A Gilded Death by Cecelia Tichi

source: free review copy from Stress Free Book Marketing
title: A Gilded Death
author: Cecelia Tichi
published: ‎ August 1, 2021
pages: 354
genre: historical mystery
first line: The air was sharp, and I drew my cloak tighter around my shoulders and peered down at the Newport harbor.
rated: 4 out of 5 stars

A formal dinner in palatial, Gilded Age Newport stuns Val DeVere when her closest friend whispers a terrifying rumor. The friend’s ultra-rich auntie’s fatal heart attack at Mrs. Astor’s annual ball last winter was murder.
When the aunt’s reclusive daughter—and heir—succumbs to “heart failure,” Val and husband Roddy probe the deaths to shield their dear friend who is next in line to inherit the family fortune—and sudden death.
Society’s “odd couple,” Val and Roddy, a.k.a. Valentine and Roderick DeVere, blend his Old New York savvy and her mountain West vision to ask: Is Newport truly Society’s “place to take root in,” or a dear friend’s place to die?

my thoughts:
A Gilded Death is the first in Cecelia Tichi’s Gilded Age series. The story begins in 1898 Newport RI and revolves around married couple Val and Roddy as they try to figure out whether or not a string of deaths and accidents involving a family of socialites is part of a larger plan.

Val’s good friend and socialite Cassie confides in her that her aunt who passed away last Winter at Mr. Astor’s ball was actually murdered. When Cassie’s cousin and next in line to the fortune dies next, it’s super suspicious especially because it seems like she was poisoned. Cassie is next in line to the Brush fortune and she now fears for her and her children’s lives. Val and Roddy, who is a lawyer, start to investigate further and end up hiring the Pinkertons to work incognito for Cassie so they can guard her.

Although the book started off a little slow for me, I still enjoyed it. Roddy and Val are likeable characters and I was interested in what they would discover about these deaths and accidents. Roddy makes drinks here and there such as The Tuxedo made with gin and sherry and a Hawaii cocktail made with whiskey and orange juice. As you read the ingredients are listed which was a nice touch should you want to make a drink featured in the book. Someone bakes a Robert E. Lee cake at one point which I found interesting. I have the recipe to that cake in civil war era recipes book I purchased, so it was a nice surprise seeing it mentioned in the story.

While I liked Val and Roddy and I enjoyed the storyline overall, I would have liked to have seen a little more character development with these two. I wanted to know more about them and their backgrounds, maybe that happens as the series continues. Aside from that small qualm, it was evident that the author did her research with her vivid descriptions of the time and location. I could envision the sights and sounds of 1890’s Rhode Island society with its dinners and clam bakes and walks by the beach as Roddy and Val try to figure out the mystery. I didn’t know who the culprit was until the author revealed it and it made sense.

The story all wraps up nicely while leaving it open for the next book in the series which takes place in New York. The author’s style of writing made this a cozy read for me as well. I enjoyed this one.

“The tide was changing, but the water was calm when Roddy and I set out in a dinghy from the yacht club landing. It was midmorning, and the sun shone behind fleecy clouds. The air was crisp. Once again, we sought the absolute privacy that ruled out the cottage where the walls had ears, and the Casino, Bailey’s Beach, the village, or a public park.”
P. 221, A Gilded Death by Cecelia Tichi

Special thanks to Stress Free Book Marketing for my review copy!

Author bio:
A fresh start for every new book, and author Tichi’s zest for America’s Gilded Age and its boldface names draws this seasoned writer to a crime fiction series while uncorking the country’s cocktail cultures on the printed (and ebook) page. Tichi digs deep into the Vanderbilt University research library to mine the late 1800-1900s history and customs of Society’s “Four Hundred,” its drinks, and the ways high-stakes crimes in its midst make for a gripping “Gilded” mystery series that rings true to the tumultuous era. The decades of America’s industrial titans and “Queens” of Society have loomed large in Tichi’s books for several years, and the titles track her recent projects:

1. Civic Passions: Seven Who Launched Progressive America (and What They Teach Us)
2. Jack London: A Writer’s Fight for a Better America
3. What Would Mrs. Astor Do? A Complete Guide to the Manners and Mores of the Gilded Age
4. Gilded Age Cocktails: History, Lore, and Recipes from the Golden Age
5. A Gilded Death (crime fiction)
6.. Jazz Age Cocktails: History, Lore, and Recipes from the Roaring Twenties.

Murder, Murder, Murder in Gilded Central Park
A Fatal Gilded High Note

Cecelia is at work on a fourth in the series, “A Gilded Free Fall.” She enjoys membership and posting in Facebook’s The Gilded Age Society. You can read more about Cecelia by visiting https://cecebooks.com

Disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any kind of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. I am under no obligation to write a positive review. My copy of A Gilded Death by Cecelia Tichi came via Stress Free Book Marketing in exchange for my honest thoughts.

Sunday Post/Mailbox Monday 5/7/23: Hello May

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news. A post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up for the week on our blog.

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists…

Happy Sunday. I hope this post finds you well. We’ve had rain and cooler temps all this past week but finally this weekend it’s sunny and warmer. We spent the day yesterday at a food truck festival and the weather was great for it. There were no deep-fried Oreos or funnel cake so that was kind of a bummer but the BBQ truck we ate from was pretty good. And we spent a few hours today out in the yard cleaning and mowing so it’s been a busy weekend.

Also, after this week I’m going to be taking a mini blog break for a few weeks and will not be doing an updates post next weekend so Happy Mother’s Day in advance to the moms. I hope you enjoy the day. I’ll be back to posting and blog hopping first week in June.

onto my updates…

recently on the blog:

I randomly picked 10 books from my shelves for TTT.

Auhtor Peter J. White stopped in for a guest post.

I shared my thoughts on Raw Flesh Flash: The Incomplete, Unfinished Documenting Of by Donovan Hufnagle

in my mailbox:

Bethany House sent me book 2 in Gabrielle Meyer’s Timeless Series, In This Moment. I am so excited to read this. I read book 1 When the Day Comes this past January and it was so good. The covers are very pretty.

coming soon:

I’m sharing my thoughts on A Gilded Death this week. Even though I’ll be on a blog break this review is way overdue so I scheduled it to post.

I’ve been watching Love & Death which is loosely based on a true crime from 1980 about a housewife who was an axe murderer. Episode 5 is coming out May 11 and I can’t wait. I think there’s just 6 episodes total. I watched Candy last year on Hulu which is based on the same true-crime story and I think that one was a little better, but both are good. Have you watched?

That wraps up my updates for now. What have you been up to? This is Otises favorite spot at the window and if you’re walking on our street you can be sure he’s most likely watching you.

Disclaimer: Nothing in this post is available for download. The photos here are my own and not be to be removed from this post.

Raw Flesh Flash: The Incomplete, Unfinished Documenting Of by Donovan Hufnagle

source: free review copy via Poetic Book Tours
title: Raw Flesh Flash: The Incomplete, Unfinished Documenting Of (Goodreads)
author: Donovan Hufnagle
genre: non fiction/poetry
pages: 84
published: October 2022

Book Synopsis:

Raw Flesh Flash: The Incomplete, Unfinished Documenting Of is “a careful poetic ethnography of tattooed bodies and the stories that they tell. Just as the tattoo inscribes meaning on the body, this book elegantly reveals the stories that only the body can tell. It is a book that connects tattoo adorned bodies to a profound human truth: we are each other’s mirrors, and the artful inscriptions of our bodies connect us to each other in ways that transcend political and social divides.” Kristen Prevallet

In poetry that draws on memoir, interviews, customer questionnaires, Havelock Ellis, descriptions of prison tats, and local legal codes, Donovan Hufnagle shows us how tattoos are life stories in the flesh. Using language that is always interesting, even astounding, he demonstrates the ways tattoos function as metaphor and metonym: we want to make our plans indelible, later to find them in need of revision, deletion, or acceptance. -Joseph Harrington, author of Of Some Sky and Things Come On (an amneoir)

my thoughts:

Raw Flesh Flash: The Incomplete, Unfinished Documenting Of is part memoir, part poetry and what intrigued me right away is that it is centered around the art of tattoos. I enjoyed dipping in and out of this collection over the course of a week or so. I liked the way the author compared getting tattooed to being reborn in a way. These poems are about the stories tattoos tell and the meaning they hold for many. I especially liked these lines below.

“And I tell him that this tattoo defines my rebirth,
while the needle’s vibrato plays over my
weeps and whispers.”-
p. 17, Raw Flesh Flash: The Incomplete, Unfinished Documenting Of by Donovan Hufnagle

“Which is greater, the number of sand grains on earth or stars
in the sky? Was it some dreamer who stopped
and stared too long? At the sunset?
Lost in the horizon?
Do you ever wonder the what— when tattoos pass by,
what truth they mask?”-
p. 53, Raw Flesh Flash: The Incomplete, Unfinished Documenting Of

With themes of life and loss and poems about everyday people, I found Raw Flesh Flash: The Incomplete, Unfinished Documenting Of to be an interesting collection of thoughtful and beautifully written poetry. These poems delve into the meaning of life as poetry so often does.

About the Author:

Donovan Hufnagle is a husband, a father of three, and a professor of English and Humanities. He moved from Southern California to Prescott, Arizona to Fort Worth, Texas. His new poetry collection, Raw Flesh Flash: The Incomplete, Unfinished Of, is a poetic scrapbook of interviews, poetry, and documents about the universal narrative of tattoos He also has three other poetry collections: The Sunshine Special, a “part personal narrative, epic poem, and historical artifact;” Shoebox, an epistolary, poetic narrative about Juliana’s “past and present, love and lack, in language that startles;” and 30 Days of 19, inverted Haiku poems juxtaposed to Trump tweets, capturing the first thirty days of the Covid 19 quarantine. Other recent writings have appeared in The Closed Eye Open, Tempered Runes Press, Solum Literary Press, Poetry Box, Beyond Words, Wingless Dreamer, Subprimal Poetry Art, Americana Popular Culture Magazine, Shufpoetry, Kitty Litter Press, Carbon Culture, Amarillo Bay, Borderlands, Tattoo Highway, The New York Quarterly, Rougarou, and others.

Special thanks to Poetic Book Tours for making this possible.

Blog Tour Schedule:

May 6: the bookworm (review)

May 11:Pages For Sanity (review)

May 16: Review Tales by Jeyran Main (interview)

May 18: The Book Lover’s Boudoir (review)

May 22: CelticLady’s Reviews (Guest Post)

June 2: Anthony Avina’s blog (Guest Post)

June 6: Anthony Avina’s blog (review)

Follow the blog tour with the hashtag #RawFleshFlash

Disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any kind of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. I am under no obligation to write a positive review. My copy of Raw Flesh Flash: The Incomplete, Unfinished Documenting Of by Donovan Hufnagle came via Poetic Book Tours in exchange for my honest thoughts.

Peter J. White & The Ghost Hunter Series

Hello all. Please join me in welcoming author Peter J. White to my blog today as he stops by for a guest post. It’s a Top 10 List. First a bit about his Ghost Hunter series…

Title: The Hollow Men (Goodreads)
Author: Peter J. White
Publisher: Self/English Unlimited LLC
Pages: 496
Genre: Paranormal Vigilante Justice Thrillers / Classic Horror


When the ghostly victims of a small-town crime lord find him, ex-special forces soldier Max Sinclair realizes the only road to peace is to serve them the justice they crave.

But the Bannister clan has tentacles that reach from Eastern Washington into Mexico, trafficking women across the border and into their brothels. Haunted by visions of the dead, Max burns a swath through the Bannister empire, doing his best to set the dead free, but odds are he’ll be joining them before he’s done.

The Hollow Men is the first novel in the Ghost Hunter series about a vigilante who sees the dead—Max Sinclair. Haunted by visions and longing for justice and redemption, Max hunts down evil incarnate—his soul hanging in the balance as he walks the line between the dark and the light.

“Peter J. White and his Ghost Hunter: The Hollow Men should be at the top of that list and profiled on library book recommendation lists as a standout.” —D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review/Editor, Donovan’s Literary Services.

★★★★★ “Gripping and Timely Page Turner: From the first line, this tale grabs you and draws you in. Human trafficking is the dark side of our civilization, the modern, brutal form of slavery. Mr. White takes this subject on with a hard punch and a supernatural twist that keeps you on the edge of your seat.”—Amazon Reader

Book Excerpt:

Max killed the big Kawasaki Ninja.
A hot wind whistled, blowing sand and dust cross-wise. A tumbleweed the size of a large dog scratched its way across the road and into the desert.
He stepped up onto the old fashioned boardwalk, his boots clomping on the weathered wood, and made his way into Riker’s Bar.
Inside, the room was dim and smoky, despite laws to the contrary.
A few scattered cowpoke-looking men sat at tables with varying amounts of empty beer bottles in front of them, three men at the bar.
No one looked.
Max strode to the bar and threw a leg over a stool.
“Bushmill’s. Beer back,” he said.
The bartender gave him a long look, nodded, and turned to serve up the drinks.
Max put his elbows on the bar and used the mirror to scope out the room.
Just as he thought.
He’d counted eight men at the assorted tables on his way in.
Now there were nine. And a woman in a red dress.
“A goddamn red dress,” Max said. “Shit.”
What the hell is it with dead women and red? Do women attracted to danger and bad men like red? Did their men dress them before they killed them?
“Excuse me?” said the bartender.
Max looked away from the mirror.
“Nothing,” he said. “Thinking out loud.”
The bartender gave him another look.
“I seen you before?” he asked.
“Doubt it,” Max said. “Never been here.”
“Huh,” said the bartender, “I would’ve sworn….”
“I get that a lot,” Max said. “Common type: Bald guy, goatee.”
“Huh,” said the bartender again.
Max looked around the bar: booths against the wall, tables scattered at the periphery of a dance floor, some pool tables and actual pinball machines in the back. Standard. He didn’t imagine there was much need for anything to draw in customers: those who drank would come.
“Bar’s been here a while?” Max said.
The bartender leaned back and crossed his arms.
“Yup. Big times here in the old days.”
“It goes back that far? Oil boom days?”
“Yup. Black Callahan’s place, originally.”
Max frowned.
“Black Callahan. He the one that got himself hanged?”
Max scrutinized the man next to the woman in the red dress in the mirror.
Big fellow. Old-fashioned fancy, shirt with a string tie, black leather vest, cowboy hat. Jet black hair, beady eyes, five o-clock shadow like sandpaper on his face.
The man’s gaze stayed fixed, riveted. Unnatural. He didn’t move. Didn’t blink.
Neither did the woman beside him.
She was a beauty. The red dress complimented her red hair. Fair skin, with a dusting of freckles. Bright eyes that never moved or blinked.
The couple looked as if they’d been captured in amber, a static holographic image.
The bartender stepped forward.
“You know the history?”
Max nodded.
“Heard of it.”
The men in the room worked their drinks, their talk low.
The couple at the table shifted.
The big man’s face colored and contorted, a mixture of rage and pain rippling across his features, bending them into the mask of a devil.
The woman’s bright eyes bulged, and the top of her head dented in, blood and brain matter running down her pretty face.
“Killed her right here in this bar,” the bartender said.
“Figured,” said Max.
“Bashed her head in, that table over there.” The bartender gestured at an empty table in the back. “With a hammer.”
“Hmm,” said Max. “Looks more like the butt of a pistol, to me.”
“What?” said the bartender.
Max shook his head, looked away.
“Heard different. That’s all.”
Max picked up the shot of Bushmill’s.
“Bottoms up.”
He threw the shot back in a fluid motion, grimaced, picked up the short glass of beer and tossed that down on top of the whisky.
“Better,” he said, wiping his lips with the back of his hand.
“You sure I ain’t see ya before?” the bartender asked.
Max shook his head.
“I told you. I’m a common type, that’s all.”
The bartender’s eyes didn’t waver, “Nope. Something tells me there ain’t nothing common about you at all. Not a thing.”
Max’s smile never touched his eyes.
“So I’ve been told,” he said. “What do I owe you?”
He reached back to pull the wallet from his pocket, and the bartender jumped a little.
“Easy,” said Max. “Just getting my wallet.”
“Sorry,” the bartender said. “Just feeling a little spooked, I guess. Been feeling that way since you come in.”
Max met the bartender’s gaze until the bartender turned to polish the glass in his hand.
“Yup,” Max said. “Get that a lot.”
He slipped a ten dollar bill out of his wallet and laid it on the bar.
“Keep the change,” he said.
The bartender offered him a nervous smile in return. “Thanks,” he said.
Max nodded, took a last look at the tableau in the mirror—the demonically twisted face on the big guy, the bulged eyes and brain matter on the face of the redhead—then turned to go.
Just eight men in the room.
“Right,” Max said.
He eased the door closed behind him on the way out, pulled it shut.
Boots on the boardwalk and back to his motorcycle.
“Shit,” he said. “Cannot get a break.”
He threw a leg over the bike, kicked it off its stand and started it up.

The bartender picked up Max’s shot and beer glasses, carried them to the sink as the rumble of Max’s motorcycle faded.
He spun quickly, shot a look at the room, relaxed a little, and turned back to the sink.


The other books in the series are:

Title: Slouching Toward Tenancingo Book 2 (Goodreads)
Author: Peter J. White
Publisher: Self/English Unlimited LLC
Pages: 547
Genre: Paranormal Vigilante Justice Thrillers / Classic Horror

title: Bangkok Redemption Book 3 (Goodreads)
Author: Peter J. White
Publisher: Self/English Unlimited LLC
Pages: 656
Genre: Paranormal Vigilante Justice Thrillers / Classic Horror

Title: The Bad Beginning Book 4 Goodreads
Author: Peter J. White
Publisher: Self/English Unlimited LLC
Pages: 614
Genre: Paranormal Vigilante Justice Thrillers / Classic Horror

Author Guest Post:

Top Ten Things You Might Not Know about Peter J. White & The Ghost Hunter Series

1) I lived in Thailand from 1984 – 1990; this has informed almost everything I’ve written since.

2) I started out writing screenplays (almost all horror) and am currently turning my screenplays into novels. In fact, the first screenplay I wrote for my Master’s became the Ghost Hunter series.

3) The Ghost Hunter series is inspired by true events. I’ve also created a version of the experience that features Max Sinclair.

4) I grew up in SE Alaska. Sitka, to be precise.

5) Max Sinclair is based on a real guy, a friend of mine.

6) I was a kickboxer for 10 years and had my first kickboxing fight at the age of 55.5 against a 24-year-old. (I kicked his ass.)

7) I climbed Mount Rainier twice.

8) My father was a general surgeon and pilot. He had a Pitts Special in which he flew complicated aerobatic routines. When he was 80 years old, he took me up and did such a rigorous routine I passed out.

9) I have a video of him shooting a charging bear dead.

10) Every arcane and supernatural practice in the Ghost Hunter series is based on true events. My website and newsletter (sign up here) provide more insight into these.

11) (bonus) I answer every email I get. Write me at PeterJWhiteAuthor@peterjwhite.net

About the author:
Peter J. White was born in Colorado and raised in SE Alaska. He has degrees in Education, French, and an MFA in Creative Writing. He taught ELL in Bangkok, Thailand for six years, and currently teaches high school English in Washington State. Hobbies, past and present, include writing, bicycling, mountain climbing, kickboxing, MMA, and yoga.
Website: https://peterjwhite.weebly.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100088706454075

Special thanks to Pump Up Your Book Promotions for making this possible.

Top Ten Tuesday 5/2/23: The First 10 Books I Randomly Grabbed from My Shelf

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Happy Tuesday. This is another fun topic this week for TTT. The First 10 Books I Randomly Grabbed from My Shelf (close your eyes and touch/grab/point to 10 random titles and tell us what they are! And tell us what you thought if you’ve read them!)
In grabbing ten books off my shelves I realized #1. I need to dust my bookshelves and #2. I realllly need to read from my TBR mountain since it’s literally collecting dust. Onto my Top 10…

1. How to Make an American Quilt by Whitney Otto
I have the 1995 movie tie in cover version and I read this one decades ago and enjoyed it. The movie is good also.

2. Thrill of the Knight by Julia Latham
I bought this at a Barnes n Nobles in Puerto Rico around 2008 while on vacation. I forgot the plot but I remember enjoying this one.

3. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
I bought this book around 2009 when it was making the rounds around blog-land back then. It was a so-so read.

4. The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell
This is the second book I’ve read by this author and it was a good one, but not my favorite of hers.

5. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith
I purchased this one on a whim but still haven’t read it. The movie was entertaining.

6. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
I read this one years ago and it was wonderful.

7. The Chroma by Jake Farrow
The author sent me a copy for review and it was good sci-fi horror. A snippet of my review wound up on the back of the book cover. That’s the first and only time my review was quoted on a book so far. 🙂

8. The Institute by Stephen King
I pre-ordered this during the pandemic and I still have yet to read it. I have a bad habit of auto-buying King books and not reading them.

9. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
I love this author’s work and I know I’ll enjoy this one when I finally read it.

10. 100 Colorful Granny Squares to Crochet by Leonie Morgan
Around 2007 – 2012 I had a crochet blog where I’d review pattern books and share my own free crochet patterns. I’d get crochet pattern books for review from a few publishers. St. Martin’s Press especially. The publicist there would tell me to look at the catalogue and let her know what I wanted to review. This is just one of the nice pattern books she sent me.

That’s my Top 10 this week. Have you read any of these? What books made your list?

Disclaimer: Nothing in this post is available for download. The photos here are my own and not be to be removed from this post.