September was a very busy month with finishing up the garden (early this year), temps turning cool, and fewer sunny days. I know many of you love the fall colors and relief from summer high temperatures, but for me it’s a herald of the coming winter–NOT something I look forward to.
My big bookish news, of course, was the achievement of the 500 reviews badge from NetGalley. That required a concentrated effort this year after I determined I could achieve the badge this year. Having done so, I can relax a little now and get back to more diversity.
Together we read or listened to seventeen books in September from NetGalley, as well as audiobooks and a couple author requests.
YAY! The CE and I both had two books that we felt warranted five stars—a first. My stars went to two of my favorite authors, Amanda Hughes and Melanie Forde. I love the books by these ladies and highly recommend them (my review links above). And I must mention again the audiobook read by Tom Hanks, The Dutch House (link to my review above). The entertainment value!—my gosh—the man can read!
Have you read any of the above? Agree with us?
My challenges—behind again. My challenges for 2022 are all listed and linked in the widget column on the right. Hopefully can get them caught up soon. You can always check out their progress by clicking the Reading Challengespage. I’m now at 82% of the Goodreads Challenge of 180 books at 149 and achieved my Audiobook Challenge of 30, the Historical Reading Challenge of 25, and the NetGalley Challenge of 75.
The upper Midwest—*deep and heavy sigh*—an ecosystem of its own–turning cool enough by the middle of September to warrant at least a sweater. Bye-bye summer, it was way too short and sweet this year.
Welcome to my new followers and as always I appreciate those who continue to read, like, share, and comment—especially comment! How are you doing with your challenges? Let me know if you saw something above that got your interest.
Back in May of 2020 when I downloaded and listened to Where the Crawdads Sing audiobook, I had no idea it would be a movie. The audiobook blew me away. I loved it, although it has not been received with the same genuine appreciation by all who read the book.
When the movie opened in July, I was able to see the result on the big screen, and I should mention, the big screen is the only way to view this atmospheric movie—the cinematography is breathtaking.
I promised a critique of the movie comparing it to the book that took the author ten years to write. Did the movie do justice to the book that has now been read by millions around the globe?
The Movie (Blurb)
“A woman who raised herself in the marshes of the deep South becomes a suspect in the murder of a man she was once involved with.”
The movie does a credible job following the major plot points of the book. The actors are wonderful, including London star Daisy Edgar-Jones who has to dig into her non-existent Southern roots to get the drawl right. No one likes the guy who ends up the murder victim, everyone loves Kya (both the girl and the woman do convincing, emotional jobs) and the support characters are great. So far, so good.
But the photography and cinematography are exceptional. Atmospheric and beautiful, the location draws you in and almost overpowers the storyline, although the storyline as you must know by now is gripping.
It’s a passion-packed plot with themes of abandonment, loneliness, ingenuity, independence, love, loss, and triumph. It’s enough to wring tears from Scrooge.
Reece Witherspoon promoted the film from the get-go, loving the marsh story which was enough in itself, and then the added mystery of the murder—was it murder or an accident? Must be a murderer as Kya goes to trial—she was seen with him. And though I’m not a fan of Taylor Swift, she contributes a lovely, haunting melody.
Director: Olivia Newman
Stars: Daisy Edgar-Jones, Taylor John Smith, Harris Dickinson, Jojo Regina
Released July 15, 2022 (Filmed in New Orleans, Louisiana)
Among the eight producers, Reese Witherspoon is listed as executive producer and promoted heavily.
Although Mychael Danna is listed under Music, Taylor Swift also contributed a song she named Carolina.
#1 this week
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING PHENOMENON—NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE!
More than 15 million copies sold worldwide
A Reese’s Book Club Pick
For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life – until the unthinkable happens.
Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.
Well, if you read my original review of the audiobook, you know I loved it. Unique, beautiful in the telling, and so well drawn and gripping, it’s one of those you truly can’t put down.
The story of six-year-old Kya Clark, abandoned by her mother and shortly thereafter by her (much) older siblings is now living in a marsh shack with her despotic father. Kya has to pretty quickly learn to survive on her own near Barkley Cove, North Carolina.
The novel is divided by her story that begins with her mother leaving in the early morning hours of 1952 and the discovery of a body in 1969 near the old tower.
The storytelling is so emotionally poignant, the prose flows through beautiful descriptions of the natural setting in the marsh that it’s easy to smell the decaying vegetation, algae inhabited waterways, spy the marsh inhabitants, amphibians, birds, and insects…
The characters are brought vividly to life with the narration, alternately spoken by child or adult, literate or illiterate, as well as the Carolina drawl… Once having learned to motor into town on their old marsh fishing boat, she begins to draw the attention of the cashier at the Piggly Wiggly, the African American family, Jumpin’ and Mabel, where she bought the gas, and soon the lady from school, where she was promised a meal–real food–once a day…
Self-educated, no one knows more about the natural world of the marshlands than Kya. She’s come to be known as the “Marsh Girl.” She’s smart, has gone on to publish books on the wildlife of the marsh. But could it possibly have been she to cause the death of Chase?
The conclusion resolves carefully allowing you long enough for your heart to settle back down when you are knocked off your feet by a shocking revelation you didn’t see coming. It’s a brilliant twist, the well-plotted and written narrative so engrossing, so achingly atmospheric, every sense poised that you are hanging on every word. It’s a serious exploration of not a male coming of age this time, but a female left on her own reconciling abandonment, loneliness, hunger, disappointment, and triumph. Completely immersive, so engaging it remains solidly planted long after the end resulting in a tremendous book hangover.
Genre: Romance, Literary Fiction, Women’s Fiction Publisher: Penguin Audio ASIN: B07FSXPMHY Listening Length: 12 hrs 12 mins Narrator: Cassandra Campbell Audible Release: August 14, 2018 Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections) Title Links: Where the Crawdads Sing [Amazon US]
The Author:Delia Owens is the co-author of three internationally bestselling nonfiction books about her life as a wildlife scientist in AfricaCry of the Kalahari, The Eye of the Elephant, and Secrets of the Savanna. She has won the John Burroughs Award for Nature Writing and has been published in Nature, The African Journal of Ecology, and International Wildlife, among many others. She currently lives in Idaho, where she continues her support for the people and wildlife of Zambia. Where the Crawdads Sing is her first novel.
The Narrator: Cassandra Campbell is a prolific audiobook narrator with more than 700 titles to date. Winner of four Audie Awards and nominated for a dozen more, she was a 2018 inductee in Audible’s inaugural Narrator Hall of Fame.
While the actors do an amazing job of bringing to life the experience of the marsh, it was (for me) the atmospherics so well drawn in the book that commands attention. It was an engrossing recreation of the novel by Delia Owens, faithful to that jaw-dropping twist at the end. A fine representation of the book and well worth the time spent on the big screen.
You already know my assessment of the book—while it might approach cheesy a few times—it introduces innocent romance (on one side anyway) and manages to successfully weld a sub-plot realistically with a satisfying conclusion.
Loved the book, loved the movie, the latter being an excellent choice for a cinema visit. For me, however, I’ll still give the nod to the well-crafted narrative by Ms Owens. There’s a reason it’s gone around the world a few times and continues to garner major attention. You can’t go wrong with either the audiobook or the digital/paperback, however, I would recommend the audiobook as being expertly read by Cassandra Campbell.
I mentioned last month the fun with new gardening possibilities and while the sauerkraut was a bust, the carrots did pretty well. The rest of the veggies in the gallon fermenter got too soft. Now, I have ripe cherry tomatoes coming out of my ears and already dried the first batch. A bit too much pepper on some, but otherwise, they are like little tomato-flavored candies.
Okay, admittedly, that has little to do with books, although an excellent reason I’m slow to read this month. Thank heaven for audiobooks and the CE!
Speaking of the CE…we will be celebrating our 60th wedding anniversary on the 2nd (cue the horns!). Hoping to do a couple things; still there are issues with gas and Covid. Because I am writing this ahead of those last three review posts, the links will be to Amazon rather than my review which I will edit upon return to my computer. (Sadly, I don’t know how to get a link to a review scheduled, not yet posted. Yes, I know—don’t say it.)
Together we did read or listen to nineteen books in August, most from NetGalley as I’m still working on the 500 badge; as I’m writing this, now up to a count of 494. So close!
My challenges—promises, promises, promises. Yes, I caught it up! Not once, but twice as I lost all my input the first time. My challenges for 2022 are all listed and linked in the widget column on the right. You can always check out the progress of my challenges, if you are so inclined, by clicking the Reading Challengespage. I’m now at 73% of the Goodreads Challenge of 180 books at 132 and achieved my Audiobook Challengeof 30 and the Historical Reading Challengeof 25. I also achieved the yearly goal of 75 for Netgalley and Edelweiss, although of course, those books are all from NG.
Having to do over the Reading Challenges page taught me one thing: I’m not keeping up with it well. Not updating, nor reporting to the challenge hosts. My apologies. I think going forward I will undertake fewer challenges and not try to list individual entries to the challenge. Makes the page unwieldy and for what purpose? Tell me, honestly…have you ever looked at it?
Where the Crawdads Sing (my review of the book here by Delia Owens) starringDaisy Edgar-Jones—was excellent. Did you get a chance to view it? I’ll be doing a critical review discussing both shortly. I’d love to hear what you thought, too! Did you read the book?
We here in the upper Midwest had a beautiful August—I can’t complain—with pleasant temps during the day and cool in the evening perfect for sleeping. Did you get the kiddies off to school? We’ve been informed we are expecting our second great-grandchild. Too early to know boy or girl. In the meantime, the boy is trying to walk. He’s nine months. The fun begins…
Welcome to my new followers and as always I appreciate those who continue to read, like, share, and comment. Please let me know if you saw something above that got your interest.
Last month I mentioned new food possibilities from Amazon in addition to my veggie garden and sad to say, the mushroom block was a bust. Nothing happened. No mushrooms. I’ve been enjoying lots of spouts though, they add a tang to salads and sandwiches.
The cherry tomatoes are finally ripening, so slow this year. Contrary to most of the country, our temperatures have been temperate, almost comfortable, but tomatoes like it hot so they are slow. They are so sweet though—will be like candy when I get them dried. (See book graphic below)
Now the new thing in July is “fermenting.” Got a couple lids and started on sauerkraut, but blew it by not exercising more patience. Then I got a gallon size glass bottle with a special fermenting lid (see that lid? It will exhaust but not allow oxygen back in) and trying that with carrots and cucumbers. Gotta be patient with this one and let it go at least thirty days. It’s been a week today…You can see why I might do more reading in the winter.
So of course I rely heavily on the CE for his reviews, so much of my time spent otherwise. He’s into the reading thing—now if I can just get him into the reviewing thing! We did read or listen to seventeen books in July, most from NetGalley as I’m working on the 500 badge, now up to a count of 482 and my ratio continues to be 95%.
My challenges—goodness, I just neglect them something awful. Okay—maybe winter? My challenges for 2022 are all listed and linked in the widget column on the right. When I get them updated, you can check out the progress of my challenges by clicking the Reading Challengespage. I’m now at 64% of the Goodreads Challenge of 180 books at 116.
Looking forward to catching Where the Crawdads Sing (my review of the book here by Delia Owens) starringDaisy Edgar-Jones—they finally released it—and not sure now it’s even still there. Did you get a chance to view it?Does it do justice to the book?
I’m experiencing a drought of books that really glue me to the Kindle app and now with audiobooks as well(after The Nightingale—well, how do you follow that?), having started several and dumped. I hesitate to keep going back to favorites, but not having a lot of success with throwing a dart and hoping it sticks. Any suggestions?
How was your July? The US is either frying, in severe drought, or flooding and it appears we’ll get a taste of the former next week. Fortunately, the winds off the Great Lakes shift and give us a retrieve after a few days.
Welcome to my new followers and as always I appreciate those who continue to read, like, share, and comment. Please let me know if you saw something above that got your interest. I hope August will be kind to you and yours wherever you live.
Goodreads Choice Awards–The Best of the Winners and Losers
Most of my readers know I love keeping up with Goodreads stats. I’ve been known to join the Spring and Summer Challenges, set a new bar every year for the yearly Goodreads Challenge, keeping a tally in the widgets. Also, I like to check what I read against nominees and winners, as I did in 2020. (While we can vote our choice of the nominees, the nominees are all theirs.)
Okay—later this year. (Much later—I’ve been busy.) But the good news is that I was pleasantly surprised at the number of, if not winners in the category, at least nominees. Have you taken a look back?
I read from a sample of categories, including humor, memoir, and biography but of these had only one nominated in both 2019 and 2020 in Memoir (Maid ) and Greenlights). My favorites, of course, are Mystery & Thriller, Historical Fiction, Fiction, and Debut novels.
There are a number of Hot Debuts you may be interested in—I already checked out Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus (audiobook). My review on Thursday, July 14.
Among The Most Read Books of the 2022 Reading Challenge (So Far) are a number of books that I read years ago, some of which are included below in my listing of 2020 and 2021 (nine in my categories). I am not surprised, however, to see the number three spot: Where the Crawdads Sing. The movie is premiering this July 15 and I’ve been waiting for it since the announcement. Directed by Olivia Newman, the lead, Daisy Jessica-Jones (24), is an English actress playing Kya Clark.
The links below are to the Goodreads listings. Those with a thumbnail of the cover also have a link to my review.
While I failed to choose any that were ultimately chosen #1, I did have my fair share of winners listed in the top twenty. Six in 2020 in three categories; six in 2021 in three categories.
How many of the above did you read? Do you look for ideas from the Goodreads winners? Will you be choosing one of the 2022 trending books? And, lastly—will you be going to the movie? You know I’ll be comparing it to the book.
I pretty much spend most of my time in the gardens in June, particularly the veggie garden. And with new food possibilities from Amazon also ordered a mushroom block (I chose Oyster mushrooms) and spouts—so many from broccoli sprouts to mixed salad sprouts and alfalfa sprouts. They are fun to see grow though I’d admit to some intensive work—sprouts have to be rinsed every 3-4 hours until ready for harvest. My broccoli spouts were a winner. Now I’m trying salad sprouts.
So far, the garden has yielded some sweet peas and beans along with the first yellow squash. This year also, my daughter introduced me to “grow bags” which led me to start some seed potatoes. Never too old to learn something new! All to say, I guess that June is not a big reading/reviewing month for me. BTW, so far the mushroom block is a dud. Not sure what I did wrong as it was supposed to have between four to five “flushes.” (My daughter got five.)
Again, I relied heavily on the CE for his reviews, so much of my time spent otherwise. We did read or listen to nineteen books in June, most from NetGalley as I’m working on the 500 badge, now up to a count of 472 and my ratio continues to be 95%.
I’m still struggling with my challenges—I’m sure I’ll catch up some time in July when it’s too hot to be outside. My challenges for 2022 are all listed and linked in the widget column on the right. You can check out the progress of my challenges by clicking the Reading Challengespage. I’m now at 54% of the Goodreads Challenge of 180 books at 98. Seems like we’ve had a spate of historical fiction books this year, given that is one of the CEs favorite genres. I’ve come to rely heavily on audiobooks, I can do those while gardening!
Did you check your Kindle Spring Challenge? I did make gold. (A Gold Reader is achieved upon reading any 75 days during the Challenge. Also notes I unlocked 12 of 16 achievements. The challenge ended today.
A big month for us, we drove with our son to visit our daughter at her new (to her) home in southern Illinois. They have five acres there she will use for personal benefit, but additionally wants to start posting about their farm (Red Barn Farm) and the progress they are making with planting. So far, she is trying to do her “shorts” on her cell phone. I just got a new laptop and am busy trying to make the transition but utilize Photoshop for graphics and can’t download my program to the laptop. I may end up giving her the laptop and keeping my old desktop—impossible though to lug around on trips. Also, we celebrated the CEs birthday as well as our son (born on the same day). Maybe with the heat things will begin to slow down.
How was your June? Are you experiencing record-breaking heat? I want to welcome my new followers as always and thank those who continue to read, like, share, and comment. Please let me know if you saw something above that got your interest and have a safe, sane July.
TV Netflix Series The Lincoln Lawyer vs Audiobook by Michael Connelly
So, have you been thoroughly saturated with The Lincoln Lawyer yet? First, we had the book written by Michael Connelly (2005), then the movie starring Michael McConaughey (March 2011), and now the Netflix series starring Manuel Garcia-Rulfo. No? There’s a reason for that (besides the male stars of either screen version)—it’s good. Escapist entertainment, satisfying, realistic well-drawn characters. (But I have to be honest with you—I didn’t see the movie version.)
“Idealistic lawyer Mickey Haller runs his practise out of the back of his Lincoln Town Car, taking on cases big and small across Los Angeles.”
Season 1 is actually based on Connelly’s second novel,Brass Verdict, as conceived by David E Kelly and developed by Ted Humphrey. Haller is a defense attorney whose practice and marriage to prosecutor Maggie McPherson (McPherce) were curtailed by his painkiller addiction. Now clean and ready to resume his legal profession, he inherits a colleague’s caseload. The caseload includes one new and a couple of ongoing cases that are pulled to the fore with a team necessarily involved in extensive investigation.
The part of Mickey Haller is handled well byManuel Garcia-Rulfo (although I’m not sure if I missed an explanation for his accent or not),
Neve Campbell as Maggie McPherson,
Becki Newton as ex-wife number 2 Lorna Crain, Jazz Raycole as Haller’s driver Izzy Letts, and Christopher Gorham as Trevor Elliott as well as a number of other prominent parts, including Angus Sampson as Cisco.
Christopher Gorham as Trevor Elliott plays his despicable part to Emmy level and for the most part, the cast works well. LA always sparks an iconic atmospheric setting and who doesn’t love those ginormous old Lincolns? The series sets an early hook and keeps the viewer gripped with a tantalizing and complex plot, full of suspense, ending each episode with a cliff-hanger into the next. It’s well done.
I could see Netflix following the book, making expected changes for a series often predicting the scene and plot line of the book but not necessarily the timeline. There were subtle differences but not so radical as encountered with a few of the previous books to small screen conversions lately. I suspect Connelly had a strong hand in keeping the series version authentically Connelly. In any case, the series is engaging and entertaining using wildly divergent characters to glue together a gripping thriller.
INSPIRATION FOR THE ORIGINAL SERIES THE LINCOLN LAWYER – THE #1 TV SHOW ON NETFLIX
The bestselling legal thriller has charismatic defense attorney Mickey Haller taking on a slam-dunk court case involving a Beverly Hills playboy — but as it spirals into a nightmare, he finds himself in a fight for his life. Mickey Haller is a Lincoln Lawyer, a criminal defense attorney who operates out of the backseat of his Lincoln Town Car, traveling between the far-flung courthouses of Los Angeles to defend clients of every kind. Bikers, con artists, drunk drivers, drug dealers — they’re all on Mickey Haller’s client list. For him, the law is rarely about guilt or innocence, it’s about negotiation and manipulation. Sometimes it’s even about justice. A Beverly Hills playboy arrested for attacking a woman he picked up in a bar chooses Haller to defend him, and Mickey has his first high-paying client in years. It is a defense attorney’s dream, what they call a franchise case. And as the evidence stacks up, Haller comes to believe this may be the easiest case of his career. Then someone close to him is murdered and Haller discovers that his search for innocence has brought him face-to-face with evil as pure as a flame. To escape without being burned, he must deploy every tactic, feint, and instinct in his arsenal — this time to save his own life.
Mickey Haller is handed a “franchise” case in the form of an entitled, rich playboy who is very used to calling the shots. Haller, however, working out of the back of his Lincoln isn’t exactly flush himself and could use the revenue. On the surface, it didn’t look like it would be a tough negotiation.
Haller isn’t new to the game. He’s defended and accumulated a client list of a variety of defendants from bikers and con artists to drug dealers. Louis Ross Roulet is the spoiled child of a wealthy mother who will do anything to keep her son out of jail. He is accused of beating up a woman he met in a bar when they went back to her room. He vehemently denies hitting her and further asserts she set him up. What could go wrong?
Well, I have to say I liked the character of Haller, even with having two failed marriages and his ex-wives still in the picture, no less, along with a small daughter. He is charismatic, there’s a heart of gold beating in there somewhere, and it shows in the clients he’s successfully defended and willing to perform some pay-back work.
Haller is complex; obviously, he has his failings, his flaws. He brings intelligence, wit, and energy to the story. He’s been around long enough to know the score and quickly begins to smell a rat. Something about Roulet isn’t ringing true. And if nothing else, he won’t allow himself to be manipulated beyond his moral compass. I love the way he deals with his antagonist.
Michael Connelly is the bestselling author of over thirty novels and one work of nonfiction. With over eighty million copies of his books sold worldwide and translated into forty-five foreign languages, he is one of the most successful writers working today. A former newspaper reporter who worked the crime beat at the Los Angeles Times and the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, Connelly has won numerous awards for his journalism and his fiction. His very first novel, The Black Echo, won the prestigious Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award for Best First Novel in 1992. In 2002, Clint Eastwood directed and starred in the movie adaptation of Connelly’s 1998 novel, Blood Work. In March 2011, the movie adaptation of his #1 bestselling novel, The Lincoln Lawyer, hit theaters worldwide starring Matthew McConaughey as Mickey Haller. His most recent New York Times bestsellers include The Law Of Innocence, Fair Warning, The Night Fire, Dark Sacred Night, Two Kinds Of Truth, and The Late Show. Michael is the executive producer of Bosch, an Amazon Studios original drama series based on his bestselling character Harry Bosch, starring Titus Welliver and streaming on Amazon Prime. He is also the executive producer of the documentary films, “Sound Of Redemption: The Frank Morgan Story’ and ‘Tales Of the American.’ He spends his time in California and Florida.
The Netflix Series
WOW! I have to hand it to the Netflix version. While it doesn’t follow Book 1 to conclusion (after all, it’s a series), it does include all the important plot points, charismatic characters, and atmospheric LA locations and scenes. The character of Haller’s first ex doesn’t fit for me—feeling she appears older, not just in terms of maturity, but age as well, looking a good ten years older to his youthful good looks. Doesn’t work for me as well as ex number 2, although I can understand why that marriage didn’t work either. It appears that Haller could be a player, but he’s a great deal more dedicated to his profession than to his women. And he’s very, very good at his profession.
I’ve become a solid fan of the Connelly style of writing a legal thriller; the mystery, the suspense, the characters all well-drawn and engaging. The fast-paced plot never sags and he brings a satisfying conclusion to the narrative, if just a tad beyond plausibility.
Genre: Legal Thrillers, Literary Fiction Publisher: Hachette Audio ASIN: B000BND03U Listening Length: 11 hrs 36 mins Narrator: Adam Grupper Audible Release: September 27, 2005 Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections) Title Link: The Lincoln Lawyer [Amazon]
Netflix has done an admiral job of bringing to the small screen an authentic feel of the original work by the author. With just a couple casting wobbles, it engages and entertains solidly throughout the episodes with an equal level of suspense leading the viewer to continue the series and looking forward to Season 2 (and surely there will be a second).
The book, in my case audiobook, narrated capably by Adam Grupper hooks from the beginning and becomes suspenseful, gripping, and thrilling. I enjoy legal thrillers anyway, and this checks all the boxes for me that include a seriously complex plot that doesn’t sag.
Happy either way—one or both—entertaining and looking for more. Have you read the book? Listened to the audiobook? Saw the movie? Viewed the series? What did you think? Haller or Connelly fan? I’d love your comments!
I'm glad I learned to express my thoughts clearly and everyone loves to read them. Sometimes it takes a lot of thinking power to think about the surroundings. Someone who likes it, someone who enjoys it, appreciates that he is writing very well. Reading and commenting on the post I wrote would give me a lot of bullshit and I would get new ideas to write new ones.
I'm really glad I got your response.