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

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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!

All the Devils Are Here: A Novel: Chief Inspector Gamache Novel Book 16 by Louise Penny – #Audiobook Review – #TBT

All the Devils Are Here by Louise Penny

(Amazon) Editors Pick Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense 

Book Blurb:

The 16th novel by #1 bestselling author Louise Penny finds Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Quebec investigating a sinister plot in the City of Light

On their first night in Paris, the Gamaches gather as a family for a bistro dinner with Armand’s godfather, the billionaire Stephen Horowitz. Walking home together after the meal, they watch in horror as Stephen is knocked down and critically injured in what Gamache knows is no accident, but a deliberate attempt on the elderly man’s life.

When a strange key is found in Stephen’s possession it sends Armand, his wife Reine-Marie, and his former second-in-command at the Sûreté, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, from the top of the Tour d’Eiffel, to the bowels of the Paris Archives, from luxury hotels to odd, coded, works of art.

It sends them deep into the secrets Armand’s godfather has kept for decades.

A gruesome discovery in Stephen’s Paris apartment makes it clear the secrets are more rancid, the danger far greater and more imminent, than they realized.

Soon the whole family is caught up in a web of lies and deceit. In order to find the truth, Gamache will have to decide whether he can trust his friends, his colleagues, his instincts, his own past. His own family.

For even the City of Light casts long shadows. And in that darkness devils hide.

My Review:

I know I was supposed to love this book but truthfully had a difficult time keeping an ear on my cell phone earbud and/or my little portable speaker. Goodness. I was so lost!

My fault, obviously, for trying (once again) to jump into a beloved series at Book 16 no less where the reader was supposed to know who all the players were and why.

All the Devils Are Here by Louise PennyGamache and his wife, Reine-Marie is supposed to be in Paris to celebrate the birth of a grandchild—and visit with the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache’s godfather.  Certainly out of their Three Pines, Quebec element, but seems no problem as they search Paris high and low for the person who plowed into his godfather, Stephen Horowitz following their dinner. Intensionally.

The plot seemed all over the board from priceless art to corporate crimes, getting deeper and deeper into rare earth minerals. Meanwhile, Horowitz comes under scrutiny for his possible WWII activities. Wayyy too much going on for this device to work for me. Would it please just settle on one, or even two, main plot points?

Gamache routinely bounces all his theories off his wife, who manages to insert some calming sense into each, after a man is found murdered in Stephen’s Paris apartment.

I greatly enjoyed the narrator, managing voices and French pronunciations with ease, sliding effortlessly over the Paris street names, restaurants, foods, and attractions. The author includes some harrowing tidbits and facts about the fanatical post WWII Paris atmosphere that unsettles—lost in some of the more horrific stories and pictures of the time. (I still marvel that there are any monuments left standing and weep over the loss of Notre Dame in the fire of April 2019. I will never forget our singing experience there and am amazed at their restoration progress.)

Of the immediate family characters, including Daniel their son, I most enjoyed Reine-Marie as being authentic. At Book 16, I’m quite sure I’ve missed the all-important development of Armand but coming into a city not of his domain and taking on the investigation seemed a bit sleuthish, especially given the extent of this plot. He has no authority; how much latitude would he be allowed by the Paris authorities?

Thinking I’ll try another Louise Penny book, but not sure it will be Book 17 of this series. Any of you die-hard Canadian author readers read this series? Did you also have a problem with this narrative?

Book Details:

Genre: Traditional Detective Mysteries, International Mystery & Crime
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
ASIN: B0842XLN7Z
Listening Length: 13 hrs 59 mins
Narrator: Robert Bathurst
Publication Date: Sept 1, 2020
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: All the Devils Are Here [Amazon]

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

Louise Penny - authorThe Author: LOUISE PENNY is the #1 New York Times and Globe and Mail bestselling author of the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache novels. She has won numerous awards, including a CWA Dagger and the Agatha Award (five times) and was a finalist for the Edgar Award for Best Novel. She lives in a small village south of Montréal.

Robert Bathhurst - narratorThe Narrator: Robert Guy Bathurst (born 22 February 1957) is an English actor. Bathurst was born in Gold Coast (now Ghana) in 1957. In 1959 his family moved to Ballybrack, Dublin, Ireland and Bathurst attended school in Killiney, later enrolled in an Irish boarding school. He is married to Victoria Threlfall and they have four daughters. [Wikipedia]

 

 

©2021 V Williams V Williams

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

The Good Guy by Dean Koontz – #Audiobook Review – #suspense #TBT

The Good Guy by Dean Koontz

Book Blurb:

Timothy Carrier is an ordinary guy who enjoys a beer after work. But tonight is no ordinary night. Instead, Tim will face a terrifying decision: Help or run. For the jittery stranger sitting beside him at the bar has mistaken Tim for someone else—and passes him a manila envelope stuffed with cash and the photo of a pretty woman. “Ten thousand. The rest when she’s gone.”

Now everything Tim thinks he knows—even about himself—will be challenged. For Tim Carrier is the one man who can save an innocent life and stop a killer as relentless as evil incarnate. But first he must discover resources within himself that will transform his idea of who he is and what it takes to be the good guy.

My Review:

From the prolific pen of Dean Koontz came The Good Guy, published in 2007. I’ve read a number of his books, mostly of the Jane Hawk series, which I enjoyed. So, it was time I sampled some of his other books while trying to avoid the hardcore horror that my son attributed to him. This one is billed as suspense.

The Good Guy by Dean KoontzIn this standalone, Timothy Carrier (our good guy) is approached by a man who mistakes him for the hired killer he was to meet, handing him an envelope with $10k and leaves. When the real killer arrives and mistakes Tim for the client, Tim tries to cancel the contract, offering half the money back to drop it.

Oh, wait…I think I’ve heard this one!

Tim, being stuck and checking out the target, decides he’ll warn the unsuspecting woman and together try to figure out why the impending hit. (Cue the violins.) She’s clueless why someone would want to kill her. She’s a simple woman, albeit a bit unusual in her tastes, and they’re both single with baggage and unhappy histories. (I think I can see where this is going.)

Koontz is nothing if not adept at developing his characters carefully, a nuance at a time, right down to nervous tics and tells. Tim is a simple mason—but good at his job. Linda harbors secrets and I’m thinking, “run, Forest, run!.” But no, they are ducking and outwitting the antagonist who is one very nasty guy, free of any moral compass, and so far hasn’t hesitated to knock off those who block his way or just generally piss him off. Krait also has a history,

But you don’t want to know…

Krait anticipates their moves and positions himself very well. He really hates the thought he may be losing cred with his employers and the tension ramps up.

As usual, Koontz kicks in his own macabre sense of humor bestowing it mostly on Krait and the sense of the man rises the hair on the back of the reader’s neck. Some tender scenes with Tim and Linda, natural dialogue, Tim rising to his white knight position, Linda to distressed damsel.

The narrator used a soft sell voice on the antagonist adding to the creepy factor. He is truly going over the deep end trying to save his face on this one and his handlers are cueing in.

The conclusion actually arrives with more of a whimper not a bang but Koontz has one more little surprise for you. If you like suspense thrillers, you’d probably like this, and I’d recommend the audiobook. Do you read Dean Koontz? Did you enjoy his Jane Hawk series? What is your favorite Koontz book? Strangely, I don’t see that many five stars on his books in Goodreads. Well, anyway, I like the pictures of his dogs.

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense, Suspense Thrilllers
Publisher:  Random House Audio
ASIN: B000R34YQ6
Listening Length: 9 hrs 18 mins
Narrator: Richard Ferrone
Publication Date: May 1, 2007
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Good Guy [Amazon]
 

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4 stars

Dean Koontz - authorThe Author: Dean Koontz, the author of many #1 New York Times bestsellers, lives in Southern California with his wife, Gerda, their golden retriever, Elsa, and the enduring spirits of their goldens, Trixie and Anna.

Richard Ferrone - narratorThe Narrator:  Richard Ferrone is a former lawyer who became an actor in the 1970s. He has appeared on Broadway and in theaters across the country. His television appearances include ”Law & Order,” “Against the Law,” “Guiding Light,” and “One Life to Live.“ He became an immediate favorite of audiobook fans more than 20 years ago with his first audiobook, “The Stranglers” by Loren D. Estleman, and since then he has recorded the works of many bestselling authors including Dean Koontz, Dashiell Hammett, and myself! Although he has recorded books in nearly every genre, from romances to children’s stories to self-help books, he is best known for his mystery and thriller recordings, especially those of John Sandford’s “Prey” novels and the Tim LaHaye/Jerry Jenkins “Left Behind” series. He is an Audie Award winner and is married to actor Cynthia Darlow.

©2021 V Williams V Williams

His & Hers: A Novel by Alice Feeney – #Audiobook Review – #TBT

His and Hers by Alice Feeney

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

There are two sides to every story: yours and mine, ours and theirs, his and hers. Which means someone is always lying.

When a woman is murdered in Blackdown, a quintessentially British village, newsreader Anna Andrews is reluctant to cover the case. Detective Jack Harper is suspicious of her involvement, until he becomes a suspect in his own murder investigation.

Someone isn’t telling the truth, and some secrets are worth killing to keep.

His & Hers is a twisty, smart psychological thriller. A gripping tale of suspense, told by expertly drawn narrators that will keep listeners guessing until the very end. 

My Review:

OMG, does this grip and hang on or what? Related in three POVs, Anna Andrews is the “her.” She’s been a fixture on the BBC news as a lunchtime anchor, always dreaming of her next big break. The old anchor returned, however, beloved, well-known, and still under contract after maternity leave and Anna is unceremoniously returned to the position of news correspondent.  Oh groan.

His and Hers by Alice FeeneyJack Harper is the “his” working on the police force in Blackdown. He was called to investigate a body found in the woods and is shocked to see it is someone he knows—and knows very well, btw. But he keeps that part to himself.

And then there is the perp, the killer, whose dialogue is skewed by a voice changer. Very creepy and creepy enough to raise the hairs on the back of your neck.

Insult to injury, now Anna is asked to cover the murder in the little town of Blackdown and no, she doesn’t want to go—she grew up there, not particularly happily. Of course, she, too, recognizes the victim.

Once in, the listener doesn’t get a bathroom break. You must listen to the next chapter, whether it is her or him—or that other one.

“There are always two sides to every story, yours and mine, ours and theirs, his and her. I always prefer my own.”

Fast paced, well-plotted, creepy narrative spiced with hometown-childhood secrets, adult secrets. Twists and turns leave the listener spinning. No getting a breath now—are you figuring it out? The tension ramps up another notch.

Jack came off as highly engaging, approachable. Anna not so much—she’s narcissistic and scheming. Her career is her life. She just wants back in the anchor spot and she can detach her emotions from the scene.

This novel-audiobook totally envelopes the listener, sinister, gripping, full of suspense. And, oh yeah, that one last gotcha at the end? Brilliant! Storytelling genius. You don’t want to miss this one!

Book Details:

Genre: Domestic Thrillers, Police Procedurals Mysteries
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
ASIN: B07TFLWV4H
Listening Length: 10 hrs 39 mins
Narrators: Richard ArmitageStephanie Racine
Publication Date: July 28, 2020
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: His and Hers [Amazon]

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Alice Feeney - authorThe Author: Alice Feeney is a New York Times bestselling author and journalist. Her debut novel, Sometimes I Lie, was an international bestseller, has been translated into over twenty languages, and is being made into a TV series by Warner Bros. starring Sarah Michelle Gellar. His & Hers is also being adapted for screen by Jessica Chastain’s Freckle Films. Alice was a BBC Journalist for fifteen years, and now lives in the British countryside with her family. Rock Paper Scissors is her fourth novel and is being made into a TV series for Netflix by the producer of The Crown. It will be published around the world in 2021.

©2021 V Williams V Williams

TV Netflix Series Outlander vs #Audiobook by Diana Gabaldon (Author) and Davina Porter (Narrator) – Time Travel Romances

“This romantic odyssey earned three Golden Globe nods and won “Most Bingeworthy Show” at the Critics’ Choice TV Awards.”

TV Netflix Series Outlander vs Audiobook

Once again, trust the CE to find a series we carefully parceled out (depending on the last episode watched) to make this series last longer and still burned through it quickly. I never was really able to see the sparks between Jamie and Claire (always viewing her as so much more mature than he), but the stories were riveting and kept us glued. Those who have followed me for some time know I’m not a big fan of romance—but these stories—getting past the romance part—put you back in time, the beauty and barbarism, the daily struggle of life. And I do so enjoy that historical aspect. 

Netflix Series

Currently, there are five seasons (67 episodes) on Netflix. Season six possibly May of 2022 and strong hope of a seventh season—some time. It was developed by Ronald D Moore.

It’s a historical drama, so you know it got my attention. Basically, a married WWII nurse is transported back to 1743 during the Jacobite rising. There she meets Jamie Fraser, a Highland warrior. But Jamie is just the start of a roster of stellar characters, manly men in kilts. They set the scene of the people, the time, the country, and their fierce loyalty to the clan they belong. First the clan—then the country—and they have a common enemy, the English.

There are eight books in the Outlander series with Outlander: Book 1, kicking it off. Many of the seasons storylines can be traced directly back to the original books:

  1. Outlander
  2. Dragonfly in Amber
  3. Voyager
  4. The Drums of Autumn
  5. The Fiery Cross
  6. A Breath of Snow and Ashes
  7. An Echo in the Bone\Written in My Own Heart’s Blood

The Making of Outlander

I listened to Audiobook 1 in its entirety and then couldn’t find either Book 2 or 3 and started Audiobook 4, The Drums of Autumn. Within Season 1 are sixteen episodes.

The male lead, Sam Roland Heughan was born April 30, 1980 in Balmaclellan, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland. He’s 6’2” and owns that Highlander part right now to his tricorn. He is a co-founder of My Peak Challenge, a charitable community-based organization.

The female lead, Caitriona Balfe was born in Dublin, Ireland and grew up in County Monaghan. She worked as a model (she is 5’9”) and was studying drama at the Dublin Institute of Technology hoping to become an actress when she was scouted.

 

My Thoughts

I absolutely loved the swoon-worthy Jamie and still not sure Claire “fits” him, although looking at Hepburn and Bogie you’d not think they’d fit any better. I feel she’s a little light on chemistry, but, hey, that’s just me. Otherwise, these storylines move so fast, appear so authentic you’d swear you took that stone journey right along with Claire, a delightful fantasy in itself. I appreciate the inclusion of the Scottish Gaelic, the speech patterns, from sassenach to bhalaich and glimpses of the countryside. It’s a series that bombards the senses with sight and sound and teleports the imagination. Escapism when we truly needed it. 5 stars

Audiobook

This stunning blend of historical romance and time traveling adventure has captured the hearts of millions of readers around the world and catapulted author Diana Gabaldon to the top of the New York Times best seller list. Outlander introduces an exhilarating world of heroism and breathtaking thrills as one woman is torn between past and present, passion and love.

In 1945, former combat nurse Claire Randall returns from World War II and joins her husband for a second honeymoon. Their blissful reunion is shattered when she touches a boulder in an ancient stone ruin and is instantly transported to 1743 Scotland, a place torn by war and raiding border clans. Will Claire find her way back to her own time, or is her destiny forever linked with Clan MacKenzie and the gallant James Fraser?

My Thoughts

Oh, ouch! Here I go again! Watched a G-rated Netflix series thinking I’d get the same rating from the audiobook. Nope. Reminds me a great deal of the experience I had with another well received and popular Netflix series only to find out that the author wrote a sexually laden series—not the toned down small town fiction series we got on the home screen.

While much of the action-adventure, spirit of the eighteenth century works a strong background, the romance between the two main characters take front and center stage, sometimes getting more graphic than I’m comfortable with. Claire, not a nurse but a practiced surgeon, falls for a warring Highlander with little romantic experience. She becomes the teacher.

Otherwise, it would appear most of the support characters echo those presented in the TV version with various degrees of debauchery. Claire becomes a strong presence among the men, owing to her medical prowess, while still clinging to the secret of having been plunked into their midst from another time. Wincing narrative scenes are easier to read (or listen to) than broadcast in full sight to a general audience? Torn between 3 ½ and 4 stars, perhaps I’ll settle at 3 ¾ stars.

Overall Impression

Hazzah to those who created and went with a romantic time-travel adventure! More about the people, the time, the culture than the two love interests. I loved the costumes, the authentic touches of the Netflix series and the plot that continually builds into another period journey and I didn’t have to hide my eyes or block my ears once. This is one VERY long series and in either printed or audiobook form may constitute an epoch undertaking. I found my own quota after completing Book 1 and sampling Book 4. Probably no different for those who follow long running series well into the double digits. Some never get old and some just wear you out. I’ll happily watch another season on Netflix, but think I’ll move on to other audiobooks now.

Book Details

Outlander: Book 1

Genre: Time Travel Romances, Scottish Historical Romance, Historical Fantasy
Publisher:  Recorded Books
ASIN: B000GW8NVA
Listening Length: 32 hrs and 38 mins
Narrator: Davina Porter
Audible Release: July 13, 2006
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Outlander: Book 1 [Amazon]

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Diana Gabaldon - author
Photo by Gage Skidmore

The Author: Diana Gabaldon is the internationally bestselling author of many historical novels including Cross Stitch, Dragonfly in Amber, Voyager, Drums of Autumn, The Fiery Cross and A Breath of Snow Ashes. She lives with her family in Scottsdale, Arizona. She is a New York Time bestselling author.

Find her at https://www.dianagabaldon.com/

Davina Porter-narrator
Photo by Jo Anna Perrin

The Narrator: Golden Voice narrator Davina Porter has performed not only the entire Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, but also other fantasy classics including many of Marion Zimmer Bradley Avalon audiobooks, and Erika Johansen’s widely praised THE INVASION OF THE TEARLING.  Davina’s audiobook work includes titles ranging from classics to mystery to philosophy, with an enduring thread of splendid fantasy audiobooks.

“I was born and raised in England, my father was English, a true “Londoner” (read Cockney!), and my mother was born in St. Andrews, Scotland. Two accents under my belt! I am married to a Glasgow-born Scot, more diversity. Being a product of my background, I am very familiar with the English and Scottish way of life, and all its foibles!”

©2021 V Williams V Williams

Destroyer Angel: An Anna Pigeon Novel (Anna Pigeon Mysteries Book 18) by Nevada Barr – #Audiobook Review – #TBT

Destroyer Angel by Nevada Barr

Book Blurb:

Anna Pigeon, a ranger for the U.S. Park Services, sets off on vacation – an autumn canoe trip into the Iron Range in upstate Minnesota. With Anna is her friend Heath, a paraplegic; Heath’s 15-year-old daughter, Elizabeth; Leah, a wealthy designer of outdoor equipment; and her daughter, Katie, who is 13. For Heath and Leah, this is a shakedown cruise to test a new cutting-edge line of camping equipment. The equipment, designed by Leah, will make camping and canoeing more accessible to disabled outdoorsmen. On their second night out, Anna goes off on her own for a solo evening float on the Fox River.

When she comes back, she finds that four thugs, armed with rifles, pistols, and knives, have taken the two women and their teenaged daughters captive. With limited resources and no access to the outside world, Anna has only two days to rescue them before her friends are either killed or flown out of the country, in Destroyer Angel by Nevada Barr.

My Review:

No, wait!

Did I get a different Anna Pigeon?

I started reading this series because I really enjoyed the protagonist, a US Park Services ranger, a woman, and the different parks where the particular novel was sited. A different park every entry to the series and so much to learn—that and the narrator, Barbara Rosenblat who adds her slightly gravelly voice with such marvelous inflection in both the situation and the reflection of the situation. Well, anyway, I’ve listened to four, and particularly enjoyed Deep South and Hunting Season. They heavily featured Anna Pigeon.

Destroyer Angel by Nevada BarrThis one…well, this one features friends, acquaintances, who on a vacation trip into the Minnesota wilderness to enjoy nature, test equipment, and try out a handicap prototype are taken hostage when Anna is away from camp on a quick and quiet little canoe outing of her own. In the camp when the ladies are overtaken by four nasty gangsters is also their older dog, Wiley, who is left for dead when the men move the women out.

We’re talking two women (one of whom is a paraplegic) and two teenagers. Of course they are out of cell phone range. They are headed out to rendezvous with the baddy who hired these guys. So, much of the focus is on the ladies, their struggles, and the men. Meanwhile, Anna discovers Wiley is not dead and manages to stabilize him, stalks the hostages and their captures and without weapons takes on the task of disabling the men while rescuing the women. Wow…different.

Or not. The characters are pretty much stereotypes—wealthy Leah and her estranged and sullen daughter Katie, the paraplegic and her daughter Elizabeth. The bad guys, dangerously bad—and stupid, btw.

Anna takes on the dog, having hearts to heart with Wiley while he’s recuperating enough to provide a sounding board for Anna’s whispered thoughts, although he doesn’t provide many thoughts in return.

While there is essentially no mystery, there is tension and the tension ramps up with each chapter. The toll on Anna is serious, but she manages to power through, the ladies manage heroically, the bad guys are just seriously raunchy.

The reason for the whole kidnap seemed a bit weak to me, not wholly believable, but the little zinger at the end was delicious. So, yeah, I thoroughly enjoyed. As the series has nineteen books, I am now counting back down. Oh yeah, I’m hooked.

Book Details:

Genre: Police Procedural Mysteries, Women Sleuth Mysteries, Suspense
Publisher:  Macmillan Audio
ASIN: B00IIUW9EE
Listening Length: 11 hrs 37 mins
Narrator: Barbara Rosenblat
Publication Date: April 1, 2014Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Destroyer Angel [Amazon]

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

Nevada Barr - authorThe Author: Nevada was born in the small western town of Yerington, Nevada and raised on a mountain airport in the Sierras. Both her parents were pilots and mechanics and her sister, Molly, continued the tradition by becoming a pilot for USAir.
Pushed out of the nest, Nevada fell into the theatre, receiving her BA in speech and drama and her MFA in Acting before making the pilgrimage to New York City, then Minneapolis, MN. For eighteen years she worked on stage, in commercials, industrial training films and did voice-overs for radio. During this time she became interested in the environmental movement and began working in the National Parks during the summers — Isle Royale in Michigan, Guadalupe Mountains in Texas, Mesa Verde in Colorado, and then on the Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi.
Woven throughout these seemingly disparate careers was the written word. Nevada wrote and presented campfire stories, taught storytelling and was a travel writer and restaurant critic. Her first novel, Bittersweet was published in 1983. The Anna Pigeon series, featuring a female park ranger as the protagonist, started when she married her love of writing with her love of the wilderness, the summer she worked in west Texas. The first book, Track of the Cat, was brought to light in 1993 and won both the Agatha and Anthony awards for best first mystery. The series was well received and A Superior Death, loosely based on Nevada’s experiences as a boat patrol ranger on Isle Royale in Lake Superior, was published in 1994. In 1995 Ill Wind came out. It was set in Mesa Verde, Colorado where Nevada worked as a law enforcement ranger for two seasons.
The rest is, shall we say, HISTORY! Nevada’s books and accomplishments have become numerous and the presses continue to roll, so in the interest of NOT having to update this page, books, awards, status on the New York Times Best Seller List — and more — will be enumerated with the relevant books else where on this website.

 

Barbara Rosenblat - narratorThe Narrator: Barbara Rosenblat has been narrating for more than 20 years, and even had the honor of performing the first book ever recorded at Audible in 1999.

She has also appeared on screen such as in the Netflix original series Orange Is the New Black as Miss Rosa. Rosenblat was born in London, England and raised in New York City. Upon returning to the US, she read books to the blind for four years at the Library of Congress.[2] On Broadway she appeared in The Secret Garden and Talk Radio. Barbara Rosenblat has narrated more than 400 audiobooks.

©2021 V Williams