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

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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.

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

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

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

Genre: Amateur Sleuths, Cozy Mystery

Publisher: Kensington

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

Print Length: 320 pages

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

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Murder in the Reading Room

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2019 V Williams Blog author

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

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

Genre: Cozy Mystery, Women Sleuths

Publisher: Lyrical Underground

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

Print Length: 268 pages

Publication Date: April 23, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: The Body in the Wetlands

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2019 V Williams Blog author

The Family Lie by Jake Cross – a #BookReview

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

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Publisher: Bookouture

  • ASIN: B07N8VVHGF

Print Length: 305 pages

Publication Date: April 23, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: The Family Lie

Book Blurb:

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

You wake up in the middle of the night.

Your five-year-old daughter is gone.

Your husband is nowhere to be seen.

Your family think he took her.

The police believe he’s guilty.

But he wouldn’t do that, would he?

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

My Review:

The Family Lie by Jake Cross

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Three of Five Stars Three Stars of Five

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

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Doublespeak by Alisa Smith – a #BookReview

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

Genre: Historical WW2 Fiction (Thriller)

Publisher: St Martin’s Press

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

 Print Length: 260 pages

Publication Date: April 16, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Doublespeak: A Novel

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Magickal Mystery Lore by Sharon Pape – a #BookReview

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

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

Publisher: Lyrical Underground

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

 Print Length: 246 pages

Publication Date: April 16, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Magickal Mystery Lore

Book Blurb:

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars Four stars

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

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

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

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Buried Deep by T R Ragan – a #BookReview

Buried Deep by T. R. Ragan

Five Stars Five stars

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

Genre: Private Investigator Mysteries, Vigilante Thrillers

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

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

Print Length: 283 pages

Publication Date: To be released April 16, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Buried Deep

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Facebook * Twitter * Instagram: @trraganauthor

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

FAITH MCMANN TRILOGY
Furious
Outrage
Wrath

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

©2019 V Williams Blog author

The Eighth Sister by Robert Dugoni – a #BookReview

The Eighth Sister by Robert Dugoni

Five Stars Five stars

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

Genre: Espionage Thriller, Murder, Thriller

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

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

Print Length: 477 pages

Publication Date: April 9, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: The Eighth Sister

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

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2019 V Williams Blog author

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

Lessons from Lucy by Dave Barry

Five Stars  Five stars

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

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

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

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

      Print Length: 241 pages

Publication Date: Happy Release Date! April 2, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Lessons from Lucy

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

#1 New Release in Mid-Life Management

My Review:

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

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

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

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

Rock Bottom Remainders on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2019 V Williams Blog author

The Bones She Buried by Lisa Regan – a #BookReview

The Bones She Buried by Lisa ReganTitle: The Bones She Buried (Detective Josie Quinn Book 5) by Lisa Regan

Genre: Police Procedurals, Crime Thrillers, Serial Killers, Women Sleuths

Publisher: Bookouture

  • ASIN: B07MNV2ZKN
  • ISBN-10: 1786816407
  • ISBN-13: 978-1786816405

Publication Date: HAPPY RELEASE DATE! March 27, 2019

Print Length: 342 pages

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: The Bones She Buried

Book Blurb:

Josie works until her arms ache, until the paramedics arrive and pull her gently away from the woman’s cold, fragile body. Noah’s voice cracks beside her as he calls the time of death for his own, beloved mother.

Arriving with her partner Noah for dinner at his family’s immaculate countryside home, Detective Josie Quinn is devastated to find Noah’s mother, Colette, lying lifeless in the back garden, her mouth clogged with soil.

Searching the house for answers, Josie’s team don’t know what to make of the rosary beads buried in the dirt near the body, or the hidden file labelled “Drew Pratt”, the small town of Denton’s most famous missing person.

As she delves deeper into Pratt’s case, Josie quickly discovers he had a brother whose body mysteriously washed up on the banks of a river. There’s also a diary entry suggesting that Collette may have met him on the last day he was seen alive. Can Josie believe the unthinkable, that a kind old soul like Collette might have been involved in their murders? And, will Josie’s new relationship with Noah survive the accusation?

Josie’s only hope lies in tracking down Pratt’s daughter. But when she arrives at her home to find she’s been murdered just minutes before, Josie knows the real killer is one step ahead and won’t stop until Colette’s secret is buried forever. With many more innocent lives on the line, how deep is Josie prepared dig to reach the truth? Continue reading “The Bones She Buried by Lisa Regan – a #BookReview”

One Feta in the Grave by Tina Kashian #BlogTour #BookReview #Giveaway

One Feta in the Grave by Tina Kashian

I am so delighted today to provide a review for you at my blog stop for One Feta in the Grave (A Kebab Kitchen Mystery) by Tina Kashian on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. Scroll down to enter for your chance to win the Giveaway!

Book Details

One Feta in the Grave (A Kebab Kitchen Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Kensington (February 26, 2019)
Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
ISBN-10: 1496713516
ISBN-13: 978-1496713513
Digital ASIN: B07DBPQQFJ

Book Blurb

As summer comes to an end in her Jersey Shore town, Lucy Berberian continues to manage her family’s Mediterranean restaurant. The Kebab Kitchen also has a food tent at this year’s beach festival. But now a local businessman is under the boardwalk—dead by the sea …

With a sand castle contest and live music, Ocean Crest bids a bittersweet farewell to tourist season. Summer will return next year … but Archie Kincaid won’t. The full-of-himself store owner has been fatally shot, soon after a screaming match with Lucy’s best friend. Katie’s far from the only suspect, though, since Archie had some bitter rivals—as well as some relationships no one knew about. It’s up to Lucy to look into some seedy characters and solve the case before the wrong person gets skewered …

Recipes included!

My Review

Lucy Berberian, a successful Philadelphia attorney, has returned to Ocean Crest, New Jersey, to claim a managerial position with her family’s Mediterranean restaurant, Kebab Kitchen. Ocean Crest is gearing up for the annual beach festival which features beach-front tents of shore and water-related clothes, equipment, toys, gifts, and a sand sculpture contest. Lucy has organized the food and wine event involving her family’s restaurant, which features the specialty plates by their head chef, Azad Zakarian, an early boyfriend. Lucy’s best childhood buddy Katie is helping with judging duties and quickly confronts a problem with Archie Kincaid, owner of one of the gift shops, when he allows his nephew to enter the competition against the rules.

When Lucy takes a break with a walk on the beach, she discovers Archie’s body under the boardwalk.  Archie was fairly new to the New Jersey shore village but not very well liked and had managed to alienate a number of neighboring merchants. Detective Clemmons, with whom Lucy has had previous run-ins, is on the investigation and not pleased to see that Lucy has discovered (yet another) body. Because Katie was observed in a second altercation with Archie, suspicions immediately begin with her. Officer Bill Watson, Katie’s hubby, cannot be on the case which might involve his wife and privately requests that Lucy keep her eyes and ears open to any clues that might help with the investigation. As it turns out, Archie had created more enemies than she’d initially realized.

Lucy has gotten reacquainted with Michael, who also has a small enterprise on the boardwalk renting bicycles and periodically invites her out for a ride on his Harley. Descriptions of the delights of the motorcycle rides definitely had my attention, as I could SOOO relate, although I rode my own, and also a top-rated bike, a Beemer. Dang, gave me such wonderful memories as I relived the thrill of twisting the throttle and feeling that power, smelling the countryside, and enjoying the freedom!

Okay–well, back to the book! All those names of Greek dishes had me mystified, fascinated, and interested in a taste session, as I do enjoy Mediterranean cuisine. Although this was the third in the series, I feel it could function as a standalone. The well-plotted book takes a while to look at each clue and then rehashes it and each one leading up to that point. I found Michael engaging, but didn’t get into the triangle thing with him, Lucy and Azad. (She definitely had the hots for Azad. I found him annoying.) Sub-characters I enjoyed were Katie (very down to earth), the gypsy, and the kitty, who, whether stray or not, knew how to survive just fine. The mystery itself took a back seat to the culture and the food, and the ease into the antagonist was not wholly unexpected and made the most sense.

I was given this ebook download by the publisher and NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review for this book tour. Recommended for those who enjoy an easy, clean cozy mystery.

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Giveaway

Don’t miss your chance to sign up for this Giveaway of (4) Winner’s Choice – Print or Digital Copy of One Feta in the Grave (A Kebab Kitchen Mystery) by Tina Kashian (Print U.S. Only) by clicking on the Rafflecopter giveaway link.

About the Author

Tina Kashian - authorTina Kashian spent her childhood summers at the New Jersey shore, building sand castles, boogie boarding, and riding the boardwalk Ferris wheel. She also grew up in the restaurant business where her Armenian parents owned a restaurant for thirty years. She worked almost every job—rolling silverware and wiping down tables as a tween, to hosting and waitressing as a teenager.

After college, Tina worked as a NJ Deputy Attorney General, a patent attorney, and a mechanical engineer. Her law cases inspired an inquiring mind of crime, and since then, Tina has been hooked on mysteries. The Kebab Kitchen Cozy Mystery series launches with Hummus and Homicide, followed by Stabbed in the Baklava and One Feta in the Grave by Kensington Books. Tina still lives in New Jersey with her supportive husband and two young daughters. Please visit www.tinakashian.com and join her Newsletter to enter free contests to win books, get delicious recipes, and to learn when her books will be released.

Author Links

Purchase Links

Amazon –   iBooks –  Barnes & Noble –  Kobo –   Google Books

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

Tour Participants:

February 26 – Laura`s Interests – REVIEW

February 26 – The Book Diva’s Reads – CHARACTER GUEST POST  

February 26 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT

February 27 – Babs Book Bistro – REVIEW

February 27 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – GUEST POST

February 27 – My Reading Journeys – SPOTLIGHT

February 28 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT

February 28 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW

February 28 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW

March 1 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW

March 1 – Christa Reads and Writes – GUEST POST

March 2 – Cinnamon, Sugar and a Little Bit of Murder – REVIEW

March 2 – Cassidy’s Bookshelves – SPOTLIGHT

March 2 – Brooke Blogs – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

March 3 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

March 3 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW

March 4 – Here’s How It Happened – SPOTLIGHT

March 4 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW

March 4 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

March 5 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

March 5 – A Wytch’s Book Review Blog – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW

March 5 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

March 6 – I’m All About Books – CHARACTER GUEST POST

March 6 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT

March 7 – The Montana Bookaholic – REVIEW

March 7 – The Cozy Pages – REVIEW

March 8 – A Chick Who Reads – REVIEW

March 8 – MJB Reviewers – REVIEW

March 9 – Socrates Book Reviews – REVIEW

March 9 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW Great Escapes Book Tours

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

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Murder in an Irish Pub by Carlene O’Connor – a #BookReview

It’s March and I’ll be participating in the Reading Ireland Month for 2019, this cozy mystery being the first.

March! 

Murder in an Irish Pub by Carlene O'ConnorTitle: Murder in  an Irish Pub (An Irish Village Mystery Book 4) by Carlene O’Connor

Genre: Cozy Mystery, Crafts and Hobbies

Publisher: Kensington

Print Length: 304 pages

Publication Date: February 26, 2019

  • ISBN-10:1496719042
  • ISBN-13:978-1496719041
  • ASIN: B07DBQB82Z

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title and Cover: Murder in an Irish Pub – Compelling cover depiction

Book Blurb:

When competing card sharps stir up Siobhán O’Sullivan’s quiet Irish village, a poker tournament turns into a game of Hangman . . .

In the small village of Kilbane in County Cork, for a cuppa tea or a slice of brown bread, you go to Naomi’s Bistro, managed by the many siblings of the lively O’Sullivan brood. For a pint or a game of darts—or for the poker tournament that’s just come to town—it’s the pub you want.

One player’s reputation precedes him: Eamon Foley, a tinker out of Dublin, called the Octopus for playing like he has eight hands under the table. But when Foley is found at the end of a rope, swinging from the rafters of Rory Mack’s pub, it’s time for the garda to take matters into their own hands. Macdara Flannery would lay odds it’s a simple suicide—after all, there’s a note and the room was locked. But Siobhán suspects foul play, as does Foley’s very pregnant widow. Perhaps one of Foley’s fellow finalists just raised the stakes to life and death.

With conflicting theories on the crime—not to mention the possibility of a proposal—tensions are running high between Siobhán and Macdara. Soon it’s up to Siobhán to call a killer’s bluff, but if she doesn’t play her cards right, she may be the next one taken out of the game . . . Continue reading “Murder in an Irish Pub by Carlene O’Connor – a #BookReview”

Final Exam by Carol J Perry – a #BookReview

Final Exam by Carol J PerryTitle: Final Exam (A Witch City Mystery Book 8) by Carol J Perry

Genre: Cozy Mystery, Supernatural, Psychics, Animals, Amateur Sleuth

Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corp.

  • ISBN-10:1496714601
  • ISBN-13:978-1496714602
  • ASIN: B07DBQQRHF

Print Length: 368 pages

Publication Date: February 26, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title and Cover: Final ExamNeat cozy cover

Book Blurb:

A cold case update in Salem, Massachusetts . . .  

Life at the house on Winter Street is abuzz with preparations for Aunt Ibby’s 45th high school reunion, and Lee Barrett is happy to pitch in, tracking down addresses and licking envelopes. But as a field reporter for Salem’s WICH-TV, her priority is to be on top of the town’s latest news before anyone else.
 
When the local police dredge up a vintage sports car containing human remains, Lee is thrilled to be the first reporter on the scene. Once she learns the car is connected to the cold case her boyfriend Pete happens to be working on, her powers of investigation are quickly alerted. But it’s her Aunt Ibby’s emotional reaction to Lee’s TV report that puts her on the case. With the help of O’Ryan, her psychic feline sidekick, she’ll have to unravel a tangled past of secrets and promises to stop a killer from making history again . . .  
Continue reading “Final Exam by Carol J Perry – a #BookReview”

Open Carry by Marc Cameron – a #BookReview

Open Carry by Marc CameronTitle: Open Carry (An Arliss Cutter Novel Book 1) by Marc Cameron

Genre: Thriller and Suspense, Action-Adventure, #crime

Publisher: Kensington

Print Length: 304 pages

Publication Date: To be released February 26, 2019

  • ISBN-10:1496721721
  • ISBN-13:978-1496721723
  • ASIN: B07DBR8Z7Y

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title and Cover: Open Carry – Cover perfectly conveys site

Book Blurb:

Law enforcement veteran Marc Cameron brings an explosive authenticity to this powerful new U.S. Marshal series. Arliss Cutter is a hero for our times. And his hunt for justice cuts straight to the bone. . . .

U.S. Marshal Arliss Cutter is a born tracker. Raised in the Florida swamplands, he honed his skills in the military, fought in the Middle East, and worked three field positions for Marshal Services. When it comes to tracking someone down—or taking someone out—Cutter’s the best. But his newest assignment is taking him out of his comfort zone to southeast Alaska. Cold, dark, uninhabited forests often shrouded in fog. And it’s the kind of case that makes his blood run cold . . . the shocking murder of a Tlingit Indian girl.

But the murder is just the beginning. Now, three people have disappeared on Prince of Wales Island. Two are crew members of the reality TV show, Fishwives. Cutter’s job is to find the bodies, examine the crew’s footage for clues, and track down the men who killed them. But it won’t be easy, because the whole town is hiding secrets, every trail is a dead end—and the hunter becomes the hunted . . . Continue reading “Open Carry by Marc Cameron – a #BookReview”

Freedom Road by William Lashner – a #BookReview

Freedom Road by William LashnerTitle: Freedom Road by William Lashner

Genre: Literature and Fiction, Thriller and Suspense, Action and Adventure

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Publication Date: January 22, 2019

Print Length: 377 pages

ASIN:B07F6CLX1H

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title and Cover: Freedom RoadDepicts lonely flight

Book Blurb:

He’s taking a dangerous path in search of his missing granddaughter—the only part of his life worth saving.

Oliver Cross is fresh out of jail. His plans for the future are to live out his days in regret, back pain, and a bottle of Lone Star. But when he finds out his granddaughter, a wild child who reminds him of his late wife, has vanished—bless her hell-raising heart—Oliver jumps parole. With a sketchy teen and an abandoned dog, he hits the blacktop to find her.

On the road and on the run from a vengeful Russian drug dealer, Oliver finds himself on a trip across America and into his own past, fueled by fumes from a Ford F-250 and a reason to live. But from an exclusive club in Chicago to a seedy commune in the Rockies, a series of disastrous choices sends Oliver spiraling further from his goal and deeper into danger. It’s a journey that could all end in redemption or a hail of bullets. And either’s okay by him. 

My Review:

Perhaps Clint Eastwood is now too old to play the part of 72-year-old Oliver Cross, but he could have played the brooding, caustic, cantankerous man so believably that these pages would have quivered with the excitement. There were sooo many times I pictured him in this part, seeing Oliver as Clint has always been, the quintessential masculine hero who would triumph even at his own expense.

Oliver is a remnant of the ’68 Chicago Viet Nam anti-war demonstrations that have come to blows which actually introduces him to Helen, who will become the love of his life. Oliver is the product of a wealthy family, first-year law student, destined to become one of the good ole boys following in his father’s footsteps where the name Cross means wealth and power. But two things happen that will totally change the course of his life: He meets Helen and his brother, a soldier in ‘Nam dies a hero. Continue reading “Freedom Road by William Lashner – a #BookReview”

A Literal Mess by J C Kenney #BlogTour #BookReview #Giveaway

A Literal Mess by J C Kenney

I am super delighted today to provide a review for you at my blog stop for A Literal Mess by J C Kenney on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour.

Scroll down to enter your chance to win the Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!

Book Details

 A Literal Mess (An Allie Cobb Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Lyrical Underground (January 8, 2019)
Print Length: 196 pages
ASIN: B07C6T6X41

Book Blurb

The first book in a new series featuring Allie Cobb brings the New York literary agent back to her Hoosier home town where a mysterious death keeps everyone on spoiler alert . . .

Allie Cobb left home for the literary circles of Manhattan to make her name out from under the shadow of her legendary father. Now his death brings her and her rescue cat Ursula back to the southern Indiana town of Rushing Creek, population: 3,216. But a tragic new chapter hits the presses when the body of her father’s hard-drinking, #1 bestselling client is found under the historic town bridge. The local police suspect foul play and their prime candidate for murder is the author’s daughter—Allie’s longtime friend.

Determined to clear her bestie, Allie goes into fact-checking amateur detective mode while trying to ignore the usual rumormongers. Those with means, motive, and opportunity include the vic’s ex-wife, his rejected girlfriend, the mayor, and a rival agent trying to mooch clients. With a rugged genealogist distracting her and the imminent Fall Festival about to send tourists descending on their once-peaceful hamlet, Allie needs to stay alive long enough to get a read on a killer ready to close the book on a new victim: Allie . . .

My Review

A Literal Mess by J C KenneyYes! A cozy with a NYC literary agent as the protagonist, groomed as a solid book lover promoter by her beloved father! Her father, a literary agent and her mentor with a large contingent of strong clients, has passed away without Allie Cobb being able to return to Rushing Creek, Indiana prior to his passing. She is overwhelmed with emotion, fighting guilt at not being home in time, and nauseated at the thought of facing her siblings and mother who was in attendance those last painful months.

But he’d left her a powerful legacy, that love of books. Books, authors, their editors and agents. And it’s an intricate network of people with whom Allie must now work to help shut down her father’s agency, as she’d promised her mother. She is heartbroken, and the story begins with strong emotions, planting a sentimental tie between the characters who one by one gently intrude in the grieving process as they are fleshed. Her best friend, Sloane Winchester, lends her shoulder to cry on, but before Allie can get through the funeral for her own father, Sloane’s father is found–murdered.

First, you have to understand that it’s a small town in Indiana. A very small town. Anyone from a small town knows that everyone knows everyone and their business. The Police Chief happens to be her sister’s ex. Growing up, she was never terribly close to her older sister, Rachel, who now has twin boys and the boy’s father appeared to be a bully. Allie, however, has several things going for her. First, she has made a name for herself in the literary world of New York, can stand on her own, and she “short persons syndrome.” Oh, and also, she enjoys the fine art of kickboxing. Her sister’s ex doesn’t scare her. But she has promised Sloane she would help to solve her father’s murder and in for a penny, in for a pound. (Sorry, old clichés are a no-no, I’m aware of that, but couldn’t help myself.)

Whether this is a female protagonist that exhibits aggressive tendencies due to being crafted by a male author, or it’s a subtle expression of her implied New York background and stature, this little lady is no shrinking violet when facing the suspects on her list. She is an in your face, “did you kill Thornwell” kind of gal. She is purposeful and methodical as she works through the possible suspects and there are a few twists and red herrings, leaving no down time. Working with a Police Chief who is slightly beyond his element is pushing disbelief, but is explained plausibly. Then she goes back to her mother’s home and dissolves into her grief and doubt and leans heavily on Ursi, her kitty, for moral support. Both Ursula and Sammy, Brent’s golden retriever, add a welcoming and lightening animal contribution to the well-plotted storyline.

Loved the author’s characterization of the mid-west rural Indiana location and the people preparing for the “fall leaf peeping” festival, the chocolate shop, the winery. Allie feels that tug, the nostalgia for the community feeling (something she was missing in New York), and Brent, the shy guy in the library installing a genealogy center. The question is tearing at her, New York is waiting, but…

I received this ebook download from the publisher and NetGalley for this blog tour and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read this debut from the author and the first in his series. It’s a thoroughly engaging beginning and I can’t wait to see where he takes these characters. Book 2 in the series, A Genuine Fix, is due to release on July, 2019. Recommended as a unique and enjoyable cozy platform, easy escapist fun.

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Giveaway

Sign up for your chance to win this very special Amazon gift card in this Rafflecopter giveaway

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

About the Author

J C Kenney - authorJ.C. Kenney grew up in a household filled with books by legends Agatha Christie and Lilian Jackson Braun, among many others, so it was no surprise when he found himself writing mystery stories. When he’s not writing, you can find him following IndyCar racing or listening to music. He lives in Indianapolis with his wife, two sons, and a cat who is the inspiration for Ursula in the Allie Cobb Mysteries.

Author Links

Website – https://www.jckenney.com;

Twitter – https://twitter.com/JCKenney1;

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/JCKenney1;

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/JCKenney;

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/j.c.kenney/

Purchase links

Amazon –  Apple –  Google –   Kobo –  Nook

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

Tour Participants:

January 9 – Mallory Heart’s Cozies – REVIEW

January 9 – The Power of Words – REVIEW

January 9 – Moonlight Rendezvous – REVIEW

January 10 – View from the Birdhouse – REVIEW

January 10 – Carstairs Considers – REVIEW

January 10 – CelticLady Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

January 11 – Teresa Trent Author Blog – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW

January 11 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

January 11 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST

January 12 – Socrates Book Reviews – REVIEW

January 12 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

January 12 – A Wytch’s Book Review Blog – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW

January 13 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW

January 13 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

January 13 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT Great Escapes Book Tours 

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

©2019 V Williams V Williams

The Lost Traveller by Sheila Connolly – a #BookReview

The Lost Traveller by Sheila ConnollyTitle: The Lost Traveller (County Cork Mystery Book 7) by Sheila Connolly

Genre: Mystery, Amateur Sleuths

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Publication Date: January 8, 2019

  • ISBN-10:1683318900
  • ISBN-13:978-1683318903
  • ASIN: B07D2J14S8

Print Length: 336 pages

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title and Cover: The Lost TravellerNice cover, title is misleading

My Review:

It’s amazing how often I manage to bumble into two books in a row that not only deal with (sorta) the same subject, but use many of the same names or locations as well. My last two books dealt with the Irish and particularly the last one with Travellers. I’d read Furlong’s first book, my introduction to the subject, and didn’t realize this one also used that spelling, indicating that particular group of Irish citizens who set themselves apart many generations ago. But I saw “County Cork.” YES! I was in.

No, I wasn’t.

This promised to be a great read. I was enthused, excited. Look at the cover. Pretty, huh? But that is also misleading, certainly doesn’t bear accurately the description of the bridge in the book. And this is the seventh in the series. Hopefully, there was lots of character development in the previous six. In this one, not so much.

The Lost Traveller by Sheila ConnollyProtagonist Maura (popular name) Donovan inherited old, established Sullivan’s pub in the little village of Leap, Ireland (West Cork). She is from Boston, possibly middle-twenties. She neither knows how to cook, peruse the internet, or craft an attractive setting. She also inherited a small cottage with the pub and except for getting her own mattress, has done little else to remodel or decorate.

The first portion of the narrative looked to be making good on the implied promise. She discovers a body, the mystery begins. We get to learn somewhat of the main characters, Rose, a seventeen-year-old student, and Mick, resident bar-keep. I think he is supposed to be a romantic interest, but wouldn’t have my interest, Irish brogue or not. The support characters, some old time bar patrons such as Billy, or friends such as Bridget and Gillian add interest, and there is Garda Sean Murphy who sounds far more appealing than Mick. Dialogue is stilted, meant to convey an Irish accent.

But Maura, poor Maura, descends into a muddled, befuddled American mess. She is actually a little embarrassing. Let Rose do it. Rose will know what to do. Let Rose run the pub. Let Rose create a website and set up the internet. (Rose is 17 going on 34.) Maura needs to figure out who was the victim, why he was dumped on her property, and where oh where can she find more employees to help with all that beautiful June summery tourist traffic. Should she create a kitchen and let Rose cook? (Cause she can’t.) Can she keep Rose long enough to turn her into the pub cook? No problem, she has rooms upstairs. Rose will want to live above the pub for convenience–easier to get to school and work.

The Travellers? They play a very small part in the overall plotline (and they are not lost). Maura is busy jumping from one theory to another regarding the murder, working herself into a dither when she isn’t wringing her hands over the employee/kitchen situation. The whole situation is recited over and over. The conclusion comes in as confirmation of her theories, quietly and rather as an anticlimax. Not all ends are tied, but oh well.

I received this ebook download from the publisher and NetGalley and appreciate the opportunity to read and review. I did enjoy to an extent, but would also suggest obtaining a better editor. These are just my impressions–you may have an entirely different view. Many do. 😘

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

Book Blurb:

Boston expat Maura Donovan came to Ireland to honor her grandmother’s last wish, but she never expected to stay in provincial County Cork—much less to inherit a house and a pub, Sullivan’s, in the small village of Leap. After a year-long struggle to stay in the black, Sullivan’s is finally thriving, and Maura has even brought back traditional Irish music to the pub. With a crop of new friends and a budding relationship with handsome Mick Nolan, Maura’s life seems rosier than ever—but even in Ireland, you can’t always trust your luck. 

It begins with Maura’s discovery of a body in the ravine behind the pub. And then, the Irish gardaí reveal that the victim’s face has been battered beyond recognition. Who is the faceless victim? Who wanted him dead? And why was his body dumped in the backyard of Sullivan’s Pub? Even after the dead man is finally given a name, nobody admits to knowing him. In the tight-knit world of Leap, no one is talking—and now it’s up to Maura to uncover the dark secrets that lurk beneath the seemingly quiet town.

Laced with warm Irish charm, a delightful small-town setting, and a colorful cast of characters, New York Times bestselling author Sheila Connolly’s seventh County Cork mystery, The Lost Traveller, conspires to delight.

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

Her series include the Orchard Mysteries (Berkley Prime Crime), the Museum Mysteries (Berkley Prime Crime), The County Cork Mysteries (Crooked Lane Books), the Relatively Dead Mysteries (Beyond the Page Press), and beginning in 2018, The Victorian Village Mysteries from St. Martin’s Press. Her first full-length, standalone ebook, Once She Knew, was published in October 2012.

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

She is passionate about genealogy, both American and Irish, and is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Society of Mayflower Descendants. She is also an Irish citizen and owns a cottage in West Cork. She lives in a too-big Victorian in southeastern Massachusetts with her husband and three cats. Find out more about her at her website, http://www.sheilaconnolly.com

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Fractured Truth by Susan Furlong – a #BookReview

Fractured Truth by Susan Furlong

My First #fivestar Read of the Year

Title: Fractured Truth (A Bone Gap Travellers Novel Book 2)

Genre: Thriller & Suspense, Mystery, Animals

Publisher: Kensington

Publication Date: December 18, 2018

Print Length: 288 pages

  • ISBN-10:1496711696
  • ISBN-13:978-1496711694
  • ASIN: B07BVDNVC9

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title and Cover: Fractured Truth – February snow in the mountains

Book Blurb:

When the mutilated remains of a young woman are found in an Appalachian Mountain cave, newly sworn-in deputy sheriff Brynn Callahan is forced to track down a killer driven by twisted motives . . .  

Not long after donning the uniform of the McCreary County Sheriff’s department in Bone Gap, Tennessee, ex-Marine Brynn Callahan faces her first official homicide. On a cold February morning, a lone cross-country skier stumbles across the mutilated body of a young woman. Sent to investigate, Brynn is shocked when she recognizes the victim as a fellow Traveller, Maura Keene.

Maura held a solid standing both within the Travellers’ insular community and among the settled townspeople—a fact that makes her murder all the more disturbing to Brynn, who also straddles the two worlds.  After her trained K-9, Wilco, digs up human bones, and then a scrap of paper scrawled with arcane Latin phrases is uncovered, Brynn finds evidence leading her to question those closest to her—and closing the case becomes a deeply personal matter.

While trying to suppress local superstitions and prejudices, Brynn discovers that Maura was keeping a dangerous secret. And as the bones Wilco found are analyzed by forensics, Brynn harbors the troubling suspicion that she knows who they belong to. Still struggling with PTSD, Brynn must put her career on the line and her life at risk to find justice for a woman not unlike herself—haunted by her past, and caught in a vicious cycle she may never
escape . . .
  Continue reading “Fractured Truth by Susan Furlong – a #BookReview”

Live and Let Pie by Ellie Alexander – a #BookReview

Title: Live and Let Pie (A Bakeshop Mystery Book 9 ) by Ellie Alexander

Genre: Cozy, Culinary, Mystery, Amateur Sleuth

Publisher: St Martin’s Paperbacks

Printed pages: 304

Publication Date: Happy Publication Day, New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2018

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

  • ISBN-10:1250159393
  • ISBN-13:978-1250159397
  • ASIN: B07DNBH26W

Title and Cover: Live and Let Pie – Pie theme cover

Book Blurb:

Live and Let Pie by Ellie AlexanderLife is sweet once you step into Torte, everybody’s favorite small-town bakeshop. But what happens when it becomes the scene of a crime?

The heat is on for pastry chef, family business operator, and unlikely sleuth Jules Capshaw. Just when she thought she could enjoy some time away from the kitchen, Jules manages to discover a skull during a picnic by the lake. As if unearthing remains that may be connected to a missing-persons case from the 1960s isn’t enough on her plate, Jules must contend with the unsolved matter of her own marriage while her estranged husband Carlos sails the open seas, awaiting a verdict. Then there’s Jules’s bitter landlord Edgar, who is intent on making a sweet deal on a vacant lot down the block from Torte—until he turns up dead. If only Jules could find a recipe that would let her bake her cake and eat it, too… Continue reading “Live and Let Pie by Ellie Alexander – a #BookReview”

Welcome to My Top Ten Favorite Reads of 2018

My Favorite Reads of 2018

So many wonderful books this year it was near to impossible to narrow down this list to my Top Ten Favorite Reads. Obviously, a heroic effort, as I can list many more than ten at 4.5 stars or better and judging from your likes and comments, were books you recognized and appreciated too! They appear in no particular order below. I am combining the two Dean Koontz’s books as they are part of the same series and came in within several months of each other. (I’m a sucker for the Jane Hawk series.)

Frosty's toyThe books wend their way over a broad range of genre’s and once again, I’ve found some amazing books in a genre that stretched the reading chops. Among my favorites are psychological thrillers, literary fiction, humorous novels, cozy mysteries, and (what you say??) doggie stories! (Well, I guess no surprise there.) These are books that feed your soul, provide food for thought or chuckles that are share-worthy. I found so many delightful little passages, I began to share them in my Quick Quotes.

Once again, I leaned heavily on NetGalley for new reads as well as accepted a number of author requests and beta reads. I signed up for the NetGalley Challenge on a platinum level (75 books) and according to my count (and my Reading Challenge page) nailed that one. I fell short on the Alphabet Challenge, however, failing to find an “X”.  Found some great new authors that I’ll want to follow as well as continue with a few of my favs which I’d rabidly follow any time they present a new offering.

Follow the link in the title to explore my full review as well as additional links from the books and the link on the cover to the purchase link at Amazon. You’ve probably read your share of these same books and I’d love to hear which ones you also loved that are included in your favorite reads list of the year.

Five Stars of Five Rating 5 starsA Dog's Way Home by W Bruce Cameron

A Dog’s Way HomeLiterature & Fiction, Family Life It’s a dog story–I’ll love it. And written by acclaimed and sympathetic author of canine narratives, W Bruce Cameron, you know it will be excellent.

The Crooked StaircaseLiterature & Fiction, Action & Adventure, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense The Dean Koontz Jane Hawk series has it all and is very popular. I’m dialed in and looking forward to the next (and final?) installment.

The Forbidden Door by Dean KoontzThe Forbidden Door – See comments above for the Jane Hawk series. If you haven’t checked it out, may want to begin with book 1, but in any case, these can work as standalone gripping thrillers.

Ray vs The Meaning of Life Literature and fiction Ray vs the Meaning of life by Michael F. StewartThis is one of those annoyingly great narratives, full of laughs and outrageous situations, but one that packs quite the moral punch. A new author for me but one I’ll continue to follow!

A Pirate’s Road to Key WestA Pirate's Road to Key West by Michael ReisigAction/adventure, historical fiction The Hole in the Coral Wall Gang always does the right thing. Fast-paced non-stop action. One of my favorite authors and apparently yours too!

4.5 of five stars 4.5 stars

The Last Homecoming The Last Homecoming by Dan ChabotLiterature & Fiction, Contemporary Fiction Christmas-time story of a poignant look at a house that stayed in the hearts of the last four generations of its occupants.

Lethal in Old LaceLethal in Old Lace by Duffy BrownCozy mystery Written by one of my new favorite authors, quirky characters and Old Southern charm and locale.

Dirty Who?Mystery, thriller and suspense Dirty Who? by Jerry KennealyStep back into the crime noir genre and enjoy this Dirty Harry kind of guy as he goes about solving the crime.

The Colonel and the BeeThe Colonel and the Bee by Patrick CanningLiterature & Fiction, Literary Fiction, Action & Adventure with more than a little fantasy. What a wild and wonderful ride this was! Fun, fast-paced, amazing characters. (Think Around the World in 80 Days.)

Burning Ridge Burning Ridge by Margaret MizushimaMystery, Thriller & Suspense Written by Margaret Mizushima spotlights our K-9 partners and this one is a solid, riveting tale in this successful canine series.

The Long Paw of the LawThe Long Paw of the Law by Diane KellyThriller & Suspense, Cozy, Animals, Police Procedural How can you go wrong with a canine crime-solving companion in a topical well-plotted narrative.

Which of the above did you read? Did I miss something fantastic this year that you’d love to tell me about? Do you have a suggestion (book or author) for my 2019 reads?

Happy New Year!

Have a safe and Happy New Year’s Eve and a healthy, successful 2019!

©2018 V Williams V Williams

Justice Gone by N. Lombardi, Jr – a #BookReview

Justice Gone by N. Lombardi JrTitle: Justice Gone by N Lombardi, Jr

Genre: #Literature & Fiction, #Crime, #Thriller

Publisher: Roundfire Books

Publication Date: To be released February 22, 2019

  • ISBN-10:1785358766
  • ISBN-13:978-1785358760

Source: Author, Publisher, and NetGalley

Title and Cover: Justice GoneJustice is Blind

Book Blurb:

When a homeless war veteran is beaten to death by the police, stormy protests ensue, engulfing a small New Jersey town. Soon after, three cops are gunned down. A multi-state manhunt is underway for a cop killer on the loose. And Dr. Tessa Thorpe, a veteran’s counselor, is caught up in the chase. Donald Darfield, an African-American Iraqi war vet, war-time buddy of the beaten man, and one of Tessa’s patients, is holed up in a mountain cabin. Tessa, acting on instinct, sets off to find him, but the swarm of law enforcement officers get there first, leading to Darfield’s dramatic capture. Now, the only people separating him from the lethal needle of state justice are Tessa and ageing blind lawyer, Nathaniel Bodine. Can they untangle the web tightening around Darfield in time, when the press and the justice system are baying for revenge? Justice Gone is the first in a series of psychological thrillers involving Dr Tessa Thorpe, wrapped in the divisive issues of modern American society including police brutality and disenfranchised returning war veterans. N Lombardi Jr. is the author of compelling and heartfelt novel The Plain of Jars. Continue reading “Justice Gone by N. Lombardi, Jr – a #BookReview”

Quantum Marlowe by Glenn Lazar Roberts – a #BookReview

Quantum Marlowe by Glenn Lazar RobertsTitle: Quantum Marlowe by Glenn Lazar Roberts

Publisher: TWB Press

Genre: Crime Noir, Sci-Fi, Heroic Fantasy,

440 pages +

ISBN: 9781944045500

Publish: TBA January 2019 

Book Blurb:

Pete Marlowe, a tiny but tough private detective, is having a bad day. Two mad scientists abducted him, lopped off his little finger, and installed a red button that enables him to walk through walls. Targeting Pete because his con-artist uncle secretly unloaded the Blarney Stone on the Pope, the kidnappers send him in to get the Stone back, snaring Pete in a plan that involves the Vatican, Mexican drug cartels, and a World War II Nazi project called The Bell. Can “Pinky’s” street smarts survive the scientists’ manipulations? Or is he destined to be marooned in a parallel universe? Quantum mechanics meets hard-boiled detective in this classic film noir take-off of Dashiell Hammett’s famous Sam Spade and Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe. “When Pinky gives them the finger, they stay fingered. I’m just that kinda guy.” Continue reading “Quantum Marlowe by Glenn Lazar Roberts – a #BookReview”