Darkest Fear by Harlan Coben – #Audiobook Review – #TBT

Darkest Fear by Harlan Coben

Darkest Fear by Harlan Coben

Book Blurb:

In Darkest Fear, Myron Bolitar faces the most emotionally shattering case of his career. And it all begins when Myron’s ex-girlfriend tells him he is a father – of a dying 13-year-old boy….

Myron’s sports agency is struggling. Now more than ever, Myron needs to keep his eye on the ball, sign up some big-name clients, and turn away from the amateur detective work that is taking precious time away from the agency.  

But life is not going according to plan. Myron’s father, recently recovered from a heart attack, is facing his own mortality – and forcing Myron to face it, too. Then comes another surprise. Emily Downing, Myron’s college sweetheart, reappears in his life with devastating news: Her 13-year-old son, Jeremy, is gravely ill and can be saved only by a bone-marrow transplant – from a donor who has vanished without a trace. And before Myron can absorb this revelation, Emily hits him with an even bigger shocker: Jeremy is Myron’s son, conceived the night before Emily’s wedding to another man.

Staggered by the news, Myron plunges into a search for the missing donor. But for Myron, finding the only person in the world who can save a boy’s life means cracking open a mystery as dark as it is heartbreaking – a mystery that involves a broken family, a brutal kidnapping spree, and a cat-and-mouse game between an ambitious reporter and the FBI. 

Somewhere in the sordid mess is the man who once signed his name to a bone-marrow donor’s registry, then disappeared. And as doubts emerge about Jeremy’s true paternity, a child vanishes, igniting a chain reaction of truth and revelation that will change everyone’s life forever.

At once a riveting mystery and a spellbinding journey into the secrets that haunt families, lovers, and friends, Darkest Fear proves once again that Harlan Coben is a master storyteller like no other – and one of the most original talents in suspense fiction today. 

My Review:

Whoa, another series into Book 7 but my first. Yes, I’ve done it again and this is a series in which growth and change continue so this should probably not be read as a standalone, although it does sneak in some backstory.

Myron Bolitar has a struggling sports agency, so this series usually has a totally different focus.  He does, however, do some amateur detective work but that’s not the reason Emily Downing comes calling.

Darkest Fear by Harlan CobenEmily is a former college sweetheart. She informs him that her thirteen-year-old son is seriously ill and will die unless she can track down the possible donor, already identified, but missing. She’s frantic. Oh, and by the way, Myron is the father.

Apparently falling to pattern but with a much darker vibe than in previous series entries, Myron begins the search that quickly becomes complicated and you know will get more so.

There is a very rich, powerful family and it doesn’t take long before even the FBI is involved. Myron has quite the sarcastic wit and sense of humor, not tempered in the least by sidekick Win. To add to the mix, a new romantic interest in his life, which, of course, you gotta have in any detective series.

The storyline is hampered somewhat by a slow and convoluted start. Depending on how quick or how deep I’m hooked and also my multi-tasking, I’m apt to listen with half an ear if not thoroughly engaged. This one takes quite a while, introducing characters, then twists and turns and can switch from serious to wisecracking in the blink of an eye.

There are a few of the old tropes thrown in for good measure along with quotables:

“His blond locks had been parted with the precision of old ladies dividing up a lunch check.”

Now that’s funny! I must admit to enjoying some witty barbs. If you’re a Coben fan, you’ll no doubt enjoy this dark departure from the usual in the series—or not—but the sense of humor is still there.

I previously listened to Tell No One, not part of this series, and really enjoyed it. A copy of this audiobook was supplied also by my favorite well-stocked local library, this one narrated by Jonathan Marosz. These are my honest thoughts.

Book Details:

Genre: Mysteries, Suspense, Suspense Thrillers
Publisher: Random House Audio
ASIN: B000OYAJBC
Listening Length: 7 hrs 40 mins
Narrator: Jonathan Marosz
Publication Date: April 21, 2006
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Darkest Fear [Amazon]

Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four Stars 4 stars

 

Harlan Coben - authorThe Author: With over 70 million books in print worldwide, Harlan Coben is the #1 New York Times author of thirty one novels including RUN AWAY, FOOL ME ONCE, TELL NO ONE, NO SECOND CHANCE and the renowned Myron Bolitar series. His books are published in 43 languages around the globe.

Harlan is the creator and executive producer for the Netflix television dramas SAFE starring Michael C. Hall, Audrey Fleurot and Amanda Abbington, and THE FIVE starring Tom Cullen and OT Fagbenle. He is currently filming THE STRANGER, based on his novel, for Netflix starring Richard Armitage, Siobhan Finneran, Jennifer Saunders and Stephen Rea. Harlan was also showrunner and executive producer for two French TV mini-series, UNE CHANCE DE TROP (NO SECOND CHANCE) with Alexandra Lamy and JUST UN REGARD (JUST ONE LOOK) with Virginie Ledoyen. KEINE ZWEIT CHANCE, also based on Harlan’s novel, aired in Germany on Sat1.

Harlan’s novel TELL NO ONE (NE LE DIS A PERSONNE) was turned into the renowned French film, directed by Guillaume Canet and starring Francois Cluzet. The movie was the top box office foreign-language film of the year in USA, won the Lumiere (French Golden Globe) for best picture and was nominated for nine Cesars (French Oscar) and won four, including best actor, best director and best music. The movie with subtitles is now available on Netflix, Amazon Prime and DVD/Blu-Ray.

Winner of the Edgar Award, Shamus Award and Anthony Award – the first author to win all three – international bestselling author Harlan Coben’s critically-acclaimed novels have been called “ingenious” (New York Times), “poignant and insightful” (Los Angeles Times), “consistently entertaining” (Houston Chronicle), “superb” (Chicago Tribune) and “must reading” (Philadelphia Inquirer).

[truncated—please see the author page for his full bio]

Harlan was born in Newark, New Jersey. He still lives in New Jersey with his wife, Anne Armstrong-Coben MD, a pediatrician, and their four children.

©2022 V Williams V Williams

#throwbackthursday

TV Netflix Series Along for the Ride vs #Audiobook #AlongfortheRide by #Sarah Dessen – Teen & YA Fiction

TV Netflix Series Along for the Ride vs Audiobook Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

TV Netflix Series Along for the Ride vs #audiobook #AlongfortheRide banner

Goodreads Choice Award winner

Intro

ClipArt-When pigs flyI’m sure you are gasping or at the very least rolling your eyes. As you know, I don’t do Romance or Teen and YA Fiction and yet here it is, so things do happen when pigs fly.

So let me explain what happened. Have you ever been in a hurry to go get the shopping done but just finished your last audiobook? And then, this time of year with so much time spent in the garden—where’s my audiobook? So, no, I didn’t dump it right away and opt for something in more of an adult thriller (other than facing current grocery prices).

Okay, then…yeah, I got interested; sucked in with the character of Auden. She’s eighteen, just graduated, and has decided to spend the summer with her dad and his new (much younger) wife and new baby in their little beachside town of Colby. Auden’s mother is not exactly the clingy type; she’s intelligent, extremely independent, and cerebral surrounded by fellow literary types. She’s the more successful of the two parents, her father working feverishly on his second book and not doing so as well.

Yes, I know you’re with me so far as the book has been out since 2009 which also tells you how long it takes for something to finally hit the little screen. The book is one of many from this author in the same vein.

So here I am, innocently finishing up the audiobook when I see it’s just landed on Netflix and if nothing else, I am curious.

Netflix Series

Emma Pasarow-actress
Emma Pasarow
Belmont Cameli-actor
Belmont Cameli

Along for the Ride released on May 6, 2022 on Netflix. It was written and directed by Sofia Alvarez and stars Emma Pasarow, Belmont Cameli, Kate Bosworth, and Andie MacDowell, among others.

Of the film, Netflix says, “The summer before college Auden meets the mysterious Eli, a fellow insomniac. While the seaside town of Colby sleeps, the two embark on a nightly quest to help Auden experience the fun, carefree teen life she never knew she wanted.”

Auden is, after all, the daughter of a successful academic, a serious student who had not participated in typical high school activities, friends, or related experiences. She was held remotely, the younger child of the divorced couple. It seems she never wanted for money as much as time and attention.

On one of her nightly loner excursions, she meets Eli who, also an insomniac, rides his BMX bike in and around the Boardwalk.

I warmed up to Emma Pasarow as the lead character pretty quickly, took a little longer for the same with Belmont Cameli. And bless her heart, Andie MacDowell, one of my favorite actresses, is just too old to play Auden’s mother (looking more like her grandmother). Maggie holds back acceptance of Auden and then suddenly becomes overly solicitous to the point of disbelief. While the book discusses the situation of her dad’s marriage, her academic focus, and lack of a normal high school experience, it seems the latter is the focus of this Netflix interpretation. Suddenly it’s playtime and there are numerous scenes of dancing and parties (alcohol, no drugs).

Along for the Ride-filmHer father’s character is played well. This viewer took a dislike to him as quickly as the book version. He’s narcissistic, uninvolved with either his new wife or baby, and focused 150% on his book.

Of course there will be conflict—Auden and Eli, Auden and her father, Auden and her mother. There is a dawning awakening with her mother. Her stepmother is another character played well and doesn’t have nearly the clueless ineptitude with her baby as she does in the book. She does, however, look for help with the crumbling of her marriage to Auden’s dad with Auden’s mother. (Talk about fairy tales!)

Well, we have a short and poignant boohoo scene, another party scene, dad goes back to Heidi and their new baby, the fight with Eli works out and he’s off to Barcelona, while she and Maggie ride into the sunset to the university where they’ll be roommates.

What? Did I miss the whole conflict resolution? It all got worked out during the last party I guess. Or maybe it was when I got up to let the dog out. Things changed mighty quick.

My Thoughts

As my daughter used to say, “gag me with a spoon.”  So much of the development of Auden is lost in the Netflix version. She goes on a “quest” to do the fun things she’d formerly missed out on—as in teenage bucket list? To an extent, it did somewhat change that stilted visage we first saw. I never really did get Eli and didn’t see a lot of chemistry between them. He had a dark secret that was divulged pretty quickly and I couldn’t understand how her presence made the difference that fast.

On its own, if you haven’t read or listened to the book, you might very well enjoy.

2.5 stars

Audiobook (Blurb)

Nights have always been Auden’s time, her chance to escape everything that’s going on around her.
Then she meets Eli, a fellow insomniac, and he becomes her nocturnal tour guide.
Now, with an endless supply of summer nights between them, almost anything can happen. .
. .

My Thoughts

The audiobook as narrated by Rachel Botchan has a slightly high, immature quality, annoying at first although I’m sure meant to convey the voice of a teen. Once used to that, the character of Auden begins to take on an empathetic quality and if the reader can’t identify with her, can engage in her character at arms’ reach and enjoy the journey to discover the life that is her father’s—one that she has not previously understood.

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen-KindleHer father is even more distant than her mother, so intent on his agenda he has no room left for her. Her stepmother is at her wits end with a screaming infant with no clue how to care for it. It’s written off as colic and nothing for it but to let her scream. Heidi is almost immediately sympathetic. She is exhausted and has literally no support, nor does she feel she wants to relinquish the care of the infant (described in the book as six weeks) to any help.

Eli is mysterious and in his own world, but he is a good listener and Auden learns there is much she missed—something Eli shared with others that was lost—and still is. Auden is being introduced to the world of peers, friends, fun times, and the haunts or secrets of their little town as well as the beauty of it. She is also introduced to the world of bike racing and jumping and is finally taught to ride, something she eventually does with Eli in her prom dress after she is stood up the second time by the same guy (not Eli).

“And the bottom line is, what defines you isn’t how many times you crash, but the number of times you get back on the bike.”

She is visited by her mother surveying the stepmother’s boutique and her brother, more than once, when he comes back to introduce his fiancé to the family. She is a total shock to their mother in particular, and a complete opposite to any her brother had previously dated.

The conclusion happened in the blink of an eye, no problem too big to handle. Eli comes to terms with the death of his best buddy and heads off to Barcelona (where does he get his money??!), her dad returns to his young family, her mother with her smitten stalker, and all the university angst is conquered.

3.5 stars 

Overall Impression

The Book

There is more going on in the book than the oft-vapid teenage world portrayed in the Netflix version. The characters of the book were somewhat developed though not complex, although if you were searching for a solid plot—forget it. It’s a YA platform—fun and games. These teens also played at working (so maybe there was some responsibility). I loved the daily “dance break” both in the audiobook as well as the Netflix version. Okay, yes! but it was cute. 

Netflix

The Netflix version left me flat wondering why I’d just sat through the whole thing—because I wanted to compare it to the book? The characters, the ones they used from the book, had little depth. They skipped much of the heart of the book. Auden learned she could have girlfriends. What else…Auden could party like the rest. Hmmm, Auden learned her mother wasn’t so bad but her father was worse?

The genre listed for the (audio)book is “Teen & Young Adult Fiction on Marriage & Divorce. Oops. That latter part was glossed over in a hurry.

Anyone else see a resemblance between the author and the lead character (Emma Pasarow)? Also, there was an interesting little interview with the two main leads on the Netflix Book Club, “But Have You Read the Book?” with Uzo Aduba that you might wish to check out.

Conclusion

This time my vote has to go to the author’s book. Fast, easy (or listen) read—look for it—there is a message.

Book Details

Genre: Teen & Young Adult Fiction on Marriage & Divorce, Teen & Young Adult Parents Fiction, Children’s Books on Marriage & Divorce
Publisher: Listening Library
ASIN: B002DN9I8M
Listening Length: 12 hrs 46 min
Narrator: Rachel Botchan
Audible Release: June 16, 2009
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Along for the Ride [Amazon]

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Sarah Dessen-author
Author Sarah Dessen

The Author: I’ve been writing, in one way or another, for as long as I can remember. I was always a big reader, mostly because my parents were. I used to get frustrated with my mom because she bought me books for Christmas when what I really wanted were the gifts my friends got, things like sweaters and jewelry. But I did love to read. When I was eight or nine my parents gave me an old manual typewriter and a little desk in the corner of our den, and I’d sit there and type up my stories. I was the kind of kid that people always sighed over and said, “She has such a wild imagination,” which usually meant “I wish Sarah would try to stick to the truth.” I have a tendency to embellish: I think it’s just a weakness of fiction writers. Once you learn how to make a story better, it’s hard not to do it all the time.”The books I read when I was teenager, the good ones anyway, have stuck more in my mind than anything since. I still love books, but while I couldn’t tell you complete plots of novels I read even six months ago, I do remember even the smallest descriptive details from Lois Lowry’s A Summer to Die or Judy Blume’s Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. I think it was because back then books were still somewhat new to me, and when I found an author who seemed to say just what I was feeling, it really struck me and resonated. I hope that my books do that for the people who read them: I think it’s the best thing to which any writer can aspire. “As far as my other life, my non-writing life, I live in the country with my husband, some lizards, and two dogs who are completely spoiled and rule me completely. I like to work in my garden—although I have not yet perfected the art of keeping everything alive—-and, in my weaker moments, shop. I have a bit of an addiction to the Gap clearance rack, to be honest. I have this strange need to buy huge quantities of black pants. How many pairs of black pants does one person need? (Obviously for me, the answer is 11 and counting. But I digress.) What else can I tell you? I love Starbucks mochas but they make me way hyper. I subscribe to too many magazines. I make a mean bean salad. I could go on, but the truth is, my books are much more exciting than I am, and that’s a good thing. It’s always more fun to make stuff up anyway.”

©2022 V Williams

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V Williams

#TuesdayBookBlog

The Henna Artist: (The Jaipur Trilogy Book 1) by Alka Joshi – #Audiobook Review – #TBT

The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi

The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Goodreads Choice Award nominee

Book Blurb:

Vivid and compelling in its portrait of one woman’s struggle for fulfillment in a society pivoting between the traditional and the modern, The Henna Artist opens a door into a world that is at once lush and fascinating, stark and cruel.

Escaping from an abusive marriage, seventeen-year-old Lakshmi makes her way alone to the vibrant 1950s pink city of Jaipur. There she becomes the most highly requested henna artist—and confidante—to the wealthy women of the upper class. But trusted with the secrets of the wealthy, she can never reveal her own…

Known for her original designs and sage advice, Lakshmi must tread carefully to avoid the jealous gossips who could ruin her reputation and her livelihood. As she pursues her dream of an independent life, she is startled one day when she is confronted by her husband, who has tracked her down these many years later with a high-spirited young girl in tow—a sister Lakshmi never knew she had. Suddenly the caution that she has carefully cultivated as protection is threatened. Still, she perseveres, applying her talents and lifting up those that surround her as she does.

A REESE WITHERSPOON x HELLO SUNSHINE BOOK CLUB PICK

“Captivated me from the first chapter to the final page.”—Reese Witherspoon 

My Review:

I grabbed at the opportunity to borrow this audiobook from my local library as I remembered it being a Reese Witherspoon book club pick when I was looking at celebrity book clubs. For one thing, it takes place in 1950’s India, and I could certainly relate to the moral ambiguities. There is the immersion into Indian society in that decade and, of course, an introduction to the kind of literature that Reese Witherspoon will be choosing for her book club picks. (I feel like I’ve come to know her in her Instagram stories–she really is adorable.)

The Henna Artist by Alka JoshiLakshmi flees from an abusive marriage at seventeen to establish herself in Jaipur. Years later she has not only become a renowned Henna artist of some stature, but quietly cares for many of her upper-class (female) clients with herbal remedies that allow them a certain additional “freedom.”

She counts heavily on her ability to be trusted with confidences and carefully contrives to build sufficient funds to build her own home. She is so close and her successful reputation will secure her dream.

That is, until her ex catches up with her with a thirteen-year-old girl in tow—a sister. Well, THAT’S a surprise! At first the high-spirited girl is reserved, unhappy. Neither has an easy job getting to know each other. It’s strained and puts a damper on the house in progress.

The problem is, the sister lacks the fierce drive Lakshmi has or interest in her trade, she is rough around the edges and doesn’t really care if she is trained in refinement or not.

And then a shock.

Mercy, what a problem! The 50s or choose the decade, teenagers can be difficult and control is tenuous. For the most part, I didn’t care for Radha’s character. She doesn’t seem to care one whit if she is ruining the seasoned relationships her older sister has cultivated—in fact—it appears she is purposefully trying to sink it.

“A reputation once lost is seldom retrieved.”

Lakshmi has gripped reader interest and as she struggles with losing her business(es—both of them), her character wields some sympathy. But, of course, as the old saying goes, “when one door closes…”

“Only a fool lives in water and remains an enemy of the crocodile.”

Lakshmi is nothing if not resourceful. The tale weaves through then family traditions, divulging secrets, and the tenacity of family. There is a myriad of characters, the women more empathetic, the men powerful, and it is fun to peek into the culture. I always enjoy the discussions of herbal remedies, some eons old (although these veered into sensitive areas), and eventually there is a blending of “modern” medicine with the ancient.

Lakshmi manages a brilliant maneuver and I was quite satisfied with the conclusion. An ending you probably wished for as well and brought a smile. The narrator does a great job of smoothing difficult words I’d have stumbled over often and definitely enhances the enjoyment of the tale. You may wish to choose the audiobook as well.

Book Details:

Genre: World Literature, Cultural Heritage Fiction, Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Harlequin Audio
ASIN: B07XVNLH7P
Listening Length: 10 hrs 56 minsNarrator: Sneha Mathan
Publication Date: March 3, 2020
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Henna Artist [Amazon]

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

Alka Joshi - authorThe Author: Alka Joshi was born in the desert state of Rajasthan in India. In 1967, her family immigrated to America. She earned a BA from Stanford University and an MFA from California College of Arts in San Francisco. Prior to writing The Henna Artist, Alka ran an advertising and marketing agency for 30 years. She has spent time in France and Italy and currently lives with her husband on the Northern California Coast.

Interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MPflbk14yjY&t=2s

More at: https://www.instagram.com/thealkajoshi/

©2022 – V Williams V Williams

#throwbackthursday

Citizen K-9: A K Team Novel by David Rosenfelt – #Audiobook Review – #AnimalFiction

Citizen K-9 by David Rosenfelt

Citizen K-9 - banner 

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

The Paterson Police Department has created a cold case division, and they want to hire the private investigators known as the K Team to look into the crimes. After all, Corey Douglas and his K-9 partner, German shepherd Simon Garfunkel, recently retired from the force. Plus, another K Team member, Laurie Collins, used to be a cop as well.

Their first cold case hits home for the K Team. A decade ago, at Laurie’s 10th high school reunion, two of their friends simply…vanished. At the time Laurie had just left the force, and Corey was in a different department, so they had no choice but to watch from the sidelines. With no leads, the case went cold.

As the team starts to delve deeper into the events leading up to that night – reopening old wounds along the way – the pieces start to come together. But someone wants to stop them from uncovering the truth behind the disappearance, by any means necessary. 

In Citizen K-9, best-selling author David Rosenfelt masterfully blends mystery with dogs and humor to create an investigative team that listeners will be rooting for book after book. 

My Review:

Yes, this is a spin-off of one of my favorite series, Andy Carpenter, so I was a bit wary of anything that didn’t include the wise-ass attorney. However, I tried the K-Team because a number of the characters that are included in the Andy Carpenter series are featured in this one except Andy Carpenter is exchanged for retired cop Corey Douglas and Carpenter’s dogs for Simon Garfunkel, also a retired (canine) cop. (With me so far?)

But it is not Andy Carpenter by any other name.

Citizen K-9 by David RosenfeltCorey works with Laurie, also a retired cop (seriously, is there anyone left on the Paterson NJ police force?), and Laurie also happens to be Andy’s wife. AH HA, you say! Yes, a little nepotism, but this series gets a whole lot more serious.

The K Team works with the Paterson NJ police using their consultant funds to work on cold cases. Perfect. And this cold case involves two former classmates of Laurie’s, both disappearing after a high school reunion almost ten years ago.

As you can see, I haven’t lost a mystery with several dogs, as now there is one very serious German Shepherd and a favorite of the precinct. I have though lost the snarky, sarcastic wise-cracking Andy Carpenter, but I must say, Corey is growing on me despite his quirky personality. And, he may have a steady girl now—enter a budding romance.

This is not the Andy Carpenter series with one new character (minus the courtroom scenes), although you may wish to go back to Book 1 just to get the intro to Corey. I really enjoy Fred Berman’s voice as Corey, he does a great job, and Rosenfelt manages to work Carpenter in for free (cameo) legal appearances. These are complex mysteries with easy, fast, and engaging plots.

I read Book 2 February 2021, Animal Instinct, and thoroughly enjoyed it, found that it built well on the foundation set in this new series. While the concept borrows from the author’s successful characters of the Andy Carpenter series, these first three K-9s are engaging and entertaining and can be read as standalones. This one is just released and I urge you to check it out.

I received a complimentary review copy of this audiobook from the publisher and NetGalley. Thank you, thank you! These are my honest thoughts.

Book Details:

Genre: Animal Fiction, Private Investigator Mysteries
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
ASIN: B094DWV1FH
Listening Length: 5 hrs 53 mins
Narrator: Fred Berman
Publication Date: March 15, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link(s): Citizen K-9 [Amazon]
Barnes & Noble
Kobo

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David Rosenfelt - authorThe Author: David Rosenfelt, a native of Paterson, New Jersey, is a graduate of NYU. He was the former marketing president for Tri-Star Pictures before becoming a writer of novels and screenplays. “Open And Shut” was his first novel; “First Degree,” his second novel, was named a best book of 2003 by Publishers Weekly. He currently lives in Southern California with his wife and 35 dogs.

[Goodreads] I am a novelist with 27 dogs.

I have gotten to this dubious position with absolutely no planning, and at no stage in my life could I have predicted it. But here I am.

My childhood was relentlessly normal. The middle of three brothers, loving parents, a middle-class home in Paterson, New Jersey. We played sports, studied sporadically. laughed around the dinner table, and generally had a good time. By comparison, “Ozzie and Harriet’s” clan seemed bizarre.

I graduated NYU, then decided to go into the movie business. I was stunningly brilliant at a job interview with my uncle, who was President of United Artists, and was immediately hired. It set me off on a climb up the executive ladder, culminating in my becoming President of Marketing for Tri-Star Pictures. The movie landscape is filled with the movies I buried; for every “Rambo”, “The Natural” and “Rocky”, there are countless disasters.

I did manage to find the time to marry and have two children, both of whom are doing very well, and fortunately neither have inherited my eccentricities.

A number of years ago, I left the movie marketing business, to the sustained applause of hundreds of disgruntled producers and directors. I decided to try my hand at writing. I wrote and sold a bunch of feature films, none of which ever came close to being actually filmed, and then a bunch of TV movies, some of which actually made it to the small screen. It’s safe to say that their impact on the American cultural scene has been minimal.

About fourteen years ago, my wife and I started the Tara Foundation, named in honor of the greatest Golden Retriever the world has ever known. We rescued almost 4,000 dogs, many of them Goldens, and found them loving homes. Our own home quickly became a sanctuary for those dogs that we rescued that were too old or sickly to be wanted by others. They surround me as I write this. It’s total lunacy, but it works, and they are a happy, safe group.

http://us.macmillan.com/author/davidr…
http://www.davidrosenfelt.com

Fred Berman - narratorThe Narrator: Fred Berman Hundreds of commercials, promos, and video games; over 200 audiobooks and counting; 4 time winner of the Audie Award; 11 time winner of the Audiofile Earphone Award.

 

 

 

©2022 V Williams V WilliamsTis a lucky day! four leaf clover

Night Boat to Tangier: A Novel by Kevin Barry – #Audiobook Review – #TuesdayBookBlog

Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry

Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry

A Reading Ireland Month book 

Book Blurb:

From the acclaimed author of the international sensations City of Bohane and Beatlebone, a striking and gorgeous new novel of two aging criminals at the tail ends of their damage-filled careers. A superbly melancholic melody of a novel full of beautiful phrases and terrible men.

In the dark waiting room of the ferry terminal in the sketchy Spanish port of Algeciras, two aging Irishmen – Maurice Hearne and Charlie Redmond, longtime partners in the lucrative and dangerous enterprise of smuggling drugs – sit at night, none too patiently. It is October 23, 2018, and they are expecting Maurice’s estranged daughter, Dilly, to either arrive on a boat coming from Tangier or depart on one heading there. This nocturnal vigil will initiate an extraordinary journey back in time to excavate their shared history of violence, romance, mutual betrayals, and serial exiles, rendered with the dark humor and the hard-boiled Hibernian lyricism that have made Kevin Barry one of the most striking and admired fiction writers at work today.

One of The New York Times Book Review’s 10 Best Books of 2019 
Named a Best Book of the Year by The New York Times Book ReviewLit Hub, The MillionsThe Paris Review, and NPR 
Number One Irish Times Best Seller
Longlisted for The Booker Prize 

My Review:

Man oh man, did I miss the boat on this one! All those accolades, I figured it must be good. The blurb sounded interesting. Audiobook from my favorite library, what could I lose? Time—and at my age—that’s getting more precious.

I had an awful time with this one. For an audiobook some five and one-half hours, it just seemed to go on and on. I didn’t think I could get through it. Spoken in hushed, harsh monotones, and, finally, thankfully, it ended.

Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin BarryAs mysteriously as it started.

What did I miss here?

A plot? Oops. Did I miss that? (Of course, it’s totally character-driven.)

Depth to the characters…well, certainly they were described and we understood by the blurb they were despots. Cue the heavy Irish slang, had to back it up several times but after awhile that got tedious.

Perhaps so literary it went zooming right over my head. Perhaps I didn’t give it the attention it deserved. Perhaps I was so bored, I just flat couldn’t get into either of the characters or their stories.

There were times when it seemed chunks of narrative had been edited out and no backfilling ensued.  I don’t want to characterize them as the dregs of society, but they were the dregs of society and if one of them was waiting for daughter Dilly, I feared for the character of the poor child, wondering what kind of childhood she might have had.

My first experience with the author. Have you read or listened to this book? Am I just ignorant or do you agree even somewhat? Can you cite a book by the author that you discovered profound and would recommend I try again? This one was just not the book for me and I’m giving it two stars simply because I did not DNF it.

Book Details:

Genre: Urban Fiction, Humorous fiction, Fiction Urban Life
Publisher: Random House Audio
ASIN: B07X6HL9JW
Listening Length: 5 hrs 39 mins
Narrator: Kevin Barry
Publication Date: September 17, 2019
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Night Boat to Tangier [Amazon]

 

Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint Publishing: 2 stars

Kevin Barry - Irish author
Photo of Kevin Barry, author appearing at the International Festival of Authors 2013. Photo courtesy of IFOA and Goodreads

The Author: Kevin Barry is the author of the novels Beatlebone and City of Bohane and the story collections Dark Lies the Island and There Are Little Kingdoms. His awards include the International Dublin Literary Award, the Goldsmiths Prize, The Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award and the Lannan Literary Award for Fiction. His stories and essays appear in The New YorkerGranta, and elsewhere. He also works as a playwright and screenwriter, and he lives in County Sligo, Ireland. –This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition.

©V Williams V Williams

#TuesdayBookBlog

Walking with Ghosts: A Memoir by Gabriel Byrne- #Audiobook Review – #biographies

Walking with Ghosts: A Memoir by Gabriel Byrne

Walking with Ghosts by Gabriel Byrne

A Reading Ireland Month book 4 leaf clover w leprechan

(Amazon) Editors Pick Best Biographies & Memoirs

Book Blurb:

When award-winning actor, producer, and international icon Gabriel Byrne was a young boy, his grandmother brought him to the cinema for the first time. There, Byrne fell in love with the transporting power of the big screen. Growing up in 1950s and 60s Dublin within a family of eight, Byrne’s formative childhood years were both carefree and challenging, spent between home, the church, school, and the streets of his ever-changing city where he observed that some of the greatest actors and entertainers could be found in the lives of those around him. 

In captivating, funny, and sensual prose that brings to life the myriad voices of his youth, Byrne recounts his first formative 12 years – morning routines with his father, a barrel-maker at the Guinness factory; his debut role in a nativity play; his relationship with his dynamic mother; and his years at a seminary where he studied to be a priest. Interspersed throughout this engrossing childhood story we see Byrne’s ascent to global stardom, from his days acting in amateur drama groups in London, to his first big role opposite Richard Burton, his arrival at the Cannes stage for his breakout hit movie, The Usual Suspects, to the HBO show In Treatment for which he won a Golden Globe.    

Combining the cinematic power of Fellini’s Amarcord with the poignance of John McGahern’s writing, Walking with Ghosts is both a moving exploration of the pathos in what it means to be famous and a singular account of Irish boyhood.

My Review:

Oh my goodness, this good-looking Irishman would have turned my head, but add a beautifully written book full of prose, emotional memories, and a sense of humor as well and he has also stolen my heart.

The descriptive writing style pulls a reader in quickly and my problem with listening to the narration of his own audiobook is that I didn’t have a way to highlight passages. Probably, a good thing, as there are quietly related anecdotes, humorous thoughts, as well as painful memories delivered in a sensitive and contemplative manner, and not everything that resonates can be quoted.

Walking with Ghosts by Gabriel ByrneThe man relates some soul-crushing experiences as well as unabashed astonishment at his rising popularity; sincerely self-deprecating.

There are intense moments (as he relates his time with the seminary) as well as the lighter flashes of the acting years spent rising to stardom and brushing elbows with major cinema notables though this is certainly not a name-dropping tell all.

Of course, there is the on-going story of his struggle with alcoholism and depression that appears to have controlled much of his life, cementing the stereotype of the Irish males.

The storytelling is not chronological, though he does spend time on his childhood, imparting tales of his parents and his lack of confidence or machismo. Growing up in the 50s and 60s, he collected a number of ghosts along the way and he appears to have come to terms with most of them. The lovely Irish brogue-infused narrative alternates somber thoughts to the amusing, which he apparently also appreciates kept him plowing through, one foot in front of the other, eventually to come to terms with it all and settle in peace.

A biography audiobook you’ll want to pick up if for nothing else than to hear that triumph over all that can be achieved by even the most humble of us.

Book Details:

Genre: Cultural & Regional Biographies, Biographies of Celebrities & Entertainment Professionals, Rich & Famous Biographies
Publisher: Recorded Books, Inc.
ASIN: B08NTW1BND
Listening Length: 6 hrs 57 mins
Narrator: Gabriel Byrne
Publication Date: January 12, 2021
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Walking with Ghosts [Amazon]

Add to Goodreads

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

Gabriel Byrne - author
Gabriel Byrne – actor-author

The Author: GABRIEL BYRNE was born in Dublin and has starred in over eighty films for some of the cinema’s leading directors. He won a Golden Globe for his performance on HBO’s In Treatment. On Broadway, he won the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Actor and has been nominated twice for the Tony Award. He lives in Manhattan and Maine. [Amazon]

Born the eldest of six children to Roman Catholic parents, Byrne is an acclaimed actor, film director, film producer, screenwriter, and author, narrator of his own biography. Byrne spent five years in a seminary (now an atheist), worked in archaeology, cook, and teacher before starting to act at the age of 29. He was married to Ellen Barkin from 1988 to 1999, and to Hannah Beth King in 2014. They have a daughter born in 2017 and as of 2021 live in Rockport, Maine. [Wikipedia]

©2022 V Williams – V Williams

Have a good week!

A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne – #Audiobook Review – #TBT

A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne

A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne - banner

A Reading Ireland Month book 4 leaf clover w leprechan

“Ambition is putting a ladder to the sky.”
—American proverb

(Amazon) Editors Pick Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

Rosepoint Publishing: Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

Maurice Swift is handsome, charming, and hungry for fame. The one thing he doesn’t have is talent—but he’s not about to let a detail like that stand in his way. After all, a would-be writer can find stories anywhere. They don’t need to be his own.

Working as a waiter in a West Berlin hotel in 1988, Maurice engineers the perfect opportunity: a chance encounter with celebrated novelist Erich Ackermann. He quickly ingratiates himself with the powerful – but desperately lonely – older man, teasing out of Erich a terrible, long-held secret about his activities during the war. Perfect material for Maurice’s first novel.

Once Maurice has had a taste of literary fame, he knows he can stop at nothing in pursuit of that high. Moving from the Amalfi Coast, where he matches wits with Gore Vidal, to Manhattan and London, Maurice hones his talent for deceit and manipulation, preying on the talented and vulnerable in his cold-blooded climb to the top. But the higher he climbs, the further he has to fall. . . .

Sweeping across the late twentieth century, A Ladder to the Sky is a fascinating portrait of a relentlessly immoral man, a tour de force of storytelling, and the next great novel from an acclaimed literary virtuoso.

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST AND MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE

My Review:

Maurice Swift—to what ends will this brilliantly manipulative character go to cement his life’s goal—that of a successful literary author?

OMG, did this one fairly bury me in amazing characters; fascinating, narcissistic, bold, secure and begins naively enough with the introduction to aging author Erich Ackermann. Erich is inexplicably attracted to young Maurice who exudes fan adoration in Erich’s books. So when Erich invites him to act as his assistant on a book tour, Maurice jumps at the chance. Erich falls heavily for young Maurice and it doesn’t help that Maurice is exceedingly attractive and aware of his sexual appeal.

Maurice, who would LOVE to write the next prize-winning literary novel but doesn’t have a clue how to come up with his own original story is, unfortunately, willing to do anything. Then Erich entrusts him with his most shameful haunting secrets and there’s Maurice’s story. It’s dark and deliciously deadly. It ultimately destroys Erich when it comes out but Maurice basks in the success. He can neatly and effectively avoid any guilt. It is, of course, Erich’s disgraceful act during the war that leads to the public outcry against him.

But while Maurice as despot is the main character, there comes a succession of deeply emotive characters, gripping, engaging. The well-developed part of Maurice’s wife; easy to love, sweet unsophisticated, and trusting, her POV comes to the forefront—for a short while.

Remember that old saying, “When the Gods want to punish us, they answer our prayers.” [Oscar Wilde]

Maurice always wanted to have a child of his own. In the meantime, there is a series of name-dropping that includes Gore (Vidal) whose conversations lead to some very witty, insightful glances into the cut-throat world of the literary (…that hack Swift). Dog eat dog. How far is Maurice willing to go to succeed, to be the one with the next bestseller. His bestseller or not?

A Ladder to the Sky by John BoyneAt each turn, the plot goes from benign to cancerous, bland to black, and soon this reader is turning pages over jaw-dropping twists you wouldn’t have believed, was it not for the continued fleshing of the moral character of Maurice. Is he capable of this? Oh yes, he is. And it’s becoming frightening.

Maurice is a master at rationalization—he can always see where the fault lay in the other—himself as the innocent who merely provided the catalyst to the story—made it better. Why shouldn’t he reap the reward?

And then the end, when you think it’s caught up with him? The irony? The last laugh is on you, fellow reader. It’s a gotcha!

Now, have you ever wondered what the words are under the title? I know what it is. Have you read this book? Want to discuss it or are you curious what it says under the title? Ask me in the comments.

One last thought: The narrators did a superlative job on this audiobook, most especially that inebriate voice. So realistic. This novel still resonates with me and will for some time. I’ll look for more books from this author.

Book Details:

Genre: LGBTQ, Psychological Fiction, Psychological Thrillers
Publisher: Random House Audio
ASIN: B07FW4C8BC
Listening Length: 11 hrs 32 mins
Narrators: Richard E. GrantRichard CorderyNina SosanyaLaurence Kennedy
Publication Date: November 13, 2018
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: A Ladder to the Sky [Amazon]

Add to Goodreads

 

John Boyne - authorThe Author: John Boyne was born in Ireland in 1971. The winner of three Irish Book Awards, he is the author of thirteen novels for adults, six for younger readers and a collection of short stories. The international bestseller The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas was made into a Miramax feature film and has sold more than eleven million copies worldwide. His novels are published in over fifty languages. He lives in Dublin. http://www.johnboyne.com.

 

©2022 V Williams V Williams

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