Tuesday, September 25, 2018

River of Secrets by Roger Johns

Episode 111 of the GSMC Book Review Podcast has me sitting down for another author interview. This time I spoke with Roger Johns about River of Secrets, the second book in the Wallace Hartman Mysteries.

Herbert Marioneaux, a Louisiana politician infamous for changing his mind on hot-button issues, has been murdered and his body posed to send a message. Baton Rouge homicide detective Wallace Hartman has to figure out who’s sending that message. DNA points to Eddie Pitkin, a social justice activist who also happens to be the half-brother of Wallace’s childhood best friend. But even with the combative history between Pitkin and Marioneaux, murder seems out of character for Pitkin, whose usual MO is to confront the wealthy and powerful with their inconvenient past. As Wallace digs deeper, she unearths a possible alibi witness, along with evidence of a deeply troubled relationship that points the finger of suspicion at Marioneaux’s son.
While Eddie’s supporters are convinced of his innocence, his enemies are equally certain of his guilt. Under pressure from all directions, Wallace pursues her investigation into the dark heart of the political establishment as Baton Rouge falls under the shadow of escalating violence. When it appears a police department insider may be sabotaging her efforts by leaking information about the case, and after menacing messages are left for her and her loved ones, Wallace is forced to untangle a trail of old and disturbing secrets unaided by those she most needs to trust. (Source)
 I really enjoyed this book. It's suspenseful, with plenty of twists and turns that kept me trying to figure things out throughout the story. Wallace is a main character it is easy to root for, and I look forward to more books with her to see where her story continues to take her. The book has moments that are uncomfortable because they are so true to life with the current situation of polarity in our country. While those scenes were difficult to read at times because of the accuracy, they add a level of depth and authenticity to the story and it's location.

  • Mystyery
  • Suspense/Thriller
What I enjoyed:
  • Roger describes Wallace as a woman who is on "the cusp of middle age." As a woman of similar description, I appreciate seeing a smart. likeable, very human main character of this demographic represented.
  • All of the twists and turns. As the case evolves there continue to be developments that can either potentially exonerate or convict the main suspect. Things are never easy and as I said in the interview, I'm really glad I'm not an investigator who has to wade through all of that type of confusing evidence.
  • Wallace's development throughout the story. She has some complicated issues in her life and her past and she is working on coming to terms with them. Even as she makes progress there are circumstances that make those issues even more complicated. I am intrigued to see where she goes throughout the series.
  • "Colley Greenberg, her mentor when she became a detective, had taught her how to do this. Study everything you see. Hold the scene in your mind's eye, and then try to run the tape backward. Some of their colleagues laughed it off as voodoo lessons, but it worked. More than once, it had shown that possibilities that at first seemed attractive were, in fact, remote or impossible, or vice versa."
  • "'Never as a chronic malcontent what would make them happy,' Carol told her. 'It'll always be something that can't be delivered and that will always be your fault.'"
  • "'Wallace, you know the secret code of the political class in Louisiana. Don't say it if you can nod it. Don't not it if you can wink it.'"
Where you can find Roger online:
Facebook: Roger Johns
Twitter: @RogerJohns10
Amazon Author Page: Roger Johns
GoodReads: Roger Johns

Author Bio:
Roger Johns is a former corporate lawyer and retired college professor with law degrees from Louisiana State University and Boston University. During his nearly two decades as a professor, he served on the editorial staffs of several academic publications and he won numerous awards and recognitions for his teaching and his scholarly writing. Roger was born and raised in Louisiana. He and his wife Julie now live in Georgia. (Source)
Are you a fan of mysteries? Want to know more about Wallace Hartman? You should definitely enter our giveaway! Entering is easy: Just go to our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram page and comment on Episode 111: Interview with Roger Johns. That's it! Commenting will automatically enter you to win a copy of River of Secrets. The giveaway is open until September 30, and winners will be announced on October 1. US only. 

To hear the interview with Roger, please click here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Sunset in Laguna by Claire Marti

On Episode 107 of the GSMC Book Review Podcast I welcomed Claire Marti back to the podcast. Claire originally joined me back in April on Episode 72 to talk about the second book in her Finding Forever in Laguna series, At Last in Laguna. For this episode we spoke about the final book in that trilogy, Sunset in Laguna.

Returning to Laguna Beach after four tours in the Middle East, Christian Wolfe leaves the military behind and buys a wine bar, vowing to keep his life simple. He fights to keep his devastating PTSD a secret and refuses to burden anyone else with his baggage. When stunning Kelly Prescott and her red stilettos saunter into town, she drives him past the bonds of his self-control.
Successful in her father’s stuffy law firm, Kelly’s too compassionate to survive in the cutthroat world of corporate litigation. Leaving behind both family and courtroom drama, she moves to Laguna to become general counsel for a nonprofit veterans’ organization.
She didn’t bargain on a gorgeous modern-day Heathcliff, and in Christian, she sees another kind of challenge—one she can’t resist. (Source)
This is the third book in a trilogy, but each of the three can easily be read as a standalone novel. If you prefer to read series, though, then this one is great in how all six of the characters appear in each of the three books, but each couple gets their own story. Kelly and Christian each bring issues from their past into the relationship in this installment, and both have to figure out if they can resolve those issues in ways that will allow them to move forward with that relationship.

  • Contemporary Romance
What I enjoyed:
  • How Claire brought in veteran's issues, especially PTSD. She is able to shine a light on what many vets experience when they return home while making it a natural part of the story and Christian's character.
  • How both Christian and Kelly have issues from their past to confront and find a way to deal with. We all bring our pasts with us into relationships, so I appreciated how the two of them worked, both individually and together, to find ways to not forget those pasts but learn to live with them so they wouldn't affect their futures.
  • Olive the pug. Olive is a service dog who basically adopts Christian. She's goofy looking (people keep calling her a rat, poor thing), but she's totally besotted with Christian as well as fiercely loyal and incredibly good at helping him with some of his PTS issues.
  • The meditation scene. It's hilarious, and reminded me so much of my own brain when I have tried to meditate.
  • "'Nope. I'm trying something new.' And am hoping it wills solve every single excruciating headache, bone-chilling, sweat-inducing nightmare, and overall sense of survivor's guilt. No pressure, though."
  • "She almost drooled over his immaculate kitchen. Could it actually be as organized as her own? Why was it sexy?"
  • "She was short, plump, dressed in a navy sweater set and plaid skirt. Jesus, she looked like Angela Lansbury in Murder, She Wrote. This was the doctor they'd sent him to?"

Where you can find Claire online:
Instagram: @clairepmarti
Amazon Author Page: Claire Marti
GoodReads: Claire Marti

Author Bio:

Claire Marti started writing stories as soon as she was old enough to pick up pencil and paper. After graduating from the University of Virginia with a BA in English Literature, Claire was sidetracked by other careers, including practicing law, selling software for legal publishers, and managing a non-profit animal rescue for a Hollywood actress.
Her award winning debut novel, Second Chance in Laguna, won best unpublished contemporary romance in the Heart of the Molly and third place in the Maggie. Second Chance in Laguna is available now in print, ebook and audiobook at all major retailers.
When Claire's not writing, she's teaching yoga. You can find her teaching at studios in sunny San Diego or enjoy forty-three online classes on the international website www.yogadownload.com. A breast cancer survivor, Claire is a sought-after speaker on the power of yoga and meditation for cancer. She's been published in numerous magazines with articles on wellness and is the author of a memoir on her experience beating breast cancer.  
Claire is a member of the Romance Writers of America and the San Diego Romance Writers. (Source)
Love romance? Want to read Kelly's and Christian's story? Excellent! I have signed copies from Claire to give away! Just go  to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and comment on Episode 107: Interview with Claire Marti. That's it! The giveaway goes through September 16 and winners will be announced September 17. US only.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Dr. Brainchild and Radar: A Popcorn Discovery by Cole W. Williams

Episode 105 of the GSMC Book Review Podcast has me chatting with Cole W. Williams about her new children's picture book Dr. Brainchild and Radar: A Popcorn Discovery. The book tells the story of how the microwave was invented. The details of the invention are true, but rather than using Percy Spencer (the inventor)  as the main character, Cole instead created Dr. Brainchild, who invents the microwave with trusty lab assistant Radar.

Kids of all ages will be inspired to explore and create by "Dr. Brainchild & Radar: A Popcorn Discovery" Join the fun as Dr. Brainchild and Radar discover how a little bit of creativity, some wacky inventions, and a whole lotta science can transform the ordinary into something EXTRA tasty! Boy, girl, wolf, or anything in-between--it doesn't matter so long as YOU are there! Science is for everyone, so come along and enjoy the ride! (Source)

This book is so much fun. It's for readers aged 6-9, but heck I'm definitely out of that age range and I loved it. I also learned how the microwave was invented, which is something I'd never really thought of before. I think readers of most ages will enjoy the story.
  • Children's Book
  • Picture Book
  • Science

What I enjoyed:
  • Dr. Brainchild is gender neutral, never referred to by specific pronoun. I love that each person reading the book can picture themselves as Dr. Brainchild because the character isn't automatically a male or a female.
  • That the book makes science accessible. There are some big words and concepts in this book, but it's easy to follow and those bigger ideas are presented in such a way as to encourage learning and growth.
  • I learned how the microwave was invented! And that the first one was HUGE. Not something you'd have in your average kitchen.

  • "Day after day the pair toiled over a machine of great power--the Magnetron. Dr. Brainchild sang to the machine while they worked, 'Polka dots and chicken and cheese, gorillas and gravy and do as you please...'"
  • "Dr. Brainchild did cartwheels at the thought of a new experiment, and tap danced all the way into town."

Where you can find Cole online:
Facebook: @ColeWWilliams
Twitter: @ColeWWilliams
Instagram: colewwilliams
GoodReads: Cole W. Williams

Author Bio:

Cole W. Williams is an author, poet, river enthusiast and biologist. (Source)
Have a budding scientist in your life? Want to read Dr. Brainchild and Radar: A Popcorn Adventure before its release date of September 30? Excellent news! You can enter to win a copy of this delightful book, and entering is easy! Just go  to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and comment on Episode 105: Interview with Cole W. Williams. That's it! The giveaway goes through September 9 and winners will be announced September 10. US only.