Across the River by Richard Snodgrass – a #BookReview

Across the River by Richard SnodgrassTitle: Across the River (Books of Furnass Book 4) by Richard Snodgrass

Genre: Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction

Publisher: Calling Cow Press

  • ISBN-10:099976991X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0999769911
  • ASIN: B07SS5J113

Print Length: 340 pages

Publication Date: December 26, 2018

Source: Publicist and NetGalley

Title Link: Across the River

Book Blurb:

In the summer of 1863, Judson Walker, a captain of Morgan’s Raiders, and Jonathan Reid, a young engineer, come to Furnass to appropriate two of Colin Lyles’ steam-powered road engines. The purpose is to outfit the engines with iron plate and the newly developed Gatlin Guns, and, with Morgan, deliver the war engines to General Lee’s army in Central Pennsylvania. Amid Walker’s growing involvement with Lyle’s wife Libby, deserting soldiers, and Reid’s own agenda, Walker learns Morgan isn’t coming. The novel reaches its climax with Lyle trying to sabotage the war engines. Walker must decide between Libby and duty toward his men, the war and individual human values.

My Review:

Across the River by Richard SnodgrassMost of you are aware I enjoy a good historical fiction yarn and I’ve certainly read a number of novels of the Civil War. Most deal with the horrific battles.

This one is different.

Two men from the Confederate calvary in a group known as Morgan’s Raiders have entered a small village in Pennsylvania on a secret mission. Captain Judson Walker is accompanied by pseudo-engineer Jonathan Reid on a secret mission in which a local has been perfecting what he calls a “road engine.” They are befriended by the owner of Steamworks and invited to stay with him as Reid studies his machine to test the feasibility of combining it with a new invention that will replace hundreds of men at the front line and hopefully swing the war to the Confederate side.

From the beginning, you get this isn’t a normal military operation, nor the home of Colin Lyle a normal marriage. In a skirmish prior to arrival, Walker is wounded and taken under the wing of Lyle’s wife, Libby. She is a woman born about four generations before her time, a transplanted southerner who immediately gleans that despite the Union uniforms, these two may not be northerners. She’s an enigma, outspoken, intelligent, and insists Walker be checked out by their village doctor with whom it would appear she may have a relationship other than doctor/patient. The little village has not seen the conflict first hand, but residents are kept fairly up to date of the progress and properly suspicious of anyone new to the area.

The storyline is well-plotted, but grows and flows rather languidly, shifting first and third persons (putting you in the head of one and his thoughts, particularly Walker as he relives scenes of his skirmishes with Morgan), as well as the other main characters. Walker is smart, deeply distrustful of Reid, and exhibits battle fatigue. Reid, although he’d like to think is the smarter of the two, has no military mind and the two often clash. Reid is interested in the glory he’s sure he’ll receive from producing a successful war machine. Lyle is just grateful that someone at long last has seen fit to investigate his contraption.

There is much philosophical consideration and reflection, Reid’s arrogance makes him an unsympathetic character, Libby gets weird and also unsympathetic, and Walker flashes back to his “one that got away” comparing her with Libby. References to the couple’s children–but where were they? The rest of Walker’s troop arrives, several in need of medical attention. The dialogue reads realistic for the time and the description of the big house dark and uninviting. Difficult to determine how this will all work out, the author does a fine job of wrapping up a satisfying conclusion, but leaves out a few minor details.

I was contacted by the publicist for the author and offered a free copy through NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review. There were some format problems. Very different view of the civil war and the individual personalities involved make it a compelling, unique read.

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

The Author: No author info, page, or links

©2019 V Williams Blog author

 

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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

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

Widow Creek by Sarah Margolis Pearce – a #BlogTour #BookReview

I am so delighted today to provide a review for you at my blog stop for Widow Creek by Sarah Margolis Pearce on Sage’s Blog Tours.

Widow Creek by Sarah Margolis Pearce

Book Details

Title: Widow Creek by Sarah Margolis Pearce

Genre: Historical Mystery, Historical Romances
Publisher:
Lucky Bat Books

Print Length: 274 pages

Publish Date: October 7, 2018

  • ASIN: B07J4S5LRQ
  • ISBN-10: 1943588775
  • ISBN-13: 978-1943588770

Book Blurb

Widow Creek is an incredible story of bravery and adventure as a daring woman takes on the wild frontier of California by herself in 1849. In 2015, historical sleuths try to find a link between the riveting tale of this undaunted woman and three weather-worn boulders on a remote hillside below Hasten Peak. Hidden for nearly 170 years, Mariah’s journal is uncovered. From its pages, the story of Mariah begins to unfold about her days at Widow Creek and the adventure she was determined to take. Intrigued, the modern-day sleuths try to piece together what happened to her after the journal ends. Through the story, they come to know Mariah Hardwick Penngrove, who arrives in a wagon train in Remington River, California, in 1849 with grief and daring in her heart. Newly widowed, she lost a husband on the trail but developed a backbone. Refusing to return to the safety of her parents, she instead forges on to her goal of reaching “the beyond” described by Meriwether Lewis, holding tight to her mother’s copy of The Journals of Lewis and Clark, for comfort and inspiration. One look at Hasten Peak, snow-capped and dominating the landscape, tells Mariah she has found her “beyond.” However, Mariah’s notion of the wilderness and untouched horizons is turned upside down when she becomes embroiled in a land dispute between the bandit, Pajaro Mendonca, and Po Fong, Chinatown madam and leader of a notorious tong. Entrenched in a conflict she never wanted and in a wilderness unknown, Mariah finds that decisions are not so straightforward and trust is a shadowy business.

My Review

Widow Creek by Sarah Margolis PearceIt’s that undeniable call to the west that Mariah Hardwick can no longer ignore when the opportunity arises for her to see “the Beyond.” What is beyond those fields she gazes at every day from their small piece of earth in St. Louis, Missouri. The siren call comes from unlikely suitor-then-husband Earl Penngrove, who succumbs to his own wretched scheme before the adventure west is half completed. She and her mother had long desired to see what lay beyond the horizon and often turned to the well-worn journal of Lewis and Clark for inspiration, to glean information, and to gain wisdom regarding their journey to the west coast.

Carefully keeping her own journal of the harsh trail with the wagon train they’ve set off on, she tells the tale of continuing without him, settling instead of San Francisco (the original destination), to that of Remington River in northern California where she meets the Old Mandarin…and Pajaro Mendonca.

The hills promised gold after discovery of the element in Sutter Creek near Coloma, California in 1848 and the territory was in a contentious battle between Californios (a Hispanic person who is genetically or culturally descended from the Spanish-speaking community) and land-grabbing newcomers. (California became a state in 1850.) The author has faithfully described the area’s majestic mountains, peaks, and rivers with powerful prose that includes the legend of Pajaro Mendonca, possibly said to be the origin of the tale of Zorro.

Mariah becomes entangled in the intrigue and conspiracies of land grants and titles and her journal ends.

In 2015, hikers discover three large inscribed stones. Pictures of the site are brought to the attention of those who are best equipped to search records, archives, and the history of the area and Mariah’s journal is discovered to be an integral part. Mariah’s unfolding story is mesmerizing, offering a brutal but triumphant tale to be pieced together closing the span of time.

It is somewhat of a romantic tale, although this is not a romance novel per se, but that of the beauty of the west, travel and destination, the land and the people that comprised early California. Mariah is an educated, first-person narrator with whom you quickly become invested. She is complex and naive but strong, intelligent, and beautifully independent. The passages from the Lewis and Clark journals lend such an eerie bite back, as both returned successfully, only to have Lewis die mysteriously three years later.

I was given this ebook download by the author and Sage’s Blog tours and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for those who enjoy a well-plotted, deeply absorbing and engaging historical action-adventure brought to life and time in the present and these opinions are my own.

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

About the Author

Sarah Margolis Pearce - author

Sarah lives and works in San Francisco. Her writing has been published by online literary sites such as WritersType and Midlife Collage. As part of the 2013 San Francisco cast of Listen to Your Mother, she performed her hilarious, spoken word piece, Goodbye, Kimmie.

I have a special interest in the history of Northern California. Specifically, the mid-1800s shortly before California was granted statehood. My Remington River series [beginning with The Promise of Fate] is set in the Golden State around the time of the Gold Rush.

My writing is not limited to historical fiction. My favorite author is Flannery 0’Connor. My short stories have been compared to hers as I explore the strange situations simple folks get themselves into.

Visit my website: http://www.sarahmargolispearce.com

Sage's Blog ToursThank you for visiting my stop on the tour and please enjoy this beautifully crafted novel. 

Thanks to Sage’s Book Tours for the opportunity to read and review this historical mystery!

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Cocos Island Treasure by Stanley McShane – a #BookReview

It’s March and I’m participating in the Reading Ireland Month for 2019. This one is an action-adventure fiction by Irish author and artist Stanley McShane. He was my grandfather and you can read about the discovery of his manuscripts, paintings, and poems in my “About Us” page here.

March!

 Title: Cocos Island Treasure by Stanley McShane

Genre: Sea Adventures, Historical Fiction

Publisher: Rosepoint Publishing

  • ASIN: B007D58KZC
  • ISBN-10: 1468177338
  • ISBN-13: 978-1468177336
  • Print Length: 204 pages

Publication Date: October 8, 2012

Title Link: Cocos Island Treasure

Book Blurb:

Cocos Island Treasure by Stanley McShaneWhere did those rasty, barbaric theft-driven pirates bury their treasures in the 17th and 18th Centuries? Perhaps just a little south of the main South Sea shipping lane in a secluded harbor where a short paddle through shark-infested waters to the steamy, fetid jungle island could yield fresh water, food, and gold! Turn-of-the-20th Century fortune hunters from the schooner, Bessie, hunt where only ghosts inhabit–or are they all merely apparitions? Captain Dan was ready to retire until he gained access to a secret cipher–one that he felt sure was authentic enough to reap him millions and willing to risk one more salty adventure to seek the insanely rich treasures of Cocos Island.

Editorial Reviews:

“This book has it all, adventure, mystery and a touch of romance.” – Catmarie

“Cocos Island Treasure is an old school nautical adventure. This work is a window into the by-gone era where maps that detailed the bounty of famous pirate treasure was indeed plausable.” – S Mellen

“Not my usual subject of interest, but a recent documentary on Blackbeard peaked my interest. The author really seems to know his stuff about the subject, and the island itself.” – mpytlikhusb

“I haven’t read a good pirate novel since I read the Sea Wolf as a teenager. Cocos Island Treasure was even more interesting because it is a true story.” – Terry W Sprouse

“It was quite a trip to go back in time, not only considering the setting of the story, but the book’s birth three decades ago. A cross between Stevenson’s Treasure Island…full of the language of the day.” – N Lombardi Jr. author Justice Gone

My Review:

My grandfather wrote this book back in the late 1920s. My mother can remember him tapping out the manuscript with his two index fingers on an old Underwood–older, I’m sure, than the one I use for my logo. While I may be a bit prejudiced, I rated it a five star because I know he was there, walked that beach (Chatham Bay), climbed through those jungles and did his best not to disappear in the many bogs and crevices. (He later noted in a letter what a fun little trip it was!)

The author described this island down to the gnat’s eyeball. Since I’ve researched the island, I’ve found descriptions echoing his down to the wild pigs that were brought to the island and allowed to go feral. He wrote the manuscript over 90 years ago, turning his sailing adventure into a novel affirming the well-known rumors or stories of all the pirate treasures buried on the island, including the “Loot of Lima.” The treasure stolen by Captain William Thompson, commander of the Mary Dear, was purportedly the largest treasure ever hidden by pirates. So many stories abound regarding the captain and whether or not he survived. More stories published regarding whether or not the treasure was found. That treasure, however, was not the only one to be buried on the island by pirates. (The island is now closed to tourists or treasure hunters.)

It’s a fun, quick read and takes you back almost a century to sail on the schooner, Bessie. The book was written using sailing jargon and colloquialisms of the day and was kept faithful to his original manuscript. The narrative, however, remembers another famous pirate, Edward Davis. (It is said that he was one of the earliest buccaneers to have buried treasure on Cocos Island where he anchored in Chatham Bay as well. Cocos Island is approximately 340 miles southwest of Costa Rica.)

There were two additional sea adventures published, one describing the gruesome art of whaling in Lucky Joe and another after his year-long fishing experience out of Grimsby, England he called Sons of the Sea.

It is the anthology published in 2015, Sole Survivor, in which I pulled together several of his short stories, introduction to Lucky Joe, paintings, and poems. With the possible exception of Cocos Island Treasure, all are available in both paperback and ebook, now for free through Kindle Unlimited. (Busters of Bitter River is available only in ebook form.)

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Patrick John (Stanley McShane) Rose

See the amazing story of the painting that provides an updated cover version of Sole Survivor here. (Three of the above covers were provided by his paintings.)

The Author: Stanley McShane is the pen name of Patrick John Rose and the author of one novel published during his lifetime in 1936, “Bitter River Ranch” by Phoenix Press. Patrick was born in 1872 aboard his father’s vessel, the Marguerite, and was the sole survivor when she sank. He sailed as a captain aboard his own ship until some time after the turn of the 20th century, whereupon he caught Alaskan gold fever and ventured north. It was in the late 1920’s/early 30’s that he eventually settled down to write about all of his adventures–both land and sea. “Cocos Island Treasure,” “Sons of the Sea,” “Lucky Joe,” and “Hot Air Promotions” were published posthumously through Rosepoint Publishing by his granddaughter. An eBook historical western novella was published in May, 2014 called “Busters of Bitter River.” McShane’s short stories, poems, and paintings were gathered in a fiction adventure anthology called “Sole Survivor” in 2015.

The vocal music background on the book trailer is provided by Marc Gunn, self-proclaimed Irish and Celtic Music celtfather. In addition to his albums, he offers a delightful podcast which was available for download on iTunes. Otherwise, check him out here.

My grandfather had an unusual writing style, often filled with slang, sailing terms, and sensitivities (or lack thereof) of his day. Have you attempted to publish one of your ancestor’s manuscripts? I’d love to hear about your journey!

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Reading Ireland – Author Amanda Hughes Interview

Author Amanda Hughes Interview

I am thrilled today to present an interview with author Amanda Hughes who has written edge-of-your-seat adventures about bold women of the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th Centuries.

The Bold Women Series

To highlight the March, Reading Ireland theme, I just want to mention that one of my favorites from the 18th Century Series, Beyond the Cliffs of Kerry, is set, in part, in Ireland, as is The Sword of the Banshee.

This theme, Bold Women, is so timely. While the stories include just a touch of romance, the women are no shrinking violets. They are strong, independent, and capable main characters that hold your interest and quickly get you invested.

Thank you, so much, Amanda, for joining me today! Let’s talk about your Bold Women Series to begin:

You began your Bold Women Series with the Bold Women of the 18th Century and wrote three in the series, three in the 19th Century, one in the 17th Century, and one in the 20th Century in April of 2017. I get the feeling we are due another shortly for the 20th Century. Can you tell us about it?

You are so right. I am just completing Book Two in the “Bold Women of the 20th Century Series”. After listening to my father’s stories about riding the rails during the Great Depression, I decided to write a book about a bold woman who rides the rails in the 1930s. Her adventures take her back and forth across the country and eventually she becomes an accomplished photojournalist. The book culminates in Berlin when she has to smuggle a renowned scientist out of Nazi Germany.

WOW! That does sound exciting and I’m looking forward to the release already, apparently scheduled for April. We’ll be looking for it!

Do you have any plans for writing a standalone?

All the books in the Bold Women Series are standalones. Each one is set in a different time period and about a different woman. Sometimes readers ask me if I am interested in writing a series about men. So far, I have had no wish to write about men’s adventures. It has been done to death! We need books about audacious women.

Do you dream about your characters or see them in a scene you can use?

Yes! Sometimes I do dream about my characters, but so far they have been in those odd, surrealistic settings. Unfortunately, there has been nothing I can use in my books. But I do know that my best writing happens in the morning right after I wake up. Maybe my brain is still in creative overdrive.

The “Bold Women” series is compelling and an empowering and topical theme. How did the distinctive sub-title come about?

It was not something I set out to do. It sort of evolved as a promotional tool. Knowing that readers love a series, I decided to pull my first three or four books together in some way. I had to find a common theme, and it was easy to identify. First, my novels were always about women in a historical setting and second these women were plucky, fearless, and often reckless survivors. They were bold women.

Do you carefully lay out an outline to follow or let it flow and see where it goes?

I know many writers follow an outline, and that it works well for them, but I do not. I have no idea where my book is going. My characters whisper their stories in my ear, and I write them down—rather like that classic movie, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. The book is as much of a surprise for me as it is for the reader.

Do you research popular female and male names for the century of the book? How do you create your character’s names?

That is such a fun question! No one has ever asked me that before. A lot of research going into the creation of my main character’s name. And yes, I try to keep the name within the historical context. I also want the name to reflect my protagonist’s character. In my most recent book, my main character goes on to work as a photojournalist, so I wanted her name to sound like a reporter, short and snappy. I named her Billie Bassett. The name of the love interest in the book is equally important. I research baby names popular in that particular portion of the century, and then I run my choices past my daughters for final approval. They never mince words and have no problem telling me if it is a dumb name.

Do you look for real characters in the century that you can loosely base your novel on? Which book closely follows a real story?

So far I have not based, even loosely, any of my “Bold Women” on anyone who actually lived. My secondary characters though are sometimes real people. Frances Marion, also named “The Swamp Fox,” shows up in The Sword of the Banshee, and the villain in The Looking Glass Goddess is based on Kid Cann, a notorious mobster in Minnesota.

Once begun, how long does it generally take to write your books?

Always around a year.

Do you shoot for a total word count in your novels?

I try to keep it under 100,000 words, but I am not always successful. Much over that is overwhelming for a reader. I know it is for me!

Do you set a daily word count goal or is there an average?

No, whatever I do in a day, I do in a day.

The Looking Glass Goddess by Amanda HughesWhat kind of awards have you received?

The Looking Glass Goddess was nominated for The Minnesota Book Award in 2017 which made me very happy, and I was awarded the Gems National Award for Writing.

It appears you’ve had more than one designer create your covers. Who are you currently using and do they receive a synopsis of the book in order to more creatively fit the cover? 

Most of my book covers have been designed by The Killion Group. They have a detailed questionnaire for writers to fill out before the design process begins and then Kim (the cover designer) works directly with you to make sure your vision for the cover matches hers.

And now personally, Amanda, have you been able to retire and write full time?

I write full time and love every minute of it.

What did you do before discovering your writing talent?

I have a degree in Therapeutic Recreation and for many years I worked in mental health settings, from locked units in psychiatric hospitals to group homes with developmentally disabled people. You can see these themes again and again in my books and in my choice of characters especially in The Pride of the King.

Family? Children and/or grandchildren?

I have three children who are now grown and my first grandchild just came along five months ago—a little girl. It is as much fun as everyone says it is.

Where are you currently living?

I live in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Do you read all your reviews?

I try to read every one, and I really appreciate them.

Where can we easily find you? Your own website and social media?

I LOVE hearing from my readers. I will always respond to you if you write a note. I am at www.amandahughesauthor.com and you can find me on Facebook as well at https://www.facebook.com/amanda.hermannhughes

I can’t thank you enough for inviting me to your blog. What great questions. I hope it was as much fun to read as it was to write!

It certainly has been for me! It has been my absolute pleasure and I so appreciate the time you took to be with us today. To my faithful readers and followers, please check out the Bold Women Series by Amanda Hughes and enjoy a woman protagonist who can hold her own against the world. Click the link on one of the books noted above or view her Amazon author page to see all her books. We would both love to hear your thoughts!

About the Author

Amanda Hughes authorBestselling 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.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

 

Return to Robinswood by Jean Grainger – a #BookReview

It’s March and I’m participating in the Reading Ireland Month for 2019. This one is historical fiction by popularly acclaimed author Jean Grainger. Jean is a USA Today Bestselling Author and was selected by BookBub readers in the top 19 of historical fiction books AND is the winner of the 2016 Author’s Circle Historical Novel of Excellence.

March!

Return to Robinswood by Jean GraingerTitle: Return to Robinswood: An Irish family saga. (The Robinswood Story Book 2) by Jean Grainger

Genre: Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction, British and Irish

Print Length: 289 pages

Publication Date: February 19, 2019

  • ISBN-10:1797471155
  • ISBN-13:978-1797471150
  • ASIN: B07NVN3G7L

Source: Direct author request

Title Link: Return to Robinswood

Book Blurb:

One Irish house, two very different families, and a war that changed everything.

Robinswood Estate, County Waterford, Ireland. 1946.

Years of neglect and abandonment have left the family seat of the Keneficks almost derelict, but the new Lord Kenefick and his charming young wife Kate, are determined to breathe life into the old house once more.

The war is over and they have survived, so now they must set about making a bright future for themselves and their family. But the shadows of the past are ever lurking, and there are many who are not willing to see the new Lady Kenefick as anything more than the housekeeper’s daughter.

Kate’s family, the Murphys, find themselves once more, inextricably entwined with both the Keneficks and Robinswood, but this time everything is different. Or at least they hope it is.

The legacy of the war cannot be erased, and the events of those fateful years will not be forgotten. Can Robinswood provide a haven for those who need it, or are the scars of the past too deep? Continue reading “Return to Robinswood by Jean Grainger – a #BookReview”

The Beantown Girls by Jane Healey – a #BookReview

Five Stars Five Stars of Five Rating

the-beantown-girls--cellTitle: The Beantown Girls by Jane Healey

Genre: Literature and Fiction, Historical, War, Military

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

Publication Date: February 5, 2019

Print Length: 366 pages

  • ASIN:B07FTBNVGK
  • ISBN-10: 1542044529
  • ISBN-13: 978-1542044523

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title and Cover: The Beantown Girls – Photo representative of the era

Book Blurb:

A novel of love, courage, and danger unfolds as World War II’s brightest heroines—the best of friends—take on the front lines.

1944: Fiona Denning has her entire future planned out. She’ll work in city hall, marry her fiancé when he returns from the war, and settle down in the Boston suburbs. But when her fiancé is reported missing after being shot down in Germany, Fiona’s long-held plans are shattered.

Determined to learn her fiancé’s fate, Fiona leaves Boston to volunteer overseas as a Red Cross Clubmobile girl, recruiting her two best friends to come along. There’s the outspoken Viviana, who is more than happy to quit her secretarial job for a taste of adventure. Then there’s Dottie, a shy music teacher whose melodious talents are sure to bring heart and hope to the boys on the front lines.

Chosen for their inner strength and outer charm, the trio isn’t prepared for the daunting challenges of war. But through it all come new friendships and romances, unforeseen dangers, and unexpected dreams. As the three friends begin to understand the real reasons they all came to the front, their courage and camaraderie will see them through some of the best and worst times of their lives. Continue reading “The Beantown Girls by Jane Healey – a #BookReview”

A Pirate’s Road to Key West by Michael Reisig – a #BookReview

A Pirate's Road to Key West by Michael ReisigTitle: A Pirate’s Road to Key West – Lafitte’s Gold – Book Nine

Genre: Caribbean and Latin America, Action and Adventure, Sea Adventures, Historical Fiction, Travel

Publisher: Clear Creek Press

259 pages

ASIN: B07JHJXF6V

Publication Date: Happy Publication Day!! October 17, 2018

Source: Author request

Title and Cover: A Pirate’s Road to Key West – Beautiful cover hints at island setting

Book Blurb:

In the ninth novel of his bestselling “Road To Key West” series, Reisig once again locks his readers into a careening odyssey of hidden fortunes, mercurial romance, conscienceless villains, and bizarre friends.

From Caracas to New Orleans, into the dark fringes of Haiti, down through the Windward Islands, then back into The Florida Keys, Kansas Stamps, Will Bell, and The Hole In The Coral Wall Gang chase a stolen Pre-Columbian treasure. Then there’s the Voodoo-practicing drug boss, a vengeful Columbian Don, and a highly artful assassin. Before you can catch your breath, it all rolls together into a turbulent Key West Fantasy Fest finale.

So, sit back, pour yourself a margarita, and slide into the islands one more time. You’re on “The Road” again.

My Review:

You know it’s going to be a fun read when the name of the bar is Eddie’s Bar and Swill.

I was introduced to the author, Michael Reisig, some years ago and have been a solid fan ever since. Mr. Reisig has a poetic way with words, his prose is almost beautiful. The man can spin a yarn and has a winning series in his Key West books, this being the ninth. Once again, he brings in intrepid protagonists Will Bell and Kansas Stamps as they involve the Hole in the Coral Wall Gang in the latest crazy South American adventure.

Whether Reisig sets the scene in the Caribbean in 1821 or Key West in 1989, you get that these two have a long history of adventure and survival, finding treasure, losing it, and regaining it. Will and Kansas have each other’s back and a high standard of morals–cleaving more right than wrong. They have a wonderful cadre of close comrades, several of whom are ‘Nam veterans who have survived whatever life threw at them. In their recent adventure, they picked up a new companion (besides Shadow, Kansas’s dog) named Arturio whose method of survival included a game that well prepared him for any that Will and Kansas were involved in. Arturio is an amazing character, street smart and fast.

Sundance was also recently introduced, a figure left in the shadow who has a habit of emerging with the most propitious timing. Sundance is a confirmed hypochondriac whose constant battle with the latest that he is suffering rises to new heights of hilarity. And Sundance has a peculiar way of securing free meals. (Another testament to the sense of humor the author infuses in his novels.) Still, with characters well developed or fairly new to the series, each entry to the series are different standalone adventures with new and heinous antagonists and luscious women best kept on the outside–looking in.

No strangers to the jungles of Venezuela, the boys have retrieved a treasure previously discovered, only to lose it, and form plans to get it back–again. The fun is in the execution–and I use that term advisedly. Reisig’s books always capture your attention immediately and then prepare you for a non-stop roller-coaster adventure that includes beautiful and quotable prose along the way.

A Pirate's Road to Key West by Michael Reisig“The gladiator rarely sleeps well the night before he salutes Caesar.”

“The wind pulled at me like a desperate lover.”

“It was like doing business with a viper–you watched the head at all times and hoped it bit the enemy.”

“…as selfish as it sounded, I didn’t want someone else’s life with me in it. I wanted my life with someone else in it.”

Descriptions set such a vivid scene, the reader is caught wincing at desperate situations or melting at the sight of a gorgeous view of the ocean and the calming sounds of the sea. Dialogue sets a solid feeling of menace or tender feelings of love with unerring tenderness and believability. These characters are so real you believe this all may have happened, the characters real persons, real experiences, and you are in the middle of it. Wild escapades, sometimes laugh out loud comical situations, but always entertaining.

Each time a new Reisig book comes out, it becomes my new favorite. I truly loved this one; such a rich experience, compelling and easy to read right straight through. I received an ARC from the author and, as always, thrilled and delighted to read and review. Recommended for any who enjoy action-adventure, sea adventures, pirate and treasure adventures, travel and exotic locations, and wild tropical thrillers. Shed your old tropes and discover excitement!

Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five BIG Stars Five Stars of Five Rating

Michael Reisig - authorThe Author:

Michael Reisig has been writing professionally for 20 years. He is a former Caribbean adventurer turned newspaper editor, award-winning columnist, and best-selling novelist.
After high school and college in Florida, he relocated to the Florida Keys. He established a commercial diving business, got his pilot’s license, and traveled extensively throughout the southern hemisphere, diving, treasure hunting, and adventuring.
Reisig claims he has been thrown out of more countries in the Caribbean Basin that most people ever visit, and he admits that a great many of the situations and the characters in his novels are authentic – but nothing makes a great read like experience…
He now lives in the mountains of Arkansas, where he hunts and fishes, and writes, but he still escapes to the Caribbean for an occasional adventure.

©2018 V Williams V Williams

The Colonel and the Bee – a #BookReview

The Colonel and the Bee by Patrick CanningTitle: The Colonel and the Bee by Patrick Canning

Genre: Currently #4792 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank in Kindle eBooks, Literature & Fiction, Literary Fiction, Action & Adventure

Publisher: Evolved Publishing LLC

Publication Date: June 1, 2018

Source: Direct author request

Title and Cover: The Colonel and the Bee-Love that cover

Hoo-boy is this one a douzy! This novel was so much fun I couldn’t keep it to myself and shared with the C.E., whose review will follow mine. The novel hit all my buttons: unique, intriguing, adventurous, historical, surprisingly sharp (and young) female protagonist coupled with the swash-buckling theatrics of a male co-protagonist and absolute non-stop action. First, wrap your head around a  four-story house-sized balloon, and if that doesn’t set your imagination reeling, nothing will. (Think steampunk!)

Beatrix is a barely teenaged female acrobat in a 19th-century European traveling circus held captive owing her age by an abusive ringleader. The dashing and mysterious English Colonel James Bacchus attends the same private showing where she performs and she contrives to join him in a getaway following his ellicit treatise with the wife of their exclusive estate’s host. With the Oxford Starladder (the Ox) the colonel is in pursuit of a heinous criminal as he drifts across the continent in search of a precious jewel, the Blue Star Sphinx, which value in turn has attracted the warring factions of two families. (Think Hatfields and McCoys)

With every additional description of the Ox, I badly wanted to climb aboard and explore each and every crevice, descend the spiral stars, partake of the gourmet meals presented by the colonel, and peak into the horticultural room where the fresh vegetables were grown. What a delightful imaginative fantasy–but one that seemed within grasp it was made so real. The rich nineteenth-century dialogue, $50 words, and formal English prose was a delight but I was many times grateful for the built-in dictionary of my Kindle. Continue reading “The Colonel and the Bee – a #BookReview”

#ThrowbackThursday – Two Rivers (The Great Peacemaker Series #1) by Zoe Saadia

#ThrowbackThursday - spring

Renee began the #ThrowbackThursday meme on her blog, It’s Book Talk to share some of her old favorites as well as sharing books published over a year ago. Hopefully, you’ll find either a story or author that interests you and you’ll check them out. And, if you’d like to join the fun, you’re welcome to use Renee’s pic from her website. Just provide the link back to her please).

Two Rivers - The Peacemaker series by Zoe SaadiaThis week I am highlighting Zoe Saadia, another terrific, prolific author who wrote several series, this one Two Rivers of the Peacemaker series number one of four, which I reviewed on Goodreads. This historical fiction novel was published in 2013. She consistently runs approximately 4.5 stars for any of her books sold on Amazon.

Originally posted October 15, 2015

Book Blurb:

Having survived the failed raid on the enemy lands, Tekeni had no illusions. He was nothing but an enemy cub, adopted into one of the clans, but not accepted, never for real. To fit in was difficult, to run away – impossible. To get into trouble, more often than not, was the only available option. They did not expect anything else from him, anyway.

However, when a meaningless row during a ballgame grew out of proportion, resulting in a fight, Tekeni has found himself in a truly grave trouble. Neither he nor anyone else could have foreseen the chain of events the consequences of this fight would release, when the highly esteemed but controversial Two Rivers decided to help Tekeni out.

Two Rivers was a strange person with unacceptable notions and ideas. He maintained that to war on and on was a mistake of disastrous consequences. He went as far as suggesting a negotiation of peace with some of the neighboring nations. Even Tekeni, the despised enemy, thought such ideas to be far-fetched and wild. And yet…

With their trouble mounting and the revengefulness of some people around them growing, both Tekeni and Two Rivers find themselves pushed beyond limits. Continue reading “#ThrowbackThursday – Two Rivers (The Great Peacemaker Series #1) by Zoe Saadia”

Charlie Mac – a #BookReview

Charlie Mac by Maria McDonaldTitle: Charlie Mac: A Story of Ordinary People Who Lived in Extraordinary Times by Maria McDonald

Genre: Currently #37389 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank in Kindle eBooks, Literature & Fiction, Historical Fiction

Publication Date: March 30, 2018

Source: Direct request by author

Title and Cover: Charlie MacThe chair holds significance but doesn’t wholly convey the tragedy that it included.

This is the fictional account of the life and death of Charlie McMullen, great-grandfather of the author which follows three generations through one of the most tumultuous times in the history of Ireland–specifically in Belfast.

Charlie was born in 1873 and died just after the Irish Home Rule Campaign ended with the establishment of the border dividing Ireland. A city fella, he married a country girl, Mary Jane from County Down. Her life experience was totally opposite his, as was her religion; hers being Catholic. We can’t help who we fall in love with and sometimes that will forever shape our destiny. But neither his Belfast neighbors nor their respective families were happy with the marriage. The couple thought, however, that the strength of their union would overcome objections. It couldn’t and didn’t, resulting in tragedy. Continue reading “Charlie Mac – a #BookReview”

For the Love of Ireland – #BookReview

For the Love of Ireland by Judy LeslieTitle: For the Love of Ireland by Judy Leslie

Genre: Currently #535 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank in Kindle eBooks, Literature & Fiction, Historical Fiction, Irish

Publisher: CreateSpace

Publication Date: April 22, 2013

Source: BookBub

Title and Cover: For the Love of IrelandSubdued cover represents a Victorian female journalist

This is a mesmerizing fictional story of how these real historical figures affected society and the lives they touched in their efforts to help secure a free Ireland in the late nineteenth century. The story captures successful journalist Irish born Margaret Sullivan living in Chicago writing for a major newspaper under a nom de plume. This is a time when women would not have been allowed any career outside of the home. The book also examines the role of women in business–still a struggle as well. Continue reading “For the Love of Ireland – #BookReview”

The Rock Child, a Book Review

The Rock Child by Win Blevins
Hardcover edition cover

Title: The Rock Child, A Novel of a Journey

Genre: Currently #173 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank in Kindle eBooks, Literature & Fiction, Historical Fiction, United States

Publisher: Wordworx

Publication Date: March 27, 2013

Source: BookBub

Of Love and Demons by Win BlevinsTitle and Cover: The Rock Child – Title and covers have undergone changes

A wild skirmish between a Tibetan Buddhist nun’s family and kidnappers result in the death of an entire family and a nun (Sun Moon) shanghaied and brought to America. It is 1862 and one thousand in gold could buy almost anything. Mix that with Native-American/Anglo protagonist Asie Taylor who becomes entangled in a life of music and a famous English explorer, Sir Richard Francis Burton, and you have the beginnings of a gripping Win Blevins’ novel. Continue reading “The Rock Child, a Book Review”

Rosepoint #Reviews – January Recap

Congratulations to you for surviving the holidays and making it through January! Isn’t that considered the worst of winter is over? We can only hope! It’s certainly been a frantic month for me, back to reading, reviewing, and concentrating on “stats.” (Yes, I know. I’m not supposed to think about those, but…)

I have achieved some goals: 

Books to Cell
Photo attribution: Shutterstock

Blog stats (hit 1,000 followers–Thank you all–again!), Goodreads stats (made my Book Challenge!), Amazon reviewer status (now down under 15K), and NetGalley stats achieved 80%–gonna keep it that way and pushing for my 50 reviews badge. (As a new reviewer on NetGalley, it’s easy to fall into that trap–BOOKS! All those BOOKS! I want them all–no, wait…oops!)

So, besides the ARC’s from NetGalley, there was #ThrowbackThursdays highlighting two of my favorite authors (Jodie Bailey and Linda McDonald). Spent some heavy time doing #AmReading posts, #TBR posts, and #Bookstagrams, the latter of which has fired up new ideas for “staging” books and that’s been fun.

Eleven January reads, most ARC’s through NetGalley and one read (#11) by my associate, the CE (If you haven’t caught his review yet, check it out!):

  1. January 02 – No Turning Back by Nancy Bush
  2. January 04 – The Last Homecoming by Dan Chabot (author request)
  3. January 07 – Grist Mill Road by Christopher J Yates
  4. January 09 – Strangers by Ursula Archer and Arno Strobel
  5. January 10 – Need to Know by Karen Cleveland
  6. January 14 – An Engineered Injustice by William L Myers Jr
  7. January 16 – Dark Ocean by Nick Elliott (author request)
  8. January 21 – Deep Zero by V S Kemanis
  9. January 23 – An Eye for an Eye by Caroline Fardig
  10. January 28 – Curses, Boiled Again by Shari Randall
  11. January 30 – The Yanks Are Starving by Glen Craney (author request)

See anything here that catches your eye? These run the gamut from historical fiction to psychological and legal thrillers and I know you’ve read at least one of them.

I’m having a tough time keeping up with reading and commenting on all your reviews! I comment when I can and I enjoy receiving all your comments here as well as the likes and comments on Bookstagram.

Photo attibution: lifewithdogsandcatsMaybe you CAN teach an old dog new tricks, it just takes us longer. If you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them! ©2018 V Williams I Love Likes and Comments--Please Share!

#ThrowbackThursday – Author Amanda Hughes – Book Reviews

#ThrowbackThursday on It's Book Life blogRenee began the Throwback Thursday meme on her blog, “It’s Book Talk” to share some of her old favorites as well as sharing books published over a year ago. Sounded like a good reason to join! My TT posts will not come from current ARCs or new releases. Means I’ll be going back over some of my oldies but goodies, my favorite authors, and some of my favorite stories from authors you might not have previously experienced. Hopefully, you’ll find either a story or author that interests you and you’ll check them out.

  • This week I am highlighting another terrific, prolific author, Amanda Hughes. Ms. Hughes writes about bold women of the 18th, 19th, and (now the) 20th centuries, but they are all stand alone books and do not carry the protagonist from one to the next of the same series. She just released The Looking Glass Goddess (Bold Women of the 20th Century Series, Book 1) on April 26, 2017. I’ve read the three highlighted below from her Bold Women of the 18th Century Series and I loved them all. First one we’ll look at is…

Continue reading “#ThrowbackThursday – Author Amanda Hughes – Book Reviews”

An Echo of Murder – a Book Review

An Echo of Murder by Anne PerryTitle: An Echo of Murder by Anne Perry

Genre: Currently # 62 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank in Books, Literature & Fiction, British & Irish, Historical

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Publication Date: To be released September 19, 2017

Source: Ballantine Books and NetGalley

Title and Cover: An Echo of Murder – Attractive cover creates slight hint of historical quality

Having come into An Echo of Murder: A William Monk Novel by well-established author Anne Perry, I knew I’d missed something important when there were references to Mr. Monk’s amnesia. This being the 23rd of the series, the back story of Monk’s amnesia was obviously the plot of a previous book. This installment gets bits and snatches of it and I was left wondering how in the world then did he ever get to be Commander of the Thames River Police.

In this offering, there is an appalling series of murders of London’s Hungarian citizens. Yes, it is an historical fiction novel set in London. Hester Monk, his wife, certainly his equal and perhaps then some, has a strong history with the Crimean War in which she attended to front line casualties as a nurse. The end of the war precipitated an influx of alien citizens to the area. Continue reading “An Echo of Murder – a Book Review”

2016 Goodreads Choice Book Awards-Did You See the Book Trailers?

Book Trailers!

I’ve written about them before, including those trailers I published for my grandfather’s books, as well as one I created for Jean Grainger, an Irish author. Ms. Grainger published “So Much Owed – An Irish World War 2 Story” on December 1, 2013. I enjoyed the book so much that I felt compelled to create a short book trailer, which I uploaded to YouTube on March 6, 2017.

Given that I’m a member of the Book Trailer Group on Goodreads, I keep bumping up against book trailers; fascinated with most. Some amateur trailers are amazing good, some professionally produced piss-poor. But everyone sees a trailer, whether movie or book, in their own eyes. So I got to wondering about the 2016 Goodreads Choice Book Awards. How many winners had book trailers? Continue reading “2016 Goodreads Choice Book Awards-Did You See the Book Trailers?”

The Mystery of Her – a Book Review

The Mystery of Her by Patricia CatacalosTitle: The Mystery of Her by Patricia Catacalos

Genre: Currently #2164 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank in Kindle Store, Kindle eBooks, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Mystery, Historical

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services, LLC

Publication Date: May 2016

Source: Submitted by author for review

Title and Cover: The Mystery of Her – Cover hints at era

Lady Kiera Everett is pretty darned sure her father was murdered and how it could have been viewed as anything else, even in London in 1888, is beyond me given the nature of the manner in the first of the Zane Brothers Detective Series, “The Mystery of Her” by Patricia Catacalos. I’m a fan of historical fiction, particularly mysteries, and this was not my first rodeo, so perhaps my expectations were a bit high. Continue reading “The Mystery of Her – a Book Review”

A Far Road To Key West – a Book Review

A Far Road to Key West by Michael ReisigTitle: A Far Road To Key West – The Road To Key West Book 7

Genre: Currently #1 in Kindle Store, Kindle eBooks, Literature & Fiction, Historical Fiction, Caribbean & Latin American AND

#3 in Books, Literature & Fiction, Action & Adventure, Men’s Adventure

Publisher: Clear Creek Press

Publication Date: June 18, 2017

Source: ARC from author

A Far Road to Key West – Cover continues the series brand

I became a solid and enthusiastic fan of Michael Reisig after reading “Brothers of the Sword/Children of Time.” The swashbuckler reaches back into time and secures and hides the treasure that following the split of the book into the Caribbean Gold series became “The Treasure of Tortuga” and “The Treasure of Time.” (Additionally, there is a third in the Caribbean Gold series.) The way this author reaches back into time and places you square in the middle of the action is riveting.

In the meantime, I’ve been privileged to become one of his pre-readers, a beta reader of the Key West series of novels, and with this, the 7th in the Road to Key West series, his characters remain those steadfast, but true, robust men brought forward with the same kind of spirit as the former. Continue reading “A Far Road To Key West – a Book Review”

Charbonneau-Man of Two Dreams–A Book Review

Charbonneau-Man of Two DreamsTitle: Charbonneau-Man of Two Dreams

Genre: Currently #3 in Best Seller’s Rank in Kindle Store, Kindle eBooks, Biographies & Memoirs, Sports & Outdoor, and Adventurers & Explorers

Publisher: Wordworx

Publication Date: September 2012

Charbonneau-Man of Two Dreams – Dreamcatcher on Cover is a Nice Touch!

Charbonneau-Man of Two Dreams by Win Blevins is a beautifully written story woven in and around Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, (variously known as Baptiste or Paump) born of Sacajawea and his French-Canadian father, Toussaint, at the Lewis and Clark winter camp, Ft. Mandan, ND in 1805. A fur trapper, Toussaint was far less support for the westward expedition of Lewis and Clark to the Pacific than was the better-known Sacajawea (a Lemhi Shoshone), who provided excellent trail guidance as well as interpretive services in dealing with the other tribes of the northwest. Continue reading “Charbonneau-Man of Two Dreams–A Book Review”

Of Ashes and Dust – a Book Review

Of Ashes and Dust by Marc GrahamTitle: Of Ashes and Dust by Marc Graham

Genre: Currently #54444 in Best Seller’s Rank in Books, Literature & Fiction, Literary (Historical)

Publisher: Five Star Publishing

Publication Date:  March 2017

Of Ashes and Dust – Cover conveys roughly the subject of the second half of the book.

In this debut novel by Marc Graham, he has created a heart-rending, soul-searching story of a man reflecting on his life as it literally ebbs away.

Of Ashes and Dust follows James (JD, or Jade) Robbins as the son of a poor sharecropper, more comfortable with the Negro slaves in the fields of Arkansas in 1846 than that of his close, but upper class landowners.

Growing into his teen years, he falls hopelessly in love with the daughter of the owner of the land on which his family works, and gives his heart and soul to her, pledging his undying devotion until they are split by the Civil War. He is forced to leave his family and his love, finally changing from a beautiful, passionate young man into a world weary, combat wounded veteran. The emotionally charged descriptions of the Civil War battles stab at the heart and cries with the protagonist, until he is finally mustered out to heal and rejoin his love. But things have tragically changed back home as well.

Graham poignantly paints a deeply ravaged person mourning the loss of his soul mate to another, reducing the reader to helpless tears.

Seeking to leave that grief behind, Jim Robbins finds work and leaves the state with his buddy Dave to join the railroad expansion effort toward the west. He and Dave continue their work toward the Pacific after they successfully join the rails at Promontory Point.

The author provides rich descriptive detail of the struggle laying the rail west with unerring historical accuracy, the interaction and tragedy of confronting native peoples, and the immigrant Chinese working the railroad; human lives deemed expendable. It is out west that Robbins eventually finds another love with whom he believes he can share a mutual passion and life philosophy, but it seems that Robbins is again to be denied an enduring love. Dave forces him to go on and together they sail for Australia to help complete railroad construction there.

The characters are fleshed out so well, you ache to have them somehow survive–where is my “happy ever after?” Jim Robbins is immensely empathetic. The dialogue is so natural; the author might have taken it from civil war reports or newspaper accounts along the way.

This story grabs you by the collar from the beginning, and inexorably builds upon itself until, while you know what is going to happen, don’t know exactly how until the end…and then it’s soul crushing. Sometimes you read a book that stays with you after “the End.” This is one of those.

Bullseye!I was given the book in exchange for an honest review. It is packed with intense sensitivity, love, power, loss, regret, and triumph. Recommended for anyone interested in a book that won’t let you go.

Marc Graham - authorRosepoint Publishing: Five of Five Stars

The Author: Marc Graham is an “actor, singer, bard, engineer, Freemason, and whisky aficionado.” If he is not actively hiking the Colorado’s Front Range with his wife and dog, he is either on his computer or on the stage. ©2017 Virginia Williams I Love Likes and Comments--Please Share!

Gone on Sunday-A Cotton Lee Penn Mystery – a Book Review

Gone on SundayTitle: Gone on Sunday by Tower Lowe

Genre: Currently #10598 in Best Seller’s Rank in Books, Literature & Fiction, Genre Fiction, Historical, Mysteries

Publisher: Create Space IPP

Publication Date:  January 2017

Gone on Sunday – A Cotton Lee Penn Historical Mystery – Cover conveys mood

Gone on Sunday by Tower Lowe attempts to give us two distinct murder stories within the same book separated as has been previously noted by 40 years. Continue reading “Gone on Sunday-A Cotton Lee Penn Mystery – a Book Review”

10 Amazing Sub-Genre’s in Historical Fiction

10 amazing thingsHistorical Fiction as a literary genre is generously broad and notoriously ambiguous in that the beginning of man can be included in the same spectrum of writing as our own recent Wild West. It was bound to happen then that sooner or later sub-genres would be broken out.

What is Historical?

In that it depicts and closely associates the period social conditions, manners, clothing, and environmental factors, the story can capture any century or millennia from the dawn of man. Generally, “historical” refers to publications written at least 50 years after the event. Considering an extended time frame, therefore, an author would usually be assumed to be writing from research rather than from experience. (In the relatively unusual case of my grandfather’s manuscripts, however, they were written some time shortly after his “sailing, mining, prospecting, and cowpoke days,” over 90 years ago but only recently published by myself.)

So if it’s all historical fiction, what are the ten sub-genres? Continue reading “10 Amazing Sub-Genre’s in Historical Fiction”

Maggie Elizabeth Harrington-Review

Maggie Elizabeth HarringtonMaggie Elizabeth Harrington by C. J. Swykert

Genre: Currently #3071 in Best Sellers Rank for Kindle ebooks, Literature and Fiction-Historical

Publisher: Cambridge Books

Publication Date: March, 2016

Submitted by author for review

Maggie Elizabeth HarringtonMaggie Elizabeth Harrington Two Covers–One for print and one for Kindle. The Kindle cover includes a wolf in the background, but a modern-day woman.

This powerful story of thirteen year old Maggie Elizabeth Harrington was set in a copper mining town of Michigan in 1893. Maggie Elizabeth is the daughter of a miner who lives with her grandmother and her father (who against everything that Maggie Elizabeth believes in, drowns every new litter of kittens). Her mother passed in childbirth; the father barely speaks to her, the grandmother isn’t much better, and she attributes this to the death of her mother–which she considers must be her fault. Continue reading “Maggie Elizabeth Harrington-Review”