Audiobook – Lord of the Silent by Elizabeth Peters

Posted by on Oct 4, 2013 in 4.5 stars, Audio, Book Review, Elizabeth Peters | 3 comments

Lord of the Silent by Elizabeth Peters

Lord of the Silent by Elizabeth Peters

Genre: Historical Mystery
Series: #13 in the Amelia Peabody series publication order, #15 in story chronology order
Publisher: Recorded Books
Publication Date: 2001 Recorded Books (Book originally published 2001)
Length: 16 hours, 12 minutes
Read by: Barbara Rosenblat
Source: Library

The Short Version:
In 1916 Egypt Amelia Peabody Emerson and her family hunt for treasure and the identity of criminals while trying to stay alive.

Why I Read It:
This is one of my favorite series and my friend at Beth Fish Reads and I planned to listen to it close to the same time (her review is here).

The Book:
From the publisher

It is the autumn of 1916, and war has cast its long shadow across Egypt. Cairo is filled with soldiers, and the ancient tombs are filled with treasure hunters. Amidst this chaos, the Emersons have come for their yearly dig. When Amelia Peabody Emerson discovers a fresh corpse in an antique tomb, she knows this season will be a most intriguing one.

My Thoughts:
Note on series order: I read this one out of publication order because I’m reading the series in order of the story. You can find the chronology here.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amelia_Peabody_series

By now it’s no secret that I love this series and I can’t imagine experiencing it in any other format than the audio version narrated by the wonderful Barbara Rosenblat.

There are so many ongoing storylines extend throughout the series that it’s really difficult to even mention much of the plot without getting spoilery. I think it’s best if I just hit some of my random thoughts and a few favorite passages that made me back up and listen again.

I enjoyed this entry in the series a lot. After some major revelations and key changes in character relationships in the previous book I wasn’t sure what would be next for the Emerson family.

There was adventure and life threatening situations, of course, with plenty of humor along the way.

Told mostly from Amelia’s viewpoint which over the course of the series I’ve learned is does not exactly make for unbiased narration. There are sections (described as from “Manuscript H” that tell the parts of the story that take Amelia’s son and his wife away from Amelia’s direct observation. The transitions between the major narrative devices are not new and by this point in the series are familiar and smooth.

There were a couple of surprise reappearances of characters from earlier in the series that I hadn’t expected to see again but I was glad to see how it worked in the story.

As I said earlier, one of the things I love about this series is that Amelia continually makes me laugh. I’ve already shared some quotes in some recent Weekend Update posts but these are some additional quotes that made me giggle:

“What shall we do, then?”
“Wait,” said Emerson. “Someone is bound to attack you sooner or later, it happens every year.”

The children had been gone for almost a week when I decided Emerson’s laissez-faire approach was not going to work. No one had attacked us. It was extremely vexing . . .

There were several domestic matters to be dealt with before we could leave for Luxor. I had always envied male police officers and detectives their freedom from such distractions; Mr. Sherlock Holmes, for example, never had to condern himself with ordering meals, settling disputes with contentious servants, or coping with small sulky chldren and large sulky cats.

Amelia’s son Ramses has gone from a character who annoyed me in the early books (when he was a child) to a romantic lead as the series continues. I never would have expected that he would become a favorite character. I can’t say THE favorite character because frankly I have so many favorite characters at this point in the series

I truly adore Barbara Rosenblat narration of this series. Over the years she has taken her characterization of Ramses from an annoying toddler to an even more annoying young child to an adult who is downright sexy. All the way she has kept his character consistent, yet growing and developing throughout the series I still maintain that I would probably not enjoy these books as much if I read them in print.

This continues to be one of my favorite series to experience via audio but you really need to start at the beginning with Crocodile on the Sandbank.

As for me, I’ve already started listening to the next book in the series.

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5 for the book

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5 for the narration


SoundBytes is a weekly roundup of audio book reviews hosted by Jen at Devourer of Books.

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Audiobook – He Shall Thunder in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters

Posted by on Jun 7, 2013 in 2013, 4.5 stars, Book Review, Elizabeth Peters | 3 comments

He Shall Thunder in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters

He Shall Thunder in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters

Genre: Historical Mystery
Series: #12 in the Amelia Peabody series publication order, #14 in story chronology order
Publisher: Recorded Books
Publication Date: 2000 Recorded Books (Book originally published 2000)
Length: 17 hours, 7 minutes
Read by: Barbara Rosenblat
Source: Purchased

The Short Version:
World War I comes to Egypt and in 1914-15 it has a tremendous impact on the work of the archaeologists and particularly the Emerson-Peabody clan and their friends.

Why I Read It:
This is one of my favorite series and my friend at Beth Fish Reads and I planned to listen to it at the same time (more about that later).

The Book:
From the publisher

Trouble is brewing in Egypt at the close of 1914 and no one will escape the coming tempest. With the world at war, Amelia Peabody and her husband Radcliffe Emerson have returned to Cairo for another season of archaeological excavation—despite the increasing danger of an attack on the Suez Canal and on Egypt itself.

A terrible conflict looms. A long-simmering love affair is resolved. A dastardly plot unfolds. There is no escaping the furious storm that now threatens the Emersons and their world—so Amelia plunges right into it.

My Thoughts:
Note on series order: I read this one out of publication order because I’m reading the series in order of the story. You can find the chronology here.

Well, the best laid plans and all that goes with them means that a hoped for joint review with Beth Fish Reads didn’t happen this time. We had wanted to listen to this one at close to the same time so we could chat about it and perhaps put together a joint review but travel schedules and the fact that she gets through audiobooks at least three times as fast as I do thwarted that plan. Perhaps for the next book in the series but she’s got to promise to give me a two week head start on listening. You can see her review at Beth Fish Reads.

I will say that this is (at this point anyway) my absolute favorite book in the series. That may change before I finish the series but the bar has been set very high by this one.

While I am accustomed to the fact that much of these books are told from Amelia’s less than neutral and clearly embellished viewpoint I did get a giggle out of the editor’s note at the beginning.

Being only too familiar with Mrs. Emerson’s prejudices and selective memory, the Editor was surprised to discover, after painstaking research, that her account agrees in all important particulars with the known facts.

I remember in the early books in the series when Ramses was my least favorite part of the books. He was an annoying character and Barbara Rosenblat’s characterization of his voice only reinforced my annoyance whenever he was involved. Fast forward a few years and books and I do believe I’m developing a bit of a literary crush on ol’ Ramses. As the character has aged through the books Barbara Rosenblat has changed his voice and speech pattern appropriately. He’s quite the romantic lead character at this point.

He can make me laugh too.

“I must be cruel, only to be kind.”

What a smug, self-righteous thing to say to someone whose heart you had cleft in twain. Hamlet had always struck him as something of a prig.

Amelia and Emerson are finding themselves struggling a bit with accepting that their children are growing up. Relationships are changing both between Amelia and her husband as well as between the younger adults and the parents.

“Why don’t you ask the Professor whom he suspects?”
“I could do that,” Ramses admitted.
“It is time you began treating your parents like responsible adults,” David said severely.

Of course Amelia views her son growing up in her own inimitable way.

In other words, he was thinking like a man. Emerson was just as bad; I always had trouble convincing him that he needed me to protect him. Dealing with not one but two male egos was really going to be a nuisance.

The Emersons are most definitely not an average family. This conversation occurs as they’re on their way to a restaurant for dinner

“Aunt Amelia, does it ever occur to you that this family is a trifle eccentric?”
“Because we are taking the cat to dinner with us?”

When Amelia opens her Christmas present from Emerson I nearly drove off the road I was laughing so hard but I can’t tell you about that. You’ll have to let that one be a surprise. Amelia’s adventure driving Emerson’s car was another time where I found myself laughing out loud.

I did hit a tree or two, but not very hard. Since I was not entirely confident of my ability to turn the car, I had to go all the way to Helwan before I found a space large enough to drive in a nice circle and head back the way I had come. That was when I hit the second tree. It was only a glancing blow.

Clearly what I enjoy about this series is the combination of action and mystery combined with some cleverly witty humor.

This is enhanced by Barbara Rosenblat’s narration. I firmly believe that I would probably not enjoy these books as much if I read them in print. Rosenblat performs these characters perfectly. She’s just serious enough to be believable as the self-confident (sometimes overly so) Amelia. She’s got Emerson’s gruffness and occasional cluelessness down pat. As I mentioned above she’s grown Ramses from an annoying toddler to a romantic leading man. I sometimes wonder if she has to re-record certain sections because you can almost hear the not quite repressed laughter in her voice.

This continues to be one of my favorite series to experience via audio but you really need to start at the beginning with Crocodile on the Sandbank.

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5 for the book

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5 for the narration

SoundBytes is a weekly roundup of audio book reviews hosted by Jen at Devourer of Books.

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Audiobook – The Falcon at the Portal by Elizabeth Peters

Posted by on Mar 22, 2013 in 2013, 3.5 stars, Audio, Book Review, Elizabeth Peters | 2 comments

The Falcon at the Portal by Elizabeth Peters

The Falcon at the Portal by Elizabeth Peters

Genre: Historical Mystery
Series: #11 in the Amelia Peabody series publication order, #13 in story chronology order
Publisher: Recorded Books
Publication Date: 2000 Recorded Books (Book originally published 1999)
Length: 15 hours, 23 minutes
Read by: Barbara Rosenblat
Source: Library

The Short Version:
In 1911 Egypt the extended Peabody-Emerson family may be too wrapped up in various intrigues and emotional dramas to actually get any archaeological excavation accomplished.

Why I Read It:
This is one of my go to audio series and I was due for another visit with Amelia Peabody and her family

The Book:
From the publisher:

The Land of the Pharaohs harbors more secrets than any tomb can hide.

In Egypt for the 1911 archaeological season, Amelia Peabody and her family are not anticipating trouble, but it finds them nonetheless. Their young friend David is accused of selling ancient artifacts, and it’s up to the Emersons to expose the real culprit. But the body of an American discovered at the bottom of their excavation shaft and a child of mysterious antecedents are sparking twin crises that threaten to tear the family apart. Amelia brings her estimable powers of deduction to bear, but she might not survive long enough to unravel more than one perplexing puzzle—because suddenly someone is shooting bullets in her direction . . . and coming too close for comfort!

My Thoughts:
Note on series order: I read this one out of publication order because I’m reading the series in order of the story. You can find the chronology here.

I’m hesitant to say anything that will give away much related to ongoing storylines because there are some crucial things that happen in this book that will affect characters in future books.

I really enjoy the way that real people, events and places are such an integral part of these books. Howard Carter (who discovered King Tut’s tomb) as well as other prominent real people are integrated into the stories. It was fun to hear his financial sponsor Lord Carnarvon mentioned because we’d recently watched a special about Highclere Castle (where Downton Abbey is filmed) and it’s the ancestral home of Lord Carnarvon. I love how all those little threads of unrelated information all meet up in the oddest of places and ways.

The mysteries in this one are typical of this series. There’s always trouble and or deaths that may interfere with the planned excavation and potentially endanger one or more members of the family. Amelia is sure she can figure out the truth and her husband is his usual blustery and gruff but with a soft side self. The younger generation of the family is really becoming more primary than secondary characters. As they have grown over the course of ht series it’s fun to see them taking more prominent roles.

As always there were plenty of moments that had me giggling as I was driving around listening to this. Typically these involve Amelia’s observations or wild theories but sometimes it’s just her general upbeat outlook.

The girl’s eyes followed him with a dog-like adoration. I let out an inaudible sigh. So it was to be Ramses with this one. All the new female servants fell in love with my husband or my son, or both. It was only a minor inconvenience, since Emerson never noticed and Ramses was too well-brought-up to misbehave — not in my house at any rate! — but I did get tired of stumbling over misty-eyed females.

Ramses and Emerson had begun unpacking the boxes of books we had brought with us but had stopped midway as men always do, leaving books on the floor, on the chairs, and on the tables.

I went first to the little shelter I had caused to be set up nearby. I always make it a point to arrange a rug and a few chairs and a table and other modest comforts in a shady place so that we can retire to it for refreshment and occasional rest periods. Unnecessary discomfort is inefficient as well as foolish.

“Unnecessary discomfort is inefficient as well as foolish” may be my new motto,

Barbara Rosenblat narrates these books perfectly. She’s just seriously enough to be believable as the self-confident (sometimes overly so) Amelia. At the same time there’s just a hint of a wink in her voice to let the listener know that she’s smiling as she’s reading certain sections.

This continues to be one of my favorite series to experience via audio but you really need to start at the beginning with Crocodile on the Sandbank.

3.5 stars Rating 3.5/5 for the book

4 stars Rating 4/5 for the narration

SoundBytes is a weekly roundup of audio book reviews hosted by Jen at Devourer of Books.

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Touring my TBR Spreadsheet and Shelves – December 2012

Posted by on Dec 4, 2012 in Blogging/Reading, Carolyn Haines, Elizabeth Peters, Rhys Bowen, Susan Wittig Albert | 4 comments

Touring my TBR Spreadsheet and Shelves

This month I’m talking about Cozy Mysteries.

This week is Cozy Mystery Week hosted by Jenn at Jenn’s Bookshelves.

Cozy Mystery Week

While I am focusing my reviews this week on Cozy Mysteries it’s not possible for me to have a review from all the cozy series I read. For that reason I’m using this month’s Touring post to talk about a few of my favorite cozy mystery series that I’m not reviewing this week.

Thyme of Death by Susan Wittig Albert China Bayles Herbal Mysteries by Susan Wittig Albert
This series takes place in the present day in the hill country of Texas. China Bayles used to be a high powered attorney in Houston. Fed up with the rat race, she left Houston and her legal practice to buy an herb shop in the fictional small town of Pecan Springs.

Her best friend Ruby runs the New Age shop next door and the two of them seem to spend as much time getting themselves into trouble as the do solving mysteries.

I like the way the author uses China’s legal background to keep her a little bit between total amateur sleuth and legal professional. The fact that her boyfriend is an ex Texas Ranger (the legal kind, not the baseball type) and teaches criminal justice at the local college also brings in an aspect of real police work to balance China and Ruby’s more than regular missteps.

Every book includes a lot of information about various herbs and plants and their practical uses. There are also recipes included.

Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters Amelia Peabody Adventures by Elizabeth Peters
Set in mostly Egypt (but sometimes England or other Middle East locations) between 1884 and 1923. This series features the outspoken and often inadvertently hilarious Amelia Peabody.

The series is presented as her journals edited and published many years after they were written. In later books they are interspersed with excerpts from additional manuscripts and letters that are from the point of view of her children.

Amelia’s adventures feature her and her archaeologist husband Emerson as they explore and manage excavations in Egypt at about the same time as many other famous archaeologists and explorers.

Many actual people appear throughout the books including Howard Carter who is famous for discovering King Tut’s tomb in 1923.

Them Bones by Carolyn Haines Sarah Booth Delaney Mysteries by Carolyn Haines
Set in a small town in contemporary Mississippi, Dahlia House is the ancestral home of Sarah Booth Delaney’s family. Sarah has returned home after giving up on an acting career in New York but the cost of keeping up the family home is proving to be tough.

There’s someone else living at Dahlia House, though. The problem is that she died in 1904. Jitty is a sassy entertaining ghost who can nag Sarah and cause more trouble that some living folks can. When Jitty was alive, she was the nanny for Sarah’s Great Great Grandmother. Jitty needs to help Sarah keep Dahlia House because having the house stay in the family is the only way Jitty can stick around.

This leads to some hilarious conversations and interactions. Although Jitty is often a little too concerned with getting Sarah to produce a Delaney heir, she’s still a crackup. You never know how Jitty will appear. What Sarah will see Jitty wearing will often depend on Jitty’s mood or motivations. It can be anything from any era, whether or not was alive at that time. Jitty’s 1960’s era phase was hilarious.

Murphy's Law by Rhys Bowen Molly Murphy Mysteries by Rhys Bowen
This is another historical series. Molly Murphy arrives in New York City in 1901. She’s left Ireland after fighting off the advances of a wealthy landowner’s son and accidentally landing herself in serious legal trouble. She meets up with Kathleen O’Conner who heading to America with her son and daughter to join her husband there. When Kathleen’s health prevents her boarding the ship Molly takes the children and Kathleen’s ticket.

On arrival in New York she takes the children to their father but by now the kids are wrapped around her heart and will always be a part of her life.

An unfortunate set of circumstances leave Molly as the prime suspect of a murder on Ellis Island and her efforts to clear her own name lead her to an unlikely apprenticeship with a private detective.

Are you a fan of Cozy Mysteries? What are your favorites. Be sure to head over to Jenn’s Bookshelves this week to see what’s up for Cozy Mystery Week,

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Audiobook – A River in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters

Posted by on Nov 16, 2012 in 2012, 3 stars, Book Review, Elizabeth Peters, What's in a Name | 4 comments

A River in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters

A River in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters

Genre: Historical Mystery
Series: #19 in the Amelia Peabody series publication order, #12 in story chronology order
Publisher: Recorded Books
Publication Date: 2010 Recorded Books (Book originally published 2010)
Length: 11 hours, 7 minutes
Read by: Barbara Rosenblat
Source: Library

The Short Version:
The Peabody-Emerson family and friends are persuaded to assist with an expedition to Palestine to search for the Ark of the Covenant but find themselves in new kinds of trouble.

Why I Read It:
This is one of my favorite series to read via audiobook and it’s one I always look forward to returning to.

The Book:
From the publisher:

August 1910. Banned from the Valley of the Kings, Amelia Peabody and husband Emerson are persuaded to follow would-be archaeologist Major George Morley on an expedition to Palestine. Somewhere in this province of the corrupt, crumbling Ottoman Empire—the Holy Land of three religions—Morley is determined to unearth the legendary Ark of the Covenant.

At the request of British Intelligence, Emerson will be keeping an eye on the seemingly inept Morley, believed to be an agent of the Kaiser sent to stir up trouble in this politically volatile land. Amelia hopes to prevent a catastrophically unprofessional excavation from destroying priceless historical finds and sparking an armed protest by infuriated Christians, Jews, and Muslims. Meanwhile, Amelia’s headstrong son, Ramses, working on a dig at Samaria, encounters an unusual party of travelers and makes a startling discovery—information that he must pass along to his parents in Jerusalem . . . if he can get there alive.

My Thoughts:
Note on series order: I read this one out of publication order because I’m reading the series in order of the story. You can find the chronology at this link.

Elizabeth Peters had always intended that the timeline of this series would end with the 1922-1923 excavation season in which King Tut’s tomb was discovered. She has written additional books that fill in some of the gaps where the series originally skipped over several years. I have chosen to listen to the books in the chronological order of the storylines as best as I can.

It was interesting to have the series shift location away from Egypt where most of the action has taken place previously. For much of the book the action is taking place in two separate locations. The Emersons’ son Ramses is off on his own for significant portions of the story. His parts of the story are once again told interspersed with Amelia’s journal as excerpts from “Manuscript H”.
As usual there were plenty of moments when Amelia’s observations and comments made ma giggle.

In fact I had heard all I needed to hear. Men like to create unnecessary organizations and give them impressive or mysterious names; this usually ends in increase confusion and should therefore be ignored.

The men had scattered in all directions, which men are inclined to do when women leave them to their own devices for any length of time. I believe that they are easily bored.

I never lie unless it is absolutely necessary, so I did not reply.

Barbara Rosenblat delivers these gems perfectly. Just seriously enough to indicate that Amelia firmly believes what she says but at the same time with just enough of a wink in her voice to let the listener know that she’s giggling inside too.

This continues to be one of my favorite series to experience via audio but you really need to start at the beginning with Crocodile on the Sandbank.

3 stars Rating 3/5 for the book

4 stars Rating 4/5 for the narration

SoundBytes is a weekly roundup of audio book reviews hosted by Jen at Devourer of Books.

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Audiobook – Guardian of the Horizon by Elizabeth Peters

Posted by on Sep 7, 2012 in 2012, 4 stars, Audio, Book Review, Elizabeth Peters | 4 comments

Guardian of the Horizon by Elizabeth Peters

Guardian of the Horizon by Elizabeth Peters

Genre: Historical Mystery
Series: #16 in the Amelia Peabody series publication order, #11 in story chronology order
Publisher: Recorded Books
Publication Date: 2004 Recorded Books (Book originally published 2004)
Length: 14 hours, 39 minutes
Read by: Barbara Rosenblat
Source: Library

The Short Version:
The Peabody-Emerson family is summoned back the Lost Oasis ten years after their first visit to find both old friends and themselves in danger.

Why I Read It:
I have enjoyed the audio versions of this series as read by Barbara Rosenblat for a while now and it’s been a few months since I listened to The Ape Who Guards the Balance.

The Book:
From the Amelia Peabody website:

Ousted from their most recent archaeological dig and banned forever from the Valley of the Kings, the Emersons are spending a quiet summer at home in Kent, England, when a mysterious messenger arrives. Claiming to be the teenage brother of their dear friend Tarek, prince of the mysterious Lost Oasis, the charismatic herald brings troubling news of a strange malady that has struck down Tarek’s heir and conveys his brother’s urgent need for help only the Emersons can provide.

Driven by loyalty — and a fear that the evil forces opposing Tarek’s rule will now exploit the royal heir’s grave illness — the family sets off in secret for the land time forgot — a mountain fortress from which they narrowly escaped ten years before. Braving the treacherous desert climate on a trek fraught with danger at every turning, guided only by a crumbling map, the Emersons are unaware that deception is leading them onward into a nest of vipers — where a dreadful fate may await. For young Ramses, forced to keep his growing love for the beautiful Nefret secret, temptation along the way may prove his ultimate undoing. And a dark past and grim obligation have ensnared Nefret once again, as she is helpless to save those she loves most from the prison of the Lost Oasis.

My Thoughts:
Note: I read this one out of publication order because I’m reading the series in order of the story. You can find the chronology at this link.

Elizabeth Peters had always intended that the timeline of this series would end with the 1922-1923 excavation season in which King Tut’s tomb was discovered. She has written additional books that fill in some of the gaps where the series originally skipped over several years. I have chosen to listen to the books in the chronological order of the storylines as best as I can.

I have to admit that the previous book in this series that I listened to The Ape Who Guards the Balance. was not one of my favorites. I had issues with both the story and the audio production and thought it was just OK. Because of that I was extremely happy to find that this book was more of all the things I love about this series and Barbara Rosenblat’s reading of it.

Amelia is one of my favorite characters; I love her style and sarcastic wit. Her complete lack of self awareness at times is pretty amusing. As the children have become older and the books now include excerpts from a perspective other than Amelia’s it’s becoming more and more interesting to me.

In the early books of the series I didn’t like the character of Amelia’s son at all but as he’s become an adult and matured he’s becoming more and more of a favorite to me. While the future of some ongoing storylines is clearly inevitable and predictable, the journey is still fun and Peters manages to keep the suspense going. While each book is it’s own adventure, the stories that continue throughout the series are entertaining and fun. The Emerson-Peabody clan and their various friends and employees and yes even their returning enemies have become old friends that I’m enjoying and getting to know better with each book.

Barbara Rosenblat is one of my favorite narrators but she really excels with this series. She has handled the multitude of character voices and maintained a good level of consistency over time as the series has continued.

It’s a fun and entertaining series but you really need to start at the beginning with Crocodile on the Sandbank.

4 stars Rating 4/5 for the book

4 stars Rating 4/5 for the narration

SoundBytes is a weekly roundup of audio book reviews hosted by Jen at Devourer of Books.

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