Audiobooks · Books

From The Reading Table: Vesuvius at Night

Vesuvius by Night by Lindsey Davis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I finally (!!) picked this up on and am I glad I did.

If you are a follower of the Falco series, you should know at least one of the main characters. If you aren’t it won’t matter. The difference, at least for me, is that I remembered that person from when he was a lot younger, more nieve, and a bit adventurous. It mattered.

I’ve studied what happened at Pompeii a lot in the past couple of years, but I have to admit that there was a head-slap moment when I realized that there was more than one way out of town, and it did not involve the water. [ Insert head-slap.] Yeah, it just never occurred to me. The other point is that apparently the majority of people started leaving early on. Call it a memory of the earthquake that almost destroyed the town a few years before. Archeologists have found many buildings still under repair from that earthquake.

All that being said, this was a powerful piece that resonated long after I finished listening.

This one will stay with you a bit and I think you will recall it if/when you watch any Pompeii walkthrough tours.

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Audiobooks · Books

From The Reading Table: Filling In The Blanks

Or, what do you do in between books in a series?

A couple of years ago I found myself in the middle of a Sherlock Holmes binge. If binge is what it could be called. Frankly, I’m not sure.

The problem is not new. It is also rather simple. Simplistic? <sigh> The problem is what do you do when you are in between books in the series you follow. You’ve read all the books by your regular authors, you are up to date, you are ready for the next adventure, but… The next book won’t be out for months yet.

To quote Charlie Brown, “Aaaarrrrrrrrgh!”

I’ve been blessed this past year or so to find a couple of new authors and series that have captured my imagination. When I look back at my book list I’m astounded – One series in particular has over 20 books.

On the other hand, I’ve dropped one author of a long running series who seems to have either given up or just gone off the rails. I honestly don’t know. I’ve another author, also of a long running series, who usually produces a book every 3 years or so but for reasons beyond explanation (or at least made public) this last offering took 7 years to appear. I have it, but I’ll be honest and tell you I haven’t opened it.

So, how have I managed to survive the time in between? I’ve re-read (re-listened, actually) to quite a few books in a series. I’ve looked for new authors. I’ve revisited classics. I’ve gritted my teeth and pulled up my library list from Audible to see what I haven’t listened to lately. 🙂

Speaking of, I am extremely grateful for their Audible Plus Catalog. (If you want details, check out their website.) In addition to the credits I purchase every month, I have access to hundreds, if not thousands, of books to tickle my fancy. Remember that series I mentioned … the one with the 20 books? Found it in the Audible Plus Catalog. 😀

Over the years I’ve had several authors who made my ‘Hardback List’. They were the ones I didn’t wait until the new books made it to paperback, I got them as hardbacks. Sadly, those authors have passed away. I have many, if not all, of their books on audio, so I can indulge as I choose. I can’t complain as I get to visit with old friends every times I pick up one of those wonderful books.

In the meantime, I’m doing my best to explore and find new authors. I look for different times, timelines, subject matter, you name it. It really is like wandering through the local book shop to see what catches my eye and my imagination.

Don’t Forget Those Readers!

One other thing I’ve been doing is following my favorite readers. For audio book fans, the readers can make or break the book. Here are a few of my favorites:

The amazing Jim Dale gained fame voicing the Harry Potter books. I love listening to his work! Stephen Fry is not only an excellent reader but has produced several fascinating books on a variety of topics that he has also read. Well worth checking out. Scott Brick is an excruciatingly busy reader! I find him reading many adventure books by different authors.

Simon Prebble is a long time favorite. His distinctive voice and excellent vocalization takes any work up a level. Davina Porter is one of the most interesting readers I’ve encountered. She manages not only a large number of characters but also a variety of accents and languages with apparent ease. Barbara Rosenblat is the reason I started reading what turned out to be one of my favorite series. Her work is impeccable.

I’m glad to say that I have a few items on my Pre-Order List to look forward to. Maybe relieved would be a better word? Let’s just say I’ve got things to look forward to. In the meantime, I’ve taken the time to go back and revisit authors and series to make sure I’ve not missed anything.

On to the next adventure!

Audiobooks · Books

From The Reading Table: A Catalogue of Catastrophe

A Catalogue of Catastrophe by Jodi Taylor

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve had to re-listen to this several times because I knew I’d missed things. I’d be doing the same thing if I had a paper, or electronic, copy. There’s a lot to take in.

Once again, Jodi has taken us on a wild ride. Once again she has provided some astounding storylines. Once again she’s managed to blow my mind.

The biggest thing I came away with after reading/listening to this book: How does she keep it all straight?

This series, as well as the Time Police books, is so well crafted that you often don’t see what is right in front of you. I’m at the point of going back and revisiting all of the books. The nuggets are buried among the bits and pieces of other stories and plot lines.

This takes me back to my overall question: How does she keep it all straight?

If you have not been a visitor to St. Mary’s or the Time Police, what has kept you? If you have, how do you recover?

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Books · Media · Musings · TV

Why Do We…?

I’ve been pondering something lately. Have you ever thought about why we connect with certain shows, books, or characters? What compels us to keep up with series – be it TV, movies or books?

Some folks spend decades deeply involved while others can take it or leave it.

For instance, I’ve spent decades keeping up with a book series or two, only to walk away after all that time because, finally, something just…snapped. Either my patience with an author ran out or there was no real evolution or movement to keep me interested. Or both.

I’ve been a fan of a couple of TV series that moved into movies (or the reverse, come to think of it). During all the years of engagement, some more heavily involved than others, there have been things that kept me connected, interested, somewhat involved. One, in particular, has had a tremendous growth over the past couple of decades, resulting in some amazing expansion from the original kernel that started it all in the first place.

There are a couple of book series that have been moved into radio, TV, and movies over the years. Each iteration has been interesting. Some were carefully crafted to stay in keeping with the original works, others have veered in directions I’m sure the original author would never have imagined. Some worked, some didn’t.

At the end of the day, I’m still curious about why we stick around. I don’t believe the answer to the question is easy or simple. I think that each individual case is unique. Sometimes we outgrow an idea while other times the idea outgrows us. Sometimes the creator – or creators – can’t maintain the level of creativity that caught our attention to begin with. Sometimes we just really like spending time with characters in places that are familiar.

What do you think?

Audiobooks · Books

From The Reading Table: An Act of Foul Play

An Act of Foul Play by T.E. Kinsey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I always enjoy visiting with Flo and Lady Hardcastle, and this visit was no exception. I particularly liked that they were also spending time with friends and family in their own neck of the woods, so to speak.

The mystery was well thought out and the twists and turns were captivating. I had an inkling of the murderer early on but the why and how had to come from the reveal.

Once again, Elizabeth Knoweldon did a fabulous job reading the book (I always listen via Audible). She handles various characters, accents, and genders extremely well. She even did a stellar job handling characters who were pretending to be other characters.

I still want to know what happened to the Rolls car, but I’m sure that will be answered in the next book.

While this is a great book on its own, I do believe that to get the full effect of the series, it is best to start at the beginning.

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Audiobooks · Books · Musings

From The Reading Table: About Time

About Time by Jodi Taylor

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh Boy!

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve restarted this book. I’ve restarted it because I am loving the story and when I get to the end I want to go back and discover what I might have missed the last time(s).

I’m an audiobook listener. Between the great presentation and the amazing plotting, this book is fantastic. I really can’t imagine a better way to curl up on a cold day.

Team Weird has undergone some serious changes. The Time Police is having A Really, Really Bad Day. St. Mary’s is in the mix. And that experiment with Greek Fire might not have been the best idea but what can you really expect?

Jodi continues to astound me with her plotting. I have found myself gobsmacked more often than I care to count with this one. Just when I think I have a clue what is going on something shifts a bit – maybe just a teeny tiny bit – and everything adjusts. A lot. A little. It really depends.

Which might give you a clue as to what different characters are experiencing.

If you have been following along from the beginning of the series, this addition will be a joy. If you are new to the series, what’s keeping you? Jump in! From the beginning or you won’t understand all the bits and pieces. 🙂

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Audiobooks · Books

From The Reading Table: Desperate Undertaking

This latest addition to the Flavia Albia series, not to mention the Falco series, is a sit on the edge of your seat thriller.

Desperate Undertaking by Lindsey Davis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have a decided fondness for authors who can create, and sustain, a series with characters and locations that are compelling. In this case, two series.

For those of us Falco Fans, Albia comes face to face with people that Falco and Helena encountered 15 (20?) years prior. It wasn’t a joyful situation.

This situation adds layers to the tapestry that Davis created when she developed both the Falco and Albia series. There is some cross-pollination simply because of the ebb and flow of people that come and go in our lives.

The killings are brutal. There is no doubt that whoever came up with the scenarios (yes, plural) is creative. The horror of discovery is matched by the desperate search to find and stop those responsible. Motive is a huge question – why were these people killed? The answers are chilling on several levels.

As I listened I found myself in awe of the creativity of the writer. While there is a lot of detail regarding a lot of things, thankfully there is not too much detail about certain things. If you have a fluid imagination be warned. On the other hand, the settings and background are beautifully rendered. I admit I would have liked to have a map but one really isn’t needed.

The characters are beautifully rendered. As usual, there are new folks we haven’t encountered in addition to those who came from prior books. The location is also brought to life. Rome in all its complicated majesty is almost a character in and of itself. Not surprising all things considered.

While I would strongly recommend this book to any Falco or Flavia reader, I do think that if you are new to the series you might be a bit lost in understanding the history of the people involved. But that is just me.

That being said, I am going to find the book that this particular work springs from and dive back in. As I recall from the last time I listened/read it, it was one of Falco & Helena’s best adventures.

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Audiobooks · Books

From The Reading Table: Murder Through The English Post

Or, how I spent yesterday. 🙂

Murder Through the English Post by Jessica Ellicott

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This 6th addition to the series has been a joy to listen to. Combined with a poison pen letter mystery is a bit of introspection by all of the main characters. When you consider that Beryl has only been at the Beaches less than a year, a lot has happened since the beginning of the series.

The letter mystery is beautifully crafted – I had no idea until the very end. I also thought the solution was quite unique, at least I’ve not encountered anything similar.

As for the individual characters, Ellicott has once again brought each into focus and reminded us of where we started. The pleasure of these books is the way the characters, and the stories, are crafted. There is a clear deliberation on every detail that creates a lovely tapestry of the location, time, and people. And the dog!

Yes, each book can be read on its own, but I strongly urge new readers to start at the beginning and work their way forward. They won’t be disappointed.

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Audiobooks · Books

From The Reading Table: Death Beside the Seaside

Death Beside the Seaside by T.E. Kinsey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A breath of fresh air!

I always enjoy spending time with Lady Hardcastle and her lady’s maid, Flo. This time was no exception.

The writing is sharp, funny, and very enjoyable. The mystery kept my attention and made me put on my thinking cap. The historical bits were well researched – I love the description of the car!

All in all, this was a great book to curl up with on a rainy day. Since I primarily ‘read’ via audiobook, it was a great accompaniment to some Solitaire during a rather noisy rainstorm.

All in all, a great adventure for any time of the year, but especially as a summer read.

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Audiobooks · Books

From The Reading Table: Death In A Blackout

Death in a Blackout by Jessica Ellicott

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really wanted to love this book. I love the Beryl and Edwina series from this author. That might be a bit unfair to the author, but there it is.

I didn’t dislike the book. There is potential with the setting and the characters. The solution to the mystery was quite unusual and actually interesting. No cookie-cutter construction which is a blessing for those of us who abhor those kinds of books.

The first issue I encountered was the development of the foundation of the series for the reader. Necessary, yes. A bit too long for me, however. If memory serves it took 11 chapters before our two protagonists were in the same town. I understand the requirement to set the scene, but … This leads to the second issue I encountered; our female protagonist seemed to magically acquire abilities that were not even mentioned previously in development. I have to wonder what might have been edited out just to get the book ready for publishing.

All that being said, I will keep an eye out for the next addition to the series and see if I’m inclined to listen in. Speaking of listening, the audiobook reader did an excellent job, so no issues there!

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