Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent – An #Audiobook Review – #psychologicalthriller – #readingirelandmonth21 – #TBT

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five Stars 5 stars

Reading Ireland Month 2021 (Amazon) Editors Pick – Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

Book Blurb:

From the international best-selling author of Unraveling Oliver, an “unputdownable psychological thriller with an ending that lingers long after turning the final page” (The Irish Times) about a Dublin family whose dark secrets and twisted relationships are suddenly revealed.

My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it*. 

On the surface, Lydia Fitzsimons has the perfect life – wife of a respected, successful judge, mother to a beloved son, mistress of a beautiful house in Dublin. That beautiful house, however, holds a secret. And when Lydia’s son, Laurence, discovers its secret, wheels are set in motion that lead to an increasingly claustrophobic and devastatingly dark climax. 

My Review:

OMG! This book is crazy twisted. The narrative is a psychological thriller-suspense but that doesn’t really classify a novel that reaches for and secures the devastingly dark, gasp-inducing hyperventilating novel this produces.

Doesn’t that line hook you in the blurb?* It did me and like a horror film you carefully sneak peaks through your fingers, you must…need to…finish. This is a family drama. No, not drama, noir, so dark it’s causing disbelieving, disturbing waves as you read it.

Lying in Wait by Liz NugentThe storyline is set in Dublin. A woman so narcissistic that no loved one is beyond sacrificing and it would appear that’s essentially what she does either directly or indirectly.

It’s beyond this normal reader’s fathom to wrap my head around the plot line—a woman who feels justified in pushing her husband to find a surrogate. She MUST have another baby. Her son, poor innocent Laurence, is growing up, getting older. She is a smother mother and there is a cruelly unhealthy connection between mother and son. But really, her husband Andrew, the judge, isn’t the first casualty. The surrogate, Annie Doyle (a prostitute and junkie now buried in their backyard) is not either. What extended family can look at this perverse situation and continue to make excuses?

There are few characters in the book and several have their own POV’s. My heart wept for Karen (sister of Annie), ached for Laurence, raged at Lydia Fitzsimmons. So easy to go from one POV to the other, filling in little voids, little thoughts or questions, mini-contradictions. The author smoothly develops her characters, adds the tension, gravitas, that the reader doesn’t realize how darkly and deeply ugly the plot has become. It’s sick. My heart was sinking and I kept waiting for that tiny spark, the pinpoint of light. Surely it was coming.

The well-plotted pace was full of twists and turns. The conclusion hurts—does nothing go the way you hoped or predicted? And then the final blow—the fatal punch to the gut. I woke my husband sleeping peacefully beside me with a plaintive cry—NOOOO! What did I just read?! I couldn’t believe it—it CAN’T end this way—but it did? No no no

I look at the author’s picture and think she looks so normal but from where in her mind did this come? And the narrator? Nailed it!

Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Fiction, Psychological Thrillers, Crime Thrillers
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster Audio
ASIN: B07BHTQPXW
 Print Length:
Listening Length: 8 hrs 33 min
Narrator: Caoilfhionn DunneDavid McFetridgeLesley McGuire
Publication Date: June 12, 2018
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Lying in Wait [Amazon]

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Liz Nugent - authorThe Author: [Goodreads] Liz Nugent worked as a stage manager in theatres in Ireland and toured internationally before writing extensively for radio and television drama.

Unravelling Oliver was published in 2014, hit the number 1 spot for several weeks and won Crime Novel of the Year at the Irish Book Awards.

Liz Nugent - author witth awardLying in Wait, published in 2016, went straight to number 1 and was chosen for the Richard & Judy Book Club. It won the Radio 1 Ryan Tubridy Listeners Choice Award at the Irish Book Awards.

In October 2017, Liz won the Irish Tatler Woman of the Year Award in Literature.

Skin Deep was published in 2018. It also went straight to number 1 in the bestsellers charts and scooped two awards at the An Post Irish Book Awards in Nov ’18: Crime Novel of the Year AND the Radio 1 Ryan Tubridy Listener’s Choice Award. Catch her at her website or her Twitter account @lizzienugent.

The Narrator: Caoilfhionn Dunne is an actress, known for Love/Hate (2010), In View (2016) and Wrath of the Titans (2012). Born in Dublin, Ireland.

©2021 V Williams

Deep South (Anna Pigeon #8) by Nevada Barr – An #Audiobook Review – Cultural Heritage Fiction -#ThrowbackThursday

“You stick your finger in the water and you pull it out, and that is how much of a hole you leave when you’re gone.” (Finger in the water test–Multiple sources)

Deep South by Nevada Barr

Book Blurb:

Nevada Barr‘s ever-popular Anna Pigeon series is consistently praised as “exceptional” (Denver Post), “stunning” (Seattle Times), and “superb” (New York Times Book Review). In Deep South, Park Ranger Anna Pigeon heads to Mississippi, only to encounter terrible secrets in the heart of the south…

Anna Pigeon finally gives in to her bureaucratic clock-and signs on for a promotion. Next thing she knows, she’s knee-deep in mud and Mississippi. Not exactly what she had in mind. Almost immediately, as the new district ranger on the Natchez Trace, Anna discovers the body of a young prom queen near a country cemetery, a sheet around her head, a noose around her neck. It’s a bizarre twist on a best-forgotten past of frightening racial undertones. As fast as the ever-encroaching kudzu vines of the region, the roots of this story run deep-and threaten to suffocate anyone in the way, including Anna…

My Review:

My second book by Nevada Barr in her Anna Pigeon, US National Park Service series and I enjoyed this one possibly even more than my first, Hunting Season. While we are working through the trope of the lone female in a normally male bastion, the park service, I greatly appreciate the strong, independent woman portrayed as Anna Pigeon.

Deep South by Nevada BarrWilling to tackle just about anything (while admitting in some circumstances fear), she still plows through as if being a female doesn’t matter. In this case, a white woman and a Yankee in a new promotion as District Ranger on the Natchez Trace of Mississippi. Oh, and new to the south as well, she has several strikes against her before she even begins.

It’s apparent immediately she isn’t wanted, welcome, or tolerated. Still, before she can really settle into the new position or thoroughly meet her subordinates, she encounters the murder of a sixteen year old girl. The girl’s body is left with racial implications.

Dealing with the investigation, the road blocks thrown up by her deputies, and confronting an attraction for one of the men, she manages each confrontation with calm and intelligence and is making headway in the mystery.

I love the information regarding the historic area of Mississippi, the Natchez Trace being an ambitious trail from Natchez to Nashville, some 444 miles and three states. Underlying the Trace information is the Civil War stories that permeate the area in general and the Trace in particular.

Anna is well developed, we can see who she is without having read the seven prior to this entry, and in this episode, strong interpersonal relationships are borne of the circumstances that create engaging support characters.

These narratives set an early hook, reel you in, and don’t let go. It is a well-plotted and fast paced storyline that keeps you reading (in this instance—listening) and hard to pause.

Hard push into the explosive conclusion and the calming collective following. An oldie but a goodie that rallies interest in the remaining books of the series—nineteen in all. A good mystery with culture cues. The narrator does an excellent, even superb job of narrative—forcing the pace, either faster or that ease into another discovery, or possible perp. Who was it killed that girl? I won’t tell.

Book Details:

Genre: Cultural Heritage Fiction, World Literature, Women Sleuth Mysteries 
Publisher:  Recorded Books
ASIN: B0002QUWQY
Listening Length: 12 hrs 8 mins
Narrator:  Barbara Rosenblat
Publication Date: July 22, 2004
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Deep South [Amazon]

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

Nevada Barr - authorThe Author: Nevada [Barr] was born in the small western town of Yerington, Nevada and raised on a mountain airport in the Sierras. Both her parents were pilots and mechanics and her sister, Molly, continued the tradition by becoming a pilot for USAir.
Pushed out of the nest, Nevada fell into the theatre, receiving her BA in speech and drama and her MFA in Acting before making the pilgrimage to New York City, then Minneapolis, MN. For eighteen years she worked on stage, in commercials, industrial training films and did voice-overs for radio. During this time she became interested in the environmental movement and began working in the National Parks during the summers — Isle Royale in Michigan, Guadalupe Mountains in Texas, Mesa Verde in Colorado, and then on the Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi.
Woven throughout these seemingly disparate careers was the written word. Nevada wrote and presented campfire stories, taught storytelling and was a travel writer and restaurant critic. Her first novel, Bitterweet was published in 1983. The Anna Pigeon series, featuring a female park ranger as the protagonist, started when she married her love of writing with her love of the wilderness, the summer she worked in west Texas. The first book, Track of the Cat, was brought to light in 1993 and won both the Agatha and Anthony awards for best first mystery. The series was well received and A Superior Death, loosely based on Nevada’s experiences as a boat patrol ranger on Isle Royale in Lake Superior, was published in 1994. In 1995 Ill Wind came out. It was set in Mesa Verde, Colorado where Nevada worked as a law enforcement ranger for two seasons.
The rest is, shall we say, HISTORY! Nevada’s books and accomplishments have become numerous and the presses continue to roll, so in the interest of NOT having to update this page, books, awards, status on the New York Times Best Seller List — and more — will be enumerated with the relevant books else where on this website.

Barbara Rosenblat - narratorThe Narrator:  [Barbara Rosenblat] has recorded over 600 audiobooks in a distinguished career that has garnered 8 Audie Awards, 50 plus Earphone Awards from Audiofile Magazine for exceptional recordings and numerous  accolades over the years. She has been inducted into the Audible Narrator Hall of Fame. One critic wrote, ‘Barbara is to audiobooks what Meryl Streep is to film’. Her book, ‘Audiobook Narrator- The Art of Recording Audiobooks’ provides personal guidance for those pursuing this avenue of art and is a direct result of answering many questions at personal appearances and at her masterclasses about the craft.

Barbara has also done a lot of animation, anime, and video games as well as documentaries and commercials. (Bio and pic from Hasty Book List.)

©2021 V Williams

The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes – An #Audiobook Review – #historicalfiction

The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes

Book Blurb:

Alice Wright marries handsome American Bennett Van Cleve hoping to escape her stifling life in England. But small-town Kentucky quickly proves equally claustrophobic, especially living alongside her overbearing father-in-law. So, when a call goes out for a team of women to deliver books as part of Eleanor Roosevelt’s new traveling library, Alice signs on enthusiastically. 

The leader, and soon Alice’s greatest ally, is Margery, a smart-talking, self-sufficient woman who’s never asked a man’s permission for anything. They will be joined by three other singular women who become known as the Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky.

What happens to them – and to the men they love – becomes an unforgettable drama of loyalty, justice, humanity, and passion. These heroic women refuse to be cowed by men or by convention. And though they face all kinds of dangers in a landscape that is at times breathtakingly beautiful, at others brutal, they’re committed to their job: Bringing books to people who have never had any, arming them with facts that will change their lives.

Based on a true story rooted in America’s past, The Giver of Stars is unparalleled in its scope and epic in its storytelling. Funny, heartbreaking, enthralling, it is destined to become a modern classic – a richly rewarding novel of women’s friendship, of true love, and of what happens when we reach beyond our grasp for the great beyond.

My Review:

Well, add me to the list of those who read The Bookwoman of Troublesome Creek (by Kim Michele Richardson) prior to The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes. Richardson’s book was first. Jojo Moyes is a NY Times bestselling author and a Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine Book Club (of the month) pick. It was also chosen to be one of “USA Today’s top 100 books to read while stuck at home social distancing.” A London author of this magnitude would not have to plagiarize anything, but that’s been the controversy since the Moyes book was published…and now set to be a major motion picture. ?!

I wrote my review of The Bookwoman of Troublesome Creek after I tried to join a local library book club in February, 2020. They discussed many of the similarities during the meeting. When I saw this audiobook become available, I had to check it out.

I loved that first book for several reasons:

  1. It was my introduction to the 1930’s Pack Horse Library Project in Kentucky and as such a historical fiction—you know I have an affinity for those.
  2. It introduced me to the “Blue-skinned people” of Kentucky and that was quite the revelation.
  3. Intensely immersive into the times, the people, and the mountains of Kentucky.
  4. The hopeless stories of the desperately poverty-stricken (Depression era) people, living so isolated the only people they might see was the pack horse librarian.
  5. They received old newspapers, magazines, outdated books from other libraries, and homemade journals gleaned from other mountain folk of recipes, patterns, hints, and wise sayings or poems.
  6. A coal mining state, many miners died of black lung disease and the despairing living conditions of their families, lack of sanitary conditions, health care, and food.
  7. Heavily character-driven storyline.
  8. Many issues including political, societal, religious, domestic abuse, women working (gasp!) outside of the home (which really doesn’t widely occur in this country until WWII), and racism.

The main character of Troublesome Creek is Cussy (a blue-skinned woman). One of the two main characters of The Giver of Stars is an English woman, Alice Wright, crazy to leave her London home and stifling parents for an exciting new life. But the new life in the backwoods of Kentucky is not the life she imagined, and her groom, not the man. In fact, it is her father-in-law who is head-of-household and he’s old school in a staunchly patriarchal society. In an effort to make contact with the other women of the area, she jumps at the chance to become a part of the pack horse program. There, she meets the co-protagonist, independent minded and outspoken Margery O’Hare.

The men (and many of the women) are against the program, thinking it’ll put thoughts in the heads of the women, up until now kept “barefoot and pregnant” as they used to say. Also being in the Bible Belt of America, strict religious tenets played a strong part in defining a woman’s role and the participants distributing books were thought scandalous.

Am I largely repeating my review of The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek? Yes, and it would appear to a large extent the storyline of this book as well. Most of the above are included albeit rewritten to more closely match the author’s writing style. The shunned blue woman now the shunned English woman. But fans and readers of author Jojo Moyes (there must be some romance) will find their expectation granted. This book, however, doesn’t describe the recipients of the program and their circumstances to the extent of the former, which I missed.

The Giver of Stars by Jojo MoyesBefore you start throwing rocks, there were also several things I liked about this book:

  1. A greater explanation of the “company store” and the castigation of the owners.
  2. The unfortunate division of the races, their roles, and living circumstances.
  3. The sisterhood of the widely differing women of the pack horse program.
  4. Descriptions of the mountains and remarkable heroism.
  5. The murder, jail account, and courtroom drama.
  6. Nicely done conclusion pulling not one but two rabbits out of the hat. Loved the first; not crazy about the second although at that point you had to figure it would happen.

Does all the drama over-shadow the story of the pack horse librarians? To a large extent, it does, and many of the support characters remain one-dimensional. Yes, I enjoyed a second take of the story of those courageous women, this one done in a strongly Jojo-esque style of drama and romance. But I still prefer the emotional impact, the prose, and the immediately engaging narrative written by author Kim Michele Richardson.

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction
Publisher:  Penguin Audio
ASIN: B07QQ3J91J
Listening Length: 13 hrs., 52 mins.
Narrator: Julia Whelan
Publication Date: October 8, 2019
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Giver of Stars [Amazon]

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4 stars

Jojo Moyes - authorThe Author: Jojo Moyes is a British novelist.

Moyes studied at Royal Holloway, University of London. She won a bursary financed by The Independent newspaper to study journalism at City University and subsequently worked for The Independent for 10 years. In 2001 she became a full time novelist.

Moyes’ novel Foreign Fruit won the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) Romantic Novel of the Year in 2004.

She is married to journalist Charles Arthur and has three children.
Bio from Goodreads.

 

Julia Whelan -authorThe Narrator: Julia Whelan is an actor, writer, and narrator of over 400 audiobooks. Recently named one of AudioFile magazine’s Golden Voices, she has won numerous other awards, including the 2019 Best Female Narrator Audie for Tara Westover’s Educated and a SOVAS for the performance of her own novel, My Oxford Year. She is also a Grammy-nominated audiobook director as well as a certified tea sommelier. [Penguin Random House Audiobooks]

©2020 V Williams V Williams