Guild Boss by Jayne Castle – #Audiobook Review – #audiobookreview

Guild Boss by Jayne Castle

Book Blurb:

Welcome to Illusion Town on the colony world of Harmony—like Las Vegas on Earth, but way more weird.

Living in this new, alien world doesn’t stop the settlers from trying to re-create what they’ve left behind. Case in point—weddings are still the highlight of any social calendar. But it’s the after-party that turns disastrous for Lucy Bell. Kidnapped and drugged as she leaves the party, she manages to escape—only to find herself lost in the mysterious, alien underground maze of glowing green tunnels beneath Illusion Town. She’s been surviving on determination and cold pizza, scavenged for her by a special dust bunny, when help finally shows up.

Gabriel Jones is the Ghost Hunter sent to rescue her, but escaping the underground ruins isn’t the end of her troubles—it’s only the beginning. With no rational reason for her abduction, and her sole witness gone on another assignment for the Guild, whispers start circulating that Lucy made it all up. Soon her life unravels until she has nothing left but her pride. The last thing she expects is for Gabriel Jones to come back to town for her.

The Lucy that Gabriel finds is not the same woman he rescued, the one who looked at him as if he were her hero. This Lucy is sharp, angry, and more than a little cynical—instead of awe, she treats him with extreme caution. But a killer is still hunting her, and there aren’t a lot of options when it comes to heroes. Despite her wariness, Gabriel is also the one person who believes Lucy—after all, he was there. He’s determined to help clear her reputation, no matter what it takes. And as the new Guild Boss, his word is law, even in the lawlessness of Illusion Town.

My Review:

I’ve been known to start a series with Book 15 (or otherwise well into the series) before, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I’d try a Harmony Novel well into a long-running series. Well, according to Amazon, Book 15; according to Goodreads, Ghost Hunters series, Book 14. I’m confused from the beginning.

I’ve tried other paranormal series before but I think what attracted me in this instance is that Sweetwater and the Witch (Harmony Novel Book 16—according to Amazon—is the Editors’ pick for Best Romance. Hmmm, you say, but you don’t read romance. Well, yes, that would be true. Or for that matter, “Paranormal Vampire Romance”?? Thought I’d test this novel first—then see if I didn’t want to swing right into the Editors’ pick. So, do I?

Guild Boss by Jayne CastleThis is like almost no—well, okay, none of the paranormal books I’ve read before. And no, you can’t pick this up as a standalone. Totally lost, my first problem was the “dust bunny.” Is this supposed to be a dog substitute? If so—how does he have six legs? Four eyes? (What was I reading?) Confusion reigned supreme.

The paranormal tendencies were also “gifts” of a nature I’ve heretofore never read, nor imagined. Lucy Bell is a weather (goddess) channeler—she can summon–at will–weather patterns that would disrupt any unhappy situation.

She was rescued following her kidnapping by Gabriel Jones, a Ghost Hunter and now the new Guild Boss of the area. This is Illusion Town—a Las Vegas by any other nightmare. It’s an alien world. Of course there is romance. Who doesn’t love the white knight who rescued you?

It’s a futuristic world with a dark underbelly and antagonists who harbor a conspiracy that threatens to harness the very power source of Harmony with “tuned amber.” Otis, the dust bunny, seems to be fairly capable, but communicates with annoying and constant chortles and has an amazing affinity for pizza.

I could do without the romance and attendant sex and was ready to find a powerful vacuum to rid myself of the dust bunny but had to admit to enjoying the imagination it took to fashion scenes in a tour bus of an alien world, the underworld, the inhabitants, and extremely bizarre weather patterns.

The storyline does hook as well as hold engagement. The explanation of society as it evolved in this world was simplistic while sensible in the setting and the descriptions of marriage and law were interesting. There is an eclectic mix of characters from the techno-wizards to evil doers—the push-pull of good versus evil. The narrative is complex and entertaining.

But will I progress to Sweetwater and the Witch? Probably not. If you, however, are looking for a unique paranormal romance, this may be the book or series for you. There are themes that include

politics and friendships—

as well as those imagined hurdles future colonists may confront.

I downloaded a copy of this audiobook from my local well-stocked library. These are my honest thoughts. (Oh, and by the way, I also stumbled on this author and series because I was looking for books narrated by one of my favorite narrators, Barbara Rosenblat, and she didn’t disappoint.)

Book Details:

Genre: Action & Adventure Romance, Science Fiction Romance
Publisher: Recorded Books, Inc.
ASIN: B0973HH8HX
Listening Length: 8 hrs 48 mins
Narrator: Barbara Rosenblat
Publication Date: November 16, 2021
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Guild Boss [Amazon]
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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four stars 4 stars

 

Jayne Castle - authorThe Author: The author of over 50 New York Times bestsellers, JAYNE ANN KRENTZ writes romantic-suspense in three different worlds: Contemporary (as Jayne Ann Krentz), historical (as Amanda Quick) and futuristic (as Jayne Castle). There are over 35 million copies of her books in print.

[Goodreads] She earned a B.A. in History from the University of California at Santa Cruz and went on to obtain a Masters degree in Library Science from San Jose State University in California. Before she began writing full time she worked as a librarian in both academic and corporate libraries.

Ms. Krentz is married and lives with her husband, Frank, in Seattle, Washington.

©2022 V Williams

Christmas typewriter

Borderline (Anna Pigeon Mysteries Book 15) by Nevada Barr- #Audiobook Review – #throwbackthursday

Book Blurb:

Agatha and Anthony Award winner Nevada Barr, New York Times best-selling author of Winter Study, enthralls millions with the exploits of roving park ranger Anna Pigeon.

The killings on Isle Royale have left Anna drained and haunted, her memories of her time with the wolf study group forever marred by the carnage on the island. Diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, she is on administrative leave, per her superintendent’s urging. Anna wonders if the leave might not be permanent, either by her own choice or that of the National Park Service.

The one bright spot in Anna’s life is Paul, her husband of less than a year. Hoping the warmth and the adventure of a raft trip in Big Bend National Park will lift her spirits, Paul takes Anna to southwest Texas, where the sun is hot and the Rio Grande is running high.

The sheer beauty of the Chihuahuan Desert and the power of the river work their magic-until the raft is lost in the rapids and a young college student falls overboard, resulting in an even more grisly discovery. Caught in a strainer between two boulders and more dead than alive, is a pregnant woman, hair and arms tangled in the downed branches. Instead of the soul-soothing experience they’d longed for, Anna and Paul find themselves sucked into a labyrinth of intrigue that leads from the Mexican desert to the steps of the governor’s Mansion in Austin, Texas.

My Review:

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I decided it was high time I listened to another Park Range Anna Pigeon mystery. I do sooo enjoy these books, not in no small part due to the narrator, Barbara Rosenblat.

Anna Pigeon has been a park ranger long enough to have experienced various jobs all over the US in some very unique national parks. Reading about these parks is always enlightening, educational, and fascinating. But the predicaments that Anna Pigeon gets herself into truly amaze. Is she a strong protagonist? Oh yeah, and then some, at times pushing disbelief, but, hey, she can handle it.

This episode follows what was apparently almost her swan song in the last book that resulted in her being put on temporary leave, diagnosed with PTSD. She is married now to Paul, so she and hubby Paul decide to take a nice relaxing raft trip in Big Bend National Park. Breathe in the clean air, absorb the atmospheric desert fragrance and experience the Rio Grande in all its glory. Should be fun.

Unfortunately, they share the raft with several college students, one of whom falls overboard resulting in the loss of their equipment, and her rescue results in the discovery of a very pregnant young woman caught in the reeds more dead than alive. The alive part doesn’t last long forcing Anna to try to deliver the baby with little more than a pocket knife.

Borderline by Nevada BarrOkay, okay, but I told you you might have to suspend some disbelief so just go with it. It quickly becomes a question of who the young woman was running from when they are suddenly dodging bullets. With a river rapidly progressing toward flash flood stage, bad guys on the ledge above, and a newborn in trouble they are forced to find ways to evacuate safely.

Mercy! No one writes a faster-moving plot than this author! The tension ramps up as the river rises and the situation more dire. I love the way the author digs into the multiple personalities—those of the college students—pampered, green behind the ears, petulant to the point you want to slap one upside the head. Their mannerisms are so well described, the inflections, body language, you can see them–hear them. Anna and Paul combine brainstorms on the best way to escape their predicament. Snatches of humor lighten a dark situation and amid dialogue so realistic it seems she must have been recording conversations somewhere.

“That vein of conversation mined out, they fell silent again.”

This one so action-packed you can’t put it down even while decrying the characters could NOT have survived the circumstances. Yeah, but it’s thoroughly engaging and entertaining. I’ve listened to a number of the books in this series, now working back from Book 19, Boar Island and Destroyer Angel, although my favorite so far might be Deep South.

If you like wild and wooly non-stop action, well-developed characters, and strong female protagonists, you’ll enjoy this series. I downloaded a copy of this audiobook from my local well-stocked library. These are my honest thoughts.

Book Details:

Genre: Women Sleuth Mysteries, Suspense
Publisher: Recorded Books
ASIN: B0026PVY6G
Listening Length: 11 hrs 53 mins
Narrator: Barbara Rosenblat
Publication Date: April 15, 2009
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Borderline [Amazon]

 

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five Stars 4 1/2 stars

Nevada Barr - authorNevada was born in the small western town of Yerington, Nevada and raised on a mountain airport in the Sierras. Both her parents were pilots and mechanics and her sister, Molly, continued the tradition by becoming a pilot for USAir.

Pushed out of the nest, Nevada fell into the theatre, receiving her BA in speech and drama and her MFA in Acting before making the pilgrimage to New York City, then Minneapolis, MN. For eighteen years she worked on stage, in commercials, industrial training films and did voice-overs for radio. During this time she became interested in the environmental movement and began working in the National Parks during the summers — Isle Royale in Michigan, Guadalupe Mountains in Texas, Mesa Verde in Colorado, and then on the Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi.

Woven throughout these seemingly disparate careers was the written word. Nevada wrote and presented campfire stories, taught storytelling and was a travel writer and restaurant critic. Her first novel, Bitterweet was published in 1983. The Anna Pigeon series, featuring a female park ranger as the protagonist, started when she married her love of writing with her love of the wilderness, the summer she worked in west Texas. The first book, Track of the Cat, was brought to light in 1993 and won both the Agatha and Anthony awards for best first mystery. The series was well received and A Superior Death, loosely based on Nevada’s experiences as a boat patrol ranger on Isle Royale in Lake Superior, was published in 1994. In 1995 Ill Wind came out. It was set in Mesa Verde, Colorado where Nevada worked as a law enforcement ranger for two seasons.

The rest is, shall we say, HISTORY! Nevada’s books and accomplishments have become numerous and the presses continue to roll, so in the interest of NOT having to update this page, books, awards, status on the New York Times Best Seller List — and more — will be enumerated with the relevant books else where on this website.

Barbara Rosenblat - narrator
Attribute: Wikipedia

The Narrator: Barbara Rosenblat has been narrating for more than 20 years, and even had the honor of performing the first book ever recorded at Audible in 1999.

She has also appeared on screen such as in the Netflix original series Orange Is the New Black as Miss Rosa. Rosenblat was born in London, England and raised in New York City. Upon returning to the US, she read books to the blind for four years at the Library of Congress. On Broadway she appeared in The Secret Garden and Talk Radio. Barbara Rosenblat has narrated more than 400 audiobooks.

©2022 V Williams

Christmas typewriter

The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill – #Audiobook Review – #amateursleuthmysteries

The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill

(Amazon) Editors Pick Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense 

Book Blurb:

The ornate reading room at the Boston Public Library is quiet—until the tranquility is shattered by a woman’s terrified scream. Security guards take charge immediately, instructing everyone inside to stay put until the threat is identified and contained. While they wait for the all-clear, four strangers, who’d happened to sit at the same table, pass the time in conversation, and friendships are struck. Each has his or her own reasons for being in the reading room that morning—it just happens that one is a murderer. 

Award-winning author Sulari Gentill delivers a sharply thrilling listen with this unexpectedly twisty literary adventure that examines the complicated nature of friendship and reveals that words can be the most treacherous weapons of all.

My Review:

This novel was the library book club choice for October-December. I opted for the audiobook version—perhaps that was the problem as this is a well-acclaimed book according to Amazon.

The premise is the closed-room murder that occurs in the reading room of the enormous Boston Public Library where the quiet is disturbed by an obviously terrified scream. Four strangers occupying the same table are instructed to wait until the origin of the scream is identified and the space given the all-clear. Of course, that doesn’t come quickly, given that the scream is the victim’s last sound, and the four manage to bond.

Each of the four is then examined. Ad nauseum. I wanted to get into this book as it was, after all, voted the read for the quarter. If it was a murder mystery it moved too slowly for me. If it was a character study, someone missed the boat on making at least one of them appealing.

The Woman in the Library by Sulari GentillThe author has a quiet way of subtly introducing characters to whom you need to pay attention. Unfortunately, for me, I found some of the introductions tedious and lost interest. A story within a story, I didn’t care for the way this one was handled though I’ve read and enjoyed others of the same ilk. One, the author writing the mystery story doesn’t wholly jive with what’s concurrently happening and, two, she is corresponding to Leo who responds with critiques leaving me scratching my head as to why it was included.

I sighed with relief when I sensed the coming conclusion and assumed it’d clarify the whole picture, but, alas, it did not and left me wondering what it was I’d missed. I previously read Where There’s a Will by this author in January and noted occasions where the plot slowed, but then something would happen that would spark reinterest. Sadly, not so much here.

I downloaded a copy of this audiobook from my local well-stocked library. These are my honest thoughts.

Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuth Mysteries, Women Sleuth Mysteries, Amateur Sleuths
Publisher: Dreamscape Media, LLC
ASIN: B09VCVM3BT
Listening Length: 8 hrs 58 mins
Narrator: Katherine Littrell
Publication Date: June 9, 2022
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Woman in the Library [Amazon]
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Rosepoint Publishing: Three Stars three stars

 

Sulari Gentill-authorThe Author: After setting out to study astrophysics, graduating in law and then abandoning her legal career to write books, Sulari now grows French black truffles on her farm in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains of NSW. Sulari is author of The Rowland Sinclair Mystery series, historical crime fiction novels (eight in total) set in the 1930s. Sulari’s A Decline in Prophets (the second book in the series) was the winner of the Davitt Award for Best Adult Crime Fiction 2012. She was also shortlisted for Best First Book (A Few Right Thinking Men) for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize 2011. Paving the New Road was shortlisted for another Davitt in 2013.

[Goodreads] Sulari lives with her husband, Michael, and their boys, Edmund and Atticus, on a small farm in Batlow where she grows French Black Truffles and refers to her writing as “work” so that no one will suggest she get a real job.

Website
http://www.sularigentill.com
Twitter
sularigentill

©2022 V Williams

happy thursday!

Defending Jacob by William Landay – #Audiobook Review – #throwbackthursday

Audiobook review-Defending Jacob by William Landay

(Amazon) Editors Pick Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense 

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney in his suburban Massachusetts county for more than 20 years. He is respected in his community, tenacious in the courtroom, and happy at home with his wife, Laurie, and son, Jacob. But when a shocking crime shatters their New England town, Andy is blindsided by what happens next: his 14-year-old son is charged with the murder of a fellow student.

Every parental instinct Andy has rallies to protect his boy. Jacob insists that he is innocent, and Andy believes him. Andy must. He’s his father. But as damning facts and shocking revelations surface, as a marriage threatens to crumble and the trial intensifies, and as the crisis reveals how little a father knows about his son, Andy will face a trial of his own – between loyalty and justice, between truth and allegation, between a past he’s tried to bury and a future he cannot conceive.

Award-winning author William Landay has written the consummate novel of an embattled family in crisis – a suspenseful, character-driven mystery that is also a spellbinding tale of guilt, betrayal, and the terrifying speed at which our lives can spin out of control.

My Review:

I must admit that I chose this audiobook because I saw that it was narrated by Grover Gardner and I’m a huge fan of Mr. Gardner—the “Andy” of the Andy Carpenter series (by another author). His artistic rendition carries most any book to new heights, not just reading the book, but making the characters come alive—flesh and blood—along with their foibles. Such is the Andy in this book.

The hook at the beginning manages to jump what will become the meat and potatoes of this book—the POV by Andy Barber. Andy is happily married and they have a fourteen-year-old son, Jacob. Every now and then, the POV jumps over the catastrophic event in the family’s life that propels the legal thriller to a heartbreaking family drama.

Jacob is accused of the murder of a classmate. Andy becomes convinced that Jacob would not—could not—commit the heinous crime—stabbing three times the chest of the boy found murdered and left in the park. He is temporarily suspended from his position as ADA and becomes convinced beyond all reason (and mostly circumstantial evidence) that his son is innocent.

Defending Jacob by William LandayMeanwhile, Laurie, his wife is becoming alarmed at her crushing emotions and conflicting beliefs—then guilt over her thoughts. Could her son have killed that boy? The atmosphere in the air becomes increasingly contentious, Andy defending his son beyond reason. Jacob declaring his innocence. His mother no longer so positive—doubts seeping into the bedrock, loosening her private shocking fears and revelations to her husband.

Meanwhile, as Andy works second chair with the attorney they hired to defend Jacob, they are confronted with Andy’s own history—dark secrets he’d never shared even with Laurie. She becomes horrified and as her experience with her baby boy begins to shed more light on him, Andy continues the unreasonable and dogged resistance to the possibility.

The reader is first left with a child—yes, sometimes children can be cruel—but this is far beyond bullying—and increasing questions as to the veracity of Andy’s arguments. The toll on the family is unimaginable, threatening to ruin the marriage, his mother’s belief in Jacob’s innocence flailing wildly in the wind. While Andy is a well-developed main character, Laurie is more a strong periphery character and Jacob only known through the insight of Andy and his mother.

I’m a fan of legal thrillers and the courtroom dance in the narrative proceeds with all the drama a reader could want, the push-pull, win-lose. Written by a former ADA, the author knows the timing, the procedure, the lingo—it’s high drama in itself.

The family appears to survive the process albeit briefly when another event sends the reader back into high-pressure territory, gasping with shock at the turn of events.

And then; the final twist. I don’t care who you are. You never saw this coming. Yes, I know you’ve heard that before. No, trust me. This one is so beyond what you might have imagined it echoes over and over in your head, leaving you with a book hangover.  The unthinkable. No do-overs here. You can run it over in your mind. It won’t change. I was almost sick.

Does that mean I wouldn’t recommend it? Are you kidding? This is crazy unique, gripping, heart-pounding, and unquestionably a novel both engaging and entertaining. The narration by Gardner is mesmerizing. (I guess it was turned into a TV series released in 2020.)

I downloaded a copy of this audiobook from my local well-stocked library. These are my honest thoughts.

Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Fiction, Legal Thrillers, Psychological Thrillers
Publisher:  Blackstone Audio, Inc.
ASIN: B0073OGZNM
Listening Length: 12 hrs 24 mins
Narrator: Grover Gardner
Publication Date: January 31, 2012
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Defending Jacob [Amazon]

 

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William Landay - authorThe Author: William Landay’s latest novel is the New York Times bestseller “Defending Jacob.” His previous novels are “Mission Flats,” which won the Dagger Award as best debut crime novel of 2003, and “The Strangler,” which was an L.A. Times favorite crime novel and was nominated for the Strand Magazine Critics Award as best crime novel of 2007.

Visit the author at http://www.williamlanday.com or on Facebook at facebook.com/williamlanday

Grover Gardner - narratorNarrator: Grover Gardner is an American narrator of audiobooks. As of May 2018, he has narrated over 1,200 books. He was the Publishers Weekly “Audiobook Narrator of the Year” and is among AudioFile magazine’s “Best Voices of the Century”. Wikipedia

Born: 1956 (age 66 years).

©2022 V Williams V Williams

#ThrowbackThursday

 

Bullet Train (the movie) vs #Audiobook #BulletTrain by Kōtarō Isaka – #crimethriller

Bullet Train (the Movie)_ vs #Audiobook

Intro

Are you up for a frenetically paced story located on a Shinkansen (bullet train) in Japan? This is an audiobook (kindle, paperback, hardback) turned into a “major motion picture” from Sony Pictures that stars none other than Brad Pitt—like you’ve probably never seen or imagined Bradley—and Sandra Bullock in a cameo.

The Movie

Brad Pitt stars as Ladybug. The poor man has a history of being unlucky—seriously unlucky—which is interesting as he’s an accomplished assassin coming off the last gig that went sideways on several levels (how did he survive?). Now he’s ready to check in with Maria who is sending him out on a simple mission. Steal a briefcase from a train. You know, that really fast one in Japan? Unfortunately, there is more than one assassin on the same train—others interested in the same briefcase—and with somewhat of an alarming connection. But once he has the briefcase, can he then get safely off the train?

Maybe not.

My Thoughts

Leave it to Hollywood to make an admittedly fast-paced nail-biting satire into an explosively violent but often farcical blockbuster. Brad Pitt (Nanao nee Ladybug) plays it to the hilt and the movie is worth the price of admission to watch the man work. He can produce many a LOL moment with just a look. And he comes off as hapless and innocent (if an assassin can be innocent) when the bodies begin to pile up around him.

Brad Pitt - author
Photo attribution: IMDb

The characters are priceless—most, carefully crafted after their creative author’s original molding of them. I mean—come on—Tangerine and Lemon? And again, the two are perfect, playing off each other, intellectually, in numerous scenes. Joey King - actorAnd The Prince…ah, The Prince, a female (not the high school male sadistically imagined by the author, but a cruel, petite woman). Kimura, poor, sad Kimura who followed in his father’s footsteps driven to save his son now languishing in a hospital in a coma.

Five assassins all with horrific backstories—brought to the fore by flashbacks of each. Can one be more brutal than the other? Amid fiery crash scenes, vicious fight scenes, swords, knives, and blood, there are definitely some gory scenes.

With the exception of The Prince, a viewer might be tempted to begin rooting for a particular character to make it through the chaos to fight again elsewhere. Eventually, you might be so caught up in the non-stop action that you’ve forgotten the mission goal—what was it again?

4 stars 4 stars

Audiobook (Blurb)

A dark, satirical thriller by the best-selling Japanese author, following the perilous train ride of five highly motivated assassins – soon to be a major film from Sony

Nanao, nicknamed Ladybug – the self-proclaimed “unluckiest assassin in the world” – boards a bullet train from Tokyo to Morioka with one simple task: Grab a suitcase and get off at the next stop. Unbeknownst to him, the deadly duo Tangerine and Lemon are also after the very same suitcase – and they are not the only dangerous passengers onboard. Satoshi, “the Prince”, with the looks of an innocent schoolboy and the mind of a viciously cunning psychopath, is also in the mix and has history with some of the others. Risk fuels him as does a good philosophical debate – like, is killing really wrong? Chasing the Prince is another assassin with a score to settle for the time the Prince casually pushed a young boy off of a roof, leaving him comatose. When the five assassins discover they are all on the same train, they realize their missions are not as unrelated as they first appear. 

A massive best seller in Japan, Bullet Train is an original and propulsive thriller that fizzes with an incredible energy and surprising humor as its complex net of double-crosses and twists unwind. Award-winning author Kotaro Isaka takes listeners on a tension-packed journey as the bullet train hurtles toward its final destination. Who will make it off the train alive – and what awaits them at the last stop?

The Kindle-Paperback book was given the Editors’ pick for Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

My Thoughts

The audiobook’s main character would seem to be The Prince, as it is his voice, his thoughts, his objectives that drives the plot. The characters are introduced and gradually enfolded into the storyline that revolves in and around a briefcase full of money. The chapters begin with Kimura and proceed to switch between The Prince and Nanao, as well as Tangerine and Lemon.

Bullet Train by Kōtarō IsakaIt’s amazing the philosophical depth to which the Prince advances his thoughts, proposing a subject and then dissecting in ways never before contemplated. You might be examining the meaning of life one minute and the frivolity of it the next. The prince is young—a total psychopathic narcissist—who views himself clearly superior to those of the lives he currently controls like a master with a marionette.

The suitcase becomes the baton stolen, hidden, found, and then passed to the next hideous villain. There are support characters who come and go, the Wolf for instance, but my very favorite was Kimura’s mother and father. Sweetness in the middle of madness.

The fate of several of the main characters is handled very differently in the audiobook than was in the movie, some of which I was sorry about, but kept rooting for Nanao—much the underdog—but not so unlucky anymore. The conclusion is satisfying, though somewhat deflating after all the turmoil (and casualties) and it’s even possible the reader can understand why this is a necessary evil.

5 stars 5 stars

The Author

Kōtarō Isaka - author
Author photo from Goodreads

Kotaro Isaka(伊坂幸太郎, Isaka Koutarou) is a Japanese author of mystery fiction.

Isaka was born in Matsudo City, Chiba Prefecture, Japan. After graduating from the law faculty of Tohoku University, he worked as a system engineer. Isaka quit his company job and focused on writing after hearing Kazuyoshi Saito’s 1997 song “Kōfuku na Chōshoku Taikutsu na Yūshoku”, and the two have collaborated several times. In 2000, Isaka won the Shincho Mystery Club Prize for his debut novel Ōdyubon no Inori, after which he became a full-time writer.
In 2002, Isaka’s novel Lush Life gained much critical acclaim, but it was his Naoki Prize-nominated work Jūryoku Piero (2003) that brought him popular success. His following work Ahiru to Kamo no Koin Rokkā won the 25th Yoshikawa Eiji Prize for New Writers.
Jūryoku Piero (2003), Children (2004), Grasshopper (2004), Shinigami no Seido (2005) and Sabaku (2006) were all nominated for the Naoki Prize.
Isaka was the only author in Japan to be nominated for the Hon’ya Taishō in each of the award’s first four years, finally winning in 2008 with Golden Slumber. The same work also won the 21st Yamamoto Shūgorō Prize.

Book Details

Genre: Crime Thrillers, Suspense
Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
ASIN: B0946D2BGX
Listening Length: 13 hrs 38 mins
Narrator: Pun Bandhu
Audible Release: August 3, 2021
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Bullet Train [Amazon]

Overall Impression

The Movie

Five assassins on the bullet train traveling at 200 mph, somewhat connected with several different motives. What could go wrong? All are at odds. Amazing choice of actors with their assigned parts totally selling it. They were a hoot. The action is non-stop. Tons of special effects and some shocking stunts. Flash bang in technicolor and sound.

Absolutely engaging, totally entertaining. Definitely outside the realm of credibility. And fun.

Did I mention fun? Still, with all that, it lacked the psychological nuances, much of the philosophical exchanges with The Prince. Some of those arguments had the ability to get you twisting and turning in the wind and sorry (not sorry) but I thought the part of The Prince was miscast—the only one. I missed some of those theoretical conversations and hated the ending.

The Audiobook

It takes a few minutes to get into the writing style and prose of the well-narrated audiobook. Also, there may be sufficient characters for some to get you grabbing an Excel spreadsheet, but the storyline begins to get the reader entrenched into a wildly unique plot and unusual location. The conversations with The Prince are mesmerizing. Difficult to get into that alien head to grasp the salient points which then become profound. Such a variety feast of characters.

It’s unusual and mysteriously engaging. Looking for something different? Go no further.

Add to Goodreads

Conclusion

The movie is riotously entertaining—all action and character-driven. No doubt you’d enjoy if this is your thing—lots of sights and sounds. Pitt is great. And Sandra Bullock? (Phoned it in.) It’s a fast two hours.

The audiobook’s twists and turns have your head swimming, trying to keep up. It’s deliciously aggravating while intoxicating. It goes dark quickly. It’s also engaging and entertaining and the characterizations alone beat the movie version even given the performances these individuals turn in. Unusual setting, unique well plotted, and evenly paced, I have to go with the audiobook (author’s original work) to take this one.

I’d recommend either as entertaining but if you are looking for a stimulating and unique novel—look for the book.

©2022 V Williams V Williams

Holy Chow: An Andy Carpenter Mystery by David Rosenfelt – #Audiobook Review – #AnimalCozyMysteries

Holy Chow by David Rosenfelt

Holy Chow by David Rosenfelt

Rosepoint Rating: 5 stars

Book Blurb:

In Holy Chow, the next mystery from bestselling author David Rosenfelt, the beloved characters—both human and canine—of this fan favorite series are back on the case with the author’s trademark wit and humor.

Retired lawyer Andy Carpenter’s calling has always been running the Tara Foundation. The dog rescue organization places hundreds of dogs in new homes every year. It’s added up to so many dogs and new owners that Andy can’t even do the math. But there’s one dog—and one owner—Andy will always remember. 

About a year ago, Rachel Morehouse came to the foundation looking for a companion. In her sixties and recently widowed, Rachel wanted a senior dog that also needed someone. Andy took a liking to her, Rachel took a liking to Lion, an older Chow Chow, and the rest is history. 

That is, until Rachel calls Andy begging for a favor: If Rachel dies, will Andy take care of Lion if her stepson cannot? Andy agrees, no questions asked, and promptly forgets about it… until he receives a call from Rachel’s estate to attend her will reading. Which is where he meets Rachel’s stepson, Tony, who is promptly arrested for his stepmother’s murder. And he wants Andy to prove his innocence. 

Andy has continued to learn more about the woman he so greatly admired and the businesses she ran, and holy chow, was this woman impressive. The person who killed her deserves to be held accountable, and if Tony is to be believed, they’re still out there. And that possibility is too much for Andy to remain on the sidelines.

My Review:

Yes, yes, I know. Seems like yesterday I was reviewing a David Rosenfelt book, but that one was Citizen K-9, a K Team series mystery. Between the two, although don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the K-9 team series too, just that for me I know even if this is Book 25 of the series, I’m going to be entertained and finish the book happy with the time spent. My only problem is that they are usually short audiobooks.

Holy Chow by David RosenfeltThe Andy Carpenter novels have a winning formula. Andy is retired, wealthy, and supports a dog rescue called the Tara Foundation. He has Tara and Sebastian, as well as his wife Laurie and their adopted son. He also has an amazing team—love the character of Marcus—a most unique character and he has the chance to shine in this one.

There is a mystery involving a dog, he’ll grudgingly accept the case, usually because he really feels in his heart the person is innocent. The case that may have started simple usually gets real complex and eventually goes to trial, and yes, I always enjoy that legal bamboozle as well. So much fun.

Fun? Yes, that’s at the heart of these pseudo-cozy mysteries, the humor, the snark, and the right amount of witty dialogue combined with serious and intelligent fact-finding. These audiobooks will keep you in a good mood even when you have to go grocery shopping. Trust me.

I’ve learned not to try and figure out the guilty antagonist (sometimes more than one) and just go with the flow. Listen and enjoy.

I can think of no narrator other than Grover Gardner who so clearly IS Andy Carpenter just as George Guidall is Walt Longmire on Craig Johnson’s Walt Longmire mystery series. Whether or not you read or listen to the audiobook, you still hear their voices. I would strongly suggest the audiobooks for the sense you just won’t get reading.

Catch my review of Book 23 Dog Eat Dog and hang on for the next one. I downloaded a copy of this audiobook from my favorite library of course. These are my honest thoughts.

Book Details:

Genre: Animal Cozy Mysteries, Animal Fiction
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
ASIN: B09GH1J5XB
Listening Length: 6 hrs 27 mins
Narrator: Grover Gardner
Publication Date: July 5, 2022
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Links: Holy Chow [Amazon]
Barnes & Noble 
Kobo

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David Rosenfelt - authorThe Author: David Rosenfelt, a native of Paterson, New Jersey, is a graduate of NYU. He was the former marketing president for Tri-Star Pictures before becoming a writer of novels and screenplays. “Open And Shut” was his first novel; “First Degree,” his second novel, was named a best book of 2003 by Publishers Weekly. He currently lives in Southern California with his wife and 35 dogs.

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The Narrator: Grover Gardner’s narration career spans twenty-five years and over 550 audiobook titles. AudioFile Magazine has called him one of the “Best Voices of the Century” and features him in their annual “Golden Voices” update. Publishers Weekly named him Audiobook Narrator of the Year for 2005. His recordings have garnered 18 “Golden Earphones” awards from AudioFile and an Audie Award from the Audio Publishers’ Association.
http://grovergardner.blogspot.com/

Lessons in Chemistry: A Novel by Bonnie Garmus – #Audiobook Review – Humorous Literary Fiction

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Amazon Charts#20 this week

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • GOOD MORNING AMERICA BOOK CLUB PICK • ONE OF NPR’s BEST BOOKS OF 2022

A must-read debut! Meet Elizabeth Zott: a one-of-a-kind scientist in 1960s California whose career takes a detour when she becomes the unlikely star of a beloved TV cooking show in this novel that is “irresistible, satisfying and full of fuel. It reminds you that change takes time and always requires heat” (The New York Times Book Review).

“It’s the world versus Elizabeth Zott, an extraordinary woman determined to live on her own terms, and I had no trouble choosing a side…. A page-turning and highly satisfying tale: zippy, zesty, and Zotty.” —Maggie Shipstead, best-selling author of Great Circle

Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing as an average woman. But it’s the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute takes a very unscientific view of equality. Except for one: Calvin Evans; the lonely, brilliant, Nobel–prize nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with—of all things—her mind. True chemistry results.

But like science, life is unpredictable. Which is why a few years later Elizabeth Zott finds herself not only a single mother, but the reluctant star of America’s most beloved cooking show Supper at Six. Elizabeth’s unusual approach to cooking (“combine one tablespoon acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride”) proves revolutionary. But as her following grows, not everyone is happy. Because as it turns out, Elizabeth Zott isn’t just teaching women to cook. She’s daring them to change the status quo.

Laugh-out-loud funny, shrewdly observant, and studded with a dazzling cast of supporting characters, Lessons in Chemistry is as original and vibrant as its protagonist.

My Review:

In the kitchen, bare foot and pregnant—oft repeated back then.

Neither my cousin nor I were considered for any kind of serious college education because back then women were—in the kitchen, ironing, cooking, cleaning, and having babies (see point 1). You don’t need an education to be just a housewife. Right…

chemistry beakerAnd here is Elizabeth Zott, brainiac and early 1960s chemist, fending off unwanted advances at Hastings Research Institute. 

Mz. Zott is fired when she gets pregnant, unwed. She met and fell in love with Calvin Evans, her intellect equal, brilliant, a Nobel-prize winner. But she refused to marry him and become background to Mr. Calvin Evans. He’s as socially stunted as she. They click beautifully—there is real chemistry here—but his unexpected death finds her with child and without a job.

In the meantime, the author racks up some amazing characters, most well drawn sufficient to draw conclusions as to whether or not they are likable or loathsome. A few were the latter—admittedly men—but not all of them. Six-thirty, the dog, is amazing and actually has his own POV. Yes, it dips heavily into anthropomorphism but works well.

woman with chemistry beakerWhen she finds herself a single mother with an extremely precocious four-year-old who is being taken advantage of at school, she demands to talk to the father and comes away with a new job; too broke to say no to being host of a cooking show on TV. Called “Supper at Six” she has very simple ideas on how to handle it–chemically. The station’s managers want her to dump the lab coat for a sexy dress. Not going to happen. It’s not a kitchen–it’s a lab. And the demographic loves it.

Yes, there is blatant sexism (that’s the way it was then), atheism, the glass ceiling, and possibly a few liberties using more recent scenarios in the atmosphere of the 60s decade. Sorry it fell back to Elizabeth being beautiful–couldn’t she have been just an average-looking woman?

Not uncommon then for a woman to downplay their own intelligence in a male-dominated world, but she does not. There are subtle bits of humor and the audible chuckle kind and I suspect there are probably more women forty and over who can laugh the loudest, identify the most, connect more strongly than the younger women.

Lessons in chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

I downloaded a copy of this audiobook from my local very well-stocked library—this being a prime example and I thoroughly enjoyed the narrators. Thought to be the barn-burner for 2022, there were also some critical thoughts on it—but you can’t say it isn’t engaging. Highly entertaining, intelligent, fast-paced maybe.

There’s real chemistry here. How did you feel about it?

Book Details:

Genre: Humorous Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction, General Humorous Fiction
Publisher: Random House Audio
ASIN: B09BBK79VB
Listening Length: 11 hrs 55 mins
Narrators: Bonnie GarmusMiranda RaisonPandora Sykes
Publication Date: April 5, 2022
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Links: Lessons in Chemistry [Amazon]
Lessons in Chemistry [Amazon.uk] Amazon Charts #11 this week
Barnes & Noble
Kobo

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Bonnie Garmus - authorThe Author: Bonnie Garmus is a copywriter and creative director who has worked for a wide range of clients, in the US and abroad, focusing primarily on technology, medicine, and education. She’s an open water swimmer, a rower, and mother to two pretty amazing daughters. Most recently from Seattle, she currently lives in London with her husband and her dog, 99.

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