The Last Camel Died at Noon: The Amelia Peabody Series Book 6 by Elizabeth Peters – #Audiobook Review – #throwbackthursday

The Last Camel Died at Noon by Elizabeth Peters

“…Emerson would have been the first to proclaim that we were a partnership, in archaeology as in marriage.”

Book Blurb:

The last camel is dead, and Egyptologist Amelia Peabody, her dashing husband, Emerson, and precocious son, Ramses, are in dire straits on the sun-scorched desert sands. Months before, back in cool, green England, Viscount Blacktower had approached them to find his son and his son’s new bride, who have been missing in war-torn Sudan for over a decade. An enigmatic message scrawled on papyrus and a cryptic map had been delivered to Blacktower, awakening his hope that the couple was still alive.

Neither Amelia nor Emerson believes the message is authentic, but the treasure map proves an irresistible temptation. Now, deep in Nubia’s vast wasteland, they discover too late how much treachery is afoot (and on camelback)…and survival depends on Amelia’s solving a mystery as old as ancient Egypt and as timeless as greed and revenge.

My Review:

Well, mercy! Wasn’t this an exercise in going back—way back?! We’re talking the 19th Century with brilliantly minded Amelia Peabody who possesses a superior knowledge of Egyptology and archeology. As if that weren’t enough, she managed to discover Professor Radcliffe Emerson, a prominent Egyptologist in his own right and they married. Together, they managed to produce a son, Ramses, also another Mensa candidate, too smart for school and sometimes his own parents.

Apparently, twenty episodes in this series, I managed to come in on Book 6, main characters well established (although this could be read as a standalone), and superior child about ten(?). Written in very stilted English, appropriate for the period in style and moral practices (clean read), these two are a hoot.

Well, most of the time.

The Last Camel Died at Noon by Elizabeth PetersI must say I did tire of the disdain often laid on those whose IQ didn’t conform, but I did enjoy the intelligent and often educational descriptions of Egypt’s history. Such a vast knowledge deserved to be shared and was usually in an engaging and entertaining fashion—not as dry textbook info dump.

It’s written in a journalist style as if she were speaking to her readers. Indeed, she often stops to speak directly to her readers.

In this entry to the series, they cruise the Nile to Nubia to find an old acquaintance long since lost at the behest of the father. They’ll combine the expedition with the opportunity to explore or excavate new sites.

Along the way, however, they are tricked and abandoned after discovering the last camel was poisoned. They are quietly rescued to a lost city. Oh, the deliciousness! The atmospherics, discovering an ancient people, their way of life, and of course that two half-brothers are vying for the exulted high position. (Oops!) Obviously, there is a keen wit involved in the prose—just reread the name of the title—and the banter between husband and wife is priceless. Otherwise, it’s a long one and there are a few slow passages pocked here and there in an otherwise well-plotted and paced narrative.

I must mention a shout-out, however, for the narrator, Susan O’Malley, who neither stumbled nor slowed over 22 syllable words and pronunciations. Excellent job, and saddened to see both narrator and author now deceased.

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

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Mysteries, Historical Mystery
Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
ASIN: B0001O34AI
Listening Length:
Narrator: Susan O’Malley
Publication Date: February 26, 2004
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Last Camel Died at Noon [Amazon]

 

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Rosepoint Publishing: Four stars

 

Elizabeth Peters - authorThe Author: ELIZABETH PETERS, whose New York Times best-selling novels are often set against historical backdrops, earned a Ph.D. in Egyptology at the University of Chicago. She also writes best-selling books under the pseudonym Barbara Michaels. She lives in Frederick, Maryland.

[Goodreads]Elizabeth Peters is a pen name of Barbara Mertz. She also wrote as Barbara Michaels as well as her own name. Born and brought up in Illinois, she earned her Ph.D. in Egyptology from the University of Chicago. Mertz was named Grand Master at the inaugural Anthony Awards in 1986 and Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America at the Edgar Awards in 1998. She lived in a historic farmhouse in Frederick, western Maryland until her death (August 2013).

Susan O'Malley - narrator - artistThe Narrator: [Goodreads] Susan O’Malley (1976–2015) was an internationally exhibited artist and curator based in the San Francisco Bay Area. As curator and print center director at the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, she worked with hundreds of artists and organized more than fifty exhibitions and public programs. As an artist, she made work that brings a sense of interconnectedness into our lives, from conversations with strangers to installations in public places. The impact of her work has traveled far and wide. O’Malley’s artwork has been exhibited in public projects across the United States—San Francisco, New York, Nashville—and around the globe in the United Kingdom, Poland, and Denmark. She exhibited at alternative spaces and cultural institutions including, in California, the Montalvo Art Center, Kala Art Institute, and Palo Alto Art Center, as well as the Contemporary Art Museum (Houston, TX), and the Parthenon Museum (Nashville, TN). Her participatory installation Finding Your Center, a collaboration with Leah Rosenberg, was recently featured in Bay Area Now 7 at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and her project A Healing Walk is permanently installed at Villa Montalvo. The powerful optimism of her work lives on.

©2023 V Williams

#ThrowbackThursday

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.

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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

Wrong Place Wrong Time by Gillian McAllister – #Audiobook Review – #domesticthrillers

Wrong Place Wrong Time by Gillian McAllister
Editors' pick Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense 

Book Blurb:

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A REESE’S BOOK CLUB PICK

Can you stop a murder after it’s already happened?

Late October. After midnight. You’re waiting up for your eighteen-year-old son. He’s past curfew. As you watch from the window, he emerges, and you realize he isn’t alone: he’s walking toward a man, and he’s armed.

You can’t believe it when you see him do it: your funny, happy teenage son, he kills a stranger, right there on the street outside your house. You don’t know who. You don’t know why. You only know your son is now in custody, his future shattered.

That night you fall asleep in despair. All is lost.

Until you wake . . .

. . . and it is yesterday.

And then you wake again . . .

. . . and it is the day before yesterday.

Every morning you wake up a day earlier, another day before the murder. With another chance to stop it. Somewhere in the past lies an answer. The trigger for this crime—and you don’t have a choice but to find it . . .

My Review:

Ouch! My head is spinning again and trying to grasp the new reveal. Now all I have to do is connect it to the previous reveals and then stack them in the proper order.

I’m a tried and true fan of the time travel premise. In this novel, a mother witnesses her son committing a murder. Shocked beyond comprehension, no way her son could have done this. She absolutely could not allow that to happen. Murder a stranger. Go to prison.

No.

Wrong Place Wrong Time by Gillian McAllisterGranted, I listened to the audiobook—more difficult to stop it to take notes—particularly when working out in the garden. So for the life of me, I cannot remember how, HOW in the world—what was it that occurred–to make her wake the next morning—a day before the murder.

Yeah, but it doesn’t end there. And each time she goes back—not necessarily the day before that—her investigation gets deeper and deeper and begins to uncover more shattering truths.

The twists keep coming. The reader has little chance to digest the last revelation when he/she is side-swiped with the next. But my gosh—the whole narrative? I’m not a terribly patient person and by three-quarters into the book was anxious just to get to the bottom of the whole thing; at this point so far from anything you might have imagined.

“But knowing the future is worse than not knowing. Isn’t it?

I can imagine the author’s plot line was probably written on an entire roll of butcher paper—how to keep all of this straight? Details missed, then grasped. How to explain away this whole phenomenon, an expert, becomes her go-to. A way to keep her sanity.

I must admit to becoming impatient with the protagonist–a mother who will stop at nothing to get to the bottom of the story—to rewrite history. The only way to prevent a catastrophe—change the circumstances leading to the event. The author’s careful devotion to her main character—driven almost beyond reason. The husband comes off empathetic and believable, a strong support character.

The hook reels in the reader and doesn’t slow the pace often, so it’s important to pay attention—no distractions from the audiobook. The tension is set, the tone turns dark, and then starts the twists, tumbling in one after the other. Not a mystery to try and predict. Best to just allow the storyline to flow to conclusion, which by the way is satisfying but did not answer all my questions. Good job, Gillian, I’m left just slightly off-balance!

I received a complimentary review copy of this audiobook from my locally well-stocked library. These are my honest thoughts.

Book Details:

Genre: Domestic Thrillers, Suspense
Publisher:  HarperAudio
ASIN: B09PSNQYYR
Listening Length: 10 hrs 7 mins
Narrator: Lesley Sharp
Publication Date: August 2, 2022
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Wrong Place Wrong Time [Amazon]
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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five Stars 4 1/2 stars

 

Gillian McAllister - authorThe Author: Gillian McAllister is the Sunday Times and New York Times bestselling author of the following novels:

Everything But The Truth (2017)

Anything You Do Say (2018) called The Choice in America

No Further Questions (2018) called The Good Sister in America

The Evidence Against You (2019)

How To Disappear (2020)

That Night (2021)

Wrong Place Wrong Time (2022)

All are standalone and can be read in any order.

Her latest release is Wrong Place Wrong Time, available now and selected for the Radio 2 book club and was the Reese’s Book Club August ’22 pick. It debuted at number 4 on the Sunday Times Bestseller List and number 2 on the New York Times Bestseller List. She has been selected for the Richard & Judy Book Club, the Radio 2 Book Club and is published in over 25 languages.

You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @gillianmauthor and at http://www.gillianmcallister.com.

©2022 V Williams V Williams

Audiobooks

The War Librarian by Addison Armstrong- #Audiobook Review – #historicalfiction

The War Librarian by Addison Armstrong

Book Blurb:

The Paris Library meets The Flight Girls in this captivating historical novel about the sacrifice and courage necessary to live a life of honor, inspired by the first female volunteer librarians during World War I and the first women accepted into the U.S. Naval Academy.

Two women. One secret. A truth worth fighting for. 1918. Timid and shy Emmaline Balakin lives more in books than her own life. That is, until an envelope crosses her desk at the Dead Letter Office bearing a name from her past, and Emmaline decides to finally embark on an adventure of her own—as a volunteer librarian on the frontlines in France. But when a romance blooms as she secretly participates in a book club for censored books, Emmaline will need to find more courage within herself than she ever thought possible in order to survive.    

1976 Kathleen Carre is eager to prove to herself and to her nana that she deserves her acceptance into the first coed class at the United States Naval Academy. But not everyone wants female midshipmen at the Academy, and after tragedy strikes close to home, Kathleen becomes a target. To protect herself, Kathleen must learn to trust others even as she discovers a secret that could be her undoing.

My Review:

A dual timeline story, which I always enjoy, this one combines 1918 during WWI and another in 1976, with one of the first women to be accepted into the US Naval Academy.

Emmaline Balakin has always been a shy and quiet woman. She had a sweetheart once, but it didn’t work out. Now working in the Dead Letter Office, she dares to check out a familiar name on a letter refused and returned. She knows the intended recipient is married. She never lost feelings for the sender (now a soldier) and the letter discloses where he is located.

The War Librarian by Addison ArmstrongEmmaline discovers she could qualify as a volunteer librarian on the frontlines in France. Indeed, the men spend long lonely, boring hours with nothing and books have proven to be a lifeline—in more ways than one.

Kathleen Carre has always dreamed of being in the Navy—of following in her Nana’s brave footsteps who participated in the first world war as a driver. But Nana doesn’t reciprocate the enthusiasm.

Indeed, both women discover unexpected hurdles, frightening aspects, and each faces a desperate situation of their own. Emmaline finds her past love but denies him a truth that will badly damage their newly found relationship. Kathleen discovers it’s not as difficult to pass the physical aspect of those first months than to defy the opposition to female inductees into a long-established all-male bastion.

Both women make errors of judgment, denying courses of action, or boldly forcing courses of action that create further conflict. As the chapters switch back and forth between the tales of each, something is becoming apparent.

Emmaline becomes the more sympathetic of the two. Kathleen is too strongly obsessed and I never want to hear one more “Nana.” Yes, the Nana thing was repeated (over and over)—but the reader (or listener) got it the first time. For some reason, I never warmed to Kathleen; the thing with Nana and her mother.

So I’ll mention that the shocking twist in the conclusion was not unexpected, but I did like the way it was drawn. Emmaline’s story divulged some stats of which I was unaware—the book drives for the men—something a later generation would not have considered.

Kathleen is fully involved in crashing a glass ceiling—she is driven—and triumphed with a satisfying revelation you’ll want to read for yourself. It’s an engaging and entertaining audiobook, well narrated, suffering only one slow segment in the pace.

I received a complimentary review copy of this audiobook from my locally well-stocked library. These are my honest thoughts.

Book Details:

Genre: World War II Historical Fiction, Family Life Fiction
Publisher: Penguin Audio
ASIN: B09M6FQN81
Listening Length: 10 hrs 8 mins
Narrators: Saskia MaarleveldLauren Ezzo
Publication Date: August 9, 2022
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The War Librarian [Amazon]

 

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Rosepoint Publishing:  4.5 stars 4 1/2 stars

 

Addison Armstrong - authorThe Author: [Addison Armstrong] I’ve wanted to be an author since I was a five-year-old writing stories about talking school supplies and ants getting their revenge on exterminators. While a junior at Vanderbilt University studying elementary education, I wrote my first historical fiction novel, The Light of Luna Park, and sold it to G.P. Putnam’s Sons in January of my senior year. Now that I’ve graduated with my Bachelor’s in Elementary Education and Language & Literacy Studies, as well as a Master’s in Reading Education with an ESL endorsement, I’m teaching third grade English language learners in Nashville and continuing to write.

©2022 V Williams V Williams

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