The Age of Witches: A Novel by Louisa Morgan – a #BookReview #TuesdayBookBlog

Historical Fantasy Fiction

Book Blurb:

The Age of Witches by Louisa MorganIn Gilded Age New York, a centuries-long clash between two magical families ignites when a young witch must choose between love and loyalty, power and ambition, in this magical novel by Louisa Morgan.
In 1692, Bridget Bishop was hanged as a witch. Two hundred years later, her legacy lives on in the scions of two very different lines: one dedicated to using their powers to heal and help women in need; the other, determined to grasp power for themselves by whatever means necessary.
This clash will play out in the fate of Annis, a young woman in Gilded Age New York who finds herself a pawn in the family struggle for supremacy. She’ll need to claim her own power to save herself-and resist succumbing to the darkness that threatens to overcome them all.

My Review:

Having descended from Bridget Byshop who was hanged in 1692 for being a witch, Harriet Bishop is still being very careful about her abilities beyond the herbal concoctions she creates to heal. She is one of two sisters from Bridget’s line. The sisters, however, did not choose the same path to magic–one chose healing and the other dark power to ruthlessly gain her desired outcome. Their grandmother Beryl tried her best to pass on the legacy, but Harriet and Frances grew up in different circumstances and Frances was determined she’d rise above the squalid memories of her childhood.

The Age of Witches by Louisa MorganNew York City during the Gilded Age was a magical community, thriving, discovering modern conveniences. Frances’s goal was to be accepted into the Four Hundred–the entitled old money rich of the city. Frances is an early Eliza Doolittle, willing to do anything to rise to the level of the successful, tasteful aristocracy. She would do that by forcing her seventeen-year-old step-daughter to marry into the nobility of England and arranges a trip with Annis to find a suitable prize. Annis Allington has her own ideas, however. She adores her thoroughbred stallion, Black Satin (Bits), and her goal is to create a fine bloodline of thoroughbreds. But back then, who would purchase on the “expertise” of a woman breeder. Annis has no ideas of marriage and certainly not to a stuffy British nobleman. She is determined that no one will tell her what she can or can’t do.

The narrative conjures visions of magic spells, amulets, cantrips, and herbal concoctions. The herbal blends are devised by mortar and pestle, each recipe’s ingredient carefully chosen for the desired outcome. The incantations are poetic.

While Annis would be considered the main character, there are four POV’s, that of Annis, Harriet, Frances, and later James. You can almost visualize Frances as the evil witch, complete with long and crooked nose and pointy hat. Harriet, always the peace-maker, soft-spoken carries the big stick, and wide-eyed novice Annis uncovering the new world of sorcery. Both the good and bad.

The author has done an admiral job of the verbiage, invoking so much knowledge to herbal ingredients and remedies that it doesn’t seem possible you could write with that much confidence and not be involved in the practice up to the eyeballs. The narrative follows Annis on her steadfast course to be true to herself. Harriet toils toward the empowerment of women–quietly but naturally–as a benevolent mentor and realizes she must intervene in Frances’ plan.  Annis is young and idealistic, but wholly empathetic, and I loved the strong connection to her horse. James is an innocent pawn, naive, in a scheme gone mad and Frances…poor Frances will pay a heavy price for her dark plot.

Witch should be a beautiful word, signifying wisdom and knowledge and discipline, but it isn’t used that way. It’s been made an insult, implying evil, causing fear. The word has been perverted.” –Harriet Bishop, 1890

The storyline wrestles with the effects of a maleficia gone awry, finding the path between the two young persons, and the struggle of good versus evil. When is two wrongs the better choice? And can it possibly be used to make right?

Why didn’t I go whole hog five stars is a quibble I had similar to the one I experienced with A Secret History of Witches (which I avidly followed with the exception of the story of Veronica during WWII). This time, I stumbled over the relationship of Annis to Harriet and Frances.

I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I enjoyed that first book so much I couldn’t wait to tear into this ARC. The author writes with engaging authority, slipping the prose easily between tidbits of ancient technology and entertaining but subtle differences between American and British society. Totally recommended.

Book Details:

Genre: American Historical Romance, Historical Fantasy Fiction
Publisher: Redhook

  • ISBN-10:0316419540
  • ISBN-13:978-0316419543
  • ASIN: B07VZFWVYR

Print Length: 448 pages
Publication Date: Happy Release Day! April 7, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Age of Witches (Amazon)
Barnes and Noble
Kobo

+Add to Goodreads 

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

Louisa Morgan - authorThe Author: Louisa Morgan lives and writes and rambles with her familiar, Oscar the Border Terrier, on the beautiful Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. A musician and a yogini, she finds inspiration in the artistic environment where she makes her home.

Under the name Louise Marley, she has written a number of other historical fiction novels, as well as fantasy and science fiction. Please visit http://www.louisemarley.com for more information, and to learn more about Oscar!

©2020 V Williams V Williams

A Reasonable Doubt: A Robin Lockwood Novel by Phillip Margolin – a #BookReview #legalthriller

A Robin Lockwood Novel Book 3

Book Blurb:

A Reasonable Doubt-Phillip MargolinA magician linked to three murders and suspicious deaths years ago disappears in the middle of his new act in New York Times bestseller Phillip Margolin’s latest thriller featuring Robin Lockwood

Robin Lockwood is a young criminal defense attorney and partner in a prominent law firm in Portland, Oregon. A former MMA fighter and Yale Law graduate, she joined the firm of legal legend Regina Barrister not long before Regina was forced into retirement by early onset Alzheimer’s.

One of Regina’s former clients, Robert Chesterfield, shows up in the law office with an odd request—he’s seeking help from his old attorney in acquiring patent protection for an illusion. Chesterfield is a professional magician of some reknown and he has a major new trick he’s about to debut. This is out of the scope of the law firm’s expertise, but when Robin Lockwood looks into his previous relationship with the firm, she learns that twenty years ago he was arrested for two murders, one attempted murder, and was involved in the potentially suspicious death of his very rich wife. At the time, Regina Barrister defended him with ease, after which he resumed his career as a magician in Las Vegas.

Now, decades later, he debuts his new trick—only to disappear at the end. He’s a man with more than one dark past and many enemies—is his disappearance tied to one of the many people who have good reason to hate him? Was he killed and his body disposed of, or did he use his considerable skills to engineer his own disappearance?

Robin Lockwood must unravel the tangled skein of murder and bloody mischief to learn how it all ties together.

My Review:

I came into Book 3 not having read the previous two. (No surprise there, huh?) While I read as a standalone, I suspect the first two dealt more with character Regina Barrister than Robin Lockwood, who appears to have taken over her spot in the Portland law firm. Not easy to live up to the legend known as ” the Sorceress,” Robin is quickly making a name for herself as the rising criminal defense attorney of the firm.

A Reasonable Doubt by Phillip MargolinWhen magician Robert Chesterfield appears at the offices looking for Regina, he is told she retired and is directed to Robin. But his is an unusual request and she is not the proper attorney. She investigates his question and says buh-bye, especially after she checks with Regina regarding her former client and discovers he was charged with two murders and an attempted murder. Regina takes us back twenty years (a couple times) to the case and introduces us to a number of new characters.

Back to Robin’s reign, an invitation to appear for a special, private showing of Chesterfield’s show-stopping trick does just that with his untimely death. More characters are introduced. That death seems to set off a spate of deaths, tied to the much earlier case, along with an attempted murder. Now Robin does more investigating and coordinates with all the local detectives, along with Jeff and an infamous ADA Peter Ragland, relegated to the smaller office after his humiliating defeat by Regina.

Now we get to know a little more about Chesterfield (the sleaze), not exactly a character you’ll come to love and no one else did either including his present wife, about Robin’s early experience with the MMA while attending Yale Law School, and about her new co-occupant with privileges, investigator boyfriend Jeff Hodges. The storyline goes a bit off-track, becoming somewhat convoluted, with attempts at throwing in some red herrings.

First, I couldn’t get into Robin’s shoes and Jeff left me a bit cold. He didn’t just take a backseat, he wasn’t in the same vehicle. As Barbara noted in her review recently at Flippin’ Pages Book Reviews, “I’m not sure why, but so many authors who want to write strong, independent female characters think that they have to make them angry, acerbic, domineering, selfish, etc. and that they have to pair them with milksop male characters.”


Thank you! I find that so often as well and while I really enjoy a strong female protagonist, they don’t all have to box or be a black belt in an obscure ancient Asian martial art form. While Jeff wasn’t exactly milksop, he easily slept through Robin’s prep to go out in the middle of the night to confront the antagonist. I know, I know… She is smart, strong, independent. But he was right there–couldn’t she have used a backup?

Another of my pet peeves: characters that start with the same letter. Why? Regina, Robin. I see this so often and, for me, sometimes gets confusing. (Maybe it’s just my age.) The plot didn’t move with quite enough speed for me, slowing in the middle, losing my interest. While I do enjoy a legal thriller and certainly a mystery, this one doesn’t really pull off the latter since it was guessed correctly pretty early on. The conclusion wraps most loose threads but really at this point rather anti-climatic.

I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read. This author has quite a track record and following and it’s quite possible this might have been a bit under his usual standards. You may very well enjoy the novel and remember these are my honest and unbiased opinions. You are free to differ with me. Up for a discussion?

Book Details:

Genre: Legal Thrillers, Women Sleuths
Publisher: Minotaur Books

  • ISBN-10:1250117542
  • ISBN-13:978-1250117540
  • ASIN: B07S8K7J4Q

Print Length: 289 pages
Publication Date: March 10, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: A Reasonable Doubt (Amazon)
Barnes and Noble
Kobo

+Add to Goodreads 

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

Phillip Margolin - authorThe Author: [Phillip Margolin] I grew up in New York City and Levittown, New York. In 1965, I graduated from the American University in Washington, D.C., with a bachelor’s degree in government. I spent 1965 to 1967 in Liberia, West Africa, as a Peace Corps volunteer, graduated from New York University School of Law in 1970 as a night student. I went nights and worked as a junior high teacher in the South Bronx to support myself. My first job following law school was a clerkship with Herbert M. Schwab, the chief judge of the Oregon Court of Appeals, and from 1972 until 1996, I was in private practice, specializing in criminal defense at the trial and appellate levels. As an appellate attorney I have appeared before the United States Supreme Court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the Oregon Supreme Court, and the Oregon Court of Appeals. As a trial attorney, I handled all sorts of criminal cases in state and federal court, and have represented approximately thirty people charged with homicide, several of whom faced the death penalty. I was the first Oregon attorney to use battered women’s syndrome to defend a woman accused of murdering her spouse.

Since 1996, I have been writing full-time. All of my novels have been bestsellers. Heartstone, my first novel, was nominated by the Mystery Writers of America for an Edgar for best original paperback mystery of 1978. My second novel, The Last Innocent Man, was made into an HBO movie. Gone, But Not Forgotten has been sold to more than twenty-five foreign publishers and was made into a miniseries starring Brooke Shields. It was also the Main Selection of the Literary Guild. After Dark was a Book of the Month Club selection. The Burning Man, my fifth novel, published in August 1996, was the Main Selection of the Literary Guild and a Reader’s Digest condensed book. My sixth novel, The Undertaker’s Widow, was published in 1998 and was a Book of the Month Club selection. Wild Justice (HarperCollins, September 2000) was a Main Selection of the Literary Guild, a selection of the Book of the Month Club, and was nominated for an Oregon Book Award. The Associate was published by HarperCollins in August 2001, and Ties that Bind was published by HarperCollins in March 2003. My tenth novel, Sleeping Beauty, was published by HarperCollins on March 23, 2004. Lost Lake was published by HarperCollins in March 2005 and was nominated for an Oregon Book Award. Proof Positive was published by HarperCollins in July 2006. Executive Privilege was published by HarperCollins in May 2008 and in 2009 was given the Spotted Owl Award for the Best Northwest Mystery. Fugitive was published by HarperCollins on June 2, 2009. Willamette Writers gave me the 2009 Distinguished Northwest Writers Award. My latest novel, Supreme Justice, was published by HarperCollins in May 2010. My next novel, Capitol Murder, will come out in April 2012.

On October 11, 2011, HarperCollins will publish Vanishing Acts, my first Young Adult novel, which I wrote with my daughter, Ami Margolin Rome. Also in October, the short story “The Case of the Purloined Paget,” which I wrote with my brother, Jerry, will be published by Random House in the anthology A Study in Sherlock.

In addition to my novels, I have published short stories and nonfiction articles in magazines and law journals. My short story “The Jailhouse Lawyer” was selected for the anthology The Best American Mystery Stories 1999. The House on Pine Terrace was selected for the anthology The Best American Mystery Stories 2010.

From 1996 to 2009 I was the president and chairman of the Board of Chess for Success. I am still heavily involved in the program, and returned to the board after a one-year absence in 2010. Chess for Success is a nonprofit charity that uses chess to teach study skills to elementary- and middle-school children in Title I schools . From 2007 to the present, I have been on the Board of Literary Arts, which sponsors the Oregon Book Awards, the Writers in the Schools program, and Portland Arts and Lectures.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

 

The Missing Sister by Elle Marr – a #BookReview #thriller

Did CE, the Vicarious Blogger* love this one?

Book Blurb:

An Amazon Charts bestseller.

The Missing Sister by Elle MarrIn Paris, her twin sister has vanished, leaving behind three chilling words: Trust no one.

Shayna Darby is finally coming to terms with her parents’ deaths when she’s delivered another blow. The body of her estranged twin sister, Angela—the possible victim of a serial killer—has been pulled from the Seine. Putting what’s left of her life on hold, Shayna heads to Paris. But while cleaning out Angela’s apartment, Shayna makes a startling discovery: a coded message meant for her alone…

Alive. Trust no one.

Taking the warning to heart, Shayna maintains the lie. She makes a positive ID on the remains and works to find out where—and why—her missing sister is hiding. Shayna retraces her sister’s footsteps, and they lead her down into Paris’s underbelly.

As she gets closer to the truth—and to the killer—Shayna’s own life may now be in the balance…

My Thoughts 

Debut author Elle Marr apparently hits it out of the ballpark with The Missing Sister.

Officially released on April Fool’s Day, she has garnered more than 3,000 ratings on Goodreads but at less than a 3.61 average. At kinder, gentler Amazon, just over 500 ratings (as of April 2) with a 3.9 average rating (one day after release). Someone did one bang-up job of promoting and marketing because it certainly had the buzz before it hit the official board.

The location of Paris is a crucial component of the well-plotted suspense identical twin device. Shayna, the twin purportedly favored by their parents for being the serious goal-driven half, has come to identify and return home with the body of her sister. But the message she finds in Angel’s apartment contradicts that the body they possess at the Paris morgue might be she. Trust no one should mean that…but Shayna is also the damaged twin.

It is Angela that received the wild side, at times pushing her twin well beyond her boundaries. Angela appears to have found a more accepting “family” in the Parisian academic scene, where she was pushing through a doctoral degree. It would seem she had a comfortable safe location close to her studies and specifically the catacombs underneath the city–until she disappeared and “found” days later in the River Seine.

Here is my problem: Shayna has a finite amount of time to either claim the body and return home with it, or, feeling she would have “felt” it if her sister died, has the same short time to find her alive. But why would she be hiding? And the pace slows

Shortly upon her arrival, the reader is introduced to the first of a number of suspicious characters, red herrings, lovely jaunts through the city and atmospheric street-side cafes. (Brought back so many memories, though most of ours consisted of the cathedrals since that was where we were singing.) In between the sojourns, she digs into Angela’s papers, belongings, anything looking for additional twin-type clues. She finds an occasional clue, but they come painfully slow. The process doesn’t get really serious until near the conclusion and Shayna makes some bad choices in between.

There is shared history to examine, the relationship between the twins (as with my own father, the identical twin deemed the bad one), and the secret–that awful secret between them that drives what appears to be a permanent wedge. (In the case of my dad and uncle also a permanent one. I never understood that, until additional information came out long after his death.) In this case, I couldn’t identify with either Shayna nor Angela, and while I enjoyed the travelogue, didn’t the French characters. The big reveal doesn’t exactly come as a shock–you might have guessed it all along–but I did enjoy the hair-raising climax and finally getting the real skinny.

A meaningful effort for a debut and I can see where this author will grow into a compelling storyteller–this was a good start. Just wish it hadn’t been spoon-fed quite so sparingly. This is one you’ll either connect with or won’t, but may provide some entertainment in the meantime. I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a name you’ll see on award lists. 3.5/5 stars

His Thoughts

The Missing Sister by Elle MarrIdentical twins are at times a psychological mystery. Elle has wrapped this up masterfully in this tale of intrigue and suspense involving identical twins. They have many of the characteristics I have read about including developing their own language and calligraphy.

Families always seem to have dominant and recessive individuals within siblings. Our twins, Shayna and Angela, are no exception to the rule. Angela is the strong dominant twin and Shelby is the recessive twin, or is she? A death of both their parents while Angela is completing a Doctorate at the Sorbonne in Paris puts this conjecture to the test.

Angela is missing! Shayna is called to Paris to identify a body in the morgue and possibly send it back to San Diego, California for burial. The morgue is closed for the weekend so Shayna goes to her sister’s apartment to pack her things.

The psychic alarm in Shayna’s head has not gone off! She is certain that were her sister dead she would have felt something in the ether. Thankfully Angela’s boyfriend Sebastian is there to help her pack and go through Angela’s things. A whiteboard in Angela’s apartment has a cryptic message in their personal script, “Alive: Trust No One!”

CE WilliamsOur author, Elle Mann, develops twists and turns more explosive than a roller coaster. Who can she trust to help her solve the mystery of her sister’s disappearance? Skillfully the reader is drawn into intrigues which include over two hundred miles of catacombs under Paris. Read this book and enjoy the intrigue which is “The Missing Sister!” 5 stars CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Kidnapping Thrillers, Women’s Detective Fiction, Women Sleuths
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
ISBN: 1542006058
ASIN: B07QYMXX41
Print Length: 294 pages
Publication Date: April 1, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Missing Sister (Amazon)

+Add to Goodreads 

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Two Five of Five Stars Four and One Quarter Stars

Elle Marr - authorThe Author: Originally from Sacramento, debut author Elle Marr explored the urban wilderness of Southern California before spending three wine-and-cheese-filled years in France, where she earned a master’s degree from the Sorbonne University in Paris. She now lives and writes outside Portland, Oregon, with her husband, son, and one very demanding feline. Connect with her online at http://www.ellemarr.com, on facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

*As coined by Nina of The Cozy Pages

The Body in the Apartment (A Zazzi Zanders Mystery Book 4) by Judi Lynn – a #BookReview #TuesdayBookBlog

Book Blurb:

The Body In the Apartment by Judi LynnThe charming homes of River Bluffs, Indiana, make perfect projects for house-flipper Jazzi Zanders. Less charming is her hothead brother-in-law, who’s a bit of a fixer-upper himself.
But could he also be a murderer?

Jazzi married her gorgeous contractor Ansel—not his family. But somehow she keeps living with them. So she’s delighted to help Ansel’s brother Radley move out of their home and into his own place, in the same building as his work supervisor, Donovan. But when Donovan is shot and his apartment ransacked following an argument with Ansel and Radley’s older brother Bain, their sibling becomes a suspect—especially after his missing gun turns up as the murder weapon.

Told not to leave town by Detective Gaff, big brother moves in with . . . Jazzi and Ansel. Now Jazzi needs to prove Bain’s no killer, not only to keep him out of jail—but to get him out of their house. What was the killer looking for in Donovan’s apartment? And what will happen to the next person who gets in the way?

My Review:

Book 4 has Jazzi and Ansel happily married and seeing Radley, Ansel’s brother, moving to an apartment of his own. Unfortunately, Bain, their oldest brother comes to River Bluffs at the same time to retrieve Radley and drag him (kicking and screaming) back to the old farm. Having once fled, no way he’ll go back and he’s moving to the same complex where his co-worker Donovan lives. Unfortunately, Bain and Donovan quarrel and when Donovan is shot, and Bain’s gun is inexplicably missing, guess who looks like suspect numero uno? Of course, they know he didn’t do it, but can’t leave now.

The Body in the Apartment by Judi LynnSo now that they’ve inherited the temporary responsibility for Bain, he’s taking Radley’s bedroom but boredom overtakes and he asks to be included in the current house-flipping project, a Victorian somewhere between them and Jerod, Jazzi’s cousin and a big third of their rehabbing efforts. Jerod’s wife is soon to have their third baby, so an extra hand couldn’t hurt.

With the death of Donovan, Detective Gaff  (is the author having a little fun with the reader choosing that name?) once again calls upon Jazzi to help with his interviews and investigations gleaning leads where he can’t. (Where did he get his badge?)

In the meantime, her hands are full with helping on the fixer-upper, coordinating food and accommodations (their own home–rehabbed to allow for guests and parties) for her sister’s wedding, their usual Sunday dinners with the family, the extended family, and anyone else who wants an easy Sunday with great food. I’ve read three of the four in the series and always wonder where Jazzi gets the time to do any of the extensive food prep and cooking described, why they aren’t waiting for housing inspectors to pass their rehab work, or how long it took them to get the permit approvals to do some of the extensive removal of walls). Her gorgeous 6’5″ Viking, Ansel, is the General Contractor, if I remember correctly, but he has few subs. Okay, I’m still over-thinking it all and this is a cozy mystery.

And it is one low-key and well-plotted, easy-paced mystery. It’s not out to build tension, but tell a story. The main plot is cleverly tucked betwixt and between Jazzi’s life. She fits in a few interviews of her own and passes her intelligence to Gaff who in turn relays his discoveries back to her and between them, formulate theories. The perp isn’t hard to figure–pretty obvious early on.

So what is it that’s so compelling about the series? The characters, the location (Indiana, for heaven’s sake, and the reason we took a quick trip down to Logansport to check out the Trail–nice– but short), and the whole unique staging of house-flippers. Bain gradually goes from unlikeable character to one with new familial possibilities, extending Ansel’s side.

Yes! A series that I started with Book 1 (and thought I’d read them all–apparently not.) Still, although it might fill in a few blanks, this entry could very well act as a standalone if you haven’t read them all. The conclusion escalates into a gritty, heart-pounding climax. Then, as with any good cozy, soothes the heart rate, and dissolves all loose threads, quietly setting the stage for Book 5. And I’ll be looking forward to it.

I received this digital download from the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review (HOW’D I miss Book 3?). Recommended as a culinary cozy, but you know I don’t read these for the recipes…although one does look interesting.)

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Crafts and Hobbies Mystery, Cozy Culinary Mystery
Publisher: Lyrical Press

  • ISBN-10:1516110234
  • ISBN-13:978-1516110230
  • ASIN: B07TT2RWQ5

Print Length: 204 pages
Publication Date: March 17, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Body in the Apartment (Amazon) 

+Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4-stars

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

[Goodreads] Judi Lynn received a Master’s Degree from Indiana University as an elementary school teacher after attending the IPFW campus. She taught 1st, 2nd, and 4th grades for six years before having her two daughters. She loves gardening, cooking and trying new recipes.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Uncharted Waters by Scott MacKenzie – A #BookReview #TuesdayBookBlog

Rosepoint Publishing: Five of Five Stars Five Stars

The CE Loved it! The following is his review.

 Book Blurb:

Uncharted Waters by Scott MacKenzieUSA Today bestselling author Scott Mackenzie takes you on an unforgettable adventure from the Northwest to island paradise, and the dark places that lie beneath in Uncharted Waters.

Vince Stark has writer’s block. His first book was a runaway success, redefining the romance genre from a male perspective, and piling pressure on Vince’s shoulders. Fleeing Seattle to live on a boat in the Caribbean didn’t help. No one can live up to all those awards and accolades, but with the money running out, writing another bestseller will be the only way to keep his life afloat.

His muse shows up in the form of Tenn, a beautiful free spirit aboard a bohemian boat.
He’s inspired again, but he’s also suspicious.
Tenn’s clearly has secrets.

When she asks him to help her sail across the Atlantic, Vince sees his opportunity to both get closer to her and distract himself from the impossible task of writing his sophomore novel. But Vince has a few secrets of his own.

And the sea will expose them, one by one, as they fight to survive.

His Review

Many red-blooded American males dream of buying a boat and sailing to the tropics. They envision fishing, lounging in the sun and sailing to exotic ports. Scott Mac Kenzie has put that dream into a masterful tale. His hero, Vince Stark, is aboard a 55-foot sailing craft called “Tuuli.”  He is at anchor in a beautiful anchorage called Solitude Bay. Small and out of the way, the bay is a pristine sailor’s dream.

Uncharted Waters by Scott MacKenzieVince is licking his wounds from a very caustic marriage. His first wife and her family have emasculated him and destroyed his self-esteem. A solitary writers’ life becomes the dream he is living. His first book was a best-seller which gave him money enough to buy this boat. But is the dream real? Now he’s faced with following that with his sophomore novel and is struggling.

Jolted awake by a bump amidships, he goes on deck to see a decrepit sailboat snarled in his mast. The captain of that scow is Tenn. She is apologizing profusely for the mishap. She has been at sea doing a solitary cruising lifestyle herself.

A very slow budding love affair develops but she has a quest and would like company. The dream of a hermit’s lifestyle at sea begins to change. Our hero’s life begins to look more promising. But wait, every cloud does not have a silver lining and there will be obstacles to overcome! The storyline is immersive in the sea and sailing life and envelopes the reader in the atmosphere of the islands and island life. Well-plotted and entertaining. CE Williams

This book wraps the reader in a dreamy lifestyle with barbs that are present in everyone’s life. You will not be disappointed with this book and it goes quickly. Read it and see if your dream could match Scott MacKenzie’s narrative. 5 stars CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Sea Adventures, Mystery Action and Adventure
ISBN-13: 979-8614695279
ASIN: B083NNHVN4
Print Length: 291 pages
Publication Date: February 18, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Uncharted Waters (Amazon link)

+Add to Goodreads 

Scott MacKenzie - authorThe Author: Born in Montreal and raised in rural Ontario, Scott Mackenzie has worn many different hats in his life, from bartending to working as a heavy duty mechanic for the railway, to owning and operating a take-out restaurant. He finally settled down out West, where he lives on an island with his author wife and their dog. Scott can be found exploring the gulf islands on his sailboat, playing and recording music in his studio, or on a hike, thinking about his next book.

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Problem Child: A Jane Doe Thriller by Victoria Helen Stone #BlogTour #BookReview #Giveaway

I am delighted today to provide a review for you at my blog stop for Problem Child by Victoria Helen Stone on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. Scroll down to enter your chance to win the Giveaway!

Problem Child by Victoria Helen Stone

Book Details

Problem Child: A Jane Doe Thriller
Thriller
2nd in Series
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (March 24, 2020)
Paperback: 265 pages
ISBN-10: 1542014395
ISBN-13: 978-1542014397
Digital ASIN: B07SDTRJP9

Book Blurb

She’s cold, calculating, and can deceive with a smile. Jane Doe is back in the Amazon Charts bestselling series—and this time she’s met her match.

After a brutal childhood, Jane Doe has been permanently wired to look after herself and only herself. Now, looking next to normal, Jane has a lover and a job. But she hasn’t lost her edge. It sharpens when she hears from her estranged family.

Jane’s deeply troubled sixteen-year-old niece, Kayla, has vanished, and no one seems to care. Neither does Jane. Until she sees a picture of Kayla and recognizes herself in the young girl’s eyes. It’s the empty stare of a sociopath.

Jane knows what vengeful and desperate things Kayla is capable of. Only Jane can help her—by being drawn into Kayla’s dark world. And no one’s more aware than Jane just how dangerous that can be.

My Thoughts

Sucked into this one by the blurb and the genre (I do love a good thriller), I was an innocent pulled into the world of a true sociopath. (Sociopath: Someone who has antisocial personality disorder, can’t understand others’ feelings and exhibit a lack of conscience.) Told in first person, protagonist Jane Doe has been at her job for a year.

Problem Child by Victoria Helen StoneJane has met a man, also an innocent, who finds her fascinating, titillating, and irresistible. Unfortunately, he is ready to take their relationship to another level. She isn’t. But she is capable of manipulating the men at her law firm and it’s sooo easy to view the glass ceiling. It’s within reach now. Then she gets a call about a niece, Kayla, who she wouldn’t care about at all, except that she is apparently “just like her.” She can’t resist the temptation to find the missing girl and see for herself if that is true.

Jane had a childhood that molded the woman who can take care of herself. She is capable, smart, and became an attorney without help–escaping a desperately miserable family life back home.

I came in to Book 2 as a standalone and must say this one came as a shock. After reading cozies, psychological thrillers, and carefully selecting books with a PG rating, discovered this novel quite a serious departure. There is humor of a dark nature and the storyline involved scenes that might have had me blushing when younger. Jane is a main character with which I’ve had few comparisons–she can be sexually adventurous and foul-mouthed and oh so square how she sees others–but not of herself. She has trust issues, but her cynicism has been a positive and along with her wit kept her (mostly) safe.

When she finds Kayla, she is what you’d expect a sixteen-year-old raised in the same poisonous atmosphere as Jane to be. She’s annoying and also manipulative. The middle block tended to be on the crude side. But like a pimple-faced fourteen-year-old male adolescent viewing a secreted copy of Playboy, difficult to put down. There is a well-plotted story at a fast pace breezing through Jane’s encounters with the population of her hometown, put satisfying in their place now, and I suspect somewhat of a reprise of Book 1. The conclusion appears to suggest a happy solution for both Jane and Kayla, as well as Luke, right up until that last little zinger at the end–a spark for Book 3–and a shocker. I did NOT see that twist coming and it definitely threw me.

I’ll include a few trigger warnings: sexual content, language, drugs and drinking. Interesting to park yourself in the mind of a sociopath, safely, where you could escape back to reality at the end of the novel (but not totally unscathed). I received this uncorrected proof from the publisher through NetGalley for this book tour and appreciated the opportunity to break out of my pleasant, but predictable reads. Will I request Book 3? Yes.

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Giveaway

Sign up for your chance to win one of five (5) print copies of Problem Child: A Jane Doe Thriller by Victoria Helen Stone – U.S. only – in this Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author

Victoria Helen Stone - authorVictoria Helen Stone, formerly writing as USA Today bestselling novelist Victoria Dahl, is originally from the Midwest but now writes from an upstairs office high in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah. After a career in romance that included the American Library Association’s prestigious Reading List Award, she turned toward the darker side of fiction and has written the critically acclaimed novels, Evelyn, AfterHalf Past; and False Step. Her Amazon Charts bestselling thriller Jane Doe has been optioned by Sony Television. For more on the author and her work, visit VictoriaHelenStone.com.  And on Twitter @VictoriaDahl

Purchase Links – Amazon – B&N  

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

Tour Participants:

March 17 – fundinmental – REVIEW

March 17 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

March 17 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

March 18 – The Book Decoder – REVIEW  

March 18 – Elizabeth McKenna – Author – SPOTLIGHT

March 19 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW

March 19 – The Book Diva’s Reads – SPOTLIGHT

March 20 – eBook Addicts – REVIEW

March 20 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

March 21 – Diane Reviews Books – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW

March 21 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT

March 22 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

March 22 – This Is My Truth Now – SPOTLIGHT

March 23 – That’s What She’s Reading – REVIEW

March 23 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT Great Escapes Book Tours

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Past Deeds (Brandon Fisher FBI series Book 8) by Carolyn Arnold – a #BookReview

Book Blurb:

Past Deeds by Carolyn ArnoldThe sun was just coming up, and the sniper’s hands were sweaty as she looked through the rifle’s scope to the streets eight stories below and point eight miles away. In mere minutes, the target would be dead.

A prosecuting attorney is murdered in a sniping that takes place in Arlington, Virginia, less than fifteen minutes from Washington. FBI Agent Brandon Fisher and his team with the Behavioral Analysis Unit are called in to investigate the threat level and to determine if the lawyer was targeted. The FBI hadn’t anticipated previous victims stretching from coast to coast.

The team splits up across the country, but more than jet lag is getting to Brandon. As their profile on the shooter takes shape, their one theory on motive strikes too close to home and has him battling with regret over a past decision. He comes to discover some choices not only haunt us but can have long- and far-reaching repercussions we couldn’t even begin to imagine. Will Brandon be able to set aside his personal issues for long enough to stop a serial killing spree before there’s another victim?

Past Deeds is a gripping psychological crime thriller that will have you flipping the pages as you try to put the clues together faster than the FBI. To stand a chance, you’ll need to unravel the psyche of a killer. This mystery will also make you think and reflect—and you just might wonder if any past decisions you’ve made are stalking you, ready to strike.

My Review:

Special Agent Brandon Fisher and new member Kelly Marsh up from the Miami PD, and Paige Dawson, join Special Agent in Charge Jack Harper of the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) to investigation the sniper shooting of a prominent prosecutor. There are several POVs; Fisher is first person. Brandon is paired with Paige, which brings back painful memories of their short-lived liaison while Brandon was still married. Jack pairs with Kelly and makes sure he’s constantly on her for speaking up or volunteering any opinions. He’s over-the-top rude, cryptic, and short on directions for a newbie, preferring instead just to throw her in the water to see if she can swim with the sharks.

Past Deeds by Carolyn ArnoldThe case proceeds with tiny new crumbs leading to a possible lead and the agents split after they bring in Nadia, the technie, who discovers there were three other identical deaths spread over the US. What follows is SOP for police procedural, interviews, and making connections.

Brandon Fisher and Paige seem to be reverting to he-said/she said to settle the feelings between each other. Jack is just nasty. Kelly fills the insecure newbie role, second-guessing each of her actions and eventually being reticent to promote any new scenario.

My problem was the shifting of POVs, at times leaving me wondering who was speaking, or even what gender the person was. They didn’t feel like a “unit,” more a disjointed group muddling through personal dilemmas. Seems like they would put forth a theory and then rediscover the same possible theory several pages later.

The antagonist is ex-military, obviously suffering PTSD, but loaded with an additional “trigger” mechanism forcing the mission. The conclusion was contrived and a grievous error given the information they had on the unsub. (In the military, they would call it a “CF.)

I did enjoy a couple quotes, “Not his monkeys, not his circus…” and “‘Fortuna favet fortibus!’ Fortune favors the strong.”

My second experience with this author, the first with this series. While there was an interesting storyline, I couldn’t get into the characters and perhaps I’m just not the right person for this author. There are, however, many others who enjoy the writing style–you might be one.

Book Details:

Genre: Serial Killers, Hard-Boiled Mysteries
Publisher: Hibbert and Stiles Publishing Inc

  • ISBN-10:1988353971
  • ISBN-13:978-1988353975
  • ASIN: B07YNWNYT9

Print Length: 378 pages
Publication Date: Feb 18, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Past Deeds (Amazon link) 

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

Carolyn Arnold - authorThe Author: CAROLYN ARNOLD is an international bestselling and award-winning author, as well as a speaker, teacher, and inspirational mentor. She has four continuing fiction series–Detective Madison Knight, Brandon Fisher FBI, McKinley Mysteries, and Matthew Connor Adventures–and has written nearly thirty books. Her genre diversity offers her readers everything from cozy to hard-boiled mysteries, and thrillers to action adventures.

Both her female detective and FBI profiler series have been praised by those in law enforcement as being accurate and entertaining, leading her to adopt the trademark: POLICE PROCEDURALS RESPECTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT™.

Carolyn was born in a small town and enjoys spending time outdoors, but she also loves the lights of a big city. Grounded by her roots and lifted by her dreams, her overactive imagination insists that she tell her stories. Her intention is to touch the hearts of millions with her books, to entertain, inspire, and empower.

She currently lives just west of Toronto with her husband and beagle and is a member of Crime Writers of Canada and Sisters in Crime.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Sockeye by Michael F Tevlin – A #BookReview #readingirelandmonth20

A Review by associate CE.

March!

Book Blurb:

Sockeye by Michael F TevlinJoe Wallace returns to this remote Oregon valley from self-imposed exile to bury the father who abandoned him a decade ago. Sad, alone and drinking, Joe has nearly given up on life and love.

Things change when Joe meets Ana, whose Nez Perce ancestors once called this valley home. Joe joins Ana’s cause to restore a lost sockeye salmon run to the lake where he grew up. As their relationship deepens, their peril grows. Somebody wants them gone – or dead.

The escalating threats rekindle a fire Joe thought was dead or buried in him. When his jealous brother tries to develop the family’s land, Joe must make a stand.

In the end, Joe discovers a life worth living, with a woman he was meant to love, in the place he was meant to live. And he realizes the redemption possible in a deep connection to the land.

His Review:

Do sons need to atone for the failings of their fathers? This author explores this issue in this sad and revealing story set in one of Oregon’s most beautiful settings. Joe Wallace left under the pressure of an alcoholic father and a murdered fiancée. He thought Alaska and a life of fishing could keep him insulated from the loneliness and heartbreak of lost love.

Sockeye by Michael F TevlinBut life does not offer solitude as forgiveness for forgotten memories. Joe comes back for the funeral of his father only to confront the devils of his past. Do-gooders are attempting to restore the salmon runs in outback Oregon. They see the controlled waterways and dams as a total rape of the natural environment.

Of course, there is sibling rivalry between Joe and his older brother. The family homestead of 160 acres is a prime opportunity for developers to change this ranch forever. His older brother has been counting the value of the land for years. All that is needed is to have Joe and his sister McKenzie agree to sell the property to developers. Neither of them wants to sell the property and lose their childhood home and memories.

A young Nez Perce Indian lady is part of a consortium to blow up the dam and revert the land and river to its’ natural flow. Most of the small town is against the plan because the dam provides life-giving water to the ranches and farms in this semi-arid region. No matter which way they turn, the Wallace family is going to make enemies.

Alcoholism is a cruel taskmaster. No matter where you go it will always seek you out. Old man Wallace had places where bottles were hidden all around the ranch property. Like father like son, Joe knew all of the secret hiding places and followed in his fathers’ shadow. He felt he would never be able to live up to the example set by his dad and the bottle was a convenient crutch.

The young lady, Ana, falls in love with Joe. The old adage that two people influenced by alcohol will always seek each other holds true in the story. Disaster is always a bottle away. These well-developed characters fight through this problem and it almost destroys them. A son is born to them and Ana struggles to keep Joe centered on his new family.

CE WilliamsThis narrative is well developed and engaging. Anyone coming from a broken home destroyed by alcohol will recognize much of this storyline. I found the story compelling. 4/5 stars CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Native American Literature, Family Life Fiction, Small Town and Rural Fiction
Publisher: Black Rose Writing

  • ISBN-10:1684334659
  • ISBN-13:978-1684334650
  • ASIN: B084Q83GS5

Print Length: 304 pages
Publication Date: March 12, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Sockeye (Amazon link)

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4-stars

Michael F Tevlin - authorThe Author: Michael F. Tevlin was born not far from Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York, and grew up on Staten Island. He is the second of five children. His father was a New York cop, and both his parents were the children of Irish immigrants. He has a bachelor’s from the State University of New York at Oneonta and a master’s in journalism from the University of Oregon. He and his wife, Diane, moved to Oregon when they were 25 and put down roots. He worked briefly as a reporter before moving on to a corporate and freelance writing career. His first novel, “Sockeye,” will be published by Black Rose Writing in March 2020. He plays guitar and sings, loves the outdoors, surfs occasionally when visiting his older son in California and fly-fishes whenever he can with his younger son. He and Diane have two grandkids and live in Portland.

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Murder in an Irish Cottage (An Irish Village Mystery Book 5) by Carlene O’Connor

Yes! This cozy mystery kicks off the first of my Reading Ireland Month reviews for 2020.

March!

Book Blurb:

In a remote—and superstitious—village in County Cork, Ireland, Garda Siobhán O’Sullivan must solve a murder where the prime suspects are fairies . . .

Murder in an Irish Cottage by Carlene O'ConnorFamily is everything to Siobhán: her five siblings; her dear departed mother for whom the family business, Naomi’s Bistro, is named; and now her fiancé, Macdara Flannery. So precious is her engagement that Siobhán wants to keep it just between the two of them for a little longer.

But Macdara is her family, which is why when his cousin Jane frantically calls for his help, Siobhán is at his side as the two garda rush from Kilbane to the rural village where Jane and her mother have recently moved. Unfortunately, tragedy awaits them. They find Jane, who is blind, outside the cottage, in a state. Inside, Aunt Ellen lies on her bed in a fancy red dress, no longer breathing. A pillow on the floor and a nearby teacup suggest the mode of death to their trained eyes: the woman has been poisoned and smothered. Someone wanted to make sure she was dead. But who?

Devout believers in Irish folklore, the villagers insist the cottage is cursed—built on a fairy path. It turns out Ellen Delaney was not the first to die mysteriously in this cottage. Although the townsfolk blame malevolent fairies, Siobhán and Macdara must follow the path of a murderer all too human—but just as evil . . .

My Review:

Totally on accident, I swear, but Book 4 in the Irish Village Mystery series, Murder in an Irish Pub, kicked off my Reading Ireland Month last year as well. I really do enjoy this series, the total immersion into Irish culture, lore, unpronounceable names…and the mysteries are interesting too!

Murder in an Irish Cottage by Carlene O'ConnorSt Patty's Day HatBook 5 has the reader thoroughly enthralled with all things fairies–the little people themselves, fairy rings, fairy trees (Hawthorne tree), and all the lore, fables, tales, and ballyhoo that goes with those unique legends in the Emerald Isle.

Siobhán O’Sullivan is now Garda O’Sullivan, engaged to fellow Garda Macdara Flannery (Dara). Siobhán (shi-vawn) has been a major caregiver for her younger siblings since they were orphaned, now known as the O’Sullivan Six. She and her siblings have managed Naomi’s Bistro since the death of their parents, Siobhán arriving early each morning to bake the cafe’s signature brown bread. Looking forward to some private time with Dara, however, is interrupted when he informs her plans have changed as he got an urgent call from his cousin Jane in Ballysiogdun regarding his aunt. Jane is blind and although an adult was living with her mother. She arrived home from being out of town and quickly realizes her mother is deceased. But it doesn’t “look” natural. Unfortunately, as their district is in Kilbane (County Cork), they can’t officially work the case.

Having no shortage of people who actively disliked his aunt Ellen, it appears the local garda want to zero in on Jane being the most obvious–she can’t, and won’t produce evidence of her whereabouts for time in question. Ellen was extremely abrasive though and they begin to discover some of the reasons she was estranged from Dara’s mother. In this tiny but quaint, quintessential Irish village, the superstitions run rampant. It’s not the first time this cottage has been the location of mysterious deaths–all attributed to it’s being in a fairy path between two fairy rings. So much shared folklore here, fascinating history dating centuries, and attributable supernatural events.

I love the short chapters that allow you to burn through the pages, easily getting in just ONE more chapter before you have to start dinner. The author has a beautiful writing style invoking unusual descriptions (“…shards of sunlight…”) and an easy swing into the next tidbit or clue that naturally leads to the next revelation. Garda O’Sullivan is a pitbull who latches on and won’t let go and she’s smart. It may not be her district, but she eases into the investigation, gradually penetrating guarded secrets.

There is enough here to delight most cozy readers: a great mystery, a touch of romance, family relationships, intelligent dialogue. The well-plotted storyline eases into a conclusion that neatly satisfies the loose threads. While I suspected the perp (and was correct), there was more to the ending than I expected and, in the meantime, provided a delightful literary romp.

I received this digital ebook download from the publisher through NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. A series I look forward to giving me the Irish experience albeit vicariously. Highly recommended.

Book Details:

Genre: International Mystery and Crime
Publisher: Kensington Books

  • ISBN-10:1496719050
  • ISBN-13:978-1496719058
  • ASIN: B07R7RXMKQ
  • Print Length: 304 pages

Publication Date: February 25, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Murder in an Irish Cottage

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

Carlene O'Connor - authorThe Author: Carlene O’Connor comes from a long line of Irish storytellers. Her great-grandmother emigrated from Ireland to America during the Troubles, and the stories have been flowing ever since. Of all the places across the pond she’s wandered, she fell most in love with a walled town in County Limerick and was inspired to create the town of Kilbane, County Cork. Carlene currently divides her time between New York and the Emerald Isle.

http://www.carleneoconnor.com

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Dead Ringer (A Mattie Winston Mystery Book 11) by Annelise Ryan – a #BookReview

Book Blurb:

Dead Ringer by Annelise RyanA new murder victim with an old M.O. puts Mattie Winston on the trail of a killer who gives a grim new meaning to flower power . . .
 
Spring is beginning to brighten Sorenson, Wisconsin, for Mattie and Steve Hurley and their family. While their son Matthew may be in his terrible twos and Steve’s daughter Emily a moody teenager, the kids bring light to their lives when their work is dark by its nature—Steve is a homicide detective and Mattie is a medicolegal death investigator, aka medical examiner. They deal in corpses.
 
The latest corpse, a Jane Doe, was clearly an addict, but drugs didn’t kill her, at least not directly. She’s been stabbed multiple times in a pattern that is disturbingly familiar to Mattie. When she discovers flower petals from yellow carnations stuffed into the stab wounds, she recognizes a very specific M.O.—belonging to a convicted serial killer who’s currently serving a life sentence.
 
The details of the flower petals were never made public in the last case, so it can’t be a copycat crime. It looks like the wrong man is in prison, and the murderer is still at large. Now it’s up to Mattie and Steve to get the case reopened—and catch the real carnation killer . . .

My Review:

Dead Ringer by Annelise RyanMattie Winston is a medicolegal investigator (assistant coroner) in small town Sorenson, Wisconsin and along with her husband, Detective Steve Hurley, often work together on cases. Together they have Matthew, a toddler and Steve’s teenage daughter Emily who is looking forward to leaving for college the following year. They’ve recently bought a new home and are trying to meld their chaotic schedules when there is a new homicide found by the side of the road.

This female victim, however, has an obvious MO that Mattie remembers from a conversation at a convention and when the details look to be the same becomes aware the wrong man may be in prison. They are reluctant to charge it to a copy cat since one of the major details was never divulged but is repeated in the latest fatality.

Mattie, is a wife and mother and loves her job but realizes she is pregnant (again) and the hormones are beginning to go wild. And here is where the plot tends to go off the rails. The hormones are jerking her–she’s feeling overworked and underpaid (at home). Steve continues on his merry way with his position while her responsibilities tend to overwhelm her. She and hubby decided together to try for another child, but now that it’s happening, it’s like the whole thing is really not what she wanted and it’s out of her hands. Meanwhile, he’s thrilled.

Shoving all her angst down, ignoring Steve’s obviously touchy reaction to her colleague contact, she proceeds to continue her investigation, handing off Matthew to the sitters (so convenient) or to Steve (whom she always calls Hurley) when he’s available and makes some questionable decisions seemed to alienate her spouse (and the reader). She seems more inclined to duck the issues rather than to confront them and his reaction is rather juvenile.

The forensics were interesting and that is what I expected, rather than the dissolution into a domestic drama. This is my first experience with the author and the series, so I suspect Mattie has been through development in previous issues. There are a number of support characters, but I couldn’t fully engage with them either. And Arnie, what? why?

The conclusion reels everyone back after a harrowing climax and it was one in which I was somewhat dismayed. Okay, I must admit to suspecting one of the slightly zealous support characters, but then it flips entirely.

I received this digital download ARC from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Not exactly a cozy and a bit torn between medical thriller and domestic drama, but the mystery parts, forensics, and medical explanations were appreciated.

Book Details:

Genre: Medical Thrillers
Publisher: Kensington Books

  • ISBN-10:1496722558
  • ISBN-13:978-1496722553
  • ASIN: B07R7S242R

Print Length: 336 pages
Publication Date: February 25, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Dead Ringer

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

Annelise Ryan - authorThe Author: Annelise Ryan is the USA Today bestselling author of the popular Mattie Winston mystery series and a pseudonym for Beth Amos, who also writes the Mack’s Bar Mystery series under the pseudonym Allyson K. Abbott. Beth is a real life emergency room RN living in Wisconsin. She believes laughter is the best medicine, and with the Mattie Winston series she is hoping to “medicate” the masses.

For more Mattie Winston fun and to keep up with the latest news, visit http://www.mattiewinston.com

ABOUT WORKING STIFF: Stephanie Plum with a CSI twist–Annelise Ryan’s new cozy mystery series introduces wisecracking nurse-turned-coroner Mattie Winston and the eccentric inhabitants of her small Wisconsin town.

“Ryan, the pseudonym of a Wisconsin emergency nurse, brings her professional expertise to her crisp debut.” ~Publishers Weekly

“Mattie Winston’s life in small-town Sorenson, Wis., is anything but dull after she takes the job as deputy coroner. Mattie is klutzy and endearing, and there are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments.” ~ Romantic Times

“A recently-divorced OR nurse accepts the job as assistant to the coroner and her first case involves the murder of her ex-husband’s lover, and when her ex becomes the chief suspect, she joins forces with a hunky police detective to find the killer in a debut that is both funny and intricately-plotted.” ~ Clues Unlimited

“Annelise Ryan turns in a spiffy series debut with Working Stiff introducing nurse turned coroner’s assis¬tant Mattie Winston. Her first crime scene is quite a challenge, however, as the prime suspect is her husband, Dr. Wonderful, and the victim is his mistress. Mattie is a wise-cracking guide to the ins-and-outs of autopsy and crime-solving while managing some pithy commentary on the current state of medical practice courtesy of the author’s background as a nurse.” ~ Mystery Lovers Bookshop Fall Coffee and Crime Newsletter

ABOUT SCARED STIFF:

“When shocked trick-or-treaters discover the body of model Shannon Tolliver one Halloween night, Mattie Winston investigates in Ryan’s sharp second mystery to feature the Sorenson City, Wis., deputy coroner (after 2009’s Working Stiff.” Publishers Weekly

“Mattie Winston is a likable, humorous heroine with whom readers will readily identify.” Romantic Times

“This has the makings of an appealing series on multiple fronts: the forensic details will interest Patricia Cornwell readers, though the tone here is lighter, while the often slapstick humor and the blossoming romance between Mattie and Hurley will draw Evanovich fans who don’t object to the cozier mood.” Sue O’Brien, Booklist

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Thief River Falls by Brian Freeman – a #BookReview #psychologicalthriller

Book Blurb:

Thief River Falls by Brian FreemanHarrowing loss, psychological trauma, and a deadly mystery test the human will to survive in this electrifying novel from award-winning author Brian Freeman.

Lisa Power is a tortured ghost of her former self. The author of a bestselling thriller called Thief River Falls, named after her rural Minnesota hometown, Lisa is secluded in her remote house as she struggles with the loss of her entire family: a series of tragedies she calls the “Dark Star.”

Then a nameless runaway boy shows up at her door with a terrifying story: he’s just escaped death after witnessing a brutal murder—a crime the police want to cover up. Obsessed with the boy’s safety, Lisa resolves to expose this crime, but powerful men in Thief River Falls are desperate to get the boy back, and now they want her too.

Lisa and her young visitor have nowhere to go as the trap closes around them. Still under the strange, unforgiving threat of the Dark Star, Lisa must find a way to save them both, or they’ll become the victims of another shocking tragedy she can’t foresee.

My Review:

Holy Moly! What can I say about this book that wouldn’t be an obvious spoiler?

Thief River Falls by Brian FreemanLisa Power is a damaged protagonist, a survivor of horrendous recent family tragedies that left her and her twin brother Noah the survivors of a family of seven. But Noah couldn’t hack it and left her to deal with the fallout. In an effort to change her setting, she leaves her family home and buys a remote farmhouse outside of town, creates a “writer’s cottage” and finishes up a bestseller that puts both she and the little town where she grew up on the map.

But life (and death) isn’t through with her.

Winter is approaching and on a cold, windy night when two policemen come to her door. She doesn’t answer but peeks out the window at them. Later, she finds a child hiding in her outbuilding. He’s scared, dirty, cold, and obviously survived a severe trauma of his own–he has no memory of what happened to land him on her property. Because he can’t remember his name, she names him after a character in her book. Uh oh

It’s a suspense thriller, and really, I thought the gradual build-up, dropping little crumbs here and there, served to start creating tension. The boy would remember little flashes and pieces of his puzzle and they begin to gather into a shape–albeit a very hazy one. There are little things that don’t quite make sense though–something isn’t adding up.

Lisa has a best friend with whom she has been confiding secrets and she asks her to come over. She explains the situation with the boy, whom she’s fed, cleaned up, and made comfortable in a bed. Something about the boy’s story has her afraid to trust anyone and she is already suspicious of the police that came to her door. And the more the boy remembers she realizes the greater his risk and her unreasonable resolve to protect him–at all cost.

At this point, the reader is sucked into the storyline, marveling at the stoic child, recoiling at some of Lisa’s less than stellar decisions on how to proceed. Lisa begins to get out and investigate what might have happened and shows the boy a special place to hide should someone come to the house while she is gone. She is well-known in this little town and everywhere she goes is recognized. But she pulls together more pieces of the puzzle. At this point, the reader might become suspiciously frantic…and there are those few little bits that just don’t seem to make sense.

Enter support characters, some estranged, many who shouldn’t be trusted and Lisa begins to realize the only way out for the boy is to discover exactly the who, what, where, when, and why and then find evidence. She must have evidence. And off she goes again.

As the big reveal comes barreling into a mind-blowing climax, reality swerves head-long into unreality. Difficult to ascertain what is real and what isn’t. WAIT! The reader is plunged…well, I can’t tell you…but I’m beginning to get woozy…it’s the twist. And the twist is a doozy. Now you may have seen this coming. I certainly knew something was wrong but still taken aback in shock. Emotional conclusion. Gulp…just need some time to digest. And then, realized, there were a few holes, tiny things that bugged me and were left unexplained. Ugh…otherwise, it would have hit that 5-star bell ringer. You can’t fault it for suspense and it was certainly entertaining. It is meant to be a standalone.

I received this digital ARC from the publisher through NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. My first book by this author, would definitely read another. Recommended.

Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Thrillers, Suspense Thrillers
Publisher: Thomas and Mercer

  • ISBN-10:1542093384
  • ISBN-13:978-1542093385
  • ASIN: B07MCT1GC3

Print Length: 314 pages
Publication Date: February 1, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Thief River Falls 

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4-stars

Brian Freeman - authorThe Author: Brian Freeman is a New York Times bestselling author of psychological thrillers, including the Jonathan Stride and Frost Easton series. His books have been sold in 46 countries and 22 languages. He is widely acclaimed for his “you are there” settings and his complex, engaging characters and twist-filled plots. Brian has also been selected as the official author to continue Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne series, with a new Bourne novel THE BOURNE EVOLUTION due in 2020.

His novel THE NIGHT BIRD, the first in the Frost Easton series set in San Francisco, was one of the top 20 Kindle bestsellers of 2017. His latest releases include two stand-alones, the #1 Amazon Kindle bestseller THIEF RIVER FALLS and the #1 bestselling Audible Original THE DEEP, DEEP SNOW.

Brian’s seventh novel SPILLED BLOOD won the award for Best Hardcover Novel in the annual Thriller Awards given out by the International Thriller Writers organization, and his fifth novel THE BURYING PLACE was a finalist for the same award. His debut thriller, IMMORAL, won the Macavity Award for Best First Novel and was a nominee for the Edgar, Dagger, Anthony, and Barry Awards. IMMORAL was named an International Book of the Month, a distinction shared with authors such as Harlan Coben and Lisa Unger.

All of Brian’s books are also available in audiobook editions. His novels THE BONE HOUSE and SEASON OF FEAR were both finalists for Best Audiobook of the Year in Thriller/Suspense.

For more information on Brian’s books, visit his web site at bfreemanbooks.com or find him on:

Facebook at facebook.com/bfreemanfans or

Twitter and Instagram (@bfreemanbooks).

©2020 V Williams V Williams

The K Team by David Rosenfelt – A #BookReview #TuesdayBookBlog

Book 1 in a new series spin-off from the best selling Andy Carpenter mysteries.

Book Blurb:

The K Team by David RosenfeltFrom bestselling mystery author David Rosenfelt comes a new series – a spinoff of the much beloved Andy Carpenter mysteries – about a dynamic new investigative team featuring a determined former cop and his loyal German Shepherd.

Corey Douglas and his K-9 partner, Simon Garfunkel, have recently retired from the police force. Not ready to give up the life yet, they come up with a proposal for fellow former cop, Laurie Carpenter, and her investigating partner, Marcus. Laurie and Marcus – who help out Laurie’s lawyer husband Andy on cases – have been chafing to jump back into investigating on their own, so they are in.

They call themselves the K Team, in honor of Simon. Their first job as private investigators comes to them from Judge Henry Henderson, who’s known as a very tough but fair judge, and they’ve all come up against him in court at one time or another. Though it’s hard to believe, Judge Henderson is being blackmailed and extorted, and he doesn’t want to involve the police–he needs the K Team to figure out why.

My Review:

To those of you spoiled by the Andy Carpenter legal thriller series, the good news is that there are most of the characters you’ve come to love. The author has even thrown in Andy Carpenter himself in a much lesser, support-type role, but I must admit, though skeptical at first, think I may come to love Corey Douglas almost as much. An ex-cop with his K-9 partner, GSD (German Shepherd Dog) Simon Garfunkel, Corey has teamed with Laurie, Andy’s wife, and Marcus (also of the Carpenter fame), along with occasional Super-Hacker Sam.

The K Team by David RosenfeltCorey retired but still can’t stop being a cop–it’s part of his psyche–and he’s happy, albeit reticent about partners Laurie and Marcus. Corey won’t have to go to the dark side, but it won’t be easy to separate himself from the sanctioned law he is used to wielding. There might now be a gray area where there was previously only black and white.

The team’s first client, a judge known quietly behind his back as “Hatchet” has them looking into a possible blackmail/extortion attempt until suddenly they are left without the client but still have a case. And the case quickly escalates. The well-plotted action becomes complex and while you don’t have to be a day-trader, it might help to possess some slight knowledge of the stock market. Even if you don’t, this becomes a good primer.

This man is not your average vision of a tough guy–and he has woman issues, although his latest, Dani, has yet to find and push those buttons that always spelled doom for the budding friendship/romance before, it hasn’t yet happened. He knows there’s bound to be a problem–he just hasn’t found it yet. Corey will be acting protagonist this series in first person. He is less sarcastic than Andy and we’ve yet to really see a full fleshing. And Dani? She’s a great support character and fits in beautifully with Laurie. Marcus–you don’t mess with Marcus. The Seal Team wouldn’t mess with Marcus.

Book 1 doesn’t include Simon so much, so we don’t get a super feel for him other than that he is a former well-trained, capable service K-9 and fiercely protective and loyal. He does, however, play well with Tara and Sebastian, Andy and Laurie’s two dogs. That is, when Sebastian deigns to play. Once again, Rosenfelt is a master at developing that fine working chemistry between his characters.

As the first book in a new series, there is going to be some time spent in “getting to know” the new guy and a bit of redux for Laurie and Marcus. There is name dropping of a few other support players from the Andy Carpenter series, so it’s a comfortable intro. Once we are past the preliminaries, the novel begins to gather speed and has the reader burning through the remaining chapters. You just have to get used to Corey being numero uno. While he doesn’t have the biting wit of Andy Carpenter (and really, how could he?), it still moves at a fast pace, keeping the characters involved, dodging red herrings, kicking ass and taking names. Okay, may the former part is more Marcus’ domain, while the taking names part is Corey’s.

“…investigations create their own paths to follow. One thing leads obviously to the next;…”

I was thrilled to receive this digital ARC from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for a review. This is a great start to the new series and I’m already looking forward to Book 2. Recommended for any who enjoy an action and crime thriller, animal fiction, mystery. Great characters, complex plots, well-written and entertaining.

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Animal Mysteries, Animal Fiction
Publisher:  Minotaur Books

  • ISBN-10:1250257190
  • ISBN-13:978-1250257192
  • ASIN: B07S7L676S

Print Length: 304 pages
Publication Date: March 24, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The K Team
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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five of Five Stars 4.5-stars

David Rosenfelt - authorThe Author: [David Rosenfelt-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.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Here Comes the Body (A Catering Hall Mystery) by Maria DiRico – a #BookReview – #Cozy

Book 1 of a Quirky New Series!

Book Blurb:

Here Comes the Body by Maria DiRicoAfter her philandering husband’s boat went down, newly single Mia Carina went back to Astoria, the bustling Queens neighborhood of her youth. Living with her nonna and her oversized cat, Doorstop, she’s got a whole new life—including some amateur sleuthing . . .
 
Mia is starting work at Belle View, her father’s catering hall, a popular spot for weddings, office parties, and more—despite the planes that occasionally roar overhead on their way to LaGuardia and rattle the crystal chandelier. Soon she’s planning a bachelor party for a less-than-gentlemanly groom. But it goes awry when the gigantic cake is wheeled in and a deadly surprise is revealed . . .

Since some of her family’s associates are on the shady side, the NYPD wastes no time in casting suspicion on Mia’s father. Now, Mia’s going to have to use all her street smarts to keep him out of Rikers Island . . .

My Review:

Here Comes the Body by Maria DiRicoI didn’t connect the author’s name right away with Ellen Byron who wrote one of my happy favs last year regarding the Cajun/Bayou mystery Fatal Cajun Festival, but I recognized the author photo. Now here is Book 1 of a new series with another magnetic setting and premise–her father, former mafioso, is trying to go legit with a catering business. She will function as his event planner/sales/manager. The Belle View Banquet Manor is in Astoria (Queens in NYC) near La Guardia Airport. Window-rattling planes coming in for a perfect landing and, thankfully, this building has good bones and in spite of the planes, the land a good location.

The protagonist Messina (Mia) Carina returned from Florida after her no-good husband disappeared in a boating accident leaving her a widow…maybe or maybe not (? She was eventually cleared of being a suspect in his disappearance). Now Mia is sharing a two-family structure in a Queens neighborhood with her grandmother. Nonna lives in one unit with Hero, her dog, while Mia shares her quarters upstairs with the Abyssinian cat she named Doorstop. DOORSTOP?! Knew I was going to love this one right there! A cat named Doorstop. Now that’s funny, y’all. And that is an indication of the subtle shades of humor sprinkled through this delightful romp into the catering business backed by a “GodFather.”

The support characters are wildly unique, full of personality, and utterly engaging. Genuinely Italian, the author develops Nonna beautifully, right down to “hi…are you hungry?” Being a daughter of a (ex?) mob boss has definitely given Mia a persona she’d been happy to discard, but now finding it necessary to reassess. She is close friends with the son of another in the “Family,” and is startled to realize she might have more than friendly feelings for him but then discovers Jamie apparently has a girlfriend. Her brother, Posi, is cooling his heels in the slammer.

While Mia is coordinating her first event, the body found in the cake that was supposed to have been a stripper at the bachelor party wasn’t the stripper but definitely wouldn’t be jumping out of anything anymore. Unfortunately, she’d seen this woman before and there is an apparent connection to her dad, who swears he’s out of the business. His reputation precedes him, however, and the police are quick to jump–in his direction.

Mia, for the most part, seems to have her head on straight. She’s intelligent and handles her clients with a “deal they can’t refuse.” She manages to satisfy even the most outrageous requests. I really liked the characters of Jamie, Nonna, and her dad and the inclusion of the Mafia connections–handled delicately and respectfully. The police in charge of the investigation is not the best and brightest of the force, an old device in cozies and one of my few complaints.

The well-plotted mystery sped up heading into the conclusion and included a rather hair-raising climax although I must admit the final reveal set my head spinning. Still, overall this is a most entertaining debut for this series and I’m keen to continue as I can see there are endless possibilities where these characters might go.

I was given this digital ARC download in exchange for an honest review and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read. This is going to be a fun, engaging series with a compelling setting that I’m looking forward to continuing. Recommended to those who enjoy a good cozy mystery and, by the way, do you know what Cookie Cup Shot Glasses are? There is an amazing recipe for this most unusual cookie/liquor/liqueur/milk dessert at the back of the book.

Book Details:

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

  • ISBN-10:1496725344
  • ISBN-13:978-1496725349

ASIN: B07R8WYLSC
Print Length: 304 pages
Publication Date: To be released February 25, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Here Comes the Body
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Rosepoint Publishing: Four Point Five of Five Stars 4.5-stars

Maria DiRico - authorThe Author: Maria DiRico (the pen name of award-winning author Ellen Byron) was born in Queens, New York, and raised in Queens and Westchester County. She is first-generation Italian-American on her mother’s side. On her father’s side, her grandfather was a low-level Jewish mobster who disappeared in 1933 under mysterious circumstances.

While growing up in Queens, Maria/Ellen’s cousin’s uncles ran the Astoria Manor and Grand Bay Marina catering halls. MARDI GRAS MURDER, the fourth book in Ellen Byron’s bestselling Cajun Country Mystery series, won the 2018 Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel. The series has also won multiple Best Humorous Mystery Lefty awards from Left Coast Crime. Fun fact: she worked as cater-waiter for Martha Stewart, a credit she never tires of sharing. Maria/Ellen loves to translate what she learned from Martha into recipes for her books.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Anne and Louis: Rulers and Lovers by Rozsa Gaston – a #BookReview

A review of #Renaissance Lovers Anne and Louis by the CE. Happy Valentines Day!

Anne and Louis: Rulers and Lovers-a Valentines Day review

Book Blurb:

Anne and Louis: Rulers and Lovers is the stand-alone sequel to Anne and Louis, General Fiction Winner of the Publishers Weekly 2018 BookLife Prize.

The year is 1501. Europe’s fate rests in the hands of two monarchs at loggerheads.

Anne of Brittany meticulously orchestrates the perfect match for her only child by Louis XII, King of France. Her daughter will become the most powerful woman in Europe by marrying the future Holy Roman Emperor.

But when Louis abandons her wishes in favor of having their daughter marry his successor, Anne soon finds herself locked in a political struggle with the fate of Europe hanging between them. Things only get worse when Louis hatches a plan to conquer southern Italy.

Anne orders him to stay away from Italy, but Louis is determined to gain a foothold there for France. Joining Ferdinand of Spain in a secret pact to divide southern Italy between them, he plans to secure glory for France and expand his empire. But with rivals on all sides and allies he can’t trust, Louis discovers, with devastating results, that the age of chivalry is over.

As lovers, Anne and Louis are alive with passion. As rulers, they’re at each other’s throats. The future of Europe rests in their hands. Who will prevail?

His Review:

Anne and Louis: Rulers and Lovers by Rozsa GastonHistory buffs will love this tale. Ms. Gaston has brought to life a period in history with great sympathy. Follow Anna as she tries to keep Brittany free from French rule while being married to Louis the king. What a spunky and smart ruler she was! This historical drama is rife with intrigue and castle politics.

Add in Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain and you get a particularly spicy and turbulent dynamic. Ferdinand does not keep his word or treaties whenever he thinks he can get away with it. Marriage intrigue is also a pivotal part of inter-royalty life.

Miscarriages plague Anne and the attempt to provide a male heir to the French throne is heartbreaking. Her daughter loves her step-father Louis but is betrothed at a very young age to a scoundrel. I was amazed at the way Anne tried to get her daughter to learn the fine art of manipulating men. Most men get no preparatory training in the art of manipulating the fairer sex!

Political intrigue throughout the kingdom is a never-ending struggle. It makes me wonder how anyone survived those turbulent times. Historically accurate fiction well written, easily envisioned, and engrossing. Book 3 of the series but can easily be read as an immersive standalone. My hat is off to Rozsa, she did an exemplary job on this book. CE Williams

We received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Totally recommended! 5/5 Stars CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Italian Fiction, Historical French Fiction, Saga Fiction
Publisher: Renaissance Editions

  • ISBN-10:1732589941
  • ISBN-13:978-1732589940
  • ASIN: B07XQC3P33

Print Length: 336 pages
Publication Date: December 12, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Anne and Louis: Rulers and Lovers (Anne of Brittany Series Book 3)

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5-stars

Rozsa Gaston - authorThe Author: ROZSA GASTON writes playful books on serious matters, including the struggles women face to get what they want out of life.

She is the author of Anne and Charles (Book 1 of the Anne of Brittany Series), Anne and Louis (Book 2), Anne and Louis: Rulers and Lovers (Book 3), Sense of Touch, Paris Adieu, Black is Not a Color, Budapest Romance, Running from Love, and Dog Sitters.

Gaston studied European history at Yale and received her Master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia. She worked at Institutional Investor magazine, then as a columnist for The Westchester Guardian.

She is currently working on her fourth and final book in the Anne of Brittany Series. She lives in Bronxville, New York, with her family.

Gaston can be found online on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rozsagastonauthor, or at her website, http://www.rozsagaston.com. Her motto? Stay playful.

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

The Master’s Apprentice (A Re-Telling of the Faust Legend) by Oliver Pötzsch – a #BookReview #historicalfantasy

A review by the CE of Book 1 in a new series of #renaissancehistoricalfiction

The Master's Apprentice by Oliver PotzschBook Blurb:

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. Especially in wake of the child disappearances that have left the God-fearing locals trembling and his one true love trapped in terrified catatonia. Her only words: “I have seen the devil…”

Banished from Knittlingen as cursed, Johann crosses paths with Tonio del Moravia. The traveling fortune-teller and master of the arcane arts recognizes something extraordinary in the wanderer. Taking Johann under his wing, Tonio promises a new world of knowledge and sensations. But with it comes a sinister web of deception and a chilling prophecy.

The stars are set to align again. Now Johann must draw on the skills of his apprenticeship to solve the dark mystery that grips his village in fear and the deepening mystery of his own destiny.

His Review:

The Master's Apprentice by Oliver PotzschJohann Georg was born as a result of a triste between his beautiful mother and a stranger. His father hated him. His mother called him Faustus (the lucky one) born under a lucky star. His father despised him and gave him no fatherly love. At eight years he meets our villain, Tonio, and his life is forever cursed by this devil personified.

Oliver Pötzsch has captured the essence of life in the middle ages and the turmoil that was Europe. His translation of the writing regarding Faust is laudable. His translator, Lisa Reinhardt, makes the German language come to life in English.

Europe is a cesspool of intrigue and disease. How anyone survived is totally a mystery. Devil worship abounds and the church with its’ Inquisitors does it’s best to stamp out any but the “true religion.” Johann is blessed with a great mind and tremendously inquisitive instinct. The devil knows that he will be a great addition to his earthly realm.

CE WilliamsCannibalism and vampires have nothing on this story! Become engrossed in a life of struggle, travel which is near impossible, and villains of the first magnitude. Weep with the characters in this story as they overcome enormous hardships to they struggle through life. Does good always triumph over evil? Dive into this narrative and seek the answer. CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Renaissance Historical Fiction, Historical Fantasy, Historical Mystery
Publisher: Amazon Crossing

  • ISBN-10:1542009987
  • ISBN-13:978-1542009980
  • ASIN: B07WGDKKYC

Print Length: 475+ pages
Publication Date: To be released April 28, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Master’s Apprentice
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Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5-stars

Oliver Potzsch - authorThe Author: (Amazon) Oliver Pötzsch, born in 1970, has worked for years as a scriptwriter for Bavarian television. He himself is a descendant of one of Bavaria’s leading dynasties of executioners. He lives in Munich with his family. Photo © Dominik Parzinger.

(Goodreads) Oliver Pötzsch is a German writer and filmmaker. After high school he attended the German School of Journalism in Munich from 1992 to 1997. He then worked for Radio Bavaria. In addition to his professional activities in radio and television, Pötzsch researched his family history. He is a descendant of the Kuisle, from the 16th to the 19th Century a famous dynasty of executioners in Schongau.

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Statue of Limitations (A Goddess of Green St. Mystery Book 1) by Kate Collins #BlogTour #BookReview #Giveaway

Statue of Limitations by Kate Collins

What a fun, fast, and delightful read and I am so excited today to provide reviews for you at my blog stop for Statue of Limitations by Kate Collins on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. Scroll down to enter your chance to win the Giveaway!

Book Details

Statue of Limitations (A Goddess of Greene St. Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Publisher: Kensington (January 28, 2020)
Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
ISBN-10: 149672433X
ISBN-13: 978-1496724335
Digital ASIN: B07R8QWPTN

Book Blurb

In this delightful new series by the New York Times bestselling author of the Flower Shop Mysteries, Athena Spencer comes back home to work with her crazy big Greek family at their garden center. But she never expected a return to her roots would mean protecting her family from murder . . .

After her divorce, Athena has returned to coastal Michigan to work in her family’s garden center and raise her son, while also caring for a mischievous wild raccoon and fending off her family’s annoying talent for nagging. Working alone at the garden center one night, Athena is startled by a handsome stranger who claims to be the rightful owner of a valuable statue her grandfather purchased at a recent estate sale.

But she has even bigger problems on her plate. The powerful Talbot family from whom her pappoús bought the statue is threatening to raze the shops on Greene Street’s “Little Greece” to make way for a condo. The recent death of the family’s patriarch already seemed suspicious, but now it’s clear that a murderer is in their midst. Athena will have to live up to her warrior goddess namesake to protect her family from a killer and save their community from ruin . . .

My Thoughts

Statue of Limitations by Kate CollinsWhat a delightful romp into the outrageous tumult of a strongly knit family tightly bound by their Greek enclave in this touristy coastal village of Sequoia, Michigan. Divorcee Athena Spencer has returned home with her son to the welcoming arms of her parents who own Spencer’s Garden Center in the heart of “Little Greece.”

To save a little of her sanity, Athena (Thenie) has created a blog she calls “It’s All Greek to Me” by Goddess Anon in which she vents some of her frustration from time to time. Tidbits of comedy. The rest of the family has no idea she is writing it and they love to read and comment.

She is writing on her blog one night at the garden center after it’s closed when she confronts an intruder–not Oscar the raccoon–it’s Case Donnelly and he’s come to claim the statue that her grandfather had purchased in an auction from the local money mogul Talbot Sr. Receipt and all.  All legal, fair and square.

The Talbots (senior and junior) want to raze Little Greece to build a condo, but senior changes his mind. The problem is, he died in a suspicious accident about the same time as his signed document disappeared. It’s not long before an additional death occurs, but caught on home security video is Case Connelly.

…Uh oh…

This is an amusing and immersive start to a new series. Momma is the epitome of a matchmaker and Athena also contends with her three sisters, aunts and uncles, the food, customs, and the language (which she steadfastly refused to learn). Strongly character-driven while hatching red herrings, twists, and some amazingly bizarre scenarios. She and Case (now Dimitri) are full-on trying to keep him out of jail while getting to the bottom of the whodunit.

Well, of course, we know whodunit, but not all the reasons why or how. Enter more absurd characters. (Sometimes I almost expected to hear a laugh-track.) When Athena makes another remarkably dumb decision that then forces her to just dig in deeper, she still manages to make the best of it.

So, can they expose the real perp, save Little Greece, and manage to keep their beloved, but very valuable, statue? I thoroughly enjoyed the narrative right through the conclusion and the climax definitely heated up pretty good. (I love a good damsel in distress scene.)

V WilliamsWe received this digital download by the publisher through NetGalley for this blog tour and really appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Light, fun, hoot of an entertaining read and I’m looking forward to the second in the series. Highly recommended.

His Thoughts

A Greek statue and a mysterious stranger poking around grabbed my imagination. This book does not disappoint. Add in a bit of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”, and you get a flavor of this quick read. My being a romantic certainly added to the enjoyment of this romp.

Protagonist Athena is a young woman who has tried to escape the bonds of her family. Not an easy task when your family is Greek and they are very possessive of each other. As the plot develops you begin to realize that being in a large Greek family has some serious pitfalls.

A number of nosy siblings salt and pepper the plot with aggravating interference. The locale is a small coastal town and the antagonist is a super spoiled rich brat who cannot wait to get his hands on the family fortune. The small Greek enclave is being threatened with possible total destruction and the loss of their community and livelihood. People wind up in the morgue and the police have jumped to conclusions without really following the evidence.

CE WilliamsI enjoyed the repartee between the heroine and her motivator. Kate Collins adds a bit of sexual tension in her novels and I cannot wonder if this is a mirror of her life.  Beyond that, I really enjoy her writing and would recommend it to anyone who is looking for happy escapism. 5 stars CE Willliams

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Giveaway

Sign up for your chance to win one of three (3) Print Books of the Statue of Limitations (A Goddess of Greene St. Mystery) by Kate Collins (U.S. ONLY) in this Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author

Kate Collins - authorKate Collins is the New York Times bestselling author of the Flower Shop Mystery series. After publishing numerous historical romances, Kate penned the long-running mystery series, three books of which were made into Hallmark movies starring Brooke Shields. An Indiana native, Kate graduated from Purdue University with a master’s degree in education. When not growing roots at her computer, Kate loves to garden. Other passions include yoga, reading, spending time with family and friends, sampling great wines and fine dark chocolate, and enjoying every moment of life. Kate lives in Northwest Indiana and Key West, Florida. Visit her online at KateCollinsBooks.com.

Author Links

Website http://www.katecollinsbooks.com/

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kate-Collins/49648459004

Purchase Links  – Kensington – Amazon – B&N   – Kobo

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

Tour Participants:

January 28 – The Power of Words – REVIEW
January 28 – Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT
January 28 – Diane Reviews Books – SPOTLIGHT
January 29 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
January 29 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW
January 29 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT
January 30 – View from the Birdhouse – SPOTLIGHT
January 30 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT
January 30 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW, EXCERPT
January 31 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – REVIEW
January 31 – TBR Book Blog – REVIEW
January 31 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW
February 1 – Gimme The Scoop Reviews – REVIEW
February 1 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT
February 1 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW
February 2 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT
February 2 – A Blue Million Books – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
February 2 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT
February 3 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW, EXCERPT
February 3 – Literary Gold – CHARACTER GUEST POST
February 3 – My Reading Journey – SPOTLIGHT
February 4 – Rosepoint Publications – REVIEW
February 4 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW
February 4 – Devilishly Delicious Book Reviews – REVIEW
February 4 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW
February 5 – Socrates Book Reviews – REVIEW
February 5 – A Wytch’s Book Review Blog – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
February 5 – This Is My Truth Now – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
February 6 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW
February 6 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT
February 6 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT Great Escapes Book Tours

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

©2020 V Williams

Mystery on Hidden Lane (An Eve Mallow Mystery Book 1) by Clare Chase – a #BookReview #cozymystery

Hurray! Book 1 of a new cozy series. Your chance to get in at the beginning!

Mystery on Hidden Lane by Clare ChaseBook Blurb:

Meet Eve Mallow: an American far from home, a professional busybody… and an amateur detective?

Seasoned obituary writer Eve Mallow has a new assignment: to tell the life story of famed musician Bernard Fitzpatrick. A chance to spend a few days in the sweet little village of Saxford St Peter, walking the country lanes with her beloved dachshund Gus and meeting new people sounds like a dream. But it turns out that Bernard’s life was much less interesting than his death. On the day she arrives, news breaks that the charismatic cellist was the victim of a grisly murder. Could this quaint English village be hiding a dark secret?

As Eve starts to interview Bernard’s friends and colleagues, she finds that he’d ruffled a few feathers. In fact, from the keepers of the Cross Keys Inn to his own staff at High House, there’s barely a person in town who doesn’t have some reason to hate him… is one of the friendly villagers a cold-blooded killer?

Eve hoped Saxford St Peter would be the perfect escape from her busy city life. But there is darkness even in the most sunlit of settings. And when a second body is found, Eve becomes certain that one of the people she’s met must be the murderer. She has never done any detective work before… but is there something in her notes that can crack the case?

An unputdownable page-turner, perfect for fans of Faith Martin, Agatha Christie and Betty Rowlands.

My Review:

Mystery on Hidden Lane by Clare ChaseThrilled to finally get in on #1 of a new book series, I dived into this one about protagonist ex-pat American Eve Mallow in Saxford St Peter, a quaint Suffolk village. Turns out that at age 49 she is divorced and the mother of twins, 25 years old. Eve is all business now, finding her journalistic niche as an obituary writer. She’s rented Elizabeth’s Cottage temporarily while she visits the town to interview anyone associated with deceased musician Bernard Fitzpatrick. Unfortunately, shortly after her arrival, it’s announced his death was not a natural one.

This one pulls you in immediately and then begins to describe the village, her vintage rental, and its history, and the reader is introduced to those main support characters who, I’m sure, will become old friends by the time the conclusion is reached.

Eve has a charming, intelligent personality. She works part-time for a school back in London and provides the obits freelance. She is accompanied by her trusty and free-wheeling dachshund, Gus. The village is described beautifully, depicting the lush greenery, flowering plants, native trees, the estuary, and the sea. (How I miss the smell of the ocean!) Painted delightfully in the mind, get to know pink-haired Viv, owner of a tea/craft shop, who is fairly well-fleshed.

It’s clear she has been introduced to persons of interest, but she’ll have to work to discover the connection, motive, how and why. No problem! She must meet with those close to the victim to get the info for her obit anyway. (What a great cover, huh?) There are a number of possible persons who may have all the above, but how to sift out THE one?

As the reader meets each new contact, it’s fairly easy to add to or subtract from a suspect list. A possible romantic interest is introduced, but probably too soon for that and while I guessed the perp, guessed wrong. Actually, quite disappointed who was discovered in the conclusion–NOooo…. Darn it! A couple mysterious characters will hopefully be given more space next book, further development of Eve as well as Viv, and I’m interested to see how this one will progress. My reticence was the question of Eve behind the conclusion that seemed to me confusing. How will that gorgeous Elizabeth Cottage be resolved?

I received this digital download by the publisher through NetGalley in return for a review and these are my unbiased opinions. This novel gets off to a good start and I’ll be interested in reading the next.

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Animal Mysteries, Amateur Sleuth, Cozy Culinary Mysteries
Publisher: Bookouture

  • ISBN-10:1838885250
  • ISBN-13:978-1838885250
  • ASIN: B07ZVYJ8WJ

Print Length: 296 pages
Publication Date: Just released! January 30, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Mystery on Hidden Lane
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Rosepoint Publishing: Four of Five Stars 4-stars

Clare Chase - authorThe Author: Clare Chase finds the current state of the world a bit stressful and has resorted to writing classic mysteries as a form of escapism. Her aim is to take readers away from it all via some armchair sleuthing in atmospheric locations.

Her debut novel was shortlisted for Novelicious’s Undiscovered Award, as well as an EPIC award post-publication, and was chosen as a Debut of the Month by LoveReading. Murder in the Marshes (Tara Thorpe 1) was shortlisted for an International Thriller Writers award.

Like her heroines, Clare is fascinated by people and what makes them tick. Before becoming a full-time writer, she worked in settings as diverse as Littlehey Prison and the University of Cambridge, in her home city. She’s lived everywhere from the house of a lord to a slug-infested flat but the mid-terrace she currently occupies represents a good happy medium.

As well as writing, Clare loves family time, art and architecture, cooking, and of course, reading other people’s novels.

You can find Clare’s website and blog at http://www.clarechase.com

©2020 V Williams V Williams

A Field Guide to Homicide (A Cat Latimer Mystery Book 6) by Lynn Cahoon – a #BookReview #cozymystery

A Field Guide to Homicide by Lynn CahoonBook Blurb:

Cat Latimer and her writer’s retreat group go on a hiking trip—but a murderer has been lurking off the beaten path . . .
 
Cat’s sweetheart, Seth, is going all out on an outing into the local mountains—for the benefit of the writing group Cat’s hosting at her Colorado B&B. But when they try to identify some plant and animal life, they find death instead. The body belongs to a man with a gold claim a few miles away. Instead of striking it rich, he’s been struck down.

To his surprise, Seth recognizes the victim from his military days—and up to now believed he’d already died during his last tour of duty. Now Cat has to solve this mystery before the killer takes a hike . . .

My Review:

Loved the concept of a writer’s retreat for authors, written by an author, about authors learning to be authors. Or readers who enjoy reading about it! It’s bound to be a cozy narrative in a beautiful locale in a small town setting.

Cat (Catherine) Latimer has the perfect location and large home remodeled as a B&B and found her niché, the writer’s retreats. (She is a successful writer, formerly teacher.) Full when she wants, quiet when she needs it to be. Covington College is located within walking distance and accommodates Cat’s guests in the library. She has an amazing best friend, Shauna, a buddy from California who moved back to Colorado to help with the B&B, cook amazing meals, and cleans the rooms. Cat has a boyfriend, Seth, a first love from high school and an uncle who is a police detective.

A Field Guide to Homicide by Lynn CahoonIn Book 6, Seth discovers that the body Cat finds with her group while hiking is a former Army buddy of his. There is only one problem: he was supposed to have been killed while they were still in Germany, and that was ten years ago. Seth had joined the Army thinking they’d wed when he returned. In the meantime, however, Cat marries Michael who was full of surprises. She receives the house after his untimely death.

As a character-driven cozy, the mystery trundles along while Cat discovers her new group is unique–two couples and one college student. The latter doesn’t exactly fit in and almost immediately the two couples click and proceed to produce activity separate from Cat’s usual agenda. There is the hike, but it ended with the discovery of the body. I don’t see her providing guidance in a lot of group discussions or learning moments and it’s handy she has Shauna who handles the bulk of the physical work. But Shauna has a problem of her own, providing a separate little (almost) sub-plot. Then there is the tension between her and Seth and my question, does she really love him or not? Given the little time they have to be together, she doesn’t exactly jump to take advantage of it.

There seemed a few plot holes; missing elements. (Was it because this is my first experience with the author and the series?) Seth didn’t want to introduce his Army buddies to Cat, which I found rather odd, so we don’t know much about them. Cat manages to get a name she can investigate and discovers the deceased had a local girlfriend that she was able to interview. She manages to glean a few tidbits and coordinates with her uncle.

We really don’t get development of the guests with the exception of the college kid and she did impart some wise writerly wisdom to him. (One of the couples takes snide verbal pot-shots at each other.) Uncle Pete plays a large part as does his sweetheart, an ex-cop who flies in to see him but is caught up in his absence with the murder investigation. There are red herrings that have you focusing first on one possible perp, then another, none quite making sense. The why is a biggee: how did he manage to leave Germany, come back to Colorado and be living off grid for so long? Ah, yes, but then we get little off-hand remarks that drop clues like crumbs leading back to the who. Did you pay attention?

I enjoyed the author’s writing style, but not the length of time that it took to lay all the elements to examine. There were quotables and old sayings, “We work in fact here, not maybes.” And “…make sure she knows that no is a complete sentence.” (Loved that one!) “A high tide floats all boats.”

The novel takes some time to get into, moving rather slowly for me and appeared to be one that suggests the reader might be better served to begin with Book 1 of the series. The conclusion wraps up loose ends and confirms the motive, which became obvious earlier, and has Seth taking the next step with Cat. (Perhaps that’s a step he should reconsider.) I received this digital download from the publisher and NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review and these are my own opinions.

Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuth, Cozy Animal Mystery
Publisher: Kensington Books
ISBN: 149671685X
ASIN: B07R9SXCQ8
Print Length: 290 pages
Publication Date: Happy Publication Day! January 28, 2020

Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: A Field Guide to Homicide
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Lynn Cahoon - authorThe Author: Get a free story at http://www.lynncahoon.com.

Lynn Cahoon is the author of the NYT and USA Today best-selling Tourist Trap cozy mystery series. She also pens the Cat Latimer series available in mass market paperback. And, because she can’t help telling stories, she also writes the Farm to Fork series. Romance novels are published under the pen name, Lynn Collins. She lives in a small town like the ones she loves to write about with her husband and three fur kids. Sign up for her newsletter at http://www.lynncahoon.com

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Six Fun, Fast, and Easy Challenges for 2020 (Wink, Wink)

Six Fun, Fast, and Easy Challenges for 2020

(Cause, what, you don’t need more work?)

Yes, I know, I know–late to the party again. And these won’t be anything new for you if you participate in challenges, but after I dropped the Alphabet Challenge, I went a little overboard and signed up with a new one–and then another new one. Last count is six. What have I done?! My white knight, as previously noted, has come to the rescue with a few reads and reviews of his own. Even if the same book, we often have differing opinions.

  1. Let’s start with the Audiobook Challenge since I’m learning to love these for errands, working around the house, and exercising. It would seem there is more time for listening than reading and I’ve apparently hit a slump in reading lately. Easy to sign up, if you haven’t already. Pick your level listener of the eight listed. I chose Stenographer, 10-15.
  2. GoodreadsI know y’all are already doing this one. Watch the Goodreads widget in the right column for progress. (I’ve set the bar at 200 since my associate reviewer is included in this count.)
  3. Historical FictionYou read a few or more historical fiction. Right? Well, here is your chance to post your reads for posterity. Again, choose your level from one of six. I chose Renaissance Reader, 10. Don’t forget to add the tag: #2020HistFicReadingChallenge
  4. Murder Mystery Bingo Reading Challenge -Thinking this would not be a challenge, forgetting I read a wide variety of genres; not just all murder mysteries. My cards are pretty bare but it’s only January. Still, there are four cards: Weapons, Crime Scenes, Clues and Clichés, and Red Herrings. Everybody loves Bingo. Right? Check it out. (I see fellow blogger Tari of Cuddle Up With a Cozy Mystery already has two cards!)
  5. The NGEW2020 Challenge keeps a count of your NetGalley or Edelweiss novels. Go ahead, choose a goal. If you need to, you can always add or subtract. (Life has its little interruptions.) I’m going for 75 again–and that WAS a challenge. Always use the hashtag: #NGEW2020 (and my associate reviewer is included in this count.)
  6. Reading IrelandReading Ireland Month occurs in March (of course), and I won’t have that link or banner until posted this year. Check out my post from last year here.

Several of these include the MrLinky widget to upload your links and keep you honest. Also, I’ve updated my Reading Challenges page (it’s all clean and bright) laying out all the above challenges and adding a few details, but for all the instructions, you may wish to link directly to the challenge. (I’ve also listed these linked challenges in the right-hand widget column.)

Going into the weekend, hope yours is special and IF you have time, look at a few challenges to liven up your reading year! I’d love to hear which ones you are doing or how many of these you are doing. Or drop me a comment with “NONE.”

©2020 V Williams V Williams

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

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