I Jonathan: A Charleston Tale of the Rebellion by George WB Scott – A #BookReview – #historicalfiction #TuesdayBookBlog

“The book is pro-South, but not pro-Confederate.” …

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars

5 stars

Book Blurb:

NEW CIVIL WAR NOVEL SEES CONFLICT THROUGH NEW EYES

First-time novelist George WB Scott debuts a novel that offers a thrilling glimpse of Civil War Charleston through the eyes of a newcomer from Boston.

Readers join the main character of “I Jonathan, A Charleston Tale of the Rebellion” on his journey as a young man, marooned in a strange city just as the Civil War begins. His relationships with working men and women, slaves, merchants, planters, spies, inventors, soldiers, sweethearts and musicians tell the story of a dynamic culture undergoing its greatest challenge. Scott’s novel shows the arguments and trials of a wealthy cosmopolitan community preparing to fight a nation superior in manpower and arms.

“I wanted to tell a personal story built on the framework of history,” says Scott, “and the real story is Charleston’s challenges and experience in the war.

“The book is pro-South, but not pro-Confederate. It’s anti-war and anti-slavery. I wanted to go beyond stock characters and themes. I hope this encourages readers to reflect on a people who lived through a fundamental change of their society.”

His Review:

This is a magnificent civil war saga as told by a non-combatant. I was immediately immersed in the confusion and blockade that was the conflict between the North and the South during the American Civil War. Mr. Scott has distilled a myriad of letters into an eye-opening tale of survival during the conflict. I was swept away into another time and developed a kinship to the protagonist, Mr. I. Jonathan Vander.

Raised by a doting mother who falls ill and dies, Jonathan is sent to France by his father after an affair with a younger step-sister. Then his father falls ill and he is sent a bank draft to cover the voyage back to his boyhood home in Boston. The return voyage is interrupted by a rogue wave and Jonathan winds up in Charleston due to needed ship repairs. He misses the boat back to Boston and now being low on funds he is forced to stay in Charleston.

The relationship between the rich and poor in Charleston is apparent throughout the conflict. The rich land owners were able to escape the low country and retreat to the mountains to be cooler during the summers. The plight of the African American slaves was a bit different than expected. They too had a caste system which separated them into very distinct groups. Those that were freed were able to own businesses and controlled other groups of slaves. Jonathan being destitute was hired by one of these freed slaves. This entrepreneur dealt in all kinds of commodities and Jon was able to move easily through the area to collect and deliver the goods.

I was particularly intrigued by the blockade running enterprise of some of the traders. Avoiding Yankee blockades, the blockade runners were able to go to the Bahamas or Nassau and procure everything needed to make life a little more comfortable in the blockaded city. Jon is constantly harassed by the Confederate military because he was young and of the age of conscription. He was carrying papers which detailed his reasons for not being in the military. Being a Boston-Yankee, he avoided fighting with either side but simply fought to survive.

His relationship with a young woman that he saved from a fire is particularly moving. Their near poverty lives came together in comfort during this tumultuous time. Disease was always prevalent and yellow fever and sleeping sickness played a part in everyone’s lives. It seemed nobody was immune from the heartbreak and sorrow that living in marshlands during the summer can bring.

The development of instruments of war is also well described. The ballistics of the weapons and the distances they could shoot with accuracy amazed me. Thirty-five pound cannon balls lobbed into Charleston with various incendiary devices seemed particularly cruel. Simply starting a fire in this timbered city could wipe out major portions of the city and leave inhabitants destitute. This became an everyday event in the latter parts of the war.

CE Williams

Give yourself a block of time to allow yourself to be taken back to this era. It’s frighteningly eye-opening. The relationships of the inhabitants and their struggles are a rewarding infusion of knowledge. The tale is an immersion into another time and place. 5 stars CE Williams

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. These are my honest and unbiased thoughts.

Book Details:

Genre: Kindle eBooks (Historical Fiction)

Publisher: Archetype Imprints

ASIN : B08GH3YPJ1

Print Length: 442 pages

Publication Date: August 21, 2020

Source: Direct author request

Title Link: I Jonathan [Amazon]

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George WB Scott-author

The Author: George WB Scott was born in Stuart, Florida where he lived until he went to college in North Carolina. He graduated from Appalachian State University and went into television news in Tennessee. He is now an independent video producer and lives in Knoxville with his wife Mary Leidig.

His childhood memoir “Growing Up In Eden” explores experiences of his youth and of Martin County during the 1960s and 1970s. It includes more than a hundred photographs, mostly taken by the author just before the 2004 hurricanes, and has a CD with a screensaver of photographs and music by Gatlinburg acoustic guitarist Bill Mize.

In autumn of 2020 he will release his first novel, “I Jonathan, a Charleston Tale of the Rebellion.” More information is available on my blog at http://www.southernrocket.net/i-jonathan

(c) 2020 CE Williams – V Williams

V Williams

Mordecai’s Ashes (Larsson Investigations Book 1) by Alana Crane – a #BookReview

Your next PI/Crime Fiction–#mustread

Book Blurb:

Karl Larsson is an out of work roughneck, home from the oil fields of Alberta and back on the coast for the first time in years. His wife has left him and his future looks bleak. Becoming a detective is the last thing on his mind, but when Karl learns that he has inherited his estranged grandfather’s agency he decides to take a chance.

He doesn’t expect much action in a city as small as Victoria, BC, but Karl soon finds that Victoria is only the base of operations. His grandfather’s business took him across the length and breadth of Vancouver Island, and the Island is a world unto itself, with a culture all its own.

When a reporter from a national news agency asks him to investigate a drug running operation on the Island, Karl is drawn into a dangerous game. Finding the truth sounds simple in theory, but as Karl delves deeper he begins to realize that more than his life may be at stake.

My Review:

You’ll excuse me if I’m at a loss for words—still sniggering, shaking my head, totally but happily surprised with that little twist at the end of the book and enjoying that afterglow of a hoot of a book that has me amazed this is a debut author.

Karl Larsson is the youngest of his siblings and at the moment out of a job, out of a marriage, and out of luck. He’s currently shuffling aimless when he gets a call from his sister that his aunt Matilda passed away and she’d appreciate it if he would help his mother clear her rental. Following the funeral and reading of her will, he is dumbfounded to discover he has inherited his grandfather’s (Mordecai’s) building and detective agency in Victoria, BC.

He’s young. What does he know? He’s naïve, lacks a lot of street knowledge, but the building and the agency gives him a direction. No license? No prob. What he is is a sympathetic protagonist, an underdog you’ll root for immediately. His head is on straight—he’s a good kid just trying to get along in this world. You can’t help but love him.

Then comes his cousin, Kelsey—she’s only 19—smart as a whip, intuitive, ingenious. She is clever, resourceful, and enormously engaging. You might have grudging respect for her, but she earns it—time and again when she proves an invaluable resource for Karl. You can’t help but love her.

The light-sided search and serve side of the detective agency moves along until a journalist (a former client of Mordecai) comes with a very serious investigation and soon Karl is heavy into the case with the initial support of Kelsey, which quickly turns grim.

The author carefully introduces the circumstances building her characters background, her main characters, and a well-plotted drug running operation into a fast-paced and immersive storyline. I enjoyed the description of the island and the little coastal BC communities. She builds sympathy for Karl; he’s naïve and a quick study, but the reader becomes fearful for him as he succeeds getting deeper into a situation that will not be easy getting out of. Kelsey speaks her mind with knee-jerk reaction and the reader is quickly drawn to her creativity and smarts. She is a strong co-protagonist. Can Karl keep Kelsey safe, much less himself?

The narrative cruises into the conclusion and the dust settles quietly, until little plot points, threads, begin tying off. There were questions, issues to be resolved (after all, this is Book 1) and the reveal at the end is one that will elicit a chuckle. My only problem is the edit misses—but the story and characters really win the day. Brilliant twist. Master storyteller. I’m so looking forward to Book 2!

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. These are my honest thoughts—loved it.

Rosepoint Publishing: Just Shy of Five 

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Book Details:

Publisher: Big Tree Press

Genre: Private Investor Mysteries, Crime Fiction

ASIN : B089LG7BB9

Print Length: 260 pages

Publication Date: June 1, 2020

Source: Publisher and author request

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

Arlana Crane - author

The Author: Arlana Crane is a fourth generation Vancouver Islander, currently living in Calgary, Alberta with her husband James. She loves to read, write, knit, play the ukulele and attend the theatre. Summer vacations will find her back on her beloved Island, enjoying the ocean and spoiling her niece and nephews. For more information please visit arlanawrites.com.

(C)2020 V Williams

V Williams

Your next crime fiction.

Back Bay Blues (An Andy Roark Mystery Book 2) by Peter Holt – a #BookReview – Hard-Boiled Mystery

Happy Publishing Day!

‘“…we gotta di di mau. Come on, bud, we gotta go.”… He was right. We had places to go. Things to do. Our war wasn’t over yet.’

 Book Blurb:

Theft, greed, and corruption collide in Peter Colt’s hard-edged new mystery featuring Vietnam veteran turned Boston P.I. Andy Roark.
 
Back Bay Blues by Peter Colt1985, Boston. In Vietnam, Andy Roark witnessed death and horrifying destruction. But for the soldiers who made it back alive, there are other casualties of war—the loss of tenderness, trust, and connection. Still feeling adrift and unsettled, Andy has struck up a welcome friendship with Nguyen, a Vietnamese restaurant owner. Sipping beer and trading memories after the restaurant shutters, Andy gradually learns of the extraordinary lengths Nguyen took to flee Saigon shortly after its fall.

Andy’s latest case, too, has ties to Vietnam. His new client, a beautiful and enigmatic young Vietnamese woman, hires him to investigate her uncle’s murder. Andy discovers a connection to a group of refugees determined to overthrow the communist government. Led by the sinister Colonel Tran, the Committee is extorting local business owners to raise funds. The search for more answers takes Andy from Boston to Washington D.C. to San Francisco, and deep into a web of political and personal betrayal.

Somewhere near the heart of this mystery is a connection to Nguyen’s daring escape from Saigon. Decades may have passed, but sometimes the price of freedom twists allies into enemies, loyalties into betrayals, and truth into a web of lies . . .

My Review:

Yes, of course this premise would appeal to me and the CE (who has not yet read it), as we were married when the CE joined the Navy. So while he did not set foot on the soil of Viet Nam certainly was embroiled in a support effort. (I remember the Bob Hope tour that came to Taiwan when we were there.) Anyway…

Back Bay Blues by Peter ColtThe protagonist, Andy Roark is a Vietnam veteran of the Special Forces, Recon. He was perfect in his role and good at what he did. He was a survivor. The problem was, he saw a lot of his buddies die and ended with survivor’s guilt as well as a good bit of PTSD.

Arriving back home, no real family to speak of, he worked a short time in the Boston PD and decided it was worse than the Army. So he became a private investigator and no one to tell him what to do. It’s been sufficient for him until he is hired by a young Vietnamese American woman to find out who killed her uncle.

His first look into the matter discovers there was a journalist in Boston killed within two days of her uncle. There is a locally strong Vietnamese community apparently strongly divided politically and problems have festered between the two factions.

The deeper he gets into the investigation, the more serious attempt on his life, but at this point, the pit bull in him comes out and he will NOT drop it until he knows the whole story. The corruption appears to spread fingers beyond the community.

It is a complex and well-plotted narrative, fast-paced. I enjoyed the author’s sense of humor, which intermittently pulled at the seriousness of the storyline. There was a lot of knowledge and expertise expressed, explanation of materiels. Remember, this is back in 1985—ten years after the fall of Saigon. Feelings of the unpopular conflict raw. There was no “thank you for your service” back then.

Amazingly enough, there are little pops of dishes of which I almost expected the recipes to be found at the end of the book.

Andy is damaged, scarred, aware of his aloneness. Not lonely. Alone. He is a sympathic character, an underdog to root for. The author has a unique writing style that I appreciated and kept me engaged. The conclusion was very satisfying.

My first novel with this author and this series, but I found no problem jumping right into Book 2 (and will be looking forward to Book 3, should there be one). This is releasing today. Looking for something different? Entertaining, unique? Totally recommended, buy from your favorite outlet; links noted below.

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley. These are my honest thoughts.

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Book Details:

Genre: Hard-Boiled Mystery, Hard-Boiled Mysteries, Cozy Culinary Mystery
Publisher: Kensington

  • ASIN : B082WS2YXC
  • Print Length: 208 pages

Publication Date: Happy Release Day! September 29. 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

Rosepoint Publishing: Four point Five of Five Stars 4 1/2 stars

Peter Colt - author
Peter Colt – author

The Author: I am currently a police officer in a small New England city where I have worked since 2007. I spent over twenty years in the Army reserve and was deployed to Kosovo in 2000, where I was attached to the Russian Army. I deployed to Iraq in 2003 and again in 2008. I was fortunate to get to know many Vietnam vets and U.S. Army Special forces soldiers. I lived on Nantucket Island from 1973‑1986. He’s currently working on the next Andy Roark mystery.

I write because I enjoy it. I hope to tell the types of stories that I like to read but inform them with my experiences. I enjoy interacting with readers who get something from the book or the characters. Or if some aspect of the books resonate with the readers. That is the cool part of this whole thing.

I was probably one of the few people in the U.S. Army to ride on top of a Russian Army Armored Personnel Carrier (APC), in this case a BTR-80, with Russian soldiers, going jointly to a riot. Good times!

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Watch Her Vanish: An absolutely gripping mystery thriller (Rockwell and Decker Book 1) by Ellery A Kane – A #BookReview – #policeprocedural

A CE Review

Book Blurb:

The beam from the lighthouse slices through the dawn sky as she runs down the rocky stairway to the beach. She tries to take it all inthe waves crashing against the cliffs, the whip of salt grass in the windbefore finally dragging her eyes down to the innocent girl’s blonde hair, strewn across the bottom step like seaweed…

Watch Her Vanish by Ellery A KaneReturning home to Fog Harbor, California, to be closer to her little sister, Olivia Rockwell is struggling to adjust to life in a town so small she can hardly breathe. That is, until the sound of a scream leads her to the body of a local teacher in the shallows nearby. All the evidence points to Olivia’s most threatening criminal psychology patient, Drake, who is safely locked up behind bars…

Convinced of Drake’s innocence—and desperate to believe in the system that’s keeping her murderer father in prison and away from her sister—Olivia gets to work on her own suspect list. All her life she’s run towards trouble, but this time she’s treading on the toes of Detective Will Decker, whose past mistakes mean this case is his last chance to make amends.

Then a second woman’s body is discovered, strangled while out on an evening jog. The strip of blue material used to choke her implicates Drake once again, forcing Will to admit he needs Olivia’s special talent for understanding the minds of killers. It’s clear more innocent women will die if they don’t get one step ahead of the murders, and Olivia knows she will need her estranged father’s help to get close to Drake.

But when Olivia’s profile leads them to believe Drake could be masterminding murders from within the prison walls, a message written on a scrap of paper found in the latest victim’s car leads them to a terrifying realization: Olivia’s little sister will be next…

An addictive and unputdownable crime thriller that will keep you up all night. Perfect for fans of Melinda Leigh, Kendra Elliot and Mary Burton.

His Review:

Murder intricately designed in a maximum-security prison. Ms. Kane has developed characters that are both engaging and exasperating. Heap that on a prison system with type A personalities and both officers and inmates jostling for position and control and the plot develops. Both the men and women charged with rehabilitating the criminals and the criminals themselves seem hell-bent on controlling the entire system.

Watch Her Vanish by Ellery A KaneOlivia Rockwell is a Doctor of Psychology who strives to rehabilitate these hardened convicts. A mysterious murder of one of the workers at the prison opens the narrative. She and her younger sister Emily are working at the prison and trying to make the prisoners lives better and more productive. But at what personal psychological costs do these prison workers pay for their attempts at helping? Law enforcement and the wardens at times seem to be on the opposite end of this rehabilitation tug-of-war.

Crescent Bay State Prison set in northern California’s north coast is the place where dangerous killers and hardened career criminals reside. The other residences are career prison workers who have been washed out of other California prisons. They are all very smart and crafty and have been trained by the hard knocks of the California Penal System. Add to this the dregs of Bay Area gangs like The Oaktown Boys who wield tremendous influence in all prisons and the plot matures.

I found myself wondering why seemingly intelligent and highly trained women would devolve into situations which led them to being at risk. The further into the narrative I got, the more I began to wonder; can these people be so naïve and stupid? After a couple of similar killings, I would have expected the characters to wise up and not put themselves in threatening and exposed positions. Foggy and cold nights on the northern California coast are not really inviting times to be on the backroads at night, especially knowing there have been some gruesome killings.

Will Decker is a career law enforcement officer who is attracted to Olivia and is charged with finding the killer or killers. The prime suspect is a career criminal who has written a best-selling novel. He is closely watched by everyone and held in maximum security and yet appears to get out and commit the crimes.

The twist at the end of the book caught me unprepared. I recalled dealing in psych wards with people who seemed very normal and suddenly turned into psychiatric basket cases. I did not expect this to happen with people who had so much education and training. My kudos to the author for delving into that aspect. I also appreciated the lack of gratuitous hot sex scenes. Rather, this author made the characters more believable by pointing out their insecurities.

CE WilliamsI recommend you set aside a good time period to read this tale, as it really isn’t one you can take all at once—at times moving at a rather slow pace. I had a few problems with the protagonist and Detective Decker is a bit cliché. Be aware of the cliffhanger ending. A good pot of coffee or a glass of wine will help.

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley. These are my honest thoughts. 4 stars –  CE Williams 

Book Details:

Genre: Police Procedural, Serial Killer Thriller, Organized Crime Thriller
Publisher: Bookouture
ASIN : B08D3X8Y2X
Print Length: 441 pages
Publication Date: October 9, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Watch Her Vanish [Amazon]
Find the book at these locations:
Barnes and Noble
Kobo

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4 stars

Ellery A Kane - authorThe Author: Forensic psychologist by day, novelist by night, Ellery Kane has been writing–professionally and creatively–for as long as she can remember. Just like many of her main characters, Ellery loves to ask why, which is the reason she became a psychologist in the first place. Real life really is stranger than fiction, and Ellery’s writing is often inspired by her day job. Evaluating violent criminals and treating trauma victims, she has gained a unique perspective on the past and its indelible influence on the individual. And she’s heard her fair share of real life thrillers.

Ellery lives in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, a picturesque setting that provides the backdrop for many of her novels. If you don’t find Ellery interviewing murderers behind prison walls or pecking away at her latest novel, she is probably at the gym landing a solid jab-cross to a punching bag; riding bicycles with her special someone; or enjoying a movie the old-fashioned way–at the theater with popcorn and Milk Duds.

Ellery was previously selected as one of ten semifinalists in the MasterClass James Patterson Co-Author Competition, and she recently signed a three book deal with Bookouture for her new Rockwell and Decker mystery thriller series. The first book is scheduled for release in 2020.

If you’d like to receive a notification when new books are released, please sign up for Ellery’s newsletter at ellerykane.com. Ellery also signs e-books on authorgraph.com.

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

One Good Deed by David Baldacci – An #Audiobook Review – Action & Suspense

Book Blurb:

The number one New York Times best-selling author David Baldacci introduces an unforgettable new character: Archer, a straight-talking former World War II soldier fresh out of prison for a crime he didn’t commit. 

One Good Deed by David BaldacciIt’s 1949. When war veteran Aloysius Archer is released from Carderock Prison, he is sent to Poca City on parole with a short list of do’s and a much longer list of don’ts: do report regularly to his parole officer, don’t go to bars, certainly don’t drink alcohol, do get a job – and don’t ever associate with loose women. 

The small town quickly proves more complicated and dangerous than Archer’s years serving in the war or his time in jail. Within a single night, his search for gainful employment – and a stiff drink – leads him to a local bar, where he is hired for what seems like a simple job: to collect a debt owed to a powerful local businessman, Hank Pittleman. 

Soon Archer discovers that recovering the debt won’t be so easy. The indebted man has a furious grudge against Hank and refuses to pay; Hank’s clever mistress has her own designs on Archer; and both Hank and Archer’s stern parole officer, Miss Crabtree, are keeping a sharp eye on him.  

When a murder takes place right under Archer’s nose, police suspicions rise against the ex-convict, and Archer realizes that the crime could send him right back to prison…if he doesn’t use every skill in his arsenal to track down the real killer.

My Review:

The year is 1949. Aloysius Archer is an Army veteran who has just been released from Carderock Prison. The parole board sent him to Poca City—located somewhere in the southwest I’d guess by the description of wind and sand.

First thing he is supposed to do is check in with his parole agent and get himself established, beginning with a job. His parole officer hands him a full list of do’s and don’ts—mostly don’ts—including booze, bars, and broads. (Hey, it’s 1949—the manner of speech was different then…and this is classic 40s noir.) Of course, the first thing he does is head to the local dive. He might not be looking for trouble, but trouble finds him.

One Good Deed by David BaldacciThe writing style is third person, short and unemotional. It’s impersonal—distant. Not an old TV black and white version of Friday, and definitely on the other side of the law, but close. Archer doesn’t speak a lot of himself but rather his observations. They are jaded, fashioned from the war and his term in prison for a crime of which he was innocent. And there are a lot of observations—telling—not showing.

Still, there is this “job” he’s had dumped into his lap. It’ll mean $100 and also keep him from having to do the job he was to be assigned (which will be described later and enough to turn your stomach). He goes about the investigation-collection cautiously, intelligently, during which we learn a great deal more about the support characters. By learning about the support characters and his interaction with them, we get to know more about Archer. The man. The Army veteran. The ex-con.

There is some rough language, although the reader is not accosted with the liberal use of the F-word like sometimes happens today. There is no sexual content—though it’s implied. It’s a slow burn and for some reason, keeps the reader (or listener) engaged. Like listening in on the neighbors on the other side of paper-thin walls. Gees!

There are some real mean men—a rather realistic, crude, and rude reality check to the way it was back then. The suspense continues to build and the whole storyline goes into a pre-conclusion with both barrels (over and under). Then, just as quickly, like a dispassionate epilogue, pulls all the loose threads together.

I don’t know what I expected. The narrator did an excellent job of keeping his narrative low-key, forcing you to listen to the story and the dialogue. This is a well known author. I’ve certainly seen and recognized the name. Perhaps this is a departure of his normal writing style. I wouldn’t know. This is entertaining but is Book 1 of the series and unless there is an Archer Book 2, may be the first and last. I will say, however, that even were it not, I would sample another of Baldacci’s novels. I’ve got to see if this is his normal writing style.

Book Details:

Genre: Action, Thriller & Suspense Fiction, Historical Fiction, Action, Adventure Fiction
Publisher: Hachette Audio
ASIN: B07STDLH47
 Print Length: 464 pages
Listening Length: 11 hrs, 41 min.
Narrator: Edoardo Ballerini
Publication Date: July 23, 2019
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: One Good Deed [Amazon]

Add to Goodreads Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4 stars

David Baldacci - authorThe Author: David Baldacci has been writing since childhood, when his mother gave him a lined notebook in which to write down his stories. (Much later, when David thanked her for being the spark that ignited his writing career, she revealed that she’d given him the notebook to keep him quiet, “because every mom needs a break now and then.”)

David published his first novel, ABSOLUTE POWER, in 1996. A feature film followed, with Clint Eastwood as its director and star. In total, David has published 41 novels for adults; all have been national and international bestsellers and several have been adapted for film and television. His novels have been translated into over 45 languages and sold in more than 80 countries, with 150 million copies sold worldwide. David has also published seven novels for younger readers.

David received his Bachelor’s degree from Virginia Commonwealth University and his law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law, after which he practiced law in Washington, D.C.

David is also the cofounder, along with his wife, of the Wish You Well Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting literacy efforts across the United States.

David and his family live in Virginia.

Edoardo Ballerini
Edoardo Ballerini – Photo courtesy Wikipedia

The Narrator: (From his website) Edoardo Ballerini is a two time winner of the Audiobook Publishers Association’s Best Male Narrator Audie Award (2013, Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter; 2019, Watchers by Dean Koontz). He has recorded nearly 300 titles, from classic works by Tolstoy, Dante, Kafka, Whitman and Camus, to best-sellers by James Patterson and David Baldacci, and spiritual titles by The Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hahn.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St James – A Supernatural Thriller Audiobook or Print?

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St James

Book Blurb:

Something hasn’t been right at the roadside Sun Down Motel for a very long time, and Carly Kirk is about to find out why in this chilling new novel from the best-selling and award-winning author of The Broken Girls.

Upstate New York, 1982. Viv Delaney wants to move to New York City, and to help pay for it she takes a job as the night clerk at the Sun Down Motel in Fell, New York. But something isnʼt right at the motel, something haunting and scary.

Upstate New York, 2017. Carly Kirk has never been able to let go of the story of her aunt Viv, who mysteriously disappeared from the Sun Down before she was born. She decides to move to Fell and visit the motel, where she quickly learns that nothing has changed since 1982. And she soon finds herself ensnared in the same mysteries that claimed her aunt.

My Review:

So much hype. So many reviews that praised this thriller…and that cover? How many readers are old enough to have seen many of those motels on the road? Are you driving exhausted yet and ready to pull over? Gees, it so hooked me in…

until I started listening to the audiobook.

Many who have read my audiobook reviews before know that I generally much prefer the audiobook—they usually make it come alive, so real, so yeah—part of the conversation.

Vibes of Norman Bates—don’t take a shower…

Told in two POV’s, Vivian is working the night shift at the front desk in the early 80s when she begins to see ghosts. Once she begins to investigate, however, she discovers there have been a number of murders, disappearances, and she’s beginning to make a solid break-through when she herself disappears—without a trace.

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St JamesFast forward to 2017, Carly Kirk visits the town of Fell hoping to figure out why her aunt disappeared. At odds and without ties, she gets the front desk job at the motel, also on the night shift, where she can freely dig around for additional information. It doesn’t take long before she, too, begins to spot apparitions, smell cigarette smoke, smell perfume.

Okay, the descriptions of the motel and how it has run to ruin are creepy. The people Carly meets are interesting but seem to get her nowhere, rebuffing inquiries. The ghosts begin to fade into the background as the storyline begins to flip back and forth between Vivian’s story and her discoveries and Carly’s story and her progress.

Vivian begins to think she knows what happened to the girls missing and murdered. She’s pushing her luck, but something just seems…off.

As Carly begins to make real progress, the story timeline overlaps and it’s déjà vu told in two perspectives. Their POV begins to blend and it’s no longer easy to remember who is speaking, only that Vivian’s perspective tends to make a little more progress pushing the plot.

While I had difficulty connecting to either of the two main characters, I did enjoy two support characters who added real interest to an otherwise dull delivery in what was essentially the monotones of both Vivian and Carly.

Worst, I knew (or thought I knew) what happened to Vivian about half-way into the narrative. And was right. The only thing left was to get the why and how.

I’m not sure why the audiobook was narrated in this particular fashion. I’ve never before listened to such a dull droning approach to reading what I understood was a successful novel by a bestselling author. While the description, the people, the plot may have provided a disturbing picture and engaging mystery in your head while reading, this audiobook may only relieve your insomnia.

Book Details:

Genre: Supernatural Thrillers, Horror Fiction, Women’s Fiction
Publisher:  Penguin Audio

  • ISBN-10 : 0440000203
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0440000204
  • ASIN: B084641FWV

Print Length: 352 pages
Listening Length: 11 hours
Narrators: Brittany PressleyKirsten Potter
Publication Date: February 18, 2020
Source: Local (Audiobook Selections) Library
Title Link: The Sun Down Motel

Add to Goodreads Simone St James - authorThe Author: Simone St. James is the award-winning author of The Haunting of Maddy Clare, which won two prestigious RITA® awards from Romance Writers of America and an Arthur Ellis Award from Crime Writers of Canada. She writes gothic historical ghost stories set in 1920s England, books that are known for their mystery, gripping suspense, and romance.

Simone wrote her first ghost story, about a haunted library, when she was in high school. She worked behind the scenes in the television business for twenty years before leaving to write full-time. She lives just outside Toronto, Canada with her husband and a spoiled cat.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

The Night Drop by Ian D Wright – A #BookReview – #historicalthrillers #TuesdayBookBlog

“The remote marshland villagers did not want them, but if their mission failed, the Allies could lose the war!”

A book review by the CE.

Book Blurb:

A WW2 Historical thriller – Resistance in the Marshlands

The Night Drop by Ian D WrightThe summer of 1943 and Jack Ross, a talented young recruit to the British special forces, was flown into a marshland village near St-Omer, France, along with Roland Keene, an Irish-American volunteer to the British forces. Their mission was to find out how successful the Allied bombing raids had been on the massive V2 flying bomb installations, which had been built under a giant concrete dome near St-Omer. The Nazi V2 project could have had a devastating effect on England and changed the future of the war.

Jack and Roland joined with the local Resistance cell and quickly established a good working relationship. But incidents occur that point to a mole in the ranks. Two feuding brothers, one in the Resistance, the other with the Partisans, make identifying the traitor almost impossible.

Jack’s primary source of information was Sofia, a young girl who was one of the most active members of the group. She was brave, smart and tireless, and Jack found himself falling in love.

Twenty years later, in 1965, and one of the suspects decides to go back to the village to clear his name. His arrival immediately triggers a murder. Two investigative journalists agreed to help Jack tackle the job of finding the real mole but find themselves in a battle with a group of fanatical Nazi sympathisers.

His Review:

Investigating war crimes can be dangerous business. Jack Ross goes back to the place where he was dropped during the height of WW II. The year is 1965 and he is assisting Steve, an investigative journalist and his wife Emily to write an account of the area during Nazi occupation in 1943. Working on the story becomes fraught with danger as the story develops.

The Night Drop by Ian D WrightRetrospectively I have often wondered what the world would have been like if the Nazis had prevailed. This book paints a picture of grudges that develop even within families during a war. Do you side with the occupiers who have your country under marshal law or fight in a resistance that tries to overthrow your occupiers? During such conflicts there will always be winners and losers.

During times of war, food is always hard to get. Helping the enemy may provide some food or other assistance that otherwise would be unavailable. Occupied France was no exception. Jack Ross is parachuted behind enemy lines to find the location of V-2 rocket launch sites and get that information back to the British. His mother was French and his father English and his spoken French sounds like a native.

Sofia is a young teenage girl who can get around the occupied area on a bicycle. She is almost invisible and therefore able to gather information. Jack joins the resistance and she becomes very helpful in obtaining updates on the location of the launch facilities and also a production factory. Every day is fraught with danger as the British start bombing the facility and begin to suspect a mole is giving secret information to the enemy.

The Audomorais Marshes in France are poorly defended and the Nazi troops are spread thin. However, who is actually loyal to whom? As the invasion nears and the attacks on the rocket facility increase, the Nazis look for the leak. Brothers with a long running feud are highlighted. One of the brothers is grabbed and executed by the Nazis. His contact was Jacks’ wife Sophie. Suddenly she becomes a target for the German occupiers.

Who is the mole who identified Sophie and thereby Jack? The invasion is about two months away and suddenly they must go underground. Later in 1965 they are trying to solve the riddle of who the mole might have been. Anyone harboring allied pilots or servicemen are summarily shot upon identification and capture.

CE WilliamsThe list of suspects included the local butcher, the parish priest and the feuding brother. Unraveling the answer is an integral part of this well-developed novel. One of the suspects is found hanging in a tree and danger is rampant, even in 1965! I found the book keeping me up nights with my search for the answer. History buffs and WW II aficionados will find this read compelling. My only quibble was that the thread between the war and 1965 was at times scattered and elusive. 4/5 stars CE Williams

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. These are my honest thoughts.

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4 stars

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Thrillers, Historical British Fiction, Military Thrillers
ASIN: B086JZDY8K
Print Length: 251 pages
Publication Date: March 29, 2020
Source: Direct author request
Title Link: The Night Drop [Amazon]

Ian D Wright - author
Ian D Wright

The Author: My passion for writing goes back to a Christmas present I received when I was seven years old. It was a John Bull printing outfit that inspired me to produce a newspaper for my family to read. By the time I finished the first edition, several weeks had passed, and the stories were long-forgotten events.

I was encouraged at school by my English teacher, and he suggested that I should write a newsletter about school activities. It was handwritten and pinned to the notice board. The encouraging words he wrote on my school report then enabled me to get of job in the publicity department of a large engineering company. This introduced me to the luxury of the typewriter, which I still think is an amazing invention.

As the years went by, I happily wrote anything that I was given; brochure copy, advertisements, press releases, speeches for other people, scripts for industrial films, videos, and copy for websites. In 1988 I started my own media company, which I ran until retiring a few years ago.

My only venture into fiction was in my early twenties writing teen romance stories for Jackie magazine. It was just a part-time addition to my real work, but it taught me how to build characters in as few words as possible and how enjoyable writing fiction can be. I always promised myself that when I had the time, I would return to fiction again. Just over two years ago, I started on my first novel, Murders of Consequence, which was followed by Murders of Necessity and Murders of Misfortune. They are all available in eBook and paperback on Amazon.

All three books are set in the nineteen-sixties when the UK was going through a significant transformation of social outlook. Young people were making their views known in fashion, music, attitudes, and public protests about the many different causes that concerned them. The reasons were not frivolous; all they were asking was for nuclear disarmament and world peace.

I live in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, with my wife Sheilah, who is editor, proof-reader, and critic of my work. We are both avid readers, enjoying mainly thrillers.
I also love music, particularly jazz. When I was young, I played tenor sax in a rock/blues band, and more recently, Sheilah and I formed a Jazz duo to raise money for charity. We both enjoy traveling, watching cricket, and football.

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Playing Nice by JP Delaney – a #BookReview – Psychological Thriller

“People said it took a village to raise a child, but I didn’t even have a cul-de-sac.”

Book Blurb:

Playing Nice by JP DelaneyPete Riley answers the door one morning and lets in a parent’s worst nightmare. On his doorstep is Miles Lambert, a stranger who breaks the devastating news that Pete’s son, Theo, isn’t actually his son—he is the Lamberts’, switched at birth by an understaffed hospital while their real son was sent home with Miles and his wife, Lucy. For Pete, his partner Maddie, and the little boy they’ve been raising for the past two years, life will never be the same again.

The two families, reeling from the shock, take comfort in shared good intentions, eagerly entwining their very different lives in the hope of becoming one unconventional modern family. But a plan to sue the hospital triggers an official investigation that unearths some disturbing questions about the night their children were switched. How much can they trust the other parents—or even each other? What secrets are hidden behind the Lamberts’ glossy front door? Stretched to the breaking point, Pete and Maddie discover they will each stop at nothing to keep their family safe.

They are done playing nice.

My Review:

Dang but I do pick a douzy when I try a new (to me) author and this book had me spinning. The premise is that two babies are swapped at birth, both preemies, both showing up at a time when the hospital is short-staffed. It could happen…haven’t we heard of that happening?

Playing Nice by JP DelaneyJournalist Pete Riley and his partner Maddie get that rude awakening one morning when Miles Lambert and his wife Lucy show up at their door to explain the situation and seek an amicable solution. But swap them back? It’s been two years. How could they?

Talk about a shock! It takes a toll, has them both reeling. Theo is not their son?

Pete is Theo’s stay-at-home dad, his major caregiver. Maddie has the better paying position. The Lamberts on the other hand appear very well off. Have provided extremely well for their son David, who has been determined to be “slow.” Maddie and Pete had been cautioned that under the circumstances of their son’s birth, he may have sustained some brain damage. And Theo is not the easiest child–now a terrible two–gave it the name and is having problems adjusting to his nursery care situation exhibiting some aggression towards another child who wants to take his toy.

The Lambert’s boy is painfully slow, quiet, and fortunately, Lucy has help with him in the form of a nanny while Miles goes off to his high paying position. While their initial meetings appear to be successful and the couples have made what seem a mutual agreement, Miles begins to push boundaries and there are times when that harmonious ambiance begins to slip, the environment turns icy, and they are soon embroiled in a lawsuit that goes from contentious to a living hell.

This is one of those books that hooks you at the outset, sets you on a crash course with two POVs (Pete’s and Maddies) and Court Case Numbers and Exhibits. Just when you don’t think it could get any worse, it does. The high-powered legal team hired by Miles, the attorney procured by Pete and Maddie by taking out a second mortgage each interpreting the law until the reader is so bewildered the situation looks impossible.

“…the psychopathic spectrum–that is, they score low on tests for remorse, conscience, and moral judgment, and high for fearlessness, quick thinking, and cold-bloodedness.”

Interesting little tidbits of tidy information laid so quietly and carefully, perhaps you didn’t notice in the avalanche of emotions of the DNA finding–perhaps you skipped right over it, huh! No, not the part about proving the parents…and then there were the arguments of nature vs nurture.

All the characters exhibit some flaws, Peter being almost dangerously easy and naive; Miles just dangerous. Nor is Lucy or Maddie particularly devoid of their little secrets, one of which I’d suspected but clouded for me just a tad following the conclusion. The climax has the reader holding their breath and reading faster, dripping with sweat. There is tension, wildly crazy legal ramifications, twists, turns, and the exhausting parental turmoil caused in dealing with “special” children.

Receiving this digital download free from the publisher and NetGalley did not affect my opinion of the book or the content and I fully appreciated the opportunity to read and review this novel. Totally recommended.

Add to GoodreadsBook Details:

Genre: Psychological Thriller, Psychological Fiction
Publisher: Ballantine Books

  • ISBN-10:0593213335
  • ISBN-13:978-0593213339
  • ASIN: B0818Q3JWK

Print Length: 418 pages
Publication Date: To be released July 28, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Pre-Order Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo
 

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

JP Delaney - authorThe Author: JP Delaney is a pseudonym for a British writer of psychological suspense who has previously written best-selling fiction under other names. THE GIRL BEFORE was an instant New York Times and Sunday Times bestseller and was published in over 40 countries. The follow-up, BELIEVE ME, was also an international bestseller. THE PERFECT WIFE will be published summer 2019. For more information, go to http://www.jpdelaney.co.uk or follow @jpdelaneywriter on Facebook.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Lineage Most Lethal: An Ancestry Detective Mystery Book 2 by S C Perkins – a #BookReview #mystery

Book Blurb:

Lineage Most Lethal by S C PerkinsIn S. C. Perkins’s Lineage Most Lethal, the captivating second mystery in the Ancestry Detective series, Texas genealogist Lucy Lancaster grapples with a mystery rooted in World War II and espionage.

It’s the week before New Year’s Eve and genealogist Lucy Lancaster is ready to mix work and play at the beautiful Hotel Sutton, enjoying herself while finalizing the presentation for her latest client, hotel heiress Pippa Sutton.

Freshly arrived at the hotel—and determined not to think about Special Agent Ben Turner, who went radio silent on her after one date—Lucy is stopped in her tracks when a strange man comes staggering toward her. She barely has time to notice his weak, sweaty appearance before he presses a classic Montblanc pen onto her hand, gasps, “Keep them safe,” and collapses at her feet, dead.

When Lucy shows the fountain pen to her grandfather, an avid collector and World War II veteran, she’s in for another shock. Not only does Grandpa recognize the Montblanc, he also reveals a secret: he was an Allied spy during the war and the pen is both a message regarding one of his wartime missions and the key to reading a microdot left by the dead man.

On the microdot is a series of ciphers, some decrypted to form names. Could they be the descendants of Grandpa’s fellow spies? When two from the list end up murdered—including the chef at the Hotel Sutton—and Grandpa’s life is put in jeopardy, Lucy’s sure she’s right. And with Lucy’s and Pippa’s names possibly on the list, too, she’s got to uncover the past to protect those in the present.

With a secret Allied mission, old grievances, and traitors hiding behind every corner, Lucy must use her research skills to trace the list’s World War II ancestors and connect the dots to find a killer in their midst—a killer who’s determined to make sure some lineages end once and for all.

My Review:

How unique is a genealogist in a cozy mystery? And it works! Certainly a unique concept with an apparently strong female protagonist, no skeletons in her family closet!

Lineage Most Lethal by S C PerkinsLucy Lancaster has been hired by Pippa Sutton, a young woman assuming leadership of her flagship cozy hotel business. Lucy will bring together the extended family to present the genealogical history of the Sutton family concluding with a detailed video presentation including interviews with family members and their memories.

Upon her arrival, however, a man hands her an object as he collapses at her feet with a plea to “keep them safe.” When she recovers the object from the hotel’s dog, a pen, she recognizes it as a very special and valuable antique and notifies her grandfather to have a look at it. Almost immediately, he makes a trip to her location to work with her regarding a highly classified and long buried World War II mission.

Well, nothing is simple and this just got very complex, very quickly.

The location in Austin and the restored hotel itself is very picturesque. There are multiple characters, each with their own agenda and sometimes it seems that only Pippa is genuine. Lucy’s grandfather, George Lancaster, with whom she’s always had a special bond, sits her down to tell her about a spy ring he worked with. First, the two must decipher a code called “pigpen cipher” (apparently a well-known code easily searched on the WWW). There is information on search registries, who can request, how long certain searches remain private, as well as hints on search services.

It is a well-plotted narrative with puzzle pieces gradually being drawn into the picture as they find another name, additional murders (off page), with a pleasing pace. Lucy has a pseudo-romance who disappears in a mini-sub-plot and Lucy’s two best friends (and office colleagues) are introduced.

Most of us have that innate curiosity to figure out how we got here. I’ve worked at it, hitting a wall with my own grandfather (yes–that one, Stanley McShane–quite the enigma), so this is all fascinating stuff to me. I found Lucy just a tad annoying, but loved how she so quickly caught on to nuances and I gradually warmed up to her. The conclusion wrapped up all the ends, though seemed just a bit verbose, the antagonist being apparent fairly early. This was easily read as a standalone and was quite engaging and entertaining.

Receiving this digital download free from the publisher and NetGalley did not affect my opinion of the book or the content and this is my honest opinion. As a cozy, I expected a recipe or two for those luscious Tex-Mex dishes described. Alas, not to be. Recommended for any who enjoys a good mystery on the lighter side.

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Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Mystery, Amateur Sleuth
Publisher: Minotaur Books
ISBN: 1250750075
ASIN: B0818PMLHF
Print Length: 344 pages
Publication Date: To be released July 21, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo
 

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

S C Perkins - authorThe Author: S.C. Perkins is a fifth-generation Texan who grew up hearing fascinating stories of her ancestry and eating lots of great Tex-Mex, both of which inspired the plot of her debut mystery novel. Murder Once Removed was the winner of the 2017 Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery competition. She resides in Houston and, when she’s not writing or working at her day job, she’s likely outside in the sun, on the beach, or riding horses.

Find S.C. at http://www.scperkins.com or on social media at @SCPerkinsWriter

©2020 V Williams V Williams