in February 2012. Beyond the Page also published “The Rising of the Moon,” and another Level Best anthology includes “Kept in the Dark,” which was nominated for both an Agatha award and an Anthony award for 2013.

She is passionate about genealogy, both American and Irish, and is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Society of Mayflower Descendants. She is also an Irish citizen and owns a cottage in West Cork.

She lives in a too-big Victorian in southeastern Massachusetts with her husband and three cats. Find out more about her at her website, http://www.sheilaconnolly.com

Mistaken Identity Crisis by James J Cudney #BlogTour #BookReview #Giveaway

I am delighted today to provide a review for you at my blog stop for Mistaken Identity Crisis by James J Cudney on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. Scroll down to enter your chance to win the Giveaway!

Mistaken Identity Crisis by James J Cudney

Book Details

Mistaken Identity Crisis (Braxton Campus Mysteries)
Cozy Mystery
4th in Series
Creativia (June 30, 2019)
Digital Edition, 260 pages
ASIN: B07Q6YSTPN

Book Blurb 

A clever thief with a sinister calling card has invaded Braxton campus. A string of jewelry thefts continues to puzzle the sheriff, given they’re remarkably similar to an unsolved eight-year-old case, back when Gabriel vanished one stormy night.

When a missing ruby, and a body, are discovered at the campus, Kellan must investigate the killer’s motive to protect his brother. As if the latest murder isn’t enough to keep him busy, Kellan partners with April to end the Castigliano and Vargas crime family feud. What really happened to Francesca while all those postcards showed up in Braxton?

The mafia world is more calculating than Kellan realized. If he wants to move forward, he’ll have to make a few ruthless sacrifices. And as the summer heat begins to settle in Wharton County, a couple more surprises are also in store.

My Review

Mistaken Identity Crisis by James J CudneyAgain, a new author and series for me and one with a campus setting in Braxton, a small village in north-central Pennsylvania. The protagonist is Kellan Ayrwick, an assistant professor with his PhD in communications and film. He’s done his thing in Hollywood and is back home where he grew up.

Kellan married Francesca and they have a young daughter, Emma, but his wife has been among the missing and he’d understood he was a widow, until now. Here’s where the plot gets complex and multi-layered. His wife is the daughter of a wicked mafia family and apparently there is a war brewing.

About the same time, there is a number of high profile robberies of prominent local families that suspiciously mimic robberies eight years previous about the time his younger brother Gabriel disappeared. Now Gabriel’s back and robberies have resumed in the same MO as before. There is an apparent murder of the technician working on the cable car that connects the north and south campus. This, however, is not Kellan’s first rodeo. Since his return, he’s been instrumental in helping to solve several murders and while he and April, the sheriff, have clashed before are now beginning to work in collaboration. Also, he is pretty positive his brother could not be involved in a murder.

This is the fourth in the series and now that his Nana D has won her mayoral election will take a forward spotlight as a strong support character. She is well-fleshed and we are getting to know April personally as well. Connor, a detective, also figures in the investigation.

The well-plotted and complicated mystery keeps a steady pace and provides red herrings and twists, turning the focus on one then another of the many characters involved in the storyline.

I was given this ebook download by the author, publisher, and Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours and appreciated the opportunity to read and review an intelligent, unusual cozy heist and organized crime thriller.

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Giveaway

Sign up for your chance to win One (1) Print Copy – Mistaken Identity Crisis (Braxton Campus Mysteries) by James J. Cudney (U.S. Only) in this  Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author

James J Cudney - authorJames is my given name, but most folks call me Jay. I live in New York City, grew up on Long Island, and graduated from Moravian College. I spent fifteen years building a technology career in the retail, sports, media, and entertainment industries. I enjoyed my job, but a passion for books and stories had been missing for far too long. I’m a voracious reader in my favorite genres (thriller, suspense, contemporary, mystery, and historical fiction), as books transport me to a different world where I can immerse myself in so many fantastic cultures and places. I’m an avid genealogist who hopes to visit all the German, Scottish, Irish, and British villages my ancestors emigrated from in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Writing has been a part of my life as much as my heart, my mind, and my body. I decided to pursue my passion by dusting off the creativity inside my head and drafting outlines for several novels. I quickly realized I was back in my element growing happier and more excited with life each day. My goal in writing is to connect with readers who want to be part of great stories and who enjoy interacting with authors. To get a strong picture of who I am, check out my author website or my blog. It’s full of humor and eccentricity, sharing connections with everyone I follow—all in the hope of building a network of friends across the world.

When I completed the first book, Watching Glass Shatter, I knew I’d stumbled upon my passion again, suddenly dreaming up characters, plots, and settings all day long. I chose my second novel, Father Figure, through a poll on my blog where I let everyone vote for their favorite plot and character summaries. It is with my third book, Academic Curveball, the first in the Braxton Campus Mysteries, where I immersed myself in a college campus full of so much activity, I could hardly stop thinking about new murder scenes or character relationships to finish writing the current story. Come join in the fun!

List of Books
Watching Glass Shatter (October 2017)
Father Figure (April 2018)
Braxton Campus Mysteries
Academic Curveball – #1 (October 2018)
Broken Heart Attack – #2 (November 2018)
Flower Power Trip – #3 (March 2019)
MistakenIdentity Crisis – #4 (June 2019)
 
Websites & Blog
Websitehttps://jamesjcudney.com/
Blog: https://thisismytruthnow.com
 
Social Media Links
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/James-J.-Cudney/e/B076B6PB3M/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jamescudney4
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JamesJCudneyIVAuthor/
Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/BraxtonCampusMysteries/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jamescudney4/
Instagramhttps://www.instagram.com/jamescudney4/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/jamescudney4
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamescudney4

Purchase Links – Amazon 

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

Tour Participants:

June 21 – Mallory Heart’s Cozies – REVIEW

June 22 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

June 22 – LibriAmoriMiei – REVIEW

June 23 – A Wytch’s Book Review Blog – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

June 24 – Books Direct – MAP & CHARACTER LIST POST

June 25 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

June 25 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – SPOTLIGHT

June 26 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

June 27 – Jane Reads – REVIEW

June 28 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT

June 29 – Bibliophile Reviews – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

June 30 – A Blue Million Books – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

July 1 – Carla Loves To Read – REVIEW

July 2 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

July 2 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

July 3 – Island Confidential – GUEST POST Great Escapes Book Tours

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

©2019 V Williams Blog author

The Image Seeker by Amanda Hughes – a #BookReview #bestselling author

Five Stars Five stars

The Image Seeker by Amanda HughesTitle: The Image Seeker (Bold Women of the 20th Century Book 2) by Amanda Hughes

Genre: US Historical Fiction, Cultural Heritage Fiction

  • ASIN: B07SQ5GGDQ

Print Length: 328 pages

Publication Date: HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY-June 20, 2019!

Source: Author request

Title Link: The Image Seeker

Book Blurb:

The Dust Bowl 1936-Battered and near death, Billie Bassett gazes up at the stars from the door of a boxcar wondering if she can go on. Yet, in spite of the violence and privation riding the rails, she endures and becomes one of the finest photojournalists in the nation.
From humble beginnings in an Indian boarding school in Minnesota to high society in New York City, Billie experiences it all. Her pioneering camera work attracts the attention of a group of elite New York journalists who catapult Billie to fame and fortune, but it comes at a price. Her talents are required in the war effort, and she must travel undercover, deep into Nazi Germany as a courier. By her side is the charismatic and acclaimed journalist, Max Rothman, Billie’s harshest critic and dearest friend. But Max does not reveal to her his own clandestine and dangerous agenda.
The Image Seeker is a tale of lost youth, strength, and rebirth set in one of our country’s most tragic eras, The Great Depression and in the cauldron of hatred that was Nazi Germany.

My Review:

The Image Seeker by Amanda HughesRest assured, you need look no further than author Amanda Hughes for an authentic, historically accurate, and poignant historical fiction novel. They consistently touch all the right buttons!

The female protagonists in the Bold Women series do not try to project a super-hero feminist. They are vulnerable but persevering, subtle but daring, quiet but strong, using their native intelligence and quick-witted response to the given situation. I love that they could also be you–or me. This is the second in the Twentieth Century series, but each of these books can be read as a standalone.

Billie Bassett is separated from her family in Minnesota at age 5 and sent to an Indian boarding school to integrate her into (white) society. Not allowed to speak her native language, she is fed, sheltered, and educated–until a tragic occurrence forces her decision to escape. She has been lucky in that during several summers she was welcomed into a German farm family exchanging domestic help for another kind of education. And something else–love and support. It is through the encouragement and generosity of this couple she will further her new and growing interest in photography.

The storyline grips from the first page, grabs your attention, and does not let go. Much of what I thought I knew of this period in our history is opened up, laid out, examined in intensity I’d yet to visualize. Billie is instructed in the ways of life on the rails–teaching her the signs and symbols of hobo communication, the “jungles,” protection, hunger. It’s an amazing lesson and combined with the languages she’s learned by immersion, invaluable.

But there are always forks in the road and each that the talented Billie has boldly chosen or fought for has led inexorably to the path that would lead to achievement, independence, even a wealth of sorts–dollars no less than those of connections. The connections lead to a dangerous mission for her country at the 1936 Games of the XI Olympiad in Berlin, witnessing the rise of Nazi Germany, and while she steadfastly refuses romance in her life, it finds her, unbidden.

The well-plotted narrative builds upon itself, leading you to cringe more than once over what will happen next, and scared that you think you might know. Dialogue is natural and the storyline easy to follow, though trust me that there will be a few unexpected twists along the way. The conclusion is carefully drawn pulling in threads after a harrowing escape, smoothing out the ripples, allowing the adrenaline to settle back down.

I received the ebook download from the author for a read and review and the review is my own and independent opinion. I’m a big fan of this award-winning and bestselling author. (Read my interview with Amanda here.) I thoroughly enjoyed The Image Seeker and found SOO many parallels in my life–as well as I’m quite sure you might as well. (My paternal grandmother born on a Chippewa reservation and maternal grandmother in Minnesota.) The Depression generation suffered through some horrible deprivation and saw many of those ingrained habits handed down to succeeding generations. (Save everything! Rugs out of old nylons–oh yeah.) Many rode the rails and we have a legacy of country/folk music to prove it. Trains have always held a fascination hard to deny–the power of the behemoths–and the legacy they spin. So many stories. Whether or not you are a historical fiction buff, you’ll love this fascinating narrative. Highly recommended!

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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 Blog author

NYT Bestsellers and Bestselling Authors – Literary Genius or Luck?

NYT Bestseller banner

How many of the books you read are designated NYT bestsellers? What does it take to reach that lofty title?

NYT Bestselling authors and books

Can you name the last book and author you read with that title splashed across the top of their book? I’m sure you can! I see “bestselling author” quite often as well as “bestseller.” And many of my favorite authors can boast that label. But a New York Times Bestseller identification is not easily won, kept, or replaced by a second from the same author. There is a complicated science to the whole thing (but you knew there would be!), as noted in the article posted by Allie Nicodemo on April 6, 2018. (Thank you, Allie)

It makes sense that all the hype of a book should start generating interest months prior to release date because all the excitement generated should hopefully last more than ten weeks, after which she quotes researchers found a precipitous drop in interest.

New York Times Bestseller badge The vast majority are sold within the first few weeks according to her source, Northeastern network scientist Albert-László Barabási (Robert Gray Dodge Professor of Network Science and Distinguished Professor of Physics and director the Center for Complex Network Research.) But it doesn’t end there. From the early sales record, they can develop a model that will predict how many copies a book will sell. Which can either be extremely exciting or highly depressing, huh!

And they maintain,  

“If you don’t have that momentum properly orchestrated for the book, you may sell lots of copies, but you will not make the list.” 

The numbers obviously change with the season (or the month), wherein a book released in February with as few as 3,000 sales may make the list while a December release (with shopping and gifts in consideration) may take as many as 10,000 copies to make the same list. Here’s where you can look at December releases and realize just how brave those authors are! Generates a whole new respect, right?! Chosen well (a publishing downtimeand that can include the DAY as well as the month), in order to hit the NYT bestseller list at least 5,000 copies during a one-week period is minimum. WHOA! (I’ve written before that I noticed a majority of the books I request on NetGalley are consistently released on a Tuesday.)

Not surprising that many fiction authors are consistently bestsellers, while non-fiction not so much. Further, there appears to be somewhat of a gender balance writing fiction as opposed to non-fiction.

The most popular genre in fiction books:

Suspense/Thrillers

The most popular genre in non-fiction:

Biography/Autobiography/Memoir

(Yup, and I fall smack-dab into the middle of both of those!)

But wait, are these real sales or a popularity contest? There is a big difference in the various bestselling lists, NY Times, USA Today, Publisher’s Weekly, and The Wall Street Journal. Are they tracking sales through established book outlets or selecting books with rabid interest; not sales. (Does that explain how Fifty Shades of Grey managed to get off the ground?) While the method may include sales figures, it is a source of controversy whether it or not it also includes, and/or how much of, other data and well as use of their own guidelines (which they won’t disclose). It is considered “editorial content.”

I’ve had the good fortune since discovering NetGalley of downloading a number of NYT bestsellers and bestselling authors (see books below) merely for the implied promise of a read and review. And speaking of editorial content, the books are also listed on Goodreads, a source of impartial reviews, possibly more so than Amazon. Of course, that is another subject for discussion on which I posted and invite your comments.

My NYT bestselling authors

The take-away regardless of which list you use as a guide for your choice of reading content is that you should exercise your own healthy skepticism.  Yes, I’m releasing this post on a Tuesday, but no, I have no expectations.

So, do you notice that little designation and buy or request with confidence? Do you have a recent new favorite? I’d love to hear it!

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Goodreads books:

Watching You

Change Your Brain Change our Life

The Death of Mrs. Westaway

The Woman in the Window

My NYT reviews:

The Night Window

Murder in the Reading Room

Buried Deep

The Eighth Sister

Dark Hollow

NYT Bestseller badge by Sqfreepapers.com

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

H_NGM_N by JC Gatlin #BlogTour #Spotlight #Excerpt

I am so delighted today to provide a spotlight/excerpt for you at my blog stop for H_NGM_N by JC Gatlin on the Sage’s Blog Tours.

H_NGM_N by JC Gatlin

Book Details

Title: H_NGM_N: Murder Is the Word by J C Gatlin

Genre: Private Investigator Mysteries

Publisher: Milford House Press

Publication Date: April 24, 2019

Print Length: 369 pages

  • ISBN-10:1620060604
  • ISBN-13:978-1620060605
  • ASIN: B07R43WLKY

Book Blurb 

H_NGM_N by JC GatlinEvery murder has a story.

Every story begins at home.

Tampa newscaster Tori Younger is saddened to learn her childhood friend, Brooke Martin, hung herself from the old water tower in their hometown. Tori hasn’t spoken to Brooke in years and doesn’t feel comfortable returning to attend the services. Then cryptic text messages from Brooke’s cellphone change her mind.

Attending the funeral, Tori confronts a past that still haunts her and questions the text messages haunting her now. Her investigation leads to a fact she suspected all along: her old friend didn’t commit suicide but was murdered. There’s no shortage of suspects either: Brooke’s angry husband who instigated a fight the night she died; Brooke’s high school principal who denies rumors they were having an affair; and a town sheriff who shares a stormy past with Tori and is blocking her investigation at every turn. The only witness appears to be Brooke’s five-year-old daughter who hasn’t spoken since the tragedy and continually draws the same graphic picture of the night her mother’s body was discovered hanging from that old water tower.

Tori knows one of them has Brooke’s cellphone and is texting her from it. Others are convinced it’s Brooke reaching out from the Great Beyond. Either way, someone from her past is playing a deadly game of Hangman.

Excerpt

_N  E_RLY  GR_VE

Saturday, June 23

Something—or someone—caught Brooke’s eye, and she leaned over the kitchen sink. With her nose pressed to the window, she studied the woods beyond the gravel drive. The dark oaks loomed over the brambles, and a breeze rustled the branches of the trees and the bushes, but she saw no one there.

Brooke scolded herself and laughed at her overactive nerves. Obviously, she’d imagined the movement. It wasn’t the first time. To be honest, she never wanted to live this far out in the Florida backwoods. It was too isolated. Too dark. Too quiet. And even more so tonight, it didn’t feel safe.

She looked down at the coffeepot that’d been sitting in the sink since early that morning. Turning on the faucet, she ran a sponge under the water and then saw movement again from the corner of her eye. This time she knew she saw branches move. She turned off the tap. The running water gave way to the stillness of the kitchen, and she listened. Her eyes focused. She blinked and peered closer to the windowpane. Searched the tree line.

The branches brightened—a quick flash a few feet off the ground. What the heck was that? A flashlight? She focused on the trees. A light glowed and shined in her eyes.

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About the Author

JC Gatlin - author

JC Gatlin lives in Tampa, Florida. In addition to regular fishing trips, he wrote a monthly column for New Tampa Style Magazine, then began penning several mystery/suspense stories. He also maintains a blog about the art of spinning a nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat mystery yarn.

Coming from a large family with five brothers, JC grew up in Grapevine — a small Texas town just outside of Dallas. He moved to Tampa in 1999, and most of his stories feature the rich landscapes of Texas and Florida as backdrop. Sage's Blog Tours

Thank you for visiting my stop on the tour and thanks to Sage’s Blog Tours for the opportunity to spotlight this mystery!

©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

Sam Wick Rapid Thriller series by Chase Austin – a #BookReview

San Wick Rapid Thrillers by Chase Austin

Introduction to the first three in the Sam Wick Rapid Thriller series of pulp fiction books.

Titles: Wicked Storm-Book 1, Wicked Deceit-Book 2, Wicked Hunter-Book 3 – Sam Wick Rapid Thrillers by Chase Austin

Genre: Pulp Thrillers, War Fiction, Political Fiction

Wicked Storm-Book #1 – ASINB07P833GN5

  • Print Length: 76 pages
  • Publication Date: March 28, 2019

Wicked Deceit-Book #2 – ASINB07PKDRRN6

  • Print Length: 183 pages

Publication Date: May 1, 2019

Wicked Hunter-Book #3 – ASIN: B07PNK69PP

  • Print Length: 195 pages

Publication Date: June 1, 2019

Source: Direct author request with Advanced Reader’s Copies

Title Links:

Wicked Storm

Wicked Deceit

Wicked Hunter

Book Blurb-Book 1- Wicked Storm: A Thrilling Short Story

A girl’s life at stake. A cage match. Only one chance.

Task Force-77 (TF-77) is a black ops team of NSA and the US Military. This is the team, the U.S. government calls when it needs to get people out of the most dangerous places on earth.

Sam Wick.Task Force 77’s best. Master Extractor. Perfect Assassin. Where the government cannot and will not go, he will. 

Wicked Storm by Chase AustinMy Review-Book 1:

Talk about fast and furious! This is a short story, long on action, short on character development. The action is apparently meant to garner interest in the series that is coming with promise to develop characters as the entries progress. The last 30% of the first book is a series teaser along with introductory chapters of Wicked Deceit.

Sam Wick is a baddie to the bone. Interesting premise here and well-plotted with a cute twist you may not have suspected. No rules, no harm, no foul. (Okay–forget about the “harm” part.) You’ll have to suspend some disbelief, but otherwise, a fast read. Fun to read a short story once in a while! Of course, we used to call them “dime novels.” And there were some edit problems.

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Book Blurb-Book 2Wicked Deceit: A Pulsating Race-Against-Time Thriller with High Body Count

What do you do when your own President wants you dead? 
You call Sam Wick. 

His missionExtract Carlos Cruz-Diez—a New York Times reporter from the clutches of death.

Location: Venezuela Consulate in Vienna, Austria.

The Obstacle: Venezuela’s National Intelligence Service has sent sixteen of their best to execute this mission.

Timeline: Twenty-four hours. Time is running out. Bullets are flying. Bodies are piling up. Nothing is as it seems.  

Wicked Deceit by Chase AustinMy Review-Book 2:

Sam Wick, our protagonist, is the returning main character and this is the second in the series, but easily read as a standalone. The reader is being fed little bits of information about Sam Wick. In this entry, Sam joins team Vesuvius who is headed by Jessica, the logistics liaison. There is some chemistry between she and Sam and the team heads into Venezuela on a bloody mission. Once again, the plot kicks into high gear and zooms to conclusion. 007 on steroids. Wick likes to play the strong, silent type, opting to dazzle with pregnant pauses and clear-eyed stares. (At least he won’t bore you with babble on a long flight!)

Some support characters here, not a one-man band, including Jessica and Henrique, the Venezuelan intelligence service director. Not a lot of humor, these missions are played out seriously, fast, and deadly. I saw some improvement in the second of the series in storytelling, but with minimal editing this also exhibited many problems from awkward English to repeated descriptions and punctuation errors. Hopefully, these problems were corrected prior to publication.

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Book Blurb-Book 3 – Wicked Hunter: A High Octane Action Thriller

The Taliban have abducted a CIA agent. No one knows where he is being kept. Time is running out. Can he be saved?

His mission: Extract Josh Fletcher, a CIA operative, from the Taliban Backyard

Deadline: Less than twelve hours.

Wicked Hunter by Chase AustinMy  Review-Book 3:

Okay, down to business, the author is finding his writing chops and this well-plotted storyline is enjoyable to read. Well, another caveat, if you are squeamish, may not be your cup of tea. This is another entry that gets serious very quickly, and Sam actually reaches out to his go-to sharp-shooter for help. We get additional details on Sam, a little more description of the scene and a more thorough introduction and description of the mission. And again, functions just fine as a standalone.

Definitely a more relaxed, cohesive writing style with points of interest well-described. Sam takes the time to plot out the mission control areas and timing, logistics and personnel. Set up more thoroughly, the storyline lays out smoothly although you are still actively ignoring some disbelief. A quotable: “Master your breath, master your mind.”

Unfortunately, again, an ARC rift with edit misses that is hoped were found and corrected prior to publication.

With the third entry to the series and the improvement noted, it would appear that these might continue to be of interest to those who enjoy a fast and furious read, no-holds-barred type of action. A throw-back to more pulp fiction days, just read for fun.

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Chase Austin - authorThe Author: Chase Austin Get your FREE Starter Library http://www.thechaseaustin.com

Hope you would like my new series – Sam Wick Rapid Thrillers.

Book 1- Wicked Storm
Book 2- Wicked Deceit
Book 3- Wicked Hunter
Book 4- Wicked Blood
Book 5- Wicked Ghost

Welcome to my world.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Pysanky Promise by Cathy Witbeck #BookReview #readingroom

Five Stars

I am so delighted today to provide a review for you at my blog stop for Pysanky Promise: A Children’s picture book about pysanky (Ukrainian Easter eggs) by Cathy Witbeck in the Reading Room at Sage’s Blog Tours.

Sage's Blog Tours - Reading Room

Book Details:

Title: Pysanky Promise by Cathy Witbeck

Publisher: Calico Barn Books

Publication Date: November 15, 2018

Print Length: 34 pages

  • ISBN-10:1732262624
  • ISBN-13:978-1732262621
  • ASIN: B07KLWM3HX

Pysanky Promise by Cathy WitbeckBook Blurb:

When a young girl learns that her grandmother’s hands have grown too shaky to make pysanky (Ukrainian Easter eggs), she learns the art herself, hoping to heal her grandmother’s heart. The book explains the method for making pysanky, as well as a bit about the history, symbolism, and tradition behind the craft.

My Review:

Aww, such a beautiful little book, geared for the Easter child in all of us sure to span all ages and cultures alike. This little book takes the art of creating Ukrainian Easter eggs and weaves it seamlessly into family tradition, history, and the construction process (and the process does take time).

“The world pysanky is related to the word ‘pysaty’, which means ‘to write.’ Pysanky are egg with a message written on them…People have been making pysanky for many years. Before Christianity, people believed the egg was a source of power…”

The designs are fabulous, but more than that–the designs, the borders, the colors all mean something and “each color has more than one meaning.”

White-purity — Yellow-kindness, happiness — Orange-strength, endurance — Green-spring, hope — Blue-sky, good health — Red-love, passion — Black-eternity

And some designs: Diamond-knowledge, Fish – a symbol of Christianity, Flower – beauty and wisdom, Star – beauty and perfection

I wish you could see these brilliant colors and breathtaking designs–and you can get a glimpse of the promise at the author’s website or find her book at most retail book outlets including Overdrive.

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Sage's Blog ToursI’m thinking many of these design and color meanings are common to many more cultures and it was certainly fun to be reminded of their translations again. Thanks to Sage’s Reading Room for the opportunity to read and review this beautifully illustrated children’s book! Also recommended for anyone who enjoys learning new cultural ideas and their origins.

Cathy Witbeck - authorAbout The Author: Cathy Witbeck is an author/illustrator, a Ukrainian Easter egg instructor, a mom to five, wife to one, and a voracious reader of pretty much everything, especially picture books.

Raised on a ranch in Southern Alberta, Canada, she grew up surrounded by siblings, cows, and barn cats. Understandably, her website is http://www.calicobarnbooks.com.

Cathy was once asked by the American Egg Board to make a pysanka for The White House (yes, that White House) to represent the state of Utah for the Decorated Egg Event. Sadly, the event was canceled before she could attend the swanky reception that had been planned. A tragedy of epic proportions.

Cathy Witbeck es autora / ilustradora, instructora de huevos de Pascua de Ucrania, madre de cinco hijos, esposa de uno y voraz lectora de casi todo, especialmente de libros ilustrados.

Nacida en un rancho en el sur de Alberta, Canadá, creció rodeada de hermanos, vacas y gatos de granero. Comprensiblemente, su sitio web es http://www.calicobarnbooks.com.

Una vez, la American Egg Board le pidió a Cathy que hiciera un pysanka para que la Casa Blanca (sí, esa Casa Blanca) representara al estado de Utah para el Evento del huevo decorado. Lamentablemente, el evento se canceló antes de que ella pudiera asistir a la elegante recepción que se había planeado. Una tragedia de proporciones épicas.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

The Star and the Shamrock by Jean Grainger – a #BookReview

The Star and the Shamrock by Jean GraingerTitle: The Star and the Shamrock

Genre: Historical Irish Fiction

  • ASIN: B07SFGLDJH

Print Length: 288 pages

Publication Date: May 28, 2019

Source: Direct Author Request

Title Link: The Star and the Shamrock

Book Blurb:

Ariella Bannon has no choice: she must put her precious children, Liesl and Erich, on that train or allow them to become prey for the Nazis. 

 

Berlin 1939. 

When her husband doesn’t come home one day, Ariella realises that the only way she can ensure her children’s safety is to avail of the Kindertransport, but can she bear to let them go?

A thousand miles away, Elizabeth Klein has closed herself off from the world. Losing her husband on the last day of the Great War, and her child months later, she cannot, will not, love again. It hurts too much.

But she is all Liesl and Erich Bannon have.

Thrown together in the wild countryside of Northern Ireland, Elizabeth and the Bannon children discover that life in the country is anything but tranquil. Danger and intrigue lurk everywhere, and some people are not what they seem.

My Review:

The Star and the Shamrock by Jean GraingerIt is a testament to just how well the author spins a story as each has such charm, is independent, and brings to the forefront information you may never have been aware of that spans humanity with a direct impact.

In The Star and the Shamrock, we are privy to the story of Elizabeth Klein, living in London, who defied her Catholic mother to marry a Jewish man who was shortly killed in the Great War. With her grief, she also lost their child shortly thereafter. It is to the credit of a sympathetic nun that it was recommended she get her teaching credential. She never returned to the beautiful Irish countryside of Northern Ireland or to her mother or the home she grew up in.

Living in London with everyone facing yet another war, she receives a plea from a distant cousin’s wife in Europe, begging her to receive their two children. Ariella Bannon’s husband disappeared after coming to the aid of a Jewish woman and she realized will likely never come home. She is desperate to get her children to safety and successfully navigated the channels to get her children on the Kindertransport–but hopes a relative can receive them.

It is not long after they are safely delivered to her home in London that the city is being bombed, including her home and the school where she taught. Her mother had passed away the previous year, leaving her childhood home her own recourse and it is in Ballycregggan, County Down, where she opens her spacious and comfortable childhood home to Liesl and Erich Bannon. Elizabeth shortly realizes there is a “farm” where many other Jewish Kindertransport children have been sent and they have need of a teacher. It is there she meets many support characters, all of whom are well-fleshed and most sympathetic. She also meets Daniel Lieber, a mechanical engineer, also a Jewish refugee, taking on odd mechanical jobs at the school to help keep it running.

The well-plotted storyline takes on a number of issues, particularly describing a war-time existence, suspicion, love and support or distrust. Elizabeth is thrilled to be a “mother” and does an admirable job at the Farm, gradually learning that children are underestimated in their understanding of a situation. It’s a dark time in our history, but love trumps race or language barriers and there are times when people rally together for the good of all.

As always, Ms. Grainger plucks at your heartstrings with lovingly developed opposing characters, believable dialogue, and tension that pulls you toward what could be a tragic conclusion or the happy ever after. Still, this is war–and you never know.

I was allowed an advance reader copy by the author for a read and review and was absolutely delighted to be counted among those so privileged. How do people survive in these circumstances? The human spirit is amazing! Recommended for any who enjoy good literary fiction, historical fiction, and those behind the front line war scenes that should also be acknowledged for their heroics.

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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.

(Grainger's) Author's Circle - Novel of ExcellenceWINNER 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’….The sequel to The Tour, called Safe at the Edge of the World, follows Conor O’Shea once again as he takes another motley crew on a tour of Ireland…The third Tour book in that series is called The Story of Grenville King and in it Conor gets an opportunity to renovate and run an old castle as a five star resort, but something isn’t quite right, and the castle has many secrets…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 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.

Shadow of a Century, is set in New York in 2015 as well as in Dublin during the events of Easter Week 1916…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.

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. {Note: Bio truncated in the interest of space. See her full bio here.]

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Impeccable Petunia by Katie Christine – a #BookReview

Impeccable Petunia Part II The Two Tails by Katie ChristineTitle: Impeccable Petunia: Part II The Two Tails by Katie Christine

Genre: Fantasy, Animal Tales, Mothers and Children’s Fiction

  • ISBN-10:1719822859
  • ISBN-13:978-1719822855
  • ASIN:B07HFCL9RG

Print Length: 145 pages

Publication Date: September 8, 2018

Source: Direct Author Request

Title Link: Impeccable Petunia

Book Blurb:

As The Two Tails opens, the flock confronts a spiral of death and disappearance. Ensnared by a rapacious raccoon and desperate for a way out, Petunia, the backyard chicken, must throw herself at the mercy of the dark, open road with little more than gumption, a pair of useless wings, and a dubious companion as her guide.

My Review:

Impeccable Petunia Part II The Two Tails by Katie ChristineImpeccable Petunia Part I Claws Paws, Feathers & Jaws by Katie ChristineLet me begin by explaining that this is a two-part story with Impeccable Petunia: Part I, Claws, Paws, Feathers, and Jaws being novella size, part II more than double that. The request from the author and the blurb had me intrigued–the protagonist is a chicken??!–and it was illustrated. I really liked the covers and it didn’t sound like it was that long, perfect for me to fit in between some of the longer books I was scheduling. I had intended to skim through Part I so I’d be knowledgeable about Part II, but it didn’t happen and would probably have served up a better appreciation for Part II.

Petunia is not your average chicken for sure! Since I raised chickens (both Rhode Island Reds and Black Barred), I have an affinity for our feathered fowl. Huge difference between those two breeds, both serving the purpose of meat and (brown) eggs. Unfortunately, chickens have personalities and it’s all too easy to name them–i.e., Petunia. But I have no knowledge of Orpington’s, Arauncana’s, or Wyandottes, although they all appear to be easy-going backyard chickens. They do, however, need protection from predators.

In this installment, Petunia has apparently been taken inside the human’s house to recover from a predator assault where she’d just like to stay. The narrative introduces many support characters, including cats, a raccoon, and a dog. But it is Max the cat that Petunia determines she must rescue after he is taken away. While she is away, the pecking order disintegrates, and factions split. Samantha has long wanted to take control of the coop and she is pushing her agenda right up until the foxes (absent the cat) begin coming around to raid the coop.

The gossip, bickering, back-biting (tee hee), and rivalries push and pull until Winchester the raccoon makes a deal to help defend the chicken yard. Amazing how well-fleshed the persona of these individual chickens, let alone the sneaky, low-down agenda of the raccoon. The author did an amazing job of anthropomorphizing the characters so that even facial expressions, wing nuances, or tail flickers were easily pictured. The author obviously knows chickens and other domestic animals.

While I marveled at the imagination and creativity that went into the well-developed storyline, I was not able to really get into the pecking order squabble with the hens, the constant fear in which they lived, fighting to keep from being carried off in the jaws of a fox. The tale turns dark, sad, heavy. Petunia returns and the conclusion resolves most issues but remains a tension-filled setting. Petunia returns to tend her garden, Winchester to his prize–but not for long. There are illustrations, but viewed on my cell phone were small, dark, and difficult to see.

I received this ebook download from the author in return for a review and these are my honest opinions. I do not feel it is a children’s story with an almost noir feeling, more an adult tale and I’m sure there is an appropriate target for the book. Recommended for anthropomorphic fantasy-loving readers. You won’t believe the world of chickens!

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Three point Five of Five Stars Three point Five of Five Stars

Katie Christine - authorThe Author: [Katie Christine] From a young age Katie’s parents instilled in her a love of animals and art. She has many fond childhood memories of long summer afternoons spent curled up in a quiet corner of the local library. She lives outside Seattle, Washington with her husband/illustrator, Jonathan Edward, their Super-Sheltie, Niles and cats, Frankenstein and Penelope.

Katie Christine holds degrees from UCLA and USC, enjoys the outdoors, gardening, reading, and discovering new music.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Decanted Truths by Melanie Forde – a #BookReview

Decanted Truths: An Irish-American Novel by Melanie Forde5 Stars – Five stars

Title: Decanted Truths: An Irish-American Novel by Melanie Forde

Genre: Literary Fiction, British and Irish Literature

Publisher: D Street Books, a division of Mountain Lake Press

  • ISBN-10:1730785867
  • ISBN-13:978-1730785863

ASIN: B07K6VM2Q1

 Print Length: 333 pages

Publication Date: November 8, 2018

Source: Direct Author Request

Title Link: Decanted Truths

Book Blurb:

For Irish immigrant families like the Harrigans and Gavagans, struggle has been the name of the game since they arrived in Boston in the nineteenth century. For twice-orphaned Leah Gavagan, who comes of age in the Depression, the struggle is compounded by bizarre visions that disrupt her daily life — and sometimes come true. She has difficulty fitting in with her surroundings: whether the lace-curtain Dorchester apartment overseen by her judgmental Aunt Margaret or the wild Manomet bluff shared with her no-nonsense Aunt Theo and brain-damaged Uncle Liam. A death in the family disrupts the tepid life path chosen for Leah and sets her on a journey of discovery. That journey goes back to the misadventures shaping the earlier generation, eager to prove its hard-won American credentials in the Alaskan gold rush, the Spanish-American War, and The Great War. She learns of the secrets that have bound Theo and Margaret together. Ultimately, Leah learns she is not who she thought she was. Her new truth both blinds and dazzles her, much like the Waterford decanter at the center of her oldest dreams — an artifact linking three Irish-American families stumbling after the American Dream.

My Review:

Decanted Truths: An Irish-American Novel by Melanie FordeAmazing study of two Irish families as they assimilate into America early nineteenth century and specifically Leah Gavagan, deftly kept within the “family” another who struggled so greatly after the fall of the status of the Harrigans. Leah has “visions” as if her life isn’t difficult enough that sets her apart from her peers and creates some problems within her own circle–the one she thought was hers.

It is Margaret, pseudo-matriarch of the Harrigan family who, upon her death, leaves shocking personal family background that causes such an upheaval in Leah. The narrative swings back to an earlier time to young Margaret, setting the picture of the struggles, with her failures, deceits, and ultimate betrayal. Dissecting the Irish psyche in the process, the proud, staunch definition of who they are, not so much a race, but more a mind-set and characterization or designation of how they became that distinct class of people. “…forgiveness does not come easily to the Irish race.”

“Perception competes with reality in any immigrant’s assessment of life in America.”

There are a number of support characters that are alternately brought into sharp focus, accounting for the dynamic throughout the well-crafted storyline–more of a biography–such a deep but lovingly complex understanding of the people from past generations–the history of a family. Into the family, a Waterford decanter is bestowed by the boy who immigrated to America in the bowels of the ship. The decanter, zealously protected and handed down, has become a symbol for the family of their final acceptance of each other and their adopted land, as well as a symbol of the truths that are eventually exposed.

While the novel begins rather slowly, pulling all the characters into the center of attention, the author creates a literary novel of intelligence, the meaning of family, and the imprint each evokes in our lives. It is a unique gift, an unusual examination of people, and a share of the commonality in us all.

I received this ebook download from the author in hopes of an honest opinion and I appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended to any who enjoy a deep study into beautifully written literary prose.

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Melanie Forde - authorThe Author: For most of her writing career, Melanie Forde ghosted on international security issues. She published her first novel, Hillwilla, in 2014, followed by On the Hillwilla Road in 2015. Her West Virginia trilogy culminates in Reinventing Hillwilla, 2018. Twenty years in the making, her Irish-American family saga, Decanted Truths (Note: Currently available on NetGalley), was also released in 2018.

©2019 V Williams Blog author