Sacred Vines

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 11 Aug 2019

Member Reviews

Investigators Louis Deville and Reginald Scudder are called to an “accident” to help out the local sergeant. What they quickly find is this may be no simple accident, it may be a murder. As they start interviewing family and residents of Finger Lake, they come across a family that has just lost their son through a drowning in the same lake. Could this just be coincidence? They start diving deeper into the lives and history of the residents to find that many of them have buried secrets and lies in their pasts. Twists and turns in the story take you through a fascinating story of love, loss, betrayal and friendship.
I really enjoyed this book, but I will be honest that the first time I picked it up I found the beginning confusing probably due to the fact that I didn’t read the first book in the series. I put it down to pick it up again after reading reviews and boy was I glad I did. The book had me guessing right until the last page. I liked the different characters and the dynamics of the small town residents. I quickly became engrossed in the story when things started to unfold. Thank you so much to the author, Books Go Social and NetGalley for an advanced copy to review.
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This is the type of book review I absolutely hate to write. I want to be able to say good things--or at least neutral things--about the books I read. But sometimes that just isn't possible.

Sadly, Sacred Vines by Don Stevens, which I had selected from NetGalley, was not a book that enthused me as a reader, although I had been intrigued by the blurb. I did read the entirety of the book--I especially try to do that with my NetGalley selections to be sure that my review is 100% fair. However, getting through it felt like trudging through deep mud. And trying to look back over it after the read, I find I don't remember many details of the story because it really didn't stick with me.

I think the biggest issue was that the style just didn't work for me. I didn't feel like I connected to the characters and sometimes it seemed like there was backstory that I was being left out of. I never felt much like I could see the characters or the events, which contributed to the disconnect.

The version I read was an advanced reader copy, so it is possible that some of the other issues were fixed in final edits, but the copious number of wrong word errors and other issues related to editing exceeded that I would expect from an ARC. 

But even apart from both these factors, I felt like the mystery itself was "blah." Yes, this isn't an overly descriptive word but that's how it felt. Just blah.

So I end up giving this book only 2 stars. I hope it received further editing between the NetGalley edition and the actual final release, and other readers may enjoy the style far more than I did.
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Thank you so much to BooksGoSocial and Netgalley for the early read of Sacred Vines in exchange for an honest review!

This kind of felt like a cozy mystery, but had enough of a thriller element that I could also understand that categorization.  It was fun to read something set near Rochester, I do spend a lot of time down near Conesus and the Finger Lakes and it's not too hard to imagine (pick a small town here) as the site of an investigation like this. 

I did like the storyline itself, for the most part, and had guessed the wrong criminal.  I almost did not finish the book due to poor editing (and I know it is an advanced copy, but the finished copy of the first novel still had plentiful issues, so there is that).  The editing ranged from typos, grammar, to the author writing "emphasize" instead of "emphathize," and countless other issues.  It made parts very confusing and hard to read.

My MAIN issue with the book, and I'm sorry but as a nurse I really have to blink when someone writes "nursing did little to cultivate the fascination of the science of the mind."  ARE YOU KIDDING,  I don't normally rant in reviews but that is as insulting as the whole card playing nonsense that we just went through.  It is VERY WELL POSSIBLE to make any person, in any profession, into a potential villain, without making the entire profession look stupid and bad and mindless, which he did on MULTIPLE occasions.  No one is going to be giving pancuronium over safety overrides without scanning it in, even in any crappy hospital down state like Geneseo or Dansville or wherever that hospital was supposed to be.  Especially in what sort of sounds like a weird mixed critical care environment, I think the profession deserves a little more credit.  Alright, one rant over from a now slightly less ticked off critical care RN

In other parts the book felt preachy and had long discourses on religion, which I ended up skimming over.  It also got tiresome to hear that DeVille was from France so very often.

I honestly was going to hit one star, but the end surprised me enough that I bumped it back up to two.
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Sacred Vines by Don Stevens has been classified as both a cozy mystery and a traditional detective story.  It is the second book in the Finger Lakes Wine Mystery series and is set in the Finger Lakes area of New York.

Investigators Louis Deville and Reginald Scudder are called to help on an investigation that appears to be an accident. The local sergeant specifically requested Deville and this plays into the personal side of the story. 
However, there is more going on than meets the initial eye.  There was a recent drowning of a young boy and now the death of someone else in the same lake. Are they related? Are they accidents or is one or both of them murder? Then there are assaults and another murder. I won’t say more about the specifics in order to avoid spoilers.

This is well-written and Stevens does a great job of helping the reader visualize parts of the town; especially the winery that is the main tourist attraction and the monastery that used to house a children’s orphanage.  It is a little slow in a few places, but it also has a great twist at the end.

Each character seemed to come alive to me. Secrets abound and the Investigators have to work hard to unearth them as well as determine who is lying. The mystery was intriguing and the characters had depth. This novel addresses several themes including alcoholism, autism, murder, assault and so much more that I have left out due to spoilers.

I recommend this novel to those that enjoy cozy mysteries or a straight detective story.

Many tanks to Net Galley, BooksGoSocial and Don Stevens for an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review. Opinions are mine alone and are not biased in any way.
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I don't think I will be finishing this story. It's alright until about half-way in (except for some annoying grammatical errors), but after that it just becomes stupid. The dialogues made me gnass my teeth and at 65% in my interest to watch the plot unfold was undeniably surpassed by my desire to not subject myself to this story any longer.
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The story moved a bit slow for my taste.  But the twist at the end was a good one and made up for the dragging pace.  Stick with it, you won't see the end coming.
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A string of accidents cause trouble for a winery in New York. Investigator Louis Deville arrives to look things when a burning car girls into a lake. They soon discover the car and as driver not by the owner but by her roommate. So which woman was supposed to die?

I thought the setting of this mystery sounded interesting. I don't know much about the wine business in New York. Unfortunately, the writing was really off-putting. The dialogue was terrible. One character is supposed to be a little girl, but she didn't some authentic at all.
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Interesting police procedural flavored with sadness. A young woman's charred body is found in the lake inside her roommate's car. Everyone's life seems related not only to the vineyard, but also to the monastery that was once an orphanage, and that includes the investigator who came from France. Difficult interviews with those who knew her.
I requested and received a free ebook copy from BooksGoSocial via NetGalley. (  )
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Sadly, I never really got very far into this story to find out if the plot is any good, because this book is so poorly edited that my annoyance level exceeded my fortitude in trying to make myself keep reading it.   Especially because I had been given an ARC in exchange for an honest review, I really wanted to finish the book, but I just couldn’t make myself do it.  In the first couple of chapters alone, I spotted multiple grammar goofs, spelling errors, and just plain awkward writing.  Taken in aggregate, these were enough to make the book unreadable, at least for me.  

At first, I thought perhaps the problem was that this was an ARC, but then I got the bright idea of looking at the sample of the first book in the series, A Taste for Death, which has already been published and is available on Amazon.  And sadly, that sample was also riddled with problems.  So I doubt that Sacred Vines will be improved much either before publication.  

I tend to like books that involve wine and vineyards, so I was really hoping I had found a new series to follow.   But in its current state, Sacred Vines simply cannot be enjoyed.
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I very much enjoyed this book, I like the storyline, the characters and the bones of the story. I found that I was looking forward to each and every page. The mystery had me intrigued and the way the main character's story was interwoven with the mystery. 
An enjoyable read
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A nice cozy mystery. I liked the plot, the cast of characters and the setting.
The mystery is ok, no plot hole, and it kept me guessing.
I look forward to reading other books by this author.
Recommended!
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
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It's not that this book is badly written or anything, far from, but it just did not grab me I'm afraid. It's a cosy mystery, fine; the setting is Fingers Lake in New York State and would obviously be worth a visit should I ever travel that way; the story is interesting - flaming car runs into a lake, driver killed - murder, suicide or dreadful accident? The characters are well described too but I just could not sympathise or empathise with them. The local policeman asks two Investigators to, err, investigate, the senior one was born in France although was brought to the area as a baby/child, spent time in an orphanage before being adopted whilst the younger one is generally lacking in confidence. There is a winery run by a strange couple (Hollingsworth) - he is very bullish whilst she is remote - who bought it from another strange couple when they failed to make the business succeed.  The original winery was run by monks from the adjacent monastery which later turned into an orphanage and now seems to be the home of a young nun and no-one else. The winery wants to expand into said monastery. The Hollingsworth lost their son to drowning in the lake, his twin sister dresses in Victorian garb and lives in her own, quite worldy for a youngster, world. The nun has history and took to religion after the death of her young son at a hospital in which one of the nurses now resides locally and with whom the dead driver lodged. Add in Dudley, an autistic lad adopted by the local police sergeant and who was in love with the dead driver, her on/off layabout boyfriend and the fact that she was pregnant adds to the complicated story. On top of this there is plenty of  (too much) religious angst, guilt and indoctrination which did not add to the story. I'm afraid that it was obvious to me who (and why) the "baddie" was and that the death on the first page was murder but I did not immediately work out the miscreant who impregnated the girl. Sadly I have no interest in finding more out about these characters. Thanks to NetGalley and BooksGoSocial for an advance copy in exchange for my honest review, we can't win them all.
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