The Poison of War by Jennifer Leeper – a CE #BookReview – Two-Hour #mysterythriller

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5-stars

The Poison of War by Jennifer LeeperBook Blurb:

Two Mexican drug smugglers are murdered on Native American soil and the only clues left behind are two single arrowheads in this compelling page-turner of tribal secrets and distrust at the border.

When detective Frank Silva of the Tohono O’odham Nation arrived at the scene of the crime he immediately feared his investigation would require him to turn inward—to his own people—in search of the killer.

A complex web of lies, love and intrigue in the heart of the reservation pulls readers into a place and time in limbo straddling the U.S.-Mexican border which is struggling to retain its heritage and independence.

Two maverick detectives form an intriguing team trusting each other with not only their lives, but with the fate of the Tohono O’odham Nation in the crime mystery.

The Poison of War, from award-winning author Jennifer Leeper, highlights the Tohono O’odham reservation’s evolving struggle against Mexican cartels and their friction with border agents who hold the line stretching across the middle of the reservation.

The novella’s setting of the American Southwest, particularly on a Native American reservation, and the style and cultural background of the detective protagonist draw resemblances to Tony Hillerman’s works including Dance Hall of the Dead and The Blessing Way.

For fans of Leeper’s work and fortuitous newcomers, The Poison of War is a stunning tale that highlights timely issues of the U.S.-Mexico border, immigration, drug trafficking and the reservation culture of the Tohono O’odham tribe.

His Review:

The Poison of War by Jennifer LeeperSolving two murders with old technology in the desert southwest is not easy. The native people in this area have lived here for centuries. There were no borders that defined their nation until recently. Jennifer pulls together the problem of drug running across native ancestral lands with no regard to the culture and the people who live there.

Frank Silva is a half-breed who is charged with protecting the land and solving a double murder.
A defunct “Indian Casino” is a beacon for the transfer of illegal drugs. The drug runners are ruthless.

In a land of cacti and wildflowers where does the detective begin? Jennifer pulls the narrative together in a very exciting way. Even footprints do not show up in this desolate landscape. And yet the crime has to be solved.
The result is a masterfully devised series of steps taken to finally find the killer. The narrative is fast-moving and never drags. It is a mystery lovers’ handbook for solving crime in the most desolate areas in the Southwest United States.

We received this digital download from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I can heartily recommend.

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Book Details:

Genre: Native American Literature, Two-Hour Mystery-Thriller-Suspense, Vigilante Justice
Publisher: Prensa Press

  • ISBN-10:1733240209
  • ISBN-13:978-1733240208
  • ASIN: B081BB1HRK

Print Length: 67 pages
Publication Date: November 19, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Poison of War

Jennifer Leeper - authorThe Author: Jennifer Leeper is an award-winning fiction author whose previous or forthcoming publications credits include Independent Ink Magazine, The Stone Hobo, Poiesis, Every Day Fiction, Aphelion Webzine, Heater Magazine, Cowboy Jamboree, The New Engagement, Alaska Quarterly Review, Falling Star Magazine and The Liguorian. She has had works published by J. Burrage Publications, Hen House Press, Inwood Indiana Press, Alternating Current Press, Barking Rain Press, Whispering Prairie Press, and Spider Road Press.
Ms. Leeper’s novella, The Poison of War, published through Prensa Press, spotlights the landscape of the American Southwest and Native American culture through this murder mystery that brings to the fore timely issues of the U.S.-Mexico border, immigration, drug trafficking and the reservation culture of the Tohono O’odham tribe of southern Arizona. The region carries special meaning for Ms. Leeper as she lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico as a child and even though she currently lives in Kansas City, the spirit of the Southwest region continues to shape her writing.

CE Williams - co-reviewer

Short and Sweet–Does He Nail Those Reviews? You Tell Me.

Okay, Uncle! Need some help and looks like that will come in the guise of the CE. (Not the first time he’s stepped in to the rescue.)

Short Stack

Associate Reviewer - C E WilliamsFor some time now, you’ve noticed either an individual review or a tandem review with my associate (husband), the CE. Since I’ve achieved overwhelmed status with reads and reviews, I’ve asked him to step in and take a somewhat more frequent role, with the hope that one of these days I’ll be able to write a post article again regarding the bookish world aside from reviews. While I may do just a tad of editing, the reviews will be his, although I’ll continue to set them up to publish.

To that end, he just reviewed ICE which has been named the Winner in the ACTION/ADVENTURE category of the 2016 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. He loved it, by the way, and you can read his review here. (He’s a bit more succinct than I.) He will also cover a few genres I might not have creating a wider sampling range as he enjoys slightly different novel tastes. I’ve booked him up for the following three (including abbreviated blurbs) all from NetGalley: (Links below to Amazon)

Clyde's triplet

First up, The Poison of War by Jennifer Leeper

Two Mexican drug smugglers are murdered on Native American soil and the only clues left behind are two single arrowheads in this compelling page-turner of tribal secrets and distrust at the border… 
Scheduled for Sunday, January 19.

The Master’s Apprentice: A Re-Telling of the Faust Legend by Oliver Pötzsch (Author) Lisa Reinhardt (Translator)

A young man’s destined quest becomes a dance with the devil in a mesmerizing retelling of the Faust legend by the bestselling author of the Hangman’s Daughter Tales series.

It’s the fifteenth century and only heretics are curious about the universe.

Germany, 1494. Born under a rare alignment of the stars, Johann Georg Gerlach, “the lucky one” to his mother—is fated for greatness. But Johann’s studies and wonder at the sky have made him suspect…

Scheduled for Friday Feb 7.

Anne and Louis: Rulers and Lovers (Anne of Brittany Series Book 3) by Rozsa Gaston

In 1501, Anne of Brittany devises the perfect match for her only child by Louis XII, King of France. Their daughter will become the most powerful woman in Europe if she marries the future Holy Roman Emperor. But Louis balks. Instead, he wishes her to marry his successor. How else to keep his own bloodline on the throne?…

Scheduled for Friday, February 14.

If you haven’t already, check out his review of Ice and then swing by again to catch one of the above. Have you read one of these?

©2020 V Williams V Williams

A Cry in the Night (Detective Jessica Daniel thriller series Book 15 by Kerry Wilkinson – a #BookReview #thriller

A Cry in the Night by Kerry WilkinsonBook Blurb:

‘Mom?’ The word caught in the boy’s throat. She didn’t try to speak, didn’t roll towards him. She didn’t move at all.

In the middle of the night, fourteen-year-old Samuel is woken by the sound of a terrified scream from the kitchen of his home on a quiet street. The police – finding him sobbing on the kitchen floor, cradling his mother’s lifeless body – hit a dead end before the investigation has even begun: because although he witnessed the murder, Samuel is blind.

But when Detective Jessica Daniel meets the boy, the way he uses just his sense of sound to accurately locate her hand to shake it convinces her that this clever young teenager could hold the key to the entire case. Her team disagrees, but Jessica will do whatever it takes to get justice for the innocent.

Samuel’s description of an intruder he heard walking with a limp leads Jessica to an isolated seaside town, where a well-liked local man has been missing for days. Breaking into his house, Jessica finds him lying flat on the bed, a bullet wound under his chin.

Digging into the victim’s work records, Jessica uncovers a secret he shared with Samuel’s mother, and it’s clear she was terrified for her son’s safety. As Jessica pushes the boundaries to get closer to the truth, her most trusted colleague warns that she needs to watch her step… but Jessica won’t stop until she’s found the killer. Her career may be on the line, but so is Samuel’s life.

An absolutely unputdownable thriller, packed with twists and turns, perfect for fans of Robert Dugoni, Rachel Caine and Kendra Elliot. A Cry in the Night is just one of the many page-turning reads in the Jessica Daniel series. Each can be read as a standalone.

My Review:

I really like Jessica Daniel. She feels genuine. She pushes boundaries, has her gains and losses, but is generally an efficient detective inspector who gets her man (or woman, as the case may be). She reminds me somewhat of the character Danny in Blue Bloods–edgy but effective. It may be her droll sense of humor, that biting wit, that lightens the sensitive issues, but she can usually detect the line drawn that shouldn’t be crossed.

A Cry in the Night by Kerry WilkinsonIn Book 15, there is a blind fourteen-year old who “witnesses” the violent death of his mother. He is a keen observant who uses echolocation that helps him share the scene with the police. While Jessica had not actually seen the phenomenon before and has some misgivings as to how accurately his descriptions are, she is nonetheless impressed.

There is also something else, unrelated to the cases she and partner Detective Constable Archie Davey are handling. Archie is acting weird, causing tension between the two of them, blowing hot and cold. What is going on with him?!

Author Wilkinson weaves a clever, suspense-driven and well-plotted storyline focusing on Jessica and investigation progress, but again, for me, it’s the characters and the free and easy prose-filled descriptions given to them as well as the people of Manchester that drive the story. The banter between characters lends the authentic feeling of overhearing their actual dialogue. The depiction of Grimsby is priceless. (My grandfather spent a year fishing with the men there and dedicated his book Sons of the Sea to them.)

The conclusion results in a mixed bag of explanations, anxiety, and strongly hints at the story arc for Book 16, along with cliffhanging situations that resulted in my going back to see if I’d missed a page, that last one being so abrupt. The cliffhanger is a douzy and while this one may function fine as a standalone, you may wish to get this one for sure so you will be ready for Book 16.

I was given this digital download by the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. I really enjoy this series, love these characters, and now anxiously looking forward to Book 16…what happens??!

Book Details:

Genre: Financial Thrillers, Heist Thrillers, Crime Thrillers
Publisher: Bookouture
ASIN: B081753ZP4
Print Length: 356 pages
Publication Date: To be released January 15, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: A Cry in the Night

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

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

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

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

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

Recent and upcoming UK releases:
The Unlucky Ones (Jessica Daniel 14): 9 July 2019
Close To You: 17 October 2019
A Cry In The Night (Jessica Daniel 15): 15 Jan 2020

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

A Criminal Justice (Philadelphia Legal) by William L Myers Jr. a #BookReview #legalthriller

A Criminal Justice by William L Myers JrBook Blurb:

A man in prison for murder. One woman wants him freed. One woman wants him dead.

Mick McFarland is stunned when he’s arrested for murdering business tycoon Edwin Hanson, brother to David Hanson—one of Mick’s former clients. Mick is even more shocked when he’s confronted with the incriminating evidence: surveillance footage of him stalking the victim and pulling the trigger.

As Mick’s legal team fights against windmills trying to beat the prosecution in court, his wife, Piper, journeys across the country, trying to win her husband’s freedom by going after the man she is convinced is out to destroy Mick and David both. What she doesn’t anticipate is that David’s wife, Marcie, is on a similar mission to shelter her own husband. And the two women may not be on the same side.

Piper has it all right…and all wrong. And her time is running out. Will she be able to save her husband from conviction and clear his name?

My Review:

Well, shucks, this being my third book of the series of four, I missed the first and perhaps that was where all the original backstories were harbored. This entry to the series brings back a few of the support characters from previous books, including Piper (Mick’s wife) Vaughn and Susan (firm associate and partner), and kept in the background, the crime family Nunzio (this time Catherine). Mick McFarland is the one on trial this time…but, he didn’t do it, you know.

A Criminal Justice by William L Myers JrIn addition to protagonist McFarland, there is a large cast of characters. This narrative hones in on his brother Tommy and old nemesis Detective John Tredesco, along with Tredesco’s newish partner, delicious red-headed Murphy. Tredesco is pretty delighted with his collar of McFarland, as I said, no love lost there, and after the search and seizure of incriminating evidence feels the case is locked. Murphy is not so sure. I liked Tommy and Murphy as both had a rough background, hers being ex-military with conflict experience. You knew, despite the age difference, sparks would eventually fly.

The well-plotted book, however, won’t focus with blinders on Mick’s innocence and in a wild effort to divert attention is caught up in a complex conspiracy that is a great deal more far-reaching, involving computer geniuses and a multi-billion dollar tech company. The victim is Edwin Hanson, the brother of David Hanson, with whom McFarland had previous legal court proceedings. That trial regarding the killing of a reporter has come back to haunt Mick and the firm.

While McFarland languishes in the slammer with a Ukrainian of dubious distinction, Piper is out beating every red herring she confronts leaving Susan floundering on defense strategy. Tommy and Murphy are trying to run down a possible witness and get to know each other better. Other characters, all too happy to see Mick cooling his heels behind bars are thrown in the mix and the plot gets more and more complicated.

My favorite part is the court scenes and the dialogue, although it isn’t until near the end that Mick takes over his own defense (usually a capital mistake–see how I did that? pun intended). Then that strategy and brilliant cunning begin to form and it’s easy to see Richard Gere (from the musical Chicago) in your minds’ eye, tap-dancing to the course he sets. And I did certainly enjoy the short treatise on CGI (computer-generated image).

My lesser favorite part of this trip was the length of the dance. Rather slow to start and then repetition of facts and theories with little progress forward. Rather like a tangle of rattlesnakes, there is love and hate from one group or another, greed, revenge, overwhelming guilt, and resolution. The conclusion winds down with the same pace but leaves a kind of bewildering…huh…

I received this digital download from the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read Book 4 of the series. Recommended for those who enjoy complex, well-drawn, and unique legal thrillers and I’d certainly welcome another.

Book Details:

Genre: Crime Thrillers, Legal Thrillers, Organized Crime Thrillers
Publisher: Thomas and Mercer

  • ISBN-10:1542005531
  • ISBN-13:978-1542005531
  • ASIN: B07M9KDSL8

Print Length: 391 pages
Publication Date: March 17, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: A Criminal Justice

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 Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4-stars

William L Myers Jr - authorThe Author: William L. Myers, Jr. is the No. 6 best-selling author for Amazon Kindle in 2017 for his debut novel, A Criminal Defense. That was the first in what has become the Philadelphia Legal Series. The third book in that series, A Killers Alibi debuts February 19, 2019. A Killer’s Alibi has had rave early reviews including New York Times Bestselling author, Bill Lasher–

“William Myers’ riveting new novel is not just a crackerjack legal thriller, it is a wrenching portrayal of a whole range of farther-daughter relations, showing how they can damage, how they can nourish, how they go dangerously off track. A story not to be missed.”

Born in 1958 into a blue-collar family, Mr. Myers inherited a work-ethic that propelled him through college and into the Ivy League at The University of Pennsylvania School of Law. From there, Mr. Myers started his legal career in a Philadelphia-based mega defense firm. After ten years defending corporate America, he realized his heart wasn’t in it. So, with his career on the fast track to success–he gave it all up and started his own firm. It was time to start fighting for the common guy.

That was twenty-five years ago and since then, he has focused on representing railroad employees and other honest, hard-working people who have been injured by others. He has represented thousands of clients in his tenure and has become a highly-regarded litigation attorney up and down the Eastern Seaboard.

For more information visit his author website at: http://www.williamlmyersjr.com

©2020 V Williams V Williams

The Lost Treasure: A Bobby Holmes Mystery by J M Kelly – a #BookReview

The Lost Treasure by J M KellyBook Blurb:

The Lost Treasure is a thriller about four young adolescents who come together to solve a deadly mystery. The spirit of a long-dead pirate seeks his 300-year-old buried treasure through the possessed body of a diabolical descendant. It’s up to Bobby Holmes from England, his American cousin Brenda Watson, and a couple of unlikely heroes, one of whom has Asperger Syndrome, to traverse the darkened halls of a school at night, and the suffocating caves of a haunted mountain, to save each other and come out alive!

My Review:

Dang! Snagged by the cover again. Well, it’s a great cover! The book is aimed at middle school children and it might very well be fine for pre-teens. It’s simple, easy to read and the storyline no doubt what children of that age could identify with, concerns of the age. I wasn’t sure, however, of the time period, as it spoke of (telephone) receivers being placed back in the cradle. The mothers almost harken back to 50s sitcoms with aprons, fresh baked cookies, and dinner. Lots of dinners.

The Lost Treasure by J M KellyFour children, one from the UK and one with Asperger’s Syndrome, part of the reason I picked it up since I have a grandchild with the Autism spectrum. Different levels of the problem, different symptoms. This child seemed capable of tolerating overly bright lights and sirens. (well, maybe)

The writing style is geared for that age, so is not on a par with an adult thriller, but it is well-plotted and well-paced except for a couple hiccups. The kids plot out how they will tackle the problem because the adults won’t believe their theory, and there is the prescribed inept police. The children are not well-fleshed–they are kids. Kids are kids. The mothers almost harken back to 50s sitcoms with aprons, fresh baked cookies, and dinner. Lots of dinners. The conclusion took some heroic efforts by the kids, I’m sure every child’s fantasy, so it may very well work for them.

I received this digital download by the publisher and NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read in return for a review. These are my honest opinions. This novel could use an additional edit or two and another look at the epilogue. Recommended for school children but adults will chafe at the errors.

Book Details:

Genre: Children’s Scary Stories

  • ISBN-10:1484084942
  • ISBN-13:978-1484084946
  • ASIN: B00EK4LO34

Print Length: 237 pages
Publication Date: August 14, 2013
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Lost Treasure

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 Rosepoint Publishing: Three of Five Stars 3-stars

J M Kelly - authorThe Author: J.M. Kelly has been a middle school teacher, a vice-principal, a principal, a Co-Director of the New Jersey State History Fair, a consultant for the New Jersey Foundation for Educational Administration, a current Board member of the Global Learning Project, a non-profit, and Past-President of the Morris County Association of Elementary and Middle School Administrators. He has been the recipient of numerous education awards such as the New Jersey Governor’s Teacher Award, two Geraldine Dodge Foundation Grants, and by acclamation of his school staff, received the New Jersey Principal’s and Supervisor’s Association Principal of the Year Award for Visionary Leadership in 2007. He has authored two professional books: Student-Centered Teaching for Increased Participation and In Search of Leadership.

The Lost Treasure, available on Amazon.com, is his first novel. His love of mysteries, adventures, and everything about Sherlock Holmes, helped in the creation of eleven-year-old Bobby Holmes and his cousin Brenda Watson. Tommy Ails: Good For What Ails You, also available on Amazon, is a humorous off-beat mystery, and his first novel for adults. He is currently working on a sequel to The Lost Treasure entitled Monster of the Moors, which involves the same characters and takes place in England.
Jim divides his time between Sea Girt, New Jersey and Sarasota, Florida, with his wife Bronwen. They have three grown children, Peter, Alex, and Brianna.

Contact
Phone: 973-229-6778
Email: jmkellyauthor@gmail.com
Website: JMKellyauthor.com

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Bitter Falls (Stillhouse Lake Book 4) by Rachel Caine – a BookReview

Bitter Falls by Rachel CaineBook Blurb:

She’s investigating a cold case no one else could—by going places no else would dare.

In spite of a harrowing past still haunting her, Gwen Proctor is trying to move forward. Until a new assignment gives her purpose: the cold-case disappearance of a young man in Tennessee. Three years missing, no clues. Just Ruth Landry, a tortured mother in limbo. Gwen understands what it’s like to worry about your children.

Gwen’s investigation unearths new suspects…and victims. As she follows each sinister lead, the implications of the mystery grow more disturbing. Because the closer Gwen gets, the closer she is to a threat that looms back home.

In a town that’s closed its ranks against Gwen; her partner, Sam; and her kids, there’s no bolder enemy than the Belldene family—paramilitary, criminal, powerful, and vengeful. As personal vendettas collide with Gwen’s investigation, she’s prepared to fight both battles. But is she prepared for the toll it could take on everyone she loves?

My Review:

As if Gwen Proctor didn’t have enough problems with her own history and the tortured life she’s doggedly tried to leave behind, she accepts a cold case assignment regarding a young college man who disappeared without a trace.

Bitter Falls by Rachel CaineA new author and series to me, Gwen is apparently partnered with Sam (the two of them have a rather unbelievable history, and there is Gwen’s two kids, Lanny and Connor. These two kids might need more than a therapist to get them through life after understanding the PTSD inducing family history. The POVs alternate between the four, with protagonist Gwen spearheading her investigation and getting the whole family into one heckofa pickle.

While Gwen is a licensed concealed weapon carry, kick-ass PI, she tends to be just a little slow on the uptake a few times. And Sam might be just a tad too good to be true. The well-plotted thriller starts with a deadly hook after which you are sunk (read it–you’ll understand that double-entendre) and you must keep reading. It drives tension, pushes disbelief, but doesn’t drop the ball or slow the fast-moving storyline.

There is no love lost in the town nor the people who comprise her neighbors and most would just prefer that she leave. There is the backwoods mafia who could spearhead the move but hold to their code when push comes to shove and the deeper the investigation, the deeper the threat to Gwen’s family. It would seem she continues to be proclaimed guilty by association of the former glaring headlines while inviting further castigation with the present situation.

I had so many questions regarding Gwen and was never able to fully invest in her–she kept me off balance, never knowing which way she was going to flip. The kids didn’t help the situation any and the Sam/Gwen relationship didn’t feel plausible. Vi, where did she come from? Trust is spent. There is more than one unreliable narrator here, methinks, and I couldn’t invest in any.

I received this download from the publisher and NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review. I read as a standalone, but there is obviously a lot of backstory here missed in coming in at Book 4. Recommended for those familiar with the series and author and any seeking a fast-paced action-packed and entertaining thriller.

Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Thriller
Publisher: Thomas and Mercer

  • ISBN-10:154204233X
  • ISBN-13:978-1542042338
  • ASIN: B07NQDQ8JV

Print Length: 335 pages
Publication Date: To be released January 21, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Bitter Falls 

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Rosepoint Publishing: Three point Five of Five Stars 3.5-stars

Rachel Caine - authorThe Author: Rachel Caine is the New York Times, USA Today, and #1 internationally bestselling author of more than fifty novels, including the #1 smash hit bestselling thriller Stillhouse Lake, the internationally bestselling Morganville Vampires series, the Great Library series, the Weather Warden series, the Outcast Season series, the Revivalist series, and the acclaimed YA novel Prince of Shadows.

The pilot for the crowdfunded show MORGANVILLE is now available on Amazon Prime as streaming video.

Rachel is very pleased to have participated in DEAD AIR, a new combined project from acclaimed producer/publisher Serial Box, cowriting episodes with Gwenda Bond and Carrie Ryan. The project launches in August 2018.

She was born at White Sands Missile Range, which people who know her say explains a lot. She has been an accountant, a professional musician, and an insurance investigator, and ultimately a corporate management executive before leaving to write full time. She and her husband, comic historian/actor/artist R. Cat Conrad, live in Texas.

WWW.RACHELCAINE.COM

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Welcome 2020 (Good Riddance 2019) and Happy New Year to You All!

Welcome 2020

I am so thrilled you are here to celebrate the beginning of a new year with me and hoping yours gets off to a wonderful start with exciting events in your future. I am not sorry to see 2019 gone (or the decade), which was one of turmoil for us. I’m sure twenty-twenty will kick off better times, a fresh start, hopeful beginnings. For you too!

My December, as yours, was fast and furious! But I did manage thirteen reviews among a spotlight and related posts.

Rosepoint Reviews for December

If you missed any of my full reviews, just click the link below. I reviewed twelve books in December, two were audiobooks (from my library via OverDrive), some are part of a series, many of those from NetGalley.

A Cold Trail by Robert Dugoni
Verse and Vengeance by Amanda Flower
No Man’s Land by Sara Driscoll
The Other People by C J Tudor
Two Good Dogs by Susan Wilson (audiobook)
Christmas on the Home Front by Roland Moore (TV series Land Girls)
Hands Up by Stephen Clark (author request)
Bookmarked for Murder by V M Burns
The Dog on the Acropolis by Mark Tedesco
The Ghost of Christmas Past by Angie Fox
Sealed Off by Barbara Ross
The Twelve Dogs of Christmas by David Rosenfelt (audiobook)
Shattered Justice by Susan Furlong (posted December 31st)

Since I’ve bumped up against a number of series now that I can’t wait to get back to, I’ve determined to look for additional books (also from my library) in either digital or print form, and I’m planning on a later post to delineate my favorites, a few of which turned out to on NetFlix. How great is that?

Challenges!

Are y’all into challenges? I’ve normally participated in three: the Goodreads Challenge, the NetGalley Challenge, and the Alphabet Challenge. This year I apparently lost all sense of reality and signed up for five (or not):

Audiobook – I’m signing up for Stenographer level–10-15 (Got my cheapy earbuds all charged.)
Goodreads – I’ll be staying with 170
Historical Fiction – I should be comfortable with 10 books–Renaissance Reader
NetGalley  – I’ll be going for Gold-50. (I attained my 200 [reviews] badge!) 
Reading Ireland – 10 (Links to 2019 challenge)
and Bingo (one card?) This is the Murder Mystery Bingo Reading Challenge

Bingo? Really? Is that the equivalent of the Alphabet Challenge (where I always missed Q, X, and Z)? Still, this is the time of year to start looking around to join the challenge of your choice and there are some very fun challenges out there! Most reading challenges run from Jan 1 – Dec 31. Lynne at Fictionophile posted a master list of challenges. You might want to check it out here.

Goodreads Year in BooksHere are a few results from my 2019 Goodreads Challenge:

I read 49,236 pages across 171 books

AVERAGE LENGTH
287 pages

MOST POPULAR64,261
people also readThe Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware
The Turn of the Key
by Ruth Ware


Across the River by Richard Bruce Snodgrass
LEAST POPULAR
0 people also read
Across the River by Richard Bruce Snodgrass

 

 

clink glassesHere is hoping all who read this has a happy and healthy New Year! And, as always, thank you! I appreciate your follows and comments!

V Williams    martini glass

©2020

 

Shattered Justice (A Bone Gap Travellers Novel Book 3) by Susan Furlong – a #BookReview #thriller

Gritty, raw, and unrelenting but war-damaged ex-Marine Irish Traveller. Where is the justice?

Shattered Justice by Susan FurlongBook Blurb:

In the Appalachian town of Bone Gap, Tennessee, backwoods justice is more than just blind. It’s swift, silent, and shockingly personal. Especially for Irish Traveller turned deputy sheriff Brynn Callahan . . .
 
“Hear No Evil.”

The first message is found in a playground. A few feet away, a  pair of human ears hang from the monkey bars. Deputy sheriff Brynn Callahan isn’t sure what to make of this grisly scene. Do the ears belong to a murder victim? And if so, where is the body? One thing Brynn is sure of: the earring on one of the earlobes belongs to a man she met at a party the previous night.  . .
 
“Speak No Evil.”

The second message is discovered next to a human tongue on a park pavilion. Once again, no body is found. Brynn can’t help but wonder if the crimes are rooted in the town’s long-simmering tensions between Bone Gap locals and the barely tolerated Travellers who’ve settled there.
 
“See No Evil.”

For Brynn, the investigation hits too close to home—forcing her to confront the demons of her own past. But time is running out. Brynn has to track down the culprit before a third message is delivered—and a third victim is claimed. Rich, atmospheric, and brilliantly chilling, Shattered Justice is the third Bone Gap Travellers novel from the acclaimed author of Splintered Silence and Fractured Truth.

My Thoughts

Shattered Justice by Susan FurlongAnother intense, book-hooking entry to the Bone Gap Travellers series that has you alternately cringing and then reading faster. Ex-Marine Brynn Callahan returned to her family home after an IED ended both her tours and that of her cadaver dog, Wilco. But it wasn’t easy to return to the Appalachians with her Irish Travellers (or Pavees) and assume a job with local law enforcement (the “settled”), straddling both sides from a community that keeps to themselves and wields their own sense of law enforcement.

Brynn is still suffering from PTSD, as is her dog, and daily struggles with staying clean of the relief she found in dealing with the pain and trauma of those horrific scars. Her first-person dialogue plops you squarely in her head and the fight is unrelenting. Brynn languishes on the fringe between the settled, answering to Pusser who directs her investigations as she deals at home with her own tight-knit neighbors.

Obviously, this novel sets the old saying on edge as ears are found followed by a severed tongue, but the plot won’t be that simple and soon revisits the closely held secret of her beloved Gran setting a strong distraction.  There must be two bodies, but they are missing. Are they connected to the Pavee brought in, Mo’s husband?

The author has an amazing writing style, often producing quotable moments, “…gray, that undefined color in between black and white, the color of limbo, the zone between life and death,” and

“Did you learn anything from your slip, Brynn?” My eyes snapped back to Margaret…Why, yes, Margaret, I learned that Black Label whiskey is worth every damn penny…”

“And when they surface, we suddenly know: we are all victims of our past and vulnerable in our present.”

Brynn is intelligent, flawed, and damaged but between her investigation and Wilco’s help, she’ll ferret out the truth, as deeply buried as it is. The well-developed support characters provide a graphic mindset along with descriptions of the deeply wooded mountains, foreboding and sinister, hides more than the Travellers. A profoundly disturbing depiction moves forefront along with some stomach-turning descriptions. The dialogue is brutal, many times raw, threatening, and the tension builds to a massively intricate conclusion and one you won’t guess. Actually, it could be assumed you stopped trying and just raced through to the heart-stopping climax.

I was given a digital download by the publisher and NetGalley and am extremely grateful for the opportunity to read and review my third book in this series–and looking forward to Book 4. Recommended to any looking for a unique premise and genuinely engaging mystery. This might standalone, but you’ll miss a lot of backstory if you don’t start at the beginning. 4.5/5 stars

His Thoughts

Justice in the backwoods of Tennessee. Can there be such a thing? Ms. Furlong writes a compelling novel about just such a query. This novel is fast moving and at times graphically gruesome. Add a war broken detective and a three-legged dog and you have a read hard to put down!

Brynn is the detective who is scarred from three tours with the US Marines. She has internal demons as well as the perpetrators she is working to bring to justice. She and her dog are both victims of an IED (improvised explosive device). Pain pills and other drugs as well as alcohol are also demons that must be defeated by our detective.

The perpetrators are a related family of women who work to bring justice to their part of the world. A moral code inherent in this society of misfits called Travellers or Pavees cloud the investigation. The women show extraordinary abilities to evade their pursuers.

The layout of the book and the end result left a little to be desired. The reason for the violence is a thread throughout the book which seems apparent. One suicide which was not a suicide, inept police work and inter-clan justice and you have a web full of holes.

Following the clues to the killer or killers is not easy. Ms. Furlong throws in the struggles that many returning military face trying to meld back into society. I found some of them to be red herrings that tended to leave my crime-solving forensic training yelling “WHAT?!”

As with many cozy type mysteries, I find the denigration of the males in the police force a little tedious. Certainly one would expect clashes between the male and female detectives, but not to the extent posed by Ms. Furlong and Harris. It is a common perception by society and the interaction of men and women in the work force. However, this seems a little gratuitous. As society evolves, the movement to have total equality in all areas seems contrived. The issue is well developed in Ms. Furlong’s plot.

The ending of the book is why I did not give it five stars. Out of nowhere another antagonist emerges. Again, a female who seems to be as bent on justice as the primary villain. This is a serious blindsiding in the development of the plot and its’ conclusion. The gruesome crimes seemed overdone and the end story left me asking the question, WHY? Associate Reviewer - C E Williams

Ms. Furlong’s discussion narrative at the end of the novel is a good planning tool. It certainly helps to develop the overall novel in the reader’s mind. I can see where a group discussion may very well lead to a better understanding of the issues and problems faced by veterans in general. My hat is off to her as a very good writer and an understanding human being. 4/5 stars CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Thrillers, Women Sleuths
Publisher: Kensington Books

  • ISBN-10:1496711726
  • ISBN-13:978-1496711724
  • ASIN: B07NX1X3HP

Print Length: 304 pages
Publication Date: Happy Publication Day! December 31, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Shattered Justice

+Add to Goodreads 

Susan Furlong - authorThe Author: Susan Furlong the author of several mystery series including the acclaimed Bone Gap Travellers series. She also contributes to the New York Times bestselling Novel Idea Mysteries under the pen name Lucy Arlington. She has worked as a freelance writer, academic writer, ghost writer, translator, high-school language arts teacher, and martial arts instructor. She and her family live in central Illinois. Visit her on Facebook or at http://www.susanfurlong.com.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

The Twelve Dogs of Christmas (An Andy Carpenter Mystery Book 15) by David Rosenfelt – a #BookReview #Audiobook

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5-stars

The Twelve Dogs of Christmas by David Rosenfelt

 Book Blurb:

Defense lawyer Andy Carpenter usually tries to avoid taking on new cases at all costs. But this time, he’s happy – eager, even – to take the case that’s just come his way. Andy’s long-time friend Martha “Pups” Boyer takes in stray puppies that the local dog rescue center can’t handle, raises them until they’re old enough to adopt, and then finds good homes for them. Not everyone admires the work Pups does as much as Andy does, however.

With Christmas just around the corner, one of Pups’s neighbors has just reported Pups to the city for having more than the legal number of pets in her home under the local zoning laws. Andy happily takes Pups’s case, and he feels confident in a positive outcome. Who could punish someone for rescuing puppies, after all, especially at Christmastime? But things get a lot more complicated when Randy Hennessey, the neighbor who registered the complaint against Pups, turns up dead. Pups had loudly and publicly threatened Hennessey after he filed his complaint, and Pups was also the one to find his body. All the evidence seems to point to Pups as the killer, and suddenly Andy has a murder case on his hands. He doesn’t believe Pups could be guilty, but as he starts digging deeper into the truth behind Hennessey’s murder, Andy may find himself facing a killer more dangerous than he ever imagined.

With his trademark wit, larger-than-life characters, and clever plotting, David Rosenfelt delivers another gripping mystery.

My Review:

As you can see, I’ve burned through five of the Andy Carpenter series of twenty books. Loved them all, four of which were audiobooks. While I greatly enjoyed Dachshund Through the Snow (the digital download I received from NetGalley), I’ve really become a solid fan of the audiobooks narrated by Grover Cleveland. Cleveland is the definitive voice of attorney Andy Carpenter–the defense attorney who would rather not take on any cases. The cases, however, seem to find him.

Three of these entries to the series were aimed at the Christmas season, a wonderful excuse for unapologetically grabbing as many as I could. This one concerns twelve puppies brought to Tara’s Foundation by Andy as the woman who had rescued them was charged with the murder of a neighbor. He had filed a complaint with the local zoning board about the number of pets she had in her home and then turned up dead.

The Twelve Dogs of Christmas by David Rosenfelt

The timing is unfortunate, as Martha has been doing this for years, but now she is facing mortality and would prefer not to spend the time she has left behind bars. Her hubby passed a few years ago leaving her with land located in assorted states, eventually for the purpose of the canine (or animal) rescue mission they both embraced.

The characters have been carefully gathered and create a variety of eclectic support for Andy, as well as his wife, Laura, a former policewoman. Andy keeps up a steady mind dialogue that is frank and often humorous. His snarky attitude is not lost on his colleagues and the time he’s spent in court has given him a well-deserved reputation. Like a pit bull that he might have rescued, once he’s onto something he’ll concentrate through the red herrings and twists to get to the real perp, tweaking by a la Perry Mason where it counts.

The narrative includes his family, son Ricky, and common familial situations, drawing you into Andy’s life as well as his legal expertise. These books are engaging with complex, well-drawn plots that are fully investing. While it’s character-driven, the author’s deprecating but intelligent writing style keeps you immersed. This one is full of the Christmas season, puppies, and witty and entertaining storyline.

I received this audiobook from my local library (thank you!) and was thoroughly entertained and invested. Grover Gardner does an incredible job of interpreting the very excellent novel penned by David Rosenfelt. In a spin-off from his Andy Carpenter series, author Rosenfelt has started a new series he is calling The K-Team “about a dynamic new investigative team featuring a determined former cop and his loyal German Shepherd.” YES! Book 1 of The K-Team will be released March 24, 2020, currently available via NetGalley. Now is your chance to grab #1 in a new series, Shalini. Your welcome.

This one is still totally recommended for anyone looking for an unpredictable and amusing hoot. Whether audio or digital, either way, you’re in for a real treat.

Book Details:

Narrator: Grover Gardner
Genre: Animal Fiction, Traditional Detective Mysteries, Legal Thriller
Publisher: Macmillian Audio
ASIN: B01LZAPOAO
Listening Length: 6 hrs 17 mins
Publication Date: October 18, 2016
Source: Local Library audiobooks
Title Link: The Twelve Dogs of Christmas

+Add to Goodreads
David Rosenfelt - authorThe Author: (Amazon Author Page) David Rosenfelt, a native of Paterson, New Jersey, is a graduate of NYU. He was the former marketing president for Tri-Star Pictures before becoming a writer of novels and screenplays. “Open And Shut” was his first novel; “First Degree,” his second novel, was named a best book of 2003 by Publishers Weekly. He currently lives in Southern California with his wife and 35 dogs.

(Goodreads Author Page) I am a novelist with 27 dogs.

I have gotten to this dubious position with absolutely no planning, and at no stage in my life could I have predicted it. But here I am.

My childhood was relentlessly normal. The middle of three brothers, loving parents, a middle-class home in Paterson, New Jersey. We played sports, studied sporadically. laughed around the dinner table, and generally had a good time. By comparison, “Ozzie and Harriet’s” clan seemed bizarre.

I graduated NYU, then decided to go into the movie business. I was stunningly brilliant at a job interview with my uncle, who was President of United Artists, and was immediately hired. It set me off on a climb up the executive ladder, culminating in my becoming President of Marketing for Tri-Star Pictures. The movie landscape is filled with the movies I buried; for every “Rambo”, “The Natural” and “Rocky”, there are countless disasters.

I did manage to find the time to marry and have two children, both of whom are doing very well, and fortunately neither have inherited my eccentricities.

A number of years ago, I left the movie marketing business, to the sustained applause of hundreds of disgruntled producers and directors. I decided to try my hand at writing. I wrote and sold a bunch of feature films, none of which ever came close to being actually filmed, and then a bunch of TV movies, some of which actually made it to the small screen. It’s safe to say that their impact on the American cultural scene has been minimal.

About fourteen years ago, my wife and I started the Tara Foundation, named in honor of the greatest Golden Retriever the world has ever known. We rescued almost 4,000 dogs, many of them Goldens, and found them loving homes. Our own home quickly became a sanctuary for those dogs that we rescued that were too old or sickly to be wanted by others. They surround me as I write this. It’s total lunacy, but it works, and they are a happy, safe group.
http://us.macmillan.com/author/davidr…

Grover Gardner - #audiobook narratorThe Narrator: Grover Gardner’s narration career spans twenty-five years and over 550 audiobook titles. AudioFile Magazine has called him one of the “Best Voices of the Century” and features him in their annual “Golden Voices” update. Publishers Weekly named him Audiobook Narrator of the Year for 2005. His recordings have garnered 18 “Golden Earphones” awards from AudioFile and an Audie Award from the Audio Publishers’ Association.
http://grovergardner.blogspot.com/

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Sealed Off (A Maine Clambake Mystery Book 8) by Barbara Ross – a #BookReview #cozymystery

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5-stars

Sealed Off by Barbara Ross

Book Blurb:

Early October is “winding down” time in Busman’s Harbor, Maine, but there’s nothing relaxing about it for Julia Snowden. Between busloads of weekend leaf peepers at the Snowden Family Clambake and a gut renovation of the old mansion on Morrow Island, she’s keeping it all together with a potentially volatile skeleton crew—until one of them turns up dead under the firewood.

When the Russian demo team clearing out the mansion discovers a room that’s been sealed off for decades, Julia’s baffled as to its purpose and what secrets it might have held. Tensions are already simmering with the crew, but when one of the workers is found murdered, things come to a boil. With the discovery of another body—and a mysterious diary with Cyrillic text in the hidden room—the pressure’s on Julia to dig up a real killer fast. But she’ll have to sort through a pile of suspects, including ex-spouses, a spurned lover, and a recently released prisoner, to fish out one clammed-up killer.

My Review:

I so enjoy the stories of the Snowden Family Clambakes on Busman’s Harbor, Maine. The family built a large mansion and completed the Morrow Island clambake business with fire pits, picnic tables, and covered pavilion to lend the perfect Maine lobster experience to the tourists. Unfortunately, the old mansion was left empty and in a sad state of deterioration after 1929 suffered a devastating fire a couple years ago. They are now in the process of a complete renovation.

Sealed Off by Barbara RossArriving on the island to complete prep for one of the last days’ clambakes of the season, Julia Snowden discovers a body underneath the woodpile.

But there’s more…

A dual plot pops up when the demolition crew at the mansion opens a room that had been totally enclosed with the inhabitant’s personal effects still in the wardrobe and drawers. OMG! I got totally sucked into the interior room next to the nursery, sealed off and hidden. I love story ARC twists like this! Even more delicious, a diary is discovered in the underwear drawer dating 1898.

Now you know Julia is going to have to work on the murder cause the main and most obvious suspect is her boyfriend’s brother, an ex-con. Oops! Forget thinking this will be a simple mystery. There are twists and obvious suspects, ticked off the list one by one. Still, I had suspicions, but wasn’t sure right up until the reveal. Then, oh yeah, we knew this wouldn’t be an easy solve and it involved an unpleasant trope.

Then the governess who wrote the diary–what in the world happened to her? It’s totally engaging with deep plunges into genealogy and web searches, gleaning names one by one.

As always with the Maine Clambake series, it’s easy to invest in the narrative and the delightful small fishing village, the lobstermen jargon, boating terms, and perspectives on weather and waves. You can smell the salt air and crave those fresh dishes. (YES! Fresh is a whole different kettle of fish! One of our fond memories is the breakdown of the old VW bus we had full of Pacific crab. What could we do? Waiting for help, we gorged on fresh crab!) Anyway, the Snowden family has such a history and calls on one of their oldest for this one, sharing memories of the mansion, delightful foods (recipes at the end of the book) and descriptions of the colorful northern state.

The conclusion draws both plots to a satisfying close, neatly tying loose ends, except one: Julia’s boyfriend…stay tuned.

I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley and was thrilled to get another Maine Clambake mystery to read and review. Recommended for any who enjoy an immersive location, interesting characters, and complex but satisfying plots.

Book Details:

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

  • ISBN-10:1496717953
  • ISBN-13:978-1496717955
  • ASIN: B07Q7X57MG

Print Length: 256 pages
Publication Date: December 31, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Sealed Off+Add to Goodreads
Barbara Ross - authorThe Author: Barbara Ross is the author of the Maine Clambake Mysteries and the Jane Darrowfield Mysteries. Her books have been nominated for multiple Agatha Awards for Best Contemporary Novel and have won the Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction. Barbara’s Maine Clambake novellas are included along with stories by Leslie Meier and Lee Hollis in three holiday anthologies from Kensington Publishing. Barbara and her husband live in Portland, Maine.

[Goodreads] Barbara Ross is the author of seven Maine Clambake Mysteries. The eighth, Sealed Off, will be released in December 2019. Her novellas featuring Julia Snowden are included along with stories by Leslie Meier and Lee Hollis in the anthologies Eggnog MurderYule Log Murder and Haunted House Murder.

Jane Darrowfield, Professional Busybody, the first book in a new mystery series, was released in June 2019.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

The Ghost of Christmas Past Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries (Book 8.5) by Angie Fox – a #BookReview #Paranormal #cozy

[Amazon] “*A ‘between the books’ holiday story you don’t want to miss!”

The Ghost of Christmas Past

Book Blurb:

Southern girl Verity Long needs a Christmas miracle…

Verity is ready to deck the halls, jingle some bells, and maybe, just maybe have a merry Christmas with her boyfriend’s stuffy family. Truly, if she doesn’t extend the proverbial olive branch to the overbearing Wydells, she’s afraid she’ll hit them over the head with it.

But when her boyfriend’s mother pulls a shocking stunt, Verity finds herself with a big decision to make. And if that’s not enough, there’s an unexpected guest at her door. It’s the ghost of the woman who helped rescue Verity’s pet skunk three years ago that very night. And now she’s there to change Verity’s life as well.

My Review

Definitely wasn’t prepared for this one, borrowed heavily from one of our favorite Christmas classics. I was into the ghost of Christmas present before it hit my forehead with an ah ha moment. Oh, DUH! I get it!

The Ghost of Christmas Past by Angie FoxVerity Long discovered she set off a force by accident that has introduced her to the shadow world through Frankie, now her resident ghost. She is getting pretty good with this ghost stuff, but can’t predict their visits or needs. This last one helped rescue an animal that Verity is still caring for and requests help with another animal in serious danger. She reluctantly agrees as she’s already had a day of it.

Getting ready for a Christmas party at her boyfriend’s house, Verity receives a rather shocking gift. The Wydell’s have been a long-established family in the area and she’s sweet on the middle child Ellis now but feels it’s time to draw a line with his mother. Hopefully, it’s not the equivalent of burning the bridge to her sweety, but that’s the rub, huh?

Perhaps having it out with Virginia Wydell was not the best way to handle the situation on Christmas Eve and she opts out of the party. She’ll go instead to rescue the endangered animal. It’s there she gets another shocker that’ll force her to rethink her handling of the former situation.

I really enjoyed the way in which the situation was handled, making for a sweet resolution. This is a shorty, meant to augment between full novels and is simple and easy enough to read as a standalone. Fast, fun delightful read for the season with the theme of friendship, family, reconciliation, and that touch of romance. Frankie, as a former ghost, is a great support character, and Virginia, the bitter, nasty, crotchety antagonist is appropriately hateful.

I was given this digital download by the publisher through NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended to any who enjoys a modern take on a beloved classic.

His Review

Dickens meets the Ghost Whisperer in this Christmas frolic! Verity is a young lady saddled with the ability to communicate with the dead while having a potential future mother-in-law from hell. She is also an animal lover at heart and puts up with a spirit named Frankie who uses her for his own ends.

Add in a potential future husband who is totally controlled by a very vengeful mother and you have the basis of a story. Verity being able to communicate with the spirit world is called upon by many of the “disturbed or incomplete spirits” who want favors from her for their relatives.

A surprise gift from her potential mother-in-law adds fuel to the situation. I found the young lady both strong of spirit and short on will power. The combination makes for an entertaining short read that I could recommend to anyone who wants to retreat from reality. Associate Reviewer - C E Williams

The book is easy to read and entertaining. I would suggest it for young ladies or brides to be. 4.5/5 stars CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Mystery, Paranormal, Ghost Stories
Publisher: Moose Island Books

  • ISBN-10:1939661617
  • ISBN-13:978-1939661616
  • ASIN: B07XPGBZ1L

Print Length: 152 pages
Publication Date: November 29, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Ghost of Christmas Past

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Angie Fox - authorThe Author: New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Angie Fox writes sweet, fun, action-packed mysteries. Her characters are clever and fearless, but in real life, Angie is afraid of basements, bees, and going upstairs when it is dark behind her. Let’s face it. Angie wouldn’t last five minutes in one of her books.

Angie is best known for her SOUTHERN SPIRITS™ mysteries, and for her ACCIDENTAL DEMON SLAYER books. Visit her at http://www.angiefox.com.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Bookmarked for Murder (Mystery Bookshop Book 5) by V M Burns – a #BookReview #cozymystery

Bookshop owner with aspirations to becoming a writer–clever plot manipulation.

Bookmarked for Murder by V M BurnsBook Blurb:

Amateur sleuth Samantha Washington’s shopping trip to Chicago takes a deadly detour when a man is murdered on her bus . . .
 
After some post-Christmas retail therapy in the Windy City, mystery bookshop owner and historical whodunit novelist Sam Washington is returning home to North Harbor, Michigan, on a chartered bus. With Nana Jo and her gal pals Irma, Dorothy, and Ruby Mae from Shady Acres Retirement Village along for the ride, it’s a lively trip. But one passenger is not so lively—a gentleman Irma befriended is found dead in his seat after an unscheduled stop. The ladies immediately shift gears to find out who punched his ticket, while Sam slips into the driver’s seat to make sure Nana Jo and her crew steer clear of fatal conclusions . . .

My Review:

Samantha (Sam) Washington is returning to North Harbor, Michigan with her Nana Jo and her cadre of Shady Acres Retirement Village characters after a lovely post-Christmas excursion to Chicago. Unfortunately, the man who decided to come along with Irma and the others is found murdered following a rest stop on the way.

Bookmarked for Murder by V M BurnsSam, the mystery bookshop owner, is also an aspiring writer and she often slips into author mode to continue her London-based historical mystery manuscript. I’d forgotten that these narratives involved a mystery within a mystery, but quickly became acclimated to the “heads up” signal and it proves to be a fun little ditty within the main whodunit. Sam is seeing Frank Patterson, a budding romance, and evolving in an unhurried way. She has two small poodles at home beginning to show signs of aging.

Sam is really coming along in development. I enjoyed her more in this particular entry to the series, although I wondered a number of times how she could be gone from her bookshop so much. Nana Jo is a major support character, frequently stealing the show, but is a great strong and independent representative of her generation. The rest of the Shady Acres crew range in age, all seniors who exhibit a wide spread in life experiences and capabilities and all contribute to solving the crime.

The antagonist is not too difficult to guess, although the motive would remain elusive. Sam’s historical mystery manages to reach a conclusion shortly before the main storyline draws to a close. The main storyline is peppered with humorous bits and observations. The author includes the best definition I’ve read of exactly what comprises a cozy mystery, which I found enlightening. The only problem I had was how the local officer in charge of investigation was painted.

I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley and enjoyed the read and review in return. Book 5 would function fine as a standalone and I believe my favorite so far. Recommended for any who enjoy a fast-paced, cleverly laid out, cozy

Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuth, Cozy Crafts and Hobbies, Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Kensington Books

  • ISBN-10:1496718313
  • ISBN-13:978-1496718310
  • ASIN: B07P9MR138

Print Length: 256 pages
Publication Date: November 26, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Bookmarked for Murder

+Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint Publishing: Four of Five Stars 4-stars

V M Burns - authorThe Author: V.M. Burns was born and raised in the Midwestern United States. She received a Bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University, a Master’s degree from the University of Notre Dame and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Seton Hill University. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Dog Writers Association of America, Thriller Writers International and a lifetime member of Sisters in Crime. She is the secretary of her local chapter of Sisters in Crime (The East Tennessee Smoking Guns) and the Education Grants Coordinator for the national Sisters in Crime. She currently resides in the warmer area of the U.S. with her two poodles. Readers can visit her website at http://www.vmburns.com

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Christmas on the Home Front (Land Girls #3) by Roland Moore – a #BookReview #historicalfiction

Another that my associate reviewer and I enjoyed, particularly as we binged on the Netflix series.

The Land Girls - Netflix

Book Blurb:

It’s the last Christmas of the war but will things ever be the same again?

Christmas 1944

Despite the food rationing and the bitterly cold weather, the land girls of Pasture Farm, Connie Carter, Joyce Fisher and Esther Reeves, are determined to celebrate this Christmas in style.  The fighting might still be raging, but they all hope this could be the last Christmas of this dreaded war.

But as the day approaches, word spreads in sleepy Helmstead that two German Airmen are on the run.  With everyone on high alert, the mood is tense and the women take no chances.  Until the German airmen find them…

Trapped at Pasture Farm with the enemy, the women are determined to find a way to freedom and overpower the airmen.  But it means risking everything…including their lives.

My Review

In checking out this book as my next possible read, I discovered that the storyline was actually a successful BBC series, The Land Girls. We were able to view on Netflix and were hooked. The novel doesn’t disappoint, and happily, though the series and author were new to me, #3 read just fine as a standalone. And, BONUS, it was fun to put a face (that of the actors in the series) to the characters in the book, Joyce, Connie, Esther, Iris, and Finch.

The Land Girls by Roland MooreWhile the main character is Joyce Fisher, there are a number of well-developed support characters that comprise the Woman’s Land Army stationed at Pasture Farm. It doesn’t take long before you get to know each, their strengths and weaknesses, and the particular position they hold at the farm. The Land Girls have been created to supplement the loss of farm support and help provide food supplies. They have learned to manage with shortages and been creative in continuing the work necessary to aid in the war effort.

This entry to the series has the reader looking at Christmas 1944 and the witness of a German plane shot down not far from the farm. Too close, in fact. Joyce and Esther have been left at the farm during the Christmas countdown, the others scattered, and find themselves face-to-face with two desperate German airmen. The tension ramps up quickly as the men try to connect with sympathizers to collect and get them back home.

The farm is near Lady Hoxley’s Estate, where she is housing an American Army unit and an interim hospital in a branch of her mansion. I believe the farm is on her land, with perhaps Finch providing management, but not completely clear if he doesn’t own the farm. Still, Lady Hoxley keeps tab on the girls and lends support where she can.

The story jumps timelines, backtracking to an appropriately revealing scene with that point of view and then skips back, perhaps with a different character and replaying the scene to bring the two back to the same point in time. It can be just a bit confusing at first but serves to provide a full picture.

I was given this digital download by the publisher through NetGalley and was totally thrilled to have the opportunity to read and review. I thoroughly enjoyed the book (as well as the TV series) and heartily recommend to all who enjoy historical fiction. Whether it’s fiction or not, there is still so much to be learned from the “greatest generation.”

His Review

Christmas on the Home Front by Roland MooreThe scene is World War II and Britain is in its’ darkest hours. Everyone in the country pitches in for the war effort. City girls retreat to the farms to replace young men and boys sent off to war and assist in planting and harvesting.

Mr. Moore develops the characters as delightful, energetic and hard-working farm hands. Add to that the always present small-town gossips and busy-bodies and you have a very entertaining mix. Enemy aviators downed in the English countryside add danger and flavor to this tale.

Collaborators during WW II were present in France as the French underground. English helping the Germans were quite unusual and unexpected. Add foreign troops assisting the British from many different countries and you have a complete montage of love, heartbreak, intrigue and despair wrapped up in a daily struggle.

The young women are very naïve and vulnerable. Mix in lonesome foreign troops and escaping foreign airmen and you have a very volatile mix. Moore continually weaves humanity into his story. One almost had sympathy for the downed enemy airmen. However, their duty to escape and get back to their units made them less than sympathetic characters. Associate Reviewer - C E Williams

These books have been made into a TV series and I enjoyed them. But reading the book gives one a much broader appreciation for the trials suffered by all those involved in the WWII conflict. Set aside time, you will not want to put the book down. 5/5 CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: 20th Century Historical Romance, Small Town & Rural Fiction, War Fiction, TV Movie & Game Tie-In Fiction, Family Saga
Publisher: One More Chapter

  • ISBN-10:0008204454
  • ISBN-13:978-0008204457

ASIN: B07S47KQNV
Print Length: 273 pages
Publication Date: November 14, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Christmas on the Home Front
+Add to Goodreads 

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4.5-stars

The Author: Roland Moore is an award-winning series creator and scriptwriter working in a wide range of genres for film and television in the UK, America, and China.

He created the BBC1 returning period drama series, LAND GIRLS and he was recently the Head Writer on HUMANS for Endemol Shine China and Croton Media. HUMANS is the first sci-fi drama for Chinese television. Roland storylined the series (based on the AMC/C4 series), wrote six episodes and managed a team of UK writers through various drafts.

His children’s feature film 2:HRS recently received its theatrical premiere in the UK. He has also been commissioned to write a wartime spy drama for Jack Huston and his dystopian police series, THE LAST COP, has been optioned by Black Box Media.

He has written extensively for Big Finish writing original audio dramas for their DOCTOR WHO and SURVIVORS ranges. Other credits include SUMMER CAN WAIT (feature), RASTAMOUSE, SMACK THE PONY, DOCTORS, MAN STROKE WOMAN and PETER RABBIT. Find Roland Moore at the following links:

Twitter: @RolandMooreTV
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/landgirlstvbook
http://www.rolandmoore.tv

©2019 V Williams V Williams

The Land Girls photo attribute: Netflix

The Other People: A Novel by C J Tudor – a #BookReview #Thriller

English author has hit another out of the ballpark ” from the acclaimed author of The Chalk Man and The Hiding Place.”

The Other People by C J TudorBook Blurb:

 [from Goodreads] She sleeps, a pale girl in a white room . . .

Three years ago, Gabe saw his daughter taken. In the back of a rusty old car, covered in bumper stickers. He was driving behind the car. He watched her disappear. But no one believes him. Most people believe that his daughter and wife are dead. For a while, people believed that Gabe was responsible.

Three years later and Gabe cannot give up hope. Even though he has given up everything else. His home, his job, his old life. He spends his days and nights traveling up and down the motorway, sleeping in his camper van in service stations, searching for the car that took her. Searching for his daughter.

Katie spends a lot of her life in service stations, working as a waitress. She often sees Gabriel, or ‘the thin man’ as she has nicknamed him. She knows his story. She feels for him because Katie understands what it’s like to lose a loved one. Nine years ago, her father was murdered. It broke her family apart. She hasn’t seen her oldest sister since the day of the funeral; the day she did something terrible.

Fran and her daughter, Alice, put in a lot of miles on the motorway. Not searching. But running. Trying to keep one step ahead of the people that want to hurt them. Because Fran knows the truth. She knows what really happened to Gabe’s daughter. She knows who is responsible. And she knows that if they ever find them, they’re dead.

My Review:

When I see as much buzz as I saw for the previous two C J Tudor books and noticed this one available for request on NetGalley, you know I had to bite. Really? This is only her third book? Each a standalone? This is one seriously chilling novel with a prologue that has your teeth jangling almost immediately.

Where do I start?

The Other People by C J TudorIs it a thriller? A mystery? Vigilante Justice? An eye for an eye. Bible: Chapter and Verse. But wait–isn’t there a touch of the supernatural? Whatever it is, it’s a stunning, exciting, blast of a read and once started very difficult to put down. Start with a cuppa–you’ll need the edge.

There are several threads, the main one being protagonist Gabe. This man is so well developed you want to get out your army boots and give him a swift kick. But then, he’s been through the worst that life can offer, the savage death of his wife Jenny and daughter, Izzy. Then why does he insist Izzy is alive? He has been searching for her ever since that night. His grief is palpable, all-consuming.

And there is Katie, a waitress. She can sympathize with Gabe as she too has experienced the horrible, senseless death–that of her beloved father. And the inevitable breakdown of her family. Kate is an empathetic support character, struggling as she is to care for her two children, solving a childcare problem by working graveyard. It is at her service station restaurant where she often sees Gabe, a motorist stopping weekly on his daughter-seeking mission.

Fran and her daughter Alice are running. It’s a frantic existence, one she is aware that is wringing on Alice. It’s not fair–Alice is so young. She’s been traumatized and exhibits anxious and unusual behavior.

And lastly, there is this other girl, quiet, kept in perpetuity in a sterile white room with the machines and the nurse.

As the author spoon-feeds you little bits and the storyline begins to build and coagulate, it also builds a dread, a heart-thumping rise in blood pressure. The scenarios switch from POV to POV, each creating another building block exposing again a raw truth. A lie by the sin of omission? Secrets held tight–they all have them–loathe to expose any to light.

The reader is led helplessly through each thread looking for the one that pulls them all together. Who are The Other People. Can they be exposed? Is there any way Gabe will find his daughter or peace? The sheer complexity begins to wear on you. The confusion released with each new revelation, blinding twists, becomes absolutely gripping, page-turning entertainment.

The frenetic conclusion, while satisfying, introduced another shocking revelation–but the full reveal bordered on TMI, mildly gratuitous. Otherwise, the whole ride through this book was one very exciting charge into a stunning third effort. I can’t compare this to the others as this was my first experience with the author, but I can assure you, most be my last.

I was given this digital download by the publisher through NetGalley and was thrilled to have the opportunity to read and review. Wholeheartedly recommended for any who loves an engaging well-plotted thriller.

Book Details:

Genre: Domestic Thrillers, Kidnapping Thrillers
Publisher: Ballantine Books

  • ISBN-10:059315343X
  • ISBN-13:978-0593153437
  • ASIN: B07R6J4N96

Print Length: 288 pages
Publication Date: January 28, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Other People

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

C J Tudor - authorThe Author: C. J. Tudor was born in Salisbury and grew up in Nottingham, where she still lives with her partner and young daughter.

She left school at sixteen and has had a variety of jobs over the years, including trainee reporter, radio scriptwriter, shop assistant, ad agency copywriter and voiceover.

In the early nineties, she fell into a job as a television presenter for a show on Channel 4 called Moviewatch. Although a terrible presenter, she got to interview acting legends such as Sigourney Weaver, Michael Douglas, Emma Thompson and Robin Williams. She also annoyed Tim Robbins by asking a question about Susan Sarandon’s breasts and was extremely flattered when Robert Downey Junior showed her his chest.

While writing the Chalk Man she ran a dog-walking business, walking over twenty dogs a week as well as looking after her little girl.

She’s been writing since she was a child but only knuckled down to it properly in her thirties. Her English teacher once told her that if she ‘did not become Prime Minister or a best-selling author’ he would be ‘very disappointed.’

The Chalk Man was inspired by a tub of chalks a friend bought for her daughter’s second birthday. One afternoon they drew chalk figures all over the driveway. Later that night she opened the back door to be confronted by weird stick men everywhere. In the dark, they looked incredibly sinister. She called to her partner: ‘These chalk men look really creepy in the dark . . .’

She is never knowingly over-dressed. She has never owned a handbag and the last time she wore heels (twelve years ago) she broke a tooth.

She loves The Killers, Foo Fighters and Frank Turner. Her favourite venue is Rock City.

Her favourite films are Ghostbusters and The Lost Boys. Her favourite authors are Stephen King, Michael Marshall and Harlan Coben.

She is SO glad she was a teenager in the eighties.

She firmly believes that there are no finer meals than takeaway pizza and champagne, or chips with curry sauce after a night out.

Everyone calls her Caz.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

No Man’s Land (An FBI K-9 Novel Book 4) by Sara Driscoll – a #BookReview

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5-stars 

I love it when I learn something new and this was an eye-opener! A shared review, my associate and I agreed on this one!

No Man's Land by Sara DriscollBook Blurb:

Special Agent Meg Jennings and her search-and-rescue dog are on the trail of a killer hiding where others fear to tread…

For Meg Jennings and her K-9 companion, Hawk, exploring the ruins of a deserted building is an exciting way to sharpen their skills without the life-or-death stakes they face as part of the FBI’s Human Scent Evidence Team. But deep in the echoing rooms of an abandoned asylum, Hawk finds the body of an elderly woman. The victim couldn’t have made her way into the derelict building on her own. Before forty-eight hours pass, Meg learns of more cases of elders found dead in neglected urban structures.

There’s not enough evidence to link the deaths—yet. But Meg scents a pattern, and when she gets word of another senior gone missing, she and Hawk don’t hesitate. Meg is sure a murderer is hunting the elderly, and she can prove it if she can just find a connection. It will take the expert coordination of her whole team, along with help from Clay McCord and Todd Webb, to uncover the means, let alone a motive. And to stop someone who has operated in the dark for so long, Meg will need to risk more than she has to give . . .

My Review

No Man's Land by Sara DriscollI was definitely due to having a major, knock-my-socks off novel and this one rang all the bells. A new author and series for me, Book 4 won’t be the last. Love it when I can learn something new and No Man’s Land teaches while it winds a heart-racing mystery around a service animal, search and rescue mystery. Is it Hawk’s story (a black lab) or is it Meg Jennings, part of the FBI’s Human Scent Evidence Team that takes center stage? She is larger than life–and she goes where few men venture.

Meg is off on a weekend, looking to expand Hawk’s skills in a new and exciting hobby; exploring the ruins of abandoned buildings, long since deserted, left to decay and crumble into life-threatening ruins. Who does that? When we were in Goodyear (Arizona), there was an abandoned structure that absolutely haunted your vision. The Phoenix Trotting Park, short-lived, and deserted for fifty-one years was finally demolished in 2017. I found it endlessly fascinating, but would never have attempted to explore it. (I noted it in my Freaky Friday post in 2016.)

Goodyear Phoenix Trotting Park

Apparently, it’s a thing though. Who Knew? Urbex. That is, urban explorers. The more massive, the better, I guess. Industrial, medical, commercial. And Meg’s exploration is cut short when Hawk alerts to a (deceased) human presence. Whaaa??

I loved the way the author intertwines fact with fiction, weaving little details not only about the buildings and the people who do that sort of thing, but filling the fast-moving novel with obvious technical expertise, extensive research, and a wonderful cast of characters. Meg is well-developed and the support characters all mesh together in a practical and methodical exercise of search and rescue, containment of the scene.

The mystery of the killings goes deeper, much much deeper, and introduces you to a whole new subject. There are some things you wish you didn’t know but learn you did and in quick immersive fashion.

The novel hooks you immediately and gathers speed in an impossible to put down race to the conclusion–and a heart-stopping climax. This can be read as a standalone but I’m seriously sorry I missed the first three and I’ll look forward to the next one out.

I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley and thrilled to have the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for any who enjoy a gasp-producing thriller. This is one you must not miss! Trust me.

His Review

There are many reasons for murder. This author has coupled FBI profiling with urban exploring. Add search dogs and this is a novel not to be put down. Search and rescue added to the mix and then an obscure reason for the crime.

The heroine, Meg Jennings is an associate with the Federal Bureau of Investigation who stumbles across a body on a weekend adventure with an experienced urban explorer.  She and her dog Hawk are up to their necks in this mystery. I appreciate how the author develops the plot as the novel matures. Associate Reviewer - C E Williams

It always comes down to money, doesn’t it. Trying to make a shortcut in life’s journey trips him up. Enjoy the ride as this author takes you on a serious journey through the conclusion. She does not disappoint. 5/5 stars CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Serial Killer, Cozy Animal, Police Procedurals
Publisher: Kensington Books

  • ISBN-10:1496722477
  • ISBN-13:978-1496722478
  • ASIN: B07P9MMX96

Print Length: 304 pages
Publication Date: November 26, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: No Man’s Land
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Sara Driscoll - authorThe Author: Sara Driscoll is the pen name of Jen J. Danna and Ann Vanderlaan, authors of the Abbott and Lowell Forensic Mysteries. Jen is an infectious disease researcher at a cutting edge Canadian university near Toronto, but loves to spend her free time writing the thrilling and mysterious. Ann lives in central Texas with five rescued pit bulls, including Kane, now a certified therapy dog. She also trains with Kane for competitive nose work. You can follow the latest news on the FBI K-9 Mysteries at saradriscollauthor.com

Phoenix Trotting Park attribution: Wikipedia

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Verse and Vengeance: A Magical Bookshop Mystery by Amanda Flower – a #BookReview

Wouldn’t you love to visit this most unusual bookshop!

Verse and Vengeance by Amanda FlowerBook Blurb:

With the help of Walt Whitman’s works, magical bookshop owner Violet Waverly puts her pedal to the metal to sleuth a bicycle-race murder that tests her mettle.

A bicycle race is not Charming Books proprietor Violet Waverly’s idea of a pleasant pastime. But police chief David Rainwater wheelie wants them to enter the Tour de Cascade as a couple, so she reluctantly consents.

The Tour de Cascade is the brainchild of Violet’s Grandma Daisy. The race is a fundraiser to build the Cascade Springs Underground Railroad Museum. But not everyone in this Niagara Region village supports the race. As if the bike race weren’t tiring enough, pesky private investigator Joel Redding is snooping around Charming Books. It takes all of Violet’s and Grandma Daisy’s ingenuity to keep Redding from discovering the shop’s magical essence–which communicates with Violet through books.

When Redding perishes in an accident during the race, David discovers that the brake line of the private eye’s bike was cut. Worse, Violet tops his list of suspects. As Emerson the tuxedo cat and resident crow Faulkner look on, Charming Books steers Violet to the works of Walt Whitman to solve the crime. But no other names ring a bell as culprits, and as David’s investigation picks up speed, Violet will have to get in gear to clear her name.

My Review:

Verse and Vengeance by Amanda FlowerProtagonist Violet Waverly is “Caretaker” of the magical birch tree located inside the Charming Books bookshop. Her grandmother, Daisy, also works in the bookshop when she is not fulfilling her duties as the new mayor of Cascade Springs. She has begun a project to provide an Underground Railroad Museum in the village hall. Also prominently featured are Faulkner the resident talking crow who lives in the branches of the tree and Emerson, the black and white tuxedo cat. The fourth in the series and my second, I’ve had no problem reading each entry as a standalone.

Grandma Daisy has urged both Violet and her boyfriend, police chief, David Rainwater, to ride in the Tour de Cascade, a major event meant to provide construction funds for her project, but before the ride is completed, Violet comes upon the fatal accident of private investigator Joel Redding. The shop’s magical “essence,” quietly deposits hints to her about the murder in the works by Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass.

Violet is still not completely confident of David and won’t divulge her secrets re the bookshop. There is one major perp which Violet steadfastly refuses to believe and works to get to the bottom of who and why. She is a no-nonsense, direct question type of amateur sleuth and there are twists and turns in this well-plotted mystery. The narrative proceeds at an even pace and the fictitious setting of the small tourist town near Niagara Falls is descriptive and inviting. Also, I enjoyed little bits of humor, i.e. “I swear the man could wax on about dryer lint.”

Birch tree However, poetry quotes from Whitman (not one of my favs) on a cell phone Kindle app are difficult to read and interrupt the flow. I’m still having difficulty imagining the interior with the tree (aka The Goddess Tree) and spiral staircase to a second-floor apartment. It’s a paranormal–must swallow some disbelief. There are elements that are not wholly explained in the surprising conclusion and as an ARC edit misses and a few detail contradictions.

I was granted this ebook download by the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read for my unbiased review. I am looking forward to Book 5 and recommend to all who enjoy an easy, fast cozy read with a touch of paranormal and romance.

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Animal Mysteries, Ghost Mysteries
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

  • ISBN-10:1643851519
  • ISBN-13:978-1643851518
  • ASIN: B07NTYQQM4

Print Length: 260 pages
Publication Date: To be released December 10, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Verse and Vengeance
 

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Three-point Five of Five Stars 3.5-stars

Amanda Flower - authorThe Author: Amanda Flower, a USA Today bestselling and Agatha Award-winning mystery author, started her writing career in elementary school when she read a story she wrote to her sixth grade class and had the class in stitches with her description of being stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel. She knew at that moment she’d found her calling of making people laugh with her words. Her debut mystery, Maid of Murder, was an Agatha Award Nominee for Best First Novel and her children’s mysteries, Andi Unexpected and Andi Under Pressure, were an Agatha Award Nominees for Best Children’s/YA Novel. Andi Unstoppable won the Agatha Award for Best Children’s/YA Novel 2015. Amanda is a former librarian living in northeast Ohio. Visit her at http://www.amandaflower.com

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Birch Tree Attribution: The Goddess Tree

A Cold Trail (Tracy Crosswhite Book 7) by Robert Dugoni – a #BookReview

It’s an unusual Tracy Crosswhite mystery away from her Seattle station and home and into a whole new and dangerous setting.

A Cold Trail by Robert DugoniBook Blurb:

The last time homicide detective Tracy Crosswhite was in Cedar Grove, it was to see her sister’s killer put behind bars. Now she’s returned for a respite and the chance to put her life back in order for herself, her attorney husband, Dan, and their new daughter. But tragic memories soon prove impossible to escape.

Dan is drawn into representing a local merchant whose business is jeopardized by the town’s revitalization. And Tracy is urged by the local PD to put her own skills to work on a new case: the brutal murder of a police officer’s wife and local reporter who was investigating a cold-case slaying of a young woman. As Tracy’s and Dan’s cases crisscross, Tracy’s trail becomes dangerous. It’s stirring up her own haunted past and a decades-old conspiracy in Cedar Grove that has erupted in murder. Getting to the truth is all that matters. But what’s Tracy willing to risk as a killer gets closer to her and threatens everyone she loves?

My Review:

Boy was I excited to see another of the Tracy Crosswhite series coming out! I’ve read several of Dugoni’s books, including one not in the Crosswhite series and enjoyed each one. While Book 7 may be read as a standalone, you might wish to begin with Book 1 to really get how each of the main characters has evolved to this point.

A Cold Trail by Robert DugoniIn A Cold Trail, Tracy is a new mom with a two-month-old (Daniella) still on maternity leave from Seattle while her attorney husband, Dan, has arranged for their return to their hometown of Cedar Grove to the former home of his parents while they are renovating their home in Seattle. Dan has taken on a client fighting the sale of his downtown business and building. Most of the others sold for a nominal price with the promise they would be completely rehabbed and brought up current codes with new dynamic owners.

But Tracy is barely getting acquainted with the nanny Dan arranged for help with the baby before she is approached by the former police chief to look into the death of a journalist and a former attorney turned PI. The young woman (the journalist) was investigating the cold case of a woman who was murdered more than twenty years previous. Putting her homicide detective hat back on has both disturbed Dan and Tracy as well, questioning her safety while leaving an infant at home.

The well-plotted storyline quickly divides between that of her investigation in the cold cases and Dan’s legal maneuvers with regard to the revitalization of the downtown area and the handling of the properties. The legal complexities get interesting and educational while the cold cases Tracy is working on beginning to worry the antagonist.

The cast of support characters shift somewhat with them being in Cedar Grove and in their stead are more support characters with lots of personality, full fleshed (Vic). The Irish nanny is super until deemed at risk and whisked away for safer climes. The reader gets that old mother’s conundrum, staying home or working away from her child (especially an infant and in this case in a hazardous profession) while the men are free to carry on with their careers with no public ramifications.

I like that Tracy is still, at heart, a strong, independent, and intelligent woman and skillful at her job. She can handle most any situation. If Dan didn’t think he wanted her working out of the house away from his baby, why then hire the nanny, who got awfully convenient. The narrative begins to swing back and forth between her cases and his, trading off in a melding or juxtaposition of timeline. Clever! The book hooks you in and holds the reader in a riveting and complicated tale through the great reveal, one you might have guessed, but still surprised.

Tracy working an active investigation, however, and expressing (two bottles) of breast milk for the nanny to use while she was off just didn’t ring true for me. (You might wish to revisit the issue of breastfeeding, Robert.)

I received this ARC digital download from the publisher through NetGalley and was thrilled for the opportunity to read and review. I really enjoy this series and greatly look forward to Book 8. Recommended for all mystery fans and I think you’ll also enjoy the courtroom tactics.

Book Details:

Genre: Police Procedurals, Women Sleuths, Murder
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
ISBN: 1542093228
ASIN: B07NXPN3B8
Print Length: 355 pages
Publication Date: February 4, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: A Cold Trail
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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five of Five Stars 4.5-stars

robert dugoniThe Author: Robert Dugoni is the critically acclaimed New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and #1 Amazon bestselling author of the Tracy Crosswhite police detective series set in Seattle, which has sold more than 5 million books worldwide. He is also the author of The Charles Jenkins espionage series, and the David Sloane legal thriller series.

His stand-alone novels include The 7th Canon, Damage Control, and the literary novel, The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell – Suspense Magazine’s 2018 Book of the Year, for which Dugoni’s narration won an AudioFile Earphones Award; as well as the nonfiction exposé The Cyanide Canary, a Washington Post Best Book of the Year. Several of his novels have been optioned for movies and television series.

Dugoni is the recipient of the Nancy Pearl Award for Fiction and the Friends of Mystery Spotted Owl Award for best novel set in the Pacific Northwest. He is also a two-time finalist for the International Thriller Award, the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction, the Silver Falchion Award for mystery, and the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award.

Robert Dugoni’s books are sold in more than twenty-five countries and have been translated into more than two dozen languages.

Visit his website at http://www.robertdugoni.com, and follow him on twitter @robertdugoni and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/AuthorRobertDugoni

©2019 V Williams V Williams

The Memories We Hide: Can you trust your memories? by Jodi Gibson

Can we indeed trust our memories, especially in the view of a tragic event?

The Memories We Hide by Jodi GibsonBook Blurb:

Laura Murphy thought she could, that was until she returned home.

When Laura returns home ten years after the death of her childhood sweetheart Ryan Taylor, her past begins to unravel and memories she’d long pushed aside begin to resurface.


Having trouble reconciling truth and memory, Laura reconnects with childhood friend Tom, to try and find closure, but Tom has issues of his own. Not only is he faced with the threat of losing his farm, but he is also hiding a secret that could change everything for them both.


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

 My Review:

Having fled her small town in her teen years following a tragic accident, Laura Murphy returns after ten years to be with her terminal mother. Returning, however, has begun to push powerful emotions stemming from the accident so long ago that ended the life of her boyfriend in the last week of their twelfth year.

The Memories We Hide by Jodi GibsonThe mind is forced sometimes to take heroic measures to shield the person of an event too horrendous to accept. And though Laura had spent those years steadfastly refusing to revisit the event, attempting to shove it out of her life has only resulted in confusion, her heart unsettled and unable to quell the feeling that the terrible memory is just beyond her reach and inability to resolve.

The debut of this author’s contemporary women’s fiction explores the problem of understanding and coming to peace with the past. Until those issues have been determined and resolution implemented, there can be no peaceful future.

The narrative tackles some major family matters, depression, friendships, young love and relationships that shape life as well as the crush of betrayal. There is a lot to sort through and the mystery of what happened is gradually revealed as Laura attempts to sift through the snatches of her memory to attain the truth–perhaps too difficult to bear.

It’s a heavy subject and the novel worked to create a small-town vibe, collective secrets slowly revealed. Inherent in the anguish, however, is the repetitive nature in the storytelling. There were times either the protagonist or support characters spilled into wringing emotional scenes. Laura is not as well-developed as she might be, and scenes flipped to reliving the moment during the school years sharing obscure details and YA angst.

Ryan Taylor, the lost love, is a character well-fleshed by Laura’s memories as well as a personal journal. Tom, a close childhood friend is most engaging and sympathetic but also possessed of closely held secrets.

The author waxed prose at times, with an interesting turn of phrase or description (“The rain formed a diagonal drizzle that slid slowly down the windowpane“), but I missed some investing into the small-town feel of the people. The sense of hopelessness and frustration in the depressed young interwove a powerful statement.

The climax came with a ring of disclosures almost shocking and one more far-reaching than you’d have guessed.

I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review. The conclusion is satisfying but the book would benefit from one more pass through an editor.  Recommended for those more inclined to emotional family struggles and women’s fiction.

Book Details:

Genre: Australian & Oceanian Literature, Small Town & Rural Fiction, Women’s Friendship Fiction

  • ISBN-10:0648551202
  • ISBN-13:978-0648551201
  • ASIN: B07VBCHJ53

Print Length: 260 pages
Publication Date: August 20, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Memories We Hide

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Rosepoint Publishing: 3.5 of Five Stars 3.5-stars

Jodi Gibson - authorThe Author: Jodi Gibson is an Australian author of women’s contemporary fiction. She writes in two genres – character-driven contemporary drama, and light-hearted rom-com.

Her contemporary dramas revolve around the lives of seemingly ordinary people and usually involve secrecy, lies, and a touch of mystery.

Her lighter style rom-coms are the perfect escape from the mundaneness of everyday life with characters who will make you laugh, cringe, and whom you’ll love spending time with.

When she’s not writing you’ll find Jodi managing our family bathroom renovation business, kid-wrangling, and tending to the many animals on her mini-farm in regional Australia. You’ll also often find her with my nose in a good book, or in the kitchen baking and dreaming of her next traveling adventure.

2019 V Williams V Williams

Paw of the Jungle (A Paw Enforcement Novel Book 8) by Diane Kelly – a #BookReview #cozydog

Enjoy this K-9 service dog, police procedural, cozy animal mystery series.

Paw of the Jungle by Diane KellyBook Blurb:

Police officer Megan Luz and her K-9 partner in crime, Brigit, are on all fours as they try to solve their latest Lone Star mystery.

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

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

My Review:

I was introduced to this author and series last year when I was lucky enough to receive The Long Paw of the Law (see my review here). Fort Worth Texas officer, Megan Luz is back with her K-9 service dog, Brigit. Her favorite guy, Seth, also has a service dog, a yellow Lab named Blast. Seth is a bomb squad technician and firefighter.

Paw of the Jungle by Diane KellyOnce again, the story is told in multiple POVs, one being protagonist Megan, along with Brigit, and the antagonist, dubbed The Poacher, whose elevator never reaches the top floor. There are a number of great support characters, along with Derek, the “Big Dick” Mackey (“The donkey wasn’t the only jackass here.”), and Detective Bustamente. There is a little romance, the (male) Lab adores Brigit, and the romance between Seth and Megan doesn’t over-power the well-plotted mystery.

In this series entry, a number of valuable rings go missing about the same time as a pair of Hyacinth macaws go missing from the zoo. It is nearing Christmas and the mall is full, people in a rush and Megan isn’t sure that the ring owners haven’t just misplaced them. But the birds? No way could the regular zoo staff have allowed them to escape. Unfortunately, it’s not long before a member of the antelope family similarly goes missing. And then it just gets worse.

In the meantime, the reader is treated to a wealth of information regarding laws of hunting in Texas, game ranches and animal poachers, as well as ex-con recidivism rates depending on available prison rehab classes. I love the chapters devoted to Brigit and her take on humans, as well as the little hints of reading dog body language. (In 2015, law enforcement officers in Texas began receiving training in canine encounters, reducing the number of unnecessary canine deaths.) And always, the author’s sense of humor shines through, often injecting thought-provoking LOL moments.

In regard to using online tutorials to learn welding: “I’d used online tutorials myself. But despite watching three makeup lessons, I’d yet to master the smoky eye.”

The narrative grabs your attention immediately and keeps a fairly steady pace with the exception of explanatory bits noted above. Megan is working hard to test for detective grade and in the meantime the series has built an engaging set of characters you can’t help investing in. Entertaining atmospheric setting coupled with an intelligent and anthropomorphic glimpse into the psyche of a magnificent, intelligent canine partner.

I was given this digital download by the publisher and NetGalley and was thrilled to have the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for any who enjoy K-9 associated books, police procedurals, suspense, and sweet and easy pseudo cozy. Looking forward to Book 9!

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Dog Mysteries, Police Procedurals
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
ISBN: 1250197376
ASIN: B07P9LPNHB
Print Length: 365 pages
Publication Date: To be released November 26, 2019
strong>Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Paw of the Jungle
+Add to Goodreads 

[Rosepoint Publishing: 4.5 of Five Stars 4.5-stars

Diane Kelly - authorThe Author: A former tax advisor, Diane Kelly inadvertently worked with white-collar criminals on multiple occasions. Not surprisingly, Diane decided self-employment would be a good idea. Her fingers hit the keyboard and thus began her Death and Taxes romantic mystery series. A graduate of her hometown’s Citizen Police Academy, Diane Kelly also writes the hilarious K-9 cop Paw Enforcement series and the new House Flipper cozy mystery series.

Diane’s books have been awarded the prestigious Romance Writers of America Golden Heart® Award and a Reviewers Choice Award.

Try a sample of Diane’s work, along with works by other cozy mystery authors, by checking out “Cozy Case Files” for free on Amazon Kindle.

Be the first to receive book news by signing up for Diane’s newsletter at http://www.dianekelly.com/ “Like” Diane on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/dianekellybooks. Follow her on Instagram at dianekellybooks and on Twitter @dianekellybooks.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Mercy Road by Ann Howard Creel – a #BookReview World War I #HistoricalFiction

I love books based on true stories–most especially about brave and trail-blazing women in our history.

Mercy Road by Ann Howard CreelBook Blurb:

Inspired by the true story of the World War I American Women’s Hospital, Mercy Road is a novel about love, courage, and a female ambulance driver who risks everything.

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

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

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

My Review:

Mercy Road by Ann Howard CreelThe beautiful opening paragraphs of this novel grabs your attention with the fleet-footed and magnificent Tornado, the Favier Farms prized breeding stallion. The small privately-owned ranch had a reputation built for race-winning Thoroughbreds and the French-born master of the manor a special knack for finding the best. Unfortunately, the fire that ensues levels the house he and his wife lovingly built and where Arlene and her brother Luc were raised. It is after the devastating fire that also kills her father that they discover the truth of the finances.

Desperate for employment to keep family and farm together, Arlene discovers an unusual opportunity for a woman in 1918. Owing to her father teaching her French and how to drive (GASP! In 1918?), Arlene will ship over to the last vestiges of the war in France to drive an ambulance for the American Women’s Hospital Services (an amazing story in itself).

American Women's Hospital Services
Two uniformed women with American Women’s Hospitals Services, ca 1919. (Courtesy of Drexel University, College of Medicine, Archives & Special Collections) as posted on the Women’s Voices for Change

What follows is a narrative into the war-torn country now covered with destruction and desolation, ashes and shell-pocked country roads. The group Arlene arrives with gradually begin the acclimation into the effort but it takes a huge toll on the women–warned but still not prepared for just how bad it would be.

Arlene is fairly well developed, although not all support characters are. She is quickly pursued by a US officer and rejects his advances according to rules, but he is having none of that. In the meantime, she discovers a childhood acquaintance likewise driving an ambulance, but he for the Army. A reigniting proceeds between herself and Jimmy and the ensuing romance pops back and forth into the storyline.

Written in first person through Arlene, the story is well-plotted and the pace even albeit slowed by the irrational interest of the narcissistic officer and the romance with Jimmy. I enjoyed the informational bits of the ambulance, the countryside, the people of France and her connection through her father, as well as the description of the many rescues. Also, the reader is reminded of the catastrophic flu that swept the globe as well as the rampant diseases brought about by such savage conditions. There was a rather obvious but surprising note regarding another of the crew and the climax came with sinking heart. Still, the author manages to weave a plausible concluding scenario with most loose threads neatly tied.

I received this ARC from the publisher through NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. It’s gratifying that the contribution of women’s war efforts are beginning to come to light. And BTW, I absolutely love that cover! Recommended for any who enjoy historical fiction, WWI narratives, and positive achievements by women.

Book Details:

Genre: World War I Historical Fiction, Historical European Fiction
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

  • ISBN-10:1542041988
  • ISBN-13:978-1542041980
  • ASIN: B07PWF72XG

Print Length: 278 pages
Publication Date: Happy Publication Day, November 19, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Mercy Road+Add to Goodreads

Ann Howard Creel - authorThe Author: Ann Howard Creel was born to write. By the age of ten she was writing daily in a diary, and by the age of twelve she had written an entire novel on a typewriter her father was getting ready to throw away. She worked for many years as a Registered Nurse, but the urge to write never left her. So after work and tending to children’s needs, she began to write again. During that time, she could have been found helping with math homework, making spaghetti, and writing a very drafty chapter all in the same night.

After first writing for children, she turned her attention to Historical Fiction. Her first novel for adults, THE MAGIC OF ORDINARY DAYS, was made into a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie on CBS. Her recent titles have been Kindle bestsellers and include WHILE YOU WERE MINE, THE WHISKEY SEA, THE UNCERTAIN SEASON, and her latest, THE RIVER WIDOW.

She now writes full-time. Ann’s main characters are always strong women facing high-stakes situations and having to make life-changing decisions. Her historical settings have ranged from Victorian-era Galveston to World War II in New York City. Her next novel, MERCY ROAD, to be published in 2019, takes readers to World War I France.

Besides writing, Ann loves old houses, new yoga routines, and all things cat. Contact her via her website http://www.annhowardcreel.com or oonnect on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authorannhowardcreel or Instagram: @annhowardcreel.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

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

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5-stars

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

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

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

His Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

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

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

Book Handover

+Add to Goodreads

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

©2019 V Williams V Williams

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

Fan Mail by Daryl Wood GerberBook Blurb:

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

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

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

+Add to Goodreads 

Daryl Wood Gerber - authorThe Author: SIGN UP FOR MY NEWSLETTER, which comes out once a month and with a new release
http://www.darylwoodgerber.com/contact.php#mailing-list

ALSO FOLLOW ME ON BOOKBUB: http://bookbub.com/authors/daryl-wood-gerber so you’ll get an alert whenever I have a new release, preorder, or discount!

Tasty, zesty, dangerous!

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

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

©2019  V Williams V Williams

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

My Short Stack for November!

Short Stack for November

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Currently available for request from NetGalley

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Attributes: Short Stack photo from Canva.com

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

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5-stars

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

The Angels' Share by Ellen CrosbyBook Blurb:

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

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

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

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

 My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

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

Print Length: 362 pages
Publication Date: Happy Publication Day November 5, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Angels’ Share
+Add to Goodreads 

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

©2019 V Williams V Williams

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

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

Bad Memory by Lisa GrayBook Blurb:

Quiet towns keep big secrets.

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

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

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

Rosepoint Publishing:  4.5 of Five Stars 4.5-stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2019 V Williams Blog author

 

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

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

Dogs Don't Lie by Lisa ShayBook Blurb:

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

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

His Thoughts

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Animal Mystery, Amateur Sleuth
Publisher: Indie

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

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

+Add to Goodreads 

Rosepoint Publishing:  4.5 Stars of Five Stars 4.5-stars

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

©2019 V Williams Blog author

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

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

Tracking Game by Margaret MizushimaBook Blurb:

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

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

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

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

 +Add to Goodreads

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

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

©2019 V Williams V Williams

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

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

Molded 4 Murder by J C Eaton

Book Details

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

Book Blurb

A view to a kiln …

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

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

My Review

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

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

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

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

His Review

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

+Add to Goodreads 

Giveaway

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

About the Author

Ann I. Goldfarb

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

James E. Clapp

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

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

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

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

Tour Participants:

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

October 15 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – SPOTLIGHT

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

October 16 – Reading Is My SuperPower – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

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

October 16 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT

October 17 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW

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

October 18 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

October 18 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

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

October 19 – Diane Reviews Books – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW 

October 19 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT

October 19 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

October 20 – A Blue Million Books – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

October 20 – Laura’s Interests – SPOTLIGHT

October 20 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

October 21 – Diary of a Book Fiend – REVIEW

October 21 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

October 22 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

October 22 – Cozy Up With Kathy – CHARACTER GUEST POST

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

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

©2019  V Williams V Williams

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

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

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

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

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

My Review:

Janis by Holly George-Warren

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

+Add to Goodreads

Book Details:

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

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

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

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

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

©2019 V Williams V Williams

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

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

#tbr - Janis: Her Life and Music

Janis: Her Life and Music by Holly George-Warren

Book Blurb:

Longlisted for the 2020 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence

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

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

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

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

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

+Add to Goodreads

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