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

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

Longmire audiobook vs Netflix blog banner

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

An Obvious Fact-Book Blurb:

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

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

Audiobook

An Obvious Fact by Craig Johnson a Longmire Mystery

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

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

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

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

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

Netflix Longmire Series

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

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

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

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

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

Overall Impression

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

Rosepoint Publishing recommended

Book Details:

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

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

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Hanging Falls: A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery by Margaret Mizushima – a #BookReview

Rosepoint Publishing: Five of Five Stars Five Stars

Book Blurb:

Hanging Falls by Margaret MizushimaMurder stalks the rugged Colorado high country–and sends Mattie Cobb on a quest to uncover the darkest secrets from her past in the sixth gripping installment of Margaret Mizushima’s Timber Creek K-9 mysteries

A deluge has flooded the high ground near Hanging Falls–but heavy rains aren’t the only menace descending on Timber Creek. While on a scouting mission to pinpoint trail damage, officer Mattie Cobb and her K-9 partner Robo stumble upon a body floating at the edge of a lake. Robo catches human scent, which leads to an enigmatic forest-dweller who quickly becomes suspect number one.

With help from veterinarian Cole Walker, Mattie identifies the victim, and discovers an odd religious cult whose dress and manners harken back to the 19th century. As the list of suspects grows, an unexpected visit from members of Mattie’s long-lost family sheds new light on her childhood as they help Mattie piece together details of the fateful night when she was abducted at age two.

The tangled threads of the investigation and family dynamics begin to intertwine–but darkness threatens to claim a new victim before Mattie and Robo can track down the killers.

My Review:

Not content to wait closer to release, I had to jump to my new Mizushima book. I am always so delighted by each in the wonderful series that features the awesome GSD Robo, a well-trained service dog. Always a late bloomer, I discovered the series at Book 3, read each since, and really enjoyed them all.

Hanging Falls by Margaret MizushimaThe K-9 series features Robo as a brilliantly, intuitive service animal–the stories do not breach anthropomorphic levels–they stay authentic. Robo is a large powerful animal and is treated with respect while carefully kept to his manners. His handler, Mattie Cobb works with local law enforcement and in this narrative finds a DB (dead body) washed downstream and caught in a tree snag off the trail in the flood of the high country she and wildlife manager, Glenna Dalton, are scouting. The wild mountains of Colorado and Timber Creek are dangerous and unpredictable, but this is obviously a homicide.

Mizushima’s books always run a strong sub-plot and this story dealing with the issue of family pushes her backstory to the foreground. Her own family was torn apart resulting in an abusive childhood and many unanswered questions. She is carefully cultivating a relationship with the local veterinarian, Cole Walker, and his family that appears to be progressing.

Investigating the death of the young man on the mountain, they discover a new “family” that has moved to their area, a cult. There is a subsequent death which Mattie and Robo also discover and all leads continue to swerve back to the cult where there appears to harbor a smoldering discontent. Cole is introduced to the members through a visit to investigate a split hoof on one of their farm animals where he notes a girl about his oldest child’s age with her own beautiful GSD.

While the team continues to investigate the two deaths, obviously related at this point, they begin to ferret out more and more details and discover a new vet in the area tied to a pharmaceutical rep adding an additional layer to the mystery.

In the meantime, Mattie has been contacted by her long-lost sister and nervously awaits a visit by Julia and her grandmother. As she was raised in the foster care system, she is hoping to finally answer questions about her abduction and the disappearance of her mother. Oh, yes, this is a thread that will weigh heavily in the next episode.

Meanwhile, the duo-protagonists, Mattie and Robo, bring the mystery to a successful but nail-biting conclusion. I love that dog. My review of Hunting Hour here, Burning Ridge here, and Tracking Game here. Each can work as a standalone, but you might wish to catch up on this remarkable series and go back to Book 1. Which one did I love best? The one I was then reading.

Receiving this digital download free from the publisher and NetGalley did not affect my opinion of the book and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to read and review. Anyone who enjoys a good mystery with an immersive, atmospheric setting, impressive animals, and their skillful handlers will find this series fully engaging and entertaining.

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Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuth, Traditional Detective Fiction
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
ASIN: B082H2KD9H
Print Length: 288 pages
Publication Date: To be released September 8, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Pre-Order Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

Margaret Mizushima - authorThe Author: Margaret Mizushima is the author of the award-winning and internationally published Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries. Active within the writing community, Margaret serves as president for the Rocky Mountain Chapter of Mystery Writers of America, was elected the 2019-2020 Writer of the Year by Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and is also a member of Northern Colorado Writers and Sisters in Crime. She lives in Colorado on a small ranch with her veterinarian husband where they raised two daughters and a multitude of animals. She can be found on Facebook/AuthorMargaretMizushima, Twitter @margmizu, Instagram at margmizu, and her website at http://www.margaretmizushima.com.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Storm Rising (An F.B.I. K-9 Novel Book 3) by Sara Driscoll – a #BookReview #animalfiction

A shared review with the CE.

Book Blurb:

Storm Rising by Sara DriscollFBI Special Agent Meg Jennings and her search-and-rescue K-9 companion confront the fury of nature—and the more dangerous nature of man . . .

In the wake of a devastating hurricane, Special Agent Meg Jennings and her Labrador, Hawk—invaluable members of the FBI’s Human Scent Evidence Team—have been deployed to Virginia Beach. Amid debris and the buried cries for help, the most alarming discovery is yet to come—a teenage girl hiding in the Great Dismal Swamp.

Her name is Emma—a disheveled runaway lost to the sordid underbelly of a Virginia sex-trafficking ring. Its leader has disappeared in the chaos—along with other victims. Meg joins forces with Special Agent Walter Van Cleave and uncovers a vast network of abuse rooted in some of the most influential powers in Virginia. Now as Meg’s investigation digs deeper, she’s making some very dangerous enemies. And one by one, they’re coming out of the storm to stop her.  

My Thoughts

I really enjoy the relationship that the author of this series has created for her protagonist Meg and her K-9 Search and Rescue black lab, Hawk and while Meg has a human male in her life, she has a story to tell with her searches. In Book 3, Hurricane Cole has barreled down on Virginia Beach and there has been the usual number of persons refusing to leave, thinking they can weather the storm.

The setting is chaotic with the coastal town a shambles, too many buildings at waters edge, and the storm surge stories high. They are sent in to find persons stranded or hidden in debris and as luck would have it, her favorite firefighter/paramedic, Todd, is also being sent in to supplement the personnel already in place but over-extended. They do what they can, but in a matter of a few days the mission goes from search for life to recovery of bodies–difficult for a search and rescue animal.

It is when Meg and Todd are driving toward the largest navy base in the world that Todd spots a van, half-hidden in water, muck, mud, and ravaged bushes and trees.   Apparently, there were survivors from the van–but where are they now? Hawk finds one girl, badly injured and left, however, it is obvious she didn’t get there on her own. Hawk continues the search until he finds a young woman and the team discovers the purpose of the van and the focus of the mission suddenly changes.

As always, there are teachable moments, which for me adds fascinating information regarding the terrain and training of these magnificent canines and their handlers. There are also descriptions of the Great Dismal Swamp, a huge retreat left natural with no lack of some serious wildlife, including alligators.

The dialogue is so natural, you can hear the teenager’s refusal dripping with contempt rather than trust anyone, especially an adult, but specifically men who have thus far only exploited and kept her captive. The human/dog connection, however, is palpable and becomes the necessary tool that Meg can use to reach her.

The K-9 stories always catch my eye. I read and reviewed No Man’s Land late last year (Sara Driscoll) and Exit Strategy (Jen J Danna) last month, the first of a new series. The author has a riveting writing style that hooks from the beginning and builds tension through the satisfying conclusion. The only quibble I had with this novel was that the dog wasn’t used through the climax. These stories, however, are fast-paced, well-plotted and atmospheric. Regardless of which pen name she uses, you can’t go wrong. 4.5 stars/5

I received this digital download through Amazon’s digital book loans with no expectation of a review. These are our honest opinions. Highly recommended!

His Thoughts 

Storm Rising by Sara DriscollWhat secrets does the aftermath of a hurricane hold? Sara Driscoll explores the saga of Meg Jennings and her partner Hawk. Entering the hardest hit areas of devastation they look for possible survivors. Entwined in the search are the reasons why some people do not evacuate as required by law enforcement. Some people stay behind to burglarize homes and businesses left unprotected during the evacuation.

A chance sighting of a stranded vehicle leads to a second expose of crime during the storm. Hawk and Meg assist a fire and rescue team member in exploring the vehicle. Evidence of some who were able to get out of the vehicle leads to a very interesting part of this novel.

Sara’s storytelling is always first-rate and shows the depth of her abilities in her craft. Attention to detail and explanation as to how and why some of the procedures are followed is woven into the narrative. After a few hours, the “rescue” efforts become “retrieval” and identification efforts.

The mental toll that this sort of effort requires is evident on both Meg and her K-9 partner Hawk. The reward of finding someone alive in those situations is energizing for both the handler and the dog. The depth of training and trust between the handler and the animal is mesmerizing! Sara handles it with authenticity and faithfulness.

As the story develops a different area of discovery ensues. From a simple search and rescue operation, we are thrust into a whole other world. I found this both enlightening and disturbing. Following Meg into the entire enterprise left me enlightened and angry. The world exposed was cruel and disgusting.

CE WilliamsIt is not the journey through life that is the sum and substance of our existence but rather the end result. Some people seem to feel that there will be no repercussions of a heinous life and go about their business amassing a fortune on the backs of the innocent. The author shows that those people need to be stopped because the resultant greed can lead to great suffering. 5 stars – CE Williams

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Book Details:

Genre: Conspiracy Thrillers, Animal Fiction, Political Thrillers & Suspense
Publisher: Pinnacle Books
ASIN: B07WXJNH3B
ISBN: 1496704452
Print Length: 306 pages
Publication Date: August 17, 2019
Source: Publisher and Amazon Book Loans

Title Link(s):
Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

Rosepoint Publishing: 4.75 stars of Five Four and three-quarters stars of five

Jen J Danna - authorThe Author: [Sara Driscoll] A scientist specializing in infectious diseases, Jen J. Danna works as part of a dynamic research group at a cutting-edge Canadian university. However, her true passion lies in indulging her love of the mysterious through her writing.

With Ann Vanderlaan, she writes two series. Under Danna and Vanderlaan, they craft suspenseful crime fiction with a realistic scientific edge. Their five Abbott and Lowell Forensic Mysteries include DEAD, WITHOUT A STONE TO TELL IT; NO ONE SEES ME ‘TILL I FALL; A FLAME IN THE WIND OF DEATH; TWO PARTS BLOODY MURDER; and LAMENT THE COMMON BONES.

Under the joint pseudonym of Sara Driscoll, they write the FBI K-9s mysteries series, starring search-and-rescue team Meg Jennings and her black lab, Hawk. The series includes LONE WOLF, BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE, and STORM RISING. The fourth book in the series, NO MAN’S LAND, will release in December 2019.

Jen is also the author of the upcoming NYPD Negotiators thriller series, with the first book, EXIT STRATEGY, releasing in August 2020.

Jen lives near Toronto, Ontario with her husband, two daughters, and three rescued cats, and is a member of the Crime Writers of Canada. You can reach her through the contact page on her website or by email at jenjdanna@gmail.com.

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Out of Her Mind (Sawyer Brooks Book 2) by T R Ragan – a #BookReview – #psychologicalthriller

Book Blurb:

Out of Her Mind by T R RaganA string of copycat crimes leads a reporter down a terrifying path in a heart-stopping thriller by New York Times bestselling author T.R. Ragan.

Crime reporter Sawyer Brooks still grieves for the family she and her two sisters never had. Raised in a house of horrors, they continue to fight through the trauma—releasing their rage by seeking justice for those who are just as vulnerable as they were.

When a little girl’s bones are unearthed in Sacramento’s Land Park and twelve-year-old Riley Addison disappears, solving these cases becomes an obsession for Sawyer—one that puts her job at risk. Yet she can’t turn back, and the deeper Sawyer’s investigation goes, the darker it gets. A psychopath is on the loose and has been trolling Sacramento for years—hiding in plain sight behind a motherly facade.

The more Sawyer persists, the closer she gets to a disturbing place reminiscent of her own terrorized childhood. With time running out, Sawyer will risk anything to save Riley from the dark. But the killer will do anything to keep her there.

My Review:

Out of Her Mind by T R RaganSawyer Brooks is one of three sisters, all of whom had a singularly abusive childhood. She is still dealing with touch issues among others, but has made a reputation for herself as being a focused investigative crime reporter for the Sacramento Independent. In this issue, her sister Aria joins in the investigation of a missing girl from the area, which they quickly ascertain is one of several over the years. Riley Addison is around eleven and not a runaway.

In a sub-plot apparently brought forward from Book 1, there is a female vigilante group dubbed the “Black Wigs” operating in the Sacramento area caught on video. The group is targeting men accused of sexual crimes. Unfortunately, they’ve had a few problems executing their plans that would appear is beginning to cause a serious rift between the five members. Nevertheless, they proceed with the next target.

Dialogue is taut and leading. Forget trying to solve it yourself. Just enjoy the storyline and let it take you where you need to go–with a few little twists along the way. Sawyer is a damaged protagonist. She has depth, a pit bull when she’s doggedly trying to uncover the story, but she has additional issues. She can be impatient and compulsive. It’s good she has a supportive boss because the local police detective can’t work on hunches. He wants proof and is increasingly tired of her unsolicited input.

Short chapters, each of which ramps up the tension until it becomes stressful. You can’t put it down NOW! Can she find the little girl before it’s too late? The antagonist is certifiable. The loose threads she holds are becoming frayed with the little girl’s attitude.

I have to admit–I didn’t catch Book 1 of this series. (I know you’re surprised to see that.) I have, however, read two of her Jessie Cole series. (See links below.) Of course, I recognized the author, but was also attracted by this book’s locale–we lived there over forty years. The author’s dark writing style will get into your head and twist. Her novels are compelling, tight, well-plotted, and fast-paced. I love strong, independent, and intelligent female protagonists and if I had a quibble, it would be the (trigger warning) abusive background. Again. Still, it’s a narrative that doesn’t slow, doesn’t disappoint, and sets you up for Book 3 of a scheduled trilogy. I must know how those two themes being forwarded will pan out.

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Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Thriller, Vigilante Justice, Women Sleuths
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
ISBN: 1542093902
ASIN: B084FVY89J
Print Length: 285 pages
Publication Date: November 22, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five of Five Stars 4.5-stars

T R Ragan - authorThe Author: T.R. Ragan (Theresa Ragan) has sold over three million books and is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestselling mystery and thriller author.

Readers interested in signing up for a monthly newsletter or getting their name in a TR RAGAN book should check out her website at http://www.trragan.com

Facebook * Twitter * Instagram: @trraganauthor

LIZZY GARDNER SERIES
Abducted
Dead Weight
A Dark Mind
Obsessed
Almost Dead
Evil Never Dies

FAITH MCMANN TRILOGY
Furious
Outrage
Wrath

JESSIE COLE SERIES
Her Last Day (My 4.5 star review here)
Deadly Recall
Deranged
Buried Deep (My 5 star review here)

SAWYER BROOKS SERIES
Don’t Make a Sound – 6/20
Out of Her Mind – 11/20

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Beneath a Blazing Sky (Bold Women of the 20th Century Book 1) by Amanda Hughes – a #BookReview

“For readers who like history with a bit of a love story.”

Our Shared Review-Five Stars Five Stars

 Book Blurb:

Beneath a Blazing Sky by Amanda HughesThe dawning of the Twentieth Century and it is a world in chaos.
Raised on Coney Island among scoundrels, cheats, and dreamers, Piper Albrecht is apprenticed to violence at an early age. Not until she is rescued by her aunt and moves to the elegant Upper East Side of Manhattan does she experience a different life, the life of a well-educated, forward-thinking young woman. But the roller coaster ride is far from over. After building the most fashionable millinery house in America, Piper spearheads relief efforts in Belgium during The Great War, bringing food to civilians trapped behind enemy lines. Once again, she is immersed in turmoil, misery, and violence. Partnering with her is Bret Collier, a charismatic adventurer, who hides not only his past but his future. She is drawn to his easy charm and cavalier exterior, but this American is not who he appears to be.
Choosing the right path can mean life or death for Piper, and she must move swiftly because the war is intensifying, and her entire world is on fire.
Join Amanda Hughes with another host of unforgettable characters on a wild ride in Beneath the Blazing Sky.

My Thoughts

Piper Albrecht started life as a scrapper and she remained thus. Growing up on Coney Island, she learned to live and thrive among chaos, popcorn and sea odors, thieves and cheats. She learned a lot working the crowds to sell her peanuts with McKinley, the little Capuchin monkey on her shoulder. The youngest of the siblings, she worked the crowd pretty much on her own, her mother having relinquished her time and talents elsewhere. School was not a big priority, but learning how to fight those who would steal her meager income was. She had plans. Right up until the day at age eleven she shot the man who would have killed her mother.

She’d been caught in other scrapes. This time was serious and it took a lot of work to keep her from reform school. Her aunt Tilly (childless) and her husband would take her in. Piper becomes an Eliza Doolittle of Manhatten and Tilly has a lot of work cut out for her. Tilly, however, is heavily embroiled in the Suffrage Movement and sees an opportunity to inspire Piper.

The Suffrage Movement extended over decades and proved a huge battle within the US evoking many bold women to stand up for the right to vote alongside the men. The author recreates those tension-filled early times in the movement when rallies and speeches often turned ugly and violent. (Part of the problem was that it was thought women involved in the movement were also a part of temperance, so it was assumed if they got the right to vote, they’d vote to ban alcohol.)

While Piper finds her natural path into successful adulthood, she also discovers she is not always the pilot of her pathway. When she is thrust into a role, not of her choosing, Piper manages to intelligently handle the circumstances. Innocently stranded in Belgium during the Great War, she is borne into the movement to deliver goods to those scattered following the German invasion and in doing so is partnered with Bret Collier. Bret is an American adventurer who carefully hides his past. The work is dismal, exhausting, and fraught with constant heart-pounding vigilance, but is rewarding.

“In East Africa, there is a saying: ‘When elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers’…”

The author is an amazing storyteller with an easy emotive writing style, weaving the years of Piper as she evolves from an Eliza Doolittle character to a fashionable force in society to one of the women working the relief for those in the rear zone (those predominantly women and children) of war.

Bottom Line:

I’ve followed the Bold Women series for some time and am always astonished at the unsung women and stories the author manages to pull together to create her strong female protagonists, performing anonymously unacknowledged but important roles achieved in history. Although a series, each is a standalone story within the time period, pulling from chronicles as it adds a touch of spice, sense of the period environment, and a touch of romance that never overwhelms the main well-plotted tale.

One of my favorite authors, I can download a novel from Amanda Hughes and know I’ll get a gripping, immersive narrative with a strong sense of little known but fascinating history with engaging, well-developed characters. Strongly recommended.

His Thoughts

Beneath a Blazing Sky by Amanda HughesPiper Albrect is a young girl growing up on Coney Island. She has to fight to keep her place in society. Young and small in stature she is fearless in a fight. Her Jewish heritage is often denigrated but does not change her perspective.

Amanda Hughes has captured the essence of what it was like to be a young girl in that environment. Following the evolution of Piper is a joy! She hawks peanuts and has a monkey as her constant companion. Everyone at that time struggled to stay alive and Piper is no exception. Her mother’s questionable character results in a serious confrontation and she is sent to live with well to do relatives. Her entire life is changed.

The lifestyle of her aunt is far different than the one in which she has been living. The housekeepers in Tilly’s home are scornful and dismissive. Piper is pulled from the life she lived into a life of comfort. The handling of the transition from ragtag to entitled is masterfully done by Amanda. I could imagine the struggle and shock endured by this young lady.

World War One was a very stressful time in United States history. We did not want to become involved in that war and remained neutral for much of it. Meanwhile, Herbert Hoover was working tirelessly to help the people of Belgium survive. All of the animals and crops are commandeered by the Germans to fuel their war machine. Piper and her family become involved in helping the citizens of Belgium survive. Thanks to her upbringing she is well trained for her years in WWI.

CE WilliamsRomance is built into this novel and it is fun to realize that rich or poor, we all have our trials. Piper is no exception. The novel takes us through some of these and the reader will identify with many of the trials and setbacks. Being in a foreign country during war time is dangerous and life can be elusive. The narrative makes the reader appreciate the calmer years between conflict.

As you read this novel, you will be embroiled in a world over a century old, but still very pertinent in today’s world. 5 stars CE Williams

Add to GoodreadsBook Details:

Genre: Military Historical Fiction, US Historical Fiction, War Fiction
Publisher: Lillis & Jaymes
ASIN: B08BTR4PYR
Print Length: 334 pages
Publication Date: To be Released July 9, 2020
Source: Direct Author Request
Title Available for Pre-Order: Beneath a Blazing Sky [Amazon]
 

Amanda Hughes authorThe Author: Bestselling and award-winning author, Amanda Hughes is a “Walter Mitty”, spending more time in heroic daydreams than the real world. At last, she found an outlet writing adventures about bold women through the centuries. Well known for her genre-busting books, she is the winner of the Gems National Medal for Writing, featured in USA Today and is nominated for the 2017 Minnesota Book Award. Amanda is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, and when she isn’t off tilting windmills, she lives and writes in Minnesota. Don’t miss these page-turning novels for readers who like historical fiction with a just bit of a love story. All of her books are stand-alone and can be read in any order.

The Bold Women of the 17th Century: The Firefly Witch Book 1

The Bold Women Series of the 18th Century: Beyond the Cliffs of Kerry Book 1 The Pride of the King Book 2 The Sword of the Banshee Book 3

The Bold Women Series of the 19th Century: The Grand Masquerade Book 1 Vagabond Wind Book 2 The House of Five Fortunes Book 3

The Bold Women Series of the 20th Century: The Looking Glass Goddess Book 1

Interested in her new books or a free novelette? Go to http://www.amandahughesauthor.com

©2020 V Williams V Williams

NYT Bestsellers and Bestselling Authors – Literary Genius or Luck?

NYT Bestseller banner

How many of the books you read are designated NYT bestsellers? What does it take to reach that lofty title?

NYT Bestselling authors and books

Can you name the last book and author you read with that title splashed across the top of their book? I’m sure you can! I see “bestselling author” quite often as well as “bestseller.” And many of my favorite authors can boast that label. But a New York Times Bestseller identification is not easily won, kept, or replaced by a second from the same author. There is a complicated science to the whole thing (but you knew there would be!), as noted in the article posted by Allie Nicodemo on April 6, 2018. (Thank you, Allie)

It makes sense that all the hype of a book should start generating interest months prior to release date because all the excitement generated should hopefully last more than ten weeks, after which she quotes researchers found a precipitous drop in interest.

New York Times Bestseller badge The vast majority are sold within the first few weeks according to her source, Northeastern network scientist Albert-László Barabási (Robert Gray Dodge Professor of Network Science and Distinguished Professor of Physics and director the Center for Complex Network Research.) But it doesn’t end there. From the early sales record, they can develop a model that will predict how many copies a book will sell. Which can either be extremely exciting or highly depressing, huh!

And they maintain,  

“If you don’t have that momentum properly orchestrated for the book, you may sell lots of copies, but you will not make the list.” 

The numbers obviously change with the season (or the month), wherein a book released in February with as few as 3,000 sales may make the list while a December release (with shopping and gifts in consideration) may take as many as 10,000 copies to make the same list. Here’s where you can look at December releases and realize just how brave those authors are! Generates a whole new respect, right?! Chosen well (a publishing downtimeand that can include the DAY as well as the month), in order to hit the NYT bestseller list at least 5,000 copies during a one-week period is minimum. WHOA! (I’ve written before that I noticed a majority of the books I request on NetGalley are consistently released on a Tuesday.)

Not surprising that many fiction authors are consistently bestsellers, while non-fiction not so much. Further, there appears to be somewhat of a gender balance writing fiction as opposed to non-fiction.

The most popular genre in fiction books:

Suspense/Thrillers

The most popular genre in non-fiction:

Biography/Autobiography/Memoir

(Yup, and I fall smack-dab into the middle of both of those!)

But wait, are these real sales or a popularity contest? There is a big difference in the various bestselling lists, NY Times, USA Today, Publisher’s Weekly, and The Wall Street Journal. Are they tracking sales through established book outlets or selecting books with rabid interest; not sales. (Does that explain how Fifty Shades of Grey managed to get off the ground?) While the method may include sales figures, it is a source of controversy whether it or not it also includes, and/or how much of, other data and well as use of their own guidelines (which they won’t disclose). It is considered “editorial content.”

I’ve had the good fortune since discovering NetGalley of downloading a number of NYT bestsellers and bestselling authors (see books below) merely for the implied promise of a read and review. And speaking of editorial content, the books are also listed on Goodreads, a source of impartial reviews, possibly more so than Amazon. Of course, that is another subject for discussion on which I posted and invite your comments.

My NYT bestselling authors

The take-away regardless of which list you use as a guide for your choice of reading content is that you should exercise your own healthy skepticism.  Yes, I’m releasing this post on a Tuesday, but no, I have no expectations.

So, do you notice that little designation and buy or request with confidence? Do you have a recent new favorite? I’d love to hear it!

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Goodreads books:

Watching You

Change Your Brain Change our Life

The Death of Mrs. Westaway

The Woman in the Window

My NYT reviews:

The Night Window

Murder in the Reading Room

Buried Deep

The Eighth Sister

Dark Hollow

NYT Bestseller badge by Sqfreepapers.com