The Doctor’s Daughter by Shari J Ryan – #BookReview – #TuesdayBookBlog

The Doctor’s Daughter by Shari J Ryan

Book Blurb:

Auschwitz, 1941: It was her father’s job to save the lives of the SS. But she chose to risk everything and save the lives of prisoners.

The Doctor's Daughter by Shari J RyanIn Nazi-occupied Poland, Sofia cannot look her father in the eye. Sofia’s mother, her papa’s cherished wife, is Jewish—how dare he work as a doctor for the SS? She cannot forgive him, even if the bargain was made to spare their lives.

In the middle of the night, Isaac emerges from a packed train with hundreds of others. Beneath Auschwitz’s barbed wire, soldiers surround them, and gunshots pierce the dark sky. The SS decide prisoners’ fates on the spot—and Isaac is chosen to work, rather than to die.

Every day, Isaac and his fellow inmates are sent to a nearby farm. From sunup to sundown, they toil the land with barely a scrap to eat. Every breath feels like it could be Isaac’s last, so when he sees a beautiful auburn-haired girl peering out of the farmhouse window, it feels like a dream…

Sofia refuses to accept what she is seeing. Disobeying her father and evading the guards, she risks her life to sneak a letter to the green-eyed boy outside. She explains that she has hidden them food, and that she’ll do everything in her power to save them.

This secret exchange sparks an escape that should have been impossible—and a love story that is unforgettable. But is love enough in the face of evil? And when Sofia and Isaac are concealed underground, holding their breath as the Nazis hunt them, will they survive?

My Review:

Does a doctor in Poland living under the Nazi occupation really have an option if he’s expected to save the lives of the SS? During the darkest part of the war, life for the Jewish is extremely tenuous. The doctor is not Jewish, but his wife and daughter are and he makes a pact with the devil in exchange for the lives of his family.

The Doctor's Daughter by Shari J RyanSofia, a teen is devastated and feels betrayal for her neighbors in her father’s efforts for the Germans. She has witnessed the prisoners from Auschwitz as they are brought in to work the land for the Germans.

“…watching us is their favorite form of entertainment—the SS officers…”

Sofia and her mother have been insulated by the favor of her father, living on their family’s farm established generations before. But rules and laws begin to turn ugly.

There is the POV of Sophia, Isaac, and Olivia, each as they strive to survive the horror they face daily, the ravishes of hunger, disease, faith.

For Isaac, he believes “every single day feels like ten, but without a future to look forward to.”

Isaac and his sister Olivia have lost both parents and live like sewer rats until they dare to venture out. When they are taken prisoner, Olivia is sent in one direction, Isaac another as a slave laborer on the farm owned by Sophia’s family and it is there they meet and conspire to find a way to better conditions.

The characters are well-formed under the author’s pen and tear at your heart, the atmosphere so dark and foreboding, so frightening. You can see the barbed wire, the soldiers with their guns, smell the decay, the death. It’s an extremely emotional read, the tears are there, the reality of much that happened. It’s almost impossible to fathom, impossible to forget. For these teens, a life borne of cruelty. Sophia noted,

“The war has been ongoing for more than a third of my life, and I can’t remember being free. I can’t recall if I was old enough to understand the perception of peace before it went away.”

The conclusion is a quiet reflection of those who fought, steadfastly refused to quit, sought hope when it seemed forever out of reach. A difficult read but recommended.

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: War Fiction, Literary Sagas, Historical Literary Fiction
Publisher: Bookouture
ASIN: B09RK9ZWKR
Print Length: 345 pages
Publication Date: April 28, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble

 

Shari J Ryan - authorThe Author: Shari J. Ryan is a USA Today Bestselling Author of Women’s Fiction, WWII Fiction, and 20th Century Historical Fiction with a focus on the Holocaust and Pearl Harbor.

Shortly after graduation from Johnson & Wales with a bachelor’s degree in marketing, Shari began her career as a graphic artist and freelance writer. She then found her passion for writing books in 2012 after her second son was born. Shari has been slaying words ever since.

With two Rone Awards and over 125k books sold, Shari has hit the USA Today Bestseller List, the Amazon’s Top 100, Barnes & Noble’s Top Ten, and iBooks at number one. Some of Shari’s bestselling books include Last Words, The Other Blue Sky, Unspoken Words and A Heart of Time.

Shari, a lifelong Boston girl, is happily married to her personal hero and US Marine and have two wonderful little boys. For more details about her books, visit: http://www.sharijryan.com

©20222022 V Williams V Williams

Playing With Fire by Mary Burton – #BookReview – Women’s Crime Fiction

Playing With Fire by Mary Burton

Book Blurb:

Playing with Fire by Mary BurtonAn unsolved mystery ignites a deadly game of chess in this scorching thriller from New York Times bestselling author Mary Burton.

A year after the infamous arsonist Nero was found dead in one of his latest fires, journalist Darcy Sampson receives a tip that the body found at the scene wasn’t Nero at all. Determined to solve the case, Darcy heads to her small hometown in Virginia to track Michael Gannon, an arsonist investigator who refuses to believe that Nero is dead.

But when a new series of fires in the area have a remarkable resemblance to the arsonist’s previous work, Darcy and Gannon are in a race against time to put a stop to Nero once and for all.

But Nero is ready and waiting for them, and he intends on teaching both Gannon and Darcy one last, fatal lesson.

His Review:

A firebug is terrorizing the Washington, D.C. area. Michael Gannon is an investigator whose primary mission is to apprehend the perpetrator. This particular criminal flaunts his crimes and leaves a matchbook with a very unique logo to flaunt his abilities.

Playing With Fire by Mary BurtonNine fires and twelve people died later, the man is identified only by the name “Nero”. The entire D. C. metropolitan area is paralyzed with fear. He always seems to be one step ahead of the investigators. However, in one of the fire scenes, a man found in a fetal position with evidence of the accelerants used on many of the fires leads the coroner to surmise the firebug has been caught in one of his own fires. The fires in the DC area suddenly stop.

Sometimes the worst enemy for investigators and law enforcement are the news people who try to scoop or break the story. The issue with the current string of arsons is a reporter who discloses confidential investigation information to help spark interest in his bylines. The arsonist realizes that the investigation may be getting too close and stops to let the dust clear.

Darcy Sampson is a reporter who decides to leave the DC area and go back to her hometown. Michael Gannon has retired and chooses her hometown as the place he will settle down in retirement. They meet at the strange scene of a fire in her hometown. Gannon’s abrasive demeanor instantly ignites a love/hate relationship.

CE WilliamsNero, the arsonist, misses the fires and the competition between him and Gannon. He happens to choose the same small town for his next fire. The competition is on for another incredible run. Gannon soon realizes that “Nero” the arsonist is certainly not dead. Can the newspaper reporter and Gannon become successful in stopping the arsonist? Fortunes and large properties hang in the balance. This is a fast-paced and gripping novel. Recommended! 4.5 stars – CE Williams

We received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author and publisher through NetGalley that in no way influenced this review. These are his honest opinions.

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

Book Details:

Genre: Women’s New Adult & College Fiction, Women’s Psychological Fiction, Women’s Crime Fiction
Publisher: HQ Digital
ASIN: B09W8QYG7C
Print Length: 205 pages
Publication Date: May 6, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Playing With Fire [Amazon.com.uk]

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Mary Burton - authorThe Author: Mary Burton loves writing suspense, researching law enforcement and forensic procedures, morning walks, baking, books, and tiny dachshunds. She also enjoys hunting down serial killers, which she does in her New York Times and USA Today bestselling novels of suspense and romance. Library Journal has compared her work to that of Lisa Jackson and Lisa Gardner, and Fresh Fiction likened her writing to that of James Patterson.

Mary is routinely featured among the top twenty writers in Amazon’s Author Rankings for romantic suspense, and her recent novel The Last Move claimed the number ten fiction slot in the Kindle eBooks Store.

Research is a favorite part of Mary’s day. She never tires of learning more about police work, evidence collection and analysis. She’s known for taking a hands-on approach, whether it means interviews with professionals in the field, forensic seminars or lessons at the firing range.

A Richmond native, Mary has lived there for most of her life. She is a graduate of Virginia’s Hollins University and worked in marketing before she began writing full time. Her first book was published in 2000 and she’s now the author of thirty-four published novels, five novellas and four works of contemporary women’s fiction written as Mary Ellen Taylor.

A member of International Thriller Writers, Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, Novelists, Inc., and Romance Writers of America, Mary is known for creating multiple suspense stories connected by characters, such as her recent The Forgotten Files novels. Her new book, Her Last Word, and The Last Move, break that mold.

When not traveling for research or visiting with readers at bookstores, book festivals and conferences, Mary remains very much a homebody. She and her husband spend time alternately enjoying and lamenting their empty nest and spoiling their four-legged babies Buddy, Bella and Tiki.

©2022 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Have a great weekend!

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah – #Audiobook Review – #TBT

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

 

(Amazon) Editors Pick Best Literature & Fiction 

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

Texas, 1921. A time of abundance. The Great War is over, the bounty of the land is plentiful, and America is on the brink of a new and optimistic era. But for Elsa Wolcott, deemed too old to marry in a time when marriage is a woman’s only option, the future seems bleak. Until the night she meets Rafe Martinelli and decides to change the direction of her life. With her reputation in ruin, there is only one respectable choice: marriage to a man she barely knows.

By 1934, the world has changed; millions are out of work and drought has devastated the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods as crops fail and water dries up and the earth cracks open. Dust storms roll relentlessly across the plains. Everything on the Martinelli farm is dying, including Elsa’s tenuous marriage; each day is a desperate battle against nature and a fight to keep her children alive.

In this uncertain and perilous time, Elsa—like so many of her neighbors—must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or leave it behind and go west, to California, in search of a better life for her family.

The Four Winds is a rich, sweeping novel that stunningly brings to life the Great Depression and the people who lived through it—the harsh realities that divided us as a nation and the enduring battle between the haves and the have-nots. A testament to hope, resilience, and the strength of the human spirit to survive adversity, The Four Winds is an indelible portrait of America and the American dream, as seen through the eyes of one indomitable woman whose courage and sacrifice will come to define a generation.

“My land tells its story if you listen. The story of our family.”

My Review:

Elsa Martinelli got sick when she was a teenager and though she survived, the family kept her at arm’s length and isolated until too late for marriage, she is overwhelmed and succumbs to the attention of the first man to notice her, the son of landowners, a Texas farmer.

Her urban family, wealthy and more worried about appearances than the love of their daughter, dumps her at the porch of the boy’s family. Rafe’s family has no alternative other than to take her in and teach her about the farm where she must learn to (gasp!) work. But they are good people, as we used to say “the salt of the earth.” Rafe does what he must with a shot-gun marriage and gives up his dreams of college.

The Four Winds by Kristin HannahThere is much to learn on the farm and the years pass, now with two children, and a tenuous marriage, but his parents come to embrace Elsa as the daughter they never had and love their grandchildren. When the drought hits and hits hard several years after the Great Depression started, the struggle to make severe changes in an effort to survive wears on all of them.

Rafe’s parents are determined to stay on their land, but Rafe is ready to head west. When their son confronts a devastating lung disease born of the Dust Bowl situation, Rafe has enough and he leaves them all in the dead of night. Elsa makes the difficult decision to head west, alone, with her two children hopefully to save her son.

But the harrowing drive alone to California is just the beginning of more years of extreme poverty, struggle, and the overwhelming competition for manual labor work with the many thousands who’ve also left their own Dust Bowl states to find a better life. It’s not.

My father’s family were among those who left for California (from Missouri) in 1938 and lumped in with the cruel denigration of “Okies” (Oklahoma). The staggering numbers of the destitute overwhelm the state and the farmers quickly take advantage of the infinite labor pool setting outrageously low levels of pay for back-breaking work sun-up to sun-down.

Emigrant camps blossom the length of every fertile valley with crops to tend including cotton, which when ready to pick is cruelly heavy with thorns as well as cotton bolls. The author paints a grim picture of the unsanitary conditions of tent and cardboard camps, lacking any potable water and tied to the “company store” where more money is deducted from paltry wages.

There are themes of love—the love given to each other in extreme situations—family, the love of a mother for her children, hopeless conditions, and those who overcome and who don’t. It’s not that hard to imagine the same can happen to anyone. The haves and have-nots and those who take advantage of the victims.

“Doom and gloom and agony on me” says the little ditty riddled throughout the old “HeeHaw” variety show. But can there be any light at the end of the tunnel?

The author does an amazing job of describing the devastation wreaked by the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, the thousands of migrants that choked California’s economy, services, and infrastructure. The characters are so well fleshed you can smell them, see the cardboard in their shoes, and wonder how much longer they can live on stone soup, their ribs prominent.

In the end, this is not a totally depressive narrative but one of triumph over all the odds and ultimately the indomitable spirit of human nature.

Book Details:

Genre: Literary Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
ASIN: B0882VNQKS
Listening Length: 15 hrs 2 mins
Narrator: Julia Whelan
Publication Date: February 2, 2021
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Four Winds [Amazon]
 

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Kristin Hannah - authorThe Author: Kristin Hannah is the award-winning and bestselling author of more than 20 novels including the international blockbuster, The Nightingale, which was named Goodreads Best Historical fiction novel for 2015 and won the coveted People’s Choice award for best fiction in the same year. It was also named a Best Book of the Year by Amazon, iTunes, Buzzfeed, the Wall Street Journal, Paste, and The Week. In 2018, The Great Alone became an instant New York Times #1 bestseller and was named the Best Historical Novel of the Year by Goodreads.

The Four Winds was published in February of 2021 and immediately hit #1 on the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Indie bookstore’s bestseller lists. Additionally, it was selected as a book club pick by the both Today Show and The Book Of the Month club.

The Nightingale is currently in production at Tri Star, with Dakota and Elle Fanning set to star. Tri Star has also optioned The Great Alone and it is in development. Firefly Lane, her novel about two best friends, was the #1 Netflix show around the world, in the week it came out. The popular tv show stars Katherine Heigl and Sarah Chalke and Season Two is currently being filmed.

www.kristinhannah.com

©2022 V Williams V Williams

Book hangover

The Trouble With Secrets: The Kilteegan Bridge Story by Jean Grainger – #BookReview – #TuesdayBookBlog

The Trouble with Secrets by Jean Grainger

Happy Release Day!

#1 New Release in contemporary British & Irish Literature 

Book Blurb:

Kilteegan Bridge, County Cork 1958

The Trouble with Secrets by Jean GraingerFor eighteen year old Lena O’Sullivan, life is predictable and dull. A future of hard work, marriage to a local boy, and a family of her own one day is all she has to look forward to. People from her background know not to expect too much, but Lena yearns for something different.

Malachy Berger was different, for him, the world is at his feet. An only child of a wealthy, if peculiar father, a large inheritance, a beautiful house and a fine education are his due.

Nobody is in favour of Lena and Malachy’s friendship, but why not? What harm are they doing? Why is everyone so dead set against it?

Then fate takes a hand, and Lena realises that secrets and lies have bound her and Malachy in an impossible situation. And their future seems determined by events that happened long before they were born.

From rural Ireland to post-war Cardiff, Lena and Malachy’s story winds its way back to wartime Germany and occupied France in a web of deceit that threatens to destroy them both.

My Review:

It’s a given that if Jean Grainger comes out with a new book, I’m going to be reading it—having done so for most of her books, series or standalones. Of course, I have my favorites.

The Trouble with Secrets by Jean GraingerThis one tells the story of Lena O’Sullivan and her family in the Irish countryside of Kilteegan Bridge and is one of the reasons I love the author’s books so much—the authentic atmosphere she brings to her storytelling. It’s palpable. It’s the late 1950’s and apparently as in America during that time, a young lady finding herself in a family way, unmarried, was dealt with in one of several (often severe and) shameful ways.

Lena was luckier than most, however, having a loving father, Paudie, who took good care of his wife who would probably now be diagnosed as bi-polar. She tended to have manic episodes and when Paudie dies in a tragic accident, Lena is left with her fragile mother and siblings.

The baby’s daddy comes from a well-to-do family who has familial problems of their own and resides in Kilteegan House. Malachy Berger’s father carries a vendetta against the O’Sullivan’s and makes sure Malachy won’t be involved further with Lena.

I loved most of the support characters, railed against the Berger father who made a despicable antagonist and loved the character of Doc, Lena’s godfather. Eli made a great character, but almost too good to be true, and it was fun to watch Lena’s maturation process.

The trouble with secrets is that they almost always are exposed (sooner or later). The journey through the process of devising a credible story to satisfy the people of the village is an interesting one—but one I fear hangs like a loose tooth. And I have a feeling we haven’t truly gotten the whole story yet.

I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author 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: Contemporary British & Irish Literature, Historical Irish Fiction, British & Irish Literary Fiction
ASIN: B09V5MWCP5
Print Length: 313 pages
Publication Date: May 2, 2022
Source: Author
Title Link: The Trouble with Secrets [Amazon]  

Jean Grainger - authorThe Author: JEAN GRAINGER

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. Please read her full bio on her Amazon book pages.]

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

A Slow Ruin by Pamela Crane – #Audiobook Review – #domesticthrillers

A Slow Ruin by Pamela Crane

A Slow Ruin by Pamela Crane

Book Blurb:

April 1910. Women’s rights activist Alvera Fields mysteriously vanishes from her home one night, leaving her newborn baby and husband behind, and the case is never solved. 

April 2021. On the anniversary of her great-great-grandmother’s disappearance, Alvera’s namesake, Vera Portman, vanishes in an eerily similar manner. Six months later, the police recover a girl’s body. While the family waits, afraid to find out it’s Vera, Felicity Portman clings to hope that her missing teenage daughter is still alive. Despite all odds, Felicity senses a link between the decades-apart cases — a mother feels such things in her bones. But all suspicion points to the last person who saw Vera alive: Felicity’s sister-in-law, Marin. 

Marin, with her troubled past. Marin, the poor woman who married into the rich family. Marin, the only one who knows Felicity’s darkest secret. As Felicity makes a shocking discovery in Vera’s journal, she questions who her daughter really is. The deeper she digs, the more she’s ensnared in the same mysteries that claimed their ancestor in a terribly slow ruin.

My Review:

Quite the domestic thriller that spans almost 100 years, from great-great-grandmother to great-great-granddaughter. What in the world could tie the two over the span of a century?

My first experience with the author; didn’t have any idea what to expect. However, this turned out to be twisty and emotional with several red herrings. First, women’s rights activist Alvera Fields mysteriously vanishes from her home one night—there is NO way she’d have left her husband, let alone her newborn baby.

Then her namesake, Vera Portman vanishes similarly. Her mother rabidly hopes that the body they find six months later is not Vera. The family is very wealthy, but it doesn’t appear to have been a matter of money.

A Slow Ruin by Pamela CraneWhen a journal is found written by Alvera, Felicity devours its contents hoping for some hint as to what might have happened to her daughter. SOOO much going on, family secrets, lies, deception, and the one that might include Marin—Felicity’s sister-in-law. The journal reveals much more than anyone could have expected.

I was glad to have the audiobook to help with the many characters, the inflections in dialogue, the hidden nuances. A family dynamic run amok with the circumstances, the suspicious character the reader doesn’t much like. Is the mother over the top? This IS her daughter after all…isn’t it?

I struggled with it, at times too much detail, minutia, slowing the pace, multiple threads. And the surprise in the conclusion, although at this point, was it really? It is a slow burn mystery, a tad too slow to keep my engagement at an edge of chair level.

I received a complimentary review copy of this audiobook from the publisher and NetGalley. These are my honest thoughts, but I’m sure there will be other readers who will be thoroughly entertained.

Book Details:

Genre: Domestic Thrillers, Psychological Fiction
Publisher: Dreamscape Media, LLC
ASIN: B09PQ6K6T2
Listening Length: 11 hrs 35 mins
Narrator(s): Angie KaneCaitlin CavannaughLesa LockfordCarolina Hoyos
Publication Date: February 1, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: A Slow Ruin [Amazon]

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Three-point Five Stars 3 1/2 stars

 

Pamela Crane - authorThe Author: PAMELA CRANE is a USA TODAY bestselling author and professional juggler of four kids, a writing addiction, and a horse rescuer. She lives on the edge and writes on the edge…where her sanity resides. Her thrillers unravel flawed women who are villainous, which makes them interesting…and perfect for doing crazy things worth writing about. When she’s not cleaning horse stalls or cleaning up after her kids, she’s plotting her next murder. Join her newsletter to get a free book and updates about her new releases at http://www.pamelacrane.com.

©2022 V Williams V Williams

Rosepoint Publishing

Roaring Liberty: The Queenstown Series – Book 4 by Jean Grainger – #BookReview – #TuesdayBookBlog

#1 New Release in Historical Irish Fiction

 Book Blurb:

New York City, 1922

Roaring Liberty by Jean GraingerHarp Devereaux is torn. Part of her desperately wants to return to Ireland to finish what she and her family and friends started, and to witness the departure of the British forces from Ireland after eight hundred long years. But the other part finds life in America during the Roaring Twenties too exciting to trade for the sleepy streets of County Cork.

She and JohnJoe are united and determined to sample all that life after the Great War has to offer, but life Stateside is not as free and easy as Harp first imagines and soon she finds herself longing for the simplicity of her homeland.

She wants to live life on her own terms but life is never simple, on either side of the Atlantic, and there are sinister forces at work, determined to bring them all down..

My Review:

Book 4 of the Queenstown series wraps it up in classic style, managing to resolve all the issues in a fast-moving and immersive conclusion.

While I was not able to walk in Harp’s shoes, I do so enjoy all the characters, especially JohnJoe and in this entry to the series Jerry, Elliot, and Celia. Harp and JohnJoe hesitantly form a vaudeville act upon the insistence of Jerry who will act as manager and promoter, as well as Elliot (on violin) and Celia, their bookkeeper and seamstress.

Roaring Liberty by Jean GrainerAfter Rose and Matt return to Ireland, Harp feels free to live as she wants to live her life and that’s as a performer—beginning in New York where they find a lucrative level of success, particularly after Elliot pens an original that is picked as a favorite in their venues.

But there are issues back home and Jerry opens an opportunity to play in Dublin allowing Harp to see her mother again. While in Ireland, however, they discover the tentative and long-awaited peace treaty with Britain divides their country between those who are agreeable to the terms and those who are not, creating a dangerous climate and turning former friends to enemies.

Also, there is the issue of the home that Harp inherited when her “father” claimed her as his heir, bypassing his own brother who took possession of Cliff House following their hasty exodus to the states.

The well-paced narrative slowed somewhat in the middle as issues having been introduced were more carefully examined and possible remedies posited, while song lyrics were introduced (including the iconic Irish ballad “Danny Boy” (which always brings tears to my eyes) or repeated. I must say the lyrics of Elliot’s “original song” “Your Heart Will Know” is absolutely, hauntingly beautiful.

There are themes of the struggle of women in society (“Until all women were free, none were”), lifestyle, as well as the continued troubles with the British and class distinction.

I am one of the lucky few to receive an advance reader’s copy of this author’s works. I’ve enjoyed all of them, including The Harp and the Rose, Book 3, and find each delightful, atmospheric, and educational as well as engaging and entertaining. Book 4, Roaring Liberty is out now and highly recommended although you might wish to begin (if you haven’t already) with Book 1, Last Port of Call.

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

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Book Details:

Genre: British Historical Literature, Historical Irish Fiction, Historical Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Fiction
ISBN: ‎B09QFC6LNB
ASIN: B09DBWW184
Print Length: 480 pages
Publication Date: January 17, 2022 – Just Released!
Source: Author request
Title Link: Roaring Liberty  [Amazon] 

Jean Grainger - authorThe Author: JEAN GRAINGER – 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.

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…

[truncated…]

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.

Read her complete bio on Amazon or visit her website at Jean Grainer.com

©2022 V Williams V Williams

Big Lies in a Small Town: A Novel by Diane Chamberlain – #Audiobook Review – #TBT

Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

North Carolina, 2018:

Morgan Christopher’s life has been derailed. Taking the fall for a crime she did not commit, her dream of a career in art is put on hold – until a mysterious visitor makes her an offer that will get her released from prison immediately. Her assignment: restore an old post office mural in a sleepy Southern town. Morgan knows nothing about art restoration, but desperate to be free, she accepts. What she finds under the layers of grime is a painting that tells the story of madness, violence, and a conspiracy of small town secrets.

North Carolina, 1940:

Anna Dale, an artist from New Jersey, wins a national contest to paint a mural for the post office in Edenton, North Carolina. Alone in the world and in great need of work, she accepts. But what she doesn’t expect is to find herself immersed in a town where prejudices run deep, where people are hiding secrets behind closed doors, and where the price of being different might just end in murder.

What happened to Anna Dale? Are the clues hidden in the decrepit mural? Can Morgan overcome her own demons to discover what exists beneath the layers of lies?

A Macmillan Audio production from St. Martin’s Press.

My Review:

WOW!

Just… WOW!

I listened to approximately 45 audiobooks in 2021 (four per month) and if I’d finished this one in time, it would definitely have been included in my favorites list for the year—audiobook or print.

Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane ChamberlainTold from two POVs, in 2018, Morgan Christopher and 1940 Anna Dale. Morgan is sprung from the North Carolina Correctional Facility on a conditional release—the promise to restore a mural that was to have been installed in the Edenton Post Office in 1940. Anna Dale, an artist from New Jersey won a national contest out from under the town artist—considered the shoo-in. From New Jersey! An abomination! What did she know about the south or the town that the mural was to represent? The south is an alien world to Anna and Edenton not exactly thrilled to welcome a northerner.

Morgan’s benefactor, however, is a famous artist, Jesse Jameson, who dedicated himself to young artists with a history. Morgan knew his work and seriously loved it. She dabbled—loved painting—but restoring a mural was something she knew NOTHING about.

Jesse was within months of completing and opening an art gallery at the time of his passing and Morgan’s time frame was two months but when she initially saw the mural, very old, flaking, dusty; she thought impossible.

Completing the mural will keep her out of prison AND she’ll be paid for her work. It’s seriously important. She finds an ally in the project manager and though he’s not an artist can provide some basic start-up instruction in art restoration.

We begin to get filtered narration by Anna, an enormously engaging and sympathetic character, young and naïve, definitely out of her element but very serious about providing the town with the best representation of the area she can. Then as the mural is gradually restored, painstakingly inch by inch, Morgan begins to uncover some disturbing and bizarre inclusions into an otherwise masterful mural. What happened to Anna? Did she go mad?

Anna’s story is mesmerizing, one you can’t tear yourself away from. I loved her philosophy, her openness, and the two boys she took in to help with the work on the mural; especially Jesse. He’s an enigma, a brilliant natural artist, obviously enormously talented. Coming from a “colored” family, however, holds no hope of an artistic career. His family needs his help on the farm and only his aunt encourages and supports his work with Anna. It’s 1940; in the south. And Anna is a white northerner.

What happens next is shocking. A quick intake of breath, a sharp refusal that this is how Anna’s story will end. What happens to Jesse? The mural?

Undeniably the greatest hold is Anna’s story. But Morgan keeps digging and now her heart and soul are in uncovering Anna’s story along with restoration of the mural.

The characters are extremely well developed, the heart goes out to Anna and Jesse, truly the force in this amazing narrative. Storytelling at its finest! From heart-thudding moments to anger, revulsion, and back again to tearful hope. Totally invested in Anna, Jesse, and to a lesser extent Morgan.

Themes of poverty, racism, violence, and rape. Easy to switch back and forth between the POVs, each advancing the tension, the questions swirling maddingly around the mind. How can this be resolved? Or CAN it?

And the conclusion: beautiful.

I read five final nominees in the Goodreads Choice Awards for 2020 and this was not even listed. If I have a problem with a book, I check to see if or why I’m off base in my assessment, pursuing both low and high reviews. It looks as if I’m in agreement with most reviews this time. So, what happened?

This is a truly immersive read from beginning to amazing end. Strong, individual and believable characters. The mural, during the restoration process, took shape and color in my mind becoming both awesomely jaw-dropping and then bewildering, confusing.

Brilliant! Did you read or listen to the audiobook? What was your reaction?

Book Details:

Genre: Family Life Fiction, Psychological Thrillers, Historical Thrillers
Publisher:  Macmillan Audio
ASIN: B07T8C3RT3
Listening Length: 13 hrs 19 mins
Narrator: Susan Bennett
Publication Date: January 14, 2020
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Big Lies in a Small Town [Amazon]

Add to Goodreads

Diane Chamberlain - authorThe Author: Diane Chamberlain is the New York Times, USA Today and (London) Sunday Times best-selling author of 27 novels. The daughter of a school principal who supplied her with a new book almost daily, Diane quickly learned the emotional power of story. Although she wrote many small “books” as a child, she didn’t seriously turn to writing fiction until her early thirties when she was waiting for a delayed doctor’s appointment with nothing more than a pad, a pen, and an idea. She was instantly hooked.

Diane was born and raised in Plainfield, New Jersey and lived for many years in both San Diego and northern Virginia. She received her master’s degree in clinical social work from San Diego State University. Prior to her writing career, she was a hospital social worker in both San Diego and Washington, D.C, and a psychotherapist in private practice in Alexandria, Virginia, working primarily with adolescents.

More than two decades ago, Diane was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, which changed the way she works: She wrote two novels using voice recognition software before new medication allowed her to get back to typing. She feels fortunate that her arthritis is not more severe and that she’s able to enjoy everyday activities as well as keep up with a busy travel schedule.

Diane lives in North Carolina with her significant other, photographer John Pagliuca, and their odd but lovable Shetland Sheepdog, Cole.

Please visit Diane’s website at http://www.dianechamberlain.com for her event schedule and for more information on her newest novel, Big Lies in a Small Town, as well as a complete list of her books.

Susan Bennett- narratorThe Narrator:  [NOTE: I think this is the correct Susan Bennett. If it is not, please let me know and I’ll correct immediately.] Susan Alice Bennett is an American voice actress and a former backup singer for Roy Orbison and Burt Bacharach. She is best known as the female American voice of Apple’s Siri personal assistant, since the service was introduced on the iPhone 4S on October 4, 2011. Wikipedia

©2021 V Williams

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