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

Rosepoint Publishing: Five of Five Stars Five Stars

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

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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Book Details:

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

  • ASIN : B08BG61CVC

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

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

 

Lynda McDaniel - author
Lynda McDaniel

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

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

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

Longmire audiobook vs Netflix blog banner

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

An Obvious Fact-Book Blurb:

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

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

Audiobook

An Obvious Fact by Craig Johnson a Longmire Mystery

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

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

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

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

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

Netflix Longmire Series

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

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

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

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

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

Overall Impression

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

Rosepoint Publishing recommended

Book Details:

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

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

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

#ThrowbackThursday – A Life for a Life: A Mystery Novel (Appalachian Mountain Mysteries Book 1) by Lynda McDaniel – #mystery

#ThrowbackThursday - A Life for a Life by Lynda McDaniel

Back when #ThrowbackThursday was a popular meme, I joined with a number of others to highlight an old favorite that was published over a year ago. Good books never get old! (Some authors don’t either!) Many of my #TBT posts included reviews predating this blog and were only shared on Goodreads.

Many of the posts included my favorite authors, but there were also Indie authors and novels that were direct author requests. This is one such book originally released August 15, 2016.

After I read the prequel to this series recently, I thought I’d share that as well as the review I posted for A Life for a Life posted back on January 20, 2019, also reviewed on Goodreads. Ms. McDaniel consistently runs an average 4.5 stars for her books sold on Amazon.

 

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Review Prequel – Waiting for You

[Author’s Note: I’ve pulled back the curtain on Abit’s and Della’s lives before they meet in Laurel Falls, N.C. Find out how Abit lost all hope of having a meaningful life and why Della had to leave Washington, D.C.]​​

My Thoughts:

Waiting For You (Appalachian Mountain Mysteries Prequel) by Lynda McDaniel It was so much fun to get into the prequel and discover the why and how of Abit. Like so many deemed “slow,” he has an amazing ability to think in the now and discern people in an uncommon way. He may be “a bit” simple, but he’s not stupid and don’t ever think he doesn’t understand. He does. But it may not be the same way you do.

Protagonist Della Kincaid is a former DC reporter who fled from a failed marriage, years of tension, deadlines, and subtly veiled threats regarding her stories. She is longing for a less demanding way of life in 1984 and when she spotted the “for sale” sign on the General Store in Laurel Falls, decided she’d found it.

Young Abit sorta came with the package. His old cane chair was a fixture on the front porch of the country store and he knew all the customers by name. His dad had previously owned the store.

Tiny Laurel Falls quickly becomes a character by itself, tucked into the Appalachians. Della knows very little about running a general store, but she aims to provide a personal touch. And she can write anywhere.

Start with the prequel–it’s free! It’s written in an easy-folksy style, fast read, and leave you wanting to get into Book 1, which I highly recommend!

Murder Ballad Blues - a Mystery Novel - Lynda McDanielMs. McDaniel will release Murder Ballad Blues, Book 4 of the series on September 15. It is available on pre-order now at Amazon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Dangerous Pursuits (A Hazel Best & Gabriel Ash Mystery Book 7) by Jo Bannister – a #BookReview – Traditional Detective Mystery

Book Blurb:

Dangerous Pursuits by Jo BannisterWhen Gabriel Ash comes across a terrified young woman fleeing a brutal attacker, he and Hazel Best are drawn into a complex and baffling investigation.

Rachel Somers, running . . . Something appalling happened in the wood. When Gabriel Ash and his dog come to her aid, she thinks she’s safe. But this is Norbold, where things aren’t always as they seem.

Detective Chief Inspector Gorman thinks this is his worst nightmare: a predatory paedophile who’s prepared to kill rather than be taken. Constable Hazel Best thinks she’s helping both the Somers family and her friend Ash, but her tendency to follow her heart rather than her orders is about to get her into trouble again. And the people of Norbold have noticed that descriptions of the attacker, sketchy as they are, fit Ash better than they fit anyone else.

With panic stalking the town, DCI Gorman needs to make an arrest before more young girls are attacked, before someone else dies, before the vigilantes who burned Ash’s shop decide to burn him too. But the parameters keep shifting, and almost none of the facts he’s relying on will turn out to be true. The solution to the mystery is more shocking, and more tragic, than even these three could have imagined.

My Review:

Obviously, I’ve been living under a rock, as Dangerous Pursuits and this series is my introduction to the author and I gotta say, why haven’t I seen these books before?!

Before I get too crazy on just how much I enjoyed the metaphors and similes (mostly the latter) and that Irish sense of humor, I must not miss mentioning the actual mystery in the premise, which is a serious one.

“…you know what a mob is, don’t you? It’s a group of people whose IQ is in inverse proportion to its size.”

“The only difference between a teenage girl and a viper is eye shadow.”

“…thought there was more dignity in jumping than waiting to be pushed.”

Ooh! So this is character-driven or plot-driven? I read it and I don’t know.

Dangerous Pursuits by Jo Bannister cover with picture of Patience, the white lurkerYou can’t discount these main characters. Constable Hazel Best and Gabriel Ash (second-hand bookseller in his shop Rambles With Books) perfectly complement each other despite the difference in age and just about every other thing going. Gabriel, after all, has a dog he named Patience (the white lurker) who talks back to him. Not unusual, you say, most people talk to their animals. But no, I’m not talking as in anthropomorphic, I’m talking English. Of course, no one but Gabriel can hear her.

This is a well-plotted and fast-paced mystery and the mystery never leaves center stage while carefully involving the characters from the offices of DCI Gorman and the other close contacts owing to Constable Best. Chewing on the lack of clues, they bounce one theory after another off each other. And just when you think you can see where this is obviously going, there’s another twist.

These two main characters are immensely engaging and the author’s writing style entertaining and immersive. This is an easy and comfortable book to take your time and enjoy or gobble up and enjoy the chuckles between the occasional serious contemplative philosophical hypotheses. Dialogue is typical English, introducing me to some new terms I’ve not seen before in UK books.

The conclusion is one you’ve seen coming, but denied, hoping it wasn’t so. A familiar theme but one we must keep seeing. Such an important, and topical, concept. Still, it’s been a delightful ride and I can’t wait for the next. Heartily recommended.

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Book Details:

Genre: Traditional Detective Mystery, Police Procedural
Publisher: Severn House Publishers
ASIN: B086TZD71B
Print Length: 240 pages
Publication Date: To be released July 1, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Pre-Order Links:

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble

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

Jo Bannister - authorThe Author: [Goodreads] Jo Bannister lives in Northern Ireland, where she worked as a journalist and editor on local newspapers. Since giving up the day job, her books have been shortlisted for a number of awards. Most of her spare time is spent with her horse and dog, or clambering over archaeological sites. She is currently working on a new series of psychological crime/thrillers.

©2020 V Williams – V Williams

Kelegeen by Eileen O’Finlan #BlogTour #BookReview #Giveaway

I am delighted today to provide a review for you at my blog stop for Kelegeen by Eileen O’Finlan on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. Scroll down to enter your chance to win the Giveaway!

kelegeeen-banner

Book Details

Kelegeen
Historical Fiction
Publisher: BWL Publishing Inc. (March 1, 2018)
Paperback: 433 pages
ISBN-10: 0228600294
ISBN-13: 978-0228600299
Kindle ASIN: B07B52K2TB

Book Blurb 

Ireland 1846 

Meg O’Connor, daughter of poor Irish cottiers, eagerly anticipates her wedding to Rory Quinn.  Her dreams of marriage and family vanish along with Ireland’s potato crop when Kelegeen’s inhabitants awaken one morning to find their sole source of food destroyed by blight.

At first Meg and Rory are able to use their skills, hers of sewing and his of wood carving, to provide for themselves and their families.  But tragedy and a costly mistake end those means of survival forcing them into more dangerous ventures.

As An Gorta Mór, the Great Hunger, continues to churn through Ireland ravaging the country’s peasantry with no let up in sight, Meg is compelled to make the most difficult decision of her life.  What she chooses could be the salvation of the O’Connor and Quinn families or it could separate her forever from all she knows and loves.

My Thoughts

I love the cover, the premise, and always a good historical novel. Of course, my grandfather, bless his blatherskite heart, claimed a connection to Cork. I think most have heard of the Great Potato Famine of Ireland between 1846 and 1849, as it certainly led to a large population of immigrants to America. But that was never the whole story. There was something even darker than the blight growing in the background.

As crops failed because of the blight, people began running out of food. The potato crop meant sustenance through the ensuing winter. But failing their normal stores of food meant people scrambling to find work to buy what they could with pennies for wages. It would appear, however, that the English began a systematic effort at thinning the Irish population. They took the land and became unrepentant landlords, evicting the occupants and destroying the cottages, boycotting stores of food sent by other populations, and placing a tax which starving populations had no way of paying.

This novel focuses mainly on two families, the O’Connors and the Quinn’s, along with priest Father O’Malley. There are certainly other families playing support roles in various forms, from the family of the town drunk to the family who fails to lend to neighbors, zealously guarding anything they were able to hoard. Others became susceptible to diseases that starvation promotes and quickly the casualties of their small community. Meg O’Connor and Rory Quinn are looking forward to a wedding when the famine hits, delaying nuptials. Quinn’s family runs the worst of bad luck and soon the craft Rory was using to bring in money is squashed, literally, with his hand.

There is no light at the end of the tunnel here–the famine continues through one winter and growing season after another, soon forcing activities none would have thought capable.

KelegeenThe character of Father O’Malley is exceptional. He is well developed and so completely sympathetic you want to cry with him when he must perform Last Rites. He seems to have an inexhaustible fortitude and always goes out of his way to care for his parishioners. Meg is a scrapper. Seems she can manage whatever the heinous task she must perform, along with her mother who steadfastly teaches by example and holds the family together.

Along comes an English doctor. I kept waiting for his other shoe to drop. It appeared to me he was trying too hard to be accepted by the Irish in his territory and I wondered what mischief he could heap on those willing patients.

Meg eventually decides that she must go to America. There is jobs, money, opportunity and she’ll send money home hopefully to be able to reunite with Rory, which whom she is committed in a rather ingenious way, I thought.

I was left trying to figure out where Kelegeen is located. I would have loved descriptions of the town and people. The Catholic priest at the forefront commanded a great deal of philosophy and had me wanting to light a candle for him but the narrative might have been tightened or shortened somewhat, generating a faster pace. It certainly pointed out issues over-riding the major problem (that of the blight) exacerbating the tragedy (the English). It was well-plotted, highly researched, and detailed.

For the sensitive, the conclusion is emotional, wringing out all the poignant issues of pushing off to the unknown, leaving loved ones behind. I received this digital download from the publisher for this Great Escapes Book Tour. It’s powerful and recommended.

His Thoughts

Truly a masterpiece of historical representation! War is not the only way to defeat a people. The Romans did it at Masada by isolating the Jews and starving them out. The Irish were starved and nearly wiped out by a famine exacerbated by lack of support and a naval blockade of Irish ports.  An import fee was charged at the British ports even on charitable foodstuffs for the victims. Thus, we have this tragic expose of the plight of hundreds of thousands of Irish men, women, and children unfold.

A terrible attack was waged against the Catholic religion when Henry the Eighth persecuted the church and its’ clergy.  Many priests and bishops were killed or exiled. Whole communities were decimated by an English aristocracy with cold and calculated barbarism. A potato famine yielded little or no food for the tenant farmers. However, the citizens had to pay a rental fee every six months for land that had been confiscated by the British. If the rent was not paid their small bungalows were destroyed following eviction. At times 10 or 12 people occupied the house with their animals and all their meager belongings.

This book chronicles the lives and trials of a young couple and their families in these tragic times. Most neighbors were happy to help others when they had the ability. Having a house with many small children and mouths to feed makes for extreme hardship. The parish priest does his best to help assuage the suffering and comfort his people. Some of the men turned to drink to help forget their inability to provide for their wives and children.

CE WilliamsEscaping to America and Australia were sometimes the only way to help families at home. Getting the small fee for passage often took food out of the mouths of the family. The mental toll on the families and priests tasked with their spiritual well-being was beyond heartbreaking.

This book is not easy to read, but understanding of that difficult time is truly eye-opening. Prepare to love the characters and pray for the souls lost in this tragedy. 5 stars – C.E. Williams

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Giveaway

Sign up for your chance to win one (1) print copy of Kelegeen on this Rafflecopter giveaway

Rosepoint Publishing:  4.25 of 5 Stars Four and One Quarter Stars

Eileen O'Finlan - authorAbout The Author: Eileen O’Finlan calls her writing “history with a twist” because she is intrigued by the unusual and little known aspects of history – the stories on history’s margins, the things rarely taught in the classroom. For her, that’s where history really gets fun.

Born in Springfield, Massachusetts, her family moved to Worcester when she was two.  Four years later they moved to Holden where Eileen grew up and where she now resides with her 93-year-old mother and two cats.

Eileen holds a Bachelor’s degree in history and a Master’s Degree in Pastoral Ministry.  She works full time for the Diocese of Worcester and teaches online courses in Catholic studies for the University of Dayton, Ohio.  She is proud to say that Pope Francis owns a copy of her debut novel, Kelegeen.  Erin’s Children, the sequel to Kelegeen, will be released by BWL Publishing, Inc. in December of 2020.

Author Links

Webpage:  https://eileenofinlan.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/eileenofinlanauthor/ ;

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17762333.Eileen_O_Finlan ;

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/eileenofinlan ;

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnoxfrZpgvtHbAH74qM_vEQ ;

BWL Publishing, Inc. Author page:  http://bookswelove.com/o-finlan-eileen/

Purchase Links: Amazon: –  Barnesandnoble.com  –  Apple iTunes  –  Google Play  – Kobo – Smashwords

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

Tour Participants:

May 21 – My Devotional Thoughts – REVIEW

May 22 – Baroness’ Book Trove – SPOTLIGHT

May 23 – eBook Addicts – SPOTLIGHT

May 24 – Literary Gold – EXCERPT

May 25 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

May 26 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

May 26 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – CHARACTER GUEST POST

May 27 – Jane Reads – GUEST POST

May 28 – Gimme The Scoop Reviews – EXCERPT

May 29 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT

May 29 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book– AUTHOR INTERVIEW

May 30 – StoreyBook Reviews – CHARACTER GUEST POST

May 30 – fundinmental – SPOTLIGHT Great Escapes Book Tours

 Thanks to Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours for the opportunity to read and review this historical fiction novel!

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Bones of the Innocent: A Mason Collins Crime Thriller 3 by John A Connell – A CE #BookReview

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars Five Stars 

Book Blurb:

Bones of the Innocent by John A ConnellMason Collins grapples with secrets and murder as he races against time to save the lives of abducted teenagers in a case a twisted as the streets of Tangier’s medina.

Summer, 1946. Just as assassins from a shadowy organization close in for the kill, a flamboyant stranger offers Mason a way out: He must accompany the stranger to Morocco to investigate the abductions of teenage girls. Girls that vanished without a trace.

Once Mason lands in Tangier, he discovers that nothing—or no one—is what it seems. This playground for the super rich is called the wickedest city in the world, and he realizes those who could help him the most harbor a terrible secret.

But just as Mason begins to unravel the mystery, the assassins have once again picked up his trail. Now, Mason must put his life on the line to find the girls before it’s too late. If he lives that long…

Bones of the Innocent is the third in the Mason Collins series of historical crime thrillers that bestselling author Lee Child declares is “…a must-read series for me.”

If you like your murder mystery served with a dose of adrenaline and a dash of the bizarre then you’ll love Bones!

His Review:

“Keep your friends close and your enemies closer’” is very appropriate for this tale. John Connell has developed his character, Mason Collins, into an international cop for hire. Bones of the Innocent by John A ConnellThe setting is Tangier and is a very good reason not to visit the place. From the onset Mason is at odds with most of the police force in the area.

The other characters are well developed and most of them are hateful. When diplomats’ children are among the missing, it sparks a big investigation into the missing youths. Tangier is a melting pot of many cultures and distrust of other cultures is a key element in this narrative. The dialogue points out the problem with multi-languages being used in a very small country.

As the plot develops, the local police are less than thrilled with the intrusion of this outside detective.  There seem to be many false leads leading to the climax. Distrust between ethnic groups hampers straight forward investigations. Disparity between the haves and have-nots is everywhere.

CE WilliamsThe author keeps this story going at a fast clip and a well-scheduled reading interval will help with the book. The climax is rewarding and satisfactory.  I found the loss of many different ethnic children very disturbing and disheartening. 5 stars

We received this digital download from BookBub and appreciated the opportunity to read and review and these are my honest opinions. 5 stars – C.E. Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Thrillers, Kidnapping Thrillers
Publisher: Nailhead Publishing
ASIN: B07T1PGV1G
Print Length: 378 pages
Publication Date: July 5, 2019
Source: Publisher and BookBub
Title Link: Bones of the Innocent [Amazon]
Barnes and Noble

Add to Goodreads 

John A Connell - authorThe Author: John A. Connell is a 2016 Barry Award nominee and the author of the Mason Collins series. He was born in Atlanta then grew up in Ohio, New York and Virginia before ending up in Atlanta again at the age of 13. He has a BA in Anthropology, and has been a jazz pianist, a stock boy in a brassiere factory, a machinist, repairer of newspaper racks, and a printing-press operator. He then moved to Los Angeles to work as a motion picture camera operator for film and TV, where he worked on films like Jurassic Park and Thelma and Louise, and on TV shows, including NYPD Blue and The Practice. John and his wife spend their time between the U.S. and France.
He is a member of the International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America.
John loves to hear from readers, so please feel free to contact him at john@johnaconnell.com

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Celebrity Book Clubs – Will One of These (Five) Spark Your Interest?

celebrity book clubs

Book Clubs! In particular, virtual book clubs are gaining in popularity thanks to pioneers of the idea such as Oprah Winfrey who made it smart to read again. Coupled with today’s technology and social media, it’s easy to get a line on your next favorite read. With so many influencers out there, where do you go for suggestions or inspiration? What’s trending?

Oprah Winfrey

May pick – Hidden Valley Road

Hidden Valley Road by Robert KolkerOprah’s Book Club is currently reading Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker. This is the true story of a midcentury American family whose six children out of twelve were diagnosed with schizophrenia leading to in-depth DNA genetic research.

The undisputed original celebrity book club that dominated the idea started when Oprah Winfrey began showcasing her book of the month on her wildly successful Oprah Winfrey Show in 1996. Certainly ahead of her time, Oprah selected more than 70 books before officially naming it in 2012. She introduced the book and then featured an interview with the author, boosting sales and the writing career of many authors. Follow Oprah’s club picks at her Instagram account.
Photo – John Phillips / Getty Images file

Reese Witherspoon

May pick – The Henna Artist

The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi

The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi is a vivid story, “rich and complex.” Read about Lakshmi’s journey from an abusive marriage to popular henna artist in Jaipur.

Rapidly pushing the growing popularity of celebrity book clubs is Reese Witherspoon who started her book club in October of 2015. Reese tends to pick a book with a woman “at the center of the story.” Her book club is active, lively, and begs conversation and participation. She hit social media across Twitter and Instagram, as well as her website, Hello-Sunshine, and has been racking up the fans and followers. I followed.

Emma Roberts

May pick – The Book of V

The Book of V by Anna Solomon

The Book of V by Anna Solomon is also a Good Morning America Book Club pick. (From the Amazon blurb)In Anna Solomon’s The Book of V., three characters’ riveting stories overlap and ultimately collide, illuminating how women’s lives have and have not changed over thousands of years.”

Actress Emma Roberts and her friend Karah Preisss started their book club they called Belletrist. Their book choices are generally written by women and include both fiction and nonfiction choices. They also share photos, videos and interviews with authors. Find Emma Roberts on Instagram.
Photo attribution – Today

Jenna Bush Hager

May pick – All Adults Here 

All Adults Here by Emma Straub

All Adults Here by Emma Straub is also a Today Show #ReadWithJenna Book Club pick. (From the Amazon Blurb) “Emma Straub’s unique alchemy of wisdom, humor, and insight come together in a deeply satisfying story about adult siblings, aging parents, high school boyfriends, middle school mean girls, the lifelong effects of birth order, and all the other things that follow us into adulthood, whether we like them to or not.”

Not an early riser, the Today show is not one I watch. However, the article from NBC.Com notes that Ms. Hager posts videos explaining the book and her reasons for choosing each book of the month. She also posts inspirational quotes from the authors. Catch personable Jenna on Instagram and Twitter. I found this one online at my library. Both ebooks and audiobooks have holds. I’ll take whichever one comes first.
Photo – NBC NewsWire / NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

⇒⇒⇓

Andrew Luck - retired Colts quarter-backAndrew Luck

May picks:

Buford The Little Bighorn by Bill PeetRookie pick – Buford The Little Big Horn by Bill Peet

Buford’s giant horns cause him all sorts of problems and even force him to leave his mountainside home, but eventually they make him a hero on the ski slopes.

Veterans pick – The Last Palace: Europe‘s Turbulent Century in Five Lives and One Legendary House by Norman Eisen (Historical non-fiction) The Last Palace by Norman Eisen

A sweeping yet intimate narrative about the last hundred years of turbulent European history, as seen through one of Mitteleuropa’s greatest houses—and the lives of its occupants.

There are men who host book clubs as well, not all are women, and one is a retired football player.

You might have suspected this is also something I don’t watch. Even so, you might know the name of Andrew Luck, “NFL’s unofficial librarian.” The idea came about after an interview in February 2015. Hosts Roger Bennett and Michael Davies “brought up the idea of the Andrew Luck Book Club.” The Wall Street Journal picked it up and soon his mother noticed the hashtag #ALBookClub. He recommends two books for his team of readers, one for the younger crowd (Rookies) and the other for experienced readers (Veterans). Find Andrew Luck at Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter
Photo attribute: Wikipedia

Fan Girl of a Celebrity? Following a book club I didn’t find?

Of course, the October 23, 2019 article from which much of this information was gleaned also cited a couple other celebrities which, when I tried to follow the link, either said was inactive or that someone else had taken the helm (Sarah Jessica Parker). I can imagine it would not be easy to continue a book club and have a high-powered career at the same time since I’m retired and find the blog consumes much of my waking hours and won’t be walking any red carpets soon. Also, while several of the above have attractive, interactive sites, they have thousands following them and in turn have followed back less than one-half of one percent. Still, it might be fun…

Has this interested you in checking out their May picks? Following? Will you read one of the above recommended books? I liked the looks (and synopsis) of All Adults Here by Emma Straub. Let me know which one you choose!

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Additional info or photo attributes: Eonline.com news

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

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars Five Stars

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

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Hangover

His thoughts:

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

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

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

Add to Goodreads 

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

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

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

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

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Winter Takes All: A Seattle Wilderness Mystery Book 1 by ML Erdahl – An #Audiobook Review

Winter Takes All by ML Erdahl

Book Blurb:

Crystal Rainey is aghast when she realizes her New Year’s resolutions haven’t changed one whit from the previous year. Wanting to escape a future as dreary as a Pacific Northwest winter, she walks out on her dead-end office job, despite her tenuous savings account.

Stumbling across a job opening posted by a wilderness guide outfit, an intrigued Crystal bluffs her way into the position. With her handsome fellow guide, the stalwart Conner Oakes, she leads a corporate retreat on a snowshoe hike to a majestic alpine chalet.

But when the company’s detestable owner turns up dead in the snow, she fears her new life and budding romance slipping away. She finally has something worth fighting for and is determined to solve the murder and grab her chance at happiness before it’s too late.

 My Review:

2020 Winter Games Reader's Choice AwardsThis one throws the cuteness arrow right off the high side of the scale. First, the premise that Crystal Rainey could cut out on her dead-end office job (oh groan–so been there/done that–but never had the guts to do more) and answer an ad for a wilderness guide. In the Great Northwet?? Are you kidding me? (Do you really want to die?) Bears–okay–so they are hibernating in the winter. But the cold? Bone-chilling, popsicle-fingers, breath-freezing air temps…gulp. Yeah, you have to dress for it and if done right, would be impossible to tell if you’re male or female. No problem! She can certainly tell Conner Oaks just by the confident way he handles that white stuff. (Snow, people.)

Winter Takes All by ML ErdahlThank heaven Conner knows what he is doing and is quick to see a green-horn when he sees one, but hey, she has potential in her earnestness and willingness to succeed and she’s adorable. But on the first outing, this corporate retreat snowshoe hike to an alpine chalet might present more than one challenge. What about the owner’s death? True, he was a creep of the first order. Still, his body is out there, frozen. And not an accident. She must solve the murder before this whole dream becomes a nightmare. Go back to that job? 9-5? Oh hell no!

The thing about cozy mysteries, however, is that there is so much plausible deniability you’ve come to expect. Swallow your disbelief that a clerical city employee could bluff her way through the interview, and having been hired by a head-hunter frantically trying to fill a vacancy, would prepare her physically for hiking in sub-zero temps loaded with heavy clothing. Or handling snowshoes. Comely Connor is too free to be and too quickly steps up as romantic interest–how was he not married with six kids already? And that the cops’ lack of serious interest in a remote area murder would have allowed an amateur sleuth to interrogate interview suspects or have the wherewithal to research corporate employees is a bit of a stretch.

N.N. Light Book Award WinnerCrystal is an engaging character with whom it’s easy to follow in her innate fresh naiveté that she has turned into a bulldog. Connor is just who he represents himself to be. Let’s see where these two go in Book 2, which I have on good authority will happen. In the meantime, if you are looking for a cozy with a whole different backdrop, winter mountain activities and engaging characters, Erdahl has captured that with an entertaining book you’ll keep reading just for the sweet factor alone. And it’s a fun and fast mystery.

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Mysteries
Publisher: ML Erdahl
ASIN: B07ZZLNP72
 Print Length: 274 pages
Listening Length: 7 hrs 31 mins.
Narrator: Amy Langdon
Publication Date: November 5, 2019
Source: Free offer direct from the author (Thank you!)
Title Link: Winter Takes All

Add to Goodreads 

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4-stars

ML Erdahl - authorThe Author: Award-winning author ML Erdahl lives amidst the trees of the Pacific Northwest, where he pens humorous cozy mystery novels set in the wilderness he has spent his lifetime exploring. The only thing slowing him down is when his adorable rescue dogs, Skip and Daisy, demand to be petted and cuddled on his lap while he types. When he’s not wandering the mountains, you can find him gardening, reading, or searching for the best coffee in Seattle with his wife, Emily. Follow the author on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

The Narrator: Amy Langdon

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Final Judgment (Samantha Brinkman Book 4) by Marcia Clark – a #BookReview – #TuesdayBookBlog

Shared review with the Vicarious Blogger

Book Blurb:

Final Judgment by Marcia ClarkA murder investigation draws firebrand attorney Samantha Brinkman into her boyfriend’s past in this novel of high-risk suspense by bestselling author Marcia Clark.

When it comes to relationships and self-preservation, defense attorney Samantha Brinkman has always been cut and run. But it’s different with her new lover, Niko, an ambitious and globally famous entrepreneur. Sam is putting her faith in him. She has to. He’s also her new client—a suspect in the murder of an investor whose shady dealings turned Niko’s good life upside down.

He had the motive: revenge. As did many others who banked a fortune on the wrong man. That’s a point in Niko’s favor. So is his alibi for the day of the slaying. Until that alibi mysteriously disappears. As Sam’s feverish search for another viable killer begins, the investigation only leads deeper into Niko’s past and its secrets.

From the darkest suspicions to final judgment, fighting for Niko is Sam’s job. To do it, she must risk everything on a man who could make all her worst fears come true.

My Thoughts

I’m not quite sure whether this is supposed to be a legal thriller or not. True, defense attorney Samantha Brinkman is back with her three-person legal office. Besides herself, there is Alex her tech guru and investigator and Michelle her BFF and paralegal, bookkeeper, office manager. And there are other files to work, cases to manage, court appearances and meetings with two clients. But in the meantime, she has apparently become majorly involved with Niko. He is gorgeous and well-to-do. Unfortunately, he is also the person who advised his mother to invest in a money scheme too good to be true and she’s lost everything.

Final Judgment by Marcia ClarkNiko’s financial contact is just the tip of the iceberg and this multi-plot gets complex real fast. Niko has a couple holes in his alibis and Sam begins to detect lies and sins of omission. She is getting serious about him, but is now torn between his possible guilt or innocence when the second guy coordinating the scheme goes missing. Now she’s really up a creek, positive one minute Niko did it, but vowing to defend him with everything she has. She has the feeling regardless that she must find the one who did it–if he didn’t. She must know the truth. Did he kill one–or both of them?

I did have a few problems with this one. Sam is still fighting demons from her childhood and he is still giving her nightmares. Niko is giving her nightmares. She is taking showers morning and night, drinking a lot of tequila, and discussing things with both her assistant/associates that would be considered not only very personal, but privileged and discussing illegal activity–theirs. There is little time devoted to any courtroom appearances–most is running down leads, contacts, other investors, and the well-plotted mystery gets more complicated. More a whodunit than legal thriller.

I enjoyed descriptions of the area and legendary traffic jambs, travel into insanely rich neighborhoods of the LA basin. There were twists and the conclusion came as a surprise. Sam, still acting more PI than attorney, managed to pull a fast one and gain some long-desired resolution. Certainly a win-win. There is profane language as well as frank deviant behaviors. My second book with the author having read Snap Judgment, I really prefer more legal/courtoom action, less romance. I received this uncorrected proof from the publisher and NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to continue in the series. 4 stars

His Thoughts

I found the defensive attorney, Samantha Brinkman, a little too needy in her relationship with her lover. The chapters were structured around the same tenet; how could she save her client/lover? But this boyfriend/client was a bit of a reach for me. I could understand her need for strong male bonding but she seemed to swing cold and then hot.

Her stepfather was a very wicked man as were the other villains in this story. Despite her shortcomings, Samantha weaves a very intriguing tale of justice and recompense. The storyline is built around the seedy side of investing and the male depravity is eye-opening. Two of the villains are portrayed as sociopaths. Interesting legal maneuvering while trying to keep a killer out of prison makes for a far-fetched tale. Her childhood was abysmal and therefore the conclusion was gratifying.  CE WilliamsI asked myself if there are actually attorneys who would do such a thing. Knowing Marcia Clark’s background, I wonder if she actually works at that game. I rather feel that this is a mental alter ego that wishes some of this was actual methodology.

This is an entertaining book with a satisfying ending. Marcia, thanks for the literary ride and adventure. 4 stars – CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Legal Thrillers, Vigilante Justice
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
ASIN: B07TMN6WR8
Print Length: 416 pages
Publication Date: April 21, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Final Judgment (Amazon)
Barnes and Noble

+Add to Goodreads 

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4-stars

Marcia Clark - authorThe Author: California native Marcia Clark is the author of Guilt by Association, Guilt by Degrees, Killer Ambition, and The Competition, all part of the Rachel Knight series. A practicing criminal lawyer since 1979, she joined the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office in 1981, where she served as prosecutor for the trials of Robert Bardo, convicted of killing actress Rebecca Schaeffer, and, most notably, O. J. Simpson. The bestselling Without a Doubt, which she cowrote, chronicles her work on the Simpson trial. Clark has been a frequent commentator on a variety of shows and networks, including Today, Good Morning America, The Oprah Winfrey Show, CNN, and MSNBC, as well as a legal correspondent for Entertainment Tonight.

Follow Marcia on Twitter at @thatmarciaclark – Connect with Ms. Clark on her website.

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Black Velvet (The Erin O’Reilly K-9 Mysteries Book 1) by Steven Henry – a #BookReview #cozyanimalmystery

“USA TODAY Bestselling Book 1 in the Erin O’Reilly Mysteries series.” A shared review with the Vicarious Blogger.

Book Blurb:

Black Velvet by Steven HenryErin learned a lot from her partner: stay alert, follow your nose, and once you’ve got your teeth in them, never let go.

It’s tough working nights with the NYPD. The crime rate is high, the hours are terrible, and forget about a personal life. So when Officer O’Reilly and her K-9 Rolf switch over to the day shift, things are looking up. She’s even able to find time for a new boyfriend.

But when the theft of a priceless painting from the Queens Museum leaves a fellow police officer dead, Erin and her four-legged partner find themselves dealing with dangerous criminals, sleazy art dealers, and obstructive detectives in a race to capture the killers…and just maybe bring closure to a 75-year-old crime.

My Thoughts

Being the sucker that I am for a K-9 book and having found this series for Reading Ireland Month 2020, I went back and bought (gasp! How unusual is that!!) Book 1 of the series. There are currently seven in the series and I’m determined to progress to the rest.

Erin O’Reilly is a patrol officer for the NYPD with K-9 partner Rolf. She has been on the job for eleven years, ready for a change and has her eyes set on detective. She is second generation NYPD and proud of it, strong, confident, and dedicated.

A date at a major art gala runs awry when men dressed as part of the security team grabs an extremely valuable painting. The painting has yet to be authenticated, leading to insufficient security and they do a grab and run. Unfortunately, a patrolman gets caught in the crossfire. In formal attire and without her normal gear, she does her best with the downed officer’s gun, calling in the theft, backup, and a bus for the casualty.

Erin recognizes the uniform theft from a call she’d previously had and begins her investigation. Unfortunately, as the officer dies, the case has now gone to the detectives in her precinct and they tell her to back off. Of course, now fully involved, not likely she’ll do that.

Erin comes off a bit gruff, rude, sharp, and almost hostile at times. She has difficulty reining in that Irish temper and becomes offensive with the date who is trying to help her. After all, he is the art expert who invited her to the exclusive exhibit where he was known and connected. He is able to reliably give her a couple leads that sets her investigation.

I enjoyed the interaction with her K-9 partner and her work with him, his well-trained commands in German. She exhibits some training of her own, remembering lessons when the need arises. The well-plotted and paced police procedural moves along at a good clip, reminding you that it really isn’t over until it’s over. The conclusion was sweet, the transfer to detective in the new unit being formed in Manhattan.

Since I’ve already read Book 2, I can see where the author pulled back on the wholly bad-ass female officer to a slightly more mellow detective. There are compelling characters and she is given more dimension–after all–this was Book 1. This book is a fast read, not terribly difficult to figure the culprit, but the climax satisfying. I already see the growth that happens in the newly minted detective of Book 2–a new challenge for her, not quite so sure of herself but with enough background she’s no green-horn either and can hold her own. Engaging and entertaining. 4 stars

Book Titles are the go-to drink for the series entry. Recipe included and they mysteriously include Guinness! Book 3 of the series is entitled White Russian. Wanna make any bets on the drink?

His Thoughts

Black Velvet by Steven HenryIf crime doesn’t pay, why is there so much of it? Erin O’Reilly is a beat cop in New York who answers the call and puzzles over the answer. Her partner is Rolf, a German Shepherd with an unending loyalty and a nose for perps. A minor burglary turns major.

Steven Henry spins his tales with a master’s touch. This small-time burglary turns into a major art theft and the death of one of New York’s finest. The problem is an underlying disdain for beat cops by major crime detectives. Many times Erin appears to be one step ahead of the detectives despite their telling her to butt out of their case.

The minor burglary includes four uniforms taken and the cash register unopened. One of the criminals is caught by Rolf and Erin, but he is a minnow in the pond later the theft of a priceless painting. The plot thickens as the detectives’ order Erin to butt out and let them solve the case.

The dialog in Mr. Henry’s books make it difficult to put down. There are no idle moments in this tale. The action is very fast and would make a good television mini-series. As the plot thickens, the crime shifts to the death of the cop in the commission of the major art theft.

CE WilliamsIt is a delight to read Mr. Henry’s books and engage with his characters. Sleepless nights are rewarded with an exciting and ongoing plot. Erin’s character is a no-nonsense second-generation cop in Queens. She is portrayed as a small dynamo of a cop. She is much bigger with her partner Rolf. Criminals would certainly like to do her physical harm but a 96 pound German Shepherd is not to be trifled with.

Try the book, you will enjoy the characters and the repartee. 5 stars CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Animal Mysteries, Women Sleuths
Publisher: Clickworks Press
ASIN: B077LT86SM
Print Length: 244 pages
Publication Date: November 17, 2017
Source: Purchased Direct from Publisher
Title Link: Black Velvet(Amazon)
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Kobo

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

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 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

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

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

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

Book Blurb:

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

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

Print Length: 288 pages
Publication Date: March 24, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Running Out of Road (Amazon)
Barnes and Noble
Kobo
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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five of Five Stars 4.5-stars

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Watching Glass Shatter by James J Cudney – An #Audiobook Review

“After 40 years of marriage, Olivia Glass thought she could handle the unexpected death of her husband. But when Ben’s will reveals a life-altering secret, she suffers a blow no widow should ever experience.” 

Watching Glass Shatter by James J Cudney

Book Blurb:

Olivia learns that she gave birth to a baby who later died in the nursery. Instead of telling his wife what happened, Ben switched the child with another. And as if that’s not enough, Ben’s will doesn’t reveal which of their five sons is truly not hers. 

While an attorney searches for answers, Olivia visits each of her sons to share a final connection before facing the truth that will change their family, and discovers that each of them has been harboring a painful secret, just like their father. 

Olivia challenges herself to re-assemble and save their relationships. But will the secrets destroy their family, or bring them closer together?

 My Review:

Sacrifice. Sometimes it comes in the form of extraordinary benevolence. Or the wish to protect from extreme pain those we love. And that describes this poignant novel.

The James J Cudney debut is emotional and packed with family drama beginning with the death of Olivia’s husband Ben of forty years. But the shock doesn’t end there– when the attorney for his estate hands her a letter, it’s contents shatters everything she had taken for granted with their family. One of her five sons was not the child she brought into the world.

Watching Glass Shatter by James J CudneyOlivia begins a quest to get to really know her five adult sons by a visit to each, one by one, discovering some devastating secrets along the way. She has not opened the final envelope that will reveal the name and as she visits each family, tries to discern if it might be he. In the meantime, her attorney begins to research a name–the person who may quell Olivia’s rising dismay at having to expose one. Her sister Diane becomes a confidant and is discovered to have played a strong maternal role in her son’s lives when Olivia was busy with husband, house, numerous projects, activities, and the money that afforded her just a bit of relief, an arms length, from the day-to-day of raising five boys.

The protagonist and then each of the successive sons were well-drawn and either drew empathy or dismay. So many characters to get to know, but each (as in every family) totally different from one another. And as with most families with multiple children, like ages tend to pair, albeit with the exception of one who separates himself almost entirely from his brothers. Are these lies? Deceptions? Or again the attempt to insulate the others from pain, either inflicted on the others or themselves.

I liked that chapters were divided according to character so the reader always knows who is the POV. The dialogue tends to weigh heavy, stilted, as to push reality between members of family separated by age, marriage, family, and circumstances. Olivia tends to counsel or become verbose, the boys not always receptive. Possibly more real, the main interest of one son in his share of inheritance rather than a post-death visit.

A strong showing for a debut from the author and one with multiple messages and an interesting and unique storyline. I found one quote in particular rather profound, “A day that comes seems as shorter than a year that’s gone.” I rolled that one over in my mind several times.

I actually won this audiobook in a Giveaway by the author–(I KNOW!! I “never” win…) and appreciated the opportunity to get into James’ first novel, the Kindle version published October 8, 2017. However, I won the audio version published 2019 and found the narrator a tad annoying. I have read and enjoyed two ebooks in the author’s Braxton Campus series, Haunted House Ghost and Mistaken Identity Crisis and found each distinctive. Although part of a series, fine as a standalone.

This author spars with unique story ideas and his writer’s style is always intelligent and thoughtful. If you missed this one, now is the time to go back and pick it up. Well-plotted and paced, a welcome addition to emotional literary family drama.

Book Details:

Genre: Literary Fiction for Teens, Teen and Young Adult Literary Fiction, Psychological Fiction
Publisher:  Next Chapter Audio Ltd.
ISBN-13: 978-1978233430
ISBN-10: 1978233434
ASIN: B07X7HD59J
Print Length: 297 pages
Listening Length: 10 hrs 5 mins
Narrator: Nikki Zakocs
Release Date: September 6, 2019
Source: Winner of a Giveaway
Title Link: Watching Glass Shatter 

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five Stars 4.5-stars

James J Cudney - authorThe Author: James is my given name; most call me Jay. I grew up on Long Island and currently live in New York City, but I’ve traveled all across the US (and various parts of the world). After college, I spent 15 years working in technology and business operations in the sports, entertainment and media industries. Although I enjoyed my job, I left in 2016 to focus on my passion: telling stories and connecting people through words. My debut novel is ‘Watching Glass Shatter,’ a contemporary fiction family drama with elements of mystery, suspense, humor and romance. To see samples or receive news from my current and upcoming books, please subscribe with your email address at my website: https://jamesjcudney.com

What do I do outside of writing: I’m an avid genealogist (discovered 2K family members going back about 250 years) and cook (I find it so hard to follow a recipe). I love to read; between Goodreads and my blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, I have over 900 book reviews which will give you a full flavor for my voice and style. On my blog, there is humor, tears, love, friendship, advice and bloopers. Lots of bloopers where I poke fun at myself all the time. Even my dogs have segments where they complain about me. All these things make up who I am; none of them are very fancy or magnanimous, but they are real and show how I live every day.

List of Books

Watching Glass Shatter (October 2017)

Father Figure (April 2018)

Braxton Campus Mysteries

Academic Curveball – #1 (October 2018)

Broken Heart Attack – #2 (November 2018)

Flower Power Trip – #3 (March 2019)

Mistaken Identity Crisis – #4 (June 2019)

Haunted House Ghost – #5 (October 2019)

Frozen Still Drink – #6 (March 18, 2020)

Websites & Blog

Websitehttps://jamesjcudney.com/

Blog: https://thisismytruthnow.com

Next Chapter: https://www.nextchapter.pub/authors/james-j-cudney?rq=cudney

Social Media Links

Amazon: http://bit.ly/JJCIVBooks

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jamescudney4

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

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

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jamescudney4/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jamescudney4/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/jamescudney4

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamescudney4

Purchase Links – Amazon 

The Narrator: Nikki Zakocs

©2020 V Williams V Williams

This Magick Marmot (An Abracadabra Mystery Book 5) by Sharon Pape #BlogTour #BookReview #Giveaway

I am so delighted today to provide a review for you at my blog stop for This Magick Marmot by Sharon Pape on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. Scroll down to enter your chance to win the Giveaway!

This Magick Marmot by Sharon Pape

Book Details

This Magick Marmot (An Abracadabra Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
5th in Series
Publisher: Lyrical Press (April 7, 2020)
Pages: ~300
Digital ASIN: B083TXHJLH

Book Blurb

A fatal case of school spirit . . .

Kailyn Wilde, owner of the Abracadabra potion shop, feels some dread anticipating her ten-year high school reunion at the new hotel in New Camel—but it turns out even worse than she feared. Running into her very first boyfriend is pleasant enough. Chatting with Ashley—who still can’t let go of a tragedy that happened on prom night—is a bit more uncomfortable. But the worst part comes when one of Kailyn’s oldest friends is found dead in the ladies’ room.

Soon this upstate New York town is in an uproar. And with some help from time-traveling wizard Merlin—who has adopted an unusual and alluring creature as his familiar—it’s up to Kailyn to identify the alumnus most likely to commit murder . . .

My Review

What’s better in these dark times than a good cozy mystery that is fun from beginning to end with great characters that turns humor up several notches? I didn’t discover this series until I read Book 4 but found each to function fine as a standalone. Still, I can’t help but wonder what I’ve missed in the others.

This Magick Marmot by Sharon PapeBook 5 has protagonist Kailyn Wilde, owner of the Abracadabra Potion Shop nervous about attending her ten-year class reunion. She has Aunt Tilly to assure her that she will be fine and she is…right up until she runs across Ashley still obviously mourning the death of her intended in an apparent accident on prom night followed by the discovery of another of her classmates newly deceased in the ladies room.

In the meantime, Aunt Tilly is still trying to provide a home for their long distant relative Merlin, who accidentally time-traveled into their lives. Now the wizard can’t seem to figure his way back and has decided he must have a familiar and decides on a marmot. Merlin has apparently lost some of his magick as his spells seem to go awry fairly often.

Kailyn is still in witchy apprenticeship and needs to get with the program, as any untried magickal talents she possesses will go dormant after the age of 30. Her spells need some work as well. She has leveled with Travis, her sweetheart, about her skills and as he is a news anchor seems to keep an open mind about the whole thing, having witnessed some remarkable happenings.

Kailyn is great at ferreting out clues, interviewing those associated with the recently deceased and realizes the motive and tie to the ten-year-old accident that was never explored sufficiently to rest the case. Between calming Tilly and Merlin and interviewing suspects, she tends to her shop creating the proper potions, makeup and creams, then adds her spells that give her products “something extra” they can’t get elsewhere.

It’s character-driven while never losing sight of the mystery, infusing humor often, mad-cap situations with a wizard from several previous centuries ago, and her own familiar (an aging kitty) as well as five other cats (mercy!).

As a side note: I guess ground hogs are also known as marmots as well as “whistlepigs” although in the northwestern states are also known as rock chucks (or wood chucks). I can remember, however, dodging little rodents crossing the road not much larger than adult mice (baby marmots?) when riding my motorcycle, and trying very hard NOT to hit one of the little things–but ground hog size they were not (thank heaven)–and was told they were whistlepigs. So ???

This is such an engaging series and wonderful to lose yourself, even temporarily, into the wonderful world of magick with characters easy to invest in. I was given this digital download by the publisher through NetGalley for this blog tour and fully appreciate the opportunity to read and review. Recommended as a well-plotted, fast-paced and fun cozy mystery. Get your own copy, you’ll be glad you did. Trust me.

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Rosepoint recommended

Giveaway

Sign up for your chance to win one (1) Digital Set of 5 of Abracadabra Mysteries by Sharon Pape Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author

Sharon Pape - authorSharon Pape describes her writing career as having two stages. Back in the dark ages, before computers were in every household, she had three paranormal books published. The first one was condensed by Redbook Magazine, the first paperback original they had ever condensed. Around the same time, Redbook published her first short story.

Then life brought her an unexpected challenge that went by the name of breast cancer. When her treatment was over, she became a volunteer for the American Cancer Society’s Reach to Recovery Program and went on to be the program’s coordinator for Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. Several years later, with the help of her surgical oncologist and two other survivors, she started her own not-for-profit organization to provide information and peer support to newly diagnosed breast cancer patients.

Once the organization was running smoothly and didn’t require as much of her time, she returned to her first love – writing. During this second stage of her career, she’s been writing cozy mysteries with a paranormal twist and a splash of humor.

Author Links

Website – http://sharonpape.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sharon.pape.94

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sbpape

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/641079.Sharon_Pape

Purchase Links – Amazon  –  B & N

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

Tour Participants:

April 6 – Elizabeth McKenna – Author – SPOTLIGHT

April 6 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

April 7 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – SPOTLIGHT

April 7 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

April 8 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – GUEST POST

April 8 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

April 9 – MJB Reviewers – REVIEW

April 9 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW

April 10 – Literary Gold – CHARACTER GUEST POST

April 10 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

April 11 – Nadaness In Motion – SPOTLIGHT

April 11 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT

April 12 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW

April 12 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

April 13 – ebook addicts – REVIEW

April 13 – Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

April 14 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

April 14 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW

April 14 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

April 15 – A Wytch’s Book Review Blog – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

April 15 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

April 15 – Dee-Scoveries – 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 V Williams

Murder in the Bayou Boneyard: A Cajun Country Mystery by Ellen Byron – a #BookReview Cozy Culinary Mystery

RosepointPub Crawl I thoroughly enjoy the sense of humor this author brings to her storytelling…with fully developed characters alive with Southern hospitality personality.

Rosepoint Publishing: Five StarsFive Stars

 Book Blurb:

Murder in the Bayou Boneyard by Ellen ByronMaggie Crozat, proprietor of a historic Cajun Country B&B, prefers to let the good times roll. But hard times rock her hostelry when a new cell phone app makes it easy for locals to rent their spare rooms to tourists. With October–and Halloween–approaching, she conjures up a witch-crafty marketing scheme to draw visitors to Pelican, Louisiana.

Five local plantation B&Bs host “Pelican’s Spooky Past” packages, featuring regional crafts, unique menus, and a pet costume parade. Topping it off, the derelict Dupois cemetery is the suitably sepulchral setting for the spine-chilling play Resurrection of a Spirit. But all the witchcraft has inevitably conjured something: her B&B guests are being terrified out of town by sightings of the legendary rougarou, a cross between a werewolf and vampire.

When, in the Dupois cemetery, someone costumed as a rougarou stumbles onstage during the play–and promptly gives up the ghost, the rougarou mask having been poisoned with strychnine, Maggie is on the case. But as more murders stack up, Maggie fears that Pelican’s spooky past has nothing on its bloodcurdling present.

My Review:

It’s nearing Halloween and Maggie Crozat and her parents, owner of the Cajun Country B&B, are gearing up along with the other B&Bs in Pelican, Louisiana to provide holiday specials along with festivities appropriate to the spooky, ghouly, and darker time of year. Maggie and the B&B community is working hard against Gavin Grody, better known for an agenda he calls, “Rent My Digs” as his endeavor has impacted their normally successful seasons, being one hour from New Orleans.

Murder in the Bayou Boneyard by Ellen ByronThey are promoting all manner of activities, including a play they are holding in an ancient graveyard, Cajun food in typical Louisiana amenities, and a pet parade. They will also have readings from a local VooDoo priestess, Helene, and Maggie has created a spa on her premises that she is hoping will be a major draw along with the masseuse she is bringing in–a remotely related cousin she has never met.

Her cousin, Susannah, brings her husband Doug and his twins. She outfitted her art studio in the old schoolhouse for the family and began to set appointments. Unfortunately, sightings been made of a rougarou, an old Cajun creature legend. Susannah announces her land runs through the schoolhouse making Maggie and the Crozat’s the obvious suspects of what is quickly assessed a murder.

Of course, her own Pelican PD doesn’t believe they would be involved. It is the neighboring jurisdiction that smells an easy solve and the murder happened there, so Maggie and clan will have to go looking to find the killer. In the meantime, her Grandmeré is becoming a bridezilla as she is planning a wedding with Maggie and her beau, Detective Bo Durand of their precinct. He has a young son, Xander who is looking forward to Halloween and planning his costume with the same fervor as her Gran the wedding.

I thoroughly enjoy the sense of humor this author brings to her storytelling, which is always well-plotted and easy paced, with fully developed characters alive with Southern hospitality personality. One of her guests has a parrot that often enlivens and entertains the others. The family melds easily as an enviable tight, happy clan, the occasion is atmospheric, and there are always tidbits of Louisiana Cajun folklore and culture, foods, descriptions of the land and people.

“In Louisiana…We only follow the rules we like.”

If I didn’t remember that humidity and those bugs so well, I’d be packing to head south.

The casual road to the conclusion sneaks up on you, as do the perps in the final reveal. I had my eye on one or two others, but was wrong and that doesn’t often happen. There is an explanation of particular custom or word origins and then the recipes. If I remember right it was after I read Fatal Cajun Festival that I ran out and bought ingredients for a Jambalaya. (I do love shrimp.) This novel includes more than one I’ll try (if I’m ever allowed to go grocery shopping again).

I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley and totally appreciated the opportunity to read and review Book 6. Engaging and entertaining, I greatly enjoy this author’s writing style, both this series and her new one, Catering Hall Mysteries (Here Comes the Body by Maria DiRico). If you haven’t yet discovered her books, now is the time. Highly recommended!

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Culinary Mysteries, Cozy Craft and Hobby Mysteries
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
ASIN: B082H3BT6F
Print Length: 304 pages
Publication Date: September 8, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Murder in the Bayou Boneyard (Amazon)
Barnes and Noble
Kobo

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Rosepoint recommended

Maria DiRico - authorThe Author: [Ellen Byron] Author of MARDI GRAS MURDER, the 2018 AGATHA AWARD winner for Best Contemporary Novel. Also writes the Catering Hall Mysteries (HERE COMES THE BODY, #1) as Maria DiRico.

Ellen writes the USA Today bestselling Cajun Country Mysteries. MARDI GRAS MURDER won the Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel and was nominated for a Best Humorous Mystery Lefty Award by Left Coast Crime. A CAJUN CHRISTMAS KILLING and BODY ON THE BAYOU, both won the Lefty Award for Best Humorous Mystery, and were nominated for Agatha Awards in the category of Best Contemporary Novel. PLANTATION SHUDDERS, the first book in the series, was nominated for Agatha, Lefty, and Daphne awards. Cajun Country Mysteries offer “everything a cozy reader could want,” according to Publishers Weekly, while Library Journal says, “Diane Mott Davidson and Lou Jane Temple fans will line up for this series.” HERE COMES THE BODY, the first book in her Catering Hall Mysteries, debuted under her pen name, Maria DiRico.

Ellen’s TV credits include Wings and Just Shoot Me; she’s written over 200 magazine articles; her published plays include the award-winning Graceland and Asleep on the Wind. She is a native New Yorker who lives in Los Angeles and attributes her fascination with Louisiana to her college years at New Orleans’ Tulane University. She also worked as a cater-waiter for Martha Stewart, a credit she never tires of sharing. Have an early copy of Martha’s first book, ENTERTAINING? Ellen’s standing right next to her in the group shot.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

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

Historical Fantasy Fiction

Book Blurb:

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

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

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

+Add to Goodreads 

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

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

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

The 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
+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.

©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
+Add to Goodreads 

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
 
+Add to Goodreads

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.

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