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

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

#throwbackthursday

Keep Sharp: Build a Better Brain at Any Age by Sanjay Gupta – #Audiobook Review – #medicalnonfiction

Keep Sharp by Dr Sanjay Gupta

Editors' pick Best Nonfiction 

Book Blurb:

Keep your brain young, healthy, and sharp with this science-driven guide to protecting your mind from decline by neurosurgeon and CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Throughout our life, we look for ways to keep our minds sharp and effortlessly productive. Now, globetrotting neurosurgeon Dr. Sanjay Gupta offers “the book all of us need, young and old” (Walter Isaacson, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Code Breaker) with insights from top scientists all over the world, whose cutting-edge research can help you heighten and protect brain function and maintain cognitive health at any age.

Keep Sharp debunks common myths about aging and mental decline, explores whether there’s a “best” diet or exercise regimen for the brain, and explains whether it’s healthier to play video games that test memory and processing speed, or to engage in more social interaction. Discover what we can learn from “super-brained” people who are in their eighties and nineties with no signs of slowing down—and whether there are truly any benefits to drugs, supplements, and vitamins. Dr. Gupta also addresses brain disease, particularly Alzheimer’s, answers all your questions about the signs and symptoms, and shows how to ward against it and stay healthy while caring for a partner in cognitive decline. He likewise provides you with a personalized twelve-week program featuring practical strategies to strengthen your brain every day.

Keep Sharp is the “must-read owner’s manual” (Arianna Huffington) you’ll need to keep your brain young and healthy regardless of your age!

My Review:

Keep Sharp by Dr Sanjay GuptaGuess I’ve never been really big on TV doctors or what they’re selling. I’m from the generation of Watkins and Fuller Brush products. Many of those old products were based on old tonics and elixirs that worked. Remember, Coca-Cola included minute amounts of cocaine up until 1929. You might have still been sick but no longer cared. (snicker)

So, I guess what I’m trying to say is that the information we’ve grown old with is still, even glaring in the face of new, improved drugs, medicines, lightning-fast tests, machines, and improved systems of care, managed to come back to the same tried and true doctrine:

Five points to work on NOW

  1. Exercise, exercise, exercise
  2. Eat right; veggies, fruit—no sugar, refined white flour, nothing fun
  3. Keep challenging yourself, brain games (forget jigsaw puzzles), and learn something new
  4. Take the time (after the exercise I guess) to relax using yoga, tai chi, or the relaxation method of your choice—no distractions
  5. Cultivate your healthy relationships, whether long-term spouse, close friends, or volunteer, join a group—get yourself out there.

“Food for Thought: The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d rather not…Mark Twain”

Alzheimer’s and Dementia–is it too late?

Few have not had these themes bombarding us since the advent of television or the internet. Dr. Gupta refers us to Dr. Internet to research information on Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other degenerative problems of the brain. It’s free.

Dr. Gupta cites the guidance as being scientifically based, but there is not much new information here.  He talks extensively about Alzheimer’s and dementia. However, the bad news is that by the time you figure that out—obviously it’s in evidence—and your time for heading off the problem was possibly decades previous.

One type of glial cell, microglia, engulfs and destroys waste and toxins in a healthy brain. In Alzheimer’s, microglia fail to clear away waste, debris, and protein collections, including beta-amyloid plaques.*

Did he decide whether or not that’s an inheritable trait? Apparently, as you probably know already—they can identify the culprit cell. Does that mean the person with the evidence will have the disease? Not necessarily. It’s as clear as mud.

He talks about cognitive reserve. The big keys here are specific activities that extend to the brain functions of reasoning and problem-solving. Jigsaw puzzles don’t do that.

My Take-Away

Okay, if not anything new, having it driven home again the importance of moving, moving, moving, and learning, keeping up social contacts (that includes you, my readers), and EATING  right (duh), I’ve resolved once again to look into the Mediterranean diet. (Is this something you are doing? I’d love to hear some of your ideas for meals.) Writing these posts has provided a plethora of learning opportunities. And walking, riding our bikes in the winter? Probably not. But I’ve acquired a few exercise tools—now I need to supply the incentive.

He advises seeking sources of information that include tests and I jumped on my own (United) health insurance as I am aware they are big on health and prevention which led me to their version of “Brain Games.” Behind that is a link through AARP into “Staying Sharp” that provides a number of tests. Scary stuff! And some REAL brain tests and games. (My problem is accessing and holding the website.) Also, I discovered another great link with solid content, brainHQ, has a minimal free hook into a subscription.

Dr. Gupta narrates his own book and delivers it in a pleasant, albeit authoritative voice, often punctuating it with well-known celebrities and colleagues’ names as backup experts. I downloaded a copy of this audiobook from my local well-stocked library. You may get the same advice from myriad sources–many of which are free. These are my honest thoughts. Are you a Gupta devotee?

Book Details:

Genre: Memory Improvement, Cognitive Neuroscience & Neuropsychology, Aging & Longevity
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
ASIN: B07Z6Q5BYB
Listening Length: 10 hrs
Narrator: Sanjay Gupta MD
Publication Date: January 5, 2021
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Links: Keep Sharp [Amazon]
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Kobo
Audible

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Rosepoint Publishing: Four stars 4 stars

The Author:

Dr Sanjay Gupta - author Sanjay Gupta

Born in Novi, Michigan, The United States

October 23, 1969

Website

http://www.cnn.com/CNN/anchors_reporters/gupta….

Genre

Health, Mind & BodyScience

(Librarian Note: There is more than one author with this name in the Goodreads database)
Sanjay Gupta is an American physician and a contributing CNN chief health correspondent based in Atlanta, Georgia. An assistant professor of neurosurgery at Emory University School of Medicine and associate chief of the neurosurgery service at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, he is also a frequent guest on the news program Anderson Cooper 360°. “Charity Hospital” won a 2006 Emmy Award for Outstanding Feature Story in a Regularly Scheduled Newscast. From 1997 to 1998, he served as one of fifteen White House Fellows, primarily as an advisor to Hillary Clinton. Gupta currently publishes a column in TIME magazine. He is also host of House Call with Dr Sanjay Gupta. His book Chasing Life was a New York Times and National bestseller. As of January 2009, he has been offered the position of Surgeon General of the United States in the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama; the final vetting is currently under way. [Goodreads]

©2022 V Williams

#ThrowbackThursday

*NIA NIH.gov/Health

Mitzy Moon Mysteries Books 2 and 3 by Trixie Silvertale – #BookReview – #paranormalcozymystery

Mitzy Moon Mysteries Books 1-3 by Trixie Silvertale

“Welcome to Pin Cherry Harbor where Mitzy Moon serves up the guilty!

“Mitzy Moon Mysteries revolve around Mitzy’s blossoming psychic powers and her uncanny amateur sleuthing skills in Pin Cherry Harbor (a fictional town on the shores of a great lake in almost-Canada).
“A wonderful cast of supporting characters, including an entitled feline and a skilled alchemist, help uncover clues and solve cases.”

Tattoos & Clues-Book 2

Book Blurb:

A beachside stroll. A deadly discovery. Will this psychic sleuth swim or sink?
Mitzy wishes she could turn a blind third-eye to her hit-or-miss powers. Instead, while taking her fiendish feline for a walk, they make a stomach-churning find on shore. Despite her loss of appetite, she can’t help but get a closer look at the unique ink etched into the corpse…

Before she can track down the killer, Mitzy must sweet-talk her way off the sexy sheriff’s suspect list. And once again her meddling Ghost-ma is dying to interfere with the case. But when the trail leads to dangerous smugglers who shoot first and don’t ask questions, she could end up in over her head…

Can Mitzy uncover the truth, or will hers be the next body to float to the surface?

My Review:

An interesting second book went right into the Mitzy as a suspect thing (again—one of my least favorites), although obviously no reason in the world she would be. It does, however, promote the “Sheriff Too Hot To Handle” Erick who steadfastly refuses to recognize Mitzy as anything but an interloper.

Tattoos & Clues by Trixie SilvertaleThe “Ghost-ma” is a major support character as is Silas, Mitzy’s attorney (also an alchemist) and an old friend of her recently deceased grandmother. Mitzy was an orphan after her mother died and she spent the remainder of her childhood in foster homes. The experienced honed a street-smart, independent, and savvy early twenty-something who was shocked to discover she had a father, much less a grandmother. She left Sedona, Arizona, without a backward glance and is beginning to earn a reputation in the fictitious far northern village of Pin Cherry Harbor.

Okay, enjoyed it, some further character development of both main and support characters as well as the people of the village. Twiggy, the eccentric bookstore manager and Odell, owner of Myrtle’s Diner, are beginning to come to the fore. There are characters here everyone can identify with, including the latter, and of course, Odell strongly reminds me of that old TV show with Linda Lavin and Vic Tayback as the fry cook, in “Alice.”

There is enough growth that it leaves you wanting to read Book 3 and that’s where the whole series really takes on a life of its own.

Rosepoint Rating: Four Stars 4 stars

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Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuth Mysteries, Ghost Mysteries, Cozy Animal Mystery
Publisher: Sittin’ On A Goldmine Productions LLC
ASIN: B07YR6RSSH
Print Length: 286 pages
Publication Date: November 19, 2019
Source: Local Library

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

Wings & Broken Things

Book Blurb:

A crime with no eyewitness. A determined psychic sleuth. Will her search for clues take her where angels fear to tread?

Mitzy Moon is eager to test her expanding abilities. She’d love to look into the hit-and-run that struck down her favorite veterinarian while everyone was at the Yuletide Extravaganza. But before she can suss out a single tip, the advances of a charming green-eyed stranger offer a dangerous distraction…

Desperate to put her investigation back on track, she goes undercover at the high school and lands on the wrong side of the law by lunch. And her “get out of jail free” card comes with the help of her meddling Grams, an interfering feline, and her alchemically inclined attorney. But when a curse puts her powers on the fritz, she may not be able to save everyone…

Can Mitzy juggle dating and sleuthing, or will a hex knock off more than her halo?

My Review:

Love this series already, the lightheartedness and sense of humor, great characters, and Pyewacket—not your average kitty!

Also delighted to read of the Swedish background (influence), since that is where my grandmother’s people are located (six miles from the North Sea actually). (My mother was very blonde although my grandmother was redheaded.)

Glögg–Swedish – means ‘to burn or mull’ which then evolved to become ‘glowing-hot wine’, and glögg by the late 1800s.

Wings & Broken Things by Trixie SilvertaleIt is through her Ghost-ma and now Silas as well that she is discovering she has “gifts” of which she was previously unaware. The problem is the discovery of just which gifts and how to use or interpret them. Quite possibly there are those out there with unusual gifts of their own that have a history with her grandmother. Oops.

In this novel, Mitzy will seek to find the person responsible for the hit-and-run of the surviving favorite town veterinarian and a missing angel statue. No bodies, not a lot of blood, but the introduction of a new and interesting character that might provide the dreaded romantic triangle.

Book 3 works heavily on character development and advances the series into the must-read category. It’s an easy read, although I’d love to get my hands on an audiobook. Books 2 and 3 further atmospherics but with a quantum leap in main character Mitzy. I’m loving the way she is being introduced to the paranormal possibilities but do tire of the trip and falls. Lots of quotables, snarky dialogue, and sense of humor keep the well-paced storyline spellbound. (Pun intended.)

“Questions are free; answers could cost you.”

I received a physical copy of the hefty compilation of Books 1, 2, and 3 from an inter-library exchange that in no way influenced this review. I’d previously read Book 1, Fries and Alibis, gleaned from a promo in October that totally fired my imagination and set up an affection for Pyewacket. But I couldn’t stop there and went on the hunt for Book 2. Glad I ended up with Book 3 as well for the character development. Those first three of the series sealed an amazing cast of characters, seated her position as owner of the bookstore, and created a salty air north Atlantic atmospheric village setting in “almost Canada” that’ll carry me through the rest (I think). Prolific author, now there are 21 in this series and I’ve already put in a request for another two. (If you’re a fan of audiobooks, they are available and my first choice.)

I’m a fan of paranormal mysteries and this pushes a number of buttons on my must have for a cozy. I could possibly do with a little less of the dreaded romance triangle and skinny jeans, but the dialogue (geared for a younger crowd), characters, and Pyewacket is endlessly entertaining. If you haven’t already discovered this author and series, I’d heartily recommend as too much fun! Trust me.

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

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Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuth Mysteries, Ghost Mysteries, Cozy Animal Mystery
Publisher: Sittin’ On A Goldmine Productions LLC
ISBN: ‎ 0999875833
ASIN: B07ZK32Q69
Print Length: 286 pages
Publication Date: December 13, 2019
Source: Local Library 

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

 

Trixie Silvertale - authorThe Author: USA TODAY Bestselling author Trixie Silvertale grew up reading an endless supply of Lilian Jackson Braun, Hardy Boys, and Nancy Drew novels. She loves the amateur sleuths in cozy mysteries and is obsessed with all things paranormal. Those two passions unite in her Mitzy Moon Mysteries, and she’s thrilled to write them and share them with you.

When she’s not consumed by writing, she bakes to fuel her creative engine and tends to her herb garden.

Visit her online at:
http://www.TrixieSilvertale.com
Instagram @trixiesilvertale

©2022 V Williams

#ThrowbackThursday

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

#ThrowbackThursday

 

Beartown Series—Beartown Book 1 and The Winners Book 3 by Fredrik Backman – #audiobook – #BookReview – #TBT

Beartown Series Books 1 and 3

I had the opportunity to download the ebook of The Winners on NetGalley after I discovered Beartown, the audiobook at my local library on the advice of Lynne of Fictionophile who thought I’d appreciate the former better having read the first in the series. Of course, The Winners at 684 pages would have been a daunting read for me, so I turned it over to the CE who burns through books like he does sweets. I really thought the CE would love it. We all came away with wildly different views of the series.

Beartown

Editors' pick Best Literature & Fiction

Book Blurb:

2018 Audie Award Finalist for Fiction

The number-one New York Times best-selling author of A Man Called Ove returns with a dazzling, profound novel about a small town with a big dream – and the price required to make it come true. 

People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semifinals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys. 

Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semifinal match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made, and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected. 

Beartown explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain. In this story of a small forest town, Fredrik Backman has found the entire world. 

My Review:

My first experience with a Backman novel and perhaps this might not have been the best choice. Genre is clearly noted as being sports fiction and this is definitely outside of my normal reading choices. As others have noted, however, it is a great deal more—my problem was in having the patience sufficient to get through the heavily weighted ice hockey game descriptions; game strategy, players, coaches, parents, rivalry, and ethics.

Of course, I loved that it is located in a tiny community in a deeply forested area of Sweden where one of the names of the major characters is Andersson since my grandmother was 100% Swedish and we still have distant relatives located there about six miles from the North Sea (if I’ve remembered it correctly. In the US, the family dropped the extra “S” that denoted the family name as Anders sons).

Beartown by Fredrik BackmanIt is the crushing isolation and the economic loss killing the little town that seems to force the only claim to fame it possesses—a junior ice hockey team extremely good at winning. Some of these kids are so good they are recruited to professional hockey. Too much weight on the shoulders of teenagers, however, builds the tension that eventually threatens to bury the last of their hopes.

It isn’t until two-thirds (or more) into the narrative that something tragic occurs that drives the plot slightly off the sports rail, much of it spent in chanting, “Beartown, Beartown, Beartown!”

The boys are a mix of low to well-to-do with the well-to-do kid one of the stars of the team and the nastiest of the group. The boy who wins my heart is the smallest (and fastest), Amat.

An emotional look at parenting, teenage angst, friendships, disloyalty, deadly rivalries, and the need to be accepted. I could understand the decisions made while at the same time railed at the loss it reflected.

I downloaded the audiobook from my local library that in no way influenced this review. These are my honest thoughts.

Rosepoint Rating: Four Stars 4 stars

Add to Goodreads

Book Details:

Genre: Sports Fiction, Small Town & Rural Fiction
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Narrator: Marin Ireland
ASIN: B06XHMLMT4
Print Length: 13 hrs 11 mins
Publication Date: April 25, 2017
Source: Local Library
Title Link: Beartown [Amazon]

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The Winners: A Novel

#1 New Release in Sports Fiction

Book Blurb:

A breathtaking new novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Anxious People and A Man Called OveThe Winners returns to the close-knit, resilient community of Beartown for a story about first loves, second chances, and last goodbyes.

Over the course of two weeks, everything in Beartown will change.

Maya Andersson and Benji Ovich, two young people who left in search of a life far from the forest town, come home and joyfully reunite with their closest childhood friends. There is a new sense of optimism and purpose in the town, embodied in the impressive new ice rink that has been built down by the lake.

Two years have passed since the events that no one wants to think about. Everyone has tried to move on, but there’s something about this place that prevents it. The destruction caused by a ferocious late-summer storm reignites the old rivalry between Beartown and the neighboring town of Hed, a rivalry which has always been fought through their ice hockey teams.

Maya’s parents, Peter and Kira, are caught up in an investigation of the hockey club’s murky finances, and Amat—once the star of the Beartown team—has lost his way after an injury and a failed attempt to get drafted into the NHL. Simmering tensions between the two towns turn into acts of intimidation and then violence. All the while, a fourteen-year-old boy grows increasingly alienated from this hockey-obsessed community and is determined to take revenge on the people he holds responsible for his beloved sister’s death. He has a pistol and a plan that will leave Beartown with a loss that is almost more that it can stand.

As it beautifully captures all the complexities of daily life and explores questions of friendship, loyalty, loss, and identity, this emotion-packed novel asks us to reconsider what it means to win, what it means to lose, and what it means to forgive.

His Review:

Beartown and Hed have had a rivalry as long as anyone could remember. There are two hockey teams and the competition is manic. There have been players good enough to advance to the NHL but that is not the deciding advantage in the area. Even a losing season is overlooked as long as the losers beat the neighboring town’s hockey team.

The Winners by Fredrik BackmanRemoteness in a seemingly endless forest captures the young people in a never-ending rivalry as well. Dates between the towns’ young people almost require a secret encounter rather than a public display. The town fathers are hyper in their protection of the team and the efforts to recruit the best players from each town.

The seclusion fosters paranoia between the towns as well. Closely guarded practices and team meetings engender the best in spy craft. Knowing the other teams’ strengths and game plans insures that the other team will be on top at the end of the season.

The schism that exists creates a continuous rivalry that permeates the fabric of the community and the end result is competition that can at times turn deadly. This author has spun a fantastical story which drove me to stop reading early because of the hate engendered between the young people in the towns.

I found the narrative disturbing in so many ways and felt a deep sadness for the inhabitants of both of the cities. It was so difficult to read the hate engendered between the young people of the two towns, I failed to complete the entire novel.  Crushing theme of isolation failure, humanity.  3 stars – CE Williams

Many thanks to Atria Books and NetGalley for providing me with the opportunity to read and review this book.

 

Rosepoint Publishing: Three Stars three stars

Add to Goodreads

Book Details:

Genre: Sports Fiction, Small Town & Rural Fiction
Publisher: Atria Books
ASIN: B09R2J1DXF
Print Length: 684 pages
Publication Date: September 27, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Links: The Winners [Amazon-US]
Amazon-UK
Barnes & Noble
Kobo

Fredrik Backman - authorThe Author: Fredrik Backman is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, Britt-Marie Was Here, Beartown, Us Against You, and two novellas, And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer and The Deal of a Lifetime, as well as one work of nonfiction, Things My Son Needs to Know About the World. His books are published in more than forty countries. His next novel, Anxious People, will be published in September 2020. He lives in Stockholm, Sweden, with his wife and two children. Connect with him on Facebook and Twitter @BackmanLand or on Instagram @Backmansk.

©2022 CE Williams – V Williams

The CE and I

#ThrowbackThursday

 

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

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