Finding Me: A Memoir by Viola Davis – #Audiobook Review – #ThrowbackThursday

#1 Best Seller in Self Esteem

Book Blurb:

OPRAH’S BOOK CLUB PICK • A HARPERS BAZAAR BEST BOOK OF 2022 • A PARADE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK • A MARIE CLAIRE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK

In my book, you will meet a little girl named Viola who ran from her past until she made a life-changing decision to stop running forever.

This is my story, from a crumbling apartment in Central Falls, Rhode Island, to the stage in New York City, and beyond. This is the path I took to finding my purpose but also my voice in a world that didn’t always see me.

As I wrote Finding Me, my eyes were open to the truth of how our stories are often not given close examination. We are forced to reinvent them to fit into a crazy, competitive, judgmental world. So I wrote this for anyone running through life untethered, desperate and clawing their way through murky memories, trying to get to some form of self-love. For anyone who needs reminding that a life worth living can only be born from radical honesty and the courage to shed facades and be . . . you.

Finding Me is a deep reflection, a promise, and a love letter of sorts to self. My hope is that my story will inspire you to light up your own life with creative expression and rediscover who you were before the world put a label on you.

My Review:

I suppose unlike so many others who read and/or listened to this biography by Viola Davis that she was discovered through her signature role of Annalise Keeting. I must confess that we have never really gotten into that series.

No, I’d noticed Viola Davis long before that. Whether it was a bit part or otherwise, I’ve always noticed Ms. Davis. There was always something about her—that strong, confident presence. She commands her parts—delivers. So there was always respect, an interest in the person behind the parts. I always liked her.

Finding Me by Viola DavisHer narrative reminds me that no matter how difficult you thought your own childhood, there is always someone else who had it much worse. That was Viola. While I experienced many of those childhood traumas including poverty, the demon of an under-achieving father (until he split for good), or major hunger, I didn’t often know the massive trauma of extreme living conditions with cold and rats or bed-wetting (thank heaven). Nor did I know the pain of rejection because I was dark-skinned or could walk in those shoes.

Ms. Davis lays it all out. She writes a no-holds-barred account of her childhood, the ugly struggle of young adulthood after she discovered her avenue to independence and then doggedly worked to achieve what might have appeared to anyone else as unachievable.

This is an absolutely riveting account of the fight to claw her way into a profession that no one but a tremendously talented person could conquer. Given she was allowed little sense of self from which to draw, who could have bet on her success, and who else could narrate this memoir with the dark intensely bestowed to those cruel stories. She remembers the scars received along the way, those people who saw the spark, that light in her, and knew she was exceptional.

Did Viola pay some dues? Oh yes, in spades. It wasn’t always pretty—but she is beautiful.

“In the course of playing Annalise, I understood that I was no longer and never was that ugly Black nigga. The role liberated me. I said to myself: All I’ve got is me. And that is enough.”

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

Book Details:

Genre: Self-Esteem, Biographies of Women, Women’s Biographies
Publisher: HarperAudio
ASIN: B09F56PHTF
Listening Length: 9 hrs 15 mins
Narrator: Viola Davis
Publication Date: April 26, 2022
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Finding Me [Amazon]
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Kobo

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

#throwbackthursday

The Huntress by Kate Quinn – #Audiobook Review – #ThrowbackThursday

The Huntress by Kate Quinn

Goodreads Choice Award Nominee

Rosepoint Publishing:   Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

From the author of the New York Times and USA Today best-selling novel The Alice Network comes another fascinating historical novel about a battle-haunted English journalist and a Russian female bomber pilot who join forces to track the Huntress, a Nazi war criminal gone to ground in America.

In the aftermath of war, the hunter becomes the hunted….

Bold and fearless, Nina Markova always dreamed of flying. When the Nazis attack the Soviet Union, she risks everything to join the legendary Night Witches, an all-female night bomber regiment wreaking havoc on the invading Germans. When she is stranded behind enemy lines, Nina becomes the prey of a lethal Nazi murderess known as the Huntress, and only Nina’s bravery and cunning will keep her alive.

Transformed by the horrors he witnessed from Omaha Beach to the Nuremberg Trials, British war correspondent Ian Graham has become a Nazi hunter. Yet one target eludes him: a vicious predator known as the Huntress. To find her, the fierce, disciplined investigator joins forces with the only witness to escape the Huntress alive: the brazen, cocksure Nina. But a shared secret could derail their mission unless Ian and Nina force themselves to confront it.

Growing up in post-war Boston, 17-year-old Jordan McBride is determined to become a photographer. When her long-widowed father unexpectedly comes home with a new fiancée, Jordan is thrilled. But there is something disconcerting about the soft-spoken German widow. Certain that danger is lurking, Jordan begins to delve into her new stepmother’s past – only to discover that there are mysteries buried deep in her family…secrets that may threaten all Jordan holds dear.

In this immersive, heart-wrenching story, Kate Quinn illuminates the consequences of war on individual lives, and the price we pay to seek justice and truth. 

This audiobook includes an episode of the Book Club Girl Podcast, featuring an interview with Kate Quinn about The Huntress. 

My Review:

I was diverted to this novel by a blog buddy who wrote a glowing review of another work by this author. That one not being available at my library (unusual, I know!), I chose this one instead and from the moment I had my earbuds comfortably embedded could find it almost impossible to turn it off for anything. Finally, I didn’t bother, and just sat and listened to it.

This turned out to be one very mind-blowing audiobook, I’m sure in no small part owing to the amazing narrator who slid Russian names off her tongue as easily as German or English.

The Night WitchesThis masterful work carries a sinister, skin-crawling aura of suspense from the first chapter to the triumphal conclusion. This is a profoundly compulsive read that begins with the story of Nina Markova that gradually evolves into an extremely powerful protagonist—formidable in her staunch unwavering focus, passionate in her role as one of the first Soviet women pilots of WWII known as The Night Witches and extremely profane in expression. Oh, God, she is amazing and I loved every chapter that was hers!

The Huntress by Kate QuinnNina, however, is but one of three main POVs that take turns in chapters devoted to each character and the timeline that evolves over years from the war to 1950s Boston that sees seventeen-year-old Jordan McBride—equally passionate in her exploration of photography goals at a time most young girls were thinking marriage and babies. It is her widowed father who marries a German widow, Annaliese, who brings along a four-year-old daughter, Ruth. Jordan captures a photo of Annaliese that sets her hackles up and fires potent suspicions.

Following the end of the war, Nazi war criminal hunter and British war correspondent Ian Graham is joined by his buddy and Nina in the hunt for die Jagerin, The Huntress—a deliciously disturbing woman who escaped her palatial lakeside estate, site of decadent Nazi retreats.

The pace is frenetic. Each chapter reveals more about the protagonists and the dark Annaliese. Jordan, who knows she captured the real woman behind the façade, Nina with as much incentive to find her as Ian, gradually reveals more about her own harrowing war efforts piloting a plane made of wood and canvas.

This could be a suspense thriller that takes place seventy years ago as much as a historical thriller. It is an incredible narrative that hooks, revs, and speeds to a satisfying conclusion, producing a hugely character-driven story that will reverberate long after you’ve finished the book. Will easily be a memorable favorite that straddles years.

I downloaded a copy of this audiobook from my local well-stocked library. These are my honest thoughts. Whether or not you like historical fiction, this is intense reading and is heartily recommended.

Book Details:

Genre: World War II Historical Fiction, War & Military Fiction, Espionage Thrillers
Publisher:  HarperAudio
ASIN: B07GXZNPSB
Listening Length: 19 hrs 4 mins
Narrator: Saskia Maarleveld
Publication Date: February 26, 2019
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Huntress [Amazon]
Barnes & Noble
Kobo

Add to Goodreads

 

Kate Quinn - authorThe Author: Kate Quinn is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of historical fiction. A native of southern California, she attended Boston University where she earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Classical Voice. She has written four novels in the Empress of Rome Saga, and two books in the Italian Renaissance, before turning to the 20th century with “The Alice Network”, “The Huntress,” “The Rose Code,” and “The Diamond Eye.” All have been translated into multiple languages. Kate and her husband now live in San Diego with three rescue dogs.

Saskia Maarleveld - narratorThe Narrator: Saskia Maarleveld is an experienced audiobook narrator and voice-over actress based in New York City. Raised in New Zealand and France, she is highly skilled with accents and dialects, and many of her books have been narrated entirely in accents other than her own. In addition to audiobooks, Saskia’s voice can be heard in animation, video games, and commercials. She attributes her love and understanding of reading books aloud to coming from a large family where audiobooks were the only way to get though car rides without fighting! Visit saskiamaarleveld.com to learn more.

©2023 V Williams

Book hangover

Night Witches attribute: History.com

The Dutch House: A Novel by Ann Patchett – #Audiobook Review – narrated by Tom Hanks – #ThrowbackThursday

The Dutch House by Ann Patachett

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five Stars 5 stars

(Amazon) Editors Pick Best Literature & Fiction

Book Blurb:

Ann Patchett, the number-one New York Times best-selling author of Commonwealth, delivers her most powerful novel to date: a richly moving story that explores the indelible bond between two siblings, the house of their childhood, and a past that will not let them go. The Dutch House is the story of a paradise lost, a tour de force that digs deeply into questions of inheritance, love, and forgiveness, of how we want to see ourselves, and of who we really are.

At the end of the Second World War, Cyril Conroy combines luck and a single canny investment to begin an enormous real estate empire, propelling his family from poverty to enormous wealth. His first order of business is to buy the Dutch House, a lavish estate in the suburbs outside of Philadelphia. Meant as a surprise for his wife, the house sets in motion the undoing of everyone he loves. 

The story is told by Cyril’s son Danny, as he and his older sister, the brilliantly acerbic and self-assured Maeve, are exiled from the house where they grew up by their stepmother. The two wealthy siblings are thrown back into the poverty their parents had escaped from and find that all they have to count on is one another. It is this unshakable bond between them that both saves their lives and thwarts their futures.

Set over the course of five decades, The Dutch House is a dark fairy tale about two smart people who cannot overcome their past. Despite every outward sign of success, Danny and Maeve are only truly comfortable when they’re together. Throughout their lives, they return to the well-worn story of what they’ve lost with humor and rage. But when at last they’re forced to confront the people who left them behind, the relationship between an indulged brother and his ever-protective sister is finally tested.

My Review:

Okay, yes you got me! I enjoyed this book in no small part because the audiobook is narrated by Tom Hanks. Hanks literally becomes Danny, the main character but still never veers too far from that Academy-winning rad-da-tat animated delivery. I had to check the speed as there was more than once I thought I might have set it to 125% of normal. Gees, he’s good, and thank heaven or this could have become a rather slow burn at times.

The Dutch House by Ann PatchettAs revealed by the blurb, Danny and his sister Maeve (7 years older) are kicked out of their very wealthy and lavish estate by their wicked step-mom after his father passes suddenly intestate. I may have been washing dishes at that point and missed how old the kids were at that point, but it was literally a case of rags to riches back to rags. They’d enjoyed the good life and then it ended.

So, Danny, always looked after by his big sister, may be the typical clueless male. I thought there were times he swerved into narcissism, while his stoic sister Maeve never takes her eyes off the ball. There were also times I wanted to slap him upside his head! Maeve has settled into a comfortable living but will not settle unless Danny does the same and using the one loophole their step-mother failed to see, she pushes him to higher learning. GO! Be a doctor! Dutifully, he does, all the while declaring he will never practice. (Thank heavens as his bedside manner would suck.)

What he does practice, wisely, is real estate. Hey, he had gleaned some knowledge from his father. Yes, and then because that was expected, a wife. But Danny, perhaps again mirroring his dad with his step-mother, marries a woman he really does not love. I doubt there would ever have been a woman who could take Maeve’s place. That is a sibling bond born of desperation and survival.

Through the decades this narrative covers, each, together and separately, go back to The Dutch House to see how it is faring. Amazingly well, as it turns out, although the same cannot be said of Andrea, the step-mom. It’s a great, hulking enormous estate, still oozing the original (Dutch) owners’ vibrations—a reason their mother fled after they moved in to go serve the poor where she felt she really belonged.

Heavy family dynamics, feelings of abandonment, sibling loyalty, loss, the characters well developed and, typically, 180 degrees in dreams and thought processes. Times I ached for Maeve, angry with Danny. The step-mom painted with all the warts of the stereotypical step-parent.

As always with an extremely successful novel, there are detractors, but this is a Pulitzer Prize finalist. And performed by Tom Hanks, I’d also bestow an honorary Audie. He is awesome.

I received a complimentary audiobook copy from my local well-stocked library. These are my honest thoughts.

Rosepoint Recommended-5 Stars

Book Details:

Genre: Coming of Age Fiction, Family Life Fiction, Literary Fiction
Publisher: HarperAudio
ASIN: B07NSJZWY5
Listening Length: 9 hrs 53 mins
Narrator: Tom Hanks
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Dutch House [Amazon]
Barnes & Noble
Kobo
Add to Goodreads

The Author:

Ann Patchett - author Ann Patchett is the author of six novels, including Bel Canto, which won the Orange Prize for Fiction. She writes for the New York Times Magazine, Elle, GQ, the Financial Times, the Paris Review and Vogue. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

 

New York Times best seller | A Read with Jenna Today Show Book Club Pick | A New York Times Book Review Notable Book | Time Magazine’s 100 Must-Read Books of 2019 | 2020 Audie finalist – audiobook of the year and best male narrator

Named one of the Best Books of the Year by NPR, The Washington Post; O: The Oprah Magazine, Real Simple, Good Housekeeping, Vogue, Refinery29, and Buzzfeed

The Narrator:

Tom Hanks - actor-narratorTom HanksNarrating this heartbreaking and compelling story is not the first connection between Patchett and Hanks. Patchett, the New York Times bestselling author of Commonwealth and State of Wonder, told the Associated Press that she and Hanks have become friends in recent years. Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, have spent time with Patchett at Parnassus Books, the renowned bookstore she owns in Nashville, Tennessee. And in 2017, Patchett joined Hanks at a sold-out event sponsored by the Washington, D.C., bookstore Politics and Prose to interview him in conjunction with his promotion of Uncommon Typehis own collection of short stories.

[Info and photo attribute: BookBub]

©2022 V Williams V Williams

#ThrowbackThursday

The Boys: A Memoir of Hollywood and Family by Ron Howard and Clint Howard – #Audiobook Review – Biographies of Celebrities & Entertainment Professionals

The Boys by Ron Howard and Clint Howard

The Boys by Ron Howard and Clint Howard

 

(Amazon) Editors PickBest Biographies & Memoirs (Audiobook)

#1 Best Seller in Biographies of Movie Directors (Kindle)

Book Blurb:

“What was it like to grow up on TV?” Ron Howard has been asked this question throughout his adult life. in The Boys, he and his younger brother, Clint, examine their childhoods in detail for the first time. For Ron, playing Opie on The Andy Griffith Show and Richie Cunningham on Happy Days offered fame, joy, and opportunity – but also invited stress and bullying. For Clint, a fast start on such programs as Gentle Ben and Star Trek petered out in adolescence, with some tough consequences and lessons.

With the perspective of time and success – Ron as a filmmaker, producer, and Hollywood A-lister, Clint as a busy character actor – the Howard brothers delve deep into an upbringing that seemed normal to them yet was anything but. Their Midwestern parents, Rance and Jean, moved to California to pursue their own showbiz dreams. But it was their young sons who found steady employment as actors. Rance put aside his ego and ambition to become Ron and Clint’s teacher, sage, and moral compass. Jean became their loving protector – sometimes over-protector – from the snares and traps of Hollywood.

By turns confessional, nostalgic, heartwarming, and harrowing, The Boys is a dual narrative that lifts the lid on the Howard brothers’ closely held lives. It’s the journey of a tight four-person family unit that held fast in an unforgiving business and of two brothers who survived “child-actor syndrome” to become fulfilled adults.

Happy DaysThe Andy Griffith ShowGentle Ben – these shows captivated millions of TV viewers in the ’60s and ’70s. Join award-winning filmmaker Ron Howard and audience-favorite actor Clint Howard as they frankly and fondly share their unusual family story of navigating and surviving life as sibling child actors.

My Review:

Who doesn’t love Opie (if you are old enough to remember him) or Richie Cunningham (still not old enough?)? How about the movies Night Shift, Splash, Apollo 13, or The Da Vinci Code? There are literally so many awards and nominations, they have to be broken down into tables for acting, directing, writing,  Academy Awards, BAFTA Awards, and Golden Globe Awards. A tremendous life achievement.

So when I saw The Boys in audiobook format, I had to give it a listen. Gees, what a charmed life! I gotta say, he was one extremely lucky kid. Not to say he hasn’t worked hard for it. He has—from the time he was a small boy. I must say also that it is a powerful story of his parents and I was awestruck repeatedly at the wisdom, sacrifice, and love his parents showered on their two boys.

The Boys by Ron Howard and Clint HowardYes, two boys, and I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t know Clint Howard as a name or as Ron’s brother, but as a character actor. I do recognize his face though again, he’s not been leading man material.

As you might expect, Ron Howard delivers his memories with an easy, relaxed, and sincere tone. The stories for the most part were uplifting, revealing, and confirmation of the “what you see is what you get” person. It’s personal. Interesting in that even with the obvious spread in ages between the brothers, there were times when they remembered the situation differently. Their points of view shaded by their own memories and experience.

Clint’s memories and experiences as he grew older took a darker path, not that his moral compass tilted so much as his temperament was 180 degrees from that of his big brother—and his delivery reflects some of the lack of power he wielded under the shadow of Ron.

Not always in chronological order, the narration caught backstories as a way of leading into the next event that took their lives through the process of becoming major name-worthy persons. They both did some mighty sacrificing for a normal childhood and still managed to reap the kind of knowledge you don’t get in a book.

Clint lacked the focus, the drive to go behind the scenes that Ron had and as an actor sweated in each and every role.

Not delivered with the dynamics and sense of humor that Matthew McConaughey threw into his memoir, (McConaughey is an in-your-face actor), the brothers nonetheless combined their memories in a loving memorial for their dad (more so than their mother), who in his turn sacrificed his own acting career for that of his boys whom he carefully nurtured, guided, and protected in their road to the pinnacle of Hollywood. You couldn’t hope for a more powerful legacy.

I downloaded this audiobook from my lovely library and thoroughly enjoyed the journey of child actors that have endured through sixty-plus years of growth in the entertainment industry.

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

Book Details:

Genre: Rich & Famous Biographies, Biographies of Celebrities & Entertainment Professionals
Publisher: HarperAudio
ASIN: B092BB6JSF
Listening Length: 13 hrs 18 mins
Narrator: Ron HowardClint HowardBryce Dallas Howard
Publication Date: October 12, 2021
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Boys [Amazon]

Add to Goodreads

The Authors:

(No listed bios on either Amazon or Goodreads author pages.)

Ron Howard on the set of Apollo 13

 

Ron and Clint Howard

Ron Howard (L) (1954-), born in Duncan, OK. Director, producer, screenwriter, actor. Married to Cheryl since 1975. First known as Opie from the Andy Griffith Show from 1960 through 1968. He also starred in American Graffiti and then Richie Cunningham in Happy Days. His heart, however, was in directing and he has an impressive list of credits. He has four children. For more information, see Wikipedia.

Clint Howard - actor-narratorClint Howard – (1959-), born in Burbank, CA. American actor, writer, and producer. Character actor best remembered for his role in Gentle Ben and later in Star Trek. Married to Kat. For additional information on Clint Howard, see his biography.

 

 

 

 

©2022 V Williams V Williams

happy thursday!

The Song of Achilles: A Novel by Madeline Miller – #Audiobook Review – Literary Fiction

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
(Amazon) Editors Pick Best Literature & Fiction

Book Blurb:

The legend begins…

Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia to be raised in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Achilles. “The best of all the Greeks”—strong, beautiful, and the child of a goddess—Achilles is everything the shamed Patroclus is not. Yet despite their differences, the boys become steadfast companions. Their bond deepens as they grow into young men and become skilled in the arts of war and medicine—much to the displeasure and the fury of Achilles’ mother, Thetis, a cruel sea goddess with a hatred of mortals.

When word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, the men of Greece, bound by blood and oath, must lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, and torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows. Little do they know that the Fates will test them both as never before and demand a terrible sacrifice.

Built on the groundwork of the Iliad, Madeline Miller’s page-turning, profoundly moving, and blisteringly paced retelling of the epic Trojan War marks the launch of a dazzling career.

My Review:

Granted it’s been so long ago that I read Homer’s Illiad that all I remember is the opportunity for naps. But here we are with the classic being brought into the modern world told romantically through the eyes of Patroclus, Achilles long term companion. The POV as told by Patroclus weaves the intimate story between Homer’s “gentle” character, who is banished by his father to Peleus, father of Achilles, following the unfortunate death of another child purely by accident at his hands. In this retelling, Patroclus and Achilles gradually bond leading to a life-long intimate and devoted relationship.

The Song of Achilles by Madeline MillerWhile the Illiad concentrates on the Troy war with which Greece becomes engaged following the kidnap of Helen of Sparta, Miller’s novel chooses to tell the story of the two young men; one, the most storied and gifted warrior of ancient Greece, the son of Thetis, a goddess.

Thetis never accepts Patroclus and often tries unsuccessfully to separate them.  Achilles develops a devoted intellectual relationship with a slave girl that leads to Achilles’ refusal to fight for the Greeks when Agamemnon steals her away. What Patroclus lacks as a warrior, however, he provides as a healer when the Greeks converge on Troy to rescue Helen. Many years into the fight, he will eventually take up a sword to protect Achilles who is still refusing to fight. Patroclus vows to save Achilles’ reputation.

He’ll die at the hands of Hector of Troy who spurs an enraged Achilles to engage and kill Hector in return only to be killed himself by the legendary arrow from Paris to his unprotected heel. While there is certainly sufficient material regarding the war with Troy, you aren’t buried in battles (though there are some protracted descriptions of combat) and the real story behind the conflict remains the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus.

This is only a part of the Trojan War fable that fired the imagination made stronger by the mythological Trojan horse.  There is still debate that it actually happened against evidence of a possible site. Fascinating tale from the 12th or 13th century BCE made famous by Homer’s Illiad and Odyssey. And who’s to say this version might not have been any more or less true than the other?

It’s hard to believe this is a debut novel. The narrator does a good job with ancient names and pronunciations as well as provides depth and emotion to the atmosphere.

Do these classics hold an attraction for you as well? Gods and Goddesses, powerful warriors, and perceived disrespect starting wars? Oh, wait—guess that’s still happening.

Book Details:

Genre: Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction
Publisher: HarperAudio
ASIN: B007HI3IQ6
Listening Length: 11 hrs 15 mins
Narrator: Frazer Douglas
Publication Date: March 6, 2012
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Song of Achilles [Amazon]

 Add to Goodreads

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

Madeline Miller - authorThe Author: Madeline Miller was born in Boston and grew up in New York City and Philadelphia. She attended Brown University, where she earned her BA and MA in Classics. For the last ten years she has been teaching and tutoring Latin, Greek and Shakespeare to high school students. She has also studied at the University of Chicago’s Committee on Social Thought, and in the Dramaturgy department at Yale School of Drama, where she focused on the adaptation of classical texts to modern forms. She currently lives in Cambridge, MA, where she teaches and writes. The Song of Achilles is her first novel. Find Ms Miller at http://www.madelinemiller.com/.

©2022 V Williams V Williams

happy thursday!

The Bone Bed: Scarpetta Book 20 and Chaos: Scarpetta Book 24 by Patricia Cornwell – #Audiobooks–How long can a good series stay good?

Audiobooks by Patricia Cornwell

Can an author really only have a few fresh stories to tell in the same series or is one more one too many?

Patricia Cornwell is coming out with Autopsy, Scarpetta Book 25 late November. I got audiobooks for series Book 20 and 24. Was Book 24 one too many for me?

(Amazon) Editors Pick Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

Book Blurb-The Bone Bed

A woman has vanished while digging a dinosaur bone bed in the remote wilderness of Canada. Somehow, the only evidence has made its way to the inbox of Chief Medical Examiner Kay Scarpetta, over 2,000 miles away, in Boston. She has no idea why. But as events unfold with alarming speed, Scarpetta begins to suspect that the paleontologist’s disappearance is connected to a series of crimes – much closer to home: a gruesome murder, inexplicable tortures, and trace evidence from the last living creatures of the dinosaur age.

When she turns to those around her, Scarpetta finds that the danger and suspicion have penetrated even her closest circles. Her niece Lucy speaks in riddles. Her lead investigator, Pete Marino, and FBI forensic psychologist and husband, Benton Wesley, have secrets of their own. Feeling alone and betrayed, Scarpetta is tempted by someone from her past as she tracks a killer both cunning and cruel.

This is Kay Scarpetta as you have never seen her before. The Bone Bed is a must-listen for any fan of this series, or an ideal starting point for new readers.

My Review-The Bone Bed

I’m always gratified to see that my reaction to an audiobook generally meets consensus. And this one left me scratching my head. My first novel by Patricia Cornwell, not that I didn’t recognize the name, just that I hadn’t stumbled across one of her (library) audiobooks before.

The Bone Bed by Patricia CornwellThis narrative begins with an interesting premise: a body is found attached to an endangered leather-back turtle. The body was sent to the bottom using an intricate system of ropes that would essentially dismember the body if retrieval was not precisionally crafted. The leather-back, poor thing, was not in good shape, near drowning.

Then a man is on trial for killing his wife—without the substantiation of a body, and an archeologist is missing. Do all these things really share a common thread? I enjoyed the courtroom scenes and some portions of the technicalities of forensics, but then there is all this other…”stuff” just thrown in. Could we please just stick to the main plot points?

It’s amazing just how long it took to sort all this out, but really, so much is tied up with Kay’s personal life. Does she or doesn’t she have a good marriage? Thank heaven they can agree on the most appropriate red or white wine, otherwise, they’d have nothing in common. Tons of minutia—and what’s up with Marino? ARGH! So much suspicion, possible betrayals. And Kay getting way too big for her medical britches. She drips cynical thoughts about everyone.

This one jerked me around a bit—interest to boredom—chemical names bandied around until the mind is whirling with eighteen syllable words. I liked the storyline. I didn’t particularly like the way it was delivered and got very tired of Kay and her superior, confrontational attitude pretty quickly. 3 stars

Add to Goodreads

Book Details: The Bone Bed

Genre: Medical & Forensic Thrillers, Medical Fiction, Medical Thrillers
Publisher: Penguin Audio
ASIN: B009RFGJX6
Listening Length: 12 hrs 54 mins
Narrator: Kate Reading
Publication Date: October 16, 2012
Publisher: Berkley
Print Length: 513 pages
ASIN: ‎ B0083P1QUM
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Bone Bed [Amazon]

Book Blurb-Chaos

In the quiet of twilight, on an early autumn day, 26-year-old Elisa Vandersteel is killed while riding her bicycle along the Charles River. It appears she was struck by lightning – except the weather is perfectly clear, with not a cloud in sight. Dr. Kay Scarpetta, the Cambridge Forensic Center’s director and chief, decides at the scene that this is no accidental act of God.

Her investigation becomes complicated when she begins receiving a flurry of bizarre poems from an anonymous cyberbully who calls himself Tailend Charlie. Though subsequent lab results support Scarpetta’s conclusions, the threatening messages don’t stop. When the tenth poem arrives exactly 24 hours after Elisa’s death, Scarpetta begins to suspect the harasser is involved and sounds the alarm to her investigative partner, Pete Marino, and her husband, FBI analyst Benton Wesley.

She also enlists the help of her niece, Lucy. But to Scarpetta’s surprise, tracking the slippery Tailend Charlie is nearly impossible, even for someone as brilliant as her niece. Also, Lucy can’t explain how this anonymous nemesis could have access to private information. To make matters worse, a venomous media is whipping the public into a frenzy, questioning the seasoned forensics chief’s judgment and “a quack cause of death on a par with spontaneous combustion”. 

My Review-Chaos

Oh good grief. And just when I thought it couldn’t get worse. This one takes forever to get into the whole reason for the plot—a body found on a bike trail. She has 30+ years of experience and by God, she’ll take her dear, sweet time because this is a lady she’d met earlier. She thinks. No, she’s pretty certain. But must not jump to conclusions. Wait, is that a familiar bike helmet? Groan.

Chaos by Patricia CornwellScarpetta is so full of angst it’s annoying. Good grief, how do these people keep a job? Her personal life is crap. Marino is irritating. But this narrative doesn’t worry about adding minutia, there is already pages upon pages of poor Kay’s childhood (it’s a wonder she isn’t a serial killer), her sister and mother. (Husband) Benton is gorgeous, rich, and every woman’s dream which is enough to make any woman nervous. Lucy is pushing anxiety.

I do enjoy the info about the ME’s office and the study of forensics, but no, don’t want to be hit over the head with it anymore than be inundated with chemicals. (And please, don’t keep telling people they can get the formulas for this stuff off the internet.) The interview with the (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome?) twins who discovered the body was touching.

Everyone is anxious, confrontational, hyper. Or is that just the narrator? If I had a problem with the narrator in The Bone Bed, I really disliked this one. The tone, delivery seldom waivers below exaggerated confrontational attitude, whether from Scarpetta, Marino, (UGH! Hated the affected inflection on that character) or one of the other characters thrown in to maintain a heightened level of tension.

In the end, I couldn’t. Just couldn’t. Life’s too short. I turned off my machine. There are other audiobooks. Lots of them. 1.5 stars

Autopsy, slated to release November 30, 2021, is already flagged as a #1 New Release in Medical Thrillers. Will it sign off the series or is the author finished with Scarpetta yet? Even more important—will Scarpetta mellow just a bit? And would I try just one more? I might. But not as an audiobook with the same narrator, unless she also mellows.) 

Book Details: Chaos

Genre: Medical & Forensic Thrillers, Medical Fiction, Medical Thrillers
Publisher: HarperAudio
ASIN: B01JGOYA60
Listening Length: 3 hrs 2 mins
Narrator: Susan Ericksen
Publication Date: November 15, 2016
Publisher: William Morrow
Print Length: 483 pages
ASIN: ‎ B01BKD6YY
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Chaos [Amazon]

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Patricia Cornwell - authorThe Author: In 1990, Patricia Cornwell sold her first novel, Postmortem, while working at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Richmond, Virginia. An auspicious debut, it went on to win the Edgar, Creasey, Anthony, and Macavity Awards as well as the French Prix du Roman d’Aventure prize—the first book ever to claim all these distinctions in a single year. Growing into an international phenomenon, the Scarpetta series won Cornwell the Sherlock Award for best detective created by an American author, the Gold Dagger Award, the RBA Thriller Award, and the Medal of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters for her contributions to literary and artistic development.

Today, Cornwell’s novels and iconic characters are known around the world. Beyond the Scarpetta series, Cornwell has written the definitive nonfiction account of Jack the Ripper’s identity, cookbooks, a children’s book, a biography of Ruth Graham, and two other fictional series based on the characters Win Garano and Andy Brazil. While writing Quantum, Cornwell spent two years researching space, technology, and robotics at Captain Calli Chase’s home base, NASA’s Langley Research Center, and studied cutting-edge law enforcement and security techniques with the Secret Service, the US Air Force, NASA Protective Services, Scotland Yard, and Interpol.

Cornwell was born in Miami. She grew up in Montreat, North Carolina, and now lives and works in Boston and Los Angeles.

©2021 V Williams V Williams

Happy Thursday!

The Guest List: A Novel by Lucy Foley – #Audiobook Review – #TBT

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

(Amazon) Editors Pick Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense 

Book Blurb:

A Reese’s Book Club Pick

The bride – the plus one – the best man – the wedding planner – the bridesmaid – the body.

On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.

But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.

And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why? 

My Review:

When I wrote a post about joining a book club back in May 2020, I included Reese Witherspoon in the picks and joined her club, getting book club choices and posts from time to time. No, I didn’t see this one, and usually, an island, a murder mystery—I’d have been onboard. But it wasn’t until I saw this in the audiobook selections that I actually noted it was a Witherspoon pick and now I’m confused—it’s a bestseller?

The Guest List by Lucy FoleyFirst, the setting: an Island off the coast of Ireland, solid with bogs worse than quicksand and rocky, sheer cliffs into the ocean that had me terrified just reading about it.

Then add to the island a large (well, I consider 150 wedding guests to be large) wedding party in all phases of drunk or stoned, the ole’ boys club from uni, Jules, the bride, successful editor, as is the groom, a successful TV personality.

This has got to be the most depressing wedding ever (well, except possibly for my own), told in multiple POV’s from the bride, groom, plus one, best man, wedding planner, and bridesmaid. It also bounced time frames from the university experience to the present.

I needed an engaging character, but there wasn’t any. Privileged, monied, educated, all keeping secrets, prejudices, injustices, and selfish, narcissistic.

The atmosphere is toxic leading the reader to correctly assume someone isn’t going to make it out alive. Pretty obvious who that will be—he’s positively obnoxious. Which also opens the door to the person who’ll knock him off. Well, really, if you’ve been listening to the narrative (although I agree it gets difficult), you’ll have a pretty good idea who that might be.

Between the rotating POV chapters and the timelines, it takes forever to say the vows. Phew! But no, the reader/listener still has to survive the reception—well, most will survive except for one of the characters.

Takes too long to get to it, plot holes, unrelatable and nasty characters. (And need I mention objectionable language?) It was a relief when it quietly ended and skipped right into an intro for another book. Not sure I missed something but by then didn’t care.

So tell me–have you read this? A typical example of her writing style? Do I dare try another?

Book Details:

Genre: Crime Thrillers, Psychological Thrillers,
Publisher: HarperAudio
ASIN: B07WSFQHSX
Listening Length: 10 hrs 22 mins
Narrators: Jot DaviesChloe MasseyOlivia DowdAoife McMahonSarah OvensRich Keeble
Publication Date: June 2, 2020
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Guest List [Amazon] 

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Three Starsthree stars

Lucy Foley - authorThe Author: Lucy Foley studied English Literature at Durham and UCL universities and worked for several years as a fiction editor in the publishing industry, before leaving to write full-time. The Hunting Party is her debut crime novel, inspired by a particularly remote spot in Scotland that fired her imagination.

Lucy is also the author of three historical novels, which have been translated into sixteen languages. Her journalism has appeared in ES Magazine, Sunday Times Style, Grazia and more.

Say hello at http://www.facebook.com/LucyFoleyAuthor and follow Lucy on Twitter @LucyFoleyTweets and Instagram @LucyFoleyAuthor

©2021 – V Williams V Williams

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