The Dog I Loved: A Novel by Susan Wilson – a #BookReview

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5-stars

Brilliant, immersive, totally absorbing fiction reads like a true story.

(So good I couldn’t keep it to myself and I’m sharing this review with my associate, the CE.)

Book Blurb:

The Dog I Loved by Susan WilsonAfter spending years in prison for a crime she didn’t intend to commit, Rose Collins is suddenly free. Someone who knows about the good work she has done—training therapy dogs while serving time—has arranged for her early release. This mysterious benefactor has even set her up with a job in the coastal Massachusetts community of Gloucester, on the edge of Dogtown, a place of legend and, for the first time since Rosie’s whole world came crashing down, hope. There she works to rebuild her life with the help of Shadow, a stray dog who appears one rainy night and refuses to leave Rose’s side.

Meghan Custer is a wheelchair-bound war veteran who used to be hopeless, too. Living at home with her devoted but stifling parents felt a lot like being in prison, in fact. But ever since she was matched with a service dog named Shark, who was trained in a puppy-to-prisoner rehabilitation program, Meghan has a brand new outlook. Finally, she can live on her own. Go to work. And maybe, with Shark by her side, even find love again.

Two strong women on a journey toward independence whose paths collide in extraordinary ways. Two dogs who somehow manage to save them both. A tale of survival and a testament to the human spirit, The Dog I Loved is an emotional and inspiring novel that no reader will soon forget.

My Thoughts

This novel seizes you from the beginning and does not let go until you’ve read the last word of the last page and in between unfolds an amazingly written story that reads so realistic, so full of drama, it’s hard to believe this is fiction.

The Dog I Loved by Susan WilsonRosie experienced limited freedom when she left her family to live with Charles Foster in New York. He comes from old money, position, and education and almost from the beginning begins to separate Rosie from her family and friends. It quickly becomes obvious he can be demeaning and cruel. But his death is truly an accident, Rosie trying to prevent an accident, and through Charles’ mother’s contacts and her own incompetent PD, enters prison with a long sentence.

Before her horrific service-connected injury leaving her a paraplegic, Meghan was known as Captain Meghan “Buster” (though her real name is Custer). She is struggling with the loss of independence and over-protective and smothering parents until she learns of the service dog program trained by prisoners. She will meet Shark, the first dog trained by Rosie and during the orientation, the two damaged women bond.

When Rosie is suddenly exonerated and released after six years, she is also plunked into the position of overseer of a complete renovation of an early American property. The house is just outside Gloucester, a coastal city on Cape Ann, Massachusetts, at the remains of “DogTown,” a “village lost in time.” In the meantime, an unusually large and mysterious dog has entered Rosie’s life and she quickly bonds with the perceptive animal she names Shadow.

Author Susan Wilson has penned a masterful tale weaving modern-day storyline with that of an historical account of the enigmatic but remote area she is overseeing. There are several POV’s and all the characters are so fully engaging, including the fully-fleshed dogs, that the reader easily invests in each as well as the well-plotted and engaging narrative. You MUST know how this will turn out!

This absolutely amazing book hits so many tough subjects from women in prison to wounded warriors, PTSD, dysfunctional families, estrangement, and friendship. Unique plot–totally immersive. My first experience with this author won’t be the last and I’m off to see what else I can find written by this author. You owe it to yourself to grab this book releasing TODAY! Trust me, you’ll be glad you did–and you’re welcome!

His Thoughts

Can dogs really read minds, or is it their desire to please that makes them so responsive? Susan Wilson has combined a historical fiction format into a prisoner training dog scenario. An Irish lass, the only daughter in a family with five other siblings, Mary Rose Collins (Rosie)  is controlled and sheltered. Enter a spoiled rich kid of an entirely different social status and you have gas on water.

Rosie is dominated by older brothers and controlling parents. Her way out seems to be Charles Montgomery Foster who courts her but hides her because of her “poor side of the tracks” background. Gifts are given with obvious hooks and his mother disdains her.

Then a tragic accident kills Charles and his mother pushes stiff prosecution of Rosie. Her next twenty years will be in a correctional institution. A “prisoner training program” allows her to become involved with something other than the daily drudgery of prison life. She is tasked with training a Service Dog named Shark.

Meghan is a wounded warrior with a future in a wheelchair and only partial use of her body. The dog is a life-saver to both ladies. Two weeks together with the dog and the two women bond with each other as well as the dog.

Then Rosie’s prison sentence is suddenly vacated and she receives a job helping restore a centuries-old house.

Associate Reviewer - C E WilliamsSusan Wilson combines the history of the Massachusetts seashore with a love of dogs and has woven a fantastic tale. She adds another dog “Shadow” who comes into Rosie’s life when she needs him most. Overall the story is both heartwarming and complete in its amazing emotional development of the plot and characters.

I cannot endorse this book enough. Give yourself time because you will want to complete the book in a single setting. Thank you for the experience, Susan! 5/5 stars CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Animal Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Literary Fiction, Women’s Friendship Fiction
Publisher: St Martin’s Press

  • ISBN-10:1250078148
  • ISBN-13:978-1250078148
  • ASIN: B07PBNB7YJ

Print Length: 368 pages
Publication Date: Happy Publication Day, November 12, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Dog I Loved
I was granted a download of this uncorrected digital galley by the publisher through NetGalley and was totally thrilled with this novel. It is one that will resonate for some time to come. Thank you St Martin’s Press! It’s officially a book hangover.

Book Handover

+Add to Goodreads

Susan Wilson - authorThe Author: SUSAN WILSON is the author of ten novels, including the New York Times bestselling One Good Dog. In her most recent novel, TWO GOOD DOGS, the two main characters from One Good Dog, Adam March and his rescued pit bull Chance, make a return. She lives on Martha’s Vineyard. Visit her online at http://www.susanwilsonwrites.com

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Fan Mail (An Aspen Adams Novel of Suspense Book 2) by Daryl Wood Gerber

Fan Mail by Daryl Wood GerberBook Blurb:

Local celebrity news anchor Gloria Morning is used to receiving declarations of love and praise in her weekly fan letters, but when a Lake Tahoe doctor is murdered and she gets an anonymous note telling her it was done for her glory, her appreciation turns to panic. Unsure of where else to turn, she enlists the help of novice private investigator Aspen Adams. No sooner does Aspen begin digging into who sent the macabre note than another murder occurs, followed by another note, and she soon realizes she’s up against a ruthless and deranged killer.

Working with scant clues and a puzzling array of potential suspects, Aspen is determined to unearth the elusive connection between the victims and her client. But as the body count grows and the murderer remains a mystery to both her and the police, Aspen discovers she’s gotten closer to the killer than she ever imagined, and now she must risk everything she holds dear to stop the killings, including her own life . . .

My Review:

The second in the series and not my introduction to this author, I was attracted to the Lake Tahoe locale, that beautiful jewel in the Sierra’s that divide the California-Nevada border with world-class mountain recreation and gaming on the Nevada side.

Fan Mail by Daryl Wood GerberThis entry to the series finds Aspen slowly ascending the ladder of her aunt Max’s private investigation office while juggling the niece she accepted into her home in Book 1. While it may not be necessary to begin with the first book, you might glean a bit more backstory for explanation into her current lifestyle. Candace, sister Rosie’s daughter, is fourteen and a teenager balancing with bouts of 30 and she figures rather prominently in Book 2. She can be alternately wise and intrusive, insightful and ignorant.

There are a number of support characters, including the detective boyfriend Nick, a slightly contentious relationship. He neither takes her theories very seriously, nor she his dismissal of her lightly. I didn’t think this was a match in Book 1 and maintain that opinion. Aspen has a well-educated, experienced background that she occasionally calls on for help in dealing with all the varied characters and possible suspects. That doesn’t keep her from making stupid, rooky (cozy) mystery mistakes.

Gloria Morning is a local celebrity of some note and reaches out to Aspen for help regarding the receipt of notes that have turned scary suspect when a local GYN is murdered. When a second murder occurs with another anonymous note proclaiming that it was done for her, Aspen kicks her investigation into high gear with the help of aunt Max.

This one has a high body count and numerous possible suspects which she begins to sift through. I still have a bit of a problem investing in Aspen, can’t quite get my head around where she is coming from. Candace was a bit annoying and Nick just isn’t there.

The well-plotted mystery moves, but not without repeating and rehashing theories, a little B&E of her own, and no license really to do more than deliver summons. She still hasn’t quite grasped the role of parent to her niece, either allowing her freedom to be off with her friends or dragging her to interviews where she should never be allowed. I guessed the perp early and the conclusion pulled into slightly reaching territory–not sure I was buying.

I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review and these are my own opinions.

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense, Private Investigator Mysteries
Publisher: Beyond the Page

  • ISBN-10:1950461297
  • ISBN-13:978-1950461295
  • ASIN: B07YGS5WP1

Print Length: 282 pages
Publication Date:
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Fan Mail

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Daryl Wood Gerber - authorThe Author: SIGN UP FOR MY NEWSLETTER, which comes out once a month and with a new release
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Tasty, zesty, dangerous!

Agatha Award-winning author Daryl Wood Gerber writes the bestselling COOKBOOK NOOK MYSTERIES and FRENCH BISTRO MYSTERIES. As Avery Aames, she pens the bestselling CHEESE SHOP MYSTERIES. In addition, she writes stand-alone suspense thrillers, including GIRL ON THE RUN and DAY OF SECRETS and DESOLATE SHORES. Fun tidbits: Daryl jumped out of a perfectly good airplane, and she hitchhiked around Ireland by herself. Also, as an actress, Daryl appeared in “Murder, She Wrote.” She loves to read, cook, and golf. She has a frisky Goldendoodle named Sparky who keeps her in line!

Thank you so much for visiting my page. Follow my PROFILE for important updates. And thank you for your reviews!

©2019  V Williams V Williams

#TBR – November #amreading #crime #cozy #historicalfiction #literaryfiction #mystery #non-fiction #pawsome

My Short Stack for November!

Short Stack for November

Good Morning Thursday Readers! I’m excited about the review line up I have for the rest of the month and thought I’d share. It’s a full list of varied genres, so hang on–my short stack may turn into a full menu!

Titles are links to Amazon. Covers are links to Goodreads. 

Brain Exercises for Seniors
Brain Exercises for SeniorsStart tomorrow with my only Non-Fiction November–a puzzle book specifically created for seniors–LARGE print, puzzles designed to work the old cerebrum. Look at that gorgeous cover–and that’s just the beginning. (Print only) Tune in tomorrow for more info.

Fan Mail
Book Blurb:
Fan MailLocal celebrity news anchor Gloria Morning is used to receiving declarations of love and praise in her weekly fan letters, but when a Lake Tahoe doctor is murdered and she gets an anonymous note telling her it was done for her glory, her appreciation turns to panic. Unsure of where else to turn, she enlists the help of novice private investigator Aspen Adams. No sooner does Aspen begin digging into who sent the macabre note than another murder occurs, followed by another note, and she soon realizes she’s up against a ruthless and deranged killer.

Working with scant clues and a puzzling array of potential suspects, Aspen is determined to unearth the elusive connection between the victims and her client. But as the body count grows and the murderer remains a mystery to both her and the police, Aspen discovers she’s gotten closer to the killer than she ever imagined, and now she must risk everything she holds dear to stop the killings, including her own life . . .
Currently available for request from NetGalley

The Dog I Loved
The Dog I LovedBook Blurb:
After spending years in prison for a crime she didn’t intend to commit, Rose Collins is suddenly free. Someone who knows about the good work she has done—training therapy dogs while serving time—has arranged for her early release. This mysterious benefactor has even set her up with a job in the coastal Massachusetts community of Gloucester, on the edge of Dogtown, a place of legend and, for the first time since Rosie’s whole world came crashing down, hope. There she works to rebuild her life with the help of Shadow, a stray dog who appears one rainy night and refuses to leave Rose’s side.

Meghan Custer is a wheelchair-bound war veteran who used to be hopeless, too. Living at home with her devoted but stifling parents felt a lot like being in prison, in fact. But ever since she was matched with a service dog named Shark, who was trained in a puppy-to-prisoner rehabilitation program, Meghan has a brand new outlook. Finally, she can live on her own. Go to work. And maybe, with Shark by her side, even find love again.

Two strong women on a journey toward independence whose paths collide in extraordinary ways. Two dogs who somehow manage to save them both. A tale of survival and a testament to the human spirit, The Dog I Loved is an emotional and inspiring novel that no reader will soon forget.
Currently available for request from NetGalley

From Wild to Mild
(It’s not true I’ll only read doggy books–sometimes they just work out that way.
From Wild to MildBook Blurb:
Eight-week-old Australian Shepherd Kaya is kidnapped by a nasty coyote to be food for his mate and puppies. Instead, the loving mother raises Kaya with her own pups. But as hard as she tries, Kaya can’t completely fit in—she can’t kill prey or stay awake for night hunts. Why can’t she make herself a true coyote? Constantly criticized by her coyote father, Kaya finds support in her new mother and siblings. She also figures out how to contribute through teamwork with her brother and sister. Trapped by a dog rescue, Kaya re-enters the human world and learns the differences between how dogs and coyotes live. When freed to roam again, does she return to her forest freedom—or remain with her farm family? Can Kaya forever straddle between the Wild and the Mild?

Storm of Secrets
This is Book 2 of the Haunted Bluffs Mystery series. I read Book 1 and jumped on this. (Just a hint of paranormal.)
Storm of SecretsBook Blurb:
A powerful storm descends upon Cape Cod’s Whale Rock at the peak of tourist season–and the weekend Cassandra Mitchell’s and Daniel Benjamin’s wedding is set to take place at The Bluffs, the magnificent Victorian mansion Cassie inherited from her family. In the wake of the storm’s destruction, three-year-old Lucas Kleister goes missing–and the body of small-time drug dealer Lee Chambers is found in a restaurant dumpster. Now, the WRPD are faced with a murder to solve, a missing child to find, and the aftermath of one of the worst storms in recent memory.

While aiding with the clean-up and helping the displaced, Cassie has been receiving cryptic messages from the spirits of her great-grandparents, Percy and Celeste Mitchell, the original residents of The Bluffs. At first, the messages are benign, but soon, they begin to point to something more sinister. As Cassie works to decipher their meaning, the specter of a mysterious local legend surfaces. The tale of Barnacle Boy–and what happened to him during another destructive storm decades earlier–will weave through the desperate search to find Lucas and the identity of the killer.
Currently available for request from NetGalley – Blog Tour with Dolly Cas

Mercy Road
Mercy RoadBook Blurb:
In 1917, after Arlene Favier’s home burns to the ground, taking her father with it, she must find a way to support her mother and younger brother. If she doesn’t succeed, they will all be impoverished. Job opportunities are scarce, but then a daring possibility arises: the American Women’s Hospital needs ambulance drivers to join a trailblazing, all-female team of doctors and nurses bound for war-torn France.

On the front lines, Arlene and her fellow ambulance drivers work day and night to aid injured soldiers and civilians. In between dangerous ambulance runs, Arlene reunites with a childhood friend, Jimmy Tucker, now a soldier, who opens her heart like no one before. But she has also caught the attention of Felix Brohammer, a charismatic army captain who harbors a dark, treacherous secret.

To expose Brohammer means risking her family’s future and the promise of love. Arlene must make a choice: stay in the safety of silence or take the greatest chance of her life.
Read Now on NetGalley

Paw of the Jungle
Paw of the JungleBook Blurb:
AT THE ZOO
The weather is beautiful, work is slow, and her canine colleague could use a walk. What better day for Megan to take Brigit to the Fort Worth Zoo, where they can let loose and witness the law and order of nature unfold? But what begins as a fun field trip turns serious when a pair of rare hyacinth macaws named Fabiana and Fernando goes missing. Is the new custodian, a gentle soul who happens to be an ex-convict, to blame? Or is something far more sinister afoot?

AND ON THE HUNT
The birds are worth thousands of dollars, and the list of people on the premises who might have stolen them is long. Soon other animals start disappearing. . .and Megan and Brigit have their hands and paws full of suspects. But when a rare black rhino is taken from the zoo, presumably for its black-market-friendly horn, time is of the essence. Can Megan and Brigit find out who’s behind the mystery—before they too become prey?

Currently available for request from NetGalley

Scarlet Fever
Scarlet FeverBook Blurb:
Frigid February air has settled into the bones of the Blue Ridge Mountains, making for a slow foxhunting season, though “Sister” Jane Arnold’s enthusiasm is not so easily deterred. With the winter chill come tweed coats, blazing fireplaces—and perhaps another to share the warmth with, as the bold hunting scarlets worn by the men in Sister Jane’s hunting club make the hearts of women flutter—until someone’s stops entirely.

Harry Dunbar, a member of the Jefferson Hunt club with a penchant for antique furniture, is found with his skull cracked at the bottom of the stairs to a local store. There are no telltale signs of foul play—save for the priceless (and stolen) Erté fox ring in his pocket. Sister and her hounds set out to uncover the truth: was this simply an accident—a case of bad luck—or something much more sinister?

Steeped in the deep traditions of Virginia horse country and featuring a colorful cast of characters both two- and four-legged, Scarlet Fever is another spirited mystery from Rita Mae Brown.
Blog Tour with Dolly Cas

The Memories We Hide
Recommended by my good blogger buddy Shalini over at Shalini’s Books and Reviews
The Memories We HideBook Blurb:
When Laura returns home ten years after the death of her childhood sweetheart Ryan Taylor, her past begins to unravel and memories she’d long pushed aside begin to resurface. Having trouble reconciling truth and memory, Laura reconnects with childhood friend Tom, to try and find closure, but Tom has issues of his own. Not only is he faced with the threat of losing his farm, but he is also hiding a secret that could change everything for them both.

Will Laura and Tom find the answers they need to move forward, or will they discover that memories can’t always be trusted?
Read Now on NetGalley 

What do you think? Have you already read one of these or have I enticed you into adding them on your #tbr?

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Attributes: Short Stack photo from Canva.com

The Angels’ Share: A Wine Country Mystery Book 10 by Ellen Crosby – a #BookReview #historymystery

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5-stars

“The angels’ share was the amount of alcohol or spirits lost to evaporation…anything that aged in barrels or casks.”

The Angels' Share by Ellen CrosbyBook Blurb:

Ellen Crosby pours up another corking mystery with The Angels’ Share, an intriguing blend of secret societies, Prohibition bootleg wine, and potentially scandalous documents hidden by the Founding Fathers, all of which yield a vintage murder.

When Lucie Montgomery attends a Thanksgiving weekend party for friends and neighbors at Hawthorne Castle, an honest-to-goodness castle owned by the Avery family, the last great newspaper dynasty in America and owner of the Washington Tribune, she doesn’t expect the festive occasion to end in death.

During the party, Prescott Avery, the 95-year old family patriarch, invites Lucie to his fabulous wine cellar where he offers to pay any price for a cache of 200-year-old Madeira that her great-great-uncle, a Prohibition bootlegger, discovered hidden in the US Capitol in the 1920s. Lucie knows nothing about the valuable wine, believing her late father, a notorious gambler and spendthrift, probably sold or drank it. By the end of the party Lucie and her fiancé, winemaker Quinn Santori, discover Prescott’s body lying in his wine cellar. Is one of the guests a murderer?

As Lucie searches for the lost Madeira, which she believes links Prescott’s death to a cryptic letter her father owned, she learns about Prescott’s affiliation with the Freemasons. More investigating hints at a mysterious vault supposedly containing documents hidden by the Founding Fathers and a possible tie to William Shakespeare. If Lucie finds the long-lost documents, the explosive revelations could change history. But will she uncover a three hundred-year-old secret before a determined killer finds her?

 My Review:

Yes, thrilled that I was given a download for The Angels’ s Share as I’d come late to the party (again) getting in at Book 9, Harvest of Secrets last November. (See that review here.) It was my first introduction to the wine country of Virginia. I still have a soft spot in my heart for the wine country of Napa, California, but this series has given me a burning desire to beat a hasty exit from Indiana to experience that special area around Jamestown. Mercy, the history!

The Angels' Share by Ellen CrosbyInterest was hooked immediately and, although a series, can work well as a standalone. So easy to become engaged with the characters, the locale, and the description of the wine. Protagonist Lucie Montgomery and fiancé Quinn Santori go back to the plush wine cellar to retrieve the cell phone left after a private discussion with Prescott Avery. There they discover the 95-year old patriarch and owner of Hawthorne Castle dead. His death is not the result of age or a fall, however, and the discussion she and Prescott held in private quickly sends her on a quest for three-hundred-year-old Madeira, possibly hidden in her own winery.

The Madeira though is only the top layer of the complex well-drawn plot, delving into the history of the area and the local Freemasons including their connection with the Founding Fathers. Lucie begins to notice the subtle hints of Shakespearean phrase referenced to centuries old documents and artifacts. In order to find the precious wine, she’ll have to correctly interpret the materials left in her father’s secret safety deposit box.

Concentrating on the mystery of the documents, the reader is immersed in fascinating and detailed early American history of the Jamestown triangle. I love the way the author ties ancient mythology to her stories, and indeed, this entry to the series had a great deal more to do with the history mystery than that of the winery getting ready for Christmas.

So much intriguing information, aways a lot going on, the storyline never slows and keeps the reader flipping pages, each one leaving another lesson or plot point in one of the layers. It is an immersive book you don’t want to put down and delivers the implied promise of the cover. Perhaps Shakespeare didn’t write his own plays? There is so much you don’t know that you don’t know.

I‘m looking forward to visiting again soon and heartily recommend this entry in the well-developed series to anyone who enjoys a high-speed romp into one of our country’s most beautiful and history-laden areas. I received this uncorrected digital galley from the publisher (thank you, Minotaur!!) and NetGalley and appreciate the opportunity to read and review.

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Culinary Mystery, Amateur Sleuths
Publisher: Minotaur Books

  • ISBN-10:1250164850
  • ISBN-13:978-1250164858
  • ASIN: B07PBP8BVX

Print Length: 362 pages
Publication Date: Happy Publication Day November 5, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Angels’ Share
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Ellen Crosby - authorThe Author: Ellen Crosby is the author of the Virginia wine country mysteries and two mysteries featuring international photojournalist Sophie Medina. In 2019, Minotaur Books will publish THE ANGELS’ SHARE, the 10th wine country mystery. Before writing fiction, Crosby worked as a freelance reporter for The Washington Post, an economist at the US Senate, and Moscow reporter for ABC Radio News. Visit her website at http://www.ellencrosby.com and follow her on Facebook at EllenCrosbyBooks, Twitter at @ellencrosby & Instagram at ellencrosbyauthor.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Bad Memory (Jessica Shaw Book 2) by Lisa Gray – a #BookReview #suspense #thriller #badmemory

This series is classic #crimenoir PI fiction. Dark suspense, damaged protagonist prone to booze, electric.

Bad Memory by Lisa GrayBook Blurb:

Quiet towns keep big secrets.

Private investigator Jessica Shaw is leading a quiet life in a Californian desert community, where she spends her days working low-level cases. But when a former resident asks Jessica to help her sister, Rue Hunter—a convicted murderer whose execution is days away—Jessica can’t resist the offer.

Rue doesn’t remember what happened the night two high school students were killed thirty years ago, but everybody in town is certain she’s guilty. As Jessica looks for answers, she finds that local rumors point one way and evidence points another. And nobody wants to face the truth. Meanwhile, Jessica can’t shake the feeling that someone is stalking her—now more than ever, she knows she can’t trust anyone.

As Jessica digs deeper, she encounters local secrets in unlikely places—including the police department itself. But the clock is ticking, and Jessica must find the truth fast—or Rue’s bad memory may be the death of them both.

My Review:

My first in the series of two and I can see why Book 1 (Thin Air) has garnered over 2K reviews on Amazon. Yes, perhaps it would be good to start with Book 1 but I had no problem understanding where this woman might have come from. Of course, the name Jessica Shaw kept hauling me back to the Jessica Jones (TV) series, so regardless of any kind of description, all I could envision was young, pretty, dark and seriously bent, Jessica.

Bad Memory by Lisa GrayThe storyline revolves around a death row inmate due for execution, the sudden questioning of her own confession, and her sister’s desire to get at the truth–either way. I loved the way the author built a slow-burn, gleaning a small clue that somehow festers into an actual useable gem–something to build on.

Each chapter names either the main character or one of the many support characters and captures their view of the circumstances, whether currently, or back the thirty years that the murders happened. You get details filled in without being mired in minutia between solidly leading chapters. The hook from the beginning doesn’t let up and you’re in for the count. The reader might be guessing, jumping ahead knowing what’s coming, and then thwarted again by yet another twist or red herring.

But these are old secrets. Deadly secrets. And Jessica is racing again time to either stall an execution or supply those missing pieces of the memory that just doesn’t seem to form a whole picture. It’s complex. Far more than you might have thought. Realistic dialogue, engaging characters, and thoroughly well-plotted mystery, suspense, thriller.

Jessica might be just a bit difficult to invest in; perhaps you’d have to have walked somewhat in her shoes (and I hope you haven’t). She hasn’t been taught the latest defensive moves, barely owns a gun, and isn’t the deadly female whiz-bang of Dean Koontz variety. Jessica is vulnerable but savvy, smart, independent. The question is–can she save this woman due for execution?

I received this digital download from the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Definitely up for Book 3! My problems were a few edit misses and a couple contradictions a beta reader should have caught. Other than that, this one is totally recommended and predicted to do very well. Get in on (almost) the ground floor, or go back and start with Book 1. Either way, you can’t miss.

Book Details:

Genre: Private Investigator, Crime Thrillers
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

  • ISBN-10:1542092329
  • ISBN-13:978-1542092326
  • ASIN: B07Q8FD47T

Print Length: 311 pages
Publication Date: October 24, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Bad Memory
+Add to Goodreads 

Rosepoint Publishing:  4.5 of Five Stars 4.5-stars

Lisa Gray - authorThe Author: (Amazon) Lisa Gray has been writing professionally for years, serving as the chief Scottish soccer writer at the Press Association and the books editor at the Daily Record Saturday Magazine. Lisa currently works as a journalist for the Daily Record and Sunday Mail. This is her first crime novel. Learn more at http://www.lisagraywriter.com.

(Goodreads) Lisa Gray is a writer and journalist, and the author of the PI Jessica Shaw thriller series.

She decided at a young age that she wanted to write features for magazines and somehow ended up working as a football journalist for 14 years instead.

After too many winters spent freezing at matches and worrying about dodgy wi-fi connections, Lisa gave up football to work as a content writer at a national newspaper, where she had a spell as their books columnist.

An avid reader, she was hooked on Sweet Valley High and Point Horror books as a youngster, before turning to crime. Her favorite authors include Michael Connelly, Lee Child and Karin Slaughter.

THIN AIR is her debut crime novel and the first in a series about private investigator Jessica Shaw.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

 

Dogs Don’t Lie: A Kallie Collins Cozy Mystery by Lisa Shay – a #BookReview

One book, two opinions. Do they agree or disagree? The CE and I weigh in on a new cozy mystery.

Dogs Don't Lie by Lisa ShayBook Blurb:

On call at Crater Emergency Animal Hospital, I, Doctor Kallie Collins, receive a curious request from the sheriff’s department. I’m to meet with a detective at a small ranch outside of town.
You see, there’s this dog with a bone he’s not willing to part with.
On scene, the dog tells me the bone is human. Actually, he shows me the location of the body, complete with a human skull, through an animal-communication technique I learned a couple years ago. Now I have to explain how this works to the detective, convincing him I’m not the murderer.
Who knew a simple farm visit would put me in the middle of a murder investigation? Well, I did kinda jump into this mess. I had to. I know what happened. The two four-legged witnesses to the murder told me.
And I’m the only one listening.

My Thoughts

Dogs Don't Lie by Lisa ShayIt didn’t take long before I realized I’d bumbled into YA fantasy turned cozy. And I must admit, the cover and the blurb got me.  While I might not be the target audience for this particular genre, I was intrigued by the unusual concept of Dr. Kallie Collins, veterinarian, being able to communicate with animals. In this case, most specifically a dog and cat. Notice I didn’t say talk, although certainly she did that. The communication took a different form. Kallie is young, unmarried, and recently out of vet school, but she’s making (air) waves right into notoriety.

The characters, beyond protagonist Kallie, are all very engaging and very well fleshed. She has two close friends, Gracie Parker and Samantha Griffin (Sam), who are quick (well, mostly, sorta) supportive of her swiftly escalating escapades. While once again, the author drops the name Nancy Drew, Kallie prefers being known as Kinsey Millhone (a reference to the fictional character created by Sue Grafton in her Alphabet series).

Kallie meets the probable love interest, Detective Ben Jacobson, when she is called out to investigate a dog that won’t relinquish her bone. She found it–it was hers! The problem was that it was a human bone and it doesn’t take long for Kallie to exhibit her dog whispering talents and create converts.

Kallie seems to be a great deal more adventurous than cautious and it doesn’t take long before she is deep into the mystery, part of which was also a new plot concept (to me anyway). Then come red herrings, lots of giggles, food (especially cupcakes and burgers), and her mother’s trying to match her up with a nice young man. (I must confess there are several eye-rolling passages.) A few edit misses and could have used an expanded explanation to account for the passage of time or change of scene.

But…you know what? It’s cute. And it works. The venue is the gorgeous Pacific Northwest (or as my motobuddy used to call it, the Great “Northwet”). The characters are engaging, the well-plotted concept unique, and the interaction with the animals investing and I’m quite sure anyone a monster fan of Star Wars would love it. (Her ringtone was The Imperial March, for heaven’s sake.) You will enjoy getting to know these solid characters and now is the time to get in on the first of what looks to be the first of a sweet new series. 4/5 stars

His Thoughts

A very astute veterinarian oversees an unlikely adventure with the help of two animal friends. Communicating telepathically with a dog and cat, Kallie Collins is thrust into an investigation of mysterious events including fraud against senior citizens.

This author writes an entertaining tale that kept me turning pages. At times I wondered why the heroine kept investigating when very real threats were made on her life. Twists and turns lead to the intriguing climax with a little potential romance brewing with an attractive sheriff’s deputy detective named Ben Jacobson.

Associate Reviewer - C E WilliamsKallie’s strong female character with the help of two friends, brings the story along smartly. Of course, her mother is attempting to find a suitor for her unmarried daughter. A younger crowd will find this read very entertaining. C E Williams – 5/5 stars

I received this digital download from the publisher and NetGalley and shared with the CE who also greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Totally recommended as a fast, fun romp in a cozy mystery.

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Animal Mystery, Amateur Sleuth
Publisher: Indie

  • ISBN-10:1686589409
  • ISBN-13:978-1686589409

ASIN: B07XJTNPPC
      Print Length: 191 pages
Publication Date: September 30, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Dogs Don’t Lie

+Add to Goodreads 

Rosepoint Publishing:  4.5 Stars of Five Stars 4.5-stars

Lisa Shay - authorThe Author: Yes. Lisa Shay is my pen name.
But it’s still me. R E Sheahan. Since I write YA Science Fiction/Fantasy, it seemed a good choice to go with a pen name for the cozy mysteries.
I live on the coast in the Pacific Northwest.
I read. A lot. Pretty much any genre.
I love animals. A bonus since the cozy mysteries are about a veterinarian who can communicate with animals.
I’m crazy over anything Star Wars, Star Trek, Marvel, LOTR, Dr. Who, and, well all of them.
Yes. I’m a geek.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Tracking Game – A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery Book 5 by Margaret Mizushima – a #BookReview

One of my favorite series, the Timber Creek K-9 mysteries, is back with Tracking Game. While Mattie is interesting, it’s her relationship to Robo that’s the fascination behind these emotive narratives.

Tracking Game by Margaret MizushimaBook Blurb:

Two brutal murders, a menacing band of poachers, and a fearsome creature on the loose in the mountains plunge Mattie Cobb and her K-9 partner Robo into a sinister vortex.

An explosion outside a community dance sends Mattie Cobb and Cole Walker reeling into the night, where they discover a burning van and beside it the body of outfitter Nate Fletcher. But the explosion didn’t kill Nate–it was two gunshots to the heart.

The investigation leads them to the home of rancher Doyle Redman, whose daughter is Nate’s widow, and the object of one of their suspect’s affection. But before they can make an arrest, they receive an emergency call from a man who’s been shot in the mountains. Mattie and Robo rush to the scene, only to be confronted by the ominous growl of a wild predator.

As new players emerge on the scene, Mattie begins to understand the true danger that’s enveloping Timber Creek. They journey into the cold, misty mountains to track the animal–but discover something even more deadly in Tracking Game, the fifth installment in Margaret Mizushima’s Timber Creek K-9 mysteries.

My Review:

I do so enjoy these mysteries, set in Timber Creek Colorado, the venue beautifully described and compelling. More so, the human-canine relationship between Mattie and her highly trained and gorgeous, head-turning German shepherd Robo. Smart as a whip and intuitive, Robo and Mattie share a strong working and personal bond few professed dog lovers possess.

Tracking Game by Margaret MizushimaAlso greatly appreciated are the tidbits of doggie handler wisdom shared by Mizushima woven in her well-plotted narratives so that you glean as much appreciation for “man’s best friend” as the author obviously enjoys, including commands and (prey drive) triggers. Info such as the scent exuded by a fugitive in stress is often called “endocrine sweat,” easy for a dog to pick up.

In Book 5, the start of the book begins somewhat hesitantly, with protagonist Deputy Mattie Cobb and her love interest Cole Walker (a veterinarian) at a dance. There is a short rehash of their history, including Mattie’s damaged childhood leading to her intense fears with allowing herself to trust or love. Then the phone call that interrupts their evening and begins the page-turning mystery that once again weaves powerfully between her and her K-9 partner. Definitely where she feels most comfortable and confident. And it seems Cole brings baggage of his own to the match.

The intriguing storyline has Mattie and Robo involved in a homicide at the scene of a burning van. The area is populated by ranches and the man is the husband of the daughter of one of the old established area ranches. As Robo tracks down bits of clues and Mattie works with the department on the investigation, several suspects turn up. Unfortunately, one of these is later found–also murdered–and his body scavenged leading them to suspect there might be more than two legs in the woods with deadly intent.

A new support character is introduced, wildlife manager, Glenna Dalton, who handles a Rhodesian ridgeback, trained for wildlife tracking purposes. There are some serious twists in the plot you would not have guessed, and the well-developed characters set off for the high mountains and their target(s). It’s a fast-pace to the satisfying conclusion.

I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. These can all be read as a standalone, they are independent stories. I’m looking forward to Mattie gaining greater independence from her past. I’ve read two others in the series, Burning Ridge and Hunting Hour and highly recommend them all.

Book Details:

Genre: Traditional Detective Stories, Cozy Animal Mysteries
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

  • ISBN-10:1643851357
  • ISBN-13:978-1643851358

ASIN: B07NKR63LP
Publication Date: To be released November 12, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Tracking Game

 +Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint Publishing: Four Point Five of Five Stars 4.5-stars

Margaret Mizushima - authorThe Author: Margaret Mizushima is the author of the award-winning and internationally published Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries. Active within the writing community, Margaret serves on the board for the Rocky Mountain chapter of Mystery Writers of America and was elected the 2019-2020 Writer of the Year by Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. She lives in Colorado on a small ranch with her veterinarian husband where they raised two daughters and a multitude of animals. She can be found on Facebook/AuthorMargaretMizushima, on Twitter @margmizu, on Instagram at margmizu, and on her website at www.margaretmizushima.com.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Molded 4 Murder (Sophie Kimball Mystery #5) by J C Eaton #BlogTour #BookReview #Giveaway

I am so delighted today to provide a review for you at my blog stop for Molded 4 Murder by J C Eaton on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. I will be sharing the review with my associate, the CE. Scroll down to enter your chance to win the Giveaway!

Molded 4 Murder by J C Eaton

Book Details

Molded 4 Murder (Sophie Kimball Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
5th in Series
Kensington (August 27, 2019)
Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
ISBN-10: 1496719905
ISBN-13: 978-1496719904
Digital ASIN: B07L2FJ1PN

Book Blurb

A view to a kiln …

Sophie “Phee” Kimball enjoys working as a bookkeeper for a private investigator. If only her mother Harriet could enjoy her retirement at Sun City West in Arizona—instead of constantly getting involved with retirees being prematurely put out to pasture. This time Quentin Dussler, a prominent member of the clay sculpting club, was found dead, clutching a piece of paper scrawled with Phee’s mother’s name.

Terrified she’s been targeted by assassins, Harriet begs Phee to investigate. What Phee uncovers is a complicated scheme that only the most diabolical of murderers would ever devise. And as she chisels away at confusing clues and potential suspects, Phee unearths something far more precious and valuable than she could imagine. Eager for answers, she takes a bold step—placing herself in the crosshairs of a stonefaced killer …

My Review

Molded 4 Murder by J C EatonThis is one of those sweet cozy mystery series that grow on you. The characters, the locale, and the well-plotted mystery.

Sophie “Phee” Kimball works as a bookkeeper for a private investigator who hires Marshall, the perfect co-investigator and romantic interest. Her mother Harriet is close by and fully involved in her life as is her aunt Ina. There is a marvelous group of support characters and in this series offering, the beautiful desert retirement community at Sun City West in Arizona. (I know that area–it’s beautiful and begs a whole nother lifestyle.) This entry to the series reads fine as a standalone, although reading from the beginning of the series always gives you a more fully developing protagonist witness to their growth.

It starts simply enough, with little things missing from the residents, and before you know it branches into a complex well-drawn plot beyond what you might have guessed for a cozy mystery. Phee works quietly and methodically, working with the residents of the complex confronting twists and red herrings meant to help the reader solve the who and why. It’s deliciously deceptive.

I was given this digital download by the publisher and NetGalley (and discovered the CE had jumped on it) and we greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for mystery readers who enjoy a unique locale and engaging characters.

His Review

Associate Reviewer - C E WilliamsHow could it happen in such a tranquil environment? The victim is found with a paper in his hand with two names! Mom and Auntie, how could that be? This well-plotted narrative leads you into the high desert of Southern Arizona north of Sun City West. The bookkeeper of a local investigation agency slips from gossip to intrigue and is a complicated plot that will lead you to a surprising finish. This page-turner left me guessing at every turn. I suspected some of the culprits at the end, but certainly was surprised how diabolical the ending was! A finely developed fun read. C E Williams

+Add to Goodreads 

Giveaway

Sign up for your chance to win one of three (3) print copies of Molded 4 Murder (a Sophie Kimball Mystery) by J C Eaton (US only) in this Rafflecopter giveaway.

About the Author

Ann I. Goldfarb

New York native Ann I. Goldfarb spent most of her life in education, first as a classroom teacher and later as a middle school principal and professional staff developer. Writing as J. C. Eaton, along with her husband, James Clapp, she has authored the Sophie Kimball Mysteries (Kensington) was released in June 2017. In addition, Ann has nine published YA time travel mysteries under her own name. Visit the websites at www.jceatonauthor.com and www.timetravelmysteries.com

James E. Clapp

When James E. Clapp retired as the tasting room manager for a large upstate New York winery, he never imagined he’d be co-authoring cozy mysteries with his wife, Ann I. Goldfarb. His first novel, Booked 4 Murder (Kensington) was released in June 2017. Non-fiction in the form of informational brochures and workshop materials treating the winery industry were his forte along with an extensive background and experience in construction that started with his service in the U.S. Navy and included vocational school classroom teaching.

Visit their website at www.jceatonauthor.com and Like and Follow on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/JCEatonauthor/

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:

October 15 – I Read What You Write – CHARACTER GUEST POST

October 15 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – SPOTLIGHT

October 16 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

October 16 – Reading Is My SuperPower – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

October 16 – A Wytch’s Book Review Blog – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

October 16 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT

October 17 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW

October 17 – Books, Movies, Reviews. Oh my! – GUEST POST

October 18 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

October 18 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

October 18 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW, GUEST POST

October 19 – Diane Reviews Books – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW 

October 19 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT

October 19 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

October 20 – A Blue Million Books – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

October 20 – Laura’s Interests – SPOTLIGHT

October 20 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

October 21 – Diary of a Book Fiend – REVIEW

October 21 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

October 22 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

October 22 – Cozy Up With Kathy – CHARACTER GUEST POST

October 22 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT Great Escapes Book Tours

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

©2019  V Williams V Williams

Janis: Her Life and Music by Holly George-Warren – a #BookReview

Warning: This book contains offensive language, sexual references and phrases, drug references and aberrant behavior.

Book Blurb:

Janis: Her Life and Music by Jolly George-WarrenLonglisted for the 2020 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence

This blazingly intimate biography of Janis Joplin establishes the Queen of Rock & Roll as the rule-breaking musical trailblazer and complicated, gender-bending rebel she was.

Janis Joplin’s first transgressive act was to be a white girl who gained an early sense of the power of the blues, music you could only find on obscure records and in roadhouses along the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast. But even before that, she stood out in her conservative oil town. She was a tomboy who was also intellectually curious and artistic. By the time she reached high school, she had drawn the scorn of her peers for her embrace of the Beats and her racially progressive views. Her parents doted on her in many ways, but were ultimately put off by her repeated acts of defiance.

Janis Joplin has passed into legend as a brash, impassioned soul doomed by the pain that produced one of the most extraordinary voices in rock history. But in these pages, Holly George-Warren provides a revelatory and deeply satisfying portrait of a woman who wasn’t all about suffering. Janis was a perfectionist: a passionate, erudite musician who was born with talent but also worked exceptionally hard to develop it. She was a woman who pushed the boundaries of gender and sexuality long before it was socially acceptable. She was a sensitive seeker who wanted to marry and settle down—but couldn’t, or wouldn’t. She was a Texan who yearned to flee Texas but could never quite get away—even after becoming a countercultural icon in San Francisco.

Written by one of the most highly regarded chroniclers of American music history, and based on unprecedented access to Janis Joplin’s family, friends, band mates, archives, and long-lost interviews, Janis is a complex, rewarding portrait of a remarkable artist finally getting her due.

My Review:

Janis by Holly George-Warren

I wonder how many decades back you’d have to go to find someone who doesn’t recognize the music or the name of Janis Joplin.

The “beatnik from Port Arthur, Texas” set a new high bar for uninhibited powerful, emotional singing by a woman in the mid-to-late sixties. Unleashing raw talent on a still poodle-skirted US exploring rock and roll, Joplin went “Full Tilt Boogie” with a full repertoire of blues, folk, and R&B following her rocky start in San Francisco in the hippie neighborhood of Haight-Ashbury. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll. For all that wildly barely contained talent, Joplin was a fiercely conflicted young woman, dying at the age of twenty-seven of a heroin overdose; China white.

The author begins the biography with a quick history of Seth and Dorothy Joplin, the singer’s parents and the “triangle” in Texas she haunted as a rebellious girl, always seeking her mother’s approval and her father’s love. School was not kind to Janis, deeply wounding her and sealing that mutinous daughter apart seeking her own persona. She was always different, more one of the boys than friends with her peers. Easy for her to discover an escape into music…and booze…and drugs…and sex.

It was a long, hard climb from the hard-scrabble life in San Francisco to fame around the world, with countless musicians and bands, unsustainable love, the search for success and fame. The author did an amazing job with researching, interviewing and tracing letters home that provide the rocky road on which Janis traveled. The extreme highs and lows. George-Warren relates the anguish with which she desperately clung to threads of approval and drowned disappointment.

It was after the Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967, that she could become a national star. During the short period of her major celebrity, Janis managed to turn out myriad hits and set iconic records. Among her best known, “Cry Baby,” “Summertime (a personal favorite),” “Ball and Chain,” “Piece of My Heart,” and “Me and Bobby McGee.”

She was indeed rude, crude, and (for the most part) socially unacceptable, but man could she set an audience on fire with that voice, jumping to their feet and stomping to the music with as much wild abandon as the person on stage. No silver linings here–we all know the story and it doesn’t end well. Janis herself philosophized her life in bits noted at chapter beginnings, many of which I found profound:

“Don’t compromise yourself. It’s all You’ve got.”
“I would never be young again. I’d have to cry all over.”
“You shouldn’t have to be young until you’re old enough to cope with it.”
“What if they find out I’m only Janis?”
“Onstage I make love to twenty-five thousand people, then I go home alone.”

Janis’s last album, “Pearl” was released three months after her passing in January 1971.

If you’ve ever heard that plaintive wail and wondered about the woman behind the voice, you must read this biography. No gloss-over here, just a well laid out chronology of the tragic path another of our singing icons took and the legacy left for aging hippies and the younger generations hooked by those bluesy ballads.

I received this digital download from the publisher (thank you!) and NetGalley and totally appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended to anyone who enjoys well-researched celebrity biographies and well-written histories–get to know Janis–the person and the singer. That was, at times, two different people.

+Add to Goodreads

Book Details:

Genre: Biographies of Composers & Musicians, Biographies of Actors & Entertainers, R&B Artist Biographies
Publisher: Simon and Schuster

  • ISBN-10:1476793107
  • ISBN-13:978-1476793108
  • ASIN: B07P5GD3SZ

Print Length: 337 pages
Publication Date: To be released October 22, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Janis

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

Holly George-Warren - authorThe Author: Holly George-Warren is an award-winning writer, editor, producer, and music consultant. She has contributed to more than two dozen books about rock and roll, including The New Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll, The Rolling Stone Book of Women in Rock, and The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll. She’s also written for the New York Times, the Village Voice, the Journal of Country Music, and Rolling Stone. Ms. George-Warren lives in upstate New York with her family.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

#tbr – Janis: Her Life and Music by Holly George-Warren

I am thrilled to have been granted this book from Simon & Schuster through NetGalley.

#tbr - Janis: Her Life and Music

Janis: Her Life and Music by Holly George-Warren

Book Blurb:

Longlisted for the 2020 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence

Janis by Holly George-WarrenThis blazingly intimate biography of Janis Joplin establishes the Queen of Rock & Roll as the rule-breaking musical trailblazer and complicated, gender-bending rebel she was.

Janis Joplin’s first transgressive act was to be a white girl who gained an early sense of the power of the blues, music you could only find on obscure records and in roadhouses along the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast. But even before that, she stood out in her conservative oil town. She was a tomboy who was also intellectually curious and artistic. By the time she reached high school, she had drawn the scorn of her peers for her embrace of the Beats and her racially progressive views. Her parents doted on her in many ways, but were ultimately put off by her repeated acts of defiance.

Janis Joplin has passed into legend as a brash, impassioned soul doomed by the pain that produced one of the most extraordinary voices in rock history. But in these pages, Holly George-Warren provides a revelatory and deeply satisfying portrait of a woman who wasn’t all about suffering. Janis was a perfectionist: a passionate, erudite musician who was born with talent but also worked exceptionally hard to develop it. She was a woman who pushed the boundaries of gender and sexuality long before it was socially acceptable. She was a sensitive seeker who wanted to marry and settle down—but couldn’t, or wouldn’t. She was a Texan who yearned to flee Texas but could never quite get away—even after becoming a countercultural icon in San Francisco.

Written by one of the most highly regarded chroniclers of American music history, and based on unprecedented access to Janis Joplin’s family, friends, band mates, archives, and long-lost interviews, Janis is a complex, rewarding portrait of a remarkable artist finally getting her due.

This book will be released October 22, 2019 and is a beautiful, biting, and honest biographical portrayal of this early rock and blues female trailblazing icon. Her life cut far too soon by booze and drugs, Janis in her short time on top of the charts made herself a classic.

+Add to Goodreads

My review on Thursday, Oct 17, good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise.

Here Comes Santa Paws (A Melanie Travis Mystery Book 24) by Laurien Berenson – a #BookReview

Enjoying the Christmas Spirit with a light-hearted Christmas Season mystery.

Here Comes Santa Paws by Laurien Berenson

Book Blurb:

It’s the most wonderful time of the year in Connecticut, but Melanie Travis finds surviving this December may take a real Christmas miracle when a yuletide murderer comes to town . . .  

As Melanie attempts to deck the halls in a house overrun by pampered Poodles, her event planner friend, Claire, is busy playing Santa—beard and belly not included—for the wealthiest clientele on Connecticut’s Gold Coast. A personal shopper gig in the affluent town of New Canaan seems like business as usual. Except Claire’s stylish stint comes at a higher price than she bargains for when she stumbles over her newest customer’s dead body on the job. Named a prime suspect for murder, she begs for Melanie’s help, then vanishes like cookies and milk on Christmas Eve . . .

Determined to track down Claire, Melanie, and her nosy Aunt Peg dash into a dizzying investigation that leads to even more questions. Why was homicide victim Lila Moran, a secretive woman with an untraceable past, permitted to live on a well-known socialite-turned-recluse’s private estate, and is Claire keeping her own incriminating secrets under wraps? Now, with a grinchy New Canaan detective on their case and disturbing clues piling up like presents beneath the tree, the crime-solving duo must rein in a sinister Kris Kringle before they’re the next ones on someone’s deadly wish list . . .

My Review:

It’s looking like Christmas in New Canaan,  a haven for some of Connecticut’s wealthiest and lucky Claire is in the cat-bird seat having created a personal shopper clientele list. Claire is the wife of Melanie’s ex and they’ve managed to forge a friendship in spite (or maybe because) of their shared history. When Claire calls Melanie for help in a panic, Melanie doesn’t hesitate to run to her aid.

Here Comes Santa Paws by Laurien BerensonDelivering her client’s packages, Claire has stumbled on the body of Lila Moran in her client’s gatehouse on the property of a reclusive and wealthy socialite. It doesn’t take long before the police suspect Claire and Melanie, as well as her feisty Aunt Peg, are compelled to investigate the murder on their own. Melanie has a full house with a husband, two sons, five Standard Poodles and an irascible spotted rescue mutt.

It isn’t long before instigator Claire helps get Melanie in trouble with Detective Hronis and told to leave the detecting to the detectors. That isn’t going to happen with Aunt Peg either and together they begin the process of scenting out clues and interviewing. It’s an easy-going, well-plotted mystery and includes a number of well-developed characters as well as support characters.

Twists and red herrings are introduced, but each interview leads inexorably to the antagonist, whom you might have guessed. I suspected, but enjoyed the ride through the process with that light and fun writing style. While the dogs do not figure prominently, they do create asides and help break the tension with common doggy antics and support.

I started early in the series with a free offering from BookBub and then haven’t seen another until this one. Obviously, Melanie has evolved and the author’s biting sense of humor has bloomed and matured within her narratives. It’s easy to get involved with this protagonist and quickly run through the fun and fast book.

I was given this digital download by the publisher and NetGalley and sincerely appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for those who enjoy a light mystery with lovable canines and empathetic main characters.

Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuth Mystery, Cozy Animal Mystery, Private Investigator Mystery
Publisher: Kensington Books

    • ISBN-10:1496718453
    • ISBN-13:978-1496718457
    • ASIN: B07MB475ZK

Print Length: 208 pages
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Here Comes Santa Paws
+Add to Goodreads 

Laurien Berenson - authorThe Author: I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing something. I always wanted to tell stories and I’m incredibly grateful that now there are people who want to read them. I think of the Melanie Travis mystery series as the saga of a woman’s life–with complications. And dogs. And love. And lots of laughter. We should all be so lucky.

Laurien Berenson is an Agatha and Macavity Award nominee, winner of the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, and a four-time winner of the Maxwell Award, presented by the Dog Writers Association of America. She and her husband live on a farm in Kentucky surrounded by dogs and horses. She can be reached at her website: http://www.laurienberenson.com

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Yellowhead Blues: A Hunter Rayne Highway Mystery Book 5 by R. E. Donald – a #BookReview

I saw this series and enjoyed it and recommended to my associate reviewer, the CE, who was still driving truck at the time and thought he’d enjoy. He did. The following is his review.

Book Blurb:

Yellowhead Blues by R E DonaldJust west of the Rocky Mountains, a frightened horse with a bloody saddle is found running loose on the Yellowhead highway. Former RCMP investigator Hunter Rayne is on the road in his eighteen-wheeler when he’s flagged down to help calm the horse and find its missing rider.

The horse with the bloody saddle leads Hunter and a good-natured French Canadian cowboy into a complicated murder mystery. The police are none too happy with his interference, but Hunter strongly believes the RCMP has arrested the wrong man and sets out to uncover who stood to gain from the death of a wealthy ranch owner.

His belief in the suspect’s innocence is shared by a rookie female RCMP constable who joins him in the search for the truth. She befriends the dead man’s young fiancé in an effort to get answers, and discovers that the vulnerable Texas beauty is not who the victim’s family believes her to be.

This is the fifth novel in a unique mystery series set on the highways of North America.

His Review:

A flag-down on a remote Canadian highway thrusts Hunter into another mystery/adventure. This author skillfully twists this ex-Canadian Mounted Policeman into twisted intrigue. A burly French-Canadian flags him down to help with a spooked horse.  Leon Rousseau is a good Samaritan trying to save the animal’s life! Hunter gives him a hand.

Yellowhead Blues by R E DonaldA blood trail leads back to the horse’s former rider and Leon’s dog Blue leads the way. Ms. Donald has put together a great read including a grifter, a manipulated young lady and a ranch owner. The tale will mesmerize you as you try to figure out exactly what happened! Was it a hunting accident?

Leon, the good Samaritan, is arrested for the murder. Hunter takes care of Leon’s dog Blue while trying to solve the crime. He juggles the investigation with his current job of long- haul trucker.

The characters involve the reader immediately in a drama of love, greed and a young female Mounty, Bianca Morrison; trying to establish herself in the remote Canadian setting. This book is fun, engrossing and hard to put down. I was certainly not disappointed with this entry to the series and this may be her best of the series so far. The novel would work fine as a standalone, the characters are immersive, the setting atmospheric.  She spins a terrific yarn!

We received this digital download from the publisher and NetGalley and really appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Totally recommended for anyone who enjoys a well-plotted mystery with a unique and beautiful setting. You won’t be disappointed either. C. E. Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Mysteries, Crime Thriller, Crime Fiction
Publisher: Proud Horse Publishing

  • ISBN-10:0994076258
  • ISBN-13:978-0994076250

ASIN: B07TDQ9RB2
Print Length: 315 pages
Publication Date: July 21, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Yellowhead Blues

 +Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5-stars

R E Donald - authorThe Author: R.E. Donald is the author of the Hunter Rayne Highway Mysteries series. Ruth worked in the transportation industry in various capacities for 25 years and draws on her experience in creating realistic characters and situations in her novels.

Ruth attended the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, B.C., where she studied languages and creative writing to obtain a Bachelor of Arts degree.

She currently lives on a ranch in the South Cariboo region of B.C., where she and her partner, Gilbert Roy, enjoy their Canadian Horses (Le Cheval Canadien) and other animals.

©2019 C E Williams

Associate Reviewer - C E Williams

Christmas Cow Bells (A Buttermilk Creek Mystery) by Mollie Cox Bryan – a #BookReview #cozy

Yahoo! I’m starting this series and new author (to me) with Book 1!

Christmas Cow Bells by Mollie Cox BryanBook Blurb:

The first novel in Mollie Cox Bryan’s brand new mystery series, set in the Blue Ridge Mountains, will keep you guessing until the cows come home . . .
Christmas is a time for new beginnings, so after her big breakup, Brynn MacAlister takes the gouda with the bad. With her three Red Devon cows, she settles in bucolic Shenandoah Springs, eager for a new life as an organic micro-dairy farmer and cheese-maker. Then her dear cow Petunia’s bellows set the whole town on edge. But it isn’t until Brynn’s neighbor, Nancy, dies in a mysterious fire that her feelings about small town life begin to curdle . . .

It seems some folks were not happy with Nancy’s plan to renovate the Old Glebe Church. But is a fear of change a motivation for murder? As a newcomer, Brynn can’t ignore the strange events happening just on the other side of her frosty pasture—and soon on her very own farm. Suddenly Christmas doesn’t feel so festive as everyone demands she muzzle sweet Petunia, and Brynn is wondering if someone wants to silence her—for good . .

My Review:

Protagonist Brynn MacAlister has ended up in bucolic Shenandoah Springs on a small micro-dairy farm with emphasis on artisanal cheeses without the fiancé planned with the move. (He turned out to be a two-timing jerk.) Her grandmother had passed away giving her the wherewithal to purchase the property complete with main house (formerly a B&B), guest house, and barn. She has brought with her three Red Devon dairy cows, Petunia, Marigold, and Buttercup. Unfortunately, Petunia gave birth to a stillborn calf and is in severe mourning.

Brynn is getting to know the people of the tiny town in Virginia and as always, some are more friendly than others. She wants to network as she’ll be trying to sell her cheese locally, but it is with her close neighbor, Nancy, with whom she finds the most common interests. Nancy is also a recent transplant and wants to rehab the other side of the field, formerly a church. Unfortunately, there is a fire and Nancy succumbs to smoke inhalation and the injuries suffered. It is part of Nancy’s family that includes two boys who will stay in Brynn’s guest home, helping with chores as they are on Christmas break.

Christmas Cow Bells by Mollie Cox BryanThe two outstanding support characters, Schuyler and Willow, are great and I’d love to see their characters grow within the series. And Wes sounds like he’ll be a great asset, young, smart, enthusiastic, and media capable. The descriptions of the area make it sound so beautiful, although I can imagine the bone-chilling cold during the Christmas season and the thought of going out to milk Petunia, get them fed, muck the barn, and provide some kind of heating system doesn’t get me enthused enough to move.

Also greatly appreciated getting to know more about the cheese-making process and the artisan varieties–who doesn’t love cheese? As always, with any of these crafts, there are definitions of the industry language with cleanliness standards high on the list. I can remember being invited to the home of a couple also in the Jazz Mass Choir during rehearsals for a European choir tour wherein her dessert was a plate of special cheeses, including Brie, crackers, and grapes, and I’ve never been able to find a Brie that could equal. (Believe me, I’ve looked.)

So with only the whispered words from Nancy prior to her death to go on, Brynn begins to investigate. But that seems to start a round of warnings and things get creepy. She does attain a dog, Freckles, although Freckles seems to be just a tad hit and miss on the watchdog thing.

The well-plotted and atmospheric storyline moves at a fairly decent pace, although there is more than sufficient repeats of main points that will not let you forget exactly why she was there trying to do this alone (perhaps it was a mistake), who was trying to get her to move, and why. Brynn waffles, although under the circumstances, probably anyone would. Still, it sounded like the idyllic setting. There are red herrings, yes, but more than ample hints of the who, whether or not we understood the why until the conclusion.

I love it when I get to start a promising new series with Book 1 and this one appears to be off and running with a strong debut. I’m looking forward to more fleshing in Brynn, but love the support characters, human as well as animal. 

I was granted this digital download by the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for cozy mystery fans, particularly of the culinary sort. I suspect a few of the ingredients will grace your shopping list (as it will mine).

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Culinary Mystery, Cozy Animal Mystery, Amateur Sleuth
Publisher: Kensington

  • ISBN-10:1496721322
  • ISBN-13:978-1496721327
  • ASIN: B07MH9XYHY

Print Length: 336 pages
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Christmas Cow Bells
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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4-stars

Mollie Cox Bryan - authorThe Author: Mollie Cox Bryan writes cozy mysteries with edge and romances with slow, sweet burn. The first book in her new mystery series, “Cora Crafts Mysteries.” is DEATH AMONG THE DOILIES, which was selected as “Fresh Fiction Not to Miss” and is a 2017 Finalist for the Daphne du Maurier Award. The second book, NO CHARM INTENDED, was named a Summer 2017 Top 10 Beach Read by Woman’s World. She also wrote the Agatha-award nominated Cumberland Creek Mysteries. Several of the books in that series were short-listed for the Virginia Library People’s Choice Award. She’s also penned a historical fiction: MEMORY OF LIGHT: AN AFTERMATH OF GETTYSBURG and historical romance: TEMPTING WILL MCGLASHEN. She makes her home at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Shenandoah Valley, Va.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

The Garden Club Murder by Amy Patricia Meade #BlogTour #BookReview #Giveaway

I am so delighted today to provide a review for you at my blog stop for The Garden Club Murder by Amy Patricia Meade on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. Scroll down to enter your chance to win the Giveaway!

The Garden Club Murder by Amy Patricia Meade

Book Details

The Garden Club Murder (A Tish Tarragon Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Severn House Publishers (September 1, 2019)
Hardcover: 208 pages
ISBN-10: 0727889443
ISBN-13: 978-0727889447
Digital ASIN: B07TXLVLPP

Book Blurb

Literary 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?

My Review:

Another new author and series for me, this one a “literary” caterer Tish Tarragon, owner of Cookin’ the Books Café and Catering. The author may be having a little fun with us, naming his protagonist tarragon, but we get it, and it’s not the first of the humorous little zingers you’ll encounter. Tish has a helper who performs the bakery type chores, while her good buddy and old friend, the local weatherman, Julian (Jules) Jefferson Davis loves to help with bartending type duties.

The Garden Club Murder by Amy Patricia MeadeTish has been hired by a local senior community to cater their luncheon for the annual garden club awards. She is met by the club’s president, Jim Ainsley, and on a tour of the facilities and the gardens discovers the body of Sloane Shackleford bludgeoned to death in his award-winning garden. Shackleford owns a Bichon Frise named Biscuit, which is, of course, the reason I was attracted to the cover.

In southern style cozy fashion, we are introduced to the many residents and their support roles and it doesn’t take long before they are clamoring for her to investigate. It seems she’s in the position to do so–receiving gossip and real information with little prodding from the residents. Most are empathetic and all have their stories, some eighty years worth, while Tish is wrestling with her English Secret Garden theme menu, decorating the center patio, coordinating with Sheriff Clemson Reade, fostering the Bichon, taking in her devastated best friend Mary Jo and her two children after her husband divulges he’s in love with his twenty-something assistant and balancing her relationship with lawyer Schuyler Thompson.

With a few turn of phrases, I wondered several times if I was reading an English author (and I guess now that’s true), although the story takes place in Virginia. There were some humorous observations, comments, and the dialogue is generally on the lighter side as the venue could have gotten a bit heavy given the community and the murder. Included were a number of punny analogies, “Doesn’t he realize he’s about as welcome as a porcupine in a nudist colony?”

I couldn’t really get into the character of Tish, who was oblivious to a second romantic interest or her investigative style, but did enjoy the mystery, admitting I couldn’t figure out the perp, then got gob-smacked with the confession and the big reveal. While there was virtually no one who liked the man and many who might have done the deed, I definitely could not pick out the one who did, although I was a little sad at the turn it presented.

I was given this digital download by the publisher through NetGalley for this blog tour and appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for those who enjoy a cozy in which you can’t guess whodunnit. If you could, and did, write me–okay?

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Giveaway

Sign up for your chance to win (1) Print Copy – The Garden Club Murder (A Tish Tarragon Mystery) by Amy Patricia Meade (U.S. Only) in this Rafflecopter giveaway 

About the Author

Amy Patricia Meade - authorAuthor of the critically acclaimed Marjorie McClelland Mysteries, Amy Patricia Meade is a native of Long Island, NY where she cut her teeth on classic films and books featuring Nancy Drew and Encyclopedia Brown.

After stints as an Operations Manager for a document imaging company and a freelance technical writer, Amy left the bright lights of New York City and headed north to pursue her creative writing career amidst the idyllic beauty of Vermont’s Green Mountains.

Now residing in Bristol, England, Amy spends her time writing mysteries with a humorous or historical bent.  When not writing, Amy enjoys traveling, testing out new recipes, classic films, and exploring her new home.

Author Links:

Webpage: https://amypatriciameade.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/amy.patriciameade/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/amypatriciameade/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/amypmeade

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/174006.Amy_Patricia_Meade

Purchase Links  – Amazon – B&N – AbeBooks

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

Tour Participants:

September 16 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT WITH RECIPE

September 17 – I’m All About Books – CHARACTER GUEST POST

September 17 – LibriAmoriMiei – REVIEW

September 18 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

September 18 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT

September 19 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

September 20 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

September 20 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW

September 21 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW

September 22 – I Read What You Write – SPOTLIGHT

September 23 – Reading Is My SuperPower – GUEST POST

September 24 – Mysteries with Character – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

September 24 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

September 25 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

September 26 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW

September 26 – Cozy Up With Kathy – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

September 27 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

September 27 – A Blue Million Books – GUEST POST

September 28 – Literary Gold – CHARACTER GUEST POST

September 28 – Diane Reviews Books – REVIEW

September 29 –Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

September 29 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW Great Escapes Book Tours

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

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Beyond a Reasonable Stout: A Sloan Krause Mystery Book 3 by Ellie Alexander

This may yet get me to try a craft beer. Although I’d be happier checking out this beautiful little Washington state village.

Five of Five Stars 5-stars

Beyond a Reasonable Stout by Ellie AlexanderBook Blurb:

Amateur sleuth Sloan Krause delves into the murderous political world in another delightful mystery from popular cozy writer Ellie Alexander.

It’s the dead season in Leavenworth, Washington. The throngs of Oktoberfest crowds have headed home, and the charming Bavarian streets are quiet and calm—momentarily. Villagers use the reprieve to drink in the crisp fall mountain air and prepare for the upcoming winter light festival. Soon the German-inspired shops and restaurants will be aglow with thousands of twinkling lights. Visitors will return to the northern Cascades to drink warm mulled cider and peruse the holiday markets. Brewer, Sloan Krause and her partner in crime Garrett Strong are using the slowdown to stock up on a new line of their signature craft beers at Nitro. They’re experimenting with a hoppy holiday pine and a chocolate hazelnut stout. The small brewery is alive with delicious scents and bubbling batches of brew.

Sloan is in her element. She loves the creativity and lowkey atmosphere at Nitro. Only that is soon threatened by the incumbent city councilmember Kristopher Cooper. Kristopher is running for re-election on a platform of making Leavenworth dry. Everyone in beertopia is fuming. Leavenworth’s economy relies on keeping the kegs flowing. Kristopher wants to banish beer, a policy that might just bankrupt the entire village. However, Kristopher turns up dead days before election night. Sloan quickly realizes that his murder isn’t the work of a stranger. Friends, family, and every other business owner had a motive to kill him, including none other than April Ablin, Leavenworth’s self-described ambassador of all things German. Sloan finds herself defending April and trying to sleuth out a killer amongst a group of familiar faces.

My Review:

No I don’t drink beer and at my age can barely tolerate a small glass of white wine before I’m running for an antacid, but for some reason, this little series set a spark that has caught my attention.

Beyond a Reasonable Stout by Ellie AlexanderProtagonist Sloan Krause has the nose and the taste buds for the business. She’s smart, inventive, and original. Having grown up the hard way through a series of foster homes, she thought she’d found a family when she married Mac and became part of his family’s Der Keller Brewery in the quaint mountainous Bavarian styled village of  Leavenworth. They had a son, Alex, but Mac soon acquired a wandering eye.

All was not lost when she discovered a start-up brewery run by Garrett at close by at Nitro. He is an ex-Seattle chemist. He is easy and laid back, detailed oriented and intelligent. They hired Kat, a young woman who needed a job and a roof over her head and acquired both with Nitro.

Book three has the village facing a city council election whose incumbent has decided Leavenworth should be alcohol-free–which, of course, would kill most of the town’s livelihoods. Following a nasty confrontation following a rally for his opponent, he is found murdered and it’s the town’s self-proclaimed “ambassador” April, who is #1 person of interest.

Running parallel in an undercurrent left from Book 2, Sloan again confronts her past and seeks answers regarding her parents and the resulting abandonment.

Once again, the compelling and well-developed support characters from the previous novel are back and are readily familiar, although you could easily read this as a standalone. There is a lot of industry-standard vocabulary, as well as Sloan’s tasty ideas for the upcoming season. Details of brewing are shared in an off-hand way that doesn’t interrupt the story, merely adds credence and understanding to the craft art.

As Oktoberfest is history, the village has a slight lull prior to Thanksgiving, the tree lighting ceremonies, the opening of ski season and winter activities, so they have the opportunity to work on projects and taste test. The weather is turning cold and the beauty of their village, their little valley, and the mountains take on a whole new perspective. The author imparts her love of the Pacific Northwest in her descriptive prose and once again creates a travel lust. I loved the descriptions of the various beers and exactly how they are classified, reminding me a little of the tour we took in Japan of the Kirin (Ichiban) Brewery in Yokohama. (Yes, I tasted it…how can you not?)

There continues to be some growth in the relationship between her and Garrett, although Mac is trying to come back and I’m discerning just a slight bit of emotional confusion. The antagonist was no real surprise, although there were a few twists and red herrings to throw you off. And I appreciated the way April returned the favor–and excited to see that idea going forward. But then, what?? A cliffhanger?!! Gees, I hate cliffhangers. I read Book 2, The Pint of No Return last year and loved it. (See that review here.) Now I have to wait another year??

“Beer Cures What Ales You.”

“Every loaf of bread is a tragic story of grains that could have become beer but didn’t.”

I received this uncorrected digital galley from the publisher and NetGalley and loved the opportunity to read and review. I am really looking forward to following this series and will be watching for Book 4! Recommended for any who enjoy a fun, fast-paced cozy mystery or any well-crafted novel with wonderful fully-developed characters in a unique and gorgeous setting.

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Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Culinary Mystery
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press and Minotaur Books

  • ISBN-10:1250205751
  • ISBN-13:978-1250205759
  • ASIN: B07P7BXXHZ

Print Length: 284 pages
Publication Date: To be released October 1, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Beyond a Reasonable Stout

Kate Dyer-Seeley - authorThe Author: Ellie Alexander, author of the Bakeshop Mystery Series and the Sloan Krause Mysteries (St. Martin’s Press), is a Pacific Northwest native who spends ample time testing recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouses nearby. When she’s not coated in flour, you’ll find her outside exploring hiking trails and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of research.

Find out more about Ellie and her books by visiting her here:
web: http://https://www.elliealexander.co/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ellie_alexander
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwd80ruKbz98VZQGT2I23-Q/featured
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elliealexanderauthor
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/BakeshopMystery

©2019 V Williams V Williams

#TBR September #suspense #cozy #christmasbooks #literary My Short Stack for Fall and Holiday Reading!

#TBR Sept - Short Stack

Good Morning Thursday People! I’m pretty excited about the review line up I have for the rest of the month and thought I’d share. If we’re looking at Fall and being inside more, that generally gives us the opportunity for more reading. Titles are links to Amazon. Covers are links to Goodreads. Here are a few lovely suggestions:

Good Morning, BellinghamGood Morning, Bellingham by Marina Raydun 

Book Blurb:

When Peta goes missing, a two-decade-old secret threatens to rip at the seams and come out in the open. Relationships are tested as one dysfunctional family comes together in search of their daughter, sister, and wife. What they find instead will change each one of them forever.

My stop on the book tour with Sage’s Blog Tours.

Beyond a Reasonable Stout by Ellie Alexander Beyond a Reasonable Stout by Ellie Alexander

I’ve read both book 9 from A Bakeshop Mystery and A Pint of No Return from the Sloan Krause Mystery Series #2, and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed the latter. This one from the same series. I’m so there.

Book Blurb:

Amateur sleuth Sloan Krause delves into the murderous political world in another delightful mystery from popular cozy writer Ellie Alexander.

It’s the dead season in Leavenworth, Washington. The throngs of Oktoberfest crowds have headed home, and the charming Bavarian streets are quiet and calm—momentarily. Villagers use the reprieve to drink in the crisp fall mountain air and prepare for the upcoming winter light festival. Soon the German-inspired shops and restaurants will be aglow with thousands of twinkling lights. Visitors will return to the northern Cascades to drink warm mulled cider and peruse the holiday markets. Brewer, Sloan Krause and her partner in crime Garrett Strong are using the slowdown to stock up on a new line of their signature craft beers at Nitro. They’re experimenting with a hoppy holiday pine and a chocolate hazelnut stout. The small brewery is alive with delicious scents and bubbling batches of brew.

Sloan is in her element. She loves the creativity and lowkey atmosphere at Nitro. Only that is soon threatened by the incumbent city councilmember Kristopher Cooper. Kristopher is running for re-election on a platform of making Leavenworth dry. Everyone in beertopia is fuming. Leavenworth’s economy relies on keeping the kegs flowing. Kristopher wants to banish beer, a policy that might just bankrupt the entire village. However, Kristopher turns up dead days before election night. Sloan quickly realizes that his murder isn’t the work of a stranger. Friends, family, and every other business owner had a motive to kill him, including none other than April Ablin, Leavenworth’s self-described ambassador of all things German. Sloan finds herself defending April and trying to sleuth out a killer amongst a group of familiar faces.

From NetGalley

The Garden Club Murder by Amy Patricia Meade The Garden Club Murder by Amy Patricia Meade

Okay, I confess: I requested this book solely on the picture of the Bichon Frise on the cover. (Looks so like my Frosty girl.)

Book Blurb:

Literary 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.

My stop on the book tour with Escape with Dolly Cas.

Christmas Cow Bells by Mollie Cox Bryan Christmas Cow Bells by Mollie Cox Bryan

I’m a sucker for an adorable book cover–this qualifies.

Book Blurb:

The first novel in Mollie Cox Bryan’s brand new mystery series, set in the Blue Ridge Mountains, will keep you guessing until the cows come home . . .

Christmas is a time for new beginnings, so after her big breakup, Brynn MacAlister takes the gouda with the bad. With her three Red Devon cows, she settles in bucolic Shenandoah Springs, eager for a new life as an organic micro-dairy farmer and cheese-maker. Then her dear cow Petunia’s bellows set the whole town on edge. But it isn’t until Brynn’s neighbor, Nancy, dies in a mysterious fire that her feelings about small town life begin to curdle . . .

It seems some folks were not happy with Nancy’s plan to renovate the Old Glebe Church. But is a fear of change a motivation for murder? As a newcomer, Brynn can’t ignore the strange events happening just on the other side of her frosty pasture—and soon on her very own farm. Suddenly Christmas doesn’t feel so festive as everyone demands she muzzle sweet Petunia, and Brynn is wondering if someone wants to silence her—for good . . .

From NetGalley

Portal to Murder by Alison Lingwood Portal to Murder by Alison Lingwood

Book Blurb:

This is a story of the use and misuse of the internet.
Angela is a bored, middle-aged spinster approached on the internet by an ex schoolfriend Kevin.
Concerned that her boring existence will not hold his interest, she weaves a fabric of lies, becoming more and more obsessed with her fantasy life.
But Kevin too is not who he claims to be, and the relationship between the two of them leads to death and destruction.

YAY! I won this beautiful print copy in an international Giveaway from Kerry at Chat About Books (thank you again!). Review scheduled Friday, October 3.

See one here you’d like to add to your TBR as well? This will start my Short Stack series, as I’ll have another for October. In the meantime, if you can resist these covers I’d be surprised! Let me know if you’ve read one of these and what you thought. I always appreciate collaboration and corroboration!

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Dachshund Through The Snow: An Andy Carpenter Mystery by David Rosenfelt – a #BookReview #Mystery #rosepointpub

NOooo, this says Book 20 of 20. Say it isn’t so! I’ve only caught one previous (Bark of Night, Book 19) and I’m feeling abused. I may have to resort to trying the library–but I will find some more. In the meantime, you might want to grab this one while you can. These are too much fun to miss.

Five Stars 5-stars

Dachshund Through the Snow by David RosenfeltBook Blurb:

This Christmas, lawyer Andy Carpenter and his golden retriever, Tara, can’t say no to helping young Danny and his dachshund, Murphy.

Lawyer Andy Carpenter and his wife, Laurie, have started a new Christmas tradition. Their local pet store has a Christmas tree, where instead of ornaments there are wishes from those in need. One poignant wish leads Andy to a child named Danny, whose selfless plea strikes a chord. Danny asked Santa for a coat for his mother, a sweater for his dachshund, Murphy, and for the safe return of his missing father.

It turns out Danny’s father doesn’t want to be found, he’s on the run after just being arrested for a murder that took place fourteen years ago – a murder that Danny’s mother swears he didn’t commit.

With his trademark humor and larger-than-life characters – including a police officer and his K-9 partner, Simon – Rosenfelt never fails to deliver as Andy and his eccentric crew dash to reunite a family in time for Christmas. 

Dachshund Through the Snow by David RosenfeltMy Review:

If you love dogs (and even if you don’t but love a good mystery), you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of David Rosenfelt’s Andy Carpenter mystery series. I discovered this author plying the pages of the audiobooks in my local technically advanced library. They have all those things–audiobooks, movies, books! (See my review for Bark of Night here.) Well, I loved that audiobook so much I went searching for the author on NetGalley and found this one. I was thrilled when they accepted my request. I knew it’d be good. Some, you just request, or order, just because you know. Right?

Well, I was. Right, that is. Loved this novel! I love a good book with a sense of humor. No, it’s not a cozy and doesn’t get that idea. These are serious mystery books, well-structured plots, fully engaging from page one. Interviews, investigation, legal maneuvering, filing of all manner of papers, as well as courtroom capers. It’s that writer’s style, you know. He has a way with his snarky lawyerly attitude that tells you maybe being an attorney was not what he really wanted to do. And it wasn’t. Luckily for him (we should all be so lucky), he inherited beaucoup bucks. Now he can do want he wants and he loves dogs. In fact, he created an animal rescue and would love nothing more than to spend his time there, because lawyering, as you might know from the fees they routinely collect, takes mountains of time. He’d rather not. He’s early retired. Or supposed to be.

This narrative begins simply enough with a Christmas request and devolves into a full-fledged, multi-level whodunit. A young boy asked that his dad be brought home from jail and a murder he didn’t commit fourteen years ago. Yeah, yeah, yeah. They are all innocent. And this one has his DNA thanks to the strangled eighteen-year old’s fingernails. But as Andy gets deeper into the case, he begins to believe he is–innocent–that is. Now: How to prove it.

Parallel with the main plot premise is a retiring cop who’d love to have his beautiful K-9 service dog retire with him. But Simon is nine. They don’t retire service dogs until they are ten. Here’s the bad news (okay, more bad news): Simon is beginning to exhibit signs of arthritis. Remember, German Shepherds tend to have hip problems. So Andy sues for species discrimination.

Dialogue between Andy and his wife, (former) policewoman Laurie is intelligent and realistic. He has a cadre of unusual support staff, including Marcus (the silent muscle), a computer technie-hacker, and an office manager who also rather not work and usually doesn’t. Despite his irreverent attitude, he can be quite self-deprecating when called upon to do any hero stuff. But don’t ever sell him short. He’s known for his brain, not brawn, and his courtroom triumphs would bear that out.

Talk about hitting all the right buttons. Intelligent mystery, dialogue, twists, red-herrings, and dogs. How deep does this fourteen-year-old murder mystery go? How can you get past DNA evidence after all this time? I love the complications and finally decided I knew the ultimate culprit (it goes up the chain). But the twist at the end totally throws a monkey-wrench into that theory.

I received this book from the publisher and NetGalley and totally appreciate the opportunity to read and review. (THANK YOU Minotaur!) And this book and this series is highly recommended. I’ll continue to follow this author, even if he’s leaving Andy behind.

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Book Details:

Genre: Holiday Fiction, Animal Fiction, Traditional Detective Series
Publisher: St Martin’s Press and Minotaur Books

  • ISBN-10:1250237688
  • ISBN-13:978-1250237682
  • ASIN: B07P9LQ99N

 Print Length: 313 pages
Publication Date: October 1, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Dachshund Through the Snow
David Rosenfelt - authorThe Author: David Rosenfelt, a native of Paterson, New Jersey, is a graduate of NYU. He was the former marketing president for Tri-Star Pictures before becoming a writer of novels and screenplays. “Open And Shut” was his first novel; “First Degree,” his second novel, was named a best book of 2003 by Publishers Weekly. He currently lives in Southern California with his wife and 35 dogs.

©2019 V Williams

V Williams

Fatal Cajun Festival by Ellen Byron – a #BookReview #cozy

Love that sound, love that food, and the Mardi Gras atmosphere.

Fatal Cajun Festival by Ellen Byron

Fatal Cajun Festival: A Cajun Country Mystery by Ellen Byron

Book Blurb:

USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Ellen Byron cranks it up to eleven in the fifth fast and funny Cajun Country mystery.

Louisiana B&B owner Maggie Crozat kicks up her heels at a country music festival–but she’ll have one foot in the grave if she can’t bring the killer of a diva’s hanger-on to heel.

Grab your tickets for Cajun Country Live!, the pickers’ and crooners’ answer to the legendary New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Maggie Crozat, proprietor of the Crozat Plantation B&B, plans to be in the cheering section when her friend Gaynell Bourgeois takes the stage with her band, Gaynell and the Gator Girls.

The festival’s headliner, native daughter Tammy Barker, rocketed to stardom on a TV singing competition. She has the voice of an angel…and the personality of a devilish diva. But Maggie learns that this tiny terror carries a grudge against Gaynell. She’s already sabotaged the Gator Girls’ JazzFest audition. When a member of Tammy’s entourage is murdered at the festival, Tammy makes sure Gaynell is number one on the suspect list.

Gaynell has plenty of company on that list–including every one of Tammy’s musicians. Posing as a groupie, Maggie infiltrates Tammy’s band and will have to hit all the right notes to clear her friend’s name.

My Review:

Fatal Cajun Festival by Ellen ByronA cozy mystery with recipes, my first with the author and the series, and you know what? I really enjoyed it! I know what you’re thinking–Rosepoint Pub has had one too many and who is covering for her? Au Contraire, lovely readers, and I appreciate your concern!

First, you are wondering, “yeah, but it’s number five of the series” (with an adorable cover). Take heart. Although I’m sure you’d enjoy reading 1-4, this one functioned fine for me as a standalone for several reasons: (1) Locale driven but enough info about the main and support characters without doing a complete backstory, and (2) multi-layered and complex storyline that kept your attention. (Oh, and I might mention a complete listing of characters appears at the beginning and if I didn’t get lost, you shouldn’t.)

(Magnolia) Maggie Crozat is proprietor of the Crozat Plantation B&B in Pelican, Louisana. Her fiancé is Bo, Detective Bo Durand. And then there is Gaynell Bourgeois, Maggie’s best friend and soon to be person of interest. Lest I am to blame for confusing you, I’ll only further mention Tammy Barker, the local girl country star gone big time come back to gloat.

It is Maggie’s Grand-mère (Charlotte Crozat) who suggests the little town have a Cajun Country Live! Festival to catch music fans on their way to the larger fest in New Orleans. In the meantime, widow Grand-mère is off on a “death cleaning” and discovers something in the process she can’t ignore. Maggie must gear up her booth with Pelican Pralines as well as offer her paintings. (She also holds a new position as Doucet’s art collection specialist.)

Being a headliner, Tammy arrives amid huge pomp with her entourage, totally over-shadowing another local (lesser successful but talented) musician, Gaynell. Well, you know how musicians are. There is bound to be a clash and Gaynell and her Gator Girls land in the middle. Tammy’s manager is soon discovered in some bushes. Dead. Before Tammy’s group moves on to the Jazz Festival, Maggie will have to move fast to clear Gaynell’s name.

Boy, I do love the music, and add Cajun or Zydeco to the mix is probably the only place left where an accordion sounds GOOOOD with a washboard! Grab some crawdads, shrimp, and Cajun spice and you have a festival! This book just exudes that enthusiastic feel-good time. And then there is the mystery–mercy that gets complicated–but then you’re immersed in the whole atmosphere of the Louisiana Cajun Country. (Also, there is the Reader’s Digest explanation of Cajun vs Creole.) This is fascinating stuff, people!

Zydeco musicians at the Cajun Zydeco Festival
Photo Attribute: Cajun Zydeco Festival photo by Cheryl Gerber

The dialogue is peppered with a mix of French and Cajun patois. Maggie is interesting, but it is the history and tidbits of the area that I most appreciated and invested. It is well-paced and I must admit I didn’t guess either the perp or the reason, which provides a fascinating twist, even entirely plausible. There are bits of humor along the way; one of my favorites describing a cluster of teens.

“A giggle,” Maggie said. “I think you’d call it a giggle of girls.” (Yup!)

The conclusion came on the heels of another of Maggie’s open mouth, insert foot moments. She did annoy me a couple times. Also, I stumbled over Gaynell’s name more than once, wishing it were something else; Jane even, but Gaynell(?). Still, her character was fully engaging. I loved the recipes (and you remember I don’t usually look at them). They seemed geared to feed the entire southern militia, but that won’t stop me from trying a couple and the ingredients are already on my shopping list!

I received this digital ebook from the publisher and NetGalley and was thoroughly entertained, grateful to have the opportunity to read and review. I’m totally onboard for Book 6! Recommended to those mystery fans who don’t always get a culinary cozy and to anyone looking for an entertaining read. (Eat first.)

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Culinary Mystery, Cozy Craft and Hobby Mystery
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
ISBN: 1643851292

  • ASIN: B07NKW8WMY

 Print Length: 298 pages
Publication Date: Happy Publication Day! September 10, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Fatal Cajun Festival 

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

Ellen Byron - authorThe Author: Author of MARDI GRAS MURDER, the 2018 AGATHA AWARD winner for Best Contemporary Novel.

Ellen Byron writes the USA Today bestselling Cajun Country Mysteries. MARDI GRAS MURDER won the Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel and was nominated for a Best Humorous Mystery Lefty Award by Left Coast Crime. A CAJUN CHRISTMAS KILLING and BODY ON THE BAYOU, both won the Lefty Award for Best Humorous Mystery, and were nominated for Agatha Awards in the category of Best Contemporary Novel. PLANTATION SHUDDERS, the first book in the series, was nominated for Agatha, Lefty, and Daphne awards. Cajun Country Mysteries offer “everything a cozy reader could want,” according to Publishers Weekly, while Library Journal says, “Diane Mott Davidson and Lou Jane Temple fans will line up for this series.” HERE COMES THE BODY, the first book in her Catering Hall Mysteries will launch in March 2020 under the name Maria DiRico.

Ellen’s TV credits include Wings and Just Shoot Me; she’s written over 200 magazine articles; her published plays include the award-winning Graceland and Asleep on the Wind. She is a native New Yorker who lives in Los Angeles and attributes her fascination with Louisiana to her college years at New Orleans’ Tulane University. She also worked as a cater-waiter for Martha Stewart, a credit she never tires of sharing. Have an early copy of Martha’s first book, ENTERTAINING? Ellen’s standing right next to her in the group shot.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

29 Seconds by T M Logan – a #BookReview

This may be old news and controversial but can still grab the headlines.

29 Seconds by T M LoganBook Blurb:

“Give me one name. One person. And I will make them disappear.”

Sarah is a young professor struggling to prove herself in a workplace controlled by the charming and manipulative Alan Hawthorne. A renowned scholar and television host, Hawthorne rakes in million-dollar grants for the university where Sarah works—so his inappropriate treatment of female colleagues behind closed doors has gone unchallenged for years. And Sarah is his newest target.

When Hawthorne’s advances become threatening, Sarah is left with nowhere to turn. Until the night she witnesses an attempted kidnapping of a young child on her drive home, and impulsively jumps in to intervene. The child’s father turns out to be a successful businessman with dangerous connections—and her act of bravery has put this powerful man in her debt. He gives Sarah a burner phone and an unbelievable offer. A once-in-a-lifetime deal that can make all her problems disappear.

No consequences. No traces. All it takes is a 29-second phone call.

Because everyone has a name to give. Don’t they?

My Review:

29 Seconds by T M LoganSometimes I feel like a salmon swimming upstream, battling against the fish ladder trying to get where the run will all be happily waiting for me. I see this one had good reviews. I was supposed to like it but I was a little more meh than ack! Or groan than eek? We are talking about Sarah, a young professor working hard to become permanent. Unfortunately, her boss is Alan Hawthorne (or Lovelock–I must have missed the explanation for the interchangeable name) and he’s made it plain there is only one way for her to achieve that goal. And the thing is, he’s left a trail of his conquests, not like this is new, only his latest.

He’s brilliant, manipulative, charming, successful, and powerful. He brings in the major bucks to the university and they like that. Well, guess that’s nothing new. So far, she’ been successful at rebuking his advances but he’s getting more worse, his last leaving her furious and impotent. She is fuming when a chance presents itself to DO something–anything (see synopsis), and she saves a young girl from an apparent kidnapping. The girl’s father is even more powerful–and very grateful.

The reader is positive she’d take the opportunity but suddenly she’s impotent again.

“You give me one name. One person. And I will make them disappear. For you.”

“I don’t have a name to give you. There isn’t anyone.”

“Nonsense. Everyone has someone they would like to punish. To have just a little bit more just in the world.”

“Maybe I’m the exception.”

Uh huh, sure. But she has 72 hours and within that time things go from bad to worse with good old Dr. Hawthorne. Now she’s really, thoroughly, beyond pissed, and makes the call. Then wakes the next morning all “what have I done?” It was explained–there is no going back. But now it’s killing her. (And I suspect would be normal for most people.) In the meantime, her two young’un’s are still fighting and squabbling, her father is still patiently there for her, and her two close friends are yet to be determined. Hubby wasn’t in the picture as he’d had to go “find himself” with someone else. She’s totally not playing this with a full deck. You’d have to wonder how she’s gotten this far.

Sarah’s running through all the scenarios–what could she do? She isn’t the brightest and comes close to telling. Telling??!! (Gimmee a break! Seriously?) But then the super baddies mess up and Hawthorne is rescued. Oh yeah, now on top of everything else, he can blackmail her into playing because of course, he knows. HE’s not stupid. (Anybody remember what Clint Eastwood said in a mess up like this one? Yeah–it’s a CF.) Sarah is fleshed enough to be annoying, the support characters about the same, less annoying. Hawthorne is just nasty.

She develops a plan to take care of him once and for all and it’s also looking like a groaner. Okay, then there is a twist at the end–a pretty good one–and I’ll assume Sarah didn’t work that one out. Dialogue works well, but the reader can’t be sure who to trust, nor is the plot unique. Neat twist at the end, but in the meantime you have had to choke a lot back, including disbelief.

So I have to ask, did you read this? If so, how did you see it? Did it aggravate you?

I received this digital download from the publisher and NetGalley and always appreciate the opportunity to read and review a topical contemporary fiction. You may see this one in a whole nother light and if so, I’d love to hear about it.

Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Thrillers, Crime Thrillers
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

  • ISBN-10:1250182301
  • ISBN-13:978-1250182302
  • ASIN: B07NTQ8HP7

Print Length: 356 pages
Publication Date: Tuesday, September 10, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: 29 Seconds

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Three of Five Stars 3-stars

T M Logan - authorThe Author: Bestselling author TM Logan was a national newspaper journalist before turning to novel-writing full time. His debut thriller LIES was one of Amazon UK’s biggest ebooks of 2017, selling 350,000 copies and gathering more than 1,400 5-star reviews so far. It was published in the USA in September 2018 and has also come out in South Korea, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Poland, Hungary, Serbia, Romania and the Netherlands.

His next thriller, 29 SECONDS, is a psychological thriller set against the backdrop of the #MeToo movement. What if someone offered you a solution to the biggest problem in your life – would you take it, if you knew you’d never be found out? Even if you knew it was wrong? What if a 29-second phone call could change your life forever?

29 SECONDS is due to be published in the USA by St Martin’s Press on September 10, 2019.

Tim lives in Nottinghamshire, UK, with his wife and two children.

For exclusive writing, new releases and a FREE deleted scene from Tim, sign up to the Readers’ Club: http://www.bit.ly/TMLogan. You can also follow him on Twitter @TMLoganAuthor, find him on Facebook at /TMLoganAuthor or on his website at http://www.tmlogan.com

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Hot Shot by Fern Michaels – a #BookReview

Hot Shot (The Men of the Sisterhood Book 5) by Fern Michaels

Hot Shot by Fern MichaelsBook Blurb:

Loyalty is a way of life for the Sisterhood and their significant others. When lawyer Lizzie Fox’s husband, Cosmo Cricket, is left critically injured after being shot by an unknown assailant, the men of BOLO Consultants head straight for Las Vegas to comfort Lizzie—and to uncover a dangerous enemy in the City of Sin.

As head of Nevada’s Gaming Commission, Cosmo has powerful enemies. Yet the shooting seems to be related to one of his private projects. Built in the desert outside Las Vegas, Happy Village is a flourishing community for seniors who have lost a spouse. Cosmo’s widowed father found new purpose in running the venture. But the neighborhood that’s now home to Happy Village was once run by rival gangs, a complicated past that has come to haunt the place. Jack, Harry, and the rest of the crew need to remove the threat, risking everything to take on a vicious and mysterious gang leader known only as Hot Shot. And while the men of the Sisterhood fight for justice for their friend, Cosmo is fighting for his life—and the stakes have never been higher . . .

My Review:

Loved the cover, the blurb sounded interesting. Then what? Perhaps you have to have read the first four of the series, or the Women of the Sisterhood first. Either way, I was totally missing something with this book. My first experience with the series and the author; perhaps mea culpa.

Hot Shot by Fern MichaelsThe narrative starts slow, stays slow, and turned into a snoozer for me. A large list of characters, I guess Jack Emery is the protagonist. He’s the one with the large shepherd, Cyrus, and you know I’m a sucker for a book with a dog. But this one? Not so much. I’d read books that anthropomorphize the canine-human relationship, but this one is a bit over the top (even for me). I couldn’t warm up to Jack, Harry, or any of the crew, though really they were not that well-developed in this entry.

Then there is Happy Village, a senior facility now overseen by a rich and powerful half-partner, Cosmo Cricket who is gunned down early in the book and his wife Lizzie Fox, pretty powerful in her own right, sends out the missive for help. Cosmo left in place after he rehabbed the complex a gang to protect the Village from a rival gang that previously ruled the area in a seedy part of Las Vegas. I’m not a fan of Las Vegas, so references to the boiling desert heat hit a nerve reminding me of the two weeks we spent stranded after our vehicle quit. (The repair dealer is as big a rip-off as are the casinos.)

As the plot moves into ever more characters and them into the dark web, things proceed from slow to nasty. Jack and his cronies set up a plan of action to look into what is going on with the shooting of Cosmo, resident disappearances at Happy Village, and the person controlling the gang of despots. The antagonist(s) is no surprise. Difficult to become engaged with characters you can’t identify with, nor have empathy or interest.

The conclusion rolled into a climax that becomes horrific. I actually had to slow down and read that part to really understand they were doing what I thought they were doing. There were edit misses along the way and words together with no space and words separated by a space (i.e., Cy – rus, ada – mant). A reference to the biker gang having nine or ten Har leys (sic) which “translates to nineteen or twenty gang members” was almost funny. (Not unless nine or ten Harley-riding gang members were riding “bitch.” (Or “two-up” And I don’t see that happening.)

I had a few other nit-picky issues, but you get the idea. I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley. Sad to say, it just didn’t work for me.

Book Details:

Genre: Sisters Fiction, Crime Fiction
Publisher: Zebra

  • ISBN-10:1420146025
  • ISBN-13:978-1420146028
  • ASIN: B07L2GKGCL

Print Length: 336 pages
Publication Date: (Reissue edition) August 27, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Hot Shot

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Two-point Five of Five Stars Two point Five of Five Stars

Fern Michaels - authorThe Author: Fern Michaels is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the successful Sisterhood series and the Men of the Sisterhood series and dozens of other novels and novellas. There are over 150 best-selling books with 110 million copies in print. Fern Michaels has built and funded several large day-care centers in her hometown, and is a passionate animal lover who has outfitted police dogs across the country with special bulletproof vests. She shares her home in South Carolina with her four dogs and a resident ghost named Mary Margaret.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Thicker Than Water by Johnny Worthen – a #BookReview

Thicker Than Water: A Tony Flaner Mystery by Johnny Worthen

Thicker Than Water by Johnny WorthenBook Blurb:

Tony Flaner, sarcastic, slacking, sleuth from, THE FINGER TRAP, has given up being a good detective. Now he babysits a pampered dog for a high-strung family and of course that dog is kidnapped right under his nose. He tries to care, really he does, but he can’t. He couldn’t even if he weren’t otherwise distracted by the sudden death of his neglected aunt Vicky hundreds of miles away in scenic Moab, Utah.

To solve her murder, Tony wades into tourist town politics and nagging guilt to unravel hot plots and cold cases. He must learn the secret ways of Nordic Indians, elves and goblins, motorcycle maniacs, tabloid slanderers, yapping dogs, hated rivals, and old loves to find out what’s THICKER THAN WATER.

My Review:

What DO I get myself into? This one is totally off the wall–in a good way! Tony Flaner is a sorta detective of indeterminate age. He must be somewhere close mid-to-late thirties, after all, he has a fifteen-year-old son and an ex with whom he is great friends. He should be, she gave him a generous settlement in the divorce. He is one of these guys who doesn’t know what he wants to be when he grows up and he still hasn’t (grown up).

In this first-person narrative, he is reduced to taking on the care of a spoiled dog after deciding being a PI isn’t what it was cracked up to be. He is tired of taking pictures of wayward spouses. Then he gets a call from a childhood friend in a town he’d pushed to the back of his memory. His aunt Vicky has been murdered and the local police are writing it off. He can’t have that, it was his aunt Vicky who took him in at the age of ten and loved and nurtured him as her own. Her own son, Rick, was about his age. He spends some time reflecting on Rick, called “Thick” by everyone except Tony (and he’ll explain why.) He’ll return to Moab, Utah to look into it using his amazing detective powers.

Admittedly, here is a main character that is rather unlikable. He’s irreverent, snarky, and fails badly at being a focused adult. Then the next page he reflects on how much he owes his aunt and exudes guilt over his lack of attention and communication. He could have, would have, should have exhibited a great deal more respect, honor, and gratitude. He reconnects with the girl who had his attention in Moab and begins his investigation.

Thicker Than Water by Johnnyy WorthenWhile the story begins just a tad slow, I think it’s intentional to fix this protagonist’s mindset to you. He’s flippant. But he’s serious about his aunt. Moab, not so much, and there are plenty of jabs at poor Moab as a small Utah town that leaves no doubt in your mind as to the character of the inhabitants or the tourists who swarm yearly to enjoy the local recreation. Mountain biking (bicycles), rock climbing, and scenic orange-hued arches. (We rode into Moab one evening looking for a motel during our southwest national park ride one year and woke the next morning to find ashes covering our motorcycles. There was a huge forest fire in the hills and we were diverted from our original route.)

The author then takes you on a mad romp in some kind of bad trip with a constant barrage of charming analogies or bits of Tony wisdom:

“Utah’s gets its official state flower, the Orange Traffic Pylon, from I-15.”
“…Hike Three Days Through Cactus To See This Lame Hole in the Rock Arch…”
“It’s easier to teach a cat to come on command than it is to evict a tenant.”
“He knitted his forehead like a lemur taking a trig quiz.”
“…Moab’s primary export was its children.”
“When I started seeing noises…”

Maybe you have to be on something to completely get all the dialogue. It comes at you in snappy patterns, switching references briefly in mid-conversation to a wholly unrelated conversation. But you read it. Did you pay attention? Remember it? This is a frustrated stand-up comedian, reminding me just a little of Rodney Dangerfield. (He got no respect either.)

The author may not describe in detail what each support character looked like, but you definitely got to know them. I really enjoyed both his ex-wife and Allie. And Rick, poor slow Rick, is sympathetic albeit shocking at times.

Did I figure out the antagonist? Yes, although in true Agatha Christie style, he deftly laid it out following a conclusion you’d better keep up with–it came in stages throughout the last quarter of the book. The plot is unique, well-paced, and even at 582 pages didn’t take long to fly through. Fascinating train wreck and an author writing style that may grow on you too. My only problem was the occasional objectionable language and the edit misses. Still, the crazy thing is nothing if not entertaining and wraps in a satisfying conclusion, a grin on your face, and a chuckle in your heart.

I was given this digital download by the publisher through NetGalley and appreciated the new perspective on a PI mystery novel. Recommended for those who enjoy a distinctive MC and plot and scenic locale.

Book Details:

Genre: General Humorous Fiction, Private Investigator Mysteries
Publisher: Dandelion Ink LLC

  • ISBN-10:1733107231
  • ISBN-13:978-1733107235
  • ASIN: B07W418BVW

Print Length: 582 pages
Publication Date: August 22, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Thicker Than Water

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

Johnny Worthen - authorThe Author: JOHNNY WORTHEN grew up in the high desert snows and warm summer winds of the Wasatch Mountains. He graduated with a B.A. in English, minor in Classics and a Master’s in American Studies from the University of Utah. After a series of businesses and adventures, including years abroad and running his own bakery, Johnny found himself drawn to the only thing he ever wanted to do — write. And write he does. Well versed in modern literary criticism and cultural studies, Johnny writes upmarket multi-genre fiction – thriller, horror, young adult, comedy and mystery so far. “I write what I like to read,” he says. “That guarantees me at least one fan and a hectic job for my publicist.”

When not pounding on his keyboard, teaching the craft, attending conferences and conventions, Johnny Worthen can be found with his wife and boys in Sandy, Utah.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Desolate Shores by Daryl Wood Gerber – a #BookReview

Title: Desolate Shores (An Aspen Adams Novel of Suspense Book 1) by Daryl Wood Gerber

Desolate Shores by Daryl Wood GerberBook Blurb:

Daryl Wood Gerber, the national bestselling and Agatha Award–winning author of the Cookbook Nook Mysteries, returns with a novel of gripping suspense . . .

A chilling murder, an elusive killer, and a family mystery that hits too close to home . . .

After finding the body of her best friend on the icy shores of Lake Tahoe, Aspen Adams refuses to stand by and watch as the local sheriff’s department begins their search for the killer. Launching her own investigation, she’s soon confronted with a growing array of secrets—both about the friend she thought she knew and about many of the people in her own life. As fragmentary clues and escalating dangers threaten to derail her, she must also cope with the disturbing behavior of her deadbeat sister and troubled teenage niece.

Determined to overcome her personal demons over past failures, Aspen is driven to unravel the conflicting evidence and a shifting range of suspects to bring the killer to justice, even as a family trauma unfolds that threatens to upend her life. And as her investigation inexorably leads her to a shocking discovery and taunts her with a solution that is just out of reach, Aspen realizes that the killer wants nothing more than to see her and her niece dead . . .

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense, Women Sleuths
Publisher: Beyond the Page

  • ISBN-10:1950461203
  • ISBN-13:978-1950461202
  • ASIN: B07V9PP2R4

Print Length: 239 pages
Publication Date: August 13, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Desolate Shores

Desolate Shores by Daryl Wood GerberMy Review:

Aspen Adams fled to the beautiful mountains of Lake Tahoe when her therapy practice crashed in on her. (And I must say, the author had me at Lake Tahoe–love that area, those mountains, the memories, and the cabin we shared a couple blocks from the shore.) Aspen was invited to work with her aunt Max in her detective agency and was hoping to elevate to private investigator. She is thrust into the position when her best friend, Vikki Carmichael, is murdered and she lacks trust in the local sheriff’s department to find and bring her killer to justice.

The author weaves a well-plotted mystery while she extols the beauty, the activities, and the unique location of the premier ski resorts at the California/Nevada border, favoring Alpine Meadows (not my favorite). Her descriptions of the scenes with the protagonist and her aunt, contacts, and Detective Sergeant Nick Shaper put you in the area and bloomed so real, you could smell the pine trees.

Aspen’s sister, unfortunately, has a drug habit that has driven a wedge between them, but she is unable to deny her niece, Candace, a safe haven when her sister unceremoniously dumps her there for the week. It’s not long before a sub-plot develops with juggling the care of her niece with her investigation which moves at a good pace.

The author has infused a wide cadre of characters, including Karen Brandon, a seasoned detective who appears to have an alcohol problem, favorite haunts around the lake, and the bitter cold of winter in the Sierras. Aspen is floored to realize she really didn’t know Vikki as well as she thought. In the meantime, she begins to get flutters when she is in the presence of sexy Detective Shaper.

There is sufficient backstory of Aspen to get a grasp of who and why she is, though is a bit difficult to fully invest. Her niece is woven sympathetically. I liked Gwen at the bar and her aunt and they will prove to be strong support characters in the future but have reservations on the possible romance aspect with Shaper. Ummm, nah.

The author draws a careful and believable conclusion, possibly confirming who you thought was the culprit all along; just not the how or why. If so, you may have missed in the twists the subtle clues to how it would all interlink.

I received this ebook digital download from the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Either as a standalone or as book 1 in a new series, the narrative is off to a terrific start keeping the suspense throughout. Recommended to fans of Ms. Gerber (of cozy fame) and anyone who enjoys a clean, well-paced mystery with sufficient suspense that piques your interest for a second.

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 4.5-stars  

Daryl Wood Gerber - authorThe Author: SIGN UP FOR MY NEWSLETTER, which comes out once a month and with a new release
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Tasty, zesty, dangerous!

Agatha Award-winning author Daryl Wood Gerber writes the bestselling COOKBOOK NOOK MYSTERIES and FRENCH BISTRO MYSTERIES. As Avery Aames, she pens the bestselling CHEESE SHOP MYSTERIES. In addition, she writes stand-alone suspense thrillers, including GIRL ON THE RUN and DAY OF SECRETS and DESOLATE SHORES. Fun tidbits: Daryl jumped out of a perfectly good airplane, and she hitchhiked around Ireland by herself. Also, as an actress, Daryl appeared in “Murder, She Wrote.” She loves to read, cook, and golf. She has a frisky Goldendoodle named Sparky who keeps her in line!

Thank you so much for visiting my page. Follow my PROFILE for important updates. And thank you for your reviews!

©2019 V Williams V Williams

In the Line of Fire by R J Noonan – a #BookReview

In the Line of Fire by R J NoonanTitle: In the Line of Fire: A Laura Mori Mystery by R J Noonan

Genre: Crime Thrillers, Police Procedurals

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

  • ISBN-10:1643850156
  • ISBN-13:978-1643850153
  • ASIN: B07M9LHFZY

Print Length: 297 pages

Publication Date: Happy Release Day! August 13, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: In the Line of Fire

Book Blurb:

When secrets are too big to buy, it’s worth killing to bury them.

Growing up, Laura Mori was constantly overshadowed by her far more successful siblings. She had a tough time appeasing her parents, and now that she’s a police officer, recently promoted to detective, they still seem less than fazed. Everyone knows a cop’s salary—it’s meager, to say the least. But Laura has found her calling—she was born to be a detective and is determined to prove it, if not to her parents, then at least to the boys club that is Sunrise Lake PD. She sticks out like a sore thumb as the only young female minority, but she has resolved to at least seem like an unshakeable thumb.

The next case file on her desk turns out to be a bank heist and it should be easy enough, but what starts off as a one-and-done job quickly begins to seem too by-the-book and oddly like a notorious series of deadly bank hits from years past dubbed Twilight. But it’s a dead end—Twilight is only ever mentioned in hushed tones, and there’s little to no history on it in the department. And then she receives her first sign, of many more to come, that her investigation is not welcome. Alongside her partner Z and stunningly attractive FBI agent Nick Derringer, she begins to pull on the frayed thread, and that’s when she sees the bloody writing on the wall: the only other young female cop on the force was KIA during Twilight.

With too much on the line to lose, including her own life, Laura must get to the bottom of the case and fast, or she, too, will become history.

In the Line of Fire by R J NoonanMy Review:

Only the second in the series, this narrative can function well as a standalone. There are only a few references to the previous book, a case that Laura Mori solved which propelled her into detective grade with the Sunrise Lake PD, a small town in the Pacific NW.

She is a natural with her investigative calling and as a Japanese American with successful siblings has something to prove to her parents as well as the men of the department as she whittles away at a firm position within the force. She has been partnered with Zion “Z” Frazier. He and his former partner were on a call when she was killed in the last of the Twilight robberies and the memory of the brutal loss still shakes him.

When what looks like a copy cat bank heist of the Twilight robberies that led to the officer fatality occurs, Laura is given lead into the investigation and is soon joined by FBI agent Nick Derringer (enter the romance). She is quickly told not to tie in the three-year-old investigation but the more she learns about that one the more she realizes there is a connection.

The well-paced and plotted mystery is multi-layered with her partner Z concentrating on petty theft at a local assisted living facility while she gleans information on the cold case file as well as the recent bank heist. She is met with derision from the good ole boy network but doggedly pursues leads and questions witnesses of both crimes. Then she receives threats to leave the Twilight investigation alone.

This one may have been a bit ambitious with layers connecting to the next offense, or corruption, and infused with well-worn tropes. While Laura is smart and effective at gleaning information from her interrogations, she’s still busy vying for her parental approval and fighting the guys at work. (And as a detective, I’m still trying to figure out why she is wearing a uniform or she and Z drive a police cruiser.) Laura is fairly well-fleshed, as is Z, not so much the heart-throb. The perp is rather one-dimensional and easy to figure out, a bit too obvious.

The author is, however, building an interesting group of characters and it will be interesting to see how they grow and Laura mature. I’m not sure she needs a long-distance romance, cute or not,  and you’ll have to stifle some disbelief with this one. The conclusion ramps up the tension and neatly closes the book.

I received this ebook download from the publisher and NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review. These are my own opinions. Recommended for mystery fans of light police procedurals.

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

R J Noonan - authorThe Author: (From Goodreads) Rosalind Noonan is a New York Times bestselling author of women’s fiction and domestic suspense novels and is a graduate of Wagner College. She lives in the Pacific Northwest, where she writes in the shade of some towering two-hundred-year-old Douglas fir trees. This is her first mystery under the name R. J. Noonan.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware – a #BookReview

The Turn of the Key by Ruth WareTitle: The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

Genre: British & Irish Literary Fiction, Psychological Literary Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Literary Fiction

Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press

  • ISBN-10:1787300447
  • ISBN-13:978-1787300446
  • ASIN: B07HPCRC7Q

Print Length: 352 pages

Publication Date: Happy Release Day! August 6, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: The Turn of the Key

Book Blurb:

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of In a Dark, Dark WoodThe Woman in Cabin 10The Lying Game, and The Death of Mrs. Westaway comes Ruth Ware’s highly anticipated fifth novel.

When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.

Writing to her lawyer from prison, she struggles to explain the unravelling events that led to her incarceration. It wasn’t just the constant surveillance from the cameras installed around the house, or the malfunctioning technology that woke the household with booming music, or turned the lights off at the worst possible time. It wasn’t just the girls, who turned out to be a far cry from the immaculately behaved model children she met at her interview. It wasn’t even the way she was left alone for weeks at a time, with no adults around apart from the enigmatic handyman, Jack Grant.

It was everything.

She knows she’s made mistakes. She admits that she lied to obtain the post, and that her behavior toward the children wasn’t always ideal. She’s not innocent, by any means. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty—at least not of murder. Which means someone else is.

Full of spellbinding menace and told in Ruth Ware’s signature suspenseful style, The Turn of the Key is an unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.

The Turn of the Key by Ruth WareMy Review:

I was truly excited to be approved for this digital download, with the hype, and what appeared to be an exceptional thriller. But as with many these days, perhaps I’ve been taught to expect knock-down, heart-pounding prose, complete with audible gasps and groans from the reader–me. This one wasn’t it.

The blurb tells most of what you’ll read–Rowan Caine stumbles across a want ad searching for something else and conspires to win the live-in nanny position with well to do architects in the remote Scottish Highlands. They completely rehabbed a Victorian outfitting it as a “smart” home and you know what kind of a technology nightmare that conjures. There are four girls with the oldest, a teen, away at school, and two girls five and eight and a baby (who is apparently not yet walking?) at eighteen months. The parents welcome her into the house, hand her a lengthy digest of instructions and immediately skip off to a big doin’s expecting to be gone at least a week. Hmmm…

Told in first person, Rowan attempts a letter to an attorney she is hoping she can get to defend her (no clue where that money will come from!). She apparently has a court-appointed attorney and you know you get what you pay for. Rowan is in jail on a murder charge and the entire book is supposed to be her letter to the attorney. She says over and over again she didn’t do it. Uh huh.

But Rowan begins to wrestle with the technology immediately, ghost stories, things that go bump in the night, and little things gone missing almost right away. The two middle girls are a nightmare just by themselves. And watch out when the teenager comes home! In the meantime, we are introduced to Jack, the all-around handyman (gotta have the romance touch), and Jean, the erstwhile housekeeper. (NOT a live-in.)

First, I had a problem with Rowan, slinging around words you shouldn’t utter in the presence of those three little ones. She seems to have a short-fuse, lack of sleep, and little patience or aptitude although an experienced nanny. There are interesting tidbits about the smart features, the lack of real landscaping, the poison garden (now THAT’S creepy), and way too many minute details which make up her teeth-grinding life in the Heatherbrae House.

It begins interestingly enough then settles in on a slow account of what happened, or didn’t, that landed her in the slammer. It’s not particularly fast-paced but does present NTK (need to know). So you keep reading. Red herrings slide in, some of which constitute TMI (TOO much information), twists, and fleshing but I really couldn’t invest in Rowan and wasn’t big on Jack. Then the reveals. Oh man…Rowan’s main reveal…it’s a groaner and the last little reveal? (Expected) The conclusion fell short of wrapping up all the questions created to provide tension. I wasn’t thrilled.

I received this digital download through the publisher and NetGalley and appreciate the introduction to this author and her writing style. I’m sure Ruth Ware fans will more fully enjoy and I’ll entertain a second to compare.

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

Ruth Ware - authorThe Author: Ruth Ware is an international number one bestseller. Her thrillers In a Dark, Dark Wood, The Woman in Cabin 10, The Lying Game and The Death of Mrs Westaway have appeared on bestseller lists around the world, including the Sunday Times and New York Times, and she is published in more than 40 languages. She lives on the south coast of England, with her family.

Visit http://www.ruthware.com to find out more, or find her on facebook or twitter as @RuthWareWriter

©2019 V Williams Blog author

The White Feather Killer by R N Morris – a #BookReview

The White Feather Killer by R N MorrisTitle: The White Feather Killer (A Silas Quinn Mystery Book 5) by R N Morris

Genre: Historical Mysteries, World War I Historical Fiction

Publisher: Severn House Publishers

  • ISBN-10:0727888854
  • ISBN-13:978-0727888853
  • ASIN: B07QFSCCNQ

 Print Length: 288 pages

Publication Date: June 1, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: The White Feather Killer

Book Blurb:

London, 1914. The declaration of war with Germany has made the capital a dark, uncertain place, rife with fear and suspicion. As the pressure on young men to enlist grows stronger, Pastor Cardew holds a rally at his church. Unfortunately, it ends in humiliation for Felix Simpkins when he receives a dreaded white feather – the ultimate sign of cowardice.

Meanwhile, DI Silas Quinn returns to New Scotland Yard after his recent sick leave to find the Special Crimes Department has been closed and his team absorbed into CID. But when a body is discovered in Wormwood Scrubs the day after Cardew’s rally, a white feather placed in its mouth, Quinn finds himself unable to take a back seat in the investigation. Was the murderer really a foreign spy . . . or someone closer to home?

The White Feather Killer by R N MorrisMy Review:

The declaration of war changes London, the country, and the people. The mood has turned dark, distrusting, and suddenly things change between those born in the country and those who immigrated. Men are flocking to enlist and those who do not are beginning to be looked on as cowards (or worse). Many receive the “white feather,” the ultimate, shameful sign that marks the man.

DI Silas Quinn has returned to New Scotland Yard after a sick leave. His Special Crimes Unit has been closed and his former team are now members of the CID, where he’ll also report in a new capacity. When a young girl is discovered murdered and left with a white feather in her mouth, it has to be concluded that she bestowed the feather to a man who took brutal umbrage. But the new head of CID discounts it and decides it must have been a German spy.

In a rather sluggish start, it’s oft-repeated “there’s a war on” and that seems to be the mantra throughout, not to be forgotten that things have changed. There’s a war on. There are a number of characters to be introduced, not the least of which the protagonist, who is slow to develop. There are veiled references to Quinn being in the boobie hatch and that seems to color the relationships of his former co-workers and friends.

So here’s the thing: Guess I didn’t realize this would be on the dark side, almost historical noir in a police setting. It is 1914, so forms of speech would be different and the author stilts the dialogue somewhat to reflect the times. Support characters are fleshed out in rather depressing descriptions and Quinn’s former situation tends to haunt him. The author has a rather unique style of writing that tends to the verbose and he frequently ran to a fascinating turn of phrase. (“…the silent scream of her thoughts…”) Also enjoyed learning some new words, i.e., Antinomianism – that the true believer can do no wrong. Wha???

I enjoyed the easy affectionate familiarity with characters who shared history, the way the dialogue swung to nicknames, giving a light point every now and then to often contentious dialogue. There were red herrings that introduced more possibilities and all along you had your own suspicions and were just waiting for the evidence to be presented.

Then, the final twist. YES! I suspected all along! But in the meantime, a couple even darker incidents, one particularly ugly one that totally aggravated me and wondered why it had to be included. Okay, there was a war on, guess it might have been understandable.

This is book five of the series and doesn’t particularly develop the characters except perhaps for Quinn, but then I had real difficulty with him and couldn’t invest. Possibly would have understood him better had this not been my introduction to the series and the author. The conclusion rolled in on not one, but several reveals, all quietly answering any questions left–and the way it ended? Okay, Interesting… Justice will be done, one way or the other.

I received this ebook download from the publisher and NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review and these are my own opinions. Recommended for those who enjoy a dark, historic police procedural with a damaged protagonist.

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

R N Morris - authorThe Author (from Goodreads): Roger N Morris (born 1960 in Manchester) is an English writer and advertising copywriter. His short fiction has been published in a number of mainstream, genre, and literary publications. One of his short stories, “The Devil’s Drum”, appeared in the horror anthology Darkness Rising, and was subsequently made into an opera performed by the Solaris Musical Theatre Company in the Purcell Room on London’s South Bank.

©2019 V Williams

Blog author

The Hallows by Victor Methos – a #BookReview

The Hallows by Victor MethosTitle: The Hallows by Victor Methos

Genre: Kidnapping Crime Fiction, Legal Thriller, Political Thriller & Suspense

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

  • ISBN-10:1542042720
  • ISBN-13:978-1542042727
  • ASIN:B07GVLW3D7

Print Length: 346 pages

Publication Date: July 1, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: The Hallows

Book Blurb:

A ruthless lawyer cross-examines his life after a guilty client walks free in this sharp legal thriller from the bestselling author of The Neon Lawyer.

Ruthless defense attorney Tatum Graham has been living large in Miami, but when his recently acquitted client claims another victim, Tatum has a crisis of conscience. Disillusioned, he heads to his small Utah hometown for a simpler life…but that’s not what he finds.

Soon after he arrives, Tatum’s childhood crush offers him a job at the county attorney’s office and assigns him a murder case. The victim is a teenage girl not unlike the victim in the last case he tried. Now a prosecutor, Tatum sees a chance for redemption, but politics, corruption, and a killer defense threaten to thwart justice.

To complicate matters, Tatum’s estranged father has terminal cancer, and the time to reconcile is running out. Tatum moved to Utah to find clarity, but his thoughts swirl with old feelings and present dangers. As the case heats up, so does the risk, threatening to adjourn Tatum’s new life before it begins.

 My Review:

The Hallows by Victor MethosI do love a good legal thriller and this one hooks you in quickly and works that legal magic, but beware the trope of a rich defense attorney with an over-the-top inflated ego, so full of himself that even as the protagonist, is easy to dislike. Tatum Graham is super alpha male, easily destroying the opposition with his keen intellect, experience, and a win at all cost attitude. He knows he has the answers to a strong victorious practice and is writing a book using the principals he’s gleaned from years of an extremely financially rewarding practice.

But here’s the conundrum: the last client he got acquitted of murder has just killed again–using the same MO. He is SO disgusted and crushed he quits the law firm of Gordon & Graham, gives away his house and its contents and loads his car to head west. All the bluster is gone–and the façade with it–until he arrives at his old home town.

Arriving at River Falls, Utah (just over the Nevada line), he discovers little has changed. Not the town. Not the people. His father is still there and he discovers he has cancer and is refusing treatment. It isn’t long before he sees a former teenage sweetheart. Gates Barnes is now the elected county attorney. All the old movers and shakers are still there.

Unfortunately, there has been a recent murder of a seventeen-year-old and Gates manages to get him to switch sides (defense to prosecutor) as they feel they have the perp(s) in jail, but one is a rich kid’s son and his dad has hired the other best lawyer in the nation. Gates doesn’t want the kid to walk. Tatum gets entangled in the case whether or not he wants to and is introduced to two fresh young deputy county attorneys. Yes! One, Jia, is smart, heads-up and will be a brilliant attorney one day.

Tatum looks at the case, the file, the pictures and is positive he’ll have no problem properly handling the case. He enlists the help of the deputy attorneys, Jia and Will, and with his direction all proceed with investigation, interviews, and legal maneuvering. But the deeper he gets into the investigation, the more complex it becomes. Maybe it’s the kid…or maybe not. Ack! Is it or isn’t it?

Red herrings send the reader in another direction, misdirection, along with twists that further develop the characters, both main and support. Almost from the get-go, surprises pop up that widen the chasm between what is truth and what isn’t. Who is telling the real story and who isn’t? And in court, it’s worse. He’s waylaid big time.

He’s ready to crumble. What, again?

So is he Macho Tatum or not? He is dealing with his father’s advancing illness and his case is falling apart and the good-old-boy network seems to have it handled. OH NO! He might loose! But I still don’t like him. And the underlying layer of reawakening romance with Gates…I can’t figure out how she can stand him and except for Gates and Jia, maybe Will, these characters don’t invite a lot of investing.

Still, it’s a well-plotted legal thriller. Maybe you don’t have to invest in the main character to enjoy the storyline. It is engaging and holds your interest. Courtroom scenes make you feel you are in the spectator section watching the drama unfold before your eyes. The opposing counsel, by the way, is as obnoxious as Tatum, but dialogue, given their images, feel natural.

This looks to me like a series in the making. An attorney you love to hate because he has some intricate cases and the plot MOVES. Oh, and he wins. Always.

I received this digital download from the publisher and NetGalley and fully enjoyed the fast-moving novel. I’ll be looking forward to another.

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars Four stars

Victor Methos - authorThe Author: Victor Methos knew he would be a lawyer at the age of 13, when his best friend was interrogated by the police for over eight hours and gave a confession to a crime he didn’t commit. From that time forward, criminal law was in Methos’s sights.

After abandoning a doctorate in philosophy to pursue his childhood dream of becoming a defense lawyer, Methos graduated from the University of Utah School of Law. After graduation, wanting to learn the true practice of law rather than what the law schools taught, he worked for a special kind of lawyer, the kind with neon signs up front that did anything and everything to win for their clients. Afterward, he sharpened his teeth as a prosecutor for Salt Lake City before founding a law firm that would become the most successful criminal defense firm in Utah.

In ten years, Methos conducted over 100 trials, with only two losses under his belt in that time. One particular case of a father who shot his daughter’s rapists stuck with him, and he knew he had to write the story. It became the basis for his first major bestseller, The Neon Lawyer. Since that time, Methos has focused his work on legal thrillers and mysteries and produced two books per year. He currently splits his time between Salt Lake City and Las Vegas, and continues to defend the poor and the weak against the strong and the powerful.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Rosepoint #BookReviews – July Recap Wrap-Up – #rosepointpub

Rosepoint Reviews - July Recap

Goodbye hot and steamy July! Hello August–also hot and steamy (but tomato harvest time if I can get the possums and bunnies to stay out of my garden). I had an absolutely amazing abundance of tomatoes last year and discovered the art of drying cherry tomatoes–fruit candy! So good! Will be no such thing this year. On the bright side, hubby finished my swamp boat for the (formerly “fairy”) swamp garden and I have it nestled against the wharf. So cute, but now the scale is off with the boat shed against the monster maple tree and will have to build a larger size with the current shed front performing an entry door type function. Yes, it’s getting sillier and sillier, but it’s a senior thing, what can I say?

But I did get some reading in, between working the three gardens, house maintenance, and decorating projects. I also went on another quest of upping book requests and answering in a timely basis blogger buddy posts. Yes! I finally managed to get my website set so I receive your new posts and I’m thrilled. Hopefully now I can respond in a more timely fashion and see what you are currently working on–instead of retroactive.

One review from the CE this month, Medellín Acapulco Cold (a book tour), one spotlight, a book tour, an audiobook, and a number from NetGalley. I also wrote a couple book-related posts including the finding of a Goodreads Giveaways also available on NetGalley. Of the six Giveaways I listed, one hit movie trailers the very next day and was advertising #1 Bestseller (in Animal Fiction) The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein elsewhere. (Have you seen them? It’s even sandwiched between Words With Friends games.) I was declined for the download of the other one catching a lot of attention, Life and Other Inconveniences. Berkeley (not the first time declined). According to what I was reading in the Being Declined group on NetGalley in Goodreads, many others were writing back asking for a second chance and I jumped on it–apparently to no avail. No communication from them yet. Darn…I’ll have to see the movie! 😃

So only a count of eight in July. (I’m so embarrassed.) These were all terrific reads and I can recommend any–from thrillers to humorous fiction. I got real lucky (or better in my selection) this month!

Rewind by Catherine Ryan Howard

The Great American Cheese War by Paul Flower

The Unlucky Ones by Kerry Wilkinson

The Road Home by Richard Paul Evans (Audiobook)

Let’s Fake a Deal by Sherry Harris

The Secret Cove in Croatia by Julie Caplin

Finding Billie Romano by Jean Grainger

You’ve Been Volunteered by Laurie Gelman

My Goodreads Challenge is now lagging with seven books behind schedule–but fall and winter is a-comin’! The NetGalley Challenge, likewise, while a bit slow may still have a chance at 60 out of 75. Last month, trying to get more from NetGalley on my TBR, I requested eleven books and am happy to report receiving nine. Janis by Holly George-Warren Two have had no response but at least not declined. Of the additional eight requested in July, I’m sad to say, only four were approved, including Janis (and excited about that one!), but have had no response for three and was declined for Life and Other Inconveniences as mentioned above (maybe I’ll win it on Goodreads).

July definitely had an interesting mix of genres but all were great books with strong nudges to five stars.

I love it when you hook into a book I’ve reviewed, and I’m always looking toward your reviews to steer me into noteworthy reads. Which of the above are on your TBR–did you agree with my assessment?

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

The Secret Cove in Croatia by Julie Caplin – a #BookReview

The Secret Cove of Croatia by Julie CaplinTitle: The Secret Cove in Croatia (Romantic Escapes, Book 5) by Julie Caplin

Genre: Holiday Fiction, Holiday Romance

Publisher: One More Chapter

  • ASIN: B07L7Y9LL5
  • ISBN-10: 0008323690
  • ISBN-13: 978-0008323691

 Print Length: 400 pages

Publication Date: July 19, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: The Secret Cove in Croatia

Book Blurb:

Sail 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 on board 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…

My Review:

Maddie Wilcox manages to score a summer job on a luxury yacht for the summer sailing the gorgeous turquoise seas of Croatia on the Adriatic. The opening was recommended to Maddie by her best friend, Nina, and Nina’s brother will be among the guests. Nina’s brother Nick Hadley, however, has been brought along on the cruise by Tara, an extremely spoiled (and slack-jawed beautiful) model who needed appropriate eye-candy on her arm. No secret they both turn heads.

Split, CroatiaAs I mentioned before, when I saw Croatia in the title, I jumped on the request as we’d brought over a student for his last year of high school and he stayed (with our help, of course). When we finally took him home to see family years later, his parents went all out to show us their beautiful country, including Split and Dubrovnik. The water is indeed glorious and although we did see one island, certainly weren’t privy to an island-hopping yacht, more appropriately termed a gulet. This novel plants a seed and produces a deep yearning to grab some Dramamine and take off!

The Secret Cove in Croatia by Julie CaplinMaddie’s character is so relatable. She has her degree but what she really wants to do is paint and become an artist. It burns deep inside her. She quickly becomes acclimated to the yacht and her master, but the guests, although few in number are more than a handful, particularly Tara. Douglas is a kind soul, if trying too hard with Tara’s friend, and Siri represents another more respectful person, but the model borders on contemptible and Maddie and Nick clash. (You knew she would.)

In the meantime, the reader is treated to a travelogue producing an ache for the road (on in this case the water), the food and the people paint a picture of its own. Another of the small private party, Simon, makes a strong play for Maddie, which at the outset confuses her mind and creates a hormonal scuffle. The actual scuffle results in an introduction to an extremely rich William Randall, director and producer. Bill and his wife become great support characters and a fun portion of the book, describing the super-yacht in such plush terms you can visualize the richness of the appointments, the spacious comfort.

I was happy thinking the romance part of the book was downplayed a little, but then of course circumstance would throw the two together to realize they weren’t all that far off in their histories to see where each was coming from. Still, the novel is a delightfully easy romcom, well-plotted and fast read that all comes together with satisfying intensity in the conclusion. The author’s writing style is light-hearted, dialogue realistic, and the characters were well-developed. My only negatives would be the over-used clichés of the triangle(s), and the oft-repeated mantra of Maddie’s lack of self-confidence. We get it.

I was given this ebook download by the publisher and NetGalley and thrilled to have the opportunity to read and review. If you are looking for a delightfully refreshing summer read, grab this one. You won’t be disappointed.

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

The Author: (No apparent bio on either Amazon or Goodreads.) From the back of the book: Julie Caplin is addicted to travel and good food. She’s on a constant hunt for the perfect gin and is obsessively picky about glasses, tonic and garnishes. Between regular gin tastings, she’s been writing her debut novel which is set in just one of the many cities she’s explored over the years.

Formerly a PR director, for many years she swanned around Europe taking top food and drink writers on press trips (junkets) sampling the gastronomic delights of various cities in Italy, France, Belgium, Spain, Copenhagen and Switzerland. It was a tough job but someone had to do it. [Those trips provided the inspiration and settings for her trilogy.]

Find Julie on Twitter @JulieCaplin and Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/JulieCaplinAuthor

©2019 V Williams Blog author

#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

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