The Sun Down Motel by Simone St James – A Supernatural Thriller Audiobook or Print?

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St James

Book Blurb:

Something hasn’t been right at the roadside Sun Down Motel for a very long time, and Carly Kirk is about to find out why in this chilling new novel from the best-selling and award-winning author of The Broken Girls.

Upstate New York, 1982. Viv Delaney wants to move to New York City, and to help pay for it she takes a job as the night clerk at the Sun Down Motel in Fell, New York. But something isnʼt right at the motel, something haunting and scary.

Upstate New York, 2017. Carly Kirk has never been able to let go of the story of her aunt Viv, who mysteriously disappeared from the Sun Down before she was born. She decides to move to Fell and visit the motel, where she quickly learns that nothing has changed since 1982. And she soon finds herself ensnared in the same mysteries that claimed her aunt.

My Review:

So much hype. So many reviews that praised this thriller…and that cover? How many readers are old enough to have seen many of those motels on the road? Are you driving exhausted yet and ready to pull over? Gees, it so hooked me in…

until I started listening to the audiobook.

Many who have read my audiobook reviews before know that I generally much prefer the audiobook—they usually make it come alive, so real, so yeah—part of the conversation.

Vibes of Norman Bates—don’t take a shower…

Told in two POV’s, Vivian is working the night shift at the front desk in the early 80s when she begins to see ghosts. Once she begins to investigate, however, she discovers there have been a number of murders, disappearances, and she’s beginning to make a solid break-through when she herself disappears—without a trace.

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St JamesFast forward to 2017, Carly Kirk visits the town of Fell hoping to figure out why her aunt disappeared. At odds and without ties, she gets the front desk job at the motel, also on the night shift, where she can freely dig around for additional information. It doesn’t take long before she, too, begins to spot apparitions, smell cigarette smoke, smell perfume.

Okay, the descriptions of the motel and how it has run to ruin are creepy. The people Carly meets are interesting but seem to get her nowhere, rebuffing inquiries. The ghosts begin to fade into the background as the storyline begins to flip back and forth between Vivian’s story and her discoveries and Carly’s story and her progress.

Vivian begins to think she knows what happened to the girls missing and murdered. She’s pushing her luck, but something just seems…off.

As Carly begins to make real progress, the story timeline overlaps and it’s déjà vu told in two perspectives. Their POV begins to blend and it’s no longer easy to remember who is speaking, only that Vivian’s perspective tends to make a little more progress pushing the plot.

While I had difficulty connecting to either of the two main characters, I did enjoy two support characters who added real interest to an otherwise dull delivery in what was essentially the monotones of both Vivian and Carly.

Worst, I knew (or thought I knew) what happened to Vivian about half-way into the narrative. And was right. The only thing left was to get the why and how.

I’m not sure why the audiobook was narrated in this particular fashion. I’ve never before listened to such a dull droning approach to reading what I understood was a successful novel by a bestselling author. While the description, the people, the plot may have provided a disturbing picture and engaging mystery in your head while reading, this audiobook may only relieve your insomnia.

Book Details:

Genre: Supernatural Thrillers, Horror Fiction, Women’s Fiction
Publisher:  Penguin Audio

  • ISBN-10 : 0440000203
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0440000204
  • ASIN: B084641FWV

Print Length: 352 pages
Listening Length: 11 hours
Narrators: Brittany PressleyKirsten Potter
Publication Date: February 18, 2020
Source: Local (Audiobook Selections) Library
Title Link: The Sun Down Motel

Add to Goodreads Simone St James - authorThe Author: Simone St. James is the award-winning author of The Haunting of Maddy Clare, which won two prestigious RITA® awards from Romance Writers of America and an Arthur Ellis Award from Crime Writers of Canada. She writes gothic historical ghost stories set in 1920s England, books that are known for their mystery, gripping suspense, and romance.

Simone wrote her first ghost story, about a haunted library, when she was in high school. She worked behind the scenes in the television business for twenty years before leaving to write full-time. She lives just outside Toronto, Canada with her husband and a spoiled cat.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

TV Netflix Series vs Audiobook – Walt Longmire Mysteries – by Craig Johnson

“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact”
Sherlock Holmes

Longmire audiobook vs Netflix blog banner

Wahoo! One of my favorite Netflix series and lots of audiobooks (as well as ebooks) at my local well stocked library. We binged right through the Longmire series, even trying to discipline ourselves to three episodes per night, so of course when I discovered the audiobooks at my library I grabbed the first that wasn’t on a waiting list. And whadda know, it’s about bike week—Sturgis! (which, coincidentally, was last week). I doubt there is few around the globe that hasn’t heard of Sturgis, and no, that’s one rally I didn’t go to (just a little too nutsy for me), although that is me on my Kawi in the background of the blog banner getting ready to pull off the road.

An Obvious Fact-Book Blurb:

In the 12th novel in the New York Times best-selling Longmire series, Walt, Henry, and Vic discover much more than they bargained for when they are called in to investigate a hit-and-run accident near Devils Tower involving a young motorcyclist.

In the midst of the largest motorcycle rally in the world, a young biker is run off the road and ends up in critical condition. When Sheriff Walt Longmire and his good friend, Henry Standing Bear, are called to Hulett, Wyoming – the nearest town to America’s first national monument, Devils Tower – to investigate, things start getting complicated. As competing biker gangs; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; a military-grade vehicle donated to the tiny local police force by a wealthy entrepreneur; and Lola, the real-life femme fatale and namesake for Henry’s ’59 Thunderbird (and, by extension, Walt’s granddaughter) come into play, it rapidly becomes clear that there is more to get to the bottom of at this year’s Sturgis Motorcycle Rally than a bike accident. After all, in the words of Arthur Conan Doyle, whose Adventures of Sherlock Holmes the Bear won’t stop quoting, “There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact”.

Audiobook

An Obvious Fact by Craig Johnson a Longmire Mystery

This is Book 12, so while the protagonist or his major support characters are not wholly fleshed, they don’t need to be—they are whittled out of casual remarks, innuendo, description. Walt Longmire is the sheriff of Absaroka County, Wyoming. The wild west. Two other main characters, Henry Standing Bear (Native American) and Vic (Victoria Moretti), his (female) deputy—a Philadelphia transplant. Walt is often accompanied by Dog, (of dubious parentage) who needs no further description. Walt’s daughter is not notably featured in this episode.

Walt received a call from another county about a motorcyclist run off the road near Devil’s Tower and his mother shows up to ask again for Walt’s help. The mother is Lola, the mother for whom Henry named his classic T-Bird. Yes, it’s “the” Lola.

Unsurprisingly, it won’t be a simple hit-and-run and while the young man languishes in the hospital not expected to recover, Walt soon discovers bad-ass motorcycle gangs and multitudes of despicable conspiracies.

I love the scenes, so beautifully laid out you can smell the landscape, and the banter between Walt and (Henry Standing) Bear and his undersheriff, who by the way, is a great deal more profane than she appears on Netflix. Also appreciated the motorcycle lingo; been awhile since I’ve participated. Almost non-stop action, the multi-plotted storyline getting more complex with fast-turning pages. I love the tidbits of knowledge about the area, the people and culture and in this case, of course, motorcycles.

The narrator, George Guidall, did one heckava outstanding job creating a down-to-earth narrative and understated conversational quality to the written words. He wasn’t just reading it. He made it come alive. It’s drugs, money, and mayhem and I can’t wait to tear into the next episode that becomes available. 4.5/5 stars

Netflix Longmire Series

Walt Longmire of the Netflix series by Craig JohnsonI loved this series of the modern Western crime scene. The TV drama series began on A&E but was picked up by Netflix and developed by John Coveny and Hunt Baldwin somewhere around the fourth season. It ran for six seasons and is still streaming on Netflix after the sixth season ended in 2017. Popular? Oh, yes…what is not to love?

Despite amazing viewership numbers, A&E felt that the demographic was primarily older Americans—the horror of it all! Thanks to a huge fan uproar (think Star Wars), it was picked up by Netflix.

The cast is perfect: Australian Robert Taylor as Walt, Katee Sackhoff as Vic, and American Filipino Lou Diamond Phillips as Henry. Also, it was filmed in New Mexico (not Wyoming). While it doesn’t follow each book of Johnson’s series per se, there is crime fiction we’ve come to expect including bank robberies, murder investigations, and prominently featured conflicts with the local Cheyenne Indian reservation.

The series became so popular they began a yearly July festival in Buffalo (WY). (Absaroka County is fictional), according to Wide Open Country.

If there was a revival, Season 7, I’d be tuning in. Hollywood version Americana but well written and immensely engaging and entertaining. 5 enthusiastic stars

Overall Impression

I don’t think you can go wrong with either the Netflix series and that outstanding cast, gripping installments, and immersive episodes or the books. (Of course, I’m among that older demographic that had A&E dumping it.) While the audiobooks, the character Vic being more profane, might alienate a few of that older demographic, the descriptive storyline, natural and often humorous dialogue, and the narrator’s excellent delivery make it a winner. I’m a solid fan looking for my next audiobook. Wholly recommended.

Rosepoint Publishing recommended

Book Details:

Genre: Native American Literature, Western Fiction
Publisher: Recorded Books
ASIN: B01K23ZXCE
Listening Length: 7 hrs 50 min
Narrator: George Guidall
Publication Date: September 13, 2016
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: An Obvious Fact [Amazon]
 

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Craig Johnson - authorThe Author: Craig Johnson is the New York Times bestselling author of twelve Walt Longmire mystery novels, which are the basis for Longmire, the hit Netflix original drama. The Cold Dish won Le Prix du Polar Nouvel Observateur/Bibliobs. Death Without Company, the Wyoming Historical Association’s Book of the Year, won France’s Le Prix 813, and Another Man’s Moccasins was the Western Writers of America’s Spur Award Winner and the Mountains & Plains Book of the Year. The Dark Horse, the fifth in the series, was a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year and Junkyard Dogs won The Watson Award for a mystery novel with the best sidekick. Hell Is Empty, selected by Library Journal as the Best Mystery of the Year, was a New York Times best seller, as was As the Crow Flies, which won the Rocky for the best crime novel typifying the western United States. A Serpent’s Tooth opened as a New York Times bestseller as did Any Other Name and Wait for Signs, Johnson’s collection of short stories. Spirit of Steamboat was selected by the State Library as the inaugural One Book Wyoming and included visits to sixty-three libraries. Johnson lives in Ucross, Wyoming, population twenty-five.

George Guidall - audiobook narratorThe Narrator: George Guidall is a prolific audiobook narrator and theatre actor. As of November 2014, he had recorded over 1,270 audiobooks, which was believed to be the record at the time. Wikipedia

©2020 V Williams V Williams

The Atlantis Stone (The Project Book 12) by Alex Lukeman – An #Audiobook Review #atlantis

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars Five Stars

Audiobook review of The Atlantis Stone by Alex Lukeman

Book Blurb:

A photograph forgotten for a hundred years holds the key to finding the legendary lost civilization of Atlantis and an ancient artifact of mysterious power. When a letter with the photograph and a faded map of Egypt shows up in the mail, the Project is launched into a search that takes them from the depths of the Atlantic to the sands of Egypt and places unseen for thousands of years.
Elizabeth Harker’s Project team is caught up in a power struggle between two of Russia’s vast intelligence services. As the trail to Atlantis emerges from the mists of the past, the team is stalked by agents of a man who will stop at nothing to gain another rung on the ladder of his ambition.
Whoever succeeds will gain knowledge to benefit the world or destroy it. The stakes don’t get any higher…
Can the Project keep the secrets of Atlantis out of the wrong hands?

My Review:

Yes, I’ve found a treasure trove of Alex Lukeman novels, The Project series audiobooks through Free Audiobook Codes for Audible. Here is my chance to catch up on the ones I missed. I was astounded to see there are twenty. This time I chose The Atlantis Stone, The Project Book 12.

For those who aren’t familiar with this series, it began with White Jade in 2011. The Project Book 20 was released in March 6, 2020, The Lair of Anubis.

The Atlantis Stone by Alex Lukeman The Project Series Book 12In this episode, the team is mostly back (minus the fella still recuperating from the last mission). They don’t quite have that exuberant edge they did in the beginning. When Selena gets a package with a map and some pictures of hieroglyphics she sets about to decipher them. This is her forté. Her discovery sends them into foreign lands to investigate. Unfortunately, the Russian team has been on the same cryptic mission of discovery and follows them. If she is successful, it won’t just prove the legend of Atlantis but find an artifact of mysterious power that would answer a lot of questions passed through down the eons.

Elizabeth Harker’s Project Team answers to no one except the president and she has his ear. The team has long been under investigation by two highly classified intelligence teams in Russia and they’ll likely be caught in their power struggle as they clash with each other as well as The Project. Selena’s Russian half-sister, Valentina, is fully engaged in the other side and almost as competent as Selena.

Atlantis has long been the subject of philosophical historical discussion. Did it exist or not? If so, what happened? These stories originate somehow, but like garden-variety gossip, perhaps facts get distorted. So many theories…so suspend your disbelief and just enjoy this possible premise.

These narratives are punctuated with a lot of fascinating ideas and facts, non-stop action, good guys and bad guys, strong, beautiful, intelligent, and very proficient women. It’s iconic, pure escapism adventure. At this point, there is little character development except for occasional back reference and while you might enjoy as a standalone, it’s always good to follow the origin and growth of characters by starting with Book 1. Alex packs his clean reads with strong characters and a touch of romance.

Years ago, before I started posting reviews on his blog, I read a ton of digital books from Bookbub and got started with The Project series by Alex Lukeman. Many were shared with the CE and we both devoured what we could get at the time as we were on the road. Many were also shared on Goodreads and only one, I’m sorry to say, was shared on this blog as a #ThrowbackThursday, The Seventh Pillar, Book 3, September 14, 2017. I also read White Jade #1, The Lance #2, The Seventh Pillar #3, Black Harvest #4, The Tesla Secret #5, The Nostradamus File #6, The Ajax Protocol #7, The Eye of Shiva #8, Black Rose #9, and The Solomon Scroll #10. After a while, we didn’t have to think about it, just said: “It’s a Lukeman.” A go-to-author. Check him out.

Book Details:

Genre: Espionage, Men’s Adventure

  • ISBN-10:
  • ISBN-13:
  • ASIN: B01FKRBG8C

Print Length: 258 pages
Listening Length: 6 hrs 34 min
Narrator: Jack de Golia
Audible Release Date: May 13, 2016
Source: Free Audiobook Codes
Title Link: The Atlantis Stone

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Alex Lukeman - authorThe Author: Alex Lukeman writes action/adventure thrillers featuring a covert intelligence unit called the PROJECT and is the author of the award-winning books The Tesla Secret and High Alert. Alex is a former Marine and psychotherapist and uses his experience of the military and human nature to inform his work. He likes riding old, fast motorcycles and playing guitar, usually not at the same time. You can email him at alex@alexlukeman.com. He loves hearing from readers and promises he will get back to you.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Bossypants by Tina Fey – An #Audiobook Review Narrated by the Author

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars Five Stars

Bossypants by Tina Fey 

Book Blurb:

Before Liz Lemon, before “Weekend Update”, before “Sarah Palin”, Tina Fey was just a young girl with a dream: a recurring stress dream that she was being chased through a local airport by her middle-school gym teacher. She also had a dream that one day she would be a comedian on TV.

She has seen both of those dreams come true.

At last, Tina Fey’s story can be told. From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on Saturday Night Live; from her passionately halfhearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon – from the beginning of this paragraph to this final sentence.

Tina Fey reveals all, and proves what we’ve all suspected: you’re no one until someone calls you bossy.

Includes special, never-before-solicited opinions on breastfeeding, princesses, Photoshop, the electoral process, and Italian rum cake!

My Review:

If you’ve ever wondered if an author can read his/her own book and do it any justice, I urge you to give this audiobook a listen. Even if you’ve read her book–give the audiobook a listen. She so totally nails the pacing, the insinuations, the whispered asides, and the timbre, you can’t help but hang on every word. There were times I shared chapters with the CE and he laughed along with me.

Bossypants by Tina FeyA memoir? Nah. Autobiography? No–it is categorized as Comedy and Humor Essays and I’d say there were enough of both that you don’t really need a memoir, per se. Why not just enjoy the humorous aspects of her memories, giving you a personal glimpse to the woman inside Tina Fey. What you get is what you see? Perhaps more than you realized. She is enormously talented and she doesn’t take a lot of nonsense from anyone–hence the title.

Still, you are given vignettes into her childhood, adolescence, and the road to success through her experience with Second City, stint in SNL, and now 30 Rock. To be fair–no–30 Rock is not a show I watch, but then I don’t watch much on TV anymore, period. I specifically enjoyed the chapters on her dad, “That’s Don Fey,” as well as “My Honeymoon,” “The Secrets of Mommy’s Beauty,” “Amazing, Gorgeous, and Not Like That.” But “Kotex Classic” has to be a classic. Did I forget to mention her experience with the “Teat Nazis?” (Her attempt at breastfeeding didn’t go all that well.) Gees, I laughed at so many of her observations!

“Gay people don’t actually try to convert people. That’s Jehovah’s Witnesses you’re thinking of.”

Her intro to writing for SNL was a hoot, her role gradually evolving into performing (memorably as Sarah Palin) as well. It certainly makes those “stars” human, the actors, her fellow writers, and directors, with special love notes to Amy Poehler.

While the audiobook that Amy Poehler narrated was classed Biographies of Women and Humor Essays, I found little to confirm those categories, whereas I felt Fey’s Humor Essays were just that–one right after the other. I was quite surprised to read some of the reviews on Goodreads that didn’t appreciate either. Do both Poehler and Fey tend to get a bit profane? Yup. And there are no subjects taboo. (I suspect their lives have been greatly more exposed to the baser part of life than I.)

I received this audiobook download from my local library audiobook selection delivered through Overdrive. THANK YOU! You looking for a humorous oasis in this pandemic cloud? I suggest this just might give you that respite.

Book Details:

Genre: Comedy, Humor Essays
Publisher:  Hachette Audio
ASIN: B004V6APR2
Listening Length: 5 hrs 31 mins
Narrator: Tina Fey
Publication Date: April 5, 2011
Source: Local (Audiobook Selections) Library
Title Link: Bossypants Rosepoint recommended

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Tina Fey - actress, author
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE — NBC Late Night — Pictured: Featured Player and Head Writer Tina Fey — NBC Photo: Mary Ellen Matthews

The Author: [from Goodreads] Elizabeth Stamatina “Tina” Fey is an American actress, comedian, writer and producer. She has received seven Emmy Awards, three Golden Globe Awards, four Screen Actors Guild Awards, and four Writers Guild of America Awards. She was singled out as the performer who had the greatest impact on culture and entertainment in 2008 by the Associated Press, who gave her their AP Entertainer of the Year award.

After graduating from the University of Virginia in 1992, Fey moved to Chicago to take classes at the improvisational comedy group The Second City, where she became a featured player in 1994. Three years later, Fey became a writer for the sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live (SNL). She was promoted to the position of head writer in 1999. The following year, Fey was added to the cast of SNL. During her time there, she was co-anchor of the show’s Weekend Update segment. After leaving SNL in 2006, she created the television series called 30 Rock, a situation comedy loosely based on her experiences at SNL. In the series, Fey portrays the head writer of a fictional sketch comedy series.

In 2004, Fey made her film debut as writer and co-star of the teen comedy Mean Girls. In 2008, she starred in the comedy film Baby Mama, alongside Amy Poehler. In 2009, Fey won an Emmy Award for her satirical portrayal of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin in a guest appearance on SNL.

[Note: Tina Fey is married to Jeff Richmond. Fey is currently the “creator and star of 30 Rock. They met while working at The Second City and dated for seven years before marrying in a Greek Orthodox ceremony on June 3, 2001. They have two daughters.”]

©2020 –  V Williams V Williams

Rosepoint March Reviews Recap–For Better or Worse–April Is Upon Us

Rosepoint Reviews-March recap

Who could have guessed that in one short month from the February Recap, we’d be in the middle of a global pandemic and the fight for our collective lives? From the end of January to finally assessing the severity of exactly what we in this nation were facing changed the heralding of spring not with trumpets and flower buds but with bagpipes and the strains of Amazing Grace. It’s been a sad month and we are promised worse in April. The sheltering-in-place has reduced commerce to panic purchases and hospitals to erecting temporary tents housing medical equipment with patients in parking lots. It’s sad and beyond frightening.

Stay: Smart, Safe, Home

March started Reading Ireland Month and although all St Patrick’s Day celebrations were canceled, I did manage seven Irish related posts, including Irish authors as well as plot locations in Ireland. Reviews for Rosepoint Pub in March totaled thirteen (as always the links are below the grid):

Dear Ringer by Annelise Ryan
Murder in an Irish Cottage by Carlene O’Connor (a Reading Ireland entry)
Sockeye by Michael F Tevlin (a Reading Ireland entry and CE review)
Irish Car Bomb by Steven Henry (a Reading Ireland entry)
One Good Dog by Susan Wilson (an audiobook)
When All is Said by Anne Griffin (a Reading Ireland entry)
A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy (a Reading Ireland entry)
The Wolf in Winter by John Connolly (a Reading Ireland entry)
Past Deeds by Carolyn Arnold
Problem Child by Victoria Helen Stone
Uncharted Waters by Scott MacKenzie (a CE review)
Beyond the Moon by Catherine Taylor (a CE review)
The Body in the Apartment by Judi Lynn

I had a wide variety of digital offerings from author requests, NetGalley downloads, my local lending library, and two spotlights as well as an audiobook. And I’m proud to say this old dog learned how to download gifted Audible books which I’ll be reviewing in April. I won a Giveaway that James J Cudney of This is My Truth Now ran and he introduced me to the idea. (Thank you, Jay!) I posted a spotlight for him this month here.

Of course, the book club meetings for March were canceled. Also included in the Reading Ireland Month challenge was the recommendation of one of my favorite podcasters, especially for all things Celtic, the Celtfather himself, Marc Gunn.  I hope you’ve had a chance to download and enjoy the amazing variety of artists included in his podcasts.

The CE continues to read and review as well, some as tandem reviews with my own, just as many independently. He has claimed quite a few favorable comments and Nina of The Cozy Pages dubbed him a vicarious blogger. Boy, I loved that, thanked Nina, and asked if I couldn’t use it. Having enthusiastically agreed, we’ll now be calling him CE, The Vicarious Blogger, rather than my associate reviewer. (He likes his new title as well.) Nina writes a delightfully sweet blog, her “homage to cozy mysteries” and if you haven’t discovered her page yet, here’s your chance!

My challenges get ever more challenging, one of which has fallen well behind. I’ve caught up my Reading Challenges page, however, if you’d like to see my progress. Three books behind in Goodreads, generally on target for the rest with the exception of the Murder Mystery Bingo Reading Challenge. NOT easy!

Thank you as always to those who joined me in March as well as my established followers. May you stay safe wherever you are!

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Small CoVid19 graphic attribute: semiwiki.com

Fade to Black (A Doug Brock Thriller Book 2) by David Rosenfelt (Author) Fred Berman (Narrator) – An #Audiobook Review #crime

Audiobooks by David Rosenfelt

Book Blurb:

In Fade to Black, the thrilling audiobook sequel to Blackout from David Rosenfelt, policeman Doug Brock helps a fellow victim of amnesia untangle a murder case and discovers he may not be as distant as he thinks.

After getting shot in the line of duty, New Jersey state police officer Doug Brock has been busy rebuilding his life. He’s reunited with his fiancé and started to get some of his memories back. He hopes he can continue to recover with the help of an amnesia support group and that the damage from his past isn’t permanent.

It isn’t until fellow group member Sean Conner approaches him after a meeting that Doug realizes the trouble is just beginning. Sean has discovered in his attic what can only be called a scrapbook of a murder victim, but he has no recollection of the girl’s identity or why he might have gathered this information.

Doug agrees to help and convinces his captain to open what had been a cold case. When he discovers that he had a personal connection to this case, suddenly he’s questioning everything he thought he knew about the case, about Sean, and about his own past.

In the next thrilling audiobook by David Rosenfelt, Doug Brock is back to delight listeners and keep them guessing until the end.

My Review:

No, I’m not deserting the Andy Carpenter series, but as a solid Rosenfelt fan, thought I’d sample one of this slightly newer series–this one being #2 of Doug Brock. (As you can see, I also listened to Book 3, which I’ll review on Thursday, Feb 20th.)

Fade to Black by David RosenfeltThis series revolves around Doug Brock, a New Jersey state police lieutenant who was shot in the line of duty. He recovered, but without ten years of his memory. He remembers little bits and pieces from time to time and has gotten back together with his former fiancé. Also, he is apparently more mature and less fool-hardy–a good thing. In continuing to recover, he joined an amnesia support group. One of the members, however, brings him a private matter which begins to look suspiciously like a miscarriage of justice–involving his former police self.

While I can’t say I like this series as much as the Andy Carpenter series, which is usually pocked with ample doses of tongue-in-cheek humor, it does capture attention and provide entertainment (and stuck on the shuttle to the VA Hospital in Chicago, was very welcome). A great deal more serious in nature, there were times I didn’t really care for protagonist Brock. His fiancé, Jessie, is interesting, intelligent, tolerant, and patient. Also, she possesses a mountain of a dog called BoBo. Doug and BoBo have a kind of détente. He also is back with partner Nate Alvarez, and he and Nate seem to work well together. They convince their captain to open a cold case.

Nothing is simple, it’ll go from a missing person case to possible drug trafficking with mobsters and even worse behind that (WAY worse), but they keep chipping away at little clues and leads.

The narrative is full of characterization and the storyline keeps you pushing to the reveal. There are enough red herrings to keep you off-track, so you won’t be in danger of guessing the antagonist. The conclusion brings all frayed ends together very neatly. In any case, my interest was sufficiently piqued to check out Book 3. (And when will I get back to Andy Carpenter? March. Hey–there are twenty of those with two more coming and I’ve just scratched the surface. AND, I was approved by NetGalley for The K Team, Book 1, of a new spinoff series from Andy Carpenter featuring most of my favorite characters. If you haven’t grabbed that one yet, better hurry.)

Fred Berman provides a very sobering, masculine voice to Brock’s character, at times forceful and then confused (lapse of memory) about his previous stance. A testament to his expertise in a range of voices, he was also a presence in a previous audiobook I reviewed, The Dog Who Danced. See that review here. I received this digital download from my local library audio selection with no expectation for a review. But, hey, that’s what I do.

Book Details:

Genre: Police Procedural, Crime Thriller
Publisher:  Macmillan Audio, Minotaur Books

  • ISBN-10:1250308119
  • ISBN-13:978-1250308115
  • ASIN: B079V728GJ

Print Length: 280 pages
Listening Length: 6 hrs 56 mins
Narrator: Fred Berman
Publication Date: March 13, 2018
Source: Local (Audiobook Selections) Library through Overdrive
Title Link: Fade to Black
+Add to Goodreads 

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4-stars

David Rosenfelt - authorThe Author: [David Rosenfelt-Goodreads author page] I am a novelist with 27 dogs.

I have gotten to this dubious position with absolutely no planning, and at no stage in my life could I have predicted it. But here I am.

My childhood was relentlessly normal. The middle of three brothers, loving parents, a middle-class home in Paterson, New Jersey. We played sports, studied sporadically. laughed around the dinner table, and generally had a good time. By comparison, “Ozzie and Harriet’s” clan seemed bizarre.

I graduated NYU, then decided to go into the movie business. I was stunningly brilliant at a job interview with my uncle, who was President of United Artists, and was immediately hired. It set me off on a climb up the executive ladder, culminating in my becoming President of Marketing for Tri-Star Pictures. The movie landscape is filled with the movies I buried; for every “Rambo”, “The Natural” and “Rocky”, there are countless disasters.

I did manage to find the time to marry and have two children, both of whom are doing very well, and fortunately neither have inherited my eccentricities.

A number of years ago, I left the movie marketing business, to the sustained applause of hundreds of disgruntled producers and directors. I decided to try my hand at writing. I wrote and sold a bunch of feature films, none of which ever came close to being actually filmed, and then a bunch of TV movies, some of which actually made it to the small screen. It’s safe to say that their impact on the American cultural scene has been minimal.

About fourteen years ago, my wife and I started the Tara Foundation, named in honor of the greatest Golden Retriever the world has ever known. We rescued almost 4,000 dogs, many of them Goldens, and found them loving homes. Our own home quickly became a sanctuary for those dogs that we rescued that were too old or sickly to be wanted by others. They surround me as I write this. It’s total lunacy, but it works, and they are a happy, safe group.

Fred Berman - authorThe Narrator: [Fred Berman-Goodreads author page] Age & Hometown: 39 (“but in meerkat years, that’s 25!”); Manhasset, Long Island

Current Role: Entertaining Broadway audiences as the hysterical meerkat Timon in Disney’s long-running hit The Lion King.

A Familiar Voice: An accomplished voiceover actor on more than 50 audio books, Berman says the key is not to impersonate or put on voices. “I cast the book in my mind,” he explains. “I say, ‘Who is this person?’ So, in my head, Judi Dench is playing this role. I don’t want to do an impersonation of Judi Dench, but I am channeling her in that moment. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.” Berman’s audio work ranges from children’s books to what he calls “fantasy romance novels”—and sometimes both in the same day. “One time, I went from the most ridiculously depressing book, The Painted Bird, about a kid wandering through the forests of Poland after World War II, to a romance book where I voiced the sexiest Greek man alive who always wears leather pants and no shirt in softcore porn scenes.”

The Dangers of Timon: Berman was initially cautious about taking his Lion King gig. “I have never gone into a long-running show, and I knew I couldn’t do [Nathan Lane, who created the role onscreen]. I wasn’t sure how much of it was going to be ‘This is a machine and you need to do it this way.’” Berman’s doubts subsided when he was given freedom to interpret the role his own way—though he still has one fear. “I tend to gravitate toward blue humor, so I always get nervous when I have to improvise,” he says. “Having kids [he has two] makes you check yourself more.” Instead, he says his mantra is, “Play the positive; play the love!”

Let’s Rock!: Though acting pays the bills, Berman’s true passion is music. The son of a bandleader, he began playing piano at age five and discovered the drums, which would become his main instrument, in fifth grade. “Until I got into The Lion King, I was playing in bands my whole life,” he says. His musical influences range from fellow Long Island native Billy Joel to Led Zeppelin. “I have a tattoo of [late Led Zeppelin drummer] John Bonham’s symbol on my left arm!” When pressed to choose between acting and music, Berman responds, “I love them both, but I have to be honest: There is nothing in the world like playing drums in a rock-and-roll band at a live concert. That’s what I thought.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

A Secret History of Witches by Louisa Morgan – An #Audiobook Review

Audiobook Review

Book Blurb:

A sweeping historical saga that traces five generations of fiercely powerful mothers and daughters — witches whose magical inheritance is both a dangerous threat and an extraordinary gift.
Brittany, 1821.
 After Grand-mère Ursule gives her life to save her family, their magic seems to die with her.
Even so, the Orchires fight to keep the old ways alive, practicing half-remembered spells and arcane rites in hopes of a revival. And when their youngest daughter comes of age, magic flows anew.
The lineage continues, though new generations struggle not only to master their power, but also to keep it hidden.
But when World War II looms on the horizon, magic is needed more urgently than ever – not for simple potions or visions, but to change the entire course of history.

My Review:

A Secret History of Witches by Louisa MorganSwept up in Nanettte’s story, the first of the Orchiére line to relate her story of the traveller or gypsy family of Romani, the tale then progresses through successive daughters and their stories. It is a gift that manifests more in some than others of the line, and while each gift may vary, the necessity of keeping the gift secret does not.

The novel divides into five sections from Nanette to Ursule, Irene, Morwen, and lastly Veronica during WWII.

There is a grimoire and scrying stone handed down to each generation, diligently kept hidden and their secrets only revealed at the time of puberty and sometimes in surprising fashion. There is a marked difference between how a couple of the witches received her powers and how she handled the gift.

Some of the witches were well-developed enough to either earn empathy or apathy. They weren’t bad or wicked, just not as benign as the others merely trying to exist without exposure. It was the story to be told, rather than the description or fleshing of the woman. But, of course, each was to find a mate (whether or not for love), and each of the women was strong-willed and shrewd. Their men either loved and supported them, knew of their powers, or not and several of the male support characters were fleshed sympathetically.

I enjoyed getting to know each of the witches in turn, their time and story in history and the evolution of the line. I was following the fantasy well until it became necessary to push back some hefty disbelief in the final story–that of Veronica during WWII. The storyline, of course, does not disclose a secret history of witchcraft in general, rather than of this particular line.

The conclusion came at a juncture I felt made sense, although left a few issues unresolved and seemed the obvious step into a successive book. I suspect the narrator of this very long audiobook made it a great deal shorter than if I’d read it. She rolled the language beautifully off her tongue and made the whole story dance in the minds’ eye as if it were a kaleidoscope. (I heartily recommend the audiobook version!)

I received this audiobook through my favorite local library and greatly appreciated the opportunity to get to know the author’s style of writing and look forward to delving into another. (I picked this one up specifically because I also requested and received The Age of Witches from NetGalley.) Now I just have to figure out if I’ve ever had a “familiar” but I don’t think so. At least I don’t have to worry about being burned at the stake.

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Italian Fiction, Alternate History Science Fiction, 20th Century Historical Romance, World War II Historical Fiction
Publisher: Hackette Audio

  • ISBN-10:0316508586
  • ISBN-13:978-0316508582

ASIN: B0758FWQKW
Print Length: 496 pages
Listening Length: 17 hrs 33  mins
Narrator: Polly Lee
Publication Date: September 5, 2017
Source: Local (Audiobook Selections) Library
Title Link: A Secret History of Witches

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4-stars

Louisa Morgan - authorThe Author: Louisa Morgan lives and writes and rambles with her familiar, Oscar the Border Terrier, on the beautiful Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. A musician and a yogini, she finds inspiration in the artistic environment where she makes her home.

Under the name Louise Marley, she has written a number of other historical fiction novels, as well as fantasy and science fiction. Please visit http://www.louisemarley.com for more information, and to learn more about Oscar!

©2020 V Williams V Williams