From the publisher—
Ohio, 1927: Moonshining is a way of life in rural Bronwyn County, and even the otherwise upstanding Sheriff Lily Ross has been known to turn a blind eye when it comes to stills in the area. But when thirteen-year-old Zebediah Harkins almost dies after drinking tainted moonshine, Lily knows that someone has gone too far, and―with the help of organizer and moonshiner Marvena Whitcomb―is determined to find out who.
But then, Lily’s nemesis, the businessman George Vogel, reappears in town with his new wife, Fiona. Along with them is also her former brother-in-law Luther Ross, now an agent for the newly formed Bureau of Prohibition. To Lily, it seems too much of a coincidence that they should arrive now.
As fall turns to winter, a blizzard closes in. Lily starts to peel back the layers of deception shrouding the town of Kinship, but soon she discovers that many around her seem to be betraying those they hold dear―and that Fiona too may have an agenda of her own.
The Prohibition Era is a fascinating time in US history, one that today makes us wonder what on earth “they” really thought about this bound-to-fail experiment in controlling people or, rather, in denying people something they want. As we know, it became a lesson in man’s ability to find a way around the rules but also caused a great deal of crime and economic pain.
Moonshining had been around, particularly in the Appalachians, for many years but came into its own during Prohibition, kind of a cottage industry, and Lily Ross was well aware that even some of her friends were involved. Being a woman of some wisdom, she looked the other way when she could, knowing that moonshining was a way to earn some much needed money in her poverty-driven county, but has to pay attention when a young boy falls ill from a bad batch. Besides looking into the source, she also becomes aware that a criminal from her past has come back to town. George Vogel almost certainly has some sort of illicit plan in mind but his wife, Fiona, is no shrinking violet either. These two each demand the sheriff’s attention and, before all is said and done, a man is murdered.
Ms. Montgomery always comes up with a complex plot that demands the reader’s attention but it’s the strength of her characters, especially the women, that keeps bringing me back. This time, we don’t get as much time with Lily’s circle of friends as I would have liked but Lily and Fiona, two very different people, are a pair worth watching. It’s easy to like and admire Lily; Fiona, not so much, but she’s every bit as intriguing as the sheriff and I was spellbound by them both. These women and their surroundings, their time in history, make this a compelling story.
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, April 2021.
JESS MONTGOMERY is the Literary Life columnist for the Dayton Daily News and former Executive Director of the renowned Antioch Writers’ Workshop in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Based on early chapters of her novel The Widows, Jess was awarded an Ohio Arts Council individual artist’s grant for literary arts and the John E. Nance Writer-in-Residence at Thurber House in Columbus. She lives in her native state of Ohio.
Title: A Quiet Apocalypse
A Quiet Apocalypse Book 1
by Dave Jeffery
Genres: Science Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic, Dystopian
A Quiet Apocalypse
A Quiet Apocalypse Book 1
Demain Publishing, January 2020
From the author—
The end is hear…
A mutant strain of meningitis has wiped out most of mankind. The few who have survived the fever are now deaf.
Bitter with loss and terrified to leave the city known as Cathedral, the inhabitants rely on The Samaritans, search teams sent out into the surrounding countryside. Their purpose, to hunt down and enslave the greatest commodity on Earth, an even smaller group of people immune to the virus, people who can still hear.
People like me.
My name is Chris.
This is my story.
“A Quiet Apocalypse is told from the perspective of ex-schoolteacher Chris, a hearing survivor. He has lost everything, including his freedom, and through his eyes we learn of what it is like to live as a slave in this terrible new world of fear and loss. I was keen to write a piece that preyed upon people’s traditional misconceptions of deafness as an illness, and the imposition of ‘hearing’ norms. It is a story that has poignancy in any understanding of the struggles of minority groups.” – Author, Dave Jeffery
With an unusual premise, A Quiet Apocalypse takes us on a post-apocalyptic journey thrust on mankind by a pandemic that leaves most survivors with a complete loss of hearing. Mr. Jeffery uses this concept to shine a light on disabilities in general and on the peculiar kind of slavery that comes about when the few who can still hear become a target for the government. Are the hearing now considered disabled in a twist on human reaction to being “different” or do certain factions see them as less worthy than the deaf?
Chris is a very sympathetic character while his vicious captor, Crowley, decidedly is not and here again the author makes much of the opportunity to focus our attention on humanity’s ability to build hatred and intolerance towards those who don’t fit a preconceived mold. Yes, the story is dark and, in its way, horrific but certainly reflects much of what is going on in our world today and is well worth everyone’s attention.
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, March 2021.
Dave Jeffery is author of 15 novels, two collections, and numerous short stories. His Necropolis Rising series and yeti adventure Frostbite have both featured on the Amazon #1 bestseller list. His YA work features critically acclaimed Beatrice Beecham supernatural mystery series and Finding Jericho, a contemporary mental health novel that was featured on the BBC Health and the Independent Schools Entrance Examination Board’s recommended reading lists. A third edition of this book will be released by Demain Publishing in 2020.
Jeffery is a member of the Society of Authors, British Fantasy Society (where he is a regular book reviewer), and the Horror Writers Association. He is also a registered mental health professional with a BSc (Hons) in Mental Health Studies and a Master of Science Degree in Health Studies.
Jeffery is married with two children and lives in Worcestershire, UK.
From the publisher—
A young prodigy in need of family.
A painting that shatters a woman’s peace.
And a decades-old mystery demanding to be solved.
Orphan Jane Piper is nine years old when philanthropist siblings Michael and Elizabeth Quinn take her into their home to further her schooling. The Quinns are no strangers to hardship. Having arrived in Australia as penniless immigrants, they now care for others as lost as they once were.
Despite Jane’s mysterious past, her remarkable aptitude for mathematics takes her far over the next seven years, and her relationship with Elizabeth and Michael flourishes as she plays an increasingly prominent part in their business.
But when Elizabeth reacts in terror to an exhibition at the local gallery, Jane realizes no one knows Elizabeth after all—not even Elizabeth herself. As the past and present converge and Elizabeth’s grasp on reality loosens, Jane sets out to unravel her story before it’s too late.
From the gritty reality of the Australian goldfields to the grand institutions of Sydney, this compelling novel presents a mystery that spans continents and decades as both women finally discover a place to call home.
Immigration is a heavily-weighted word these days and has always held significant meaning in America’s history and it is no less so in Australia. That country’s beginnings are rooted in the creation and development of a penal colony and its early, mostly white, settlers frequently either had a prison-based past or had run to this remote land to escape secrets. Once again, Ms. Cooper makes use of multiple timelines, bringing divergent yet connected stories together, and does so to good effect.
In 1906, the Quinn siblings are successful business leaders who are generous in sharing their good fortune and plucking Jane Piper from an orphanage is exactly the sort of thing they like to do to help someone else make the most of their own abilities and strengths. Jane’s prodigious mathematical talents position her to become useful to the kind brother and sister but it’s something from Elizabeth’s past that triggers Jane to learn more about the Quinns and the secrets Michael has been keeping to himself for decades. By now a trusted partner, Jane is driven to look for the hidden truths that lie in the Quinns’ own emigration as children from England to Australia all those years ago and the mysteries she unearths are compelling history in themselves.
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, March 2021.
Tea Cooper is an Australian author of historical and contemporary fiction. In a past life she was a teacher, a journalist and a farmer. These days she haunts museums and indulges her passion for storytelling.
Connect with Tea:
Title: The Lost Apothecary
Author: Sarah Penner
Publication Date: March 2, 2021
Genres: Mystery, Historical
From the publisher—
In this addictive and spectacularly imagined debut, a female apothecary secretly dispenses poisons to liberate women from the men who have wronged them—setting three lives across centuries on a dangerous collision course. Pitched as Kate Morton meets The Miniaturist, The Lost Apothecary is a bold work of historical fiction with a rebellious twist that heralds the coming of an explosive new talent.
A forgotten history. A secret network of women. A legacy of poison and revenge. Welcome to The Lost Apothecary…
Hidden in the depths of eighteenth-century London, a secret apothecary shop caters to an unusual kind of clientele. Women across the city whisper of a mysterious figure named Nella who sells well-disguised poisons to use against the oppressive men in their lives. But the apothecary’s fate is jeopardized when her newest patron, a precocious twelve-year-old, makes a fatal mistake, sparking a string of consequences that echo through the centuries.
Meanwhile in present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, running from her own demons. When she stumbles upon a clue to the unsolved apothecary murders that haunted London two hundred years ago, her life collides with the apothecary’s in a stunning twist of fate—and not everyone will survive.
With crackling suspense, unforgettable characters and searing insight, The Lost Apothecary is a subversive and intoxicating debut novel of secrets, vengeance and the remarkable ways women can save each other despite the barrier of time.
Just imagine if a woman could go to her local pharmacist and ask for a “special” medication to give to a particular man in her life, a man who has done her wrong in some way. Then take it a step further and imagine that this woman lives in a time when there were very few protections for women who were controlled in every meaningful way by a husband, a father, a suitor, a banker, a lawyer, essentially any male figure. Such is the the premise of this wonderfully creative story and it’s made even better by having the perspective of a modern-day woman as well as those from the 18th century.
This is a tale of three women—Nella, the apothecary in 1791, the young maid, Eliza, and Caroline, a modern woman who is at an important crossroads in her life—and all three come to vivid life in the author’s talented hands. Most intriguing to me was delving into how Nella turned to the dark side of what had been a respected profession and the visibly damaging effect her actions had on her physically as well as psychologically with each succeeding client.
Mystery fans will find much to chew on here and one suspenseful thread after another certainly kept me engaged till deep in the night. Well done, Ms. Penner!
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, March 2021.
February 3, 1791
She would come at daybreak—the woman whose letter I held in my hands, the woman whose name I did not yet know.
I knew neither her age nor where she lived. I did not know her rank in society nor the dark things of which she dreamed when night fell. She could be a victim or a transgressor. A new wife or a vengeful widow. A nursemaid or a courtesan.
But despite all that I did not know, I understood this: the woman knew exactly who she wanted dead.
I lifted the blush-colored paper, illuminated by the dying flame of a single rush wick candle. I ran my fingers over the ink of her words, imagining what despair brought the woman to seek out someone like me. Not just an apothecary, but a murderer. A master of disguise.
Her request was simple and straightforward. For my mistress’s husband, with his breakfast. Daybreak, 4 Feb. At once, I drew to mind a middle-aged housemaid, called to do the bidding of her mistress. And with an instinct perfected over the last two decades, I knew immediately the remedy most suited to this request: a chicken egg laced with nux vomica.
The preparation would take mere minutes; the poison was within reach. But for a reason yet unknown to me, something about the letter left me unsettled. It was not the subtle, woodsy odor of the parchment or the way the lower left corner curled forward slightly, as though once damp with tears. Instead, the disquiet brewed inside of me. An intuitive understanding that something must be avoided.
But what unwritten warning could reside on a single sheet of parchment, shrouded beneath pen strokes? None at all, I assured myself; this letter was no omen. My troubling thoughts were merely the result of my fatigue—the hour was late—and the persistent discomfort in my joints.
I drew my attention to my calfskin register on the table in front of me. My precious register was a record of life and death; an inventory of the many women who sought potions from here, the darkest of apothecary shops.
In the front pages of my register, the ink was soft, written with a lighter hand, void of grief and resistance. These faded, worn entries belonged to my mother. This apothecary shop for women’s maladies, situated at 3 Back Alley, was hers long before it was mine.
On occasion I read her entries—23 Mar 1767, Mrs. R. Ranford, Yarrow Milfoil 15 dr. 3x—and the words evoked memories of her: the way her hair fell against the back of her neck as she ground the yarrow stem with the pestle, or the taut, papery skin of her hand as she plucked seeds from the flower’s head. But my mother had not disguised her shop behind a false wall, and she had not slipped her remedies into vessels of dark red wine. She’d had no need to hide. The tinctures she dispensed were meant only for good: soothing the raw, tender parts of a new mother, or bringing menses upon a barren wife. Thus, she filled her register pages with the most benign of herbal remedies. They would raise no suspicion.
On my register pages, I wrote things such as nettle and hyssop and amaranth, yes, but also remedies more sinister: nightshade and hellebore and arsenic. Beneath the ink strokes of my register hid betrayal, anguish…and dark secrets.
Secrets about the vigorous young man who suffered an ailing heart on the eve of his wedding, or how it came to pass that a healthy new father fell victim to a sudden fever. My register laid it all bare: these were not weak hearts and fevers at all, but thorn apple juice and nightshade slipped into wines and pies by cunning women whose names now stained my register.
Oh, but if only the register told my own secret, the truth about how this all began. For I had documented every victim in these pages, all but one: Frederick. The sharp, black lines of his name defaced only my sullen heart, my scarred womb.
I gently closed the register, for I had no use of it tonight, and returned my attention to the letter. What worried me so? The edge of the parchment continued to catch my eye, as though something crawled beneath it. And the longer I remained at my table, the more my belly ached and my fingers trembled. In the distance, beyond the walls of the shop, the bells on a carriage sounded frighteningly similar to the chains on a constable’s belt. But I assured myself that the bailiffs would not come tonight, just as they had not come for the last two decades. My shop, like my poisons, was too cleverly disguised. No man would find this place; it was buried deep behind a cupboard wall at the base of a twisted alleyway in the darkest depths of London.
I drew my eyes to the soot-stained wall that I had not the heart, nor the strength, to scrub clean. An empty bottle on a shelf caught my reflection. My eyes, once bright green like my mother’s, now held little life within them. My cheeks, too, once flushed with vitality, were sallow and sunken. I had the appearance of a ghost, much older than my forty-one years of age.
Tenderly, I began to rub the round bone in my left wrist, swollen with heat like a stone left in the fire and forgotten. The discomfort in my joints had crawled through my body for years; it had grown so severe, I lived not a waking hour without pain. Every poison I dispensed brought a new wave of it upon me; some evenings, my fingers were so distended and stiff, I felt sure the skin would split open and expose what lay underneath.
Killing and secret-keeping had done this to me. It had begun to rot me from the inside out, and something inside meant to tear me open.
At once, the air grew stagnant, and smoke began to curl into the low stone ceiling of my hidden room. The candle was nearly spent, and soon the laudanum drops would wrap me in their heavy warmth. Night had long ago fallen, and she would arrive in just a few hours: the woman whose name I would add to my register and whose mystery I would begin to unravel, no matter the unease it brewed inside of me.
Excerpted from The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner, Copyright © 2021 by Sarah Penner. Published by Park Row Books.
Sarah Penner is the debut author of The Lost Apothecary, to be translated in eleven languages worldwide. She works full-time in finance and is a member of the Historical Novel Society and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. She and her husband live in St. Petersburg, Florida, with their miniature dachshund, Zoe. To learn more, visit slpenner.com
Author website: https://www.sarahpenner.com/
**A copy of this book was provided by the publisher
via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**
Death in Tranquility
The Bartender’s Guide to Murder #1
Arundel Publishing, September 2020
No one talks to the cops. Everyone talks to the bartender. And Avalon Nash is one hell of a bartender.
Avalon is on the run from her life in Los Angeles. Having a drink while waiting to change trains in the former Olympic town of Tranquility, New York, she discovers the freshly murdered bartender at MacTavish’s. A bartender herself, she’s offered the position with the warning he wasn’t the first MacTavish’s bartender to meet a violent end.
Avalon’s superpower is collecting people’s stories, and she’s soon embroiled in the lives of artists, politicians, ghost hunters and descendants of Old Hollywood.
Can Avalon outrun the ghosts of her past, catch the ghosts of Tranquility’s past and outsmart a murderer?
The first book in the Bartender’s Guide to Murder series offers chills, laughs, and 30 of the best drink recipes ever imbibed.
Bartenders are known to be good listeners, able to keep customers’ secret flaws and foibles to themselves, but they don’t typically find dead bodies. When Avalon Nash finds one that just happens to be the tender of the particular bar she drifted into, it’s natural that she would step into his position, being a bartender herself. Her new, if temporary, position puts her in the perfect spot to do a little investigating through what she hears, helping the police dontchaknow, and it soon becomes obvious to her that secrets abound in this former Olympic town, not least of which are her own.
Besides secrets, we find that there are a myriad of personality types in Tranquility, not to mention motives, and the twists and turns abound, making this a very entertaining way to while away a few hours in the doldrums of February. Ms. Linnéa has a humorous, clever way of writing and she pulled me right into the story; I love this little town and its eccentric citizens and, oh, an added benefit is the plethora of enticing drink recipes I’m going to have to try 😉
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, February 2021.
Sharon Linnéa wrote the bestselling Eden Series (Chasing Eden, Beyond Eden, Treasure of Eden and Plagues of Eden) with B.K. Sherer, as well as the standalone These Violent Delights, a movie murder series. She enjoyed working with Axel Avian on Colt Shore: Domino 29, a middle-grade spy thriller. She is also the author of Princess Ka’iulani: Hope of a Nation, Heart of a People about the last crown princess of Hawaii which won the prestigious Carter Woodson Award, and Raoul Wallenberg: the Man Who Stopped Death. She was a staff writer for five national magazines, a book editor at three publishers, and a celebrity ghost. She lives outside New York City with her family. In Orange County, she teaches The Book Inside You workshops with Thomas Mattingly.
This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual
Book Tours for Sharon Linnéa. There will be SIX (6) winners: ONE (1)
winner will receive one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card and FIVE (5) winners
will each receive one (1) copy of Death In Tranquility by Sharon Linnéa.
(These five (5) winners will have their choice of eBook or Print
edition however print editions will only be shipped to U.S. addresses).
The giveaway begins on February 1, 2021 and runs through
March 2, 2021. Void where prohibited.