Rosepoint November Reviews Recap—Thanksgiving with Covid—I’d Rather Have Family

Rosepoint Publishing November Review Recap

Certainly was a quiet Thanksgiving this year! Almost nothing traditional about it, as just for the two of us, no sense in trying to have a turkey (or ham—not good for him). I must admit to getting very tired of turkey, turkey sandwiches, turkey salad and turkey soup. I do enjoy the cranberry, however, and that’s where the CE balks. So we opted instead for coconut shrimp and scallops and fruit salad with French fries—something we both agree on! But anytime is good for shrimp and scallops.

I usually use the long weekend following Thanksgiving to start decorating for Christmas. Well, that will be delayed this year as I’m not crazy about bringing out the same old tired decorations. Needed something a little more festive to fill the void this year.

Santa with maskLooking over decorations, it would appear Covid has played a large part in new and unique Christmas decoration ideas, with Santa wearing a face mask to ornaments with face masks and rolls of toilet paper. Oh, so, crafty. A not-so-subtle tongue-in-the cheek remembrance of Christmas 2020. Perhaps you’ve also noticed some VERY unusual tree ornaments this year?

So yes, December is upon us and I must admit to being one of those who never thought we’d still be fighting the pandemic at this time of year. Much less phase two or three. I’m doing a lot of shopping online this year and it’s actually fun getting packages. Our TV hit its designed obsolescence and out it went, so we ended up doing a Black Friday thing for a new one. Something in which we’ve not participated since 2004. Technology in a new TV now requires an engineering or programming degree to fully install.

There was a mix of sixteen books reviewed, blitzed, or toured in November, shared between the CE and I. If you missed any reviews, just click on the links below the graphic.

The Secret of Rosalita Flats by Tim W Jackson Parabellum by Greg Hickey Puzzling Ink by Becky Clark

Wine Tastings Are Murder by Libby KleinLeave No Trace by Sara Driscoll Hideaway by Nora Roberts

A Big Fat Greek Murder by Kate CollinsIn Her Tracks by Robert DugoniBig Kibble by Shawn Buckley

House of Correction by Nicci FrenchThe Sky Worshipers by FM DeemyadMystery at the Old Mill by Clare Chase

 

Ink and Shadows by Ellery AdamsHunting Season by Nevada BarrAnd the Devil Walks Away by Kevin R DoyleIrish Parade Murder by Leslie Meier

  1. The Secret of Rosalita Flats by Tim W Jackson (5 stars)
  2. Parabellum by Greg Hickey (CE review)
  3. Puzzling Ink by Becky Clark
  4. Wine Tastings are Murder by Libby Klein
  5. Leave No Trace by Sara Driscoll (5 stars)
  6. Hideaway by Nora Roberts (Audiobook)
  7. A Big Fat Greek Murder by Kate Collins
  8. Big Kibble by Shawn Buckley and Dr Oscar Chavez (CE review-5 stars)
  9. In Her Tracks by Robert Dugoni
  10. House of Correction by Nicci French (Audiobook)
  11. The Sky Worshipers by F M Deemyad (CE review-5 stars)
  12. Mystery at the Old Mill by Clare Chase
  13. Ink and Shadows by Ellery Adams (5 stars)
  14. Hunting Season by Nevada Barr (Audiobook)
  15. And the Devil Walks Away by Kevin R Doyle (CE review)
  16. Irish Parade Murder by Leslie Meier

Challenges:

Audiobooks – 23 of 10-15 challenge Achieved
Goodreads! 156 of 160—only four more. I’ve (we’ve) got this!
Historial Fiction: 13 of a goal of 10 Achieved
NetGalley: 79 of 75 review goal Achieved  

Once again, struggling with the block editor interfering with the update to my (classic editored) Challenge page. If it looks weird—it is—and I’ve no clue how to fix. Still, you can check the page to see those challenges achieved.

In the meantime, lovely readers, followers, and authors, take care, stay safe. I do so appreciate your continued support.

©2020 V Williams

Graphic attributions: Santa mask by Amazon

And the Devil Walks Away by Kevin R Doyle- A #BookReview – Police Procedural

Book Blurb:

And the Devil Walks Away by Kevin R DoyleFrom the author of THE GROUP, comes another riveting mystery…

A disgraced ex-cop is hired by a convicted serial killer to dig up information not to absolve him of his crimes but to in fact prove that he committed more murders than the authorities know of. He is attempting to bargain for a reduced sentence by providing information of his previous killings, but in another state another man, who the original killer has never met, is taking credit for his crimes.

His Review:

Was it her fault? Former detective Helen Lipscolmb has been ostracized! Someone has to take the fall and it certainly won’t be the brass. Yes, the raid attempt went south and her partner as well as a couple of other officers were killed. Was she really to blame because of poor planning and execution? Try getting a job with that reputation!

And the Devil Walks Away by Kevin R DoyleA very high-priced attorney needs help on a case. Someone who has a tarnished reputation will do nicely.  Helen is a perfect choice! The job is a very interesting twist of a criminal mind. What she is asked to do is prove that a serial killer actually killed victims claimed by another. Yes, prove him guilty of additional crimes, not prove his innocence.

Mr. Doyle weaves a very entertaining and engrossing novel of manipulation, death and deceit. Very quickly I began having sympathy for Helen and her situation. Every place she looks the local law enforcement is against her. They do not want help on their cases and certainly do not want her interference on cases they have already solved.

Helen needs money and the client is offering big money for her help. He is really pissed that someone would take credit for crimes that he has committed. A billionaire sitting in jail convicted of a storied criminal past and on death row wants answers. Will the proof that he is in fact the killer of deaths claimed by another give him an extended stay in prison instead of a quick execution? The twists in this book are entertaining and very revealing.

CE WilliamsThe reader should enjoy anything Kevin r. Doyle has written. His books are easy to read and keep interest and attention throughout the endeavor. Enjoy! 5 stars – C.E. Williams

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author. These are my honest thoughts. 

Book Details:

Genre: Police Procedural, Women Sleuths
Publisher: MuseItUp Publishing

  • ASIN : B08CY76L37

Print Length: 483 pages
Publication Date: November 10, 2020
Source: Direct author request
Title Link: And the Devil Walks Away [Amazon]
Find the book at these locations:
Barnes and Noble
Kobo

Add to GoodreadsRosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five Stars 4 1/2 stars

Kevin R Doyle - authorThe Author: A high-school teacher, former college instructor and fiction writer living in Missouri, Kevin R. Doyle is the author of two crime novels, The Group and When You Have to Go There, published by MuseItUp Publications, and one horror novel, The Litter, published by Night to Dawn Magazine and Books. Next year will see the release of the first book in his Sam Quinton mystery series, Squatter’s Rights, by Coffeetown Press. He has also had numerous short horror stories published in small press magazines. Doyle teaches junior and senior English at a high school in Missouri and can be found at facebook.com/kevindoylefiction.

©2020 C E Williams – V Williams V Williams

Ink and Shadows (A Secret, Book, and Scone Society Novel Book 4) by Ellery Adams – a #BookReview – #cozymystery – #TuesdayBookBlog

A Witty and Page-Turning Southern Cozy Mystery

New York Times bestselling author Ellery Adams is back with the latest in her acclaimed Secret, Book, and Scone Society series.”

Rosepoint Rating: Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

Ink and Shadows by Ellery AdamsLocal bookstore owner Nora Pennington is back on the case in Miracle Springs, North Carolina when an accidental death turns out to be something much more sinister…
 
Nora Pennington is known for her window displays, and as Halloween approaches, she decides to showcase fictional heroines like Roald Dahl’s Matilda and Madeline Miller’s Circe. A family-values group disapproves of the magical themes, though, and wastes no time launching a modern-day witch hunt. Suddenly, former friends and customers are targeting not only Nora and Miracle Books, but a new shopkeeper, Celeste, who’s been selling CBD oil products.

Nora and her friends in the Secret, Book, and Scone Society are doing their best to put an end to the strife—but then someone puts an end to a life. Though the death is declared an accident, the ruling can’t explain the old book page covered with strange symbols and disturbing drawings left under Nora’s doormat, a postcard from an anonymous stalker, or multiple cases of vandalism.

The only hope is that Nora can be a heroine herself and lead the Secret, Book, and Scone Society in a successful investigation—before more bodies turn up and the secrets from Celeste’s past come back to haunt them all . . .

My Review:

My first entry into the series and it’s an amazing introduction to Nora Pennington and her shop, Miracle Books, in Miracle Springs, North Carolina. Either the author has an amazing and thorough history with books or spent months in research as this novel was a treasure trove of titles for all occasions.

Ink and Shadows by Ellery AdamsFirst, protagonist Nora is part of the Secret, Book, and Scone Society, she and three other women—close friends, confidants, and co-conspirators—they contribute to the investigations. Nora runs a themed showcase but this year her fictional heroines (powerful women display) runs amok of a group of ladies who decide the books pose a dangerous theme for young, impressionable minds.

In the meantime, a new shopkeeper has popped up, selling CBD oil products along with natural remedies, scents, soaps, and gift baskets. It is her daughter that raises a number of red flags and finding a private moment with the girl offers her help. It isn’t long before the girl is found deceased in Nora’s backyard.

Before I get caught up describing the well-plotted and paced mystery, I must say the support characters in this book add such a dimension to the narrative you want to sit in on their book nights and share a glass of wine with them. And Sheldon, her assistant—wonderful. Later in the book, an old college roommate comes back into her life and wouldn’t we all have loved to known anyone like Bobbie!

If you never had a love for books before, this book should build the flame in your heart that has you running to your closest library. There to smell the pages, inhale the scent of hardbacks filled with knowledge and adventure, or coax out beautiful poems, prose, and memorable thoughts by the authors who shared. There is a reverence in the collection of good books.

Surely there is a category level above cozy (intellectual cozy?) that includes the emotion, experience, and gravitas imparted in these pages. From beautiful prose to too many quotables to list here, and in between, the subtle investigation, the gentle gleaning of leads that weaves in through the lives of the characters, their way of life, and their individual concerns.

An unusual cozy mystery in that the victim(s) are not hateful people and no love lost. The antagonist only gradually prodded out after one of few red herrings or twists. Unusual number of references to particular names or events only an older generation might recognize and an interesting tidbit of information regarding CBD oil—COA—Certificate of Analysis (…”document from a lab that shows the exact number of various cannabinoids in a CBD product…customers know that they’re buying products containing no THC.”)

I might have missed the explanation of “ticket agent’s office,” and “book pockets” by reading this as my first entry to the series. Still, this novel served quite well as a fascinating standalone for me. I read one of the author’s books in the Book Retreat Mystery series, Murder in the Reading Room and enjoyed. This one opened a whole new realm of cozy for me. Highly recommended.

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author. These are my honest thoughts.

Add to Goodreads

Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuth, Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Kensington Books

  • ASIN : B087YR9M54

Print Length: 304 pages
Publication Date: To be released January 26, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley 

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

Ellery Adams - authorThe Author: Ellery Adams, a USA Today and New York Times bestselling author, has written dozens of mystery novels. She shares her North Carolina home with her husband, two trolls, and three keyboard-hogging felines. Ellery loves reading, coffee, bubbly, jigsaw puzzles, baking, volunteering at her local animal shelter, and rearranging her bookshelves.

Her traditionally published series include The Secret, Book, and Scone Society Mysteries, The Book Retreat Mysteries, The Books By the Bay Mysteries, and The Charmed Pie Shoppe Mysteries.

Her Indie series include The Supper Club Series, The Hope Street Series, and The Molly Appleby Collectible Series.

For book club discussion questions, lists of Nora Pennington’s bibliotherapy titles, and more, visit http://www.elleryadamsmysteries.com

©2020 V Williams V Williams

The Sky Worshipers by F M Deemyad – A #BookReview – #historicalfiction

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5 stars 

a CE review

Book Blurb:

In the year 1398 A.D., Lady Goharshad and her husband, King Shahrokh, come across an ancient manuscript in the ruins of Karakorum, the Mongol capital. The manuscript chronicles the era of Mongol invasions with entries by three princesses from China, Persia, and Poland who are captured and brought to the Mongol court. 

The Sky Worshipers by FM DeemyadAfter being stolen from her family at the Tangut Emperor’s coronation, Princess Chaka, the Emperor’s youngest daughter is left with no choice but to marry Genghis Khan. Thus, the Tangut join Genghis as allies. She is the first to secretly chronicle the historical events of her time, and in doing so she has the help of an African eunuch by the name of Baako who brings her news from the war front.

Princess Reyhan is the witty granddaughter of the last Seljuk King in Persia. She is kidnapped by Ogodei, Genghis’s son and heir, who falls in love with her. The romance does not last long, however, since a Mongol beauty wins Ogodei’s heart, and Reyhan is sidelined. Reyhan continues the tradition of recording the events in secret, turning her entries into tales.

During the Mongol invasion of Poland and Hungary, Princess Krisztina, niece to Henry the Pious, is taken as a prisoner of war by the Mongols. Reyhan learns about Krisztina’s predicament through Baako and asks Hulagu, Genghis’s grandson, to help free her. Krisztina has a difficult time adjusting to life in Mongolia, and at one point she attempts to run away but is unsuccessful. When the child she is bearing is stillborn, the Mongol court shuns her. She is able to return to her homeland in old age but comes back to Karakorum and writes her final entry in the journal.

Through beautiful language and powerful storytelling, this fact-based historical novel lays bare the once far-reaching and uncompromising Mongol empire. It shows readers the hidden perspectives of the captive, conquered, and voiceless. It brings to light the tremendous but forgotten influence of Genghis Khan and his progeny, while asking readers to reconsider the destruction and suffering of the past on which the future is built.

 His Review:

(A novel of Mongol Conquest)

Expansion of the Mongol Empire as told through the eyes of a hopeless romantic! (me) My reading of this tale reminded me of Arabian Nights and Alibaba and the Forty Thieves. Ms. Deemyad sees this period through the eyes of the women who were married to Genghis Kahn and his offspring. Told from a woman’s point of view makes the overall tale a tender and heart-breaking story of the time.

The Sky Worshipers by F M DeemyadGreed and the desire to improve the lives of his people was one of the hallmarks of Genghis Kahn’s military exploits. Europe during the 12th to 14th centuries was a contrast in those that had and those that were destitute–the majority of the population falling into the latter category. It is postulated that 10% of the people of this planet can trace genes back to Genghis Kahn and his offspring.

Sky worship was the primary belief system of the Mongols. Lightning storms and frequent rains were the norm in the areas they controlled. However, Genghis Kahn showed real compassion towards other cultures by not forcing his religion upon the lands he conquered. Certainly, this is not the case with most of the other cultures in the world. Muslims having anger towards Christians who have fostered a hate of the Jews because of the death of Christ are but a few examples.

The building of large mosques and cathedrals are examples of the tolerance shown by the Mongols to their conquered lands. Today’s inter-religious conflicts could learn from this example. The laws imposed by the Mongols on the conquered are another story. Talking back or having a different point of view or suggestion for an upcoming campaign could result in the death of the person bold enough to suggest an opinion other than that of the current ruler.

This book and its’ writer immerse the reader in the culture and events of the time. Hoping that some of the more compassionate characters will survive leads to disappointment. The strongest in the Mongolian culture were the survivors. Young ladies of privilege and comfort stolen from their families and forced to marry warlords were the norm. Yet some of them came to know and respect the kidnappers that changed their lives forever.

CE WilliamsWrapping the book up in the mystique of a secret historical document chronicled by these very abductees added credence to the overall dynamic. I can whole heartedly recommend this book to anyone who wants to follow the exploits of the Mongols in both Asia and Europe. It’s a well-plotted, paced narrative with sympathetic characters. Currently on pre-order. 5 stars – C.E. Williams 

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from NetGalley through Colin Mustful at History Through Fiction. These are my honest thoughts. 

Book Details:

Genre: Military Historical Fiction, War Fiction
Publisher: History Through Fiction

  • ASIN : B08K3LXPPV

Print Length: 332 pages
Publication Date: To be released March 2, 2021
Source: Publisher through NetGalley
Title Link: The Sky Worshipers [Amazon]
Find the book at these locations:
Barnes and Noble
Kobo

Add to Goodreads

F M Deemyad - authorThe Author: [F M Deemyad] Author of Historical Novels/Short Story Writer/Memoir Writer/Johns Hopkins Graduate/MFA in Writing/Maryland Writers’ Association + Authors Guild Member. (The Sky Worshipers is her debut novel.) Find her on twitter.

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

House of Correction by Nicci French – An #Audiobook Review – #crimethrillers

House of Correction by Nicci French

Book Blurb:

In this heart-pounding stand-alone thriller from best-selling author Nicci French, a woman accused of murder attempts to solve her own case from the confines of prison – but as she unravels the truth, everything is called into question, including her own certainty that she is innocent.

Tabitha is not a murderer.

When a body is discovered in Okeham, England, Tabitha is shocked to find herself being placed in handcuffs. It must be a mistake. She’d only recently moved back to her childhood hometown, not even getting a chance to reacquaint herself with the neighbors. How could she possibly be a murder suspect?

She knows she’s not.

As Tabitha is shepherded through the system, her entire life is picked apart and scrutinized – her history of depression and medications, her decision to move back to a town she supposedly hated…and of course, her past relationship with the victim, her former teacher. But most unsettling, Tabitha’s own memories of that day are a complete blur.

She thinks she’s not.

From the isolation of the correctional facility, Tabitha dissects every piece of evidence, every testimony she can get her hands on, matching them against her own recollections. But as dark, long-buried memories from her childhood come to light, Tabatha begins to question if she knows what kind of person she is after all. The world is convinced she’s a killer. Tabatha needs to prove them all wrong.

But what if she’s only lying to herself?   

My Review:

Tabitha Hardy returned to her childhood home in Okeham to renovate a property after she inherited some money and used it to buy a cottage. She has a history of being a loner, of having depression, eccentricities, and rudeness and hasn’t exactly ingratiated herself with the home town people. She wakes one day to send her handyman off as she didn’t wish to deal with repairs or work that day and he discovers a body in her outhouse.

Oops!

House of Correction by Nicci FrenchThis can’t end well. And doesn’t. After she is arrested for the man’s murder, it is discovered he was her math teacher when she was 15 and it is revealed was abused by him. Uh oh, means, motive, and opportunity.

And the problem is that she can’t remember the day—anything about it—but she is pretty sure she couldn’t have murdered him. The attorney assigned to her simply suggests she should plead guilty—too much evidence against her—and hope for a short sentence. Tabitha fires her and now she’s up the creek without a paddle as she knows nothing about the law, about the procedure, or even how to go about defending herself if she can’t remember what happened that day. There are times she doubts herself.

Could she have done it?

Tabitha may have gotten lucky, however, in the initial cellmate she is given, Michaela (released early), ends up supporting Tabitha right into the courtroom. Perhaps the first third to a half of the narrative is Tabitha’s assumption it’s all a mistake and she’ll be found not culpable and sent home. Doesn’t happen. The second half of the book is her courtroom fight. While it quite accurately shows her lack of expertise, ignorance, and egregious mistakes, it also paints the picture of an overly tolerant judge, allowing a large degree of latitude where I doubt would realistically happen.

Tabitha is not a protagonist to love—she is difficult, foul-mouthed, and short tempered. Once she digs in, however, she does appear to be making some headway into her case, challenging witnesses and discrediting her share of them. There are periods where she waxes philosophical and you get a glimpse of the woman she might have become were it not for those crippling teen experiences. I really appreciated the character of Michaela—smart, loyal, empathetic. The authors draw the prosecutorial team as you might expect, overly confident, competent, and theatrical.

My introduction to the husband/wife team that is Nicci French in a narrative that captures attention immediately, draws you in, and keeps a fast-paced, well plotted storyline. Not part of a series and out now, get the audiobook as I did enjoying a particularly fine narrator or the format of your choice. I think you’ll find this thriller worth the read and I’ll be looking for more. Recommended.

Book Details:

Genre: Crime Thrillers, Psychological Thrillers, Suspense
Publisher:  Harper Collins Publishers

  • ISBN-10:1471179281

ASIN: B083WPBQ84
Print Length: 487 pages
Listening Length: 11 hrs., 19 mins.
Narrator: Michelle Ford
Publication Date: October 27, 2020
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: House of Correction (Amazon)

Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five of Five Stars 4 1/2 stars

Nicci FrenchThe Author: Nicci French is the pseudonym of English husband-and-wife team Nicci Gerrard and Sean French, who write psychological thrillers together.
Bio from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Photo by Apdency (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons.

(Goodreads—Truncated) Note: (Nicci Gerrard and Sean French also write separately.)
Nicci Gerrard was born in June 1958 in Worcestershire. After graduating with a first class honours degree in English Literature from Oxford University, she began her first job, working with emotionally disturbed children in Sheffield. In that same year she married journalist Colin Hughes.

In the early eighties she taught English Literature in Sheffield, London and Los Angeles, but moved into publishing in 1985 with the launch of Women’s Review, a magazine for women on art, literature and female issues.

In 1987 Nicci had a son, Edgar, followed by a daughter, Anna, in 1988, but a year later her marriage to Colin Hughes broke down.

In 1989 she became acting literary editor at the New Statesman, before moving to the Observer, where she was deputy literary editor for five years, and then a feature writer and executive editor.

It was while she was at the New Statesman that she met Sean French.

Sean French was born in May 1959 in Bristol, to a British father and Swedish mother. He too studied English Literature at Oxford University at the same time as Nicci, also graduating with a first class degree, but their paths didn’t cross until 1990. In 1981 he won Vogue magazine’s Writing Talent Contest, and from 1981 to 1986 he was their theatre critic. During that time he also worked at the Sunday Times as deputy literary editor and television critic, and was the film critic for Marie Claire and deputy editor of New Society.

Sean and Nicci were married in Hackney in October 1990. Their daughters, Hadley and Molly, were born in 1991 and 1993.

By the mid-nineties Sean had had two novels published, The Imaginary Monkey and The Dreamer of Dreams, as well as numerous non-fiction books, including biographies of Jane Fonda and Brigitte Bardot.

In 1995 Nicci and Sean began work on their first joint novel and adopted the pseudonym of Nicci French…Nicci and Sean also continue to write separately. Nicci still works as a journalist for the Observer, covering high-profile trials including those of Fred and Rose West, and Ian Huntley and Maxine Carr…

Michelle FordThe Narrator:  Michelle Ford is a native Brit and professional voice actor. Having moved “across the pond” six years ago, Michelle now lives just outside New York and still gets a buzz when driving into the city and seeing the Manhattan skyline. Michelle has a proven track record in long narration, with over twenty titles in published audiobooks covering contemporary fiction, historical romance, mythical/paranormal fiction, biographies, children’s stories, short stories, science fiction, and business, and she is never happier than when she is in flipflops and behind a mic.

In addition, Michelle is experienced in voicing e-learning (she’s worked with many blue-chip pharmaceutical, medical, and technical clients), animation voice-over, corporate messages, Web sites, characters, children’s stories, film narration, podcasts, industrial projects, on-camera, tv, and radio commercials. She has worked for clients in fourteen countries, from Brazil to South Africa, and the Middle East to Australia. (Courtesy Tantor Media)

©2020 V Williams V Williams

 

 

In Her Tracks (Tracy Crosswhite Book 8) by Robert Dugoni – a #BookReview – #kidnappingthriller – #TuesdayBookBlog

Rosepoint Rating: Five Stars 5 stars

“…certified tracker, often referred to as a sign-cutter.”

Book Blurb:

What family secrets are behind two disappearances? Seattle detective Tracy Crosswhite is determined to uncover the truth in the latest installment of New York Times bestselling author Robert Dugoni’s heart-stopping series.

In Her Tracks by Robert DugoniReturning from an extended leave in her hometown of Cedar Grove, Detective Tracy Crosswhite finds herself reassigned to the Seattle PD’s cold case unit. As the protective mother of an infant daughter, Tracy is immediately drawn to her first file: the abduction of a five-year-old girl whose parents, embattled in a poisonous divorce, were once prime suspects.

While reconstructing the days leading up to the girl’s disappearance, Tracy is brought into an active investigation with former partner Kinsington Rowe. A young woman has vanished on an isolated jogging trail in North Seattle. Divided between two critical cases, Tracy has little to go on except the treacherous deceptions behind a broken marriage—and now, the secrets hiding behind the closed doors of a deceptively quiet middle-class neighborhood.

To find two missing persons, Tracy will have to follow more than clues, which are both long cold and unsettlingly fresh. Given her own traumatic past, Tracy must also follow her instincts—to whatever dark and dangerous places they may lead.

My Review:

I was thrilled when Thomas & Mercer granted me this advance copy through NetGalley as I’ve become a solid fan of the Tracy Crosswhite series.

In Her Tracks by Robert DugoniSeattle detective Crosswhite has had a bit of a transition recently following maternity leave, expecting to return to her position as part of the Violent Crimes Unit and finding herself instead in Cold Cases. The retiring detective of Cold Cases left a couple of awesome, caring shoes to fill as well as credible stats. Violent Crimes partner Kins, however, taps her for just a bit of help in his active kidnapping case and as Crosswhite begins her journey into Cold Cases finds a thread that might provide a crossover.

Big hook at the beginning gets the ball rolling into her cold case while Kins’ investigation adds dimension to the active case. Crosswhite still struggles with some of her history and the kidnapping cases heap on the anxiety and apprehension.

The author does an amazing job of gradually upping the tension (the pacing is perfect) with Kins’ active missing person case as well as Crosswhite’s Cold Case, slipping into the house as a fly on the wall of three brothers living in their parents old home, persons of interest in the missing person’s case. Dugoni has a way of eeking out the most sinister despots, highlighting all the warts, the character development coursing seamlessly between Crosswhite’s team, their investigation, and the scheming predators.

Crosswhite is relentless, focused. The well-plotted storyline just flows, grabs and holds attention as it builds toward a pulsing, overwhelming sense of urgency—so close…hurry!! And so satisfying. Should I mention the little red herrings and one devil of a shocker near the end I NEVER saw coming in Kins’ case (while I’d correctly guessed the resolution to Crosswhite’s Cold Case).

I’ve read a number of Dugoni’s books, including a couple from the Charles Jenkins series, as well as three others in the Crosswhite series, Close to Home, A Steep Price, and A Cold Trail. This one, however, may be my favorite, until another comes out, that is. Highly recommend this thriller and the series, though this could work as a standalone if this one is your introduction to the series. (Trust me, you’ll catch up quickly.) On pre-order now.

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. These are my honest thoughts.

Add to Goodreads

Book Details:

Genre: Kidnapping Crime Fiction, Kidnapping Thrillers, Murder
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

  • ASIN : B087Q1QNTL

Print Length: 340 pages
Publication Date: April 20, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley 

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble 

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 7 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

Big Kibble: The Hidden Dangers of the Pet Food Industry and How to Do Better by Our Dogs by Shawn Buckley and Dr Oscar Chavez – A #BookReview – #NonFictionNovember

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars5 stars

Big Kibble by Sawn Buckley

a CE review

Book Blurb:

A big, inside look at the shocking lack of regulation within the pet food industry, and how readers can dramatically improve the quality of their dogs’ lives through diet.

What’s really going into commercial dog food? The answer is horrifying.

Big Kibble is big business: $75 billion globally. A handful of multi-national corporations dominate the industry and together own as many as 80% of all brands. This comes as a surprise to most people, but what’s even more shocking is how lax the regulations and guidelines are around these products. The guidelines―or lack thereof―for pet food allow producers to include ever-cheaper ingredients, and create ever-larger earnings. For example, “legal” ingredients in kibble include poultry feces, saw dust, expired food, and diseased meat, among other horrors. Many vets still don’t know that kibble is not the best food for dogs because Big Kibble funds the nutrition research. So far, these corporations have been able to cut corners and still market and promote feed-grade food as if it were healthful and beneficial―until now.

Just as you are what you eat, so is your dog. Once you stop feeding your dog the junk that’s in kibble or cans, you have taken the first steps to improving your dog’s health, behavior and happiness.

You know the unsavory side of Big Tobacco and Big Pharma. Now Shawn Buckley, Dr. Oscar Chavez, and Wendy Paris explain all you need to know about unsavory Big Kibble―and offer a brighter path forward for you and your pet.

His Review:

All of a sudden she was jerking and stumbling on our walks! She would inexplicably walk in front of me. She is our 14 (almost 15) year old Bichon Frise named Frosty. Did she have a heart attack or get some poison out in the yard? My wife and I worried about her tremors which appeared to be getting worse and went on a crusade to find out what was going on.

Big Kibble by Shawn BuckleyI looked at the dog treats I was giving her after her potty break walks. One of the easiest and her favorites was a very popular brand we’d often shared with her. After I stopped them, she seemed to improve. We took her to the vet who said, “she is in great shape and very well-toned for a dog her age,” and he found no immediate neurological cause.  How would a popular dog treat cause such a dramatic event?

My wife is a book blogger and between us we review about 160 books a year. One of the most recent books is “Big Kibble.” The authors discuss the very thing that seemed to happen to Frosty. Could there have been some kind of poison or substance in the expensive brand of the dry kibble that caused Frosty to begin to have violent tremor episodes?

There are interesting animal feed discussions, feed regulation discussions, tragic dog stories and  happy dog stories. Fresh ingredients to safely allow and those “not for dogs.”

This book will open your eyes to the dilemma that is the problem of choosing healthy dog food. The book writers are interested in keeping your dog healthy and also in keeping their own business growing.

The companies supplying the majority of the pet feed (not food–there is a major difference in regulations) in the country are a monopoly. So successful companies with thriving brand identity are bought out by these large corporate behemoths who have a very sophisticated monitoring system to watchdog their market shares. According to the authors, such upstarts as Blue were bought up when they intruded into the cash flow profits of these conglomerates.

Learning the pitfalls of such disclosures as “Made in America” (not necessarily) and “whole natural ingredients” (doubtful) makes me angry. We shop for the best and try to give our dogs the healthiest (“for small active senior dogs”). We want our fur babies bright-eyed and happy. Companies putting profits before our animals are being exposed, their sources exposed, their ingredient list exposed.

CE WilliamsMy wife has been topping Frosty’s kibble with portions of meat mixtures separated from our meals for some time. We are extremely careful about her treats and monitor them. My takeaway from the book: prepare your own food for your four legged friends and lose the big corporate poison brokers. Five stars – CE Williams

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley. These are my honest thoughts.

 Book Details:

Genre: Pet Food & Nutrition, Dog Care
Publisher: St Martin’s Press

    • ISBN-10 : 1250260051
    • ISBN-13 : 978-1250260055
    • ASIN : B084M1PWLR
    • Print Length: 320 pages

Publication Date: To be released December 1, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Big Kibble [Amazon]
Also find the book at these locations:
Barnes and Noble
Kobo

Shawn Buckley - author
Shawn Buckley – author

 

 

 

The Author: Shawn Buckley (No bios)

 

 

 

 

©2020 C E Williams – V Williams – V Williams

A Big Fat Greek Murder (A Goddess of Greene St Mystery Book 2 of 2) by Kate Collins – a #BookReview – #cozymystery

Book Blurb:

A Big Fat Greek Murder by Kate CollinsSingle mom Athena Spencer is back in Michigan working at her family’s garden center, raising a pet racoon, and digging up clues in the smart new mystery series by the New York Times bestselling author of the Flower Shop Mysteries . . .

The entire family has been put to work when a big fat Greek wedding rehearsal is booked at the Parthenon. All hands are needed for rolling grape leaves, layering moussaka, and keeping the bride calm. But then the groom goes MIA and there’s far more to worry about then just whether Yiayia’s lemon rice soup has gone cold.

No matter how tangy the tzatziki, everyone’s appetite is ruined when the groom is found dead, a pair of scissors planted in his back. When the bride accuses Athena’s sister Selene, a hairstylist, of seducing and stabbing her fiancé, it’s all-out war—and it’s up to Athena to dig up the dirt on the suspects and nip these suspicions in the bud . . .

My Review:

The second in the Goddess of Greene St Mysteries and another fast, fun cozy. There is that strong family theme with the Greek families’ enclave in Sequoia, Michigan, and the tie to the nursery family business and the little mascot that comes to get his peanuts. The family also has a restaurant, the Parthenon, which was to be graced by the Athena statue her grandfather found and brought in. Too large, it ended up at the garden center. But it was a way to introduce Case to Book 1 who plays a very prominent part in Book 2.

A Big Fat Greek Murder by Kate CollinsIn this installment, the restaurant is hosting a rehearsal dinner for Mandy Black and Brady Rogers. Protagonists’ Athena’s sister was to be one of the bridesmaids, but when the groom doesn’t show up, he is later found murdered. Uh oh. The police will point to the one obviously set up person who wouldn’t have done it, her sister, so Athena will get involved, along with Case, who helped her solve the mystery in Book 1 to clear her sister.

A little side tongue-in-cheek gig that slides just under the main storyline is Athena’s blog—unknown to her family (mostly)—known as “Goddess Anon.” Fun little snipes regarding what is going on in her family, the joys of a large family with all the drama, relationships, and idiosyncrasies of the individuals—i.e., her mother will feed anyone—including the people at the jail.

She and Case have a direct prosecutorial courtroom style of questioning; double-teaming those on their interview list until the list gets bullied down to three possible perps. Of course, it’s not terribly difficult to figure out who is the culprit and in the meantime I enjoy the steps they take to each new clue. Athena is smart, if not wholly open to a relationship—and you know that’s brewing between she and Case. The bits with the family are always entertaining, and the side trips to the Goddess blog fun.

You might wish to begin this series with Book 1, Statue of Limitations, to get more background. Could be read as a standalone, however, as there are bits of background info snuck in. The conclusion is satisfying and a wrap-up of details, which we’ve pretty much sussed out at this point. Engaging characters, descriptive locale, and entertaining storyline. However, there is a monkey-wrench thrown in at the end which worries me about a possible partner in Book 3? Say it isn’t so…and I’ll be watching for it.

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author. These are my honest thoughts.

Rosepoint Rating: Four Point Five of Five 4 1/2 stars

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Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuths, Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Kensington Books

  • ASIN : B085LTLH4P

Print Length: 258 pages
Publication Date: December 1, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

 Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

Kate Collins - authorThe Author: Kate Collins is the author of the best-selling Flower Shop Mystery series. Her books have made the New York Times Bestseller list, the Barnes & Noble mass market mystery best-sellers’ lists, the Independent Booksellers’ best-seller’s lists, as well as booksellers’ lists in the U.K. and Australia. All Flower Shop Mysteries are available in paperback, hardback and large print editions. The first three books in the FSM series are now available on audiobook.

In January of 2016, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel aired the first Flower Shop Mystery series movie, MUM’S THE WORD, followed by SLAY IT WITH FLOWERS and DEARLY DEPOTTED later that year. The movies star Brooke Shields, Brennan Elliott, Beau Bridges and Kate Drummond.

In December of 2017, a Christmas novella featuring the whole cast from the Flower Shop Mystery series was released in e-book format. MISSING UNDER THE MISTLETOE is the first mystery to be released digitally, with plans for many more stories to come.

Kate started her career writing children’s stories for magazines and eventually published historical romantic suspense novels under the pen name Linda Eberhardt and Linda O’brien.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

The Secret of Rosalita Flats by Tom W Jackson – a #BookReview – #International Mystery and Crime – #TuesdayBookBlog

Rosepoint Publishing: Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

The Secret of Rosalita Flats by Tim W JacksonMost people dream of being stuck on a tropical island, but Cal Batten just wants to sell his dad’s ramshackle, football-shaped house, fly home and pay off his creditors. Problem is, his dad’s will’s gone missing, what passes for an attorney has his own agenda and the wacky locals may tear the house apart to get at the gold and jewels they reckon are hidden inside. There’s also his childhood former-best friend, now a beautiful scuba instructor, who just might drown him out of spite. Cal has to dodge sharks–on land and under water–if he’s to unload the house and escape the crazy little rock.

The Secret of Rosalita Flats is a smart, funny tropical misadventure for anyone who’s ever dreamed of chucking it all and running off to the Caribbean. From the author of Blacktip Island.

My Review:

If there was ever an island that would convince you not to run off to the Caribbean, this would be it. Although fictitious, I get the sense it’s not all that big, but it seems to be populated with all the crazies the other islands couldn’t tolerate. But that’s where protagonist Cal Batten travels to settle the estate of his late father, Rhodes, whom he had not seen since the age of twelve.

The Secret of Rosalita Flats by Tim W JacksonThe author paints Blacktip Island in some amazing visuals, from the ironshore surface with death-defying cliffs and gumbo-limbo trees and cactus, to the mosquitoes, merquatches, duppies, and boojums. Sounds fun, huh? But all Cal wants to do is sell and settle the place and head home to his little shop in Naperville, IL.

Unfortunately, what he finds is a confusing mess of a shack shaped like a football and a housekeeper that refuses to quit, showing up whether fired or not, to clean what is no longer cleanable. And then there are those who show up to buy the place, junk and all, as is, au naturale, immediately so he could be on his way. There are scraping sounds that wake him nightly along with the warnings to leave. Problem is—he can’t. He must have the paperwork—the deed, the will, the legal conveyances of which he can’t find in all the mess—though he’s certainly caught the housekeeper searching for it. And when he leaves, comes home to find the place tossed.

Cal remembers many of the island’s citizens and one would reintroduce him to scuba diving if he can get over his manic fear of sharks. They were friends when children but she doesn’t seem to know much more about his dad than he. The rest of the population has his dad pegged at weird and reclusive more than friendly but they all suspect he was hiding—what and how much—they are not sure.

Euler anglesInteresting tidbits about diving, Fibonacci number sequence, and Euler angles—remote stuff I love to learn and won’t remember two days from now—unless perhaps someone mentions it. Okay—that’s not going to happen, huh, unless you’re familiar with Euler angles.

As Cal digs deeper into the mystery, the gentle re-acquaintance with Marina begins to develop as the tension tightens into the who and why. Above and underwater scenes prove an exciting push into the conclusion which gradually settles the waters and works things out very satisfactorily.

I read Blacktip Island back in 2016 and thoroughly enjoyed the author’s tongue-in-cheek humorous writing style brought forward here (the stench from the booby pond), while working tangible bits of information into a plausible scenario. It’s a Blacktip Island novel, perhaps classified as Book 2, but certainly a standalone. Only the island is the constant. It’s a lingering build of conflict coupled with twists and red herrings that keep the pages turning. You may not always identify with the characters, but they are thoroughly entertaining and the storyline amusing—comical at times. A lovely get-a-way when we all need one. Recommended and looking forward to Book 3.

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. These are my honest thoughts.

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Book Details:

Genre: General Caribbean Travel Guides, Travel, International Mystery & Crime
Publisher: Devonshire House Press

  • ASIN : B08BQCH6TJ

Print Length: 211 pages
Publication Date: September 18, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

Tim W Jackson - authorThe Author: Tim W. Jackson‘s first taste of scuba diving came at the age of six when he sneaked breaths off his dad’s double-hose regulator in the deep end of the pool. Later, as an ex-journalist armed with a newly-minted master’s degree in English, he discovered he was qualified to be a bartender, a waiter or a PhD student. Instead he chose Secret Option D: run off to the Cayman Islands to work as a scuba instructor and boat captain by day and write fiction at night. Two decades later, he still wishes that was half as interesting as it sounds. Or even a quarter . . .

Jackson is the award-winning author of the comic Caribbean novels Blacktip Island and The Secret of Rosalita Flats, as well as The Blacktip Times humor blog. His “Tales from Blacktip Island” short stories have been published in literary journals worldwide. He is currently concocting his next Blacktip Island novel and still enjoys scuba diving with his dad’s old double-hose reg.

For more insider info, visit his website, http://www.timwjackson.com, the Blacktip Times (www.blacktipisland.com) or follow him on Facebook (Tim W. Jackson) and Twitter (@timwjax).

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Photo attribution: Euler angles-courtesy Wikipedia

Wolf Pack (A Joe Pickett Novel Book 19) vs The Bitterroots (Cassie Dewell Book 5) by C J Box – #Audiobook Reviews #crimethrillers

Wolf Pack vs The Bitterroots - #audiobooks

I’ve tried a couple times to get an ARC from the publisher (through NetGalley) for one of this author’s Joe Pickett books. No, they said. Nuh uh. Nada. And then I discovered the series, or most of them, at my local library audiobook section and while some are on a waiting list, I managed to snag these two—back-to-back. Wow—same author, huh? But then I realized these aren’t the same series—not nearly (or the same narrator). And these two are apples and oranges—

Wyoming–the Cowboy State, Equality State and Montana–Big Sky Country

big sky country

Mountains and treacherous terrain, wild animals, desolation, and weather that can turn on a dime and leave you stranded. Common to both states. So, yes, I loved the descriptions of the locale, especially in Montana, having ridden my motorcycle through Lolo Pass—FUN road! It’s gorgeous up there. And frighteningly isolated. This my introduction to the author, plunked into the middle of both series, found either would work as a standalone as there is enough backstory slipped in to bring you quickly up to speed. However, as with all series, sometimes you can watch the evolution of the character(s) if you go back and start with the first.

Wolf Pack-Book Blurb:

Wolf Pack by C J BoxWyoming game warden Joe Pickett encounters bad behavior on his own turf–only to have the FBI and the DOJ ask him to stand down–in the thrilling new novel from #1 New York Times-bestselling author C.J. Box.

The good news is that Joe Pickett has his job back, after his last adventure in The Disappeared. The bad news is that he’s come to learn that a drone is killing wildlife–and the drone belongs to a mysterious and wealthy man whose son is dating Joe’s own daughter, Lucy.

When Joe tries to lay down the rules for the drone operator, he’s asked by the FBI and the DOJ to stand down, which only makes him more suspicious. Meanwhile, bodies are piling up in and around Joe’s district in shocking numbers. He begins to fear that a pack of four vicious killers working on behalf of the Sinaloa cartel known as the Wolf Pack has arrived. Their target seems to be the mystery man and everyone–including Joe, Nate, and others–who is associated with him.

Teaming up with a female game warden (based on a real person, one of the few female game wardens at work in Wyoming today) to confront these assassins, Joe finds himself in the most violent and dangerous predicament he’s ever faced.

Wolf Pack Review:

Joe Pickett is a Wyoming state game warden and he has his hands full dealing with unmonitored animal traps and drones driving herds of deer and elk to exhaustion, some to death.

Wolf Pack by C J BoxIn this case, the leg traps have initials on them—duh. Not too difficult then to find the owner and then discovers the drone’s owner as well. Joe has three daughters, the last of which is dating the grandson of the drone’s owner living out on a well fortified and secluded acreage compound.

One of the series main characters, Nate Romanowski is an experienced falconer and it doesn’t take much for the bird to bring down the drone—which doesn’t sit well with the owner. It’s not a pleasant confrontation and when he and Kate (another series regular) tries to corral his activities is brought up short by the FBI. Huh?

You know when the FBI gets involves, the case will go sideways, and it does. When bodies begin to show up, the case goes well beyond animal protection. The Wolf Pack is a far more serious threat than the four-footed fur-bearing animals and it’ll take some work to track them down. Can they really be more cunning than the wolves? Certainly more deadly!

It’s a dark and profane narrative, graphic at times, in a well-plotted novel, fast moving story on a collision course with an explosive conclusion. I won’t even mention the epilogue. I’m not sure I needed that. On the whole, a shocking introduction to the author’s writing style—glad I listened to this audiobook second!

Book Details:

Genre: Murder Thrillers, Suspense
Publisher:  Recorded Books

  • ASIN: B07JGB5PG9

Print Length: 381 pages
Listening Length: 9 hrs, 51 mins
Narrator: David Chandler
Publication Date: March 12, 2019
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Wolf Pack

Add to Goodreads4.39 average of 1,044 reviews

The Bitterroots-BookBlurb:

2019 Kirkus Reviews Best Books of the Year

The Bitterroots by C J BoxA riveting new audiobook from New York Times best-selling and Edgar Award-winning author C. J. Box.

Former police officer Cassie Dewell is trying to start over with her own private investigation firm. Guilty about not seeing her son and exhausted by the nights on stakeout, Cassie is nonetheless managing…until an old friend calls in a favor: She wants Cassie to help exonerate a man accused of assaulting a young girl from an influential family.

Against her own better judgment, Cassie agrees. But out in the Big Sky Country of Montana, twisted family loyalty runs as deep as the ties to the land, and there’s always something more to the story. As Cassie attempts to uncover the truth, she must fight against the ghosts of her own past that threaten to pull her back under.

With The Bitterroots, master storyteller C. J. Box delivers another audiobook featuring fan favorite Cassie Dewell from the Highway Quartet series.

The Bitterroots Review:

My first introduction to this author and the series, Cassie Dewell has separated herself from the police department, going out on her own as a private investigator. She is thinking this will give her some more latitude with her time as Ben, her son, and her hippie mother lives with her in Bozeman, Montana.

The Bitterroots by C J BoxHer last case left her with no small amount of PTSD and she still cringes whenever an eighteen-wheeler dusts her doors. She owes one to an attorney friend, so when she calls to pull in the favor, Cassie will grudgingly oblige—against every fiber in her being—the investigation into the rape of a fifteen year old. The attorney is playing defense and wants to know how strong the prosecution’s case is. Of course her client asserts his innocence. A quick perusal of the file has her convinced of his guilt—after all, look at all the evidence!!

But off she goes to Lochsa County to talk to his family and those officials connected with the case. The family appears to have a strangle-hold on their ranch and the area around them, including the officials. I got a strong sense of the more well known male dominated clans—and must say the mother of the girl is one hell of a character. No one wants to talk with her and she’s warned out of there.

In the meantime, her life continues to remain involved in her son’s activities as she continually referees issues between her mother and Ben. And then there is the big black semi who keeps showing up—to just sit and watch. Okay, he’s a creep.

After awhile, I had some sympathetic pangs for the accused and sorry that did not end well. I had a problem with the narrator, more than once, as she attempted different voices—the attorney in particular. And the mother of the victim…the way she handled the voice of the mother going into the conclusion was priceless. Did not see that coming!

Book Details:

Genre: Private Investigator Mysteries, Crime Thrillers, Police Procedurals, Women Sleuths
Publisher:  Macmillan Audio

  • ASIN: B07ND36RSR

 Print Length: 307 pages
Listening Length: 9 hrs, 49 mins
Narrator: Christine Delaine
Publication Date: August 13, 2019
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Bitterroots –
Cassie Dewell #4
The Highway Quartet #5

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4.02 average rating of 729 reviews

Overall Impression:

These will continue to be similar/dissimilar. While one is a great deal more established, i.e., long term main characters, locale-driven plots, atmospheric fast-paced and graphic (Joe Pickett), the other will build a strong female protagonist, character-driven plots, toned down language (somewhat) and exhibit more feminine issues and concerns. I didn’t care for the epilogue in the Wolf Pack but that same little ploy in The Bitterroots was a classic feminine “gotcha.” Oh, yes, that brought a smile to my face. But you know what? If I get a chance for another audiobook in either series, I’ll grab it.

C J Box - author

The Author: C. J. Box is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of 24 novels including the Joe Pickett series. He won the Edgar Alan Poe Award for Best Novel (Blue Heaven, 2009) as well as the Anthony Award, Prix Calibre 38 (France), the Macavity Award, the Gumshoe Award, two Barry Awards, and the 2010 Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association Award for fiction. He was recently awarded the 2016 Western Heritage Award for Literature by the National Cowboy Museum as well as the Spur Award for Best Contemporary Novel by the Western Writers of America in 2017. The novels have been translated into 27 languages.

Box is a Wyoming native and has worked as a ranch hand, surveyor, fishing guide, a small town newspaper reporter and editor, and he co-owns an international tourism marketing firm with his wife Laurie. They have three daughters. An avid outdoorsman, Box has hunted, fished, hiked, ridden, and skied throughout Wyoming and the Mountain West. He served on the Board of Directors for the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo. Box lives in Wyoming.

–from the author’s website

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Murder at an Irish Christmas (An Irish Village Mystery Book 6) by Carlene O’Connor

“She only speaks music.”

Book Blurb:

Murder at an Irish Christmas by Carlene O'Connor

Garda Siobhán O’Sullivan’s holiday plans hit a sour note when murder rearranges the yuletide carols into unexpected eulogies . . .
 
This December in Kilbane, if you’re planning to warm up with a cuppa tea at Naomi’s Bistro, you may have a bit of a wait—the entire O’Sullivan brood has gone off to West Cork to spend the holidays with brother James’s fiancée Elise’s family, including her grandfather, the famous orchestral conductor Enda Elliot. Siobhán is so happy for James and Elise but also quietly disappointed that she must put her own wedding to fellow garda Macdara Flannery on hold. Mac will have to join them later, so he can spend part of the holidays with his mam.
 
When the O’Sullivans learn everyone will choose a name from a hat to buy a music-related Christmas gift for someone else at the gathering, it seems like their greatest concern—until the cantankerous conductor is discovered crushed under a ninety-pound harp in a local concert hall.
 
With the extended family—including Enda’s much-younger new wife Leah, a virtuoso violinist—suspected in his murder, it’s up to Siobhán to ensure the guilty party faces the music. But as a snowstorm strands both families in a lavish farmhouse on a cliff, Siobhán had better pick up the tempo—before the killer orchestrates another untimely demise . . .

Book Review:

Oh my stars is this novel packed with characters! Normally, that overwhelms me, but not this time—these are large families—but not like we’ll get to know them all.

In this entry to the series, protagonist and Guarda Siobhán O’Sullivan is out of her element as well as district when she puts her own wedding aside to join brother James and his fiancé Elise at her family’s estate in West Cork for the Christmas holiday celebration.It’s not just a full house, but the cottages as well as they begin the task of creating their own Christmas decorations while they join with Elise in her family’s Christmas traditions, which includes a “secret Santa” style of gift-giving. Her extended family includes her grandfather, a famous orchestral conductor as well as his much young wife. His orchestra is poised to present an outstanding concert and all the members are present. Unfortunately, it is he who is picked off shortly after the O’Sullivans get settled.

Murder at an Irish Christmas by Carlene 'Connor

I enjoy this series, the female Guarda O’Sullivan, even if she is tall, red-haired, and pretty. Her own fiancé, Macdara Flannery, is no slouch. Despite trying to stay out of the murder investigation, you know that won’t happen and sooner or later Dara joins her. Then it’s a long list of suspects between the family drama, the mystery, and the orchestra members.

I always enjoy the immersion into Irish culture, lore, food, unpronounceable names…and descriptions of the countryside. (If you missed my review of Book 4, read it here, Book 5 here.) The well-plotted narrative is an easy pace and often punctuated with that great Irish sense of humor I’ve come to expect from the author and the enlivening and perceptive dialogue. There are an abundance of red herrings and twists, and the conclusion may surprise the reader. It’s been fun and I’m looking forward to Book 7.

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley. These are my honest thoughts.

Rosepoint Publishing: Four point Five of Five Stars

4 1/2 stars

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Book Details:

Genre: International Mystery and Crime, Cozy Mystery

Publisher: Kensington Books

ASIN : B085LT73HG

Print Length: 252 pages

Publication Date: to be released October 27, 2020

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Links:

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

Carlene O'Connor - author

The 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

The Darkest Evening: A Vera Stanhope Novel: Vera Stanhope Book 9 by Ann Cleeves – An #Audiobook Review – #policeprocedural

“From Ann Cleeves – New York Times best-selling and award-winning author of the Vera and Shetland series, both of which are hit TV shows – comes the stunning new Vera Stanhope novel, The Darkest Evening.” 

The Darkest Evening by Ann Cleeves

Book Blurb:

On the first snowy night of winter, Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope sets off for her home in the hills. Though the road is familiar, she misses a turning and soon becomes lost and disorientated. A car has skidded off the narrow road in front of her, its door left open, and she stops to help. There is no driver to be seen, so Vera assumes that the owner has gone to find help. But a cry calls her back: a toddler is strapped in the back seat.

Vera takes the child and, driving on, she arrives at a place she knows well. Brockburn is a large, grand house in the wilds of Northumberland, now a little shabby and run down. It’s also where her father, Hector, grew up. Inside, there’s a party in full swing: music, Christmas lights, and laughter. Outside, unbeknownst to the revelers, a woman lies dead in the snow.

As the blizzard traps the group deep in the freezing Northumberland countryside, Brockburn begins to give up its secrets, and as Vera digs deeper into her investigation, she also begins to uncover her family’s complicated past.

My Review:

Ugh! I really hate it when I discover a new author (to me) and then realize I had no clue just how well established or far-reaching the author is—apparently to the rest of the world. Why am I always the last to know?

So, my first experience with the author, much less the character of Vera, a DCI in Northumberland. She is a what? Gasp! Not just a woman—also a “mature” woman.  Well, not so sold or engaged in probably the first quarter of the book—not like there was a lot of backstory going on. After the initial scene—that of Vera discovering a car off the road in a snowstorm…with the doors open…with a baby strapped inside—things tend to bog down just a tad.

The Darkest Evening by Ann CleevesIt’s the estate of distant relatives, aristocrats with which her family was estranged, and they are having a party in the country house. No cell service, she slogs to the house with the toddler to notify her office and get some help finding the person who abandoned the car. Who would seek help but leave a baby with the doors open? They do find the mother’s body, but she didn’t freeze to death. Lorna Falstone had a history of mental health issues, including anorexia, and was a single mother.

It’s a small, tight-knit community with the haves and have-nots and few secrets—except perhaps for the identity of the baby’s father. Character-driven, a study in the dysfunction of the well-to-do as well as those working their land.

I was sympathetically engaged with Vera—she was fighting an uphill battle in her position—but now add her age to that and she sees her share of discrimination. She is supported by a team, that of DS Joe Ashworth (not so supportive) and DC Holly Jackman (guardedly supportive and) smart enough to watch the master at work and learn. Vera is often the target of Joe’s wife who says he works too hard and too many hours. I appreciated the character of Holly—she is content being unconsciously mentored by Vera—and she’s a sponge. There is a grudging and growing respect between both of them. Holly often sees the path Vera is taking—anticipating the path—and providing timely support.

As Vera continues to interview and investigate, gradually gleaning clues and pursuing leads, little secrets and family dynamics are peeled back and exposed. Vera leads with a strong protagonist, no-nonsense, take no prisoners attitude.

The well-plotted storyline leads inexorably to the perpetrator with one further casualty into the investigation and a thrilling heart-stopping conclusion. Janine Birkett does an admirable job as narrator, quietly adding emotion and tension. The atmospheric woodsy setting, dark and cold, hand-warming tea cups and biscuits or brandy paints a quiet, rural, but deadly setting and adds to the creepiness of the scenes bringing to the forefront the poem by Robert Frost:

“…The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”

And I didn’t even know I was a (Robert Frost) Ann Cleeves fan. But I do now. And I’ll be looking for more of her books (and probably the TV series as well).

Book Details:

Genre: International Mystery & Crime, Women Sleuth Mysteries, Police Procedural Mysteries
Publisher:  A Macmillan Audio production from Minotaur Books

  • ISBN-10:
  • ISBN-13:

ASIN: B084D6ZP74
 Print Length: 379 pages
Listening Length: 11 hrs, 16 mins.
Narrator: Janine Birkett
Publication Date: September 8, 2020
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Darkest Evening

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five of Five Stars 4 1/2 stars

Ann Cleeves - authorThe Author: Ann [Cleeves] is the author of the books behind ITV’s VERA, now in it’s third series, and the BBC’s SHETLAND, which will be aired in December 2012. Ann’s DI Vera Stanhope series of books is set in Northumberland and features the well loved detective along with her partner Joe Ashworth. Ann’s Shetland series bring us DI Jimmy Perez, investigating in the mysterious, dark, and beautiful Shetland Islands…

Ann grew up in the country, first in Herefordshire, then in North Devon. Her father was a village school teacher. After dropping out of university she took a number of temporary jobs – child care officer, women’s refuge leader, bird observatory cook, auxiliary coastguard – before going back to college and training to be a probation officer.

While she was cooking in the Bird Observatory on Fair Isle, she met her husband Tim, a visiting ornithologist. She was attracted less by the ornithology than the bottle of malt whisky she saw in his rucksack when she showed him his room. Soon after they married, Tim was appointed as warden of Hilbre, a tiny tidal island nature reserve in the Dee Estuary. They were the only residents, there was no mains electricity or water and access to the mainland was at low tide across the shore. If a person’s not heavily into birds – and Ann isn’t – there’s not much to do on Hilbre and that was when she started writing. Her first series of crime novels features the elderly naturalist, George Palmer-Jones. A couple of these books are seriously dreadful.

In 1987 Tim, Ann and their two daughters moved to Northumberland and the north east provides the inspiration for many of her subsequent titles. The girls have both taken up with Geordie lads. In the autumn of 2006, Ann and Tim finally achieved their ambition of moving back to the North East.

For the National Year of Reading, Ann was made reader-in-residence for three library authorities. It came as a revelation that it was possible to get paid for talking to readers about books! She went on to set up reading groups in prisons as part of the Inside Books project, became Cheltenham Literature Festival’s first reader-in-residence and still enjoys working with libraries.
Ann Cleeves on stage at the Duncan Lawrie Dagger awards ceremony

Ann’s short film for Border TV, Catching Birds, won a Royal Television Society Award. She has twice been short listed for a CWA Dagger Award – once for her short story The Plater, and the following year for the Dagger in the Library award.

In 2006 Ann Cleeves was the first winner of the prestigious Duncan Lawrie Dagger Award of the Crime Writers’ Association for Raven Black, the first volume of her Shetland Quartet. The Duncan Lawrie Dagger replaces the CWA’s Gold Dagger award, and the winner receives £20,000, making it the world’s largest award for crime fiction.

Ann’s success was announced at the 2006 Dagger Awards ceremony at the Waldorf Hilton, in London’s Aldwych, on Thursday 29 June 2006. She said: “I have never won anything before in my life, so it was a complete shock – but lovely of course.. The evening was relatively relaxing because I’d lost my voice and knew that even if the unexpected happened there was physically no way I could utter a word. So I wouldn’t have to give a speech. My editor was deputed to do it!”

The judging panel consisted of Geoff Bradley (non-voting Chair), Lyn Brown MP (a committee member on the London Libraries service), Frances Gray (an academic who writes about and teaches courses on modern crime fiction), Heather O’Donoghue (academic, linguist, crime fiction reviewer for The Times Literary Supplement, and keen reader of all crime fiction) and Barry Forshaw (reviewer and editor of Crime Time magazine).

Ann’s books have been translated into sixteen languages. She’s a bestseller in Scandinavia and Germany. Her novels sell widely and to critical acclaim in the United States. Raven Black was shortlisted for the Martin Beck award for best translated crime novel in Sweden in 200.
Bio and photo from Goodreads.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Reference and partial quote in the book from the poem Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost (1874-1963)

I Jonathan: A Charleston Tale of the Rebellion by George WB Scott – A #BookReview – #historicalfiction #TuesdayBookBlog

“The book is pro-South, but not pro-Confederate.” …

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars

5 stars

Book Blurb:

NEW CIVIL WAR NOVEL SEES CONFLICT THROUGH NEW EYES

First-time novelist George WB Scott debuts a novel that offers a thrilling glimpse of Civil War Charleston through the eyes of a newcomer from Boston.

Readers join the main character of “I Jonathan, A Charleston Tale of the Rebellion” on his journey as a young man, marooned in a strange city just as the Civil War begins. His relationships with working men and women, slaves, merchants, planters, spies, inventors, soldiers, sweethearts and musicians tell the story of a dynamic culture undergoing its greatest challenge. Scott’s novel shows the arguments and trials of a wealthy cosmopolitan community preparing to fight a nation superior in manpower and arms.

“I wanted to tell a personal story built on the framework of history,” says Scott, “and the real story is Charleston’s challenges and experience in the war.

“The book is pro-South, but not pro-Confederate. It’s anti-war and anti-slavery. I wanted to go beyond stock characters and themes. I hope this encourages readers to reflect on a people who lived through a fundamental change of their society.”

His Review:

This is a magnificent civil war saga as told by a non-combatant. I was immediately immersed in the confusion and blockade that was the conflict between the North and the South during the American Civil War. Mr. Scott has distilled a myriad of letters into an eye-opening tale of survival during the conflict. I was swept away into another time and developed a kinship to the protagonist, Mr. I. Jonathan Vander.

Raised by a doting mother who falls ill and dies, Jonathan is sent to France by his father after an affair with a younger step-sister. Then his father falls ill and he is sent a bank draft to cover the voyage back to his boyhood home in Boston. The return voyage is interrupted by a rogue wave and Jonathan winds up in Charleston due to needed ship repairs. He misses the boat back to Boston and now being low on funds he is forced to stay in Charleston.

The relationship between the rich and poor in Charleston is apparent throughout the conflict. The rich land owners were able to escape the low country and retreat to the mountains to be cooler during the summers. The plight of the African American slaves was a bit different than expected. They too had a caste system which separated them into very distinct groups. Those that were freed were able to own businesses and controlled other groups of slaves. Jonathan being destitute was hired by one of these freed slaves. This entrepreneur dealt in all kinds of commodities and Jon was able to move easily through the area to collect and deliver the goods.

I was particularly intrigued by the blockade running enterprise of some of the traders. Avoiding Yankee blockades, the blockade runners were able to go to the Bahamas or Nassau and procure everything needed to make life a little more comfortable in the blockaded city. Jon is constantly harassed by the Confederate military because he was young and of the age of conscription. He was carrying papers which detailed his reasons for not being in the military. Being a Boston-Yankee, he avoided fighting with either side but simply fought to survive.

His relationship with a young woman that he saved from a fire is particularly moving. Their near poverty lives came together in comfort during this tumultuous time. Disease was always prevalent and yellow fever and sleeping sickness played a part in everyone’s lives. It seemed nobody was immune from the heartbreak and sorrow that living in marshlands during the summer can bring.

The development of instruments of war is also well described. The ballistics of the weapons and the distances they could shoot with accuracy amazed me. Thirty-five pound cannon balls lobbed into Charleston with various incendiary devices seemed particularly cruel. Simply starting a fire in this timbered city could wipe out major portions of the city and leave inhabitants destitute. This became an everyday event in the latter parts of the war.

CE Williams

Give yourself a block of time to allow yourself to be taken back to this era. It’s frighteningly eye-opening. The relationships of the inhabitants and their struggles are a rewarding infusion of knowledge. The tale is an immersion into another time and place. 5 stars CE Williams

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. These are my honest and unbiased thoughts.

Book Details:

Genre: Kindle eBooks (Historical Fiction)

Publisher: Archetype Imprints

ASIN : B08GH3YPJ1

Print Length: 442 pages

Publication Date: August 21, 2020

Source: Direct author request

Title Link: I Jonathan [Amazon]

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George WB Scott-author

The Author: George WB Scott was born in Stuart, Florida where he lived until he went to college in North Carolina. He graduated from Appalachian State University and went into television news in Tennessee. He is now an independent video producer and lives in Knoxville with his wife Mary Leidig.

His childhood memoir “Growing Up In Eden” explores experiences of his youth and of Martin County during the 1960s and 1970s. It includes more than a hundred photographs, mostly taken by the author just before the 2004 hurricanes, and has a CD with a screensaver of photographs and music by Gatlinburg acoustic guitarist Bill Mize.

In autumn of 2020 he will release his first novel, “I Jonathan, a Charleston Tale of the Rebellion.” More information is available on my blog at http://www.southernrocket.net/i-jonathan

(c) 2020 CE Williams – V Williams

V Williams

Without a Brew: A Sloan Krause Mystery Book 4) by Ellie Alexander – a #BookReview #cozymystery

“Life is what happens between coffee and beer.”

Book Blurb:

Amateur sleuth Sloan Krause delves into a murderous winter wonderland in another delightful mystery from cozy writer Ellie Alexander, Without a Brew.

It’s winter in the Bavarian village of Leavenworth, Washington, which for local brewmaster Sloan Krause means lots of layers, pine and citrus-flavored craft beers, and getting the new guest rooms at Nitro into pristine condition before visitors flood in for IceFest—a local tradition filled with fireworks, ice carving, and winter games of all varieties. But Sloan and her boss Garrett quickly learn that being brewkeepers turned innkeepers may not be as idyllic as it sounded.

While one couple staying with them seems completely smitten, a flashy group arrives in the evening demanding rooms. Sloan and Garrett are less than impressed, but agree to rent to them anyway. The night takes a turn when brewery patron Liv Paxton finishes her frothy pint and, with no previous plan for an overnight stay in Leavenworth, eagerly takes Sloan up on the offer of sanctuary from the snow—until she has a strange run in with some locals and the other guests. Sloan could be imagining things, but when Liv’s room is found trashed the next morning, a hateful message painted on her car, and Liv herself is nowhere to be found, Sloan is convinced another mystery is brewing. With many of the potential suspects hunkering down under Nitro’s roof, she knows her co-workers and friends won’t be safe until she serves up the killer a hoppy pint of justice.

My Review:

I really enjoying tearing into this series as soon as the next book is available. Not a beer drinker, but this series is written so well I’m almost ready to try–it’s right there with soliloquies about wine. Such an art—I’ll bet you never knew!

“The beer thief, or sample thief, as they were sometimes called, was a long plastic device with a gravity valve on the base.” Hmmm…okay.

Sloan Krause is the product of the foster care system, but has found a strong family and idyllic home in Leavenworth, Washington, where she has joined Garrett in crafting unusual beers made from specialty hops and crops unique to the area and the season. They’ve gradually added more services, light snacks and soups and are now looking forward to opening rooms above Nitro as a limited B&B. Her ex is from a strong German family where she honed the knowledge of her craft and learned to love the family she never had. She also has a teenage son, Alex.

In this episode, they are gearing up for IceFest and testing their B&B quarters which has resulted in an eclectic group of guests—opposites on the social pole with one group downright obnoxious, as well as a couple celebrating an anniversary, and a single woman stranded for the night.

So many strong layers here to enjoy: the description of the delightful Bavarian style town nestled in the high mountains of Washington state and the citizens, the information regarding the art of brewing, the equipment, the nuances, ingredients and recipes, Sloan’s mysterious background coming to the fore and its possible connection to her (soon-to-be ex) in-laws, and the mystery itself expertly woven smoothly together. It’s okay that it’s Book 4, the author easily adds bits of pertinent data (no info dump), although these are fun enough to go back and start with Book 1.

The protagonist herself, Sloan, is not an in-your-face amateur sleuth. She doesn’t generally put herself at risk. She is good with people, quietly putting them at ease, and usually gets the clues she’s looking for without their being any the wiser. Also, she works well with local police Chief Meyers, herself an intelligent woman, effective, exchanging hints.

The mystery rides the tide with Sloan’s personal life growth and that of the service industry and occasionally slips in a quick recipe explanation or two. The mystery is not without twists or red herrings. Not like you won’t get a sense of the perp (although once again, not one I wanted it to be). The author builds her characters so three-dimensionally, the reader becomes engaged and except for the rude and crude one, not easy to assign guilt.

Fully invested and rolling in all the layers, the conclusion comes whether or not you’re ready. The storyline has resolved several issues, set up for the next book, and fully cemented you in the series. The only issue I had was of “the sharp edge of the shovel.” Just not sure that’s one you’d walk away from.

I missed the first, but have read and thoroughly enjoyed Books 2 and 3. You should check out this atmospheric and character-driven series. On pre-order now, this one releases in November.  

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley. These are my unbiased thoughts.

Rosepoint Publishing: Four point Five of Five Stars

4 1/2 stars

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Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Culinary Mystery, Amateur Sleuths

Publisher: Minotaur Books

ASIN : B084M1SDGK

Print Length: 304 pages

Publication Date: November 10, 2020

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

About The Author:

ELLIE ALEXANDER is a Pacific Northwest native who spends ample time testing pastry recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouses and breweries nearby. When she’s not coated in flour, you’ll find her outside exploring hiking trails of Southern Oregon and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of research. She is the author of the Bakeshop Mystery Series and the Sloan Krause Mysteries. Follow her on social media to learn more about her books, see her recipe videos, and participate in fun giveaways!

Find out more about Ellie and her books by visiting her here:
Website: https://www.elliealexander.co/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ellie_alexander
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/elliealexanderauthor
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elliealexanderauthor
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/BakeshopMystery
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/elliealexander

(C) 2020 V Williams

V Williams

Mordecai’s Ashes (Larsson Investigations Book 1) by Alana Crane – a #BookReview

Your next PI/Crime Fiction–#mustread

Book Blurb:

Karl Larsson is an out of work roughneck, home from the oil fields of Alberta and back on the coast for the first time in years. His wife has left him and his future looks bleak. Becoming a detective is the last thing on his mind, but when Karl learns that he has inherited his estranged grandfather’s agency he decides to take a chance.

He doesn’t expect much action in a city as small as Victoria, BC, but Karl soon finds that Victoria is only the base of operations. His grandfather’s business took him across the length and breadth of Vancouver Island, and the Island is a world unto itself, with a culture all its own.

When a reporter from a national news agency asks him to investigate a drug running operation on the Island, Karl is drawn into a dangerous game. Finding the truth sounds simple in theory, but as Karl delves deeper he begins to realize that more than his life may be at stake.

My Review:

You’ll excuse me if I’m at a loss for words—still sniggering, shaking my head, totally but happily surprised with that little twist at the end of the book and enjoying that afterglow of a hoot of a book that has me amazed this is a debut author.

Karl Larsson is the youngest of his siblings and at the moment out of a job, out of a marriage, and out of luck. He’s currently shuffling aimless when he gets a call from his sister that his aunt Matilda passed away and she’d appreciate it if he would help his mother clear her rental. Following the funeral and reading of her will, he is dumbfounded to discover he has inherited his grandfather’s (Mordecai’s) building and detective agency in Victoria, BC.

He’s young. What does he know? He’s naïve, lacks a lot of street knowledge, but the building and the agency gives him a direction. No license? No prob. What he is is a sympathetic protagonist, an underdog you’ll root for immediately. His head is on straight—he’s a good kid just trying to get along in this world. You can’t help but love him.

Then comes his cousin, Kelsey—she’s only 19—smart as a whip, intuitive, ingenious. She is clever, resourceful, and enormously engaging. You might have grudging respect for her, but she earns it—time and again when she proves an invaluable resource for Karl. You can’t help but love her.

The light-sided search and serve side of the detective agency moves along until a journalist (a former client of Mordecai) comes with a very serious investigation and soon Karl is heavy into the case with the initial support of Kelsey, which quickly turns grim.

The author carefully introduces the circumstances building her characters background, her main characters, and a well-plotted drug running operation into a fast-paced and immersive storyline. I enjoyed the description of the island and the little coastal BC communities. She builds sympathy for Karl; he’s naïve and a quick study, but the reader becomes fearful for him as he succeeds getting deeper into a situation that will not be easy getting out of. Kelsey speaks her mind with knee-jerk reaction and the reader is quickly drawn to her creativity and smarts. She is a strong co-protagonist. Can Karl keep Kelsey safe, much less himself?

The narrative cruises into the conclusion and the dust settles quietly, until little plot points, threads, begin tying off. There were questions, issues to be resolved (after all, this is Book 1) and the reveal at the end is one that will elicit a chuckle. My only problem is the edit misses—but the story and characters really win the day. Brilliant twist. Master storyteller. I’m so looking forward to Book 2!

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. These are my honest thoughts—loved it.

Rosepoint Publishing: Just Shy of Five 

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Book Details:

Publisher: Big Tree Press

Genre: Private Investor Mysteries, Crime Fiction

ASIN : B089LG7BB9

Print Length: 260 pages

Publication Date: June 1, 2020

Source: Publisher and author request

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

Arlana Crane - author

The Author: Arlana Crane is a fourth generation Vancouver Islander, currently living in Calgary, Alberta with her husband James. She loves to read, write, knit, play the ukulele and attend the theatre. Summer vacations will find her back on her beloved Island, enjoying the ocean and spoiling her niece and nephews. For more information please visit arlanawrites.com.

(C)2020 V Williams

V Williams

Your next crime fiction.

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

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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

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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)
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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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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)
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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

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

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

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

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

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

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

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

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4-stars

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

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams