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 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

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