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]

Add to Goodreads

 

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]

Add to Goodreads

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

Blue Moon: Jack Reacher, Book 24 by Lee Child – An #Audiobook Review – Thriller & Suspense – #TBT

 

Blue Moon by Lee Child

 

Rosepoint Pub CrawlEditors' pick for Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense 

Book Blurb:

Number one New York Times best seller

Jack Reacher comes to the aid of an elderly couple…and confronts his most dangerous opponents yet.

“Jack Reacher is today’s James Bond, a thriller hero we can’t get enough of.” (Ken Follett)

“This is a random universe”, Reacher says. “Once in a blue moon things turn out just right.”

This isn’t one of those times.

Reacher is on a Greyhound bus, minding his own business, with no particular place to go and all the time in the world to get there. Then, he steps off the bus to help an old man who is obviously just a victim waiting to happen. But you know what they say about good deeds. Now, Reacher wants to make it right.

An elderly couple have made a few well-meaning mistakes, and now they owe big money to some very bad people. One brazen move leads to another, and suddenly Reacher finds himself a wanted man in the middle of a brutal turf war between rival Ukrainian and Albanian gangs.

Reacher has to stay one step ahead of the loan sharks, the thugs, and the assassins. He teams up with a fed-up waitress who knows a little more than she’s letting on, and sets out to take down the powerful and make the greedy pay. It’s a long shot. The odds are against him. But Reacher believes in a certain kind of justice…the kind that comes along once in a blue moon. 

Named one of the Best Books of the Year by Evening Standard 

My Review:

Well, I’ve certainly been here before—swimming upstream. How is this an Editor’s Pick? My first encounter with Child and Jack Reacher.

Blue Moon by Lee ChildWhat I found was that the beginning of the narrative begins with a rather gratifying example of an ex-badass who noted something imminently obvious that he felt needed his intervention.

But then the plot goes totally off the rails. Absolutely no backstory, the old guy, and the reason for Reacher’s intervention, refused to tell him the whole story, which when revealed was, like, uh huh, heard that one before.

In the meantime, Reacher subjects an old couple and a waitress to outrageous danger with the heavy-handed threat of the Ukrainians and Albanians and any other “ians” he can pull out of the hat.

Suddenly, Reacher’s gone extreme quasi-military, vigilante, kill’em all. Didn’t like the answer? Kill’em. Take no prisoners. These are all nasty gang members anyway, huh?

I know little about Reacher and if I had any warm and fuzzies immediately it was just as quickly swept away. All this murder, mayhem, violence, and high body count—I’ve almost forgotten the original reason he wouldn’t just say buh-bye. No developed characters, a blurry undefined town—somewhere—slow pace…step over the body and proceed to the next. Destruction everywhere.

Wait—let’s go back. He was on a Greyhound bus and noted a possible mugging going to happen. Then he continued to pursue the old guy after his rescue. Ad nauseum. Violence for shock value. The plot is lost. The characters lost. The time listening lost.

I know there is a conclusion—I think it is after everyone died—but at some point, and particularly being an audiobook, I could just “turn off” (*click*) the narrative—skip over the ucky parts. I think somewhere in the past Reacher might have been a good guy, an admirable protagonist—that Reacher didn’t make it to Book 24.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery Action Fiction, Action Thriller & Suspense Fiction, Mystery Action and Adventure, Men’s Adventure, War & Military Action Fiction
Publisher:  Random House Audio
ASIN: B07QYWMKVJ
ASIN : B07NCNVZ5P
Print Length: 377 pages
Listening Length: 11 hrs 21 mins
Narrator: Scott Brick
Publication Date: October 29, 2019
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Blue Moon [Amazon]

Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint Publishing:  Two point Five of Five Stars Two and one-half Stars

Lee Child - authorThe Author: Lee Child is one of the world’s leading thriller writers. He was born in Coventry, raised in Birmingham, and now lives in New York. It is said one of his novels featuring his hero Jack Reacher is sold somewhere in the world every nine seconds. His books consistently achieve the number-one slot on bestseller lists around the world and have sold over one hundred million copies. Two blockbusting Jack Reacher movies have been made so far. He is the recipient of many awards, most recently Author of the Year at the 2019 British Book Awards. He was appointed CBE in the 2019 Queen’s Birthday Honours.

The Narrator: In 1999, (Scott) Brick began narrating audiobooks and found himself a popular choice for top publishers and authors. After recording some 250 titles in five years, AudioFile magazine named Brick “one of the fastest-rising stars in the audiobook galaxy”, and proclaimed him a “Golden Voice”, a reputation solidified by a November 2004 article on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. Publishers Weekly then went on to honor Brick as Narrator of the Year in 2007 and 2011. To date, he has won over 50 Earphone Awards, two Audie Awards and a nomination for a Grammy Award.

©2020 V Williams V Williams-Christmas hat

Welcome 2021

Fortune and Glory (A Stephanie Plum Novel Book 27) by Janet Evanovich – An #Audiobook Review – Crime Thriller

Editors' pick Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

audiobook-Fortune and Glory by Janet Evanovich

Book Blurb:

The twenty-seventh entry in the #1 New York Times bestselling series isn’t just the biggest case of Stephanie Plum’s career. It’s the adventure of a lifetime.

When Stephanie’s beloved Grandma Mazur’s new husband died on their wedding night, the only thing he left her was a beat-up old easy chair…and the keys to a life-changing fortune.

But as Stephanie and Grandma Mazur search for Jimmy Rosolli’s treasure, they discover that they’re not the only ones on the hunt. Two dangerous enemies from the past stand in their way—along with a new adversary who’s even more formidable: Gabriela Rose, a dark-eyed beauty from Little Havana with a taste for designer clothes. She’s also a soldier of fortune, a gourmet cook, an expert in firearms and mixed martial arts—and someone who’s about to give Stephanie a real run for her money.

Stephanie may be in over her head, but she’s got two things that Gabriela doesn’t: an unbreakable bond with her family and a stubborn streak that will never let her quit.

She’ll need both to survive because this search for “fortune and glory” will turn into a desperate race against time with more on the line than ever before. Because even as she searches for the treasure and fights to protect her Grandma Mazur, her own deepest feelings will be tested—as Stephanie could finally be forced to choose between Joe Morelli and Ranger.

My Review:

Cripes! What happened and where did the other Janet Evanovich go? Years ago, and I mean well before I even started reviewing, the CE and I used to listen to her audiobooks on our many trips. They made crossing the desert go faster, mountain ranges less hairy. So I was pretty shocked at this latest audiobook, and less you really have to ask—no, I  have neither read nor listened to others in this series. I just saw “Evanovich” and remembered the “old times.”

Fortune and Glory by Janet EvanovichWell, groan. Despite the amazing narration of Lorelei King using many voices and New Jersey accent, the protagonist left me a bit flat. Stephanie is a mess. She’s not terribly good at what she does, nor terribly smart. What she is—according to new character Gabriela Rose, is lucky.

Stephanie apparently is one third of the dreaded triangle (Ranger—fabulously rich and great in bed, and Morelli—Jersey cop). Lula is a strong “partner” in the bond business, and then there is Grandma Mazur, who is just plain obnoxious. It’s her recently widowed grandmother that has set her on the latest adventure—finding a fabulous treasure, joined by Potts (who is well past annoying into egregiously obnoxious).

If you can get past both grandma and Potts, there is a mystery that does hold interest and adventure as they tick off each of the nine(?) hints to the treasure held by members of the mob apparently known to good ole grandma. (Thank heaven mine stuck closer to gardening.)

Heavy into the New Jersey mob scene, the accents, food, and back alley streets definitely spun atmospheric illusions. The mysterious Gabriela held my interest as well and will apparently spin off on a series of her own. Thinking I might try that one but reading any of the previous 26 of this series? I don’t think so.

Book Details:

Genre: Women Sleuths, Organized Crime Thriller, General Humorous Fiction, Crime Thrillers
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster Audio

  • ASIN: B085DQTY3P

Print Length: 318 pages
Listening Length: 7 hrs 13 mins
Narrator: Lorelei King
Publication Date: November 3, 2020
Source: Local (Audiobook Selections) Library
Title Link: Fortune and Glory [Amazon]

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Three point Five of Five Stars 3 1/2 stars

Janet EvanovichThe Author: Janet Evanovich is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Stephanie Plum series, the co-authored Fox and O’Hare series, the Knight and Moon series, and the Lizzy and Diesel series as well as twelve romance novels, the Alexandra Barnaby novels, Troublemaker graphic novel, and How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author.

 

Lorelei KingThe Narrator: Lorelei [King] is a multi-award-winning narrator of audiobooks, recording the works of best-selling authors Janet Evanovich, Darynda Jones and Patricia Briggs, among others. She is one of the first inductees into the Audible Narrator Hall of Fame.

©2020 V Williams V Williams-Christmas hat

House of Correction by Nicci French – An #Audiobook Review – #crimethrillers

House of Correction by Nicci French

Book Blurb:

In this heart-pounding stand-alone thriller from best-selling author Nicci French, a woman accused of murder attempts to solve her own case from the confines of prison – but as she unravels the truth, everything is called into question, including her own certainty that she is innocent.

Tabitha is not a murderer.

When a body is discovered in Okeham, England, Tabitha is shocked to find herself being placed in handcuffs. It must be a mistake. She’d only recently moved back to her childhood hometown, not even getting a chance to reacquaint herself with the neighbors. How could she possibly be a murder suspect?

She knows she’s not.

As Tabitha is shepherded through the system, her entire life is picked apart and scrutinized – her history of depression and medications, her decision to move back to a town she supposedly hated…and of course, her past relationship with the victim, her former teacher. But most unsettling, Tabitha’s own memories of that day are a complete blur.

She thinks she’s not.

From the isolation of the correctional facility, Tabitha dissects every piece of evidence, every testimony she can get her hands on, matching them against her own recollections. But as dark, long-buried memories from her childhood come to light, Tabatha begins to question if she knows what kind of person she is after all. The world is convinced she’s a killer. Tabatha needs to prove them all wrong.

But what if she’s only lying to herself?   

My Review:

Tabitha Hardy returned to her childhood home in Okeham to renovate a property after she inherited some money and used it to buy a cottage. She has a history of being a loner, of having depression, eccentricities, and rudeness and hasn’t exactly ingratiated herself with the home town people. She wakes one day to send her handyman off as she didn’t wish to deal with repairs or work that day and he discovers a body in her outhouse.

Oops!

House of Correction by Nicci FrenchThis can’t end well. And doesn’t. After she is arrested for the man’s murder, it is discovered he was her math teacher when she was 15 and it is revealed was abused by him. Uh oh, means, motive, and opportunity.

And the problem is that she can’t remember the day—anything about it—but she is pretty sure she couldn’t have murdered him. The attorney assigned to her simply suggests she should plead guilty—too much evidence against her—and hope for a short sentence. Tabitha fires her and now she’s up the creek without a paddle as she knows nothing about the law, about the procedure, or even how to go about defending herself if she can’t remember what happened that day. There are times she doubts herself.

Could she have done it?

Tabitha may have gotten lucky, however, in the initial cellmate she is given, Michaela (released early), ends up supporting Tabitha right into the courtroom. Perhaps the first third to a half of the narrative is Tabitha’s assumption it’s all a mistake and she’ll be found not culpable and sent home. Doesn’t happen. The second half of the book is her courtroom fight. While it quite accurately shows her lack of expertise, ignorance, and egregious mistakes, it also paints the picture of an overly tolerant judge, allowing a large degree of latitude where I doubt would realistically happen.

Tabitha is not a protagonist to love—she is difficult, foul-mouthed, and short tempered. Once she digs in, however, she does appear to be making some headway into her case, challenging witnesses and discrediting her share of them. There are periods where she waxes philosophical and you get a glimpse of the woman she might have become were it not for those crippling teen experiences. I really appreciated the character of Michaela—smart, loyal, empathetic. The authors draw the prosecutorial team as you might expect, overly confident, competent, and theatrical.

My introduction to the husband/wife team that is Nicci French in a narrative that captures attention immediately, draws you in, and keeps a fast-paced, well plotted storyline. Not part of a series and out now, get the audiobook as I did enjoying a particularly fine narrator or the format of your choice. I think you’ll find this thriller worth the read and I’ll be looking for more. Recommended.

Book Details:

Genre: Crime Thrillers, Psychological Thrillers, Suspense
Publisher:  Harper Collins Publishers

  • ISBN-10:1471179281

ASIN: B083WPBQ84
Print Length: 487 pages
Listening Length: 11 hrs., 19 mins.
Narrator: Michelle Ford
Publication Date: October 27, 2020
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: House of Correction (Amazon)

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

Nicci FrenchThe Author: Nicci French is the pseudonym of English husband-and-wife team Nicci Gerrard and Sean French, who write psychological thrillers together.
Bio from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Photo by Apdency (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons.

(Goodreads—Truncated) Note: (Nicci Gerrard and Sean French also write separately.)
Nicci Gerrard was born in June 1958 in Worcestershire. After graduating with a first class honours degree in English Literature from Oxford University, she began her first job, working with emotionally disturbed children in Sheffield. In that same year she married journalist Colin Hughes.

In the early eighties she taught English Literature in Sheffield, London and Los Angeles, but moved into publishing in 1985 with the launch of Women’s Review, a magazine for women on art, literature and female issues.

In 1987 Nicci had a son, Edgar, followed by a daughter, Anna, in 1988, but a year later her marriage to Colin Hughes broke down.

In 1989 she became acting literary editor at the New Statesman, before moving to the Observer, where she was deputy literary editor for five years, and then a feature writer and executive editor.

It was while she was at the New Statesman that she met Sean French.

Sean French was born in May 1959 in Bristol, to a British father and Swedish mother. He too studied English Literature at Oxford University at the same time as Nicci, also graduating with a first class degree, but their paths didn’t cross until 1990. In 1981 he won Vogue magazine’s Writing Talent Contest, and from 1981 to 1986 he was their theatre critic. During that time he also worked at the Sunday Times as deputy literary editor and television critic, and was the film critic for Marie Claire and deputy editor of New Society.

Sean and Nicci were married in Hackney in October 1990. Their daughters, Hadley and Molly, were born in 1991 and 1993.

By the mid-nineties Sean had had two novels published, The Imaginary Monkey and The Dreamer of Dreams, as well as numerous non-fiction books, including biographies of Jane Fonda and Brigitte Bardot.

In 1995 Nicci and Sean began work on their first joint novel and adopted the pseudonym of Nicci French…Nicci and Sean also continue to write separately. Nicci still works as a journalist for the Observer, covering high-profile trials including those of Fred and Rose West, and Ian Huntley and Maxine Carr…

Michelle FordThe Narrator:  Michelle Ford is a native Brit and professional voice actor. Having moved “across the pond” six years ago, Michelle now lives just outside New York and still gets a buzz when driving into the city and seeing the Manhattan skyline. Michelle has a proven track record in long narration, with over twenty titles in published audiobooks covering contemporary fiction, historical romance, mythical/paranormal fiction, biographies, children’s stories, short stories, science fiction, and business, and she is never happier than when she is in flipflops and behind a mic.

In addition, Michelle is experienced in voicing e-learning (she’s worked with many blue-chip pharmaceutical, medical, and technical clients), animation voice-over, corporate messages, Web sites, characters, children’s stories, film narration, podcasts, industrial projects, on-camera, tv, and radio commercials. She has worked for clients in fourteen countries, from Brazil to South Africa, and the Middle East to Australia. (Courtesy Tantor Media)

©2020 V Williams V Williams