Ink and Shadows (A Secret, Book, and Scone Society Novel Book 4) by Ellery Adams – a #BookReview – #cozymystery – #TuesdayBookBlog

A Witty and Page-Turning Southern Cozy Mystery

New York Times bestselling author Ellery Adams is back with the latest in her acclaimed Secret, Book, and Scone Society series.”

Rosepoint Rating: Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

Ink and Shadows by Ellery AdamsLocal bookstore owner Nora Pennington is back on the case in Miracle Springs, North Carolina when an accidental death turns out to be something much more sinister…
 
Nora Pennington is known for her window displays, and as Halloween approaches, she decides to showcase fictional heroines like Roald Dahl’s Matilda and Madeline Miller’s Circe. A family-values group disapproves of the magical themes, though, and wastes no time launching a modern-day witch hunt. Suddenly, former friends and customers are targeting not only Nora and Miracle Books, but a new shopkeeper, Celeste, who’s been selling CBD oil products.

Nora and her friends in the Secret, Book, and Scone Society are doing their best to put an end to the strife—but then someone puts an end to a life. Though the death is declared an accident, the ruling can’t explain the old book page covered with strange symbols and disturbing drawings left under Nora’s doormat, a postcard from an anonymous stalker, or multiple cases of vandalism.

The only hope is that Nora can be a heroine herself and lead the Secret, Book, and Scone Society in a successful investigation—before more bodies turn up and the secrets from Celeste’s past come back to haunt them all . . .

My Review:

My first entry into the series and it’s an amazing introduction to Nora Pennington and her shop, Miracle Books, in Miracle Springs, North Carolina. Either the author has an amazing and thorough history with books or spent months in research as this novel was a treasure trove of titles for all occasions.

Ink and Shadows by Ellery AdamsFirst, protagonist Nora is part of the Secret, Book, and Scone Society, she and three other women—close friends, confidants, and co-conspirators—they contribute to the investigations. Nora runs a themed showcase but this year her fictional heroines (powerful women display) runs amok of a group of ladies who decide the books pose a dangerous theme for young, impressionable minds.

In the meantime, a new shopkeeper has popped up, selling CBD oil products along with natural remedies, scents, soaps, and gift baskets. It is her daughter that raises a number of red flags and finding a private moment with the girl offers her help. It isn’t long before the girl is found deceased in Nora’s backyard.

Before I get caught up describing the well-plotted and paced mystery, I must say the support characters in this book add such a dimension to the narrative you want to sit in on their book nights and share a glass of wine with them. And Sheldon, her assistant—wonderful. Later in the book, an old college roommate comes back into her life and wouldn’t we all have loved to known anyone like Bobbie!

If you never had a love for books before, this book should build the flame in your heart that has you running to your closest library. There to smell the pages, inhale the scent of hardbacks filled with knowledge and adventure, or coax out beautiful poems, prose, and memorable thoughts by the authors who shared. There is a reverence in the collection of good books.

Surely there is a category level above cozy (intellectual cozy?) that includes the emotion, experience, and gravitas imparted in these pages. From beautiful prose to too many quotables to list here, and in between, the subtle investigation, the gentle gleaning of leads that weaves in through the lives of the characters, their way of life, and their individual concerns.

An unusual cozy mystery in that the victim(s) are not hateful people and no love lost. The antagonist only gradually prodded out after one of few red herrings or twists. Unusual number of references to particular names or events only an older generation might recognize and an interesting tidbit of information regarding CBD oil—COA—Certificate of Analysis (…”document from a lab that shows the exact number of various cannabinoids in a CBD product…customers know that they’re buying products containing no THC.”)

I might have missed the explanation of “ticket agent’s office,” and “book pockets” by reading this as my first entry to the series. Still, this novel served quite well as a fascinating standalone for me. I read one of the author’s books in the Book Retreat Mystery series, Murder in the Reading Room and enjoyed. This one opened a whole new realm of cozy for me. Highly recommended.

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

Add to Goodreads

Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuth, Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Kensington Books

  • ASIN : B087YR9M54

Print Length: 304 pages
Publication Date: To be released January 26, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley 

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

Ellery Adams - authorThe Author: Ellery Adams, a USA Today and New York Times bestselling author, has written dozens of mystery novels. She shares her North Carolina home with her husband, two trolls, and three keyboard-hogging felines. Ellery loves reading, coffee, bubbly, jigsaw puzzles, baking, volunteering at her local animal shelter, and rearranging her bookshelves.

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

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

For book club discussion questions, lists of Nora Pennington’s bibliotherapy titles, and more, visit http://www.elleryadamsmysteries.com

©2020 V Williams V Williams

In Her Tracks (Tracy Crosswhite Book 8) by Robert Dugoni – a #BookReview – #kidnappingthriller – #TuesdayBookBlog

Rosepoint Rating: Five Stars 5 stars

“…certified tracker, often referred to as a sign-cutter.”

Book Blurb:

What family secrets are behind two disappearances? Seattle detective Tracy Crosswhite is determined to uncover the truth in the latest installment of New York Times bestselling author Robert Dugoni’s heart-stopping series.

In Her Tracks by Robert DugoniReturning from an extended leave in her hometown of Cedar Grove, Detective Tracy Crosswhite finds herself reassigned to the Seattle PD’s cold case unit. As the protective mother of an infant daughter, Tracy is immediately drawn to her first file: the abduction of a five-year-old girl whose parents, embattled in a poisonous divorce, were once prime suspects.

While reconstructing the days leading up to the girl’s disappearance, Tracy is brought into an active investigation with former partner Kinsington Rowe. A young woman has vanished on an isolated jogging trail in North Seattle. Divided between two critical cases, Tracy has little to go on except the treacherous deceptions behind a broken marriage—and now, the secrets hiding behind the closed doors of a deceptively quiet middle-class neighborhood.

To find two missing persons, Tracy will have to follow more than clues, which are both long cold and unsettlingly fresh. Given her own traumatic past, Tracy must also follow her instincts—to whatever dark and dangerous places they may lead.

My Review:

I was thrilled when Thomas & Mercer granted me this advance copy through NetGalley as I’ve become a solid fan of the Tracy Crosswhite series.

In Her Tracks by Robert DugoniSeattle detective Crosswhite has had a bit of a transition recently following maternity leave, expecting to return to her position as part of the Violent Crimes Unit and finding herself instead in Cold Cases. The retiring detective of Cold Cases left a couple of awesome, caring shoes to fill as well as credible stats. Violent Crimes partner Kins, however, taps her for just a bit of help in his active kidnapping case and as Crosswhite begins her journey into Cold Cases finds a thread that might provide a crossover.

Big hook at the beginning gets the ball rolling into her cold case while Kins’ investigation adds dimension to the active case. Crosswhite still struggles with some of her history and the kidnapping cases heap on the anxiety and apprehension.

The author does an amazing job of gradually upping the tension (the pacing is perfect) with Kins’ active missing person case as well as Crosswhite’s Cold Case, slipping into the house as a fly on the wall of three brothers living in their parents old home, persons of interest in the missing person’s case. Dugoni has a way of eeking out the most sinister despots, highlighting all the warts, the character development coursing seamlessly between Crosswhite’s team, their investigation, and the scheming predators.

Crosswhite is relentless, focused. The well-plotted storyline just flows, grabs and holds attention as it builds toward a pulsing, overwhelming sense of urgency—so close…hurry!! And so satisfying. Should I mention the little red herrings and one devil of a shocker near the end I NEVER saw coming in Kins’ case (while I’d correctly guessed the resolution to Crosswhite’s Cold Case).

I’ve read a number of Dugoni’s books, including a couple from the Charles Jenkins series, as well as three others in the Crosswhite series, Close to Home, A Steep Price, and A Cold Trail. This one, however, may be my favorite, until another comes out, that is. Highly recommend this thriller and the series, though this could work as a standalone if this one is your introduction to the series. (Trust me, you’ll catch up quickly.) On pre-order now.

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

Add to Goodreads

Book Details:

Genre: Kidnapping Crime Fiction, Kidnapping Thrillers, Murder
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

  • ASIN : B087Q1QNTL

Print Length: 340 pages
Publication Date: April 20, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley 

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble 

Robert Dugoni - authorThe Author: Robert Dugoni is the critically acclaimed New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and #1 Amazon bestselling author of the Tracy Crosswhite police detective series set in Seattle, which has sold more than 7 million books worldwide. He is also the author of The Charles Jenkins espionage series, and the David Sloane legal thriller series.

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

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

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

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Leave No Trace (An FBI K-9 Novel Book 5) by Sara Driscoll, Jen J Danna – a #BookReview – #animalfiction – #TuesdayBookBlog

Rosepoint Publishing: Five Stars5 stars

The “Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians are descendants of those resisters” (who refused to go on the Trail of Tears).

Book Blurb:

Leave No Trace by Sara DriscollOne arrow through the heart could be a tragic hunting accident. A second one, within days, looks more like a crime. That’s when Meg Jennings and Brian Foster of the FBI’s Forensic Canine Unit head to Georgia to investigate. With their dogs Hawk and Lacey, Meg and Brian are enlisted to follow the scent of a killer. At first, nothing seems to connect the two victims–a county commissioner and State Patrol officer.  But the blood sport around the southern town of Blue Ridge is just beginning.

As the body count rises, the compound bow killer becomes even more elusive, appearing and vanishing like a ghost. However, with each new slaying Meg is beginning to suspect the grim design that’s escalating in the shadows. At its heart, a tragic event that reaches back nearly two centuries in Georgia’s history is now turning Blue Ridge into a hunting ground. But as Meg gets closer to solving the puzzle, the closer she is to stepping into the crosshairs of an elusive murderer with deadly aim, and motives as deep and dark as the woods . . .

My Review:

Book 5 of the FBI K-9 mystery Leave No Trace will be coming out late December and I couldn’t resist getting a jump of one of my favorite series about the awesome dogs and their handlers who work so effectively with law enforcement.

Leave No Trace by Sara DriscollThe author manages to craft a remarkable canine-human story, but teach as well. In this case McCord is back and his character weaves in some amazing history, heading each chapter with points of interest in the early US Native American account of the Cherokee, one of the five Eastern tribes later known as the “Five Civilized Tribes” or providing a heads up for what’s coming. But more than that—the background of early Georgia–some really remarkable and little known history of the development of hydroelectric power in that area.

Protagonist Meg Jennings is back with her black Lab, Hawk. Her partner is Brian, whose dog is a German Shepherd, Lacey. They’ve been called in to track a killer using a compound bow that quickly escalates into a series of murders. Tracking high in the Appalachians is not easy. But it not only the expert bow hunter that’s deadly—so are those mountains.

Meg and Brian go from one peril to another, often caught in deadly situations that only the young and extremely fit could survive. It’s action packed, bringing training into the fore when called on.

The well-plotted and fast paced narrative grabs the reader in scenes of extreme danger and pushes the pulse-pounding experience to start flipping pages faster. Lots of drama here: critical information regarding bows, survival techniques, doses of fascinating history, police procedures and communication, and in between the larger picture, the personal issues confronting those prominent in the immediate team, including Meg’s guy.

I also read two others in the series, No Man’s Land and Storm Rising, and the CE read one in her new series NYPD Negotiators, Exit Strategy, and loved them all. Of course I love the interaction between dog and handler. The conclusion answers the whodunit, but not all the questions, issues, things you might have wanted to know. Still, the ride has been non-stop and immersive, the characters engaging, and the narrative wholly entertaining and thought-provoking. Totally recommended.

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. Thank you!! These are my honest thoughts.

Add to Goodreads

Book Details:

Genre: Pet Dogs, Animal Fiction
Publisher: Kensington Books

  • ASIN : B086R8ZHBQ

Print Length: 336 pages
Publication Date: Available now on pre-order. Releases December 29, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

Jen J Danna - authorThe Author: A scientist specializing in infectious diseases, Jen J. Danna works as part of a dynamic research group at a cutting-edge Canadian university. However, her true passion lies in indulging her love of the mysterious through her writing.

With Ann Vanderlaan, she writes two series. Under Danna and Vanderlaan, they craft suspenseful crime fiction with a realistic scientific edge. Their five Abbott and Lowell Forensic Mysteries include DEAD, WITHOUT A STONE TO TELL IT; NO ONE SEES ME ‘TILL I FALL; A FLAME IN THE WIND OF DEATH; TWO PARTS BLOODY MURDER; and LAMENT THE COMMON BONES.

Under the joint pseudonym of Sara Driscoll, they write the FBI K-9s mysteries series, starring search-and-rescue team Meg Jennings and her black lab, Hawk. The series includes LONE WOLF, BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE, and STORM RISING. The fourth book in the series, NO MAN’S LAND, will release in December 2019.

Jen is also the author of the upcoming NYPD Negotiators thriller series, with the first book, EXIT STRATEGY, releasing in August 2020.

Jen lives near Toronto, Ontario with her husband, two daughters, and three rescued cats, and is a member of the Crime Writers of Canada. You can reach her through the contact page on her website or by email at jenjdanna@gmail.com.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Silent Bite: An Andy Carpenter Mystery Book 22 by David Rosenfelt – a #BookReview – Traditional Detective Mysteries

Book Blurb:

Silent Bite by David RosenfeltAndy Carpenter and his golden retriever, Tara, are finding that all is not calm or bright in Silent Bite, the latest Christmas mystery in this heartwarming series from bestselling author David Rosenfelt.

Lawyer Andy Carpenter can finally take a breath; he’s back on dry land after a family Caribbean cruise forced on him by his wife, Laurie, to get into the Christmas spirit. Of course the family’s first stop is to the Tara Foundation, the dog rescue organization that has always been Andy’s true passion.

But when Andy arrives, his partner, Willie Miller, needs his help. Willie’s old cellmate, Tony Birch, has been arrested for murder. Andy doesn’t necessarily believe in Tony, but Willie does. And Andy believes in Willie, which is why Andy decides to take the case.

Once again David Rosenfelt puts readers in the Christmas spirit in a tale that is equal parts mystery and holiday cheer.

My Review:

Guess this would constitute my second Christmas read of the upcoming season and it’s one of my very fave’s—written by David Rosenfelt—an Andy Carpenter Mystery, Silent Bite. As you all no doubt know by now, I prefer my Andy Carpenter books in audio, but every now and then I find an ARC out on NetGalley and can’t resist. After all, it’s my favorite main character, that irreverent, snarky attorney who is forever hoping to actually 100% retire and stay that way. Not going to happen, ole buddy!

Silent Bite by David RosenfeltThe funny part is that Andy is married to Laurie (ex-cop) who celebrates the Christmas season three to four months and between home and those non-stop carols wherever he goes, he has to walk the dogs to the park to get any peace. His dogs are Tara and Sebastian, the latter a basset hound who’d prefer to sleep. Andy created the Tara Foundation, a dog rescue with Willie, also a dog lover and between them have saved many, many dogs. But it is Willie this novel that brings Andy out of retirement—again. His friend and old cell-mate is in jail. For a crime he didn’t commit. Uh huh…

All the gang are back—not that gang—the associates behind Andy, including Marcus, and Laurie’s new crew.  Andy starts his investigation aided by the colleagues he usually calls on until he calls Hike and discovers he won’t be back. But Hike recommends another attorney who he is sure will work well with Andy. What is not to love? The man is an ex-football player and he is nothing if not sports savvy.

Two things: First, the dogs slip back stage a bit and second, the wise-cracking, snappy patter from Andy is not quite up to the usual level of pummeled prose. AND, I figured out the antagonist early on. STILL, it’s a complex, deeply involved mystery, love the characters, and especially when Andy gets the case into court—that’s where the man shines. That experienced courtroom expertise, and it always, ALWAYS, reminds me of that Richard Gere scene in Chicago where he taps to the building of his case—craftily pushing, pulling, manipulating, maneuvering all the players right where he wants them. THAT’S my boy!!

I’ve read and reviewed on this blog eight books by Rosenfelt, others prior to the blog, which includes this series and two of his others. But it’s this series that I keep coming back to. Whether or not it’s one that fails to produce a book hangover, it is still fun, engaging, entertaining and well worth reading. Always recommended!

Thank you Minotaur Books and NetGalley for my ARC review copy. These are (always) my own opinions.

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

Add to Goodreads

Book Details:

Genre: Animal Fiction, Traditional Detective Mysteries
Publisher: Minotaur Books
ISBN : 125025714X
ASIN : B084M1ZNNJ
Print Length: 299 pages
Publication Date: October 13, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Deadly Weapon (Jake Wolfe Book 5) by Mark Nolan – a #BookReview #thrillerbooks

“I am not what happened to me. I am what I choose to become.”—Carl Jung

Book Blurb:

Deadly WeaponIn Alaska, a lethal threat is unearthed from the frozen ground. Near Maui, a shipwrecked submarine holds a frightening secret, and on the California coast, war veteran Jake Wolfe races against time to uncover a conspiracy.

When a master plan emerges that has the potential not only to threaten Jake’s city, but to kill off targeted populations around the world, Jake embarks on a desperate search-and-destroy mission in order to protect the lives of everyone he knows and cares for. His target? A group of rogue operatives planning mass murder.

With assassins on his trail, and the clock ticking, Jake must trace the path that will finally bring him face-to-face with the psychopathic genius who wants to remake the world.

Deadly Weapon is part of a series, but may be read as a stand-alone novel.

My Thoughts

This is Book 5 of the Jake Wolfe series and how many have I read? ALL OF THEM. I just love the duo of Jake and Cody—well, Cody maybe a little more—but these two are beyond engaging. Intelligent, fast, cunning, capable, but tender and hot at the same time—and that’s just the dog! There is something overwhelming in the attraction of Jake—perhaps that “animal magnetism.” (snicker, snicker)

In this series entry, Jake’s Alaskan holiday is interrupted by a call to action and he’s swept up and away to a mission not wholly successful…it will continue back home in the Bay Area of California. He is living gratis in Sausalito on the yacht Far Niente thanks to a buddy across the pond for a year. Damn, I get such pangs when he gets to describing the Pacific, that wonderful all pervading salt water open ocean air atmosphere. “He felt the need for some vitamin sea.”

Anyway, it’s a nasty consortium of people (working towards a one-world totalitarian oligarachy) bent on eliminating certain populations around the globe. The mission will be undertaken in fits and starts as they gain intel. Jake (Jukebox) is a Marine combat veteran, but not out of the “above top secret” classification that has pulled him in before on classified missions. Highly trained, athletic, weapons ready, and deadly, he takes Cody without question of his orders.

“Sometimes I think the hardest part of war is coming home.”

So much intelligence here, both in weapons, locations, and personnel, it’s scary—hard to separate fact from fiction except that this narrative barrels through heart-stopping action (okay—some over-the-top action even) that has you groaning at the odds and cheering at the accomplishments. (Reference to the U-505 submarine on display at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago—I’ve seen it—OMG!) Page-turning, non-stop action that includes many of his previous Marine buddies (also back to civilian life), including his best buddy Terrell Hayes (Grinds), SFPD Homicide Detective. This plot is just a little close to current global events and difficult to put down.

Deadly WeaponThe author’s writing style has evolved, relaxed a bit in Book 5, becoming more graphic, letting that ole testosterone fly, and having Jake speaking more brazenly—irreverent—and I blinked several times, but even so, the well-plotted novel is descriptive, immersive, and prose laden. There is the thread of a romance between Jake and Sarah, a veterinarian, but it weaves that thread carefully through the outline, allows the plot to naturally progress to a conclusion that has you craving Book 6.

Yes, it’s a series, and you don’t have to start at Book 1, this can work as a standalone, but you’d be missing out on a lot of fun. You’ll have no problem getting to know these series characters and fall in love with that dog as well. Full of suspense, take your blood pressure medication, as this action-thriller will have you hanging by a nail. Wildly entertaining, tales with fascinating bits of information slipped in before you realize you are learning something, wonderful strong studly characters (man and dog). This one is for you and it’s out now.

(Links to my reviews for series books 1-4 below in the author bio.) 

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

His Thoughts

Clandestine operations are not for the faint of heart. Jake Wolfe is never really on vacation. His summer getaway is interrupted by a frantic call and a helicopter taking him to a remote Inuit village. Salmon fishing and an escape with his wartime K-9 survivor dog Cody, is curtailed. Can they stop a diabolical group of billionaires from getting their hands on an active strain of the deadly 1918-19 flu virus? They have dug up a body containing the virus buried in an old Inuit graveyard.

Controlling the world population through germ warfare has been attempted throughout history. The number of potential fatalities from this flu strain is staggering to consider. Can the perpetrators be stopped before developing a massive biological weapon? Mark Nolan examines this issue with his usual masterful storytelling capability. I would never want to be in Jakes’ or his dogs’ shoes.

Cody, a decorated war dog and hero, accompanies Jake on most elements of the case. His tracking and identification capabilities are integral to solving most cases. Time is always a key factor in stopping those who would do great harm to our nation. Cody has the rank of sergeant in the Marine Corp while Jake is a corporal. Cody will warm up to anyone given instructions to do so. Casual petting without being invited to do so can result in loss of body parts.

This is my second book by Mark Nolan and I enjoy his writing style, although he portrays the world as a place with few hidden safe spots. Jake continually looks for reasons why the Feds and his handler can locate him so quickly, which adds spice to the stories. CE Williams

I find the use of some of the weapons to be extremely graphic and frightening. As a normal citizen I’d rather not know some of these facts. I find the stories engaging, although I lost a little sleep over this novel. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys Action-Thrillers. 5 stars CE Williams

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5 stars

Add to Goodreads

Book Details:

Genre: Medical Thrillers, Financial Thrillers, Sea Adventures Fiction
ASIN : B08BFCV7GR
Print Length: 308 pages
Publication Date: August 31, 2020
Source: Author Request

Title Link: Amazon

Mark Nolan - authorThe Author: Mark Nolan was born near the sea shore and has enjoyed boating, fishing, scuba diving and exploring in Florida, Mexico, California, Hawaii, etc. If you like dogs, boats, ocean beaches, and action movies … you’ll probably enjoy reading Mark’s books.

Mark’s books in order: 1. Dead Lawyers Don’t Lie. 2. Vigilante Assassin. 3. Killer Lawyer. 4. San Diego Dead. 5. Deadly Weapon. 6. Key West Dead.

Subscribe to Mark Nolan’s reader newsletter for updates, specials, and to be notified when a new book is available. Please visit marknolan.com.

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

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

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

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars

5 stars

Book Blurb:

NEW CIVIL WAR NOVEL SEES CONFLICT THROUGH NEW EYES

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

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

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

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

His Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

CE Williams

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

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

Book Details:

Genre: Kindle eBooks (Historical Fiction)

Publisher: Archetype Imprints

ASIN : B08GH3YPJ1

Print Length: 442 pages

Publication Date: August 21, 2020

Source: Direct author request

Title Link: I Jonathan [Amazon]

Add to Goodreads
George WB Scott-author

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

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

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

(c) 2020 CE Williams – V Williams

V Williams

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

Your next PI/Crime Fiction–#mustread

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rosepoint Publishing: Just Shy of Five 

Add to Goodreads

Book Details:

Publisher: Big Tree Press

Genre: Private Investor Mysteries, Crime Fiction

ASIN : B089LG7BB9

Print Length: 260 pages

Publication Date: June 1, 2020

Source: Publisher and author request

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

Arlana Crane - author

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

(C)2020 V Williams

V Williams

Your next crime fiction.

TV Netflix Series vs Audiobook – Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times (The Midwife Trilogy #1) by Jennifer Worth

A True Story of the East End in the 1950s

Netflix vs Audiobook - Call the Midwife

Book Blurb:

Call the Midwife’ is a most extraordinary book and should be required reading of all students of midwifery, nursing, sociology and modern history. It tells of the experiences of a young trainee midwife in the East End of London in the 1950’s and is a graphic portrayal of the quite appalling conditions that the East Enders endured.

My Review:

If you ever feel badly about your childhood, tune into either the Netflix series or the audiobook of Call the Widwife by Jennifer Worth.  At least we had an outhouse—wasps in the summer, black widows otherwise. To hear the deplorable conditions of the East End of London in the 50s, however, is unimaginable. The conditions were horrid. The TV series gives you glimpses, and by the glimpses, I mean also the smells.

The Netflix Series

We discovered this series and immediately set about binge watching. We blazed through the first three episodes and beyond. Inspired by the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, Call the Midwife, Shadows of the Workhouse, and Farewell to the East End, the series stays remarkably true to the original trilogy. However, the series took on a life of its own and grew far beyond the original characters into ten episodes with eleven being in the offing and eight, hour long episodes each. How many of those on Netflix? Actually, Season nine isn’t scheduled until 2021.

The show is, of course, a work of fiction, although Worth’s daughters Suzannah Hart and Juliette Walton loves that the performance of Jessica Raine (as Jenny)was terribly anxious that we should be happy with her performance and I think she’s got it just right.” Many of the characters and situations early on were borrowed from the memoirs.

It is Vanessa Redgrave, herself an icon, who narrated three series and then appeared on screen.

It’s eye-opening watching Jenny Lee learn about the slums of postwar Poplar. The characters of Sister Julienne, Cynthia, Chummy, Sister Evangelina, and Sister Monica Joan (among others) are introduced early and quickly claim a place in your heart—cast so exquisitely, and very true to what Worth’s daughters remember. Even the handyman Fred and all his shenanigans are recounted with relish.

The real life Nonnatus House was moved to Birmingham during the 70s. Jennifer Worth died in 2011 at the age of 75. The first episode aired in 2012.

The Audiobook

I’ll admit to being thrown just a bit starting the audiobook, wherein there was a prologue not introduced to the first BBC series episode. Not to fear—it quickly catches up and proceeds with memories, characters, and stories played so well in the TV series that it was easy to remember the episode and circumstance.

What I enjoyed in the audiobook were the jumps into some retrospection of the characters. We get a bit of backstory of the nuns and how they came to be midwives at the Nonnatus House.

Remarkable stories, as are some of the recreations of the accounts of several of the more difficult deliveries, especially as Jenny is being indoctrinated into the system of the House, the nuns, and the other midwives. Talk about heroes. Absolutely jaw-dropping tales of the 50s in London, the men, the women prior to any kind of birth control, the lack of sanitary conditions, clean and accessible water and toilets, and the unfortunate back alley remedy of unwanted pregnancy.

A powerful book relayed in realistic conversational tones of an amazing story, mesmerizing, full of heart and emotion, at times euphorically happy and triumphant and others tragically bewildered or heartbroken.

Overall Impression

If this isn’t a novel you’ve already discovered, I certainly recommend the audiobook. If you have Netflix available and haven’t already binge watched—check it out. Either way, this is a win-win.

Book Details:

Genre: Biography
Publisher:  Audible Audio

  • ASIN: B01N8XUV0Y
  •  Print Length: 352 pages

Listening Length: 12 hrs 1 min
Narrator: Nicola Barber
Publication Date: September 10, 2012
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)

Title Link: Call the Midwife [Amazon]
 

Add to Goodreads

Jennifer Worth - authorThe Author (Goodreads): [Jennifer] Worth, born Jennifer Lee while her parents were on holiday in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, was raised in Amersham, Buckinghamshire. After leaving school at the age of 14, she learned shorthand and typing and became the secretary to the head of Dr Challoner’s Grammar School. She then trained as a nurse at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading, and moved to London to receive training to become a midwife.

Lee was hired as a staff nurse at the London Hospital in Whitechapel in the early 1950s. With the Sisters of St John the Divine, an Anglican community of nuns, she worked to aid the poor. She was then a ward sister at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital in Bloomsbury, and later at the Marie Curie Hospital in Hampstead.

She married the artist Philip Worth in 1963, and they had two daughters.

Worth retired from nursing in 1973 to pursue her musical interests. In 1974, she received a licentiate of the London College of Music, where she taught piano and singing. She obtained a fellowship in 1984. She performed as a soloist and with choirs throughout Britain and Europe.

She later began writing, and her first volume of memoirs, ‘Call the Midwife’, was published in 2002. The book became a bestseller when it was reissued in 2007. ‘Shadows of the Workhouse’ (2005; reissued 2008) and ‘Farewell to the East End’ (2009) also became bestsellers. The trilogy sold almost a million copies in the UK alone. In a fourth volume of memoirs ‘In the Midst of Life’, published in 2010, Worth reflects on her later experiences caring for the terminally ill.

Worth was highly critical of Mike Leigh’s 2004 film Vera Drake, for depicting the consequences of illegal abortions unrealistically. She argued that the method shown in the movie, far from being fairly quick and painless, was in fact almost invariably fatal to the mother.

Worth died on 31 May 2011, having been diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus earlier in the year.

A television series, Call the Midwife, based on her books, began broadcasting on BBC One on 15 January 2012.

The Narrator: Nicola Barber is an Audie Award-winning narrator whose voice can be heard in television and radio commercials and popular video games such as World of Warcraft. Nicola is also an Audie nominee in the Solo Female Narration category for her work on Murphy’s Law by Rhys Bowen and Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth. –This text refers to the audioCD edition.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Attribution: Worth’s personal information from interview with her daughters at Radio Times

Act of Revenge: A Medial Thriller (A Doc Brady Mystery) by John Bishop MD – a #BookReview #medicalthriller

I have a question for you: Can you really enjoy reading a medical thriller? The CE and I read this one.

 Book Blurb:

Act of Revenge by John Bishop MDPlastic surgeon Lou Edwards’s life is complicated by two major issues.

One, his wife has lupus, possibly due to leaking silicone from breast implants Edwards himself inserted. And two, his malpractice insurance has been canceled, as it has been for many other plastic surgeons, due to the burgeoning breast implant problem.

But it gets worse.

Shortly after Edwards threatens an insurance company president on national TV, the president is found murdered in his penthouse.

Dr. Jim Bob Brady once again finds himself doing a bit of investigating, this time on behalf of a colleague. But how well does he know this colleague? Is the investigation worth the threat to Jim Bob’s own life? Will he discover that it was a burglary gone bad? A lover’s quarrel? Or is this an act of revenge?

My Review:

Oh yes, refreshing as it is with down home Dr. Jim Bob Brady. Yeah—Jim Bob. From Texas. He’s an orthopedic surgeon, who, at the age of 51 has decided he’s paid his dues and slacked back a bit from the grind. He has to put in continuing education time for his license—why not a conference in Snowmass, Colorado for a little bit of February skiing?

“He had a full head of thick black curly hair and was ruggedly handsome. I disliked him immediately.”

Act of Revenge by John Bishop MDIf you’ve ever snow skied, you know it’s that last run of the day when your legs feel like jelly but you JUST don’t want to give it up that accidents are most likely to happen. And it does. Doc Brady plows into a lesser skier who turned into his path. And wouldn’t you know? He’s another doctor from his own area of Houston.

No, Jim Bob won’t do the surgery but they do get him back home and one of Brady’s colleagues does the surgery. Dr. Brady and his wife, Mary Louise keeps up on his progress while Mary Louise befriends Lou Edward’s wife. She has lupus and is in ill health due to breast implants Edwards himself insisted she undergo. Of course that opens the disclosure that Dr. Edwards, a plastic surgeon, having been sued in regard to related silicone breast plant injuries, had his malpractice insurance cancelled. Come to find out, so has many other plastic surgeons with the same kind of practice. Their insurance based right in the Houston area.

Hooboy, you do get some medical jargon, but it’s fascinating stuff and really doesn’t slow the well-plotted storyline. I really enjoy that personable Dr. Brady and his family, his friends, the local police with whom he’s worked before. This is Book 3 of the series, but even if you’d not started with Book 1, this would work just fine for you. The characters all work well and it doesn’t take long before you become engaged. So medical malpractice insurance and breast augmentation discussion and can be interesting.

An entertaining medical thriller mystery with a protagonist full of wit and charm, that oozes a sense of humor that’s contagious. (I also enjoyed Book 2, Act of Deception, also an easy read.) It’s a writing style full of tenderness and affection.  The author keeps it on the lighter side. He’s a doctor who is brilliant at what he does and he does enjoy getting into an investigation, even when it appears to be getting dangerous. The 1990s setting puts the reader in an era of medical discovery and technology. The conclusion comes about as easy and satisfying as the rest of the narrative without extended blow-by-blow discussion that extends the page count another twenty. Very entertaining. Trust me.

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher NetGalley. These are my honest thoughts. Book 4, please.

His Review:

Could some people need to be dispatched? I nominate Paul Thompson, the head of a malpractice insurance firm, as a possible candidate. He is a bully, rude and despicable to say the least. Doctor Jim Bob Brady, Orthopedic Surgeon, should refrain from investigating. But his friend, Dr. Lou Edwards is missing and presumed to be the villain.

The writer, John Bishop MD, seems to have a lot of time on his hands. He is a practicing physician but still has time to concoct tales of a surgeon who solves crimes in his spare time. Dr. Bishop is good at his hobby! This book is suspenseful and engrossing. I can understand Jim Bob’s attempt to save his friend’s life and reputation but at what cost? Engaged by the Houston Police Department, he investigates the crime while trying to exonerate his associate. They met during a ski accident at Snowmass in Aspen, Colorado. This is a novel way to get new patients.

The locales are colorfully described, particularly the hospital and medical school in Houston. Dr. Bishop also develops his characters with an eye to beauty and detail. The ladies are all beautiful and well educated. Mr. Thompsons’ office has four dedicated and lovely ladies who handle the books and do the daily work as well as the financial tasks.

Self-centered and egotistical Paul pushes everyone around with no care but for himself. As the novel develops his character turns into a despicable victim. Any sympathy for the victim evaporates as you progress through the novel. The drama is captivating and spell-binding. The climax is a surprise and I did not suspect or see it coming.

CE WilliamsI suggest a block of time be set aside to read this tale. Mary Louise, Dr. Jim Bob’s wife, is an empathetic character who would be a jewel for any man. She supports her would be detective husband and the other doctor’s wife throughout the story. The Houston police department accepts the novice’s assistance in solving the crime because of his association with the suspect. A really fun twist to the story. I had trouble sleeping until I finished the book. 5 stars – CE Williams

Add to Goodreads

Book Details:

Genre: Medical Fiction, Medical Thrillers, Amateur Sleuth
Publisher: Mantid Press

    • ISBN-13 : 978-1734251142
      • ASIN : B08F11BVVW

Print Length: 256 pages
Publication Date: September 10, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble

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

John Bishop - author
John Bishop MD

The Author: Lost for over 20 years, Act of Murder is the first rediscovered novel in a new medical thriller series set in the changing environment of medicine in the mid-1990s. Bishop’s sense of humor and surprising wit create a story of medical miscreants capable of murder, mayhem, and greed. His 30 years as a practicing orthopedic surgeon give the reader a unique glimpse into the medical world with all its problems, intricacies and complexities, while at the same time revealing the compassion and dedication of most health care professionals.

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Final Second: A completely unputdownable action thriller (A Grant Fletcher Thriller Book 2) by John Ryder – a #BookReview Suspense Action Fiction

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

Sometimes it takes a stranger to find a killer…

Final Second by John RyderIn a small farming town in rural Wisconsin—where generations of families have lived in peace for decades—no one expects trouble to come calling.

But then a farmer’s beautiful young wife is found brutally murdered, with a chilling calling card that suggests she’s just the first victim of a serial killer. And the FBI elect not to send one of their own. Instead they send a stranger to town—former Royal Marine turned mercenary, Grant Fletcher. And they’re giving him no choice. Find the killer. Because we know what you’ve done.

With the threat of the executioner’s chair hanging over him, Fletcher finds himself in an impossible situation—and a race against time. Catch a murderer whose killings are escalating with every day that passes. Or face certain death…

His Review:

Action packed suspense thriller centered around remote dairy ranches. working independently, Grant Fletcher is called in to help identify the killer of a FBI agents’ childhood friend. The agent is involved in a major case and cannot be directly involved at the onset. The killer is flaunting his kills by numbering each one. Her friend is #1.

Final Second by John RyderGrant is on a short leash from the police on a possible murder charge himself. A mysterious person far above the FBI agents’ paygrade is pulling the strings. The local police department is poorly staffed and it is doubtful  they will be able to find the killer. Grant has the specter of a trial over his head and going to prison, so he is given little support from the FBI while dodging the local police department.

The author, John Ryder, skillfully builds suspense while throwing in a few red herrings to salt the suspense. Aggravatingly, the local police department keeps getting in the well. An inkling of the reason for the murders begins to become apparent but the suspense builds after each new murder. Can Grant Fletcher find the killer before he is charged and arrested in his separate case? By number five, Grant’s time is running out and is looking at a deadline of next Monday.

The killings are centered in a particular area. His friend, Special Agent Zoey Quadrado, joins him near the end of the book as he narrows in on the killer. The killer has become brazen and does not care about the age of his targets, just the outcome. Hunting this killer becomes extremely dangerous as both Grant and Zoey become targets. CE Williams

The tale is fast moving and readers will need to set aside time to complete the book. It can cause insomnia! 5 stars-CE Williams

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

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense Action Fiction, Crime Action Fiction, Crime Action & Adventure
Publisher: Bookouture

  • ASIN : B08B8ZRJ92

Print Length: 341 pages
Publication Date: October 5, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Final Second [Amazon]

Add to Goodreads 

©2020 C E Williams – V Williams V Williams

Murder Ballad Blues: A Mystery (Appalachian Mountain Mysteries Book 4) by Lynda McDaniel – a #BookReview #thriller #tuesdaybookblog

Rosepoint Publishing: Five of Five Stars Five Stars

This is the fourth novel—a standalone novel—in the Appalachian Mountain Mysteries series. 

Book Blurb:

Murder Ballad Blues by Lynda McDanielLaurel Falls, N.C. 2005  A mysterious death in the North Carolina mountains. Then a second. By the third, the FBI finally gets involved. Trouble is, they’re looking in all the wrong places.

Abit Bradshaw has a theory, but of course the FBI doesn’t take him seriously. When he teams up with musicologist Wallis Harding, bluegrass music becomes more than something to practice and perform. It’s key to finding the serial killer.

Della Kincaid, a former crime reporter in Washington, D.C., can’t seem to escape her past. Now living in the small town of Laurel Falls, she’s busy investigating a fraud case that gets darker at every turn. She’s about to give up when a secretive whistleblower pulls her in again—and back to D.C.

Abit and Della team up once again to convince the FBI to help them with both their crime investigations.

Will Abit and Wallis discover the killer’s pattern … before he strikes again?

Can Della make sense of the whistleblower’s clues before the fraud case is closed for good?

You’ll love this suspenseful mystery because everyone longs to find justice in this crazy world. 

My Review:

Murder Ballad Blues by Lynda McDanielYou know I don’t often read a book straight through, but this one wouldn’t allow a lot of interruptions. Once again I was drawn into the characters, so richly described and developed. The main character is Abit Bradshaw, his POV, until we begin to alternate between his and that of Della Kinkaid, her POV. My heart aches for Abit, now a man—married to Fiona, “queen of the Irish gypsies” with a boy of their own. But he will fortunately never receive the sole-crushing emotional (and physical) abuse his own father meted out to him. He was “a bit slow” and that stuck at his school, his family, the town. And his name became Abit.

The mountains of North Carolina and the Appalachians have a reputation for being an enclave unto itself. Tight, suspicious. Abit was taken under wing, however, by those who saw more in him–a school more appropriate. It was discovered he had beautiful latent talents all his own. For one, he and his wife now play prominently in a bluegrass band they call the Rollin’ Ramblers.

Della is an ex-DC journalist, now writing a small column with a pen name and can’t help but notice the thread to a crime taking place under their noses. Additionally, their little corner of the world has recently experienced two murders and Abit begins to notice something. These things nagging at him, refuses to let go until he is totally, thoroughly wrapped up in what appears a diabolical serial killer. A lot of the music of the Appalachians came from Scotland and Ireland and one such became bluegrass. Tying the mystery to old folk ballads and numerology is brilliant.

The author skillfully assumes the dialect of the area, that particular form of speech, and seamlessly added the Cockney of a visiting Englishman. Dastardly things are afoot. The well-plotted storyline never misses a beat between the POVs and the active investigations, raising the blood pressure, tension, and urge to help. It’s immersive, engaging and leads to a satisfying conclusion without pages of explanation.

I previously read A Life for a Life and was hooked by these characters, most especially Abit—completely sympathetic. As an ARC member, I received an early copy for my honest review. I thoroughly enjoy this series, the author’s sense of humor, prose, and little pieces of fascinating locale and premise trivia. Unique and wholly recommended.

Add to Goodreads

Book Details:

Genre: Serial Killer Thrillers, Murder Thrillers, Women Sleuths
Publisher: Lynda McDaniel Books

  • ASIN : B08BG61CVC

Print Length: 336 pages
Publication Date: To be released September 15, 2020
Source: Publisher and Author Request

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

 

Lynda McDaniel - author
Lynda McDaniel

The Author: [Lynda McDaniel] I love writing page-turners–both fiction and nonfiction. And I love helping others to do the same, living into their dreams of writing books. I believe my success comes down to a respect for my readers and clients. I know I’m easily bored, so I work hard to engage and inspire my readers.

After all, we’re all busy these days, and I want to deliver value–whether that’s a gripping mystery filled with memorable characters or books on writing that give you the tools to write your own fiction and nonfiction. Both make me happy.

I got my start as a writer in the most unlikely place–a town of 200 people in the mountains of North Carolina. But living there changed my life in so many positive ways. Decades later, I realized that everything I value today, I was introduced to there. My Appalachian Mountain Mysteries–“A Life for a Life,” “The Roads to Damascus,” “Welcome the Little Children”–pay homage to the people of Appalachia who taught me so much. And to Mollie the Wonder Dog, who plays a role in both “The Roads to Damascus” (aka Millie) and in “Welcome the Little Children (as Millie and Mollie).

To keep up to date with Abit, Della, and the gang (and receive a free novelette that pulls back the curtain on Abit’s and Della’s lives before they met in Laurel Falls), head over to http://www.LyndaMcDanielBooks.com. No spam, no pestering, just the free novelette, a 12-part serialized preview of my upcoming Book Four (via my blog), and special offers/updates.

Over the years, I’ve written more than 1,200 articles for major magazines, hundreds of newsletters and blogs. I’m proudest of the 18 books I’ve written. My nonfiction books include “Words at Work,” which I wrote straight from my heart, a much-needed response to all the questions and concerns people have about writing today. (It won top honors from the National Best Books Awards.) I’ve also written two Amazon Bestselling Books: “How Not to Sound Stupid When You Write” and “Write Your Book Now!” (with Virginia McCullough).

I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, but I’ve lived all over this country–from the Midwest to the Deep South to Appalachia to the Mid-Atlantic to the Pacific Northwest. Whew! I finally settled in Santa Rosa, California, a place that reflects the values I learned while living in the mountains of North Carolina, all those years ago.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

TV Netflix Series vs Audiobook – Walt Longmire Mysteries – by Craig Johnson

“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact”
Sherlock Holmes

Longmire audiobook vs Netflix blog banner

Wahoo! One of my favorite Netflix series and lots of audiobooks (as well as ebooks) at my local well stocked library. We binged right through the Longmire series, even trying to discipline ourselves to three episodes per night, so of course when I discovered the audiobooks at my library I grabbed the first that wasn’t on a waiting list. And whadda know, it’s about bike week—Sturgis! (which, coincidentally, was last week). I doubt there is few around the globe that hasn’t heard of Sturgis, and no, that’s one rally I didn’t go to (just a little too nutsy for me), although that is me on my Kawi in the background of the blog banner getting ready to pull off the road.

An Obvious Fact-Book Blurb:

In the 12th novel in the New York Times best-selling Longmire series, Walt, Henry, and Vic discover much more than they bargained for when they are called in to investigate a hit-and-run accident near Devils Tower involving a young motorcyclist.

In the midst of the largest motorcycle rally in the world, a young biker is run off the road and ends up in critical condition. When Sheriff Walt Longmire and his good friend, Henry Standing Bear, are called to Hulett, Wyoming – the nearest town to America’s first national monument, Devils Tower – to investigate, things start getting complicated. As competing biker gangs; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; a military-grade vehicle donated to the tiny local police force by a wealthy entrepreneur; and Lola, the real-life femme fatale and namesake for Henry’s ’59 Thunderbird (and, by extension, Walt’s granddaughter) come into play, it rapidly becomes clear that there is more to get to the bottom of at this year’s Sturgis Motorcycle Rally than a bike accident. After all, in the words of Arthur Conan Doyle, whose Adventures of Sherlock Holmes the Bear won’t stop quoting, “There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact”.

Audiobook

An Obvious Fact by Craig Johnson a Longmire Mystery

This is Book 12, so while the protagonist or his major support characters are not wholly fleshed, they don’t need to be—they are whittled out of casual remarks, innuendo, description. Walt Longmire is the sheriff of Absaroka County, Wyoming. The wild west. Two other main characters, Henry Standing Bear (Native American) and Vic (Victoria Moretti), his (female) deputy—a Philadelphia transplant. Walt is often accompanied by Dog, (of dubious parentage) who needs no further description. Walt’s daughter is not notably featured in this episode.

Walt received a call from another county about a motorcyclist run off the road near Devil’s Tower and his mother shows up to ask again for Walt’s help. The mother is Lola, the mother for whom Henry named his classic T-Bird. Yes, it’s “the” Lola.

Unsurprisingly, it won’t be a simple hit-and-run and while the young man languishes in the hospital not expected to recover, Walt soon discovers bad-ass motorcycle gangs and multitudes of despicable conspiracies.

I love the scenes, so beautifully laid out you can smell the landscape, and the banter between Walt and (Henry Standing) Bear and his undersheriff, who by the way, is a great deal more profane than she appears on Netflix. Also appreciated the motorcycle lingo; been awhile since I’ve participated. Almost non-stop action, the multi-plotted storyline getting more complex with fast-turning pages. I love the tidbits of knowledge about the area, the people and culture and in this case, of course, motorcycles.

The narrator, George Guidall, did one heckava outstanding job creating a down-to-earth narrative and understated conversational quality to the written words. He wasn’t just reading it. He made it come alive. It’s drugs, money, and mayhem and I can’t wait to tear into the next episode that becomes available. 4.5/5 stars

Netflix Longmire Series

Walt Longmire of the Netflix series by Craig JohnsonI loved this series of the modern Western crime scene. The TV drama series began on A&E but was picked up by Netflix and developed by John Coveny and Hunt Baldwin somewhere around the fourth season. It ran for six seasons and is still streaming on Netflix after the sixth season ended in 2017. Popular? Oh, yes…what is not to love?

Despite amazing viewership numbers, A&E felt that the demographic was primarily older Americans—the horror of it all! Thanks to a huge fan uproar (think Star Wars), it was picked up by Netflix.

The cast is perfect: Australian Robert Taylor as Walt, Katee Sackhoff as Vic, and American Filipino Lou Diamond Phillips as Henry. Also, it was filmed in New Mexico (not Wyoming). While it doesn’t follow each book of Johnson’s series per se, there is crime fiction we’ve come to expect including bank robberies, murder investigations, and prominently featured conflicts with the local Cheyenne Indian reservation.

The series became so popular they began a yearly July festival in Buffalo (WY). (Absaroka County is fictional), according to Wide Open Country.

If there was a revival, Season 7, I’d be tuning in. Hollywood version Americana but well written and immensely engaging and entertaining. 5 enthusiastic stars

Overall Impression

I don’t think you can go wrong with either the Netflix series and that outstanding cast, gripping installments, and immersive episodes or the books. (Of course, I’m among that older demographic that had A&E dumping it.) While the audiobooks, the character Vic being more profane, might alienate a few of that older demographic, the descriptive storyline, natural and often humorous dialogue, and the narrator’s excellent delivery make it a winner. I’m a solid fan looking for my next audiobook. Wholly recommended.

Rosepoint Publishing recommended

Book Details:

Genre: Native American Literature, Western Fiction
Publisher: Recorded Books
ASIN: B01K23ZXCE
Listening Length: 7 hrs 50 min
Narrator: George Guidall
Publication Date: September 13, 2016
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: An Obvious Fact [Amazon]
 

Add to Goodreads

Craig Johnson - authorThe Author: Craig Johnson is the New York Times bestselling author of twelve Walt Longmire mystery novels, which are the basis for Longmire, the hit Netflix original drama. The Cold Dish won Le Prix du Polar Nouvel Observateur/Bibliobs. Death Without Company, the Wyoming Historical Association’s Book of the Year, won France’s Le Prix 813, and Another Man’s Moccasins was the Western Writers of America’s Spur Award Winner and the Mountains & Plains Book of the Year. The Dark Horse, the fifth in the series, was a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year and Junkyard Dogs won The Watson Award for a mystery novel with the best sidekick. Hell Is Empty, selected by Library Journal as the Best Mystery of the Year, was a New York Times best seller, as was As the Crow Flies, which won the Rocky for the best crime novel typifying the western United States. A Serpent’s Tooth opened as a New York Times bestseller as did Any Other Name and Wait for Signs, Johnson’s collection of short stories. Spirit of Steamboat was selected by the State Library as the inaugural One Book Wyoming and included visits to sixty-three libraries. Johnson lives in Ucross, Wyoming, population twenty-five.

George Guidall - audiobook narratorThe Narrator: George Guidall is a prolific audiobook narrator and theatre actor. As of November 2014, he had recorded over 1,270 audiobooks, which was believed to be the record at the time. Wikipedia

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Hawthorn Woods by Patrick Canning – a #BookReview – #Mystery #Thriller

Rosepoint Publishing: Five of Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

Hawthorn Woods by Patrick CanningSeeking to rediscover herself after a divorce, a detective-minded woman embarks on solving the small mysteries of a Midwest neighborhood, only to learn the secrets hidden there are more horrifying than she could have ever imagined.

Summer, 1989. Reeling from a catastrophic divorce, Francine Haddix flees San Francisco for a two week stay at her sister’s house in Hawthorn Woods, Illinois. The quaint neighborhood of shady trees and friendly neighbors seems like the perfect place for her to sort through her pain and move on with her life.

But Francine quickly discovers the “idyllic” neighborhood is hiding a number of disturbing mysteries. Behind every door and window there’s marital strife, simmering grudges, and a secret so terrible, someone will kill to keep it quiet.

Francine rewrites her prescription from relaxation to investigation. If she can remember how to trust herself, she might discover what’s hidden in Hawthorn Woods. She might even be able to believe the future can be good again, assuming she stays alive long enough to be in it…

My Review:

Well, here I go again with one of Patrick Canning’s books. This author writes such off-the-wall stuff you know going in it’ll be a ride. The question is just how crazy will this roller-coaster be? Answer: Subtle, confounding, twisty, and who can you trust?

Hawthorn Woods by Patrick CanningFrancine is reeling from a devastating divorce in 1989 in San Francisco when her sister Ellie suggests a child/housesitting stay at her home in Hawthorn Woods, Illinois while they take a European vacation. It certainly looks benign enough, quaint, friendly, and attractive. A nice getaway when she needs one.

A bon voyage-welcome party turns a bit ugly, however, when one of the guests throws a drink in Francine’s face. True, you never know what goes on behind closed doors and there are certainly enough neighbors here to offer a variety of single and married, tempers, secrets, and fears. Her sister’s best friend Laura Jean is a strong ally and there are a number of interesting support characters. When Francine discovers the death of Brownie (a goat), she decides it’s time to start investigating the neighbors more deeply.

And what a smorgasbord of characters there are! You are not meant to like them all. Hers is not the only temporary stay in the hood and it is Bruno that brings a special light to Francine’s eyes as they collaborate together in his own secret research.

Francine is fragile and easy to invest in; Bruno a history teacher smothered in cliché right up to his bow tie and brown corduroy trousers and I really liked them both. Obvious red herrings, teenage boy, nasty HOA lady, ex-Marine. It’s a slow burn but weirdly compelling. What IS going on here? Are you confused yet?

The conclusion brings a shock you never saw coming and a head-shaking surprise you can’t compute. Yes, yes, you knew the one answer, but… I loved the little questionnaire questions her ex left with her at the beginning of each chapter setting your nerves to jangling and the tension rising.

“In most marriages, one or both partners are unhappy. [x] True [ ] False.
“I often think: ‘I wish I were a child again.’ [x]True [ ] False.
“I am so touchy on some subjects that I can’t talk about them. [x] True [ ] False.

The author’s writing style is beguiling, clever, and wily fun. Keep reading and watch his mind twist you in the wind. I’ve read one of his books before, The Colonel and the Bee back in July, 2018 and if I didn’t recognize that signature…um, just wait…of his, I wouldn’t know it was the same author–and I really enjoyed that one. This is a suspense thriller that leaves you shaking your head, just shy of a book hangover. A mystery thriller you shouldn’t miss. Totally recommended.

Rosepoint recommended

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

Add to Goodreads

Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuths, Women Sleuths
ASIN: B08CS2RK9S
Print Length: 283 pages
Publication Date: August 4, 2020
Source: Direct author request

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble

Patrick Canning - authorThe Author: Patrick Canning was born in Wisconsin, grew up in Illinois, and now lives in California with his dog, Hank.

He is primarily focused on turning coffee into words, words into money, money back into coffee.

Find him at patrickcanningbooks.com

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Flash Point: The Final Conspiracy by Thomas A Whitmire and Jacob D Miller – A #BookReview – Political Fiction

“Everybody knows there is a conspiracy.” It is the story for our times.

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb: 

“Everybody knows there is a conspiracy.”

Flash Point: The Final Conspiracy by Thomas A Whitmire and Jacob O MillerFlash Point is a timely conspiracy suspense/thriller that takes a deep dive into the zeitgeist, examining conspiracy-culture, media manipulation, encroaching authoritarianism, and historic cycles—all in service to a fun and compelling storyline. Here’s the setup:

“Conspiracy enthusiast and vigilante media activist Eric Anderson lands an inside job with a shady southern Senator. When national tragedy catapults him into the spotlight, Eric’s very beliefs, motivations, and ambitions are called into question as he navigates competing power players, manipulative propaganda, and sinister tendrils of the deep state. Along the way he encounters a mysterious homeless man whose prophetic insights help Eric confront the forces seeking to silence them both forever.”

FLASH POINT: THE FINAL CONSPIRACY holds a mirror to the national psyche and issues a provocative challenge: Who really runs the show? What choices remain in these unprecedented times? How can we know what needs to be done?

It is the story for our times.

His Review:

Can the masses be manipulated so cunningly? Senator Shelby Lamb, the long-time Georgia U.S. Senator, seemed to think so. Winning at politics means being in the public eye at all times. Winning also means keeping federal funds coming into your state. Senator Lamb was a master of both.

Flash Point: The Final Conspiracy by Thomas A Whitmire and Jacob O MillerThis novel is almost a playbook for the events occurring with the Covid-19 Pandemic controls being put into place. Stop large gatherings of people and restrict transportation and movement. Recognizing this in the current political arena sent chills down my spine. Add to that the large-scale rioting by a small portion of the population and you have a receipt for disaster. Another method is a massacre in a mall killing many people and wounding even more.

The two main protagonists in this book, Eric Anderson and Phil Kappa, are using social media to expose this manipulation by the senator. The philosophy of “keep your friends close and your enemies closer” is one of the senator’s primary tactics. He hires Eric to prepare election videos for his upcoming campaign. Eric sees this as his opportunity to expose the senator while expanding his web site’s popularity.

Freedom of religion is a basic tenet and foundation of our constitution. By shutting down church groups to no more than 50 people, using social distancing and other germ control measures, you reduce the number of people who will discuss and figure out your measures.

Free speech is tangentially restricted by reducing the right of free assembly. This is used to fine tune the flow of rhetoric in the direction you want it to flow. It is used effectively in the story. Social media is controlled by restricting the information that can be put on the internet and restricting or taking down this information as soon as it is posted. Another common method is simply pulling the plug on the device posting information you do not want disseminated.

This novel made me think of the tactics currently being used by both political parties to sway voters and drive the outcome in the coming election. Eric is hired by the senator who then keeps him very close. Realizing the situation, Eric enlists the help of two friends to get the word out of the senator’s objectives and tactics.

The 2020 election is a prime example of the methodology utilized to affect the outcome of the next Presidential Election. Curtailing religious freedom, vilifying the statements of protestors, and even the President and restricting freedom of movement are currently being employed. Many very newsworthy events are not being reported upon because these events do not fan discontent.

CE WilliamsI applaud the authors for their analysis of the way society is manipulated. This book could work as their primer to educate those they wish to employ to further their goals. I suggest that everybody become aware of these methodologies and recognize them for what they are. The end result is a book well thought out and written.

We received this digital download directly from the authors and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review this hard-hitting debut novel. Perfect timing and totally recommended. Bravo! CE Williams 

Book Details:

Genre: Metaphysical Fiction, Metaphysical and Visionary Fiction, Political Fiction Thriller
ASIN: B08BTFSKV9
Print Length: 288 pages
Publication Date: June 20, 2020
Source: Direct author request
Title Link: Flash Point: The Final Conspiracy [Amazon]

Find the book at these additional locations:

Barnes and Noble
Kobo

Add to Goodreads 

Thomas A Whitmire - authorThe Authors: THOMAS A. WHITMIRE is a media producer, teacher, and mystic. Current alchemical endeavors involve exploring the interrelationship of spiritual development, economics, institutional culture, and multifocal healing. He often lives in North Carolina.

Growing up on a Christmas tree farm in South Carolina, I never felt that my life was typical. After my parents sold the farm, I entered a footloose phase, roaming to Italy, South Korea, and Philadelphia, before ending up back in North Carolina. In the intervening years, interests have been myriad, but the wellspring areas are mysticism and metaphysics, media production (video, audio, writing), poetry, economics, history, travel, healing, and education.

Creative expressions cycle between music and writing, although at this point I have developed writing to a larger degree. Looking back, I see that writing runs in my family, and I fondly recall sprawling stories dating back to my third-grade teacher, who inspired me. My first novel, Flash Point: The Final Conspiracy, is really just a fusion of my interest areas, tapped into the same vein of storytelling that got me going all those years ago. Future writing most likely will trend toward non-fiction, including relationship books, mysticism, healing, mindfulness, and travel.

My overarching goal is to provoke and stimulate our spiritual awakening and personal/social healing. I hope my writings can contribute in some small way. Regardless, it’s all holographic. In the meantime, enjoy the read!

Jacob D Miller - authorJACOB D. MILLER is an intuitive data scientist and stalwart badass, devourer of knowledge, seeker after wisdom, husband, father, mentor, and lover of humanity for and despite all its glories and its flaws. He pursues his myriad interests from his family homestead in South Carolina. –This text refers to the paperback edition.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Justice Gone by Nick Lombardi – Spotlight Five Time Award Winner – Legal Thriller

I am thrilled to present a five-time award winner for a forward-thinking novel I reviewed back in December of 2018. I knew it was good then and awarded my own five stars.

 I was blown away by the descriptive collapse of the care of our veterans with PTSD (post-traumatic stress syndrome), both with the lack of support for vets as well as the state of awareness of our law enforcement bodies. Lombardi’s indictment hit the subject hard and was apparently about a year before it’s time. See my review here.

In the meantime, the narrative has quietly been racking up awards and should definitely get a hard second look to see what you missed.

WINNER OF FIVE AWARDS

2020 INDEPENDENT PRESS AWARD

NEW YORK CITY BIG BOOK AWARD 2019

2019 AMERICAN FICTION AWARD

NATIONAL INDIE EXCELLENCY AWARD – Best Legal Thriller of 2019

SILVER MEDAL WINNER 2019 READERS’ FAVORITES AWARDS

Chosen by Wiki.ezvid.com among their list of 10 Gripping and Intelligent Legal Thrillers

Justice Gone by N Lombardi Jr --awards

Book Blurb

An act of police brutality hurls a small town into a turmoil of rage and fear, igniting a relentless witch hunt and ending in the trial of the decade.

“When a homeless war veteran is beaten to death by the police, stormy protests ensue, engulfing a small New Jersey town. Soon after, three cops are gunned down.

 A multi-state manhunt is underway for a cop killer on the loose. And Dr. Tessa Thorpe, a veteran’s counselor, is caught up in the chase.

Donald Darfield, an African-American Iraqi war vet, war-time buddy of the beaten man, and one of Tessa’s patients, is holed up in a mountain cabin. Tessa, acting on instinct, sets off to find him, but the swarm of law enforcement officers gets there first, leading to Darfield’s dramatic capture.

Now, the only people separating him from the lethal needle of state justice are Tessa and ageing blind lawyer, Nathaniel Bodine. Can they untangle the web tightening around Darfield in time, when the press and the justice system are baying for revenge?”

Editorial Reviews

2020 Press Award-Winner Independent PressThe courtroom scenes are wonderfully written…the characters are well described and the author paints a picture of each in the mind of the reader…Strong plot, strong characters and a strong writing style that I really enjoyed. This one is a definite “thumbs-up.” Strongly recommend! I look forward to reading additional works by N. Lombardi, Jr. Kim M Aalaie, Author’s Den

One of my favorite suspense novels of the year. It will make you question the legal system. The Eclectic Review

The courtroom action is excellent, trimmed to the most gripping parts of the trial, with plenty of emotional impact…a fairly realistic portrayal of the way small-town US society works…a fast-moving story with plenty of dramatic moments, and a big twist in the final pages. Crime Review

Big Book Award 2019 Winner

Book Details

  • ISBN-10:1785358766
  • ISBN-13:978-1785358760
  • ASIN:B07N175RZJ
  • Page Length: 336 pages
  • Publication Date: February 22, 2019

Buy Links

Amazon UK
Amazon US
Goodreads
Barnes & Noble
https://bit.ly/2SoiKwc

Kobo
https://bit.ly/2BgY7ID 

Book Depository

Waterstones
https://bit.ly/2D37Y56 

Amazon India

About the Author

N Lombardi Jr - author

N. Lombardi Jr, the N for Nicholas, has spent over half his life in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, working as a groundwater geologist. Nick can speak five languages: Swahili, Thai, Lao, Chinese, and Khmer (Cambodian).

In 1997, while visiting Lao People’s Democratic Republic, he witnessed the remnants of a secret war that had been waged for nine years, among which were children wounded from leftover cluster bombs. Driven by what he saw, he worked on The Plain of Jars for the next eight years.

Nick maintains a website with content that spans most aspects of the novel: The Secret War, Laotian culture, Buddhism etc. http://plainofjars.net

His second novel, Journey Towards a Falling Sun, is set in the wild frontier of northern Kenya.

His latest novel, Justice Gone was inspired by the fatal beating of a homeless man by police.

Nick now lives in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

AUTHOR LINKS

Facebook
https://bit.ly/2sY7LeN

Goodreads
https://bit.ly/2D1Ktt5

If you missed this the first time around, now is your chance to follow the link of your choice and secure a copy of this award-winning novel for yourself!

©2020 V Williams V Williams

The Hooligans (P T Deutermann WWII Novels) by P T Deutermann – a #BookReview #TuesdayBookBlog

Happy Release Day!

Rosepoint Publishing: Five of Five Stars Five Stars

A Review by the CE.

A gripping and authentic World War II naval adventure by a master storyteller

The Hooligans by P T DeutermannThe Hooligans fictionalizes the little-known but remarkable exploits of “The Hooligan Navy” that fought in the Pacific theatre of World War II. Loosely-organized in fast moving squadrons, PT (patrol torpedo) boats were the pesky nemesis of the formidable Japanese navy, dubbed “the mosquito fleet” and “devil boats” for their daring raids against warships, tankers, and transport ships.

After the Pearl Harbor raid plunges America into war, young surgical resident Lincoln Anderson enlists in the Navy medical corps. His first deployment comes in August 1942 at Guadalcanal, when after a brutal sea battle and the landing of Marines on the island, Anderson finds himself triaging hundreds of casualties under relentless Japanese air and land attacks.

But with the navy short of doctors, soon Anderson is transferred to serve aboard a PT boat. From Guadalcanal to the Solomon Islands to the climactic, tide-turning battle of Leyte Gulf, Anderson and the crew members of his boat confront submarines and surface ships, are attacked from air by the dreaded Kawanishi flying boats, and hunted by destroyers. In the end, Anderson must lead a division of boats in a seemingly-impossible mission against a Japanese battleship formation—and learn the true nature of his character.

Informed by P. T. Deutermann’s own experience as a commander of a patrol gunboat in Vietnam, The Hooligans is first-rate military adventure fiction.

His Review:

The Solomon Islands are a very strategic point between Australia and the Japanese islands. Placed there to protect the shipping lanes to Australia was a small fleet of PT boats and contingents of the US Nary and Marine’s as well as US Army. Doctor Eric Andersen is attached to this flotilla for the purpose of giving support to the medical needs of the detachment. He is a fourth-year surgical resident who joins after Pearl Harbor. This puts him in poor stead with his superior officers who feel he should not be doing any type of surgeries. Problem is that during war time avoiding surgery is simply not an option.

The Hooligans by P T DeutermannGuadalcanal is one of the islands in the Solomon Island archipelago and the fighting and casualties were horrendous. Doctor Andersen is thrust into this melee. His ability as a surgeon is quickly learned in these field hospitals. He quickly attains the reputation of being a “Superman” when dealing with catastrophic bodily injuries. He even does some artery relocations! The brass in more traditional hospital situations are aggravated by this skill.

The description and miserable facilities in the field hospitals is colorfully documented. Bomb shelters are constructed by U.S. Navy Seabees in record time. Japanese bombers called “Bettys” continually harass the entire staff of PT sailors. The PT’s attack during the night under cover of darkness and continually harass Japanese troop ship movements and disrupt their supply chains. The boats also supply defense and anti-aircraft batteries to protect our shipping and logistics in the area. The Japanese are tenacious fighters and every inch of real estate taken is with blood and sacrifice.

As each island is finally liberated from the Japanese, the ports and bases inch slowly northward. The skippers of the PT boats soon learn the value of their attached doctor. Throughout this book the flavor of war is everywhere. People 1500 miles away from the actual theater of action think they “know” how the war should be fought. The preponderance of arm chair fleet operators reminds me of my navy days. They were only slightly less aggravating than the enemy. Logistics and supply resources are usually controlled by these bureaucrats who haven’t even seen combat.

As the Japanese are pushed back from this island chain, the casualties mount and experiential learning takes over. HM1 and other enlisted personnel soon become strategic to the survival of the wounded. Dr. Andersen recognizes their abilities and utilizes them to the best of his ability. Comical relief is added with the presence of military scrounges whose mission is to keep the detachment supplied, particularly with medical equipment. Their exploits are enlightening and certainly devious. Requisitions in military theaters can go terribly slow and actually halt operations. The black market and bartering certainly bypass this backlog.

CE WilliamsThe relentless progress to Japan through Okinawa and Taiwan is fairly accurately portrayed. I recommend it as entertaining and enlightening reading for anyone who is a history buff. Understanding how some of the bunkers were built and the speed and efficiency of the navy’s Seabees is worth reading the book for. Enjoy the experience.

We received this uncorrected digital galley from the publisher through NetGalley and the receipt of the copy gratis does not affect my opinion of the book or the content. These are my honest opinions and I’m happy to highly recommend. 5 stars C.E. Williams

Add to Goodreads

Book Details:

Genre: Historical World War II Fiction, Historical Thrillers
Publisher: St Martin’s Press
ASIN: B0818Q5Y8G
Print Length: 298 pages
Publication Date: Happy Release Day! July 28, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

P T Deutermann - authorThe Author: Peter Deutermann was born in Boston in 1941. His father was in the Navy, so he subsequently lived all over the United States and also in Argentina. He graduated from the naval academy in 1963 and served in the navy for 26 years, rising to the rank of Captain. While in the navy, he published one textbook on naval operations and several professional articles in navy-oriented journals. He held three commands: a Swiftboat in the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam, a guided missile destroyer in the Atlantic Fleet, and a destroyer squadron based in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. His last tour of duty was as the division director for chemical, biological, and radiological weapons arms control negotiations on the staff of the Joint Chiefs in Washington, DC.

He retired from active duty in 1989 and began his fiction-writing career. He has published twenty novels since 1992, all with St. Martins Press, including the just-released World War II navy novel, entitled The Commodore, and the Washington thriller, The Red Swan. He has completed his 21st novel, entitled The Iceman, a World War II navy submarine story, scheduled for publication in August, 2018. See all the books on his website at http://www.ptdeutermann.com

In addition to a BS in naval engineering, Mr. Deutermann holds an MA in public administration from the University of Washington in Seattle, WA. He is also a Member of the Royal College of Defence Studies in London. He is married and has two children. Mr. Deutermann and his wife of 50 years live in Rockingham County, in the Piedmont of North Carolina, on their family pony farm.

©2020 CE Willkiams – V Williams V Williams

Hanging Falls: A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery by Margaret Mizushima – a #BookReview

Rosepoint Publishing: Five of Five Stars Five Stars

Book Blurb:

Hanging Falls by Margaret MizushimaMurder stalks the rugged Colorado high country–and sends Mattie Cobb on a quest to uncover the darkest secrets from her past in the sixth gripping installment of Margaret Mizushima’s Timber Creek K-9 mysteries

A deluge has flooded the high ground near Hanging Falls–but heavy rains aren’t the only menace descending on Timber Creek. While on a scouting mission to pinpoint trail damage, officer Mattie Cobb and her K-9 partner Robo stumble upon a body floating at the edge of a lake. Robo catches human scent, which leads to an enigmatic forest-dweller who quickly becomes suspect number one.

With help from veterinarian Cole Walker, Mattie identifies the victim, and discovers an odd religious cult whose dress and manners harken back to the 19th century. As the list of suspects grows, an unexpected visit from members of Mattie’s long-lost family sheds new light on her childhood as they help Mattie piece together details of the fateful night when she was abducted at age two.

The tangled threads of the investigation and family dynamics begin to intertwine–but darkness threatens to claim a new victim before Mattie and Robo can track down the killers.

My Review:

Not content to wait closer to release, I had to jump to my new Mizushima book. I am always so delighted by each in the wonderful series that features the awesome GSD Robo, a well-trained service dog. Always a late bloomer, I discovered the series at Book 3, read each since, and really enjoyed them all.

Hanging Falls by Margaret MizushimaThe K-9 series features Robo as a brilliantly, intuitive service animal–the stories do not breach anthropomorphic levels–they stay authentic. Robo is a large powerful animal and is treated with respect while carefully kept to his manners. His handler, Mattie Cobb works with local law enforcement and in this narrative finds a DB (dead body) washed downstream and caught in a tree snag off the trail in the flood of the high country she and wildlife manager, Glenna Dalton, are scouting. The wild mountains of Colorado and Timber Creek are dangerous and unpredictable, but this is obviously a homicide.

Mizushima’s books always run a strong sub-plot and this story dealing with the issue of family pushes her backstory to the foreground. Her own family was torn apart resulting in an abusive childhood and many unanswered questions. She is carefully cultivating a relationship with the local veterinarian, Cole Walker, and his family that appears to be progressing.

Investigating the death of the young man on the mountain, they discover a new “family” that has moved to their area, a cult. There is a subsequent death which Mattie and Robo also discover and all leads continue to swerve back to the cult where there appears to harbor a smoldering discontent. Cole is introduced to the members through a visit to investigate a split hoof on one of their farm animals where he notes a girl about his oldest child’s age with her own beautiful GSD.

While the team continues to investigate the two deaths, obviously related at this point, they begin to ferret out more and more details and discover a new vet in the area tied to a pharmaceutical rep adding an additional layer to the mystery.

In the meantime, Mattie has been contacted by her long-lost sister and nervously awaits a visit by Julia and her grandmother. As she was raised in the foster care system, she is hoping to finally answer questions about her abduction and the disappearance of her mother. Oh, yes, this is a thread that will weigh heavily in the next episode.

Meanwhile, the duo-protagonists, Mattie and Robo, bring the mystery to a successful but nail-biting conclusion. I love that dog. My review of Hunting Hour here, Burning Ridge here, and Tracking Game here. Each can work as a standalone, but you might wish to catch up on this remarkable series and go back to Book 1. Which one did I love best? The one I was then reading.

Receiving this digital download free from the publisher and NetGalley did not affect my opinion of the book and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to read and review. Anyone who enjoys a good mystery with an immersive, atmospheric setting, impressive animals, and their skillful handlers will find this series fully engaging and entertaining.

Add to Goodreads

Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuth, Traditional Detective Fiction
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
ASIN: B082H2KD9H
Print Length: 288 pages
Publication Date: To be released September 8, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Pre-Order Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

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

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

Book Blurb:

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

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

They are done playing nice.

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Add to GoodreadsBook Details:

Genre: Psychological Thriller, Psychological Fiction
Publisher: Ballantine Books

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

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

Title Pre-Order Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo
 

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

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis – a #BookReview #literaryfiction #TuesdayBookBlog

“Laura finds herself questioning her traditional role as wife and mother.”

A review by the CE.

Rosepoint Publishing: Five of Five Stars Five Stars

Book Blurb:

In nationally bestselling author Fiona Davis’s latest historical novel, a series of book thefts roils the iconic New York Public Library, leaving two generations of strong-willed women to pick up the pieces.

The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona DavisIt’s 1913, and on the surface, Laura Lyons couldn’t ask for more out of life—her husband is the superintendent of the New York Public Library, allowing their family to live in an apartment within the grand building, and they are blessed with two children. But headstrong, passionate Laura wants more, and when she takes a leap of faith and applies to the Columbia Journalism School, her world is cracked wide open. As her studies take her all over the city, she is drawn to Greenwich Village’s new bohemia, where she discovers the Heterodoxy Club—a radical, all-female group in which women are encouraged to loudly share their opinions on suffrage, birth control, and women’s rights. Soon, Laura finds herself questioning her traditional role as wife and mother. But when valuable books are stolen back at the library, threatening the home and institution she loves, she’s forced to confront her shifting priorities head on . . . and may just lose everything in the process.

Eighty years later, in 1993, Sadie Donovan struggles with the legacy of her grandmother, the famous essayist Laura Lyons, especially after she’s wrangled her dream job as a curator at the New York Public Library. But the job quickly becomes a nightmare when rare manuscripts, notes, and books for the exhibit Sadie’s running begin disappearing from the library’s famous Berg Collection. Determined to save both the exhibit and her career, the typically risk-adverse Sadie teams up with a private security expert to uncover the culprit. However, things unexpectedly become personal when the investigation leads Sadie to some unwelcome truths about her own family heritage—truths that shed new light on the biggest tragedy in the library’s history.

His Review:

This book is a romp through the changing morays of women in America during the early and last decade of the 20th century. The story takes place in the marble confines of the New York Public Library.  The building superintendent, Jack Lyons, and his wife Laura were resident caretakers of the building and as such at the time made their home in the library.

The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona DavisThe struggle for the right to vote and the development of women as independent members of society was just beginning. Jack sees himself as a writer who will produce a great American novel and thereby produce a good income for his family. Every spare minute of his day not working for the library was spent in that endeavor. Laura is given the position of curator of the Berg Collection of early books by such luminaries as Poe and Whitman, while being expected to raise the children and do all of the chores of keeping their home. Laura wants to write as well.

New York saw a large increase in the population in the second decade of the century; primarily poor and struggling immigrants. Disease was particularly cruel during that time period and wages extremely low. A year at Columbia School of Journalism including books and tuition was $170. Laura receives a scholarship for one term or $85.00. Now in addition to being a curator and family matriarch, she becomes a student. Meanwhile, her husband used any time available to “write” his novel.

The male students were given assignments to review trials or the mayor’s speeches. The females were sent to cover neighborhood conditions. Hardly the same interest in the topics. Laura meets one of the new social workers, Dr. Amelia Parker, a no-nonsense large woman who takes no guff from anyone. She is teaching immigrant women how to care for their children. She takes Laura under her wing and introduces her to the Heterodoxy Club. The group is scorned by society and the topic cannot be written about but is the topic assigned for her master’s thesis.

Her granddaughter Sadie Donovan is hired at the library to do basically the same tasks as her grandmother so many years before, without her grandmother’s yoke of family and husband. Books disappear during both ladies’ tenures and they are suspected of being the thieves. The author skillfully intermingles the two lives drawing parallels nearly a century apart. Both women are fighting the upward battle of emancipation.

CE WilliamsThe dual plots move along smoothly and my interest was held throughout. I became sympathetic to the plight of both of the women and their crass treatment in general during the time period. Success for any woman seemed to require the overcoming of societal morays and prejudices along with reduced pay and increased responsibility. This is a fulfilling novel, well written and paced with empathetic characters and a joy to read.  5 stars CE Williams

Receiving this digital download free from the publisher and NetGalley did not affect my opinion of the book or the content and this is my honest opinion. Highly Recommended.

Add to Goodreads

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Literary Fiction, Historical Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Literary Fiction
Publisher: Dutton
ISBN: 1524744611
ASIN: B081M7TFWS
Print Length: 365 pages
Publication Date: To be released August 4, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Pre-Order Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

Fiona Davis - authorThe Author: Fiona Davis is the nationally bestselling author of historical novels set in iconic New York City buildings, including THE CHELSEA GIRLS and THE ADDRESS. She began her career in New York City as an actress, working on Broadway, off-Broadway, and in regional theater. After getting a master’s degree at Columbia Journalism School, she fell in love with writing, leapfrogging from editor to freelance journalist before finally settling down to write fiction. Her books have been translated into over a dozen languages and she’s based in New York City.

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

The Atlantis Stone (The Project Book 12) by Alex Lukeman – An #Audiobook Review #atlantis

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars Five Stars

Audiobook review of The Atlantis Stone by Alex Lukeman

Book Blurb:

A photograph forgotten for a hundred years holds the key to finding the legendary lost civilization of Atlantis and an ancient artifact of mysterious power. When a letter with the photograph and a faded map of Egypt shows up in the mail, the Project is launched into a search that takes them from the depths of the Atlantic to the sands of Egypt and places unseen for thousands of years.
Elizabeth Harker’s Project team is caught up in a power struggle between two of Russia’s vast intelligence services. As the trail to Atlantis emerges from the mists of the past, the team is stalked by agents of a man who will stop at nothing to gain another rung on the ladder of his ambition.
Whoever succeeds will gain knowledge to benefit the world or destroy it. The stakes don’t get any higher…
Can the Project keep the secrets of Atlantis out of the wrong hands?

My Review:

Yes, I’ve found a treasure trove of Alex Lukeman novels, The Project series audiobooks through Free Audiobook Codes for Audible. Here is my chance to catch up on the ones I missed. I was astounded to see there are twenty. This time I chose The Atlantis Stone, The Project Book 12.

For those who aren’t familiar with this series, it began with White Jade in 2011. The Project Book 20 was released in March 6, 2020, The Lair of Anubis.

The Atlantis Stone by Alex Lukeman The Project Series Book 12In this episode, the team is mostly back (minus the fella still recuperating from the last mission). They don’t quite have that exuberant edge they did in the beginning. When Selena gets a package with a map and some pictures of hieroglyphics she sets about to decipher them. This is her forté. Her discovery sends them into foreign lands to investigate. Unfortunately, the Russian team has been on the same cryptic mission of discovery and follows them. If she is successful, it won’t just prove the legend of Atlantis but find an artifact of mysterious power that would answer a lot of questions passed through down the eons.

Elizabeth Harker’s Project Team answers to no one except the president and she has his ear. The team has long been under investigation by two highly classified intelligence teams in Russia and they’ll likely be caught in their power struggle as they clash with each other as well as The Project. Selena’s Russian half-sister, Valentina, is fully engaged in the other side and almost as competent as Selena.

Atlantis has long been the subject of philosophical historical discussion. Did it exist or not? If so, what happened? These stories originate somehow, but like garden-variety gossip, perhaps facts get distorted. So many theories…so suspend your disbelief and just enjoy this possible premise.

These narratives are punctuated with a lot of fascinating ideas and facts, non-stop action, good guys and bad guys, strong, beautiful, intelligent, and very proficient women. It’s iconic, pure escapism adventure. At this point, there is little character development except for occasional back reference and while you might enjoy as a standalone, it’s always good to follow the origin and growth of characters by starting with Book 1. Alex packs his clean reads with strong characters and a touch of romance.

Years ago, before I started posting reviews on his blog, I read a ton of digital books from Bookbub and got started with The Project series by Alex Lukeman. Many were shared with the CE and we both devoured what we could get at the time as we were on the road. Many were also shared on Goodreads and only one, I’m sorry to say, was shared on this blog as a #ThrowbackThursday, The Seventh Pillar, Book 3, September 14, 2017. I also read White Jade #1, The Lance #2, The Seventh Pillar #3, Black Harvest #4, The Tesla Secret #5, The Nostradamus File #6, The Ajax Protocol #7, The Eye of Shiva #8, Black Rose #9, and The Solomon Scroll #10. After a while, we didn’t have to think about it, just said: “It’s a Lukeman.” A go-to-author. Check him out.

Book Details:

Genre: Espionage, Men’s Adventure

  • ISBN-10:
  • ISBN-13:
  • ASIN: B01FKRBG8C

Print Length: 258 pages
Listening Length: 6 hrs 34 min
Narrator: Jack de Golia
Audible Release Date: May 13, 2016
Source: Free Audiobook Codes
Title Link: The Atlantis Stone

Add to Goodreads 

Alex Lukeman - authorThe Author: Alex Lukeman writes action/adventure thrillers featuring a covert intelligence unit called the PROJECT and is the author of the award-winning books The Tesla Secret and High Alert. Alex is a former Marine and psychotherapist and uses his experience of the military and human nature to inform his work. He likes riding old, fast motorcycles and playing guitar, usually not at the same time. You can email him at alex@alexlukeman.com. He loves hearing from readers and promises he will get back to you.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Out of Her Mind (Sawyer Brooks Book 2) by T R Ragan – a #BookReview – #psychologicalthriller

Book Blurb:

Out of Her Mind by T R RaganA string of copycat crimes leads a reporter down a terrifying path in a heart-stopping thriller by New York Times bestselling author T.R. Ragan.

Crime reporter Sawyer Brooks still grieves for the family she and her two sisters never had. Raised in a house of horrors, they continue to fight through the trauma—releasing their rage by seeking justice for those who are just as vulnerable as they were.

When a little girl’s bones are unearthed in Sacramento’s Land Park and twelve-year-old Riley Addison disappears, solving these cases becomes an obsession for Sawyer—one that puts her job at risk. Yet she can’t turn back, and the deeper Sawyer’s investigation goes, the darker it gets. A psychopath is on the loose and has been trolling Sacramento for years—hiding in plain sight behind a motherly facade.

The more Sawyer persists, the closer she gets to a disturbing place reminiscent of her own terrorized childhood. With time running out, Sawyer will risk anything to save Riley from the dark. But the killer will do anything to keep her there.

My Review:

Out of Her Mind by T R RaganSawyer Brooks is one of three sisters, all of whom had a singularly abusive childhood. She is still dealing with touch issues among others, but has made a reputation for herself as being a focused investigative crime reporter for the Sacramento Independent. In this issue, her sister Aria joins in the investigation of a missing girl from the area, which they quickly ascertain is one of several over the years. Riley Addison is around eleven and not a runaway.

In a sub-plot apparently brought forward from Book 1, there is a female vigilante group dubbed the “Black Wigs” operating in the Sacramento area caught on video. The group is targeting men accused of sexual crimes. Unfortunately, they’ve had a few problems executing their plans that would appear is beginning to cause a serious rift between the five members. Nevertheless, they proceed with the next target.

Dialogue is taut and leading. Forget trying to solve it yourself. Just enjoy the storyline and let it take you where you need to go–with a few little twists along the way. Sawyer is a damaged protagonist. She has depth, a pit bull when she’s doggedly trying to uncover the story, but she has additional issues. She can be impatient and compulsive. It’s good she has a supportive boss because the local police detective can’t work on hunches. He wants proof and is increasingly tired of her unsolicited input.

Short chapters, each of which ramps up the tension until it becomes stressful. You can’t put it down NOW! Can she find the little girl before it’s too late? The antagonist is certifiable. The loose threads she holds are becoming frayed with the little girl’s attitude.

I have to admit–I didn’t catch Book 1 of this series. (I know you’re surprised to see that.) I have, however, read two of her Jessie Cole series. (See links below.) Of course, I recognized the author, but was also attracted by this book’s locale–we lived there over forty years. The author’s dark writing style will get into your head and twist. Her novels are compelling, tight, well-plotted, and fast-paced. I love strong, independent, and intelligent female protagonists and if I had a quibble, it would be the (trigger warning) abusive background. Again. Still, it’s a narrative that doesn’t slow, doesn’t disappoint, and sets you up for Book 3 of a scheduled trilogy. I must know how those two themes being forwarded will pan out.

Add to Goodreads

Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Thriller, Vigilante Justice, Women Sleuths
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
ISBN: 1542093902
ASIN: B084FVY89J
Print Length: 285 pages
Publication Date: November 22, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble

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

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

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

Facebook * Twitter * Instagram: @trraganauthor

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

FAITH MCMANN TRILOGY
Furious
Outrage
Wrath

JESSIE COLE SERIES
Her Last Day (My 4.5 star review here)
Deadly Recall
Deranged
Buried Deep (My 5 star review here)

SAWYER BROOKS SERIES
Don’t Make a Sound – 6/20
Out of Her Mind – 11/20

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Muzzled (An Andy Carpenter Book 21) by David Rosenfelt – a #BookReview – #TuesdayBookBlog

Andy rescues dogs–and people.

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars Five Stars

Book Blurb:

Muzzled by David RosenfeltIn David Rosenfelt’s Andy Carpenter mystery, Muzzled, Andy and his beloved golden retriever, Tara, are back on the case as a favor to a friend.

Andy Carpenter is a lawyer who would rather not practice law. He’d rather spend his time working with the Tara Foundation, his dog rescue organization, and being with his family and his two dogs, Tara and Sebastian. But when a friend asks him for a favor that involves both dogs and his lawyerly expertise, he can’t say no.

Andy’s friend Beth has found a stray that seems to have belonged to a murder victim–in fact, the man and two of his colleagues died in an explosion a few weeks ago. But when the murdered man contacts Beth, asking for his dog back, Andy knows there must be more to the story. The man claims his life is in danger, and that’s why he disappeared. As much as Andy doesn’t want to get involved–anything to avoid a new case–he can’t help but come to the rescue of a man who’d risk everything, even his life, to reunite with his dog.

My Review:

I just love it when another Andy Carpenter book comes out! I know it’ll be a novel I can get into immediately, keep my attention, and divert my interest blissfully away from the world’s current situation to a well-plotted and critically thinking topical issue. Well, close anyway.

Muzzled by David RosenfeltAs you know if you’ve seen any of my previous reviews of this series, Andy Carpenter is a retired (unless he gets a new client he can’t refuse), defense attorney. In this case, he answered a call from his friend Beth. He has worked with Beth previously, helping to rescue and reunite strays with their owners. In this case, not a stray, but an owner reported killed in a horrific boating explosion who now wants his dog back. Oops.

As you’ll also remember, Andy’s first love is his dog rescue, the Tara Foundation, that he founded with Willie Miller and wife. Pete Stanton, his beer and burgers buddy also happens to be captain of the Homicide Division of the Paterson Police Department and has picked up on the not-so-dead-guy, Alex Vogel. Seems two of his partners were killed in the explosion that he somehow survived. It’s not looking good for Alex.

All the members of the K Team are involved, of course, one being his wife, Laurie (an ex-cop), our favorite Lurch character Marcus, along with Corey and his K-9,  Simon Garfunkel. Other favorites are involved as well as and soon they are embroiled in a complicated narrative of start-ups, super-bugs, pharmaceuticals, IPOs, and mafia types. Is this truly a vaccine that will neutralize a super-bug?

There is generally a good portion of the book devoted to interviews, investigations, and Sam’s deep dives into the ether world where most shouldn’t go. Shhh! The courtroom scenes are as gripping as the investigation leading to a conclusion surprising in the face of most Andy Carpenter books–a little dismaying even. There is some of the usual work and play with the doggies missing from the storyline as well and that definitely threw a curve in what I was expecting. I’ve come to anticipate a particular formula much of which is devoted to snappy dialogue back and forth between Andy and Laurie and those he works with. There is a sarcastic but loving edge to discussions, easy humor-punctuated banter consistent in each book. While it certainly wasn’t missing, this plot skewed just a bit unsettling this reader.

I’ve burned through a mix of uncorrected digital galleys from NetGalley (including this one), ebooks and audiobooks from the library, and have a particular affinity for the audiobooks narrated by Grover Cleveland. He so totally sells Andy Carpenter that even if I’m reading the book, hear his voice. I got in on The K Team (Book 1 of the new series) and two Doug Brock books (narrated by Fred Berman); a great deal more serious than that special Andy Carpenter sense of humor and razor wit. Obviously, I missed many at the beginning of the series, but did catch The Twelve Dogs of Christmas Book 15, Collared Book 16 (no review), Rescued Book 17, Bark of Night Book 19, and Dachshund Through the Snow Book 20. Yes, I missed Book 18 Deck the Hounds (planned on doing that one for Christmas books this year as well as the new one coming out in October, Silent Bite). Looking back, I see I gave a consistent five stars for each of the Carpenter books. (Above links are to my blog reviews.)

So Rosenfelt mixed up his modus operandi just a bit this time. I still found it to be filled with great characters, engaging plot, sarcastic but witty and fun, intelligent and complex with dogs counted among support characters. For me, it’s a win-win. Totally recommended.

Add to Goodreads

 Book Details:

Genre: Traditional Detective Mysteries, Animal Fiction
Publisher: Minotaur Books
ISBN: 1250257115
ASIN: B0818NPRRF
Print Length: 261 pages
Publication Date: To be released >BIG>July 7, 2020 – Happy Release Day!
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Beneath a Blazing Sky (Bold Women of the 20th Century Book 1) by Amanda Hughes – a #BookReview

“For readers who like history with a bit of a love story.”

Our Shared Review-Five Stars Five Stars

 Book Blurb:

Beneath a Blazing Sky by Amanda HughesThe dawning of the Twentieth Century and it is a world in chaos.
Raised on Coney Island among scoundrels, cheats, and dreamers, Piper Albrecht is apprenticed to violence at an early age. Not until she is rescued by her aunt and moves to the elegant Upper East Side of Manhattan does she experience a different life, the life of a well-educated, forward-thinking young woman. But the roller coaster ride is far from over. After building the most fashionable millinery house in America, Piper spearheads relief efforts in Belgium during The Great War, bringing food to civilians trapped behind enemy lines. Once again, she is immersed in turmoil, misery, and violence. Partnering with her is Bret Collier, a charismatic adventurer, who hides not only his past but his future. She is drawn to his easy charm and cavalier exterior, but this American is not who he appears to be.
Choosing the right path can mean life or death for Piper, and she must move swiftly because the war is intensifying, and her entire world is on fire.
Join Amanda Hughes with another host of unforgettable characters on a wild ride in Beneath the Blazing Sky.

My Thoughts

Piper Albrecht started life as a scrapper and she remained thus. Growing up on Coney Island, she learned to live and thrive among chaos, popcorn and sea odors, thieves and cheats. She learned a lot working the crowds to sell her peanuts with McKinley, the little Capuchin monkey on her shoulder. The youngest of the siblings, she worked the crowd pretty much on her own, her mother having relinquished her time and talents elsewhere. School was not a big priority, but learning how to fight those who would steal her meager income was. She had plans. Right up until the day at age eleven she shot the man who would have killed her mother.

She’d been caught in other scrapes. This time was serious and it took a lot of work to keep her from reform school. Her aunt Tilly (childless) and her husband would take her in. Piper becomes an Eliza Doolittle of Manhatten and Tilly has a lot of work cut out for her. Tilly, however, is heavily embroiled in the Suffrage Movement and sees an opportunity to inspire Piper.

The Suffrage Movement extended over decades and proved a huge battle within the US evoking many bold women to stand up for the right to vote alongside the men. The author recreates those tension-filled early times in the movement when rallies and speeches often turned ugly and violent. (Part of the problem was that it was thought women involved in the movement were also a part of temperance, so it was assumed if they got the right to vote, they’d vote to ban alcohol.)

While Piper finds her natural path into successful adulthood, she also discovers she is not always the pilot of her pathway. When she is thrust into a role, not of her choosing, Piper manages to intelligently handle the circumstances. Innocently stranded in Belgium during the Great War, she is borne into the movement to deliver goods to those scattered following the German invasion and in doing so is partnered with Bret Collier. Bret is an American adventurer who carefully hides his past. The work is dismal, exhausting, and fraught with constant heart-pounding vigilance, but is rewarding.

“In East Africa, there is a saying: ‘When elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers’…”

The author is an amazing storyteller with an easy emotive writing style, weaving the years of Piper as she evolves from an Eliza Doolittle character to a fashionable force in society to one of the women working the relief for those in the rear zone (those predominantly women and children) of war.

Bottom Line:

I’ve followed the Bold Women series for some time and am always astonished at the unsung women and stories the author manages to pull together to create her strong female protagonists, performing anonymously unacknowledged but important roles achieved in history. Although a series, each is a standalone story within the time period, pulling from chronicles as it adds a touch of spice, sense of the period environment, and a touch of romance that never overwhelms the main well-plotted tale.

One of my favorite authors, I can download a novel from Amanda Hughes and know I’ll get a gripping, immersive narrative with a strong sense of little known but fascinating history with engaging, well-developed characters. Strongly recommended.

His Thoughts

Beneath a Blazing Sky by Amanda HughesPiper Albrect is a young girl growing up on Coney Island. She has to fight to keep her place in society. Young and small in stature she is fearless in a fight. Her Jewish heritage is often denigrated but does not change her perspective.

Amanda Hughes has captured the essence of what it was like to be a young girl in that environment. Following the evolution of Piper is a joy! She hawks peanuts and has a monkey as her constant companion. Everyone at that time struggled to stay alive and Piper is no exception. Her mother’s questionable character results in a serious confrontation and she is sent to live with well to do relatives. Her entire life is changed.

The lifestyle of her aunt is far different than the one in which she has been living. The housekeepers in Tilly’s home are scornful and dismissive. Piper is pulled from the life she lived into a life of comfort. The handling of the transition from ragtag to entitled is masterfully done by Amanda. I could imagine the struggle and shock endured by this young lady.

World War One was a very stressful time in United States history. We did not want to become involved in that war and remained neutral for much of it. Meanwhile, Herbert Hoover was working tirelessly to help the people of Belgium survive. All of the animals and crops are commandeered by the Germans to fuel their war machine. Piper and her family become involved in helping the citizens of Belgium survive. Thanks to her upbringing she is well trained for her years in WWI.

CE WilliamsRomance is built into this novel and it is fun to realize that rich or poor, we all have our trials. Piper is no exception. The novel takes us through some of these and the reader will identify with many of the trials and setbacks. Being in a foreign country during war time is dangerous and life can be elusive. The narrative makes the reader appreciate the calmer years between conflict.

As you read this novel, you will be embroiled in a world over a century old, but still very pertinent in today’s world. 5 stars CE Williams

Add to GoodreadsBook Details:

Genre: Military Historical Fiction, US Historical Fiction, War Fiction
Publisher: Lillis & Jaymes
ASIN: B08BTR4PYR
Print Length: 334 pages
Publication Date: To be Released July 9, 2020
Source: Direct Author Request
Title Available for Pre-Order: Beneath a Blazing Sky [Amazon]
 

Amanda Hughes authorThe Author: Bestselling and award-winning author, Amanda Hughes is a “Walter Mitty”, spending more time in heroic daydreams than the real world. At last, she found an outlet writing adventures about bold women through the centuries. Well known for her genre-busting books, she is the winner of the Gems National Medal for Writing, featured in USA Today and is nominated for the 2017 Minnesota Book Award. Amanda is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, and when she isn’t off tilting windmills, she lives and writes in Minnesota. Don’t miss these page-turning novels for readers who like historical fiction with a just bit of a love story. All of her books are stand-alone and can be read in any order.

The Bold Women of the 17th Century: The Firefly Witch Book 1

The Bold Women Series of the 18th Century: Beyond the Cliffs of Kerry Book 1 The Pride of the King Book 2 The Sword of the Banshee Book 3

The Bold Women Series of the 19th Century: The Grand Masquerade Book 1 Vagabond Wind Book 2 The House of Five Fortunes Book 3

The Bold Women Series of the 20th Century: The Looking Glass Goddess Book 1

Interested in her new books or a free novelette? Go to http://www.amandahughesauthor.com

©2020 V Williams V Williams

The Finders: A Mystery (Mace Reid K-9 Mystery Book 1) by Jeffrey B Burton – a #BookReview – #TuesdayBookBlog

Check off all your mystery boxes with this doggy treat.

The Finders by Jeffrey B Burton

Book Blurb:

Jeffrey B. Burton’s The Finders marks the beginning of a fast-paced new mystery series featuring a heroic golden retriever cadaver dog named Vira and her handler, Mason Reid.

Mason “Mace” Reid lives on the outskirts of Chicago and specializes in human remains detection. He trains dogs to hunt for the dead. Reid’s coming off a taxing year—mourning the death of a beloved springer spaniel as well as the dissolution of his marriage. He adopts a rescue dog with a mysterious past—a golden retriever named Vira. And when Reid begins training Vira as a cadaver dog, he comes to realize just how special the newest addition to his family truly is…

Suddenly, Reid and his prize pupil find themselves hurled into a taxing murder case, which will push them to their very limits. Paired with determined Chicago Police Officer Kippy Gimm, Mace must put all his trust in Vira’s abilities to thwart a serial killer who has now set his sights on Mace himself.

My Review:

Yes, okay…okay. It had a dog on the cover. And aren’t I lucky that the cover delivered!

My first experience with the author and this his first in a new series, the Mace Reid K-9 Mysteries, I can’t help it. I’m a new solid fan. The protagonist Mason “Mace” Reid is adorable–not as cute as his dogs, mind you, but there is a vulnerability about him that makes him massively approachable. (Unhappily divorced, he’s still going through the awkward stage. “And, just for the record, Heartache never flushes.”) He does love dogs. He trains them–it’s a side job–obedience, search, and HRD (human remains detection). It’s that latter niché that has him on the local police payroll, called from time to time to search for cadavers. Well, that’s gross but necessary, after all, he lives in Lansing but is frequently called to Chicago.

The Finders by Jeffrey B BurtonHe keeps two canine sisters that have that twin thing going for them, Delta Dawn and Maggie May and a boy named Sue (are you getting it yet?). So when Elvira (Vira) is rescued from a near-death experience, the golden retriever quickly assumes family alpha. That might NOT have gone over so well with the GSD Sue, but he’s aloof and still in recovery from having saved Mace’s life.

There is something special about Vira. Officer Kippy Gimm, who found Vira at a crime scene thought so too. Kippy is partnered with Dave “Wabs” Wabiszewski (see why they call him Wabs?) and she soon seeks out Mace to see about possibly joining forces on a missing persons file she and her partner are working. It doesn’t take long, however, before Mace and his sensitive nose-sniffing dog catches the villain’s attention and ooh is he bad.

The author has given as much personality to Mace’s dogs as to Mace and Kippy comes in a very close second. She and Mace seem to click and it doesn’t take long before the cheerleading squad is chanting romance…okay…not romance. Interest? The usual fast-pace slacks just a tad when they get their heads together to bounce off perp and profiling ideas, but otherwise, this storyline just drives the well-plotted novel with humor, human interest, snappy dialogue, and canine info (feeds my endless fascination with their abilities), along with some nasty side-stuff from the bad guy. Who doesn’t enjoy the perfect mix of K-9 antics with engaging MC (human and canine) personalities, mystery, and Chicago area location details you can visualize?

You’ve seen my interest and appreciation in the David Rosenfelt books and this might be most closely compared to his humor with the serious plot points of the Andy Carpenter books. This is a wonderful start to what promises to be a wholly entertaining series. I read a lot of doggy stories. I may be an expert on dog stories. And I happily recommend this novel and new series. Must Love Dogs? Nah, this is fun whether you do or don’t.

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

Add to GoodreadsBook Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuth, Cozy Animal Mystery, Cozy Animal Mysteries
Publisher: Minotaur Books
ASIN: B0818NVFT7
Print Length: 288 pages
Publication Date: Released June 30, 2020 – Happy Publication Day!
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Kobo

Jeffrey B Burton - authorThe Author: Jeffrey B. Burton was born in Long Beach, California, grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota, and received his BA in Journalism at the University of Minnesota. THE FINDERS, the first in Burton’s K-9 mystery series, will be coming out in June of 2020 (St. Martin’s Publishing Group). Novels in his Agent Drew Cady mystery series include THE CHESSMAN (MacAdam/Cage, 2012; paperback Harlequin Suspense, 2015), THE LYNCHPIN (MP Publishing, 2015), and THE EULOGIST (The Permanent Press, 2017). His short stories have appeared in dozens of magazines. Jeff is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and the Horror Writers Association. Jeff lives in St. Paul with his wife, daughter, an irate Pomeranian named Lucy, and a goofball/sweetheart of a Beagle named Milo.

This roller coaster of a thriller has some luscious ingredients: moneyed surroundings, including billion-dollar mansions and the boardroom of a bloodsucking pharmaceutical company; some lengthy and artfully described fights and chases; and a killer-for-hire who, intentionally or not, runs off with the whole show. – Booklist on THE EULOGIST

An action-packed thriller with a high body count . . . The plot grabs readers from the start, twists abound, and good triumphs–mostly. – Library Journal on THE EULOGIST

Burton delivers an outstanding serial killer thriller that will impress even seasoned practitioners of this subgenre.
–Publishers Weekly (A Starred Review) on THE CHESSMAN

Jeffrey Burton’s terrific mystery, ‘The Chessman,’ is made up of a lot of moving parts the author brings together masterfully.
–St. Paul Pioneer Press on THE CHESSMAN

Visit http://www.jeffreybburton.com to see more about Jeff’s novels and short stories.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Release Blitz – The Incredible Key West-Caribbean Race by Michael Reisig

Today I am excited to present a Release Blitz for The Incredible Key West-Caribbean Race – (The Road To Key West Book 11) The Ultimate Scavenger Hunt by Michael Reisig – Happy Publication Day!

Release Blitz for The Incredible Key West-Caribbean Race by Michael Reisig

The Incredible Key West-Caribbean Race by Michael Reisig

Historical Caribbean & Latin American Fiction

Publish Date: June 28, 2020
Publisher: Clear Creek Press
eBook ISBN: 978-0-9863801-9-8
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-578-70207-0
ASIN: B08BZV1SXN
Print Length: 204 pages

Book Blurb:

Kansas stamps and Will Bell are back in an absolutely roaring Caribbean adventure that may be the most unique of Reisig’s tales to date.

After a night of Key West carousing, the boys find themselves entangled in a contest of sorts – a race, or perhaps more correctly, a series of challenges that carry them across the Caribbean and into Central and South America. (We’re talking about villainous villains, wild Texan promoters, hit men, biker gangs, beautiful crazy women, mad Columbian dons, moonlit Voodoo ceremonies, sailing races and hurricanes, and an island with creatures that would keep your nightmares awake).

(THIS IS A GREAT “STAND-ALONE BOOK” — You don’t have to have read the series to enjoy it!)

My Thoughts:

YES! Michael Reisig has released Book 11 of his Key West series and here is the perfect escape when you need it the most!

The Incredible Key West-Caribbean Race! Your freshly minted get out of Dodge card.

Actually, get way out of Dodge on this incredibly adventurous journey from Key West to Mexico, Columbia, Venezuela, and then island hop north back home.

This VERY exclusive Scavenger Hunt includes five countries/islands and each location brings a new and unique challenge. (Some are more deadly than others!) Only six entries allowed–teams of two each.

The Incredible Key West-Caribbean Race by Michael Reisig - The Ultimate Scavenger HuntThis in no way is your usual scavenger hunt! Each team is unique as well, from one team of two women to a VERY well to do (and apparently bored) mob boss. Oh wait! The rules? There are rules? Well, for one, knocking off other race contestants is frowned upon. Each scramble to the next location is described in hair-raising detail, treating the reader to the sights and smells of the land, the people, the food, and the desperation.

The mode of transportation? Oh that changes plenty too! From prop-driven aircraft, rain forest plowing ATV, to sailing craft. Forget those wussy challenges you’ve seen on TV–this goes way beyond what your imagination can devise! Kansas Stamps and Will Bell have proven themselves before–but can they really claim victory against the teams assembled for these riotously treacherous, frantic, and at times hilarious predicaments? How DO they get themselves into these messes? Still, it was a challenge they just couldn’t ignore…or was it that they thought they should “chaperone” their (recently discovered) offspring? How soon does it become a case of every man (or woman) for themselves?

I don’t know what I enjoyed most. The amazing travelogue, the exceptionally inimitable characters, the situations, the prize at each location, or the tension Reisig builds in each succeeding heart-pounding leg of the race. I couldn’t WAIT to see what the next challenge would be and where they were going! A free-for-all circus where sometimes the prize is just staying alive.

My buddies in extraordinary adventures, Will and Kansas, may have met their match. I must say this is the absolute most unusual entry to the series to date. And best of all–can be read and totally enjoyed as a standalone. The climax comes screaming to conclusion leaving the reader gasping with relief and glad to be home safe again. But in the meantime?

What a ride!

It’s my privilege to be a beta reader for the author and you know he is one of my favorite authors. His fiction books range from travel adventures, sea adventures, American humorous fiction, to Historical Caribbean and Latin American fiction. They do not disappoint and this may be his best one yet. Grab your copy now!

Amazon

Michael Reisig - authorAbout the Author: Michael Reisig has been writing professionally for 20 years. He is a former Caribbean adventurer turned newspaper editor, award-winning columnist, and best-selling novelist.

After high school and college in Florida, he relocated to the Florida Keys. He established a commercial diving business, got his pilot’s license, and traveled extensively throughout the southern hemisphere, diving, treasure hunting, and adventuring.

Reisig claims he has been thrown out of more countries in the Caribbean Basin that most people ever visit, and he admits that a great many of the situations and the characters in his novels are authentic – but nothing makes a great read like experience…

He now lives in the mountains of Arkansas, where he hunts and fishes, and writes, but he still escapes to the Caribbean for an occasional adventure.

Contact Links

Website
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Photo background attribution: Desktop Nexus

The Pearl of York, Treason and Plot by Tony Morgan – a #BookReview – #HistoricalFiction

Rosepoint Publishing: Five of Five Stars Five Stars

Book Blurb:

The Pearl of York by Tony MorganThe gripping new historical novel set in atmospheric Tudor York.
Winner of the Coffee Pot Book Club Highly Recommended award – “A heartbreaking book that grabs you from the first page and does not let you go until the last full-stop. I cannot praise this book enough. It was absolutely brilliant from beginning to end. This is an example of Historical Fiction at its most exquisite.”

When Margaret Clitherow is arrested for illegally harbouring Catholic priests, her friends, led by a youthful Guy Fawkes, face a race against time to save her from the gallows. As events unfold, their lives, and our history, change forever.

What events could persuade a happily married woman to become a martyr or transform a young man into a terrorist?

My Thoughts

Guy Fawkes didn’t set out to be an explosive expert, nor Mistress Margaret Clitherow a martyr. Nor did either begin life as a Catholic, but life, experience, and events have a way of unfolding an inexorable path down which we seem to be drawn. This storyline doesn’t focus on Guy Fawkes and his later exploits that eventually got him caught but it is while he is being tortured that he reverts to the narration of his life to divert himself from the pain to the path that diverged with Mistress Clitherow.

In Tudor York, England is in the midst of a major change of reigning churches and seeing a dissolution from the Roman Catholic Church and the Papists. It has now become a treasonable offense to remain Catholic and suddenly those who practice the “old religion” must do so in privacy, careful not to reveal their true allegiance. AND, anyone caught harboring a priest or the religious were quickly brought up on the same stiff penalties as those caught performing Mass.

In a well-researched and plotted account of the story of St. Margaret Clitherow, the author weaves a plausible account of young Guy being expelled from school for fighting with the town bully and the discovery of his mother sneaking out to Mass held in a deeply secreted space under and behind the residence of Margaret Clitherow. She has a reputation for kindness, thoughtfulness, and generosity. Her husband is the neighborhood butcher, a Protestant, and elevated in social standing. But one night, after Guy accompanies his mother to Mass, the house is raided and one of the two priests is caught. Not long after, Mistress Clitherow is also arrested.

The trial being a sham, not difficult to imagine she’ll be sentenced to death. The form of her punishment, however, is said to be shaped by how she’ll plea. And she does not. Will not. She is caught between a rock and a hard place. Anything she admits to would only trickle down and cause untold suffering to not only her family but many others as well. In addition, she will not denounce her Catholic faith, revert to the Church of England. She appears to have no equitable way to save her own life and resolutely resigns herself to a death she didn’t realize would be quite such a horrendous, hideous, extremely torturous way to die. Still, she has no real choice. It seems beyond reason that humans could devise such a brutal execution.

The author has done a tremendous job of bringing a stinging history to light and creating a plausible explanation for her sacrifice as well as the lasting effects her death and the later death of Guy’s own family has on the course his life will take. Fawkes’s life left an indelible mark in the history of England as well.

If I had any quibbles, it was the subtle changes of Guy’s retrospective to his current circumstances on the rack. Utterly engaging tale of suspicion, betrayal, brutality, survival, and faith. Deeply emotional and sympathetic characters, barbaric instruments, descriptions of Tudor streets vibrant with the sounds and fetid smells of crowded city life. Thoroughly entertaining, captivating prose.

“Abundance of knowledge does not teach men to be wise.”

“Mistress Clitherow…she’s a pearl inside this monstrous oyster.”

We received this digital download from the author in the expectation of a review and these are our own opinions. Wholly recommended.

His Thoughts

The Pearl of York by Tony MorganThis author opened my eyes to the reason for western migration to the Americas in the 17th century. The Reformation period developed large schisms within the European countries. The Church of England was replacing the Roman Catholic Church and it became a treasonable offense to remain Catholic. Trials were held throughout Great Britain for those who practiced the old faith or harbored priests. Priests that did not renounce their faith were subjected to terrible pain and ultimately killed.

Mistress Margaret Clitherow is one of these unfortunates. She resided in York and was held in great esteem by the local populace. However, she was caught attending clandestine Catholic masses. It would have been easy to save her own life, simply renounce her faith and embrace the Protestant Church of England. For a staunch catholic this would mean saving her life but going to hell. She is a young and affable lady caught in a martyr’s quandary. She will not give up her faith.

The main character, young Guy Fawkes, is determined to save her. He and a local priest as well as a Protestant minister set out to accomplish that task. The fervor within the area is to trap and bring to justice those who have not renounced their faith.

Some of the methods for punishing the holdouts are particularly gruesome.

Priests who are caught were usually hung, drawn and quartered. The spectacle was available for the entertainment of the population. Trying to rescue those who practiced the faith was also a treasonable event.

This book is well written and mesmerizing in the telling. I wondered how Martin Luther and the others who began the Reformation must have felt. The tithes received by the church would be kept in the countries who altered their faith. The faithful paid the ultimate price for the changes to the faith and the dissolution of the Roman Catholic faith in the various countries. CE Williams

I highly recommend this book to those who cherish their faith and embrace the sacrifice made by those who suffered the ultimate for their beliefs. This author captures the sentiment of the period in the telling. 5 stars CE Williams

Add to Goodreads

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Thriller
ASIN: B0852P7RPV
Print Length: 237 pages
Publication Date: March 1, 2020
Source: Direct Author Request
Title Link(s): The Pearl of York [Amazon]

Tony Morgan - authorThe Author: [Goodreads] Tony Morgan is a Welsh author living in Yorkshire in the UK, near to the birth place of Guy Fawkes.

His books have been described as a perfect read for lovers of the works of C.J. Sansom and S. J. Parris and anyone interested in how historic events have shaped our own times.

In addition to writing novels, Tony gives history on topics such as Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot and the life of Margaret Clitherow.

[Find Tony Morgan on his website here.]

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owen – An #Audiobook Review No. 1 BestSeller

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars Five Stars

Audiobook - Where the Crawdads Sing

 Book Blurb:

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life – until the unthinkable happens.

Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

My Review:

Admittedly, this may be a book you’ll struggle with or wholeheartedly love. I went on the WL side. The story of six-year-old Kya Clark, abandoned by her mother and shortly thereafter by her (much) older siblings is now living in a marsh shack with her despotic father. Kya has to pretty quickly learn to survive on her own near Barkley Cove, North Carolina.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia OwensThe novel is divided by her story that begins with her mother leaving in the early morning hours of 1952 and the discovery of a body in 1969 near the old tower. Kya saw her mother leave–she’d left before following violent outbursts by her father sporting bruises and split lips. He often went into violent rages–and could–with or without the alcohol or moonshine infusion. But she’d always come back–this time she doesn’t. They are living on her father’s disability and at her age, a girl, not like her older siblings taught her much.

The storytelling is so emotionally poignant, the prose flows through beautiful descriptions of the natural setting in the marsh. It’s so easy to smell the decaying vegetation, algae inhabited waterways, spy the marsh inhabitants, amphibians, birds, and insects. Feel and smell the salt air rush inland from the Atlantic as it waves the marsh grasses and reeds. I enjoyed the setting as much as the characters. And the characters are powerful.

The characters are brought vividly to life with the narration, alternately spoken by child or adult, literate or illiterate, as well as the Carolina drawl. More afraid of the occasional human than the critters of the marsh, she becomes adept at hiding and carefully keeps to herself, spying on the few who wander into their area. Once having learned to motor into town on their old marsh fishing boat, she begins to draw the attention of the cashier at the Piggly Wiggly, the African American family, Jumpin’ and Mabel, where she bought the gas, and soon the lady from school, where she was promised a meal–real food–once a day. The problem was the intolerance of the kids, their taunts, sneers, jeers, and humiliation. She never went back. Kya, scrambling to find food, eventually connects with a friend of her brother. Gradually, driven by loneliness, she begins to meet with him and he patiently teaches her to read.

The mystery of the man many years later found just outside of the little village soon becomes a statewide scandal. He’d been a high school football star, son of a well-to-do and well-established family. The “Golden Boy.” And local law enforcement begins to work on tying his murder to Kya, as they’d been spotted together and she an easy target. She is brought up on charges and there are heart-thumping courtroom scenes.

Self-educated, no one knows more about the natural world of the marshlands than Kya. She’s come to be known as the “Marsh Girl.” She’s smart, has gone on to publish books on the wildlife of the marsh. But could it possibly have been she to cause the death of Chase?

The conclusion resolves carefully allowing you long enough for your heart to settle back down when you are knocked off your feet by a shocking revelation you didn’t see coming. It’s a brilliant twist, the well-plotted and written narrative so engrossing, so achingly atmospheric, every sense poised that you are hanging on every word. It’s a serious exploration of not a male coming-of-age this time, but a female left on her own reconciling abandonment, loneliness, hunger, disappointment, and triumph. Completely immersive, so engaging it remains solidly planted long after the end resulting in a tremendous book hangover. I’m going to be awhile getting over this one.

I received this audiobook download from my local library Overdrive offerings. The narrator does an award-winning, stunning job. Heartily recommended now that I have my emotions in check.

Book Hangover

Book Details:

Genre: Romance, Literary Fiction, Women’s Fiction
Publisher:  Penguin Audio
ASIN: B07FSXPMHY
Print Length: 384 pages
Listening Length: 12 hrs 12 mins
Narrator: Cassandra Campbell
Publication Date: August 14, 2018
Source: Local (Audiobook Selections) Library
Title Link: Where the Crawdads Sing (Amazon)
Barnes and Noble
KoboAdd to Goodreads Rosepoint recommended

Delia Owens - authorThe Author: Delia Owens is the co-author of three internationally bestselling nonfiction books about her life as a wildlife scientist in AfricaCry of the Kalahari, The Eye of the Elephant, and Secrets of the Savanna. She has won the John Burroughs Award for Nature Writing and has been published in Nature, The African Journal of Ecology, and International Wildlife, among many others. She currently lives in Idaho, where she continues her support for the people and wildlife of Zambia. Where the Crawdads Sing is her first novel.

You can also connect with Delia on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/authordeliao

The Narrator: Cassandra Campbell is a prolific audiobook narrator with more than 700 titles to date. Winner of four Audie Awards and nominated for a dozen more, she was a 2018 inductee in Audible’s inaugural Narrator Hall of Fame.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

The Last Agent (Charles Jenkins Book 2) by Robert Dugoni – a #Book Review – #TuesdayBookBlog

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars Five Stars

(A shared review with the CE–my Vicarious Blogger.)

Book Blurb:

An Amazon Charts, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal bestselling series.

The Last Agent by Robert DugoniAn American operative in Russia is on the run for his life in a thriller of heart-stopping betrayal and international intrigue by the New York Times bestselling author of The Eighth Sister.

Betrayed by his own country and tried for treason, former spy Charles Jenkins survived an undercover Russian operation gone wrong. Exonerated, bitter, and safe, the retired family man is through with duplicitous spy games. Then he learns of a woman isolated in Moscow’s notorious Lefortovo Prison.

If it’s Paulina Ponomayova, the agent who sacrificed her life to save his, Jenkins can’t leave her behind. But there’s no guarantee it’s her. Or proof Paulina is still alive. To find out, Jenkins must return to Russia. Next move: blackmail Viktor Federov, a former Russian officer with his own ax to grind, into helping him infiltrate Lefortovo. The enemy who once pursued Jenkins across three continents is now the only man Jenkins can trust.

Every step of the way—from Moscow to Scandinavia to the open ocean—they’re hunted by a brutal Russian agent on a killer quest of his own. Out of loyalty to Paulina—dead or alive—Jenkins is putting everyone’s life on the line for a new mission that could be his last.

My Review:

No one–NO one–can do an espionage spy thriller like Dugoni. I read The Eighth Sister and thought it his best and my favorite (I’ve also read his Tracy Crosswhite series), but this one…

This one catches you up quickly and then proceeds to become more pulse-pounding with each page that flies by. Put it down? NOPE! The Last Agent is absolutely riveting from mesmerizing beginning to jaw-dropping conclusion. Brilliant!

Moscow in winter. Mercy! (Is that like Siberia with buildings? Worse than Chicago?) Beyond brutal.

The Last Agent by Robert DugoniCharles Jenkins, retired and living with his much younger wife, son, and baby daughter gets the information that Paulina Ponomayova, the woman who he thought had sacrificed her life so that he could return to his family, may be alive, and if scuttlebutt is to be believed in heinous Lefortovo prison. Beyond hell on earth, if she’s there it’s to extract the remaining four names of the Seven Sisters. He barely escaped home that former undercover operation and was then brought up on charges of treason by his own government. Exonerated. He’s done with the CIA for good. The man is in his sixties–leave him alone. But, Paulina–the thought of her at the mercy of those vicious Russian interrogators tear at his heart. He can’t ignore the fact that he would never have seen his family again, were it not for her.

Upon returning to Russia, Charles will contact Viktor Federov, the agent treated as badly as Charles by his own country, his fault for letting Jenkins escape. Viktor is driven by two motives; one is money and Charles knows just how to push that button. He’ll enlist Viktor’s help in penetrating the prison. Each holds a grudging respect for the other as well as a modicum of mistrust.

Paulina, an empathetic character from Book 1 as well as Viktor, both formidably strong support characters. The antagonist in Book 2 is wickedly intuitive and whether a step ahead or behind, raises the apprehension, missing by inches regardless the teeth-chattering cold, the protagonist’s terror palpable. You don’t get to relax or take a breath. The chase is on, the stakes are high, and there are myriad agents coordinating and pushing to the next checkpoint. Can they survive the frigid conditions with FSB ranking Efimov desperate to capture not only Paulina, but now Charles and Viktor?

The well-plotted suspense thriller brings each heart-stopping scene to within a hair’s breadth and then the author throws another curve, another red herring, another spine-tingling twist. Will Charles live to see his baby girl again? Unique storyline, electrifying narrative never lets the tension sag.

While you might attain more insight into the main characters brought forward from Book 1, you could very well enjoy this book as a standalone. There are certainly references back to previous character interactions, relationships, and motives. We received this digital uncorrected proof by the publisher and NetGalley and SOOO appreciate the opportunity for the read and review. Totally recommended!

Book Hangover

His thoughts:

Working for “The Agency” is not for the weak of heart. Being a spy has a daily danger and death is always close. Dugoni’s hero, Charles Jenkins’ is living that life. He escapes from Russia with the help of an operative named Paulina Ponomayova.

Misinformation is woven masterfully through this thriller. The life of a spy in Russia is only assured if they are successful in catching the enemy. Putin has no use for people on his payroll who do not produce and capture enemies of the state.

Paulina has spent months in one of Russia’s most infamous prisons. She has remained silent and been subjected to countless painful interrogations. Her assistance in helping Charles escape is a thorn in the side of the former KGB now the FSB. The Kremlin is certain that she has intimate knowledge of those who helped set up the escape network.

Charles feels he must go back in to assist getting her out of the prison and out of Russia. The agent tasked with capturing Charles is disavowed by the FSB and barely escapes being shot. The CIA wants to rescue Paulina if at all possible for the valuable intel and can’t take the chance she might, if alive, keep her secrets.

CE WilliamsThe capability of Russia’s intelligence community along with their ruthless procedures makes for a very engaging read. They are everywhere inside and outside of Russia. The training for agents must be intensive as they doggedly pursue Charles and Paulina. I suppose death for failure is a prime motivator of the agents of the Russian Secret Service (FSB). By choosing this book you are forfeiting any opportunity for a good night’s sleep. Enjoy! 5 stars CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: International Mystery and Crime, Legal Thrillers, Crime Action and Adventure
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

  • ISBN-10:1542014972
  • ISBN-13:978-1542014977
  • ASIN: B07P9QFQH4

Publication Date: September 22, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Last Agent

Add to Goodreads 

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

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

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

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

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Running Out of Road-A Buck Schatz Mystery Series Book 3 by Daniel Friedman – a #BookReview

The Edgar Award-nominated Buck Schatz series of mysteries featuring a retired cop in Memphis continues with Running Out of Road.

“Daniel Friedman has done it again—only better.”— Michael Sears, bestselling author of Black Fridays

Book Blurb:

Running Out of Road by Daniel FriedmanOnce, Detective Buck Schatz patrolled the city of Memphis, chasing down robbers and killers with a blackjack truncheon and a .357. But he’s been retired for decades. Now he’s frail and demented, and Rose, his wife of 72 years, is ill and facing a choice about her health care that Buck is terrified to even consider. The future looks short and bleak, and Buck’s only escape is into the past.

But Buck’s past is under attack as well. After 35 years on death row, convicted serial killer Chester March finally has an execution date. Chester is the oldest condemned man in the United States, and his case has attracted the attention of NPR producer Carlos Watkins, who believes Chester was convicted on the strength of a coerced confession. Chester’s conviction is the capstone on Buck’s storied career, and, to save Chester’s life, Watkins is prepared to tear down Buck’s reputation and legacy.

My Review:

Oh, ARGH! What DO I get myself into? Absolutely NOT what I expected when I requested a copy of this book. It’s a crime novel, right? And about a retired cop from Memphis. I might have expected a few of his most memorable busts. But no, what I get is a novel with multiple major societal issues, hot buttons, and book club fodder.

But where do I start? This is not your typical crime novel as noted above. No–far from it. Protagonist Baruch “Buck” Schatz has been diagnosed with dementia. He’s almost 90. He uses a walker to get around and getting up to cross his now tiny assisted living apartment takes all his energy. His wife of 72 years, Rose, has recently been diagnosed with cancer. Can this get any worse? Oh, yes–trust me.

Running Out of Road by Daniel FriedmanThe novel is structured atypically. Buck gets a call from Carlos Watkins, a reporter doing an NPR series regarding one of Buck’s infamous busts from the old days. The perp is beyond despicable, but now after 35 years on death row, his letters have finally garnered attention and Carlos wants to hear Buck’s side of the story shortly before he is to be executed and now also of advanced years.

Now it gets complex, complicated running a narrative unique in POV from Carlos’ transcripts of the American Justice series to Buck in the current year of 2011, and reverting to the time when Chester March first comes to Buck’s attention–1955. Crime fighting was different then–he busted some heads. His grandson, and newly graduated law school student studying for the bar, advised Buck from the beginning not to talk to Carlos. It became evident Carlos had an agenda.

“…the past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

But you are literally getting multiple sides of the story, a news event that observers documented and saved. It’s all in the files. Schatz was a decorated police detective. Tough, Jewish, driven. He would get a confession–one way or the other. March from privileged white landowners who maintained the confession was beaten out of him by Schatz. There is the fervent man promoting strong arguments against the death penalty as well as Carlos running his NPR series, phone interviews with March pleading the circumstance of his confession and arguments against his impending sentence date.

Character-driven, each one passionate about his/her side promoting their program in eloquent discourse. And there are many. Issues of racism, discrimination, ageism, capital punishment, long-married couples and their failing health. Who will leave the other first?  Buck rages against the decisions that must be faced.

The storyline progresses from intense to urgent as the full picture begins to converge. It’s ethos and pathos.  Hope and hopeless. A hardboiled novel, no punches pulled, the one issue of age and declining health sad and hitting rather too close to home. There are some graphic descriptions tied to March’s crimes and profane language. I did, however, enjoy Buck’s appreciation for America’s early “muscle” cars–an upbeat note in an otherwise dark, noir account pocked with soap-box oratory, my only quibble.

I received this digital ebook from the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review this book. It was written exceptionally well–brilliant–I might say and I hated what it said. The author’s writing style is unique, infectious and it bites early and hard–impossible to put down. Book 3, no problem, can be read as a standalone. Would I read another? Sure–assuming present circumstance could stand the hard truth at the time.

Book Details:

Genre: Alzheimer’s Disease, Jewish Literature & Fiction
Publisher: Minotaur Books

  • ISBN-10:1250058481
  • ISBN-13:978-1250058485
  • ASIN: B07S6J67SS

Print Length: 288 pages
Publication Date: March 24, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Running Out of Road (Amazon)
Barnes and Noble
Kobo
+Add to Goodreads 

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

Daniel Friedman - authorThe Author: Daniel Friedman is a graduate of the University of Maryland and the NYU School of Law. His debut novel, Don’t Ever Get Old, was nominated for an Edgar Award for Best First Novel. He lives in New York City.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

In An Instant by Suzanne Redfearn – a #BookReview – #souls

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars Five Stars

Book Blurb:

An Amazon Charts bestseller.

In An Instant by Suzanne RedfearnA deeply moving story of carrying on even when it seems impossible.

Life is over in an instant for sixteen-year-old Finn Miller when a devastating car accident tumbles her and ten others over the side of a mountain. Suspended between worlds, she watches helplessly as those she loves struggle to survive.

Impossible choices are made, decisions that leave the survivors tormented with grief and regret. Unable to let go, Finn keeps vigil as they struggle to reclaim their shattered lives. Jack, her father, who seeks vengeance against the one person he can blame other than himself; her best friend, Mo, who bravely searches for the truth as the story of their survival is rewritten; her sister Chloe, who knows Finn lingers and yearns to join her; and her mother, Ann, who saved them all but is haunted by her decisions. Finn needs to move on, but how can she with her family still in pieces?

Heartrending yet ultimately redemptive, In an Instant is a story about the power of love, the meaning of family, and carrying on…even when it seems impossible.

My Review:

Right from the git-go, you know this trip to Big Bear will not go well. It says so in the blurb.  As Finn Miller turns to gaze at her family, Mo her best friend, sister Choe’s boyfriend Vance, the neighbors and their daughter Natalie, and her brother’s dog Bingo, she realizes she is viewing the scene disconnected. And the scene, and her body, is not pretty.

In an Instant by Suzanne RedfearnThey had gotten to the cabin just fine with only a hint of snow, but had promised Oz, her brother, pancakes for dinner at their favorite resort restaurant and took off again, stopping to pick up a young man at his disabled auto. The snowstorm was becoming dangerous and before they could make the restaurant, circumstances slammed them into a guardrail and over the side of the mountain. It was to have been a long weekend of skiing and snowboarding and instead found them all struggling to survive.

Finn is trapped by the threads of life from everyone aboard, the emotional connection not as quickly severed as her death. Everything Finn has always thought about her family members, the neighbors–best friends of her parents for a long time–begins to twist what her sixteen years had made her believe. Finn can observe, hear, and even discern some of their thoughts and feelings, watching the scene unfold before her eyes as they move to secure her father then go about snugging in the camper van as best they can against the elements of the blizzard. Then they begin to differ on the next step.

Each character handles the trauma differently, Natalie totally detached, Finn’s mother surprisingly rising to the challenge along with Kyle, Mo resourceful. Who made selfless decisions and who abandoned any pretense of sharing or caring for more than their own? Extreme circumstances. Each of the characters are so well-developed you either rooted or loathed them, disbelieving the circumstances surrounding the neurologically handicapped thirteen-year-old Oz could happen. An argument in and of itself.

Underlying the main plot, that of survival under severely shocking conditions and different planes of injury, a sub-plot involving cross characters leads the well-paced storyline through rescue, examining how the characters handle the lingering post-trauma issues. Each character seeing the story through their own eyes, trying to come to an understanding, each playing a blame game. Guilt, loss, regrets. No do-overs.

How would you conduct yourself in similar circumstances? You can’t know until it happens and pray it never does. I’ve been exposed to extreme temps in the mid-west and I can tell you even plunging fingers into water to warm them, heralds some major pain. Freezing to death isn’t painless. Reading the Author’s Note at the end of the book tells her own story of the similar circumstances that formed the idea for her book. The responsibility of your own child can be crushing much less taking on the responsibility of another’s child.

After reading the review for In An Instant on Shalini’s Books & Reviews, I went scrambling to see if I could still get it on NetGalley. I could and did! (Shalini knows a winner when she reads it.) This one totally blew me away–glued and flipping the pages, reaching for tissues, alternately gasping and raging at small tragedies and shouting hoorahs at tiny victories. I am MOST grateful to have been provided this ARC by the publisher in exchange for a review. Totally recommending this heart-stopping narrative of the enduring human spirit and the experiences that shape each individual.

Book Details:

Genre: Coming of Age Fiction, Women’s Friendship Fiction
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

  • ISBN-10:1542006589
  • ISBN-13:978-1542006583
  • ASIN: B07NVD1276

Print Length: 326 pages
Publication Date: March 1, 2020
Source: BookBlogger referral, Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: In An Instant (Amazon)

+Add to Goodreads 

Rosepoint recommended

Suzanne Redfearn - authorThe Author: Suzanne is the bestselling author of three novels: In an Instant, No Ordinary Life, and Hush Little Baby.

Born and raised on the east coast, Suzanne moved to California when she was fifteen. She currently lives in Laguna Beach with her husband where they own two restaurants: Lumberyard and Slice Pizza & Beer. In addition to being an author, Suzanne is an architect specializing in residential and commercial design.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

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

The Wolf in Winter: A Charlie Parker Thriller Book 12 by John Connolly – a #BookReview #readingirelandmonth20

Ah, my second John Connolly book for the #begorrathon20

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars Five Stars

The Wolf in Winter by John Connolly

Happy St Patrick’s Day! St Patty's Day Hat

(No parades this year due to Corona Virus)

Book Blurb:

New York Times bestselling author John Connolly is a master of the supernatural thriller—“a genre of one” (Bookreporter)—whose eerie and electrifying Charlie Parker mystery turns a small town in Maine into an unforgettable character that threatens to destroy the brooding private investigator.

The isolated community of Prosperous, Maine, has always thrived. While others suffered, the people there have remained fortunate, wealthy, secure, and insular throughout the centuries.

Miles to the south, in Portland, a homeless man dies, and the disturbing manner of his death brings Prosperous to the attention of the private investigator Charlie Parker. He is a dangerous man, driven by compassion, rage, and the desire for vengeance. Prosperous and its townsfolk recognize that he poses a threat to their security that runs deeper than any in their long history.

But this community has its own way of protecting itself, and its sheltered residents have marked Charlie for death so that Prosperous may survive. Prosperous, and the secret that is buried beneath it…

My Review:

What have I gotten myself into THIS time?! Yes, this was one of the authors I included for Reading Ireland Month last year. But, in my defense, it was my co-reviewer who read the second book of the Charlie Parker series and I have to admit, now I’m sorry I couldn’t squeeze it in. This is #12 and I read as a standalone, however, I thought an unusual branch of the supernatural genre. Light horror? Or supernatural noir. Dark paranormal? Malevolent thriller? “Folk horror”

The Wolf in Winter by John ConnollyIt’s Parker’s POV, first person and the hook reels you in pretty quickly. Charlie Parker is a private detective visited by ghosts of his own tragic past. The loss of his wife and first-born daughter.

“He was trying to put loss into words, but loss is absence, and will always defy expression.”

The experience has rocketed him into an endless quest against the dark side. The evil manifests early though lightly and gradually ramps up following his investigation into the suicide of a homeless person, well known in the homeless community, who knew he would NOT commit suicide. The suicide coincides with the disappearance of the man’s daughter and sends Parker on the quest to discover why.

On the surface, it appears to be a routine mystery. Until he hits Prosperous, Maine. Then all bets are off. There is something dark being cloaked in this little tightly-knit enclave built around an ancient church. The church history is chilling, each piece having been brought over from the north of England which displays foliate sculpture. But it is the particular sect he discovers behind the church that prompts deeper research. They are heretical, powerful, and dangerous. Familists.

There are droll remarks, bordering on sharp-witted and sarcastic. More than once LOL humorous; humor mixed with prose. The pace is frightening, barely ending one hair-raising, thought-provoking scene before it careens into the next. Deadly characters, apparently some familiar from previous series entries, The Collector and Cambion, make cameo appearances.  But my favorites, Angel and Louis, set a layer of pancaked evil with the good–they owe Parker–and they’re in payback mode. Omnipotent. Effective. The author has fun with these characters, coating each with a deposit of darkness, tension, and intense attitude.

In the meantime, the central board of Prosperous views his intrusion with a deepening impression of threat and they act to stop the threat. It is when Parker’s old friend Ronald Straydeer witnesses a terrifying event that the story goes from paranormal to horror. The storyline hits hard on religion, but also describes the challenge of the homeless, army veterans (and their K-9 companions), as well as the dark underbelly of the world. Most of which you’d prefer not to know.

I received this digital download from my local fully-stocked library and totally appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Totally recommended! This author will go right on the top of my currently accumulating and rapidly expanding list of favorite series that I plan to dazzle you with later. I know you’ve probably read a number of the Charlie Parker series. So, what do you suggest I start next? Which was your favorite?

Rosepoint recommended

+Add to Goodreads

Book Details:

Genre: Paranormal Suspense, Private Investigator Mysteries
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books; Reprint edition

  • ISBN-10:1501122703
  • ISBN-13:978-1501122705
  • ASIN: B00DPM7Y9A

Print Length: 433 pages
Publication Date: October 28, 2014
Source: Local Library Digital Loans
Title Link: The Wolf in Winter

John Connolly - authorThe Author: [John Connolly] I was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1968 and have, at various points in his life, worked as a journalist, a barman, a local government official, a waiter and a “gofer” at Harrods department store in London. I studied English in Trinity College, Dublin and journalism at Dublin City University, subsequently spending five years working as a freelance journalist for The Irish Times newspaper, to which I continue to contribute, although not as often as I would like. I still try to interview a few authors every year, mainly writers whose work I like, although I’ve occasionally interviewed people for the paper simply because I thought they might be quirky or interesting. All of those interviews have been posted to my website, http://www.johnconnollybooks.com.

 

I was working as a journalist when I began work on my first novel. Like a lot of journalists, I think I entered the trade because I loved to write, and it was one of the few ways I thought I could be paid to do what I loved. But there is a difference between being a writer and a journalist, and I was certainly a poorer journalist than I am a writer (and I make no great claims for myself in either field.) I got quite frustrated with journalism, which probably gave me the impetus to start work on the novel. That book, Every Dead Thing, took about five years to write and was eventually published in 1999. It introduced the character of Charlie Parker, a former policeman hunting the killer of his wife and daughter. Dark Hollow, the second Parker novel, followed in 2000. The third Parker novel, The Killing Kind, was published in 2001, with The White Road following in 2002. In 2003, I published my fifth novel – and first stand-alone book – Bad Men. In 2004, Nocturnes, a collection of novellas and short stories, was added to the list, and 2005 marked the publication of the fifth Charlie Parker novel, The Black Angel. In 2006, The Book of Lost Things, my first non-mystery novel, was published.

Charlie Parker has since appeared in five additional novels: The Unquiet, The Reapers (where he plays a secondary role to his associates, Louis and Angel), The Lovers, The Whisperers, and The Burning Soul. The eleventh Charlie Parker novel, The Wrath of Angels, will be available in the UK in August 2012 and in the US in January 2013.

The Gates launched the Samuel Johnson series for younger readers in 2009, followed by Hell’s Bells (UK)/The Infernals (US) in 2011. A third Samuel Johnson novel should be finished in 2013.

I am also the co-editor, with fellow author Declan Burke, of Books to Die For, an anthology of essays from the world’s top crime writers in response to the question, “Which book should all lovers of crime fiction read before they die?” Books to Die For is available in the UK as of August 2012, and will be available in the US in October 2012.

I am based in Dublin but divide my time between my native city and the United States, where each of my novels has been set.

©2020 V Williams V Williams