#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

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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.

+Add to Goodreads

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 

+Add to Goodreads

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

+Add to Goodreads 

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

+Add to Goodreads

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.

+Add to Goodreads

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

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

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

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

Publisher: Kensington

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

      Print Length: 304 pages

Publication Date: To be released July 30, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Let’s Fake a Deal

Book Blurb:

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

+Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars Four stars

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

©2019 V Williams Blog author

 

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

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

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

Publisher: Bookouture

  • ASIN: B07RJZBD6M

Print Length: 333 pages

Publication Date: Happy Publication Day! July 9, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: The Unlucky Ones

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

+Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars Four stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2019 V Williams Blog author

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

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

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

Publisher: Farrago

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

Print Length: 320 pages

Publication Date: June 27, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: The Great American Cheese War

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

+Add to Goodreads

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

Paul Flower - authorThe Author: No bio listed.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Rewind by Catherine Ryan Howard – a #BookReview

Rewind by Catherine Ryan HowardTitle: Rewind by Catherine Ryan Howard

Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense Thriller

Publisher: Blackstone Publishing

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

Print Length: 300 pages

Publication Date: September 3, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Rewind

Book Blurb:

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

PLAY

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

PAUSE

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

REWIND

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Rosepoint #BookReviews – June Recap – #rosepointpub

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

Rosepoint Reviews - June Recap 

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

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

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

Pysanky Promise – Cathy Witbeck

Murder She Uncovered – Peg Cochran

Sam Wick Rapid Thriller series – Chase Austin

The Alchemist of Lost Souls – Mary Lawrence

When Sally Comes Marching Home – Richard Milton

Across the River – Richard Snodgrass

The Image Seeker – Amanda Hughes

A Fantasy Writers’ Handbook by Richie Billing

Mistaken Identity Crisis – James J Cudney

The Hiding Place – CJ Tudor

Digging Up History – Sheila Connolly

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

 

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

 

Awaiting request approval:

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

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

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

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Across the River by Richard Snodgrass – a #BookReview

Across the River by Richard SnodgrassTitle: Across the River (Books of Furnass Book 4) by Richard Snodgrass

Genre: Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction

Publisher: Calling Cow Press

  • ISBN-10:099976991X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0999769911
  • ASIN: B07SS5J113

Print Length: 340 pages

Publication Date: December 26, 2018

Source: Publicist and NetGalley

Title Link: Across the River

Book Blurb:

In the summer of 1863, Judson Walker, a captain of Morgan’s Raiders, and Jonathan Reid, a young engineer, come to Furnass to appropriate two of Colin Lyles’ steam-powered road engines. The purpose is to outfit the engines with iron plate and the newly developed Gatlin Guns, and, with Morgan, deliver the war engines to General Lee’s army in Central Pennsylvania. Amid Walker’s growing involvement with Lyle’s wife Libby, deserting soldiers, and Reid’s own agenda, Walker learns Morgan isn’t coming. The novel reaches its climax with Lyle trying to sabotage the war engines. Walker must decide between Libby and duty toward his men, the war and individual human values.

My Review:

Across the River by Richard SnodgrassMost of you are aware I enjoy a good historical fiction yarn and I’ve certainly read a number of novels of the Civil War. Most deal with the horrific battles.

This one is different.

Two men from the Confederate calvary in a group known as Morgan’s Raiders have entered a small village in Pennsylvania on a secret mission. Captain Judson Walker is accompanied by pseudo-engineer Jonathan Reid on a secret mission in which a local has been perfecting what he calls a “road engine.” They are befriended by the owner of Steamworks and invited to stay with him as Reid studies his machine to test the feasibility of combining it with a new invention that will replace hundreds of men at the front line and hopefully swing the war to the Confederate side.

From the beginning, you get this isn’t a normal military operation, nor the home of Colin Lyle a normal marriage. In a skirmish prior to arrival, Walker is wounded and taken under the wing of Lyle’s wife, Libby. She is a woman born about four generations before her time, a transplanted southerner who immediately gleans that despite the Union uniforms, these two may not be northerners. She’s an enigma, outspoken, intelligent, and insists Walker be checked out by their village doctor with whom it would appear she may have a relationship other than doctor/patient. The little village has not seen the conflict first hand, but residents are kept fairly up to date of the progress and properly suspicious of anyone new to the area.

The storyline is well-plotted, but grows and flows rather languidly, shifting first and third persons (putting you in the head of one and his thoughts, particularly Walker as he relives scenes of his skirmishes with Morgan), as well as the other main characters. Walker is smart, deeply distrustful of Reid, and exhibits battle fatigue. Reid, although he’d like to think is the smarter of the two, has no military mind and the two often clash. Reid is interested in the glory he’s sure he’ll receive from producing a successful war machine. Lyle is just grateful that someone at long last has seen fit to investigate his contraption.

There is much philosophical consideration and reflection, Reid’s arrogance makes him an unsympathetic character, Libby gets weird and also unsympathetic, and Walker flashes back to his “one that got away” comparing her with Libby. References to the couple’s children–but where were they? The rest of Walker’s troop arrives, several in need of medical attention. The dialogue reads realistic for the time and the description of the big house dark and uninviting. Difficult to determine how this will all work out, the author does a fine job of wrapping up a satisfying conclusion, but leaves out a few minor details.

I was contacted by the publicist for the author and offered a free copy through NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review. There were some format problems. Very different view of the civil war and the individual personalities involved make it a compelling, unique read.

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

The Author: No author info, page, or links

©2019 V Williams Blog author

 

Decanted Truths by Melanie Forde – a #BookReview

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

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

Genre: Literary Fiction, British and Irish Literature

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

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

ASIN: B07K6VM2Q1

 Print Length: 333 pages

Publication Date: November 8, 2018

Source: Direct Author Request

Title Link: Decanted Truths

Book Blurb:

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2019 V Williams Blog author

The Night Window by Dean Koontz -a #BookReview

The Night Window by Dean KoontzFive Stars Five stars

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

Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller

Publisher: Bantam

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

Print Length: 432 pages

Publication Date: May 14, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: The Night Window

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Night Window by Dean KoontzMy Review:

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

Book Handover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Prologue to Murder by Lauren Elliott – a #BookReview

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

Genre: Cozy Mystery, Amateur Sleuths

Publisher: Kenginston

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

 Print Length: 304 pages

Publication Date: April 30, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Prologue to Murder

Book Blurb:

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Like Lions by Brian Panowich

Five Stars Five stars

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

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

Publisher: Minotaur Books

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

 Print Length: 293 pages

Publication Date: April 30, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Like Lions

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Pride will kill you faster than a bullet.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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