Fade to Black (A Doug Brock Thriller Book 2) by David Rosenfelt (Author) Fred Berman (Narrator) – An #Audiobook Review #crime

Audiobooks by David Rosenfelt

Book Blurb:

In Fade to Black, the thrilling audiobook sequel to Blackout from David Rosenfelt, policeman Doug Brock helps a fellow victim of amnesia untangle a murder case and discovers he may not be as distant as he thinks.

After getting shot in the line of duty, New Jersey state police officer Doug Brock has been busy rebuilding his life. He’s reunited with his fiancé and started to get some of his memories back. He hopes he can continue to recover with the help of an amnesia support group and that the damage from his past isn’t permanent.

It isn’t until fellow group member Sean Conner approaches him after a meeting that Doug realizes the trouble is just beginning. Sean has discovered in his attic what can only be called a scrapbook of a murder victim, but he has no recollection of the girl’s identity or why he might have gathered this information.

Doug agrees to help and convinces his captain to open what had been a cold case. When he discovers that he had a personal connection to this case, suddenly he’s questioning everything he thought he knew about the case, about Sean, and about his own past.

In the next thrilling audiobook by David Rosenfelt, Doug Brock is back to delight listeners and keep them guessing until the end.

My Review:

No, I’m not deserting the Andy Carpenter series, but as a solid Rosenfelt fan, thought I’d sample one of this slightly newer series–this one being #2 of Doug Brock. (As you can see, I also listened to Book 3, which I’ll review on Thursday, Feb 20th.)

Fade to Black by David RosenfeltThis series revolves around Doug Brock, a New Jersey state police lieutenant who was shot in the line of duty. He recovered, but without ten years of his memory. He remembers little bits and pieces from time to time and has gotten back together with his former fiancé. Also, he is apparently more mature and less fool-hardy–a good thing. In continuing to recover, he joined an amnesia support group. One of the members, however, brings him a private matter which begins to look suspiciously like a miscarriage of justice–involving his former police self.

While I can’t say I like this series as much as the Andy Carpenter series, which is usually pocked with ample doses of tongue-in-cheek humor, it does capture attention and provide entertainment (and stuck on the shuttle to the VA Hospital in Chicago, was very welcome). A great deal more serious in nature, there were times I didn’t really care for protagonist Brock. His fiancé, Jessie, is interesting, intelligent, tolerant, and patient. Also, she possesses a mountain of a dog called BoBo. Doug and BoBo have a kind of détente. He also is back with partner Nate Alvarez, and he and Nate seem to work well together. They convince their captain to open a cold case.

Nothing is simple, it’ll go from a missing person case to possible drug trafficking with mobsters and even worse behind that (WAY worse), but they keep chipping away at little clues and leads.

The narrative is full of characterization and the storyline keeps you pushing to the reveal. There are enough red herrings to keep you off-track, so you won’t be in danger of guessing the antagonist. The conclusion brings all frayed ends together very neatly. In any case, my interest was sufficiently piqued to check out Book 3. (And when will I get back to Andy Carpenter? March. Hey–there are twenty of those with two more coming and I’ve just scratched the surface. AND, I was approved by NetGalley for The K Team, Book 1, of a new spinoff series from Andy Carpenter featuring most of my favorite characters. If you haven’t grabbed that one yet, better hurry.)

Fred Berman provides a very sobering, masculine voice to Brock’s character, at times forceful and then confused (lapse of memory) about his previous stance. A testament to his expertise in a range of voices, he was also a presence in a previous audiobook I reviewed, The Dog Who Danced. See that review here. I received this digital download from my local library audio selection with no expectation for a review. But, hey, that’s what I do.

Book Details:

Genre: Police Procedural, Crime Thriller
Publisher:  Macmillan Audio, Minotaur Books

  • ISBN-10:1250308119
  • ISBN-13:978-1250308115
  • ASIN: B079V728GJ

Print Length: 280 pages
Listening Length: 6 hrs 56 mins
Narrator: Fred Berman
Publication Date: March 13, 2018
Source: Local (Audiobook Selections) Library through Overdrive
Title Link: Fade to Black
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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4-stars

David Rosenfelt - authorThe Author: [David Rosenfelt-Goodreads author page] I am a novelist with 27 dogs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fred Berman - authorThe Narrator: [Fred Berman-Goodreads author page] Age & Hometown: 39 (“but in meerkat years, that’s 25!”); Manhasset, Long Island

Current Role: Entertaining Broadway audiences as the hysterical meerkat Timon in Disney’s long-running hit The Lion King.

A Familiar Voice: An accomplished voiceover actor on more than 50 audio books, Berman says the key is not to impersonate or put on voices. “I cast the book in my mind,” he explains. “I say, ‘Who is this person?’ So, in my head, Judi Dench is playing this role. I don’t want to do an impersonation of Judi Dench, but I am channeling her in that moment. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.” Berman’s audio work ranges from children’s books to what he calls “fantasy romance novels”—and sometimes both in the same day. “One time, I went from the most ridiculously depressing book, The Painted Bird, about a kid wandering through the forests of Poland after World War II, to a romance book where I voiced the sexiest Greek man alive who always wears leather pants and no shirt in softcore porn scenes.”

The Dangers of Timon: Berman was initially cautious about taking his Lion King gig. “I have never gone into a long-running show, and I knew I couldn’t do [Nathan Lane, who created the role onscreen]. I wasn’t sure how much of it was going to be ‘This is a machine and you need to do it this way.’” Berman’s doubts subsided when he was given freedom to interpret the role his own way—though he still has one fear. “I tend to gravitate toward blue humor, so I always get nervous when I have to improvise,” he says. “Having kids [he has two] makes you check yourself more.” Instead, he says his mantra is, “Play the positive; play the love!”

Let’s Rock!: Though acting pays the bills, Berman’s true passion is music. The son of a bandleader, he began playing piano at age five and discovered the drums, which would become his main instrument, in fifth grade. “Until I got into The Lion King, I was playing in bands my whole life,” he says. His musical influences range from fellow Long Island native Billy Joel to Led Zeppelin. “I have a tattoo of [late Led Zeppelin drummer] John Bonham’s symbol on my left arm!” When pressed to choose between acting and music, Berman responds, “I love them both, but I have to be honest: There is nothing in the world like playing drums in a rock-and-roll band at a live concert. That’s what I thought.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Rosepoint January Reviews Recap–HELLO February!!

Rosepoint Reviews-January Recap

January definitely got off to a rocky start with the hospitalization of the CE (my co-reviewer) for almost a week again in the VA Hospital, Jesse Brown, in Chicago. I must say, they have an extraordinary collection of medical staff, caring and attentive, and he’s home again–safe. Not the first time with this issue has forced me to reassess our diet. I’ve been reducing his meat consumption. Apparently not enough. Old school, I was always taught the plate was divided meat, vegetable, carbohydrate, salad or fruit. Not anymore. I’m learning to cook vegetarian. And it’s not easy. If you have some favorite go-to, possibly easy, quick vegetarian meals, I’d LOVE the suggestions!

Anyway, on the shuttle to the Chicago VA Hospital, I had lots of time to listen to audiobooks! And I listened to several but didn’t have time for reviews (except these two). I’ll spread the rest into February (and beyond–I have lots of them!).

January Book Reviews

Bitter Falls by Rachel Caine
The Lost Treasure by J M Kelly
A Criminal Justice by William L Myers Jr
A Cry in the Night by Kerry Wilkinson
Ice by Kevin Tinto (A CE review)
The Dog Who Danced by Susan Wilson (Audiobook)
The Poison of War by Jennifer Leeper (CE Review–novella)
A Secret History of Witches by Louisa Morgan (Audiobook)
Gabby by Barby Keel
A Field Guide to Homicide by Lynn Cahoon
Mystery on Hidden Lane by Clare Chase

Did you check the Reading Challenges page I updated to include all the 2020 challenges? Of the above, eight were from NetGalley, two audiobooks, one historical fiction. (I also granted two author requests.) Actually, I was able to fill in a couple spots on the Bingo card and I started the other three. At twelve, I’m just a tad behind on my Goodreads challenge–read–haven’t completed the reviews, but I’m still playing catch-up.

 I certainly hope you had a healthy and happy January. Welcome to February!

Goodbye January, welcome February

Thank you as always to those who are new to this site and those who continue to read and support this blog with your comments.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Goodbye January gif courtesy of PixMix

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

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

Mystery on Hidden Lane by Clare ChaseBook Blurb:

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

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

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Gabby: The Little Dog That Had to Learn How to Bark (A Foster Tails Story Book 1) by Barby Keel – a #BookReview

Gabby by Barby KeelBook Blurb:

A moving, heartfelt true story that celebrates the way animals and humans rescue one another . . .
Baby seagulls, mischievous ferrets, strutting peacocks…in the decades that Barby Keel has run her animal sanctuary in the English countryside, she has seen all manner of creatures. Thousands of cats and dogs have come through her doors and, with the aid of Barby and her dedicated staff, found loving forever homes. But Gabby, a small terrier with solemn, terrified eyes, is like no case Barby has ever encountered before.

Gabby has spent all eight years of her life indoors. She has no idea how to play with a toy or chew a treat. She has never dug in the dirt or rolled happily in the grass. Strangest of all, Gabby does not know how to bark. Barby can tell that the little golden-haired dog is bright and curious beneath her paralyzing fear, but coaxing out Gabby’s true spirit will be a daunting task.

Yet sometimes, a dog and a human fit together like two puzzle pieces, and so it is with Gabby and Barby. And Barby, who believes passionately in animals’ ability to help and heal those they love, will find her faith in Gabby repaid just when she, and her sanctuary, need it most . . .

My Review:

Gabby by Barby KeelI cannot lie: the cover got me. And I do so love a good doggy book as you all know. This book, while introducing Gabby, however, is a great deal more about the sanctuary located in Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex, England that Barby Keel created out of her love of animals.

After some spotlighting of the origins, growth, size, and population of the Barby Keel Animal Sanctuary, including the fleshing of a number of volunteers–always the lifeblood of the organization–now an official charity, we meet little Gabby, a Lhasa Apso/Yorkshire mix. Too adorable not to love and keep, too traumatized and lost to rehome, Barby keeps her and begins the long arduous task of teaching the dog to be a dog; not the least of which was to merely romp and play with other dogs, much less be house trained, which was a MAJOR accomplishment. This was an eight-year-old dog!

The Barby Keel Animal Sanctuary logoAlong with the slow progress of Gabby was a description of the people who for whatever reason, surrender their animals, abandon, or mistreat them. In addition, there are those wild creatures who have met accidents and most need some veterinary care and meds as well as safe areas, proper food, water, and shelter. An enormous undertaking!

The discovery of Barby’s breast cancer focuses sharply on her chosen path of treatment, the post-surgery depression, and the extended timeline of recovery. The narrative obviously credits the love of the dog and the hope that Barby receives from Gabby’s progress culminating in her final ability to bark as a turning point in Barby’s healing. It seemed to side-track the story of Gabby as it became more biographical in nature.

The book appeals globally for the donations that keep the sanctuary afloat and points out the massive strides in the importance and success of the facility. There were times when I found the dialogue a bit unnatural (yes, we all talk to our animals, but…) and the repetitive theme became a little heavy. We covered that. Then we covered it again.

I received this digital download from the publisher and NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review. See additional information on the sanctuary here (and no, I’m not getting paid per click). Recommended for those interested in animal outreach and rescue.

Book Details:

Genre: Pet Dogs, Dog Care, Animal and Pet Care, Women’s Biographies
Publisher: Citadel

  • ISBN-10:080654032X
  • ISBN-13:978-0806540320
  • ASIN: B07CVR8MGF

Print Length: 256 pages
Publication Date: To be Released January 28, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Gabby

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

Cathryn Kemp - authorThe Author: Sunday Times bestselling ghostwriter and award-winning author, Cathryn Kemp won The Big Red Read Prize for Non-Fiction in 2013.
Her titles include Coming Clean: Diary of a Painkiller Addict (originally titled as Painkiller Addict: From Wreckage To Redemption), Jam Butties and a Pan of Scouse published by Trapeze in December 2016, A Fish Supper and a Chippy Smile and We Ain’t Got No Drink, Pa, both published by Orion in 2015. Cathryn’s recent titles include My Beautiful Struggle, published in 2017 by Trapeze, A Song for Bridget, published by Mirror Books in 2018, and the Foster Tails series, The Street Dog Who Found a Home, Gabby: The Little Dog That Had to Learn to Bark, and Will You Love Me? The Rescue Dog That Rescued Me, published through 2018 by Trapeze.

Previously, Cathryn worked as a news/feature writer across the spectrum of the British press for seven years before leaving to pursue her love of travel. She subsequently wrote several Lonely Planet travel guides and won the Peter Wilson Award for Journalism in 2002.
In 2004 she was struck down with the painful and debilitating illness pancreatitis – the experience of which led to the events described in her incredible memoir Coming Clean: Diary of a Painkiller Addict. She is now forging a career as an inspirational speaker on addiction issues and founded the UK’s first charity dedicated to raising awareness of addiction to prescribed opioids, the Painkiller Addiction Information Network (PAIN). Cathryn is Chief Executive of PAIN and a founding member of the Opioid Painkiller Dependence Alliance (OPDA).
For more information, or to catch up with Cathryn’s news, go to
http://www.painkiller-addict.com, http://www.painkillerfree.co.uk, or follow Cathryn on Twitter @cathrynkemp or on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/painkilleraddic

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Logo Attribution: Barby Keel Animal Sanctuary website

Audiobook – The Dog Who Danced by Susan Wilson – a #BookReview Narrated by Fred Berman and Christina Delaine

Ever heard of Canine Freestyle (Doggie Dancing)? If you haven’t, now is the time to Google it.

Audiobook-The Dog Who Danced

Book Blurb:

From the New York Times best-selling author of One Good Dog comes a novel about a woman’s cross-country journey to find her lost dog and discover herself.

If there’s been a theme in Justine Meade’s life, it’s loss. Her mother, her home, even her son. The one bright spot in her loss-filled life, the partner she could always count on, has always been Mack, her gray and black Sheltie – that is, until she is summoned back to her childhood home after more than 20 years away.

Ed and Alice Parmalee are mourning a loss of their own. Seven years after their daughter was taken from them, they’re living separate lives together – dancing around each other, and their unspeakable heartbreak, unable to bridge the chasm left between them.

Fiercely loyal, acutely perceptive and guided by a herd dog’s instinct, Mack has a way of bringing out the best in his humans. Whether it’s a canine freestyle competition or just the ebb and flow of a family’s rhythms, it’s as though the little Shetland sheepdog was born to bring people together. The Dog Who Danced is his story, one that will surely dance its way into your heart.

My Review:

Now, now, don’t go groaning on me, and yes, it’s another dog book. If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know I have my favorite dog book authors, this being one of my new, but very devoted ones, Susan Wilson. She really does crawl inside those canine heads and wrenches out the voice you’ve been sure you spotted on your own version of a dog. (My version, as mentioned before is Frosty, a Bichon Frise.)

The Dog Who Danced by Susan WilsonAt any rate, this entry to her very popular series has Justine Meade, on her way to the right coast from the left where she’s been warned by her erstwhile step-mother that her dad is dying. Justine gets by with wits and wile and this time has hitched a ride with trucker Artie. But Artie has a schedule, a load to deliver, and is already tired of extra potty breaks that come with hauling a woman and her dog named Mack, a grey and black Blue Merle and Sheltie with one blue and one brown eye.

Justine, however after being warned about dawdling, is slow getting out of the trucker’s stop shower and discovers good ole Artie has driven off, unaware that the dog is burrowed in the blankets in the sleeping berth, or, he just plane wigged out forgetting about the dog who only knows Artie from his nasty temperament and tendency to smoke up the cab. When Mack finally does make himself known (after all, there are break times to observe), one being potty at the very least, Artie determines the next handy stop will be Mack’s exit–permanently–and literally kicks him to the curb (and down the hill).

In the meantime, Justine, frantic, has exhausted any other possibilities and has accepted a ride on the back of a Harley by one-legged Mitch. He’ll try to catch the truck as Artie has refused all Justine’s calls. Mitch is a great character and is well-fleshed and empathetic. Justine can get on your nerves. She’s so jaded by what she views as a rejected and unloved childhood that she tends to sound petulant and self-absorbed. She feels betrayed by her dad and it colored her life for the next twenty years.

The well-plotted storyline folds out in two POVs, that of Justine and that of Mack. I really loved when Mack expressed his thoughts–seemed so genuine and believable. Justine is–just annoying, although having discovered her history with the dog who has a natural and show-winning aptitude for freestyle dancing, you can believe she’d be beyond frantic. She’s weighing it–find her dog–or get to her dad’s side. (I love videos of dancing dogs, and although there are many much newer ones, including 2019 from Crufts, my favorite and definitely the best is this one.)

In the meantime, an older couple with quite a tragic history of their own has discovered Mack, taken him in, cared for him. Mack gradually trains them–and unintentionally brings them back together–estrangement stemming from the sudden, unexpected death of their daughter.

In essence, a strong story about the lasting effects of the lack of communication, family drama, grief, and reconciliation. The story of the couple is heart-wrenching and emotional. Justine’s step-mother and step-brother are easy to dislike, as is Artie. But the closing brings out truths that either Justine failed to see or couldn’t, wouldn’t acknowledge and the twist brings a bit of satisfaction to the conclusion. Perhaps you could close that one with a dry eye. I couldn’t.

The two narrators were perfect! Narrators can so often make or break a good book. These two totally sold it. I received this audiobook download from my library using Overdrive and I’m ever so grateful. These are my own opinions and I loved it. You will too. Trust me.

Book Details:

Genre: Animal Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
ASIN: B007JQN2W6
Listening Length: 10 hours 13 mins
Publication Date: March 13, 2012
Source: Local Library Audio Selection (Thank you Lake County Public Library!)
Title Link: The Dog Who Danced
+Add to Goodreads 

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

Susan Wilson - author

The Author: (From Amazon and Goodreads Author pages) SUSAN WILSON is the author of ten novels (one in progress), including the New York Times bestselling One Good Dog. In her most recent novel, TWO GOOD DOGS, the two main characters from One Good Dog, Adam March and his rescued pit bull Chance, make a return.

Married, two grown daughters and a granddaughter and two grandsons – plus four-step grands. Lives in Oak Bluffs, MA, on Martha’s Vineyard. Visit her online at http://www.susanwilsonwrites.com

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Video Attribution: YouTube – Carolyn Scott & Rookie, Sept 7, 2006, Grease Routine 
There is a wonderful story about Carolyn Scott and Rookie, the Golden Retriever here. Theirs was a fifteen-year sport-winning team and whether Canada and/or the US originated the form of canine competition or not in 1992, it quickly spread around the world.

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

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

Shattered Justice by Susan FurlongBook Blurb:

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

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

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

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

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

His Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Thrillers, Women Sleuths
Publisher: Kensington Books

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

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

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

©2019 V Williams V Williams

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

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5-stars

The Twelve Dogs of Christmas by David Rosenfelt

 Book Blurb:

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

The Twelve Dogs of Christmas by David Rosenfelt

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Twelve Five Star Books You Don’t Want to Miss

Twelve Five Star Books You Don't Want to Miss

It’s been a banner year for some great books and I’ve tried hard to discern those books between a 4.5 level and a subjective but totally awesome (what I consider a) five-star novel. While any book four stars or more are recommend worthy, I am going for those I feel the wider audience would truly enjoy. And many are so close that it is extremely difficult to narrow the list down to only those books that stand out.

The range of genres covers biographies and autobiographies and fiction in categories from action adventures and cozy mysteries to family drama, historical and suspense, thrillers in audiobooks, print, and digital formats. I noted an average of three five star reviews a month totaling forty-two books for the year between 4.5 and 5 stars.

These are the twelve (because I can’t seem to get it down to ten) amazing books that stood out for me in no particular order along with the link to my review.

Fractured Truth by Susan Furlong

Fractured Truth* by Susan Furlong – This author writes about “the Travellers” in this country as if she was one. Ex-Marine and her cadaver dog. He’s awesome, she’s badass.

The Beantown Girls by Jane Healey

The Beantown Girls by Jane Healey – I loved this historical fiction account of the WWII girls who went overseas as “donut dollies.”

The Eighth Sister by Robert Dugoni

The Eighth Sister by Robert Dugoni – Multiple award winner, best-selling author, book ONE in his new espionage series.

Buried Deep by T. R. Ragan

Buried Deep by T R Ragan – Intense thriller, #4 in the Jessie Cole series by this best-selling author.

Decanted Truths: An Irish-American Novel by Melanie Forde

Decanted Truths* by Melanie Forde – A Waterford decanter is bestowed to the family by the boy who immigrated to America in the bowels of the ship.

The Plain of Jars by N. Lombardi Jr

The Plain of Jars by N Lombardi Jr – Intrigue, conspiracy, military history, emotional turmoil and redemption from a Viet Nam conflict survivor. (Reviewed by the CE.)

The Image Seeker by Amanda Hughes

The Image Seeker* by Amanda Hughes – Best-selling author does some deep-diving research immersing you in pre-WWII America.

Rewind by Catherine Ryan Howard

Rewind by Catherine Ryan Howard – Psychological thriller by another best-selling author. Get your “Psycho” shower scene on…

Trials and Tribulations by Jean Grainger

Trials and Tribulations* by Jean Grainger – Best-selling author this one of 20th Century Irish Romance, the Robinswood series.

Rescued by David Rosenfelt

Rescued* by David Rosenfelt – Complex legal thriller – snarky audiobook narrated by Grover Gardner. The Andy Carpenter series is special as an audiobook!

The Dog I Loved

The Dog I Loved* Susan Wilson – A tale of PTSD, dysfunctional families, estrangement, friendship, and the love of a canine.

No Man's Land by Sara Driscoll

No Man’s Land by Sara Driscoll – Special Agent Meg Jennings and her K-9 companion, Hawk, search the ruins for life.

* Represents a second book by the same author in the same year.

Because I’ve found so many in a series in which I’ve become invested, I’m going to be listing those later with the intention of linking those already read along with a pledge to read the rest in the series. Yes, I’m hooked on more than one series (haven’t done that since Nancy Drew), so this could end up being problematic, but I will also continue to seek new authors.

Which ones have you read? Did I turn you on to a new author? I’d love your comments!

©2019 V Williams V Williams

The Dog on the Acropolis by Mark Tedesco – a #BookReview – #timetravel

The Dog on the Acropolis by Mark TedescoBook Blurb:

A family living in Greece at the time of the construction of the Parthenon and another family, thousands of years later, eking out a living at the base of the Acropolis.

The repercussions of the meeting of man and dog would unfold in unforeseen ways that would impact the lives around them.

The narrative takes the reader to Greece’s Golden Age, in which one dog, Daria, would scamper up the hill to keep up with Adelino, a stonecutter working on the new temple, and his son Tiro. The lives of Pheidias, the architect of the Parthenon, Adelino and Diana his wife, as well as Tiro their son, would intersect in unexpected ways.

The story brings then brings the reader back into the present where past and present eventually coincide, transforming the lives of both canines and humans.

My Review:

As most who read my blog know I’m a sucker for a dog story and this one taps into that mysterious corner of the dog’s mind that we would all love to tap. We know there must be more in there than, “ball, ball, throw the ball,” or “food, food, I’m hungry.” In this book, we get the full chimichanga–a dog that taps into his very, very early ancestor. Here in his present day, he dreams of the experiences of the Golden Age of Greece that now drive his life and his mood.

The Dog on the Acropolis by Mark TedescoDraco is a stray (black lab) that lives at the Acropolis present day. He sleeps on the steps of the Parthenon, running down into the village during the day to make his rounds. Each of the humans he seeks fulfills a need, from food, to water, to bathing (of which he seems to get more than his share), and companionship and protection.

The Plaka is a tourist area bustling with cafes and all manner of touristy shops, most owned by generations of shopkeepers. High on Draco’s list of generous shopowners are Akil, Alexander, and Cynarra. Akil is a baker struggling with his son until his son Jason notices the dog that has adopted his dad.

But Draco is a stray and he cherishes his freedom. He has a job to do and he takes it very seriously. He guides tourists up the hill to the Acropolis. His dreams recall his ancestor Daria, a small female, who befriends Adelino, a stonecutter. He has a twelve year old that would love to work with his father and is thrust into the position of breadwinner when Adelino befalls a horrific accident and is bedridden for some time. Tiro willingly finds a position with Pheidias, the architect of the Parthenon, which will house a monstrous statue of the goddess Athena.

While the dogs are centuries apart, they both create a bond with their humans and the shared bond extends through their human base of friends–bringing them all closer together. I enjoyed the canine characteristics that lovingly enlarge the circle of companions. The things we love about dogs don’t appear to change over the centuries. They are still sensitive to human needs and nuances, providing the touch of calm understanding that their human counterparts appear to crave.

The premise is a good one but hampered a bit by the daily routine which varies little and soon becomes oft-repeated slowing the storyline. The chapters regarding the stonecutter and his family open another time and existence enlightening the human struggle for survival at the time. The dialogue is fairly simplistic and several times bounce between the present and the ancient creating momentary confusion. While there is a passage of time, little changes other than the children are getting older and Cynarra manages to break from her parent’s flower shop to go to a UK university. (She was expected to take over the shop while her brothers went their separate ways.) There are a few inconsistencies, making me wonder if I’d remembered something incorrectly last scene. Draco seemed to subsist on hand-outs of bread and cheese, only getting a mention of dry dog food near the end.

The conclusion, while sad, reinforces the theme of love, devotion, loyalty, and compassion and pointedly noted the inadvertent gift of canine to humans. A unique and well-plotted narrative, I appreciated receiving a copy in expectation of a review. These are my own opinions.

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Academia Publications

  • ISBN-10:0578214369
  • ISBN-13:978-0578214368
  • ASIN: B07T24YHSL

Print Length: 199 pages
Publication Date: June 11, 2019
Source: Direct author request
Title Link: The Dog on the Acropolis

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Mark Tedesco - authorThe Author: Mark Tedesco is a published author and history teacher in Los Angeles. He was born in California but lived for many years in Europe. There he developed a unique perspective which is apparent in his teaching and writing.

His first book “That Undeniable Longing – My Road to and from the Priesthood” is a memoir of his sojourn in Rome in a Vatican seminary leading to ordination. Readers have been taken aback by his honesty and integrity in recounting his journey. His account continues as he eventually decided to leave the priesthood in order to be “true to himself”.

His second book is “Loving Hoping Believing – Poetry to Live By”. Poetry comes alive here as the words express the love possible between two persons, the joy of being united, the anguish of loss and the hope of fulfillment.

After eight years of research, Mark’s work of historical fiction draws the reader into an experience of Ancient Rome. “I am John, I am Paul: A Story of Two Soldiers in Ancient Rome.” The mysterious bond between the two soldiers is intertwined with the historical events of the 4th century.

“Lessons and Beliefs: Searching for Love in the Gay World”: Since wisdom is born of reflection on experience, Mark Tedesco takes the reader on a journey as he contemplates the quest for fulfilling relationships with others and with himself.” Lessons and Beliefs: Searching for Love in the Gay World” is both self-help and memoir, giving a riveting account of love and relationships in the gay world.

Besides writing, Mark’s passions run the gamut from archeology to sports and fitness. His colleagues consider to him to be somewhat of a Renaissance man. He enjoys imparting to his students his thirst for life and happiness. This thirst, or quest, is apparent in every work Mark devotes himself to.

[Goodreads] If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future?

I would travel to the ancient world, to Rome, Greece and Egypt. If I could avoid getting the Plague or dying in battle, I would enjoy the grandeur and drama of ancient civilizations and travel to see the wonders of that world. I would wander the streets of Rome and gaze up at the temples and painted statues and walk through the bazaars of Alexandria while listening to the many languages of visitors and residents. Yes, the ancient world would be where I would time travel.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

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

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

Bookmarked for Murder by V M BurnsBook Blurb:

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

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

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

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Rosepoint Publishing: Four of Five Stars 4-stars

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

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Two Good Dogs: A Novel by Susan Wilson Audiobook Review

What a beautiful and thoughtfully written novel of the power that connects human and canine and to their shared people.

Two Good Dogs by Susan Wilson

Book Blurb:

Susan Wilson, the best-selling author of One Good Dog, delivers another powerful audiobook of loyalty and love.

Single mom Skye Mitchell has sunk her last dime into a dream, owning the venerable, if run-down, LakeView Hotel in the Berkshire Hills. It’s here where she believes she’ll give her 14-year-old daughter, Cody, a better life. But being an innkeeper is more challenging than she imagined, and Cody still manages to fall in with the wrong crowd. In addition, Cody is keeping an earth-shattering secret that she’s terrified to reveal. The once loving, open girl has now become completely withdrawn, and Skye is both desperate and helpless to reach her.

When Adam March and his pit bull, Chance, check in to the hotel, it becomes the first of many visits. Here in these peaceful mountains he finds an unexpected relief from his recent bereavement. He and the beleaguered innkeeper form a tentative friendship. Adam knows the struggles of raising a difficult teenager, and Skye understands loneliness.

And then there is Mingo, a street kid with a pit bull dog of his own. When Cody discovers an overdosed Mingo, Adam takes the boy’s dog not just for safekeeping but to foster and then rehome. But the dog isn’t the only one who needs saving. A makeshift family begins to form as four lost people learn to trust and rely on each other, with the help of two good dogs.

My Review:

Okay, busted! Here I am with another doggie book, and what an exceptionally fine book it was. Of course, I was able to secure the audiobook, which places you square in the middle of the characters, the scene, and the joyous relationship with the dogs.

Two Good Dogs by Susan WilsonSkye Mitchell is escaping her own tragedies and thinking she’d offer herself and her daughter a whole new, hopefully peaceful, life, she purchased the LakeView Hotel and moved. But Cody is fourteen, a typical sullen, uncommunicative teen lost in her own world turned upside down and now with no familiar school or friends. But in addition, Cody knows something her mother would never suspect and which Cody is desperate to conceal.

Adam March recently lost his wife and the life he’d known, his job losing its previous overwhelming focus, and the only thing keeping him in touch with the here and now is his pit bull, Chance, a rescue. Chance is intuitive, sympathetic, and has a POV of his own–one you swear is visible in his eyes. He often imparts just the touch of grounding that prevents Adam from being inconsolable.

And Mingo, a street kid, left to his own, and his own hasn’t been easy. He’s found the wrong gang, the drugs, and the activities to pay for the habit. But one activity has gone too far for him and there is a depth to Mingo that his homeboys has failed to perceive. He has adopted a pit bull of his own–one he saved despite the odds. And Dawg will repay the kindness.

There are multiple POVs, all that allows the reader inside the head of the characters until you know them so well that you rail against poor decisions or cheer with the better ones. Mingo, I loved him. My heart went out to him, several times, in virtual hugs. What a kid! He wasn’t taught right and wrong–it was instinctive.

There were a number of times I wanted to slap Skye upside the head. Fortunately, she doesn’t really qualify as an antagonist, there are a couple others who fulfill that slot. I did like Adam, he functions as an unbiased therapist between mother and daughter, often quietly covering Cody’s back. The antagonist functions as a creepy ugghy guy, made more repulsive by the narrator and raising the hairs on the back of your neck.

A strong character-driven novel completely hooks you and doesn’t let go. Either way, whether you listen to this audiobook or read it, you’ll be drawn into the thoroughly engaging story and so invested you’re forced to see how the author will play this one out. My only negative (and it’s a small one) is the way Skye was narrated.

I loved this narrative and whether or not you enjoy a book with our canine partners, I’ll bet you’ll love the compelling and unique storyline and characters. Masterfully written, a novel worthy of a book hangover. (I grabbed this one because I’d read The Dog I Loved. See that review here.)

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

Book Details:

Genre: Animal Fiction
Publisher:  Macmillan Audio (Publisher)
ASIN: B06W539DF8
Listening Length: 11 hours and 51 minutes
Publisher: St Martin’s Press
ASIN: B01KFX665O
Print Length: 351 pages
Publication Date: March 7, 2017
Source: Merrillville Public Library – Audiobooks
Title Link: Two Good Dogs
 

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

The Narrators: Christina Delaine (Narrator), Fred Berman (Narrator), Rick Adamson (Narrator)

©2019 V Williams V Williams

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

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5-stars 

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

No Man's Land by Sara DriscollBook Blurb:

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

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

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

My Review

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

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

Goodyear Phoenix Trotting Park

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

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

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

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

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

His Review

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

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

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

Phoenix Trotting Park attribution: Wikipedia

©2019 V Williams V Williams

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

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

Verse and Vengeance by Amanda FlowerBook Blurb:

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

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

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

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

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

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

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Birch Tree Attribution: The Goddess Tree

My Reviews Have Gone to the Dogs – #dogsworld

Well, perhaps not literally, but seems an unusual number of reviews lately have either used a doggy protagonist or figured prominently in the storyline. October seems to have started it with four, Dogs Don’t Lie, Tracking Game, Here Comes Santa Paws, and Rescued.

And November? November went whole dog again (well, almost) with five and for the most part, I loved them all. Two got my coveted five stars. And while some were more anthropomorphic than others, they all presented excellent POVs that you’d swear were directly interpreted.

 

Since we seem to be in dog-loving mode lately, thought if you missed one of these, you might like to check it out. (Links to my reviews in the titles below.)

Scarlet Fever

The well-plotted mystery moves you through the end of the fox-hunting season. I particularly enjoyed the conversation between the animals, not just between the dogs, but species to species.

Paw of the Jungle

The series has built an engaging set of characters you can’t help investing in. Entertaining atmospheric setting coupled with an intelligent and anthropomorphic glimpse into the psyche of a magnificent, intelligent canine partner.

From Wild to Mild – 5 stars

Beautifully well written, well-plotted, with fully developed human as well as canine personalities. (I loved the little goat!) The story is engaging from the beginning, fast-paced, with a very satisfying conclusion sure to elicit a few tears with happy smiles. Short and very sweet, this is a #mustread for anyone who enjoys a literary animal adventure.

The Dog I Loved – 5 stars

Author Susan Wilson has penned a masterful tale weaving modern-day storyline with a discovered journal of the remote area she is overseeing. All the characters are so fully engaging, including the fully-fleshed dogs, that the reader easily invests in each as well as the well-plotted and engaging narrative. Gripping and emotive, the book hits so many tough subjects from women in prison to wounded warriors, PTSD, dysfunctional families, estrangement, and friendship. Unique plot–totally immersive.

San Diego Dead

a smorgasbord of mystery, action, adventure, murderous assassins, terrorists, kidnapping and general mayhem. The fast-paced, well-plotted thriller moves through twists and turns. Jake is well-developed as is Cody and there is a perspective from Cody as he observes his human. (I wouldn’t exactly term him a master–handler would be more appropriate.)

You might be a kitty person or a horse lover and a few of these novels included those animals as well as foxes (the latter). We do love our animals, don’t we? They present an endless fascination. Dogs posited most often as service dogs–those stout-hearted, intelligent, well-trained animals who use their native sensitivities for human benefit.

Have to read any of the above? Did you agree with my assessment? Want equal time with your favorite feline? Tell me about it.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers and if you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving where you are–have a super Thursday!

Happy Thursday

Happy Thanksgiving

©2019 V Williams V Williams

 

Scarlet Fever: A Novel (“Sister” Jane) by Rita Mae Brown #BlogTour #BookReview #Giveaway #cozymystery

Scarlet Fever by Rita Mae Brown

I am delighted today to provide our reviews for you at my blog stop for Scarlet Fever by Rita Mae Brown on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour.

Scroll down to enter your chance to win the Giveaway!

Book Details

Scarlet Fever: A Novel (“Sister” Jane)
Cozy Mystery
12th in Series
Ballantine Books (November 26, 2019) Happy Publication Day!
Hardcover: 304 pages
ISBN-10: 0593130006
ISBN-13: 978-0593130001
Digital ASIN: B07P8J8KVM

Book Blurb

Winter blizzards bring a flurry of cases to solve in this riveting new foxhunting mystery featuring “Sister” Jane Arnold and her incorrigible hounds from New York Times bestselling author Rita Mae Brown.

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

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

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

My Thoughts

This is classed as a cozy animal mystery, but was still a surprise. The author presents a number of POVs including those of the foxes, hounds, horses, as well as humans. And humans–there’s a bunch of them. Protagonist Sister (Jane Arnold) functions as Master of Foxhounds for the Jefferson Hunt and has quite the rep as a competent leader. It’s fox-hunting season, frigid out there in the Virginia hills looking at the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the foxes are plentiful.

And smart.

No, really smart. I had no idea.

There is a whole language to learn with the fox-hunting business, and try as I might, I still don’t understand the whole reasoning. Kinda like the fishing “catch and release.” This is a tight-knit, well-to-do community with tons ‘o bucks tied in fox-hunting hounds, gorgeous and fleet-footed Thoroughbreds, some Bays, and a wardrobe to die for. The boots would cost my monthly income. The term scarlet refers to the recent predominance of the color with people buying coats off the rack rather than being tailored.

This narrative opens a world you might only have been briefly aware, perhaps a sport associated more with the English (or the French?). It’s a lesson that takes some time in immersion, but there is a death that looks suspicious. There is an undercurrent of interest and discussion of exquisite antiques, drug and opioid problems, and the plight of the aged and oft less than sympathetic treatment of patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

My introduction to the series and this author would be Book 12 and with the complex cast of characters, you might wish to begin with Book 1. Somewhat slow to start, the well-plotted mystery moves you headlong into a world you’ve never imagined. I particularly enjoyed the conversation between the animals, not just between the dogs, but species to species.

“…hunting can be so unpredictable. One soon sees who has courage, who has brains, and who has both. Truthfully, the horses have more of both than the humans.” 

The author has an interesting no-nonsense way of laying out the facts in a droll and unemotional manner. The conclusion is not wholly unexpected and there is no horrific life or death struggle at the climax. Loose threads are joined. I was, however, intrigued by the description of the hunt or tailgate breakfasts.

I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley for this blog tour and appreciated the opportunity to read and review. 

His Review

Be patient! I thought this book started slowly with 27 pages of introduction of the characters. I was about to abandon it but got into the tale. Masterfully contrived the story held interest and suspense for me. A world I have only seen pictures of opened up. Fox hunting has always seemed gratuitous for the rich and really out of reach for average folk.

Ms. Brown has evolved the characters into personalities both human and canine.  The older foxes had many traits that older humans have. A den becomes a sanctuary for individuals and not families. It seems except for breeding season, the fox either vixen or reynard, prefers solitary living. They also have a penchant for sweets and human blankets and coats. Fun to explore their habitats and habits.

The author held my interest throughout the book including a couple of sub-plots that were neatly wrapped up at the end. She is the complete author and artist. Stick with this book and enjoy your reward. CE Williams

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Giveaway

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Rita Mae Brown - author

Rita Mae Brown is the bestselling author of the Sneaky Pie Brown mysteries; the Sister Jane series; the Runnymede novels, including Six of One and Cakewalk; A Nose for Justice and Murder Unleashed; Rubyfruit Jungle; and In Her Day; as well as many other books. An Emmy-nominated screenwriter and a poet, Brown lives in Afton, Virginia, and is a Master of Foxhounds and the huntsman.

Author Links 

Website – http://ritamaebrownbooks.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/RitaMaeBrown

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

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

Tour Participants:

November 25 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – SPOTLIGHT

November 25 – Reading Is My SuperPower – SPOTLIGHT

November 26 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

November 26 – Baroness’ Book Trove – SPOTLIGHT

November 27 – Diane Reviews Books – REVIEW

November 27 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT

November 28 – THANKSGIVING – OFF

November 29 – Ebook addicts – SPOTLIGHT

November 29 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

November 30 – Laura’s Interests  – REVIEW

November 30 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

December 1 – I Read What You Write – SPOTLIGHT

December 1 – This Is My Truth Now – SPOTLIGHT

December 2 – Literary Gold = SPOTLIGHT

December 2 – fundinmental – SPOTLIGHT

December 2 – The Book Diva’s Reads – SPOTLIGHT

December 3 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

December 3 – A Chick Who Reads – REVIEW

December 4 – My Reading Journeys – SPOTLIGHT

December 4 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT

December 5 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT

December 5 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT Great Escapes Book Tours

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

©2019 V Williams V Williams

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

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

Paw of the Jungle by Diane KellyBook Blurb:

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

[Rosepoint Publishing: 4.5 of Five Stars 4.5-stars

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

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

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

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

©2019 V Williams V Williams

#BookBlitz for NEEDS WORK by John L. Sheppard @RABTBookTours #magicalrealism

Today I am very pleased to be part of the Book Blitz for RABT Book Tours for Needs Work by John L. Sheppard. Enjoy the excerpt, then use your favorite link to purchase.

 photo Needs Work_zpspmbssoao.jpg

Fiction
Published: October 2019
Publisher: Paragraph Line Books
Once upon a time in Cleveland… Phil Derleth, a former Army “combat cartoonist,” comes home to Cleveland, Ohio after a messy divorce. Phil is brain-damaged from a war wound and there are holes in his memory. His father Larry, a stone mason living on disability, takes him in. Soon enough, Phil finds himself embroiled in all sorts of trouble, including dodging the Ohio Department of Transportation, blood-stealing tramps, the ghost of his dead mother and stray dogs who are more than they appear to be. One stray in particular will show Phil the way back to a life that he may have forgotten.
 photo Needs Work print ipad and iphone_zpsp3czhhlp.jpg

 Excerpt

I was let go.

That was months after my wife threw me out, taking our daughter with her. I was twenty-seven and starting all over again with life. I moved in with my father. Moved back to Ohio, a place that I thought I’d left in the rearview mirror. Instead, it was in my cracked and hazy windshield.
My car, a ten-year-old Ford Mustang, broke down in my father’s driveway never to recover. It had thrown a rod.
I got out of the car. The parking brake popped. The car slowly rolled into the street. A small fire crackled under the hood. In few minutes, dark black smoke poured out from the undercarriage and a red glow simmered within the passenger compartment. For a moment, I saw a shadow behind the wheel, a remnant of my former self, the one who was so confident that he would never again grace the state of Ohio. A small explosion. Another small explosion. They sounded less like explosions than someone manually popping a paper lunch sack. The driver’s side front wheel fell off and the car tilted over. The Mustang emblem clinked onto the pavement. A car, and then another car, drove past as if this sort of thing happened all the time. Nothing to get excited about.
“My clothes are in there,” I said aloud. “My employee of the month certificate. My Army uniforms. My crazy pills.”
My father emerged from the tiny house I’d grown up in, leaning forward on an aluminum walker, a wry grin on his mossy face. There was a reason why he’d never grown a beard while my mother was alive. The beard was patchy in so many ways. The coloration was wrong. The growth was uneven. There were too many things wrong with his beard to list.
The look he sent my way told me that he hadn’t yet forgiven me for not coming around while my mother was dying. I came to the funeral. Wasn’t that enough?
The police arrived. They pulled their cruiser up to the curb. A decal on the side of the car read, POLICE INTERCEPTOR. An older fat patrolman strolled up to me. He stood alongside me in silence and we watched my car burn for a while. Finally, he said, “That yours?” His name tag said, SMITH.
“Yes,” I said. “I have no money.”
“Who does?” He patted me on the shoulder solicitously.
The flames licked the air. It was sensuous.
“This is my son.” My father was beside us, opposite the cop.
“Total loss,” the friendly, gray-haired patrolman said. He rubbed his belly like there was a cat underneath his shirt.
His partner, a youngish woman, her hair pinched into a severe bun at the nape of her neck, stood near the car in the street, waving other cars past. When the street was clear, she pulled out her ticket pad and wrote me up.
My state of Illinois vanity plate fell off the back. It read, “E4MAFIA.” It was a joke that wasn’t funny now that I was out of the Army. I’d been out of the Army for years. I was in the Army for four years, most of it spent in a Navy hospital in Illinois, recovering from my war wounds. The Navy corpsmen would wheel us all up to the roof of the hospital at times, I remembered. We’d sit up there, high above the base, staring at Lake Michigan. It was calming. The hospital specialized in traumatic brain injuries. It was why we were all there. We were learning to speak again. To feed ourselves. To walk. To read and write. The Navy’s corpsmen school was there, so the student corpsmen would come by to gawk at us, or help us out with basic things. Eating. Finding our way back to our ward.
About the Author

 photo Needs Work Author John L. Sheppard_zpsua5q7qsy.jpg

John L. Sheppard, a graduate of the MFA@FLA creative writing program at the University of Florida, is a native of Cleveland, Ohio. He lives in Illinois.
Contact Links
Purchase Links
RABT Book Tours & PR

 

Thank you for viewing this Book Blitz! 

Have a beautiful and peaceful Thursday

Storm of Secrets: A Haunted Bluffs Mystery by Loretta Marion #BlogTour #BookReview #Giveaway

Storm of Secrets

I am so delighted today to provide a review for you at my blog stop from both myself and my associate for Storm of Secrets by Loretta Marion on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. Scroll down to enter your chance to win the Giveaway!

Book Details

Storm of Secrets: A Haunted Bluffs Mystery
Paranormal Mystery
2nd in Series
Crooked Lane Books (November 12, 2019)
Hardcover – 327 Pages
ISBN-10: 1643851756
ISBN-13: 978-1643851754
Digital ASIN: B07NTY8L1N

Book Blurb

A deadly storm, a missing three-year-old child, a suspicious death, and the eerie presence of the spirits of the dead set the stage for the second mesmerizing installment of Loretta Marion’s paranormal suspense series.

A powerful storm descends upon Cape Cod’s Whale Rock at the peak of tourist season–and the weekend Cassandra Mitchell’s and Daniel Benjamin’s wedding is set to take place at The Bluffs, the magnificent Victorian mansion Cassie inherited from her family. In the wake of the storm’s destruction, three-year-old Lucas Kleister goes missing–and the body of small-time drug dealer Lee Chambers is found in a restaurant dumpster. Now, the WRPD are faced with a murder to solve, a missing child to find, and the aftermath of one of the worst storms in recent memory.

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

My Review

Storm of SecretsThe second installment of this series continues to build on the mystery of the paranormal circumstances enveloping the mansion at The Bluffs that protagonist Cassie Mitchell has inherited, saved, and refurbished along with an adjacent rental/studio in the Carriage House. Along with her fiancé Daniel, a former FBI agent, the town dives into prep for the massive storm that canceled their wedding and Cassie discovers a body in the dumpster behind one of the merchants downtown.

Daniel is enlisted in the search for the missing three-year-old, Lucas, as well as gleaning clues regarding the identity of the man in the dumpster. Daniel and she work unofficially with the Whale Rock Police Department, sussing clues and trading information.

This supernatural thriller introduces a fascinating sub-plot beneath the main plot using current and historical timeline filler to add background to the mysterious Christopher Savage, a displaced person staying temporarily at the Carriage House. The extra layer adds a depth of complexity to the storyline that interspersed with the frantic search for the boy and investigation into the dumpster body keeps the intensity at high level.

I enjoyed the paranormal aspect of the narrative, her great-grandparents often confusing Cassie with messages she is unable to immediately interpret. The relationship between she and Daniel is painted romantically as an ordinary middle-age couple and her relationship with estranged sister, Zoe, fitful. The author weaves a fascinating correlation between that of Cassie and her family with that of Christopher and his and gradually more secrets find their way to the surface.

I was given this digital download by the publisher through NetGalley for this blog tour and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. I’ve enjoyed both books in this series and would welcome the chance to read the third. This entry could read fine as a standalone, but you may wish to begin with Book 1 to get a full explanation of the paranormal nuance. Recommended for any who enjoy a little supernatural vibe to their mysteries.

His Review

Missing children at sea are never happy circumstances. Add to that a search during a violent storm and the setting of “Storm of Secrets” is launched. Whale Rock Village in Massachusetts is in the track of the storm when a bright object catches Cassie Mitchell’s eye, leading to the discovery of a body hidden in the nearby dumpster.

Barnacle Boy was the first child lost and washed up on the beach years earlier. Buried in the Mitchell family graveyard his identity is still unknown. Who is this boy and why was a three-year-old child left to play on the beach with his older brother?

Merging family history with current missing persons adds a savage twist to this tale. Can local police and gossips help to solve this mystery? Each clue seems to lead further from a happy ending. The lost boy Lucas should have never been out playing with his older brother, Nicholas, with an impending storm. Six years old does not make a mature baby sitter. Associate Reviewer - C E Williams

This book is both engrossing and unnerving. At times it appears there will be no satisfactory conclusion. Read the book and enjoy the masterful conclusion! CE Williams

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Giveaway

Sign up for your chance to win a Grand Prize bag filled with goodies in this  Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author

Loretta Marion - authorA true bibliophile, Loretta Marion‘s affection for the written word began in childhood and followed her like a shadow throughout her life as she crafted award-winning marketing and advertising copy and educational brochures. She then applied her writing skills as a volunteer, establishing a Legacy Story program for hospice patients, which inspired her to create her own fictional stories. Her debut novel, The Fool’s Truth, is a twisty mystery set in Maine. Her Haunted Bluffs Mystery Series is set on Cape Cod and was introduced by Crooked Lane Books in 2018 beginning with HOUSE OF ASHES. Her newest release, STORM OF SECRETS, is the second book of the series.

When not whipping out words on her laptop, she is traveling, enjoying outdoor pursuits, or is curled up with a delicious new book. Loretta lives in Rhode Island with her husband, Geoffrey.

Author Links – 

Website:  https://www.LorettaMarion.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/LorettaMarionAuthor

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15863622.Loretta_Marion

Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/lorettamarion/

Purchase Links

Amazon     Barnes and Noble   Penguin Random House    Indiebound   Kobo

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

Tour Participants:

November 8 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

November 8 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW

November 9 – Elizabeth McKenna – Author – SPOTLIGHT

November 9 – StoreyBook Reviews– GUEST POST

November 10 – Diane Reviews Books – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW

November 11 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW

November 11 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

November 12 – I Read What You Write – GUEST POST

November 13 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

November 13 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

November 14 – Cozy Up With Kathy – GUEST POST

November 15 – That’s What She’s Reading – REVIEW, EXCERPT

November 16 – MJB Reviewers – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

November 16 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

November 17 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

November 18 – eBook Addicts – REVIEW

November 19 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

November 19 – Mysteries with Character – AUTHOR INTERVIEW Great Escapes Book Tours

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

©2019 V Williams V Williams

From Wild to Mild – A Dog in Two Worlds – a #BookReview #blogtour @iReadBookTours #Giveaway

From the Pups & Purrs Press comes this entry to the Pups & Purrs Series, From Wild to Mild by Sunny Weber. Middle-grade children’s (teachable moment) book just as delightful for adults who love animals.

From Wild to MIld by Sunny WeberBook Details
Book TitleFrom Wild to Mild: A Dog in Two Worlds by Sunny Weber
Category: Middle-Grade Fiction (Ages 8-12), 196 pages
Genre:  Animals/pets
Publisher Pups & Purrs Press
Release date:   August 23, 2019

Book Blurb

Eight-week-old Australian Shepherd Kaya is kidnapped by a nasty coyote to be food for his mate and puppies. Instead, the loving mother raises Kaya with her own pups. But as hard as she tries, Kaya can’t completely fit in—she can’t kill prey or stay awake for night hunts.

Why can’t she make herself a true coyote? Constantly criticized by her coyote father,

Kaya finds support in her new mother and siblings. She also figures out
how to contribute through teamwork with her brother and sister.
Trapped by a dog rescue, Kaya re-enters the human world and learns the differences between how dogs and coyotes live. When freed to roam again, does she return to her forest freedom—or remain with her farm family?
Can Kaya forever straddle between the Wild and the Mild?

My Review

So glad I was introduced to this book as it is one that grips very quickly with the abduction of an eight-week-old pup by a nasty coyote, Maka. The protagonist and POV is an Australian Shepherd, adorable, but confused by his introduction to the den, scared that she’d become dinner for Taina and the coyote pups, Gopher and Flower, who would become his adopted sister and brother. Taina gathered the strange little pup into the fold and loved, sheltered, and fed Kaya as her own.

From Wild to Mild by Sunny WeberBut Maka was not so easily swayed by the puppy and found her difficult to teach. Kaya has a whole different set of instincts, circadian rhythms, and was often corrected when she didn’t fit the coyote criteria. Indeed, she’d rather sleep at night than hunt and discovered she would greatly prefer to coordinate hunting with her sister and brother so that she would not have to kill to eat making Maka increasingly short-tempered about sharing food she had not acquired herself.

It’s so easy to see so many common human conundrums in the storyline–that of the individual marching to her own drum–hearing the music the others didn’t hear–not appreciated for her own gifts that didn’t conform to the norm.

Perfect for those teachable moments with children old enough to grasp the nuances! If shared with an adult, so much the better, but definitely open to thoughtful discussion whether child or adult.

As with a human child, Kaya would find it necessary to rebel. She began to observe the canine/human connections with the local townspeople. They looked to be happy. The dogs obviously were well-loved, cared for, performed their jobs seriously and were rewarded for effort. The problem was in the conversion from wild back to mild–that of a dog integrated into a human pack. It took love and patience.

But then Maka is not through. His territory, his rules, and the conflict between protecting Kaya’s new family and her coyote family must be resolved–one way or the other.

This beautifully illustrated novel is well written, well-plotted, with fully developed human as well as canine personalities. (I loved the little goat!) The story is engaging from the beginning, fast-paced, with a very satisfying conclusion sure to elicit a few tears with happy smiles. Short and very sweet, this is a must-read for anyone who enjoys a literary animal adventure.

This blog tour is being combined with two additional books in the series, Hurricane Dog: A Tale of Betrayal, Redemption and Change, and The Dog at the Gate: How a Throw-Away Dog Becomes Special. Click on the participating links below to check out all three books!

Buy this Book:

Amazon.com

Add to Goodreads

 

Sunny Weber - authorAbout the Author: Sunny Weber has over 25 years of experience in animal welfare advocacy. She is a professional humane educator and believes compelling storytelling reflects her passion for seeing the world through the eyes of the animals she teaches about.

Real stories are Sunny’s key to making deep impressions on young minds, for the future of animal welfare lies in sensitive people who will have the power to alter the negative impacts of previous generations and bring about positive change for all inhabitants of our planet.

Sunny has developed educational programs regarding compassion, respect, and care of domestic and wild animals. She writes extensively on animal issues in fiction, non-fiction, and blogs.

Sunny lives in Colorado with dogs and cats. Their yard is a Certified
Backyard Habitat for birds, squirrels, rabbits, pollinators, and any
other creature with fur or feathers who wanders in.

Connect with the author:    Website Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Linked-In

Book Tour Schedule:

Nov 11 – ROCKIN’ Book Reviews – book review From Wild to Mild / guest post / giveaway

Nov 12 –  My Journey Back – book review The Dog at the Gate / giveaway

Nov 13 – Locks, Hooks, and Books – book review The Dog at the Gate / giveaway

Nov 13 – Blooming with Books – book review Hurricane Dog / giveaway

Nov 14 – Book Corner News and Reviews – book review of From Wild to Mild / giveaway

Nov 15 – Svetlana’s reads and views – book review From Wild to Mild

Nov 15 – Rosepoint Publishing – book review From Wild to Mild / giveaway

Nov 15 – Jypsylynn – book review The Dog at the Gate

Nov 18 – My Journey Back – book review Hurricane Dog / giveaway

Nov 18 – ROCKIN’ Book Reviews – book review Hurricane Dog / giveaway

Nov 19 – FUONLYKNEW – book review The Dog at the Gate / giveaway

Nov 19 – Blooming with Books – book review From Wild to Mild / guest post / giveaway

Nov 20 – Locks, Hooks, and Books – book review Hurricane Dog / giveaway

Nov 20 – ROCKIN’ Book Reviews – book review The Dog at the Gate / giveaway

Nov 21 – Book Corner News and Reviews – book review of The Dog at the Gate / giveaway

Nov 21 – Svetlana’s reads and views – book review Hurricane Dog

Nov 21 – Books for Books – book review The Dog at the Gate

Nov 22 – Jypsylynn – book review of Hurricane Dog

Nov 22 – FUONLYKNEW – book review of Hurricane Dog / giveaway

Nov 25 – Book Corner News and Reviews – book review of Hurricane Dog / giveaway

Nov 25 – Blooming with Books – book review The Dog at the Gate / giveaway

Nov 26 – FUONLYKNEW – book review of From Wild to Mild / giveaway

Nov 26 – Books for Books – book review Hurricane Dog

Nov 27 – Locks, Hooks, and Books – book review From Wild to Mild / giveaway

Nov 27 – Svetlana’s reads and views – book review The Dog at the Gate

Nov 28 – My Journey Back – book review From Wild to Mild / giveaway

Nov 29 – Jypsylynn – book review of From Wild to Mild

Dec 2 – Books for Books – book review From Wild to Mild

Dec 2 – Mystery Suspense Reviews – book review of From Wild to Mild

Enter the Giveaway:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you to Lauren at iRead Book Tours for the digital download of this book for a read and review. I really appreciated the opportunity to read this lovely book and heartily recommend to any that enjoys animal adventure books.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

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

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5-stars

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

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

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

His Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

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

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

Book Handover

+Add to Goodreads

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

©2019 V Williams V Williams

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

My Short Stack for November!

Short Stack for November

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Currently available for request from NetGalley

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Attributes: Short Stack photo from Canva.com

San Diego Dead: An Action Thriller (Jake Wolfe Book 4) by Mark Nolan – a #BookReview #thriller

You can’t beat ex-Marine Jake and his ex-war dog Cody for an entertaining fast-moving thriller.

San Diego Dead by Mark NolanBook Blurb:

Danger awaits Marine-turned-lawyer Jake Wolfe on his vacation to sunny San Diego and Cabo San Lucas. There he finds sugary white sand beaches, warm turquoise water, boat trips among gray whales, and … cold blooded murder.

It was meant to be a relaxing holiday for Jake and his adopted war dog, Cody, but violence erupts when he crosses paths with a criminal cartel urgently seeking to reclaim a deadly package.

Jake learns the missing item is a threat to US citizens and vows to stop the cartel from possessing it, no matter what vigilante justice actions he might have to take.

Time is running out and thousands of innocent lives are at risk. Will the two combat veterans be able to retrieve the dangerous item before the killers do? The clock is ticking, but Jake hopes that if anybody can help find the package, it has to be his highly-trained and ultra-intelligent dog, Cody.

Find out what happens next. Start reading the latest Jake and Cody thriller right now and enjoy another fast-paced stand-alone story by author Mark Nolan.

My Review:

The fourth in this series and I’ve read them all. (Believe it–unusual, I know.) Just when Jake thinks he can relax a bit in Cabo, frolic in the sun, play with the fishies and his best girl, Sarah Chance, the cartel interrupts the fun with business of their own and it’s back to the states and the business of U.S. security.

San Diego Dead by Mark NolanCody was his buddy’s war dog. His dog survived, his buddy did not, and as he’d lost his own war dog, adopted the dog known to be a maverick with a case of PTSD. Well-trained, scary intelligent, and an asset, both Jake and Cody are called back to service in top-secret missions, diverting him from his lawyery office and Sarah to distraction.

Sarah continues to wrestle with her strong feelings for Jake, but can’t reconcile his sudden life-and-death departures, this one to find and destroy the package the cartel wants so badly. She is a vet with a business of her own and probably understands Cody as much or more than Jake.

What follows is a smorgasbord of mystery, action, adventure, murderous assassins, terrorists, kidnapping and general mayhem. The fast-paced, well-plotted thriller moves through twists and turns. Jake is well-developed as is Cody and there is a partial perspective from Cody as he observes his human.

While Jake can be deadly on his own, he had multiple sources of help this time, most characters previously introduced, including his link to Secret Service Agent Shannon McKay who points and authorizes his direction. Each entry to the series works well as a standalone with individual stories. The dynamic between Jake and Cody steals the show although this one pushed the boundaries of anthropomorphizing. Cody still huffs out his “ha, ha, ha” and if you’ve owned a dog likely have seen the same.

The last third of the book settled “on plane” and felt like the Nolan writing style I remembered gathering speed into the disquieting conclusion. (Jake is still grateful for the opportunity to live on, and sail, the Far Niente.) I enjoyed the descriptions of hacker practices and depth of cartel infiltration to the U.S., as well as the explanations for readers at the end, and the occasional reference to military jargon.

“..what we’d say the word Marine stands for?…Marines Always Ride in Navy Equipment.”

Still, while the storyline hooks you immediately, I felt a difference in about the first two-thirds of the book. There seemed to be a different writing style than I was previously used to and discovered several anomalies as well, including contradictions and repeats. Otherwise, it’s a swiftly moving read and one you’ll enjoy.

I received this digital download from the author for the opportunity to read and sincerely appreciated the opportunity to review. (Thank you, Mark!) These are my own unbiased opinions.

Book Details:

Genre: Financial Thrillers, Crime Thrillers

  • ISBN-10:1687417261
  • ISBN-13:978-1687417268
  • ASIN: B07TP7RSTX

Print Length: 346 pages
Publication Date: August 31, 2019
Source: Author request
Title Link: San Diego Dead

+Add to Goodreads 

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4-stars

Mark Nolan - authorThe Author: Subscribe to Mark Nolan‘s reader newsletter for updates, specials, and to be notified when a new book is available. (Links to my reviews)

Mark Nolan’s books in order:

1. Dead Lawyers Don’t Lie
2. Vigilante Assassin
3. Killer Lawyer
4. San Diego Dead

He is currently hard at work on his next novel.

Mark also tries to make time every day to answer emails from readers. You can get in touch with him at marknolan.com.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

October Reviews Recap–HELLO November!! – What? Noooo #rosepointpub #bookreviewers

Holy Moses, another very fast year and I assume if October was my daughter’s birthday and Halloween yesterday, then Thanksgiving will steamroller right over us and we’re staring at Christmas and New Year’s. Already? YES! And I’m excited for 2020. It’s got to be good!

Rosepoint Reviews-October Recap

We were thrilled to host our ole Navy buddies who rode out on their trike to North Carolina for a rally, thence to Pennsylvania from whence they originally hailed to visit relatives and friends–and then to Indiana for a very welcome visit to us. SOO good to see them again, doing well, enjoying retirement, and riding that beautiful trike…but uh…gulp…in October in Chicagoland?

Studebaker Museum, South Bend, Indiana
Thanks to Kitra for her artistic rendering of the pic taken of us in a Studebaker Commander at the Studebaker Museum in South Bend, Indiana.

We had a great time before they felt the weather pressure to push on back home to Texas, where they were still enjoying 70+-degree weather. (And I must say, they did indeed time it right, as it turned ugly shortly after they left. Yes, Halloween snow!)

Still managed some book reviews while they were here, though woefully slow responding to your likes, comments, and new blog posts and I apologize for that. I did manage (between myself and the CE) to produce eleven reviews, several a collaborative effort. The list below the pic links to our reviews.

Portal to Murder by Alison Lingwood – (won a print copy!)
Haunted House Ghost by James J Cudney
Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing by Heather Day Gilbert
Yellowhead Blues by R E Donald (a CE review)
Here Comes Santa Paws by Laurien Berenson
Janis by Holly George Warren
Molded 4 Murder by J C Eaton (reviewed by myself and the CE)
Rescued by David Rosenfelt (audiobook)
Tracking Game by Margaret Mizushima
Dogs Don’t Lie by Lisa Shay (reviewed by myself and the CE)
Bad Memory by Lisa Gray

Obviously, I had way too much fun with my gardens this summer, as I over-goaled myself and calculating, realized I wasn’t going to make the 200 earlier set with Goodreads. That was an off-the-wall guestimate assuming the CE’s additional reviews. But that didn’t happen when he started reading the same books! So I’ve had to cut that back, revised to 175. Of that, so far, 143 read for 82%. Thinking that is doable (it’d better be). The Alphabet Challenge–no. Always stuck for the same letters, I believe this will be my last Alphabet Challenge. The NetGalley Challenge, hmmm. I struggled last year to achieve the 75 goal and set the same goal for this year. So far, my count shows 64 as I stopped concentrating on NetGalley books, reviewing with a couple new blog tours.

I’m looking forward to some great books in November and I’ll be providing a sneak peek into those shortly. Also, it’s time I started tackling favorites, looking at 4.5-5 stars to whittle down my ten favs for the year. I found that very difficult to do last year and don’t expect less this year. Do you keep a tally during the year? Already know which ones will hit the top of your list?

Once again, I appreciate each and every one of you for the new follows and those who continue to look in on my post efforts and if you have book suggestions or post ideas for me, I’d love to hear them!

©2019 V Williams V Williams

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

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

Dogs Don't Lie by Lisa ShayBook Blurb:

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

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

His Thoughts

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Animal Mystery, Amateur Sleuth
Publisher: Indie

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

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

+Add to Goodreads 

Rosepoint Publishing:  4.5 Stars of Five Stars 4.5-stars

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

©2019 V Williams Blog author

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

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

Tracking Game by Margaret MizushimaBook Blurb:

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

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

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

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

 +Add to Goodreads

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

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

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Rescued: An Andy Carpenter Mystery (Audio)Book 17 by David Rosenfelt – a #BookReview

Yahoo! Another Andy Carpenter audiobook by David Rosenfelt. Rescued is my third and I’ll shortly be looking for another. (Love that library…!)

Rescued by David Rosenfelt

Five Stars 5-stars

Book Blurb:

In Rescued, David Rosenfelt again delights listeners with the charm and wit they’ve come to expect. Even the most fervent fans of the sardonic Andy Carpenter and his team will be enthralled by this latest case, where the stakes have never been higher.  

Defense lawyer Andy Carpenter is reluctant to take on any more cases. He’d much rather spend his time working for his dog rescue organization, the Tara Foundation, than find himself back in a courtroom. However, when a truck carrying more than 70 dogs from the South to the rescue-friendly Northeast turns up with a murdered driver, Andy can’t help but get involved. 

Of course Andy is eager to help the dogs, many of whom come to the Tara Foundation while awaiting forever homes – it’s the man accused of murder who he has a problem defending. The accused just happens to be his wife Laurie’s ex-fiance; her tall, good looking, ex-Marine ex-fiance. Even though he acknowledges having argued with the victim, he swears that he is not a killer, and though he would rather not, Andy has to admit he believes he’s telling the truth. 

For Andy, even with dozens of successful cases behind him, this case that his wife insists he take may prove to be his most difficult.

My Review:

Rescued by David RosenfeltDefinitely another hit with Book 17. A defense attorney that would rather not do legal work anymore! New Jersey lawyer Andy Carpenter is married to former policewoman Laura and keeps a small office with an office manager. He also has an eclectic support group in his circle that includes Marcus. He created the Tara Foundation, a canine rescue where he’d much rather spend his time..

The Andy Carpenter series are full of self-deprecating humor, mystery and suspense, with an engaging group of characters. The mysteries are well-plotted and complex and each could standalone. In Book 17, there are a dizzying number of dogs to place, freed from a truck heading northeast whose driver was killed and the truck abandoned. Thing is, it appears to point to his wife’s ex-fiancé.

Andy is first person and is constantly doing mind aerobics, that self-talk as funny as the spirited dialogue. He also talks to his dogs (sometimes they answer) and the dialogue with his wife is always enlightening. He tackles the case bit by bit, adding each new clue and building a feasible but tightly spun yarn. As always, he tackles what might be a losing court case and the courtroom scenes become a steady intelligent climb to the unexpected reveal. In the meantime, there has been suspense, red herrings, and cast of characters you come to love.

I received this audiobook from my local library (thank you!)–they have a remarkable selection–and was thoroughly entertained and invested. Grover Gardner does an incredible job of interpreting the very entertaining narrative by David Rosenfelt. Totally recommended for anyone looking for an unpredictable but amusing hoot. It’s good to laugh! I’ve now been the recipient of Book 20, Dachshund Through the Snow (my review here), and loved it as well, converting to solid fan. Whether audio or digital, either way, you’re in for a real treat (no tricks) if you pick up one of this series.

Book Details

Narrator: Grover Gardner
Genre: Animal Fiction, Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Macmillan Audio

  • ASIN: B07ND4GKTJ
  • Listening Length: 6 hours and 57 minutes

Publication Date: July 17, 2018
Source: Local Library Audiobooks
Publisher: Minotaur Books (July 17, 2018)
Print Length:  257 pages
ASIN: B078RX215H
Genre: Traditional Detective Mystery
Title Link: Rescued

+Add to Goodreads

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Here Comes Santa Paws (A Melanie Travis Mystery Book 24) by Laurien Berenson – a #BookReview

Enjoying the Christmas Spirit with a light-hearted Christmas Season mystery.

Here Comes Santa Paws by Laurien Berenson

Book Blurb:

It’s the most wonderful time of the year in Connecticut, but Melanie Travis finds surviving this December may take a real Christmas miracle when a yuletide murderer comes to town . . .  

As Melanie attempts to deck the halls in a house overrun by pampered Poodles, her event planner friend, Claire, is busy playing Santa—beard and belly not included—for the wealthiest clientele on Connecticut’s Gold Coast. A personal shopper gig in the affluent town of New Canaan seems like business as usual. Except Claire’s stylish stint comes at a higher price than she bargains for when she stumbles over her newest customer’s dead body on the job. Named a prime suspect for murder, she begs for Melanie’s help, then vanishes like cookies and milk on Christmas Eve . . .

Determined to track down Claire, Melanie, and her nosy Aunt Peg dash into a dizzying investigation that leads to even more questions. Why was homicide victim Lila Moran, a secretive woman with an untraceable past, permitted to live on a well-known socialite-turned-recluse’s private estate, and is Claire keeping her own incriminating secrets under wraps? Now, with a grinchy New Canaan detective on their case and disturbing clues piling up like presents beneath the tree, the crime-solving duo must rein in a sinister Kris Kringle before they’re the next ones on someone’s deadly wish list . . .

My Review:

It’s looking like Christmas in New Canaan,  a haven for some of Connecticut’s wealthiest and lucky Claire is in the cat-bird seat having created a personal shopper clientele list. Claire is the wife of Melanie’s ex and they’ve managed to forge a friendship in spite (or maybe because) of their shared history. When Claire calls Melanie for help in a panic, Melanie doesn’t hesitate to run to her aid.

Here Comes Santa Paws by Laurien BerensonDelivering her client’s packages, Claire has stumbled on the body of Lila Moran in her client’s gatehouse on the property of a reclusive and wealthy socialite. It doesn’t take long before the police suspect Claire and Melanie, as well as her feisty Aunt Peg, are compelled to investigate the murder on their own. Melanie has a full house with a husband, two sons, five Standard Poodles and an irascible spotted rescue mutt.

It isn’t long before instigator Claire helps get Melanie in trouble with Detective Hronis and told to leave the detecting to the detectors. That isn’t going to happen with Aunt Peg either and together they begin the process of scenting out clues and interviewing. It’s an easy-going, well-plotted mystery and includes a number of well-developed characters as well as support characters.

Twists and red herrings are introduced, but each interview leads inexorably to the antagonist, whom you might have guessed. I suspected, but enjoyed the ride through the process with that light and fun writing style. While the dogs do not figure prominently, they do create asides and help break the tension with common doggy antics and support.

I started early in the series with a free offering from BookBub and then haven’t seen another until this one. Obviously, Melanie has evolved and the author’s biting sense of humor has bloomed and matured within her narratives. It’s easy to get involved with this protagonist and quickly run through the fun and fast book.

I was given this digital download by the publisher and NetGalley and sincerely appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for those who enjoy a light mystery with lovable canines and empathetic main characters.

Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuth Mystery, Cozy Animal Mystery, Private Investigator Mystery
Publisher: Kensington Books

    • ISBN-10:1496718453
    • ISBN-13:978-1496718457
    • ASIN: B07MB475ZK

Print Length: 208 pages
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Here Comes Santa Paws
+Add to Goodreads 

Laurien Berenson - authorThe Author: I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing something. I always wanted to tell stories and I’m incredibly grateful that now there are people who want to read them. I think of the Melanie Travis mystery series as the saga of a woman’s life–with complications. And dogs. And love. And lots of laughter. We should all be so lucky.

Laurien Berenson is an Agatha and Macavity Award nominee, winner of the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, and a four-time winner of the Maxwell Award, presented by the Dog Writers Association of America. She and her husband live on a farm in Kentucky surrounded by dogs and horses. She can be reached at her website: http://www.laurienberenson.com

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Yellowhead Blues: A Hunter Rayne Highway Mystery Book 5 by R. E. Donald – a #BookReview

I saw this series and enjoyed it and recommended to my associate reviewer, the CE, who was still driving truck at the time and thought he’d enjoy. He did. The following is his review.

Book Blurb:

Yellowhead Blues by R E DonaldJust west of the Rocky Mountains, a frightened horse with a bloody saddle is found running loose on the Yellowhead highway. Former RCMP investigator Hunter Rayne is on the road in his eighteen-wheeler when he’s flagged down to help calm the horse and find its missing rider.

The horse with the bloody saddle leads Hunter and a good-natured French Canadian cowboy into a complicated murder mystery. The police are none too happy with his interference, but Hunter strongly believes the RCMP has arrested the wrong man and sets out to uncover who stood to gain from the death of a wealthy ranch owner.

His belief in the suspect’s innocence is shared by a rookie female RCMP constable who joins him in the search for the truth. She befriends the dead man’s young fiancé in an effort to get answers, and discovers that the vulnerable Texas beauty is not who the victim’s family believes her to be.

This is the fifth novel in a unique mystery series set on the highways of North America.

His Review:

A flag-down on a remote Canadian highway thrusts Hunter into another mystery/adventure. This author skillfully twists this ex-Canadian Mounted Policeman into twisted intrigue. A burly French-Canadian flags him down to help with a spooked horse.  Leon Rousseau is a good Samaritan trying to save the animal’s life! Hunter gives him a hand.

Yellowhead Blues by R E DonaldA blood trail leads back to the horse’s former rider and Leon’s dog Blue leads the way. Ms. Donald has put together a great read including a grifter, a manipulated young lady and a ranch owner. The tale will mesmerize you as you try to figure out exactly what happened! Was it a hunting accident?

Leon, the good Samaritan, is arrested for the murder. Hunter takes care of Leon’s dog Blue while trying to solve the crime. He juggles the investigation with his current job of long- haul trucker.

The characters involve the reader immediately in a drama of love, greed and a young female Mounty, Bianca Morrison; trying to establish herself in the remote Canadian setting. This book is fun, engrossing and hard to put down. I was certainly not disappointed with this entry to the series and this may be her best of the series so far. The novel would work fine as a standalone, the characters are immersive, the setting atmospheric.  She spins a terrific yarn!

We received this digital download from the publisher and NetGalley and really appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Totally recommended for anyone who enjoys a well-plotted mystery with a unique and beautiful setting. You won’t be disappointed either. C. E. Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Mysteries, Crime Thriller, Crime Fiction
Publisher: Proud Horse Publishing

  • ISBN-10:0994076258
  • ISBN-13:978-0994076250

ASIN: B07TDQ9RB2
Print Length: 315 pages
Publication Date: July 21, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Yellowhead Blues

 +Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5-stars

R E Donald - authorThe Author: R.E. Donald is the author of the Hunter Rayne Highway Mysteries series. Ruth worked in the transportation industry in various capacities for 25 years and draws on her experience in creating realistic characters and situations in her novels.

Ruth attended the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, B.C., where she studied languages and creative writing to obtain a Bachelor of Arts degree.

She currently lives on a ranch in the South Cariboo region of B.C., where she and her partner, Gilbert Roy, enjoy their Canadian Horses (Le Cheval Canadien) and other animals.

©2019 C E Williams

Associate Reviewer - C E Williams

Belinda Blake and the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing by Heather Day Gilbert #BlogTour #BookReview #Giveaway

Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

I am so delighted today to provide a review for you at my blog stop for Belinda Blake and the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing by Heather Day Gilbert on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. Scroll down to enter your chance to win the Giveaway!

Book Details

Belinda Blake and the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Lyrical Press (October 1, 2019)
Number of Pages ~195
Digital ASIN: B07M75GGX4

Book Blurb

Exotic pet-sitter Belinda Blake is nervous about her new job at the White Pine Wolf Preserve, but it turns out that the care and feeding of wild carnivores may be the least dangerous part of the gig . . .

Pet-sitter Belinda Blake is no stranger to dealing with wild animals, but she’s wary when the owner of the Greenwich, Connecticut, preserve asks her to help out with her “fluffy darlings.” Her caution seems justified on her very first day, when she discovers a tour guide—dead, bloodied, and surrounded by wolves in the enclosure.

Was it death by predator or something more sinister? The body count rises, but something’s not adding up. As she gets to know the rescued wolves and wolf-dog hybrids better, Belinda realizes that her human colleagues are not above suspicion. With help from her own “pack”—her pregnant sister, Red the chauffeur/bodyguard, and hunky farmer Jonas—Belinda is hot on the killer’s tail, but if she doesn’t find him soon, he’ll do more than muzzle her to keep the truth from escaping.

My Review

Again (my reoccurring theme, huh?), a new author and series for me and I’m quite happy to be introduced to this unusual and quirky cozy.

Belinda Blake and the Wolf in Sheep's ClothingBelinda Blake is an exotic pet-sitter. And a gamer. Not your average gamer either–a video game reviewer working on a Twitch stream. (Yes, I googled it–it’s a live streaming platform for gamers worldwide.) Although off page, she’s had extensive experience caring for unusual pets (Book 1 involved a snake), her father is a vet and she got the best kind of first hand knowledge. That said–this is her first gig with wolves.

Wolves are such a controversial subject and certainly divides groups of people pro and con. They can be undeniably mysterious, beautiful, and dangerous. Wolves are not dogs and everything I’ve ever heard about them is that they really cannot be domesticated. They are wild. Period. But then again, maybe not?

So of course you know I’ll happily read and review a book about wolves. But then, this is a cozy. There is bound to be a victim or two and it isn’t long before Belinda on her new contract at the White Pine Wolf Preserve will confront a badly mauled (now deceased) human–formerly a tour guide. Unfortunately, it doesn’t end there.

There is an amazing cast of employees at this preserve, well-developed enough you get the picture. Belinda herself seems to be independent and unusually spirited (obviously sufficient to tackle exotic pets). She has an amazingly supportive family and yes, not one, but two possible love interests–the über rich one and the thoughtful and sexy farmer.

It would seem there might be more than one who would qualify as a suspect and red herrings abound. Belinda continues to fulfill her contract, while investigating and gaining new perspective on possible motive until she ferrets out the one you may not have considered at all.

The conclusion was rather lengthy, tying off all loose ends in explanation until it just completely winds down. A slightly unusual finale; one that left doors open to Book 3.

I was given this digital download by the publisher through NetGalley for this book tour and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended to faithful cozy readers seeking a unique setting. You’ll enjoy this one.

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Giveaway

Sign up for your chance to win one (1) Prize Package from Heather Day Gilbert (US Only) in this Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author

Heather Day Gilbert - authorHeather Day Gilbert, an ECPA Christy award finalist and Grace award winner, writes contemporary mysteries and Viking historicals. Her novels feature small towns, family relationships, and women who aren’t afraid to protect those they love. Like Belinda Blake, Heather plays video games, although so far she hasn’t done any exotic pet-sitting or hunted any murderers.

Author Links

Websitehttp://heatherdaygilbert.com

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/Q6w6X

Facebook Author Pagehttps://www.facebook.com/heatherdaygilbert

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/heatherdaygilbert/

Twitter@heatherdgilbert

Pinteresthttps://www.pinterest.com/heatherdgilbert/

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7232683.Heather_Day_Gilbert

Purchase Links

Kindle    Nook     Kobo      AppleBooks     Google Play

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

Tour Participants:

October 1 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT – Sapphyria’s Books

October 1 – Literary Gold – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

October 1 – The Power of Words – REVIEW

October 2 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW

October 2 – Here’s How It Happened – SPOTLIGHT

October 2 – The Self-Rescue Princess – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

October 3 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT (may not post)

October 3 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

October 3 – Maureen’s Musings – REVIEW

October 3 – MJB Reviewers – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW

October 4 – I Read What You Write – GUEST POST

October 4 – Ascroft, eh? – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

October 5 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

October 5 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

October 6 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW

October 6 – Diary of a Book Fiend – REVIEW

October 7 – Carole’s Book Corner – REVIEW

October 7 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

October 8 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

October 8 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

October 8 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, GUEST POST Great Escapes Book Tours

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

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Christmas Cow Bells (A Buttermilk Creek Mystery) by Mollie Cox Bryan – a #BookReview #cozy

Yahoo! I’m starting this series and new author (to me) with Book 1!

Christmas Cow Bells by Mollie Cox BryanBook Blurb:

The first novel in Mollie Cox Bryan’s brand new mystery series, set in the Blue Ridge Mountains, will keep you guessing until the cows come home . . .
Christmas is a time for new beginnings, so after her big breakup, Brynn MacAlister takes the gouda with the bad. With her three Red Devon cows, she settles in bucolic Shenandoah Springs, eager for a new life as an organic micro-dairy farmer and cheese-maker. Then her dear cow Petunia’s bellows set the whole town on edge. But it isn’t until Brynn’s neighbor, Nancy, dies in a mysterious fire that her feelings about small town life begin to curdle . . .

It seems some folks were not happy with Nancy’s plan to renovate the Old Glebe Church. But is a fear of change a motivation for murder? As a newcomer, Brynn can’t ignore the strange events happening just on the other side of her frosty pasture—and soon on her very own farm. Suddenly Christmas doesn’t feel so festive as everyone demands she muzzle sweet Petunia, and Brynn is wondering if someone wants to silence her—for good . .

My Review:

Protagonist Brynn MacAlister has ended up in bucolic Shenandoah Springs on a small micro-dairy farm with emphasis on artisanal cheeses without the fiancé planned with the move. (He turned out to be a two-timing jerk.) Her grandmother had passed away giving her the wherewithal to purchase the property complete with main house (formerly a B&B), guest house, and barn. She has brought with her three Red Devon dairy cows, Petunia, Marigold, and Buttercup. Unfortunately, Petunia gave birth to a stillborn calf and is in severe mourning.

Brynn is getting to know the people of the tiny town in Virginia and as always, some are more friendly than others. She wants to network as she’ll be trying to sell her cheese locally, but it is with her close neighbor, Nancy, with whom she finds the most common interests. Nancy is also a recent transplant and wants to rehab the other side of the field, formerly a church. Unfortunately, there is a fire and Nancy succumbs to smoke inhalation and the injuries suffered. It is part of Nancy’s family that includes two boys who will stay in Brynn’s guest home, helping with chores as they are on Christmas break.

Christmas Cow Bells by Mollie Cox BryanThe two outstanding support characters, Schuyler and Willow, are great and I’d love to see their characters grow within the series. And Wes sounds like he’ll be a great asset, young, smart, enthusiastic, and media capable. The descriptions of the area make it sound so beautiful, although I can imagine the bone-chilling cold during the Christmas season and the thought of going out to milk Petunia, get them fed, muck the barn, and provide some kind of heating system doesn’t get me enthused enough to move.

Also greatly appreciated getting to know more about the cheese-making process and the artisan varieties–who doesn’t love cheese? As always, with any of these crafts, there are definitions of the industry language with cleanliness standards high on the list. I can remember being invited to the home of a couple also in the Jazz Mass Choir during rehearsals for a European choir tour wherein her dessert was a plate of special cheeses, including Brie, crackers, and grapes, and I’ve never been able to find a Brie that could equal. (Believe me, I’ve looked.)

So with only the whispered words from Nancy prior to her death to go on, Brynn begins to investigate. But that seems to start a round of warnings and things get creepy. She does attain a dog, Freckles, although Freckles seems to be just a tad hit and miss on the watchdog thing.

The well-plotted and atmospheric storyline moves at a fairly decent pace, although there is more than sufficient repeats of main points that will not let you forget exactly why she was there trying to do this alone (perhaps it was a mistake), who was trying to get her to move, and why. Brynn waffles, although under the circumstances, probably anyone would. Still, it sounded like the idyllic setting. There are red herrings, yes, but more than ample hints of the who, whether or not we understood the why until the conclusion.

I love it when I get to start a promising new series with Book 1 and this one appears to be off and running with a strong debut. I’m looking forward to more fleshing in Brynn, but love the support characters, human as well as animal. 

I was granted this digital download by the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for cozy mystery fans, particularly of the culinary sort. I suspect a few of the ingredients will grace your shopping list (as it will mine).

Book Details:

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

  • ISBN-10:1496721322
  • ISBN-13:978-1496721327
  • ASIN: B07MH9XYHY

Print Length: 336 pages
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Christmas Cow Bells
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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4-stars

Mollie Cox Bryan - authorThe Author: Mollie Cox Bryan writes cozy mysteries with edge and romances with slow, sweet burn. The first book in her new mystery series, “Cora Crafts Mysteries.” is DEATH AMONG THE DOILIES, which was selected as “Fresh Fiction Not to Miss” and is a 2017 Finalist for the Daphne du Maurier Award. The second book, NO CHARM INTENDED, was named a Summer 2017 Top 10 Beach Read by Woman’s World. She also wrote the Agatha-award nominated Cumberland Creek Mysteries. Several of the books in that series were short-listed for the Virginia Library People’s Choice Award. She’s also penned a historical fiction: MEMORY OF LIGHT: AN AFTERMATH OF GETTYSBURG and historical romance: TEMPTING WILL MCGLASHEN. She makes her home at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Shenandoah Valley, Va.

©2019 V Williams V Williams