April Rosepoint Reviews Recap—If it’s May, it must be time to Garden!

Rosepoint Reviews Recap - April

Finally! May is here and while the temps are still widely erratic, there is an obvious warming trend. AND, we’ve now had successive days of sun. Just enough rain to spur the grass into greening, the tulips to bloom, and thoughts of fertilizer and seed. I’m armed with nets to cover (and hopefully protect) seedlings from the many varmints, including the deer, rabbits, raccoons, and possums that delight in eating to the ground anything humanly edible. They might receive a warmer welcome if they also ate weeds!

Still, I’m harboring visions of a beautiful vegetable garden this year—last year not too successful. I’m also working on the fairy garden again and have broken through all the reeds behind the fairy garden tree to the tree line at the pond behind us. Pond

It’s only visible in the winter when all the leaves are gone and vegetation dies down. And my daughter may be moving closer in June—we’re working on that and we’ve had news that her daughter is expecting—due in December. I’ll be a great-grandmother. Mercy! And, finally, we’ve hit “herd mentality” in the Covid fight. Hopefully, that’s also a good thing.

We posted seventeen book reviews for April, which included ARCs from NetGalley as well as author requests, audiobooks from our local library, and a blog tour.

Deadly Editions Finlay Donovan Is Killing It by Elle Cosimano The French Paradox by Ellen Crosby Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey Out of Crisis by Richard Caldwell What You Never Knew - Jessica Hamilton The Corpse Who Knew Too Much by Debra Sennefelder The Late Show by Michael Connelly Judgment at Alcatraz by Dave Edlund The Red Button by Keith Eldred Boar Island by Nevada Barr The Manhattan Job by Jason Kaspar Buried By The Sea by Kathleen Bridge Bone Rattle by Marc Cameron Punning with Scissors by Becky Clark Dry Bones by Craig Johnson Her Three Lives by Cate Holahan

 Deadly Editions by Paige Shelton
Finlay Donovan is Killing It by Elle Cosimano (audiobook)
The French Paradox by Ellen Crosby (a CE review)
Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey (audiobook)
Out of Crisis by Richard Caldwell (a CE review)
What You Never Knew by Jessica Hamilton
The Corpse Who Knew Too Much by Debra Sennefelder
The Late Show by Michael Connelly (audiobook)
Judgment at Alcatraz by Dave Edlund (a CE review)
The Red Button by Keith Eldred (a CE review)
Buried by the Sea by Kathleen Bridge
Boar Island by Nevada Barr (audiobook)
The Manhattan Job by Jason Kasper (a CE review)
Bone Rattle by Marc Cameron (a CE review)
Punning With Scissors by Becky Clark
Dry Bones by Craig Johnson (audiobook)
Her Three Lives by Cate Holahan 

Reading Challenges

May filled up fast and I’m still trying to work out a better schedule utilizing the CE’s reviews to spell my own continuing to post on Sunday, Tuesday, (audiobook) Thursday, and Friday. I finally added Kensington Books to my auto-approved list and running at 96% on NetGalley. Goodreads says I’ve read 70 books towards my challenge of 175, which is 13 books ahead of schedule. Really?!

Five books for the Audiobook challenge, bringing the total to 17 for a goal of between 20-30—Binge Listener.

Historical Fiction – One book in April bringing to nine in a challenge of ten–Renaissance Reader.

NetGalley – Ten additional books in April bringing my total to 37 in a goal of 75.

You can check out my challenges progress by clicking on my Reading Challenges page.

Please let me know if you’ve read one of the above listed books or put them on your TBR and I’m always open to title suggestions.

As always, I welcome my new followers—and thank you again to those who continue to support this blog through your participation, likes, and comments. You help me grow.

©2021 V Williams

(Bicycle in banner photo attribute: Shelves from CountryDoor.com catalog.)

Dry Bones: A Longmire Mystery (Walt Longmire Mysteries Book 11) by Craig Johnson – #Audiobook Review #TBT #westerns

Ddry Bones by Craig Johnson

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

When Jen, the largest, most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton ever found, surfaces in Sherriff Walt Longmire’s jurisdiction, it appears to be a windfall for the High Plains Dinosaur Museum – until Danny Lone Elk, the Cheyenne rancher on whose property the remains were discovered, turns up dead, floating face down in a turtle pond. With millions of dollars at stake, a number of groups step forward to claim her, including Danny’s family, the tribe, and the federal government.

As Wyoming’s acting deputy attorney and a cadre of FBI officers descend on the town, Walt is determined to find out who would benefit from Danny’s death, enlisting old friends Lucian Connolly and Omar Rhoades – along with Dog and best friend Henry Standing Bear – to trawl the vast Lone Elk ranch, looking for answers to a 65-million-year-old cold case that’s heating up fast. 

My Review:

Not the first time I’ve reviewed a book by Craig Johnson, and I’m currently listening to another in the Walt Longmire mystery series. I absolutely love this series, and I’m sure in no small part owing to the narration by George Guidall. The CE and I burned through the Longmire TV series on Netflix, even trying to discipline ourselves and watch only three per night and now listening to the audiobooks can see those characters in each of the novels.

Wyoming and many of those northern states were the site of dinosaur finds, so many of the enlightening facts included here isn’t that far off non-fiction.

Dry Bones by Craig JohnsonIn this narrative, Danny Lone Elk is found dead in a pond and an archeologist named Jennifer discovers a tyrannosaurus rex she names Jen (on Lone Elk’s property). The problem stems from custody as it was found on a Cheyenne reservation, sparking quite the fight over ownership which would the funds possibly received in an auction. (And of course, few have not heard of Sue, the T-Rex found by an archeologist named Sue Hendrickson on the reservation. Yes, in auction we’re talking millions of dollars that eventually took Sue to the Chicago Field Museum.)

Given the extent of the find, the possible worth, and the custody battle, it’s quite the well-paced plot and he is still seeking answers to Danny Lone Elk, joined by his long time buddy, Henry Standing Bear, owner/operator of the Red Pony (“and continual soiree”).

Yes, okay, it’s a “western.” Sorta, but not. It does take place in Wyoming, after all, in (fictional) Absaroka County where Walt Longmire is sheriff. But this is a modern day western beautifully infused by the author’s atmospheric descriptions of the land and the people. And quite the diverse people they are—the traditions, the folklore. And the animals—horses—they still do have “cowboys” who ride horses and wear those hats.

And you can’t wish for a more disparate group of characters, from the stalwart protagonist Walt to Vic, his undersheriff (who lacks a mouth filter), and his faithful dog, Dog. The author imparts his sense of humor, Henry Standing Bear the wisdom and spirituality, and the women some testosterone control. There’s a reason they call it “the wild west.”

You can’t go wrong with a Longmire episode. Nice to have some knowledge of the characters, but you can start this series most anywhere as a standalone and quickly get up to speed. I’ve listened to a number of books in this series and reviewed a few including An Obvious Fact and The Highwayman. The novels are all great, some even better, and George Guidall is consistently excellent.

Book Details:

Genre: Native American Literature, Westerns
Publisher:  Recorded Books
ASIN: B00W2BQHA2
Print Length: 320 pages
Listening Length: 8 hrs 16 mins
Narrator: George Guidall
Publication Date: May 12, 2015
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Dry Bones

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Craig Johnson - authorThe Author: Craig Johnson is the New York Times bestselling author of the Longmire mysteries, the basis for the hit Netflix original series Longmire. He is the recipient of the Western Writers of America Spur Award for fiction, the Mountains and Plains Booksellers Award for fiction, the Nouvel Observateur Prix du Roman Noir, and the Prix SNCF du Polar. His novella Spirit of Steamboat was the first One Book Wyoming selection. He lives in Ucross, Wyoming, population 25.

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

©2021 V Williams

happy thursday!

Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey – #Audiobook Review – Biographies

Amazon Charts #2 this week

Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey

 

Most of the times it’s not stolen, it’s right where you left it. 

Book Blurb:

Number one New York Times best seller Over one million copies sold!

From the Academy Award-winning actor, an unconventional memoir filled with raucous stories, I’ve been in this life for 50 years, been trying to work out its riddle for 42, and been keeping diaries of clues to that riddle for the last 35. Notes about successes and failures, joys and sorrows, things that made me marvel, and things that made me laugh out loud. How to be fair. How to have less stress. How to have fun. How to hurt people less. How to get hurt less. How to be a good man. How to have meaning in life. How to be more me. 

Recently, I worked up the courage to sit down with those diaries. I found stories I experienced, lessons I learned and forgot, poems, prayers, prescriptions, beliefs about what matters, some great photographs, and a whole bunch of bumper stickers. I found a reliable theme, an approach to living that gave me more satisfaction, at the time, and still: If you know how, and when, to deal with life’s challenges – how to get relative with the inevitable – you can enjoy a state of success I call “catching greenlights”. So I took a one-way ticket to the desert and wrote this book: an album, a record, a story of my life so far. This is 50 years of my sights and seens, felts and figured-outs, cools and shamefuls. Graces, truths, and beauties of brutality. Getting away withs, getting caughts, and getting wets while trying to dance between the raindrops. Hopefully, it’s medicine that tastes good, a couple of aspirin instead of the infirmary, a spaceship to Mars without needing your pilot’s license, going to church without having to be born again, and laughing through the tears. It’s a love letter. To life. It’s also a guide to catching more greenlights – and to realizing that the yellows and reds eventually turn green, too. Good luck.

“…outlaw wisdom, and lessons learned the hard way about living with greater satisfaction.”

My Review:

Ugh! I’ve never been a fan of Matthew McConaughey. And if I can’t switch channels fast enough to NOT see another of his Lincoln TV commercials, it’ll be too soon.

I won’t deny that I don’t find him attractive. The problem is that he comes off egotistical, flaunting it (like most Hollywood women?). Narcissistic. Yeah, that too.

Greenlights by Matthew McConaugheySo why then, when I saw his audiobook come up on my wonderful library selections did I hit “request?” You’ve got me. No clue. And I’m not usually one to follow Hollywood types. The way they live is so beyond my imagination, I can’t even feign interest.

However…

McConaughey begins his book with an introduction to his early life in lower middle class east Texas. Begins with stories about his family. I’m hooked.

Strictly audiobook, strictly McConaughey and his quiet intimate voice but as he gets into his storytelling, becomes animated with nostalgic memories. And then his intro to the Hollywood scene—perhaps it all comes off too easy—and that throws him. An oft told story. Oh, he handles it with booze and women alright, pranks, and then comes his first (***) dream. (I’ll let you fill in the blank. Yeah, graphic, but not the first.)

So now MM turns into Monk McConaughey as he pushes off to seek the truth of life. Gimme a break. Would that we could all disappear for months at a time to seek the truth of life—or would I? Nah. In the quest of second and third dreams, he travels Africa and South America. (He’s already done Europe by motorcycle with two of his buddies.) And he does come back with some hard truths. Now McConaughey turns Texas Baptist preacher and mounts his pulpit. He punctuates his memoir with memorable stories or experiences that taught him little pearls of wisdom which he notes as:

PRESCRIPTION!

NOTE TO SELF! or

BUMPER STICKER!

These he almost invariably shouts. ARGH! Unfortunately, I almost invariably enjoyed them. Gees! Don’t encourage him!

It’s better to jump then fall.

 Blue collar prayers – `I need` / White collar prayers – `I want`.

It’s classified as a biography, memoir, and also personal development or self-help and his many travels and experiences have enabled him a Ghandi range of personal development and self-help ideas—many of the latter loaded into the conclusion—almost to preachy levels.

Experiences seen as problems, difficulties, crises, quandaries, and hindrances eventually turned to his “greenlights” which he is happy to share. An over-abundance of optimism. Maybe we need that right now.

If you think you might enjoy a well narrated, lively novel by Machismo Matt, go for it. If all those laughin’, scratchin’, and testosterone-driven stories might not be your cup of tea, you might want to pass. I will say, however, that it turns out he is human. It is highly entertaining and you never know what the next chapter will bring you—maybe another story you’d like to live vicariously.

Book Details:

Genre: (#1 in:) Biographies, Personal Development, Self-Help
Publisher:  Random House Audio
ASIN: B08HLW2JXD
Print Length: 288 pages
Listening Length: 6 hrs 42 mins
Narrator: Matthew McConaughey 
Publication Date: October 20, 2020
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Greenlights

 

Add to Goodreads

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

Matthew McConaughey - actor-authorThe Author: Academy Award-winning actor Matthew McConaughey is a married man, a father of three children, and a loyal son and brother. He considers himself a storyteller by occupation, believes it’s okay to have a beer on the way to the temple, feels better with a day’s sweat on him, and is an aspiring orchestral conductor.

In 2009, Matthew and his wife, Camila, founded the just keep livin Foundation, which helps at-risk high school students make healthier mind, body, and spirit choices. In 2019, McConaughey became a professor of practice at the University of Texas at Austin, as well as Minister of Culture/M.O.C. for the University of Texas and the City of Austin. McConaughey is also brand ambassador for Lincoln Motor Company, an owner of the Major League Soccer club Austin FC, and co-creator of his favorite bourbon on the planet, Wild Turkey Longbranch.

©V Williams

February Rosepoint Reviews Recap—Hello March!

February Rosepoint Reviews Recap

February was certainly a blast and a half for those of us in Northwest Indiana (NWI)—more snow than I’ve seen since we moved here, at times at least 2’ high both in front and on the deck out back as the wind blew it into great heaps, met by the icicles reaching almost 6’ from the roof line. Hard to believe in global warming with so many successive days of well below freezing temps. Even the dog wouldn’t go out.

We are thrilled to welcome March, which of course starts Reading Ireland Month and as I posted a couple days ago, have a list lined up and working on it already. If you haven’t already signed up with Cathy over at 746 Books, now is the time to get in on her #begorrahthon.

The CE and I read a nice variety of books in February. I’ve settled rather heavily on Thursday to post my audiobook reviews, some made even more great by their narrators, one shelved as DNF this year—my first.

We had a total of thirteen book reviews for February, which included a number of amazing books, including several at five stars. As always, I’ll list my review link below the pictures.

The Spirit of Animal Healing by Dr. Marty GoldsteinDeep South by Nevada Barr Dog Days by Ericka Waller Spring Upon a Crime by ML Erdahl

 

 

 

 

Animal Instinct by David Rosenfelt

Long Range by CJ BoxAn Eye for an Eye by Carol WyerThe Wise Ass by Tom McCaffreytThe Trespasser by Tana FrenchThe Blame by Kerry WilkinsonThis Land is No Stranger by Sarah Hollister and Gil ReavillGhosts of the Past by Mark DownerMainely Money by Matt Cost

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Spirit of Animal Healing by Marty Goldstein – a CE review of non-fiction
Deep South by Nevada Barr – an Audiobook review
Spring Upon a Crime by ML Erdahl – my five star review #cozymystery
Dog Days by Erica Waller – a CE review #friendshipfiction
Animal Instinct by David Rosenfelt – my five star review #animalfiction
Long Range by C J Box – an Audiobook review #crimefiction
An Eye for an Eye by Carol Wyer – a five star review from the CE
The Wise Ass by Tom McCaffrey – my five star review—this one zoomed straight to the top of my favorites list for the year. Fantasy action-adventure. This one can also work as a Reading Ireland Month read.
The Trespasser by Tana French – an Audiobook review – British and Irish Literary Fiction—should have been included in the March lineup.
Ghosts of the Past by Mark Downer – a five star CE review – #crimeaction
The Blame by Kerry Wilkinson – #psychologicalfiction
This Land is No Stranger by Sarah Hollister – a CE review – #nordicnoir
Mainely Money by Matt Cost – #mysteries

I also posted a couple articles, one a #guestpost from Ricardo Fayet of Reedsy. Thrilled to have his post regarding Indie Book Marketing Tips. He does an amazing job of noting all the important bullet points I wish I’d known.

Most of the February reviews were from NetGalley including an author request and three were audiobooks.

Reading Challenges

Three new books for my Audiobook challenge, bringing the total to 8 for a goal of between 20-30—Binge Listener.

Ten new books for February bringing my total so far to 32 toward my Goodreads goal of 175 this year.

Historical Fiction – Only one in January—and that was read by the CE.

You can check out my challenges progress by clicking on my Reading Challenges page.

Please let me know if you’ve read one of the above listed books or put them on your TBR and I’m always open to title suggestions.

As always, welcome to my new followers—and those who continue to support the blog through your participation, likes, and comments. You help me grow and keep me going. Thank you!

©2021 V Williams

Tell No One by Harlan Coben – An #Audiobook Review #suspense #TBT

Tell No One by Harlan Coven

Book Blurb:

Critically acclaimed, best-selling author Harlan Coben has won the Shamus, Anthony, and Edgar Awards during his impressive career.

Tell No One by Harlan CobenTell No One is an irresistibly suspenseful thriller infused with nail-biting tension and packed with shocking plot twists. It has been eight years since Dr. David Beck’s wife, Elizabeth, was murdered by a serial killer. When Beck receives a message containing a phrase only Elizabeth should know, he is tormented to tears. Either someone is playing a sick joke, or the wife he’s never stopped loving is still alive. He’s been warned to tell no one, and as the desperation of his search for the truth intensifies, he heads straight toward a deadly secret.

Coben tempers the drama with dashes of sly humor and a cast of unforgettable characters, including a bare-hands assassin, a glamorous plus-size model and a drug dealer with a soft spot for Dr. Beck. Listeners will relish Ed Sala’s exhilarating narration. 

My Review:

Tell No One by Harlan CobenNo, I hadn’t read everything the author has turned out and sure if I did it was years ago—before I started reviewing—but thumbing through the Netflix offerings came across The Stranger his ebook originally published in 2015. Admittedly, I couldn’t find the audiobook in my local well-stocked library, but here was Tell No One (originally published in 2009) and I must say—close enough. There’s a mild case of déjà vu lurking there.

Okay, yes, there is quite the hook and the premise gets you to reading. The novel is fast-paced and the prose engaging. I couldn’t quite get into any of the characters—main (i.e. Dr. David Beck) or the support characters who were all over the place from medical colleagues to partner of his sister to the street thug who rescues him. I must admit, however, to rooting for the street thug to split—while he had the chance.

I don’t know. What was I expecting?

The narrative gets to spinning when Dr. Beck receives an email that almost convinces him that the wife he thought he’d lost eight years ago is still alive. No, he’d never found a replacement, isn’t married, still pining over the soul mate with whom he’d carved momentous occasions on a pine tree. Also, nature being what it is, has unearthed two bodies at the site where the kidnapping and his attack took place and a whole new scenario opens. Hmmm…

Coben heaps it on, adding twists, adding bits of clues concealed as info, adding more characters, explosive scenes, and enough tender scenes between he and Elizabeth that even the most romance addicted YA would begin to gag. There are more questions, but suddenly Beck himself appears to be a POI in his wife’s kidnapping and death. Wait. Is she really dead?

He’s on the lam and amazingly with the help of his street thug buddy evades the dragnet. Oh, I’m telling you, this will get quite a bit more complex and convoluted, stretching into disbelieving territory before it all winds up in conclusion. Even then, this is a tough act to sell and I’m not wholly buying. Yes, lots of suspense building and at this point I was just curious to see how the author was going to pull it all together, but then he didn’t. Not for me. I was kinda bummed.

The Stranger by Harlan CobenSo, now let’s see—The Stranger (Netflix series) has the same kind of harried husband, discovers a devastating secret about his wife, wife disappears; unlikable, unrelatable main and support characters. Unfathomable conclusion leaves you somewhat flat. What? is written across your forehead. Maybe just mine, but I downloaded the ebook and I’ll report back.

Book Details:

Genre: Mysteries, Suspense Thrillers, Kidnapping Thrillers, Serial Killer Thrillers, Murder Thrillers
Publisher:  Recorded Books
Print Length: 396 pages
ASIN: B002SXIF4A
Listening Length: 10 hrs 36 mins
ASIN: B0078IX10I
Narrator: Ed Sala
Audible Release Date: February 13, 2012
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Tell No One [Amazon]

Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4 stars

Harlan Coben - authorThe Author: With over 70 million books in print worldwide, Harlan Coben is the #1 New York Times author of thirty one novels including RUN AWAY, FOOL ME ONCE, TELL NO ONE, NO SECOND CHANCE and the renowned Myron Bolitar series. His books are published in 43 languages around the globe.

Harlan is the creator and executive producer for the Netflix television dramas SAFE starring Michael C. Hall, Audrey Fleurot and Amanda Abbington, and THE FIVE starring Tom Cullen and OT Fagbenle. He is currently filming THE STRANGER, based on his novel, for Netflix starring Richard Armitage, Siobhan Finneran, Jennifer Saunders and Stephen Rea. Harlan was also showrunner and executive producer for two French TV mini-series, UNE CHANCE DE TROP (NO SECOND CHANCE) with Alexandra Lamy and JUST UN REGARD (JUST ONE LOOK) with Virginie Ledoyen. KEINE ZWEIT CHANCE, also based on Harlan’s novel, aired in Germany on Sat1.

Harlan’s novel TELL NO ONE (NE LE DIS A PERSONNE) was turned into the renowned French film, directed by Guillaume Canet and starring Francois Cluzet. The movie was the top box office foreign-language film of the year in USA, won the Lumiere (French Golden Globe) for best picture and was nominated for nine Cesars (French Oscar) and won four, including best actor, best director and best music. The movie with subtitles is now available on Netflix, Amazon Prime and DVD/Blu-Ray.

Winner of the Edgar Award, Shamus Award and Anthony Award – the first author to win all three – international bestselling author Harlan Coben’s critically-acclaimed novels have been called “ingenious” (New York Times), “poignant and insightful” (Los Angeles Times), “consistently entertaining” (Houston Chronicle), “superb” (Chicago Tribune) and “must reading” (Philadelphia Inquirer).

In his first books, Coben immersed himself in the exploits of sports agent Myron Bolitar. Critics loved the series, saying, “You race to turn pages…both suspenseful and often surprisingly funny” (People). After seven books Coben wanted to try something different. “I came up with a great idea that simply would not work for Myron,” says Coben. The result was the critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller TELL NO ONE, which became the most decorated thriller of the year. Two books later, Bookspan, recognizing Coben’s broad international appeal, named NO SECOND CHANCE its first ever International Book of the Month in 2003 – the Main Selection in 15 different countries.

Harlan was the first writer in more than a decade to be invited to write fiction for the NEW YORK TIMES op-ed page. His Father’s Day short story, THE KEY TO MY FATHER, appeared June 15, 2003. His essays and columns have appeared in many top publications including the New York Times, Parade Magazine and Bloomberg Views.

Harlan has received an eclectic variety of honors from all over the world. In Paris, he was awarded the prestigious Vermeil Medal of Honor for contributions to culture and society by the Mayor of Paris. He was won the El Premio del Novela Negra RBA in Spain, the Grand Prix de Lectrices in France, and the CWA/ITV3 Bestseller Dagger for favorite crime novelist in England. On the other end of the spectrum, Little League Baseball inducted Harlan into their Hall of Excellence in 2013, and Harlan is also a member of the New England Basketball Hall of Fame from his playing days at Amherst College.

Harlan was born in Newark, New Jersey. He still lives in New Jersey with his wife, Anne Armstrong-Coben MD, a pediatrician, and their four children.

The Narrator: Ed Sala received a master’s degree in playwriting from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va. He’s lived his life primarily as an actor, appearing on and off Broadway, at Carnegie Hall and in movies and episodic television. His plays have been produced from New York City to Melbourne, Australia. He considers himself very lucky to live a life in this business.

©2021 V Williams

Audiobook Reviews by Bestselling Authors #jdrobb #davidrosenfelt

Audiobooks by bestselling authors

Gotta temper the heavy with the light audiobooks and last week I enjoyed both. Here is a quick summary of Outfoxed released in 2016 by David Rosenfelt and Golden in Death released last February (2020) by JD Robb.

Book Blurb: Golden in Death An Eve Dallas Novel (In Death, Book 50) by JD Robb – In the latest thriller in the number-one New York Times best-selling series, homicide detective Eve Dallas investigates a murder with a mysterious motive – and a terrifying weapon.

Pediatrician Kent Abner received the package on a beautiful April morning. Inside was a cheap trinket, a golden egg that could be opened into two halves. When he pried it apart, highly toxic airborne fumes entered his body – and killed him.

After Eve Dallas calls the hazmat team – and undergoes testing to reassure both her and her husband that she hasn’t been exposed – it’s time to look into Dr. Abner’s past and relationships. Not every victim Eve encounters is an angel, but it seems that Abner came pretty close – though he did ruffle some feathers over the years by taking stands for the weak and defenseless.

While the lab tries to identify the deadly toxin, Eve hunts for the sender. But when someone else dies in the same grisly manner, it becomes clear that she’s dealing with either a madman – or someone who has a hidden and elusive connection to both victims.

My Review:

My first experience with this series and it was an eye-opener. I was astounded to realize this is Book 50. ACK! Fifty of these? Starting in 1995? And this is supposed to take place in 2061? Really! Somehow, I totally missed that.

Golden in Death by JD RobbI love getting into a unique premise and, for me, it was unique and well-plotted and I kept either my earbud or the wifi speaker handy. I can’t speak, obviously, to Eve’s evolving dynamics—her relationship with slobber-worthy Roarke.

You may remember I read Hideaway by Nora Roberts (I’m not sure which is the alter-ego) and found it a little syrupy. This series (and J.D.) alternates between offering slightly lighter scenes of banter or situation to downright serious and deadly scenes punctuated with profanity. While the other, of course, is a romance novel, this one would be classified as a near future police procedural. (Damn—I really never got that they’d progressed much further than they are today.)

The body count begins to escalate while the interviews become more intensive lending a stark tension to the narrative. Eve and her partner Detective Delia Peabody pursue leads, hit a brick wall, go around it, and find another lead. There are twists. It’s complex, compelling, and entertaining. Narration kept interest. The conclusion satisfying.

Recording Details:

Genre: Romantic Suspense, Police Procedural
Publisher:  Macmillan Audio
ASIN: B07QQZW5JL
Listening Length: 13 hrs 50 mins
Narrator: Susan Ericksen
Publication Date: Feb 4, 2020
Source: Local Library
Title Link: Golden in Death [Amazon]
 

Add to Goodreads

 

J D Robb - authorThe Author: J.D. ROBB is the pseudonym for #1 New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts. She is the author of over 200 novels, including the futuristic suspense In Death series. There are more than 500 million copies of her books in print.

♥ ♥♥♥♥

 

Book Blurb: Outfoxed by David RosenfeltDefense lawyer Andy Carpenter spends as much time as he can working on his true passion – the Tara Foundation, the dog rescue organization he runs. Lately Andy has been especially involved in a county prison program where inmates help train dogs the Tara Foundation has rescued to make them more adoptable, benefiting both the dogs and the prisoners.

One of the prisoners Andy has been working with is Brian Atkins, who has 18 months left on a five-year term for fraud. Brian has been helping to train Boomer, an adorable fox terrier the Tara Foundation rescued from a neglectful owner. Brian and Boomer are clearly a terrific match. In fact Andy hopes that Brian will adopt Boomer himself, once his sentence is up.

But one day Andy arrives at the prison to discover that Brian has used Boomer to make an ingenious escape, and man and dog are both in the wind. The next day the man on whose testimony Brian was convicted is found murdered. Brian is caught and arrested for the crime, though he forcefully asserts his innocence.

Suddenly Andy finds himself with a new client in Brian and a new dog in Boomer. And as he starts to dig deeper into the murder and the events leading up to it, Andy realizes he might be putting them all in far more danger than anyone had realized.

My Review:

Outfoxed by David RosenfeltNo, I don’t wish to hammer you over the head with books by David Rosenfelt. Really, my major go-to by him is the Andy Carpenter book series.

I have read a number of his other books, but for fun, fast, and fascinating legal two-step courtroom drama, I return to the Andy Carpenter series. They are clean and comfortable with a cast of support characters that seldom vary with the exception of the reason for the current mystery.

Andy is a well to do attorney (not all of it money from his cases), his wife Laurie, son Ricky, Willie, Marcus, and Hike. Each a force of their own. It’s a familiar and winning formula. Andy doesn’t want the case but feels the guy (or gal) is innocent.

Proceed with investigation,

Enter chuckle-producing snarky dialogue,

Continue with investigation,

Get dangerously close to be taken out (enter bad guys),

Continue with LOL moments, snarky dialogue, tongue-in-cheek observations,

Continue to courtroom drama, wring hands over witnesses, documents,

Add sarcastic quips,

Win case, go celebrate. Andy pays.

Did I leave something out? Yes, usually the beginning sets the stage for the plot which always sets a hook, grabs your interest and promises to be highly entertaining. And, of yes, he begins with those same self-deprecating remarks and cheerful scenes to the setting, players, and his two dogs, Tara and Sebastian. It’s not a K-9 series per se—it’s a legal thriller mystery series with a snarky attorney who loves dogs enough to set up a rescue with Willie (see above). The narrator, Grover Gardner, btw, is absolutely perfect. Nails it!

And I never fail to enjoy each and every one, a few of which are listed here: Silent Bite, Muzzled, The Twelve Dogs of Christmas, Rescued.

Recording Details:

Genre: Animal Fiction, Traditional Detective Mysteries
Publisher:  Macmillan Audio
ASIN: B01H5U6F5Q
Listening Length: 7 hrs 18 mins
Narrator:  Grover Gardner
Publication Date: July 19, 2016
Source: Local Library
Title Link: Outfoxed [Amazon]

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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.

Are you a JD Robb fan? Rosenfelt fan? (I prefer the JD Robb books to the Nora Roberts books—not a romance fan.)

©2021 V Williams

TV Netflix Series When Calls the Heart vs Audiobook (Women of the West series Book 11) by Janette Oke #historicalfiction

TV Netflix Series vs Audiobook

The reason you should never say never is because you’ll invariably end up doing it.

You can usually tell (sight unseen) a Hallmark production by the music and the fairytale romance following. I’m not the Hallmark watcher in this family—it’s the CE—and Netflix knows his Hallmark proclivity from the stats that apparently note his selections pretty closely. But this one caught my attention, too, and we’ve been binge-watching again. When I saw that it was originally a Canadian author’s western historical series, I had to go looking for it at my local library to see what they had. They had one audiobook (!!) as well as a number of ebooks and you know I will choose the audiobook. What I discovered was a TV Netflix series loosely based on a bestselling series originally written by author Janette Oke as western religious fiction. 

Netflix Series

Season 2-When Calls the HeartWhen Calls the Heart is a Canadian-American television drama series, one of many we’ve watched and enjoyed lately. It was inspired by Janette Oke’s book from her Canadian West series. Developed by Michael Landon Jr, the series began on the Hallmark Channel in the US on January 11, 2014.

Elizabeth Thatcher (Erin Krakow) is a young teacher from a wealthy family anxious to follow the calling of her heart to teach. She finds herself in a classroom in Coal Valley, a coal-mining town in Western Canada.

The life is tough enough without the mine-disaster that kills Abigail Stanton’s (Lori Loughlin) husband and her only son, along with 45 other miners in an explosion. Trying to get on with their lives, they rename the town Hope Valley. (As most know, Loughlin was involved in the 2019 college admissions bribery scandal and sentenced to two months, her husband five. She was removed from the series in Season 6.)

Universally appealing, gorgeous costumes, themes of loss, love, and growth, redemption. Was supposed to be filmed in Colorado but moved instead to Vancouver, BC. The program creator, Michael Landon Jr does a superior job with his storytelling, pushing engagement.

The series became available internationally on Netflix in August 2017 but will be removed January 24, 2021.

Audiobook-Original Print Series

A Gown of Spanish Lace by Janette OkeA Gown of Spanish Lace: Women of the West, Book 11 (Abridged)
Ariana loves her life as a schoolteacher in a little frontier town. But one evening after classes are done and she prepares to hurry home, her life changes in an instant when a band of rough outlaws abduct her and take her far away from all she has ever known. Trapped in a small shack, Ariana prays and waits, her emotions swinging between terror and boredom as days stretch into weeks. Still, the outlaws refuse to tell her why they’ve taken her or what they plan to do.

Then the boss’ son appears in the doorway of her cabin. He seems different from the others, but can she trust him? Will she ever again see her mother and father, the couple who lovingly adopted her and raised her as their own? Will she ever wear the beautiful wedding dress so carefully saved for her – her one remaining link to her birth parents?

My Thoughts

First, I was unhappy the audiobook was an abridged version. Elizabeth is a schoolteacher in the northwestern territories and in a rather weak plot device to explain her kidnapping, is abducted and taken far away. She is treated as a hostage which gradually relaxes weeks later when the “boss’ son” suddenly takes over her care. In the backstory, it is explained she was adopted after her birth parents were killed in a wagon train raid. Her one remaining link to her birth mother—a wedding dress.

Okay, the son of outlaws—the one who “didn’t fit” (not a beautiful Canadian Monty, resplendent in his iconic uniform). Ariana is deeply religious, praying heavily first to live, then to see her adopted parents, home, and school again. She gradually appears to have feelings for Laramie as he tends to loosen the bonds.

Actually a pretty tame bunch of outlaws, almost caricatures (at least around Ariana—could have been MUCH worse) and having raised Laramie that he could be so different.

It could happen.

There was a heavily religious theme and that of Ariana gradually pulling Laramie into Christianity, amid themes of faith, trust, and forgiveness. Maybe because I had the abridged version, so much detail was missing. The plot line progressed at a nice pace (abridged…remember?), but there were elements of implausibility. Otherwise, very sweet, very clean. Not sure I could start back at Seasons of the Heart, Book 1 though.

Overall Impression

Mercy! At least this one isn’t the shocker that Virgin River turned out to be for me. If anything, it swung in the reverse, a squeaky clean version of western frontier life. But I must vote for the Hallmark version. I love the Mounties (and Jack—why did he have to leave?) Oh…and Elizabeth. Actually, I much prefer the characters in the Hallmark version. Elizabeth (Ariana) is a level-headed intelligent woman extolling moral lessons on her students (Christian principles from the Oke published series without being preachy).

There are two or three “bad” guys who gradually turn to the “good” side. The mining town cleans up to become a lumber (sawmill) town, and as always, there are the busy-body citizens—who can sometimes do good as well.

The storyline is engaging and entertaining, although I’ve noticed a slight change from possible realistic period costumes and hairstyles to dresses of décolleté and hair worn down in curls. (Difficult without a curling iron.) It is a time of change, the turn of the Century, and the Industrial Revolution. Perhaps also a time of some societal confusion, women just beginning to become a force of nature, as well as nurture.

The first seven seasons on Netflix will go bye-bye in January. Season 8 debuts in February on…yeah, the Hallmark Channel. We’ll wait until it hits Netflix.

Book Details

Genre: Western Religious Fiction, Religious Historical Fiction, Christian Westerns
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
ASIN: B005E87WUY
Print Length: 260 pages
Listening Length: 3 hrs 13 mins (Abridged version)
Narrator: Aimee Lilly
Audible Release: April 15, 2016
Publication Date: August 1, 2006
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: A Gown of Spanish Lace [Amazon]

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Janette Oke - authorThe Author: Janette Oke (née Steeves) was born on February 18, 1935 to Fred and Amy Steeves in the family’s log house near Champion, Alberta. Janette Oke pioneered inspirational fiction and is the leading author in the category today. She received the 1992 President’s Award from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association for her significant contribution to Christian fiction, and has been awarded the coveted Gold Medallion Award for fiction. Janette and her husband, Edward, have four grown children and nine grandchildren and make their home in Canada. Most lately she has collaborated on a series with her daughter Laurel Oke Logan. Bethany Fellowship Inc. (now Bethany House) has been Oke’s benefactor and says of Oke, “Oke’s pioneering influence on Christian historical fiction, and Christian fiction as a whole, has lifted her to near-legendary status.”

The Narrator: Aimee Lilly has narrated over 200 audiobooks in a wide variety of genres, most of them for Oasis Audio, including 100 books in the Boxcar Children series. An Earphones Award winner, she has also been nominated for an Audie Award, an Independent Audiobook Award, and a Voice Arts Award.

©2021 V Williams

Info sources: Wikipedia, Hallmark Channel