The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner – #AudiobookReview – #TBT

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

 

Goodreads Choice Award nominee 

Book Blurb:

A forgotten history. A secret network of women. A legacy of poison and revenge. Welcome to The Lost Apothecary….

Hidden in the depths of 18th-century London, a secret apothecary shop caters to an unusual kind of clientele. Women across the city whisper of a mysterious figure named Nella who sells well-disguised poisons to use against the oppressive men in their lives. But the apothecary’s fate is jeopardized when her newest patron, a precocious 12-year-old, makes a fatal mistake, sparking a string of consequences that echo through the centuries.

Meanwhile in present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, running from her own demons. When she stumbles upon a clue to the unsolved apothecary murders that haunted London 200 years ago, her life collides with the apothecary’s in a stunning twist of fate – and not everyone will survive.

With crackling suspense, unforgettable characters, and searing insight, The Lost Apothecary is a subversive and intoxicating debut novel of secrets, vengeance, and the remarkable ways women can save each other despite the barrier of time. 

My Review:

I have to admit, half the fun of this book is reading the reviews. Everyone has an opinion and they literally run from one star to five, more than a few quite vehemently.

Okay, so it isn’t the 2021 great American novel. I borrowed an audiobook from my lovely local library for the purpose of participating in their virtual book club choice for the quarter. (Yes, quarter—nothing is read in a month—or an audiobook listened in a week.) Obviously, a babe in the woods, I had no idea the controversy this title generated after its release of a much anticipated fantasy thriller-mystery. Well, picky, picky, picky.

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah PennerIt does actually start off with a hook, Nella (more than one POV, btw), is a late eighteenth-century apothecarist dispensing poisons to women seeking relief from abusive, explosive relationships. No simple divorce remedies back then. Eliza, however, (another POV) is only twelve sent to retrieve the potion for her mistress. Eliza is smart, manipulative, and brilliantly maneuvering herself into a position from which Nella may end up paying the price.

Okay, now switch to Caroline, an eccentric American in London using reservations previously meant to celebrate her wedding anniversary. Unfortunately, prior to leaving on the vacation, his affair is disclosed which pretty much puts the kibosh on any celebration. Yes, she goes anyway, sans said husband. She’s different, you see.

On a little tour of the mud from the river Thames, she discovers a little bottle—cue Gaynor the local library historian. But at least solving the burning question of the bottle takes her mind off her cheating husband and what?? She thinks she might be pregnant? Uh oh. That could be a sticky wicket!

So, are we having fun yet? Ah, come on—it’s magical realism—fantasy. I say, just go for it!

So flipping back to 1791, things are getting mighty dark for Nella and Eliza is a quick study. It doesn’t look like this can end well though—and doesn’t—Eliza lacking the experience. Phooey. And I preferred that timeline.

The storyline with Nella and Eliza can be pretty intense, while the timeline with Caroline packs in a little filler. Some of Caroline’s motives are muddled and you might be scratching your head, wondering where this is going. Or, is it going at all? Yeah, but not real fast.

This is a narrative that you are not to supposed to over think. So much to stop and contemplate, totally dismiss. In consideration, was it engaging or entertaining—sufficiently so that you finished the book? I zipped right through the audiobook—waiting—I’m not sure for what. Forget magical realism. Fantasy takes a hit as disbelief can’t be stretched far enough to think you could survive jumping very far into an icy river and surviving. Okay, I’m taking it too literally again. No over thinking.

While the conclusion seemed a bit abrupt and left more than a few shakes of the head, it was a bit farcical, remember? Just go with it and if this is a genre you enjoy, you’ll no doubt enjoy this novel. The narrators did a good job, too, you might enjoy that even more.

Rosepoint Rating: Three-point Five Stars 3 1/2 stars

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Book Details:

Genre: Magical Realism, Historical Fantasy Fiction, Literary Fiction
Publisher: Harlequin Audio
ASIN: B08BXB3JVY
Listening Length: 10 hrs 18 mins
Narrators: Lorna BennettLauren AnthonyLauren Irwin
Publication Date: March 2, 2021
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo

 

Sarah Penner - authorThe Author: Sarah Penner is the New York Times bestselling author of THE LOST APOTHECARY (Park Row Books/HarperCollins), available now wherever books are sold. THE LOST APOTHECARY will be translated into two dozen languages worldwide. Sarah and her husband live in St. Petersburg, Florida with their miniature dachshund, Zoe. To learn more, visit SarahPenner.com.

©2022 V Williams V Williams

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The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth – #Audiobook Review – #TBT

The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth

The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth audiobook banner

(Amazon) Editors Pick Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

There’s only been one time that Rose couldn’t stop me from doing the wrong thing and that was a mistake that will haunt me for the rest of my life.

Fern Castle works in her local library. She has dinner with her twin sister Rose three nights a week. And she avoids crowds, bright lights and loud noises as much as possible. Fern has a carefully structured life and disrupting her routine can be…dangerous.

When Rose discovers that she cannot get pregnant, Fern sees her chance to pay her sister back for everything Rose has done for her. Fern can have a baby for Rose. She just needs to find a father. Simple.

Fern’s mission will shake the foundations of the life she has carefully built for herself and stir up dark secrets from the past, in this quirky, rich and shocking story of what families keep hidden.

My Review:

You can’t beat this clever read for the tension, suspense, and riveting pacing. The author has managed a brilliant masterpiece of unreliable voices.

Who are you to trust? The voice of Fern, on the autistic spectrum, is super sensitive, reticent, intelligent but socially inept. She often views simple concepts literally and it’s confusing to her. Her sister, the slightly older twin, has been successful in life. Marrying, holding a responsible, well-paying position, and always,

…always,

watching over her vulnerable sister.

The Good Sister by Sally HepworthThe sisters, however, have had a chaotic childhood and suffered traumas along the way. They both hold devastating secrets. Rose, through years of therapy, has been advised to keep a journal, chronicle her thoughts and the reader is spoon-fed her entries, alternating with the direct, open, and cloistered life of the librarian, Fern.

When Fern discovers Rose appears incapable of conceiving, she decides this is what a good sister would do—surrogate a baby for Rose. But Fern also decides it’s she who must decide who the sperm donor will be and when she meets Wally (the name she assigns to him), it seems he will be the perfect donor. Wally (Rocco) has issues of his own and understands Fern so it might appear these two are a good match. Indeed, it’s easy to invest in these characters.

While the head might be saying…”wait a minute…there are problems here,” the heart is nodding with joy that these two people, damaged though they might be, found each other and make a happy match.

In the meantime, Rose is beginning not to look so rosy. Doesn’t ring true. She’s manipulative—all those years taking care of Fern—protective? Or controlling.

In the meantime, the well-plotted narrative takes alternate dark and light turns, yanking sensitivities, emotions, pushing boundaries and begins to sneak in a few little revelations—twists you wouldn’t have suspected and the rug starts gently being pulled out from under you.

These two are so different. In looks. In character. In their memories. How could they view the same event with such diverse recollections?

Not prepared for the ultimate reveal, this one knocked the wind out of me. WOW. Have I just been played or what?

I received a review copy of this audiobook from my local lovely library and the narrator did one very fine job—totally had me hooked. These are my honest thoughts.

Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Thrillers, Family Life Fiction, Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
ASIN: B089XJLJ43
Listening Length: 8 hrs 31 mins
Narrator: Barrie Kreinik
Publication Date: April 13, 2021
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Good Sister [Amazon] 
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Sally Hepworth - authorThe Author: Sally Hepworth is the bestselling author of The Secrets of Midwives (2015), The Things We Keep (2016) The Mother’s Promise (2017), The Family Next Door (2018), The Mother In Law (April 2019), The Good Sister (April 2021) and The Younger Wife (April 2022). Hollywood actress and producer, Amy Poehler, has optioned The Mother In Law for a TV series.

Sally’s books have been labelled “enchanting” by The Herald Sun, “smart and engaging” by Publisher’s Weekly, and New York Times bestselling authors Liane Moriarty and Emily Giffin have praised Sally’s novels as “women’s fiction at its finest” and “totally absorbing”. Sally’s novels are available worldwide in English and have been translated into 10+ languages.

Sally lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and three children.

©2022 V Williams

V Williams

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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

Cover attributes-info: Wikipedia

V Williams

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The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St James – #Audiobook Review – Supernational Thrillers

The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St James


The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St James

(Amazon) Editors Pick Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense 

Book Blurb:

A true crime blogger gets more than she bargained for while interviewing the woman acquitted of two cold case slayings in this chilling new novel from the New York Times best-selling author of The Sun Down Motel.

In 1977, Claire Lake, Oregon, was shaken by the Lady Killer Murders: Two men, seemingly randomly, were murdered with the same gun, with strange notes left behind. Beth Greer was the perfect suspect – a rich, eccentric 23-year-old woman, seen fleeing one of the crimes. But she was acquitted, and she retreated to the isolation of her mansion.

Oregon, 2017. Shea Collins is a receptionist, but by night, she runs a true crime website, the Book of Cold Cases – a passion fueled by the attempted abduction she escaped as a child. When she meets Beth by chance, Shea asks her for an interview. To Shea’s surprise, Beth says yes.

They meet regularly at Beth’s mansion, though Shea is never comfortable there. Items move when she’s not looking, and she could swear she’s seen a girl outside the window. The allure of learning the truth about the case from the smart, charming Beth is too much to resist, but even as they grow closer, Shea senses something isn’t right. Is she making friends with a manipulative murderer, or are there other dangers lurking in the darkness of the Greer house?

My Review:

Shea Collins is a single medical receptionist who still lives quietly with the trauma of surviving a kidnap attempt when she was young when Beth Greer comes in for an appointment. Shea hosts a true crime website in 2017 as a hobby and clearly remembers the case, dubbed the Lady Killer murders from 1977. She requests an interview for her blog and to her amazement, the interview is granted.

The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St JamesBeth, wealthy and living alone quite eccentrically, lives in her wealthy family home, both parents gone for years. She was acquitted of the murder of two men. Beth has no one but her lawyer and after all these years agrees to meet with Shea—in her home.

Beth is a fascinating character and the complete opposite of Shea. Shea quickly realizes there is something really wrong with the mansion Beth lives in. There are strange manifestations during her visits that unsettle her but the deeper she delves into Beth’s history, the more she comes to believe in her innocence, seeing her a victim of her circumstances as well.

The suspense weaves in a paranormal atmosphere through the well-described Victorian filled with the furnishings of people long gone. The meetings as well as the mansion ooze atmosphere, described so well you can smell the decay. Shea as a main character is engaging, but not so much as Beth. A cat is introduced by the name of Winston Purrchill and quickly becomes my favorite character—love the name!

The well-plotted narrative sweeps the reader into a satisfying conclusion, including the little twists, and perhaps a surprise you hadn’t expected. Entertaining and gripping, one of those novels hard to put down—but not in the dark.

I listened to The Sun Down Motel in 2020 and the audiobook left me wondering what the hype was about. Definitely the delivery, I suppose, though noted the two timelines (again) was split, this one also in 2017. There would be a lot of argument as to whether or not this novel was better than that one. For me, however, particularly in both cases, listening to audiobooks—my vote goes to this one. The author knows how to raise the hair on the back of your neck and make sure you’ve locked your doors before reading. This one has my recommendation.

Have you read both? What is your thoughts on this one? Agree with me?

Book Details:

Genre: Supernatural Thrillers, Suspense
Publisher:  Penguin Audio
ASIN: B098YCW26K
Listening Length: 10 hrs 44 mins
Narrator: Brittany PressleyKirsten PotterRobert Petkoff
Publication Date: March 15, 2022
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Book of Cold Cases [Amazon]

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four Stars 4 stars

 

The Author: Simone St. James is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Sun Down Motel and The Broken Girls. Her debut novel, The Haunting of Maddy Clare, won two RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America and an Arthur Ellis Award from Crime Writers of Canada.

Simone spent twenty years behind the scenes in the television business before leaving to write full-time. She lives just outside of Toronto, Canada with her husband and a spoiled rescue cat.

©2022 V Williams V Williams

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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

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]

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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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