The Secret Place by Tana French – a #BookReview

It’s March and I’m participating in the Reading Ireland Month for 2019. This one is a police procedural/crime fiction by Irish author Tana French. I was not prepared and it knocked my socks off! What did I get myself into?

March!

The Secret Place by Tana FrenchTitle: The Secret Place: (Dublin Murder Squad Series, Book 5) by Tana French

Genre: Thriller & Suspense, Mystery, Police Procedural

Publisher: Penguin Books

Print Length: 480 pages

Publication Date: Reprint edition August 4, 2015

  • ASIN: B00IOE4JXS
  • ISBN-10:0143127519
  • ISBN-13:978-0143127512

Source: Reading Ireland 2019 list 746 Books

Title Link: The Secret Place

Book Blurb:

A year ago a boy was found murdered at a girlsʼ boarding school, and the case was never solved. Detective Stephen Moran has been waiting for his chance to join Dublin’s Murder Squad when sixteen-year-old Holly Mackey arrives in his office with a photo of the boy with the caption: “I KNOW WHO KILLED HIM.” Stephen joins with Detective Antoinette Conway to reopen the case—beneath the watchful eye of Holly’s father, fellow detective Frank Mackey. With the clues leading back to Holly’s close-knit group of friends, to their rival clique, and to the tangle of relationships that bound them all to the murdered boy, the private underworld of teenage girls turns out to be more mysterious and more dangerous than the detectives imagined. Continue reading “The Secret Place by Tana French – a #BookReview”

Dark Hollow by John Connolly – a #BookReview

It’s March and I’m participating in the Reading Ireland Month for 2019. This one is a crime fiction by Dublin born Irish author John Connolly. Because of the length of this and another that we borrowed from our local library, my associate reviewer read Dark Hollow and the following is his review.

March!

 

Dark Hollow by John ConnollyTitle: Dark Hollow: A Charlie Parker Thriller (Book 2) by John Connolly

Genre: Mystery, Thrillers and Suspense, Supernatural, Ghosts, Serial Killers

Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books

Print Length: 432 pages

Publication Date: Reprint edition (June 16, 2015)

  • ASIN: B002OK2OQM
  • ISBN-10: 1501122630
  • ISBN-13:978-1501122637

Source: Irish Authors by 746Books

Title Link: Dark Hollow

Book Blurb:

The second thriller in John Connolly’s bestselling, chilling series featuring haunted private investigator Charlie Parker.

Charlier Parker, a former New York City detective with a haunted past, befriends a down-and-out mother with a small child. When she turns up dead, Charlie’s first suspect is her estranged husband. Charlie follows the man’s trail to Maine and there he becomes entangled in a series of strange occurrences which all seem to harken back to a string of unsolved murders that took place generations before. The murders were never solved and now Charlie must hunt for a killer and the connection between two crimes that span a century.

Dark Hollow by John ConnollyHis Review:

Extremely dark crime noir may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Charlie Parker is a former police officer turned private detective haunted by the death of his wife and daughter. The overall plot moves slowly, developing into a harsh reality of Charlie’s life. Overall the book is well written and keeps engagement but is brutal in the reality of catching the killer.

Subplots of harrowing psychological events imposed upon the reader by a mother who basically hated her husband and her child results in diabolical events. Add the mob on a ruthless quest to recover two million dollars and nobody is safe. Brutality at every turn left me wishing for a little peace in detective Parker’s life.

I felt the book could have matriculated quicker with less exposure to a ruthless killer of young women. It quelled my thirst to visit the far corners of Maine. Two generations of Parkers finally solve the mystery but at a horrendous price. Part of a series but could function as a standalone. Well-plotted but a little slow and long for me. C.E. Williams 4/5 stars

Add to Goodreads

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2019

Associate Reviewer - C E Williams
C E Williams

Reading Ireland – Author Amanda Hughes Interview

Author Amanda Hughes Interview

I am thrilled today to present an interview with author Amanda Hughes who has written edge-of-your-seat adventures about bold women of the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th Centuries.

The Bold Women Series

To highlight the March, Reading Ireland theme, I just want to mention that one of my favorites from the 18th Century Series, Beyond the Cliffs of Kerry, is set, in part, in Ireland, as is The Sword of the Banshee.

This theme, Bold Women, is so timely. While the stories include just a touch of romance, the women are no shrinking violets. They are strong, independent, and capable main characters that hold your interest and quickly get you invested.

Thank you, so much, Amanda, for joining me today! Let’s talk about your Bold Women Series to begin:

You began your Bold Women Series with the Bold Women of the 18th Century and wrote three in the series, three in the 19th Century, one in the 17th Century, and one in the 20th Century in April of 2017. I get the feeling we are due another shortly for the 20th Century. Can you tell us about it?

You are so right. I am just completing Book Two in the “Bold Women of the 20th Century Series”. After listening to my father’s stories about riding the rails during the Great Depression, I decided to write a book about a bold woman who rides the rails in the 1930s. Her adventures take her back and forth across the country and eventually she becomes an accomplished photojournalist. The book culminates in Berlin when she has to smuggle a renowned scientist out of Nazi Germany.

WOW! That does sound exciting and I’m looking forward to the release already, apparently scheduled for April. We’ll be looking for it!

Do you have any plans for writing a standalone?

All the books in the Bold Women Series are standalones. Each one is set in a different time period and about a different woman. Sometimes readers ask me if I am interested in writing a series about men. So far, I have had no wish to write about men’s adventures. It has been done to death! We need books about audacious women.

Do you dream about your characters or see them in a scene you can use?

Yes! Sometimes I do dream about my characters, but so far they have been in those odd, surrealistic settings. Unfortunately, there has been nothing I can use in my books. But I do know that my best writing happens in the morning right after I wake up. Maybe my brain is still in creative overdrive.

The “Bold Women” series is compelling and an empowering and topical theme. How did the distinctive sub-title come about?

It was not something I set out to do. It sort of evolved as a promotional tool. Knowing that readers love a series, I decided to pull my first three or four books together in some way. I had to find a common theme, and it was easy to identify. First, my novels were always about women in a historical setting and second these women were plucky, fearless, and often reckless survivors. They were bold women.

Do you carefully lay out an outline to follow or let it flow and see where it goes?

I know many writers follow an outline, and that it works well for them, but I do not. I have no idea where my book is going. My characters whisper their stories in my ear, and I write them down—rather like that classic movie, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. The book is as much of a surprise for me as it is for the reader.

Do you research popular female and male names for the century of the book? How do you create your character’s names?

That is such a fun question! No one has ever asked me that before. A lot of research going into the creation of my main character’s name. And yes, I try to keep the name within the historical context. I also want the name to reflect my protagonist’s character. In my most recent book, my main character goes on to work as a photojournalist, so I wanted her name to sound like a reporter, short and snappy. I named her Billie Bassett. The name of the love interest in the book is equally important. I research baby names popular in that particular portion of the century, and then I run my choices past my daughters for final approval. They never mince words and have no problem telling me if it is a dumb name.

Do you look for real characters in the century that you can loosely base your novel on? Which book closely follows a real story?

So far I have not based, even loosely, any of my “Bold Women” on anyone who actually lived. My secondary characters though are sometimes real people. Frances Marion, also named “The Swamp Fox,” shows up in The Sword of the Banshee, and the villain in The Looking Glass Goddess is based on Kid Cann, a notorious mobster in Minnesota.

Once begun, how long does it generally take to write your books?

Always around a year.

Do you shoot for a total word count in your novels?

I try to keep it under 100,000 words, but I am not always successful. Much over that is overwhelming for a reader. I know it is for me!

Do you set a daily word count goal or is there an average?

No, whatever I do in a day, I do in a day.

The Looking Glass Goddess by Amanda HughesWhat kind of awards have you received?

The Looking Glass Goddess was nominated for The Minnesota Book Award in 2017 which made me very happy, and I was awarded the Gems National Award for Writing.

It appears you’ve had more than one designer create your covers. Who are you currently using and do they receive a synopsis of the book in order to more creatively fit the cover? 

Most of my book covers have been designed by The Killion Group. They have a detailed questionnaire for writers to fill out before the design process begins and then Kim (the cover designer) works directly with you to make sure your vision for the cover matches hers.

And now personally, Amanda, have you been able to retire and write full time?

I write full time and love every minute of it.

What did you do before discovering your writing talent?

I have a degree in Therapeutic Recreation and for many years I worked in mental health settings, from locked units in psychiatric hospitals to group homes with developmentally disabled people. You can see these themes again and again in my books and in my choice of characters especially in The Pride of the King.

Family? Children and/or grandchildren?

I have three children who are now grown and my first grandchild just came along five months ago—a little girl. It is as much fun as everyone says it is.

Where are you currently living?

I live in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Do you read all your reviews?

I try to read every one, and I really appreciate them.

Where can we easily find you? Your own website and social media?

I LOVE hearing from my readers. I will always respond to you if you write a note. I am at www.amandahughesauthor.com and you can find me on Facebook as well at https://www.facebook.com/amanda.hermannhughes

I can’t thank you enough for inviting me to your blog. What great questions. I hope it was as much fun to read as it was to write!

It certainly has been for me! It has been my absolute pleasure and I so appreciate the time you took to be with us today. To my faithful readers and followers, please check out the Bold Women Series by Amanda Hughes and enjoy a woman protagonist who can hold her own against the world. Click the link on one of the books noted above or view her Amazon author page to see all her books. We would both love to hear your thoughts!

About the Author

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

©2019 V Williams Blog author

 

Treading the Uneven Road by L. M. Brown – a #BookReview

It’s March and I’m participating in the Reading Ireland Month for 2019. This one is a literary fiction by author L M Brown. It is an anthology, short stories of ’80s and ’90s Ireland, Treading the Uneven Road

March!

Treading the Uneven Road by L M BrownTitle: Treading the Uneven Road by L. M. Brown

Genre: Short Stories and Anthologies, Literary Fiction

Publisher: Fomite

  • ISBN-10:194438880X
  • ISBN-13:978-1944388805

Print Length: 208 pages

Publication Date: Happy Release Day! March 15, 2019

Source: Direct author request

Title Link: Treading the Uneven Road

Book Blurb:

The stories in this collection are set 1980’s and 90’s Ireland. A by-pass around a small village has rid the residents of their once busy traffic. They feel forgotten by the world. The need to reach out and be heard is explored in every story, from the young woman who starts to have phone conversations with her husband’s gay lover, to the dyslexic man who confronts his cruel teacher years later and the woman whose dreams are shattered because of a married lover. Treading the Uneven Road introduces us to a society that is unraveling and we cannot help feel for Brown’s characters who need to make a choice on how to carry on. Continue reading “Treading the Uneven Road by L. M. Brown – a #BookReview”

Return to Robinswood by Jean Grainger – a #BookReview

It’s March and I’m participating in the Reading Ireland Month for 2019. This one is historical fiction by popularly acclaimed author Jean Grainger. Jean is a USA Today Bestselling Author and was selected by BookBub readers in the top 19 of historical fiction books AND is the winner of the 2016 Author’s Circle Historical Novel of Excellence.

March!

Return to Robinswood by Jean GraingerTitle: Return to Robinswood: An Irish family saga. (The Robinswood Story Book 2) by Jean Grainger

Genre: Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction, British and Irish

Print Length: 289 pages

Publication Date: February 19, 2019

  • ISBN-10:1797471155
  • ISBN-13:978-1797471150
  • ASIN: B07NVN3G7L

Source: Direct author request

Title Link: Return to Robinswood

Book Blurb:

One Irish house, two very different families, and a war that changed everything.

Robinswood Estate, County Waterford, Ireland. 1946.

Years of neglect and abandonment have left the family seat of the Keneficks almost derelict, but the new Lord Kenefick and his charming young wife Kate, are determined to breathe life into the old house once more.

The war is over and they have survived, so now they must set about making a bright future for themselves and their family. But the shadows of the past are ever lurking, and there are many who are not willing to see the new Lady Kenefick as anything more than the housekeeper’s daughter.

Kate’s family, the Murphys, find themselves once more, inextricably entwined with both the Keneficks and Robinswood, but this time everything is different. Or at least they hope it is.

The legacy of the war cannot be erased, and the events of those fateful years will not be forgotten. Can Robinswood provide a haven for those who need it, or are the scars of the past too deep? Continue reading “Return to Robinswood by Jean Grainger – a #BookReview”

Reinventing Hillwilla by Melanie Forde – a #BookTour #BookReview #Irelandmonth

It’s March and I’m participating in the Reading Ireland Month for 2019, this beautiful literary fiction being the second. I will post a complete list of my reads for Reading Ireland on Sunday, March 10. Stay tuned!

Reinventing Hillwilla 

I am absolutely delighted today to provide a review for you at my blog stop for Reinventing Hillwilla by Melanie Forde on Sage’s Blog Tours.

Book Details: Five stars

Title: Reinventing Hillwilla: A Novel by Melanie Forde

Genre: Literary Fiction, Romance, Animals

Publisher: D Street Books, a division of Mountain Lake Press

Print Length: 339 pages

Publication Date: November 4, 2018

  • ISBN-10:1730785492
  • ISBN-13:978-1730785498

ASIN: B07K6TQC3R

Source: Publisher and Sage’s Book Tours

Title and Cover: Reinventing Hillwilla – Cover depicts farm overseer, Ralph

Book Blurb:

Life on a llama farm, set in remote “Seneca County,” West Virginia, transitions from contented to chaotic in this final novel in the Hillwilla trilogy — all under the watchful eye of canine guardian Ralph. Five years after we first met northern urban transplant Beatrice Desmond, she is finally adapting to her mountain hollow among the wary “born-heres” and is more open to the blessings in her life. She has developed a rewarding mother-daughter relationship with troubled local teenager Clara Buckhalter and is inching toward marriage with dashing, but complicated entrepreneur Tanner Fordyce. Meanwhile, Clara sets off on a productive new path, one that would have been unthinkable had Beatrice never come into her life. All of that progress is suddenly jeopardized by Clara’s scheming mother Charyce. Ultimately, the upheaval touched off by Charyce’s schemes serves as the catalyst for new beginnings for the Seneca County misfits (even Ralph).

My Review:

Reinventing Hillwilla by Melanie FordeOh, Mercy! Sucked in immediately in the prologue when you realize you are reading the POV of an English setter, beloved dog, and pack leader of the llamas (Ralph’s Pack) gracing this farm, it’s impossible not to continue reading. Then I was devastated when I realized that Ralph had passed away. NOOO…

Still, protagonist Beatrice Desmond is such a powerful, torn, and emotive character that the pages turns themselves as you become totally lost in the hollow in Seneca County, West Virginia. There is a divide in West Virginia. Between the “born-heres” and the “come-heres.” Beatrice falls in the latter and tends her animals. Clara Buckhalter, at thirteen and a product of a destructive family life, connected however remotely to Beatrice, had come to live with Beatrice temporarily. As these things sometimes evolve, temporary becomes permanent with Beatrice taking full charge of loving mother duties, something Clara had not received from her own mother. Now Clara is at Beatrice’s alma mater on a scholarship. Beatrice is thrilled and proud, but lonely.

In the meantime, Beatrice continues to wrestle with the proposal of marriage from globe-trotting Tanner Fordyce, off on yet another mission while Beatrice works out of her home office telecommuting as a translator and editor. Unfortunately, her old boss is gone and the new one isn’t working out–for Beatrice. Tanner, like Beatrice, had experienced a less than stellar childhood of Irish roots, Beatrice’s family from Boston. Tanner often harkens to the ancient Irish endearment “mo mhuirnin” (my darling) when signing off on his long distance calls.

The author weaves in the artful and knowledgeable handling of the llamas as Beatrice begins to experience strange happenings around the farm. She desperately misses Ralph, who would have alerted her to anyone on her property, but she does take security measures.

Clara’s mother is written as a despot; beyond comprehension how she could treat her daughter as she does, and creates a tension building conflict when Clara is left on the farm alone. (Beatrice has had to leave temporarily.) Clara is young, naive, and sure her own mother could not willfully scheme against her or Beatrice, although it’s difficult to imagine how she could not knowing her mother’s past deeds. The character produces a glut of protracted revulsion and sets the reader on edge, anxious to perceive how the author will produce a satisfactory remedy. In the meantime, it’s easy to get incredibly angry with Clara for not understanding Beatrice is the “real” mother here, protecting her even against her wishes.

The well-paced, well-plotted story creates that bond with characters struggling through discordance with others, the loneliness, catastrophic illness, coming of age, long-distance romance, and the struggles of survival in harsh, bitter winter conditions. The dialogue is natural and believable, the characters fleshed so well, you cheer for the little triumphs and wish Clara were close enough to slap her up long-side the head. She’s eighteen now! Get a grip! And Ralph, even I missed him. Or maybe not–didn’t we see him–once or twice?

A unique story for me! The animals are sweet. Then the plummet and anger, followed by a glimmer of hope. Emotions pulling one way, then the other. And always, always, wondering when or how is she going to get another dog? (You can’t replace a Ralph. Hubby and I also had one–a yellow lab–too smart for us but we loved him.) The author has an intelligent, articulate writing style that pops with little glimmers of Irish humor. The satisfying conclusion closes the trilogy. This is the first I’d read of the trilogy, but had no problem reading as a standalone. Sage's Blog Tours

I was given this ebook download by the author through Sage’s Blog Tours for a read and review and absolutely loved the book! It’s an amazing read–totally recommended.

Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars Five stars

Melanie Forde - authorThe Author: For most of her writing career, Melanie Forde ghosted on international security issues. She published her first novel, Hillwilla, in 2014, followed by On the Hillwilla Road in 2015. Her West Virginia trilogy culminates in Reinventing Hillwilla, 2018. Twenty years in the making, her Irish-American family saga, Decanted Truths, was also released in 2018.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Murder in an Irish Pub by Carlene O’Connor – a #BookReview

It’s March and I’ll be participating in the Reading Ireland Month for 2019, this cozy mystery being the first.

March! 

Murder in an Irish Pub by Carlene O'ConnorTitle: Murder in  an Irish Pub (An Irish Village Mystery Book 4) by Carlene O’Connor

Genre: Cozy Mystery, Crafts and Hobbies

Publisher: Kensington

Print Length: 304 pages

Publication Date: February 26, 2019

  • ISBN-10:1496719042
  • ISBN-13:978-1496719041
  • ASIN: B07DBQB82Z

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title and Cover: Murder in an Irish Pub – Compelling cover depiction

Book Blurb:

When competing card sharps stir up Siobhán O’Sullivan’s quiet Irish village, a poker tournament turns into a game of Hangman . . .

In the small village of Kilbane in County Cork, for a cuppa tea or a slice of brown bread, you go to Naomi’s Bistro, managed by the many siblings of the lively O’Sullivan brood. For a pint or a game of darts—or for the poker tournament that’s just come to town—it’s the pub you want.

One player’s reputation precedes him: Eamon Foley, a tinker out of Dublin, called the Octopus for playing like he has eight hands under the table. But when Foley is found at the end of a rope, swinging from the rafters of Rory Mack’s pub, it’s time for the garda to take matters into their own hands. Macdara Flannery would lay odds it’s a simple suicide—after all, there’s a note and the room was locked. But Siobhán suspects foul play, as does Foley’s very pregnant widow. Perhaps one of Foley’s fellow finalists just raised the stakes to life and death.

With conflicting theories on the crime—not to mention the possibility of a proposal—tensions are running high between Siobhán and Macdara. Soon it’s up to Siobhán to call a killer’s bluff, but if she doesn’t play her cards right, she may be the next one taken out of the game . . . Continue reading “Murder in an Irish Pub by Carlene O’Connor – a #BookReview”