What Divides Us: The Kilteegan Bridge Story – Book 2 by Jean Grainger – #BookReview – #TuesdayBookBlog

“May the roof above us never fall in and those beneath it never fall out.” 

Book Blurb:

Kilteegan Bridge, Ireland 1963.

What Divides Us by Jean GraingerOn the face of it, life is idyllic for Eli and Lena Kogan. Living in their beautiful house in the Irish countryside, their children are growing up happy and safe surrounded by a loving community. So when a letter arrives one day threatening to shatter their peaceful and prosperous world, Lena and Eli have no option but face the dark reality of their situation. How best to do that, is something that drives a wedge between them.
As a Jewish child, escaped from Germany in 1939, Eli is all for letting those dark days where they belong, for him, there’s no future in the past.
But for Lena, it’s different. She knows that the only way she can move her family forward in peace is to first go back, and there is only one man who knows the whole truth.
From rural Ireland to wartime France, What Divides us, tells a tale of loyalty and love, resentment and revenge, that has far reaching consequences for the Kogan family, the unravelling of which might just destroy their future.

My Review:

If Jean Grainger comes out with a new book, particularly in one of her series, you know I’ll be front and center. Book 2 of the Kilteegan Bridge Story digs deeper into the story of Eli and Lena Kogan. Now in 1963, some five years after The Trouble with Secrets introduced us to the unusual couple, they have Sarah and Pádraig in addition to Emmet—the baby that began the storyline.

The family is living in a beautiful home in a small community surrounded by family, support, and prosperity. When Lena receives a letter addressed specifically to her, it’s bad news. Eli, a Jewish child of Germany, wants nothing to do with the past, that ugly and tragic history. He and Lena have vastly different ideas on how to handle it but for her, there is only one way.

“…they ran with the hares and hunted with the hounds.”

A mother and a wife but she’s not entirely without resources and she begins a concerted effort to get to the bottom of it and assure that it will not impact neither her family nor the immediate family firmly entrenched within their boundaries.

It’s not just about the house or the land, however, it goes somewhat deeper and her first line of offense is to contact Malachy Berger, whose family originally held title. It was his loathsome father that separated her and Malachy years ago. His family and hers have a dark history, one they’ve not shared with anyone except Eli, stemming from the last great war.

“There are such things as kind untruths…”

What Divides Us by Jean GraingerIn the first book, I wasn’t sure about the character of Eli. He is closed mouth about his background but has otherwise proven to be a loving father and responsible member of the medical community. Lena has matured with three children but this time I had a bit of a problem with her very female severe overreaction to the situation, enumerating the issues and then repeating them several more times. It is a big problem, of course, with repercussions not just for her and Eli. She does, after all, have a valid point and with typical fighting Irish sensibilities tends to expand a conflict into a battle, one she’s prepared to fight.

The author crafts a well-plotted and fast-paced storyline that grips from the beginning. Lena doesn’t shy away from traveling to meet persons with info and dip into a dark background that stuns the soul as it reveals brutal and shocking truths.

I love it when Jean Grainger releases another in one of her series. I’ve read most of them and marveled at the way she can weave a historical chronicle into an Irish family drama that touches the heart and takes so many of us with some Irish ties home.

I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author that in no way influenced this review. These are my honest thoughts. Recommended!

Rosepoint Rating: Four point Five Stars 4 1/2 stars

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Book Details:

Genre: Historical Irish Fiction, Jewish Historical Fiction, Jewish Literature & Fiction
ISBN: ‎ 1914958993
ASIN: B09YMBVS5S
Print Length: 266 pages
Publication Date: September 29, 2022
Source: Author Request

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble

 

Jean Grainger - author
Jean Grainger – author

The Author: USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR

SELECTED BY BOOKBUB READERS IN TOP 19 OF HISTORICAL FICTION BOOKS.

WINNER OF THE 2016 AUTHOR’S CIRCLE HISTORICAL NOVEL OF EXCELLENCE

Hello and thanks for taking time out to check out my page. If you’re wondering what you’re getting with my books then think of the late great Maeve Binchy but sometimes with a historical twist. I was born in Cork, Ireland in 1971 and I come from a large family of storytellers, so much so that we had to have ‘The Talking Spoon’, only the person holding the spoon could talk!

I have worked as a history lecturer at University, a teacher of English, History and Drama in secondary school, a playwright, and a tour guide of my beloved Ireland. I am married to the lovely Diarmuid and we have four children. We live in a 200 year old stone cottage in Mid-Cork with my family and the world’s smallest dogs, called Scrappy and Scoobi..

My experiences leading groups, mainly from the United States, led me to write my first novel, ‘The Tour’. My observances of the often funny, sometimes sad but always interesting events on tours fascinated me. People really did confide the most extraordinary things, the safety of strangers I suppose. It’s a fictional story set on a tour bus but many of the characters are based on people I met over the years.

[truncated]

My current series, The Queenstown Series, centres on twelve year old Harp Devereaux and her mother Rose and the first book opens on the day Titanic sails from Queenstown, Co Cork on her last fateful journey. It is a bestselling series and people really seem to connect to the precocious Harp and her hard-working mother as they battle to survive in a society where conforming and playing by the rules was paramount. It is so far a three book series, The West’s Awake, and The Harp and the Rose being the next two books but I’m currently writing book four.

Many of the people who have reviewed my books have said that you get to know the characters and really become attached to them, that’s wonderful for me to hear because that’s how I feel about them too. I grew up on Maeve Binchy and Deirdre Purcell and I aspired to being like them. If you buy one of my books I’m very grateful and I really hope you enjoy it. If you do, or even if you don’t, please take the time to post a review. Writing is a source of constant contentment to me and I am so fortunate to have the time and the inclination to do it, but to read a review written by a reader really does make my day.

©2022 V Williams V Williams

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The Quarryman’s Girl by Melanie Forde – #BookReview – #TuesdayBookBlog

Rosepoint Rating: Five Stars 5 stars

“Gossip was a major form of entertainment in the eighteen-nineties…”

Book Blurb:

The Quarryman's Girl by Melanie FordeLife seemed to be winding down for French–Canadian immigrant Rose Dowd. She had not been fighting the inevitable until Fate forced her to gear up for yet another chapter. Much like her adopted country, as America begins staking out a new international role in World War II, Rose must reinvent herself. Quickly. Before she can move forward, however, she needs to absorb the lessons from her past. Integral to that journey are Rose’s sharp-tongued sister Izzy; her perpetually worried son Vince, a resourceful shipyard worker; her long-dead Métis mentor Mère Agathe; her bright and bubbly but sickly granddaughter Netty; and Nate, the “Ragman’s Grandson,” a club-footed, pre-law student dreading his future and inching instead toward a career as a writer. The Quarryman’s Girl follows these vivid characters from the 1880s to the 1940s, from the hard-scrabble pig farms of Quebec to the granite quarries of Quincy, from the frozen St. Lawrence to the deep-channel Fore River. A compelling story from beginning to end, once again Melanie Forde has shown why she is a consummate storyteller and one of contemporary America’s finest writers.

My Review:

The wait is often worth it.

Such is the case with this beautifully penned literary novel deeply entwined with characters so well developed you want a hug them. They’re family.

I was introduced to this author back in 2019 with the request for participation in a book tour; one I was glad to accept for Reinventing Hillwilla (final novel in the Hillwilla trilogy) followed a few months later by Decanted Truths. I loved them both, each read as a standalone and each entirely unique.

“In the Irish culture, the gift of gab was equally distributed between the sexes.”

In this novel, Rose Dowd is staring down senior hood and doesn’t like what she sees. Thank heaven she has Vince, her youngest son, to help her meet day-to-day challenges she was formerly capable of handling on her own after her husband passed on. She also has others in her life well established near the granite quarries of Quincy (KWIN-zee—not KWIN-see) where she and estranged sister Izzy were abandoned after her large Irish family left Quebec and Quincy for Manitoba. The girls, barely teens, survived and thrived.

“You’ve heard of spring fever. You know what it really means? Scurvy!”

There are a number of threads interweaving through the well-plotted narrative and we get to know each of the characters, identify easily with people we know, care about, invest in. Descriptions of scenes are so well drawn that the reader is plunked into the middle of them. Loved the inclusion of the French phrases in the storyline as well as the Native American’s contribution to the shipyard efforts—the dialogue between Vince and Walter, a Mohawk, is priceless male banter.

The Quarryman's Girl by Melanie FordeTension builds as the characters are developed and Nate, the “Ragman’s Son” is sent to perform handyman jobs at Rose’s home and to report to Vince her slips of memory. Vince is frustrated with Rose’s senior moments as he tries in vain to glean grist for a thesis, unhappily facing law school.

And then there is Izzy, her sharp tongue alienating more than immediate family, who has a crisis of her own that may force Rose to deal with the upheaval that caused their rift so many years ago.

Oh, so bittersweet, examining the hurts, the love, the physical as well as the mental constraints that bind family and friends as easily as isolate. A unique story that scrutinizes senior cognitive decline, betrayal, aspirations, and, hopefully, reconciliation.

The story is full of emotion, raw, alternately filled with wry bursts of humor. It’s written in an intelligent, sensitive, and articulate style that pulls in the reader and doesn’t let go. The conclusion is both heartbreaking and tearfully satisfying and is heartily recommended. Not just family drama. Truly literary magic.

“Intense relationships never really died.”

I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author and publisher through @NetGalley that in no way influenced this review. These are my honest thoughts.

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Book Details:

Genre: Literary Fiction, Historical Literary Fiction
Publisher: Mountain Lake Press

  • ISBN-10: ‎ 1959307002
  • ISBN-13: ‎ 978-1959307006

ASIN: B0B7BM9KLX
Print Length: 325 pages
Publication Date: August 27, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon US   |   Amazon UK  |  Barnes & Noble

 

Melanie Forde - authorThe Author: For most of her writing career, Melanie Forde ghosted on international security issues. She published her first novel, Hillwilla, in 2014, followed by On the Hillwilla Road in 2015. Her West Virginia trilogy culminates in Reinventing Hillwilla, 2018. Melanie Forde - authorTwenty years in the making, her Irish-American family saga, Decanted Truths, was also released in 2018. In 2022, Forde mined the stories about her French Canadian ancestors, to publish another period novel and family saga, The Quarryman’s Girl.

Find more info about Melanie Forde here.

©2022 V Williams V Williams

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Dancing in the River by George Lee – #BookReview – #TuesdayBookBlog

“When the assumption you begin with is false, everything generated from that must be false.”

Book Blurb:

Dancing in the River by George LeeGrowing up in a small, riverside town, Little Bright is thrusted into the political whirlwinds along with his family during China’s Cultural Revolution. When a reversal of the winds of reform blows through the land, however, he learns the once-forbidden tongue―English―which lends wings to his sense and sensibility. At college, he adopts a new English name, Victor. With the deepening of his knowledge of the English language, he begins to place himself under the tutelage of Pavlov, Sherlock Holmes, and Shakespeare.

When the story unravels, however, Victor’s un-Chinese passion and tension threaten to topple his moral world and mental universe. Now, he must wade into an uncharted journey to unlock the dilemma and to unearth his destiny.

Drawing on his own life experiences, George Lee has fashioned an unforgettable coming-of-age story about fate and faith, good and evil, power of imagination and storytelling, and, above all, wonder of English literature.

My Review:

I’m not sure how to describe this narrative, part memoir, part poignant journey of a Chinese male born in a little riverside town and indoctrinated heavily as a child with anti-western sentiment. As a child, Little Bright is filled with the ideas, history, and culture of thousands of years that teach everything is first about the country (not self) and the ideals fostered by propaganda through education and family traditions. Indeed, there were strong repercussions for viewing any angle of a subject that wasn’t sanctioned.

Dancing in the River by George LeeSo the shock felt by the author during China’s Cultural Revolution is extreme. Now encouraged to learn the once forbidden English language—the better to infiltrate and turn into intelligence—the more valuable the student.

Secretly, however, the author had been questioning a lot of life’s mysteries and coming across Sherlock Holmes devoured everything about the way of life and heretofore conclusions. And that only opened additional doors to many more questions the author began to wrestle with.

Deep into philosophical and political questions, the author transitions from the equivalent of grammar school and high school to a university where he goes from being Little Bright to Victor and experiences all the new found independence of a college student. More and deeper questions. And English? There was another whole exquisite literary world out there to explore.

I enjoyed many of the sayings and stories, though there were also many passages that required rereading to understand sufficient to digest. Too many quotables to list. I also enjoyed the little explanations in…Hanzi(?). Interesting to see those translations.

I felt at times that I was rereading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Much the same struggle of making sense of oneself with similar conclusions.

I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author and publisher through @NetGalley that in no way influenced this review. These are my honest thoughts.

Rosepoint Rating: Four Stars 4 stars

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Book Details:

Genre: Literary Fiction
Publisher: Guernica Editions

  • ISBN-10: ‎ 177183756X
  • ISBN-13: ‎ 978-1771837569

Print Length: 288 pages
Publication Date: November 1, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble 

The Author: George Lee was born and raised in China. He earned an M.A. in English literature from University of Calgary, and a Juris Doctor degree from University of Victoria. His first novel, Dancing in the River, won the 2021 Guernica Prize for Literary Fiction. He practices law in Vancouver, Canada.

©2022 V Williams V Williams

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Where the Crawdads Sing (the movie) vs #Audiobook #WheretheCrawdadsSing by Delia Owen – #literaryfiction

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens 

Intro

Back in May of 2020 when I downloaded and listened to Where the Crawdads Sing audiobook, I had no idea it would be a movie. The audiobook blew me away. I loved it, although it has not been received with the same genuine appreciation by all who read the book.

When the movie opened in July, I was able to see the result on the big screen, and I should mention, the big screen is the only way to view this atmospheric movie—the cinematography is breathtaking.

I promised a critique of the movie comparing it to the book that took the author ten years to write. Did the movie do justice to the book that has now been read by millions around the globe?

The Movie (Blurb)

“A woman who raised herself in the marshes of the deep South becomes a suspect in the murder of a man she was once involved with.”

My Thoughts

Daisy Edgar-Jones - actor
Photo Attribution: Daisy Edgar-Jones

The movie does a credible job following the major plot points of the book. The actors are wonderful, including London star Daisy Edgar-Jones who has to dig into her non-existent Southern roots to get the drawl right. No one likes the guy who ends up the murder victim, everyone loves Kya (both the girl and the woman do convincing, emotional jobs) and the support characters are great. So far, so good.

Taylor John Smith - actor
Photo Attribution: Taylor John Smith

But the photography and cinematography are exceptional. Atmospheric and beautiful, the location draws you in and almost overpowers the storyline, although the storyline as you must know by now is gripping.

It’s a passion-packed plot with themes of abandonment, loneliness, ingenuity, independence, love, loss, and triumph. It’s enough to wring tears from Scrooge.

Reece Witherspoon promoted the film from the get-go, loving the marsh story which was enough in itself, and then the added mystery of the murder—was it murder or an accident? Must be a murderer as Kya goes to trial—she was seen with him. And though I’m not a fan of Taylor Swift, she contributes a lovely, haunting melody.

Movie Details

Director: Olivia Newman
Stars: Daisy Edgar-Jones, Taylor John Smith, Harris Dickinson, Jojo Regina
Released July 15, 2022 (Filmed in New Orleans, Louisiana)
Among the eight producers, Reese Witherspoon is listed as executive producer and promoted heavily.
Although Mychael Danna is listed under Music, Taylor Swift also contributed a song she named Carolina.

4.5 stars

Audiobook (Blurb)

Amazon Charts #1 this week

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING PHENOMENON—NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE!
More than 15 million copies sold worldwide
A Reese’s Book Club Pick

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life – until the unthinkable happens.

Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

My Thoughts

Well, if you read my original review of the audiobook, you know I loved it. Unique, beautiful in the telling, and so well drawn and gripping, it’s one of those you truly can’t put down.

Taken from my 2020 review:

The story of six-year-old Kya Clark, abandoned by her mother and shortly thereafter by her (much) older siblings is now living in a marsh shack with her despotic father. Kya has to pretty quickly learn to survive on her own near Barkley Cove, North Carolina.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia OwensThe novel is divided by her story that begins with her mother leaving in the early morning hours of 1952 and the discovery of a body in 1969 near the old tower.

The storytelling is so emotionally poignant, the prose flows through beautiful descriptions of the natural setting in the marsh that it’s easy to smell the decaying vegetation, algae inhabited waterways, spy the marsh inhabitants, amphibians, birds, and insects…

The characters are brought vividly to life with the narration, alternately spoken by child or adult, literate or illiterate, as well as the Carolina drawl… Once having learned to motor into town on their old marsh fishing boat, she begins to draw the attention of the cashier at the Piggly Wiggly, the African American family, Jumpin’ and Mabel, where she bought the gas, and soon the lady from school, where she was promised a meal–real food–once a day…

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia OwensSelf-educated, no one knows more about the natural world of the marshlands than Kya. She’s come to be known as the “Marsh Girl.” She’s smart, has gone on to publish books on the wildlife of the marsh. But could it possibly have been she to cause the death of Chase?

The conclusion resolves carefully allowing you long enough for your heart to settle back down when you are knocked off your feet by a shocking revelation you didn’t see coming. It’s a brilliant twist, the well-plotted and written narrative so engrossing, so achingly atmospheric, every sense poised that you are hanging on every word. It’s a serious exploration of not a male coming of age this time, but a female left on her own reconciling abandonment, loneliness, hunger, disappointment, and triumph. Completely immersive, so engaging it remains solidly planted long after the end resulting in a tremendous book hangover.

5 stars 

Book Details

Genre: Romance, Literary Fiction, Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Penguin Audio
ASIN: B07FSXPMHY
Listening Length: 12 hrs 12 mins
Narrator: Cassandra Campbell
Audible Release: August 14, 2018
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Links: Where the Crawdads Sing [Amazon US]

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens - UK
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens-Amazon UK

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Delia Owens - authorThe Author: Delia Owens is the co-author of three internationally bestselling nonfiction books about her life as a wildlife scientist in AfricaCry of the Kalahari, The Eye of the Elephant, and Secrets of the Savanna. She has won the John Burroughs Award for Nature Writing and has been published in Nature, The African Journal of Ecology, and International Wildlife, among many others. She currently lives in Idaho, where she continues her support for the people and wildlife of Zambia. Where the Crawdads Sing is her first novel.

You can also connect with Delia on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/authordeliao

The Narrator: Cassandra Campbell is a prolific audiobook narrator with more than 700 titles to date. Winner of four Audie Awards and nominated for a dozen more, she was a 2018 inductee in Audible’s inaugural Narrator Hall of Fame.

Overall Impression

The Movie

While the actors do an amazing job of bringing to life the experience of the marsh, it was (for me) the atmospherics so well drawn in the book that commands attention. It was an engrossing recreation of the novel by Delia Owens, faithful to that jaw-dropping twist at the end. A fine representation of the book and well worth the time spent on the big screen.

The Book

You already know my assessment of the book—while it might approach cheesy a few times—it introduces innocent romance (on one side anyway) and manages to successfully weld a sub-plot realistically with a satisfying conclusion.

Conclusion

Loved the book, loved the movie, the latter being an excellent choice for a cinema visit. For me, however, I’ll still give the nod to the well-crafted narrative by Ms Owens. There’s a reason it’s gone around the world a few times and continues to garner major attention. You can’t go wrong with either the audiobook or the digital/paperback, however, I would recommend the audiobook as being expertly read by Cassandra Campbell.

©2022 V Williams V Williams

#TuesdayBookBlog

A Sliver of Darkness: Stories by C J Tudor- #BookReview – #TuesdayBookBlog

A Sliver of Darkness by C J Tudor

Book Blurb:

The debut short-story collection from the acclaimed author of The Chalk Man, hailed as “Britain’s female Stephen King” (Daily Mail), featuring eleven bone-chilling and mind-bending tales

A Sliver of Darkness by C J TudorTime slips. Doomsday scenarios. Killer butterflies. C. J. Tudor’s novels are widely acclaimed for their dark, twisty suspense plots, but with A Sliver of Darkness, she pulls us even further into her dizzying imagination.

In “The Lion at the Gate,” a strange piece of graffiti leads to a terrifying encounter for four school friends. In “Final Course,” the world has descended into darkness, but a group of old friends make time for one last dinner party. In “Runaway Blues,” thwarted love, revenge, and something very nasty stowed in a hat box converge. In “Gloria,” a strange girl at a service station endears herself to a coldhearted killer, but can a leopard really change its spots? And in “I’m Not Ted,” a case of mistaken identity has unforeseen fatal consequences.

Riveting, macabre, and explosively original, A Sliver of Darkness is C. J. Tudor at her most wicked and uninhibited.

His Review:

A Sliver of Darkness by C J Tudor
A Sliver of Darkness – US cover

As I read this author, I harkened back to my teen years. Many years ago I became engrossed in the writings and short stories of Edgar Allen Poe. His use of the macabre in his short stories was intriguing. Reading C.J. Tudor I wondered if Edgar could have been reincarnated.

A Sliver of Darkness by C J Tudor
A Sliver of Darkness-UK cover

Each of these stories has a diabolical twist at the conclusion. I was also enchanted by the idea of the apocalypse and end of life as we know it. The defeatism and loss of control by the individuals involved became predictable. My sympathies went out to the people who tried to escape to Butterfly Island. I did find it hard to believe, however, that sailors giving transfer services would not be aware of the dangers lurking in the shoals.

CE Williams[Note: Clyde also read The Burning Girls in 2020 and I read a couple prior to that, including The Other People. You always get a nail-biter with a book from this author.] Enjoy these short stories and harken back to the writing mystique of long ago. 4.5 stars – CE Williams

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with the opportunity to read and review this book.

 

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

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Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Thrillers, Supernatural Thrillers, Paranormal Suspense
Publisher: Ballantine Books
ASIN: B09PB2HH4J
Print Length:
Publication Date: November 8, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Links: A Sliver of Darkness [Amazon-US]
Amazon-UK
Barnes & Noble
Kobo

C J Tudor - authorThe Author: C. J. Tudor lives with her partner and young daughter. Her love of writing, especially the dark and macabre, started young. When her peers were reading Judy Blume, she was devouring Stephen King and James Herbert.

Over the years she has had a variety of jobs, including trainee reporter, radio scriptwriter, dog walker, voiceover artist, television presenter, copywriter and, now, author.

Her first novel, The Chalk Man, was a Sunday Times bestseller and sold in thirty-nine territories.

©2022 C E Williams – V Williams V Williams

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Murder at Black Oaks: A Robin Lockwood Novel Book 6 by Phillip Margolin – #BookReview – #TuesdayBookBlog

Murder at Black Oaks by Phillip Margolin

Book Blurb:

In Phillip Margolin’s Murder at Black Oaks, Attorney Robin Lockwood finds herself at an isolated retreat in the Oregon mountains, one with a tragic past and a legendary curse, and surrounded by many suspects and confronted with an impossible crime.

Murder at Black Oaks by Phillip MargolinDefense Attorney Robin Lockwood is summoned by retired District Attorney Francis Hardy to meet with him at Black Oaks, the manor he owns up in the Oregon mountains. The manor has an interesting history – originally built in 1628 in England, there’s a murderous legend and curse attached to the mansion. Hardy, however, wants Lockwood’s help in a legal matter – righting a wrongful conviction from his days as a DA. A young man, Jose Alvarez, was convicted of murdering his girlfriend only for Hardy, years later when in private practice, to have a client of his admit to the murder and to framing the man Hardy convicted. Unable to reveal what he knew due to attorney client confidence, Hardy now wants Lockwood’s help in getting that conviction overturned.

Successful in their efforts, Hardy invites Lockwood up to Black Oaks for a celebration. Lockwood finds herself among an odd group of invitees – including the bitter, newly released, Alvarez. When Hardy is found murdered, with a knife connected to the original curse, Lockwood finds herself faced with a conundrum – who is the murder among them and how to stop them before there’s another victim.

His Review:

Attorney/client privilege is a cornerstone of American jurisprudence. In the course of defending his client, a young district attorney learns of the other attorney’s inability to disclose certain facts in a case. The result is the client being sent to death row for a crime the young man did not commit. Jose Alvarez spends over thirty years on death row- an innocent man.

Murder at Black Oaks by Phillip MargolinRobin Lockwood is contacted 30 years later to help salve the conscience of the then much older district attorney. He resides at Black Oaks Manor, a desolate mansion in an even more desolate region of Oregon. Black Oaks Manor is at the end of a remote location often unable to be reached by land vehicle. Jose is now released because papers have surfaced that proved he could not have killed the man he was sentenced to death for.

The story’s plot is further complicated by a faulty elevator and washed-out roads. The washed-out roads strand Robin and her associate while deaths continue at Black Oaks. Who is responsible for these untimely deaths?

Throughout the novel’s plot line, the story leads to false trails and impossible outcomes. I found myself flummoxed by the possibilities and recognized my personal inability to discover the truth.

This novel harkens back to some of the older great mystery writers. As the body count mounted, I found myself on quicksand trying to ferret out the culprit. Usually, a concrete motive for the killings and an obvious villain begin to surface as the novel proceeds. This is not the case with this novel. Facts are not presented until the end which exposes the killer. However, I still found myself in disbelief as to the capacity of the killer to be responsible for the crime. CE Williams

I suggest you read the book and see if you reach another conclusion. I have read many of Phillip Margolin’s books and this is one of his slippery best. Enjoy! 4 stars – CE Williams

We’ve read several previous Robin Lockwood series novels, most recently The Darkest Place and  A Matter of Life and Death, and in 2020 A Reasonable Doubtand enjoyed them all, although more so the former. Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with the opportunity to read and review this book.

 

Rosepoint Publishing: Four Stars 4 stars

 

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Book Details:

Genre: Legal Thrillers, Crime Thrillers, Women Sleuths
Publisher: Minotaur Books
ASIN: B09NTKCH8C
Print Length: 288 pages
Publication Date: November 8, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Murder at Black Oaks [Amazon]
Barnes & Noble
Kobo

 Phillip Margolin - authorThe Author: PHILLIP MARGOLIN has written over twenty novels, most of them New York Times bestsellers, including Gone But Not ForgottenLost Lake, and Violent Crimes. In addition to being a novelist, he was a long time criminal defense attorney with decades of trial experience, including a large number of capital cases. Margolin lives in Portland, Oregon.

[Read more about Mr. Margolin on his website.]

©2022 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

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Christmas Scarf Murder by Carlene O’Connor, Maddie Day, and Peggy Ehrhart – #BookReview – #TuesdayBookBlog

Christmas Scarf Murder by Carlene O’Connor, Maddie Day, and Peggy Ehrhart

Long Scarf Syndrome – The entanglement of the scarf’s free-floating end into moving machinery

Book Blurb:

Stocking stuffers like handknit scarves make the coziest of Christmas gifts—unless they’re used as accessories for murder!

Christmas Scarf Murder by Carlene O’Connor, Maddie Day, and Peggy Ehrhart CHRISTMAS SCARF MURDER by CARLENE O’CONNOR
When grinchy thefts steal the good cheer at a local nursing home, Siobhan O’Sullivan manages to identify one missing item before Kilbane, Ireland’s Christmas tractor parade—a hideous shamrock scarf wrapped around a very dead body. Now, with her holiday farmhouse bash approaching, Siobhan must dash to stop a deadly Secret Santa from gifting another unwanted surprise.

SCARFED DOWN by MADDIE DAY
It’s beginning to taste a lot like Christmas at Pans ‘N Pancakes, as twelve days of menu specials dazzle hungry locals. But the festivities go cold the instant a diner dies while knitting a brilliant green scarf. With Aunt Adele tied into a murder investigation, it’s all on Robbie Jordan to find out who’s really been naughty or nice in South Lick, Indiana.

DEATH BY CHRISTMAS SCARF by PEGGY EHRHART
Suspects pile up faster than New Jersey snow when frosty-tempered Carys Walnutt is found strangled by a handmade scarf auctioned at Arborville’s tree-lighting ceremony. Between a winning bidder hiding behind the alias “S. Claws” and a victim who deserved coal in her stocking, can Pamela Paterson and the crafty Knit and Nibble ladies freeze a killer’s merry murder plot?

My Review:

Fun, fast, and easy book to kick off the Christmas reading holidays! This anthology is headlined by Carlene O’Connor, whose Irish Village Mystery series feature Detective Sargeant Siobhan O’Sullivan and hubby Garda O’Sullivan in this offering, Christmas Scarf Murder. Always a treat with the Irish countryside-themed mysteries. This storyline covers the death of a tractor parade participant and triggered my short research into Long Scarf Syndrome—it’s a real (and deadly) occurrence. The O’Sullivan’s are entertaining their very large family for the Christmas holidays with the goal of solving this one by Christmas Eve.

Christmas Scarf Murder by Carlene O’Connor, Maddie Day, and Peggy Ehrhart The second, Scarfed Down by Maddie Day is part of her Country Store Mystery series set in South Lick, Indiana (fictional, French Lick is not), of course, the proximity caught my attention. I greatly enjoy her writing style as well.

“Boy, howdy, Robbie, it’s colder than a bullfrog’s hind leg out there and darker than a pocket.”

“That would definitely slot me into the Too Stupid to Live category.”

She’s always busy tending her restaurant/country store and hosting a knitting group. It’s the latter that’s key to this novella, entertaining a lively bunch of knitters along with Christmas-themed dishes for the diner end of the business.

I’m not familiar with Peggy Ehrhart who included her Death by Christmas Scarf in the Christmas scarf-themed compilation. The third story features Pam Paterson who engages with her Knit and Nibble group in an interesting use of knit one, purl one during WWII (Spy-Craft: The Knitting Spies of World War II…”). The ingenious methods of communication during that war never ceases to amaze me.

These Christmas scarf-themed cozy mystery novellas are a lovely way to kick off the season, expected to release late September and currently on preorder. Love the Irish setting and the husband/wife team in O’Connor’s books and the location and sense of humor in Maddie Days’ books.

I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author and publisher through @NetGalley that in no way influenced this review. These are my honest thoughts.

Rosepoint Rating: Four point Five Stars 4 1/2 stars

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Book Details:

Genre: Mystery Anthologies, Holiday Fiction
Publisher: Kensington Cozies
ASIN: B09PJ228LB
Print Length: 351 pages
Publication Date: September 27, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley 

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo

The Authors:

Carlene O’Connor is the USA Today bestselling author of the acclaimed Irish Village Mysteries, the County Kerry Novels, and the Home to Ireland Mysteries. Born into a long line of Irish storytellers, her great-grandmother emigrated from Ireland filled with tales in 1897 and the stories have been flowing ever since. Of all the places she’s wandered across the pond, she fell most in love with a walled town in County Limerick and was inspired to create the town of Kilbane, County Cork, the setting of her Irish Village Mystery series. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, and currently divides her time between Southern California and the Emerald Isle. Please visit her online at CarleneOConnor.net.

Maddie Day is the Agatha Award and Macavity Award-winning author of the Cozy Capers Book Club Mystery series and the Country Store Mysteries, as well as other series written under the name Edith Maxwell. A member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America, she is a regular contributor at Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen and belongs to The Wickeds, a group of six bestselling authors who blog at WickedAuthors.com. Day lives with her beau north of Boston, though she knows both Indiana and Cape Cod intimately. She is a talented amateur chef and gardener and can be found online at MaddieDayAuthor.com. 

Peggy Ehrhart is a former English professor who lives in Leonia, New Jersey, where she writes mysteries and plays blues guitar. She holds a Ph.D. in medieval literature from the University of Illinois and taught writing and literature at Queens College, CUNY, and Fairleigh Dickinson University, where she was a tenured full professor. Her short stories have appeared in Futures Mystery Anthology Magazine, Crime and Suspense, Flashing in the Gutters, Spinetingler, Crime Scene: New Jersey 2, and Murder New York Style. A longtime member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, Peggy served on the board of MWA New York as head of the Mentor Committee. She was president of Sisters in Crime NY/TriState from 2013 to 2015. Peggy regularly attends mystery-writing conferences and participates in conference panels and gives talks on mystery fiction at libraries in New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey.

©2022 V Williams V Williams

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