#ComingSoon – #romance #occult #cozy Looking For Some New Reading Ideas?

Amazing the way we choose the books we’ll read and how often, more than not, we choose because of the cover or the title. So I admit it, these three spoke to me, one way or another.

#comingsoon

The Secret Cove in Croatia (Romantic Escapes, Book 5) by Julie Caplin is a romance. Gasp! I know what you are thinking! Rosepoint doesn’t do romance. And normally that would be correct, except in this instance, Croatia is in the title. In 1995 we received an exchange student for his senior year of high school–from Croatia. (His country was at war and he promptly asked if he could stay. Now we call him our Croatian son.) So okay, I am #currentlyreading this one just released July 19th and will review on Friday, July 26th.

Book Blurb:

The Secret Cove in Croatia by Julie CaplinSail away to beautiful Croatia for summer sun, sparkling turquoise seas and a will-they-won’t-they romance you won’t be able to put down!

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

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

The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs by Katherine Howe is an occult fiction/literary saga. Ooh, sounds witchy, huh? I couldn’t resist. Something about that premise just grabs me. And behold that cover! Do you like it, too? It actually released June 25th, but I’m reading for a book tour and will review on my blog date August 9th.

Book Blurb:

The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs by Katherine HoweConnie Goodwin is an expert on America’s fractured past with witchcraft. A young, tenure-track professor in Boston, she’s earned career success by studying the history of magic in colonial America—especially women’s home recipes and medicines—and by exposing society’s threats against women fluent in those skills. But beyond her studies, Connie harbors a secret: She is the direct descendant of a woman tried as a witch in Salem, an ancestor whose abilities were far more magical than the historical record shows.

When a hint from her mother and clues from her research lead Connie to the shocking realization that her partner’s life is in danger, she must race to solve the mystery behind a hundreds’-years-long deadly curse.

Flashing back through American history to the lives of certain supernaturally gifted women, The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs affectingly reveals not only the special bond that unites one particular matriarchal line, but also explores the many challenges to women’s survival across the decades—and the risks some women are forced to take to protect what they love most.

The Garden Club Murder (A Tish Tarragon Mystery Book 2) by Amy Patricia Meade is a cozy culinary mystery and I admit it, I saw that dog and my heart melted–it’s a Bichon Frise. I knew that because I have one. No way could my sweet Frosty be despised, so obviously this antagonist totally messed up with his puppy training techniques.

Book Blurb:

The Garden Club Murder by Amy Patricia MeadeLiterary caterer Letitia ‘Tish’ Tarragon is preparing her English Secret Garden-themed luncheon for Coleton Creek’s annual garden club awards, but when she is taken on a tour of some of the top contenders with the garden club’s president, Jim Ainsley, Tish is surprised at how seriously the residents take the awards – and how desperate they are to win.

Wealthy, retired businessman Sloane Shackleford has won the coveted best garden category five years in a row, but he and his Bichon Frise, Biscuit, are universally despised. When Sloane’s bludgeoned body is discovered in his pristine garden, Tish soon learns that he was disliked for reasons that go beyond his green fingers. Have the hotly contested awards brought out a competitive and murderous streak in one of the residents?

One of these appeal to you as well? If you’ve already read one, let me know what you think. So far I’m enjoying the romantic storyline in Croatia, but this one’s an exception. I still don’t do romance.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

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Goodreads Giveaways – Can You Find them on NetGalley?

Goodreads Giveaways - NetGalley

The good news is that there is a remarkable number of crossovers from Giveaways on Goodreads to those being offered by publishers on NetGalley for the mere promise of a review.

The bad news is that I could not search for five-star books I could recommend from any that I read and reviewed recently.  (My opinion, of course.) Oh, and the other bad news, I could not find a filter that would allow me to search for books other than (mainly) US. Apologies to my friends and readers across the pond, perhaps you get different listings?

There were some listed US and Canada. But actually, there were few filters, although you can search for Kindle format books. Why would they be limited to US? As you no doubt know, Giveaway books are listed as Featured, Ending Soon, Most Requested, or Recently Listed. Most of the books listed below appear on the Most Requested list…26 pages long. No filter for genres either and the following are mixed.

There are approximately 22 per page, although perhaps there is also a filter to increase per page views that I didn’t see. The last two appearing here were not found on NetGalley, but they are also by bestselling authors, the last of which will appear on the silver screens releasing August 9, 2019.

The Last Widow by Karin Slaughter

The Last Widow (Will Trent, #9)

by Karin Slaughter (Goodreads Author)

Print copy, US, Giveaway ends August 10, 2019

Release date: Aug 20, 2019

The highly-anticipated new Will Trent novel by #1 internationally bestselling author Karin Slaughter.

Also available for request on NetGalley from Harper Collins Publishers

Life and Other Inconveniences by Kristan Higgins

Life and Other Inconveniences
by Kristan Higgins (Goodreads Author)

Print copy, US, Giveaway ends August 5, 2019

Release date: Aug 06, 2019

From the New York Times bestselling author of Good Luck with That comes a new novel about a blue-blood grandmother and her black-sheep granddaughter who discover they are truly two sides of the same coin.

Also available for request on NetGalley from Harper Collins Publishers

Blue Moon by Lee Child

Blue Moon (Jack Reacher, #24)
by Lee Child (Goodreads Author)

Print copy, US, Giveaway ends August 9, 2019 Listed among “Most Requested”

Release date: Oct 29, 2019

In the next highly anticipated installment of Lee Child’s acclaimed suspense series, Jack Reacher comes to the aid of an elderly couple . . . and confronts his most dangerous opponents yet.

Also available for request on NetGalley from Random House Publishing Group-Ballantine

Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout

Olive, Again
by Elizabeth Strout (Goodreads Author)

Print copy, US, Giveaway Ends July 29, 2019

Release date: Oct 15, 2019

Olive struggles to understand not only herself and her own life but the lives of those around her in the town of Crosby, Maine. Whether with a teenager coming to terms with the loss of her father, a young woman about to give birth during a hilariously inopportune moment…

Also available for request on NetGalley from Random House Publishing Group

Water Lily Dance by Michelle Muriel

Water Lily Dance
by Michelle Muriel (Goodreads Author)

Print copy, US, Giveaway ends August 12, 2019

Release date: Aug 20, 2019

*SIGNED HARDCOVER BOOK EARLY COPIES OF WATER LILY DANCE FROM MICHELLE MURIEL BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF ESSIE’S ROSES*

Obsession. Rivalry. Revolution. Three brave women. Three centuries. One Paris.
The lives and secrets of three women, centuries apart, intersect at the artist Claude Monet’s garden in this emotional, imaginative portrait of loss, love, and second chances.

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

The Art of Racing in the Rain
by Garth Stein (Goodreads Author)

Print copy, US, Giveaway ends August 11, 2019

Release date: July 30, 2019

Based on the best-selling novel by Garth Stein, THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN is a heartfelt tale narrated by a witty and philosophical dog named Enzo (voiced by Kevin Costner).

The Art of Racing in the Rain – In theaters August 9th!

Have you tried for a Goodreads Giveaway recently? How do you search? (I could use some hints!) I couldn’t resist Kristan Higgins book (above). Or, maybe Harper Collins and NetGalley will grant me a copy!

©2019 V Williams Blog author

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

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

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

Publisher: Kensington

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

      Print Length: 304 pages

Publication Date: To be released July 30, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Let’s Fake a Deal

Book Blurb:

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

+Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars Four stars

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

©2019 V Williams Blog author

 

The Unlucky Ones by Kerry Wilkinson – a #BookReview #Bookouture

The Unlucky Ones by Kerry WilkinsonTitle: The Unlucky Ones (Detective Jessica Daniel thriller series Book 14) by Kerry Wilkinson

Genre: Serial killer thrillers, police procedurals, organized crime thrillers

Publisher: Bookouture

  • ASIN: B07RJZBD6M

Print Length: 333 pages

Publication Date: Happy Publication Day! July 9, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: The Unlucky Ones

Book Blurb:

In the latest heartpounding crime thriller from bestselling author Kerry Wilkinson, Detective Jessica Daniel must find a twisted killer who forces innocent people to relive harrowing near-death experiences one final, fatal time…

A young man is killed by a car, right in front of his distraught fiancé. A missing person is pulled from the canal, only identifiable by his dental records. A troubled young woman takes a deadly leap from the top story of a car park. What could link these three bodies?

To the police, these are tragic but everyday occurrences in their line of work. But when Detective Jessica Daniel discovers that each death is connected to an incident in the victims’ pasts, she knows there’s a dangerous killer at large.

Her investigation leads to a man living on the edge of town, new to the area. A man who receives mysterious visitors at all hours of the night, and who the neighbours refuse to talk about. After staking out his apartment, Jessica receives a message from her superiors: Do not investigate this man.

Ignoring the warning, Jessica is determined to find out how he is involved in the murder of three innocent people. But when she and her colleague are attacked one night, it’s clear that the closer she gets to the truth, the more danger she’s in… can Jessica stop the killer before they get the chance to strike again?

An absolutely unputdownable thriller, packed with twists and turns. Fans of Robert Dugoni, Rachel Caine and Robert Bryndza will be totally gripped by Kerry Wilkinson’s Detective Jessica Daniel crime series.

My Review:

The Unlucky Ones by Kerry WilkinsonMy only experience with this author was a standalone (thriller) that I read early in 2018. I greatly enjoyed that book and remembered the name of the author, so requested this one as soon as I saw it. Of course, it would have to be book 14 in the series, but I can honestly say I enjoyed it regardless. Heaven only knows what I missed in the first thirteen, but I suspect it was some protagonist development as well as team development with whom she normally works. DI Jessica Daniel is a great detective and certainly has the years of experience to know her way around the department.

While she and her partner, Detective Constable Archie Davey (who is driving), are returning from an estate pondering the unusually low stats in a previously high crime area, she glances–JUST FOR A SECOND–to her cell phone and that’s when their marked vehicle hits a pedestrian. He doesn’t survive. Jessica will have the possible help of a sub while Archie is out, but during the course of the investigation of the estate, she also begins to see a potential link to another crime that may have something in common with the pedestrian fatality.

I like Jessica. She is real. She has her foibles, wins and losses, and she has a lot going on in her life and a great deal of history. She has a droll sense of humor which provides a lighter touch to an otherwise sensitive issue. While Jessica is generally low key, she has a wicked sense of people and can pick up nuances. She manages to glean leads that are overlooked by others.

The clever well-plotted storyline begins at an easy pace, bringing in main characters introduced in previous series entries. The dialogue includes a lot of banter between characters that add an aura of real-life and the discussion of Jesus on Saturday was a classic I’m quite sure has more than a few pondering. The real-life scenes add a great deal to life in Manchester for us in the colonies and I must admit to becoming used to (and appreciating) the colloquialisms, slang, and common English terms.

The thriller progressed to additional deaths, all by victims of a previous near-death experience with Jessica connecting the dots amid a heart-pounding climax. As the conclusion solved the serial killer’s identity and segued into the estate puzzle, money goes missing but it is instantly obvious who that culprit is. The conclusion winds down with more of a sigh than a whimper.

The novel is for me character-driven and even in this first, short introduction to the protagonist, I’ve become a solid fan. I was given this ebook download by the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. A different slant on a serial killer thriller and recommended to all who enjoy a crime thriller.

+Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars Four stars

Kerry Wilkinson - authorThe Author: Kerry Wilkinson has had No.1 crime bestsellers in the UK, Australia, Canada, South Africa and Singapore. He has also written two top-20 thrillers in the United States. His book, Ten Birthdays, won the RNA award for Young Adult Novel of the Year in 2018.

As well as his million-selling Jessica Daniel series, Kerry has written the Silver Blackthorn trilogy – a fantasy-adventure serial for young adults – a second crime series featuring private investigator Andrew Hunter, plus numerous standalone novels. He has been published around the world in more than a dozen languages.

Originally from the county of Somerset, Kerry has spent far too long living in the north of England, picking up words like ‘barm’ and ‘ginnel’.

When he’s short of ideas, he rides his bike or bakes cakes. When he’s not, he writes it all down.

Recent & Upcoming US releases:
Silent Suspect (Jessica Daniel 13): 14 January 2019
Something Buried (Andrew Hunter 3): 7 March 2019
A Face In The Crowd: 6 June 2019
The Unlucky Ones (Jessica Daniel 14): 9 July 2019

Find out more at: http://kerrywilkinson.com or http://facebook.com/KerryWilkinsonBooks

©2019 V Williams Blog author

The Great American Cheese War by Paul Flower – a #BookReview

The Great American Cheese War by Paul FlowerTitle: The Great American Cheese War by Paul Flower

Genre: Terrorism Thriller, Vigilante Justice Thriller, Satire, Humor

Publisher: Farrago

  • ISBN-10:1788421574
  • ISBN-13:978-1788421577
  • ASIN:  B07R1S25SG

Print Length: 320 pages

Publication Date: June 27, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: The Great American Cheese War

Book Blurb:

Governor Bill Hoeksma of Michigan is a simple, gun-loving son of a billionaire who idolises George W. Bush.

When a mysterious illness afflicts members of his inner circle, his conspiring advisors point to a rumoured viral weapons attack – via monkeypox-carrying prairie dogs – launched by the Wisconsin government. Governor Bill decides the Michigan militia should lead the military response, chaos ensues, and he falls unwittingly into a scheme of his powerful father’s making. That scheme begins with cheese research and a Hollywood movie star. How it will end all depends on two unlikely heroes: an aging lesbian state senator, and a high-school teacher born and raised in the Michigan militia.

When the conspiracy runs out of road, and guns are drawn in a showdown outside a Cracker Barrel, will anyone emerge victorious from the Great American Cheese War?

My Review:

The Great American Cheese War by Paul FlowerYou might guess from the title (which is what got me), that this might be a seriously tongue-in-cheek book and if you are looking for something to read today that will have you laughing, shaking your head in disbelief, or rolling your eyes at the author’s targeted jabs and hilarious prose, you are in for a considerable treat.

The author has a difficult time reigning in his politically incorrect thoughts and no one is safe from that jaundiced but critical eye. Governor Hoeksma of Michigan is a gun-toting son of a billionaire eight cents short of a dime and he’s just the beginning.

“Bill wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer but neither was he the dimmest bulb in the lamp.”

He is easily manipulated, which is exactly why his billionaire dad put him in the office. The governor is convinced of the conspiracy theory that has ostensibly been launched against Michigan stemming from cheese research, quietly called the Cheesus program. (No, I’m not kidding–Cheesus.)

The governor deciding on the Michigan militia opens a whole new door to a passel of new characters that are as crazy, off-key, and ludicrous as those who argue over the possibility of a monkeypox-carrying prairie dog, except, of course, that there are no prairie dogs in Michigan (or Wisconsin for that matter). The militia is populated by caricatures of what everyone’s concept might be–and then some. The author artfully switches dialogue between an 83-year-old and his political buddy lesbian state senator as easily as he does between members of the militia. Chewing tobacco, beer, open or concealed carry, gun shows, target practice, and militia maneuver practice. One of those, born to it so to speak, is Miky, unwitting protagonist, or she is possibly one of a couple and very empathetic. On the other hand, the antagonists-politicians are as despicable as Francis in The House of Cards. The main characters were all well-developed enough to either like or dislike them.

The satire runs rampant into the conclusion, which turns a semi-serious cheek. A five-star book, my only problem, if there was one, was of the occasional four-letter language. This is a well-plotted can’t put down book in a farcical satire completely unique to the genre. As for the Michigan vs Wisconsin cheese–which is better? Hard to beat California cheese!

I was granted this ebook download by the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. An absolute hoot of a novel and highly recommended.

+Add to Goodreads

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

Paul Flower - authorThe Author: No bio listed.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Rewind by Catherine Ryan Howard – a #BookReview

Rewind by Catherine Ryan HowardTitle: Rewind by Catherine Ryan Howard

Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense Thriller

Publisher: Blackstone Publishing

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

Print Length: 300 pages

Publication Date: September 3, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Rewind

Book Blurb:

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

PLAY

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

PAUSE

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

REWIND

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

+Add to Goodreads

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

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

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Rosepoint #BookReviews – June Recap – #rosepointpub

Goodbye June. Hello steamy July! Here in the US, the month of firecrackers and BBQ (and some would say beer). If you’re not in America, you can toast to our health. (Heaven knows we need it!)

Rosepoint Reviews - June Recap 

It always concerns me when I see what was a fawn (now a wayward teenage deer) wondering around carelessly by herself. Now I know why! Today the doe with her new baby was spotted scarfing up mulberries down by my fairy garden. The fawn still had all her spots. So cute. And fortunately, neither mother nor baby checked out my veggie garden. Well, they are too late anyway–the bunnies got the fresh, tender edibles while somehow avoiding the kale. I’d have gladly traded them the kale for the Swiss chard!

Still concentrating on outside activities, the three “gardens,” fairy, veggie, and flower bed along with inside projects, I did manage to get in eleven reviews. Several author requests, one for Sage’s Book Tours, several for Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, books from NetGalley, and one audiobook. If you missed any of these reviews, please see the links below.

Those were some great books, including several with my five stars! Links to the June reviews:

Pysanky Promise – Cathy Witbeck

Murder She Uncovered – Peg Cochran

Sam Wick Rapid Thriller series – Chase Austin

The Alchemist of Lost Souls – Mary Lawrence

When Sally Comes Marching Home – Richard Milton

Across the River – Richard Snodgrass

The Image Seeker – Amanda Hughes

A Fantasy Writers’ Handbook by Richie Billing

Mistaken Identity Crisis – James J Cudney

The Hiding Place – CJ Tudor

Digging Up History – Sheila Connolly

My Goodreads Challenge is on track. The NetGalley Challenge, however, is definitely OFF track. In a desperate frenzy to get somewhat back ON track, I went to NetGalley and requested eleven books, received two on “Read Now” (Rewind and Fatal Cajun Festival) and placed Denali by Ben Moon on their Wish list. Any chance of getting that one? Here are the two I’ll be starting now:

 

Of the eight remaining requested, received today approval for three, Tracking Game, 29 Seconds, and A Cold Trail. Hopefully,  if all are accepted for download, it won’t blow me out of the 80 percentile! Do you see something here you’ve read?

 

Awaiting request approval:

July is, once again, an eclectic mix of genres that include everything from a cozy mystery to thrillers. Of course, these won’t all be July reads, the #tbr is spread over several months with two of these releasing in November and one in 2020. I received four notices of “Loans” available from my library audiobook requests and, slammed, managed to get through two before the other two fell off the list and back into the library. I posted the audiobook review for The Hidden Place  (see link above) and just finished another called The Road Home by Richard Paul Evans. And guess what? It’s the third in the series. But it is excellent! I’ll be reviewing that one shortly.

One short note with WordPress, again (or still), most of the bloggers I follow have to be refollowed every time I visit. I’m not sure how this happens and last time I corrected worked for two days before it reverted. I do like hearing from all of you and will continue to try and find you and refollow.

As always, please share with me your ideas for great reads and thank you so much for taking the time to read and like my posts and leave those comments. They are SOOO appreciated!

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Digging Up History by Sheila Connelly – a #BookRevieew

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

Genre: Cozy Mystery, Women Sleuths

Publisher: Beyond the Page

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

 Print Length: 221 pages

Publication Date: June 25, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Digging Up History

Book Blurb:

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NYT Bestsellers and Bestselling Authors – Literary Genius or Luck?

NYT Bestseller banner

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

NYT Bestselling authors and books

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

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

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

And they maintain,  

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

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

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

The most popular genre in fiction books:

Suspense/Thrillers

The most popular genre in non-fiction:

Biography/Autobiography/Memoir

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

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

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

My NYT bestselling authors

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

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

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Goodreads books:

Watching You

Change Your Brain Change our Life

The Death of Mrs. Westaway

The Woman in the Window

My NYT reviews:

The Night Window

Murder in the Reading Room

Buried Deep

The Eighth Sister

Dark Hollow

NYT Bestseller badge by Sqfreepapers.com

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

 

Decanted Truths by Melanie Forde – a #BookReview

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

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

Genre: Literary Fiction, British and Irish Literature

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

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

ASIN: B07K6VM2Q1

 Print Length: 333 pages

Publication Date: November 8, 2018

Source: Direct Author Request

Title Link: Decanted Truths

Book Blurb:

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2019 V Williams Blog author

The Night Window by Dean Koontz -a #BookReview

The Night Window by Dean KoontzFive Stars Five stars

Title: The Night Window (Jane Hawk Book 5) by Dean Koontz

Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller

Publisher: Bantam

  • ISBN-10:0525484701
  • ISBN-13:978-0525484707
  • ASIN: B07GMS9JXT

Print Length: 432 pages

Publication Date: May 14, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: The Night Window

Book Blurb:

A visionary young filmmaker hunted for sport across a vast Colorado ranch by the celebrated billionaire at the heart of a monstrous cabal . . .

A brilliant computer hacker slipping through top-secret databases a whisper ahead of security trackers, gathering the facts to fight the all-powerful perpetrators of mass murder . . .

A pair of brutal operators, methodically shadowing their targets with every cutting-edge tool in the arsenal of today’s surveillance state . . .

A sequence of quiet heroes—everyday citizens—stepping up, stepping forward, intent on countering the advancing darkness . . .

A Vegas mob boss teamed with a homicidal sociopath, circling a beloved boy and his protectors, aiming to secure him as leverage against his fugitive mother . . .

And that fugitive mother herself, ex-agent Jane Hawk, closing in on the malevolent architects of ruin she has stalked as they stalk her, prepared to sacrifice herself to finally bring them down.

These are the people and circumstances of The Night Window, the thrilling new novel in Dean Koontz’s acclaimed Jane Hawk series. Replete—and then some—with the ingenious twists, the spellbinding action, the resonant themes, the sheer heart that has characterized Jane’s journey from the start, The Night Window follows its extraordinary heroine to her long-sought objective, in a stunning, unforgettable finale.

The Night Window by Dean KoontzMy Review:

What a stunner of a finale! Book 5, the conclusion in the Jane Hawk series was inarguably the best. Don’t get me wrong–I really enjoyed the previous installments–and couldn’t wait for the next. This doesn’t disappoint. It leaves you breathless, spent, with a major book hangover.

Book Handover

Yes, that is a real condition: Book Hangover (book hang-oh-ver) n. The struggle of trying to reconnect with reality after finishing a really amazing book.

If you started this series from Book 1, kudos! But even if you didn’t, this would still function well as a standalone. Just that you get all that backstory with the first 4. Jane Hawk is an amazing young woman, cunning, intelligent, and capable who had a spectacular career in the FBI. But something went wrong, criminally wrong, and she left and went rogue after the death of her beloved husband. Now she is desperately trying to save her son as well as expose the Techno-Arcadians whose nano-technology mission is to contain and control the population. They have a good running start.

The author has a way of painting the good people very good. You love them. You could hug them–you know them. They are real, enormously empathetic, and you’d love to meet them in real life. Most especially this time ex-FBI guy Vikram Rangnekar. What a brilliant sweety! He is a white hat genius hacker. Then the other side, darker than dark, evil ego-maniac billionaire Wainwright Warwick Hollister. I love the way Koontz gives you a baddy such as Hollister and pits him against sweet, naive Tom Buckle. You begin rooting for Tom immediately, heart in your throat, he’s an innocent for heaven’s sake!

The chapters skip between scenarios, Hollister, Weatherwax, Jane and then Vikram. In her mad dash to reveal and destroy the Arcadians, Jane had garnered somewhat of a sympathetic, independent following who are distrusting and disbelieving of the vile assassination of her character on the social media. And always, there is the uncanny connection of mother to son. Then there are Mustafa al-Yamani and Charles Douglas Weatherwax doggedly tracking Jane while Mustafa is being counseled by Weatherwax on the proper and stylish dress and manner of the population of Long Island. Brooding about the proper after-shave fragrance or man purses among other upper-crust conundrums adds a bit of humor and comical spice that cuts somewhat the horror of these two agents. Koontz balances the hate with love, the evil with good and all the while discussing technology fascinatingly sinister while mind-blowingly mesmerizing. It can sound all too real!

Shocking discovery--What!?? And then the shocking conclusion, the only way Jane could see to expose something this massive, this evil. But I couldn’t believe what I was reading! Really though, it was incredible. How else could this have been handled? It was brilliant and devastating. Koontz is the man. The master storyteller. Loved this series! It moves at a remarkable pace. I’m a grateful recipient of an uncorrected digital ebook download and loved the opportunity to read and review. Totally recommended.

Did you read this book? Let’s talk about it!

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Dean Koontz - authorThe Author: Dean Koontz, the author of many #1 New York Times bestsellers, lives in Southern California with his wife, Gerda, their golden retriever, Elsa, and the enduring spirits of their goldens, Trixie and Anna.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Book Beginnings and The Friday 56–HELLO Friday!

Book Beginnings-The Friday 56

Every Friday you have the opportunity to share the first sentence of the book you are currently reading. Starting last October I participated in Book Beginnings who is hosted by Gillian at Rose City Readers. You can too! Just include the title of the book and the author’s name. You may wish to share your impression of the book to date as well. Also please share your post with Mister Linky on her blog site. This week I am spotlighting The Night Window by Dean Koontz.

“The triple-pane floor-to-ceiling windows of Hollister’s study frame the rising plain to the west, the foothills, and the distant Rocky Mountains that were long ago born from the earth in cataclysm, now dark and majestic against a sullen sky.”

(And because there is a natural tie-in to The Friday 56, it is common to combine the two.)

The only rules are for participation in The Friday 56 is to grab a book, any book or the one you are #currentlyreading, turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader, and find a sentence (or a few, but don’t spoil it!), post it, and then add your post URL to the Linky on the host site Freda’s Voice – there yah go! How’s that for easy!

Book Beginnings and The Friday 56--The Night Window by Dean Koontz

Friday 56:

“He’s been drunk on money for so many years, he needs that high no less than a heroin addict needs his next injection. He can’t live happily without it. Another man in such a condition might seek purpose in philanthropy, but Wainwright Hollister is no more likely to give away his fortune than he is to donate his eyes to a blind man…Although buying things no longer gives him a money high, he still has one source of inebriation: wielding power over others.”

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So what am I thinking?

Wow.

Just wow.

While I missed the first in this series, I’ve read from Book 2 and I must say, I enjoyed each book more than the last. But this one–this one has to be the best. And this one will also be the last in the series. So far, it’s been electrifying and unputdownable. I can’t wait to see how Koontz will bring this climax to a satisfying close, but I know it will be good. Beyond good–fabulous! The man is an expert storyteller and the way he builds his characters, his scenes, and plots the course is amazing. Waxing prose with intelligence, science, and technology. It’s a rewarding time well spent. (I got my uncorrected proof from NetGalley.) Start with book 1 if you must, but do not miss this explosive conclusion.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Prologue to Murder by Lauren Elliott – a #BookReview

Prologue to Murder by Lauren ElliottTitle: Prologue to Murder (Bookstore Mystery) by Lauren Elliott

Genre: Cozy Mystery, Amateur Sleuths

Publisher: Kenginston

  • ISBN-10:1496720202
  • ISBN-13:978-1496720207
  • ASIN: B07G6S6B1Q

 Print Length: 304 pages

Publication Date: April 30, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Prologue to Murder

Book Blurb:

After a career working with rare books at the Boston Public Library, Addie Greyborne is back in her seaside New England hometown—where unfortunately, murder is not so rare . . .
 
Gossip columnists love a bold-faced name—but “Miss Newsy” at Greyborne Harbor’s local paper seems to specialize in bald-faced lies. She’s pointed a finger of suspicion at Addie after librarian June Winslow never makes it home from a book club meeting. And when June’s found at the bottom of a steep flight of stairs, Addie’s not only dealing with a busybody, but a dead body.

It’s a good thing the guy she’s dating is the police chief. But both the case and her love life get more complicated when a lanky blonde reporter from Los Angeles shows up. She’s trying her hardest to drive a wedge between the couple . . . as if Addie doesn’t have enough problems dealing with angry townspeople. Despite all the rumors, Addie doesn’t know a thing about the murder—but she plans to find out. And the key may lie in a book about pirate legends that June published. Now she just has to hunt down the clues before she becomes a buried treasure herself . . .

My Review:

Prologue to Murder by Lauren ElliottAddie Greyborne has returned to her roots in coastal New England. She has inherited the rare book and curio shop and employs Paige. Her BFF is Serena and she has begun a relationship with the town Police Chief, Marc. Great, great, great, Greyborne is a founding father but unfortunately she has not successfully been enfolded back in the loving arms of the townsfolk. She’d cleared her name and solved the last murder and now the librarian is missing, eventually found deceased and Addie has taken it upon herself to clear her name once again after “Miss Newsy” published a nasty rumor about Addie possibly being behind both.

June, the librarian was found in an underground tunnel that history of the town proves an integral part of pirate lore, hidden treasure, and family feuds. The mystery creates an interesting premise and Addie begins sifting the clues, chasing down her aunt’s old books in the attic as well as haunting museums and other bookstores and pirate shops for details on the intricate set of tunnels, closed by the town council for being unsafe. Few are privy to those tunnel plans, but Addie begins to wonder about pirate treasure being a motive for the murder of June, who’d possibly found more in her research than the city fathers were comfortable with.

Well, all that part is fun. The twists are fun. That whole area of the New England coast is rife with pirate lore, rich with pirate enclaves, and many of the most successful hid vast treasures in hurricane safe havens, most never again found. What I had a problem with were the introduction of so many new characters, and Simon–another possible love interest. (Oh, no, not the dreaded love triangle!) The protagonist herself was less than a reliable narrator, caught in contradictions and fabrications, and few of the support characters fared any better. Marc comes off as being wishy-washy, warning her with one breath of leaving the investigating to him while asking for her thoughts and help with the next. Huh? Lacy is just plain nasty. Dialogue runs snarky and at times rather juvenile.

Bottom Line: While the mystery is a good plot device, the pace is too slow for this reader, and I could not find any of the characters worth investing in. The history is engaging but the narrative falls flat. The antagonist as revealed in the conclusion is not wholly unexpected, although I did like that little bit that Addie does with the pirate shop operator at the end.

This is the second in the series and might well be read as a standalone. I received this ebook download from the publisher and NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review.

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Lauren Elliott - authorThe Author: Lauren Elliott grew up devouring the entire Nancy Drew series and then graduated to Victoria Holt, Agatha Christie, Barbara Erskine, Lynn Kurland, and Michael Crichton to name a few of her favorite authors. When it came time for post-secondary education, journalism seemed like the logical choice as she had written for as long as she could remember. Soon after graduation, while working for a small publication, she discovered that reporting wasn’t what fueled her writing passions. As someone with an additionally strong background in professional theater who had the love of storytelling and captivating and holding an audience, her fiction-writing career began to take center stage.

Lauren Elliott’s new Beyond the Page Bookstore Mystery series promises to keep readers guessing right up until the last chapter. Plot twists and an array of colorful characters make for page turning, whodunit adventures filled with suspense, mystery, murder and just a touch of romance.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Like Lions by Brian Panowich

Five Stars Five stars

Like Lions by Brian PanowichTitle: Like Lions: A Novel  by Brian Panowich

Genre: Small Town and Rural Fiction, Police Procedurals, Crime Thrillers

Publisher: Minotaur Books

  • ISBN-10:1784082716
  • ISBN-13:978-1784082710
  • ASIN: B07J4WBB81

 Print Length: 293 pages

Publication Date: April 30, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Like Lions

Book Blurb:

Clayton Burroughs is a small-town Georgia sheriff, a new father, and, improbably, the heir apparent of Bull Mountain’s most notorious criminal family.

As he tries to juggle fatherhood, his job and his recovery from being shot in the confrontation that killed his two criminally-inclined brothers last year, he’s doing all he can just to survive. Yet after years of carefully toeing the line between his life in law enforcement and his family, he finally has to make a choice.

When a rival organization makes a first foray into Burroughs territory, leaving a trail of bodies and a whiff of fear in its wake, Clayton is pulled back into the life he so desperately wants to leave behind. Revenge is a powerful force, and the vacuum left by his brothers’ deaths has left them all vulnerable. With his wife and child in danger, and the way of life in Bull Mountain under siege for everyone, Clayton will need to find a way to bury the bloody legacy of his past once and for all.

My Review:

Like LionsWell, phooey, a new author to me and this a sequel to Bull Mountain (2015) before it, prize-winning graphic grit-lit. So I can’t gauge whether this is better or as good as the first. I will say, however, that I read as a standalone and, believe me, you have no problem picking up very quickly on just who these hillbilly, backwoods, and heinous people can be. (N.B. Skip if you don’t want a personal aside: One time when my motorcycle buddy, Noni, and I were riding through West Virginia we stopped at a large pull-out area to scour maps for directions thinking we might be lost. The narrow, darkened two-lane road, often broken out by heavy summer rains just seemed to go through this tree and vine-covered valley forever. The area was eerily quiet, no sounds–deserted. We peered through the grime-covered window into the barn and got the creeps. Noni said to me, “Do you want to be someone’s barefoot mama?” I said “NO!” and flipping the face shield of my flip-up helmet down we jumped back on our bikes and took off. There are some mountains and hollers out there that simply do NOT invite visitors. Ever heard of the Hatfields and McCoys?)

It didn’t take me long in this book to get those same prickly apprehensive vibes and the tension stayed elevated throughout the narrative which begins with a chilling and compelling prologue hook.

Clayton Burroughs, county sheriff of this small north Georgia location, is still recovering from the major, near-death injuries of a year ago. But his family and the legacy left by his father and brothers is never far under the tumultuous crime-ridden surface. It’s Burroughs territory and they reined heavily until that confrontation. Their deaths and his lack of desire to take over the helm of the dynasty has begun to open the door for new and even darker gangs or clans and the paths forged by his recently deceased brother, Hal. Clayton and his wife, Kate, have been struggling to keep their marriage together despite his slow recovery, pain, and guilt-ridden attitude.

Oh. My. God. You don’t even want to have to stop for gas here. There are forces unseen and powerful building a dreadful foreboding of the war to come. These factions play for keeps and when moonshine took a back seat to the drug trade, millions of dollars, as well as the territory, went up for grabs. Ever played around in the mountains over forest service roads only to confront a big-assed pickup truck with a gun rack in the rear window? (We have.) And that’s your sign.

“What doesn’t kill you, makes you numb, was truer to the point.”

“He was a cereal-box preacher–all sugar and tooth decay, dressed up to look wholesome and good for you.”

“Pride will kill you faster than a bullet.”

This is a gritty, southern lit, hick lit, hillbilly noir or whatever you want to call it and I’ll warn you, it’s rude, crude, and socially unaccepted. From the language to the graphic scenes, it surpasses “Breaking Bad” for pulling no punches. The characters are raw, open, and vicious. Scary real. Kate is wonderful, strong, decent. She loves her man. But the man is damaged and he’s drinking. He has a number of “family” who will cover his back–well, most that–because this is also a story of loyalty and betrayal. His office gal slash dispatcher, Cricket, is a great support character, and he has a number of them “on his side.” The characters have names like Scabby Mike and Nails McKenna, JoJo and Coot Viner. You’d expect that…

As for the fun they were throwing at Coot for his Tracker, I have to say they are a great little car (cheap-Jeep) for climbing those northern Georgia hills–or off-road into the deserts of Arizona!

The conflict and turmoil have you reeling from the punches and flipping pages, unsure what will happen next, except that it is probably not something good. The plot moves with gathering speed until the climax and then like a pebble in a pond, the rivulets begin to slow. Wow, is this guy a storyteller or what?

And then, BAM! just when you think everyone is safe, the epilogue. NOOO! 

I can’t stand it–I may have to part with my milk money and get Bull Mountain. I received this ebook download from the publisher and NetGalley and totally, absolutely, irrefutably found it electrifying; it’s a train wreck, a shock of a book that you can’t put down. Totally recommended for all you thriller fans; deep, dark, noir fans. Do you have the stomach for it?

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The Author: *Brian Panowich feels a bit strange writing about himself in the third person but he will do his best. Brian started out as a firefighter that wrote stories and morphed into a writer that fights fire. He has written three novels, a boatload of short stories, and maintains a monthly column called Scattered & Covered for Augusta Magazine. He lives in East Georgia with four children who are more beautiful and more talented than anyone else’s. He also might be biased.Brian Panowich - author

Brian’s first novel, BULL MOUNTAIN, topped the best thriller list on Apple iBooks, placed in the top twenty best books on Amazon, and went on to win the International Thriller Writers Award for Best First Novel, as well as the Southern Book Prize for Best Mystery. The book was also nominated for the Barry Award, the Anthony Award, The Georgia Townsend Book Prize, and was a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize. BULL MOUNTAIN was also selected for the coveted BOOKS ALL GEORGIANS SHOULD READ list by the Georgia Center of the Book, and has been the recipient of several foreign press awards. Brian’s latest novel, LIKE LIONS, isn’t due out until April, but Daniel Woodrell and CJ Box really liked it, so Brian is pretty happy. Oh, and YEAR OF THE ROOSTER will be out next year. (2020)

Brian Panowich burst onto the crime fiction scene in 2015, winning awards and accolades from readers and critics alike for his smoldering debut, Bull Mountain. Now with Like Lions, he cements his place as one of the outstanding new voices in crime fiction.

Note: That Tracker was ours. ©2019 V Williams Blog author

Murder in the Reading Room by Ellery Adams – a #BookReview

Murder in the Reading Room by Ellery AdamsTitle: Murder in the Reading Room (A Book Retreat Mystery Book 5) by Ellery Adams

Genre: Amateur Sleuths, Cozy Mystery

Publisher: Kensington

  • ISBN-10:1496715659
  • ISBN-13:978-1496715654
  • ASIN: B07G6NJK5W

Print Length: 320 pages

Publication Date: Released April 30, 2019-Happy Publication Day!

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Murder in the Reading Room

Book Blurb:

Storyton Hall, Virginia, is a paradise for book lovers who come from all over for literary getaways. But manager Jane Steward is temporarily leaving for another renowned resort—in hopes of solving a twist-filled mystery . . .

Jane’s boyfriend is missing, and she thinks she may find him at North Carolina’s historic Biltmore Estate. Officially, she’s there to learn about luxury hotel management, but she’s also prowling around the breathtaking buildings and grounds looking for secret passageways and clues. One of the staff gardeners promises to be helpful . . . that is, until his body turns up in the reading room of his cottage, a book on his lap.

When she finally locates the kidnapped Edwin, his captor insists that she lead him back to Storyton Hall, convinced that it houses Ernest Hemingway’s lost suitcase, stolen from a Paris train station in 1922. But before they can turn up the treasure, the bell may toll for another victim . . .

My Review:

Murder in the Reading Room by Ellery AdamsDefinitely a book lovers paradise, the author knows her books and has created a beautiful picturesque setting in Storyton Hall, aptly named for it’s multiple private, cozy settings.

This being the fifth in the series and yes, of course, my first with the author and the series, I seem to have missed a well-developed fleshing of the protagonist and the storyline leading to this last(?) of the series. This is one series where you might do well to begin with number one. I greatly enjoyed the author’s writing style, very subtle, full of prose, and so descriptive of the idyllic venue that you want to start packing for your bags.

Apparently in the Book 4, Jane Steward’s boyfriend went missing. Jane is a widow with two young precocious boys. She is the manager of Storyton Hall, a pseudo-resort, with a strong literary style that includes a number of themed rooms/ libraries; i.e., Henry James Library, Daphne du Maurier Morning Room, and William Faulkner Conference Room. In her role as manager, she has joined a luxury hotel management seminar that is taking place at North Carolina’s historic Biltmore Estate–specifically because she believes that is where her Edwin Alcott is being hidden. The seminar will give her access sufficient to haunt the halls and grounds in an effort to find Edwin. The first, very shocking problem, however, manifests when she and Landon successfully discover him–and confront despot rogue Templar Ramsey Parrish as well.

Storyton itself has been in the Steward family for generations and is home to a wide variety of beautiful arts and treasures, not the least of which is possibly the Secret Library which may hide a suitcase stolen from Ernest Hemingway, lost in 1922. With the rumor that the Stewards are holding the suitcase and its priceless content comes many a problem, including the one that is currently the target of the Templar Ramsey, current manager of the behemoth Biltmore Estate. He will apparently stop at nothing to get to the secret library and the suitcase, including kidnapping. Jane’s own Landon Lachlan (head of Storyton Hall’s Recreation Department), is part of an elite group called “the Fins” also their first line of defense. In addition, she has a ladies group called “the Cover Girls” a literature club. Eloise is her best buddy, sister of Edwin. (She might have gone too far, however, when she named her boys Fitzgerald and Hemingway.)

The characters are all complex, literate, and deep in the bookish world, upper-class society, and southern history with associated activities. More twists are incorporated into the well-plotted mystery, dripping with charm, nostalgic quotes from many famous and classic authors. (Test yourself on how many you recognize!)

There are just too many secrets associated with the theme resort, hidden society, however, and push come to shove, Jane is tired. While there are casualties, they happen “off page.” I really enjoyed the wide variety of support characters, so appropriately named, the location so visual, the atmosphere cerebral. The pace works well right into a downplayed climax almost smoothed over in the blurred conclusion which forms part of the reason for the epilogue.

I was given this ebook download by the publisher and NetGalley and totally appreciated the opportunity to read and review this unique and captivating novel. Recommended for any bibliophile who can quote from the classics or book lovers in general, as well as cozy mystery lovers. There is something here for everyone–including that touch of romance!

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

Ellery Adams - authorThe Author: Ellery Adams, a USA Today and New York Times bestselling author, has written over thirty-five mystery novels. She shares her North Carolina home with her husband, two trolls, and three keyboard-hogging felines. Ellery loves coffee, bubbly, boxing, jigsaw puzzles, baking, and black jelly beans.

Her traditionally published series include The Secret, Book, and Scone Society Mysteries, The Book Retreat Mysteries, The Books By the Bay Mysteries, and The Charmed Pie Shoppe Mysteries.

Her Indie series include The Supper Club Series, The Hope Street Series, and The Molly Appleby Collectible Series.

For discussion questions and more, visit http://www.elleryadamsmysteries.com

©2019 V Williams Blog author

The Body in the Wetlands by Judi Lynn – a #BookReview

The Body in the Wetlands by Judi LynnTitle: The Body in the Wetlands (A Jazzi Zanders Mystery Book 2) by Judi Lynn

Genre: Cozy Mystery, Women Sleuths

Publisher: Lyrical Underground

  • ISBN-10:151610840X
  • ISBN-13:978-1516108404
  • ASIN: B07FZN7CVT

Print Length: 268 pages

Publication Date: April 23, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: The Body in the Wetlands

Book Blurb:

High summer in River Bluffs, Indiana, is always sweltering and sweet. But the heat is really on when a decidedly dead body turns up in the neighborhood.

When established house flippers Jazzi Zanders and her cousin Jerod donate a week’s worth of remodeling work to Jazzi’s sister Olivia, they’re expecting nothing more than back-breaking roofing work and cold beers at the end of each long, hot day. With Jazzi’s live-in boyfriend and partner Ansel on the team, it promises to be a quick break before starting their next big project—until Leo, an elderly neighbor of Olivia’s, unexpectedly goes missing.

When the friendly senior’s dog tugs Jazzi and the guys toward the wetlands beyond Olivia’s neighborhood, they stumble across a decomposing corpse—and a lot of questions. With Jazzi’s pal Detective Gaff along to investigate, Jazzi finds her hands full of a whole new mystery instead of the usual hammer and nails. And this time it will take some sophisticated sleuthing to track down the culprit of the deadly crime—before the killer turns on her next . . .

My Review:

The Body in the Wetlands by Judi LynnMy second book with the series and author and must admit it’s one of the few books I’ve read with a location in Indiana–and flippin’ houses? Oh, yes! Hubby and I tried that for many years, though heaven knows not so easily, quickly, or successfully as this series would imply. We worked nights (after work), weekends (for years), and spent every dime we made on repairs. Old houses mean old electrical, pipes, floors, and cabinets–don’t get me started with the rest. Heaven help you if you had to open a wall.

At any rate, this narrative again picks up with Jazzi working with her cousin Jerod and newly moved in boyfriend Ansel–her Viking God. Tall and gorgeous, you’ll hear more about him and often. Jerod is a happily married family man. This house again has those “good bones,” so much of the work will be cosmetic as opposed to the sledgehammer they took to the walls of the last house. Still, besides painting, they were redoing floors and gutting bathrooms and the kitchen. In the middle of the remodeling, Ansel is called back to the old family farm to help with their repair problems and her cousin comes down with the flu his little ones bring home from school. (THAT sounds normal, huh?)

Guess that’s a good thing, as Jazzi and the neighbor’s dog find (not one, but) two bodies near their flipper.  With Jerod sick, Jazzi is free to flit with Detective Gaff, whom she got to know very well last episode. Detective Gaff, it would appear, loves to invite her along on his interviews. And, unfortunately, that is not the end of finding bodies.

I did love the cover and there are two wildly different dogs appearing as support characters. Jazzi still has the whole family over every Sunday (mercy!) and Ansel really enjoys the family time, but most especially her cooking. The mystery moves at cozy pace with snippets of remodeling interwoven with new red herrings and twists. The characters take the spotlight. I’m still not overly thrilled with Jazzi as protagonist and neither she nor Ansel seemed really trusting at being apart for the two weeks he’d be at the farm. Two weeks? Really? And the romance, both prior to his leaving and after he got back? Didn’t need it.

Bottom Line: I do enjoy this series, the setting and characters become engaging, and I will continue to look for the next one. The pacing is even and well-plotted into a downplayed, almost anticlimactic conclusion. While dialogue is clean and for the most part natural, I still felt some relationship problems between she and Ansel. There is more fleshing on Ansel and some quirks that didn’t set well, as well as the explanation of Jazzi’s reticence due to previous relationship difficulties. The antagonist began to materialize as a bit obvious rather soon after he was introduced. So, my problems: (1) Disbelief in the speed and description of the rehabbing process, (2) too much romance in the cozy mystery, and (3) support role with the detective–unrealistic.

I received this ebook download from the publisher and NetGalley in return for an honest opinion and appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for those who enjoy a different type of backdrop in a cozy with some romance.

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

Judi Lynn - authorThe Author: [Judi Lynn is a] USA Today Best-selling author for The Body in the Attic.
When I started self-publishing, I wrote urban fantasy as Judith Post. Then my wonderful agent, Lauren Abramo, suggested I try to find a publisher by writing romance, and she was right. I sold my Mill Pond romances to Kensington’s Lyrical Press. After six romances, my equally wonderful editor, John Scognamiglio, asked if I’d like to try to write a mystery. Ironic, because I started writing–forever ago–by writing mystery short stories and selling them. I decided to write about a fixer-upper because my husband and I bought a 1920s small bungalow when we got married, and it needed lots of work. We’re still working on it. And cooking crept into the stories because I LOVE to cook and have friends over to eat supper with us. A lot of my passions have ended up in my books:)

©2019 V Williams Blog author

The Family Lie by Jake Cross – a #BookReview

The Family Lie by Jake CrossTitle: The Family Lie by Jake Cross

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Publisher: Bookouture

  • ASIN: B07N8VVHGF

Print Length: 305 pages

Publication Date: April 23, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: The Family Lie

Book Blurb:

You whispered goodnight to your daughter. You didn’t know that would be your last goodbye.

You wake up in the middle of the night.

Your five-year-old daughter is gone.

Your husband is nowhere to be seen.

Your family think he took her.

The police believe he’s guilty.

But he wouldn’t do that, would he?

He’s a loving father. A loving husband. Isn’t he?

My Review:

The Family Lie by Jake Cross

No, no, no! I definitely broke my own rules with this one. I saw the blurb, noted the cover. Would not usually entertain reading a book about a kidnapped child. But I did. And I’ll revert back to my own (personal) rules.

This novel sets a stage that looks promising. Hooks you in, gets you reading, but soon goes into left-center field. What happened?

Five-year-old Josie is kidnapped from her bedroom in the middle of the night. Main character Anna wakes to find rain pelting the window, husband missing, patio door open and floor soaked as well as in Josie’s bedroom–open window–rain blowing in. But no Josie and no Nick. It doesn’t take long before she’s called in the police, but almost immediately they suspect something other than a kidnapping. For one, the husband is gone as well. Isn’t it more likely he took off with his child?

Now begins a long and tedious search, which goes on, and on, throughout which we are introduced to secondary characters, police, detectives, investigators, condescending and suspicious. And here’s where a few of my problems enter. I really don’t like any of them. Particularly the one who refers to Anna as “dear.” ARGH! Anna’s constant referral to her daughter as “my little lady.” (No clue why that annoyed me so much. Munchkin, I could understand, or??? We certainly had nicknames for our own.) And then they find Nick, apparently knocked over the head, drugged, and dragged along for the ride. But then, where was Josie?

The narrative begins introducing twists that throw you off the original scent, scatters the few ideas you might have held for the antagonist(s). And as the storyline plods along, gets further afield. Here are circumstances the reader could not have known about. Although I can appreciate that the parents might veer in the opposite direction in their effort to get to Josie, Nick comes off weak and largely ineffectual. Anna is unsympathetic, who later bemoans the fact that she hasn’t called her daughter by her name. Seems neither police nor parents make informed decisions.

The writing seems a bit awkward at times, the dialogue gawky, some of the scenes inappropriate (come on–he put his hands between her legs? And she accepted it? Not!) Must admit, this novel was not for me, although you may enjoy it. I received this ebook download from the publisher and NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review.

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Three of Five Stars Three Stars of Five

Jake Cross - authorThe Author: Jake Cross lives in England and is the author of the standalone thrillers The Family Lie, now on preorder, and The Choice, which hit the top 5 in Australia and was a bestseller in the UK and Canada. And on Kobo, but we don’t talk about that here. He’s on Twitter as @JakeCrossAuthor, if you want to say hello. ©2019 V Williams

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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

Magickal Mystery Lore by Sharon Pape – a #BookReview

Magickal Mystery Lore by Sharon PapeTitle: Magickal Mystery Lore by Sharon Pape (An Abracadabra Mystery Book 4)

Genre: Women Sleuths (Paranormal, Cozy, Witches and Spells)

Publisher: Lyrical Underground

  • ISBN-10:1516108736
  • ISBN-13:978-1516108732
  • ASIN:B07FS2GCW3

 Print Length: 246 pages

Publication Date: April 16, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Magickal Mystery Lore

Book Blurb:

This spells trouble . . .
 
The New Camel Day Fair is a fun-filled event for residents of this upstate New York town. Kailyn Wilde, a modern-day witch of ancient lineage, leaves her potion shop, Abracadabra—and her feline familiar, Sashkatu—to attend with her fortune-telling Aunt Tilly. Joining them is legendary wizard Merlin, who’s discovering new pleasures of time-traveling to the modern world, including curly fries and kettle corn—but the appeal of the Tilt-a-Wheel is beyond his mystical imagination.

The real wild ride begins later, when neighboring sweet shop owner Lolly rushes into Abracadabra with news about a dead body. The victim has one of Lolly’s fudge knives stuck in her back, but in spite of the sticky evidence, Lolly is only one of several suspects with ample motive and opportunity. Meanwhile, Merlin’s research into old family scrolls and electromagnetic ley lines is causing some unusual mix-ups. As the two investigations collide, Kailyn will have to do everything in her power to prevent disaster…

My Review:

Magickal Mystery Lore by Sharon PapeI do love getting into a book, cozy mystery or not, that is quite a bit different than what I usually get with the genre. And genre? This one is pegged as “women sleuths.” Nah…the main character is a witch–still discovering her full potential (powers). She has, also, quite the number of spells in her repertoire. Kailyn Wilde is a contemporary witch but her lineage goes way back. She owns an old family potion shop called Abracadabra (potions and creams of which she infuses with spells from time to time). Her aunt Tilly has a tea and fortune-telling business nearby. Together, they’ve been invaded by Merlin, the magician of ancient times, who got stuck in one of Kailyn’s spells gone awry and was pulled into the Wilde’s world. He is still working on figuring out why, but at the same time discovering all the gleeful treats in today’s world has him lingering just a bit.

This is the fourth in the series and it seems coming in to this author and series at this point I’ve missed a number of major plot-building threads, one being just how Merlin is pulled into the here and now. So no, I wouldn’t say it could function as a standalone, and there is a decided lack of fleshing in the protagonist as well as her sweetie, Travis, a news reporter. He tends to participate with her in the sleuthing activities and is aware of her paranormal capabilities. However, there is enough going on with this well-plotted, unique storyline, and support characters to keep the reader engaged and turning pages.

The whole premise of magic and the inclusion of Merlin just adds a completely comical element to the story as he is living with aunt Tilly and keeps her exhausted with his searches, discoveries, and disheveled appearance. (She works on that.) His appetite and sweet tooth know no boundaries. AND, so many new terms I’ve learned, i.e., ley lines, familiars. That cat? Sashkatu is perfect. Just look at the cover!

Okay, I’ve gotten ahead of myself. New Camel (upstate New York) is holding their annual festival and both Kailyn and her aunt normally have a booth as well as the merchants in her small enclave of touristy shops. Unfortunately, one of their own, Lolly, a close friend and shop owner comes home to discover a body in her backyard. Of course, she’ll be number one on the local police persons-of-interest and Kailyn and Travis will work to discover the whodunit.

I thoroughly enjoyed the author’s obvious sense of humor, observations, and pokes of fun at things that can go wrong with magic and relationships including the appearances of her mother and grandmother who had passed on (crossed the veil). Nothing is ever simple and the murder mystery twists and turns in the wind with new discoveries and begins to reach further afield. Most threads are pulled in to a rather convoluted conclusion and one that left me somewhat frustrated–the ending leaving you scratching your head.

Still, I enjoyed the well enough to look for Book 5. I received this ebook download from the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended to all who enjoy a different kind of cozy with a decidedly distinctive appeal.

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars Four stars

Sharon Pape - authorThe Author: [Sharon Pape] I started writing stories as soon as I learned how to put letters together to form words. From that day forward, writing has been a part of my life whether it was my first attempt at a novel in seventh grade or the little plays I wrote for my friends to perform for neighbors and family. After college, when I was busy teaching French and Spanish to high school students, I was also writing poetry — often in French.

After several years, I left teaching to be a full time mom, and when my two children started school, I went back to writing. To my delight I found that the muse was still there, still waiting patiently for me to come around. My first novel, Ghostfire, was published at that time. It went on to be condensed in Redbook magazine (the first paperback original the magazine had ever condensed.) Then came The God Children and The Portal. Redbook also published my first short story, which was subsequently sold to several foreign magazines. With two great kids, a golden retriever and a loving, supportive husband (whom I’d met at the beach when I was fourteen — but that’s a story for another day), I felt like I was exactly where I was meant to be in my life. But fate had another plan for me, and it went by the name of “breast cancer.”

Looking back, I realize how fortunate I was that the cancer was discovered at such an early stage, but at the time it was all very overwhelming. Once I was back on my feet, I wanted to help other women who were newly diagnosed, worried and afraid. I became a Reach to Recovery volunteer for the American Cancer Society and went on to run the program for Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. A number of years later, with the help of my surgical oncologist and two other volunteers, I started Lean On Me, a nonprofit organization that provides peer support and information to breast cancer patients. When Lean On Me celebrated its tenth anniversary it no longer required as much of my time, and I once again found myself free to pursue my first love — writing.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Murder at the Marina by Janet Finsilver #BlogTour #BookReview

I am so delighted today to provide a review for you at my blog stop for Murder at the Marina by Janet Finsilver on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour.

Murder at the Marina

Book Details

Murder at the Marina (A Kelly Jackson Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
5th in Series
Lyrical Underground (April 2, 2019)
Print Length: ~200 Pages
ASIN: B07FC2C3BH

Book Blurb

She’s got to solve this—or her friends are sunk . . .

Kelly Jackson, manager of the Redwood Cove Bed and Breakfast, is fond of the Doblinsky brothers, Ivan and Rudy, members of the Silver Sentinels, a crew of crime-solving senior citizens in their Northern California seaside hamlet. After she discovers a jewel-encrusted dagger—with what appears to be dried blood on the blade—on their fishing boat, they share their family history with Kelly, and she learns that the knife may be part of a set from their long-ago childhood in Russia. Its sudden reappearance is eerie, but the mystery grows much more serious when a body is found on the boat. The victim was staying at Kelly’s inn, in town for a Russian Heritage Festival, and some of the organizers were clearly harboring some bitterness. But the story behind this murder seems as layered as a nesting doll—and Kelly’s feeling completely at sea . . .

My Review

Murder at the Marina by Janet FinsilverThe fifth installment in the Kelly Jackson mystery series brings back Kelly Jackson, new manager and new to the area in Redwood Cove at her bed and breakfast. (Isn’t that a gorgeous Victorian on the cover?) Returning secondary characters include the Silver Sentinels, who have become instrumental in providing support for Kelly in her sleuthing missions in the remote northern California area. She and Helen, her main staff member providing meals and snacks, are preparing for the Russian Heritage Festival. Ivan and Rudy, two of her Silver Sentinels, are part of the local Russian community. They have been trying to get Kelly down to the marina to see their fishing vessel but when she arrives before they do, she notices something inside the galley that appears to be a bloodied jewel-encrusted dagger.

After bringing in her burgeoning romantic interest, the local deputy sheriff Bill Stanton, events begin to escalate and soon a body is found on the boat as well, leading suspicions to the boat owners, the Russian brothers. Apparently, the brothers have quite the history of fleeing Russian with what treasures they could grab on the run and the large (aristocratic) family splits, hoping to reconnect after arriving in San Francisco. The knife is part of a set, and two other members each hold one, but the dagger found on their boat is not from their holdings, which is obviously larger than the invaluable daggers.

With two of their own under suspicion, the crime-solving seniors, along with Kelly will proceed to investigate and discover a wealth of Russian history, valuables, and links back to San Francisco. Helen takes up the slack and fills in with foods, snacks, and desserts as they meet at the Redwood Cove B&B to lay out their groundwork. Thank heaven, as Kelly can’t boil water, though Scott would love to teach her.

“I figured al dente was a fancy phrase for chewy and not completely cooked.”

I really enjoyed the Russian history as well as the festival highlights, foods (baklava–yum!), dancing, and the Cossack riding team, imagining their magnificent costumes and precision equestrian presentation. The author has a good knowledge base as well as an affinity for horses and dogs!

This is a fun well-paced cozy, with compelling characters, and the scenic location of northern California. I was given the ebook download by the publisher and NetGalley for this blog tour and appreciate the opportunity to read and review.

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About the Author

Janet Finsilver - authorJanet Finsilver is the USA TODAY bestselling author of the Kelly Jackson mystery series. She worked in education for many years as a teacher, a program administrator, and a workshop presenter. Janet majored in English and earned a Master’s Degree in Education. She loves animals and has two dogs–Kylie and Ellie. Janet has ridden western style since she was a child and was a member of the National Ski Patrol. One of the highlights of her life was touching whales in the San Ignacio Lagoon. MURDER AT REDWOOD COVE, her debut mystery, was released on October 13, 2015. Her second book, MURDER AT THE MANSION, was released on June 7, 2016. Book 3, MURDER AT THE FORTUNE TELLER’S TABLE was released on March 14, 2017.

Author Links

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/janetfinsilverauthor/?fref=ts

Twitter – https://twitter.com/JanetFinsilver

Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/janetfinsilver/

Web – http://janetfinsilver.com/

Purchase Links – Amazon  – B&N – Kobo – Google Play

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

Tour Participants:

April 9 – The Montana Bookaholic – REVIEW

April 9 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

April 9 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT

April 10 – I’m All About Books – GUEST POST

April 10 – A Wytch’s Book Review Blog – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW

April 10 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT

April 11 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

April 11 – Reading Is My SuperPower – CHARACTER GUEST POST

April 11 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW  

April 12 – View from the Birdhouse – SPOTLIGHT

April 12 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

April 12 – MJB Reviewers – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

April 13 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST

April 13 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

April 13 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

April 14 – Cozy Up With Kathy – CHARACTER GUEST POST

April 14 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

April 15 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW

April 15 – Books Direct – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

April 16 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

April 16 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT

April 16 – Defining Ways – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

April 17 – Ascroft, eh? – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

April 17 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW, EXCERPT

April 18 – A Blue Million Books – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

April 18 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW, GUEST POST Great Escapes Book Tours

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

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Buried Deep by T R Ragan – a #BookReview

Buried Deep by T. R. Ragan

Five Stars Five stars

Title: Buried Deep (Jessie Cole Book 4) by T R Ragan

Genre: Private Investigator Mysteries, Vigilante Thrillers

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

  • ISBN-10:1542091489
  • ISBN-13:978-1542091480
  • ASIN: B07GDH8F26

Print Length: 283 pages

Publication Date: To be released April 16, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Buried Deep

Book Blurb:

Two missing persons. One apparent suicide. Three cases pushing PI Jessie Cole and crime reporter Ben Morrison closer to the edge.

Lacey Geiger could be a very rich woman. If Jessie Cole can find her. The beneficiary of a sizable estate, Lacey vanished years ago after escaping an abusive childhood and is veiled now behind a new identity. Jessie has two weeks to find her. It’s enough time to discover that Lacey is hiding from so much more than anyone realized. But she isn’t the only one with secrets. And Jessie’s not the only one searching for the truth.

A concerned daughter has asked for help finding her mother—a woman said to have been murdered thirty years ago. And Jessie’s colleague Ben, an amnesiac still struggling with the bloody memories of a shattered life, is nearer to piecing together a very dark picture. Especially when someone he detests is found dead, hanging from a tree by a riverbank.

Now as the mysteries, puzzles, and lies of three investigations are unearthed, Jessie and Ben will risk everything to bring all that is hidden into the light.

My Review:

Buried Deep by T. R. RaganThrilling ride into one of a human being’s major fears–that of being buried alive. This thriller, however, doesn’t delve into just one engaging storyline, but three. PI Jessie Cole suddenly has more work than she can handle. Lacey’s disappearance is on a short fuse with a potential bonus if she can find her within two weeks. She and her husband disappeared a week ago and it’s discovered Lacey’s worst half had more enemies than she could count. Her office has also been put on the pursuit of a mother (Arlene) who also disappeared, but thirty years ago, and the daughter (Penny) is sure she is alive although her father spent ten years in prison as a result of his being charged with her murder. Zee, a major support character with schizophrenia, will be tackling the latter case, her first.

Ben, an amnesiac colleague linked to Jessie through her sister, is struggling with trying to piece together the bits of flashbacks that might reveal to him who he was prior to the deadly automobile accident he was in with Jessie’s sister. He is a newspaper investigative reporter who sees more than he wants to know and is currently involved in a case with a pedophile who later shows up a questionable suicide.

I loved the way the author weaves these three storylines into and through the narrative keeping you on the edge of your seat, heart-thumping. It would be unputdownable except that eventually you have to have a relief break, even if you don’t stop to eat. The cast of both main and support characters work very well, including more involvement with both Colin (Jessie’s main man) and Zee (Jessie’s right-hand woman).

Zee works very hard to prove to Jessie she can solve the case and has a continual battle with those three voices in her head, who take it a step further and at times fight with each other. Jessie’s niece plays more prominently as well and they all appear to be creating a very solid, satisfying unit. Ben confronts a discovery readers have long suspected. Dialogue is taut and leading. Definitely more development with several of the secondary characters this time, although for a complete picture you may wish to begin with Book 1, Her Last Day (I did). Still, if you love thrillers, you’ll love this one.

So did Book 4 feel like it might be the last in the series? (Say it isn’t so!) Issues that may have been a continuing thread in previous series entries seem to be resolved. The action-packed climax neatly wraps most loose ends leading me to wonder where the author may take this next. Talk about intense! I absolutely plowed through these pages almost non-stop looking for a gratifying finish. Ooh, how I do love happy endings! Well, at least for a couple of them anyway!

I was thrilled to receive this ebook download from the publisher and NetGalley and totally appreciate the opportunity to read and review. Ragan’s writing will get into your head. She has a masterful style that keeps you glued. I’m looking for Book 5!

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T. R. Ragan - authorThe Author: T.R. Ragan (Theresa Ragan) is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestselling mystery and thriller author.

Readers interested in signing up for a monthly newsletter or getting their name in a TR RAGAN book should check out her website at http://www.trragan.com

Facebook * Twitter * Instagram: @trraganauthor

LIZZY GARDNER SERIES
Abducted
Dead Weight
A Dark
Obsessed
Almost Dead
Evil Never Dies

FAITH MCMANN TRILOGY
Furious
Outrage
Wrath

JESSIE COLE SERIES
Her Last Day
Deadly Recall
Deranged
Buried Deep – 4/16/19

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Restaurant Weeks Are Murder by Libby Klein – a #BookReview

Restaurant Weeks Are Murder by Libby KleinTitle: Restaurant Weeks Are Murder by Libby Klein

Genre: Cozy Culinary Mystery, Amateur Sleuths, Cozy Animal Mysteries

Publisher: Kensington

  • ISBN-10:1496713079
  • ISBN-13:978-1496713070
  • ASIN: B07DBQBVYJ

 Print Length: 304 pages

Publication Date: February 26, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Restaurant Weeks Are Murder (A Poppy McAllister Mystery Book 3)

Book Blurb:

Cape May, New Jersey, is the site of a big culinary competition—and the knives are out . . .

Poppy McAllister is happy about opening a Jersey Shore B&B—but working in a professional kitchen has always been her real dream. Now it’s coming true, at least briefly, as she teams up with her former fiancée, Tim—and his condescending partner, Gigi—during the high-profile Restaurant Week challenge. Poppy’s specialty is pastries, despite her devotion to a Paleo diet. But if anyone can make glorious gluten-free goodies, it’s Poppy.

Things get heated quickly—especially when some ingredients get switched and Tim’s accused of sabotage. Relatively harmless pranks soon escalate into real hazards, including an exploding deep fryer. And now one of the judges has died after taking a bite of Poppy’s cannoli—making her the chef suspect . . .

Includes Seven Recipes from Poppy’s Kitchen!

My Review:

Restaurant Weeks Are Murder by Libby KleinMs. Klein has ramped up her cooking expertise in Book 3 of her Poppy McAllister series. Poppy and her Aunt Ginny are finishing up the touches on their Butterfly Wings Bed and Breakfast. Tim, Poppy’s one-time fiancé, has asked her to team with him and Gigi in the Restaurant Week Challenge where she will create her specialty desserts and pastries. The competition of seven days comprises three stages that include a “mystery basket” of ingredients and is judged by well-known celebrities, if possibly questionable, local judges and is to be recorded to show on Jersey area daytime TV.

One of the six teams is comprised of Gia, a steamy, mcDreamy Italian for whom Poppy has been supplying some of her pastries for him and his mother’s Italian restaurant. Teams include a head chef, a sous chef, and a pastry chef per each restaurant team. It’s obvious from the beginning that this is a serious competition, each vying for the prize of $10,000 as well as the notoriety, air time, and press. Unfortunately, few of the team members get along with each other and the judges are brutal. So, this being a cozy is not too difficult to guess who will be the victim.

Before the mics are on and the cameras are rolling, there is sabotage (changing labels of food ingredients), bickering, materials are disappearing, and a fight breaking out between two of the competing chefs. You can almost visualize Chef Ramsey delivering a scathing review to one of the dishes as the 10-year-old looks on teary-eyed.

The author’s wicked sense of humor sparks off the characters, including her Aunt Ginny who is up to her usual antics and her naughty kitty Figaro who figures out which judge housed in their B&B is allergic to felines and does his best to make sure she is sneezing and miserable. The dialogue ranges between snarky, hilarious, and believable in an honest conversational tone. The secondary characters work well with the main characters and protagonist providing that tension in a real kitchen competition atmosphere, scrambling to the pantry for their ingredients only to have another chef snatch it out from under them.

The characters have been developed in previous series entries and there is little further fleshing here, although with the plot focus on food could still work as a stand alone. It is a very well paced plot, albeit slow to deliver a victim as the focus is the restaurant challenge and all the outrageous events happening while trying to film each day’s segment concluding with judging scores. Red herrings, twists, and new discoveries every chapter lead to a conclusion you may have guessed, but it’s been fun.

I had two problems, and yes, it is acknowledged that her aunt is an active, saucy octogenarian, but she and her friends were referred to constantly as the “biddies and cronies.” (Ouch) And, the dreaded romantic triangle. (I’m so over it–can we move on now?). Also the judge, “Stormin’ Norman,” weatherman. (Perhaps Ms. Klein is unaware of the scandal that took place in the 80s out west and it did give me icky pause.)

I received this ebook download from the publisher and NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review. The author has a writing style I enjoy, characters that engage, and I’m looking forward to Book 4.

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

Libby Klein - authorThe Author: Libby Klein graduated Lower Cape May Regional High School sometime in the ’80s. Her classes revolved mostly around the culinary sciences and theater, with the occasional nap in Chemistry. She loves to drink coffee, bake gluten free goodies, and befriend random fluffy cats. She writes from her Northern Virginia office while trying to keep her cat Figaro off her keyboard. Most of her hobbies revolve around eating, and travel, and eating while traveling.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

The Eighth Sister by Robert Dugoni – a #BookReview

The Eighth Sister by Robert Dugoni

Five Stars Five stars

Title: The Eighth Sister (Charles Jenkins Book 1) by Robert Dugoni

Genre: Espionage Thriller, Murder, Thriller

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

  • ISBN-10:1503903311
  • ISBN-13:978-1503903319
  • ASIN: B07D6PZ6P1

Print Length: 477 pages

Publication Date: April 9, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: The Eighth Sister

Congratulations to Robert Dugoni today on his book launch of The Eighth Sister, Book 1 of the Charles Jenkins series. (Now’s your chance, people, it’s Book ONE!)

Book Blurb:

A pulse-pounding thriller of espionage, spy games, and treachery by the New York Times bestselling author of the Tracy Crosswhite Series.

Former CIA case officer Charles Jenkins is a man at a crossroads: in his early sixties, he has a family, a new baby on the way, and a security consulting business on the brink of bankruptcy. Then his former bureau chief shows up at his house with a risky new assignment: travel undercover to Moscow and locate a Russian agent believed to be killing members of a clandestine US spy cell known as the seven sisters.

Desperate for money, Jenkins agrees to the mission and heads to the Russian capital. But when he finds the mastermind agent behind the assassinations—the so-called eighth sister—she is not who or what he was led to believe. Then again, neither is anyone else in this deadly game of cat and mouse.

Pursued by a dogged Russian intelligence officer, Jenkins executes a daring escape across the Black Sea, only to find himself abandoned by the agency he serves. With his family and freedom at risk, Jenkins is in the fight of his life—against his own country.

My Review:

The Eighth Sister by Robert DugoniMasterful storyteller Dugoni has done it again and I swear this is his best. Absolutely riveting. This has to be my favorite book by Robert Dugoni and I’ve read several. This one? Gripping from page one which starts with a prologue in Moscow. Once the author ramps up the bone-chilling scenario of a Moscow winter with a vulnerable, feminine spy, you’re hooked.

Sixty-something Charles Jenkins, ex CIA, has become desperate for money. His security firm (which has offices abroad–including Moscow) has been shorted a number of payments and forced his own debts delinquent, teetering on bankruptcy. He is married and has a nine-year-old son…his much younger wife Alex is pregnant with their second child. Her pregnancy isn’t going smoothly and she has had to step back from her duties at their business.

He is surprised by an unannounced visit from his former case manager in Mexico City who has a proposal he cannot refuse. Jenkins had left disillusioned abruptly after the last CIA mission in Mexico went sideways almost forty years ago. This mission involves contact in Moscow to try and filter out the Russian agent who is believed responsible for killing members of a US spy circle known as the seven sisters. He knows two have already died and asserts that Jenkins is the best man for the job with a great undercover story, speaks fluent Russian, and is familiar with CIA operations. One minor hitch–he’s a 6’5″ black man and may stand out just a tad in Russia.

Almost from the beginning, just when you think you understand where this is going to go, the storyline takes a 90-degree turn. You are introduced to “family man” Viktor of the FSB (formerly KGB) and Paulina, both of whom become empathetic, and earn tons of respect. Okay, yes, Viktor is FSB. He isn’t going to be a good guy (and there were times I visualized Putin). And then the battle when this went sideways as well, the flee for his life.

But then, what? Home, but not safe. Just when you thought the desperate effort to survive was over, the desperation simply takes on a new direction. We are reintroduced to David Sloan (an early Dugoni series protagonist), Jenkins attorney. Sloan may have aged a bit as well, but he’s still AI smart. And he knows the law, the ins and outs of the court system. I thoroughly enjoyed the courtroom drama and the manipulation of information.

Dialogue is intelligent, sometimes sparring (particularly between him and Viktor, and often incorporates the language of the country he is in (or fleeing). Jenkins is a winner and I was often reminded of Clint Eastwood; aging but still very effective. Paulina is immensely appealing. The well-plotted narrative never lets you relax or take a breath. It’s easy to feel the teeth-chattering cold, the terror of escaping by inches. And, as “they” say, sixty-four “is the new forty.”

I was thrilled to get this ebook download from the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read one of my favorite author’s new books. I’ve read two in his Tracy Crosswhite series, A Steep Price and Close to Home and enjoyed both. His writing style always sets you up for a satisfying journey through the pages. Can’t wait for book 2! Highly recommended.

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Robert Dugoni - authorThe Author: Robert Dugoni is the New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and #1 Amazon Internationally Bestselling Author of the Tracy Crosswhite Series : My Sister’s Grave (2014), Her Final Breath (2015), In the Clearing (2015), The Trapped Girl (2016), Close to Home (2017) and A Steep Price (2018).

Dugoni’s espionage novel, The Eighth Sister, inspired by real events, arrives April 2019.

His critically acclaimed literary novel, The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell (2018) won Suspense Magazine’s Crimson Scribe Award as The Best Book of 2018 and has drawn comparison’s to novelist John Irving’s work. Dugoni also won a Golden Microphone for his narration that novel. Connect with him on Facebook @AuthorRobertDugoni, on Twitter @robertdugoni, and on Instagram, robertdugoni, author

Dugoni is also the author of the David Sloane series: The Jury Master, Wrongful Death, Bodily Harm, Murder One and The Conviction.

Dugoni is the winner of the 2015 Nancy Pearl Award for Fiction, has twice been a finalist for the Harper Lee Award for Legal Fiction, twice been a finalist for the Silver Falchion award for his mysteries, was a 2015 and 2017 International Thriller Writer’s finalist for thriller of the year, and a 2017 Mystery Writers of America Edgar Finalist for his stand alone novel, The Seventh Canon. His books are sold world-wide in more than 30 countries and have been translated into dozens of languages including French, German, Italian and Spanish.

Dugoni’s first in the Tracy Crosswhite series, My Sister’s Grave (Nov. 2014), became a months-long #1 Amazon Bestseller in the United States, France, Italy, Germany and in the UK, as well as a New York Times and Wall Street Journal Best Seller and won the 2014 Nancy Pearl Award for fiction. Library Journal gave it a Starred Review and said it “Combines the best of a police procedural with a legal thriller, and the end result is outstanding…Dugoni continues to deliver emotional and gut-wrenching, character-driven suspense stories that will resonate with any fan of the thriller genre.”

The sequel, Her Final Breath, also became an Amazon top 10 bestseller, as did In the Clearing. The Trapped Girl was a #1 Amazon and #1 Wall Street Journal best-seller that Kirkus and Booklist are calling his best book to date. Close to Home debuted at #2 on the Wall Street Journal Best Seller list.

For more on Robert Dugoni and his novels, visit his website at http://www.robertdugoni.com

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Lessons from Lucy: The Simple Joys of an Old, Happy Dog by Dave Barry – a #BookReview

Lessons from Lucy by Dave Barry

Five Stars  Five stars

Title: Lessons from Lucy: The Simple Joys of an Old, Happy Dog by Dave Barry

Genre: #1 United States Literary Criticism, #2 in Cat, Dog, and Animal Humor

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

  • ASIN: B07CL5PVDB
  •  ISBN-10: 1501161156
  • ISBN-13: 978-1501161155

      Print Length: 241 pages

Publication Date: Happy Release Date! April 2, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Lessons from Lucy

Book Blurb:

Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and bestselling author of Dave Barry Turns 40 now shows how to age gracefully, taking cues from his beloved and highly intelligent dog, Lucy.

Faced with the obstacles and challenges of life after middle age, Dave Barry turns to his best dog, Lucy, to learn how to live his best life. From “Make New Friends” (an unfortunate fail when he can’t overcome his dislike for mankind) to “Don’t Stop Having Fun” (validating his longtime membership in a marching unit that performs in parades—and even Obama’s inauguration), Dave navigates his later years with good humor and grace. Lucy teaches Dave how to live in the present, how to let go of daily grievances, and how to feel good in your own skin. The lessons are drawn from Dave’s routine humiliations and stream-of-consciousness accounts of the absurdities of daily life, which will leave you heaving with laughter and recognition.

Laugh-out-loud hilarious, whether he’s trying to “Pay Attention to the People You Love” (even when your brain is not listening) or deciding to “Let Go of Your Anger,” Dave Barry’s Lessons From Lucy is a witty and wise guide to joyous living.

#1 New Release in Mid-Life Management

My Review:

Lessons from Lucy by Dave BarrySoon as I saw a book offered in NetGalley from Dave Barry, I jumped on the request. And a book about his dog, Lucy? YES, please! I have long been a fan of this author’s columns and would catch it in whatever vehicle I had that ran it. Paper? Sure before they gave way the same as eight-tracks. His columns never failed to provide a knowing nod, a chuckle, or laugh out loud moments. And while I don’t agree with all of Mr. Barry’s philosophy, I certainly agree that the man can find humor in just about anything and this book highlights that ability.

While the narrative doesn’t open new doors in wisdom, create new cosmic thought on life with dogs (or life itself), it is certainly written in an entertaining and satisfying manner. The author points out seven major lessons bestowed on Dave and his family by Lucy, their ten-year-old mixed-breed rescue. Dave’s keen wit and inspired observations of human behavior, metaphors for dog behavior, generally hit just where you’ve been. He sums up each lesson:

Lesson 1: Make New Friends, (And Keep The Ones You Have) Just don’t try to find them in a bar amazing them with your ability to smell asparagus metabolite.

Lesson 2: Have Some Fun Getting old sucks. (Or is that AARP?) Join something like the (World Famous) Lawn Rangers (yes, they use a broom and a lawn mower and perform in parades). Or as Barry did, join the Rock Bottom Remainders termed by Roy Blount as “Hard Listening,” composed of famous authors such as Stephen King and Amy Tan (but I doubt you’d recognize her), among others.

Rock Bottom Remainders on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson

Lesson 3: Pay Attention to the People You Love (Not Later, Right Now) Please, don’t ask him about “diversity training” as opposed to “mindfulness training.”

Lesson 4: Let Go Of Your Anger, Unless It’s About Something Really Important, Which It Almost Never Is. Among his list of top five things he is exceptionally good at, besides sarcasm and ridicule (that’s just too easy cause you already knew that!), is his knack for developing an instantaneous hatred for people he doesn’t know. (That would definitely include the cable TV company, “Bomcast”)

Lesson 5: Try Not To Judge People By Their Looks, And Don’t Obsess Over Your Own. (…a book by its cover.)

Lesson 6: Don’t Let Your Happiness Depend On Things; They Don’t Make You Truly Happy, And You’ll Never Have Enough Anyway. Learn the definition of GAS – “Gear Acquisition Syndrome” and the necessity of storing lentils.

Lesson 7: Don’t Lie Unless You Have A Really Good Reason, Which You Probably Don’t. Two reasons not to lie: (1) It’s wrong, and (2) It’s stupid. Be like Lucy, “if you mess up, fess up.” A dog can look amazingly guilty, whether or not they are, but they usually know when they are.

This is a pseudo-self-help book from a skeptical self-help book hypocrite. He doesn’t ascribe to them. Even he can’t believe he wrote it. Normally, he is a snarky, cynical Pulitzer prize-winning columnist and bestselling author. It was intended to be a book about dogs. But there were so many parallels he could draw from his reflections.

It’s honest, sincere, and authentic. Also humorous, appealing, and a feel-good novel about dogs. As the author says, every dog he has ever owned has been THE BEST DOG EVER. It is a great read that I wholeheartedly recommend. I received the ebook download from the publisher and NetGalley. I so appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Thank you!

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Dave Barry - authorThe Author: The New York Times has pronounced Dave Barry “the funniest man in America.” But of course that could have been on a slow news day when there wasn’t much else fit to print. True, his bestselling collections of columns are legendary, but it is his wholly original books that reveal him as an American icon. Dave Barry Slept Here was his version of American history. Dave Barry Does Japan was a contribution to international peace and understanding from which Japan has not yet fully recovered. Dave Barry’s Complete Guide to Guys is among the best-read volumes in rehab centers and prisons. Raised in a suburb of New York, educated in a suburb of Philadelphia, he lives now in a suburb of Miami. He is not, as he often puts it so poetically, making this up. Find Dave Barry at http://www.davebarry.com/

©2019 V Williams Blog author