Book Tour & Review: The Valley (The Valley Trilogy) by Helen Bryan

The Valley (The Valley Trilogy Book 1) by [Bryan, Helen]

Print Length: 607 pages

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (July 19, 2016)

Publication Date: July 19, 2016

Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC


Purchase Link: Amazon


FictionZeal’s Review:

The Betsy Wisdom docked at Yorktown in September 1754.  Sophia Grafton was on board.  She was heading for a plantation in Virginia called Wildwood.  Her father had heavily mortgaged their London home thinking that Wildwood would provide a good crop of tobacco.  It did not.  The lawyers that were settling Lord Grafton’s estate had to let the London house go.  Sophia determined that she would go to Virginia; learn about growing tobacco; and how to transport it to England for profit to pay off the debt her father had left.

In the New World, she faces many hardships, difficult winters, and a far more primitive life than she was used to.  She reconnects with Henri de Marechal, a man who knew Sophia when she was just a child.  He was a spy for the French government.  He has agreed to help Sophia to get to Wildwood.

This is quite a long book (over 600 pp).  In my estimation, it is much longer than it needs to be as it has a lot of mundane information to fill the pages. It took quite a while, for instance, to get to the heart of the story.  We first learned about Sophia Grafton from early childhood and how she grew into a young and very attractive young lady meeting young men that her father would prefer her to marry.  The dialogue was delightful and very fitting when it was utilized.  However, much of the story was told through narration.  This is the first of a trilogy and does have ‘hangers’ intending to lure the reader to continue with books 2 and 3.  The historical aspect was an interesting take on young America, but I’m not sure it includes actual history.  I did a google search for the Betsy Wisdom and came up with nada.  Rating: 3 out of 5.

3 spectacles

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Book Tour, Excerpt & Giveaway: Wagon Train Sisters by Shirley Kennedy

Wagon Train Sisters (Women of the West) by [Kennedy, Shirley]

GENRE: Historical Romance



After the death of her abusive husband, Sarah Gregg is free to join her family along with thousands of others in the nation’s westward march for gold. But in the middle of the hard journey, Sarah’s younger sister, Florrie, disappears. Devastated by the family’s failed attempts to find her missing sister, Sarah now wants only to settle into a quiet, uneventful life when she reaches California . . .

But Jack McCoy, a drifter and one-time gambler riding along their wagon train, sees so much more for Sarah. In the roaring mining town of Gold Creek his attentive persistence points Sarah toward new vistas. Then unexpected news of Florrie arrives—and it’s worse than anyone expected. But driven by a new hopefulness, Sarah seeks help from Jack, despite his troubled past. The two have traveled a rough road together, and only their hearts can tell them where they are headed . . .

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Release Day Launch, Excerpt & Giveaway: The Secret Language of Stones by M.J. Rose

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THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF STONES is a stunning historical Gothic romantic suspense published by Atria, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, releasing today! Written to be a total and complete standalone novel, THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF STONES is the second title in M.J. Rose’s The Daughters of La Lune Series. Sexy, compelling, and seductive, be sure to grab your copy today!


The Secret Language of Stones - RDL Teaser 1

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Review: The Courage of Others by James Hitt | #BookReview

Courage of Others

Print Length: 221 pages

Publisher: Open Books (January 1, 2016)

Publication Date: January 1, 2016

Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC

ASIN: B01A37UQ94

Purchase Link: Amazon


FictionZeal’s Review:

As a young boy, Davey had been orphaned.  His Uncle Marsh and Aunt Esther raised him.  As the story opens, sixteen-year-old Davey is accompanying Esther to the train station.  Uncle Marsh is returning home after serving in WWI.  When he’d left, he’d been strong and in the best of health.  Davey describes the man now standing before him.  “His eyes were so deeply embedded in his skull that they appeared as black holes, and gray splotches covered his skin like a dog with mange.  He walked with a shuffle …”  Davey understands that the army “…sent him home to die.”  But, Aunt Esther wasn’t going to let Marsh die.  She hired Sister Rose, a black woman who practiced ancient herbal remedies.  Many people thought she was a witch.  And, many people had a problem with a black woman working for Marsh and Esther –.

While Sister Rose tended to Uncle Marsh, Davey got to know her son, Daniel.  It was awkward at first, but slowly they became friends.  Eventually, Davey joined with Daniel and a black girl, Rachel, to help with the renovation of a house to use as a school.  It was Sister Rose’s dream for the blacks to learn to read and write.  The schoolhouse was located in Boonsville, where most of the blacks lived.  Many of the whites thought that’s where they should keep themselves.  The hatred within the Twin Forks community began to escalate to dangerous levels.

This is all told from Davey’s perspective.  It was the year he ‘grew up’ in many ways.  It’s a ‘coming of age’ story of the aftermath of war, racial hatred within the United States, standing up for what is right, learning about love and learning about hate.  Since Uncle Marsh’s illness was a part of the story, I would have liked to have known what he was actually suffering with.  I took the liberty of doing a ‘google’ search to try to figure it out, and believe it was either radiation poisoning or a reaction to mustard gas.  This is a historical fiction which seems to have been researched particularly well.  Hearing the story from Davy’s viewpoint was the perfect vehicle for this story.  Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

4.5 spectacles

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Review: The Mentor (Detective Eric Shaw #1) by Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli | #BookReview

Print Length: 226 pages

Publisher: AmazonCrossing (November 1, 2015)

Publication Date: November 1, 2015

Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC


Purchase Link: Amazon


FictionZeal’s Review:

Detective Eric Shaw with Scotland Yard is investigating a string of cases that seem to parallel eerily to a case he worked twenty years before where little Mina was the only survivor when her family was brutally murdered.  He was the cop that discovered her hidden under her parent’s bed.  As the prologue comes to an end, the reader can’t wait to see if there will be justice for little Mina.

Except for excessive violence, the beginning caught my interest entirely.  Writers are said to do best when they write about what they know.  By an overview of ratings, this author seems to excel when it comes to her sci-fi novels.  I’m not sure the mystery & suspense genre is the best avenue for her.  The protagonist, Detective Eric Shaw, is despicable.  He alters evidence in order to make sure the charge sticks to the ‘bad guy’.  Hello!!  How does ‘Mr. Almighty’ determine the individual to be the bad guy if he’s going to mess with the evidence?  He’s a fifty-something man practically panting over a twenty-something girl who works under him.  If this is classified as a romantic suspense novel, the ‘romantic’ part didn’t work for me.  It made him pathetic.  There were also some issues, it seems, with translation.  This was originally written in Italian and some of the English words didn’t seem to fit well.  Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

2.5 spectacles

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Review: The Victim by Eric Matheny | #BookReview

Print Length: 482 pages

Publisher: Zharmae; First edition (August 13, 2015)

Publication Date: August 13, 2015

Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC


Purchase Link: Amazon


FictionZeal’s Review:

When life is looking good, really good … watch out.  Your past may be getting ready to bite you in the butt.  Anton Mackey made a serious error in judgement a decade ago while he was still in Florida International University (FIU).  RV’s had been rented for a fraternity camping trip.  He was drunk, took the RV out on his own.  In the very early Sunday morning hours, he collides with a car.  It’s bad.  By the looks of it, the driver and passenger seem to be already dead.  In the distance, he sees a semi approaching.  Not much time left.  What does he do?  He notices fuel has been spilling out of one or both vehicles.  He places his lighter down to the gasoline.

In present day, Anton is an attorney.  He has a wife and a beautiful baby daughter.  A new client, Danielle Avery, contacts him.  She had called 911 on her husband, Bryan Avery.  They’d separated, but she said he broke into her apartment.  He got rough with her; left a gash on her neck.  She hires Anton to represent him.  The police had taken him in custody and she’s concerned that since Florida is a ‘no drop’ state, the prosecutors could pursue domestic violence charges whether the victim pursues it or not.  But, little by little, we are given some insight into her real motive.  She holds some secrets about Anton’s past.  She can ruin him.

You really may not like Anton, but you may squirm for him a bit as retribution comes to call.  This is a debut Legal Thriller from author Eric Matheny, who writes with passion and presents the reader with twists like he’s been perfecting them all his life.  The courtroom scenes and the dialogue between the lawyers and judge were authentic.  This pulls the reader in quickly.  As you may have speculated, there are no good guys here, but there are several victims.  Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

4.5 spectacles

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Review: Shutter Man (Jessica Balzano and Kevin Byrne #9) by Richard Montanari | #BookReview

Print Length: 412 pages

Publisher: Mulholland Books (February 9, 2016)

Publication Date: February 9, 2016

Sold by: Hachette Book Group


Purchase Link: Amazon


FictionZeal’s Review:

Philadelphia homicide cop Kevin Byrne, one of our primary characters in this series, revisits his past in this episode. He and his three friends, Jimmy Doyle, Ronan Kittredge, and Dave Carmody, were thirteen years old the summer of 1976 when America was preparing to celebrate its 200th birthday on July 4th of that year. They designated themselves as protectors for eleven-year-old Catriona Daugherty, who was terribly shy and withdrawn. She always carried a flower and wore a colorful ribbon in her hair. The boys caught Des Farren leering at her. They hurt him, threatened him, and left him. They didn’t know what to expect. The whole Farren family was bad news. But the Farren brothers never came for them. On July 4th, little Cartriona was found dead. By July 9th, a man was found dead, identified as Desmond Malcolm Farren.

In present day, Detective Byrne and Jessica Balzano are investigating several bizarre deaths that on the surface, the victims seem to have nothing in common. The deaths seem ritualistic in nature as some of the victim’s faces were removed and an odd five-letter word written in blood on a linen hanky. Several witnesses agree that they’d heard and saw a woman singing a strange melody nearby. The reader is given the identity of the killer early on. He refers to himself as “Billy the Wolf”. Due to a rare neurological disorder, he is unable to recognize faces. He carries a photo of his intended victim to help him identify them. He makes them dress in clothing matching the pictures. At the first victim’s home, a man answered the door. Billy saw, “Yellow robe. Blue pajamas. Stain.”

In case you’re wondering, this is a real disorder – very rare. It’s called Prosopagnosia (or facial blindness). I also loved the name of the place where they lived as boys and now where Byrne and Balzano are called to investigate. Devil’s Pocket, per Wikipedia, is a “… three-square-block neighborhood in the South Philadelphia section of Philadelphia.” This is the first book I’ve read by Richard Montanari, and while the premise, the characters, and the flow of the story are impressive, I just need to let readers know it has excessive violence and is rather graphic in nature. The story is told primarily in the present time, but occasionally relies on past events to allow us a deeper understanding. Rating: 4 out of 5.

4 spectacles

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Book Blitz, Excerpt & Giveaway: The Departed (The Departed Series #1) by Kristy Cooper


Print Length: 176 pages

Publisher: Olivier; 1 edition (July 6, 2016)

Publication Date: July 6, 2016

Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC


Purchase Link: Amazon


Book Blurb:

What if someone tried to fake the rapture?

When hundreds of thousands of people disappear in the middle of the night, including sixteen-year-old Gwen’s best friend Lana, no one knows why. Some believe they were taken in the rapture, while others are convinced that it can’t be true. Doomsday prophecies abound that involve horrifying tales of plague, famine, earthquakes, and more.

At first, Gwen doesn’t know what to think. While she is busy mourning Lana, many people around her are getting taken in by the cultish True Believers Temple, including Gwen’s dad and her friend Mindy. It is clear that more and more people are going to be pressured to join this church, as it starts taking over the media and the government, gaining zealous followers all over the world.

Then Gwen starts receiving emails from Lana. She claims to have been forced into hiding with thousands of others in an underground compound. Gwen is convinced the emails are real and the only other person who also believes her is Isaiah, her moody crush. Together they resolve to find out where everyone is hiding and help set Lana free.

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Book Tour & Excerpt: SUPPOSE by D.J. Adamson

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Author: D.J. Adamson
Publisher: Horatio Press
Pages: 334
Genre: Mystery/Suspense

Purchase Link: Amazon


Book Blurb:

What did he want to know about me?”

“If you were still alive.”

Connivers, murder, and the international shipment of drugs unites the local PDs and the Federal Government, and drags Lillian into a hailstorm of manipulation and danger, whereby she is given two choices: Join? Or die trying?

For More Information

  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

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Review: The Last Woman Standing (A Novel of Mrs. Wyatt Earp) by Thelma Adams | #BookReview

Print Length: 300 pages

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (July 1, 2016)

Publication Date: July 1, 2016

Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC

Language: English


Purchase Link: Amazon


FictionZeal’s Review:

“Tombstone kicked my ass and I kicked back.”  Oh, really?  Well, tell us more!  Author Thelma Adams gives voice and new life to Josephine Marcus Earp in this novel.  Undoubtedly, Josie’s character will make you laugh as she tells her tale in her gutsy, high-spirited oratory.  It begins with the Jewish home life of Josephine in San Francisco.  She will miss her father for sure once she decides to leave home, but her relationship with her mother was contentious to say the least.  She’s very young and so very sure she’ll love Johnny Behan, Sheriff of Cochise County, for the rest of her life, but that’s until she arrives in Tombstone, gets to know him, and finds out what he’s really like.  He broke her heart … but she’d spotted the handsome Wyatt Earp when she first arrived and begins to give him more thought.  As it turns out, the feelings were mutual.

This is a nicely detailed look, albeit a naïve one, of the life of Josephine Marcus Earp, Wyatt Earp’s common law wife.  Through the author’s skillful descriptive passages, you may be tempted to place a cloth over your nose and mouth to avoid the dust being kicked up by horses and wagons driven through the rugged streets of Tombstone.  The novel goes from February 1937 to Autumn 1882.  I was looking for an author’s note to get an idea of the research probing into Josie’s life.  In checking a few online sites, I tend to think Josie may have actually been a prostitute, even at the tender age of fourteen.  So, suggesting that she was waiting until her wedding night to lose her virginity seemed a stretch to me.  The real Josie actually avoided delving into her past.  Wikipedia points out, “Her confusing recollection of events show how easily Josephine mixed fact and fiction.”  This novel is so very well written, but I’m inclined to believe Josie’s life as presented is more fictional than factual.  Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

3.5 spectacles

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