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.

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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.

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 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
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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

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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)
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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

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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)
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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)

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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

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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

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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

Irish Car Bomb (The Erin O’Reilly K-9 Mysteries Book 2) by Steven Henry – a #BookReview #readingirelandmonth20

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars Five Stars

I just found a new favorite series!

March!

Book Blurb:

Irish Car Bomb by Steven HenryIf it weren’t for the Irish, New York wouldn’t have a police force. On the other hand, it might not need one.

Starting a new job is always stressful, even when bombs aren’t involved. NYPD Officer Erin O’Reilly always wanted to be a detective. But on her first day wearing a gold shield, she finds herself investigating the explosive death of a small-time crook. She and her K-9 partner Rolf, together with her new squad of detectives, plunge into a world of gamblers, mobsters, and retired Irish Republican Army soldiers.

It’s an Irish cop against the Irish Mob in an intoxicating cocktail of murder, explosives, and betrayal. Can Erin and Rolf solve the killing before the bomber strikes again?

My Review:

Yahoo! I’ve found another K-9 series to absolutely love! And SurPRISE! The female character, one of New York’s finest, newly installed detective, is not a damaged protagonist. As far as I can tell, she is tough, smart, and a critical thinker. She brings valuable instincts to the job, a logical wit and wisdom inherited by her now retired Irish NY cop dad.

Irish Car Bomb by Steven HenryWhat is not to love here? This cast of characters immediately immerses you in her new unit, co-workers gathered from other areas specifically to work Major Crimes, each with their own specialties. And they are good. The banter is lively as they get the feel for each other and their new team member, Erin O’Reilly. She comes with the 90 lb. GSD specially trained German language K-9–a pussycat or predator and he can go from mild to wildly serious quickly. It doesn’t take long before Erin earns the respect of Lieutenant Webb and her team members and has installed herself as a person who has your back, confronts and subdues effectively.

In this installment, a car bomb has detonated causing a fatality and the team called out. It escalates rather quickly, introducing Erin to the local Irish mob and the pub hangout, the Barley Corner, where she made some major contacts. It is there she is introduced to the “Irish Car Bomb,” a drink that begins with Guinness, of course. (And have you heard of Glen D?)  It’s brilliant and something I’d never attempt. Dialogue hints at the Irish sense of humor as well as the fire.

“Nothing in his life so became him as his taking leave of it.”

A fast-paced, well-plotted mystery doesn’t take away from the characters and there is a pulse-pounding climax in a satisfying conclusion. Oh wait! Did I have any quibbles? Yes!  It’s too short! I’m looking forward to delving deeper into these characters, charismatic, caustic when needed, or just because. Erin is high energy and runs on endorphins. This one will ramp yours up as well.

Rosepoint recommended I bought this one, sold on the cover and blurb, and it did not disappoint. Fast and fun read–totally recommended! Now, I just need the next one!

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Animal Mysteries, Police Procedurals
Publisher: ClickWorks Press

  • ISBN-10:1943383383
  • ISBN-13:978-1943383382
  • ASIN: B07FT1RJG2

Print Length: 164 pages
Publication Date: July 22, 2018
Source: Purchased at Publisher
Title Links: Irish Car Bomb (Amazon link), Barnes and Noble, Kobo

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Steven Henry - authorThe Author: Steven Henry is the USA Today bestselling author of the Erin O’Reilly mysteries and the Clarion Chronicles. He learned how to read almost before he learned how to walk. Ever since he began reading stories, he wanted to put his own on the page. He lives a very quiet and ordinary life in Minnesota with his wife and dog.

©2020 V Williams V Williams