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

The Last Camel Died at Noon by Elizabeth Peters

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

Book Blurb:

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

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

My Review:

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

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

Well, most of the time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

 

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Rosepoint Publishing: Four stars

 

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

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

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

©2023 V Williams

#ThrowbackThursday

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]
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Kobo

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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 Devil You Know (The Detective Margaret Nolan Series Book 3) by P J Tracy – #BookReview – #TuesdayBookBlog

Book Blurb:

Darkness is nothing new to LAPD Detective Margaret Nolan, but in P.J. Tracy’s The Devil You Know, even she isn’t prepared for the scandalous deception of deadly proportions that shakes the very foundation of Hollywood and its untouchables…and leaves her entangled in its rotten core.

The Devil You Know by P J TracyLos Angeles has many faces: the real LA where regular people live and work, the degenerate underbelly of any big city, and the rarefied world of wealth, power, and celebrity. LAPD Detective Margaret Nolan’s latest case plunges her into this insular realm of privilege, and gives her a glimpse of the decay behind the glitter.

Beloved actor Evan Hobbes is found in the rubble of a Malibu rockslide, a day after a fake video ruins his career. It’s not clear to Nolan if it’s an accident, a suicide, or a murder, and things get murkier as the investigation expands to his luminary friends and colleagues. Meanwhile, Hobbes’s agent is dealing with damage control, his psychotic boss, and a woman he’s scorned.

My Review:

My first experience with LAPD Detective Margaret Nolan and perhaps that is part of my problem, this book being #3 in the series. Sometimes, it matters not; sometimes it’s best to have started with book 1.

The Devil You Know by P J TracyDetective Nolan is a hardened, experienced woman on the LAPD force borne of time spent negotiating with the men in the department as well as the three well-known layers of LA society; that of the underbelly, the regular people who work and pay taxes for the lower layer as well as the top layer of the privileged, wealthy, and powerful. It is the top layer she will deal with here.

First, I found that the book gets a slow start with excessive use of descriptive adjectives, losing me several times in the sheer volume of characters being introduced as well as the twenty-dollar words when two dollars ones would do.

“Crawford appeared in the doorway, interrupting her elegiac meanderings.”

There is the death of a popular and well-known actor that is determined homicide (not accident), followed by a multiple pile up of bodies. The slow pace eases somewhat as the sixteen-syllable words decrease, but still I could find no way to engage and lost the thread several times.

It doesn’t take long to discern the guilty party and then it becomes difficult to hang on long enough for the plot to catch up. The focus tends to spread when I wanted to concentrate on the whodunit. It seems like the storyline is carried along by the support characters until Maggie finally takes over towards the second half of the narrative.

I just could not seem to connect and stay connected and particularly wanted to after the invitation from Ms. Haring of St. Martin’s Press. I usually enjoy police procedurals—perhaps this was a bit cerebral for me and those who enjoy a twisty, intelligent crime thriller will embrace.

I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author and publisher through @NetGalley that in no way influenced this review. These are my honest thoughts.

Rosepoint Rating: Three point Five Stars 3 1/2 stars

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Book Details:

Genre: Police Procedurals, Crime Thrillers
Publisher: Minotaur Books
ISBN: ‎ 1250859948
ASIN: B09Y46NXKL
Print Length: 294 pages
Publication Date: January 17, 2023
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo

P J Tracy - authorThe Author: PJ Tracy is the pseudonym of mother-daughter writing duo P.J. and Traci Lambrecht, authors of the New York Times and internationally bestselling MONKEEWRENCH series, and winners of the Anthony, Barry, Gumshoe, and Minnesota Book Awards.

After PJ’s death in 2016, Traci began writing the Detective Margaret Nolan series, set in Los Angeles, where she lived for many years. DEEP INTO THE DARK and DESOLATION CANYON are available now, and the third novel, THE DEVIL YOU KNOW, will be released in January 2023.

©2022 V Williams V Williams-Christmas hat

Happy Holiday week!

Hang the Moon by Jeannette Walls – #BookReview – #TuesdayBookBlog

“…Presbyterian church, where some folks go to get right with the Lord and others go to be seen going.”

Book Blurb:

From Jeannette Walls, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Glass Castle, comes a riveting new novel about an indomitable young woman in Virginia during Prohibition.

Most folk thought Sallie Kincaid was a nobody who’d amount to nothing. Sallie had other plans.

Hang the Moon by Jeannette WallsSallie Kincaid is the daughter of the biggest man in a small town, the charismatic Duke Kincaid. Born at the turn of the 20th century into a life of comfort and privilege, Sallie remembers little about her mother who died in a violent argument with the Duke. By the time she is just eight years old, the Duke has remarried and had a son, Eddie. While Sallie is her father’s daughter, sharp-witted and resourceful, Eddie is his mother’s son, timid and cerebral. When Sallie tries to teach young Eddie to be more like their father, her daredevil coaching leads to an accident, and Sallie is cast out.

Nine years later, she returns, determined to reclaim her place in the family. That’s a lot more complicated than Sallie expected, and she enters a world of conflict and lawlessness. Sallie confronts the secrets and scandals that hide in the shadows of the Big House, navigates the factions in the family and town, and finally comes into her own as a bold, sometimes reckless bootlegger.

You will fall in love with Sallie Kincaid, a feisty and fearless, terrified and damaged young woman who refuses to be corralled.

My Review:

The 20s was such a tumultuous time in our country, flappers and Prohibition playing a major role until the Depression hit. Sallie Kincaid is the daughter of a wealthy land and business owner. He doesn’t just rule the home roost but the rural Virginia county folk as well.

Sallie Kincaid lost her mother when she was very young and was quickly sent away by her step-mother to live with a destitute aunt after an accident involving her little half-brother. The existence was hand to mouth during which time she did what she could to help her aunt buy food including scrubbing soiled sheets. When at last she is allowed to return to the family home nine years later following her step-mother’s death, she is blown over by the opulence, the size, and the enormity of the Kincaid holdings.

It’s not a bed of roses for Sallie, however, when additional family members make it clear she is there to help care for her brother. Unfortunately, given Sallie’s proclivities and her natural forthright habits and strong opinions, she appears to be more comfortable in an enforcer/collection position than that of nurturing. Through a series of unforeseen tragedies, she is suddenly thrust into the position of heading the Holdings.

The Holdings of course are driven by the illegal sale of spirits and who does a better job at making whiskey than these mountain people with their stills? But the mountain people have a stranglehold on their grudges as well as their illegal activities. (You’ve heard of the Hatfields and the McCoys?)

Hang the Moon by Jeannette WallsThe novel tackles a number of issues from complicated family secrets and the woman’s position in the family to moral and religious passion, bootlegging, and gang wars. Sallie is a strong female protagonist. I applauded her triumphs and understood her attitude but hoped it would soften. It didn’t. It’s a complex and classic study of a culture peculiar to the area. I hoped for a better conclusion and was disappointed.

Nonetheless, the narrative is engaging and highly entertaining, the voice authentic not just to the time but to the geographical area. I loved hearing a few of those words I heard as a child—fun words like hifalutin. You just don’t hear those descriptive, clean words anymore. A couple of my favorite quotes:

“…the whiskey makers were always the heroes and the revenuers were always the villains.”

“…folks call it firewater, mule kick, tangle leg, ruckus juice, rise-n-shine, hooch, preacher’s lye, and panther piss…”

I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author and publisher through @NetGalley that in no way influenced this review. These are my honest thoughts. Currently on pre-order.

Rosepoint Rating: Four Stars 4 stars

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Book Details:

Genre: Biographical Historical Fiction, Biographical Fiction, Literary Fiction
Publisher: Scribner
ISBN-10: ‎ 1501117297
ISBN-13: ‎ 978-1501117299
ASIN: B0B3Y5Q75C
Print Length: 368 pages
Publication Date: March 28, 2023
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo

 

Jeannette Walls - authorThe Author: Jeannette Walls was born in Phoenix, Arizona and grew up in the American Southwest and Welch, West Virginia. She graduated from Barnard College and was a journalist in New York for twenty-five years, writing for New York Magazine, Esquire, and MSNBC. Her memoir, The Glass Castle, has been a New York Times bestseller for more than eight years, has been translated into more than thirty languages and was made into a film starring Brie Larson. She is also the author of the best-selling novels The Silver Star and Half Broke Horses, which was named one of the ten best books of 2009 by the editors of the New York Times Book Review. Her new novel, Hang the Moon, will be published by Scribner in March 2023. Walls lives in central Virginia with her husband, the writer John Taylor.

©2022 V Williams

#TuesdayBookBlog

The Sandcastle Hurricane by Carolyn Brown – #BookReview – #TuesdayBookBlog

Book Blurb:

Family, wounded hearts, and a Texas bed-and-breakfast are in need of repair in New York Times bestselling author Carolyn Brown’s inviting novel about down-home comfort and second chances.

The Sandcastle Hurricane by Carolyn BrownCousins Tabby and Ellie Mae are due for a change. Running their aunt’s beachfront bed-and-breakfast in Sandcastle, Texas, is just the thing to shake things up…though their lives spin out of control in more ways than one when a hurricane barrels into the coastline. It’s a miracle it didn’t carry them off to Kansas. Not so lucky are the assisted-living center and a small eclectic group of local folks who take shelter with the cousins.

Two estranged sisters, rowdy as a circus, need a referee for a battle that goes back decades. And a pair of veterans, best friends for years, hash out bittersweet old times. There’s also handyman Alex LaSalle and his business partner, Ricky, experts at repairing the hurricane’s damage—and at making Tabby’s and Ellie Mae’s hearts beat a little faster.

As unpredictable, crowded, and stormy as it gets, the Sandcastle B and B is still the perfect harbor for healing past wounds, finding romance, and making up for lost time. Add in Tabby’s homemade pecan pie, and the Texas shore feels like a little slice of paradise.

My Review:

Ah, a novel of damaged souls bound together in the face of nature’s forceful notice that there are worse things out there. Time to count the blessings and coincidentally this is the perfect time of year to do that.

The Sandcastle Hurricane by Carolyn BrownCousins Tabby and Ellie May have had their full share of tragedy and the timing is right for their Aunt Charlotte to sign over her beachfront B&B to her nieces and split for drier pastures. Heaven knows they have ideas on what to do with the property which will require some updating but the relocation for both of them to the south is a great time for them to band together, start over, and do it.

Unfortunately, they barely unpack their bags before they are notified of an impending hurricane and dear ole auntie calls to tell them he’s sending Alex to them with four assisted living persons who could not be evacuated—no place to go.

Well, at least Alex and his partner Ricky can provide some eye candy as well as a built-in repair crew after the hurricane.

Hurricane Delilah is taking her old sweet time decimating the formerly peaceful village and it appears their elderly guests will be forced to stay until everyone is bosom buddies. The two old sisters are like a couple vipers while the two old veterans swap war stories. The cousins manage to make it work without B&B experience or electricity and discover the group is a family in itself.

Nothing like a feel good Hallmark type novel to set a reader up for the upcoming holiday season. Not as syrupy sweet as Hallmark, as there might be some objectionable language and implied sexual activity, but it is a lesson in coming together for the common good. There are themes of kindness, loss, grief, and recovery. Fresh starts are a good thing, families are a good thing, pets are a good thing, and so are romances but these are just too convenient to be very realistic.

I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author and publisher through @NetGalley that in no way influenced this review. These are my honest thoughts.

Rosepoint Rating: Three point Five Stars 3 1/2 stars

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Book Details:

Genre: Small Town & Rural Fiction, Contemporary Women’s Fiction, Women’s Romance Fiction
Publisher: Montlake
ISBN: ‎ 1542038383
ASIN: B09S37L4Q7
Print Length: 315 pages
Publication Date: November 8, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble

Carolyn Brown - authorThe Author: Carolyn Brown is a New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Publisher’s Weekly and #1 Amazon and #1 Washington Post bestselling author. She is the author of more than 100 novels and several novellas. She’s a recipient of the Bookseller’s Best Award, Montlake Romance’s prestigious Montlake Diamond Award, and also a three-time recipient of the National Reader’s Choice Award. Brown has been published for more than 20 years, and her books have been translated 21 foreign languages.

When she’s not writing, she likes to plot new stories in her backyard with her tom cat, Boots Randolph Terminator Outlaw, who protects the yard from all kinds of wicked varmints like crickets, locusts, and spiders.

Visit her at http://www.carolynbrownbooks.com.

©2022 V Williams V Williams

#TuesdayBookBlog

Hell and Back: Longmire Mysteries, Book 18 by Craig Johnson – #Audiobook Review – #westernfiction

Hell and Back by Craig Johnson

#1 New Release in Western Fiction  

Book Blurb:

A new novel in the beloved New York Times bestselling Longmire series.

Picking up where Daughter of the Morning Star left off, the next Longmire novel finds the sheriff digging further into the mysteries of the wandering without—a mythical all-knowing spiritual being that devours souls.

Walt thinks he might find the answers he’s looking for among the ruins of an old Native American boarding school—an institution designed to strip Native children of their heritage. He has been haunted by the image of the Fort Pratt Industrial Indian Training School ever since he first saw a faded postcard picturing a hundred boys in uniform, in front of a large, ominous building—a postcard that was given to him by Jimmy Lane, the father of Jeanie One Moon.

After Walt’s initial investigation into Jeanie’s disappearance yielded no satisfying conclusions, Walt has to confront the fact that he may be dealing with an adversary unlike any he has ever faced before.

My Review:

Yikes, this novel takes us to La-La Land, full on mystic, supernatural, spiritual heritage. It’s the continuation of Daughter of the Morning Star, Book 17 that I read in October of ’21. This narrative is a huge departure from any previous in the series, including the last in which he was introduced to the Wandering Without (a Cheyenne spirit).

The intro to the book discloses he will delve heavily in the “Indian Training School,” the Native American boarding school at Fort Pratt where young boys were taken to strip the children of their heritage. The history is horrific and still weighs heavily on the hearts of their people.

Hell and Back by Craig JohnsonIn Book 18, Walt wakes lying in the snow, slowly becoming aware he experienced a traumatic accident. It is the first of several different times, this one being when the school was full of boys. In a type of dream-like state, he visits his own early period, now believing he can see his deceased wife. A separate time period includes Henry Standing Bear and Vic on a search for him.

As he navigates the historical period of the school where he decides he must battle an evil spirit, the storyline takes on an ethereal quality, atmospherics, the boys struggling with their school administrators.

Enter Ground Hog Day. He’s moving around, experiencing exchanges with different characters, but each time he sees them it’s 8:17 pm…and doomed to rinse and repeat but he’s gradually becoming weaker (is he dying?)—and Vic and Henry keep searching for him.

“ …he rested the butt of an 1873 Winchester, the rifle that you could load on Sunday, shoot all week long.”

I’m a die-hard Longmire fan series (loved the Netflix series!), most especially the audiobooks with George Guidall narrating, putting himself in the shoes of Henry Standing Bear, firing off glib philosophical spikes. This one though was pretty wild, definitely had my head swirling. It was weird and unique. Maybe not everyone’s cup of tea but you can’t say it isn’t gripping.

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

Book Details:

Genre: Western Fiction, Native American Literature
Publisher: Recorded Books
ASIN: B0B1QRSRN2
Listening Length: 9 hrs 39 mins
Narrator: George Guidall
Publication Date: September 6, 2022
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Hell and Back [Amazon]
Barnes & Noble
Kobo
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Rosepoint Publishing:  4.5 stars 4 1/2 stars

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

George Guidall - 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

©2022 V Williams V Williams

Audiobooks

Defending Jacob by William Landay – #Audiobook Review – #throwbackthursday

Audiobook review-Defending Jacob by William Landay

(Amazon) Editors Pick Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense 

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney in his suburban Massachusetts county for more than 20 years. He is respected in his community, tenacious in the courtroom, and happy at home with his wife, Laurie, and son, Jacob. But when a shocking crime shatters their New England town, Andy is blindsided by what happens next: his 14-year-old son is charged with the murder of a fellow student.

Every parental instinct Andy has rallies to protect his boy. Jacob insists that he is innocent, and Andy believes him. Andy must. He’s his father. But as damning facts and shocking revelations surface, as a marriage threatens to crumble and the trial intensifies, and as the crisis reveals how little a father knows about his son, Andy will face a trial of his own – between loyalty and justice, between truth and allegation, between a past he’s tried to bury and a future he cannot conceive.

Award-winning author William Landay has written the consummate novel of an embattled family in crisis – a suspenseful, character-driven mystery that is also a spellbinding tale of guilt, betrayal, and the terrifying speed at which our lives can spin out of control.

My Review:

I must admit that I chose this audiobook because I saw that it was narrated by Grover Gardner and I’m a huge fan of Mr. Gardner—the “Andy” of the Andy Carpenter series (by another author). His artistic rendition carries most any book to new heights, not just reading the book, but making the characters come alive—flesh and blood—along with their foibles. Such is the Andy in this book.

The hook at the beginning manages to jump what will become the meat and potatoes of this book—the POV by Andy Barber. Andy is happily married and they have a fourteen-year-old son, Jacob. Every now and then, the POV jumps over the catastrophic event in the family’s life that propels the legal thriller to a heartbreaking family drama.

Jacob is accused of the murder of a classmate. Andy becomes convinced that Jacob would not—could not—commit the heinous crime—stabbing three times the chest of the boy found murdered and left in the park. He is temporarily suspended from his position as ADA and becomes convinced beyond all reason (and mostly circumstantial evidence) that his son is innocent.

Defending Jacob by William LandayMeanwhile, Laurie, his wife is becoming alarmed at her crushing emotions and conflicting beliefs—then guilt over her thoughts. Could her son have killed that boy? The atmosphere in the air becomes increasingly contentious, Andy defending his son beyond reason. Jacob declaring his innocence. His mother no longer so positive—doubts seeping into the bedrock, loosening her private shocking fears and revelations to her husband.

Meanwhile, as Andy works second chair with the attorney they hired to defend Jacob, they are confronted with Andy’s own history—dark secrets he’d never shared even with Laurie. She becomes horrified and as her experience with her baby boy begins to shed more light on him, Andy continues the unreasonable and dogged resistance to the possibility.

The reader is first left with a child—yes, sometimes children can be cruel—but this is far beyond bullying—and increasing questions as to the veracity of Andy’s arguments. The toll on the family is unimaginable, threatening to ruin the marriage, his mother’s belief in Jacob’s innocence flailing wildly in the wind. While Andy is a well-developed main character, Laurie is more a strong periphery character and Jacob only known through the insight of Andy and his mother.

I’m a fan of legal thrillers and the courtroom dance in the narrative proceeds with all the drama a reader could want, the push-pull, win-lose. Written by a former ADA, the author knows the timing, the procedure, the lingo—it’s high drama in itself.

The family appears to survive the process albeit briefly when another event sends the reader back into high-pressure territory, gasping with shock at the turn of events.

And then; the final twist. I don’t care who you are. You never saw this coming. Yes, I know you’ve heard that before. No, trust me. This one is so beyond what you might have imagined it echoes over and over in your head, leaving you with a book hangover.  The unthinkable. No do-overs here. You can run it over in your mind. It won’t change. I was almost sick.

Does that mean I wouldn’t recommend it? Are you kidding? This is crazy unique, gripping, heart-pounding, and unquestionably a novel both engaging and entertaining. The narration by Gardner is mesmerizing. (I guess it was turned into a TV series released in 2020.)

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

Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Fiction, Legal Thrillers, Psychological Thrillers
Publisher:  Blackstone Audio, Inc.
ASIN: B0073OGZNM
Listening Length: 12 hrs 24 mins
Narrator: Grover Gardner
Publication Date: January 31, 2012
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Defending Jacob [Amazon]

 

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William Landay - authorThe Author: William Landay’s latest novel is the New York Times bestseller “Defending Jacob.” His previous novels are “Mission Flats,” which won the Dagger Award as best debut crime novel of 2003, and “The Strangler,” which was an L.A. Times favorite crime novel and was nominated for the Strand Magazine Critics Award as best crime novel of 2007.

Visit the author at http://www.williamlanday.com or on Facebook at facebook.com/williamlanday

Grover Gardner - narratorNarrator: Grover Gardner is an American narrator of audiobooks. As of May 2018, he has narrated over 1,200 books. He was the Publishers Weekly “Audiobook Narrator of the Year” and is among AudioFile magazine’s “Best Voices of the Century”. Wikipedia

Born: 1956 (age 66 years).

©2022 V Williams V Williams

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