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

Historical Fantasy Fiction

Book Blurb:

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

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

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

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

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

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4-stars

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

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Beyond the Moon: A Haunting Debut Novel of Time Travel and WW1 by Catherine Taylor – A #BookReview #timetravel

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars Five Stars

The CE read this one and loved it.

Book Blurb:

Beyond the Moon by Catherine TaylorOutlander meets Birdsong in this haunting literary timeslip novel, where a strange twist of fate connects a British soldier fighting in the First World War with a young woman living in modern-day England a century later.

*A debut novel shortlisted for the Eharmony/Orion Write Your Own Love Story Prize 2018/19

Part WW1 historical fiction, part timeslip love story – and at the same time a meditation on the themes of war, mental illness, identity and art. An intelligent, captivating read, perfect for book clubs.

His Review:

Louisa Casson has had too much to drink! She is mourning the death of her beloved grandmother and is near a sea cliff. She passes out and wakes up in a dark rainstorm disoriented. The cliff she is near starts to crumble and she goes down with the slide. She is discovered partway down the cliff on a shelf and the doctors determine she must have been attempting suicide.

Beyond the Moon by Catherine TaylorA mental hospital is a place to avoid, but she is placed there for her own safety. She cannot convince the medical staff that she did not commit suicide and is committed. The staff is less than helpful and is all overworked, unsympathetic and working in a place they should never be.

Medicines are administered though not necessary. The results are disorientation and further medications are administered to counter the effects of the first. The setting of the mental institution is horrific and part of the building scheduled for demolishing. The year is 2017.

Smoking is a diversion and she befriends a patient who shows her how to escape the smoking area. She wanders through the older part of the building and hears a voice. “Please help me!” She follows the sound and is transported one hundred years in the past to the building in its prime.

The voice belongs to Lieutenant Robert Lovett who has been injured in WW1 and is afflicted with hysterical blindness. Louisa helps him back into bed and stays and comforts him. A friendship and then love develops. The story is very well constructed and slips between time periods of 1916 and 2017. Louisa seems to be transported through a time loop. 2017 is not a particularly good time period for our heroine.

The writer has developed a keen insight into WW1 and the offsetting culture of 2017. The contrast between the two time periods is masterfully developed and a pleasure to witness. Louisa would like to stay and be with the Lieutenant. How can this be accomplished? As you enjoy the book you develop an affinity for the characters and hope the best for them. Louisa is enormously empathetic, her soldier as much so.

This page-turner will keep you on the edge of your seat. Schedule some time to read, you will not want to put it down. This was an author request, the digital download in anticipation of a review. This is my honest opinion. 5 stars CE Williams

(Amazon: *NB This novel contains graphic descriptions of war violence and injuries, as well as profanity and mild sex.)

Book Details:

Genre: Time Travel Romance, World War I Historical Fiction, British Historical Literature
Publisher: The Cameo Press Ltd.
Print Length: 496 pages
Publication Date: June 25, 2019
Source: Direct author request
Title Link: Beyond the Moon (Amazon)
Barnes and Noble

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Catherine Taylor - authorThe Author: [Catherine Taylor] I was born and grew up on the small island of Guernsey, one of the British Channel Islands in the English Channel.

I’ve been obsessed with words and books since the day I first learned to read, and grew up on classic children’s authors like Enid Blyton and Edith Nesbit. As I got older I began to gravitate towards love stories with gripping plots, devouring novels like Jane Eyre, Rebecca, Katharine, Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice, about clever, independent women caught up in passionate affairs with complex, Byronic men. And equally I loved sweeping epics like The Thorn Birds and Gone With The Wind. I was a keen writer myself from an early age, and am one of those people who’s known since childhood that she wanted to be an author one day.

I’ve been obsessed with history, and particularly with WW1 for a long time – in fact I date my fascination with WW1 to the moment I first read Wilfred Owen’s poem “Strange Meeting” as a child. The literature of the First World War is the most moving I’ve ever read, and I defy anyone to read Vera Brittain’s A Testament Of Youth and not be moved to tears. As well as being a history obsessive, I’ve also always been a hopeless romantic. And I always knew that the novel I one day intended to write would be a historical love story, set during the First World War – one that would be intelligent, well-researched and have a big, emotional heart. Not only that, I always wanted my novel to have a touch of the fantastical about it too. As I child I loved to read books with magic in them, especially timeslips, and as I got older, I wondered why it was that most novels with elements of the paranormal in them were exclusively for children.

And then one night, after reading some WW1 poetry before bed, I had a dream where I wandered into some forgotten room in our house, and came across a young man, who told me that he was a soldier in the Great War. And the idea for Beyond The Moon was born. I often wonder if I dreamt about that soldier because, on some subconscious level, I longed to be able to transport myself back in time to the lost world of 1914-1918.

Of course, it’s not something – sadly – that I could ever do. But a young woman in a slightly different modern-day world could; a world where magic and fate were more powerful than in our own. A sensitive, intelligent and courageous young woman (for she’d need all those qualities), with faith in destiny, a great capacity for love, and a willingness to sacrifice everything for it…

The topic of mental health is one that has always held a huge fascination for me, and from the very beginning I knew that Beyond The Moon would be set partly in a psychiatric hospital. As I began to research people’s experiences in mental hospitals I was shocked to find just how common it is for patients to suffer neglect and abuse in such places. I can understand that modern-day Coldbrook Hall might seem far-fetched to some readers, but I assure you, you don’t have to look far on the internet to find some appalling stories. Just recently the following articles appeared in UK newspapers: ‘Firms cash in on psychiatric care crisis’ in The Times, and ‘Care Quality Commission [the UK regulator] places two Priory Group hospitals in special measures’ in The Guardian. They make shocking and depressing reading. If I, in my very small way through Beyond The Moon, can help shine a light on this modern-day scandal, then I am very glad.

I hope you enjoy Beyond The Moon as much as I loved writing it. I love to hear from readers, so please do get in touch at catherine@catherinetaylor.net. I’m currently working on a second novel set in 1900s Vienna, when the “imperial city” – as it was known – was at the heart of the enormous, cosmopolitan Austro-Hungarian Empire. It’s another smart historical love story, and I’m very excited about it. I can’t wait to try to conjure up that fabulous, forgotten world.

My website is at http://www.catherinetaylor.net, and you can sign up for my mailing list there. I have an author page on Goodreads, too, and you can also follow me on Instagram at @catherine_taylor_author. You can also find me (a bit less often!) on Twitter and Facebook.

I live in West London with my husband, two children, and two very cheeky chinchillas.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Uncharted Waters by Scott MacKenzie – A #BookReview #TuesdayBookBlog

Rosepoint Publishing: Five of Five Stars Five Stars

The CE Loved it! The following is his review.

 Book Blurb:

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

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

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

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

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

His Review

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

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

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

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

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

Problem Child by Victoria Helen Stone

Book Details

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

Book Blurb

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

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

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

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

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Giveaway

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

About the Author

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

Purchase Links – Amazon – B&N  

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

Tour Participants:

March 17 – fundinmental – REVIEW

March 17 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

March 17 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

March 18 – The Book Decoder – REVIEW  

March 18 – Elizabeth McKenna – Author – SPOTLIGHT

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

March 19 – The Book Diva’s Reads – SPOTLIGHT

March 20 – eBook Addicts – REVIEW

March 20 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

March 21 – Diane Reviews Books – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW

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

March 22 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

March 22 – This Is My Truth Now – SPOTLIGHT

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

March 23 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT Great Escapes Book Tours

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

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

Ah, my second John Connolly book for the #begorrathon20

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars Five Stars

The Wolf in Winter by John Connolly

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

(No parades this year due to Corona Virus)

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rosepoint recommended

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Book Details:

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy – a #BookReview – #readingirelandmonth20

A co-read with the CE. One of us loved this one more than the other.

March and Reading Ireland Month

Book Blurb:

Stoneybridge is a small town on the west coast of Ireland where all the families know one another. When Chicky Starr decides to take an old, decaying mansion set high on the cliffs overlooking the windswept Atlantic Ocean and turn it into a restful place for a holiday by the sea, everyone thinks she is crazy. Helped by Rigger (a bad boy turned good who is handy around the house) and Orla, her niece (a whiz at business), Chicky is finally ready to welcome the first guests to Stone House’s big warm kitchen, log fires, and understated elegant bedrooms. John, the American movie star, thinks he has arrived incognito; Winnie and Lillian are forced into taking a holiday together; Nicola and Henry, husband and wife, have been shaken by seeing too much death practicing medicine; Anders hates his father’s business, but has a real talent for music; Miss Nell Howe, a retired schoolteacher, criticizes everything and leaves a day early, much to everyone’s relief; the Walls are disappointed to have won this second-prize holiday in a contest where first prize was Paris; and Freda, the librarian, is afraid of her own psychic visions.

Sharing a week with this unlikely cast of characters is pure joy, full of Maeve’s trademark warmth and humor. Once again, she embraces us with her grand storytelling.

This ebook edition includes photos from the landscape of A WEEK IN WINTER and a Reading Group Guide. 

My Thoughts

A favorite Irish author the world over was Maeve Binchy who wrote this book, her last, before her death in 2012 at the age of 72. The book became a tribute to her work spanning (according to Goodreads) 173 distinct works. Her distinctive storytelling style scored thousands of fans. This is my first experience with the author.

A Week in Winter by Maeve BinchyA Week in Winter tells the story of a large cast of characters, but stems from Chicky (Geraldine) Starr of Stoneybridge, Ireland. Chicky is a girl with wild ideas and meeting a young American with the same kind of free-wheeling ideas, followed him to America. When he left her with only the clothes on her back, she managed to find room, board, and employment at a boarding house and gradually saved money.

When an opportunity opens back in Ireland to buy an old “gentlemen’s home,” she is intrigued with the idea of turning it into a B&B, quaint, gorgeous views of the Atlantic, and good food at Stone House. But that doesn’t happen by herself, or the remaining sister of three who formerly owned the property. So begins the tale of gathering personnel and eventually the opening guests.

“Working all the hours that God sends us.”

The well-plotted tale reverts (sometimes years) to establish the backgrounds and lives of people who will eventually populate Stone House. There are outbuildings to restore and land that will accommodate animals and years of work ahead and in the meantime gather Rigger and Orla (a niece). Then proceeds to find the opening week’s guests; John, a movie star; Winnie and her future mother-in-law Lillian; Henry and Nicola, doctors; Anders, a businessman who prefers music; the Walls, celebrating their silver anniversary; Miss Howe, irascible retired school principal; and Freda, a psychic librarian.

Everyone comes damaged, at a crossroads, in conflict, unhappy, at odds, or seeking well-deserved peace and are then welcomed into the newly opened facility. Each new character(s) create a short-story that don’t particularly interact with the rest of the guests with the exception of a common breakfast or dinner. Miss Howe, never content anywhere having led a desperately sad and lonely life experiences no epiphany and leaves early. All the others have a great and life-changing week and sweeps the reader into a conclusion with just the slightest epilogue of each.

I just finished a book with a strong character study and almost the same number to keep track of, separated into their own stories, as this was done. The plot to rehab an old estate into an exclusive B&B offering an authentic Irish experience also vaguely familiar, although descriptions of the area conjure up real, well-developed characters with windy, salty faces, and overcoat weather in small atmospheric villages. This is not to say I didn’t enjoy the book. I did. The storyline keeps you reading–but it isn’t wholly new. 4/5 stars

His Thoughts

A masterful representation of life during earlier times. Ms. Binchy has captured the essence of life in rural Ireland and family struggles. It opened many memories of my childhood and the inter-familial relationships and struggles my family experienced when I was a child.

Each of the characters could be members of my own extended family. Loves hoped for and hearts broken are coupled with basic behavioral issues from less than perfect role models. Her characters portray the very essence of problems faced by most people in developing relationships.

Running off to America to be with a man who expressed deep undying love for Chicky starts the saga. As we all know, love is fickle. Left alone after five months Chicky has to develop a story for the loss of a person who said he loved her. The theme is replete throughout the book. Men are not shown in their best light, but then again, men can be very fickle.

A Week in Winter by Maeve BinchyThe central thread is a large property called Stone House outside the village of Stoneybridge. The property is refurbished by Chicky and her niece as well as bad boy Rigger. As the property is developed, so develops the strengths and weaknesses of the characters. Rigger is a young delinquent who turns his life around and becomes key to the success of Stone House. Each additional character faces their own challenges and lessons to be learned from life.

The overall impact of this novel is to embrace the effect of life itself. Everyone has challenges and struggles in life. The richer family near Stoneybridge spends a fortune only to fall upon hard times during a large business downturn. They wind up with a large subdivision of unsold houses and a diminished reputation as developers.

The overall impression I came away with was that all of us seem to have similar life experiences. As they worked to develop the property and create a successful business, their fortunes were actually the result of the effort put into helping each other as well as striving for success. Helping others achieve success develops our own karma. Stoneybridge ultimately succeeds because each character gives more effort to further the cause and others than pursue their own ambitions. Many of the male figures tend to be self-absorbed and selfish.

My hat is off to the author and her insights into family relationships and struggles. Thanks for the memories and refresher course! 5 stars

Book Details:

Genre: British and Irish Literary Fiction, Literary Sagas
Publisher: Anchor

  • ISBN-10:0307475506
  • ISBN-13:978-0307475503
  • ASIN: B009MYARTO

Print Length: 418 pages
Publication Date: February 13, 2013
Source: Local Library Digital Loan
Title Link: A Week in Winter

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

Maeve Binchy - Irish authorThe Author: (Amazon author page) Maeve Binchy is the author of numerous best-selling books, including Nights of Rain and Stars, Quentins, Scarlet Feather, Circle of Friends, and Tara Road, which was an Oprah’s Book Club selection. She has written for Gourmet; O, The Oprah Magazine; Modern Maturity; and Good Housekeeping, among other publications. She and her husband, Gordon Snell, live in Dalkey, Ireland, and London.

(Goodreads author page) Maeve Binchy was born on 28 May 1940 in Dalkey, County Dublin, Ireland, the eldest child of four. Her parents were very positive and provided her with a happy childhood. Although she described herself as an overweight child, her parents’ attitude gave her the confidence to accept herself for who she was.

She studied at University College Dublin and was a teacher for a while. She also loved traveling, and this was how she found her niche as a writer. She liked going to different places, such as a Kibbutz in Israel, and she worked in a camp in the United States. While she was away, she sent letters home to her parents. They were so impressed with these chatty letters from all over the world that they decided to send them to a newspaper. After these letters were published, Maeve left teaching and became a journalist.

Maeve married Gordon Snell, writer and editor of children’s books. When they were struggling financially, Light a Penny Candle was published, which made her an overnight success. Many of her books, such as Echoes, are set in the past in Ireland. Some of her later novels, such as Evening Class, take place in more modern times. Her books often deal with people who are young, fall in love, have families, and deal with relationship or family problems. The main characters are people whom readers can empathise with.

She passed away on 30 July 2012, at the age of 72.

Her cousin Dan Binchy is also a published writer, as is her nephew Chris Binchy.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

One Good Dog by Susan Wilson – An #Audiobook Review – Family Life Fiction

One Good Dog by Susan Wilson - audiobook

Book Blurb:

Adam March is a self-made “Master of the Universe”. He has it all: the beautiful wife, the high-powered job, the glittering circle of friends. But there is a price to be paid for all these trappings, and the pressure is mounting-until the day Adam makes a fatal mistake. His assistant leaves him a message with three words: your sister called. What no one knows is that Adam’s sister has been missing for decades…that she represents the excruciatingly painful past he has left behind…and that her absence has secretly tormented him all these years. When his assistant brushes off his request for an explanation in favor of her more pressing personal call, Adam loses it. And all hell breaks loose.

Adam is escorted from the building. He loses his job. He loses his wife. He loses the life he’s worked so hard to achieve. He doesn’t believe it is possible to sink any lower when he is assigned to work in a soup kitchen as a form of community service.

But unbeknownst to Adam, this is where his life will intersect with Chance. Chance is a mixed breed Pit Bull. He’s been born and raised to fight and seldom leaves the dirty basement where he is kept between fights. But Chance is not a victim or a monster. It is Chance’s unique spirit that helps him escape and puts him in the path of Adam. What transpires is the story of one man, one dog, and how they save each other-in ways they never could have expected.

My Review:

Well, Mercy! I grabbed this book as I’d listened to three other audiobooks by the same author, The Dog I Loved, The Dog Who Danced, and Two Good Dogs. The latter actually introduced Adam March and his dog, Chance. All garnered 4.5 to 5 stars from me.

Adam is rich–he achieved that the hard way. A foster child, he came up rough and determined to succeed and he did. Along the way, he married well and they had a daughter they proceeded to spoil rotten. Adam, in the meantime, enjoyed his posh living to an extent but is not wholly happy. He has too many unresolved issues and when one effectively surfaces through his assistant, she is the target of his knee-jerk reaction.

One Good Dog by Susan Wilson

Rather than landing in the slammer, the judge is astute enough to ascertain with what he is dealing and sentences him to community service at a men’s shelter. In the meantime, he has lost his family and most of his accumulated wealth. Adam is a protagonist not easy to like. He is not engaging but arrogant, spoiled,  and hostile. His thoughts are enough to anger the reader.

But this is a book that switches from Adam’s POV to that of Chance, and his POV is eye-opening as well. I thoroughly enjoyed those chapters devoted to Chance as he escapes his life as a captive dog fighter and progresses through street dog to pet dog. At first, he is determined to run the first chance he gets–away from this person who has accidentally saddled himself with a dog he doesn’t want. Someone who never had one and has no clue how to care for–much less a dog of Chance’s history, a pit bull at that.

The training of the human is not as easy as that of the animal, who intuitively learns how to survive. Adam resists any effort at friendship or camaraderie at the shelter, angers when he realizes the woman at the pet store identifies him as a target of her previous rancor. None of it was his fault–it was all a mistake–that wasn’t who he is…heard that before?

Getting Adam and Chance to meld was difficult. Not an easy transition for either. In the meantime, we learn of his grudging association with the men (both the director and the workers) as well as the men who populate the center and it’s harsh, but he gradually begins to relax. It is because of the association with one that he is compelled to retrieve the pitbull from a kill center. Unfortunately, it’s not the one he was sent to rescue.

Gina, from the pet store, becomes a haven, source of rational thought, and sees the potential in Chance–encourages Adam to keep him. The heart of the storyline, however, is the focus full on Adam, and how the support characters, including Chance molds the man. Adam learns of his father and sister, finds a real relationship with his daughter. It’s a story of loss and forgiveness, trust, humility, and humanity. The story of Chance pulls all the heart-strings and you’ll root for him whether or not Adam. The conclusion is one you want to deny; hope will not happen. Can this have a happy ending?

Apparently, there is a whole range of reviews for this one. Everyone’s an expert on dogs, rescues, or pit bulls. And most seem to have a better grasp of good fiction writing than I. But as the old saying goes, I know what I like. I’m a fan of this author. I really enjoy her books. They are always full of heart with a moral compass…the problem of the plot is getting us through the minutiae of the story to assume the reader will discern the message. It’s fiction–take it at face value and just enjoy it.

I got this audiobook through my well-stocked local library and enjoyed via OverDrive (thank you!) and am more than happy to heartily recommend. (The narrators do an admiral job and greatly lend to the enjoyment of this novel.)

Book Details:

Genre: Family Life Fiction, Animal Life Fiction
Publisher:  Macmillan Audio
ASIN: B003AOVP1Q
 Print Length: 320 pages
Listening Length: 8 hrs 21 min
Narrators: Fred BermanRick Adamson
Audible Release Date: March 2, 2010
Source: Local (Audiobook Selections) Library
Title Link: One Good Dog (Amazon link)

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

Susan Wilson - authorThe 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

The Narrators:

Fred Berman - author
Fred Berman
Rick Adamson - narrator
Rick Adamson

©2020 V Williams V Williams

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

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars Five Stars

I just found a new favorite series!

March!

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

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

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

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

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

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

March!

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

Genre: International Mystery and Crime
Publisher: Kensington Books

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

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

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

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

http://www.carleneoconnor.com

©2020 V Williams V Williams

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

Book Blurb:

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

Genre: Medical Thrillers
Publisher: Kensington Books

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ABOUT SCARED STIFF:

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

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

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Rosepoint February Reviews Recap–HELLO March!!

Rosepoint Reviews - February Recap

I am still catching up on all the audiobooks I listened to in January, so posted two in February, one more still from David Rosenfelt that I’ll share in March. Of course March starts Reading Ireland Month and I’ve got several lined up already. If you haven’t already registered your participation in that challenge, now is the time to do it! I’ve added the badge with the link, so plunge head first into the green.

I certainly had a variety of reads in February, from mysticism to beautiful literary fiction. I reviewed three audiobooks by the same author (Rosenfelt), neither of which were my favorite series (Andy Carpenter)–one starting a new series (The K Team). The CE reviewed two novels, one an author request that he really enjoyed by Michael McLellan. While most were from NetGalley, I sampled two local book groups in February, one in Crown Point, and thinking I might just stay with the one in my own “township,” a new start up. It sounds like the director will be amenable to molding it in a unique format and I’m all for that! So in all, fourteen books for the month as follows:

Statue of Limitations by Kate Collins
Fade to Black by David Rosenfelt (David Brock series audiobook)
The Master’s Apprentice by Oliver Pötzsch (CE review)
In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree by Michael McLellan (CE review)
Bitter Alpine by Mary Daheim
Anne and Louis by Rozsa Gaston
The Angel’s Trumpet by James Musgrave
The Lost Boys of London by Mary Lawrence
Black and Blue by David Rosenfelt (David Brock series audiobook)
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson (Third Monday Book Club selection)
Here Comes the Body by Maria DiRico
The K Team by David Rosenfelt (new series)
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (Fiction Addiction Book Club selection)
Thief River Falls by Brian Freeman

March

I’ve done some scrambling to try and keep up with the reading challenges, five until next month when Reading Ireland Month kicks in. I’ll bring back John Connolly from last year reading The Wolf in Winter this year and I’ll be reading Book 2 written by an Irish American writing about an Irish police woman in New York City with her K-9 partner (did you really think I’d read all month without one about a dog?) called Irish Car Bomb (an Erin O’Reilly K-9 Mystery) by Steven Henry. Don’t ask me why I started the series with Book 2–I have no clue, but it might have been this quote I noted in the blurb: If it weren’t for the Irish, New York wouldn’t have a police force. On the other hand, it might not need one.” And don’t forget to tag your posts with her hashtags #readingirelandmonth20 or #begorrathon20.

Otherwise, I’m pretty much behind on everything, including my NetGalley challenge. Thank heaven I only chose to try for Stenographer, 10-15 audiobooks! I think I’ll be able to make that one.

Thank you as always to those who have just joined me and those who continue to read and support this blog with your comments. You have no idea how much those are appreciated!

2020 V Williams V Williams

March photo background attribute: Canva.com

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

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

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

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

+Add to Goodreads
Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4-stars

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

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

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

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

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

Facebook at facebook.com/bfreemanfans or

Twitter and Instagram (@bfreemanbooks).

©2020 V Williams V Williams

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

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

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

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

Book 1 of a Quirky New Series!

Book Blurb:

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

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

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

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

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek: A Novel by Kim Michele Richardson – A #BookReview #historicalfiction

A book club of the month selection. But do I agree with their assessment?

Do I agree with the Book Club?

Book Blurb:

The New York Times and USA Today bestseller!

“…a hauntingly atmospheric love letter to the first mobile library in Kentucky and the fierce, brave packhorse librarians who wove their way from shack to shack dispensing literacy, hope, and — just as importantly — a compassionate human connection.”—Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants

The hardscrabble folks of Troublesome Creek have to scrap for everything—everything except books, that is. Thanks to Roosevelt’s Kentucky Pack Horse Library Project, Troublesome’s got its very own traveling librarian, Cussy Mary Carter.

Cussy’s not only a book woman, however, she’s also the last of her kind, her skin a shade of blue unlike most anyone else. Not everyone is keen on Cussy’s family or the Library Project, and a Blue is often blamed for any whiff of trouble. If Cussy wants to bring the joy of books to the hill folks, she’s going to have to confront prejudice as old as the Appalachias and suspicion as deep as the holler.

Inspired by the true blue-skinned people of Kentucky and the brave and dedicated Kentucky Pack Horse library service of the 1930s, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a story of raw courage, fierce strength, and one woman’s belief that books can carry us anywhere—even back home.

My Review:

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

In an effort to find a local book club that I could actually attend (preferably during daylight hours), I went back to the one that sets out a book of the month that everyone would read and then hold a discussion. The February read was The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson, released May of last year. The popular book club has met for twenty years.

This was a doozy of a book for my introduction to a live book group. I love it when I learn new things, and this a story in my own country and a state I know little about, except for riding through a portion of it in 2004. Add to boot, a historical fiction–and you know I love those–about the WPA project endorsed by Roosevelt during the depression. The Pack Horse Library Project delivered books to families in the remote areas of the Appalachians between 1935 and 1943, mostly by women. It was isolating and dangerous.

Closed off, desperately poor, with little hope for better times, the families welcomed even the normally shunned blue-skinned Pack House Librarian receiving books, magazines, and old newspapers that had been donated and brought to a central location there to be redistributed among those on her routes, sometimes covering as much as twenty miles. Cussy lived with her father, a miner, with black lung disease. There were many times, failing a family member who could read, she stayed to read to them.

A strongly patriarchal society, her father didn’t like her working, but beginning to fail himself and both of them starving, grudgingly allowed her the job. The book in first person tells the story of herself as well as those on her routes, desperate for any news and help. Those who could, contributed recipes or patterns, items that were added to scrapbooks divided into areas of interest–gardening, maintenance, quilting, etc. Mountain, home-grown remedies. These were extremely remote areas and winter only added to the burden.

So many issues in this book besides prejudice, illiteracy, backwoods justice, starvation, abuse, folklore, and illness. It’s a different culture steeped in tradition. The vernacular puts you on the mule behind Cussy as she winds through narrow canyon trails and heavily wooded landscapes to visit her patrons. There are politics and societal issues and the author deals with many of these through the experience of her own harsh childhood. Her prose strikes more than one cord, “…wailing for Henry and all the Henrys in these dark hollows who’d never be a common grown-up. Stuck forever as Peter Pans.”

“You tell a horse and ask a donkey.”

The conclusion comes rather abruptly after suffering some heartbreaking and brutal scenes, failing to explain a few threads, things I didn’t understand and would have loved an explanation. Extremely well researched, there are scenes drawn in a raw and descriptive manner and I can heartily recommend this unique, compelling novel.

There appears to be an interesting schedule on tap at this location into July and I will be returning in March to share Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan. If you’ve read that, I’d love a heads up on your view. In the meantime, I found another group just starting this month in my area, also an afternoon meeting and I’m currently reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Bet you haven’t read that one either! What have I gotten myself into? I’ll be reviewing that book on Thursday, February 27.

Book Details:

Genre: Southern Fiction, Small Town and Rural Fiction, US Historical Fiction
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
ISBN: 1492671525
ASIN: B07LGD67ZZ
Print Length: 322 pages
Publication Date: May 7, 2019
Source: Third Monday Book Club, Crown Point IN
Title Link: The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
 
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Book Club Rating-Rosepoint Rating

Kim Michele Richardson - authorThe Author: Kim Michele Richardson lives in Kentucky and resides part-time in Western North Carolina. She has volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, building houses, and is an advocate for the prevention of child abuse and domestic violence, partnering with the U.S. Navy globally to bring awareness and education to the prevention of domestic violence. She is the author of the bestselling memoir The Unbreakable Child, and a book critic for the New York Journal of Books. Her novels include, Liar’s Bench, GodPretty in the Tobacco Field and The Sisters of Glass Ferry. Kim Michele currently finished her fourth novel, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek about the fierce and brave Kentucky Packhorse librarians. Coming Spring, 2019.

You can visit her websites and learn more at: http://www.kimmichelerichardson.com

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Photo attributions: Picture backgrounds and open book Canva.com
Book Trailer: YouTube

Black and Blue by David Rosenfelt (Author) Fred Berman (Narrator) – An #Audiobook Review #crimethriller

As promised, Book 3 in the Doug Brock Thriller series. (Hope you didn’t miss my review for number two: Fade to Black!)

Black and Blue by David Rosenfelt

Book Blurb:

Doug Brock hasn’t had it easy since his getting shot in the line of duty as a New Jersey state police officer. Between the amnesia and having to solve two murder cases, it hasn’t been the most restful recovery. 

Now, the cold-case department is checking evidence from a murder case Doug was investigating before the accident, but the DNA points to a man Doug eliminated as a suspect…and he remembers none of it. 

Doug begins to reinvestigate what turns out to be a series of unsolved killings and must retrace his steps to discover why he would have let the suspect go free. What he uncovers may be more dangerous than any case he’s faced yet. 

With Black and Blue, nationally best-selling author David Rosenfelt continues his thrilling new series featuring Doug Brock.

My Review:

As mentioned at my review of Book 2, Fade to Black, here is  #3 of the Doug Brock series, my sampling of a David Rosenfelt series outside of the Andy Carpenter series (which I totally fell in love with and you’ll get many more of those reviews). Doug Brock, a New Jersey state police lieutenant who was shot in the line of duty has returned to work, albeit missing ten years of his memory. He has gotten back together with his former fiancé, Jessie.

Black and Blue by David RosenfeltThis series is more serious in nature and, as I noted before, there were times I didn’t really care for protagonist Brock, although his fiancé, Jessie, is interesting, intelligent, tolerant, and patient. She owns a mountain of a dog named BoBo. Doug and BoBo have a kind of détente. He also is back with partner Nate Alvarez (a mountain of a man), and he and Nate seem to work effectively together, trading barbs from time to time.

Being a serious fan of Andy Carpenter, it was fun that he was incorporated into this storyline (although I wasn’t so thrilled with the person who did the narration for Andy–just not the same beloved voice).

Currently, Doug and Nate are working on a cold case. A dead body, shot through the heart by a high powered rifle. Not the first time this happened since there were more than one and ballistics confirm with the same gun. He was involved with the old case, although with his current condition cannot remember the details and has to go through the files. This isn’t the only problem they’ll have now though as Doug suspicions he may have interviewed him before and let him go.

I really like the series, but let’s face it, I’ve been spoiled by Andy Carpenter. This protagonist is not wholly sympathetic, although I can certainly connect with the support characters and if you aren’t used to the machine-gun hyperbole and tongue-in-cheek humor of that series, would probably find this one quite satisfying–enough male guffawing, sarcastic barbs, back-slapping, and beer to grease the plotline. The well-plotted mystery presents twists, turns, and red herrings, but it’s the characters that keep you reading and David Rosenfelt is great at developing good chemistry in his characters.

The conclusion ties frayed ends together very neatly. This novel could function quite well as a standalone as there are sufficient references to history to fill in the blanks. In any case, I’ll be tuning in to Doug Brock 4. Also, as mentioned before, 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.)

I received this audiobook download from my local library audio selection with no expectation of a review. But, you know I’m going to do it anyway.

Book Details:

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

  • ISBN-10:1250133149
  • ISBN-13:978-1250133144
  • ASIN: B07KRGLYZJ 

Print Length: 304 pages
Listening Length: 6 hrs 22 mins
Narrator: Fred Berman
Publication Date: March 26, 2019
Source: Local (Audiobook Selections) Library
Title Link: Black and Blue
+Add to Goodreads 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 audiobooks, 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

The Lost Boys of London – A Bianca Goddard Mystery (Book 5) by Mary Lawrence – a #BookReview #TuesdayBookBlog

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5-stars

The Lost Boys of London by Mary LawrenceBook Blurb:

In the twilight years of Henry VIII’s reign, alchemist’s daughter Bianca Goddard uses her skills to aid the living, and help seek justice for the dead . . .

While her husband fights the Scots on behalf of King Henry VIII, Bianca Goddard earns her coin by concocting medicines that offer relief to London’s sick. Some unfortunates, however, are beyond any remedies she can provide—like the young boy discovered hanging from a church dripstone. Examining the body, Bianca finds a rosary twisted around the child’s neck. A week later, another boy is found dead at a different church. When Fisk, the impish little son of Bianca’s acquaintance, goes missing, she fears he may become the third victim .

There are many villains who would prey on wayward, penniless boys. But Bianca suspects the killings are not brutal acts of impulse, but something far more calculated. In her room of Medicinals and Physickes she examines the sole piece of evidence: a sweet-smelling, dark-stained cloth. If Bianca can unravel its secret, reputations and lives will be saved. But the expected hour of the next murder is approaching, and a single misstep may mean another boy is lost forever . . .

My Review:

The Alchemist of Lost Souls by Mary LawrenceWhen I received a request to read Book 5 of the Bianca Goddard Mystery Series, The Lost Boys of London, I jumped at the offer. Last year when I read Book 4, The Alchemist of Lost Souls, I knew I had a new go-to author. And this one certainly retains that high standard of Renaissance fascination with the waning days of King Henry VIII and the upheaval in the deeply dividing controversy of church and state.

The Lost Boys of London by Mary LawrenceThe book drips with atmospheric description, turning the nose at the smells of the dark alleyways and watering the eyes. The reader is there in the Dim Dragon Inn, sharing a pint amid the boisterous crowd, the cacophony of ale infused men bidding attention from the barmaids with their swishing skirts and jostling tankard laden trays. The author has the Tudor language down to a gnat’s eyeball. AYE! I’m responding in kind as the dialogue is so immersive in the period!

Bianca is a strong protagonist, existing by her wits and finding ways to keep herself together and continue her work while often wondering about her beloved, thirsting for news–any news–of the men at the front while the reader is sent to the inhospitable winter-time borderlands of Scotland where John Grunt, her husband, is also fighting to stay alive.

But it’s the deaths of young boys that have caught her attention, somehow tied to the churches, and the disappearance of young Fisk. Bianca had planned to employ young Fisk to help search for the plants she uses for her Medicinals. She sells her Medicinals and Physickes through Meddybemps, a streetseller. But worry for Fisk has her ramping up her efforts to solve the mystery of the young boys and she continues her deftly investigation.

While the reader follows Bianca’s investigation, John’s precarious plight takes form. Bianca follows her clues and instincts to flush the antagonist in a heart-pounding climax drawing the reader to a sole satisfying conclusion.

I received this beautiful book from the author in expectation of a review. These are my honest and independent thoughts. If you have interest in historical fiction, this book and series are a must read. You’ll be as enthralled as I. Totally recommended.

Rosepoint Publishing recommended

Book Details:

Genre: Medieval Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, Women Sleuths
Publisher: Kensington Books

  • ISBN-10:1496715330
  • ISBN-13:978-1496715333
  • ASIN: B07TV1FMM7

Print Length: 336 pages
Publication Date: To be released April 28, 2020
Source: Direct Author Request
Title Link: The Lost Boys of London

Book will be available at:

Amazon
Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble

+Add to Goodreads 

Mary Lawrence - authorThe Author: Mary Lawrence is the author of the Bianca Goddard Mysteries. Set in Tudor London in the final years of Henry VIII’s reign, Book I, THE ALCHEMIST’S DAUGHTER, released in April, 2015 and was named by Suspense Magazine a “best historical mystery” in 2015. Book 2, DEATH of an ALCHEMIST released in 2016 and Book 3, DEATH AT ST. VEDAST released in January, 2017. THE ALCHEMIST OF LOST SOULS (May 2020), won a second “Best Of 2019” by Suspense Magazine. THE LOST BOYS OF LONDON releases May 2020 from Kensington Books.

Mary grew up in Indiana and moved to Maine after completing a degree in cytotechnology. She has worked in hospitals and labs and written indexes for several small publishers. Recently she started a berry farm in southern Maine with her husband. She is an avid reader of historical fiction and nonfiction and concentrates on Tudor/Elizabethan history. Her articles have appeared in several publications most notably, The Daily Beast.

(From Goodreads Author’s Profile) The Bianca Goddard mysteries are meant to entertain and to engage readers who might not pick up period historicals as a first choice. The Tudor era is an intriguing period, full of superstition, and the makings for interesting characters. Believe me, my books have a lot more personality than this author profile.

Check me out on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/marylawrence…
Twitter  @mel59lawrence
Visit her at http://www.marylawrencebooks.com

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Author’s Photos from Amazon and Goodreads

The Angel’s Trumpet: Nineteenth Century Historical Legal Thriller and Mystery (Portia of the Pacific Book 4) by James Musgrave – A #BookReview

An Historical Legal Thriller review by the CE.

The Angel's Trumpet by James MusgraveBook Blurb:

An 1887 Handmaid Gets Her Revenge in This Superb Historical Legal Thriller and Mystery

Author Margaret Atwood creates a dystopian future in The Handmaid’s Tale.  James Musgrave’s sexist dystopia is based on fact.  

Attorney Clara Foltz’s California legal team is chosen by President Grover Cleveland to defend a mulatto suffragette who has assassinated his Supreme Court nominee, Justice Marshal Owens.  When her client is found dead in the jail cell, the hunt begins for the killer.

“James Musgrave’s The Angel’s Trumpet is one of those rare historical mysteries that is both entirely plausible and yet truly original.   A richly researched adventure into the complex social web of Gilded Age Washington, featuring deeply-realized and re-imagined luminaries including actress Sarah Bernhardt and President and Mrs. Cleveland, the novel is also surprisingly modern in its sensibilities, a compelling romp into an earlier era’s struggle with addiction and vice and secrecy and race relations, and, most of all, hidden sources of power.  You will read this book in one sitting–and you will be very glad that you did.  A meticulously-plotted gem from a master of the genre.”   Jacob M. Appel, author of the Dundee International Book Award winner, The Man Who Wouldn’t Stand Up.

His Review:

The Angel's Trumpet by James MusgraveExplore late 19th Century life in our nation’s capital in this intriguing mystery. Grover Cleveland and his young wife are intricately involved in the plot. When a young woman stabs to death a Supreme Court nominee and waits to watch him die, the intrigue expands.

Clara Shortridge Foltz is chosen to defend the killer who is caught red-handed with her hand on the knife. Immediately the question of why comes to mind: Clara is described as a three-time loser in defending clients. Should be an open and shut case then, right?

Add in other historical figures from this time period including the Divine Ms. Sarah Bernhardt and Susan B. Anthony and the narrative becomes a political basketball.

Enjoy a ride through the Suffragette movement, the kidnapping of a President’s wife and a sinister plot to destroy evidence and the defendants, and you have a real page-turner. Washington, DC during this time period was certainly not a place you would want to live!

The characters are well developed and exhibit independence of character clearly missing in many women of that time period. They are looked down upon by most of the males in this book. Washington DC is described as a place where a negro needed to go if they wanted to succeed. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court is declaring some legislation unconstitutional to reverse desegregation legislation during the post-civil war era.

CE WilliamsThe end product is a microcosm of the problems facing the population during that time period. Many of those problems still linger today but it is a pleasure to revisit that era and reinspect the issues.

We received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley in anticipation of an honest review and these are my independent opinions. 5/5 stars CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Legal Thrillers, African American Mystery, Thriller, and Suspense, Assassination Thriller
Publisher: EMRE Publishing

  • ISBN-10:1943457395
  • ISBN-13:978-1943457397
  • ASIN: B07XGDB4KX

Print Length: 202 pages
Publication Date: January 1, 2020
Source: Local (Audiobook Selections) Library
Title Link: The Angel’s Trumpet
Find the Angel’s Trumpet at:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
IndieBound.org

+Add to Goodreads 

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5-stars

James Musgrave - authorThe Author: James Musgrave was born in Fall River, Massachusetts. He taught as a Professor of English and worked as a Supervisor, Management Development at Caltech, Pasadena and at various San Diego colleges. He is now the author and publisher at EMRE Publishing, LLC in San Diego. He has won many writing awards, and his mysteries are “featured selections” by the American Library Association. He was also a Finalist in the Bram Stoker Awards, First Place Award for Best Historical Mystery in the Chanticleer International Book Awards, and a Finalist in the Heekin Fellowship.

Please contact the author at: jamesmusgrave2122@att.net
Sign-up for the Author’s Newsletter at: emrepublishing.com

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree by Michael McLellan – a #BookReview

A Review by the CE of this gripping and powerfully written historical novel.

In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree by Michael A McLellanBook Blurb:

Born into slavery, Henry’s young life is spent working in tobacco drying sheds on Missouri plantations. Freed at the onset of the Civil War, he’s alone, starving, and on the run from Confederate militiamen.

Five years later, Clara Hanfield, the daughter of a powerful New York shipping magnate, escapes her tyrannical father and travels west in pursuit of John Elliot, the man she loves. John, a U.S. Army lieutenant, was sent to the Dakota Territory where he discovers a government conspiracy to incite an all-out war with the Indians; a war meant to finally eliminate them as an obstacle to the westward expansion.

Henry finds himself caught in the middle.

Aided by Clara, John, and his native ally, Standing Elk, Henry must battle hatred, greed, and the ghosts of his past during this turbulent and troubling time in American history.

His Review:

In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree by Michael A McLellanBeing awarded your freedom papers did not make you free!  Marauders often caught young freed slaves, destroyed their papers and sold them back into slavery. The culprits were depraved and vicious in the treatment of the liberated.

Henry is born into slavery but given his freedom by his former master. He is not illiterate and some of his crimes include being able to read and write. His childhood sweetheart is attempting to escape with him but is caught and ultimately killed by the marauders. Heartbroken, Henry continues to head north in an attempt to escape their net.

The Native Americans of the Dakota territories are portrayed much more humane and sympathetic than the post Civil War population of middle America. Henry’s life is saved by these people and ultimately learns their language and ways of life. He becomes a scout for the US Army because of his ability to liaison and speak many languages.

Clara Hanfield and John Elliot, are a young couple in love trying to create a life together in the wild west. He has been shipped off, however, by Clara’s father from the military academy at West Point to Fort Laramie. Money and power have always separated lovers as well as the classes. Clara’s father is despotic and determined that his daughter not continue a relationship with John and seeks to destroy the relationship. Her father tries to send her to Pennsylvania. She convinces her escort instead to take her to out west to find John.

Eventually, all paths cross and John takes a sympathetic tack for the Indians he has comes to respect. Henry is intelligent and educated and is immensely empathetic. The storyline is immersive, capturing the emotions and ramping up the tension to the heartrending and poignant conclusion. CE Williams

We received this beautiful book from the author with the expectation of a review and these are my own opinions. I would read another by this author and this one is highly recommended. 5/5 Stars CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Fiction, African Historical Fiction, War and Military Action Historical  Fiction

  • ISBN-10:1096423510
  • ISBN-13:978-1096423515
  • ASIN: B07RB7RHJW

Print Length: 269 pages
Publication Date: April 29, 2019
Source: Direct Author Request
Title Link: In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree
+Add to Goodreads 

Rosepoint Publishing: Five of Five Stars 5-stars

Michael A McLellan - authorThe Author: Michael‘s love of books began with Beverly Cleary’s The Mouse and the Motorcycle when he was seven-years-old. Later influenced by the works of John Steinbeck, Harper Lee, Stephen King, James Baldwin, and Cormac McCarthy, Michael developed his style of storytelling. A self-proclaimed blue-collar writer, he draws on his experiences and observations to bring relevant and compelling topics to life.

Michael lives in Northern California and when he’s not writing, he can usually be found wandering around the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges.

His body of work includes the 2014 novel After and Again, the 2015 novel American Flowers, and the 2017 novel, In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree, as well as various shorts and essays.

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

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

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

The Master's Apprentice by Oliver PotzschBook Blurb:

A young man’s destined quest becomes a dance with the devil in a mesmerizing retelling of the Faust legend by the bestselling author of the Hangman’s Daughter Tales series.

It’s the fifteenth century and only heretics are curious about the universe.

Germany, 1494. Born under a rare alignment of the stars, Johann Georg Gerlach, “the lucky one” to his mother—is fated for greatness. But Johann’s studies and wonder at the sky have made him suspect. Especially in wake of the child disappearances that have left the God-fearing locals trembling and his one true love trapped in terrified catatonia. Her only words: “I have seen the devil…”

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

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

His Review:

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

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

Print Length: 475+ pages
Publication Date: To be released April 28, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Master’s Apprentice
+Add to Goodreads 

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5-stars

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

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

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

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
+Add to Goodreads 

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

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

Statue of Limitations by Kate Collins

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

Book Details

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

Book Blurb

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

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

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

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

…Uh oh…

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

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

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

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

His Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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Giveaway

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

About the Author

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

Author Links

Website http://www.katecollinsbooks.com/

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

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

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

Tour Participants:

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

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

©2020 V Williams

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

A Secret History of Witches by Louisa Morgan – An #Audiobook Review

Audiobook Review

Book Blurb:

A sweeping historical saga that traces five generations of fiercely powerful mothers and daughters — witches whose magical inheritance is both a dangerous threat and an extraordinary gift.
Brittany, 1821.
 After Grand-mère Ursule gives her life to save her family, their magic seems to die with her.
Even so, the Orchires fight to keep the old ways alive, practicing half-remembered spells and arcane rites in hopes of a revival. And when their youngest daughter comes of age, magic flows anew.
The lineage continues, though new generations struggle not only to master their power, but also to keep it hidden.
But when World War II looms on the horizon, magic is needed more urgently than ever – not for simple potions or visions, but to change the entire course of history.

My Review:

A Secret History of Witches by Louisa MorganSwept up in Nanettte’s story, the first of the Orchiére line to relate her story of the traveller or gypsy family of Romani, the tale then progresses through successive daughters and their stories. It is a gift that manifests more in some than others of the line, and while each gift may vary, the necessity of keeping the gift secret does not.

The novel divides into five sections from Nanette to Ursule, Irene, Morwen, and lastly Veronica during WWII.

There is a grimoire and scrying stone handed down to each generation, diligently kept hidden and their secrets only revealed at the time of puberty and sometimes in surprising fashion. There is a marked difference between how a couple of the witches received her powers and how she handled the gift.

Some of the witches were well-developed enough to either earn empathy or apathy. They weren’t bad or wicked, just not as benign as the others merely trying to exist without exposure. It was the story to be told, rather than the description or fleshing of the woman. But, of course, each was to find a mate (whether or not for love), and each of the women was strong-willed and shrewd. Their men either loved and supported them, knew of their powers, or not and several of the male support characters were fleshed sympathetically.

I enjoyed getting to know each of the witches in turn, their time and story in history and the evolution of the line. I was following the fantasy well until it became necessary to push back some hefty disbelief in the final story–that of Veronica during WWII. The storyline, of course, does not disclose a secret history of witchcraft in general, rather than of this particular line.

The conclusion came at a juncture I felt made sense, although left a few issues unresolved and seemed the obvious step into a successive book. I suspect the narrator of this very long audiobook made it a great deal shorter than if I’d read it. She rolled the language beautifully off her tongue and made the whole story dance in the minds’ eye as if it were a kaleidoscope. (I heartily recommend the audiobook version!)

I received this audiobook through my favorite local library and greatly appreciated the opportunity to get to know the author’s style of writing and look forward to delving into another. (I picked this one up specifically because I also requested and received The Age of Witches from NetGalley.) Now I just have to figure out if I’ve ever had a “familiar” but I don’t think so. At least I don’t have to worry about being burned at the stake.

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Italian Fiction, Alternate History Science Fiction, 20th Century Historical Romance, World War II Historical Fiction
Publisher: Hackette Audio

  • ISBN-10:0316508586
  • ISBN-13:978-0316508582

ASIN: B0758FWQKW
Print Length: 496 pages
Listening Length: 17 hrs 33  mins
Narrator: Polly Lee
Publication Date: September 5, 2017
Source: Local (Audiobook Selections) Library
Title Link: A Secret History of Witches

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4-stars

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

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

The Poison of War by Jennifer Leeper – a CE #BookReview – Two-Hour #mysterythriller

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5-stars

The Poison of War by Jennifer LeeperBook Blurb:

Two Mexican drug smugglers are murdered on Native American soil and the only clues left behind are two single arrowheads in this compelling page-turner of tribal secrets and distrust at the border.

When detective Frank Silva of the Tohono O’odham Nation arrived at the scene of the crime he immediately feared his investigation would require him to turn inward—to his own people—in search of the killer.

A complex web of lies, love and intrigue in the heart of the reservation pulls readers into a place and time in limbo straddling the U.S.-Mexican border which is struggling to retain its heritage and independence.

Two maverick detectives form an intriguing team trusting each other with not only their lives, but with the fate of the Tohono O’odham Nation in the crime mystery.

The Poison of War, from award-winning author Jennifer Leeper, highlights the Tohono O’odham reservation’s evolving struggle against Mexican cartels and their friction with border agents who hold the line stretching across the middle of the reservation.

The novella’s setting of the American Southwest, particularly on a Native American reservation, and the style and cultural background of the detective protagonist draw resemblances to Tony Hillerman’s works including Dance Hall of the Dead and The Blessing Way.

For fans of Leeper’s work and fortuitous newcomers, The Poison of War is a stunning tale that highlights timely issues of the U.S.-Mexico border, immigration, drug trafficking and the reservation culture of the Tohono O’odham tribe.

His Review:

The Poison of War by Jennifer LeeperSolving two murders with old technology in the desert southwest is not easy. The native people in this area have lived here for centuries. There were no borders that defined their nation until recently. Jennifer pulls together the problem of drug running across native ancestral lands with no regard to the culture and the people who live there.

Frank Silva is a half-breed who is charged with protecting the land and solving a double murder.
A defunct “Indian Casino” is a beacon for the transfer of illegal drugs. The drug runners are ruthless.

In a land of cacti and wildflowers where does the detective begin? Jennifer pulls the narrative together in a very exciting way. Even footprints do not show up in this desolate landscape. And yet the crime has to be solved.
The result is a masterfully devised series of steps taken to finally find the killer. The narrative is fast-moving and never drags. It is a mystery lovers’ handbook for solving crime in the most desolate areas in the Southwest United States.

We received this digital download from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I can heartily recommend.

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Book Details:

Genre: Native American Literature, Two-Hour Mystery-Thriller-Suspense, Vigilante Justice
Publisher: Prensa Press

  • ISBN-10:1733240209
  • ISBN-13:978-1733240208
  • ASIN: B081BB1HRK

Print Length: 67 pages
Publication Date: November 19, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Poison of War

Jennifer Leeper - authorThe Author: Jennifer Leeper is an award-winning fiction author whose previous or forthcoming publications credits include Independent Ink Magazine, The Stone Hobo, Poiesis, Every Day Fiction, Aphelion Webzine, Heater Magazine, Cowboy Jamboree, The New Engagement, Alaska Quarterly Review, Falling Star Magazine and The Liguorian. She has had works published by J. Burrage Publications, Hen House Press, Inwood Indiana Press, Alternating Current Press, Barking Rain Press, Whispering Prairie Press, and Spider Road Press.
Ms. Leeper’s novella, The Poison of War, published through Prensa Press, spotlights the landscape of the American Southwest and Native American culture through this murder mystery that brings to the fore timely issues of the U.S.-Mexico border, immigration, drug trafficking and the reservation culture of the Tohono O’odham tribe of southern Arizona. The region carries special meaning for Ms. Leeper as she lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico as a child and even though she currently lives in Kansas City, the spirit of the Southwest region continues to shape her writing.

CE Williams - co-reviewer

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
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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.

A Cry in the Night (Detective Jessica Daniel thriller series Book 15 by Kerry Wilkinson – a #BookReview #thriller

A Cry in the Night by Kerry WilkinsonBook Blurb:

‘Mom?’ The word caught in the boy’s throat. She didn’t try to speak, didn’t roll towards him. She didn’t move at all.

In the middle of the night, fourteen-year-old Samuel is woken by the sound of a terrified scream from the kitchen of his home on a quiet street. The police – finding him sobbing on the kitchen floor, cradling his mother’s lifeless body – hit a dead end before the investigation has even begun: because although he witnessed the murder, Samuel is blind.

But when Detective Jessica Daniel meets the boy, the way he uses just his sense of sound to accurately locate her hand to shake it convinces her that this clever young teenager could hold the key to the entire case. Her team disagrees, but Jessica will do whatever it takes to get justice for the innocent.

Samuel’s description of an intruder he heard walking with a limp leads Jessica to an isolated seaside town, where a well-liked local man has been missing for days. Breaking into his house, Jessica finds him lying flat on the bed, a bullet wound under his chin.

Digging into the victim’s work records, Jessica uncovers a secret he shared with Samuel’s mother, and it’s clear she was terrified for her son’s safety. As Jessica pushes the boundaries to get closer to the truth, her most trusted colleague warns that she needs to watch her step… but Jessica won’t stop until she’s found the killer. Her career may be on the line, but so is Samuel’s life.

An absolutely unputdownable thriller, packed with twists and turns, perfect for fans of Robert Dugoni, Rachel Caine and Kendra Elliot. A Cry in the Night is just one of the many page-turning reads in the Jessica Daniel series. Each can be read as a standalone.

My Review:

I really like Jessica Daniel. She feels genuine. She pushes boundaries, has her gains and losses, but is generally an efficient detective inspector who gets her man (or woman, as the case may be). She reminds me somewhat of the character Danny in Blue Bloods–edgy but effective. It may be her droll sense of humor, that biting wit, that lightens the sensitive issues, but she can usually detect the line drawn that shouldn’t be crossed.

A Cry in the Night by Kerry WilkinsonIn Book 15, there is a blind fourteen-year old who “witnesses” the violent death of his mother. He is a keen observant who uses echolocation that helps him share the scene with the police. While Jessica had not actually seen the phenomenon before and has some misgivings as to how accurately his descriptions are, she is nonetheless impressed.

There is also something else, unrelated to the cases she and partner Detective Constable Archie Davey are handling. Archie is acting weird, causing tension between the two of them, blowing hot and cold. What is going on with him?!

Author Wilkinson weaves a clever, suspense-driven and well-plotted storyline focusing on Jessica and investigation progress, but again, for me, it’s the characters and the free and easy prose-filled descriptions given to them as well as the people of Manchester that drive the story. The banter between characters lends the authentic feeling of overhearing their actual dialogue. The depiction of Grimsby is priceless. (My grandfather spent a year fishing with the men there and dedicated his book Sons of the Sea to them.)

The conclusion results in a mixed bag of explanations, anxiety, and strongly hints at the story arc for Book 16, along with cliffhanging situations that resulted in my going back to see if I’d missed a page, that last one being so abrupt. The cliffhanger is a douzy and while this one may function fine as a standalone, you may wish to get this one for sure so you will be ready for Book 16.

I was given this digital download by the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. I really enjoy this series, love these characters, and now anxiously looking forward to Book 16…what happens??!

Book Details:

Genre: Financial Thrillers, Heist Thrillers, Crime Thrillers
Publisher: Bookouture
ASIN: B081753ZP4
Print Length: 356 pages
Publication Date: To be released January 15, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: A Cry in the Night

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

Kerry Wilkinson - authorThe Author: Kerry Wilkinson has had No.1 crime bestsellers in the UK, Australia, Canada, South Africa and Singapore. He has also written two top-20 thrillers in the United States. His book, Ten Birthdays, won the RNA award for Young Adult Novel of the Year in 2018.

As well as his million-selling Jessica Daniel series, Kerry has written the Silver Blackthorn trilogy – a fantasy-adventure serial for young adults – a second crime series featuring private investigator Andrew Hunter, plus numerous standalone novels. He has been published around the world in more than a dozen languages.

Originally from the county of Somerset, Kerry has spent far too long living in the north of England, picking up words like ‘barm’ and ‘ginnel’.

When he’s short of ideas, he rides his bike, hikes up something, or bakes cakes. When he’s not, he writes it all down.

Recent and upcoming UK releases:
The Unlucky Ones (Jessica Daniel 14): 9 July 2019
Close To You: 17 October 2019
A Cry In The Night (Jessica Daniel 15): 15 Jan 2020

Find out more at: http://kerrywilkinson.com or http://facebook.com/KerryWilkinsonBooks

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Bucket’s Brigade (A Charley Field Victorian Mystery Book 2) by Gary Blackwood – a #BookReview #historicalfiction

First Book Review of the Year!

Bucket's Brigade by Gary BlackwoodBook Blurb:

The dauntless Inspector Charley Field, protagonist of “Bucket’s List” and inspiration for Dickens’ Inspector Bucket, is relishing the newfound success of his private enquiry agency. But success isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Instead of the minor-league mysteries he’s accustomed to–lost dogs and fake accident victims and such–he’s begun to attract some cases that are very high profile . . . not to mention dangerous.

For example, there’s the matter of Alfred Twickham, only son of railroad magnate Sir Roger Twickham. Kidnapped as a child and given up for dead, Alfred has struggled for decades to survive in the gold fields of Australia. Now he’s resurfaced in London, determined to claim his inheritance. Charley is asked to investigate the man by his friend Miss Treville, the young and attractive newspaper reporter, who claims that Alfred is an impostor and an all-round unpleasant bloke. And it begins to look as if she’s right—especially when she mysteriously disappears.

As Charley tries desperately to find her and to get the goods on Alfred, he’s sidetracked by several other troublemakers: a theatre manager who steals plays from authors (including the soon-to-be-famous Wilkie Collins); a philandering husband with a gypsy girlfriend; and an acid-throwing villain who preys on prostitutes and actresses. To make matters worse, Charley’s wife has become hooked on McMunn’s Elixir, a patent medicine that consists largely of opium.

Many of the secondary characters from the first novel make a return appearance in “Bucket’s Brigade”: the naive but eager Constable Mull; the former counterfeiter known as The Scarecrow; the alluring but untrustworthy Julia Fairweather; the winsome orphan, Audrey–and, of course, the Great Man himself, Mr. Dickens.

My Thoughts

My first review of the year and it’s a historical fiction novel! And a douzy at that! I can’t imagine the time spent on research, but it shows.

Bucket's Brigade by Gary BlackwoodThis one gets right back into the Dickensonian era, that famous English author of the Victorian times. The former Inspector Charley Field is no longer an Inspector but head of his own private inquiry agency. He was dealing with penny-ante stuff which has now escalated into more challenging cases. And these are as widely varied as he could hope for. But are they all solvable?

Charley Field is indefinable, somewhat middle-aged, and a former pugilist. Not like he’s gotten soft, more like he’s just slowed somewhat. What we do know is that he’s in a marriage now more convenient than lusty and that he cultivated a range of contacts very helpful in his former official position. His reputation exceeds him and he doesn’t mind still being thought an inspector.

This is not the dedicated kind of mystery you might expect, but a list of pointed investigations that will keep him and his (new) associate busy, some of which pay better than others. And the stilted ole English vernacular is rather off-putting–at first. Then, for some unfathomable reason, becomes delightful and a full smorgasbord of Victorian words, sayings, habits, along with an immersive peek into Victorian London, right down to the moral attitude of the period. Charley’s alter ego, Inspector Bucket (of Dickens fame), often rules the moment. Some of the sporting activities were…GROSS (rat-baiting??!)

At conclusion, does the wily PI put more checks in the win column than the “List of Wrongdoers Who Got Away?” Ooh, there are several in that column, including the person who peddled that elixir to his wife. The dialogue is a hoot, give it a chance. The characters are not wholly fleshed. I suspect we’ll learn more in Book 3, but Charley Field is a delightful and interesting, engaging protagonist and leads a well-plotted multi-layered mystery that is sure to keep your interest. My only problem was the uneven formatting.

I received this digital download directly from the author and enjoyed the read. Recommended for any who enjoys historical fiction in a complex and unusual presentation of jargon. Among the prose, it’ll bring you a few chuckles and memorable terms and phrases along with some history. (Thinking I won’t soon forget that slap-bang was an original term for what sounds to me like fast food. Loved it!)

His Thoughts

Crime is rampant in the late 1800s in England. Former police inspector Charlie Field opens a detective agency after leaving the police force. He is approached by young and attractive damsels in distress. They need his help to ally suspicions concerning their relationships. Add in an acid throwing maniac and you have the makings of a very entertaining novel.

Widows, some very young, are left with fortunes by older and recently deceased husbands. A remarkable group of miscreants attempt to separate them from their inheritance. One is a long-lost son who has come back from Australia to claim his birthright. Having left home at an early age it is hard to prove his actual identity.

This author handles these and a myriad of other situations in a very entertaining manner. The attempt at writing as if from a different era made parts of the book a bit tedious, however, that was overcome with a very intricate plot. It is fun to read. 4 stars CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Mystery
ASIN: B0813XMJN2
Print Length: 342 pages
Publication Date: November 5, 2019
Source: Direct author request
Title Link: Bucket’s Brigade

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

Gary Blackwood - authorThe Author: Gary Blackwood has published 35 novels and nonfiction books for young readers and most notably The Shakespeare Stealer (Dutton) which was on the American Library Association’s list of Notable Books and Best Books for Young Adults and has been translated into numerous other languages. He only recently crossed over into adult books with Bucket’s List, the first Charley Field mystery.  I’m also a widely produced playwright.  I grew up in Pennsylvania and moved around a lot before setting down on the beautiful North Shore of Nova Scotia.

©2019 V Williams V Williams