Doublespeak by Alisa Smith – a #BookReview

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

Genre: Historical WW2 Fiction (Thriller)

Publisher: St Martin’s Press

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

 Print Length: 260 pages

Publication Date: April 16, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Doublespeak: A Novel

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2019 V Williams Blog author

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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

Cast No Shadow: A Short Story #Review

Cast No Shadow: A Short Story by Brandon DraganTitle: Cast No Shadow: A Short Story by Brandon Dragan

Genre: Literature & Fiction, Short Stories, Westerns(?)

Print Length: 65 pages

Publication Date: June 22, 2018

Source: Direct author request

ASIN: B07DHB437Q

Title and Cover: Cast No ShadowSuper cover reflects the timbre of the book

Dark and disturbing, this short story packs a wallop. Set in an early ’80s Texas locale, a Vietnam vet lives with his wife and nine-year-old son. He has a cadre of his military buddies close by and is together engaged in an unusual activity, creatively borne of a passionate love of country, military comrades, and the state of their world upon return with the brutal knowledge left by their collective/respective war experience.

First, you should know the dialogue is written in the style of Cormac McCarthy, a tribute by the author to McCathy’s particular style of writing. Dragan’s own style is clipped and adult or child appropriate and while the absence of quotation marks on dialogue is present, it quickly becomes part of the natural story progression and doesn’t cause a lot of tripping. The narrative is written in first person account, which lends you a strong masculine sensitivity to his personal backstory. (There are, of course, many words considered seaman worthy and the reader should also be aware of some adult activity.)

That said, there is an obvious love between protagonist Beau Moreland and his wife Annabelle and their son. He has been honest with his wife and she is aware of his “extracurricular” activities, sans specific details. His son loves to play ball and he is careful to interact with him in practice and attend games.

His after-hours activities involve members of his ex-troop who feel the need to pursue a fight against an inexorable and deadly activity despoiling their population. They will take a stand where justice fails. The author has an interesting descriptive manner and the short narrative doesn’t need to be broken up into chapters, but engages you immediately. You need no commercial breaks to march through to the heart-stopping conclusion.

This is not the first vigilante offering I’ve read of late but is certainly one of the most powerful and again seems to offer up the opinion that this form of justice may come at too great an extreme cost. Is it still wrong if you are trying to right a wrong?

This is a well-paced short story, devastating, haunting, and heartrending. The poignant love and lesson a father bestow to his child takes on epic proportions. This is a conclusion you can’t see coming, like a ninja in the night, it’s a black warrior, and it leaves you crying NOOO…(take it back!). But there are no do-overs, only unanswered questions.

I received this download from the author and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. It is one that leaves an impression on your heart and a chill down your arms.

(Crap! Can we get a new ending? Please?)

Recommended for those who appreciate short stories, literature and fiction, thrillers, crime fiction, and vigilante justice.

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

The Author: Brandon Dragan grew up in New Jersey, just miles from the Lincoln Tunnel.

At eighteen he left home to attend Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.

He draws on a wide range of influences—from literature to history, to philosophy—to craft meaningful and often surprising narratives that challenge the status quo and reach for a deeper understanding of what it means to be human.

Brandon and his wife Jami live in the Nashville area with their two daughters, Natalie and Brooklyn.

He enjoys road cycling and is an avid supporter of Arsenal Football Club.

©2018 V Williams V Williams

Sherlock Holmes and the case of the Disappearing Diva #BookTour #Spotlight

Sherlock Holmes and the case of the Disappearing Diva

I am so delighted today to provide a spotlight for you at my blog stop for Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Disappearing Diva by Gemma Halliday and Kelly Rey on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour.

Book Details 

Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Disappearing Diva

Book 2 of the Series

Romance – Mystery, 227 pages

Gemma Halliday Publishing

Released August 14, 2018

ASIN: B07DP3NBH7

Book Blurb

Sherlock Holes and the case of the Disappearing Diva

From #1 Kindle & New York Times bestselling author Gemma Halliday and USA Today bestselling author Kelly Rey comes a story about Sherlock Holmes, two savvy female detectives, and one chance to catch a killer and the hot Dr. Watson at the same time…

If there’s one thing Martha “Marty” Hudson can’t say no to, it’s her best friend Irene Adler. So when Irene’s little white lie about a fake detective named Sherlock Holmes turns into a real case from an actual paying client, Marty is all in. But their simple missing person case takes a deadly turn when the missing “person” ends up being a missing corpse. Rebecca Lowery was an opera singer in life and, according to her sister, who hires the famous detective to find her, a diva with capital D. When her body goes missing after a supposedly accidental fall, Marty & Irene can think of several people who might want the diva to disappear permanently—especially if her missing body is actually hiding evidence of her murder. Is it the boyfriend with a temper and a shady record, the jealous understudy who’s now stealing the show, the creepy undertaker with possible ties to the underworld, or the estranged sister herself who now inherits everything? Marty and Irene aim to find out, even while trying to keep cool around the hot ME, Dr. Watson, and dodging questions from the Irregulars blogger, Wiggins, about the mysterious man behind the name Sherlock Holmes. Will the ladies be able to pull this one off? Or are they in over their heads…and possibly about to take their own final bows?

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About the Author

Gemma Halliday is the #1 Kindle, New York Times & USA Today bestselling author of several romantic mystery series, including the High Heels Mysteries, the Hollywood Headlines Mysteries, the Jamie Bond Mysteries, and many others. Gemma’s books have received numerous awards, including a Golden Heart, two National Reader’s Choice awards, a RONE award for best mystery, and three RITA nominations. She currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her boyfriend, Jackson Stein, who writes vampire thrillers, and their four children, who are adorably distracting on a daily basis.

Want a FREE ebook? Sign up for Gemma’s newsletter and get a free ebook as a thank you! http://www.gemmahalliday.com

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

Tour Participants:

August 15 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – GUEST POST

August 15 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT, GIVEAWAY

August 16 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT

August 16 – The Book Diva’s Reads – GUEST POST

August 17 – Nadaness In Motion – REVIEW, GIVEAWAY

August 17 – T’s Stuff – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

August 17 – Rosepoint Publishing – SPOTLIGHT

August 18 – Readeropolis – CHARACTER INTERVIEW, GIVEAWAY

August 18 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

August 19 – A Blue Million Books – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

August 19 – Cozy Up With Kathy – GUEST POST

August 20 – Devilishly Delicious Book Reviews – REVIEW

August 20 – My Reading Journeys – SPOTLIGHT, GIVEAWAY

August 21 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW, GIVEAWAY

August 21 – Mysteries with Character – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

August 22 – Socrates’ Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

August 22 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST, GIVEAWAY

August 23 – The Cozy Pages – REVIEW

August 23 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

August 24 – MJB Reviewers – AUTHOR INTERVIEW, GIVEAWAY

August 24 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT Great Escapes Book Tours

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

©2018 V Williams V Williams

See You Soon, Afton – a #BookReview

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

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

Publication Date: August 7, 2018

Source: Direct author request

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

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