Reading Ireland Month 2021 – My March Reading List and Cathy’s Irish Celebration!

Beginning March 2nd I’m participating in the Begorrathon–#readingirelandmonth2021 this year (as I did last) and have put together a list of the books I’ll be reviewing along with their links to Amazon and hope that you’ll join us!

Reading Ireland Month 2021

The books may be about Ireland, have an Irish protagonist, or be written either by an Irish author or author with Irish roots. Most books on my list were previously released. In the States, we normally celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with parades, pub specials, and corned beef and cabbage. Last year the celebrations were cancelled due to the pandemic and has this year as well.

Cathy at 746 Books is hosting the fifth annual celebration of all things Irish, in the company of her partner, Niall of The Fluff is Raging.   

You may want to check Cathy’s website to see her theme schedule. Additionally, she will feature film reviews, poems, music, interviews, and giveaways. (I am hoping to provide a soda bread recipe and possibly another poem written by my grandfather.) She has a monster list of 100 books you can peruse and a collection of recommendations. Connect with Cathy on Facebook and be sure to use her hashtags #readingirelandmonth21 and #begorrathon21.

Have you found a favorite Irish podcaster yet? I still recommend the Celtfather, Marc Gunn, at the Irish and Celtic Music Podcast. I’ll add in another poem written by my grandfather, Patrick J Rose (aka Stanley McShane) who (as far as we can tell) hailed from Cork.

So here is my schedule of my books so far (subject, of course, to constant revision):

My Reading Ireland Month books

1.      The Shortest Day by Cólm Toíbin – Literary Short Stories – March 2 – a CE review

2.      The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue – Audiobook – #1 Best Seller in Medical Fiction – March 4

3.      Murder in an Irish Cottage (An Irish Village Mystery Book 7) by Carlene O’Connor – Ghost Mysteries to be reviewed on Friday, March 5

4.      Normal People by Sally Rooney – Audiobook review on March 11

5.      First Love by Steven Henry (An Erin O’Reilly K-9 Mysteries Book 10) Police Procedurals, Review on March 16

6.      Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent-Psychological Fiction, Audiobook review on Thursday, March 18

7.      Last Port of Call by Jean Grainger – Book 1 of The Queenstown Series, Review on March 19

8.      The Hearts of Invisible Furies by John Boyne – Family Sagas, Audiobook review on March 25

I’m excited about the books again this year that includes new authors (to me), as well as several I’ve previously reviewed (Carlene O’Connor, Steven Henry, Jean Grainger).

Have you read any of the above? Which ones? I’d love to hear your thoughts or recommendations!

©2021 V Williams

Mainely Money (A Goff Langdon Mainely Mystery Book 3) by Matt Cost – a #BookReview – #mysteries

Book Blurb:

Mainely Money by Matt CostMoney is power. Those who have the money wield the power. Laid back, slacker detective Goff Langdon is confronted by this fact as he investigates the blackmailing of a U.S. senator. What starts as a simple extortion case quickly becomes a race for survival as Langdon faces off against a veiled villain with big money and little morals.

My Review:

The third in the trilogy sees a number of changes in this series featuring private detective Goff Langdon. Goff is tickled to be hired for not one, but three investigations, none of which fall into his norm. Goff is still owner of the Coffee Dog Bookstore and between he and his wife Chabal and Jack (her son) share the duties. The private investigations run in fits and starts, but promise to help pay some bills.

Mainely Money by Matt CostA powerful female senator is being blackmailed for an extramarital affair, a voluptuous woman wants him to find her missing sister, and an innocent immigrant is being framed for the series of heinous murders on coeds.

It’s a toss of the coin where to begin, but he is a low-key detective who has a number of close contacts in the right places, such as his local cop buddy, Bart. He takes Coffee Dog with him when he can, though the canine is not known for his service dog training as much as a tail wagging ambassador.

What seemed on the surface to be a routine solve quickly turns dark and even deadly when Goff begins to suspect something much heavier is behind each of these. As matters become more complicated, there are Russian mobsters, dirty politics, spooks, and serial killers to sort with an escalating body count.

Rough and gritty, the narrative careens into the conclusion involving a complex plan with all his friends, family, and support characters. There has been power struggles from those who wield the most money, creating twists and tension, between light-hearted moments, bewildering incidents, and life-threatening moments.

The characters have evolved from Book 1 Mainely Power through Mainely Fear (my reviews) into this installment due to release March 10, though this might easily be read as a standalone.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author that in no way influenced this review. These are my honest opinions.

Rosepoint Rating: Four Stars 4 stars

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Book Details:

Genre: Political Thrillers & Suspense, Political Thrillers, Private Investigator Mysteries
Publisher:

  • ASIN : B08PKMYY39

Print Length: 242 pages
Publication Date: To be released March 10, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley 

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble

Matt Cost - authorThe Author: [Matt Cost] I write. That’s what I do.

Side note: The Maine Humanities Council just selected Mainely Power as the Read ME fiction book of the year.

2021 V Williams

Long Range (A Joe Pickett Novel Book 20) by C J Box – An #Audiobook Review – #crimefiction

Editors' pickBest Mystery, Thriller & Suspense 

Long Range by CJ Box

Book Blurb:

Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett must investigate an attempted murder – a crime committed from a confoundingly long distance – in the riveting new novel from number one New York Times best-selling author C. J. Box.

When Joe Pickett is asked to join the rescue efforts for the victim of a startling grizzly attack, he reluctantly leaves his district behind. One survivor of the grizzly’s rampage tells a bizarre story, but just as Joe begins to suspect the attack is not what it seems, he is brought home by an emergency on his own turf. Someone has targeted a prominent local judge, shooting at him from a seemingly impossible distance. While the judge was not hit, his wife is severely wounded, and it is up to Joe to find answers – and the shooter.

The search for the would-be assassin becomes personal when Joe’s best friend, Nate Romanowski – just as he’s adjusting to the arrival of his first child – falls under suspicion for the crime. It’s a race against the clock as Joe tries to clear Nate’s name and identify the real shooter, all while deciphering the grizzly encounter. Beset by threats both man-made and natural, the two men must go to great lengths to keep their loved ones safe. 

My Review:

The twentieth episode in the Joe Pickett (game warden) series, Long Range hooks immediately with the setting of the technical, sophisticated, and very expensive gear that successfully picks off a target a military sniper would be proud of. The shot pulls Picket from his participation in the search for the survivor of a grizzly attack in his district.

Long Range by CJ BoxMy second Joe Pickett (I also listened to The Wolf Pack). I was drawn to vivid descriptions of the people and the area of Wyoming along with the main characters. This installment understandably adds more characters, while subtly reminding us of the well developed protagonist and support characters from previous installments and will work fine as a standalone.

The long range shot hits the wife of the person who was considered the target, a judge. The search is on for the shooter and gets too close when Joe’s best friend, Nate, falls under scrutiny by the local sheriff. Nate is a well-known falconer and just recently became a new daddy. He is a strongly independent and uniquely forceful character. Descriptions of the training and abilities of his birds build a pulse-pounding visual.

The plot inserts layers of well-paced, complex hypotheses, builds tension, and twists. Many of the support characters are well developed sufficient either to engage and empathize or decry. You can’t stay neutral and uninterested. The narrative absorbs the reader’s attention, entertains, and posits thoughtful consideration.

The conclusion was a bit hurried, explanations, and resolution, but not wholly. There were a couple quibbles—the grizzly thread, was that actually answered? (Perhaps legally, but I never got a satisfactory reason for the bears’ action.) And the Nate thing, hmmm…just too pat. While I enjoyed the novel (the storyline never dragged), it seemed to fall back on an overused trope and I’ve tired of that one. Also, a little disappointed in the narrator’s delivery this time. I don’t remember that the previous one sounded quite that monotone. 

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five of Five Stars 4 1/2 stars

Book Details:

Genre: Crime Fiction, Mysteries, Suspense
Publisher:  Recorded Books
ASIN: B07ZJTW2XX
Listening Length: 10 hrs 35 mins
Narrator: David Chandler
Publication Date: March 3, 2020
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Long Range [Amazon]

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C J Box - authorThe Author: C. J. Box is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of over twenty-two novels including the Joe Pickett series. He won the Edgar Alan Poe Award for Best Novel (Blue Heaven, 2009) as well as the Anthony Award, Prix Calibre 38 (France), the Macavity Award, the Gumshoe Award, the Barry Award (twice), the Western Heritage Award for Literature, and 2017 Spur Award for Best Contemporary Western. The novels have been translated into 27 languages. Open Season, Blue Heaven, Nowhere To Run, and The Highway have been optioned for film and television. Millions of copies of his novels have been sold in the U.S. alone.

Box is a Wyoming native and has worked as a ranch hand, surveyor, fishing guide, a small town newspaper reporter and editor, and he owned an international tourism marketing firm with his wife Laurie. In 2008, Box was awarded the “BIG WYO” Award from the state tourism industry. An avid outdoorsman, Box has hunted, fished, hiked, ridden, and skied throughout Wyoming and the Mountain West. He served on the Board of Directors for the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo and is currently serving on the Wyoming Tourism Board. He lives in Wyoming

The Narrator: David Chandler was born on February 3, 1950 in Danbury, Connecticut, USA as David Suehsdorf. He is an actor and writer, known for Hide and Seek (2005), Law & Order (1990) and The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd (1987). He is married to Janet Elizabeth Muir. They have two children.

©2021 V Williams

Tell No One by Harlan Coben – An #Audiobook Review #suspense #TBT

Tell No One by Harlan Coven

Book Blurb:

Critically acclaimed, best-selling author Harlan Coben has won the Shamus, Anthony, and Edgar Awards during his impressive career.

Tell No One by Harlan CobenTell No One is an irresistibly suspenseful thriller infused with nail-biting tension and packed with shocking plot twists. It has been eight years since Dr. David Beck’s wife, Elizabeth, was murdered by a serial killer. When Beck receives a message containing a phrase only Elizabeth should know, he is tormented to tears. Either someone is playing a sick joke, or the wife he’s never stopped loving is still alive. He’s been warned to tell no one, and as the desperation of his search for the truth intensifies, he heads straight toward a deadly secret.

Coben tempers the drama with dashes of sly humor and a cast of unforgettable characters, including a bare-hands assassin, a glamorous plus-size model and a drug dealer with a soft spot for Dr. Beck. Listeners will relish Ed Sala’s exhilarating narration. 

My Review:

Tell No One by Harlan CobenNo, I hadn’t read everything the author has turned out and sure if I did it was years ago—before I started reviewing—but thumbing through the Netflix offerings came across The Stranger his ebook originally published in 2015. Admittedly, I couldn’t find the audiobook in my local well-stocked library, but here was Tell No One (originally published in 2009) and I must say—close enough. There’s a mild case of déjà vu lurking there.

Okay, yes, there is quite the hook and the premise gets you to reading. The novel is fast-paced and the prose engaging. I couldn’t quite get into any of the characters—main (i.e. Dr. David Beck) or the support characters who were all over the place from medical colleagues to partner of his sister to the street thug who rescues him. I must admit, however, to rooting for the street thug to split—while he had the chance.

I don’t know. What was I expecting?

The narrative gets to spinning when Dr. Beck receives an email that almost convinces him that the wife he thought he’d lost eight years ago is still alive. No, he’d never found a replacement, isn’t married, still pining over the soul mate with whom he’d carved momentous occasions on a pine tree. Also, nature being what it is, has unearthed two bodies at the site where the kidnapping and his attack took place and a whole new scenario opens. Hmmm…

Coben heaps it on, adding twists, adding bits of clues concealed as info, adding more characters, explosive scenes, and enough tender scenes between he and Elizabeth that even the most romance addicted YA would begin to gag. There are more questions, but suddenly Beck himself appears to be a POI in his wife’s kidnapping and death. Wait. Is she really dead?

He’s on the lam and amazingly with the help of his street thug buddy evades the dragnet. Oh, I’m telling you, this will get quite a bit more complex and convoluted, stretching into disbelieving territory before it all winds up in conclusion. Even then, this is a tough act to sell and I’m not wholly buying. Yes, lots of suspense building and at this point I was just curious to see how the author was going to pull it all together, but then he didn’t. Not for me. I was kinda bummed.

The Stranger by Harlan CobenSo, now let’s see—The Stranger (Netflix series) has the same kind of harried husband, discovers a devastating secret about his wife, wife disappears; unlikable, unrelatable main and support characters. Unfathomable conclusion leaves you somewhat flat. What? is written across your forehead. Maybe just mine, but I downloaded the ebook and I’ll report back.

Book Details:

Genre: Mysteries, Suspense Thrillers, Kidnapping Thrillers, Serial Killer Thrillers, Murder Thrillers
Publisher:  Recorded Books
Print Length: 396 pages
ASIN: B002SXIF4A
Listening Length: 10 hrs 36 mins
ASIN: B0078IX10I
Narrator: Ed Sala
Audible Release Date: February 13, 2012
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Tell No One [Amazon]

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4 stars

Harlan Coben - authorThe Author: With over 70 million books in print worldwide, Harlan Coben is the #1 New York Times author of thirty one novels including RUN AWAY, FOOL ME ONCE, TELL NO ONE, NO SECOND CHANCE and the renowned Myron Bolitar series. His books are published in 43 languages around the globe.

Harlan is the creator and executive producer for the Netflix television dramas SAFE starring Michael C. Hall, Audrey Fleurot and Amanda Abbington, and THE FIVE starring Tom Cullen and OT Fagbenle. He is currently filming THE STRANGER, based on his novel, for Netflix starring Richard Armitage, Siobhan Finneran, Jennifer Saunders and Stephen Rea. Harlan was also showrunner and executive producer for two French TV mini-series, UNE CHANCE DE TROP (NO SECOND CHANCE) with Alexandra Lamy and JUST UN REGARD (JUST ONE LOOK) with Virginie Ledoyen. KEINE ZWEIT CHANCE, also based on Harlan’s novel, aired in Germany on Sat1.

Harlan’s novel TELL NO ONE (NE LE DIS A PERSONNE) was turned into the renowned French film, directed by Guillaume Canet and starring Francois Cluzet. The movie was the top box office foreign-language film of the year in USA, won the Lumiere (French Golden Globe) for best picture and was nominated for nine Cesars (French Oscar) and won four, including best actor, best director and best music. The movie with subtitles is now available on Netflix, Amazon Prime and DVD/Blu-Ray.

Winner of the Edgar Award, Shamus Award and Anthony Award – the first author to win all three – international bestselling author Harlan Coben’s critically-acclaimed novels have been called “ingenious” (New York Times), “poignant and insightful” (Los Angeles Times), “consistently entertaining” (Houston Chronicle), “superb” (Chicago Tribune) and “must reading” (Philadelphia Inquirer).

In his first books, Coben immersed himself in the exploits of sports agent Myron Bolitar. Critics loved the series, saying, “You race to turn pages…both suspenseful and often surprisingly funny” (People). After seven books Coben wanted to try something different. “I came up with a great idea that simply would not work for Myron,” says Coben. The result was the critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller TELL NO ONE, which became the most decorated thriller of the year. Two books later, Bookspan, recognizing Coben’s broad international appeal, named NO SECOND CHANCE its first ever International Book of the Month in 2003 – the Main Selection in 15 different countries.

Harlan was the first writer in more than a decade to be invited to write fiction for the NEW YORK TIMES op-ed page. His Father’s Day short story, THE KEY TO MY FATHER, appeared June 15, 2003. His essays and columns have appeared in many top publications including the New York Times, Parade Magazine and Bloomberg Views.

Harlan has received an eclectic variety of honors from all over the world. In Paris, he was awarded the prestigious Vermeil Medal of Honor for contributions to culture and society by the Mayor of Paris. He was won the El Premio del Novela Negra RBA in Spain, the Grand Prix de Lectrices in France, and the CWA/ITV3 Bestseller Dagger for favorite crime novelist in England. On the other end of the spectrum, Little League Baseball inducted Harlan into their Hall of Excellence in 2013, and Harlan is also a member of the New England Basketball Hall of Fame from his playing days at Amherst College.

Harlan was born in Newark, New Jersey. He still lives in New Jersey with his wife, Anne Armstrong-Coben MD, a pediatrician, and their four children.

The Narrator: Ed Sala received a master’s degree in playwriting from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va. He’s lived his life primarily as an actor, appearing on and off Broadway, at Carnegie Hall and in movies and episodic television. His plays have been produced from New York City to Melbourne, Australia. He considers himself very lucky to live a life in this business.

©2021 V Williams