The War Librarian by Addison Armstrong- #Audiobook Review – #historicalfiction

The War Librarian by Addison Armstrong

Book Blurb:

The Paris Library meets The Flight Girls in this captivating historical novel about the sacrifice and courage necessary to live a life of honor, inspired by the first female volunteer librarians during World War I and the first women accepted into the U.S. Naval Academy.

Two women. One secret. A truth worth fighting for. 1918. Timid and shy Emmaline Balakin lives more in books than her own life. That is, until an envelope crosses her desk at the Dead Letter Office bearing a name from her past, and Emmaline decides to finally embark on an adventure of her own—as a volunteer librarian on the frontlines in France. But when a romance blooms as she secretly participates in a book club for censored books, Emmaline will need to find more courage within herself than she ever thought possible in order to survive.    

1976 Kathleen Carre is eager to prove to herself and to her nana that she deserves her acceptance into the first coed class at the United States Naval Academy. But not everyone wants female midshipmen at the Academy, and after tragedy strikes close to home, Kathleen becomes a target. To protect herself, Kathleen must learn to trust others even as she discovers a secret that could be her undoing.

My Review:

A dual timeline story, which I always enjoy, this one combines 1918 during WWI and another in 1976, with one of the first women to be accepted into the US Naval Academy.

Emmaline Balakin has always been a shy and quiet woman. She had a sweetheart once, but it didn’t work out. Now working in the Dead Letter Office, she dares to check out a familiar name on a letter refused and returned. She knows the intended recipient is married. She never lost feelings for the sender (now a soldier) and the letter discloses where he is located.

The War Librarian by Addison ArmstrongEmmaline discovers she could qualify as a volunteer librarian on the frontlines in France. Indeed, the men spend long lonely, boring hours with nothing and books have proven to be a lifeline—in more ways than one.

Kathleen Carre has always dreamed of being in the Navy—of following in her Nana’s brave footsteps who participated in the first world war as a driver. But Nana doesn’t reciprocate the enthusiasm.

Indeed, both women discover unexpected hurdles, frightening aspects, and each faces a desperate situation of their own. Emmaline finds her past love but denies him a truth that will badly damage their newly found relationship. Kathleen discovers it’s not as difficult to pass the physical aspect of those first months than to defy the opposition to female inductees into a long-established all-male bastion.

Both women make errors of judgment, denying courses of action, or boldly forcing courses of action that create further conflict. As the chapters switch back and forth between the tales of each, something is becoming apparent.

Emmaline becomes the more sympathetic of the two. Kathleen is too strongly obsessed and I never want to hear one more “Nana.” Yes, the Nana thing was repeated (over and over)—but the reader (or listener) got it the first time. For some reason, I never warmed to Kathleen; the thing with Nana and her mother.

So I’ll mention that the shocking twist in the conclusion was not unexpected, but I did like the way it was drawn. Emmaline’s story divulged some stats of which I was unaware—the book drives for the men—something a later generation would not have considered.

Kathleen is fully involved in crashing a glass ceiling—she is driven—and triumphed with a satisfying revelation you’ll want to read for yourself. It’s an engaging and entertaining audiobook, well narrated, suffering only one slow segment in the pace.

I received a complimentary review copy of this audiobook from my locally well-stocked library. These are my honest thoughts.

Book Details:

Genre: World War II Historical Fiction, Family Life Fiction
Publisher: Penguin Audio
ASIN: B09M6FQN81
Listening Length: 10 hrs 8 mins
Narrators: Saskia MaarleveldLauren Ezzo
Publication Date: August 9, 2022
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The War Librarian [Amazon]

 

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Rosepoint Publishing:  4.5 stars 4 1/2 stars

 

Addison Armstrong - authorThe Author: [Addison Armstrong] I’ve wanted to be an author since I was a five-year-old writing stories about talking school supplies and ants getting their revenge on exterminators. While a junior at Vanderbilt University studying elementary education, I wrote my first historical fiction novel, The Light of Luna Park, and sold it to G.P. Putnam’s Sons in January of my senior year. Now that I’ve graduated with my Bachelor’s in Elementary Education and Language & Literacy Studies, as well as a Master’s in Reading Education with an ESL endorsement, I’m teaching third grade English language learners in Nashville and continuing to write.

©2022 V Williams V Williams

Happy Thursday!

 

Holy Chow: An Andy Carpenter Mystery by David Rosenfelt – #Audiobook Review – #AnimalCozyMysteries

Holy Chow by David Rosenfelt

Holy Chow by David Rosenfelt

Rosepoint Rating: 5 stars

Book Blurb:

In Holy Chow, the next mystery from bestselling author David Rosenfelt, the beloved characters—both human and canine—of this fan favorite series are back on the case with the author’s trademark wit and humor.

Retired lawyer Andy Carpenter’s calling has always been running the Tara Foundation. The dog rescue organization places hundreds of dogs in new homes every year. It’s added up to so many dogs and new owners that Andy can’t even do the math. But there’s one dog—and one owner—Andy will always remember. 

About a year ago, Rachel Morehouse came to the foundation looking for a companion. In her sixties and recently widowed, Rachel wanted a senior dog that also needed someone. Andy took a liking to her, Rachel took a liking to Lion, an older Chow Chow, and the rest is history. 

That is, until Rachel calls Andy begging for a favor: If Rachel dies, will Andy take care of Lion if her stepson cannot? Andy agrees, no questions asked, and promptly forgets about it… until he receives a call from Rachel’s estate to attend her will reading. Which is where he meets Rachel’s stepson, Tony, who is promptly arrested for his stepmother’s murder. And he wants Andy to prove his innocence. 

Andy has continued to learn more about the woman he so greatly admired and the businesses she ran, and holy chow, was this woman impressive. The person who killed her deserves to be held accountable, and if Tony is to be believed, they’re still out there. And that possibility is too much for Andy to remain on the sidelines.

My Review:

Yes, yes, I know. Seems like yesterday I was reviewing a David Rosenfelt book, but that one was Citizen K-9, a K Team series mystery. Between the two, although don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the K-9 team series too, just that for me I know even if this is Book 25 of the series, I’m going to be entertained and finish the book happy with the time spent. My only problem is that they are usually short audiobooks.

Holy Chow by David RosenfeltThe Andy Carpenter novels have a winning formula. Andy is retired, wealthy, and supports a dog rescue called the Tara Foundation. He has Tara and Sebastian, as well as his wife Laurie and their adopted son. He also has an amazing team—love the character of Marcus—a most unique character and he has the chance to shine in this one.

There is a mystery involving a dog, he’ll grudgingly accept the case, usually because he really feels in his heart the person is innocent. The case that may have started simple usually gets real complex and eventually goes to trial, and yes, I always enjoy that legal bamboozle as well. So much fun.

Fun? Yes, that’s at the heart of these pseudo-cozy mysteries, the humor, the snark, and the right amount of witty dialogue combined with serious and intelligent fact-finding. These audiobooks will keep you in a good mood even when you have to go grocery shopping. Trust me.

I’ve learned not to try and figure out the guilty antagonist (sometimes more than one) and just go with the flow. Listen and enjoy.

I can think of no narrator other than Grover Gardner who so clearly IS Andy Carpenter just as George Guidall is Walt Longmire on Craig Johnson’s Walt Longmire mystery series. Whether or not you read or listen to the audiobook, you still hear their voices. I would strongly suggest the audiobooks for the sense you just won’t get reading.

Catch my review of Book 23 Dog Eat Dog and hang on for the next one. I downloaded a copy of this audiobook from my favorite library of course. These are my honest thoughts.

Book Details:

Genre: Animal Cozy Mysteries, Animal Fiction
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
ASIN: B09GH1J5XB
Listening Length: 6 hrs 27 mins
Narrator: Grover Gardner
Publication Date: July 5, 2022
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Links: Holy Chow [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.

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The Narrator: Grover Gardner’s narration career spans twenty-five years and over 550 audiobook titles. AudioFile Magazine has called him one of the “Best Voices of the Century” and features him in their annual “Golden Voices” update. Publishers Weekly named him Audiobook Narrator of the Year for 2005. His recordings have garnered 18 “Golden Earphones” awards from AudioFile and an Audie Award from the Audio Publishers’ Association.
http://grovergardner.blogspot.com/

Lessons in Chemistry: A Novel by Bonnie Garmus – #Audiobook Review – Humorous Literary Fiction

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Amazon Charts#20 this week

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • GOOD MORNING AMERICA BOOK CLUB PICK • ONE OF NPR’s BEST BOOKS OF 2022

A must-read debut! Meet Elizabeth Zott: a one-of-a-kind scientist in 1960s California whose career takes a detour when she becomes the unlikely star of a beloved TV cooking show in this novel that is “irresistible, satisfying and full of fuel. It reminds you that change takes time and always requires heat” (The New York Times Book Review).

“It’s the world versus Elizabeth Zott, an extraordinary woman determined to live on her own terms, and I had no trouble choosing a side…. A page-turning and highly satisfying tale: zippy, zesty, and Zotty.” —Maggie Shipstead, best-selling author of Great Circle

Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing as an average woman. But it’s the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute takes a very unscientific view of equality. Except for one: Calvin Evans; the lonely, brilliant, Nobel–prize nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with—of all things—her mind. True chemistry results.

But like science, life is unpredictable. Which is why a few years later Elizabeth Zott finds herself not only a single mother, but the reluctant star of America’s most beloved cooking show Supper at Six. Elizabeth’s unusual approach to cooking (“combine one tablespoon acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride”) proves revolutionary. But as her following grows, not everyone is happy. Because as it turns out, Elizabeth Zott isn’t just teaching women to cook. She’s daring them to change the status quo.

Laugh-out-loud funny, shrewdly observant, and studded with a dazzling cast of supporting characters, Lessons in Chemistry is as original and vibrant as its protagonist.

My Review:

In the kitchen, bare foot and pregnant—oft repeated back then.

Neither my cousin nor I were considered for any kind of serious college education because back then women were—in the kitchen, ironing, cooking, cleaning, and having babies (see point 1). You don’t need an education to be just a housewife. Right…

chemistry beakerAnd here is Elizabeth Zott, brainiac and early 1960s chemist, fending off unwanted advances at Hastings Research Institute. 

Mz. Zott is fired when she gets pregnant, unwed. She met and fell in love with Calvin Evans, her intellect equal, brilliant, a Nobel-prize winner. But she refused to marry him and become background to Mr. Calvin Evans. He’s as socially stunted as she. They click beautifully—there is real chemistry here—but his unexpected death finds her with child and without a job.

In the meantime, the author racks up some amazing characters, most well drawn sufficient to draw conclusions as to whether or not they are likable or loathsome. A few were the latter—admittedly men—but not all of them. Six-thirty, the dog, is amazing and actually has his own POV. Yes, it dips heavily into anthropomorphism but works well.

woman with chemistry beakerWhen she finds herself a single mother with an extremely precocious four-year-old who is being taken advantage of at school, she demands to talk to the father and comes away with a new job; too broke to say no to being host of a cooking show on TV. Called “Supper at Six” she has very simple ideas on how to handle it–chemically. The station’s managers want her to dump the lab coat for a sexy dress. Not going to happen. It’s not a kitchen–it’s a lab. And the demographic loves it.

Yes, there is blatant sexism (that’s the way it was then), atheism, the glass ceiling, and possibly a few liberties using more recent scenarios in the atmosphere of the 60s decade. Sorry it fell back to Elizabeth being beautiful–couldn’t she have been just an average-looking woman?

Not uncommon then for a woman to downplay their own intelligence in a male-dominated world, but she does not. There are subtle bits of humor and the audible chuckle kind and I suspect there are probably more women forty and over who can laugh the loudest, identify the most, connect more strongly than the younger women.

Lessons in chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

I downloaded a copy of this audiobook from my local very well-stocked library—this being a prime example and I thoroughly enjoyed the narrators. Thought to be the barn-burner for 2022, there were also some critical thoughts on it—but you can’t say it isn’t engaging. Highly entertaining, intelligent, fast-paced maybe.

There’s real chemistry here. How did you feel about it?

Book Details:

Genre: Humorous Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction, General Humorous Fiction
Publisher: Random House Audio
ASIN: B09BBK79VB
Listening Length: 11 hrs 55 mins
Narrators: Bonnie GarmusMiranda RaisonPandora Sykes
Publication Date: April 5, 2022
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Links: Lessons in Chemistry [Amazon]
Lessons in Chemistry [Amazon.uk] Amazon Charts #11 this week
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Bonnie Garmus - authorThe Author: Bonnie Garmus is a copywriter and creative director who has worked for a wide range of clients, in the US and abroad, focusing primarily on technology, medicine, and education. She’s an open water swimmer, a rower, and mother to two pretty amazing daughters. Most recently from Seattle, she currently lives in London with her husband and her dog, 99.

©2022 V Williams V Williams

Rosepoint Publishing

Before We Were Yours: A Novel by Lisa Wingate – #Audiobook Review – #TBT

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Goodreads Choice Award Winner

Rosepoint Publishing: Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge – until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents – but they quickly realize the dark truth. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together in a world of danger and uncertainty.

Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancé, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions and compels her to take a journey through her family’s long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation or to redemption.

Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals – in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country – Lisa Wingate’s riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong. 

My Review:

Taken from headlines back in Memphis, Tennessee 1939, this audiobook gripped me quickly and never let go. Yes, I’m probably the last to see this title, but so glad I did. My mother ended up in an orphanage in the late 20s when my grandmother and grandfather split; the Depression, the crushing poverty, and no way to care for two young daughters. So, while my mother didn’t have this horrendous experience, her’s was not pleasant either.

The storyline narration splits between 1939 and present-day Aiken, South Carolina.

It is essentially the true account of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage and Georgia Tann, who in today’s dollars, made a ton of money selling children from the facility. Not just orphans, however, as some were literally stolen from their parents for the bounty they would bring.

Babies were a hot commodity and Tann found a market with well-to-do couples unable to have their own. Then she found further avenues of income by squeezing them further for various trumped-up charges and fees.

The cruel life the children lead in the orphanage is heart-stopping. Tann apparently had cultivated major connections, including judges, politicians, and police who literally turned a blind eye to what was happening.

Historical POV is told through twelve-year-old Rill Foss, the oldest of five children from a family living on the Mississippi River in a shanty, a river houseboat. They are taken from the boat following a nighttime emergency trip to the hospital by their mother and father. Rill’s story is poignant, riveting, heartbreaking, and suspenseful.

In present day Aiken, Avery Stafford is caught up in the family drama of an elderly woman and makes a shocking discovery.

I definitely preferred the voice of Rill—her story captivating—her strength, resolve admiral. She had loving parents and had been well taught but was far too trusting. Avery is more difficult to warm up to—rich, her narrow scope of view rested on the well-to-do, educated, classed gentry. Once she got into the investigation; would not let it go.

There were a few things I didn’t quite understand (the adult sisters hanging onto their secret) and the conclusion that managed a touch of romance (obvious which way it was going), and really—he’s a nice guy and all but wondered how long the nice guy part would last over her kind of privileged background.

Yes, I got the audiobook from my lovely library and thought the narrators did an outstanding job. My heart rose and sank throughout, hanging on every word, until I was emotionally exhausted. I kept thinking of my mother—and understood again—why she was so paranoid about losing my brother and I when our dad left. Thank you, mom.

Book Details:

Genre: Fiction Sagas, Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Random House Audio
ASIN: B06Y1MGNL9
Listening Length: 14 hrs 29 mins
Narrator:  Emily RankinCatherine Taber
Publication Date: June 6, 2017
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Before We Were Yours [Amazon]

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The Author: Lisa Wingate is a former journalist, an inspirational speaker, and the bestselling author of more than twenty novels. Her work has won or been nominated for many awards, including the Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize, the Oklahoma Book Award, the Carol Award, the Christy Award, and the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award. Wingate lives in the Ouachita Mountains of southwest Arkansas.

©2022 V Williams V Williams

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

#throwbackthursday

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

#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

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